Harry kept in touch with Sam, regularly at first, every month in the beginning, but then slowly tapering off until the check-in calls became few and far between. Harry didn’t think much of it – he didn’t worry like he had before. Sam had retired and Harry knew that sometimes talking with Harry, someone who knew and remembered Dean, was hard for Sam, because it just reminded him of the loss. Also, there was the matter of Sam’s current relationship with a Muggle, which made arranging times to call more difficult.
The only reason it even occurred to Harry that it had been over six months since he’d last heard from Sam was because the Winchester who had just called him wasn’t Sam.
“Dean?!” Harry said, glad he was no longer holding his fork, because he was sure he would have dropped it. Ginny was looking at him with wide-eyes, the kids with confusion – Ginny motioned him to the door with a nod of her head, and Harry pushed himself away from the dinner table.
“Yeah, hey man, long time no see-”
“You’re alive!?!” Harry exclaimed. The heavy kitchen door slammed shut behind him. He went to the living room. It was mostly full of moving boxes, but they still had the furniture accessible.
“Oh!” In the mirror, Dean’s eyes went wide too, and then he cringed and looked apologetic. “Yeah, man, I’m alive – I didn’t realize- Shit. I didn’t realize Sam told you- or, uh, didn’t tell you? I didn’t realize either of those things. Guess I shoulda waited ‘til I got back before I decided to make the call.”
“How? When?” Harry asked laughing, a little hysterically perhaps. “God, you’d think by now I’d have learned not to mourn you. Bloody hell, Dean. You were dead.”
“I was in Purgatory,” Dean replied.
“What?” Harry asked, confused. “No, you were dead – you were in Heaven – Draco talked to Castiel and said-”
“Wait, what?!” Dean interrupted. “Draco what?! When?!”
“Sam didn’t tell you? Draco will be offended. He nearly died. You’d think it’d be a little more memorable.”
“Okay,” Dean said slowly. “I think maybe we both need to start at the beginning.”
“Right,” Harry agreed. He put up a muffling charm on the room in case the kids became curious, and began. “You and Castiel died.”
“We went to Purgatory,” Dean corrected.
“Okay, so... obviously, Draco misunderstood something when he talked with Castiel,” Harry concluded. “His brain was leaking out his ears at the time, so he can’t really be blamed.”
“Wait, if his brain was leaking out his ears, then...” Dean’s brow furrowed. “When you say he talked to Castiel, you mean like...in his true-form? Can he still see? When did this even happen?!”
“Sorry, I jumped ahead,” Harry said. “So, you and Cas went to Purgatory, and then Sam-”
“Hit a dog,” Dean said, with a roll of his eyes.
“Now, you’re jumping ahead,” Harry replied. “Maybe we should agree on who should explain first.”
Dean stared at him for a moment, an odd look on his face. Then he closed his eyes and breathed out. Harry wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but he knew enough to keep his mouth shut while Dean worked through whatever realization he was having.
“Something happened between me dying and Sam hitting that dog,” Dean said. It wasn’t a question. Harry wondered for a moment if something else had happened, but then he realized that Dean didn’t know – he didn’t know about Harry’s visit, so he wouldn’t know of the reasons for Harry’s visit.
“It was my fault,” Harry offered. “I should have found him sooner.”
“Start at the beginning,” Dean ordered.
“Right, so, you and Cas died,” Harry began. “Only, I didn’t know that at the time – I didn’t hear from you, but we were busy getting rid of the remaining leviathan and I thought perhaps you were too. Ron retired from the Auror department. The kids were on summer holiday, and... well, these are all excuses, really, for why it wasn’t until September that I realized I should have heard from you...”
Harry went on to explain using Phil to track Sam down. The state Sam was in when they found him – how Harry visited with Till and Draco and what Draco had done. He tried to be as brief as possible.
“And Draco said that Cas felt as though he belonged where he was,” Harry concluded. “So we thought, angels belong in Heaven, don’t they? That’s where they must be... and it cheered Sam up to know that you were in Heaven and that Cas was with you. So... we didn’t want to question it, I suppose. But maybe Draco got it wrong. Till said his brain was melting, so it’s entirely possible-”
“No,” Dean interrupted for the first time since Harry had begun his explanation in earnest. “He got it right. Cas was just... he was in a bad place, uh, emotionally. So, um, he thought-”
“He thought he belonged in a bad place physically as well,” Harry nodded. “That makes sense. It also explains why Sam was so convinced that the leviathan were still after him. It was more bleed-through. The leviathan were back in Purgatory. They were after you and Cas.”
Dean nodded, adding, “Which was why he ditched the phones.”
“Yes,” Harry said.
“Right, okay, thanks for telling me,” Dean said. “I take it Draco’s good?”
“Yes,” Harry said. “Full recovery, though he says we’re not allowed to ask him for any more favours.”
Dean let out a soft laugh. “I’ll send him a fruit basket.”
“He thinks you’re dead, Dean,” Harry laughed with him.
“All the more reason,” Dean said with a wave of his hand.
“How’s Sam?” Harry asked. “Obviously, I haven’t spoken to him in a while – How long have you been back?”
“I got back four months ago,” Dean answered. “There’s a... a portal, human portal. It just took us a while to find it. Cas got out not long after me, uh... yeah. Um, Sam’s doing alright. Apparently, I’ve been a bit of a jackass about the dog thing, but he should be used to that by now.”
Harry laughed. “Where is he? Can I say hello?”
“That’s actually why I called,” Dean said. Harry’s immediate thought must have been apparent in his expression, because Dean hastily added, “I know where he is! It’s nothing like that!” then laughed. “I was calling because, well, one, I found the mirror in the glove box – and I realized it’d been a while.” Dean smiled sheepishly.
“You obviously had other stuff on your mind,” Harry conceded.
“Exactly,” Dean said, “which brings me to the other reason I called – Sam and I got a place!”
“Like the cabin?” Harry asked.
“No, man, a real place...” Dean launched into a story about time traveling grandfathers, secret societies, and knights of hell that Harry wouldn’t have believed if it hadn’t been coming from a Winchester.
Harry made a note to look up the Men of Letters when he was next in the office to see if the Wizarding World had known about them. From the spell work that Dean mentioned, they very well might have.
“So, Sam’s been pouring through their files for like a week,” Dean concluded. “But I needed to get out, so I took an easy hunt and then stopped in to check on Kevin. I’m going to-”
“Wait,” Harry interrupted. “Kevin’s alive too?!”
“Yeah,” Dean said. “Wait, you knew about Kevin?”
“He was in Sam’s memories,” Harry explained. “By the time we had tracked Sam down though and got him to stop driving, it’d already been months since he was taken and Sam said that he was likely long dead already.”
“Oh,” Dean answered. “Yeah, I guess... I guess that makes sense. Um, lucky for Kevin though, he had enough know-how to escape himself. He went into hiding, but Sam and me, we tracked him down when I got back.”
“Well, that’s good news. I’m glad,” Harry smiled.
“Anyway, I was calling to see if Hermione might want to start up a book exchange again,” Dean said. “I think Sam would like it, and now that we’ve got a place, well – it’ll be easier to set up the port-key bag, like what she did with Bobby.”
“I’ll pass along the message,” Harry said. “We might have to work a bit to get it through the wards, but I’m sure it can be done.”
“Awesome,” Dean replied. “So, tell me how everyone there is doing...”
Harry launched into updating Dean about everything that had happened in the past year and a half, like Ron’s retirement to work full-time at Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes. George and Angelina had young children now and George needed some time off. He also explained why he was surrounded by moving boxes. He and Ginny were moving out of London, to a smaller house in a village. They’d have a large enough garden for the children to play Quidditch and Harry could give Teddy the Black Family house when he graduated. Harry knew that Sirius would consider Teddy the only remaining Black worthy of inheriting the estate – especially since he was also Remus’ son – and it seemed only right.
By the end of the conversation, the kids had long since gone upstairs to bed, and Ginny came to find Harry. She sat down beside him on the sofa and leaned over to smile at Dean.
“Aw, hello, Ginny,” Dean said. “You mean to tell me that I’ve been staring at Harry’s ugly mug this whole time when I coulda been talking to you?”
Ginny rolled her eyes and laughed along with Dean.
“I’m very offended,” Harry said, not meaning it in the slightest.
“It’s good to see you, Dean,” Ginny said. “I’m glad you’re alive.”
“Not as glad as I am, I bet,” Dean replied. “Listen, I better let you two go. I gotta get back to Sam and see if he’s figured out how the wards work yet. I’ll call you back from there.”
“Well, if he can’t sort it out, give me a call,” Harry said. “Give him my best either way.”
“Will do,” Dean said. “Uh, If you see Drake, pass along my thanks for what he did for Sam.”
“If we get the port-key sorted, then you can write him a letter,” Harry said. “I’ll have it delivered.”
“Right, okay,” Dean replied. “You guys still hate each other, huh?”
“Of course,” Harry said, shrugging.
Dean just laughed and they said their goodbyes.
It ended up being another three weeks before Dean got back to him. In the meantime, Harry had learned that the Wizarding World used to have contact with the Men of Letters. The records showed that there was a mutual non-interference pact between them for much of history, but during the First Wizarding War, Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix had reached out for contact – apparently in an attempt to gain knowledge, rather than weapons or soldiers. It was in Kingsley’s old files that Harry found the mailing address for the Men of Letter’s headquarters – which wasn’t so much a mailing address as a specific instructions on what the Men of Letter’s needed to do in order to allow for a portkey to access the Bunker. It seemed, for a brief period of time, Dumbledore had also had a book-exchange.
Harry had learned by now not to worry when the Winchesters didn’t get in touch unless it’d been more than two months – but still, it was a relief when Dean called again, this time from the Bunker with Sam by his side. There was an interesting conversation about witches familiars, in which Harry eventually just told them to ask Hermione, because Harry was not prepared to talk about certain lifestyles, and then Harry got down to the business of telling Dean what he had found.
Harry floated the idea of resurrecting the Men of Letter’s officially, but Sam and Dean weren’t sure about whether that was a good idea. It would mean that Harry wouldn’t need to hide the fact that he was helping them, but going through official channels might make helping them harder, not easier. The Winchesters also argued that part of the strength of having the Bunker was that no one knew that they had it.
In the end, they decided that things would stay the same, only with the change of address for the port-key bag on their end. Otherwise, the port-key would still only travel between them and Hermione’s house.
A few days later, Harry stood in Hermione’s home office and watched as she sent the bag and a book (Hogwarts: A History) hurtling into the unknown. Harry had his mirror open, the soft old-fashioned lighting of the Bunker shining back at him instead of his own reflection.
“I really hope it’s not going to show up in some random room that we don’t even know exists yet,” Dean muttered.
“Don’t jinx it,” Sam replied. Harry and Hermione smiled at each other, but Harry felt a bit nervous – Dean and Sam hadn’t said how big the Bunker was, but if they’d already been there for months and didn’t even know all the rooms...
Then there was a slight thud and the Winchesters whooped in unison. Harry looked at the mirror to see Dean excitedly show him where the bag had landed on the library table.
“Everything intact?” Hermione asked.
“Yup!” Sam said. “Hey, mind if we keep this one? I think we lost our copy when Bobby’s went up.”
“Consider it yours,” Hermione replied. “I was planning to buy a new copy for Rose anyway. You have to send something back though, so that we know the return spell doesn’t need to be altered.”
“Don’t worry, I came prepared,” Sam replied. Dean was still tilting the mirror to show Sam and the room, rather than himself, and Harry and Hermione could see Sam putting a brown folder into the blue bag.
“Portus,” Sam said, and the bag disappeared in swirl of blue.
There was an anxious moment of silence.
“Those were copies, so if the wards shred them, it’s not a great loss,” Sam said, his voice caught slightly on the last two words and the sentence finished in a wet cough.
“You okay, Sam?” Harry asked.
“Mmhmm, just a cold,” Sam muttered.
Then suddenly the bag appeared in mid air in the corner of the room, and then fell to the ground.
“It’s here!” Harry said, just in case Sam and Dean hadn’t heard the softer impact.
“I forgot that I rearranged the furniture,” Hermione laughed. “I used to have a table there.”
“Did the folder survive?” Sam asked.
Hermione pulled the brown folder out of the bag and flipped it open. Her eyebrows raised in interest.
“Looks like,” Harry laughed. “She’s already reading.”
Sam smiled. “It’s a copy of the file on the Judah Initiative. I thought you should know, just in case Adam and his Golem ever show up on your radar. They’re good people.”
“Golem?” Harry replied, intrigued and itching to read the file already. “That’s way more exciting than our test shipment.”
Sam and Dean laughed.
Three months later and there was a meteor shower that wasn’t a meteor shower. Needless to say, both the Auror department and the Department of Mysteries were all hands on deck immediately. It was definitely a preternatural phenomena, that much was obvious, but it was hard to say anything more.
As soon as Harry got a moment alone, he locked his office door and called Dean – hoping, once again, that he wasn’t endangering them by making an ill-timed phone-call. This was why he preferred it when the Winchesters called him – but then, this was also why he hadn’t spoken to them in three months and had no idea what was going on. He didn’t even know what books they had been exchanging with Hermione.
“Dean?” Harry called for the fourth or fifth time – looking into a mirror that only reflected his own face back at him. Suddenly the image swirled, becoming foggy for a moment.
“Hello!? What is this?” Someone answered, and Harry had a heart-stopping moment where he feared some Muggle had picked up the mirror – but then the image finally reformed to show a familiar Asian teenager.
“Kevin,” Harry greeted. “My name is Harry – are Sam and Dean home?”
“Hello? Oh my god!” Kevin replied, voice rising and looking distressed. “What’s happening? Who are you?”
“I’m a friend of Sam and Dean’s,” Harry replied calmly. “This is a magic mirror. I’m a wizard. Kevin? I need you to stay calm. Do you know where Sam and Dean are?”
“Oh my god,” Kevin repeated. “Do you know what’s going on? The table all lit up like crazy and then the place, like, locked down. I can’t get out and the phones aren’t working, and Sam and Dean aren’t back yet- or what if they can’t get in? Am I trapped in here?! What did the lights mean?!”
“Kevin,” Harry said. “The first thing you’re going to do is calm down. Can you try doing that for me?”
“Uh, yeah, sorry, yeah...”
“Good, second – let’s start at the beginning. Where did Sam and Dean go?”
“They went to capture Crowley and close the Gates of Hell,” Kevin reported.
Harry felt his next question completely dry up in his mouth. He just starred at Kevin, who blinked back at him, still a little wide-eyed.
“Right,” Harry said. “Of course they did.”
“And then Dean wanted me to read the Angel Tablet,” Kevin continued.
“Angel tablet,” Harry repeated. “Did it have anything to do with umm... closing the Gates of Hell or...uh, meteors?”
“No,” Kevin said. “Metatron uh, I think he tricked Castiel, that’s what the other angel said – she said that it was all lies, that Metatron wasn’t trying to fix Heaven, he was trying to break it. She said he was using Castiel to cast all the angels out of heaven. Then she said that Sam was going to die and Dean hung up to go find him, I think – I think she might have been telling the truth, because I couldn’t find anything in the tablet about what Cas was doing – not in the part that talks about the Trials. This one’s a lot harder to read though, so who knows.”
Harry swallowed. “I think she might have been telling the truth too. The angels... I think the angels fell, Kevin. I think that’s what made the Bunker’s alert system respond. Do you know where Sam and Dean are? Did she say how Sam was going to die?”
Harry scrawled a note on a memo and sent it to across the hall to Maria, while Kevin told him about how Sam had been completing Herculean-type trials in order to close the Gates of Hell, and that the angel had warned that Sam would die if he completed the third one. Harry wondered if he even had any way of knowing whether Dean had stopped Sam in time or not – would people on earth be able to feel the closing of Hell? The Seers could tell him, but he wasn’t meeting with the Department of Mysteries for another two hours and Harry wasn’t sure he could wait that long to find out whether Sam Winchester had lived or died.
“But you don’t know the location of the third trial?” Harry interrupted to ask, when Kevin got to the part of the plan where Sam and Dean left to capture Crowley for the final task.
“They were meeting Crowley at um... Bobby’s place, they said. I don’t know where that is,” Kevin replied.
“It burned down a couple years ago,” Harry said, “but I know where it is and can go-”
“They wouldn’t be there though,” Kevin interrupted. “You have to do the ritual on consecrated ground – Dean said that he knew an abandoned church close by, but I don’t know exactly where.”
“And ‘close by’ might mean the next state over,” Harry sighed. “I’ve traveled with them before – being ‘nearly there’ usually meant another two hours of driving. Okay, I’ll um... I’ll see if I can send someone to find them. I can’t get away until this evening at the earliest.”
“What about me? Am I trapped in here forever?!” Kevin asked. “Did the Bunker shut-down because it’s being attacked? There’s only old Chinese take-out and junk-food in the kitchen! I don’t want to die in here,” Kevin finished on a whine.
“You’re not going to die in there,” Harry said. “It sounds like the wards were triggered by a large scale event. There are a couple of different ways the wards work. They could have a predetermined lock-down period – a day or two, to give the Men of Letter’s time to rally forces or assess the nature of the threat – or they could simply just need the presence of a key-”
“I have a key! It didn’t work!”
“Very good, so we know the wards aren’t that kind,” Harry said, trying to reassure Kevin that this was a problem they could and would work out. “Listen, it doesn’t make sense for the warding to stay permanently locked down, so if it’s not the kind of wards that respond to a key, then you just have to wait it out. How long will the food you have last you?”
“Um, maybe a day or two?” Kevin said. “I could ration it.”
“Do you see a blue bag anywhere in the library?” Harry asked. He watched as Kevin looked around.
“No,” Kevin concluded.
“Hermione must have it,” Harry concluded. “Okay, if neither of us hear from Dean in forty-eight hours and you still can’t exit the Bunker, I’ll send you some food in a blue bag. It will appear in the library.”
“How?” Kevin asked.
“Magic,” Harry replied. “I’m a wizard, remember?”
“I don’t even know what that means,” Kevin whined in frustration. Clearly, the kid was having a bad day.
“Well, you are in a library,” Harry said, “and you have time on your hands. Perhaps you should look it up. I suggest searching for words such as Wizarding World, Department of Magic, and the name Albus Dumbledore.”