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Purgatory, Prophets, and Potions

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Phil wasn’t the head of the Auror Department of the American Ministry of Magic. Sometimes he wasn’t sure that Harry Potter understood that little fact. The head of the Department was a man named Brighton. He was a good boss, a good leader, a fine Auror, and a decent statesman. He and Phil had a companionable working relationship, but they weren’t exactly friends.

It wasn’t like Phil was too far down on the ladder either, though. There was that. The O’Shaughnessy family had a long history in both the Wizarding World and the Atlantic colonies – and in New England especially. Phil was respected for his last name alone and that was a privilege that he was well aware of and tried his hardest not to abuse. He didn’t necessarily have to work to keep that privilege, but he didn’t want to lose it either. He’d seen how far some of the old families had fallen back in Britain – the Blacks were decimated, the Malfoys disgraced. Granted, that was due to being on the wrong side of a war, of believing in hatred and blood-superiority and putting all your chips in with a megalomaniac obsessed with immortality, but still, the lesson was there – if you used your privilege to oppress others or attempt to raise yourself even higher than before, you would get what was coming to you, either in this life or the next.

Which was why Phil shied away from the important titles, why he was reluctant to throw his weight around too much, or to use his name as an excuse to break the rules... he wasn’t sure Harry understood that. When Phil tried to explain it once, Harry had nodded and said that Albus Dumbledore had been the same, had been afraid of the lure of power and refused the job of Minister – and that was interesting to know, but it wasn’t quite what Phil meant. Phil wasn’t lured by power. He wasn’t fearful of what he might do should he get power. It was more that Phil believed that just because you could do something, didn’t mean that you should. Just because Phil could be the head of the Department, didn’t mean that that was what was best for the Department. Just because Phil could run for higher office, like Minister, didn’t mean that would be what was best for the Wizarding colonies, the Ministry, or himself. Just because Phil could break the rules and get away with it, didn’t mean that he should.

Phil understood, though, that Harry was shaped by the war. Harry was an Auror, because he’d never given himself a chance to consider anything else, because Harry had chosen a career at a point in his life when he desperately needed to be an Auror. Harry broke the rules as he saw fit, because he grew up in a time and place in which following the rules would get him killed; in which the rule-makers were, if not in league with, than at least complacent towards the evil that threatened to destroy everything Harry held dear.

So now, even when Harry and his compatriots were the ones making the rules and were the ones enforcing the rules – Harry still didn’t necessarily follow the rules. If Harry were a little less moral, a little less good, he would be terrifying. Maybe he still was. But Phil had to concede that every time he had seen Harry break a rule, it ended up being for the best – it ended up being, maybe not wise, but a necessary gamble.

Harry had been shaped by the war - all he had known in his formative years was trouble. Phil couldn’t help but wonder, now that the war was over and there was no trouble to be had, if Harry didn’t know what else to do but to start inviting it.

And this was the thought that Phil had when he received a letter that simply said:

I need you to find the Winchesters.
-Harry.

*

When Harry finally heard back from Phil, it was nearly a month after he had sent the letter. He’d already started to wonder if what he was going through was some form of denial. It was. He knew as soon as Phil started the conversation with-

“I thought I’d better call with the news, it’s not the sort of thing you put in a letter.”

Harry took a deep breath.

“I found Sam yesterday,” Phil said.

“So, it’s Dean then,” Harry concluded. Maybe he just didn’t want to hear the word.

“Seems that way,” Phil answered, and Harry was glad that he avoided saying it outright as well.

Harry tried to think of what question to ask next. How? When? Why didn’t Sam tell him? Was Sam alright? Is there something he could do? Is this something he should tell his kids?

“What did Sam say?” Harry asked instead.

“Not much,” Phil sighed. “He’s... he’s not well, Harry.”

“What’s wrong?” Harry asked, already reaching for his quill. “I have a Healer we can trust. I can have him there within the hour-”

In the com-mirror, Phil shook his head, cutting Harry off.

Harry closed his eyes as he realized what it was – that miracles were never really miracles. That no one, especially not the Winchesters, was ever that lucky.

“It’s his mind, isn’t it,” Harry said, without inflection.

“He recognized me,” Phil said. “I told him you were looking for him. He said he left the mirror at the cabin with the phones.”

“I know,” Harry said. “I checked there before I contacted you.”

“I asked him where his brother was,” Phil continued after a nod of acknowledgement. “He just... told me like it was nothing, but then... well, then it was like he couldn’t leave fast enough. He just kept repeating that he had to keep moving. I tried to get more out of him, but that’s all he would say. The only difference was when I asked him what he’s been doing for the past few months – I wasn’t that surprised when the answer was ‘driving.’”

“Where is he?” Harry asked.

Phil gave him a flat look. “Driving.”

Harry glared right back.

“I let him drive off,” Phil sighed. “I tried to get him to stay, but he was... I didn’t want to upset him. I’ve been tracking the car though. He seems to be heading south.”

“Let me know where-... if-... when he stops for the night,” Harry said, coming to a decision. “I’ll... I’ll take the healer to visit him anyway. You never know.”

“Except when you do.” Phil sighed. “Harry... maybe, maybe you should just walk away. They aren’t- the Winchesters aren’t your responsibility. For Merlin’s sake, they’re... the Winchesters.”

“They’re my friends,” Harry said.

“I know we owe them a debt,” Phil argued. “And I know they’ve helped out a lot this past year with the Leviathan business... but, Harry, that family is cursed-“

Harry laughed, he couldn’t help it. “You know, I wish that were true. Curses I can fix.”

“You know what I-“

“I appreciate the help, Phil,” Harry interrupted. “Let me know when Sam stops driving, and then send me the coordinates.”

“Yes, Sir,” Phil answered, a little tersely.

“Have a good day,” Harry said, snapping the mirror closed.

He gave himself only a minute to try to collect his thoughts, before he made his way across the hall to what had been Ron’s office. When he knocked on the door jam, he still wasn’t entirely sure what he was going to say.

“Good evening, Sir,” Maria greeted. “Are you leaving for home?” Her accent, as always, made it abundantly clear that her voice was meant for a much more elaborate and beautiful language than English.

“Soon,” Harry answered with a smile. “Can you chat for a moment?”

“Of course,” Maria said with a smile. Harry shut the door behind him, then put up a muffling charm, just in case Maria hadn’t bothered to replace Ron’s charm work with her own.

“Ah,” Maria said. “It’s that kind of a chat, is it?”

Harry pocketed his wand again and gave Maria a tight smile.

“How much do you know about my contacts in America – the ones who helped during the Leviathan problem?”

“The Winchesters?” Maria said. “I know everything about them, Sir. Has something happened? Are you going to be traveling abroad again? If you’ll be taking Till, then he’ll either have to be back by tomorrow, or I’ll need to assign someone else to the team traveling to Skye-”
As Harry tried to comprehend what he had just heard, Maria laughed into the silence. She gave Harry an indulgent look.

“Sir,” Maria continued. “You are Mr. Weasley’s best friend, do you think he would retire without being confident that you were left in the best hands possible. I assure you, my training was thorough and my briefing was comprehensive.”

“Oh,” Harry replied – eloquently, if he did say so himself.

“If it makes you feel better, I did not know who they were before my promotion,” Maria offered.

“Ron... just... told you?” Harry asked.

“Yes,” Maria said. “For many reasons, least of which is that I am now in charge of team assignments, and I need to know whether the only trained Healer we have is going to be stuck in a mysterious five-hour meeting from which no paperwork will ever emerge.”

“Right,” Harry all but choked out. “Er... how long is the team expected to be in Skye?”

“Overnight.”

Harry nodded. “I’m waiting on a location, and when I get it, I’ll be leaving right away – however, it’s not... not an emergency that requires Till, though I may bring him in to consult after my initial investigation.”

“Understood,” Maria said. “I’ll send him a notice about a meeting to discuss the emergency Healer kits the day after he returns.”

Harry nodded, and turned to leave, already planning to call Ron as soon as he left the room –

“Harry?” Maria called.

“Yes?”

“I hope you’re not angry with him. It is only that he cares for you,” Maria said.

Harry sighed and shook his head.

“I’m not angry,” Harry admitted. “I would have had to tell you anyway.”

Maria smiled.

“I should have expected it really,” Harry laughed. “When he and Hermione went on their honeymoon, they left an instruction booklet with a friend of ours called ‘The Care and Feeding of Harry’ – the introduction was written by my wife, well, girlfriend at the time, but it was Quidditch season and-”

Harry trailed off as Maria smiled sheepishly and opened her top desk drawer, pulling out a familiar dog-eared booklet. She held it up so that Harry could see the red ink on the cover that said, ‘Revised Auror-Edition 2013.’

“I’m a grown man!” Harry exclaimed.

Maria laughed gently, “Oh, Harry, there are worse things than being loved.”

*

Harry got the call the next morning. Sam had stopped for the night in North Carolina. Harry was expecting a motel name, but instead he got coordinates for a picnic area off the highway. Harry found himself watching the sun rise for a second time that day, while he sat on a rotting picnic bench next to the Impala. Sam was asleep in the backseat. His brow was furrowed even in sleep, as though whatever he dreamt worried him.

It wasn’t long before Sam stirred. Harry had been lost in thought when he heard one of the car doors open. He turned and watched as Sam pulled himself out of the car, stretched his back with a yawn then looked around in what appeared to be displeased confusion. He looked stretched thin.

He didn’t even seem to notice Harry – just looked right through him for a moment. Sam turned away, and then paused and turned back, staring at Harry.

“Morning,” Harry greeted.

Sam blinked at him for a moment, and then said, “Morning.”

There was a pause. Harry hadn’t really thought ahead to what he expected Sam to say when he saw him, but he was starting to think this wasn’t going to plan at all.

Then Sam nodded. “Phil told you where I was. I saw him a couple hours ago.”

“That was nearly two days ago, Sam,” Harry said, as something inside him twisted.

Sam blinked at this and turned to look at the car a little in concern.

“I’m sorry to hear about Dean,” Harry continued, softly.

Sam nodded, clenched his jaw, but remained silent.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Harry asked. He tried very hard not to sound accusatory. He didn’t want Sam to think he was angry – but he was a little angry. Maybe anger was just an easier emotion to deal with than grief.

“I ditched the phones,” Sam replied, which wasn’t an answer at all. The enchanted mirror wasn’t a phone. It wasn’t like Sam had to fear someone using it to track him. And if Sam was afraid of people or monsters tracking him, it didn’t explain why he was driving the Impala all over the country.

There was a pause while Harry tried to decide how to handle this conversation. Sam was...oddly muted, that much was obvious. Whether it was from grief or something else, Harry didn’t know.

“How are you, Sam?” Harry asked. It felt like a stupid question – the man’s brother was dead – but perhaps it was the question that Harry should have led with from the beginning.

“I fixed the car,” Sam answered, gesturing towards it.

Harry nodded and looked at the car. It looked good, like it has recently been washed and buffed.

“Shiny,” Harry stated. “What else have you been doing?”

“Driving,” Sam said, still looking at the car. “Fixed the car. Drove.”

“Have you been hunting at all?” Harry asked, his anger was dissipating, the grief was still there – but the anger was being replaced with something else, something that twisted up his insides, made his heart beat faster.

Sam still wasn’t looking at him, but he shook his head. “I fixed the car.”

Harry tried for a smile. He tried to keep his voice light. “You did a good job.”

Sam shifted on his feet.

“How about Cas?” Harry asked.

“He’s dead,” Sam answered. “I have to-”

“Are you sure?” Harry interrupted, ignoring the lead weight that was sinking in his stomach. “You’ve thought that before and-”

“I have to go,” Sam said, instead of answering. He closed the backdoor that still hung open and shifted away from the car.

“Wait,” Harry said.

“I have to keep moving,” Sam announced, barely glancing at Harry. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about-... I just-... I was driving.”

“Wait,” Harry repeated, standing. “Are you going to have breakfast somewhere? I could come along – just for breakfast.”

Sam looked off towards the highway, but then he gave a nod. Harry quickly launched himself towards the passenger door and scrambled into the Impala.

He took a deep breath, trying to figure out a plan. Harry tried to think back to the spring. He tried to remember if Dean had told him what Cas had done to seemingly cure Sam of his mental illness. Dean had been vague though – just like always. He always gave the bare-minimum of information, and usually in such a way that you didn’t even notice that he wasn’t telling you enough. Harry had found out how bad Sam was when Sam was dying, rather than in any of the conversations that they had in the months and weeks before then. They coordinated on the leviathan threat; Dean told him about Bobby’s death... but not once since that night in the cabin did Dean mention that Sam’s mental health was deteriorating. Granted, Harry had spoken to Sam during that time as well and he had seemed fine. Then, after, when Dean had gotten in touch and explained how Cas was still alive, that he’d returned and cured Sam – maybe it was Harry’s own fault for not wanting to question it, for not wanting to hear anything to break the happy thought that Sam was okay and would remain that way forever.

Now though, Harry wished he knew what Cas had done. Had there been an expiration date on it? Was it something that could be duplicated with magic? Or was this simpler than that? Harry had to consider the idea that there may be nothing wrong with Sam – nothing except for the fact that his brother and friend were dead.

They had already pulled out of the picnic area and were back on the highway by the time Harry decided the silence had stretched on too long.

“Sam?”

Sam didn’t respond, he blinked, and then a second later jumped, as though something had surprised him. Harry glanced around, but didn’t see anything threatening.

“Jesus,” Sam cursed. “I forgot you were there.”

“Sorry,” Harry found himself saying. “Were you thinking about something?”

Sam shook his head.

“Focusing on the road?” Harry tried again.

Sam’s brow furrowed, “I have to keep moving.”

“Why?”

Sam didn’t say anything for another long minute. And then he muttered, “I don’t know.”

“Okay,” Harry said. “That’s okay.”

They came up on a small town then. Harry caught sight of a sign advertising the local amenities.

“Are we going to the waffle house?” He asked.

“What?”

“The waffle house? There was a sign-“

“What? Where?”

“Yeah, just back there- next exit – well, this one now-“

“What? Now?”

“Or, uh, you could take the next one- unless you don’t want-“

Sam pulled over onto the shoulder, bringing the car to a complete stop. Harry looked over at him, concerned, which ratcheted up to full-on worry when Harry realized that Sam had a white knuckled grip on the wheel.

“Slow down!” Sam commanded.

Harry hadn’t thought he was fast.

“I have to drive,” Sam said.

Harry nodded. “Right, but... I thought we were going for breakfast.”

“Okay,” Sam said.

“We just passed a waffle house,” Harry continued.

“No,” Sam said. “Farmer’s market. Organic.”

“Oh,” Harry replied, and then he put it together. “Oh! Sam, you don’t have to worry about the food anymore – that’s been taken care of. With Dick Roman gone, we were able to clean up the food industry really quickly. It’s safe to-” Sam didn’t look convinced. “-Or we could go to a farmer’s market?” Harry offered.

Sam stared out the front window.

After a moment, he turned to Harry and asked, “Are they really gone?”

“The leviathans? Yes,” Harry said. “There were task forces, they-”

“It doesn’t feel like they’re gone,” Sam added.

“They are; I promise.”

Sam frowned. Harry listened to the next few breathes they both took. The silence wasn’t comfortable.

“Waffles?” Sam asked.

“That’d be great,” Harry smiled.

Sam put the car back into the gear, stepped on the gas, and started pulling back out onto the highway – right in front of a giant transport truck. “Fuck!” Harry reached over and grabbed the wheel yanking it hard enough to keep the car on the shoulder. The lorry blasted its horn and rushed by, the noise was so great it almost drowned out Harry’s thumping heart.

The lorry was already past them when Sam seemed to realize what had just happened and slammed on the brakes.

“Jesus,” Sam muttered, rubbing a hand over his face and across his considerable stubble.

“Did you even check your mirrors?!” Harry asked, perhaps a little hysterically.

“I didn’t see it,” Sam said, and then pulled onto the highway – successfully this time.

Harry gave himself a moment to calm down – and a moment to realize how much things really weren’t sitting right in his stomach. Sam’s reflexes were obviously shot, his cognition slow – he was exhausted.

“Sam, have you been stopping at motels at all?” Harry asked.

“No, I’ve been driving,” Sam answered.

“I’m not sure you should be,” Harry muttered.

*

Harry barely gave Till time to sit down, after emerging from the pensieve, before he asked, “Well, what do you think?”

Harry watched impatiently as Till pursed his lips and settled into the chair. Till had arrived back from Scotland only two hours before. There was a small cut high on his cheekbone by his right eye – the skin around it was red, irritated by the sea water. Harry was supposed to be debriefing him. Harry was probably supposed to be asking about the cut.

“His reaction times are slow, but this could be a number of factors,” Till said slowly. “But overall, I think he is well. Much better.”

“What are you talking about?” Harry asked, incredulous. “There’s something wrong with him.”

“Sir, forgive me,” Till said, his voice soft and earnest. “The last time I saw Sam, he was suffering from delusions – he was distressed. Now, he is calm. I see no evidence of delusions. Yes, he is... subdued, but this is not uncommon. Yes, he needs more sleep, but he is sleeping a little. Many who have trauma... the mind numbs, it is... a natural response, for protection from pain.”

“I don’t think that’s it though,” Harry persisted. “I know the last time you saw him he seemed worse than now, but if you had seen him since then... if you had seen him, you would know that he was doing WELL, he was cured – they cured him – and now he’s....this.”

“Another common protection from pain,” Till continued, as though Harry hadn’t spoken, “is to deny that the bad thing has happened.”

“I don’t think he’s doing that,” Harry said, “He was very blunt-”

Till gave Harry a careful look. “I’m not speaking of Sam, Harry – Dean Winchester was your friend-”

“No!” Harry cut him off with a pointed finger. “This isn’t about me and if you dare suggest that again, I’ll...”

Till held up his hands in surrender, even though Harry didn’t even know how to end his sentence. Harry ran a hand through his hair in frustration; blinking against the emotion he could feel swelling in his chest. He should have waited to talk to Till – waited until Till didn’t smell like sea weed and dried blood, until they had both gotten more sleep.

“I’m not a healer of the mind, Harry,” Till said into the quiet of the room. It sounded like a confession, like a failing. “Even if you are correct, what can I do? I can fix his leg when he cuts it, I can fix his skull when he cracks it, but I cannot... I do not have the knowledge. Do you understand? I wish I did.”

“I know,” Harry sighed. “I’m sorry. I... I wish I did too. I wish Dean had told me what Cas did to help Sam before – I wish I had been there to see it. I wish you could see how much Sam’s changed, so you could see that I’m right, that it’s not just... denial. And I know even if I knew all those things, you’re still not a mind-healer, but you’re the best I have, Till – in fact, you’re all I have. Goddamn it, but none of my friends ever went into medicine.”

Till smiled, soft and gentle, just like always, and Harry felt his anger ebb away.

“We have a pensieve,” Till stated with a shrug.

“Yes?” Harry nodded, a little confused.

“Do you not still know where Sam is?” Till asked.

“I made him get a motel room in east Texas,” Harry said. “I told him not to drive anywhere until I came back.”

Till nodded, as though that settled it. Harry raised an eyebrow.

“There is one person who knows these things,” Till said. “Sam can show us all these things. We have a pensieve.”

Harry stared at Till, realizing the scope of what he was saying.

“If I’m the best you have, then I will do my best,” Till continued. “I just want you to understand that my best might not be good enough... and you must accept that fact.”

“I... ye-yes, you’re brilliant,” Harry stuttered. “How soon can you leave?”

“You’re the boss,” Till answered with a smile. “But I’d like to bathe first. I smell like selkie.”

“Of course,” Harry said. “Two hours?”

Till nodded in acceptance and stood up to leave. Harry was already making plans – how long they might take, how he should phrase things when he asked Sam for his memories – with the nature of Sam’s mind, it would have to be a very careful work. Till was a good healer, Harry just wished he had studied legilimency. Even someone with a rudimentary knowledge of the mind would probably do wonders with interpreting whatever they found in Sam’s head-

“Wait,” Harry said, catching Till as he put his hand on the door knob.

“Yes, sir?”

“If I... brought someone with us – someone who has studied legilimency...” Harry started, fumbling his words as he realized just what he was contemplating.

“It would help very much,” Till answered the unfinished question, confused. “But I thought you did not know a mind-healer?

“I don’t,” Harry said. “I really don’t. I’m going to need more than two hours.”

“Okay,” Till said.

“I’ll call you,” Harry said. “And if you thought you were sworn to secrecy before...”

“You have my word,” Till said sincerely.

Harry nodded and watched Till leave. He waited until the door had closed behind him before he reached for the memorandum paper and his quill, choosing his words carefully.

When he was done, he folded the memo very specifically, and then tucked it, fluttering, into his pocket.

He waited until he had another reason to leave the office, a meeting reviewing incident reports from the Quidditch World Cup with the Department of Magical Games and Sports.

He stepped into the elevator and made sure to stand in the back. Between floors, while everyone else in the elevator was facing forward and politely staring at the ascending numbers, Harry added his paper crane to the swam of memos hovering near the ceiling.

He didn’t glance back as he got off the elevator. The memo still had two floors to go.

 

Chapter Text

The cabin on the moors was as dusty as the last time. He opened a window to get some fresh air while he waited. There’d been no confirmation that the memo had been received, but Harry knew its recipient would come. He didn’t want to examine the feeling too closely, as though if he did, a teenage version of himself would spring up and punch him in the jaw. But then, for all his triumphs as a teenager, he knew better than anyone how much of an idiot he had been when it came to certain things.

There was a popping noise from outside. Harry mentally braced himself and turned towards the door.

“Potter,” Malfoy greeted, as he walked in.

“Malfoy,” Harry returned. “Thank you for coming.”

“You’re welcome,” Malfoy replied. “To what do I owe this summons?”

“It’s about the Winchesters,” Harry began.

“I gathered as much,” Malfoy said. “Do you ever miss the old days, when we could meet up in school hallways and you could accuse me of working for the Dark Lord and I could make fun of your terrible childhood? Now, it’s only ever about the Winchesters, isn’t it? What’s happened to us, Harry? We used to take such interest in each other’s lives!”

“You’re not funny, Malfoy,” Harry rolled his eyes.

“I disagree, as usual,” Draco smiled. “Now, out with it – what horrible news do you have about our American friends?”

“Dean’s dead,” Harry said. Of all things, Draco smiled, but it was fleeting and forced.

“Of course,” Draco said. He turned on his heel and paced to the window. “Of course, he is,” Draco repeated. Then he turned back and looked at Harry, brittle smile gone. “So, do you have a heartfelt letter for me to read about how he died a hero – no, you don’t, if you did, we’d be doing this at the Cauldron, wouldn’t we? Somewhere public where I couldn’t make a scene, not that I would, mind you – I’m above that, and quite frankly I always hated that damn nickname he gave me anyway. No, there’s more to it, isn’t there? Of course there’s more.”

“I think there’s something wrong with Sam,” Harry explained, “and I need your help in determining what.”

“Well, his brother’s dead for one,” Draco said, gesturing as though the evidence was exhibited in the room.

“Malfoy-”

“Why could you possibly need my help, Potter?” Draco asked, pacing in the narrow space. “Do you need to break into the Department of Mysteries again? Look up some files? I doubt it. So, what is it?”

“Legilimency,” Harry answered. Draco stopped on a dime and turned towards him immediately.

“No.”

“I know you studied it after the war,” Harry pressed. “It was in your probation reports.”

“My probation reports,” Draco repeated back, shaking his head, and then glared at Harry. “If you read my reports, then you know I studied occlumency. It was part of my therapy and thus allowed. Legilimency was forbidden.”

“Exactly,” Harry said. “But in order to truly master occlumency, one has to study legilimency too.  And you wanted to master it, I know you did. You wouldn’t have been satisfied with anything less. You found a teacher that was willing to teach you the basics of legilimency without reporting it, but where the ruse fell apart was the extra time needed for lessons. You were a lot of things at Hogwarts, Malfoy, but a bad student was not one of them. I know you studied it, Draco, and the lie was flimsy at best-”

“He lived in my house!” Malfoy shouted. “For over a year! Do you have any idea-”

“I have every idea!” Harry yelled back. “He was in my head too! Why do you think I let you get away with it!”

They stood seething at each other, and Harry was struck by the familiarity of it all. Only this time, there’d be no teacher to break them up, no friends to jump into the fray.

Malfoy turned away first, clenching his fists at his sides and stalking back over to the window, turning his back on Harry.

“Scorpius doesn’t even remember him,” Malfoy said. “It’s been years.”

“I didn’t realize your compassion was limited to the length of your son’s attention span,” Harry snapped, and then bit his lip, because he knew he had just crossed a line. Harry had given Draco upsetting news, put him on the defensive by bringing up legilimency, while also reminding him of the most traumatic years of his life – Draco had every reason to vent his anger at Harry – Harry, on the other hand, needed to be the calmer of the two. He needed to not rise to the bait or they’d end up in Moaning Murtle’s bathroom all over again.

Malfoy turned to stare at him. “Do you even understand the depths of my hatred for you?”

“I think that’s the only thing I understand about you, Malfoy,” Harry answered with a sigh.

Draco shook his head, but when he spoke, his voice was calmer. “I find that oddly comforting.”

Harry shrugged, unsure of what to say.  He knew he should apologize for his behaviour, but he also knew that Draco would never apologize for his. The silence dragged for an uncomfortable amount of time.

When Malfoy finally spoke, his tone was firm. “Tell me what’s wrong with Sam.”  And it was as though the entire conversation thus far had been a non sequitur. Harry chose not to question it.

*

Till had expected to hear from Harry within 24 hours. Instead, when he went into work the next morning, he received a memo stating that his request for a two day absence had been approved, starting the next day. When he opened his filing cabinet, there was a little yellow sticky-note that had a time and a set of coordinates written on it. Till carefully folded and pocketed the note then went about his day – which seemed longer than usual, now that all Till could think about was what might happen the next day.

That evening, Till gathered every book that he could find about the mind, brain, and mind-healing, read as much as he could, and then slipped them all into his standard field travel bag. He placed both the travel bag and his healer kit by the door, ready to go, and then had to make himself a cup of special tea in order to feel drowsy enough to sleep.

At precisely the designated time, Till apparated to the coordinates provided and found himself outside of a small cabin.  Harry was already standing there waiting for him, and so, surprisingly was Draco Malfoy.

“Till! Excellent,” Harry greeted. “Now we can get going. Malfoy, this is Till Ljung, whom I’ve told you about. Till, this is Draco Malfoy, who might be a bit of a surprise for you.”

Draco Malfoy nodded at Till, but didn’t move to step forward and shake hands, nor change his expression away from indifference. Till nodded back.  Malfoy was obviously the Legilimens. Till didn’t know what to do with this information, how to even begin to comprehend it.

“Thank you for coming,” Till found himself saying. Malfoy raised an eyebrow.

“Are you not going to comment on the illegality of me knowing legilimency?” Malfoy asked.

“All information learned on a trip involving the Winchesters is never to be spoken of again, except to Harry or with Harry’s permission,” Till recited. “Once this trip is over, Mr. Malfoy, I will no longer know you nor will I know that you are Legilimens. Officially.”

“I told you,” Harry said to Malfoy. Malfoy rolled his eyes.

“I’m not a Legilimens by any means – I have a basic understanding and very little practice,” Malfoy went on to explain, his tone less challenging and more conversational. Then, with an unkind smirk towards Harry, he all but sneered, “But Potter is so pathetic when he begs...“

Till could see Harry’s jaw clench as he glared. Malfoy huffed a small laugh, focusing back on Till, and his tone changed back yet again, to something that might actually resemble kindness. “... and Sam Winchester is a friend.”

Till nodded.  He was not sure what to make of the very strange dynamics between his boss and the former Death Eater. Till had always believed that only Harry’s most trusted inner circle knew about the Winchesters, and yet, Draco Malfoy was claiming – honestly – that he knew Sam as well.

“On that note, we should be going,” Harry said, and pulled a paperweight out of his pocket. “On the count of three...”

Till and Malfoy both stepped forward, and touched a finger to the paperweight as it began to glow. While Harry counted down, Till braced himself for yet another nauseating transatlantic trip.

It was as uncomfortable as he remembered.

They landed behind a building which they leaned up against until the nausea passed. Harry eventually gave them a nod; he was, of course, the first to recover. Malfoy straightened and brushed off his suit, as though just leaning against the wall had somehow sullied him. Till gave Harry a nod, even though he still felt dizzy, and then followed him as he led them around towards the front of the building.

It was a small motel, about 20 rooms, it seemed. Only about five of the little doorways had cars parked outside of them.

“Shit.”

Till nearly ran into Harry’s back when Harry suddenly stopped walking.

Before Till could ask, Malfoy was speaking, “Eloquent as always, Potter. I take it Sam hasn’t switched vehicles since the last time I saw him, which would mean-”

“I’ll check with the office,” Harry cut Malfoy off. “Maybe he’s just popped off somewhere and will be right back.”

Harry walked off without waiting for a response, leaving Till and Malfoy to wait in uncomfortable silence.

“Did you attend Durmstrang?” Malfoy finally broke the silence. Till glanced at him, but Malfoy hadn’t taken his eyes off of Harry.

“Yes,” Till answered. He too, kept his eyes on Harry, watching him enter the office – then catching sight of him through the window as he talked to the man behind the counter.

“You weren’t at the Tri-Wizard tournament that year,” Malfoy stated.

“I was finished school by then,” Till confirmed. Inside the building, Harry was running a hand through his already messy hair. Not good news.

“Was it a good school?” Malfoy asked, and then continued before Till could answer. “I used to wish that I had gone there instead.”

Till wasn’t quite sure how to answer. He thought of how he had loved his classes. He thought of the late nights in the library, of learning herbology and potions and thinking of all the possibilities of a future in the field of Healing... but there had also been the relentless bullying. His sister had tried to protect him as best she could, but often having his sister defend him just made it worse.

“It was good and bad,” Till settled on. “Like any school. Sometimes good, sometimes bad.”

Harry was leaving the office.

“It couldn’t have been as bad as Hogwarts,” Malfoy shook his head, as though Till’s answer had disappointed him. “I can’t even count the number of times I nearly died.”

Till took his eyes off Harry then, who was still just out of hearing range. He caught Malfoy’s eyes.

“Neither can I,” Till said. Malfoy furrowed his brow. Till shrugged. “Different battles.”

“He’s left,” Harry announced, cutting off any possible response from Malfoy. Till was thankful, unsure of what he should and shouldn’t reveal, unsure of the extent of Malfoy’s legilimency skills. “Sometime yesterday, apparently,” Harry added.

Harry kept walking past them, back around the corner of the building to the spot where they had arrived.

“If you expect me to take another nauseating trip back to England-” Malfoy started to say.

“I’m going to call him,” Harry cut him off with a glare. “If that doesn’t work, I can track the car. I just- I told him not to drive.”

“And you told me that he seems to have a compulsive need to do so,” Malfoy rolled his eyes. “Really, Potter, next time either remove the distributor cap or at least have the intelligence not to be surprised.”

Harry pulled out his com-mirror. “Shut-up, Malfoy.” He then paused, and looked back at Malfoy in confusion. “How do you know about distributor caps?”

Malfoy rolled his eyes, “Scorpius likes cars. Now find Sam before you waste more of our time.”

Sam answered after the third call of his name.

“Harry? Sorry – I’m sorry-” Sam started.

“I told you to stay-”

“I know, I’m sorry, but I had to – and then he just came out of nowhere. I didn’t see him,” Sam continued, clearly distraught.

“Sam, did you hit someone?”  Harry asked, paling. Till clutched his healer kit a little tighter. He glanced at Malfoy to find that his brow had furrowed.

“A dog. I hit a dog,” Sam answered, and they all breathed a sigh of relief, though Harry swallowed his the quickest.

“Where are you?” Harry asked, as he pulled the paperweight from his pocket and tossed it to Till.

Sam gave them his location – Kermit, Texas, and the name of the motel, and then the approximate coordinates according to the GPS on his mobile. Till redid the portkey spell, while Sam returned to talking about the dog – how he drove it to the vet, and it was supposed to be okay, but that now the vet was forcing Sam to take the dog – then Till gave Harry the nod that the spellwork was complete.

“Okay, we’ll be there in just a minute, Sam,” Harry said. “See you soon.”

“Okay,” came the response. Harry snapped the mirror closed and ran a hand through his hair.

 “It sounds as though, at the bare minimum, we should try to put an end to the compulsive behaviour,” Malfoy offered.

“Maybe the dog will help with that,” Harry said. “He’ll have to at least stay in one area so that he can take it for regular veterinary appointments until it heals – it could be enough to get him to stop driving long distances.”

“Or, he’ll end up driving long distances with a distracting animal in the car,” Malfoy countered. “I hardly think it’s responsible to force a dog on someone who may be a bit unhinged.”

Harry sighed. “I wish I could disagree, but we might as well be optimistic about this.”

“Dogs can be used to help calm those distressed by post-trauma stress,” Till offered.

“And what a wonderful world it would be, if a broken dog solved all our problems,” Malfoy rolled his eyes. “But somehow, I doubt that’s the case, and we’re certainly not solving anything by standing miles away and ruminating on possibilities. Shall we go?”

Harry just gave a sharp nod and held his hand out to touch the paperweight.  Malfoy stepped closer in order to join them.

Portus

The second trip was shorter, less nauseating, but it still deposited them in front of a small motel not unlike the one they had just left. Though this one had its buildings set out like a small community unto itself.  It was still early enough in the morning that no one was outside to see three wizards appear out of nowhere. They quickly spotted the correct door. Harry taking point, as usual, and knocking.

Sam answered swiftly and Till realised that this was the first time he was visiting when Sam was conscious for his arrival. All things considered, Till still felt it was an improvement – though Sam looked haggard.  He was in sleep pants and a t-shirt. Till realized that Harry’s morning call must have woken him up.

“Hey,” Sam greeted Harry, then he glanced back to where Till and Malfoy stood. “Hey, Draco! And uh, Till, right? Hi!” Sam’s expression then fell, and he turned his attention solely to Malfoy. “Did- did Harry tell you about... Dean... uh, that, he’s...”

“Yes,” Malfoy answered. “I’m sorry for your loss, Sam.” 

Sam bit his lip and nodded, looking down and away.

“Can we come in, Sam?” Harry interjected.

“Oh, yeah, ‘course,” Sam said. He took a deep breath and stepped back from the threshold, leaving room for the wizards to file in. “What are you guys doing here, anyway? Not that I’m not, uh, glad to see you or anything, but...” Sam gestured towards Till, “...I’m not dying, and...” Sam then gestured to Malfoy, “Dean’s... not here.” Sam’s finished in a whisper, then took another breath and smiled a brittle smile. “Is there something I can help you with?”

Till filed away the information that Sam treated Malfoy as though he were primarily Dean’s friend instead of his own. He really didn’t know what to make of this information. How it fit into his idea of who Malfoy was or who the Winchesters were. They seemed very unlikely friends – Hunters and a former dark wizard. Even the way Malfoy stood in the room, as though he were standing in squalor, was the complete opposite of Sam Winchester, who had his bare toes digging into the motel’s shag carpet in comfort.

“Actually, yes,” Harry answered. “Till’s been studying the mind, and he was wondering if he might be able to get more information on what Castiel did to cure you of your ailments all those months ago.”

Till kept his expression schooled and offered Sam a small smile when he looked over in surprise. It wasn’t the truth, but it was close to it, and Till figured that Harry must know better on how to talk with Sam.

Malfoy, on the other hand, rolled his eyes. “That’s Harry’s excuse,” he said. “I’m here because I wanted to offer my condolences for your loss and to make sure that you were alright, Sam.”

“Thanks, Draco,” Sam smiled softly. “Uh, I don’t know how much help I’ll be, Till. I mean, I don’t really know what he did? I was a little out of it at the time, and it kind of messed him up, so we never did find out what exactly it was.”

Till nodded, “I understand, but – I was thinking, maybe, if I could see the memories...? Maybe, there will be clues?”

“See the-“ Sam started, brow furrowed.

“I brought my pensieve,” Harry interrupted. “It’s up to you, of course, but if you were willing to let us-”

“Pensieve, that’s... the memory bowl, right?” Sam asked.

Till nodded. “We would only need a few memories. Maybe, from before you were cured, so we could see the symptoms. Then, what you remember of the cure, and then after?”

Sam seemed unsure and Till worried that the whole trip would be for nothing.

“Would I have to come with you?” Sam asked. “Into the bowl?”

“Not if you don’t want to,” Harry answered. Sam still seemed reluctant, but he nodded.

“Okay, yeah, um, how do I?” Sam gestured to his head.

“Draco will help you,” Harry answered. “He can explain how it will work while Till and I set up.”

Harry motioned Till over to the kitchen counter, while Malfoy pulled Sam over to the couch, already beginning his explanation of how memory extraction worked. Till set down his healer kit and his own bag and helped Harry pull the pensieve and small carrying case full of glass vials out of Harry’s shoulder bag and arrange everything on the kitchen counter.

Harry selected three vials and then he and Till walked back over to where Malfoy and Sam sat on the couch.

“How old is he now?” Sam was asking.

“Scorpius just turned seven,” Malfoy answered with a smile.

“Seven, wow,” Sam smiled.

“He still remembers you.”

“He does?” Sam asked, disbelieving. “He was so little.”

“Well, I must admit, you have become a bit vague in his memory – a bit like a fairy tale,” Malfoy said, there was a softness in his tone, that Till believed came from talking about his son.

Sam laughed a little. “A good one, I hope.”

“Only the best for my son,” Malfoy answered, then finally acknowledged Harry and Till. “Ah, the vials, excellent. If you’re ready, Sam, we can get started.”

Sam nodded, seeming to brace himself.

“Now, just like we talked about,” Malfoy said, pulling his wand from the inside pocket of his jacket. “To begin, I just need you to remember one or two examples of your mental state when it was at its worst. Try to hold them in the forefront of your thought, and then give me a nod when you’re ready.”

Sam closed his eyes for a moment, and then nodded. He kept his eyes closed as Malfoy touched the tip of his wand to Sam’s temple and slowly extracted the first memory – long and blue, twisting into curls as Malfoy dropped it into the vial.

“Very good,” Malfoy said, handing the vial to Harry, who immediately moved across the room with it and placed it by the pensieve. “Now,” Malfoy continued. “Try to remember as much as you can about whatever it was that Castiel did to help you.”

Again, Sam nodded after a moment of silence and Malfoy pulled another memory from his head. This one looked more ethereal: thin and fragile.

“One more,” Malfoy said, after passing the fragile memory to Harry. “What was it like after? Just one or two memories that would paint us a picture.”

Sam frowned, but then nodded again after a moment, and Malfoy extracted the last memory. Once again, handing if off to Harry.

“All done,” Malfoy declared. “You did very well, Sam.”

Sam opened his eyes, smiled softly, and then sought out Till’s gaze. “I hope it helps.”

Till smiled and answered, “Thank you,” because he wasn’t sure if “me too” would really be an appropriate response.

“What should I do while you guys are...” Sam gestured to the pensieve.

“Just carry on about your day,” Harry answered.

“Okay,” Sam said. He stood, looking decidedly uncomfortable. “I’m going to go... um, shower.” He smiled tightly, and then walked past them to disappear into the bathroom. A moment later they heard the water come on.

They didn’t speak as Harry poured the memory vials, in order, into the pensieve. Till felt both excited and vaguely terrified at what they were about to experience.

Chapter Text

Harry appeared next to an office building, Sam and Dean were walking towards it. Harry felt a pang at the sight of Dean at Sam’s side, never to be there again. They were already speaking as Till and Draco both appeared beside Harry, one after the other.

“I’m just saying, Sam, you’re out of control,” Dean was saying.

“I’m dealing with it the best I can,” Sam replied, looking hunted.

“Dealing?” Dean laughed. Harry exchanged a look with Draco, because something already seemed off. “Sorry, that’s just funny, I mean how can you deal? You think this is an office building, right?”

They didn’t have a choice but to follow Sam through the door, the scene suddenly shifting and suddenly they found themselves inside a warehouse.

“Is this a new memory?” Harry asked, but there hadn’t been the usual swirling transition.

“Sorry, wrong,” Dean said, gesturing to the warehouse.

“Where the hell are we?” Sam asked.

“It is a hallucination,” Till answered. “We have no way of knowing what is real-“

Till cut himself off when they watched transfixed as Dean morphed into someone else.

“A shapeshifter?” Draco asked.

“You poor clueless son of a bitch,” the man said to Sam.

“Stay the hell away from me,” Sam ordered and then turned to walk away.

“Hallucination,” Harry concluded, “But who-”

“Your world is whatever I want it to be, understand?” the man said.

Sam turned on his heal and shot towards the man. Harry, Draco and Till all jumped at the sound of the gun, but the man was already gone.

“Leave me alone!” Sam yelled.

The man appeared behind Sam to taunt him further, but Harry was distracted by Till sucking in a sharp breath.

“It’s Lucifer,” Till stated, when both Harry and Draco turned towards him in question. “The Morning Star. It was written on the door.”

Harry turned back towards the memory of Sam, flinching when he fired a second time, once again hitting nothing.

“Want to point that gun at something useful? Try your face,” Lucifer said, and walked closer to Sam. “Want to know the truth? Want  to skip to the last page of the book? You know where to aim.” He held his finger to the underside of his jaw. “Cowboy,” Lucifer finished, and then mimicked a suicide.

“My god,” Harry whispered.

At the end of the room, a door opened and Dean walked in calling for Sam.

Harry watched as Lucifer morphed back into Dean, in order to confuse and taunt Sam further – or, maybe neither Dean was real.

“Do you think it’s really Lucifer?” Harry asked.

“I was with you, Dean!” Sam said.

“Okay, well here I am.”

“No,” Till said. “I think, only hallucination.  It is a trick of the mind, to try to end pain, to convince Sam he must kill himself-“

“It may also be a manifestation of the trauma he experienced,” Draco added. Harry raised his eyebrow at Draco, who then looked annoyed at having to explain himself. “You know I studied legilimency, Potter. Try not to act surprised that I actually learned while doing so. You said his hell memories were released to him all at once – this could be the mind’s way of trying to understand the volume of what occurred.”

They all jumped and flinched again when Sam fired his gun seemingly directly at them.

“Whoa whoa! Sam! This discussion does not require a weapons discharge!” Dean exclaimed.

Sam, thankfully, lowered the gun. Harry motioned for Draco and Till to stay quiet, as they watched Dean approach Sam.

“I think that really is Dean,” Harry explained.

“Look at me. Come on. You don’t know what’s real? Look man, I’ve been to Hell. Okay? I know a thing or two about torture. Enough to know that it feels different than the pain of this – this regular stupid crappy...THIS,” Dean pleaded.

Harry heard Draco take a measured breath. He realized that Draco hadn’t known – hadn’t known where Dean had been before he was resurrected those few years ago. Neither, in fact, had Till – but Till just stared with rapt attention, assessing.

“No, no,” Sam said. “How can you know that for sure?”

“Let me see your hand,” Dean said. Sam went to lift it. “No, no, the gimp hand! Let me see it.”

Lucifer made a cutting remark, to distract Sam, but Dean grabbed his hand and forced his attention back to himself.

“This is real. Not a year ago. Not in Hell. Now. I was with you when you cut it. I sewed it up! Look!” As Dean squeezed Sam’s hand, Lucifer flickered. It was a little, but it was enough.

Harry turned to look at Till, to see the same realization dawn on his face. He saw Till’s eyes flicker over towards Draco, and then Till explained, “Last time I saw him. He would not let me heal his hand. He insisted on the... stitches only.”

“This is different. Right? Then the crap that’s tearing through your walnut? I’m different, right?” Dean continued.

“Yeah, I think so,” Sam said, as he took his hand back.

“You sure about that, bunk buddy?” Lucifer questioned. Harry felt sick at the words, he kept his eyes focused on the memory and resisted the urge to see how Till and Draco’s reactions, but he could feel their stillness just as well as his own.

He watched as Sam pushed his own thumb against the bandage as Lucifer continued to protest.

“And that is why the stitches were torn when I saw him,” Till said, his soft voice oddly empty. “He did it to himself.”

“Hey, I am your flesh and blood brother, okay? I’m the only one that legitimately kick your ass in real time. You got away. We got you out, Sammy,” Dean continued.

Lucifer made one final protest, but then disappeared, as Sam pushed even harder on his hand.

“Believe in that! Believe me, okay? You gotta believe me. You gotta make it stone number one and build on it. You understand?”

“Yeah, yeah, okay,” Sam said.

“He still does that,” Harry said. “The hand – he presses his hand. He did it over breakfast the other day.”

“He did it when I was explaining how I was going to remove the memories,” Draco agreed.

“So, is stone number one the fact that he got out of hell?” Harry asked. “Or is it that he can believe Dean? Because...”

Around them, the memory dissolved into inky swirls, then reformed. They were in a hospital. Sam sat on a plastic chair. Lucifer appeared beside him.

“You’re such a hypocrite, Sam,” Lucifer all but whispered into Sam’s ear. “First you want things to be real, now you don’t – luckily, as long as you’re in agony, I’m happy.”

They watched as Sam rubbed his scarred hand and Lucifer began to fade. “Precious Uncle Bobby is going to die, Sam, and that hand trick won’t work for much longer...”

Before any of them could comment, the memory swirled away yet again. This time, they were transported to a dirty ally, where Sam lay crouched against the wall.

“I just want to sleep,” Sam pleaded to a shady looking man in leather. The memory swirled again, only briefly, and Sam was in an old car next to the same man, swallowing a handful of pills. “I just want to sleep,” Sam repeated. Beside him, the man was already passing out.

“Oh Sam,” Harry said, and he felt the pressure build behind his eyes. Draco was almost green beside him and Till cringed as he watched the drugs slide down Sam’s throat. “Where the hell is Dean?” Harry asked the one person who couldn’t hear him.

Sam closed his eyes, leaning back in the seat as the drugs seemed to take effect, but then jumped awake as the front window suddenly shattered. Sam scrambled out of the car, while Harry, Draco and Till simply walked through the memory like it was made of smoke. The windshield was intact.

“Good morning to you! Good morning to you!” Lucifer sung from beside Sam. Sam just walked away, Lucifer hounding him at his back.

The memory swirled again. Now Sam lay in a hospital bed, bruised and bandaged. Dean was standing at the foot of the bed.

“Sam, if I don’t find something...”

“Then I’ll die,” Sam finished.

From the corner, Lucifer pouted, “Oh, you’re upsetting me.”

“Dean, we knew this was coming...” Sam continued, as though no one had spoken.

“No,” Dean denied.

“When you put my soul back...”

“No.”

“Cas warned you about all the crap it would...”

“Screw Cas!” Dean declared. “Quit being Dalai Fuckin’ Yoda about this, okay! Get pissed!”

“I’m too tired,” Sam said.

Around them, the memory swirled once again. When the inky liquid reformed, it was to a much narrower point of view. Everything beyond a three foot radius of Sam was blurry and indistinct. Sam was lying on a hospital bed, being pushed into a room, but Harry couldn’t make out who it was that was with Sam.

“He is too tired to see,” Till muttered.

Harry could see chunks of Sam’s hair that had fallen out on the pillow beside him. His fingernails were bloody.

“What’s happening to him?” Harry asked.

“He’s dying,” Draco replied. Till just nodded.

“Where... where- where are we?” Sam asked, and then the figure of the Orderly came into view.

“Electroshock therapy-“ The orderly began to answer.

“No!” Till exclaimed.

“-get you settled. Don’t be-“

“I don’t understand, what’s-” Draco began to ask, obviously concerned at the horrified look on Till’s face.

 “They can’t possibly do this!” Till yelled.

“M- m- my brother-” Sam said weakly, but the only answer was a mouth-guard being forced between his teeth.

“What IS it though?” Draco asked again, agitated.

“I don’t know much about it,” Harry answered.

“It is electricity through the brain,” Till replied. Fists clenched tightly. “The muggles... they- They use it...”

“...but I say we experiment a little. What do you say, Sam?”

 “...but even then only, only when the patient is drugged – Sam cannot be drugged. We have seen this. They KNOW-”

“Shh!” Harry ordered. Till immediately fell silent. “There’s something wrong.”

The orderly was strapping Sam’s head down, when suddenly his eyes turned black.

“No,” Harry muttered, trying to resist the urge to run over and save Sam – trying to remember that it was a memory, that he couldn’t touch or alter anything, that Sam had survived.

“But is what we’re seeing real?” Draco asked.

Before Harry could even think of an answer, the possible-demon was cracking a dial on the machine, and Sam started shaking as his brain was flooded with electricity.

“Oh god,” Draco gasped.

“It must be a demon,” Till said. “No doctor would do this.”

While Harry and Till stood, horrified, but trying their best to understand what they were seeing. Draco backed away, almost stumbling, in his own horror.

“No,” Draco said. “End it. I don’t want to see this.”

“Wow, you just keep taking those lickin’s...”

“Don’t you dare leave,” Harry said. “He’s showing us this memory for a reason-”

“...Well, if it’s meat, you can cook it. You just got to turn up the heat.”

“No!” Draco said, and suddenly the demon-orderly blurred and there was a strange flash of light.

“What was that?” Till asked.

But Sam’s eyes must have been closed, because all they could see was the electrodes falling away from his head, and the mouth-guard being taken out.

“Open your eyes, Sam,” Harry muttered.

“I should have never broken your wall, Sam. I’m here to make it right.” A disembodied voice said, and then there were blurry fingers touching Sam’s forhead.

“That’s Castiel,” Harry said. Dean had told him about Castiel’s betrayal of Sam, of them all. It could be no one else. And yet, when Sam opened his eyes, the blurry figure was revealed to be Lucifer.

“You’re not real,” Sam said, still confident, before he closed his eyes again.

“Oh Sam... I’m so sorry.”

“No, that had to have been Castiel,” Harry insisted. “I don’t understand-”

“We’re viewing the memories of a madman, Harry,” Draco said, a worn out edge to his voice. “None of this could be real.”

Before Harry could respond, the memory was disappearing around them in inky swirls. When it reformed, the quality was even worse. Sam was still the only being illuminated, him and slightly blurry Lucifer who sat not far off. Sam stared blankly into space.

Harry could hear voices, but could not see anyone in the blackness of the room. The voices were mostly unintelligible, just a low murmur on the edges of the memory – Harry wondered if it was just another facet of Sam’s madness.

“..can’t...”

“...nothing left....”

Till moved from beside Harry, walking towards the darkness away from Sam.

“They’re over here,” Till said. “The voices- I think there are two of them.”

“...crumbled...crushed to dust....”

“...nothing?...”

“I think that’s Dean,” Harry realized, catching a familiar cadence in one of the voices.

“He can’t even see him,” Draco said, looking at Sam.

“...Sam....”

Till moved, following the voice, and Harry could hear the directionality of it now too. The Lucifer that had been reading the book disappeared, and reappeared sitting next to Sam on the bed, dressed in an almost comical doctor’s outfit.

“It’s better this way. I’ll be fine,” Lucifer said. Harry watched as Sam flinched at the words.

“..Cas...”

“This is it!” Harry realized. “It is Cas!”

“Now, Sam, this may hurt. And if I can’t tell you again, I’m sorry I ever did this to you.”

The figure of Lucifer disappeared into a blurry mess as a hand landed on Sam’s face and Sam’s eyes screwed shut. All they could see was the hand, because that was all Sam could feel – and then, energy, like fire, traveled from Sam’s head into the hand, disappearing in to the black beyond what Sam could feel himself.

When the hand was removed, Sam scrambled back, his eyes flying open, and suddenly the room was illuminated. Dean was moving towards the bed, calling Sam’s name. Castiel was on the bed next to Sam. He had red energy fading away from his eyes-

“Dean!” Sam answered, and then seemed to realize who was beside him, “Cas? Cas is that you?”

Only, Cas didn’t respond, instead he scrambled off the bed, as though terrified, and pressed his back up against the wall.

“Cas?” Dean said.

And as they watched, Cas lost his terrified expression, but it was replaced with a blank stare into the middle distance as Cas seemed to completely shut-down.

“Interesting,” Draco said.

Before Harry could ask what was interesting, the memory was swirling around them again. They soon found themselves at the cabin.

“Do you see Lucifer?” Sam was asking Castiel, who had his trench coat on, but underneath, wore the clothes of a hospital patient.

“I did at first,” Castiel answered. “But that was... It was a projection of yours, I think. Sort of an aftertaste. Now I more see... well, everything.”

“Yes,” Draco murmured.

“What are you thinking?” Harry asked.

“Shhh,” Draco waved at Harry to be quiet.

“...the weight of all my mistakes, all those lives and souls lost, I... I couldn’t take it either. I was... I was lost until I took your pain. It’s strange to think that that helped...

“What’s he talking about there?” Draco asked, defying his own no-talking rule.

“Um, it’s a bit of a long story...” Harry said.

“Tell me quickly,” Draco ordered with a glare.

“...we’re all grateful, and we’re going to help you get better...”

“Castiel was possessed, went power-mad, killed a bunch of people,” Harry summed up. “He regretted it.”

“What do you mean “better”?” Castiel asked Sam.

“Interesting. I need another memory,” Draco announced. “Wait for me here.” Draco disappeared, and the memory suddenly froze around them.

Harry’s looked at Till, only to find him with the same confused and slightly alarmed expression that Harry was sure was on his own face.

“You know him better than I,” Till shrugged.

Harry really didn’t.

“Do you have any thoughts about what we just saw?” Harry asked, changing the topic.

Till sighed and shook his head. “I would say that it looked as though Castiel transferred the damage to his own mind, but that should not be possible. Whatever he did, I am unsure whether it has anything to do with Sam now. It is a concern that the symptom is the same – Sam does not sleep well – that is easy to see.  But is it because of hallucination or the compulsion? These are two very different things in the mind.”

Harry wasn’t sure if that was good or bad. Harry hadn’t been able to help Sam before, after all, and now that he knew the details of just how bad it had gotten, he hoped that Sam would never have to go through that again. But, compulsive behaviour was different than suffering from hallucinations, so perhaps Harry didn’t have to worry at all.

Suddenly, the memories around them began to swirl again, and as the scene reformed, Draco appeared at Harry’s side as though he had never left.

They found themselves in a lab. Sam was standing by the door with an Asian teenager. In front of them, stood Dick Roman, facing Dean, with a bone through his neck. Behind Dick Roman was Castiel.

“What is this?” Harry asked.

“The moment Castiel died,” Draco answered, and they watched while Dick Roman transformed into the horrible Leviathan that he was, then his face returned to human form, and suddenly he began to pulsate with energy.

“What-“ Harry started, watching as Dean took a step backwards. Sam turned to shield the teenager, and the rest of the room was momentarily cast into darkness because Sam’s eyes were no longer on it, but Harry could hear the explosion, and Sam turned back around immediately.

The room was empty, save for the black goo that used to be Dick Roman. Dean and Cas were gone.

“Sam, we should go,” the teenager said.

“What the hell?” Sam asked, walking further into the room.

“More chompers any second, Sam,” the teenager spoke again.

“Not to worry, I have a small army of demons outside...” A man in a suit appeared.

“This is when Dean died too,” Draco explained, over top of the rest of the suited man’s speech. “They went together.” He was looking around the lab in rapt interest. Harry realized that lighting in the lab had changed, becoming sinister and dark, for a moment Harry thought he saw blood dripping down the walls.

“I don’t under-”

“Sam’s current problems started with Dean’s death,” Draco replied. “But Cas died at the same time.”

“Of course,” Till said. “The spell is terminated with the death of the caster.”

“Five points to Durmstrang,” Draco announced. “But, you could have gotten ten...”

“Where’s Dean?”

“Ten?” Harry asked.

“Shh!” Draco replied, focusing on the suited man.

“...has a bit of a kick. God weapons often do. They should put a warning on the box.”

“Where are they, Crowley?”

Harry realized who the man was – The King of Hell.

“Can’t help you, Sam,” Crowley answered and then snapped his fingers. Two demons appeared beside the teenager that Sam had left by the door. “Sorry, Sam” Crowley said, and then they disappeared again, the teenager with them. “Prophet’s mine. You got what you wanted – Dick’s dead. Saved the world. So, I want one little prophet. Sorry, Moose, wish I could help. You certainly got a lot on your plate now. It looks like you are well and truly... on your own.”

With that, Crowley snapped his fingers again – and then he too, disappeared.  Sam looked around the empty lab, now clearer and brighter than it had been in the moments after the explosion.

Sam looked devastated. Harry felt devastated too. There weren’t even bodies for him to bury. His family was just...gone... through the veil, just like Sirius.

 “Did you notice?” Draco asked, smiling.

“What?!” Harry asked. “What the bloody hell are you smiling about?”

“Ugh, you’re an idiot, Potter!” Draco threw his hands up. And with that, Draco once again disappeared out of the pensieve.

Harry waved his wand and the memory froze.

“Please tell me you know what he’s talking about?” Harry asked Till, but he could already tell that Till was as out of his depth as Harry was.

“I’m sorry, sir,” Till replied.

“Come on,” Harry replied, and he exited the pensieve.

He lifted his head out of the bowl and turned to see Draco kneeling on the floor in front of where Sam sat on the couch. He was extracting more memories. Sam’s hair was still wet, but he was dressed, and there was an empty bowl on the coffee table. Apparently, they’d been gone long enough for Sam to enjoy his breakfast.

Till appeared beside Harry.

“Return the memories to their vials, Till,” Harry ordered. “It looks like we need to clear the pensieve for something else.”

“No,” Draco said, adding a cork to what appeared to be the fifth vial of memories that he had extracted in only a few seconds. “We’ll be staying away from these ones.” Draco lifted his wand to Sam’s temple again, and pulled out another long chain of memories, adding them to a sixth vial.

“Then why-” Harry started to ask, and then he realized... he realized there were only two reasons to remove memories – you either wanted to view them or you wanted to avoid them while you viewed everything else. “Draco, no!”

“It’s the only way,” Draco replied, corking the vial. “Sam, why aren’t you sleeping well? Is it like before?”

Sam opened his eyes and shook his head. “No, I just need to keep moving. I can fall asleep just fine though, but usually only for a couple hours, and then I need to keep moving.”

“And there has been no return of your hallucinations?” Draco asked. Harry realized that Draco may have just been trying to clear Sam’s head a little, in order to make it easier for him to answer questions. He was relieved, and felt ridiculous for assuming that Draco was about to attempt something impossible.

“No,” Sam replied.

“Do you ever experience unbidden memories of your time in the cage?” Draco asked. “Are there memories that come without warning?”

Sam shook his head. “Not really – only... only I guess once or twice a day, I’ll kind of think of something that happened– it’s not like a flashback or... a bad event. I mean, it’s a memory of a bad event, but I can handle it.”

 “Very good,” Draco nodded. “Now, I’m going to ask you to maintain eye contact, and then it’s going to be just like I explained – I’ll only be following one thought and will not pry into any of your personal matters. Do I have your consent?”

“Yes,” Sam nodded.

“What? Draco, it’s too dangerous-” Harry crossed the room. He just needed to pull Draco away, but Draco shifted and raised his wand. Harry heard Till move behind him, he didn’t have to look to know that Till had drawn as well. Harry raised his hands, showing they were empty, but he didn’t tell Till to do the same. Sam tensed on the couch, eyes going wide in concern as he saw the standoff between the three wizards.

“Sam, do you have any particular urge to do anything right now?” Draco asked, still eyeing Harry and Till.

Sam glanced between the three wizards warily. “I have to keep moving.”

Draco turned his full focus back on Sam, and it was a quick enough turn for Sam to meet his gaze head on. Surely, Malfoy wouldn’t...

Legilimens!

“NO!” Harry yelled, but it was too late.

Chapter Text

Draco followed the feeling – the urge to move – it was laced over everything. It wasn’t difficult to find. Sam’s every experience, every sense, contained a sliver of the thought “I have to keep moving” – and it all had the same fingerprint, or footprint. Yes, footprint, because Draco could follow it, could follow it down, down, down, stretched thin, but strong, over a great distance, through... through something... not a curtain, more like water, more like mist and fog, and someplace where the light traveled differently, perhaps sound too...

And Draco pressed on, because the one thought, the feeling, would lead to more – would lead to answers...


It was like coming out of the darkness into a bright day, only worse – overwhelming, crushing, and more than Draco could fathom. He was in the subconscious, he could feel that much, he wasn’t being spared a thought, none of these thoughts were being had at the surface, accept the one – the one thought that had to permeate every part of this being - “I must keep moving” - it was bleeding everywhere, on every thought and feeling, not even just the being’s own, but those that he carefully filtered for another.

Draco was going to die. It was too much. Too much. And he couldn’t find a door. He knew he either had to shut a door or get a message through another, but there was so much here – even here – and then he heard it, felt it, in amongst the ceaseless churning of thought and knowledge, a single voice became clear, and Draco had been noticed-


Draco thought of speaking, but that was an act of the body, and Draco had no body here – there was only the being, the being and Draco, tucked into a corner, pushed up against a wall. Drowning. No, crushed – crushed under the multitude contained here.


But Draco wanted to ask, he needed to know... why... what... The pain was immense now. There was too much light. Too many thoughts. Too much, too much... but what were they fleeing from? Because it didn’t feel like a desire to move towards something but a need to move away...


And then before Draco could protest, he was being pushed out, up, up, through, stretched thin, through the filter, through the water, mist, fog, back, back, until he was once again in the darkness of his own mind – and it seemed such a calm thing, simple, so simple...  a single cell where once he had been multitudes.

His senses came back to him slowly. Someone was chanting. Someone was cursing. His face felt sticky. His neck wet. He was cold. He had a headache that was slowly ebbing away in waves, waves, and waves, like water across pebbles on a beach, receding after a storm... had he been in a storm? No, he had been through, through, and through. He had been a great distance away, so far away, and he had been multitudes when he was never meant to be more than this, this pebble, this single cell.

There were fingers touching him – warm fingers on his temples – they rubbed cool waves into his head, slowly turning warm. They soothed. Magic. Every touch was healing, soothing, like the voice that chanted in an unknown language. Draco wanted to ask. He needed to find his voice, it was there, somewhere inside him, if he could remember how to use it.

“Is that Russian?” the question vibrated in his throat, such a simple thing, speaking.

The fingers paused. Draco frowned.

“нет,” came the answer, and then the fingers resumed, the chanting continued.

“Oh thank God,” the other voice in the room said – the one that had been cursing. Harry Potter.

Draco wondered what Harry had against Russian. Did the Dark Lord speak Russian? Karkaroff – Krum... no, Krum was Bulgarian.

“Bulgarian?” Draco said.

“не,” and Draco could hear the smile in the voice. The chanting did not begin again; instead the fingers dragged pleasantly through Draco’s hair, taking the last of the headache with them. Draco felt as though he could melt into the floor.

 “Is he brain damaged!?” Harry asked.

“Not as much as you,” Draco replied, keeping his eyes closed as he enjoyed the floor.

“No,” the gentle voice answered on the end of a small laugh. Draco remembered Till, the Healer, with his soft voice and careful words.

“I think that’s up for debate,” Harry argued, angry – always so angry. “What the hell were you thinking?!”

What had he been thinking? He had been thinking that it wasn’t a transfer. It was a filter – a living filter. No, not a filter – a funnel. He had been thinking that the only way to prove it – the only way to confirm his hypothesis – was to use legilimency on Sam. He had thought about the consequences of doing so. He had thought of asking Harry to find a master Legilimens for the job, but then he had thought about trust. Draco did not trust Legilimens. Not after the Dark Lord. It took months of therapy before he could even attend his occlumency lessons for fear of the instructor. No, the only one Draco trusted with legilimency was himself and, therefore, he was the only one he trusted to perform legilimency on Sam Winchester.

He had known, had he suggested it to Harry, Harry would have protested – or, decided to be noble, and do it himself – which would be disastrous, because it required delicate work and Harry was a sledge hammer.

“I was thinking a lot of things, Potter,” Draco answered. “I’m much more intelligent than you are. Where’s Sam?”

“Here,” Sam answered.

Draco realized that he hadn’t opened his eyes yet. So, yes, his next task was to do that.

His eyelids felt stuck together, gritty – had he been crying? He blinked a few times as his eyes adjusted to the light. Till knelt above him, leaning into his line of sight like a fair gargoyle. Harry was standing a distance away, still angry, his wand in his hand as though they were all about to be attacked. Sam was still sitting on the couch, his body tense, but his eyes only full of concern and perhaps fear. Draco had to look past his own nose to see Sam, because apparently, Draco must have fainted – he was lying prone across the carpet in front of Sam. His feet still where they had been when he had been crouched in front of him to perform the spell.

“How do you feel?” Draco asked Sam.

Sam let out a startled laugh. “I think I should be asking you that.”

“I’m slightly concerned about my willingness to remain on this frankly disgusting carpeting,” Draco answered honestly. “But, tell me, do you have anywhere you have to go today, Sam?”

“Uh, I have to pick up the dog in about an hour,” Sam answered.

“And then?” Draco asked. “Do you feel the urge to keep moving?”

“No,” Sam said, eyes widening. “No. I know I... I did though? I know I did. It felt important for some reason, but I can’t remember why. But... I can’t now. I mean, the dog – if I’m really gonna take care of him, then he’ll need return vet visits – and De- Dean would be mad.”

“Dean would be mad if you kept moving?” Draco asked carefully. It didn't sit right in Draco mind though he didn't know why.

“There are no dogs allowed in the car,” Sam explained with a rueful smile. “And never take a joint from a guy named Don.”

“Sound advice,” Draco nodded.

Draco levered himself up on his elbows. Till’s hands shot out to hover without touching, and Harry and Sam both moved as if to help.

“I’m fine,” Draco scoffed, waving them off, as he pushed his way to sitting. Admittedly, he felt a little lightheaded. He pulled out his handkerchief in order to wipe the sticky sweat from his neck. “I fainted. Feel free to lord it over me in revenge for third-year, if you want Potter, but-“ Draco cut himself off as he looked down at his handkerchief.

“You didn’t faint, Draco,” Harry said. “You froze up, and then you started bleeding from... well... at first it was just your ears...“

“Then your eyes,” Sam finished.

Draco stared down at the blood soaked handkerchief, and then looked over at the dark stain on the carpet where his head had been a moment before. He looked up at Till.

“You suffered severe hemorrhaging,” Till explained, “and a sort of fever – a very bad sort of fever. Please don’t stand up. I need you to drink a blood replenishing potion, rest, and allow me to monitor your health a little longer.” 

Draco looked back at the carpet. He really didn’t want to be sitting on the carpet anymore.

“Sam, help Draco to the sofa,” Harry ordered, and before Draco could process what was happening – what HAD happened – Sam was gently placing a hand across his back and taking all his weight, while pulling him off the carpet. He was not upright for more than a second, before he was being pushed into the sofa cushions. He was dizzy. He was a pebble on the waves.

“Drake, hey, hey,” Sam called. Draco opened eyes that he hadn’t realized he had closed, to find Sam pushing a potion bottle to his lips. “Hey, buddy, drink this, it’ll make you feel better.”

It was a blood replenishing potion. Draco recognized the taste. Till was beside him on the couch, reading numbers that appeared in the air between them.  Harry was cleaning the blood out of the carpet. Draco smiled.

“Better,” Till said, it wasn’t a question, but Draco nodded.

“Where did you go?” Sam asked. “When you – when you froze up like that, Harry started asking what you were looking at, but I couldn’t... he said I should have been able to feel you in my head, but it was like you weren’t there at all.”

“I went through the funnel,” Draco tried to explain. “It wasn’t a transfer, it was... like a filter, sort of.”

“What?” Sam asked, confused, but Draco saw both Till and Harry turn their eyes to him.

“When you got your hell memories back, you got them back all at once, correct?” Draco asked. Sam nodded. “It was too much trauma to handle all at once. Your mind is... amazing, Sam, it really is. It should have just shut down completely, but instead it created this... avatar. It gave the trauma a body and a voice in order to attempt to... deal with it.”

“L-Lu....” Sam all but whispered and then couldn’t even finish the word.

Draco nodded.

“But it still nearly killed him,” Harry said.

Draco rolled his eyes. “Yes, but it should have killed him much earlier than that. He shouldn’t have been able to recover at all from the return of the memories, let alone buy himself months of time.”

“Okay,” Sam said, “but... did you... we took the hell memories out, I thought? I mean, I’m starting to remember them again now, but it didn’t feel like they were in there when you started. Is that-”

“It wasn’t the hell memories,” Draco said. “It was my fault for following the thought too far... for staying too long when I realized I couldn’t- it was too much for me. What Castiel did... you thought he transferred your madness to himself, but he didn’t.”

“But he was crazy after, just like-”

“No,” Draco interrupted again.  “Just like you can’t split the soul – or shouldn’t, in any case – you also can’t transfer someone’s madness to another person. He didn’t take anything away, Sam, all he did was set up a filter – a sort of funnel – between your hell memories and you.”

“I still remember it,” Sam said.

“Yes, but the filter works in two ways,” Draco explained. “Either it only retrieves a memory that you request or it gives you your memories bit by bit, funneling them into something small. It takes a raging river and essentially puts it behind a dam that only allows a constant trickle to come through. All the memories are still there, you can see them, but what the filter allows you to do is to not drown in them. The only way you can drink an entire river is one cup at a time.”

“But the spell dies with the caster,” Till said softly.

“Yes,” Draco smiled. “And yet Sam isn’t relapsing – so what does that tell us about our caster?”

“He was faking being crazy?” Sam guessed; his brow furrowed as though he wasn’t sure if he found the idea ridiculous or offensive.

“The spell is permanent and not reliant on his continued survival,” Harry concluded, and then also looked confused and began to second guess himself. “Though, if that were the case, why did it seem as though there was an immediate transfer of madness.”

“He’s the funnel,” Till said slowly. “He’s an angel – he’s... still alive.”

“Ten points to Durmstrang,” Draco smiled slowly.

Sam’s eyes widened, as his breath caught. Harry stared at Draco dumbfounded.

“He sends his apologies,” Draco said. “He didn’t realize that his thoughts were... contaminating the water, I suppose... if we’re sticking to that metaphor.”

“You spoke to him?” Sam asked in wonder. “If he’s alive, why hasn’t he ever answered me?  Where is he?! Does he know where Dean is? Why did he-”

“Sam,” Draco interrupted. “I didn’t- it wasn’t that kind of experience. It was... too overwhelming to even be there.”

“Be where?” Harry asked. “When you said you went through the funnel...”

Draco cringed, “no, I spoke incorrectly. It was more that I went inside the filter.”

Draco watched as realization dawned over Harry’s face. “Sam couldn’t feel you in his mind, because you were in Castiel’s.”

Draco nodded.

“Bloody hell,” Harry muttered. “You performed legilimency on an angel.”

Draco took a deep breath and nodded.

Sam was still looking at him desperately, craving answers that Draco couldn’t give – but it was now mitigated by a bit of amazed concern.

Draco closed his eyes and thought, tried to sparse the crushing weight of Castiel’s subconscious.

“He does it in the back of his head,” Draco began. “The filter is in his subconscious. I know... I know he was someplace that he finds... beautiful – uh, water...water on a shore, sunlight through trees. He... he feels he belongs there. And uh... Dean.”

“Dean is with him?” Sam asked, and Draco didn’t have to open his eyes, he could hear the crack in Sam’s voice clearly.

“Yes,” Draco answered, his head was beginning to ache again. “He felt... protective.”

“That’s enough,” Till’s voice cut through Draco’s concentration. He opened his eyes to see Sam scrub a hand over his face and then rise to his feet from where he had been kneeling next to Draco. Harry was still looking at him in concern, with questions unanswered. Till pressed another potion into Draco’s hands. In the air to the side of Draco, there was a floating image of Draco’s brain, with different parts lighting up.

“Drink, then you must rest a little,” Till said. Draco nodded, and drank the potion. He couldn’t recognize it by taste, but almost immediately he felt the headache begin to lift again as a sort of floating feeling came over him.

Across the room, he heard Sam say, “They must be in heaven.”

Draco liked that idea and wished he felt more confident that it was true – but what did he know? Sam would know better what lay beyond the veil than Draco did. All he knew was that he found comfort in knowing that Dean had a friend with him, wherever he was. He knew what it was to feel alone in the world, even when surrounded by people, and he would not wish it on anyone. Dean was dead, but it was Sam who was alone.

Till touched Draco’s shoulder and Draco found himself being gently pushed into a prone position across the sofa.  Till put aside his wand and placed his fingers on Draco’s temples.

“I’ve never seen a Healer use their hands before,” Draco admitted; he couldn’t quite keep the amazement out of his voice.

“It is the old way,” Till murmured. Somewhere across the room Harry and Sam were still talking, but Draco couldn’t bring up the level of concentration needed to listen in. “Humans – majority of humans – heal faster if they are touched often. We are social animals.”

“Not in Britain,” Draco smiled.

“I’m not British,” Till replied, smiling back – the floating feeling expanded, taking Draco with it, and soon he was back to being a pebble on the shore as calm waves washed gently over him.

 

Chapter Text

“Draco implied that it was Castiel’s emotions that were the source of your need to keep moving,” Harry said leaning up against the motel sink, while Sam paced just in front of him blinking away the last of his tears. “But, if they’re in heaven – why would Castiel be feeling that need so strongly? Wouldn’t... wouldn’t he be happy?”

Harry watched as Sam bit his lip and studied the kitchen counter for a little bit. Off in the corner of the room Till was chanting healing spells in a low tone. Harry had to admit that he still felt a little shaken by what had happened to Draco – he had never intended, nor expected, Draco to put himself in harm’s way like that. If Till hadn’t been there...

“The last time we were in heaven, we had to run too,” Sam said. “Castiel isn’t that popular. He... rebelled for us and he killed Raphael... and then with the... god thing – he killed a bunch of angels who had been loyal to Raphael. It might be... it might be that there are angels out for revenge or... something. When we found the tablet, um, there was this kid, and the angels came to look after him, and when they saw Castiel... there was a bunch of yelling.”

“So, they’re in heaven, but they might be on the run?” Harry summed up.

“They could be following Dean’s road,” Sam nodded, “or maybe laying low with Ash.”

Harry wasn’t sure what that meant, but Sam was smiling slightly at the thought, and so Harry decided it must be a good thing.

“The kid?” Harry changed the topic. “Was that the young man in your memory – the one that Crowley took? Was he the prophet that you mentioned before?”

“Kevin,” Sam answered, with a deep breath and a sad look. “He was the prophet, yeah. He was a good kid.”

“Was?” Harry couldn’t help but ask, but he knew the answer in the way Sam’s eyes closed.

“Maybe... if I had found him right away,” Sam said. “But... I had to drive, I had to... I had to get out of there. I couldn’t... I couldn’t let anyone find me. And maybe that was Cas’ thoughts, I don’t know, but they felt like mine. And then the next thing I know, it’s months later and... there’s no way Crowley’d keep him alive that long.”

“Do you know what he wanted with him?”

Sam shook his head. “Maybe leverage against the angels? It’s their job to protect the prophets – so, I mean... hey, maybe they rescued him – or, maybe he’s in Heaven with Cas and Dean.”

It said a lot, Harry thought, that the death of a friend was considered a good thing for Sam, just as long as he went to the right place.

“Maybe,” Harry smiled back, though he felt how sad a smile it was. “So, how about you, Sam? What are your plans?”

Sam shrugged. “I guess... I’m needed here. The dog- I have to... It’s my fault he’s hurt.”

“It was an accident,” Harry argued.

Till joined them in the kitchen then. Harry looked across the room to see that Draco was asleep on the sofa.

“No, you were right, I was too tired to be driving – my reflexes were shot,” Sam replied, then caught sight of Till and changed tracks immediately. “Is Draco okay?”

“There should be no lasting damage,” Till reported. “But he needs a lot of rest, and may suffer from headaches for a while until he recovers fully.”

Harry breathed a sigh of relief and amazement – there had been so much blood, and the brain was such a delicate thing... it was amazing what magic could do. Or, rather, what Till could do.

“How about you?” Sam asked, and Harry was confused for a moment before Sam continued and Harry realized that he was asking about Till. “You look beat. Did you do that magic exhaustion thing?”

Harry could see it now, Till was pale – well, more pale than usual, and a little drawn. Till smiled softly though, and just said, “I’m okay, Sam, thank you.”

“Why don’t you take the bed and have a nap, man,” Sam urged. “I’ll go grab some food – sound good?”

Till looked over at the bed with a look that Harry couldn’t decipher; it was either disbelief or longing. Either way, Harry had to agree with Sam on this one – his field medic deserved a nap. So, when Till looked over at Draco and then back at Harry, Harry just nodded towards the bed. “Go on, I’ll keep an eye on Malfoy.”

“Thank you,” Till said, and went over to sit on the bed and remove his shoes.

Sam picked up the keys to the Impala.

“You’re not going to drive across the state instead of getting lunch, are you?” Harry asked.

Sam shook his head. “All my stuff is here,” he shrugged. Then paused and reached behind him, pulling out a handgun. Harry raised his eyebrows. Sam put the gun down on the counter carefully. “That’s Dean’s gun. I’d come back for that, even if I went crazy again.”

“It’s not necessary, Sam,” Harry said. “It was a poor joke on my part.”

“It’s fair,” Sam said. “I’ll see you in a bit.”

Harry watched Sam pull the door closed behind him, and then stared at the pearl handled gun on the table with its decorative engravings.  He took a deep breath and tried not to think of the man who once held it.

*

Draco woke up to Sam’s voice.

“Hey, buddy, you feeling okay?”

“M’fine,” Draco mumbled his answer as he blinked awake.

Sam laughed, pulling Draco’s full attention to where Sam stood at the end of the sofa.

“I was talking to the dog, but good to hear it, man,” Sam explained, smiling. Draco raised his head and saw there was some sort of shepherd dog curled up in the chair by the sofa. It had a blue cast on and was looking up at Sam with a rather pathetic look on its face.

“Oh,” Draco said. “How long have I been asleep?”

“Not that long,” Sam answered.

Draco sat up and swung his legs off the sofa. He blinked slowly as he felt a slight wave of dizziness wash over him, but it left him clearheaded in its wake so he wasn’t too concerned. “Where are Till and Harry?”

“Till’s asleep,” Sam nodded towards the bed across the room. “Uh, magic exhaustion.” Draco grimaced as he realized just how severe his wounds must have been, if they drove the Healer to exhaustion. “Harry put a sound blocking charm over the bed so we don’t have to worry about waking him. Harry stepped outside to make some phone calls, I think – check in at work, or maybe with his family,” Sam continued, making himself at home on the part of the sofa that Draco’s feet had just vacated. Sam pointed to a container on the coffee table. “We got you some soup, and there’s a sandwich in the fridge if you want it. Harry made it so the soup stays warm, so you don’t have to eat it right away if you don’t feel like it.”

“Hm, thank you,” Draco said, and reached for the soup and little plastic spoon that lay beside it. He did feel empty and weak. He doubted the soup would help, but it also wouldn’t make anything worse.

“You know you shouldn’t have done that, right?” Sam said softly.

“I shouldn’t have soup?” Draco asked, glancing to where he had just stirred the contents of the container.

“You shouldn’t have gone into my head,” Sam replied, rolling his eyes. “You could have died – you almost did die. What the hell were you thinking?”

Draco blew across the soup on his spoon and tried to think about his answer. He tried the soup. It wasn’t that bad, though a little salty for his tastes.

“I knew that was a possibility,” Draco said carefully, “or there was also the possibility of madness. I figured that the latter was the more likely – it’s why Harry couldn’t help when you were dying.” Draco nodded towards the pensieve, to make sure that Sam knew which event he was referring to. “He knew that a mind healer probably couldn’t help that amount of damage, and that they’d most likely go mad in the process. He explained all this to me before I agreed to come.”

“So, why?” Sam asked, insistent.

“I hadn’t planned on it,” Draco replied. “I was just going to look at the memories, and contribute my opinion as to what might have been wrong with you based on those. But, once I realized what was wrong, I... I knew there was a chance that I could fix it. I knew the risks, but I also knew that if I just walked away in order to protect myself... and it’s not like I’d trust another Legilimens to do it. I can’t stand Legilimens. Never trust anyone who can get inside your head, Sam.”

Sam raised an eyebrow and looked significantly at Draco.

“I’m the exception,” Draco clarified, and then ate another spoonful of soup.

“You have a kid, Draco,” Sam pressed. “You shouldn’t take those kinds of risks.”

 “Do you think it’s better to die a good man or to live and be a disgrace?” Draco asked. “I’ve been thinking about that ever since Scorpius was born – about what matters more. Ideally, I’d like to be a good man and live, but we don’t always get that choice.”

“Do you wish your father had died?” Sam asked, and Draco felt torn open for a moment – he had been unprepared for Sam to cut through to the heart of the matter.

Draco shook his head. “My father was never a good man,” he explained. “When I was a kid, I thought he was, but I was just... ignorant. I’m not a good man either, really. I’m still – prejudiced, I suppose you’d say. I can’t seem to stop...  stop looking down on people who-“ Draco had to stop and take a breath, his heart was suddenly thudding in his chest. He couldn’t look at Sam. “I can’t believe I slept on this sofa – I mean when was the last time it was even washed? I can’t believe you live like this. And part of me really wants to make a nasty comment about Till’s voice – and it’s not even... it’s not even a BAD thing to sound like... or to be... but I can’t stop feeling like it is. And that’s not even the worst of what goes on in my head sometimes.”

Sam huffed out a small laugh and smiled. It wasn’t the reaction Draco had been expecting.

“First off,” Sam said. “I can’t believe I live like this either. It’s never what I wanted – but, it’s also pretty much all I know.” Sam shrugged. “But, the more important thing is that, in my experience, bad people don’t worry about being bad.”

Draco scoffed.

“Listen,” Sam continued. “You said you were ignorant before, and you were – and the difference now is that you’re aware of it – and that’s not nothing. I mean, why haven’t you made fun of Till?”

“Because he doesn’t deserve it,” Draco answered. “It’s not like he can help the way he sounds – and the man just saved my life. I should probably buy him something...” Draco wondered what the Healer might need. He worked with Harry, so maybe a new job? No, he might actually like his job. Maybe a nice cloak or a pocket-watch...

Sam hit him in the arm, not hard enough to jostle the soup, but enough to get Draco’s attention. Draco glared at him on principle and pointedly ate more soup.

“My point,” Sam said, “is that you’re trying. You can recognize the fact that you’re a complete bastard.”

“Thanks, Sam,” Draco said, sarcastic and impolitely around a spoonful of soup.

“I’m serious,” Sam continued. “Listen, you don’t decide to be good and become freakin’ Mother Theresa overnight – it’s a process, and you’re in it.”

“Who?” Draco asked.

 Sam laughed, “God, you’re just like- no, he probably would have understood that reference. She was someone people consider a good person. It doesn’t matter. Do you get my point?”

Draco nodded.

“So, answer my question,” Sam said.

“Which one?”

“Do you wish your father had died?” Sam repeated. “Back when you were a kid and you still admired him – do you wish he had died then?”

“No,” Draco replied, frowning down at his soup. “I love him – even now. I just want him to be proud of me, but I don’t think he really understands me  – how things have to be different now.” Draco laughed, as he suddenly understood the problem, now that he was trying to explain it.

“What?” Sam asked, smiling to match Draco’s laugh, but obviously confused as to what was funny.

“I spent my whole childhood trying to make my father proud,” Draco explained. “And then the war happened and I... I met Astoria and had Scorpius, and now I’m spending my life trying to make them proud  and-”

“And in order to make them proud, you have to disappoint your father.” Sam concluded. “What made you fall for Astoria?”

“She was a better person than I was,” Draco answered. “And ... I’m trying to be the type of person that she deserves, her and Scorpius both.”

“Listen,” Sam said. “I don’t know anything about marriage, and I don’t know anything about being a father... but I do know that... that if you’re trying to be a good person for the sake of your son – that’s great – but you gotta remember that what a kid really wants is just for their father to be around, you know? They just want someone they can depend on. I mean, no matter what he believed, you could always depend on your dad to be there for you, right?”

“Yes,” Draco said. “Even when... when things got really bad, I still... I knew I could depend on him to try his best to help me.”

Sam nodded. “And I bet that’s the best thing about him, isn’t it?”

Draco nodded.

“So, if you’re trying to be a better father than your dad was – don’t throw out the good with the bad,” Sam said. “I’m willing to bet that Scorpius doesn’t really care if you’re a stuck up prejudiced bastard with a chip on your shoulder-“

“Thanks,” Draco muttered.

“What I’m saying,” Sam rolled his eyes, “is that what Scorpius cares about is that you’re dependable and that you’re THERE. So, don’t go sacrificing your life to save some random idiot from driving his car into the ground.”

Draco sighed. He looked at his soup, which was now just a spoonful of broth at the bottom of the container.

“You’re not a random idiot,” Draco replied, putting the empty container back on the coffee table.

“I’m not worth dying over,” Sam said. “Not when you got people to live for.”

“So,” Draco mused. “You’re opinion is that it’s better to live a long life as a disgrace, than to die a good man.”

“Only if you know you’re a disgrace,” Sam said, slowly, considering, “and only if you got people who need you around.”

Across the room, Till lifted an arm and rubbed at his eyes, then pushed himself to his elbows and blinked a few times.  Sam waved at him.

“Well, I’ll consider your opinion,” Draco concluded. He watched as Till furrowed his brow a little, then looked over at the bedside table, picked up his wand, and removed Harry’s silencing charm.

“What was that?” Till asked.

“I said, ‘And how’s Harry’s little minion?’” Draco wished Harry had been in the room for that one.

Till just smiled though, maybe because Sam was laughing.

“Better,” Till answered.

“There’s a sandwich for you in the fridge,” Sam explained. “Harry’s outside making phone calls. Draco just ate a bowl of soup. This is... my dog, I guess.”

Till nodded at the bizarre status report and got out of bed. While Till walked over to the kitchen to get his sandwich, Draco grabbed one of the little throw pillows and transfigured it into another chair. Both Sam and the dog stared a little bug-eyed at the magic, but Till smiled as he came to sit down and thanked him.

“Um, Till?” Sam asked, as soon as Till sat down. “Can you fix my dog?”

“Rude,” Draco said. “At least let him eat his sandwich first.”

Till smiled, but Draco could already tell that it was regretfully. “I don’t think so, Sam –I’m sorry.”

“Why not?”

“Statute of Secrecy,” Till answered. “Also, repairing bone is delicate work and I am worn out after stopping Mr. Malfoy’s brain from melting.”

“Melting?” Draco asked.

But Sam was already speaking over him, “Right, okay, but you’ve healed Dean and me before, why would the Statute of Secrecy matter with a dog?”

“You and your brother do not have follow-up appointments with a Muggle doctor,” Till explained. “Unless you are planning to leave town?”

Sam shrugged. “I could, but, no, you’re probably right – I mean, it’s not so bad here, and the dog needs a routine.”

“Melting?” Draco repeated.

“Yes,” Till said. “How do you feel?”

“Concerned,” Draco answered.

Till nodded, taking a bite out of his sandwich as though he told people that they had melting brains every day. Maybe he did – Draco had no idea what Harry’s job entailed and it would certainly explain a lot about his level of intelligence... actually no, that would only be explained if his brain had been melted as a child. Perhaps it had.

Till flicked his wand at Draco’s head. Numbers and words began to appear in the air in front of him. “Mmm,” Till nodded while he chewed, as though Draco knew what that meant.  Draco tried to read the words, but they were all backwards and in a different language – Cyrillic? Swedish?

“Everything is okay,” Till announced once he swallowed. “You might get headaches, be dizzy sometimes – but that will go away with time. Can you still see?”

“Yes!” Draco answered.  “Should I not be able to see?!”

“Uh, forgive me,” Till replied. “I don’t mean to cause you distress. I’ll – Sam?”

“Yeah?” Sam answered, and Draco could see that he also looked a little concerned.

“Can you excuse us?” Till asked.

“Oh, right,” Sam said, caught off. “I’ll um, I’ll take the dog outside. Do you want to go out, boy?”

The dog lifted its head in interest, but largely just continued to look pathetic.

“Okay,” Sam nodded, as though they had come to some sort of an agreement. He then scooped up the dog and carried it out of the motel room. Once the door closed behind him, Till set aside his sandwich.

“You are fine,” Till said, focusing completely on Draco. “I apologize. I am too... familiar. Usually, I only treat Aurors who I know and who do not... uh, they do not worry about their health. The spell that connected you to the angel, it was too much – it caused a fever, like... like an oven... for your brain. I worked to put out the fire – put ice in the oven. I ask about your eyes, because they were bleeding, but I did not see any damage. I did not mean to cause worry. If you do not notice a difference in your sight, then you are not to worry.”

Draco breathed out a sigh of relief, though his throat still felt tight. He remembered feeling the cold like waves on the shore and how relaxing it had been, how it had helped him come back. He now realized that had been Till’s work.

“I owe you my life,” Draco said.

“My job,” Till shrugged and sat back in his chair, and once again picked up his sandwich.

“If there’s anything I can do-“ Draco began.

“Mm,” Till cut him off, then hastily swallowed. “Follow-up appointment, yes. One week to start. I will send you owl to arrange.  Please rest and do not attempt heavy magic use until I see you next. It is better to be safe, yes?”

“Yes,” Draco replied. “But I meant, if there’s a way to repay you for-”

Till gave him a confused look. “I am Healer.”

“Right,” Draco said, shaking his head. “And you work for Potter, of course.”

“Yes,” Till replied slowly. “Maybe I should do another brain check, yes?”

“It’s okay,” Draco said. “I just realized that you must get along well with Harry.”

Till just nodded.

 “Have you lived in Britain long?” Draco asked.

“Five years,” Till said.

“Do people give you a hard time about your accent?” Draco asked.

“No,” Till replied. “A little, at first, but it has gotten better – both my accent and the people. “ Till smiled, then it faltered a little. “My voice is... I know it is too soft. It was worst in Durmstrang. Children are worst.”

“Sorry,” Draco said, knowing he would have been one of the worst, if he had known Till as a child.

Till shrugged. “Now I work for Harry Potter, so they can kiss my arse.”

Draco burst out laughing.

*

Harry watched Sam say goodbye to Draco and Till. The portkey was all set to take them back to the cabin on the moor.  He waited until Draco and Till had started walking away, before he said his own goodbye to Sam.

“So, the leviathans are really gone?” Sam asked.

“Yes,” Harry replied. “Or near enough – you shouldn’t have to worry about evading them, at any rate. They don’t have any centralized authority and without one, they tend to make stupid mistakes and reveal themselves quickly – and as far as we’ve been able to tell, they can’t procreate.”

“Huh,” Sam said. “It really felt like I still had to run from them – still kind of does, a bit. I guess I just got so used to it. I’m sorry I lobbed that mirror in with the phones when I ditched them – guess I didn’t need to do that. I mean, didn’t need to ditch the phones. It’s just that all I could think about was that I had to get away and keep moving, you know.”

“It’s okay, Sam,” Harry said. “You have the mirror back now, so if you ever need anything...”

“Thanks,” Sam said, but he didn’t make a move to turn away or say goodbye. Instead, he looked earnestly at Harry and continued. “And I’m sorry for... not telling you right away about Dean. I guess I was... I AM pretty messed up about it.”

Harry nodded and swallowed against the mass of grief and sympathy rising in his chest. It was so much easier to focus on what was wrong with Sam, than to focus on WHY there was something wrong with Sam. Maybe Till had a point after all – maybe Harry had just been putting off acknowledging the fact that Dean was gone.

“You don’t need to apologize.” Harry’s voice came out steady, though he felt it would be a fleeting thing unless he kept his words short. “You lost your brother.”

Sam let out a bitter laugh. “Harry, I’ve lost everyone.”

 

 

End Part 1

Chapter Text

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.”

Chapter Text

Harry called Kevin again the next morning to check in. Harry had tried to track the Winchester’s down through Phil O’Shaughnessy once again. He regretted the fact that Phil’s tracking spell on the Impala had long since worn off.  Phil got back in touch and told Harry that there had been a strange event at a muggle hospital in Randolf, NY, and that it looked like the Winchesters may have been there, but there was no trace of them now, and none of his tracking spells were working, so wherever they were, they were well warded.

“Kevin?” Harry called for a second time.

“Harry! They’re back!” Kevin answered before his face even came into focus. “They came in this morning – they’ve got Crowley in the dungeon.”

“What?”

“Yeah, I know, right?” Kevin said. “They said that they needed him for information though, but then after that I can kill him.”

“What?”

“It was just like you said, as soon as they came in, the Bunker went back to normal – so I guess the door needed to be opened from the outside?” Kevin concluded.

Harry blinked in confusion and then tried to parse what Kevin had just said – “they” – Kevin had said “they.”

“Sam’s alive?” Harry asked.

“Yeah,” Kevin confirmed. “I guess Dean stopped him in time. He looks fine.”

“Can I talk to them?” Harry asked.

“They went out, because of some military bus. I have to figure out if there’s a way to reverse Metatron’s spell,” Kevin replied. “Oh hey, what happened after the 1950s? The records here only go up that far – that Grindelwald stuff was messed up.”

“I’ll have Hermione send you some books,” Harry said. “Could you tell Sam or Dean to call me when they get back.”

“Yeah, sorry, I guess I should have told them that already, but you know – they brought Crowley here, HERE! I can’t believe they-”

A ringing phone cut Kevin’s rant off.

“It’s Dean,” Kevin said. “I better get this. I’ll tell him to call you.”

Then Kevin must have closed the mirror, because Harry was staring back at his own face again.

At least Dean and Sam were alive and Kevin wasn’t trapped in the Bunker anymore.

*

Kevin didn’t talk to Harry through the mirror again after that second time. He overheard Dean talking to Harry, telling him Sam was fine, before moving on to talking about the current problems with angels and who exactly Metatron was and what it meant. It was all stuff Kevin already knew, so he largely tuned it out.

He was far more interested in the books that Hermione sent. Now that Sam and Dean realized that Kevin had met Harry, they requested some of the books that Hermione had given them back when they first discovered the Wizarding World. They laughed when Kevin jumped with surprise when a blue bag appeared in the middle of the library table as though it had always been there.  They left him to read while they went to go find Cas – though Dean told him not to get too distracted from translating the tablet.

Kevin didn’t know who Hermione was, besides a friend of Harry’s, but he liked her just based off the note she sent with the books – which indexed them in a suggested reading order and rated each book in both helpfulness and historical accuracy. As he read the histories though, he grew to like her even more – and was maybe even a little star-struck.

He wrote out a thank you letter and got Sam and Dean to show him how the bag worked so that he could send it to her. She immediately replied that it was no trouble at all and if he needed anything to let her know – she apparently loved any excuse to visit a bookstore or a library, so if he needed something she didn’t have on hand, that was no trouble either.

So, when Kevin managed to translate the tablet into a dead language, he figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask. After all, Crowley had known how to read it – perhaps there was some old wizard somewhere who also knew the language. It was a while before she got back to him, but when she did, she sent him an old book of “ancient magicks” about spells from different ancient civilizations, another book called “The Language of Magic”, and then a letter explaining how spell work often changed language slightly, so it wouldn’t necessarily be an exact translation, but that the purpose of the spells might shed light on the meaning of the words that were said to perform them.

He was just about to delve into teaching himself some Wizarding linguistics, when Dean ordered him to find a spell that would allow them to talk to a possessed person and Kevin got a bit sidetracked. When he needed the library tables to spread out Men of Letter’s files and books, he ended up putting Hermione’s books and his own translations back into the blue bag and tucking it into the corner of the room.

Eventually he found a spell that seemed to satisfy Dean, who was getting weirder every day, and so he figured it was probably safe to return to the other work that Dean desperately wanted him to do at the expense of all else in his life. But first, Kevin decided, he was due for a celebratory sandwich.

There was new beer in the fridge, so that answered the question of where Sam had been while Dean had been getting weirder. Maybe Dean’s weirdness was why Sam was going out so much lately. Kevin kind of wished that he could go out – and not just to a warded hotel room in Branson. Though, at least the hotel room had a window. Maybe Sam was going out so much because the Bunker didn’t have any windows. Were it not for the coffee maker, Kevin wouldn’t even know what time of day it was.

Kevin didn’t know why Dean was being so weird, so that was still an unsolved mystery. He made his way back to the library, eating as he went. He took out the tablet and his original notes on it first, just in case he needed to verify any of his translations – and as he was crossing the room to get the blue bag, he saw Sam come in from wherever he and Dean had momentarily disappeared to – probably the store-room, so Dean could show Sam the spell.

“Hey Sam,” Kevin greeted. “Oh hey, do you notice anything off about Dean lately? Between you and me, I’m a little bit worried about him.”

Sam walked right over to him – Kevin was immediately even more worried. Maybe there really was something wrong with Dean.

“Don’t worry about Dean,” Sam said, in a sort of weird monotone. “Dean will be fine.”

Then Sam reached out a hand, just as Dean ran in from the direction of the storeroom –

Kevin scrambled out of Sam’s reach. They had BOTH come in from the direction of the store-room – and they were both acting strange, but only one of them had asked Kevin for a spell to speak to the possessed.

Sam – not Sam – just kept walking towards him and Kevin realized that he was cornered between the low book shelf and the wall and there was no escape.

“No!” Dean yelled out as Sam – not Sam – raised his hand again, but he paused and flung out the other hand with a cold look to Dean, sending Dean flying back into the wall by the doorway. Kevin frantically looked for an escape while whoever was in Sam was distracted. He might be able to climb over the bookcase, but there was a sword in the way-

There was a sword. Kevin grabbed it and swung it blindly at Sam’s body catching him in the arm. The next thing Kevin knew, he was pushed by an invisible force into the bookcase, hard enough to not be stopped by the bookcase, but go through it, the breath knocked out of him and what felt like every bone in his back broken, the sword clattered to the ground out of reach.

“Kevin!” Dean yelled. Kevin was in too much pain to respond, he tried to move, but couldn’t – he couldn’t even breathe.

The thing that was wearing Sam picked up the sword and walked over. For a moment, Kevin thought he might actually look apologetic, but Kevin was probably just desperate to have Sam resurface and save him. Instead, the thing that was not Sam raised the sword with a bloody arm – bloody but no longer bleeding, and said, “This will work too.”

“No!” Dean yelled, and Kevin had a panicked surge of adrenaline strong enough that he was able to fling his upper body just a little to the side. The blade went through the upper left of his chest instead of the centre, he screamed as it entered and he turned his head away from the sight – eyes falling on the blue bag tucked neatly against the wall beside him. With the last strength he had, Kevin flung his right arm out to grab hold of it, just as Sam pulled the sword out of him in order to try again.

Portus,” Kevin whispered and then everything got worse.

*

Dean couldn’t move – he strained against the invisible force that held him, even though he knew it was useless. Kevin’s last scream still echoed through the Bunker. The angel that was not Ezekiel looked angry at Kevin’s disappearance, throwing the sword against the broken book case.

“Why?” Dean asked.

“I’m sorry about Kevin, but ultimately it’s for the best. I did what I had to.”

Dean watched as the angel grabbed the tablets from the table, slipping them into Kevin’s bag.

From the open room behind his back, Dean heard Hermione’s voice calling for him from the closed mirror. The angel’s eyes widened at this and he stormed past Dean to answer the call.

“Hermione!” Dean heard the angel say in a perfect imitation of Sam. “Kevin?! Is he-”

“Sam!” Hermione cried, “oh god – what’s happened?!”

“Hermione!” Dean tried to warn her, but almost immediately the force pressing him against the wall increased to the point where it was even hard to breath.

“We were attacked,” the angel said, matching Hermione’s frantic tone – pretending to be Sam. “Dean and I killed it, but Kevin – is he alright?!”

Dean could hear Hermione sobbing, and he knew before she even answered. Something very horrible had to have happened to get Hermione that worked up.

“Kevin’s dead,” Hermione confirmed. “The bag was never meant to transport people, Sam – oh god, it’s horrible-“

“I’m sorry,” the angel said, and it actually sounded like he meant it. Dean hated him. “Can you send his body back?”

“Can I- What-” Hermione started to say, but was cut off by child’s scream. “Oh God, Rose! Don’t look!” Hermione yelled, and then she must have closed the mirror, because there was just deafening silence in the Bunker suddenly, before Dean heard Sam’s footsteps ascend the metal stairs.

As soon as the angel left the building, Dean was released from his invisible restraints. He fell to the floor, eyes falling on the broken bookshelf, the blood left pooled on the floor. He wondered what the wards had done to Kevin’s body.

Dean pushed himself to his feet and walked into the other room. The mirror lay on the table.  Dean had always just assumed the mirror was only for contacting Harry. It was all he had ever used it for. Usually, when they wanted to talk to Hermione, they did so through letters sent in the portkey bag or using the little portkey stamps that Hermione sometimes sent.

“Hermione?” Dean tried, but nothing happened.

“Harry?” Dean asked. The mirror’s surface fogged and Harry’s face came into view.

“Dean? What’s going on? I just got a frantic call from Hermione saying that Kevin-”

“I know,” Dean interrupted, because he didn’t think he could stomach hearing the world again. He didn’t think he actually wanted to know what the wards did to Kevin. “Listen, whatever – whatever’s left of him, you have to salt and burn him, okay? The kid deserves...” Dean blinked back tears as he tried to swallow against the lump in his throat. “He deserves a proper hunter’s funeral.”

“Dean...” Harry said. “What happened? Do you need my help?”

“No, no,” Dean shook his head. “No, I uh, I got this... Sam... uh, we got this. I just, tell Hermione I’m sorry. This is on me and I’m sorry.”

Dean hung up before Harry could reply. This was his fault and he’d get Sam back on his own. He didn’t deserve the help anymore than Kevin deserved to be dead.

 

Chapter Text

 “...then she had the audacity to suggest that I should have married Harry instead of you,” Hermione said as she sat down on the bed, long hair up in a bun, in an attempt to avoid tangles in the night.

“That’s stupid,” Ron replied. They were use to this by now – every so often, they’d meet someone who had read the histories so closely that they felt they knew how to run Ron, Hermione, or Harry’s life better than they themselves did. Hermione usually got romance suggestions – which she claimed was part of a systemic misogyny within society, and how women were only seen as objects of men’s desire and prizes to be won. Ever since retiring from the Auror department to work full time at Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, Ron had gotten an increase in people saying that running a successful business was somehow below him.

“Well, I wouldn’t call it stupid – that’s a bit harsh. Harry’s lovely and I’m sure we could have made it work.”

“Oy!”

“It’s none of her business is what it is,” Hermione concluded, slipping under the covers.

“We both agree on that,” Ron muttered, wanting to put the matter to rest. “There’s nothing wrong with me.”

“You do leave your dirty socks in the bath,” Hermione replied.

“I’ll sign the divorce papers in the morning, dear,” Ron said, before leaning over and kissing his wife.

There was a thump and a scream from the room next door.

Ron was out of the bed and out of the room, already armed with his wand, before he even realized he was moving. He could feel Hermione at his back and knew she had her wand as well.

He kicked open the door of the office to find a teenager bleeding to death on the carpet, eyes wide and terrified, with a death grip on a familiar blue bag.

“Oh my God!” Hermione yelled and ran past him into the room, kneeling beside the teenager. “Kevin? Are you Kevin? What’s happened?”

In a half second, Ron quickly thought of Harry and the words he needed to say to him right now –and then pointed his wand towards the front door. A silver terrier erupted from the end of his wand and then disappeared immediately.

Ron ran over to kneel on the other side of the teenager.

“’s not Sam,” Kevin was repeating, blood on his lips.

“Did Sam do this?” Ron asked, while Hermione looked at him with wide-eyes, she had her hands pressed to the boy’s chest.

“Sam’s not Sam,” Kevin whispered.

Accio” Ron muttered, thinking of the com-mirror he had foolishly left in his coat. He held up his hand and caught it blindly a second later. He tossed it to Hermione. “Call Dean, I’ve got him.”

Ron immediately started emergency Healing procedures, while Hermione called Dean on the other side of the room. When he heard Sam answer, he immediately put up a charm so that none of his spellwork could be heard. He saw Hermione put her back against the wall so that Sam couldn’t see the room.

Hermione was doing a good job of sounding hysterical to help disguise the fact that she was lying, but Ron knew that she needed to get off the phone before Harry and Till showed up.

Kevin passed out.

Ron looked frantically towards the door, wanting to know what was taking Harry so bloody long, and found himself face to face with Rose – who stood in her nightgown in the open doorway, horrified.

“Can you send his body back?” Sam’s voice asked from the mirror clutched in Hermione’s hand – and Ron knew the conversation had to end immediately.

“Scream!” Ron commanded, enunciating the words so that Rose could read his lips through the silencing charm.

Rose screamed.

Hermione snapped the phone shut.

Harry and Till apparated into the room.

*

“Healer! Now! My house!” was all Ron’s patronus had said before disappearing. Harry hadn’t known what to expect, but he felt like every nightmare imaginable had passed through his mind in the minute it took him to contact Till and give him Ron’s address.

Ron, Hermione, the kids – all the possibilities were horrifying. What really confused him was why Ron was calling him, rather than St. Mungo’s.

Harry and Till arrived at the same time outside Ron’s door. Harry burst into the empty entryway, just in time to hear Rose let out a blood-curdling scream. Till made to run towards the sound, but Harry grabbed his arm and sidealong apparated to the home office. He was familiar enough with the house to know, from sound alone, where Rose was.

Ron was leaning over the body of a teenager. Hermione was on the other side of the room with bloody hands and Ron’s mirror. Rose was standing in the doorway.

Rose stopped screaming as soon Harry and Till arrived.

“Like that, Daddy?” she asked Ron.

Till moved immediately to the bloody body on the floor, and only then did Harry realize he knew the kid – and the blue bag just beside his limp hand confirmed it – Kevin. Ron waved his hand to remove what had to have been a silencing charm on his portion of the room.

“Perfect,” Ron replied to Rose, and then he addressed Till. “Stab wound to the chest, possibly multiple broken bones, he was conscious when he got here, but has since passed out. I managed to stop the visible bleeding, but there might be internal injuries.”

There were already numbers, words, and images dancing in the air above Kevin’s body as Till started his diagnosing and monitoring spells.

“Come on, Rose,” Hermione said, tossing Ron’s mirror onto the desk and making her way across the room. “Let’s check on your brother.”

“What happened?” Harry asked the room at large. He had far too much adrenaline running through his body to be standing still.

Ron paused, watching Hermione usher Rose away from the doorway. Harry heard Hugo’s small voice from down the hall asking his mother what was happening. Harry put another muffling charm over the room.

“I think Sam’s possessed,” Ron answered.

“That’s impossible,” Harry said. “He’s got the anti-possession tattoo, and if it’s an angel, he’d have to agree to it.”

“Then it might have been a Shapeshifter,” Ron countered. “Kevin said, Sam’s not Sam. He repeated it several times before he lost consciousness. Hermione called Dean. Sam picked up. She told him Kevin was dead – it was safest. He asked for the body, and that’s when I told Rose to scream so that Hermione could end the call abruptly.”

“Harry?” Dean’s voice came from the pocket of Harry’s robes.

“If Sam’s not Sam, we can’t trust Dean either,” Ron said quickly. Harry nodded and stepped out into the hall to answer. Ron was more experienced in assisting Till than Harry was, so Harry knew that Ron wouldn’t leave Kevin’s side unless ordered to do so.

Dean didn’t answer any of Harry’s questions and barely let Harry speak, but it seemed like he really was Dean, and that he was absolutely devastated. Harry’s stomach churned with guilt for not correcting the lie, but Ron and Hermione were right, it was safest for Kevin and everyone if they hid Kevin until they knew exactly what had happened.

After Dean hung up on him, Harry got to work. There were four possibilities, as he saw it – Demon, Angel, Shapeshifter, or Leviathan. Leviathan seemed unlikely, due to their extremely low numbers now that they’d been hunted relentlessly for over two years. Shapeshifters rarely pursued prey over long-distances. So, that just left demons and angels and both were wildcards.

*

Kevin woke up in a comfortable bed in a dark blue room. He blinked a few times. He felt heavy. He was propped up on pillows. The pillows felt like they had been perfectly molded to his body, they were so comfortable. He had the vague idea that he shouldn’t move, that it would hurt, and the thought scared him a little. He wasn’t sure if it was rebellion or the need to reassure himself, but he managed to take a deep breath and lift one of his hands, dropping it on top of the blanket over his stomach.

He could hear soft bells ringing, like a distant church.

Kevin tried to remember where he was and how he had ended up there. The last time he was this confused upon waking was when he had gotten completely wasted in that hotel room in Branson. There, Dean had hid the anti-angel sigils behind the bad hotel art that hung on the walls and for a moment when Kevin had woken up, he had panicked at being unprotected. But here, Kevin could see the sigils painted in black on the blue walls, but most noticeable was the devil’s trap on the ceiling by the door. Kevin felt both safe and slightly disappointed that this was still his life.

The door opened and a tall red-headed man walked in carrying a tray.

“Good morning, mate,” he greeted with a smile. Kevin’s heart was in his throat for a moment, before he remembered the sigils and the devil’s trap. Maybe it was the British accent that had unnerved him – then he remembered WHY the man might have a British accent, and then he remembered that he had seen this man before – right before he had passed out.

“Sam-”

“Shhh,” the man hushed him. “Calm down. Don’t move about too much. You’re safe.” He set the tray down on the bedside table, and then pulled a chair up next to the bed. The man turned to Kevin and smiled at him brightly. “We haven’t properly been introduced. My name is Ron. I’m Hermione’s husband.”

“Kevin Tran,” Kevin replied, shaking Ron’s offered hand. “I’m... uh, I’m a friend of the Winchesters.”

Ron smiled. “Pleased to meet you. How are you feeling?”

“Okay,” Kevin replied.

“Really?” Ron raised an eyebrow. “You were stabbed and had several broken bones.”

That brought Kevin up short a bit. He had been stabbed – that was true. He looked down and realized the he was dressed in pajamas that were not his own, but the more surprising thing was that he wasn’t covered in bandages. He pulled the shirt open a little bit to get a look at his chest. There was a scar there, as though the stabbing had happened months ago.

“We can get rid of the scar if you don’t like it,” Ron said. “Till didn’t do any cosmetic work, but he could if you wanted – he’ll be in later to give you a look over, so you can talk to him about it then.”

“Till?” Kevin asked.

“He’s a Healer,” Ron replied. “Don’t worry, he can be trusted. Now, any pain?”

The stab wound felt fine, though Kevin imagined if he touched the skin there, it might be tender. His back felt a little sore, as did his ribs, but they just felt a little bruised not broken. He told Ron as much.

“Excellent,” Ron replied. “Your broken bones are healing nicely then. I’ve got another potion for the pain that you can have with breakfast, if you think you need it.”

Kevin looked down at his torso again – no cast, no bandages.

“Amazing,” he concluded.

Ron smiled softly. “You’re still on bed-rest for three days, and you’re not allowed to move on your own at all today, so if you, erm, need to do anything, I’m afraid you’ll have to let me help you.”

“I thought I was dying,” Kevin said, before he even realized it was the truth. “I thought... I thought I was dead.”

Ron’s smile turned sympathetic, his eyes sad.

“It was a near thing,” Ron said. “Now, I’ve brought you something to eat, and, if you’re up for it, I’ll call Harry and tell him you’re awake. He needs to know what happened, but we can put off talking to him for a bit, if you’d prefer to have another sleep first. It’s up to you.”

“Sam’s possessed,” Kevin said, but Ron held up a hand to stop him.

“Harry’s just going to have you repeat it all anyway,” Ron argued. “So, have some breakfast and save your strength. You’ll be surprised how tiring repairing a bone can be, and your body is currently repairing several.  If you can manage the breakfast on your own, I’ll go call Harry.”

Kevin nodded, and Ron placed the tray over his lap, and then left the room.

Harry and a tall blond man both arrived before Kevin was even done eating.

“Hi Kevin,” Harry greeted him. He was smiling. It was the sort of smile people give you when they know your life is falling apart, but they’re trying to be polite and ignore it. “It’s nice to meet you in person, though I wish it were under better circumstances.”

Kevin just nodded. He had talked to Harry before, months ago, but he felt much more intimidating suddenly. Kevin thought maybe it was because he knew who Harry Potter was now – but that didn’t make any sense, because Ron Weasley was hovering by the doorway, and he had been talking to Hermione about books for months, and neither of them intimidated him.

“This is Till,” Harry continued, gesturing to his companion, when Kevin remained quiet. “He’s my medic. He’s the one that tended to you last night.”

“Thank you,” Kevin said.

“I am happy to help,” Till said softly.

“Is it alright if Till checks your healing progress while we talk?” Harry asked. “We don’t want to keep you from your rest any longer than necessary.”

Kevin glanced at Till, where he stood behind Harry. He was tall, but at the same time seemed to take up less space in the room than Harry.

“Till knows the Winchesters,” Harry said, misreading Kevin’s gaze. “He can be trusted.”

Kevin nodded, and Till stepped out from behind Harry and over to Kevin’s side. Harry took Ron’s former chair by Kevin’s bedside.

“Dean asked for a spell,” Kevin began, and then explained events as best he could remember them until the attack. While he talked, words and images of his bones appeared like smoke in the air beside him, and Till muttered words under his breath.  It was a little bit distracting, and a few times Harry had to ask Kevin a question to get him back on track.

“Do you think it was a demon or an angel?” Harry asked.

Kevin shook his head, about to say that he didn’t know, but then he actually thought about it for a moment. “An angel,” he said. “If it were a demon, Dean would have led him into the dungeon, not the storeroom – the devil’s trap would have held him, and Dean would have exorcised him. I don’t know how you exorcise an angel – I don’t think you can.”

“And are you sure Dean wasn’t possessed as well?”

The question brought Kevin up short – a slice of panic fissuring through him at the thought. He took a deep breath and shook his head. “No, he wouldn’t have... he wouldn’t have needed the spell. And... he was yelling at lot when Sam... when I was attacked.”

And then Kevin started panicking for another reason – Dean – He had been left behind when Kevin escaped. Dean could be dead.

“Calm down,” Till said gently, and he placed a hand over Kevin’s and squeezed it.

“I’ve spoken with Dean,” Harry said. “He’s alive or, at least, he was last night.”

“Did he say-”

Harry cut him off with a shake of his head. “I didn’t know whether he was possessed as well or not. He didn’t seem to be, but I couldn’t risk it. I don’t know what happened, and Kevin – we... I told him you were dead.”

“What did he say?”

“He said he was sorry,” Harry replied.

Kevin nodded. Dean was always sorry.

“Enough questions for now, I think,” Till said. “Next part of exam, only patient in the room, please.”

Kevin blinked as Harry nodded and stood up, following Till’s orders. He gave Kevin a weak smile. “We’ll figure this out, Kevin, I promise. Is there anyone I should call-”

Kevin shook his head. Sam and Dean were the only other people in the world who knew Kevin was even alive – and that wasn’t even true anymore. All Kevin had now was a handful of strange wizards in Britain.

“I’m glad you’re still with us,” Harry said, and then he left the room.

“I need to test feeling and movement,” Till said. “Is it okay if I remove the blanket?”

Kevin nodded. Till removed the breakfast tray from in front of Kevin and carefully placed it on the nightstand. Kevin wasn’t hungry anymore anyway.

“Do you need me to get undressed?”

“Not right now,” Till said. “And then only the shirt – and I will help you.”

Till muttered a word and then touched his wand to the sole of Kevin’s foot. It was warm. It felt nice.

“Do you feel this?”

Kevin nodded.

“Warm or cold?”

“Warm.”

Till touched the wand to the other foot.

“The same,” Kevin said without prompting.

“Wiggle the toes, please.”

Kevin did. Till nodded and smiled, and Kevin was filled with the feeling of relief that came when he knew he had passed a test.

“Next, I will help you stand,” Till said, standing back from the bed and reaching for Kevin’s hands. “Carefully,” Till tacked on, and Kevin realized that it would be the first time he moved his back since he arrived. It ached, and even with Till directing his movements and making him go slowly, there was still a small spike of pain when he moved his legs off the bed and started to put weight on them.

“Very good,” Till smiled, as he helped Kevin stand to his full height. “Do you need to use the toilet?”

Kevin nodded, now that he was standing, he kind of did, and he also didn’t want to have to get up again in another half hour if he could help it.

 “I will help and show you where it is, but if you need to use it again today, you must ask Mr. Weasley to walk with you,” Till said.

The bathroom was just across the hall, thankfully, because it was a surprisingly tiring ordeal. Kevin thought it should feel awkward having Till brace him as he walked, like he were a toddler that might fall over, but Till acted like helping people use the bathroom was something people did every day. Kevin realized that Till was a doctor and that might very well be true for him.

When they finally made it back to the bedroom, Kevin was ready for a nap, but instead Till asked him to remove his shirt.

“Is it okay if I touch your back?” Till asked.

“Will it hurt?” Kevin asked back.

Till shook his head. “It should feel good, like a massage...or warm bath.”

“Okay,” Kevin said. “Can I lie down?”

“Sit, and lean forward,” Till instructed, leading Kevin into the right position. He ended up sitting up against the pillows, just as he had been before, but instead of leaning back against them, Till sat beside him on the bed and then pulled him forward so that Kevin was braced on Till’s chest, his head resting on one of Till’s shoulders. It was way more huggy than Kevin’s experience with non-wizard doctors.

As soon as Till touched his back though, Kevin started relaxing. Till was whispering under his breath, words that Kevin couldn’t understand, but every muscle his fingers touched seemed to relax, bathed in warmth, like each one of Till’s fingers was a tiny powerful hot water bottle. Kevin sighed and closed his eyes.

“Is it magic?” Kevin almost slurred. Till hummed an affirming noise, but continued.

Then Harry’s voice floated down the hall and into the room, through the door that had been left open when they had returned from the bathroom. “Ron, be reasonable, he has nowhere else to go-”

“I’m not saying he can’t stay,” Ron’s voice answered. “I’m just saying that I can’t play nurse. It’s nearing Christmas, Harry, I can’t be more than a day out off of work – It takes both of us to keep up with product demands while Izzy minds the shop – and we can hardly ask her to work through lunch, and the whole point was to give George time to spend with the baby-”

“I thought Teddy was helping out,” Harry countered.

“Teddy’s fine on the till, but he’s not at a point where I can leave him unsupervised in the workshop,” Ron said. “Listen, Harry, the graffiti on the walls, him staying here, that’s fine... I’m not saying throw him to the wolves – I’m just saying... Harry, I don’t work for you anymore...”

 Kevin didn’t realize he had tensed up at the overheard conversation until he heard the door click closed, and opened his eye to see that Till had stopped the magic massage, and instead had a hand stretched out towards the door.

“I thought you needed a wand to do magic,” Kevin said – because he didn’t want to talk about what they had overheard.

“Not if the spell is simple or the wizard is powerful,” Till replied. Till reached out his hand again, and this time a small bottle flew from the open medical bag on the floor into Till’s outstretched hand.

“Which is it for you?” Kevin asked.

“Spell is simple,” Till smiled. He uncorked the bottle and pushed Kevin gentle until he was sitting upright. “Drink this.”

Kevin drank it. It tasted like sweet water.

“Ron recently retired from being an Auror,” Till said, as Kevin finished and passed the empty bottle back to him. “He was Harry’s second for seventeen years officially, and unofficially even longer, if you include the war. Harry’s second for... since age eleven, and now he is not. It is a big change.”

“I didn’t mean to be any trouble,” Kevin sighed.

Till rolled his eyes, and pulled Kevin back against his shoulder, cupping the back of his neck gently as he did so. “And I am saying that you are not. The argument is not about you.”

“It sounded like it was about me,” Kevin argued.

“An excuse to have the same argument again,” Till sighed. “A year and a half of excuses. Believe me. Sometimes they had fight at work – it was awkward. Like family fighting.”

Kevin laughed. “Yeah, okay, I might understand that.”

“Now, no talking, only healing,” Till said. “We look after you.”

Kevin didn’t know what to say to that, and it was just as well, because Till started his whispering again and pressed his hands to the base of Kevin’s neck and suddenly Kevin could barely think with how good it felt. Kevin felt all the tension leave him and soon found himself falling asleep while Till worked.

Chapter Text

Kevin woke up that evening to an empty room. Again, he could hear the soft chimes somewhere else in the house.  This time, it was Hermione, not Ron, who knocked on the door before letting herself into the room.

“Hi Kevin,” Hermione greeted him. “It’s so nice to meet you in person.”

“Hi, yeah,” Kevin nodded. “Thanks, uh, thanks for.... um, sorry about-”

“No apologies or thanks necessary,” Hermione said, brushing the words away. “I’m just glad you’re okay. That was quick thinking on an escape, and I’m just glad we were home when it happened.”

Kevin nodded. “Me too.”

Behind Hermione, Kevin could see two little heads poke around the door frame. The oldest, a girl, couldn’t have been more than ten. Hermione noticed the direction of his gaze and turned.

“Might as well come in and introduce yourself properly, you nosies,” Hermione said with a sigh. The two kids walked in, looking a little bit guilty for having been caught out, but not overly so. They were dressed in pajamas.

“Kevin, I’d like you to meet Rose and Hugo,” Hermione said. “They’re just about to go to bed.”

“Hello,” Kevin greeted, waving awkwardly.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Rose declared.

“Hullo,” Hugo said, shyly.

“Why don’t you two make yourselves useful and bring me the things for Kevin,” Hermione suggested, and both children nodded and ran out of the room.

“We’ve put together some supper for you, if you’re hungry,” Hermione said. “And I’ve picked out some books and Ron’s found a portable DVD player – just in case you’re awake for longer, and get bored. You’re on bed rest for at least three days, I’m afraid, and until Harry thinks it’s safe, we think it’s better if you don’t leave the apartment.”

Kevin nodded. “I haven’t been able to leave the Bunker in months,” he shrugged. “At least you have windows.”

Hermione frowned. Kevin suddenly remembered the conversation he had overheard earlier, and realized that he was a burden of a house-guest that they never asked for and probably didn’t want.

“I mean, it’s probably – uh, Dean will rescue Sam, and then I’ll be able to go back, I’m sure,” Kevin tried to reassure her. “I’m sorry for the trouble.”

Hermione shook her head, not necessarily looking any happier, but then she smiled. “Don’t be ridiculous, we’re happy to have you for as long as you need.”

Rose and Hugo returned to the room then, Rose with a stack of books in her arms that reached her chin, and Hugo carrying a DVD player under his arm and shopping bag full of DVDs.  Hermione took the books from Rose and set them on the back of the bedside table, within Kevin’s reach. Hugo came right up to the bed and put the bag down at Kevin’s hip, tossing the DVD player across Kevin’s shins.

“I like this one,” Hugo announced, reaching into the bag and pulling out The Avengers.

“I like that one too,” Kevin smiled. “Thanks.”

“Who’s your favourite?” Hugo asked. “I like Ironman.”

“Ironman’s cool,” Kevin replied.

Hermione ushered the kids to bed soon after. Kevin ate dinner while he watched The Avengers, but couldn’t actually stay awake long enough to do anything else. Ron came to check on him before he and Hermione went to bed, and helped him get up to use the bathroom one last time – and then Kevin slept straight through until morning.

*

The next day, it wasn’t Ron or Hermione who came to the room when Kevin woke up, but a tall, slim teenager with turquoise hair and brown eyes.

“Good morning, I’m Teddy! I’ll be your nurse today,” the guy greeted with a huge smile.

“Uh, hi, I’m Kevin,” Kevin replied, still groggy from sleep and feeling a little off kilter.

“I know, mate,” Teddy smiled. “So, breakfast?”

“Uh, bathroom?” Kevin replied, a little embarrassed. It was thing to have an adult watching him to make sure that he didn’t get lightheaded and keel over; it was another thing to have someone his own age do it.

“Ah, starting with the hard stuff,” Teddy said. “Don’t worry, mate. The Healer left me a whole list of instructions, and he said everything should be easier today. I still have to help you get out of bed, but you should be able to walk around on your own and have a bit of privacy again.”

Kevin breathed a sigh of relief and pulled the blankets back. Teddy helped him sit up and move off the bed in much the same way that Ron had the day before – except Teddy did it with a look of extreme concentration on his face and then smiled in triumph once Kevin was standing like they had both passed some sort of test.  Sure enough, he felt much steadier on his feet than he had the day before, and not nearly as lightheaded. Teddy still followed along as he made his way to the bathroom, but didn’t follow him in.

“I usually work at the shop,” Teddy explained, as they made their way back to the bedroom. “I just help out, part-time, when they need another person out front, but right now most of the work is in the back, and only Ron can do that. So, Ron said that I could help out by looking after you, so that he didn’t have to stay home. So, I get to stay here and watch some films with you, if you want to watch films, or we could read – or play cards – or you could sleep and I could do those things just by myself. Your Healer also gave me some books on healing and bones, with simple diagnostic and emergency healing spells. I was reading those before you woke up, so if you wanted to sleep again, I could just go back to reading them. I don’t mind.”

Kevin nodded, a little overwhelmed. “So, you’re Ron’s shop assistant?”

“I suppose I am, yes,” Teddy smiled. Kevin sat on the bed and Teddy made sure he lay back down in the right position.

“What did they tell you about me?” Kevin asked. He glanced at the warding on the walls.

“Sam was possessed and attacked you,” Teddy frowned. “Harry told me to tell you that he hasn’t been able to get back in touch with Dean yet, but as soon as he does, he’ll let you know.”

“You know Sam and Dean too?” Kevin asked, even more confused.

“Of course,” Teddy said, and then he seemed to finally pick up on Kevin’s confusion, because his eyes went wide and he laughed. “Oh! I see... I’m also Harry’s godson. I met Sam and Dean when I was twelve. They came to visit.”

“Oh,” Kevin said. He shook his head at himself. “That makes more sense.”

Teddy laughed again. “Sorry, that was my fault. I can promise that Harry’s not going around telling random shop assistants that his best mate is harbouring a fugitive prophet. The only people who know, besides everyone in this house, of course, are Harry, your Healer, Ginny – that’s Harry’s wife – and me. Though, I’ve been given permission to tell my flatmate, because he has tomorrow off work, so I was thinking we could both come over and keep you company. And besides that, I’d still have to explain where I was going off to. I don’t usually work that many hours at the shop, since I’m only doing it because Harry gives me a hard time otherwise.”

And just like that, Teddy was off on another tangent about how he didn’t actually need to work for a living – that he had inherited ‘the Black family fortune’ when he came of age – but that Harry insisted that he needed some sort of career. “Even Malfoy has a job,” Teddy said, in a nagging voice that was obviously supposed to be Harry’s.

Teddy interrupted himself to go get Kevin breakfast, after Kevin’s stomach rumbled, but when he returned with the breakfast tray, he picked up right where he had left off.

“The problem,” Teddy announced, putting the tray down across Kevin’s lap. “Is that everyone in school always just said, ‘Do what you love!’ Well, that’s all well and good, but what if I love sleeping and doing nothing all day? What then? What if I either don’t love anything or love everything equally. It’s not a big help, that phrase, is all I’m saying.”

Kevin nodded and ate some toast. It was surreal. Sitting in someone’s spare room, listening to a teenager complain about not having any direction in life. It was like Kevin had stepped out of his life and into someone else’s – someone who had never had his finger cut off by the King of Hell, never had his mother murdered, and had never been nearly killed by one of the only two people they thought they could trust.

“How about you?” Teddy asked. “Any big career plans?”

“I wanted to be the first Asian-American President of the United States,” Kevin replied. Teddy’s eyebrows shot up. “But that was before...” Kevin waved his hand in the air, not able to find a succinct way to explain just how much his life had changed in the past two years.

“And now?”

“I’d just like to stay alive,” Kevin answered honestly.

There was silence in the room for the first time that morning, and Kevin wished that they could go back to Teddy’s non-stop rambling. It may have been surreal, but it had felt better than this depressed quiet.

“Do you know what a metamorphmagus is?” Teddy asked.

Kevin shook his head.

“It’s a wizard that can shapeshift at will,” Teddy explained. “Not like the shapeshifters that you would be familiar with – there’s no skin shedding involved, or... evilness.”

“Okay,” Kevin said.

“The reason I ask, is because usually when my friends need cheering up, I do something like this...” Teddy said, and then suddenly Kevin was looking at Tom Hiddleston – or, rather, Loki, only he was wearing Teddy’s clothes. “And then I say,” Teddy continued. “‘You think you have problems – I’m adopted!’”

Kevin burst out laughing. He didn’t know if it was because Teddy’s delivery of the line was genuinely hilarious, or if he had just suffered a mental break, but in any case, the answer was to laugh at how absolutely absurd everything was.

Teddy, as Loki, gave Kevin a dorky smile, which ruined the illusion – not that it mattered, as his face immediately shifted back to how he had looked before.

“That’s amazing,” Kevin said, wiping tears from his eyes as he calmed down.

“Thanks,” Teddy replied with a smile, and Kevin noticed that his turquoise hair was tinged pink at the tips. “So, movie? Cards? What do you want to do to while away the hours?”

And just like that, the happier atmosphere returned.

*

Teddy was a lot of fun to hang out with; mostly, because Kevin could ask him one question and Teddy would talk for ten to twenty minutes about the topic without even realizing it.

Kevin still ended up sleeping for most of the afternoon. He woke up when Till returned with Ron to check up on him. Ron repeated the message Teddy had given him – that Harry hadn’t been able to get in touch with Dean yet, but would keep trying.

“In the meantime, is there anyone else we should contact?” Ron asked, while Teddy shifted from foot to foot across the room. Kevin just shook his head.

“Sorry,” Ron said. “Have you had tea yet?”

“He was sleeping,” Teddy said from across the room.

“I don’t really drink tea,” Kevin added.

Ron smiled. “I meant food – have you eaten?”

“Not since lunch,” Kevin answered.

“I’ll go make you something.” Ron smiled and left the room.

“I will just check-up, yes?” Till asked. Kevin nodded.

“Can I stay?” Teddy asked from the door. Till looked at Kevin.

“Uh, yeah, sure,” Kevin shrugged.

Till did the spell that made a little smoky blue image of Kevin’s spine and ribs appear in the air in front of him. It was surreal. The healer nodded approvingly though.

Teddy edged closer to the bed and gazed at it in wonder.

“Can you teach me that spell?” Teddy asked.

Till looked towards Teddy in surprise, but then nodded.

“You must practice on yourself, not Mr. Tran,” Till answered.

Teddy nodded emphatically.

“I teach you after,” Till said. “Now, potions...”

“What potions?” Teddy asked before Kevin could.

Till paused and then reached into his bag and pulled out three small bottles. He named them, and described them slowly to both Kevin and Teddy, letting them both hold them and look at the labels while he spoke. One was for pain, one for healing, and the final one was to prevent infection. It was the most Kevin had ever heard a doctor explain; though, Kevin had to admit that he had rarely been to the doctor in his life – only for check-ups and vaccinations when he was a kid.

Kevin drank the potions, only one of them tasted horrible, the rest weren’t that bad. Teddy was still asking Till questions. So, finally, Till told him that he’d drop off some books for Teddy on his way to work the next morning and Teddy could read about how the potions worked himself. Kevin thought that maybe Till just wanted to go home. It was getting to be dinner time, after all, and Till had probably worked all day at his real job in addition to having to look in on Kevin.

Till still stayed and showed Teddy how to perform the spell that let him x-ray people’s bones. Kevin watched, amazed, as Till demonstrated on his own foot.

“You see there,” Till pointed to the image. “I broke my foot once and it has left a mark. You try.”

Till dismissed the image of his foot with a wave of his wand. Then Teddy sat on the floor and pointed to his own foot, speaking the words Till had told him – it all sounded like Greek to Kevin.

An ethereal image of Teddy’s foot bones appeared in the air in front of him. It wasn’t quite as solid as what Till had done, but Teddy beamed.

“Very good,” Till said with a smile. “Most do not get it the first time. You only need more confidence in your casting.”

“Sorry to interrupt,” Ron said from the door. “Teddy, you’re going to be late for dinner with your Gran, unless you get a move on.”

“Oh sh...sugar,” Teddy muttered, and the image of his foot disappeared immediately as he scrambled to his feet. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Kevin! It’s alright if Nate comes over too, hey?”

“Uh, yeah,” Kevin managed to say, caught off guard. Teddy smiled and then he was out the door.

*

The next day was more of the same, only this time, Teddy’s friend Nate joined them. It meant that there were more card games they could play. Nate was a nice guy, about the same height as Kevin, with dark hair and blue eyes. Teddy and Nate were obviously close friends. After breakfast, they both sat on Kevin’s bed and started playing cards. Kevin’s back was feeling much better, and they could all sit cross-legged, though Kevin still leaned up against the headboard, with a pillow for support.

For the most part, Nate just smiled while Teddy did most of the talking again, but Nate did end up telling Kevin about his internship in the design department of a ‘Muggle’ company, and how he didn’t really feel like that particular job was for him, but he’d like to do something in the field of art or design if he could.

“It’s a bit cliché, I know,” Nate shrugged, as he added the jack to Teddy’s run of clubs. “But I suppose it’s that way for a reason – the community is more accepting. I mean, I love Quidditch, but I doubt I’d have much of a social life as a sports reporter.”

Kevin nodded, though he had no idea what Quidditch was – another name for cricket, maybe. Kevin had no idea what cricket was either, but he had at least heard the word before.

“Muggle London is better for Nate’s social life anyway,” Teddy interjected, after finishing his turn. “The dating opportunities for a gay man in the Wizarding world are fairly slim. If Wizards make up ten percent of the population, and homosexual men make up two percent of the population – that’s two percent of ten percent.”

“Yes, let’s talk about my abysmal love-life,” Nate muttered, and rolled his eyes. “That’s cheerful.”

“Oh hey! I need to show you something, Kevin!” Teddy exclaimed, he put down his cards, and picked up his wand. He pointed it at his foot and repeated the spell that Till had taught him the day before. In the air above the limb, an image of Teddy’s foot bones appeared, clearer than he’d managed previously.

“You’ve gotten better,” Kevin said.

“There’s more, watch,” Nate said with a smile.

Teddy wiggled his toes in the sock foot, and the image of his toes wiggled too.

“Neat,” Kevin agreed.

Nate laughed and shook his head, as though Kevin was still missing something – and then suddenly the image of Teddy’s foot started doing something very strange. The bones seemed to shrink back on themselves, thickening, then changing shape and spreading out again, wider, in three points instead of five. Kevin looked at Teddy’s socked foot to find that, yes, his foot was changing shape inside the sock, widening and flattening.

“Oh my god,” Kevin muttered. He was unsure whether he was horrified or amazed.

“I can see what it looks like on the inside when I shift!” Teddy explained, smiling.

“Did you just give yourself a duck foot?!” Kevin asked, staring at both the sock and the image hovering above it.

“Mmhm,” Teddy said. Once again, the bones started shifting, shrinking back on themselves and then returning to a human shape. Teddy wiggled his toes again afterward, and then waved the image of his bones away.

“Does it hurt?” Kevin asked, still fixated on Teddy’s foot. He couldn’t imagine what it must feel like to have your bones change shape.

Teddy shook his head. “I think my nerves turn off first. I never really thought of it before, but I lose feeling just before I change – I know the location and shape of my foot, but I can’t really feel anything until I decide to hold a shape.”  Teddy pointed to a few books that were stacked in the corner that Kevin hadn’t noticed. “Till dropped off those Healer books. So, I was reading a little bit about the nervous system before you woke up.”

“Amazing,” Kevin said. “I wonder if there’s something different about my brain when I read a tablet.”

Teddy’s eyes lit up a little, but then he sagged. “Till says I’m not allowed to practice spells on you.”

He looked so disappointed that Kevin almost told him that he could and it’d be their secret – but then realized that having someone practice magic on his brain probably wasn’t a good idea.

“I don’t have the tablets here anyway,” Kevin said. “Besides, I wouldn’t want to survive being nearly murdered by Sam, only to be killed accidentally by you trying to see my brain.”

Teddy’s eyes went wide and Nate stilled as he picked another card from the deck.

“Sam tried to murder you?” Nate asked quietly.

“He was possessed,” Kevin and Teddy both said at the same time.

“I don’t think that makes me feel better,” Nate said after a moment.

“Well, it makes me feel better,” Kevin shrugged. “I mean, Sam’s my friend, so...”

“Right, sorry,” Nate said. “I shouldn’t have said that. It’d be more horrible if it actually were Sam – what I meant was that I’m still worried about him.”

Kevin nodded. “Dean will save him.”

“Gin!” Teddy declared. Nate and Kevin both groaned.

“We’re playing rummy, you don’t say gin,” Kevin reminded him.

“Rummy, then - I’ve still won,” Teddy argued.

“We have to count up our points first,” Nate said.

“Nate used to have a crush on Sam, you know,” Teddy said.

“Shut up!” Nate blushed. “I’m trying to count points.”

“Really?” Kevin smiled, pausing in his own count. “Sam? I didn’t realize you had even met him. Wait, was this when you were twelve?!”

“I said I’m trying to count,” Nate muttered, his eyes on his cards. Teddy was giggling.

“How old was Sam? That’s hilarious,” Kevin continued.

“Nate has a bit of a type,” Teddy stage-whispered.

Nate threw his remaining cards at Teddy’s face.

“Oy! I hope you counted those!” Teddy exclaimed, which only caused Nate to follow through with a whole body tackle, knocking them both off the side of the bed.

Kevin laughed at the two pained groans that followed and then declared himself the winner by default.

Chapter Text

That evening, Till declared Kevin well enough that he no longer needed babysitters or continued bed rest. On the one hand, he was thankful for the freedom to wander around the house as he pleased. On the other hand, he couldn’t leave the safety of the wards – which meant that he was still confined to the Weasley’s house, and Teddy had to go back to his part-time work at Ron’s store.

In the days that followed, Kevin read a lot of books, but he missed having Teddy around to talk to, and there were only so many times he could pace between the guest bedroom and the kitchen. At least in the bunker there had been the seemingly endless labyrinthine hallways to wander down and multiple rooms to explore... and the tablets. It seemed stupid to miss them – they were the bane of Kevin’s existence and the worst thing that had ever happened to him, but studying the tablets, translating them, had taken up all of Kevin’s days for over a year.

Ron and Hermione at least had a laptop and an internet connection. Ron called it a ‘lapcom’ and ‘the inner-netting’, seemingly just to get Hermione to roll her eyes. They had explained how it would work most, but not all, of the time, because apparently magic and electricity didn’t mix well. Ron explained that they kept the magic in the house to a minimum, which was why they had Muggle lights and appliances, but that they did have some magic objects in the house, as well as wards for safety, and sometimes that interfered with the internet connection.

“You should talk to Sam,” Kevin had said without thinking. “The bunker is magic but has an amazing internet connection and electricity from nowhere – like it’s also part of the magic, you know?”

Ron raised his eyebrows in interest and nodded, but he changed the topic and started telling Kevin how to bypass the parental-safeties that they had set up on the computer, even though Kevin could have figured that out in his sleep.

Teddy still came by at least once a day for an hour or two, and he promised that he and Nate would spend their days off with Kevin, if he wanted. On the weekend, since Ron and Hermione and the kids were all home, Teddy and Nate only stopped by for a few hours. They played cards and watched a movie in the guest room. It was nice to spend time with people closer to his own age, even if they were nearly four years younger. Ron and Hermione were too much like parents, and their kids, while amusing, were too young for Kevin to really want to spend time with beyond maybe watching a kid-friendly movie together.

By the next week, Kevin had to admit that he was going stir-crazy. He either needed something to do, or he needed to be able to go outside – it was another frustrating thing altogether to know he was in England and yet not be able to explore it.

Meanwhile, the news from Harry was always the same – either given to him in person, or relayed through the Weasleys – Harry hadn’t been able to get in touch with Dean. Kevin was worried, but he also knew there was nothing that he could do.

Teddy, Nate, and Harry all came over for dinner at the end of Kevin’s second week. Kevin mostly just let the conversation wash over him, until Teddy spoke up midway through the meal.

“Nate and I were wondering if it might be possible for Kevin to move in with us,” Teddy announced.

Kevin paused in chewing. This was the first he had heard of this, though Teddy had told him all about the Noble and Ancient House of Black, which was now the Noble (and Attractive) House of Lupin and Friends.

“Weawy?”  Kevin asked around his mouthful of chicken.

Nate smiled. “We just thought you might be happier living with people in your age group – and it’s not like we don’t have the space. It’s a rather large house for just two people.”

“And I own the house, so you wouldn’t need to pay rent,” Teddy added. “And I don’t mind feeding you either.”

“Thanks!” Kevin said, once he had swallowed the food in his mouth.

“That’s very nice of you,” Harry said. “But unfortunately, until we know who tried to kill him, Kevin can’t leave Ron and Hermione’s house – the wards keep him safe here.”

“We can put wards up too,” Teddy argued. “I don’t mind.”

“And how do we get him between here and there?” Harry asked, in the tone of voice that parents used when they knew they were about to dash the hopes and dreams of their children. “If there’s an angel out for him, they may be able to sense him the minute he is in transit. We don’t know how powerful their capabilities are at the moment. It’s too dangerous.”

Teddy and Nate both looked as disappointed as Kevin felt.

“I need a tattoo like Cas has,” Kevin said with a sigh – and then actually listened to himself, and looked up to find the whole table looking at him.

“Castiel has a tattoo?” Hermione asked.

“Yeah,” Kevin said, smiling. “Yes! It’s Enochian. He can write it out for me! It hides him from angels – and basically anything but Reapers.”

“Okay,” Harry nodded. “There’s only one problem – I still haven’t been able to get in touch with Dean. So we have no way to contact him.”

“Oh, you can just pray for Castiel,” Kevin said. “I can-“

“No,” Harry interrupted. “You’re dead, remember? You aren’t to pray to anyone, especially an angel.”

“Cas wasn’t the one trying to kill me,” Kevin argued.

“Humour me,” Harry said in a tone that brokered no argument. “Even if I do pray to Castiel, he still has no way of getting in touch with me.”

“Just give him your phone number,” Kevin suggested. “He can call or text. He’s gotten good at it. I taught him how to use emoticons and everything.”

“I don’t have a phone, Kev-”

“You can use mine,” Nate offered.

The whole table paused and looked at Nate, who reached into his pocket and produced an iPhone.

“What?” Nate asked, and then rolled his eyes. “Yes, I have a phone. Surprisingly, handing out enchanted mirrors doesn’t exactly go over well when I’m trying to pull Muggle boys at a club.”

“Right, uh, enough of that talk please,” Ron said, glancing at Rose and Hugo, who were both watching the conversation with curious eyes. Of course, their curiosity was only increased now that their father had ended the conversation.

As Nate handed his phone to Harry, Rose leaned over the table and whispered, “What do you mean, pull? Where are you pulling them?”

Nate bit his lip, in an obvious attempt not to laugh. “Back to my place, so that we can watch movies.”

“Like you do with Kevin when you come over?”

Nate glanced up at him, and now Kevin was the one that had to keep from laughing. It didn’t help that Ron was looking particularly murderous that they were possibly corrupting his little girls’ innocence.

“A little different than that,” Nate answered.

“Yeah, I mean, usually Teddy’s not there,” Kevin added.

“Usually,” Nate winked, and then winced as Teddy very obviously kicked him under the table.

By this point, Harry was giving Nate’s phone far more concentration than was probably warranted, and all the adults looked a mix of embarrassed and amused.

“Okay, um, so how do I?” Harry asked Kevin.

“Just talk to him,” Kevin said. “Like you’re leaving him a message. Angel voice-mail.”

“Right...” Harry nodded. He looked down at his plate. Kevin knew that it didn’t matter what position you prayed in, but he also knew that it was awkward to talk to someone who wasn’t there when you were in a room full of people. “I’m... I’m praying to Castiel. Castiel, this is Harry Potter. I have a question for you. If you could call me at 077 00900461, I would really appreciate it. Erm, there’s a... you’ll have to call the exit code and the country code, so, the whole number again is 011 44 77 00900461. Thank you... uh... prayer ended.”

Kevin laughed.

Nate’s phone rang.

*

“Hello?” Harry answered, glancing across the table at Kevin and hoping his eyes conveyed the question of ‘why didn’t you tell me sooner that I could do this?’

“Harry. It’s Castiel. You called.”

“Yes, uh – yes,” Harry said. “I’ve been trying to get in touch with Dean, but he’s not answering-”

“Dean isn’t here,” Castiel replied.

“Okay, do you know if he’s alright? Or, Sam?”

“Dean is alive and well,” Castiel replied. “Sam is here. He is also alive and will be well soon – I’ll put you on speaker.”

“Wait!” Harry said, feeling his heart somersault in his chest.

“Why?” Castiel replied after a pause.

“Is Sam... himself?” Harry asked, cringing as he realized that Sam might already be listening. He hoped it was Sam. It felt like the whole table was holding their breath as they stared at Harry.

“Ah, I see. There is no need to worry. Sam is no longer possessed and I am currently healing him,” Castiel replied, then Harry heard the quality of the background noise change, acquiring an echo, and he knew that Castiel had put him on speaker phone even before Sam spoke.

“Hey Harry,” Sam said softly.

“Hi Sam,” Harry said. At the other end of the table, Kevin stared at Harry with wide eyes. “Hold on, one moment.”

Harry but his thumb over the microphone and spoke quickly to the table. “I’m going to put them on speaker. Hugo and Rose, perhaps you should finish dinner in your-”

“They’ll only listen in from there,” Hermoine said with a wave of her hand.

“They’re our children, after all,” Ron agreed.

“Fine, but you,” Harry pointed at Kevin. “Not a word. Do you understand?”

Kevin nodded. 

“How do I put it on speaker?” Harry asked, waving the phone towards Nate. Nate quickly jumped out of his chair, so that he could lean over Harry and press a button on the phone.

“It’s this button here – uh, Hello Sam,” Nate said.

“Hi uh... Harry? Who?” Sam’s voice came through, a little quiet – Nate reached forward and hit another button that turned up the volume.

“I’m on Nate’s phone,” Harry explained. “I don’t know if you remember-”

“Of course,” Sam said, and Harry could hear the smile in his voice. He felt relief before he even really understood why – but as Sam continued, he knew it was because Sam just sounded like Sam. “Nate? How’s it going, buddy? Aren’t you supposed to be at school or something?”

“I graduated,” Nate answered, blushing a little. “I’m doing well, thank you.”

“Graduated? Wow. I feel old,” Sam laughed. “Who else is all there?”

Nate looked over at Harry, and Harry had to give the kid credit for not just assuming that Harry was going to be honest.

“Teddy, Nate and I are over at Ron and Hermione’s house,” Harry said. “We... I should have waited, I guess, but we had the idea of praying to Castiel, and Nate had a phone... so, we thought we’d try, and here we are... I wasn’t sure it would work.”

“Well, Hi everybody!” Sam replied.

A chorus of hellos went around the table. Kevin remained silent as he stared at the phone. Rose and Hugo both said hello too.

“Oh kids,” Sam said. “Uh, Rose and Hugh... right?”

“Hugo,” Hugo corrected.

“Right, sorry, buddy,” Sam said. “You probably don’t even remember me, but I met you when you a baby.”

“I don’t remember,” Hugo confirmed.

“You were really small,” Sam said.

“Sam, can you... tell us what’s happened?” Harry asked. “I’ve been trying to get in touch with Dean, but he’s not answering the mirror.”

“Oh,” Sam said. “I... right... I don’t know if he still has it on him, or it’s somewhere here. We haven’t really cleaned up yet.  I’ll look in his room. Listen, Harry, I’m sorry about... I’m sorry.”

“From what I understand, it wasn’t at all your fault,” Harry said. “Can you tell us what happened?”

“Um, not really a story for kids,” Sam replied. “I’ll find the mirror and call you back later, okay. I can’t...uh, sorry.”

“That’s fine, Sam,” Harry said. “I’m just happy to know you’re okay.” And he was, because he had no doubt that he was talking to Sam, and not just someone pretending to be him. “I actually called to ask Castiel about his tattoo.”

“What do you need to know?” Castiel asked. His voice deep and slightly jarring after talking with Sam.

“Kevin... uh, some weeks ago... mentioned that you had a tattoo that hid you from angels,” Harry explained. “I was wondering what it looked like and if I could get a copy of it for our files.”

“Do you want me to text you a picture,” Castiel asked.

Kevin tapped at the end of the table, drawing Harry’s eyes to him. He mimed writing.

“Could you write it out on a piece of paper for me?” Harry asked. “I can send the portkey bag back, so that you can send it to us that way.”

“Certainly,” Castiel replied. “Was that all?”

“I’d also like to know more about the wards on the bunker,” Ron replied. “But that can wait.”

“Right,” Sam said. “Because of.... because of what happened to Kevin?”

“No,” Ron said. “Or at least, not entirely – I’m interested in how they interact with electricity.”

“Oh, okay,” Sam said, his voice breaking somewhat. “I’ll see what I can find.”

“We’ll send the portkey bag now,” Harry said, trying to keep them on track and away from the subject of Kevin – who was now biting his lip and staring at the phone. “If Cas can write out the tattoo and send that back right away, just while I’m here to receive it directly, that would be most convenient. I can send the bag back again immediately afterward so that you have it when you collect the information Ron’s requested – or, if Dean’s lost the com-mirror, you can let Ron know and he’ll get you another one.”

“Okay,” Sam said. “Uh, thanks for getting in touch... I... I know I already said, but I’m sorry about... uh, what happened.”

“It wasn’t your fault,” Harry repeated. “We’ll talk about it later.” Harry then held the phone out to towards the table. “Say goodbye everyone!”

There were a chorus of goodbyes which Sam and Castiel both echoed, and Harry ended the call.

Kevin took a deep breath at the end of the table and then let out a long shaky exhale.

“We can’t tell him until we know it’s safe,” Harry said.

“I know,” Kevin replied. “It’s just... I’m glad he’s okay.”

Harry nodded. The relief he felt was immense.

“Does this mean that Kevin can come live with us?” Teddy asked, adding, “Once you give him the tattoo.”

Harry looked at Teddy and Nate, both of whom looked hopeful and eager for his answer. Kevin was looking at him with wide-eyes, but he wasn’t objecting.

“If Kevin wants-”

“I do,” Kevin said. “I mean, it’s not that I don’t appreciate Ron and Hermione’s hospitality, but... it’d be nice, I think. Like... college.”

“Well, hopefully not quite like college,” Harry muttered, knowing full well what ‘college’ usually meant to American teenagers.

“We understand,” Hermione said with a laugh. “Though, if it doesn’t work out for any reason, you’re always welcome to come back here.”

“Thank you,” Kevin replied.

Harry stood up, gesturing towards the office as he did so. “I better go send the bag, then maybe I’ll get to finish my dinner before we start talking about whether anyone knows how to tattoo in this family – because I certainly don’t.”

*

Sam called a couple of hours later.  This time, he called using the mirror. Harry put his fingers to his lips to remind Kevin not to speak. Hermione was just finishing up the tattoo.  Teddy was watching Hermione work, while Nate sat on the bed next to Kevin and held his hand. Kevin said it wasn’t as painful as the muggle tattoo – but he still appreciated the hand holding.

“Hi Sam, you found the mirror, I see,” Harry greeted.

“Yeah, uh, Cas found it,” Sam said.

“Hello Harry,” Castiel’s voice said, Sam tilted the mirror briefly so that Harry could see Castiel sitting across the table.

“Hello Castiel,” Harry replied.

“We’re just going through the files to see if we can find any information for Ron,” Sam explained. “But I thought I should call, and let you know I found the mirror – and, uh, tell you what happened, if there aren’t any kids around.”

“The kids have gone to bed,” Harry confirmed. “It’s just us adults left.”

“Okay, umm... okay, yeah...” Sam said. “So, I... I was possessed.”

“How?” Harry asked. “You’ve got the tattoo, and you need to consent to-”

“Dean tricked me,” Sam cut Harry off. “The third trial... it was supposed to kill me, but Dean, he... he talked me out of going through with it. He said... it doesn’t matter.  I stopped the trial, but it was too late and I was already... I was already dying, and I think I knew that... but, he talked me into stopping and then uh, then he tricked me into getting possessed.”

“I don’t think I understand,” Harry said. Across the room, Kevin was looking at Harry with wide eyes.

Months,” Kevin mouthed.

“The angel told him that it was the only way to heal me – from the inside,” Sam continued, not really looking at Harry, but just staring sort of blankly into space. “I was in a coma, and Dean showed up in my dream and told me that I couldn’t die, that I had to choose to live. So, I did, because... I hadn’t even closed Hell like I was supposed to, so dying would have been for nothing. I should have just gone through with the trial, if I had known... so, of course I said yes, but I was saying yes to Dean, not...”

Sam cut himself off, looking away fully.

“Dean was also partially deceived,” Castiel’s voice began to explain. “The angel called himself Ezekiel, and when I spoke to Dean on the phone, I told him that Ezekiel was a good soldier, and honourable angel – I did not know about the plan to possess Sam, but I did vouch for Ezekiel and implied that Dean could trust him.”

“But it was a lie,” Sam continued. “It wasn’t Ezekiel. It was an angel called Gadreel... and he killed Kevin.”

“Do you know why he killed Kevin?” Harry asked.

“No,” Sam replied. “He took the tablets too... and he left, uh, he left a note that just had Kevin’s name on it. Like... I don’t know, maybe he has a list or something?”

“Do you know if he killed anyone else while he was...” Harry started to ask, then realized what he was asking.

“I don’t... I don’t want to-” Sam started answering, closing his eyes and shaking his head.

“He did,” Castiel’s voice answered matter of factly.

“Sorry, I shouldn’t have asked,” Harry apologized to Sam. “How did you get him out? Is there an exorcism for angels?”

“No,” Sam said, deflating. “Dean had Cas remove my tattoo and then Crowley possessed me, in return Dean let him walk.”

Silencio” Hermione whispered across the room, and Harry glanced over to see Kevin silently yelling – Harry couldn’t make out what he was saying, but he had the distinct impression it involved a lot of swearing.

“Crowley found me,” Sam continued, unaware of what was going on. “Gadreel had me buried in my own mind, and Crowley told me what had happened... and once I knew, I was able to cast Gadreel out.”

“My God...” Harry muttered. Across the room, Kevin seemed to have calmed some, though now he was glaring at Hermione.

“Yeah,” Sam laughed bitterly. “It was a party in my head and no one was invited. And now what do we have to show for it? Hell is still open. Abaddon is still on the loose, and now Crowley’s in the wind too... Kevin’s dead... and we’re no closer to finding Gadreel than we were before. I’m doing the world a whole lot of good by being alive right now, let me tell you. God, I should have just-”

“Sam,” Castiel cut in before Harry could. “I thought we agreed that you would cease to run towards death.”

“You see me dying?!” Sam practically yelled back. “I agreed that Gadreel wasn’t worth dying over – doesn’t mean Dean shouldn’t have just let me do the goddamn trial. Or he could have let me died after – at least then Kevin would still be alive.”

 “Sam...” Castiel said, but then didn’t follow it up with anything. Harry looked across the room at Kevin, who had stopped glaring at Hermione in favour of looking pleadingly at Harry.

Tell him,” Kevin mouthed.

*

Sam shook his head, cutting off whatever placating crap Castiel was planning to throw at him. Everything had gone to shit, and Sam didn’t know what stung worse – the betrayal or the fact that it could have all been avoided if Sam had just died like he was supposed to.

“About that...” Harry said. “We lied.”

“What?” Sam asked, genuinely confused. “Lied about what?”

“Kevin wasn’t able to tell us much when he arrived,” Harry explained. “But he did manage to tell us that you were possessed.”

“He was still alive when...” Sam said, eyes widening. He couldn’t remember much of the attack, but he remembered running him through with a sword – and, according to Cas, Dean said that Kevin’s last ditch attempt at escape had ended up tearing him apart because of the wards.

“When you called,” Harry continued. “Uh, I mean, when... the angel called, Hermione decided it was probably safest if he thought that the attack was successful.”

“Wait, are you saying...” Sam trialed off.  He tried not to hope; it’d be too cruel to have it ripped away.

“Ron and Till were able to save Kevin,” Harry stated plainly, as though the simple sentence hadn’t overwhelmed Sam completely. “He’s been living with Ron and Hermione for the past two weeks.”

“Oh my God,” Sam all but breathed. “Oh my God,” he repeated once more, looking across the table at Cas, whose eyes were wide and joyous. Sam blinked back tears. “Is he okay?”

“You can ask him yourself, if you like,” Harry replied.  Sam simultaneously felt both incredibly anxious to see Kevin with his own eyes and nervous about what he could possibly say.  Harry’s image and the room tilted and turned in the mirror, as Harry walked over to wherever Kevin was.  “We’ll give you some privacy,” Harry added, the mirror moved too quickly for Sam to see who else was in the room, but he thought he caught sight of Hermione’s hair.

Then suddenly, it was Kevin looking at him through the mirror, Sam sucked in a breath. It suddenly hit home that Sam had fully believed that he would never see Kevin again – and yet, here he was.

“Hey Sam,” Kevin said, and smiled – smiled – at Sam.

“Kevin,” Sam’s voice was thick as he responded. “I’m sorry... I... I’m really sorry-”

“It wasn’t your fault,” Kevin said, somewhere on Kevin’s end, a door closed. “It wasn’t you. I knew it wasn’t you.”

“Still, I... I feel like I should have been able to tell,” Sam shook his head at himself. “I knew there was something wrong, I kept losing time – but Dean said it was nothing and I... I believed him.”

“It’s okay, Sam,” Kevin replied. “Well, I mean... it sucked, but... I didn’t put it together until it was too late, and I had both of you acting strange. I mean, you going out alone all the time – then Dean asking for that spell... but you had the tattoo and there was no way that you’d have said yes to an angel...”

“Yeah,” Sam replied, the familiar anger rising in him. “I didn’t.”

“Fucking dicks,” Kevin muttered. “Angels are such assholes.”

 Sam bit out a laugh at that. Then looked up to see Cas frowning.

“Uh, except for you Cas,” Sam said.

Cas didn’t seem particularly comforted.

“Kevin?” Cas asked, looking at the mirror. Sam tilted the mirror so that Kevin and Cas could see each other. “Did Gadreel say anything before he attacked you?”

“No, not really,” Kevin replied. “He just... went in for the kill.”

“What do you mean, ‘not really?’” Sam asked.

“Well, I thought it was you – so I asked if you’d noticed anything weird with Dean lately, because I thought he was acting strange,” Kevin explained. “And uh, the angel... he said not to worry and that Dean would be fine.”

“Mm,” Cas acknowledged.  Sam knew it wasn’t anything helpful – the fact that Gadreel hadn’t attacked Dean when he had the chance was evidence enough that he hadn’t intended to hurt him. Whatever the guy’s beef was, it was just with Kevin – maybe he was after the angel tablet, and thought that the next prophet would be more cooperative than Kevin.  If that were the case though, he was about to get very disappointed – with Kevin alive, the next prophet wouldn’t be activated.

“When’s Dean getting back?” Kevin asked. “We didn’t exactly have the best parting words – and since... uh, Harry figures that I should stay over here for a while. They can ward for angels and now that I have Cas’ tattoo, I might actually be able to go outside. Teddy also says that they can use magic to make me look different.”

“Yeah, uh, yeah,” Sam nodded. “That’s probably... probably for the best. We never did do that great a job at keeping you safe. I’m sorry, Kevin, I really am.”

“It’s not like you could have seen it coming,” Kevin shook his head. “But, uh, yeah – if Dean could maybe call when he gets back?”

“I’ll tell him,” Sam answered, ignoring the issue of when or whether Dean was coming back. “Listen, if the angels are after the tablet and possibly whoever the next prophet is supposed to be – they’ll know something is up when the next prophet doesn’t get activated with your death. So, lay low, alright, man? Do what Harry says and stay safe.”

Kevin nodded. “I will. Same goes for you guys.”

Sam smiled. “Call if anything happens or you need us for any reason. Uh... Dean, Dean kinda broke your cell phone, I think – but it probably wouldn’t work in the UK anyway. But, uh, if you get a new one – you still know my number?”

“Yeah,” Kevin replied. “And, um, until I get a phone again, you can probably reach me by calling Nate.”

Sam nodded. “Take care, Kevin.”

“You too, bye, Sam. Bye, Cas.”

“Bye, Kevin,” Cas replied.

Sam clicked the mirror closed and laid it on the table.

“You should call Dean,” Cas said. “If Kevin’s alive...”

“What? No harm done?” Sam raised his eyebrows.

“That was not what I was going to say,” Cas shook his head.

Sam sighed and took out his phone. He turned, so that he could pretend that he didn’t notice Cas’ hopeful look.

Dean picked up on the third ring.

“Everything okay?”

“Yeah, uh, Harry called, wanted to know what happened.”

“You tell him?”

“Yeah, he uh... had some news that I thought you should know.”

“Something bad?”

“No, but... where are you right now?”

“Illinois, heading north. Why?”

“No, I mean, are you alone?”

“Yeah,”

“Okay, uh... so, Kevin’s alive.”

There was silence from Dean’s end of the call. Sam wondered if he was driving. Now that he listened, he thought maybe he could hear the wind, the hum of the engine.

“What?” Dean’s voice came back, more of a whisper compared to what it had been a moment ago.

“Kevin was alive when he landed – he managed to tell them how I was possessed, so...”

“So they lied, because they didn’t know if it was just you or both of us.” Dean finished for him, and Sam could hear him let out a long breath. “Smart. So... he okay?”

“He looked okay,” Sam replied.

“You saw him?” Dean asked, before Sam could say anything else.

“Yeah, the mirror-”

“Right, the mirror... I... left it.”

“Yeah... Kevin said he wanted to talk to you – I could... I have a number you could call him at. It’s uh, Nate’s phone, but Kevin-”

“What am I going to say?” Dean replied. Sam swallowed, and tried to think of how to respond, but before he could, Dean continued. “He was right – he... before uh, before... he said- said he always trusted me and he always got screwed, and he was right – I’m poison, Sam. Kid’s better off... better off far away from me. Tell him that for me, would you?”

“Dean,” Sam sighed. “You should call-”

“Is Harry okay with looking out for him?” Dean interrupted to ask.

“Yeah, they got the place warded. Dean-”

 “That’s good. Tell Harry to keep him safe for me, will ya?”

“Dean-”

“Bye, Sammy.”

The call cut out.

Sam closed his eyes and took a deep breath, before he turned back to look at Cas. Castiel was frowning in concern. Whether the concern was for Sam or Dean, Sam had no idea. Probably Dean.

“There, I told him,” Sam muttered. “It doesn’t change what happened, Cas.”

“Where was he?” Castiel asked.

“Driving north through Illinois,” Sam answered. “Why? You want to meet up? I thought you were going to look for Metatron?”

“I am,” Castiel replied. “But Dean said he was going to find Gadreel – and I wondered if he had found anything.”

Sam hadn’t considered that. “Let’s see,” he said and pulled opened his laptop and pulled up the police scanners, news sites, and hospital reports for all Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan, to see if there was anything that pinged the radar as a possible lead on Gadreel. There were no angel-deaths though, nothing too out of the ordinary... there was just a John Doe brought into a hospital way up in northern Wisconsin – Sam nearly dismissed it until he saw the picture.

“Son of a bitch,” Sam muttered. “He could have fucking told me.”

“What is it?” Cas asked.

“Dean found Garth,” Sam explained. “Listen, Cas, feel free to stay as long as you like, but I’m going to hit the road. I want to know where the hell Garth’s been this whole time – he was supposed to look after the Trans, if he hadn’t just skipped town like that-”

“But Kevin’s alive,” Castiel argued. “Certainly, you don’t blame him for-”

“Kevin might still be alive, but his mom isn’t.”

Chapter Text

Kevin traveled to Grimmauld Place by Floo. Teddy told him that it was the most comfortable form of Wizarding transportation. Kevin decided that, if that were true, he wasn’t looking forward to trying the other ones.

The house itself was amazing. Where Ron and Hermione’s house could have been any modern house really, Grimmauld Place was old, with narrow hallways and high ceilings. Teddy and Nate were excited to give him the tour. The antique furniture seemed to be at odds with the two eighteen year olds who lived in the house, but Teddy explained that it was all included in the estate.

When they got to the study, Teddy proudly showed him a wall that had two photographs hanging on it. One of Teddy, whose hair was constantly changing colours while he smiled and waved at them, and one of Nate whose picture smiled as though he were humouring someone and then burst into genuine laughter, only to reset and repeat. Above the two pictures was written “The Noble House of Lupin and Friends” and someone had placed a sticky note between “Noble” and “House” that had “and Attractive” written on it in.

“We had an argument about that,” Teddy explained. “We got worried that we were being exclusionary - we could very well meet someone lovely but not conventionally attractive, and we wouldn’t want them to feel as though they weren’t welcome in the Noble House of Lupin and Friends.”

“We could take your picture,” Nate added. “Just while you’re live here – that’s why we didn’t go for a tapestry, because we figured some friends might come and go, and really Teddy might only want to keep track of his own family in the long run.”

“That’s another argument we had,” Teddy sighed. “Adopted family is still family.”

“You haven’t adopted me, Teddy,” Nate shook his head.

“Don’t tell me what I have or haven’t done,” Teddy smacked Nate’s shoulder. Then he gestured to the other wall of the study for Kevin, “Anyway, eventually it’ll look something like that.”

Kevin turned and saw the tapestry that was The Noble and Ancient House of Black, but before he could read much of any of it, Nate and Teddy were sweeping him out of the room to show him the bedrooms, so he could tell them which he would prefer. Teddy, as owner of the house, was in the master bedroom, with Nate just down the hall.

“There are larger bedrooms than mine upstairs,” Nate explained, “but I decided I wanted to be closer to the kitchen – and also sometimes Teddy and I sleep together, so it made sense to have the bedrooms close together.”

Kevin wasn’t really sure what to say to that, because despite the affection between the two friends, he had been fairly confident that Teddy was straight. So, he just said, “uh, okay,” and let Teddy drag him into a room that apparently used to belong to someone named Romulus, but more recently had been James’ room. Kevin took that one, because being more than three flights away from the kitchen seemed a little ridiculous to him too.

It wasn’t as though he had very many belongings to place in the room. He had his notes, the books and papers that had been in the portkey bag when he had escaped from the bunker, and the pajamas and second hand clothes that Harry had brought over to Ron’s for him. They were Harry’s old things, because they were similar sizes. Of course, that meant that Kevin now kind of looked like he should be picking up his kids from school somewhere. Kevin placed the small bag on the bed and shrugged at Nate and Teddy.

Teddy furrowed his brow. “Uh, I guess you don’t have much, hey?”

“I had a few things at the bunker. I can probably get Sam to send them,” Kevin said. God, his life was pathetic.

“Hey, we’re about the same size,” Nate interjected cheerfully. “You can use my clothes until you get your own. Come on, I bet I can find you a shirt that doesn’t look quite so much like... uh, well...”

“Like he’s about to take me to the Hogwart’s Express for the first time?” Teddy suggested. “To be honest, I’m starting to have flashbacks.”

Nate laughed and led the way back to his room. Kevin smiled, he already felt at home.

“Hey, can I ask you guys a question?” Kevin said. “Uh, a personal question?”

“Of course,” Teddy smiled, settling himself on Nate’s bed.

“What would you like to know?” Nate asked from the depths of his wardrobe. He pulled out a rather glittery shirt, laughed, and then thankfully tossed it back whence it had come.

“It’s just, I thought Teddy was straight.”

“I am,” Teddy smiled, picking up a glass of water from Nate’s nightstand and taking a large sip, as though it were his. Kevin looked across the bed at the other nightstand and noticed a second glass of water, and realized that the one Teddy was drinking from probably was his.

“But you guys have sex?”

Teddy spat water all over the bedspread.

“Oy!” Nate yelled, emerging from the wardrobe. Kevin jumped, worrying that he had offended him, but apparently the exclamation had been directed at Teddy. “You better clean that up, Wolfman!” Nate then turned to Kevin, and thankfully, his face softened. “We don’t have sex with each other.”

“But you said-”

“I never said-” Teddy interrupted.

“We sleep together,” Nate answered. “I said we sleep together. No sex. We both like cuddling and we’ve spent the past seven years sharing a dorm room. We got... used to it. To be honest, it’s a bit of a problem.”

“It’s not a problem,” Teddy argued.

“Maybe not for you,” Nate rolled his eyes at Teddy, then turned back to Kevin. “Teddy’s biromantic. You know what that means?”

“Yeah,” Kevin said, starting to understand.  “It means that he likes being affectionate with guys, but doesn’t want to have sex with them.”

“It means that guys take one look at Teddy and I and they start thinking we’re a couple – and even if they don’t, they end up getting jealous that someone else is meeting most of my emotional needs.” Nate sighed.  Teddy looked chastised.

“Sorry,” Kevin said, because he felt that someone should say it.

Nate shrugged. “Well, it’s my own fault, really. In any case, I think we’ve finally worked out a system for when we go out.”

Teddy smiled at that, but neither one of them elaborated.

“You should come out with us when we go to the clubs,” Teddy suggested. “I can make some polyjuice and you can go as me.”

“What?” Kevin asked.

Teddy and Nate both smiled. Kevin wasn’t sure if he was excited or anxious about the look of delight in their eyes.

*

They had a month to wait until the potion would be complete. Teddy had it slowly brewing in the attic, which he had converted into an odd little workroom that kind of creeped Kevin out a bit. They could have gone out on the town without it, but they made the mistake of asking permission first. Harry didn’t want Kevin going anywhere unnecessarily, and since Kevin didn’t really have any place to be, that meant that now, instead of the Bunker or Hermione’s house, Kevin was now stuck at Number 12 Grimmauld Place.

Thankfully, Kevin was allowed out in the backyard, and, most importantly, the garden shed, which, although small, was insulated and had a precious internet connection. Teddy gave Kevin permission to do whatever he liked with the computer and to just tell him whether he needed Teddy to buy anything new... which meant that Kevin had the fun task of completely overhauling Teddy and Nate’s computer system to be state of the art, both in terms speed and security.

Kevin was thrilled with the project, and he honestly didn’t mind being confined to the house – because it meant that, most of the time, he could ignore the fact that it was getting closer and closer to Christmas.

He couldn’t ignore it forever, however.  Nate was making plans to travel home for a bit and whenever Teddy wasn’t working at Ron’s shop, he was cleaning another one of the bedrooms, or hanging decorations, or washing drapes.

“Does he really need to wash the drapes?” Kevin wondered aloud as Teddy walked by him and Nate with his arms full of material.

“This is the first Christmas in Grimmauld Place since Teddy took ownership,” Nate sighed. “He just wants it to go well.”

Later, after Teddy had not only finished with the drapes, but had also gone out and bought an entire grocery store’s worth of food, he explained everything to Kevin.

It was, apparently, tradition for the Potter-Weasley-Lupin-Tonks family to have a party at Grimmauld Place on Christmas eve. Teddy’s Grandmother and Harry’s family were both planning to spend the night, and then wake up and have Christmas morning together. Teddy did mention that when he was very young, he’d just have Christmas with his grandmother. The joint-Christmas was really only a tradition of the past seven years or so, when Harry’s kids had reached an age where they didn’t understand why Teddy didn’t live with them.

“I usually have supper with them nearly four times a week,” Teddy explained while Kevin helped him put away the groceries. “But, I suppose that’s what led to the confusion in the long run. They didn’t understand why I was there sometimes and not others. It’s nice to have more family around on Christmas though, so I don’t mind. Not that I didn’t like the quieter Christmases with Gran, but I still kind of get that on Boxing Day morning.”

Kevin nodded, reaching to another one of the grocery bags for something else to put away. For Kevin, Christmas had always just been him and his mother. He tried to imagine what it might have been like with younger siblings, or more than one parent, or... just other people, but he couldn’t. Even the previous year, on Garth’s House boat, it had still just been the two of them. His mother had even gone out and bought a little fake plastic tree and some presents. Kevin couldn’t get her anything – firstly, because he had no money, and secondly, because he couldn’t leave the boat for fear of angels or demons finding him. She had told him that having him as her son was gift enough. And then only a few months later, Kevin had sent her away, because she was too distracting.

“Kevin?” Teddy voice caused Kevin to blink himself back to the present and realize that he was just standing there holding a bag of apples.

“You want these in the fridge?” Kevin asked.

“Yeah, that’d be great,” Teddy said. “Are you alright?”

“Maybe I should just stay out in the shed,” Kevin said by way of answer. “Out of the way, you know?”

 “What? No,” Teddy said, pausing in what he was doing mid-task to focus solely on Kevin.  “I mean...  I know you’ve only been here a short time, but you’re a member of the Noble and Attractive House of Lupin and Friends now and... that means that you’re welcome to all family gatherings, just like Nate.”

“Nate’s going home to his family,” Kevin shrugged.

“Well, I’m not going to keep anyone here against their will,” Teddy argued, and then seemed to deflate. “If you want to hide out in the shed all Christmas, I won’t stop you – but don’t do it because you think you’re in the way.  You aren’t in the way. Christmas is a more-the-merrier situation. And I thought it’d be fun to have someone older than eleven, but younger than thirty to spend time with... but, it’s not like I’m not used to it, so...” Teddy trailed off, looking down rather sadly at the bag of nuts in his hand as though they had somehow let him down.

Kevin looked down at the bag of apples that he himself was still holding and felt bad for ruining Teddy’s mood. He just wasn’t sure if he could handle a family Christmas after losing his mother and, effectively, losing Sam and Dean too.

Nate chose that moment to saunter into the kitchen, a bag slung over his back. He paused in the doorway when Kevin and Teddy both looked up and over at him.

“Are you two planning to make a sad apple crumble?” Nate asked.

“What?” Kevin and Teddy both said at the same time.

Nate shrugged. “I’ve never seen anyone look that distressed about apples and nuts before. I thought maybe you were doing an experiment – cooking with sadness, not love.”

Teddy and Kevin both looked back at the ingredients they were holding and started to laugh.

“Did I just ruin it?” Nate asked, eyes-wide. “I just ruined it, didn’t I!”

Teddy just shook his head. Kevin turned to put the apples in the fridge.

 “You’re off then?” Kevin heard Teddy say while his back was turned.

“I am.”

“Come ‘ere then.”

Kevin turned back around to find Teddy hugging Nate so hard that Nate was wincing – or perhaps the wince came from Nate squeezing Teddy back with equal vigor.

“Happy Christmas, Puppy,” Nate said softly.

“Happy Christmas, Kitten,” Teddy answered.

Kevin really didn’t blame himself for getting confused about their relationship. Because, honestly – it was a little ridiculous. Teddy’s hair was getting black stripes in it to match Nate’s hair colour, only the tips were going pink.

“Okay, that’s enough,” Nate declared. Then he winked at Kevin and said, “I still need to hug the repressed American before I leave.”

“Oh, right.” Teddy let Nate go, and Nate walked over to Kevin and pulled him into a quick one-armed hug. “Happy Christmas, Kevin.”

“Uh, Merry Christmas to you too,” Kevin said. “Have a good trip home.”

“Thanks,” Nate smiled.

“Where is home, anyway? I don’t think you’ve said where you’re going – is it far?” Kevin asked.

“Oh no,” Teddy muttered. Nate, however, just smiled.

“llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.”

“...What?”

“It’s in Wales,” Teddy rolled his eyes. “I’ll show you on a map later. Right now, this Welsh bastard has a fireplace to jump into.”

“I’ll be back after New Years,” Nate reminded them, as he walked over to the large fireplace. “The polyjuice will be ready by then, and we can have a proper Welcome to London night out, yeah?”

Kevin nodded. The thought of the potion bubbling upstairs and a night out on the town with the two teenagers kind of terrified him, truth be told. But, he knew part of that was just because he had grown far too accustomed to being trapped behind wards. Safe, but ultimately miserable.

“Wait,” Kevin said, as Nate’s earlier words caught up with him. “Aren’t the British supposed to be more repressed than Americans?”

Nate and Teddy just laughed. “Not us, mate.”

*

Christmas wasn’t as bad as Kevin had been picturing. The family party on Christmas Eve was really too chaotic to allow time for Kevin to feel melancholy about his own life. The Potter-Weasley extended family members also all seemed to be well trained in avoiding certain conversation topics – namely, they never asked Kevin anything about himself or his life before he came to England. They asked how he was settling in and what he was most excited to see in London, once Harry gave him permission to leave the house, but that was really it. Mostly, everyone seemed to delight in teaching Kevin about the Wizarding World, and regaling him with stories of bank vault robberies and dragons. Well, the dragon stories were mostly from Charlie Weasley, who was visiting from Romania.

Teddy, for all his talk of wanting to have someone older than 11 to talk to, seemed delighted to sit and listen to James tell Kevin all about his first term at Hogwarts, from the sorting ceremony to a description of all his classes and professors. He was proud to have been sorted into the Gryffindor house like his father and thrilled to have “Uncle Neville” as his head of house.

Kevin also met Victoire, who Nate had insisted was Teddy’s cousin, even though it pissed Teddy off when he did so. Kevin started to see why when he saw Teddy and her in the same room together – Teddy seemed to have a bit of a crush. The two had clearly been friends for a long time, and Victoire was gorgeous – almost unnaturally so. Her mother and siblings were the same.

Christmas morning was a far more intimate family affair – and it was only then that Kevin started to really feel the loss and grief for his mother. Kevin, of course, hadn’t been able to buy gifts for anyone, but Harry and Teddy both gave him small gifts, mostly clothes and other practical things to replace the items he had lost over the course of the past year – through his various kidnappings and forced relocations. There was also a gift under the tree from George Weasley, who gave Kevin something called a “Hogwarts Starter Kit.” There was a note inside that explained each of the items and how to use them.

In the lull between opening gifts and making supper, Kevin slipped upstairs to the study and left Teddy and his family to spend time with just each other. He appreciated the gifts and he appreciated their attempts to make sure that he felt included, but the fact remained that he didn’t really belong there.

He pulled a random book off the shelf and sat on the reading bench by the window. The friendly chatter from downstairs soon faded away as he became immersed in reading. A good half hour passed before someone found him.

“Have you gotten to the story of the three brothers yet?” Teddy asked from the doorway.

Kevin shook his head.

“It’s a good one,” Teddy offered, as he wandered into the room and sat down across from Kevin. “Is everything alright?”

“Yeah,” Kevin nodded. “It just... got to be a bit too much, I guess. Usually Christmas is just me and my mom.”

Teddy nodded. “How long has it been since...”

“I don’t know,” Kevin said, honestly. “I... last saw her in January, I guess, and... and then it was April when Crowley told me that he had killed her, but then he said later that he hadn’t killed her then, so I don’t actually know when she died.”

“I’m sorry,” Teddy said. “I shouldn’t have asked.”

“It’s okay, it’s just... it’s been a long year,” Kevin replied. “Part of me just wishes I knew the truth, but then... I don’t really want to know, right? I mean – is it any better? Knowing exactly what happened?”

Teddy shrugged. “I know my parents died in the Battle at Hogwarts – but I don’t know where or how exactly it happened. When I went to school there – sometimes I’d find myself walking down a corridor and thinking I could have been walking past right where it happened, you know? I could be standing on the same spot that my father last stood, or going through the last doorway that my mother went through. I don’t know if there’s such thing as better when it comes to dead parents, just different.”

“I know Crowley tortured her to death,” Kevin said. “That’s what Dean said – that even if... even if she was still alive when Crowley told me she was dead, too much time had passed for her to have survived.”

Teddy gave Kevin a sympathetic look and they lapsed into a momentary silence.

Someone cleared their throat in the doorway. Both Teddy and Kevin jumped.

“Sorry,” Harry said softly. “I really didn’t mean to sneak up on you, but... I couldn’t help overhearing.”

Across from him, Teddy narrowed his eyes at Harry, which made Kevin immediately doubt Harry was being truthful about that last part.

“How much did your mother know about demons?” Harry asked.

Kevin shrugged. “Everything – I taught her everything I knew.”

Harry nodded with a considering frown.

“Why?”

“Nothing,” Harry shook his head. “It’s just that I’m sure she was really proud of you.”

Kevin nodded.

“I just came up to tell you that we’ll be eating in about five minutes,” Harry said by way of a topic change.

Kevin nodded again, closing the book he still had open on his lap.

“You can take that one to your room for later, if you like,” Teddy offered. “You haven’t reached the good bit yet.”

“Thanks,” Kevin replied, though, Teddy had already told him that he could help himself to any book in the library he wanted – and he often did. When Teddy didn’t make any move to stand, and Harry was still leaning in the doorway, Kevin got the hint.

“I’ll go drop it off and wash-up a bit before dinner,” Kevin said a little awkwardly, and left Teddy and Harry alone in the room to have whatever private discussion they needed to have.

Before he was out of earshot, all he heard was Teddy say, “You’re such a liar, Harry.”

*

“It was the truth until I got to the top of the stairs,” Harry replied.

Teddy rolled his eyes. There were things about Harry that just never changed and one of the more annoying ones was his constant need to poke his nose into other people’s business. They had many a fight when Teddy was younger about Harry ‘accidentally’ overhearing Teddy’s private conversations.

“That’s not the lie I was talking about,” Teddy raised an eyebrow. “But good to know that you’re becoming self-aware.”

“That wasn’t a lie either,” Harry replied, and of course he knew exactly what Teddy was talking about. Teddy wanted to roll his eyes again, but he settled for a small glare. “I’m sure she was very proud of him.” Harry paused for a moment, looking out into the hall where Kevin had disappeared, before turning back to Teddy. “I just think there’s a possibility that she still is.”

“You think...” Teddy said slowly. Was Harry really thinking what he seemed to be thinking?

“It’s just – what Dean said, about too much time having passed to save her – Sam once said the same thing about Kevin.”

Chapter Text

“I’ll look into it,” Harry promised Teddy, and he meant it too. He wandered back downstairs to help Ginny and Andromeda in the kitchen – his mind already thinking up plans.

He’d need a tracking spell. Ron was the best for those. Would two people be enough? If she was still in Crowley’s possession – well, that was the King of Hell – Harry might need a bigger team. He was getting ahead of himself though, first, he had to determine if she was still alive. It should be relatively simple to do so – Demons rarely warded against magic.

Two days later, Harry was standing over a map of the US in the workshop at Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, watching a drop of blood roll across the surface.

“She’s alive,” Ron said, a little unnecessarily. “She’s in Wichita.”

“Okay, I’ll get a map of Wichita so that we can narrow it down even more,” Harry said. “In the meantime, you come up with a few strategies. Obviously, we don’t have that many people to choose from when it comes to the team – It’s really just you, me, and Till. I could possibly get Phil’s co-operation-”

 “Harry,” Ron said, in a sigh, and Harry knew that tone, but he was not going to acknowledge it.

“I’ll be back in a half hour with the new map,” Harry said, moving towards the fireplace.

“Harry,” Ron repeated, and Harry had to stop – there was no more arguing with it. “Ron, are you honestly going to-”

“I’m retired, Harry,” Ron said. “I’m not going with you.”

“It’s Kevin’s mum, Ron!” Harry replied. “Are you honestly going to stand by while-”

“You’re Head Auror, Harry,” Ron interrupted. “You have an entire department at your disposal. You don’t need me.”

“I can’t very well bring them on a secret rescue mission though, can I?!” Harry exclaimed. “Honestly, Ron, that’s ridiculous.”

“I’m not the one being ridiculous, Harry.” The worst thing, Harry decided, was that Ron was still calm. It was Hermione’s influence and Harry hated it for a moment.

“I’ll ask Hermione then,” Harry decided.

“Harry,” Ron rolled his eyes. “Would you... have you considered that maybe, just maybe, this doesn’t have to be a secret rescue mission.”

“What are you talking about? Of course it does!”

“The Wizarding World knows about the Men of Letters,” Ron replied. “We used to have relations just two generations back. You could easily make it official again. At which point, you could send a request to the team in America – an official request – and they could do the rescuing. You don’t even have to leave home.”

“Why on earth would I do that?” Harry asked, incredulously.

“Because you’re the Head of the Auror Department, Harry!” Ron replied, only now losing his temper. “You have to stop breaking the fucking law!”

Harry stood dumbfounded for a moment.  Ron took a deep breath and visibly calmed down.

“Harry,” Ron stated. “You have an opportunity here. You can legitimize Kevin’s move to London – make him an official liaison for the Men of Letters.  You can also have your correspondence with Sam and Dean be official.”

“How could that possibly benefit anything?” Harry asked. “If they needed me, I’d have to go through miles of paperwork – I’d hardly be able to drop everything and just go, like I can now.”

“Did you ever think that maybe if the Wizarding World knew more about Sam and Dean, and Hunters in general, that it might benefit them? That maybe they would have more allies instead of people who blindly feared them?” Ron replied. “And more than that – maybe if they had an official relationship with the Wizarding World that if they needed help, they could ask more people than just you.”

“They don’t trust-”

“They don’t know them!” Ron interrupted. “What happened when Sam was dying?! Dean couldn’t call you, because he didn’t have the bloody mirror and he didn’t know the emergency numbers for anyone else, because you only ever gave him that bloody mirror and your own bloody name. And when it came down to it, it didn’t matter that Dean didn’t know or trust that angel did it? Sam’s life was more important to him – and look what happened!”

“So, it’s my fault?!” Harry asked. Ron was being ridiculous.

“Of course not,” Ron replied. “I’m just saying that things could have gone differently if we had taken advantage of the Men of Letter’s connection earlier instead of now.”

“You’re being ridiculous,” Harry stated. “The arrangement we have now is fine.”

“So, you’re just going to take an illegal portkey to America, with a team of... I guess you and Till... against an unknown number of demons? Rescue Kevin’s mother – then bring her back here and, what? Hide her in Grimmauld Place? What if she’s been tortured to dementia like the Longbottoms and needs continuous hospital care? What if someone at St. Mungo’s could help her, but you can’t bring her there because she’s a muggle and – oh yeah – illegally smuggled into the country!? What then?” 

 “I haven’t -”

“-thought of that,” Ron concluded. “No, of course you haven’t. You also haven’t thought of what might happen if you go over there, without a proper strategy or reinforcements, and everything goes wrong – the Great Harry Potter mysteriously vanishes and is found dead in America!”

“I’m not going to die!” Harry replied, rolling his eyes.

“You don’t know that – the more risks you take, the more you insist on getting involved with the Winchesters, the more likely it is that you will.” Ron took a deep breath and continued, his voice softer, more earnest. “People who get involved with those two die, Harry. I’m not saying that to be cruel, or as a slight on their character – it’s just a fact. And I’m really starting to wonder if maybe you want that to happen.”

“What?” Harry found himself once again at a loss for words. “I don’t want to die, Ron.”

“Maybe not,” Ron shrugged. “But whatever you’re after – I’m worried you’re going to find death instead, Harry.”

“I’m not after anything,” Harry muttered. “I just want to help my friends.”

“If that’s true,” Ron pressed, “then you’ll do what’s best for them – and what’s best for Kevin is getting him a diplomatic visa.”

“We’re supposed to be hiding him,” Harry argued. “Not starting a paperwork trail.”

“If you really think the angels have infiltrated the highest levels of the Ministry, then we’ve got other things to worry about,” Ron replied.

Harry sighed. “I’m going to go get the other map so we can narrow down where Mrs. Tran might be.”

Ron nodded. “Just think about it, Harry. You’re not seventeen and an Undesirable anymore. You’re the head of the Auror department. I just think that maybe you should start acting like it.”

“Am I the reason why you retired?” Harry asked quietly. “Did you not like how I ran things?”

Ron shook his head. “Not everything has to do with you, Harry.”

Harry rolled his eyes, and turned to leave.

“But part of the reason I left was because I realized that I’m not seventeen anymore either,” Ron added. Harry paused. “My priorities had changed.”

Harry nodded, and put his hand on the door to the back alley.

“Mine haven’t,” he said.

“Haven’t they?” Ron asked. “Or do you just not know who you would be otherwise?”

Harry left without a replying.

*

In the end, it was a compromise. Harry and Ron were able to narrow down the tracking spell to a specific city block. When they looked up the address, they found that it was a storage facility. From there, Harry contacted the Winchesters and told them everything. The Winchesters insisted on handling it themselves, but didn’t say no when Harry offered to help.

Before Harry left for America though, he stopped by Grimmauld Place to talk to Kevin. Although Harry still wasn’t keen on Ron’s suggestion of making the Men of Letters official, he recognized that it wasn’t entirely his decision to make. He’d bring it up with the Winchesters – but first, it was only right to mention the idea to Kevin, to see what he thought.

He didn’t call ahead first, which he supposed he should have.

Teddy answered the door when he knocked. Harry suddenly found himself rooted to the spot. He had to remind himself that it was Teddy he was looking at – but his hair was brown, not coloured, and his looks were a little plainer than usual. If it weren’t for the darker eyes and the youth, he’d be the spitting image of Remus.

“My God, you look so much like your father,” Harry all but whispered.

Teddy laughed and looked at Harry like he was ridiculous. “No, I don’t. My dad was Asian.”

“What?”

“What?” Teddy replied, and then he looked vaguely horrified. “Oh shit, it’s me! I mean – I’m Kevin! Sorry!”

“What?”

“Hello, Harry,” Nate said, as he appeared behind Kevin. “We’re just getting ready to go out – Teddy is upstairs changing, do you need him?”

“Uh, no, no... I actually wanted to talk with Kevin,” Harry replied.

“Oh, come on in,” Teddy-Kevin said.

“Should I go amuse myself elsewhere?” Nate asked. “I can go help Teddy with his outfit or something.”

“No, you can stay,” Harry answered, still feeling wrong-footed. “Are you sure it’s safe for you to go out?”

“Yeah, we researched it and double-checked with Hermione,” Kevin explained, in Teddy’s voice, and with Teddy’s reassuring smile. “Even when polyjuiced, magical tattoos retain their powers – so I’ll still be untraceable, and anyone who sees me will just see someone who looks a bit like Teddy.”

“You look like Teddy when he’s sleeping,” Nate said. “It’s making me want to cuddle you.”

Kevin laughed Teddy’s laugh. “I gotta admit, I’m kind of sad I didn’t get the blue hair.”

Harry stared at Kevin in disbelief.  “Can you change at all?”

“No, you need to be a metamorphagus for that,” Kevin replied, as though it was a stupid question. Harry realized it probably was, but he had been thrown off from the moment the door had opened.

“He looks just like Remus, only he has-” Harry cut himself off, realizing what he was going to say.

“Is this too weird?” Kevin asked in the silence that followed.

“No, it’s fine,” Harry tried for a smile. “But, I should probably get down to business so that I don’t keep you boys.”

“Sure,” Kevin smiled. “What’s up?”

Harry told him about Ron’s idea – reviving the contact with the Men of Letter’s in an official capacity, giving Kevin a title and official status as a sort of diplomat to the Wizarding World. His identity would remain secret, but it would mean that the certain officials, both in Britain and in the New England, would know both that the Men of Letters were once again active, and also that they had a representative in Britain. It would only be those with top security clearance, of course, but still, it’d be a risk. But it would mean that Kevin could move more freely through the Wizarding World, possibly even attend school again or pursue a career if he so chose.

By the time Harry was finished his explanation, Teddy had come downstairs – no doubt wondering where his friends had gone. At the first glance of Teddy, Harry really felt like he should have called ahead – but the boys didn’t seem disturbed at all by the intrusion.

“You look very nice, Teddy,” Harry said, while Kevin thought about what had just been said.

“Thanks!” Teddy answered, smiling his mother’s smile.  “Did you see Kevin?” He asked, even though Kevin was sitting right there. “He has mum’s eyes, I think.”

“They’re your eyes too, Teddy,” Harry smiled, though it felt a little brittle. Teddy shook his head.

“Not tonight, they’re not,” Teddy said. “It’s a shame, really. He’s much more handsome when he’s himself.”

“Well, maybe, at least in the Wizarding places, Kevin will be able to go out in public as himself soon,” Harry smiled. “What do you think, Kevin?”

Kevin seemed to come back to the conversation at the mention of his name. He nodded, but not necessarily in agreement, more in acknowledgement of the topic. “What do Sam and Dean say?”

“I haven’t asked them yet,” Harry replied. “But I’m seeing them this evening, after I leave here. I’ll be traveling to America to talk with them.”

The boys all raised their eyebrows.

“The wards,” Harry said. “They wanted me to have a look at the wards on the Bunker...” it was a lie, but the young men in the room all accepted it as the truth. Harry didn’t want to tell Kevin why he was really going to America – there was no sense getting his hopes up. They hadn’t discussed his mother since that conversation at Christmas. Teddy was eyeing Harry a little suspiciously, but Teddy always could tell when Harry was lying better than most. It didn’t help that Teddy had been the one to secretly get the blood-sample for the tracking spell.

“See what they say,” Kevin said.

“And if they ask what you say?” Harry asked, because he knew how these conversations could go.

“Sometimes they said that I’d be able to go back to my life at some point,” Kevin replied. “Other times, they’d tell me that once you’re in, there’s no getting out.” Kevin shrugged. “I’ve lost everything already, so it doesn’t really matter... but, what you’re suggesting, it sounds like maybe it’s a chance to do both.”

“Is that a yes, then?” Harry asked.

Kevin shrugged. “I suppose so, but I trust them, and if they don’t like it then that’s fine.”

Harry nodded. He felt like an arse for arguing with Ron about it now. Ron had been right – it should be about what Kevin wanted, and what was best for him, rather than the fact that Harry wanted to keep his activities with the Winchesters a secret.

“Thanks, Kevin,” Harry said with a smile. “I’ll let you boys get on with your night out.”

They all stood up again, this time, Harry went for the floo powder rather than the door.  Before he left though, he turned back, “Teddy, you’ll... uh, be careful tonight, right?”

Teddy rolled his eyes. “It’s hardly the first time I’ve done this Harry,” Teddy replied.

“Right,” Harry replied. He had known, of course, that Teddy took all sorts of forms when he and Nate went out, but it was quite different to see it firsthand. “It’s just... you’ll be in Muggle London, and I’m not sure you really realize-”

“Harry,” Teddy glared. “I know perfectly well what I’m doing. Besides, we’re meeting up with Penelope and the others too, so there’ll be a group of us.”

“Sorry, of course,” Harry sighed. He gave one last glance at the three of them; Nate and Kevin were both looking a little warily between Teddy and Harry.  “Uh, you’ll need another sip of polyjuice, Kevin,” Harry advised. “I can see your black hair returning.”

Kevin groaned and took a flask from his pocket. He took a sip and cringed at the taste, while his hair returned to mousy brown. “Teddy, you taste disgusting.”

“That’s what she said,” Nate stated, and Teddy punched him in the arm.

Harry rolled his eyes. “Have a good night, boys.”

“Bye, Harry!” and with that Harry threw the floo powder into the fireplace and made his way home, where there was a portkey to Wichita already waiting for him.

*

Harry wanted to see the Bunker, but Mrs. Tran was the priority, so Harry met the Winchesters in Wichita. That close, all he’d need for a tracking spell was his wand. He hadn’t brought Till, but he had him waiting on standby just in case.  They’d arranged to meet in the far corner of a Biggerson’s parking lot, a block away from where Ron’s tracking spell had last found Mrs. Tran.

Once Harry had recovered from his magical, and therefore nauseating, transatlantic trip, Sam and Dean both stocked up on weapons from their trunk. It was an even more jarring sight than usual, given that they were dressed in smart suits and nice trench-coats.

“Is there a dress code for rescues?” Harry asked. He had simply worn his street clothes with his Auror robe thrown over top. 

“We did some recon before you go here,” Dean explained. “We didn’t go in, but it’s a storage facility. Even during the day, there’s usually only one or two employees on hand at any given time at a place like that. We figured we might need to use our FBI aliases.”

Harry nodded. He quickly performed an illusion charm that would food any muggle into thinking he too was wearing a suit and trench.

“Nice, Cinderella,” Dean smirked.

“Did you tell Kevin what we were doing?” Sam asked.

“No,” Harry replied. “I didn’t want to get his hopes up... just in case things go south, or... well, it’s been nearly a week since Ron did the tracking spell. Things may have changed.”

“Well, there’s one way to find out,” Dean replied, nodding towards Harry’s hand.

Harry took a deep breath and lifted his wand, opening his hand so that it lay flat across it and then used one of simpler tracking spell, the kind that only work if the victim is both alive and unshielded.

The wand spun lazily in a circle once, and then, just when Harry’s heart was threatening to plummet, it reversed and then pointed consistently to the North-East. The collective breath of relief was audible.

“Alright,” Sam said. “I say we give the building a wide circle, narrow it down to what section she’s in – then we go in and request access to that section using the badges.”

Dean and Harry both nodded their agreement.

The storage facility, as it turned out, took up most of the block. Beyond it was a fairly thick wood. The trees provided great cover for them as they moved around the building. Harry could spot a few security cameras here and there, but they were pointed towards the building rather than away from it.

No one spoke as they walked. At first, Harry thought it was to remain stealthy, but when it became apparent that there were no dogs or security patrolling the area, he realized it was actually a rather tense form of silence that came when two of your party members weren’t on speaking terms with each other.

 “So, how’s everything with you two?” Harry asked.

“Fine.”

“Good.”

“Great,” Harry replied. It was one of those rare times where Harry would have preferred to be proven wrong.

“I need to discuss something with you after we’re done here,” Harry said. “About uh.... Kevin and-”

“Okay,” Sam cut Harry off. Dean just seemed to glare at the building more intensely.

“Okay,” Harry repeated.  “Well, so far, it looks like we want the North-East corner. We can go down the other side to confirm before looping around to the front.”

The Winchesters both nodded, and that was the last words they spoke for another ten minutes. When they reached the road again, they brushed the dirt off their pant legs and then all three of them made their way to the main office.

A short guy with glasses came to the desk from the back room at the sound of the door.

“Can I help you?”

“Yeah, hi,” Dean said, as he and Sam pulled badges from their pockets. Harry didn’t have a badge to pull, so he just made sure to project an air of authority. “Agent Nicks, McVie and Buckingham. Need to take a look at your, uh, rental records.”

“Uh, my manager’s not here, I don’t think I should-” the kid started to say, but Dean cut him off.

“Hey! The records, pal!”

“Yeah, Barry!” the kid yelled toward the backroom. “Bring out the rental binder!”

Another short bespectacled teenager appeared with a thick binder, passing it to the first teenager who handed it over. Dean started immediately leafing through it. Sam meanwhile, caught Harry’s eye and motioned to the wall – where there was a map of the facility. Harry tugged on Dean’s sleeve and led him over to the wall a little, while he flipped through the book.

“Corridor Q,” Harry whispered, motioning to the wall.

Dean quickly flipped a few pages. “Okay, it’s all leased to the same guy – a D. Webster.”

“D. Webster?” Sam asked. “As in, like, Daniel Webster?”

“Well, I know a lame Crowley in-joke when I see one,” Dean muttered with an eye roll.

“I don’t get it,” Harry admitted. “But, I’ll take your word for it.”

“It’s a reference to F-” Sam started to explain.

“You guys say D. Webster?” the teenager asked.

“Yeah,” Dean replied. “Yeah, you – you seen him?”

“Uh no,” the kid replied. “I know his name from the records – he’s leasing another unit on the other side of the facility. I could show you.”

“Yeah, that’d be great,” Dean replied. Then he turned back to Sam and Harry. “You guys go check out corridor Q. I’ll go with, uh, Del, the funky homosapien.”

Harry realized that he never bothered to read the employee’s name tag. He watched Del lead Dean off towards the other side of the facility, and then he and Sam both broke into a jog to get to Corridor Q.

 

Chapter Text

Harry took out his wand again and performed the tracking spell. It stayed true to what they had seen outside – they were on the right track. When they got to the correct corridor, it led them directly to the middle of three units. Harry ended the tracking spell and shoved his wand up his sleeve again, while Sam got the door open. It was true that he needed to introduce the Wizarding world to Mrs. Tran, but it would probably be better if he could explain things first, rather than reveal it by using magic immediately.

As soon as the door began to open and light spilled into the storage room, the screaming started. Sam rushed in, ducking under the door and immediately trying to calm Mrs. Tran down. Harry slipped in immediately after him.

She was so much smaller than Harry thought she would be.

“Sam?” she said.

“Oh my God,” came Sam’s answer, as he and Harry both got a good look at her. She was dirty, but otherwise looked okay. She was chained to the floor, though it looked as though she had been trying to dig away at her restraints.

“Sam?” she repeated. “We have to get out of here before he comes back. Is Kevin with you?”

Harry stepped forward then, to try to remind Sam not to say anything, one way or the other, about Kevin. While it was true that they knew it was an angel who had tried to kill him, that didn’t mean that demons wouldn’t sell the information for a good price.

Before he could start speaking though, Mrs. Tran’s gaze had caught his movement and she started screaming again.

“It’s okay! He’s a friend!” Sam said, and then Mrs. Tran’s eyes narrowed on Harry and her scream ended.

She took a visible breath. “Sorry.”

“It’s quite alright,” Harry reassured her. “You’ve been through an ordeal. Let me help get these chains off.”

“Oh my god,” came a woman’s voice from behind the wall. “Linda! Are you being rescued?!” Harry and Sam both froze and turned wide-eyes on each other.  “Are we being rescued?!” the voice all but sobbed.

“Linda?” a man’s voice came from the other wall. “Hello? Can they rescue us too?”

“How many-” Harry started to say, even as he was scrambling back out of the storage unit and into the hall.

“We think it’s just the three of us,” Mrs. Tran answered, as Sam went back to picking the locks on her chains. “Just Candy, Jerome and I.”

Harry went for the left door first. He opened it to reveal a young woman, beautiful, and her eyes full of absolute terror at the sight of him at first, but then she blinked and it was replaced with relief and desperate gratefulness. He went in to undo her restraints, only to have the door slam shut behind him. He could hear it close in Mrs. Tran’s unit as well.

“Sam?” Harry yelled.

“Shit,” Sam’s voice came through a vent near the ceiling. “Shit, I missed it.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Harry called back. He had heard the locks click into place. He wasn’t too concerned about being trapped. He turned back to Candy. “Close your eyes for me.”

She did. Harry slide his wand into his hand and made sure to use non-verbal magic to open her shackles.

“There’s an electrical line, leads to the control panel,” Mrs. Tran’s voice could be overheard from the other room.

“This might take awhile,” Sam’s voice answered her.

“Okay, keep those eyes closed just a moment longer, Candy,” Harry said. Candy nodded, and rubbed the skin where the shackles had been.

“We were going to try to escape tomorrow,” Mrs. Tran’s voice came. “We had the plan all worked out. You have to unplug the ground wire first – if this is standard U.S. colour coding, it’s the green one...”

Harry could see the box that Sam and Mrs. Tran must be fussing with. The locks were controlled by an electric control panel, but Harry knew that the locks themselves were mechanical – had parts that slide into place, and would slide out of place with just a simple...

Alohomora,” Harry whispered and heard the locks click back open. Mrs. Tran talking about helping Kevin with is homework in the other room had hopefully covered up Harry’s use of a spell in front of Candy.

“Okay, you can open your eyes,” Harry said, as he wedged his fingers under the door and lifted it open.  Candy was darting into the hall before Harry even stopped lifting the door. He couldn’t say he blamed her. “Stay with us,” Harry called after her. “It’s not safe yet.”

He needed have worried. She had simply run out and attempted to open the other doors. They were locked of course, but Harry could see Candy eyeing the control boxes on the outside of the doors as though she too could figure out how to take them apart. Luckily, it didn’t need to come to that, as Harry heard the lock on Mrs. Tran’s unit disengage again. While Candy was distracted with excitedly helping Sam open the door. Harry went to the third unit and used magic to open it. He threw open the door quickly, only to have Jerome yelp at the sight of him and throw himself backwards.

“It’s okay,” Harry said, stepping into the room. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

Jerome blinked at him for a moment, and then smiled. “I thought you were someone else!” Jerome laughed in relief, and then wiped at his eyes. Harry bent down to get rid of the shackles, just as Linda and Candy darted into the unit and started hugging Jerome. Harry, once again, was thankful that they were distracting themselves enough that no one questioned how simply Jerome’s shackles fell away, unlocked.

Harry straightened to find Sam standing and smiling in the doorway, one arm on the door as though if it decided to shut on them again, he would just stand there and hold it open.

“Dean’s in trouble,” Harry said.

“What?” Sam asked, smile falling away and back going stiff.

“Unless there’s another reason why all three of the prisoners were immediately terrified of a short white man with glasses...” Harry said. “I think Del might be more than he appears.”

“Shit,” Sam said. “Okay, take them outside and then find me.” And with that, Sam sprinted around the corner and was gone.

“Right,” Harry muttered. He led the three former prisoners to the front office as quickly as possible, taking stock of whether they looked like they needed immediate medical attention. They looked alright though, just dirty and perhaps a little malnourished. Harry figured that Sam most likely had meant for Harry to lead them back to the car and then wait for Sam there, but Harry didn’t like the idea of leaving the Winchesters to fight demons alone. So, once they got to the office and found it completely empty, Harry motioned them to sit down while he checked the security cameras.

It wasn’t hard to see where the Winchesters were – there were no cameras inside the other storage units, but one security camera showed a large open door in a hallway not too far away.

“Mrs. Tran?” Harry asked, looking around the office and spotting a sharpie. “Can you draw a devil’s trap on the floor by the door and keep everyone safe for a moment?”

“Spray paint works better,” Mrs. Tran said by way of answer.

“If you find some, use it,” Harry stated. “I’ll be right back.”

By the time, Harry reached the storage unit, Sam and Dean already had the demon subdued. It appeared there was only one demon, or at least, there was only one now. The second employee was already dead, throat slit and bled out on the floor.  It was Del that was still alive – or, what had been Del.

Sam turned when Harry ran in.

“What are you waiting for..” the demon was saying.

“Did you bring her?” Sam asked Harry. Harry shook his head, unsure what Sam meant. Sam looked mildly disappointed. He held up what Harry recognized as the demon-killing knife and smiled. “I thought she could do the honours.”

Harry nodded a little numbly. It made sense, he supposed – Mrs. Tran and the others had been tormented by this demon for months – but, there was something unsettling about what Sam was suggesting.

“But what about... the vessel?” Harry asked. “He’s... is he not still alive?”

Sam eyes betrayed his surprise and Dean’s head came up to glance at Sam in surprise too – then they both turned and looked at the demon.

“Is he?” they asked. The demon smiled and nodded.

Harry decided to ignore the fact that the Winchesters looked a little disappointed at that.

Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus....”  Sam began.

“You know he’s just going to go tell Crowley what we just did,” Dean said while Sam continued the exorcism.

“I’m pretty sure two bloody bodies on the news would tip him off too,” Harry gestured towards the dead teenager by the shelves.

“Speaking of, they’re going to pin it on him,” Dean argued.

“I’ll alter his memory – he’ll be alright,” Harry countered, just as the demon poured out of the kid’s mouth and was sent back to hell. The vessel’s eyes rolled back in his head and he passed out.

“Where are the others?” Sam asked, as he checked for a pulse, and then added. “He’s alive. He wasn’t lying.”

“I left them out in the office,” Harry replied.

“Alright, uh, do your thing with this guys brain – we’ll go get the story from Mrs. Tran,” Dean ordered, and then he and Sam both turned and walked out.

Harry sighed and knelt down next to Del. He wished he had another member of his team there who was better at memory charms – or Hermione... or even Draco. Luckily, it was a Muggle, and they wouldn’t know enough to suspect foul play. If Harry couldn’t manipulate the memories well enough, he could always just cause a mild case of amnesia.

It took him a good ten minutes, and by the time he got back to the front, Sam and Dean filed him in on the story that Candy and Jerome had agreed to tell the cops.  It wasn’t too dissimilar to the fake memories that Harry had just given Del - Mainly, that Del hadn’t been involved in the torture and imprisonment, and it was all Crowley and some other goon. They’d already wiped the security footage.

They left Candy and Jerome behind to call the cops while they got a head start away from the scene.

They piled into the Impala, Harry and Mrs. Tran in the back seat. The plan was to drive to a nearby hotel, regroup, make sure no one needed medical attention, and then explain the Wizarding world to Mrs. Tran. They’d only been in the car a minute, when Mrs. Tran broke the silence.

“How did it happen?” she asked.

“How’d what happen?” Dean asked in return.

“How did Kevin... how did my son die?”

In the shocked silence that followed, Harry realized that somewhere along the way, Mrs. Tran had gotten the same false information Kevin had. Sam turned in his seat a little to look with wide-eyes at Mrs. Tran.

“He’s not dead,” Sam exclaimed. “Shit, did they tell you he was dead?”

“He’s not dead?” Mrs. Tran asked, taking a visibly fortifying, but shaky breath.

“No,” Sam repeated.

Mrs. Tran reached over and smacked Sam in the back of the head.

“Ow!”

“You wouldn’t give me a straight answer about where he was back there, you... giant... idiot,” Mrs. Tran admonished. “I thought you just didn’t want to tell me...”

“Shit, I’m sorry!” Sam said. “I didn’t think you’d... I’m sorry. It’s just-“

“Someone did try to kill your son,” Dean interrupted. “He escaped, but in order to keep him safe, we made it look like he didn’t – understand? Now, back there, Sam couldn’t say anything because someone might have been listening in, there were cameras, surveillance.”

“It was an angel that attacked him, but it wasn’t like we wanted to give the demons any leverage either,” Sam added.

Mrs. Tran took another deep breath and seemed to release any anger she was feeling. “So, he’s somewhere safe?”

“Harry’s got him hidden in London,” Dean explained.

“He’s living with my eldest,” Harry added. “I even made him put the house under the fidelius charm again-”

“A what?” Mrs. Tran asked.

“Yeah, there’s a few things we have to tell you about before we pack you off to Great Britain,” Dean said, as he pulled up to a motel.

“There are also a few things I need to discuss with you two,” Harry added. “About how we’re moving forward with Kevin’s status in the Wizarding World...”

Sam and Dean both glanced at Harry and raised their eyebrows.

Beside him, Mrs. Tran was mouthing the word ‘wizarding’ and looking at Harry with curiosity. Harry had the feeling it was going to be a long night.

*

Kevin woke up looking like himself again. There was a warm cup of tea on his bedside table, and Kevin drank it without question – if there was one thing he had learned since moving in with Teddy and Nate, it was that Teddy knew how to brew a cup of tea for every occasion. Sure enough, nearly as soon as he swallowed, Kevin felt his hangover dissipating. By the time he finished the tea, it was as though the previous night hadn’t happened at all.

Only it had happened, of course – Kevin had gone out with Teddy and Nate and had a fantastic time. It was like living a completely different life, or at least borrowing someone else’s life for a moment. He’d looked like Teddy. As the night progressed, sometimes Teddy’s friends would forget that Kevin was just in disguise and they would talk to him as if he were Teddy. Though, mostly, when it happened, they started the conversation by asking what was wrong – it was, Kevin figured, rare for Teddy to not have coloured hair when out in public. Teddy himself had added purple streaks to his blonde hair by the time the night was over – it did wonders in reminding his friends which one of them was actually Teddy.

Kevin got out of bed and used the bathroom. He could already hear Teddy and Nate laughing downstairs. He followed those voices down to the kitchen, where there was a spread of pancakes waiting for him. Teddy was back to looking like himself, hair disarrayed and sticking up all over, but multicoloured – mostly turquoise, but there was some jet black and blond in there too. Nate had a case of bed head himself and a lazy smile. They’d gone to a straight bar, which Nate had complained about – but he had been outvoted by everyone else in attendance. Kevin had met Andy, Iggy, Penelope and Flo, plus Iggy’s muggle girlfriend, Leslie. Kevin had gotten on well with Flo.

“Morning Sunshine,” Teddy grinned.

“Morning,” Kevin returned.  “Thanks for the tea. I didn’t even hear you come in.”

“You were right out,” Teddy replied. “Figured you’d need it.”

Kevin smiled and started eating. Teddy and Nate were already making plans for the next weekend – this time, thinking of just going out the three of them so that they could go to a gay bar for Nate too at one point in the night. Kevin nodded along. He wasn’t too sure of Teddy’s plan to use a lock of Penelope’s or Flo’s hair so that Kevin could polyjuice himself into a one of them instead – but he decided that it really would be like living a completely different life if he did so.

Teddy’s pocket spoke his name shortly after breakfast, when they were all still just lounging around while the dishes did themselves in the sink. Kevin watched as Teddy pulled out a slim compact mirror with a slight frown.

“Morning, Harry,” Teddy greeted.

“I was wondering if you were all up yet,” Harry’s voice echoed into the kitchen. “I know you had a late night.”

“All up and recovered,” Teddy replied.

“Good, do you mind if I stop by in five minutes – I’ll use the door,” Harry replied.

“’Course we don’t mind,” Teddy said, shooting a glance at Kevin and Nate. “Is this about that thing you were talking with Kevin about yesterday.”

“A little, yeah,” Harry answered. “I’ll see you soon.”

Teddy nodded and closed the mirror. “Well, gents, better get out of our jammies.”

Kevin laughed and followed Teddy and Nate upstairs. He put on the clothes that Harry had given him for Christmas. They were all downstairs again by the time there was a knock on the door.

Kevin answered it, with Teddy and Nate standing behind him.

It was his mother.

He didn’t even really register Harry standing beside her, or whatever it was that Harry said in greeting. His mother was standing on Teddy’s front porch with a smile on her face.

“Kevin!”

“Mom,” Kevin all but breathed, and then she was hugging him, and he had his arms around her – and she was real.

He knew people were talking around them, but he couldn’t even register what they were saying.  His mother was alive. She was small in his arms, but he could feel the strength in her frame – just the same as always.

“I thought you were dead,” Kevin told her, as the tears finally came.

“I thought we agreed that it would take more than the King of Hell to take me out,” his mother replied, finally letting him go so that she could look up at him, her hands coming to rest at the side of his face. There were tears in her eyes. “I was so worried about you.”

Kevin couldn’t help the sob that escaped him, but before he could lift a hand to wipe his face, his mother was pulling back into another hug. So he just bent down a little and buried his face in her shoulder.

He felt someone else’s hand on his shoulder, and Harry’s voice came softly. “You can have a seat in the living room when you’re ready, so we can talk. I’ll go help the boys with the tea.”

He felt his mother nod, so Kevin just stayed where he was.

*

Nate leaned his hip against the counter as he watched Teddy fret around the kitchen. He wished he knew what to say. He wished he knew what was going through Teddy’s head right then, but it seemed too fragile a moment to outright ask. Teddy’s hair was a mix of black and turquoise, but Teddy had gotten very good at controlling his appearance since he turned seventeen, and his hair now only gave away his emotions when he allowed it, or was so distressed that he couldn’t help but allow it.

“I’m sorry,” Harry said, as he walked into the kitchen. “I should have warned you, but Kevin’s mother wanted-”

“It’s fine,” Teddy interrupted. “We talked about it at Christmas, and I had my suspicions about the real reason you were heading off to America yesterday. I just thought... well, I thought you’d give me more notice if you found her.” Teddy gestured to the kitchen, which was covered in dirty dishes still from breakfast.  “I would have cleaned.” The dregs of the hangover tea were still in the pot, which Teddy had spotted at the same time as Nate, and then quickly whisked into the sink, so he could wash it out before the kettle boiled. “At least the spare bedrooms are clean, and I just washed the linens after Christmas...”

 “She doesn’t have to stay here,” Harry stated. “I didn’t intend to-”

“Of course she can stay here,” Teddy declared, whirling away from the sink to face Harry again, the wet teapot still in his hand. Nate slid over carefully and gently took the teapot from Teddy’s wet hands. He pressed a hand to Teddy’s back, just to let him know he was there, and then picked up the dish towel to dry off the outside of teapot. “They’ll want to stay together and Kevin has gotten used to Grimmauld now – he feels at home here.”

“I’ve already charmed the stove and other appliances to work for a muggle,” Nate added. “If you used one of the Auror boltholes, you’d have to do so all over again.”

“You have?” Harry said.

“Of course,” Teddy said with a huff. “The whole point was for this to be Kevin’s home too – for as long as he wanted it to be.”

The kettle began to whistle. Teddy startled and went for the tea cupboard, pulling down regular tea as well as various other blends, and then visibly fretting over which one to make. “Does she have any health problems?” Teddy asked. Harry shook his head.

Nate leaned over Teddy’s shoulder and spoke low, hoping that Harry wouldn’t hear him over the boiling kettle. “Regular, Teddy,” Nate said, then he guided Teddy’s hand to another jar. “But maybe a pinch of this in your cup, yeah?”

Teddy nodded. Nate moved back to turn off the kettle and pull down the cups, as though that had been what they discussed.

“I’m actually quite good at charms,” Nate said, further drawing the attention away from Teddy as they made the tea. “Nothing I’ve tampered with has yet developed a mind of its own, and I’ve done quite a bit around here. There were some things, of course, that already had a bit of a personality. It’s the old magic and it’s to be expected in a house like this one – but even then, I was able to curtail the surlier among them. We’re all quite happy here, and I’m sure Mrs. Tran will be as well, until she’s able to get a place of her own.”

Harry nodded, visibly interested in Nate’s work. Nate thought he might actually look a little impressed. Nate couldn’t help but smile to himself – even knowing him as long as Nate had, it was still something to feel like you had impressed Harry Potter.

Harry glanced back over at Teddy, who was already setting up the tea tray to bring to the other room.

“And if Kevin wants to leave with his mother when she gets her own place?” Harry asked.

Teddy glanced up and gave Harry a flat look, a little bit of red creeping into the black of his hair. “What? You think I’d keep him here against his will?”

“Well, no, but I wanted to make sure you weren’t too attached to-”

“I’m not attached to anything,” Teddy replied curtly. “Now, should I be preparing food too or do you think this is enough?”

“We ate before we arrived,” Harry replied, his voice calm, and obviously accepting that whatever conversation he wanted to have was over before it began.

Teddy nodded and then smiled brightly. “Let’s go meet Kevin’s mum then! I bet she’s amazing.” 

Nate picked up his and Teddy’s teas, both of which Teddy had left off the tray, and followed Harry and Teddy out into the other room.

Kevin and his mother had moved from the front hall and into the living room. They were sat together on the love seat. Kevin was in the middle of asking his mother about where she had been, it seemed, and how Harry had found her, but the conversation broke off as soon as Nate, Teddy and Harry entered the room.

“Tea?” Teddy offered, placing the tray down the table. “Harry says you’ve already eaten, but if you’d like something else, just say the word.” Teddy, Harry, and Nate all sat across from the Trans on the sofa.

“Thank you,” Mrs. Tran replied. “You must be Teddy. It’s so nice to meet you.”

“It’s nice to meet you too, Mrs. Tran,” Teddy replied.

“Please, call me Linda,” Kevin’s mum smiled, and then turned to Nate. “And you must be Nate. It’s a pleasure to meet you too. Thank you both for letting my son stay here.”

“It’s our pleasure,” Nate replied. “Kevin’s become a good friend and we’re happy to have him... and you, of course. I don’t know what the plan is, but you’re welcome to stay as long as you need.”

“Thank you,” Linda replied. “As for the plan...” she looked over at Harry, who in turn put down his tea and seemed to adopt a more business-like demeanor.

“I talked to Sam and Dean,” Harry began, looking at Kevin. “And they agreed that you could become an official representative of the Men of Letters, if you wanted.”

“I think it’s a good idea,” Kevin’s mum added with a smile. She lightly smacked Kevin on the knee. “You’ll be a diplomat, Kevin.”

Kevin blushed a little and rolled his eyes.

“I know, I know...” Linda continued. “You wanted to be the first Asian-American President of the United States of America... but I’m just not sure you could get into a good enough college now, what with the three years vacation from education that you’ve taken.”

“Vacation?” Kevin exclaimed. “I’ve been on the run from demons and angels!”

“I understand that,” Linda said gently. “But I’m just not sure that Harvard will believe you, dear.”

Nate had to bite his lip to keep from laughing, as he imagined what that application letter might look like. Harry and Teddy looked torn between laughing and being too shocked to do anything.

Kevin just smiled though, and turned back to Harry. “They were really okay with it?”

Harry nodded. “They said they’d support anything that might help you out over here. Dean said, and I’m quoting here, that you’re family and they owe you one – or several.”

Kevin huffed a small laugh and shook his head, but he looked a little emotional.

“How are they?” Kevin asked. “Sam must have been so angry... and Dean was already kinda messed up, you know? I can’t imagine...” Kevin trailed off.

Harry shifted a little in his seat and looked at Mrs. Tran for a moment.

“They seemed okay,” Harry said. “I mean, a little... tense. Maybe a little angry – both of them seemed a little angry about everything, but it was a long night and I’m sure they’ll work it out. They’re the Winchesters, after all.”

Kevin nodded. “Yeah, they’re the Winchesters,” he echoed, but Nate got the impression he meant it in the exact opposite way than Harry.

As Harry directed the conversation back to other matters, Nate sat back and pressed his leg into Teddy’s a little. Teddy was calmer now. Nate wasn’t sure if it was the tea or just having had time to adjust to the situation – probably it was the tea. Their bachelor pad had just become a safe-house for someone’s mother, even Nate needed more time to adjust. Things were about to change in Grimmauld Place. A mother returning from the dead might be a good change for Kevin, but Nate wasn’t too sure it would be a good change for Teddy.

 

 

END of Part 2

Chapter Text

Sam was more than a little on edge – Dean’s recent behaviour felt all wrong. They weren’t doing great, Sam knew – Sam was angry and Dean was angry that Sam was angry. And while normally, when they take time apart after a fight, Dean would come around to Sam’s point of view...or at the very least, begin to understand Sam’s feelings – this time, it seemed that the more time Sam tried to give Dean to think about things, the more entrenched in anger Dean became.  

Sam hadn’t known what to make of it, until he saw Dean with the First Blade. Now, he mostly just tried to ignore the sinking suspicions in the back of his mind - the ones that said that this might not be Dean’s behaviour at all.

So when Harry called, Sam was grateful for the distraction. It’d been months since the last time they’d seen him. Once they had found Mrs. Tran, there’d been no real reason for them to talk. The stuff that Sam and Dean were dealing with now – trying to find Abaddon, Gadreel, or help Cas defeat Metatron – all those things were above Harry’s pay grade, and not something that the wizard could help them out with.

Dean was currently out on a beer run, so it was just Sam in the bunker, when the small magic flip mirror said first Dean’s and then Sam’s name.

“Everything okay?” Sam asked, after they greeted each other in the com-mirror.

“Yes, thanks,” Harry answered with a reassuring smile. “I was just calling to ask if... well, I was actually wondering if you could tell me whether New York City was a safe enough vacation spot at the moment.”

Sam raised his eyebrows. “Well, I mean – it’s New York, so...”

Harry laughed. “I meant whether you knew if there were any ongoing monster hunts there right now - unexplained deaths, Hunters in the area... that sort of thing.”

“Oh,” Sam nodded. “I haven’t heard of anything, but I can ask around and double-check. Why?”

“Teddy and Nate are thinking of going,” Harry said, then sighed. “Actually, I should say, they’re going whether I like it or not. But it’s the first time Teddy’s going so far abroad alone, and...”

“And you’re a worried parent, got it,” Sam laughed. “I’ll make some calls and do a few searches myself. If there is something, and no one is taking care of it, Dean and I will go clear it out ourselves. I promise.”

“Thanks, Sam.” Harry smiled.

Harry gave Sam the name of the hotel and neighbourhood that Teddy and Nate would be staying in. It didn’t take long to make sure everything was safe – at least from monsters. Dean got back and did the online searches, while Sam called a few Hunters to make sure they hadn’t heard anything. It wasn’t too unusual for Hunters with families to ask about a particular city from time to time, so all Sam had to say was that a friend of his was worried about their kid and everyone was happy to tell him that the coast was clear as far as they knew.

Sam gave Harry the all clear, once Dean’s search had also come up empty. Harry looked relieved, thanked him.

It was the last Sam thought about it until a few weeks later when he and Dean were driving out of Cleveland like a bat out of hell, leaving behind a too-clean hotel room and Sam’s phone rang.

“Dale,” Sam greeted. “Now’s not a great time.”

Dean was sitting rigid in the driver’s seat, scowling at the road or maybe the world in general. He’d cleaned off all the blood and changed clothes, but Sam couldn’t help but think he could still see it somehow – like it had soaked into his skin and left a stain.

“Just had an update about New York,” Dale’s voice came crackling over the line.

“New York?” Sam asked, confused for a moment, until the memory sparked, but Dale answered as though Sam had known what he was talking about the whole time.

“Yeah, got a call from some guys I was supposed to meet up with,” Dale said.  “They were wrapping up a werewolf hunt in New Jersey when they saw a shifter – they’ve tracked it right into New York City.”

“Tracked it how?” Sam asked, trying to ignore the small thread of panic that was starting to wind its way around his heart. “Bodies?”

“No, fucker just hasn’t changed clothes, has a distinctive backpack... took the bus. Anyway, thought I’d mention it, since you were asking before – but I wouldn’t worry, these are seasoned hunters, they’ll get him,” Dale reassured Sam, while Sam frantically signalled Dean to turn the car around.

“Who are they?” Sam asked.

There was a pause, only a brief thing, and Sam might have chalked it up to a bad connection or Dale’s crappy cellphone, but he knew then what the answer would be before Dale even spoke. “No one you know, but you can trust them to get the job done.”

“Thanks, Dale,” Sam forced himself to say. He waited just long enough to hear Dale’s reply before he hung up the phone.

Dean was already taking an exit off the highway. “What’s up? Is it a job?”

“A couple of hunters are tracking a shifter in New York City,” Sam replied.

Dean seemed to have the same half-second of confusion, before Sam saw his body still – or still as much as it could while driving. “Could actually be a shifter.”

“They were on a werewolf hunt when they saw it,” Sam said. “Apparently, it changes its appearance but not its clothes, has a backpack, and takes the bus.”

“Son of a bitch,” Dean muttered. “Who’s on the hunt? If we call them...”

Sam let the silence hang for a moment, just like it had during the call and then he quoted Dale exactly. “’No one we know’.... apparently.”

“Son of a bitch!” Dean repeated and put the pedal down.

*

Teddy’s feet were killing him. The shoes matched the outfit perfectly, but he was seriously regretting wearing them. Maybe if he had known that Nate was going to be dragging him all over town, he would have made a different footwear decision.

“Where are we going? Land’s End?” Teddy asked. No one else in the neighbourhood was walking. Teddy wondered if it was because they knew something he and Nate didn’t about distances.

“Clay said this place was good, Teddy, and it’s just a few blocks further, I promise,” Nate replied, sounding perhaps a little annoyed at Teddy’s complaining. Honestly, Teddy came to New York so that Nate could have a good time, not so he could get hung up on one guy – no matter how tall, dark, and handsome he was.  They couldn’t both be hung up on people – there was little fun in that.

“Once we get there, you’re just going to be sitting at the bar drinking anyway,” Nate continued, still annoyed.

“I might dance,” Teddy pouted.

“If you were planning to dance, you wouldn’t have worn those shoes,” Nate stated.

“But they go with the-”

Suddenly, Teddy was grabbed and pulled into an alley. He stumbled and it was enough time for his attacker to push him up against the wall, a hand around his throat, choking him. Teddy could hear a scuffle behind him, a fist connecting, and out of the corner of his eye, he saw Nate hit the ground, and then roll back up to his feet immediately, hand going for where Teddy knew Nate had his wand holstered. Teddy needed to get to his wand too, but the hand at his throat was blocking his efforts to reach where it was tucked at his chest.

“Hands where I can see him, kid. No sudden movements,” Nate’s attacker said, and Teddy looked past the ugly guy holding him to see a handgun aimed at his best friend, the muzzle extended by a silencer. Teddy’s vision was starting to black out at the edges.

“What do you want?” Nate asked. “Let us go and we’ll give it to you.”

“Can’t do that,” the man replied. And then there was a gun pointed at Teddy’s heart, also with a silencer on the end. His attacker finally released his neck. Teddy sucked in a lungful of air, even while his panic felt like an iron band across his chest. “Your date here is a monster.”

“I’m not,” Teddy replied. He tried to catch Nate’s eye. They had a chance with wandless magic, but it was a small one. Nate’s eyes darted briefly between his attacker and the mouth of the alley

“I really think you should let us go,” Nate stated with confidence that Teddy didn’t feel.

Teddy’s attacker responded by cocking his gun.

And then suddenly there was a gun pointed at his attacker’s temple too. It shone white in the dark alley.

“Drop the guns,” a deep voice said.

“Winchester,” Teddy’s attacker said with a sneer, but he lowered the gun and looked nervous. Teddy breathed a sigh of relief, slumping a little against the wall.

“Roy,” Dean greeted.

“Walt,” Sam added, and Teddy looked over to where Nate was to see that Sam had a gun on Nate’s attacker as well.

“You guys killing innocent kids in alleys now?” Dean asked.

“It’s a shifter, Dean,” Roy said. “We’ve been tracking it since this morning in New Jersey. It was a teenage boy then.”

“That so?” Dean said. “Well, I think you’re mistaken, isn’t he, sweetheart?”

“Yes,” Teddy replied.

“It’s lying,” Roy insisted.

“Why don’t you back up a bit and we’ll see,” Dean replied. Roy backed up. Dean lowered his gun just enough to point it at Roy’s chest instead of his head, then he edged his way closer to Teddy, keeping Roy in his sight.  When he was close enough, he reached towards Teddy with his free hand. “Hold still, kiddo.”

Dean tugged on Teddy’s ear. “Ow.”

“See, skin don’t come off, Roy,” Dean replied. “Now, maybe we let these two get on with their night.”

“I swear to god, that thing was a boy this morning,” Roy insisted.

“Maybe they were, but they ain’t a shifter,” Dean shrugged. “And anything else is their own business.”

Dean nudged Teddy away from the wall, back behind him, and towards the open end of the alley. Teddy could see Sam changing his stance as well – motioning Nate forward, past the other stranger, and towards Teddy and freedom. They moved slowly, the Winchesters keeping their guns trained on the two men, who looked both furious and wary.  Teddy could feel himself shaking a little, his heart rabbiting in his chest.  Nate was moving with far more grace. His hands loose by his sides, but Teddy knew by the way he held his fingers that it would only take him a half-second to have his wand in hand.

Just as Nate moved past Sam, Teddy saw the man who Sam was holding at gunpoint raise his own gun and point it right at him. Teddy dropped into crouch. Sam hit the man’s forearm, just before the shot rang out, causing the bullet to fly high and wide. Teddy heard it hit the wall of the building beside them, and he ducked further on reflex at the noise. Nate had squatted down in front of Teddy, spinning to keep the fight in front of him and Teddy at his back. He had his wand in his hand.

This wasn’t a fight of magic though. The Winchesters went at the two men with their fists, disarming them and then using the guns in their own hands as bludgeoning weapons. Sam punched his opponent into some rubbish bags and then turned swiftly to Nate. Dean continued to fight, unrelenting.

“Car’s in the parking garage two blocks south. Go!” Sam yelled at them, and Nate was pulling Teddy up and running out of the alley before Teddy could form a single thought.  The echoes of fists on flesh faded as soon as they were out on the street.  

Teddy couldn’t run in his heels. He stumbled over the first curb. Nate caught him and the next thing Teddy knew he was being side-along apparated.

They popped back into the world in front of the entrance to a parkade.

“There was no one on the street and I could see it,” Nate explained, breathless. He pulled Teddy at a calmer pace into the parking facility.  Teddy’s heart was still pounding. He couldn’t bring himself to let go of Nate’s arm. Their footsteps echoed through the concrete structure and made Teddy more nervous, it felt like someone was following them, even though he knew it was just the echo.

“Do you remember what their car looks like?” Nate asked. “I never saw it – but you did, right?”

“Black,” Teddy answered. “Big. You’ll know it. It doesn’t look like other cars.”

“Okay,” Nate nodded. “Do you want to tell me what that hunter meant when he said he had tracked you from New Jersey?”

“No,” Teddy answered honestly.

“Teddy, please just tell me he was wrong and you were in your hotel room the whole night, like I thought you were-”

“Can you not yell at me, please,” Teddy pleaded. “I’ve had a really shit day.”

Nate took a deep breath, that Teddy could feel as well as hear, and didn’t say anything more. Teddy was thankful for a few seconds, before he realized that the silence was worse.

He spotted the big black car in amongst the modern models. It was like a vague memory suddenly springing to life – the edges getting sharper, more defined. He pointed to it, afraid to break the tense silence. Nate nodded and they made their way over. Teddy put his hand down on the hood, feeling the cold metal. He remembered what it looked like under the overcast sky of London – he remembered Dean showing it to him, listening while Teddy babbled about all sorts of nonsense, but never getting annoyed. He could remember Dean answering his questions. Dean taking the blame when Teddy’s Gran came outside to find him and was angry that Teddy had left the house without telling her. Teddy didn’t have anyone to take the blame for New Jersey but himself. No one was supposed to have known. Now not only had he attracted the attention of hunters, but they had gone and told both the Winchesters and Nate and now everyone was going to be mad at him... and it was only a matter of time until someone told Harry, and then Harry would be mad at him too.

“Get down,” Nate suddenly ordered, pushing Teddy between the cars and towards the ground. It was only then that Teddy registered the running footsteps – the echo bouncing around the building made it hard to tell exactly where they were coming from, but Nate stood with his wand at the ready facing the way they had entered.

Teddy dropped into a crouch. He leaned forward enough to get his hand down the neckline of his dress, and then shifted his left breast flat for a moment so that he could pull his wand out from where he had stowed it in his bra.

“It’s Sam and Dean,” Nate said in a whisper, but Teddy stayed crouched – if they were running, then they might have someone chasing them.

“Where’s Teddy?!” Dean asked in bark, and Teddy shot to his feet so that he was visible. Dean’s glare didn’t soften, but he nodded. Beside him, Sam looked wide-eyed and harried.

Once the car was unlocked, the command was to “Get in!” so they did that too, sliding into the backseat. Teddy felt like his vocal cords had severed themselves. He was so afraid to say or do the wrong thing.

“Jesus fucking Christ, Dean,” Sam swore, staring at his brother. “What the fuck?”

“Shut-up,” Dean replied. The engine roared to life, and Dean pulled out of the parking spot. He had blood on his knuckles – a lot of blood.

“Dean-”

“Do you not remember what they did to us?” Dean yelled at Sam. “Or am I the only one?”

“I remember, but it was-” Sam tried to reply.

“What, just because it’s been a couple years they get a free pass?” Dean yelled. “They shot you right in front of me – and they were going to kill Teddy tonight. What the hell did you expect me to do?”

“They didn’t know,” Sam said.

“And they weren’t going to wait long enough to find out,” Dean replied. “They didn’t last time.”

Silence fell. Tense and frightening. Teddy couldn’t stop staring at Dean’s bloody knuckles. It was only when Nate spoke that Teddy looked away.

“Where are we going?”Nate asked, his voice somehow both soft and gentle, yet extremely loud in the silence of the car.

Sam turned to look at them, as though he had forgotten they were there. “Uh, your hotel – unless... I mean, we can drop you anywhere you like.”

“The hotel is fine,” Teddy found himself saying. Nate had wanted to go to that club, but Teddy couldn’t handle the thought of being in public now.

“So what’s with the gender change?” Dean asked, as though there wasn’t blood on his hands. His tone wasn’t friendly, but Teddy didn’t feel like the anger was directed at him. It was just anger in general.

“What?” Teddy asked.

“Uh, I think what Dean meant is, um...” Sam said, stumbling over his words. “Is this like a permanent thing or... I mean...”

“It’s so people don’t think we’re a couple when we go to gay clubs,” Nate explained.

“I’m still a boy,” Teddy clarified.

The Winchesters both nodded.

“Why don’t you shift back to look like yourself?” Dean asked. “It’s just us in the car.”

“It’d ruin the dress.” Teddy shrugged, adjusting the hemline at his thigh. It was his favourite dress – sky blue. He always did his hair blond when he wore it. He thought he looked a little like Vicki, though obviously not as beautiful.

“Fair enough,” Dean replied, and that seemed to be the end of it. Teddy breathed a sigh of relief.

“You want to tell us what you were doing in New Jersey?” Sam asked. Teddy suddenly wished they were still on the topic of him wearing boobs and a dress.

“No,” Teddy answered.

“Yeah, what Sam meant was – Tell us what you were doing in Jersey, Teddy,” Dean said.

“Nothing,” Teddy muttered.

“Mmhm, sure. So, you didn’t go to New Jersey yesterday in order to track down a werewolf?” Dean continued.  “And you didn’t watch hunters kill it. And you didn’t let them see you, and you didn’t lead them right back to New York where Nate was... what? Blissfully unaware of what you were doing?”

Teddy glanced at Nate, only to find that Nate was already glaring at him. Great.

“Maybe I did,” Teddy said. “I could have looked after myself. You didn’t need to-“

“Right, because you were doing such a great job of that when we arrived,” Dean continued. “What the hell were you thinking?”

Teddy didn’t say anything. He looked out the window, wondering why it was taking them so bloody long to get to the hotel – he and Nate could have apparated there by now – directly into the room. There was nothing stopping them except manners, really.

“Listen, kiddo-” Dean started to say.

“Don’t call me kiddo,” Teddy interrupted, before he could think better of it. “I’m a grown man... and you’re not my father.”

“No, but Harry asked us to-”

“Harry’s not my father either,” Teddy stated. “Did you kill those hunters?”

“You don’t gotta change hotels, if that’s what you’re asking,” Dean answered.

“It isn’t,” Teddy said.

“There’s a history there that you don’t know about,” Dean said. “You want to be an adult, fine. Start by minding your own business.”

Teddy laughed. He couldn’t help it. “You first.”

He could see Dean’s grip tighten on the wheel, his bloody knuckles becoming more pronounced.

“Listen, kid – you think we had nothing to do but to come pull your ass out of the fire?” Dean yelled. “Cas called for our help on the way here, but no, we had to come rescue a dumbass teenager. I could be stabbing Metatron in the heart right now.”

“Dean,” Sam said, obviously trying to stop the tirade.

“What?! Sam, we’re wasting our fuckin’ time!” Dean yelled back.

“Well, so sorry to inconvenience you with my fucking life!” Teddy yelled and then apparated back to the hotel room.   

He had enough presence of mind to put up a silencing charm before he screamed in frustration. Then he broke a lamp by throwing it at the wall.

Then he realized that he had just left Nate behind.

Nate was going to kill him.

*

“Well, this is awkward,” Nate said into the silence of the car.

Sam sighed. Dean was silent.

“Erm, I’m sorry... uh, about Teddy,” Nate tried. “We really do appreciate your help, no matter what he says. He’s just having a bit of a rough time of it at the moment.”

“Yeah, him and us both,” Sam replied.

“I’m fine,” Dean announced.

Sam didn’t overly look like he believed him, in Nate’s opinion. If anything, Sam looked a little frightened, which was something that Nate didn’t want to think about.

“Should I... uh... should I go?” Nate replied. “I mean, it’s not... not exactly polite to apparate like that, but if you’d rather-”

Dean shook his head, at first Nate thought he was telling Nate to stay, but then he followed it up with, “Freakin’ wizards. Yeah, get out of here.”

“Okay, uh, bye,” Nate said, and then apparated away. Just before he left, Sam said something – but he couldn’t tell if it was to him or Dean.

He appeared in Teddy’s hotel room.

It was hard to stay mad at his best friend when they were sitting on the floor, in a disheveled blue dress, trying to magic a broken lamp back together while crying.

“Teddy,” Nate sighed.

“I’m sorry,” Teddy sobbed.

“I know,” Nate replied. “Go change your clothes. I’ll fix the lamp.”

“Do you still want to go out?” Teddy asked. Nate gave Teddy a level look – Teddy’s face was already red and puffy from crying. His make-up was a mess and his hair had started shifting unconsciously. He was looking more and more like a bloke in a dress – too exhausted to hold a single appearance.

“No,” Nate replied. “I’ll text Clay and tell him someone tried to mug us. He’ll understand.”

“Okay,” Teddy nodded, and then gave Nate a smile. “He’ll come over to have life-affirming sex. That works out even better for you!”

“If he does, are you going to actually spend the night in your room, or are you going to take off to another state again without telling me?”

Teddy’s smile fell. “I’m sorry – I just... I just wanted to see. I didn’t know there’d be hunters... and I didn’t know that they saw me.”

“I know, Ted,” Nate replied. “But you can’t do that to me again, okay?”

Teddy nodded, which was enough for Nate.  Maybe it shouldn’t have been – maybe being the better friend would be to give Teddy a hard time, drive the point home, make him talk about what the hell was going on in his head – But Teddy looked like the slightest thing could break him completely, and Nate couldn’t live with himself if he were the one to do that.

“Go change,” Nate said. “Take those horrible shoes off – I’ll fix the lamp and make some tea.”

Teddy stood and made his way to the bathroom, no doubt to wash off the mascara that was currently smudged over most of his face. Nate put the lamp aside for a moment, and instead went about making tea. Thankfully, he had the foresight to pack some of their special blends from home.

 

Chapter Text

Sam made his way up to Teddy and Nate’s rooms the next morning. The hotel they had chosen was far swankier than the places that Sam and Dean usually stayed in. Sam felt out of place, until he got to Teddy and Nate’s floor and saw a couple making out in the hallway – that usually happened in the cheap motels too.

Sam could only see the back of the guy – a tall black man with broad shoulders, his girlfriend had drawn him down by the neck, so the only part of her that Sam could really see was the pale, delicate hand grasping the guy’s dark hair. Sam averted his eyes, and tried to focus on the door numbers – then realized that the couple were standing in front of Nate’s door.

Then Sam realized that the black guy wasn’t making out with a girl.

“Uh, Nate?” Sam asked, and the couple sprang apart.

“Sam!” Nate greeted, face flushed and lips kiss-bitten. “Hi! Uh, this is... this is Clay.” Nate waved to his date. Sam could see now that despite being nearly as tall as Sam, the black guy was fairly young – probably only in his early twenties at the most.

“Sorry to interrupt,” Sam winced. “Um, it’s nice to meet you, Clay.” Sam reached out his hand, and Clay shook it, still looking a little embarrassed and very confused.

“Sam’s a friend of Teddy’s father,” Nate explained.

“Oh!” Clay said, and seemed to straighten up a little. “Nice to meet you, sir.”

Clay had an American accent. Sam wasn’t sure if he was a wizard or not, but he was most likely a local, and definitely someone that Nate had hooked up with. Sam couldn’t help but glance at Nate. “Did you go out again last night?”

Both Clay and Nate’s eyes widened.

“No!” Nate said.

“Uh, I came here, sir,” Clay replied. “Nate told me about the mugging, and I came to make sure him and Teddy were okay and uh, I uh... yeah.”

Sam held his hands up. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have asked. None of my business even if you had gone out.” Sam turned to Nate, trying to ease the awkwardness.  “I uh, just came by to check up on you two, make sure you were okay myself – um, probably not uh, in the same way, though.”

Good job on easing the awkwardness, Sam thought to himself, and cringed.

Nate just laughed though, which set Clay off too, and Sam couldn’t help but break into a smile

“I also wanted to talk to Teddy,” Sam added.

Nate nodded. “Teddy’s still asleep, I think, but you can wait in my room and I’ll go wake him. Just give me a minute to finish saying goodbye to Clay – he has to go rescue people.”

“Rescue people?” Sam asked.

Clay looked embarrassed. “I work at the Starbucks about two blocks from here.”

“He rescues sleep-deprived people with his coffee making skills,” Nate declared. “He’s a hero!”

Clay rolled his eyes. “Someone met me when he was still jet-lagged.”

Sam laughed. “I’ll uh, leave you two to it then. Have a good day at work, Clay.”

“Thank you, sir,” Clay said.

As Sam walked past them into the hotel room, he heard Nate say, “You don’t have to call him sir, he’s not my father.”

“Yeah, but he knows someone who knows your father,” Clay replied, just before the door closed and the rest of their conversation became muffled.

Sam sat on the office chair, pointedly not looking at the bed, whose sheets were still in disarray. There was a connecting door between Nate’s room and the one next to it, where Sam figured Teddy was sleeping. He could just knock and wake Teddy up himself, but judging by how last night had ended, Sam thought it was probably best to wait for Nate. He needed to apologize to both of them anyway.

Nate was slipping back inside the room only thirty seconds later, looking a little abashed.

“Sorry about that,” Nate said.

“No, it was my fault,” Sam replied, and then nodded towards the door. “He seemed nice.”

Nate smiled the type of smile everyone seems to get when they’ve got a crush. “He really is.”

“Wizard?”

“Muggle,” Nate replied. “He thinks Teddy’s two people. Hasn’t clued in yet that they’re never in the same place together.” Nate smiled, and then his expression and tone shifted, “Listen, Sam...” Nate sunk sat on the end of the bed closest to Sam. “... before I wake Teddy, I just wanted to apologize.”

“For what?” Sam asked, genuinely confused.

“For Teddy, I suppose,” Nate shrugged. “He’s going through a hard time right now, and-”

Sam huffed a laugh, which caused Nate to look at him sharply.

“Sorry,” Sam said. “It’s just that I came here to apologize for Dean.”

Nate smiled and shook his head. “Well, we’re a pair, aren’t we?”

Sam nodded. “What’s wrong with Teddy?”

“PMS?” Nate suggested.

“Can he get that?” Sam asked, genuinely curious.

“No,” Nate sighed. “He can’t change his internal organs or hormones. It’d just be easier if that were it.”

“Oh, then what it is really?”

“It’s just... uh, he’s in a bad place emotionally, I guess,” Nate said, then sighed. “Ever since... well, since Mrs. Tran moved in, it’s been getting worse. She’s a very...er... strong maternal figure.”

Sam laughed. “Yeah, that’s one way of putting it.”

“It’s just, Teddy never had a mum, you know?” Nate continued. “A Gran isn’t like a mum, even if she raises you – it’s a different relationship. And yeah, Teddy had Harry and Ginny, but Ginny was sixteen when Teddy was born – and she’s more like... “

“Like a friend who happens to be an adult?” Sam guessed.

“Yeah,” Nate nodded. “Harry too, though he’s been a bit more of a dad... but I’m not sure that’s helping any. He’s been... uh, well, he’s been after Teddy to get a real job, find a career. Because of the Black inheritance, Teddy’s doesn’t actually have to work for a living – neither does Harry – but Harry always has, and he doesn’t seem to understand that not everyone finds their calling at the age of seventeen.”

“And Mrs. Tran...”

“She doesn’t seem to understand that not everyone wants to be the first Asian-American President of the United States,” Nate said.

Sam nodded. “That would be pretty hard for Teddy to pull off, seeing as how he’s neither Asian nor an American.”

Nate shrugged. “I mean, he could appear to be Asian if he wanted, and I’m pretty good at making fake muggle documents, but...”

“But that’s not the point,” Sam smiled.

“No,” Nate said. “So, yeah, Teddy’s under a lot of pressure ‘to make something of himself.’” Nate actually used finger quotes, as he rolled his eyes. “And what no one seems to realize is that instead of inspiring him, everyone is just making him feel like a failure and a disappointment to... well... to the parents that he never actually had.”

Sam sighed. “I’ve been there.”

Nate raised his eyebrows.

“My mother died when I was six months old,” Sam explained. “And my dad died after... uh, doesn’t matter. I just... I know how that feels – feeling like you’re a disappointment to people who aren’t even around to tell you whether you’re right or wrong.”

Nate nodded. “Exactly. It might make you do really stupid things... like, go to New Jersey to have tea with a werewolf because you think it will somehow bring you closer to the father you never knew.”

Sam nodded.

“In any case,” Nate continued. “I just wanted to apologize and thank you and Dean for being there – uh, even if we could have handled it ourselves...in possibly less bloody ways... it’s the thought that counts?” Nate sighed.  “I meant that last bit to be more confident.”

“Why don’t you go wake Teddy up,” Sam replied. “It’s my turn to apologize.”

Nate nodded and went to the door between the two suites, opening the door on his side, and then the one on Teddy’s, apparently neither had been locked.

“Hey Puppy,” Nate’s voice carried through the door to Sam. “How’re you feeling?”

Sam couldn’t sparse Teddy’s mumbled response, but he could hear Nate’s reply.

“A little, you were having a bad night. Sam’s in my room and-” Nate was cut off by Teddy saying something. “Shut-up,” Nate laughed. “He wants to talk to us, so put some trousers on.”

Nate came out through the doors, leaving them open behind him. “Teddy’s just getting dressed,” he explained unnecessarily. “Do you want a coffee or anything? There’s a machine.”

“No, that’s okay,” Sam answered. “I have to get back to Dean soon.”

Teddy came into the room then, and Sam felt like it was the first time he had seen him – as though last night hadn’t counted. He looked like Sam remembered. His hair was mostly brown, but with turquoise steaks that seemed to be growing wider and more plentiful every second. He was tall, a little lanky, and boy shaped. Sam could see why Clay didn’t realize that Teddy and the girl from the previous night were the same person.

“Is Clay gone already?” Teddy asked, still obviously half asleep.

“Yeah, just when Sam got here,” Nate replied. “Do you want coffee or tea?”

“Coffee,” Teddy answered, and then gave Sam a little grin, again, as though whoever Sam had met the previous night had been someone else. “Did you see Clay? Nate’s got a bit of a type.”

“Oh my god, shut-up,” Nate muttered. “Sam didn’t come here to tease me – he came to talk about last night.”

Teddy’s smile dropped at that and he looked at Sam warily. “Right, I’m... uh, sorry about... uh, sorry about leaving how I did. Was rude.”

Sam shrugged. “It’s alright.” It had been abrupt and a horrible note to end the evening on, but Sam understood. “Believe me, if I had a nickel for every time I wished I could just magically disappear while stuck in that car...”

Nate smiled. Teddy looked somewhat hopeful.

“It really is good to see you, Sam,” Teddy said, smiling.

“You too, Teddy,” Sam replied. “Uh, I actually came to apologize to you... about Dean... um... he’s not really himself. I never meant for things to happen like that. Yes, there’s a history between Dean and I and those particular hunters. They DID kill us once.” At Nate and Teddy’s wide-eyed look, Sam just shook his head. “Don’t ask. Anyway, uh, like I said, Dean’s been a bit... off. So, I’m sorry if he... if we scared you.”

Teddy rolled his eyes. “I’m not twelve anymore, Sam.”

“I know.”

“And I can look after myself,” Teddy added.

“I know,” Sam repeated.

Teddy nodded. “Okay then. I’m glad we understand each other. So...what’s wrong with Dean?”

Sam bit his lip, trying to decide what to say. ‘Don’t worry about it’ was his instinct, but he could hardly play it off like nothing when he was here apologizing for it.

“Is it really bad?” Teddy asked when Sam failed to answer.

“It’s... yeah, I think it is,” Sam sighed. “There was this demon, Abaddon – a knight of Hell – and Dean wanted to kill her, but the only person who can kill a knight of Hell is someone who had the Mark of Cain and the First Blade. So... so... Dean got the Mark and we found the Blade, and ever since then, he’s just been... getting more and more violent. When he has the Blade, it does something to him – I can’t really explain it.”

“So take it away from him,” Teddy shrugged.

Sam would have laughed if it were at all funny. “I can’t. He killed Abaddon just before we came here, and I thought that maybe I could convince him to not touch the thing again – but now he’s just gunning for Metatron – and he has a point. Metatron needs to be stopped – but I just don’t want it to be at the expense of my brother.”

“Metatron,” Teddy repeated. “Kevin told us about him – about how he kicked the angels out of heaven, and how he hurt Castiel.”

“He’s also the one that ordered Gadreel to kill Kevin,” Sam added. “We found that out a couple weeks ago.”

“It makes sense,” Nate said. “Metatron’s power comes from his knowledge of the tablets – Kevin was a direct threat to that, since he had the tablets and also has the ability to read them.”

“So, unless Metatron is defeated, Kevin will never be able to come out of hiding,” Teddy summed up.

Sam nodded.  

“Is there a way to defeat Metatron without Dean having to do it?” Teddy asked. “Maybe if we gave Dean a different option, he’d-”

Sam shook his head and Teddy cut himself off.

“Metatron is safely hidden in Heaven – so, unless we could get to Heaven somehow without actually dying, there’s no way to reach him.”

“Then how does Dean plan to do it?” Teddy asked.

“I don’t know,” Sam shook his head. “My guess is to find Gadreel or another angel that’s working for Metatron and then torture them into luring Metatron to earth – or waiting until Metatron slips up and comes down to earth himself. I mean, short of finding a Reaper and paying them to take us to Heaven without killing us, I don’t know how else to do it.”

“Can you do that?” Nate asked. Sam started to regret not accepting the coffee that Nate had offered him. This was a fair bit to explain.

“Yeah,” Sam said. “But it’s not that easy – unless the Reaper’s gone rogue, only the dead or dying can see them. So, in order to talk to a reaper, you essentially have to kill yourself, or bring yourself to the edge of death.”

Teddy furrowed his brow. “Would the Draught of Living Death work?”

“The what?” Sam looked at Teddy, who seemed to be staring off to the side in thought. Nate looked like he was considering the question seriously.

“I’ve never tried it,” Nate said. “Do you think it makes you dead enough to talk to Reapers?”

“I did it once using a slight variation and an added charm,” Teddy replied. “Had a good walk around. I didn’t see any Reapers, but I only did it for five minutes and I wasn’t really dead.”

“When did you do that?!” Nate asked. Sam had never seen Nate angry before, but he thought maybe he was about to. “And where was I?”

“Hogwarts,” Teddy shrugged. “You missed out on not taking sixth year potions.”

“You took it in CLASS?!” Nate asked. “They aren’t allowed to-“

“I brewed it in class,” Teddy said, cringing a little bit. “We brewed the antidote too – then I took a vial of each. Then in seventh year, I had the idea for the variation, so I went down to the kitchens...”

“You relied on the house elves to give you the antidote,” Nate finished, burying his face in his hands.

“And then I told them not to tell anyone,” Teddy nodded. “Sorry.”

“Do I even want to know why?” Nate asked.

“Definitely not,” Teddy answered, shaking his head emphatically. “But I did score highest in my class in my Potions NEWT.”

Sam cleared his throat. “Uh, what does... what does this potion do?”

“It puts you in a death-like state,” Nate answered. “For all extents and purposes, you appear to be dead, but you don’t decay.”

“So, it’s like you’re in a coma?” Sam asked.

“Yes, I suppose, except that your body really appears to be dead,” Teddy replied. “When I tried it, I used a bit of a psychotropic variation that would make sure my consciousness stayed active. In addition, I cast a charm on myself that, I hoped, would tether my soul to my body, so that my soul would be called back when the antidote was delivered. I was able to walk around and see all the house-elves fretting... and I went out into the hall and the students couldn’t see me, but the Fat Friar could. He had the house-elves give me the antidote early and then he gave me a scolding.”

“Huh,” Sam said, his mind already working on the problem – it could be possible. It sounded exactly like the state they had been in when Sam and Dean had met that Reaper, Tessa.

Before Sam could ask another question, his phone rang.  “Uh, sorry,” Sam muttered as he pulled it out of his pocket and looked at the caller ID. He wasn’t too surprised to find it was Dean. He had already been gone longer than he expected.

“Hey,” Sam greeted.  “I’m with Teddy and Nate-”

“We good?” Dean asked.

“Uh, yeah, think so,” Sam replied.

“Good. Listen, Cas just called – apparently that thing we couldn’t help him with didn’t go so well,” Dean said. “All his little minion angels have abandoned him for the dark side.”

“What?”

“Yeah, something about being framed for angelic suicide bombers? I don’t know – he was pretty upset about it,” Dean replied. “Hope Teddy’s attitude’s come around a bit, because if we could have done something-”

“Yeah,” Sam answered, because he didn’t know what to say. He doubted he and Dean could have done anything about suicide bombers, and even if they had tried – everything Dean went near these days tended to end more bloody than good. “Listen, tell Cas to meet us at the Bunker. I might have an idea for going after Metatron-”

“Yeah?” Dean asked, his voice perking up.

“Yeah, I gotta get some more info before we hit the road. I’ll call you in twenty with an ETA,” Sam said.

“I’ll check us out,” Dean said and ended the call.

Sam thumbed the phone off and slid it back into his pocket. “Is there somewhere I can buy that potion, or...?”

Teddy shook his head. “You have to make it.”

Sam cursed. Wizard potions required magic.

“I can make it for you in about two hours,” Teddy continued. “Of course, you’ll want the antidote too – that takes me a little bit longer. I just need the ingredients and a place to work.”

Sam stared at the teenager for a moment and considered his options. The kid was... a kid. Sam couldn’t help but still see the twelve year olds he had first met all those year ago. He didn’t want to drag them into anything – but, at the same time, the Bunker was the safest place in the country, and this was the first viable solution that Sam had heard.

“Uh, how do you feel about a road trip?” Sam asked.

“I’m on vacation,” Teddy shrugged. “Besides, this way Nate can have the weekend alone with Clay and not feel guilty about it.” Teddy turned a smile towards Nate, but Nate’s face was thunderous.

“If you think that I’m going to stay in New York, while you go off to...” Nate grit out. “You are not only out of your mind, you’ve forgotten what bloody House we were in.”

“It’ll be fine,” Teddy tried to reassure his friend. “I’m not going to take the potion WITH them, someone needs to deliver the antidote and-”

“I am coming with you,” Nate replied, glaring.

“...and you are coming with me,” Teddy sighed.

“Also, by the sounds of it, that tethering charm you used is the same one that I developed in seventh year Charms,” Nate continued. “You shouldn’t have performed it on a metaphysical level before I was done developing it – and certainly, you shouldn’t have done it without telling me.”

“What ingredients do you need?” Sam asked, half afraid that Nate would start being sensible and talk Teddy out of helping completely.

*

Harry had been looking at flats all morning with Linda Tran, and was now spending the afternoon trying to cut through the red-tape of getting access to Linda’s Muggle accounts in America in order to have them transferred to Gringotts. It didn’t help that the goblins still held a grudge about the whole break-in and dragon escape fiasco, even though it happened nineteen years ago.  Of course, it didn’t help that in the years since, Hermione had been sure to make it illegal for the goblins to use and abuse dragons in such a manner. It wasn’t that he thought they were right to hold a grudge, just that he understood why they did.

Certainly, when Harry had thought about being an auror, he didn’t envision days of real-estate hunting and financial red-tape. If it were anyone else, Harry could fob it off on one of the junior auror’s or one of the administrative staff in the department – but Kevin’s, and therefore his mother’s, existence and position within the Wizarding World was a top level secret, which meant that these menial, frustrating and mind-numbing tasks, had to be Harry’s responsibility. Though, he thought, perhaps he could delegate at least the financial tasks to Maria – she didn’t have nearly the same sordid history with Gringotts.

Yes, Harry felt good about that decision. Maria was his second and therefore knew about the Trans, the Winchesters, and the Men of Letters. It made much more sense for her to handle all the bloody monotonous forms.

Harry wrote this out in a much more professionally worded memo and then set it and the paperwork into his outbox.

Now Harry needed something more interesting to do, as a sort of palette cleanser, before he even looked to see what other boring paperwork needed to be tended to. He took out his comm-mirror and twirled it around in his hand. He could check in with one of the teams, or he could see if Sam and Dean had dropped by to see Teddy yet.

The Winchesters had called him just the day before to say that they were passing through New York and wondered if he could remind them where Teddy and Nate were staying so that they might pop in to say hello. Harry had been surprised, because he thought that after he had asked them whether New York was monster-free, they’d just forget about it entirely. Those two always had much more interesting things to do than to visit someone.

Harry quickly glanced at the clock and did some time-zone calculations. Teddy and Nate were probably awake by then, and if they weren’t, it still wasn’t too unreasonable to wake them up.

Harry and Teddy had been fighting more and more over the past few months. Teddy always seemed to be short-tempered these days, or suffering from mood-swings of some sort. Still, there were days where Harry would stop by to speak to the Trans and Teddy would smile at him just like he always used to and seem back to his old self.  When Nate had suggested the holiday, Harry had thought it would perhaps do Teddy some good.  Teenagers were supposed to travel in their gap year. Harry thought perhaps Teddy would come home, realize how boring day-to-day life was in comparison, and then finally start thinking about careers to occupy his time.

“Teddy,” Harry said, as he flipped open the mirror. “Teddy?”

The image grew cloudy for a moment, and then Harry was met with the view of sky, and the bottom of Teddy’s chin, and then finally his face, as Teddy raised the mirror higher and changed the angle.

“Hi, Harry, in a bit of a rush, what is it?” Teddy answered.

“Oh, I was just checking in,” Harry said. “Sam and Dean called last night and said they were passing through New York, they were thinking of stopping by to see you – I was just wondering if you’ve seen them yet.”

Teddy laughed, but it was brief and sarcastic. “Yeah, figured it was you who told them our travel plans.”

“So, you did see them?” Harry asked. His stomach had sunk a little at Teddy’s tone of voice. He knew that he and Teddy were having a bit of a rough patch, but he had thought that Teddy was on good terms with everyone else.

“Yeah,” Teddy said. “We’re just in Grand Witch Village picking up some ingredients that Sam didn’t think he had – then he and Dean are picking us up and we’re going to... Kansas? Kansas, right?”

“Yes, Kansas,” Nate’s voice came off to the side. “Do you think we should pick up some books? I’m going to pick up some books. I don’t know enough about what we’re doing. I don’t know anything about what we’re doing....” Nate’s voice faded, as he walked away, or so Harry assumed.

“I know what we’re doing,” Teddy called after him. “It’s okay!”

“Teddy,” Harry called. “What are you doing? Why are you going to Kansas? What is happening?”

“Out of the frying pan and into the fire,” Teddy smiled into the mirror. “Isn’t that your specialty? I thought you’d be proud.”

Teddy was still angry at him, that much was obvious. Harry closed his eyes and remembered his sweet godson who used to adore him and smile so hugely every time Harry came to visit. Harry knew that kid was in there somewhere – somewhere underneath whatever ill-temper had consumed the eighteen year-old who was no longer smiling at him through the mirror when he opened his eyes again.

“Teddy, please,” Harry said, without even thinking of what he was asking for – information, a break from whatever argument they were having, his godson back – all Harry knew was that he was growing desperate for it.

Teddy sighed, and then started talking, “Dean and Sam are going after Metatron. They found out it was him who tried to kill Kevin – who wants Kevin dead. And we already know he... he’s bad news, right? And, so Dean and Sam are going to go after him, but... they need a couple of potions to do it. And I’m good at potions. I’ve brewed these ones before.”

“They told me they just wanted to say hello,” Harry shook his head. “They didn’t tell me they were planning to recruit you!”

“They didn’t lie,” Teddy replied, then paused. “Well, not about that,” he amended. “It was my idea. I volunteered when Sam explained everything this morning. It will help Kevin... and maybe Dean.”

“Why does Dean need help?”

Teddy heaved a sigh, as though Harry were torturing him, and Harry knew that this rare argument free streak of communication was about to end.

“I don’t know. Something biblical. Ask Sam if you want to bloody know everything. I’ve got twenty bloody minutes to buy some sopophorus beans or else this will be an entirely pointless conversation.”

“There’s no need to get-”

“Harry!” Teddy cut him off. “Please.”

“Okay,” Harry said quickly. “I’ll... I’ll ask Sam. Thank you for talking to me. I love you.”

“I love you too,” Teddy bit out. “Now I have to go. I didn’t have my tea this morning.”

Harry smiled, it felt thin. “Well, that would put anyone in a mood, wouldn’t it?”

“I’m not in a mood,” Teddy protested, moodily. “I’m just... it’s stressful. This is all very stressful.”

“I’ll talk to Sam,” Harry repeated. “I’ll talk to you again soon, okay?”

“Okay,” Teddy replied. “Bye then.”

“Bye,” Harry said, but he wasn’t even sure Teddy caught it before the image faded away, indicating that Teddy had snapped his mirror closed.

Harry took a deep breath. He’d call Sam and find out what was happening and make sure that Teddy really wasn’t in any danger.

He eyed the paperwork on his desk for a moment.

Right, Harry thought, he needed to travel to America and make sure Teddy was safe.  That seemed like a reasonable plan. Obviously, the Winchesters needed as much help as they could get if they had started recruiting teenagers. They really should have just asked Harry to come help in the first place.

 

 

Chapter Text

Harry walked up the road that led to the bunker. Despite having the coordinates, the portkey had done an odd bounce when he had tried to land. It made the trip even more nauseating and he may have passed out for a moment. When he had opened his eyes, he was lying on his back in the middle of a farmer’s field down the road from where he had wanted to be.  Or, at least, he hoped he was – the road wound through a small forest, without much visibility for what was ahead – but Harry nevertheless felt that he was moving closer to his target rather than away from it.

He rounded a bend in the road and felt a rush of relief when he saw what appeared to be an abandoned power plant. It was the right era of architecture, and if the Wizarding World liked to hide things behind a facade of neglect, Harry didn’t doubt that the Men of Letter’s might have thought similarly.

There was also an old, boxy Cadillac parked outside with an angel on the hood.

Castiel’s trench coat was the same colour as the car, and Harry wondered if that was why he drove it. They sort of blended together as one unit from a distance.

As Harry drew closer, he could see that Castiel appeared to be napping. Just as Harry was wondering if he should wake the angel up or not, one of Castiel’s eyes opened and looked at Harry.

“Hello Harry,” Castiel said. “I wondered if that might be you. I saw you bounce off the wards.”

Harry felt slightly embarrassed.  “Er, yes, I suppose I should have foreseen that happening.”

Castiel just nodded. “They aren’t back yet.”

“Do you know how long they’ll be?” Harry asked.

Castiel shrugged and looked back up at the sky. Harry felt decidedly awkward.

“So... how have you been?” Harry asked.

Castiel looked at him. “Mostly terrible.”

“Oh,” Harry replied. “Uh, sorry to hear that...”

“I’ve lost all my followers to Metatron,” Castiel continued.  “Perhaps Sam and Dean could have prevented it, but they had to go to New York to save your godson from Hunters. Granted, I understand the priority, but I do wish the timing-”

“They what?

Castiel furrowed his brow. “I would have thought you would also support the priority of ensuring your godson’s safety.”

“I do!” Harry exclaimed. “But... they said they were just saying hello, they didn’t say anything about Hunters! My god... Merlin’s beard... how did they? When?”

“I don’t know the details,” Castiel said. “I was busy.”

“Right,” Harry replied, his mind reeling.

It was then that they heard the sound of rumbling engine coming towards them down the road. Castiel slid off the hood of his car and stood. Harry just turned and stared as the Impala rounded the corner and came into view. He already knew Teddy was safe, so it didn’t make sense to feel relief when he saw Teddy’s silhouette in the backseat, but he felt it all the same.

He waited until they were out of the car, before he spoke.

“Teddy-” Harry began.

“Who told him!?” Teddy demanded, cutting him off immediately and scowling at Sam and Dean. “You said you wouldn’t.”

“We didn’t,” Dean snapped back.

“My apologies,” Castiel said to Teddy. “I had not been informed that it was a secret.”

“Sorry,” Sam simply said, and Harry wasn’t sure who he was talking to, perhaps all of them.

“Teddy, what-” Harry tried again.

“Listen, it’s over now, and I’m fine, and I would have been fine without their help,” Teddy replied. “It probably would have been less bloody if we didn’t have help, for that matter, but what’s done is done, and we’re moving on. My point is that I don’t want to talk about it.”

Teddy made his way to the back of the vehicle to join Dean, who was opening the trunk. Harry watched as Teddy pulled out his travel bag and also a few shopping bags.

“Bloody?” Harry asked Sam, because he was closest and looked the least angry out of everyone.

“I told Dean not to-“ Sam started to say.

“Yeah, but I did,” Dean interrupted, as he came back around the car with his bag slung over his shoulder. “You were being an infant.”

“Dean, the Blade, or the Mark, it’s-” Sam said, only to be cut off again.

“It’s the only thing that can kill Metatron, so until he’s dead, I’m calling the shots. Capisce? You don’t have to like it, but that’s how it’s gonna be,” Dean said, and then stormed off towards the bunker.

“Sam?” Harry asked. “What’s going on?”

Sam didn’t answer, instead he gave Cas a nod as the angel followed Dean into the bunker.

“I told you over the mirror,” Teddy suddenly spoke up from beside Harry. “There’s something wrong with Dean – we’re going to try to help.”

“I’ll fill you in,” Sam sighed. “Let’s get the boys set up in the lab first.”

“Lab?”

Sam just gestured to the building and Harry realized that he was about to see the Men of Letter’s Headquarters for the first time – well, the first time not through a mirror. He followed Sam down the steps to the door on the side of the windowless building. He was expecting the door to open into some grand foyer perhaps – but instead it opened into a dark tunnel, only very dimly lit. The tunnel wound its way to the right and then left, and then finally there was another doorway that led out onto an interior balcony.

This room looked familiar – he had seen the maps on the wall when he had called with the mirror before. He followed Sam down the metal stairs, as Dean and Cas disappeared ahead of them through a large archway – they seemed to be having an engrossing conversation about batteries.

“So, this is the Bunker,” Sam introduced. “This is the war room, through there is the library,” Sam gestured to the archway, where Harry could see Dean and Cas seated at a long table – and he knew that room well, from seeing it when he called. “And through here is the... well, it’s an infirmary, I suppose – but it’s probably the best place to do this thing. It has beds.”

Harry and the boys followed Sam into a hallway, and then down just a few doors to find a tiled medical room.  There were various raised adjustable beds, as well as metal tables on wheels.

“You said you had cauldrons,” Teddy said, looking around the cauldron-less room.

“Oh, right, yeah – the lab is actually this way,” Sam said, then led them back into the hall, past the entrance to the war room. They entered another door that led them behind the glass wall of the war room and into a darker area, with tables pushed to the walls, and old equipment gathering dust in the back.

Sam made his way to a cupboard and pulled it open, then hefted out two dusty cauldrons.

“We’ll have to wash ‘em first, there’s a good sink for it in the kitchen. I’ll go do it for you,” Sam said. “There are ingredients here too, and more in the storeroom, though a lot of them are old.”

“Thanks, Sam,” Teddy replied. He and Nate, by some silent agreement, started moving furniture about and getting things ready.

“Do you need me to-” Harry started to ask.

“No,” Teddy replied curtly, cutting him off.

“Uh, you can come help me with the cauldrons,” Sam said into the tense silence. Harry nodded and followed him out. The fact that he felt relieved when he was no longer sharing a room with Teddy was more depressing than anything.

“Listen, uh, that age isn’t the best,” Sam said awkwardly as they made their way down the hall and into a kitchen.

Harry sighed. “He was such a lovely teenager, I don’t understand what happened.”

“He just wants to find his own way,” Sam said, dumping the cauldrons with a clatter into the deep sink. “And then you show up...”

“I’m helping,” Harry argued, over the sound of Sam turning on the taps.

Sam just picked up a scrubbing brush and looked at Harry.

“I’m helping,” Harry insisted and he took the brush from Sam and drew his wand. Sam’s eyes widened as the brush started cleaning the cauldrons on its own.

“Uh, okay,” Sam said. “But that’s not really what I meant.”

“Tell me about Dean,” Harry demanded, because really, Dean was probably a higher priority than Harry’s moody godson.

“Why don’t we go have Dean tell you about Dean,” Sam suggested, shaking his head. “It’s probably better to hear things straight from the source.”

They left the cauldrons to clean themselves and walked back to the library.

As they were crossing the war room, however, Sam suddenly paused and threw his arm back as if to shield Harry.

“GUYS!” Sam yelled, and that’s when Harry saw the man step out of the shadows of the other doorway. He was dressed in a leather jacket, square-jawed, and obviously wary of them.

“I’m not here to fight,” the man said, as Dean and Castiel ran into the room. The man turned to address Castiel directly. “I thought about what you said. You’re right. Metatron, he’s... something needs to be done.”

“And we should trust you why?” Sam asked.

“Because I can give him to you. I know where Metatron is. I know everything,” the man replied.  “I know the bombers. They were his agents, not yours,” he added, looking at Castiel again. “You don’t trust me, fine. I understand. I’ve... made mistakes. But haven’t you? Haven’t we all?  At least give me a chance.”

Harry didn’t know who this person was, but it was obvious that he was no friend of the Winchesters – still, he seemed sincere in his offer and it was an offer they needed.

It seemed Sam and Dean were having similar thoughts, as they exchanged looks and Dean stepped forward, extending his left hand for a handshake. And then suddenly time slowed down as Dean shifted on his feet the moment the stranger accepted his outstretched hand – there was a strange blade in Dean’s right hand, arching up and slashing the man deeply across the chest. Harry only had a moment to see the glowing blue light in the wound that told him that the stranger was not a man at all, before the glow faded and the stranger was falling into a bloody heap. Sam and Cas sprung forward and restrained Dean, who was screaming in rage and fighting them in order to strike a death blow.

Harry ran forward, falling to his knees beside the stranger. Harry had never seen an angel injured, but he could only assume that’s what this person was – someone that knew Metatron, someone that tried to plead his case to Castiel, who had met with him before. Harry only hoped that the angel would respond to healing spells the same way that a human would.

He began with Vulnera Sanentur, as Sam and Cas dragged Dean from the room, still snarling. The incantation took all his focus. Harry wasn’t particularly skilled at healing spells, and certainly not healing spells given to angels after they’d been struck with strange weapons. He only realized that Teddy and Nate had come into the room when Teddy knelt down on the other side of the angel’s prone body.  His hair was blond and he seemed lankier than normal, but his face still looked like Teddy, heart-shaped and kind.

Teddy leaned over the angel’s head and caught his eyes, patting his hair gently and then he sat back, and reached forward and tore the angel’s shirt open further, exposing the wound that Harry was only half-way through knitting back together. Harry would have chastised him, only his voice was occupied with the incantation and he wasn’t sure the angel could afford to have him lose concentration.

Teddy muttered his own incantation and a ghostly blue image of the angel’s ribs and stomach cavity appeared in the air above them. It was Till’s spell – a Healer’s spell – Harry realized that Teddy must have learned it in the early days of looking after Kevin.

Whatever Teddy saw seemed to satisfy him, because he banished the image quickly. Harry was nearly done now, the wound mostly closed, though still red and ugly looking, like it was a breath away from opening again and bleeding anew.

Nate ran over then and passed a small amber glass bottle to Teddy. Harry realized what it was, even before Teddy carefully used the dropper to apply it to the wound.

“Essence of Dittany,” Harry said, watching as the angry wound began to look like it was days old already, healing well, the new flesh white and shiny. “I didn’t realize you had some.”

Teddy nodded. “I have the plant too,” he said. “Nate’s brewing a tea. There won’t even be a scar.” Teddy smiled at the angel, who was looking at them both with wide-eyes, no doubt, still full of adrenaline from the attack. “Can you sit up? There’s a pillar just behind you that you can lean against.”

The angel nodded and lifted himself up on his elbows. He winced a little, but the wound didn’t reopen. He probably could have stood and sat in a chair, but instead he just scooted to the side and rested his back against the pillar as Teddy had said.

“I should go,” the angel said. “Before they come back – I am obviously not welcome here.”

“No, stay,” Harry said. “Dean is not well. He speaks for no one but himself. Sam, I believe, was willing to hear you out. Castiel too. Or else why would they have stopped Dean?”

The angel seemed to think about Harry’s words and nodded slowly.

It was then that Nate came in carrying two cups of tea.

“I’ve got the tea,” he announced unnecessarily. “One for the wounded and one for Teddy. If you’d like a cup too, Harry, I can go reboil the water quick.”

“That’s okay,” Harry said. He wondered why Nate had taken the time to make Teddy a cup of tea in the first place, but then, perhaps they had already had a kettle on for that reason. Nate handed a cup to Teddy and another to the angel, who took it and smelled it curiously before taking a sip.

Teddy sipped at his own tea, holding the cup with both hands, yet still managing to splash a little over the rim. Harry only smiled, remembering Tonks’ clumsiness. Even when Teddy didn’t resemble either of his parents, Harry could still see them in his manner and movements.

“So, who are you? ” Teddy asked the angel. “Oh, wait, that’s a bit rude, sorry. I’m Teddy, this is Harry, and this is Nate. What’s your name?”

“Gadreel,” the angel said.

All three wizards froze. The angel – Gadreel – seemed to deflate.

“Do you regret saving my life?” he asked.

“Do you regret killing Kevin?” Teddy asked in return, his voice almost a whisper.

Gadreel looked pained, closing his eyes for a moment and taking a deep breath. “I do. I regret that moment and everything that has come after.”

“Then no,” Teddy answered. “I don’t regret helping you.”

“Neither do I,” Harry said, almost as an afterthought, because he was too busy being fiercely proud of his godson.

Gadreel looked up at Nate, who was standing just behind where Teddy knelt on the floor.

“I just boiled the kettle,” Nate shrugged. “But I don’t regret it.”

“Thank you,” Gadreel replied sincerely.

It was then that Sam and Cas came back into the room. Any tension that had dissipated returned as Gadreel scrambled to his feet.

“I’ll go. I’ll leave you alone-” Gadreel said quickly.

“We’re not here to hurt you,” Castiel replied, approaching Gadreel and reaching out two fingers.

“No,” Gadreel protested. “Your grace – Healing me will only weaken you. The wizards have healed me enough, brother.”

“A cut from the First Blade is nothing to take lightly,” Castiel said, as he touched Gadreel on the forehead.

“The First-” Gadreel started to say, and then he cut off abruptly and stilled completely as though someone had interrupted him. Castiel too, stood stock still, his eyes wide.

Harry caught Sam’s eyes and tried his best to convey the question, what the hell is going on? Sam shrugged. Both Teddy and Nate were looking at the angels warily.

“Do you hear him?” Gadreel asked in a whisper and Castiel nodded.

“Hear who?” Sam asked, but Castiel raised a hand to demand silence.

For a moment, the only sound was Teddy gulping down his tea.

“It was Metatron,” Castiel announced, then he addressed Gadreel. “Where is he going? What does he want?”

“I’m afraid... humanity,” Gadreel replied. “It’s why... one of many reasons, why I’ve come to you. You were right, brother, I was a fool. Metatron must be stopped.”

Castiel nodded.

“Come on,” Sam said. “Let’s sit down and talk – starting with whether you know what Metatron’s next move is going to be.”

As they all made their way into the library, however, Gadreel asked another question.

“You said that Dean cut me with the First Blade – I thought only Cain could-”

“Dean has the Mark of Cain too,” Sam answered, as he sat down.

“That could be useful,” Gadreel said as he took his own seat.

“You’re joking, right?” Sam asked, incredulously. “We just threw him in a padded cell – you saw how he is.”

“Hear him out, Sam,” Castiel advised.

“Oh, excuse me. Sorry guys,” Sam’s reply dripped with sarcasm. “I’m a little less eager to arm the warhead and hope it hits the mark. This isn’t a bomb we’re talking about, it’s my brother!”

“Metatron is more powerful than ever,” Gadreel replied in a patient tone. “You saw during your last encounter – holy fire cannot contain him. He’s found some way to tap into the power of the angel tablet. I do not think an angel blade would be sufficient to kill him. Someone with the Mark of Cain, who wields the First Blade, however...” Gadreel let his sentence trail off.

The silence lingered only a second, before Sam replied.

“But if we destroy the angel tablet, then Metatron is just an angel like any other,” Sam said. “We don’t need Dean.”

“Not quite like any other,” Castiel replied. “He would be at full power. He was the only angel not to fall from Heaven. He still has his wings.”

Sam shrugged. “We killed angels before the Fall.”

“And how do you propose to destroy the angel tablet?” Gadreel asked.

Sam smiled. “Well, that’s where Teddy and Nate come in.”

Harry sat forward as Sam outlined the plan – Teddy would brew the Draught of Living Death. Then, once Sam’s soul was separated from his body, Sam would contact a Reaper and ask to be taken to Heaven – from there, he would find Metatron’s office and destroy the angel tablet, and hopefully Metatron along with it. The original plan was for Dean to come too, but Sam didn’t think it safe now – not with how unhinged Dean had become.

Harry stared at Teddy.

“I told you, I’m just brewing a potion – I’ll be here and perfectly safe the whole time,” Teddy said to him quietly, and then smiled.

Harry looked back toward the others then and realized that Gadreel was staring at Sam in an equally concerned way.

“How in Heaven do you plan to accomplish all that by yourself,” Gadreel asked. “You’ll be killed.”

“I’ll go with him,” Harry volunteered. It made sense. Dean was obviously out of commission – and Sam needed back-up.

Gadreel looked at Harry unimpressed. “The fault with the plan did not lie in the fact that there was only one human foolishly venturing into Heaven.”

“We’d have greater success if we formed two teams,” Castiel spoke up. “Do you know where the door to Heaven is, Gadreel?”

“I do.”

“Then Gadreel and I will also enter Heaven, in the hopes of severing Metatron’s connection to the angel tablet,” Castiel explained. “Sam and Harry will be slower to find Metatron’s office, and so may get there in time to help us fight Metatron after Metatron’s source of power is destroyed – as he will surely return immediately once he feels the connection sever. And this way, should either team fail, the other may serve as back-up.”

Sam and Gadreel both nodded.

“How long will it take for you to brew this potion?” Gadreel asked.

“An hour or two,” Teddy replied. “I have to start brewing the antidote first.”

“Then we must go,” Gadreel said. “The door is some hours away.”

Castiel nodded and stood. Teddy and Nate stood too and gave quick nods to the adults, before disappearing into the other room to get back to brewing.

“Are you sure about this, Sam?” Castiel asked. “What you plan to undertake – it is no easy feat.”

“I’ve survived Heaven before,” Sam replied.

“No, you didn’t,” Castiel replied. “Joshua saved you.”

“Details,” Sam replied with a wave of his hand – “the important thing is that I know how it works.”

“Not enough,” Castiel replied. “You need to know how to find Metatron’s office – this time, you must not follow the Axis Mundi. Instead, when you reach Heaven, you must look for something out of place, something that does not belong – that will lead you to the exit, the corridor between individual heavens that the angels use. Metatron’s office will be somewhere off that corridor.”

“Is there a way to recognize it?” Harry asked.

“Heaven’s appearance is based on perception, just as Hell and Purgatory. Its true appearance is unfathomable to humans,” Gadreel answered.

“So...” Sam said slowly.

“What Gadreel means is that Heaven will appear to you in a way that you can perceive, a way that makes sense to the human mind, “ Castiel explained. “Which means that Metatron’s office will most likely be labelled ‘Metatron ‘s Office’ on the door.”

“Oh, that’s handy,” Sam replied.

“Godspeed, Sam Winchester,” Gadreel replied, and then headed for the door.

Cas gave Sam a small nod and followed.

“Alright,” Sam replied, turning to Harry. “I guess now we just wait for Teddy and Nate to work their magic.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Harry was nothing if not considerate. Before he made his way into the laboratory to talk to Teddy, he waited until after he and Sam had discussed their plan at length, and until he knew that Teddy and Nate were in a stage of the potion brewing that didn’t require Teddy’s full attention.

Teddy and Nate both had fresh cups of tea and were standing over their individual cauldrons stirring only occasionally. As Harry walked in, Nate moved to start cutting the next ingredient.

“Crush that after you cut it,” Teddy directed. “It’ll brew a little faster without harming the quality of the potion.”

Nate nodded.

“Are you sure about that?” Harry asked. “The antidote is pretty important.”

Teddy leveled Harry with a flat look. “I graduated top of my class, Harry, and I didn’t even need a marked up text book to do it.”

“Okay, I deserved that,” Harry conceded.

Teddy paused in his stirring to take a long sip of tea, and then carefully placed it to the far side of the table again. “And you can’t give me a hard time about helping the Winchesters either,” Teddy replied. “Not after you just volunteered yourself for what is technically an actual suicide mission – albeit a non-permanent one.”

Harry held up his hands in surrender. “That’s fair.” He paused a moment, as Teddy finished stirring and then broached the topic that he did want to talk about – “May I ask why you were near a werewolf in New Jersey?”

“No,” Teddy replied.

“Teddy...”

“If you were going to ask anyway, you should have just done that,” Teddy gave Harry a flat look. “I was curious, that’s all. As soon as I realized the hunters were there, I left – obviously I didn’t leave soon enough, or change my appearance enough to lose them. But lesson learned and I won’t be doing it again.”

Harry nodded, but then pressed on. “Were you curious from an Auror point of view? Because the offer to shadow someone at my office for a day or two-”

“I don’t want to be an Auror, Harry,” Teddy cut Harry off. “Would you just give it a rest-”

“Your mother was an Auror  and I think she-”

“Well bully for her!” Teddy yelled. “She got what she wanted and I’m happy for her, we aren’t bloody talking about what my mother did or didn’t want!”

Harry pressed his lips together and tried not to lose his temper. He didn’t know what had happened to his and Teddy’s relationship, but ever since Teddy had graduated, it seemed that any prolonged contact ended up with one of them, usually Teddy, storming off in a huff. Harry missed the little boy who used to love rambling to Harry about the school year, his friends, and anything that crossed his mind.

“Were you curious because of your father?” Harry tried again, keeping his voice soft and non-threatening. Teddy crossed his arms and glared at the wall of frosted glass that separated them from the war room. Then he shrugged.

“Okay,” Harry said. “If you... if you ever get curious again, just let me know, and I can... I can show you the memories of your dad as a wolf, if you like. It’d be safer than you chasing muggle werewolves while you’re on holiday.”

Teddy nodded.

Harry breathed out slowly and felt himself relax. It hadn’t been a perfect conversation, but they seemed to have at least come to a good conclusion. Harry rubbed his temple, and thought of how he really should have asked Nate to brew him a cup of tea too, while he had the kettle on. He saw Teddy’s mug on the table and wondered if just a sip would help. He knew Teddy wouldn’t mind; Teddy had been stealing sips from Harry’s tea since he was old enough to hold the cup.

Harry grabbed Teddy’s mug and raised it to his lips in one quick motion  - but just as he took a sip, both Teddy and Nate yelled. “NO!”

The tea was horrible! Harry had to remember to turn his head away from the brewing potion as he spat what was in his mouth out onto the floor.

“That’s Teddy’s,” Nate said, quietly, his eyes wide.

“Merlin’s socks!” Harry exclaimed, sputtering as he tried to get the taste of his tongue. “What in the bloody hell is in this?”

Both Teddy and Nate were just staring at him. Teddy reached across the small table and carefully lifted the mug out of Harry’s hand, pulling it in and cradling it to his chest.

“Is he going to be okay?” Nate asked.

“He spat it out,” Teddy answered. “Get him something to rinse his mouth out with.”

“Ugh,” Harry continued, as Nate ran over to him with his own mug of tea.

“It’s different, I promise,” Nate said, at Harry’s skeptical look.

Harry took a sip from Nate’s mug, and much to his relief, it indeed contained actual tea. It was only then that their words caught up with him.

“Wait,” Harry said, looking at Nate. “Why were you concerned about whether I’d be okay?”

“... It’s Teddy’s tea,” Nate answered... nervously.

“Yes, and I’ve seen Teddy drink it, and he’s perfectly fine – so why would I not be?” Harry asked.

Nate’s response was only to tell Harry, “You can keep my tea,” and then level a glare at Teddy before he retreated back to his workbench to monitor his cauldron.

“Teddy?” Harry asked. “What are you drinking?”

“It’s a special blend,” Teddy answered, taking a sip. Harry cringed just watching him. “It’s an acquired taste.”

“Why on earth would you want to acquire that taste?” Harry pressed.

“It’s worth it,” Teddy shrugged.

Harry stared at Teddy trying to comprehend what he was hearing.

“Is this... is this one of Neville’s blends?” Harry asked. Teddy shifted on his feet.

“We came up with it together,” he finally answered.

“You and Neville...” Harry started, trailing off as he wasn’t sure exactly what words he wanted to use.

Teddy took a large gulp of tea and Harry felt his anger build as he watched.

“Are you drugging yourself?!”

Teddy’s eyes went wide.

“Did Neville get you hooked on drugs?!” Harry continued. “I’ll kill him!”

“Harry, no, I mean – this isn’t- uh, Neville only wanted to-”

“You are a child,” Harry yelled. “What was he even doing- Oh god, this is because he drugged you that time and I didn’t even-“

“What?” Teddy asked, his brow furrowed.“When did...” then Teddy smiled. Smiled. “Oh! I didn’t even put that together, what a sneaky bastard.” Teddy must have caught sight of Harry’s apoplectic expression, because the smile immediately vanished from his face and he put down his mug of tea.

“Right,” Teddy said, turning to Nate. “Can you watch both cauldrons for a moment?”

Nate nodded.

Teddy came out from behind his workbench, grabbing his mug along the way. Harry followed him out, and into the kitchen. There, on the table by the kettle, were various tins of loose tea, all with colour coded labels and weird names: “Sunday afternoon”, “Quidditch match”, “NL’s sleepy tea.” “Teddy’s Mix #14” was sitting a little apart from the others. Harry marched over and picked it up.

“What is it? What are you taking?” Harry asked. “Should we even be letting you brew potions right now?”

“You’re better off with me drinking it while I brew,” Teddy answered. “Especially today.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Harry asked. “Is it some sort of... performance enhancer?”

“It’s aconite, Harry,” Teddy sighed.

“What?” Harry replied, because he didn’t know what that- But he did.

“It’s-“ Teddy began.

“Wolfsbane,” Harry and Teddy finished together.

Teddy nodded. “Just a bit – too much and it’d poison me, just like it would anyone.”

Harry stared at his godson, trying to make sense of what he was hearing. ‘Especially today’, Teddy had said... Teddy had been tracking a werewolf in the days leading up to the full moon, which was today. But Teddy was a metamorphmagus like his mother – Remus had been so relieved. And Teddy had never shown any signs, never... the only way it could have possibly happened is if he had been bitten. Had he been bitten? How was that possible? The werewolf population in the UK was strictly managed and there were no more Fenrir Greybacks – Harry had made sure of it.

“How?” Harry finally asked in a breath. “New Jersey?”

Teddy looked confused. “I’m not a werewolf, Harry.”

“Then why?” Harry asked. “Why are you drinking wolfsbane on the full moon?”

Teddy shuffled his feet. “Does it matter?”

“Yes,” Harry replied. “I need to know whether I need to kill one of my oldest friends for... making drugs with my godson.”

“It’s not drugs,” Teddy rolled his eyes.

Harry sat down at the table and turned the tin over in his hands. When had Teddy started keeping secrets from him?

“Harry,” Teddy said on a sigh. “I didn’t want to tell you because... “ Teddy shrugged. “It’s stupid.”

“What’s stupid?” Harry demanded. “I don’t understand what’s going on at all, Teddy. Not at all.”

“I... I didn’t want my dad to know,” Teddy admitted.

“But your dad is dead,” Harry said bluntly.

The corner of Teddy’s mouth turned up, but before either of them could say anything, Nate was poking his head in the door.

“Potions are both done, near as I can tell,” Nate announced.

“I’ll come have a look,” Teddy told Nate and started for the door.

“You still haven’t explained why-”

“I just didn’t want to disappoint anyone,” Teddy said. “Stupid. See? Unavoidable. Just don’t be mad at Neville; without him, it would be even worse and I probably never would have gotten my NEWTS.”

Teddy gave Harry a rueful smile and disappeared into the corridor. Nate frowned at his back, before leveling a glare at Harry and following his friend. Harry turned his own glare at the tea tins, as though they might be intimidated into revealing their secrets. Then he caught sight of a tin labeled “Nate’s morning-after pill” and decided that he didn’t want to know all their secrets, just Teddy’s.

By the time Harry entered the laboratory, Sam was also there looking at the potions.

“Everything okay?” Sam asked, glancing between Harry and Teddy.

“No,” Harry said, at the same time that Teddy said, “Yes.”

“Oookay, then,” Sam raised his eyebrows. “Uh, do you still want to come with me, or do you want to stay and-”

“It can wait,” Harry replied, seeing Teddy tense up at the question.

“Yippy,” Teddy deadpanned.

*

Sam lay down on one of the two beds he’d prepared. He’s adjusted the beds so they were flat with a table between them to hold the potions, and a couple of chairs so that Teddy and Nate could keep an eye on their bodies in comfort.

Harry lay down on the other bed, still looking a little tense from whatever argument he’d had with Teddy. Sam wondered what it was about fathers and sons that led them to have such hard relationships sometimes. He had always thought Harry had it figured out with his kids, but apparently not.

“I won’t have any way to tell if you’re successful or not,” Teddy said. “So, if your Reaper doesn’t want to cooperate, then I hope they have a nice way of telling me to administer the antidote.”

“Cas will come back,” Sam said. “If we fail, then it’s all up to him anyway. This was the last idea that I had.”

“Well, it’s a plan, such that it is,” Teddy nodded. “You’ll still be tied to your body, so if anything happens-”

“Yeah, be careful, got it,” Sam interrupted. Cas and Gadreel had to have reached the gate by now, and Sam still had to convince a Reaper to grant him a favour.

“So much for the safety procedure speech before the flight,” Teddy muttered, and stepped back so that Nate could step forward.

Nate pressed his wand tip to Sam’s chest, a look of concentration on his face. “Anima,” Nate said. “Retinacula domum.

Nate moved away to perform the spell on Harry.

“I don’t feel any different,” Sam said.

“Drink this then,” Teddy said, and handed Sam a small vial of the potion. “And I promise to keep you both alive on this end.”

Sam uncorked the vial at the same time as Harry uncorked his and drank it like a shot. It was, by far, the worst thing he had ever had in his mouth – he went to say so, only his head chose that moment to thunk heavily onto the thin pillow, which really did nothing to cushion the blow.

“Ow,” Sam said, sitting up in order to glare at hard bed. Why were surgical gurneys so damn hard?

Only, Sam wasn’t staring at a pillow, he was staring at himself – unconscious.

“I think it worked,” Harry said. Sam looked over to find Harry half sitting in his own body.

Sam hopped off the gurney and reached out to see if his hand would pass through Harry’s arm. It didn’t. It smacked right into it.

“Oy, what was that for?”

“Uh, sorry,” Sam said. “Last time we did this we could put our hands in each other.”

Harry looked horrified. “I don’t want to know, Sam!”

“Not like-“

“Wait, what do you mean ‘last time’? You’ve taken the Draught of Living Death before?” Harry asked.

“No, it was... uh, astral projection. We had this psychic we knew that could do it.”

“Oh, interesting,” Harry nodded.

“Are they alive?” Nate asked, looking at Sam’s body. “That looked like it hurt, but he didn’t even flinch.”

Sam reached out to put his hand on Teddy’s arm to see if they could feel him, but his hand went right through like Teddy weren’t there, and Teddy didn’t make seem to be able to feel him – he was waving his wand and muttering strange words.

“Oh,” Harry said.

Above Sam and Harry’s bodies, Sam could see letters appear in ethereal blue. Sam had only ever seen Till perform that spell before, and it was interesting to see that the information made just a little more sense when it was in English. Only, it sort of looked like he was dead.

“He’s alive,” Teddy announced.

“I didn’t know he could do that spell before today,” Harry said, frowning at Teddy. “I don’t even know how to do that spell.”

“Till could probably teach you,” Sam shrugged. “Come on, let’s go to the other room to summon Tessa.”

“Can Reapers get through the wards?” Harry asked, following Sam out of the room.

“They’re Reapers,” Sam said. “You can slow them down, but you can’t stop them. And it takes a lot to slow them down.”

They reached the war room, where Sam took a deep breath and said, “Evoco Messori qui tangebant fratrem meum.” 

They waited.

“I think we got the boring end of this plan,” Sam could hear Nate say, faintly. He turned to look towards the corridor – did sound really travel that well in the Bunker? He couldn’t hear Teddy’s response though, but then Nate said, “True,” and “Oh, sorry, I didn’t know that...” before his voice faded away.

“No,” came a voice right in front of him, and Sam wiped his head back. Tessa was standing with her arms crossed, looking unimpressed. “If you want me to call the boss, the answer is no – you and your brother used up the last of your favours, when he didn’t kill you for that binding incident.”

“Believe me, I don’t want to bother the boss,” Sam replied.

“Then why are you on my plane,” Tessa asked.

*

Harry was looking at a Reaper. She wasn’t at all what he had expected. She wore black, but it was hardly a robe, and her jeans were blue... she was wearing blue jeans. Harry was looking at a Reaper in blue jeans. Wizards didn’t even wear blue jeans – at least, not at the office.

She looked a bit like Dean, Harry thought – if Dean were a female with black hair. It was quite possible that Harry’s brain wasn’t working quite right, what with his heart being in throat even though it was the next room over – where, incidentally, his brain was – and Sam was just casually talking to a Reaper like they were old friends.

“We need you to take us to heaven,” Sam stated.

The Reaper raised an eyebrow. “I only ferry the dead.”

“I know Reapers can transport the living too,” Sam stated. “Last year a rogue Reaper brought me to-”

“The keyword is rogue,” the reaper interrupted. “If this rogue was so helpful, why don’t you ask them your favour? Why perform a mockery of death, in order to speak to me?”

“He’s dead,” Sam replied.

The Reaper smiled.

“And you knew that,” Sam guessed.

“And it is why I cannot help you,” the Reaper replied. “I’m sorry, Sam.”

“Tessa...” Sam tried.

Harry had never considered that Reapers might have names. When Sam had said that he knew how to summon a Reaper, Harry hadn’t realized that Sam meant a specific reaper.

“Sam,” Tessa countered. “If I am caught going against my orders, than I am declared rogue and do you know what happens to rogue reapers?”

“I’m guessing that they don’t end up driving taxi’s in Kansas City,” Sam deadpanned.

“They lose the protection of Death,” Tessa replied. “And they become... corporeal.” The amount of disdain that the reaper poured into the last word told Harry how she felt about the possibility.

“And corporeal things can be killed,” Sam finished.

“By certain weapons, yes,” Tessa confirmed. “I’ve been a Reaper too long to lay down my life for a Winchester.”

“But that’s only if you’re caught,” Harry interjected, and then almost wished he hadn’t as the Reaper’s eyes swung over to him.

“Hello, Harry,” Tessa smiled. “It’s rare to meet someone who was given a choice. Unfortunate that you seem to regret it.”

“What? No!” Harry replied.

“He’s right, Tessa,” Sam pressed. “It’s just this one favour, and the boss doesn’t need to know-”

Tessa laughed. “Your grasp of theology astounds me.”

“Then, tell him, maybe he’ll be on our side,” Harry tried in one desperate last attempt.

Both Tessa and Sam turned to stare at Harry.

“Uh, I don’t think...” Sam said nervously.

“Are you really so eager to meet him again?” Tessa asked, at the same time.

“Of course not!” Harry said. “But someone has to stop Metatron.”

“Well, we do agree there,” Tessa nodded. “Ever since he attempted to kill the prophet, the gates of Heaven have been closed. The veil is thick with lost souls.”

“What?” Sam asked.

“Did you not know?” Tessa asked. “The souls can still flow to hell, but those destined for Heaven must wait at the gates,” Tessa closed her eyes and sighed, visibly pained. “They grow confused, scared... they scream. It is anathema to me.”

“He wanted to prevent the next prophet from awakening,” Sam concluded with a sigh, just as Harry realized the implications of what Tessa was saying.  “If Kevin’s soul never reaches Heaven, then the switch won’t flip on the next one.”

Tessa nodded.

“And that means that you couldn’t bring us to Heaven even if you wanted to,” Harry added. “Why didn’t you just say so.”

Tessa turned to him. “Because that’s not true. I could still take you to Heaven.”

“I don’t understand – if Heaven is closed to souls...”

Tessa waved her hand at their torsos dismissively. “This is not death.”

“So, you can take us, you just won’t,” Sam concluded. “Tessa – your boss – he’s helped us before... when it’s been about... keeping the natural order.”

“And do you keep it?” Tessa replied. “I’d argue you consistently fail in that regard.”

“But we try,” Sam replied. “And that’s all we’re doing here – we’re trying to destroy Metatron so that everything he’s done... the angels can fix it. They’ll be able to return to Heaven. The souls will be able to return to heaven too...”

Harry held his breath as Tessa glared at them, her brow still furrowed in annoyance. He may not know her as well as Sam, but Harry could recognize that if she truly couldn’t be persuaded, she would have left already. Part of her wanted to help.

“I can’t take you to your Heaven,” Tessa finally said, and Harry felt his hope deflate, and Sam seemed to do the same beside him. “You’ll be noticed.” She added, and immediately Sam perked up, a small smile playing at the corner of his lips. “Don’t look at me like that, you’re worse than your brother.” Tessa said.

“What do you suggest we do?”

“I can take you to Harry’s waiting room,” Tessa replied. “Harry knows it well. He’ll be able to find the proper exit.”

“I- Wait. Do you mean-” Harry managed to stutter, but before he could form his question, Tessa had opened her arms and embraced them both, bathing them in a bright pure light. Harry closed his eyes reflexively.

When Harry opened his eyes again, he was in King’s Cross Station.

 

 

Chapter Text

Teddy watched the ghostly glow of Harry’s brain float above his head from where he sat between the two surgical beds. On the other side of Sam’s body, Nate sat with his feet up. He had a notebook open on his lap in which he seemed to be drawing random doodles between occasional sighs.

It had been over a half hour since Harry and Sam had gone under. Teddy was torn, because he felt like he should keep a continuous monitor to make sure all was well, but he was also bored out of his tree and fancied heading back into the library and perusing the available reading material. He glanced at Nate again, and then the two bodies.

“We could draw penises on their faces,” Teddy observed.

Nate looked at him with wide eyes.

“Don’t you dare!” Nate said. “They’ll kill us – Harry will figuratively kill us, and Sam will literally kill us!”

“Sam won’t kill us,” Teddy said. “It would be hilarious. Dean would agree with me and the laughter alone will cure him of his murdering ways...”

Nate rocked out of his seat, and put his hands on Sam’s face protectively.

“I’ll protect this beautiful face with my life if I have to!”

Teddy laughed. “I’m joking, Tiger. Calm down.”

Nate shook his head, but then huffed out a laugh. He removed his hands from Sam’s face, and then lightly stroked Sam’s cheekbones as if in apology or reassurance.

“He can feel that, you know,” Teddy indicated Sam with a nod of his head.

“What?”

“You touching his face like that,” Teddy replied. “Like... butterfly wings. It’s hard to explain. I only did this once myself.”

Nate blushed, and shifted on his feet. Then he ducked next to Sam’s ear and said, “uh, sorry, about that.”

Teddy laughed, and was about to poke fun at Nate’s blushing, when suddenly there was a noise from outside the room.

Teddy and Nate both turned to look at the door.  There was another noise, as though someone were out there moving around...

Teddy stood, his wand in hand. Nate motioned him to stay with Harry and Sam and then he disappeared through the open door.

There was only one other person in the Bunker and he was supposed to be locked up.

*

Nate crept towards the entry way to the library, where he could hear someone moving. He had his wand in his hand and was already mentally preparing what spell he might need. He didn’t get a chance to use it though, because just as he reached the bottom of the stairs up to the library, force hit him from behind. Not a person, an energy – it felt like dark magic. Nate’s heart leapt into this throat as he was lifted, spun and slammed up against the wall by the library door. His back hit a chalkboard and his wand flew out of his hand, clattering across the old radio consoles and down to the ground. Instead of allowing him to fall, the magic held him there, his feet dangling, like a great weight was pinning him in place.

“Hello, who’s this?” a deep voice asked, the accent unmistakably British.

“Leave him alone, Crowley,” Dean’s voice came from the library. Nate stared at the demon in front of him – the King of Hell. The King of Hell was in front of him and Nate was wandless and pinned to a wall.

“You didn’t tell me you had recruited a new teenager,” Crowley continued, peering at Nate. “A little Wizard. He kind of looks like Kevin – is that why you got him? The ethnicity is all wrong, of course, but I suppose you make do with what-“

“I said leave him alone!” Dean cut the demon off, coming out of the library and into Nate’s field of vision. “Let him go.”

“As you wish,” Crowley said. Suddenly the dark energy holding Nate in place was gone and he fell to the ground, hitting the edge of the control boards on his way and ending up bruised in a heap on the concrete steps.

His first instinct was to reach for his wand, and he stretched an arm out-

There was a blade at his throat.

“Don’t,” Dean voice was hard. Nate dropped his arm, slowly, as to not accidentally move his neck further into the edge that teased at his skin.

“Dean,” Nate said. He could see the knife at the bottom of his vision – it was huge, it had teeth – animal teeth.

“Just stay down and listen,” Dean replied. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

“You’ve got the First Blade at my neck,” Nate stated.

The knife was gone then, but just as quick, Nate had a gun pointing at him.

“This better?”

Nate took a deep breath. “Marginally.”

“I’m not going to hurt you. I’m just going to leave. You understand?” Dean asked. “You let me leave without a fuss and we’re all good.”

Nate looked at Dean, and then looked over at Crowley. “Where are you going?”

“I’m going to kill Metatron,” Dean stated.

“That’s what Sam-”

“That ain’t how this is going to go down and he knows it,” Dean said. “I’m the best shot we have and I’m going to take it. Now, we good?”

“Do I have a choice?” Nate asked.

“No,” Dean lowered the gun, but he didn’t put it away. The First Blade was still clenched in his other fist, the mark on his arm angry against the otherwise pale skin. Dean nodded towards Crowley. “Let’s go.”

“I like him,” Crowley said to Dean. “He’s a cute little thing.”

“Shut your mouth and stay the hell away from him or I’ll kill you,” Dean growled.

“So touchy,” Crowley muttered, but he turned and walked towards the door without a backwards glance. “There’s another one in the hallway who thinks he’s sneaky. Do you want me to do something about him?”

Dean paused, and Nate held his breath. “No, he’s got other priorities,” Dean said, purposefully loud, Nate was sure.

Dean turned and walked away, keeping his eye on both Nate and the doorway that lead towards the infirmary as long as he could. It felt like an age before Nate heard the large outer steel door slam closed.

*

This King’s Cross was cleaner than reality, but not quite as white as the last time Harry had been to this version of it. There were no other people – Voldemort’s mutated soul was gone, there was no Dumbledore to greet him. It was just Harry, Sam, and rows of empty train platforms.

“Okay,” Sam said. “So, this is your waiting room?”

“Apparently,” Harry replied.

“And you’ve been here before?” Sam asked.

“When I died, yeah,” Harry replied. “This is where Dumbledore gave me the choice.”

“Hm,” Sam said in acknowledgement. “Train station – very... symbolic.”

Harry glanced around. There were no platform numbers, no signs at all really. No schedules. No security notices.

“Cas said something would look out of place,” Sam said. “You know this place better than I do.”

“Uh, yeah, but... it’s already different, I’m not sure...” Harry sighed. “I mean, probably your guess is as good as mine.”

“Great,” Sam said in a dry tone. “Let’s start looking then.”

Harry nodded and they made their way methodically around the platform they were standing on, before venturing off of it. They poked a few things, pulled on a few others, but nothing seemed to open any secret doors or reveal any hidden passageways.

“Maybe we have to wait for a train?” Sam said, looking down at the tracks.

“I’m pretty sure the trains only go one direction in this place, and that might alert people to our presence,” Harry replied.

“But it might get us somewhere that you know a little better,” Sam said.

“Well, if one comes in, we’ll consider it.”

They walked onto the second platform to see if there was anything different from the first. It was a quiet few minutes, before Sam spoke up again.

“Are you and Teddy okay?”

“Yes,” Harry said on reflex, before he actually considered the question. “I don’t know,” he admitted.

“You want to talk about it?” Sam asked, looking at what Harry was sure should be a map of the London Underground, but instead was just a blank white space.

“I don’t know... he’s on drugs?” Harry replied. He couldn’t believe those words were leaving his mouth – about one of his kids, well, almost his kid. It always felt like these kinds of things were what happened to other parents.  He wondered if Andromeda knew.  Harry poked at a spot on the floor with his shoe.

“You mean his anxiety meds?” Sam asked, now pulling himself up the sign to try to reach what looked like a discoloured brick on the wall.

“His... what?” Harry asked.

“You know, that tea he has to drink,” Sam clarified. “Because of the anxiety problem – he told me all about it on the drive back from New York. It’s really interesting stuff. I’d never read anything about that side-effect before, but I told him when we were done with all this stuff, I’d take a look in the library – or, I got this friend who’s a werewolf now and he’s married to-”

“What?” Harry cut Sam off.

“Sorry, off topic,” Sam said. “I didn’t think he was on anything except the anxiety meds. You think there’s something else? He’s a good kid, Harry. If it’s anything, I’m sure it’s just pot. I mean, that would probably help with the anxiety too.”

“Teddy told you he has anxiety?” Harry asked slowly, his search of King’s Cross entirely forgotten.

“Yeah,” Sam said, walking towards the next platform. “Sounds like the kid had a tough time of it until Neville and him found a tea that worked.”

“What?”  

Sam paused in his inspection of the wall and turned towards Harry, his brow furrowed for a moment before his eyes widened.

“He didn’t tell you any of that,” Sam said.

“No. He did not,” Harry replied.

“Shit,” Sam cursed. “Shit. I thought you knew.”

“I didn’t.”

“Why didn’t he tell you?” Sam asked, genuinely bewildered.

“I don’t know!” Harry threw his arms in the air. And then he realized that he did know – Teddy had told him. “Wait, he said... he said he didn’t want his dad to know. But that doesn’t make any sense – his dad is dead! It’s not like I can just pop ‘round to the afterlife and say, ‘Remus, old friend, I’ve news on Teddy for you-‘”

“Uh, I mean, technically right now you could-,” Sam interrupted.

“That’s not my point!!” Harry exclaimed, and then paused. “Wait – I COULD.”

“Harry, no,” Sam said. “We’re here for a very specific reason and we don’t have time...”

But Harry was already casting his eyes around the station frantically – somewhere there was a door that led to Remus – or Sirius – or his parents. They’d know what to do. They could help.

“Harry, are you even listening to me?! We are on an unknown time frame here, but it is definitely an ‘as soon as possible’ time frame.”

“But, it’s his father, Sam,” Harry said. “He’ll know what to do. He can tell me where I went wrong and how to fix it-”

And then Harry saw it, on the far wall of the station, only a little small distance from the platforms. Harry saw it and knew that he had found their exit.

“But he isn’t,” Sam argued, as he jogged behind Harry. “Not really. Harry, I don’t think -”

“Look,” Harry interrupted. “I found it.”

“What?” Sam asked, coming to a stop. He looked at what Harry had found, “Are you kidding me?”

In front of them was a door clearly labeled STAFF ONLY.

“All the other words in this station are missing, no numbers on the platforms, no map of the Underground, no station signs... everything is missing except this sign,” Harry declared.

“Seems a bit... uh, too easy,” Sam said.

“Well, we won’t know until we try,” Harry replied, and then he opened the door.

White light, pure and blinding, spilled into the station.

Harry thought for a moment they had been found by angels, but when his eyes adjusted, he saw Sam smiling. Before them was an empty white corridor filled with doorways.

“Wow, good job. Let’s go,” Sam said, and they entered the corridor, softly shutting the door behind them. It was labeled “Waiting Room.” The door next to it was labeled “Nursery.” Harry’s heart dropped into his stomach.

“Did you feel that?” Sam asked, stopping a few paces in front of Harry.

“Feel what?” Harry asked.

“It felt like something touched my face,” Sam said. “Is something on my face?!”

“No,” Harry replied, looking at Sam’s face. “Your face is fine.”

Sam flinched and moved his head like he was trying to dislodge something. Then brought his own hand up to swat at his cheekbones, as though he thought he could brush something off.

“Are you okay?” Harry asked.

“Something is on my-” Sam started, then cut himself off. “It’s gone. That was-... Nate?”

“That was Nate?” Harry repeated, completely confused.

“He just apologized,” Sam said.

“Sam, are you on drugs?” Harry asked. “Nate’s not here.”

“He apologized. In my ear,” Sam said. “Dude, they can talk to us! He must have touched my face!”

Harry’s stood stunned for a moment. “Can they hear us? Teddy?”

There was just the silence of the corridor. Sam shook his head.

“What kind of potion did Teddy brew?” Harry asked. “This isn’t the Draught of Living Death. It can’t be.”

“He said it was a variation,” Sam shrugged. “Come on, you can grill him about it later – we gotta find that door.”

Harry nodded and followed Sam as they ran down the corridor. They turned a series of corners, following signs to what seemed to point towards administration. Harry wondered how the signs and corridors looked to angels – unfathomable, Gadreel had said – really, Harry had no way of ever knowing.

All of a sudden, Sam stopped in the middle of the corridor, his face pale. Harry read the doors nearby, but none of them seemed to be what they were looking for.

“What is it?” Harry asked. Sam held up a finger, angling his head as though he were listening to something with only one ear. Harry realized that it was probably because he was.

Sam swallowed. “Dean’s escaped.”

Harry took a breath in, wanting to ask more, but Sam was obviously still listening. He didn’t look happy.

“Nate’s okay,” Sam said on a whisper.

Harry’s heart thudded in his chest. If they felt the need to tell Sam that Nate was okay, it meant that he hadn’t been – or almost hadn’t been. If Dean had done something to Nate-

“He has the First Blade,” Sam related. “He’s gone after Metatron with Crowley.”

“Bloody hell,” Harry muttered.

Sam bit his lip and nodded, then his gaze was solely on Harry.

“I have to go after him,” Sam said. “He’s not himself. If he... if he hurts somebody-”

Harry nodded. “But how do we get back?”

“You don’t, I do,” Sam said. “You stick with the plan, if you’re willing.”

“Whatever you need,” Harry said.

“Cas might need backup,” Sam said. “I don’t know if we can trust Gadreel.”

Harry nodded.

“Okay, uh, sorry about this,” Sam said. “It’s what Teddy told me to do if I wanted the antidote.”

“Sorry about what?” Harry asked.

Sam just reached forward and scraped his fingernail, hard, down Harry’s cheek.

“Ow! What the bloody hell?!” Harry exclaimed, but even as he clapped a hand to his sore face, he felt the familiar sensation of soothing healing magic. “What?” He looked over at Sam, only to find Sam licking his lips.

“Hm, tastes a bit like cherry-” Sam started to say, and then was gone.

Harry was alone in Heaven.

*

Sam woke in the infirmary. Nate and Teddy were both hovering over him, along with a mess of blue light that Sam realized was an image of his own brain.

“Hey Sam,” Nate said. “How’re you feeling?”

“Good. How long has Dean been gone?”

Teddy gazed at the image of Sam’s brain while he spoke and nodded, but didn’t answer.

“Less than ten minutes,” Nate replied. “Do you feel like you have a soul?”

“What? Yes!” Sam asked. “Was that a danger?!”

Teddy shrugged, vanishing the image of Sam’s brain with a flick of his wand.

“I wasn’t sure,” Teddy admitted. “When I experimented with this spell before, I didn’t have a Reaper take me to heaven. This is new territory. There was a slight change to your neuro-patterns about a half hour ago that suggested that wherever your spirit had gone, it was a great distance away. I wanted to confirm that the antidote still called you back rather than only waking what remained.”

“Jesus,” Sam muttered. “I don’t want to go through that again.” He levered himself up on his elbows. His body felt like he had been asleep, though his mind did not. It was a very odd mixture of signals – where he felt like he should be drowsy, but wasn’t, and felt that he shouldn’t be stiff, but was.

“Easy,” Nate said, placing a hand on Sam’s arm as though to steady him.

“I’m fine,” Sam shook him off, as he sat up completely and hopped off the bed. “I need my laptop.”

“Does Harry want to come back too, or...” Teddy asked. Sam turned back to see Harry’s prone figure, the same blue image of Harry’s brain and nervous system hovering above his body. Teddy shifted on his feet beside the bed, glancing at the readings as though they might be able to answer his question.

“He’s staying,” Sam answered, as he left the room. He heard more than saw Nate follow him.

“Do you need help with anything?” Nate asked.

“Can you use a laptop?” Sam asked, heading into the library.

“Of course,” Nate replied.

Sam passed his laptop over to the teenager. “Look for any unusual occurrences – deaths, miracles, magic, anything out of the ordinary. Corpses with their eyes burnt out, or stabbed, but also burnt out on the inside – those are angel kills. If Dean’s looking for Metatron, that’s what he’ll be looking for, and we just have to find it first and beat him there.”

Nate nodded, already opening a search.

Sam took out his phone to call around and make sure some hapless hunter wasn’t already on the trail.

Half an hour and half a dozen calls later, Sam had come up with nothing, and Nate didn’t seem to be faring much better. Sam was starting to think that he should have taken Nate on the road with him and just done a tracking spell, but he knew that in order to reason with Dean, he’d have to get ahead of him somehow – obtain information that Dean needed, and use it to force Dean to listen to him for two seconds.

“I think I found him,” Nate suddenly said. “There’s a viral video – from this morning. He fits Kevin’s description of Metatron and he’s performing miracles, so-”

“Where?” Sam asked, pocketing his phone and coming around to look at the video as Nate presses play.

“Muncie, Indiana,” Nate replied.

Sam nodded as soon as the video ended. “Call me if there’s any change to Harry.” He snapped the laptop closed and put it in his bag.

“Yes, sir.”

Sam paused. “And thanks – I really appreciate the help.”

“Good luck, Sam,” Nate said.

“Oh and uh,” Sam paused. “Tell Teddy that I’m sorry if I let the cat out of the bag, but I kind of thought that Harry knew all that stuff about his anxiety, and...well...”

“Shit,” Nate whispered. Sam winced. Nate shook his head. “I told him he should’ve been honest from the start, but then, it’s part of it, isn’t it – the worst case scenarios are sometimes all he sees.”

Sam nodded and left without saying goodbye to Teddy. He peaked into the infirmary, but decided that Teddy looked too focused on monitoring Harry, and Sam didn’t want to screw that up. He needed everyone’s head in the game, if they were going to bring down Metatron and figure out how to save Dean.

*

Harry wasn’t sure how long he had been walking down white corridors. Part of him still wanted to see if he could find Remus, Sirius, or his own parents – but now that Sam was gone, Harry knew that the mission was down to him. If Castiel and Gadreel needed back-up, then Harry was the only one that could provide it. It would be unprofessional to get waylaid by an attempt to solve his own personal problems.

He was just about to double back and try a different corridor when the sign caught his eye. It was a door like any other, except that as he approached, he could have sworn that it had said “Office” but when he stopped in front of it, it had changed to “Prison.”

He wondered if maybe his mind was playing tricks on him. It’s true, that on a bad day, an office could feel like a prison – but then, you were always free to leave, even if the consequences of doing so would be your financial ruin. Also, when it came down to it, Harry quite liked his job and a typical day, while not very exciting, did tend to go by rather quickly as there were always different things to do and meetings that tended to break up the monotony.

Still, he had been sure that it had said “Office” a moment before. Perhaps, instead of a trick of his own mind, this was a trick of heaven. The signs might have been spelled to change if a soul got loose – perhaps it was all a trick and the first sign had been correct and then it had altered in order to confuse him.

He could open the door and see. If it were a prison, there might be guards who would spot him, that was a danger – however, if that were the case, he could simply make a run for it. At the very worst, he could signal for Teddy to bring him back to earth, now that he knew how to do it, and that it was in fact possible. Or, at least, he hoped it was possible and that Sam hadn’t merely disappeared.

Cautiously, Harry turned the door handle and opened the door just a half inch.

He could see white brick and not much else.  He opened the door a little wider. There was a short white corridor that then turned a corner. He could hear voices, but they were coming from a distance.

“Okay, so you’re telling me Metatron set you up – arranged those suicide bombers to make himself look like the victim,” a woman’s voice said.

It certainly looked like a prison, not an office, and Harry was about to shut the door and move on, when he heard someone familiar.

“Gadreel was his second in command. For what other reason than the truth would he turn against Metatron.”

It was unmistakably Castiel. Harry slipped into the corridor and crept as slightly as he could to the corner. He found his wand in his hand before he had even considered whether he could use magic on angels or not. He hadn’t been prepared for a jail break, but he was willing to try if need be. Castiel was still trying to convince the guard, who seemed to be a friend, to free him – but she remained absolute.

Just as Harry reached the corner and was able to peer into the joining corridor, Gadreel’s distinct voice broke the silence.

“I stayed in this hole for thousands of years, thinking of nothing but redemption, of reclaiming my good name.” Gadreel announced. “I thought of nobody, no cause, other than my own.”

Gadreel’s back was to the corridor, but Harry could see that he was doing something with his hand close to his chest.

“You’ve been redeemed, my friend,” Castiel replied.

“The only thing that matters in the end is the mission – protecting those who would not or could not protect themselves – the humans,” Gadreel continued as though Castiel hadn’t spoken. “None of us are bigger than that. We will not let our fears, our self-absorption, prevent us from seeing it through. Not anymore.”

“No, of course not,” Castiel answered, his voice more obviously concerned.

“Move to the other side of the cell, Castiel, and keep your head down,” Gadreel commanded, and Harry’s breath caught.

“What are you doing?” Castiel asked, but Harry could already see as Gadreel turned that his chest had been carved crudely with symbols and he had a jagged stone held tight in his grip. They had been speaking of suicide-bombers who had worked for Metatron. Gadreel himself had worked for Metatron.

Their jailer seemed to have come to the same conclusion as Harry, because she rushed forward to his cell, fumbling with keys to unlock it.

“When they say my name, perhaps I won’t just be the one who let the serpent in, but one of many-”

“Gadreel!” Castiel called, and Harry found himself running into the hallway, as though it had been a command to him specifically.

“-who gave Heaven a second chance. Run-”

Petrificus Totalis!” Harry yelled and put every single ounce of his intention behind the spell.

It didn’t work, at least not completely. They were angels, even weakened; they could resist most magic if they put their mind to it. But it was enough that Gadreel paused for a moment to shake off the spell as it tried to seize him, giving Harry time to shift to plan B – apparation.

Harry was through the bars and appearing in front of Gadreel with a pop before the jailer had recovered from her shock. He dropped his wand and then knocked the sharpened stone out of the angels grip. Without thinking about it, Harry put his hand to the bloody chest in front of him. Gadreel towered over him, angry and still, but Harry could feel the angel’s muscles unlocking as the spell was pushed off his body.

“No,” Harry said. “That’s not the answer.”

On the other side of the wall, Castiel was yelling their names frantically. The jailer recovered, and Harry could hear her keys rattling in the lock while she demanded to know who he was.

Harry kept his eyes locked with Gadreel’s.

“I won’t stay here. I won’t,” Gadreel said desperately. “Not again.”

“You won’t,” Harry nodded. Blood dripped over his hand where it rested against the angel’s chest.

He heard the jail door open behind him. With one movement, he pivoted on his feet, called his wand back into his hand with a thought, and turned so that Gadreel was behind him.

“Petrificus Totalis!”

The jailer froze where she stood. The spell seemed to have more success with the her than with Gadreel, and it gave Harry enough time to pull Gadreel past the frozen jailer and out of the cell. He yanked the ring of keys from her hand as he ran by.

He swung the jail cell closed behind them, the jailer still inside. At any moment she could throw off the spell.  Castiel was waiting by the bars, his eyes frantic as he got his first look at what Gadreel had done to his chest.

“Heal yourself,” Castiel commanded angrily. Gadreel eyes went to the ground, his head bowed, like a chastised child.

Harry started working his way through the keys, trying to find the one that would open Castiel’s cell door.

“There’s no need for violence,” Castiel said softly. “Not even to yourself.”

Harry glanced back at Gadreel and saw that his eyes were closed in concentration and the cuts on his chest were healing. Finally, a key turned and the cell door opened.

Castiel stepped out into the hallway. “Where’s Hannah?”

“I’m here,” Hannah replied, just as Gadreel and Harry both indicated what had been Gadreel’s cell. “Let me out, Castiel.”

“No,” Cas replied. “You must listen to us. We need your help Hannah.”

“You’re traitors,” Hannah replied.

“No, Hannah,” Cas sighed, then he turned to Gadreel. “Gadreel, tell Hannah everything.”

“We’ve already told her, she did not believe-”

“No, begin at the beginning this time,” Castiel ordered.

“Cas, we don’t have time-” Harry started to say.

“Metatron has anticipated our plan and hidden his office,” Castiel interrupted. “Hannah knows where it is. We need her cooperation if we’re to succeed at all.”

Harry sighed. He could only hope that Dean wouldn’t track down Metatron for a while yet.

 

 

Chapter Text

Harry listened as Gadreel told them about the Garden and how the snake had tricked him – how it had used his love of humanity to convince him that he was helping humanity by giving them their freedom. Just as Metatron later tricked him by using his desire to restore heaven and regain his good name.  The two events were separated by millennia of imprisonment and torture.

It was the story of someone very naive and a great deal short-sighted. It was the story of someone who was punished for the wrong crime and so corrected the wrong behaviour. Gadreel had been punished for disobeying at the garden and so given the opportunity to obey an authority figure, he did so blindly, in a misguided effort to show he had been reformed. And yet, save for the desire to be seen as a hero rather than a villain, the majority of Gadreel’s failings had been borne out of love and a desire to be good – love for humanity, love for his fellow angels.

“...for a time, I thought Lucifer may have been right,” Gadreel continued. “When he said that we were better than humanity, but then I too, was tortured by angels, and I understood then that humanity was not worse than us, we were the same – because I too thought only of revenge. And when Metatron offered me a chance to have it, I took delight in the task. When he asked me to kill Abner, I-” Gadreel broke off for a moment, visibly gathering myself. “I doubted then, and I should have... but, Abner, he said that if I had a chance at a second chance, I should take it – I should do whatever I had to. I believed Metatron to be that second chance. I see, only now, that my second chance could have been the Winchesters, or with this man who has agreed twice now to be my vessel. He is a good man.”

Harry stared at Gadreel, as he remembered that Gadreel was, effectively WEARING someone. He wondered who the man was, what he must be like to get along with an angel who had control of his body.

“The suicide bombers,” Gadreel continued. “As I explained, Metatron had me recruit angels for what he called an ‘elite force.’ I had hopes that he intended them to be his personal guard. I was already doubting him, his methods were... cruel. He seemed to disregard the lives of our brothers and sisters. I thought, if I made his personal guard out of those who may share my views, those I trusted – if we had to, perhaps we could rise-up against him. I can’t do it myself. He is too powerful with the angel tablet. I had hope, though, that perhaps with others in place, we could restore Heaven to what it was and bring all our brothers and sisters home.”

“Did he suspect?” Hannah asked. “Is that why he had them sacrifice themselves instead?”

“I do not know,” Gadreel replied. “Perhaps it had been his plan from the beginning. It certainly was effective. I was injured in the suicide attack, and had I been one of our less powerful brethren, I would have perished. I realize now that Metatron had been counting on my old training as a Guard to both protect himself and to sell the illusion that he was a victim rather than the perpetrator.”

“And what do you know of his plans for the future?” Hannah asked. Harry had to commend her. Even when locked behind prison bars, she had the air of someone who was there of their own volition.

“He means to become the new God,” Gadreel replied. “And once he has done so, to subjugate humanity.”

“Blasphemy,” Hannah all but whispered.

“The Winchesters told me that he had a similar set-up where he lived in Colorado,” Harry added in. “Albeit on a much smaller scale – with only one small nation of Native Americans paying tribute to him, in the promise that he would ensure their survival.”

“Then it is not outside the realm of possibility that he intends to do the same on a much grander scale,” Castiel nodded.

“I’ll show you to his office,” Hannah announced. “Gadreel is right. The mission must come first.”

“Thank you, sister,” Gadreel said reverently. Harry stepped forward with the keys and held them up.

“It’s that one,” Hannah pointed and smiled.

Once he had the door unlocked and opened, Hannah straightened her suit and stepped out of the cell.

“I’m not sure we’ll be able to get past the others,” Hannah said. “They knew Metatron’s orders were to imprison you and if what you say is true, then we may not have enough time for you to explain the situation to them too.”

“Will they not take you at your word?” Castiel asked. “Surely, it was your opinion that tipped the tide against me when you believed the suicide-bombers were under my orders.”

“Yes, but that was as your second,” Hannah replied. “So my change of opinion was notable. But here, I am not Metatron’s second, and they may believe that I have simply changed my mind out of loyalty to you and not because there has been a change in truth.”

“I am Metatron’s second,” Gadreel said. “Perhaps-”

“You are also Gadreel,” Hannah interrupted.

Harry felt his heart go out to Gadreel, as his expression fell.

“Take us in as though we are prisoners,” Castiel replied.

“That plan did not work for us, Castiel,” Gadreel stated. “What makes you think it will be different this time?”

“It’s clear that Metatron knew that you would betray him,” Castiel replied. “Whereas, I do not think he suspects that Hannah will do the same. Tell me, Hannah, were you supposed to interrogate us as you have?”

Hannah shook her head. “I was to lock you up and leave you. I was disobeying orders when I allowed you to speak.”

“We can only try,” Castiel declared. “But, in my experience, angels have a habit of only seeing what they are told.”

Both Hannah and Gadreel nodded, smiling ruefully. Harry shifted his weight.

“Er, what about me?” Harry asked, and it was amazing that at 36 years old, Harry could still be made to feel like a child who had made the mistake of speaking while the adults were talking.

“You are very small,” Castiel considered. “Perhaps, we could hide you.”

“I’m not that small, I’m only a few inches shorter than-”

“Harry,” Castiel smiled gently. “You’ve forgotten that what you see is not what is.”

“What I- what?”

“Heaven is incomprehensible to the human mind,” Gadreel stated. “You’re mind has created a visual that is understandable, so that you are not driven mad with the truth.”

“So... I’m small?” Harry asked.

“You are very small,” Gadreel nodded. “Human souls, though powerful, do not take up a lot of room. Whatever Wizard magic you are using right now, it has... made your soul smaller, almost impossible to see, as though it has been...”

“Stretched thin,” Castiel finished. “I understand now, what your godson meant when he spoke of a tether. The soul itself is the tether.”

Gadreel nodded. Hannah looked wary.

“Hannah and I carry a human soul with us now, as we keep our chosen vessels under our protection while in Heaven,” Gadreel explained. “Angels are accustomed to seeing human souls accompanying their brethren.”

“You and Hannah,” Harry repeated softly and then looked at Castiel.

“My vessel’s soul no longer resides with his body,” Castiel answered Harry’s unspoken question. “There is a certain level of damage to the vessel that the soul cannot survive – we were parted the first time I was killed by an archangel. When... when I was resurrected, I was alone.”

“Is that common?” Harry asked.

“No,” Castiel replied.  “Usually, angels do a better job of ensuring their vessel’s survival.”

Castiel was frowning, but Hannah smiled slowly.

“That’s how we’ll hide you,” she said. “We simply place you close to Castiel. The angels may mistake your soul for that of Castiel’s vessel. Angels often take no notice of who’s body an angel is using.”

Castiel smiled at Hannah, while Gadreel lifted what appeared to be an impressed and amused eyebrow.

“So, I just walk beside you?”

“Hm, no, closer,” Castiel said. “How do you see me right now?”

“Uh, I see you,” Harry said. “With... with your coat and suit.”

“Ah, you see my vessel,” Castiel nodded. “Then, piggyback?”

Castiel knelt down and offered his back to Harry. Harry looked at Hannah and Gadreel, who both just looked as though angels piggybacking wizards was something that happened all the time.

“Okay, piggyback,” Harry muttered, as he climbed on.

The angel stood easily, as though Harry were nothing more than the weight of a fly. Castiel’s back was solid underneath Harry’s chest and Harry had to wonder what this all actually looked like. He wrapped his legs around Castiel’s waist and his arms around his shoulders, and couldn’t understand what he was holding onto if Castiel didn’t even look like himself.

Hannah moved forward and pulled out a pair of handcuffs. She cuffed both Castiel and Gadreel. Castiel was cuffed with his hands at his back, supporting Harry’s weight, and Gadreel was cuffed with his hands in front. Harry had to marvel at the amount of trust the two angels were putting in Hannah, but then, he too believed that she sincerely wished to help them.

Together they marched through the corridor of the prison, before exiting into the white hallway. Hannah led them only two doors down. She opened another door and they walked into what looked a little like the Auror department at the ministry. There were angels at their desks who barely raised their head when the door opened, there were others that were walking back and forth holding paperwork, and there were those by the door who took immediate interest in the three angels that had just walked in.

Harry waited for someone to see him and raise the alarm, but instead it was just as Hannah and Castiel had said it would be – no one paid him any mind at all.

“Hannah, why are the prisoners not in their cells,” an angel asked, casting an eye to Castiel and Gadreel.

“Metatron wishes to mete out their punishment personally, once he is finished with his current business on Earth,” Hannah replied.

“Mm,” the angel hummed, but didn’t argue. The guards stepped back and let Hannah, the two prisoners, and Harry pass through.

Metatron’s office was classically furnished, with plush leather couches and chairs and dark wood. Harry climbed off Castiel’s back once they were inside. Hannah unlocked the cuffs on both Castiel and Gadreel, and placed them on the desk.

“I can’t stay,” Hannah said, apologetically.

“Nor should you,” Castiel replied. “If we fail and are caught, you may be hunted. It is best to go prepare.”

Hannah nodded and left the room. As soon as the door snicked shut, Castiel, Gadreel, and Harry flew into action – searching the office frantically for the tablet.

*

Sam woke up by the Impala, his head throbbing. He cursed Dean for knowing exactly how to hit to knock him out.

Dean.

Sam lurched to his feet and ran as fast as he could towards the homeless encampment. Dean had gone in alone, again, just like he had with Abaddon – only this time, Sam couldn’t help but feel as though Dean were going against a stronger opponent, one that had unknown power up their sleeve. Sam could only hope that Castiel and Harry had been successful in destroying the angel tablet.

*

“What’s this?” Harry asked, coming upon something that looked like an old broadcasting radio.

“Mm,” Gadreel said, from over by the far bookcase, where he was methodically pulling books from the shelves. He had been convinced that Metatron liked to hide things in libraries. “I hadn’t seen it yet,” Gadreel continued. “However, before I left to find Castiel, Metatron had ordered a device with which to amplify his voice, and the next time I heard his voice, he was indeed amplified.”

“Didn’t you already look at that shelf?” Harry asked. Gadreel turned and raised an eyebrow.

“Out of curiosity, how many shelves do you see, Harry?” Gadreel asked.

“Ah,” Harry replied, understanding immediately. “I’m guessing a great deal fewer than there actually are.”

“Truly, the human mind is amazing,” Gadreel replied. “Your true form may be small and your perception limited, but you adapt well.”

Castiel suddenly moved to the desk and grasped the typewriter, pulling its top shell violently away from its base.

“I found it,” Castiel said, lifting the angel tablet from the desk. Its writing was glowing yellow as he spoke.

“How do you break the connection?” Harry asked.

Castiel answered by throwing the tablet to the floor. It shattered upon impact.

“Done,” Castiel stated, sitting down heavily in Metatron’s chair.

“He’ll be back any moment,” Gadreel said. “He’s not defeated. He still knows what was written on the tablet. He made the angels fall without it, there’s no telling what he can still do. He’ll imprison us for this.”

Harry could recognize the fear growing in Gadreel. There was no escape though, if they left the room, the angels outside would throw them in prison. If they stayed, Metatron would do the same. Harry could signal for Teddy to wake him up and escape that way, but it would leave Castiel and Gadreel to face Metatron alone.

Not that Harry would be much help in a fight against Metatron, though perhaps like the other angels, Metatron just wouldn’t see him – small and barely visible as Harry appeared to be in his true form. He might be able to launch a surprise attack somehow if he went unnoticed.

“Keep him talking and distract-“ Harry cut himself off as Metatron suddenly appeared in the room, holding a bloody weapon. Harry felt his heart lurch.

For the moment, Metatron’s attention seemed to be only on Castiel.

“Well played, Castiel,” Metatron said, and as he did, Harry quickly turned and flipped the switch on the broadcast radio and then cranked the microphone volume higher. Harry began to back quickly away from the device and towards where Gadreel stood by the bookshelves.

“Obviously, you and Gadreel managed to turn a few dead-enders against me,”  Metatron continued.

“We did,” Castiel nodded.

“And the angel tablet – arguably the most powerful instrument in the history of the universe – is in pieces, and for what again?” Metatron asked. “Oh, that’s right, to save Dean Winchester. That was your goal, right? I mean, you draped yourself in the flag of heaven, but ultimately, it was all about one human, right? Well, guess what. He’s dead.”

It was like being punched through the chest.  Harry wanted to scream, but he held his tongue, determined to keep his unseen advantage as long as possible. Castiel and Gadreel both gave visible reactions though – Castiel turned horrified eyes to Metatron, while Gadreel let out a small hurt noise.

“And you’re in my chair,” Metatron finished, and with a wave of his hand, Castiel was cuffed to the chair.

Gadreel stepped backwards, towards the door, but Metatron had already turned.

“Don’t think I forgot about you, traitor,” he said, and waved his hands again. Gadreel ended up cuffed with a long chain to metal ring embedded in the wall. Harry didn’t think had even been there a moment before – but he knew that he had seen similar chains in the prison. Gadreel seemed to agree with him, as his eyes grew wide with mounting panic.

Harry stayed as still as possible, as Metatron’s gaze swept back to Castiel. For a moment, he believed he had gone undetected, but then Metatron paused and looked back, his eyes scanning the room until they landed on Harry.

“Oh, you’ve brought me a human,” Metatron smiled. “And a wizard no less. What an interesting spell you’re under… or is it a potion? A little bit of both, isn’t it?”

“You’ll never get away with this,” Harry said, now that the element of surprise was gone, he might as well help in keeping Metatron talking rather than attacking.

“Get away with what?” Metatron asked. “Gadreel told a silly story to a group of less than believers. I can clean up this mess in an hour.”

“You give our brothers and sisters far too little credit,” Castiel stated. “They will soon learn that you have been playing them.”

While Metatron’s attention was on Castiel, Harry tried to edge his way closer to Gadreel. If he could get Gadreel free without Metatron noticing, then they could possibly take him by surprise. Metatron hadn’t tied Harry up, no doubt, because he did not feel threatened by a lowly human and Harry was determined to use that to his advantage.

“And then?” Metatron laughed. “They will do nothing because they are frightened little sheep following my crook wherever it leads. And where I'm taking them – back to our rightful place atop this mountain of human shame and excrement – when that happens, trust me, they're not gonna care how they got there.”

Harry smiled, with a speech like that being broadcast to all the other angels, perhaps they wouldn’t need to fight back alone – perhaps they’d only need to keep Metatron talking until help arrived. Harry reached Gadreel and reached out his hand to carefully inspect the cuffs.

“Now, first order of business – Get rid of the evidence!” Metatron announced. “No one is going to believe a pair of traitors like either you or Gadreel, but I can’t be having a human witness. Angels are so funny when it comes to humans, aren’t they? Oh, they know humans are beneath us, and yet they cling so hard to ‘the mission’ as if our only purpose in life were to protect these pathetic beings rather than subjugate them as we should.”

“Don’t touch him!” Gadreel yelled, but it was already too late. Before Harry had even registered what Metatron was saying, he was being pushed against the bookshelves by the angel – and Metatron was far stronger than his vessel’s appearance indicated. He held Harry pinned with only one hand.

“It’s an interesting spell,” Metatron repeated. “But really not the best in circumstances like these. Are you aware of its weak points?”

“Let me go,” Harry commanded and tried to reach up to scratch at his own cheek, in the hopes that Teddy would pull him back before Metatron did anything.

“Ah, you are,” Metatron smiled, swatting Harry’s arm away with his free hand, before Harry could give Teddy the signal. “So, you know the rule – if you die in the matrix...”

Metaton plunged an angel blade into Harry’s stomach, piercing him just under his left ribs.

Time slowed.

Harry knew Castiel and Gadreel were yelling, but at the same time, he could hear someone else yelling – Someone more familiar. Teddy was in his ear, screaming.

His wound was both burning with spilled stomach acid and soothed by distant healing magic, but it burned more than it soothed, and Harry’s vision was narrowing as it became harder to breathe and harder to think.

“No, no, no, no,” Teddy was crying. “Dad, please!”

“It won’t work,” Metatron said with a smile. “The blade’s still in you at this end. And with this,” Metatron placed a hand on Harry’s forehead. “Finite Incantatum, you’re no longer tethered to your body at all.”

Teddy’s voice disappeared and Harry cried out at the loss of it. He was in too much pain to be dead, and yet, if he could no longer hear Teddy, if he could no longer return to his body, then what was he?

The room behind Metatron was suddenly flooded in light, too bright for Harry to make out what was happening, but he could hear voices, and yelling, and Metatron suddenly disappeared from in front of him. The noise in the room was so great, Harry thought his ears might bleed from it.

Gadreel took Metatron’s place, pulling the sword out of Harry’s abdomen. Harry’s vision was fading into white, not black, it seemed, because Gadreel looked radiant and bright – so very bright.

“I can save you. Do you trust me to do so?” Gadreel asked.

“Yes,” Harry said, with what felt like his last breath.

The world went so white that Harry couldn’t even see Gadreel anymore, but he felt him – it was like Gadreel had gathered him up and swallowed him whole.

And then there was nothing.

 

 

Chapter Text

Everything had been going well. Everything had been okay. Everything had been just fine.

And then it hadn’t been.

Harry’s back had hit something, hard - the blue image of his nervous system lighting up to correspond. Teddy stood up, wondering if Harry would need a quick spell for the bruising.

Suddenly, the blue image flared again, this time so brightly that it was nearly blinding. The skin on Harry’s abdomen broke beneath his shirt, blood and other body liquids spilling forth and soaking the material. The readings were showing a stab wound, through the stomach, the lower lung, so deep that it went nearly right through.

Teddy screamed.

Nate jumped to his feet in the corner, the book he was reading hitting the ground with a thump that echoed through the tiled room.

“Dittany! Get me- Everything! Get... oh god, oh god – Harry!” Teddy yelled. He vanished Harry’s shirt and started the Vulnera Sanentur, his wand pressed to the wound, but it did nothing – it did absolutely nothing. Teddy could see the magic start to work, but then the wound just opened again, just bled more. What’s more, the blood was flowing up the sides of the wound, rather than pooling inside of it. It was spilling out of Harry’s body as though Harry were standing, not lying down.

Teddy’s voice was shaking, he stumbled on the words of the spell and then broke it off completely. It was useless.

Nate uncorked the essence of dittany and poured more than enough directly into the wound – it too, did nothing. Teddy stood in horror as he realized he was watching Harry’s life drain out of him. He didn’t even think about what he was doing, he just needed to tell Harry to stay – that Harry had to save himself, because Teddy didn’t know how, and Harry wasn’t allowed to leave. He wasn’t allowed. He wasn’t allowed to leave Teddy.

“No, no, no, no, no,” Teddy pleaded. “Dad, please!”

Teddy sobbed. He was shaking, his heart was racing out of his chest and he couldn’t breathe – he couldn’t breathe, and Harry was dying below him.

“Please, please, dad, daddy, please...”

“The antidote!” Nate yelled in Teddy’s ear as he pushed Teddy’s shoulder, trying to get him to let go of Harry. “The antidote! Teddy! Call him back!”

Teddy shot up onto his knees, still gasping for breath. Nate was holding the vial of the Wiggenweld potion. Teddy nodded, looking down through the blue monitoring image of Harry’s brain at Harry’s face.

Nate uncorked the vial and opened Harry’s mouth, and then Teddy’s eyes focused on the blue monitoring image of Harry’s brain instead of on his face. He shot out his hand quickly and covered Harry’s mouth. The Wiggenweld potion fell onto the back of his hand instead.

“No,” Teddy choked out.

“Teddy! What-”

“He’s g-gone,” Teddy explained, shaking and stuttering as he tried to gulp in air between his sobs. “H-He’s... h-he’s n-not there anymore.”

“He’s not dead!” Nate yelled.

“He’s NOT IN THERE!” Teddy screamed back. “HIS SOUL IS GONE.”

Nate stared at Teddy, open mouthed and horrified. Teddy looked down at the stab wound. It was healing slowly – the essence of dittany Nate had poured into it was sluggishly repairing what it could.

Teddy scrambled backward a little and started the Vulnera Sanentur again. It was muttered between sobs and gasps for breath, and his hands shook the whole time, but it was working. Nate scrambled away and then came back with a blood replenishing potion.

“If his soul is-” Nate started to say, timidly.

“We keep his body alive,” Teddy answered. “... I said I’d keep him alive on this end.”

The wound was nearly closed. Teddy did a seeing spell for the lungs and stomach, which appeared in ghostly blue alongside Harry’s nervous system. They looked a little scarred, but seemed whole again.

Nate once again left briefly, and then returned with a book that he was frantically flipping through.  Teddy recognized it as one of the healing books that Nate had bought at the last minute in New York. He loved Nate more than ever in that moment. Nate didn’t question, didn’t point out that there was a good chance Harry was dead; instead, he immediately just helped.

Teddy leaned forward and collapse onto Harry’s chest, resting his ear to the heart that didn’t beat, because of the Draught of Living Death, but still lived all the same. He could only hope that Harry still lived somewhere too.

He felt like he was going to shake apart soon, that he was going to drown in his own tears, because he couldn’t get enough air passed them and into his lungs. He felt like his heart was breaking – was broken – and if it didn’t hurt so much, Teddy was sure he would believe that he had been pulled away too, that Teddy was as empty as the body beneath him was.

He reached out a hand towards Nate.

“Help me, I’m drowning,” Teddy whispered.

Nate held his hand tightly and bent over and kissed it softly.

“Breathe, Teddy,” Nate whispered. “One, two, three...”

*

Two Years Ago

There was no need for a fuss, Teddy felt. It was just that sometimes, maybe at least once a month, but perhaps more often than that, Teddy would find a quiet corner of Hogwarts and quietly fall apart.

He just had a lot to do, between his studies and being Head Boy and then there was also the fact that he was supposed to be working towards a career and he wasn’t.

He had met with Professor MacMillan, his head of house, in fifth year, but he honestly couldn’t decide what career he wanted to pursue – instead, he had known what school subjects he wanted to study more – Potions, Herbology, and finally Charms, so that he and Nate could remain in that class together. As Nate wasn’t particularly interested in Potions or Herbology, Charms was fast becoming the only class they shared. Professor MacMillan said it was common for students to not know what they wanted to do after school, and so he was mostly just happy that Teddy was still engaged and interested in his lessons – he had made sure Teddy was taking a good selection of courses that would keep his career options open and sent him on his way.

Now it was seventh year, and Harry wanted to set up a meeting with him and the Auror Department and Hermione was suggesting that he come by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Bill offered that Teddy could come to the bank with him and see what curse-breaking was like... really, Teddy could do whatever he wanted.

What he wanted to do was find a quiet corner of Hogwarts where no one ever came by and no one could see him – because sometimes he just couldn’t breathe. There was too much.... just too much in general. He was tired and overworked – There was a reason they called them the Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests – and sometimes he just couldn’t take it anymore, because everything was actually horrible, but all day he had to keep his appearance looking as though he wasn’t about to fall apart.

He knew that everything would probably be okay, but he still found his heart racing sometimes and sometimes it was hard to breathe and it felt like he might be dying. So, he tried to get it to stop. At first it was sleeping potions, because he thought maybe they would relax him. Instead, he’d just have nightmares that he couldn’t control and couldn’t wake up from. So, next he tried things that might make him drowsy, but not fall asleep, but he found it harder to concentrate in class, with little to no effect on the frequency with which he found himself quietly shaking apart in some long forgotten corner of the castle. If anything, making it harder to participate in class just made his stress levels worse and the moments of absolute panic more frequent. Finally, he tried combining potions or making his own varieties – potions that made the body sleep but the rational mind stay in control – no nightmares, no panic. It did help a little – everything was still horrible all of the time, but he did feel a little bit more peaceful when he knew that no matter how he felt, his body was spelled to live through it.

Of course, that soon ended, because of a house elf. There wasn’t really any part of the castle that no one ever went to and Teddy should have realized this – because every quiet corner he had found had been clean. The house elves were supposed to stay out of sight, but they’d found him a few times and asked if he were alright – he always nodded and smiled, even if he wasn’t, and, if he could manage it, he’d tell them not to tell anyone... but he didn’t always manage the words. Sometimes, they found him at the absolute worst moment.

And it was one of those times when one of them – an elf by the name of Linty, to be exact – came upon Teddy, squeaked and promptly magicked herself away. Part of Teddy knew that Linty had gone to get someone, because Linty was a friend of Teddy’s and was, like Teddy, a little bit of a worrier at times. Really, Teddy would be fine, and he would have told Linty that if Linty had stayed around long enough for Teddy to remember how to breathe. He always remembered eventually, there was no reason why this time would be different, even though it felt like it was.

So, the footsteps running down the hallway were of no surprise, only they caused Teddy to panic a little, because he still wasn’t strong enough to stand up, and he wasn’t sure he was strong enough to make sure his hair and appearance looked right. He wasn’t sure what it did when this happened, but he knew whatever it was doing was completely out of his control, which Teddy didn’t like in the slightest. He was seventeen for Merlin’s sake – he was supposed to have full control of his abilities. It was just another embarrassment on top of the embarrassment that was his whole life.

“Teddy?” Professor MacMillan asked softly, and Teddy blinked because he had actually missed the man’s arrival. He was just suddenly there, kneeling in front of him. “Can you look at me?”

Teddy looked at him.

“I need you to help me count.”

Teddy raised an eyebrow, because he didn’t know what they were counting.

“We’re going to count our breaths together. Breathe in for a count of four and out for five,” Professor MacMillan said. “Come on, watch me breathe and count with me – okay, try to match up. One, two, three...”

It took until the second repetition for Teddy to join in, and even then he mucked it up a few times because he was unable to say words and breathe too, and then it took even longer to slow his breathing down to the slow deep breaths that Professor MacMillan was taking.

Once Teddy could breathe again and felt like he had control over himself, he quickly changed his appearance to what it was supposed to be. Professor MacMillan frowned slightly, before he put on a smile and told Teddy that he had done a really good job and that he was proud of him.

“So, is this what you’ve been sneaking off to do all the time?” Professor MacMillan asked with a smile.

Teddy shrugged.  “Sometimes.”

“How often, do you think?” Professor MacMillan didn’t seem concerned, he was smiling, as though the whole thing just made him mildly curious.

Teddy shrugged again. “Dunno, sometimes it’s not so bad.”

“What does it feel like when it happens?”

Teddy thought about that for a moment. He found himself reaching a hand towards his heart, mimicking squeezing it, but when he spoke, the best description he could find was, “Like I’m drowning.”

Professor MacMillan hummed and nodded seriously for a moment, and then smiled again.

“And what does a Hufflepuff do when they’re drowning, Teddy?”

Teddy blinked at him.

“They reach out a hand,” Professor MacMillan said. He reached out and picked up one of Teddy’s hands, holding it firmly. “And they say, ‘Help, I’m drowning.’”

Professor MacMillan smiled kindly once more and then pulled Teddy up from the floor, never letting go of his hand.

“There, now, how about you and I go have a cup of tea with the matron and we can all try to figure out how to keep you out of the water.” Professor MacMillan smiled. “She’s new to the school, I know, but she’s a good friend of Professor Longbottom’s – just like you – so I’m sure we can trust her with this, no need to hide away in dark corners, hm?”

*

The Present

Nate woke up to a door slamming – open. He could hear heavy footsteps on the metal stairs and the warning charm that he had cast started softly playing bells. He silenced it and jumped off the empty surgical bed. He checked that Teddy was still asleep, not that Nate expected any different, but he still felt better after checking.

Sam was halfway down the stairs when Nate ran out to the war room. They both paused and stared at each other.

“Is-”

“Yeah,” Sam said, and continued the slow process of walking down the stairs while carrying a dead body.

Nate nodded. He felt both like he couldn’t move and also like he should flee. He knew he shouldn’t just be standing there, doing nothing, but he didn’t know what to do. The sight of Dean terrified him like nothing ever had before. He knew he should help, but he didn’t want to go closer, didn’t want to be any closer to the blood and death.

Nate stepped closer. “I can-”

“I’ve got him,” Sam replied in a hollow voice, and he reached the bottom of the stairs, turned, and walked off down a hallway.

Nate wondered if he should follow, but he just stayed where he was for a moment, and then turned and went back to Teddy.

He checked on Harry first. Teddy’s monitoring spells couldn’t work when Teddy was asleep, but he had taught Nate a very simple version. One that would call up just enough information for Nate to tell that Harry was alive, even when he was under the Draught of Living Death.

Once that was done, Nate checked on Teddy, who was sleeping curled around Harry’s side. His longer legs tucked over and under Harry’s calf and ankle. Teddy’s hair was the mousy brown it always was in sleep, his nose straight and lean, and his face just a little heart-shaped, even with his sharp lower jaw. There was a single streak of turquoise in his hair, that faded to pink at the end. Nate ran his hand gentle over it, and as he did, it turned to black briefly. Nate wished there were room to climb onto the surgical bed behind Teddy and wrap his arms around him. All those years of cuddling Teddy to sleep on Teddy’s bad days, and Nate hadn’t ever realized that it was a gift to know exactly what Nate could do to make a situation better. Now, he was out of his depth. Now Teddy was cuddling with someone who might very well be dead in all but body and Nate was left awkwardly standing there without any way to make anything better.

“Harry not come back yet?” Sam asked softly from the doorway. Nate jumped. “Sorry.” Sam added.

“His soul came untethered,” Nate answered. He had no fear of waking Teddy up. “We can’t bring him back.”

“What?” Sam asked, his posture suddenly tense.

“He was stabbed,” Nate explained. “The wound wouldn’t heal at first - then… then Teddy said his soul was gone - the charm…. the tethering charm failed. We could heal him physically after that, but… Sam, can a soul be killed?”

Sam closed his eyes and breathed out slowly, then in again. He opened his eyes again at the top of the inhale and simply said. “I don’t know.”

Nate nodded.

“I… I drugged Teddy,” Nate admitted into the silence between them. “The aconite in his usual tea is so strong, he never notices when I slip something else in there. He wouldn’t stop crying and I didn’t know what else to do. And… and all that and… and Dean… I’m sorry, Sam. I’m sorry. I… I don’t know what to do.”

Sam bit his lip, but nodded. “It’s okay. You… you’re doing okay. You just look after Teddy and I’ll figure this out. I’ll figure this all out - Harry, Dean… everything. I’ll fix it. Don’t worry, okay?”

“Okay,” Nate repeated, and he didn’t know whether it was because he believed Sam, or because he desperately wanted to believe Sam, but he truly did feel, for the first time that night, like everything would be fine.

Sam gave him a soft smile. “Get some some sleep, buddy, okay?”

“Okay, but - if there’s anything-”

“I’ll let you know,” Sam promised and Nate believed that too. And so, Nate crawled back up on the empty surgical bed beside Harry’s and lay down. Sam watched him for a moment, before he turned and walked into the dark hallways of the Bunker.

 

 

Chapter Text

Teddy woke slowly, feeling groggy and disoriented. The fact that Teddy was familiar with the feeling of being drugged by his best friend was just further proof for Teddy’s life being pathetic. He couldn’t tell what time it was. Nate was sleeping on the surgical bed next to Harry’s. The room and the hallways were dark. There was a bit of light coming from a lamp in the corner and a bit of light in the hallway coming from the direction of the war room, but Teddy couldn’t hear anyone moving about. Nate could have easily turned off the lights after Teddy had passed out. Teddy didn’t know how long he had slept for. Nate didn’t like drugging Teddy for more than two hours, but that didn’t mean that Teddy hadn’t just continued to sleep after the sleeping potion had worn off.

He didn’t bother getting up. He just lifted his hand and silently summoned his wand, catching it easily. He pressed the tip to Harry’s still body and muttered Till’s spell for seeing inside. Above Teddy, Harry’s nervous system sprang to life in ethereal blue. It was the same. Harry was still gone. Teddy banished the image, and curled himself tighter into Harry’s body. He wondered if maybe he should administer the Wiggenweld potion, just so that he could have Harry’s heartbeat back.

Teddy wasn’t startled when the soft bells started to chime, but Nate had a different reaction. It took two bells, but then Nate was sitting up and jumping off the surgical bed as though they might be under attack. He did a double-take when he glanced over at Teddy, seemingly surprised that he was awake. They held each other’s gazes for a weighted second, before they heard footsteps clattering down metal stairs echoing down the corridor from the war room. Nate turned to face the door, while Teddy simply lifted himself up on an elbow and leaned further over Harry. He raised his wand.

It was Castiel and Gadreel who charged into the room.

“I need the antidote,” Gadreel commanded.

“He’s gone,” Teddy said, frozen in place. Nate was already moving, getting another vial of Wiggenweld potion.

“I have him,” Gadreel stated. “Move.”

Teddy scrambled off the bed. He still held his wand at the ready, though he knew that there was probably nothing he could do but trust Gadreel.

Gadreel took the vial from Nate. “I believe I must do this both at once in order for it to be effective.”

“Do what-” Teddy started to ask, but then Gadreel poured the vial of Wiggenweld Potion into his own mouth, leaned over, and started making out with Harry’s prone body.

“Holy shit,” Nate whispered.

And then there was a flood of light from where the angel and Harry were joined at the lips. Teddy blinked against it, momentarily blinded. When the room came back into focus, Harry was kissing Gadreel back as Gadreel gently pulled away.

Teddy watched with his heart in his throat as Harry blinked his eyes open and stared up at Gadreel in confusion.

“What-” Harry said on a breath.

“Dad!?”

“Teddy!” Harry sat up immediately and turned towards Teddy, holding out his arms. Teddy all but fell into them, holding Harry tight and tucking his face into Harry’s shoulder.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Teddy repeated. He tried not to cry, he really did, but holding back the sobs made him feel like he might die. His heart started hammering in panic, until Teddy gave into the tears, but the crying made it hard to breathe, and he couldn’t get enough air, and he was back to feeling like he was going to die.

*

Harry was confused. First, he could have sworn someone had been kissing him. Secondly, he wasn’t entirely sure how he was alive and how Gadreel got him back to the bunker. Finally, there was the fact that Teddy was shaking and didn’t seem to be able to breathe, and yet with every breath he managed to take, he only used it to repeatedly apologize.

“Shh, hush, Teddy,” Harry told him, holding him firmly and rubbing his back. “It’s okay, kiddo. It’s okay.” Harry crained his neck as much as he could to try to find Nate - Nate would know what to do. Harry caught sight of Nate in his peripheral vision. He just seemed to be standing there watching them.

“Is that tea somewhere?” Harry asked. He squeezed Teddy tightly, before thinking that maybe he was restricting Teddy’s airflow further and loosened his hold again, as much as he could without letting go.

“He’s calming himself, just give him a moment,” Nate answered, voice soft. Harry tried to listen to Teddy’s breathing to see how Nate could tell that Teddy was calming down, but he just sounded the same to Harry - Harry tried to turn his head again to glare at Nate. Someone needed to do something, before his Teddy passed out from lack of oxygen. “But, you obviously want me to go put the kettle on,” Nate continued quickly, and then he moved out of Harry’s line of sight and towards the door.

“Has Sam returned?” Castiel asked Nate, as he left. From the sounds of his voice, Castiel was following him out of the room.

“Yes, but Dean-” Nate started, his voice breaking.

“We know,” Gadreel replied, as he followed Nate out of the room too. “Where is Sam?”

“I don’t know, he…” Nate’s voice faded down the corridor and Harry couldn’t hear the end of the sentence.

In his arms, Teddy’s breathing was steadying. Harry put a hand on Teddy’s head and gently nudged him back, so that Harry could see his face.

“Are you back with me, kiddo?” Harry asked. Teddy’s face was a mess of tears and snot. Harry cast around for something to wipe it with, but found that he wasn’t even wearing a shirt. Thankfully, Harry’s wand was lying next to him, so Harry quickly conjured a handkerchief and got to work. Teddy made a little protesting noise at first, like he always had back when he was three, but soon just closed his eyes and let Harry mop him up a bit.

“There we are,” Harry announced. “All better.”

Teddy’s eyes welled with tears again and his lip wobbled.

“No, no, no,” Harry said, patting Teddy’s shoulders and cheeks and petting his hair frantically. “All better! Don’t cry, Teddy.”

“I’m sorry,” Teddy said. “I’m sorry… I’m sorry the spell screwed up. You… you were gone. You got stabbed and I couldn’t heal it, and then you were gone - and I didn’t know what to do, and I’m sorry.”

“Hey, no,” Harry said. “That wasn’t your fault. You did so well, Teddy. Your potion and spell were brilliant. They worked together brilliantly. Metatron just ended the charm, that’s all - you couldn’t have foreseen that.”

“It’s still all my fault,” Teddy insisted, sniffling. “You wouldn’t have come if I hadn’t volunteered to help the Winchesters. I was just going to be brewing potions, so it was safe, but then you came and, of course, you’d want to do the dangerous bits - of course you would - but you wouldn’t have come if I hadn’t offered to help… and the only reason Sam and Dean were in New York was because of me too - because I wanted to see if my tea could help muggle werewolves, but it didn’t, and then the hunters killed him, and then they tried to kill me, and I messed up so badly. Dad, I’m sorry, all I do is mess up everything.”

Harry pulled Teddy into a hug again, feeling Teddy’s tears fall on his shoulder.

“No, no, Teddy,” Harry repeated. “You’re brilliant and perfect and I love you.”

Teddy made a noise that might have been a scoff, or possibly a hiccup, but Harry just squeezed him tighter.

“It was my decision to come here and it was my decision to go with Sam,” Harry said, firmly. “You cannot take the blame for my decisions, Teddy.”

“But-”

“No,” Harry cut him off. “Teddy… I’m the idiot in this situation, kiddo.” Harry swallowed against the lump in his throat as the full weight of what had nearly happened hit him. “Teddy - I’m the biggest idiot in this room. I did something reckless that nearly took me away from you… and Gin, and the kids and… and, my god, Teddy, you don’t have to worry about killing me, because that honour is going to go to Ginny when she finds out what a complete and utter moron I am.”

Teddy let out a wet-sounding laugh. “Are you going to tell her that you made out with Gadreel too?”

Harry’s brain shut down for a moment, and then he slowly pulled out of the hug and stared at Teddy. “So… that wasn’t my imagination?”

Teddy shook his head. “I think he had your soul inside him and that was the only way to put it back… or maybe just the way that was the most fun.” Teddy finished with a smile.

Harry couldn’t help but smile back. “There’s my boy.”

Teddy stepped backwards, and scrubbed at his face, his smile falling into something small and pained.

“You know,” Harry said carefully. “When you were a baby, every once in a while, you’d get into a horrendous cry - and we could never figure out how to sooth you. I would walk you up and down the house and sing every song I knew, and rock you until my arms felt like they were going to fall off, and you’d still only stop when you cried yourself to sleep. I used to wish - I used to wish that your mum or dad were there, because I was certain they’d know what to do - I was certain that if they’d been there, they’d know how to make you happy. Do you think… was that… the anxiety problem? Have you been… have you had it that long?”

Teddy shook his head emphatically. “It started after I came of age,” Teddy explained. “Neville said that it’s related to my father’s lycanthropy - that- that my brain set itself up for being a werewolf, even though I’m not one - so, when there’s a full moon… it releases chemicals to deal with something that’s not happening. And it only happened after I came of age, because that’s the age, Neville says, for final changes, when our magic stops being youthful and settles into adulthood.”

“Okay,” Harry said. He still wanted to have words with Neville about keeping secrets, but even he knew that if it all happened after Teddy came of age, then Neville hadn’t been obligated to tell Harry or Andromeda anything that Teddy didn’t want him to tell. “Does your Gran know?”

“Yes,” Teddy said, and he at least had the decency to look guilty.

“So, you just didn’t tell me, then…” Harry concluded. “You told the Winchesters, but you didn’t tell me. You haven’t even seen them since you were twelve, Teddy.”

Teddy winced. “I’m sorry.”

Harry took a deep breath. Their talk so far had been going better than any conversation they’d had in the past two years, it seemed, and Harry didn’t want to ruin it. He needed to really think about his words and pick them carefully. He looked at Teddy and realized that Teddy didn’t look angry, or defensive, like he had so many times when they talked - he just looked devastated. There was a reason he hadn’t told Harry, and Harry had already asked him for it earlier that day - or maybe by now it had been yesterday.

“You said, that you didn’t tell me because you didn’t want your dad to know,” Harry began carefully. “Can… can you elaborate on that for me?”

Teddy shifted on his feet. “You told me… about how… how happy he was that I wasn’t a werewolf - that I didn’t take after him. And… You were happy for him. And, I didn’t want to disappoint you. Because, I do take after him. I’m sorry.”

Harry stared at Teddy and wondered just how monumentally he had screwed up as a parent.

“You do take after him,” Harry nodded. “You’re brilliant, like he was. Top of your class. You’ve learned all Till’s medical monitoring spells in… not even six months, am I wrong?”

Teddy shook his head.

“You’re so brilliant that you apparently worked with a herbologist to develop your own therapy for… for a genetic anxiety problem,” Harry continued. “You know how else you take after him?”

Teddy shook his head again.

“He was terrified,” Harry answered. “Absolutely terrified, that you would be disappointed in him. Does that sound familiar?”

Teddy nodded, biting his lip.

“And are you?” Harry asked.

“No,” Teddy choked out. “I - I’m sometimes mad that he died.”

“But are you disappointed to have him as a father?” Harry pressed.

“No,” Teddy said, as tears once again spilled down his face. “He died helping people. I’m proud that he’s my father.”

Harry wiped a tear from his own eye and nodded. “Well, then that’s another way you take after him - because he’s be so proud to have you as a son. And the reason I can be so sure of that is because I am. I am so proud to have you as a son, Teddy.”

Teddy’s face crumpled further, and he turned his head to scrub at his eyes - but he nodded, and pointed back and forth between himself and Harry.

Harry smiled. “Yeah? What does that mean, Teddy?”

“Likewise,” Teddy choked out.

“Likewise?” Harry repeated. “You’re proud to have me as a son too?”

Teddy snorted a laugh through his tears, and it sounded wet and overly filled with snot. “Shut-up.”

Harry pushed himself off the surgical bed, so that he was standing. His side gave a little twinge, but he ignored it. Instead, he just pulled Teddy towards him again. “Come here and hug your old man,” Harry commanded.

With Harry standing, Teddy was taller than him and had to learn down into the hug a little. Harry reached a hand up and messed up Teddy’s mousy brown hair, now streaked with black. When they ended the hug, Teddy had shortened himself to Harry’s height. Harry shook his head, and smiled.

“Let’s go get you some tea,” Harry said, pulling Teddy towards the corridor.

“I’m okay,” Teddy replied. “I don’t need it right now.”

“Teddy, you’ve been crying for the past half hour at least,” Harry explained. “You are probably about two seconds away from a painful dehydration headache, if you don’t already have one. Oh Merlin, I bet that’s what you were doing to yourself all those times as a baby… you’d always be crying too much to accept the bottle.”

Teddy laughed and let Harry pull him out of the room. As they walked towards the kitchen, Teddy spoke up again.

“She wouldn’t have known better,” Teddy suddenly said.

“Sorry?”

“Mum,” Teddy clarified. “She wouldn’t have known any better than you.”

“I think she would have - she’s your mum,” Harry found himself arguing.

“Harry,” Teddy sighed. “Mum never had kids before me. How would she have known what to do?”

“But,” Harry protested. “She… I… I thought - instinct, I suppose.”

“Was that what it was like for you and Ginny?” Teddy asked. “You had James, and suddenly you just knew what to do whenever he cried?”

Harry laughed. “Oh god, no. If it hadn’t been for our experience looking after you… oh.”

Beside him, Teddy smiled. “No matter what had happened, Harry - I was always destined to be raised by people who had no idea what they were doing and have to rely on Gran to save the day where she could.”

They entered the kitchen then, and any reply Harry had been formulating flew out of his head.

Nate was standing at the table with three different tea pots and had a variety of tins and magical ingredients laid out before him. Over at the kitchen counter, Gadreel - Angel of the Lord - was making sandwiches. On the far side of the room, Castiel was pacing back and forth with a phone pressed to his ear.

“...make two with the ham and cheese,” Nate was instructing Gadreel, as he measured out leaves and add them to a pot. “And you’d know better than I how many of the banana peanut-butter to make, so I’ll leave that to you-”

“Sam, do you need me to come get you?” Castiel was asking. “Yes, I know, that’s not-... Sam, I think-... Just tell me where you are and-”

“Oh, good,” Nate said, as he caught sight of Harry and Teddy in the doorway. “Harry, I have a spare shirt for you,” Nate pointed to a neatly folded shirt, on the table bench. “Teddy, I need you on this,” Nate gestured to the tea pots. Teddy immediately went to his side.

“What am I making?” Teddy asked.

Nate pointed to the individual tea pots as he spoke. “I’ve got your recovery tea already measured, and I just finished measuring another mild dittany healer for Harry, just in case - but I’ve no idea what to mix for Sam.”

Teddy checked the dittany tea and nodded in approval, before contemplating the ingredients on the table in front of him. “Okay, tell me what the situation is and how much time I have.”

Across the room, Castiel ended his phone call. “I’ll be back in twenty minutes. Stay here.” He growled out as he left he room.

“You have twenty minutes,” Nate answered. “As for the situation…”

 

Nate

“Has Sam returned?” Castiel asked Nate, following him out of the room.

“Yes, but Dean-” Nate started, his voice broke on Dean’s name. All that blood...

“We know,” Gadreel replied, and Nate hadn’t even noticed that he too was following Nate towards the kitchen. “Where is Sam?”

“I don’t know, he came in with Dean hours ago,” Nate replied.

It was surreal, being flanked by these two huge angels as they walked down the narrow corridors of the Bunker. They seemed to tower over Nate and yet, they followed a step behind and as far as Nate could tell, they were hanging on his every word.

“He took him somewhere in the Bunker and then came to see Teddy and I,” Nate continued, because he didn’t know what else to say.  “I told him about how Harry was gone. He told me to get some rest and not to worry, and that he’d fix everything.”

“He said he’d fix everything,” Gadreel said slowly.

Nate nodded. “Yeah, I didn’t ask how, so…”

Nate trailed off as he turned to look at Gadreel, coming to a stop before they reached the kitchen. Gadreel did not look happy. Castiel looked wary.

Gadreel turned and walked back the way they had come.

“Where-” Nate started to ask, but Castiel turned to follow Gadreel without acknowledging Nate… and really, Nate’s curiousity was piqued, so he just turned and followed Gadreel too.

Gadreel went straight for the library, which still had all the lights off.  Gadreel didn’t move to turn them on, but Castiel did. When Nate looked into the newly lit room, he found Gadreel standing over an empty whisky bottle and tumbler.

“Oh,” Nate said.

Gadreel and Castiel shared a look.

“No,” Castiel said.

Gadreel raised an eyebrow. “Who would he blame?”

Castiel’s answer was to clench his jaw, turn, and leave the room at a jog. Gadreel followed - which left Nate running behind them yet again, this time, with his wand in his hand, because he had no idea what was going on, but if the angels were in a hurry than it couldn’t be good.

He followed them down the labyrinthine corridors until they reached a store room. Nate entered just behind them, with enough time to see them standing in an opening to another room beyond.

“Damn it, Sam,” Castiel cursed.

Nate looked past them to see what could only be described as a dungeon, but on the floor was a bowl and various magical ingredients. Nate gave them a quick once over. He couldn’t be entirely sure, of course, but he was willing to bet that this was a summoning.

“Who?” Nate asked.

Castiel was pulling out his phone and checking the screen. Whatever he saw, didn’t seem to make him any happier. He turned and left the room without acknowledging Nate’s question.

“Crowley,” Gadreel answered while he followed. “As I understand it - or, so Castiel has told me - it was Crowley who tricked Dean into getting the Mark. I do not know the whole story, but I am familiar with Sam Winchester’s mind. Losing his brother, there are really only two ways that Sam would react. It seems that he has managed to combine them.”

“I don’t understand,” Nate admitted.

“Sam is a great believer in the idea that whoever breaks something is responsible for fixing it,” Gadreel explained. “In this case, it’s not Dean he blames, but Crowley. And, I’m guessing, since Harry was attacked while trying to help Dean, Sam blamed Crowley for that injury as well.”

“What about the whiskey?” Nate asked. “You went to the library first, not the… uh, dungeon place.”

“Sam’s first stage of grief is often to become inebriated,” Gadreel shrugged. “I had only hoped he was still in that stage, since he wasn’t…”

“You knew he had moved on to bad-drunken-decision stage instead,” Nate concluded.

They came to a stop by a bedroom. Castiel had entered well ahead of them. Nate stayed by the door. The room obviously belonged to one of the Winchesters. It was fairly bare, yet, Nate had the sense that it wasn’t Sam’s room, the personality seemed wrong for that - which meant that it must have been Dean’s.

Castiel was standing by the empty bed, holding a piece of paper.

“What is it, brother?” Gadreel asked.

“A note,” Castiel answered. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

“What does it say?” Nate asked.

“It says, ‘Sammy, Let me go’ - it’s Dean’s handwriting, however…” Castiel trailed off.

Gadreel shook his head. “Dean would never write that.”

“Exactly,” Castiel finished, dropping the note down onto the bed.

“Also, Dean’s dead,” Nate said.

“What should we do, brother?” Gadreel asked Castiel.

“I don’t know.” Castiel scrubbed a hand over his face. He seemed worn down in a way that Nate didn’t think was possible for an angel.

Something about the look on Castiel’s face flipped a switch inside Nate, and before he even realized what he was doing, he found himself speaking.

“Right, okay,” Nate started. “Was the car outside when you arrived?”

“No,” Castiel answered, looking curiously at Nate.

“Okay, first thing,” Nate continued. “Castiel, you call Sam - if he’s been drinking, he shouldn’t be driving. Find out where he is and go pick him up if you need to.”

Castiel nodded and took out his phone again.

“Gadreel,” Nate turned to the angel beside him. “You’re with me. I need you making sandwiches while I prepare the tea.”

Nate turned on his heal and strode out of the room, feeling Gadreel follow immediately, while Castiel trailed behind, his phone pressed to his ear.

“Sandwiches?” Gadreel asked.

“I don’t know when the last time Sam ate was, but a man that tall needs food at regular intervals, especially if he’s been drinking,” Nate replied. “Do you know what his favourite sandwich is?”

“Banana and peanut-butter,” Gadreel replied.

“Weird, but good,” Nate replied. “Protein, potassium… all good things. Hopefully they have food in this place.”

Behind them, Castiel seemed to have finally connected with Sam - if the shouting of Sam’s name and slew of questions were anything to go by.

“How about Castiel?” Nate asked Gadreel.

“What about him?” Gadreel asked.

“He’s not well, is he,” Nate said, and it was really only then that he realized what had been off about the angel. “Does he… need a sandwich?”

“I’m afraid a sandwich cannot help my brother,” Gadreel replied.

“Tea?” Nate tried.

Gadreel shook his head. “There is nothing either of us can do. I’m sorry.”

Nate took a deep breath and nodded, forcing himself to let the issue go. “No, I am. I hope whatever it is, that he gets better soon.”

They arrived in the kitchen and Nate pulled open the fridge and cupboards and assembled as many sandwich ingredients as he could find.

“Do you know how to make sandwiches?” Nate asked Gadreel, who was standing back.

“Yes,” Gadreel replied. “I watched Sam do it many times.”

“Excellent,” Nate said. “Get to it, while I make the tea.”

Nate moved over to the table and his and Teddy’s entire tea-tin bag. It was time to get to work.

*

 

“... so, what I was able to gather from this end of Castiel’s conversation,” Nate continued to Harry, as Teddy brewed what looked like the most complicated tea that Harry had ever seen prepared. “Is that Sam summoned Crowley, but Crowley never showed up - then Sam went back to Dean’s room and Dean was gone, and there was that note. So, Sam realized that Crowley had answered the summoning, but he had come and stolen Dean’s body for some reason. Sam ran outside to see if he could catch them and discovered that Crowley had also stolen the car. So, uh, yeah - Sam is, understandably, very angry… and from what I can tell, he all but ran into town, stole a car, and has been driving angrily in random directions in what is obviously a vain attempt to track down and kick the shit out of the King of Hell.”

“Bloody hell,” Harry said.

“Well, I don’t know how this will taste,” Teddy announced. “But, it should help.”

“Can we add sugar and milk or will it destabilize?” Nate asked.

“Hmm, it should be okay,” Teddy replied. “Good thinking.”

The kettle boiled and Teddy carefully filled the tea pots and left them to steep.

“I made you a ham and cheese sandwich,” Gadreel announced, holding a plate out to Harry.

“Oh, thanks,” Harry took the plate, more than a little dumbfounded, and sat down at the table. An angel had made him a sandwich.

“I made one for you too, Teddy,” Gadreel continued, placing another plate on the table by the brewing tea.

“Thank you,” Teddy replied. “I’m starving.”

Harry was starving too. He tucked in and tried to make sense of everything. Everything had simultaneously gone right and also horrifically wrong. Metatron was defeated, but Dean was dead - and missing - and the fact that him being missing was the more concerning part was also odd.

An angel had just made him a sandwich and was now standing awkwardly by the kitchen sink, seemingly at a loss for what to do now that the three humans in the room were eating.

“Did you manage to defeat Metatron?” Nate asked, as he served up the tea, from two of the brewing pots.

Harry’s mouth was full, and he honestly didn’t know, so he looked over at Gadreel.

“Yes,” Gadreel replied. “He is imprisoned.”

“Well, at least not everything went badly - We’ll have some good news to bring home to Kevin,” Nate smiled.

Harry stared at him with wide-eyes and then looked over at Gadreel, whose brow was furrowed as he, too, stared at Nate.

“Shit,” Nate said.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Kevin is… alive?” Gadreel said slowly. Harry bit his lip, while Nate continued to look horrified. “The woman… Hermione… she lied to me?”

“Yes,” Harry confirmed. Across the table, Teddy patted Nate consolingly on the shoulder.

“Then I owe her my thanks,” Gadreel said, and Harry breathed out slowly in relief, as his hopes were confirmed.

“You musn’t tell anyone,” Harry said. “We… even after you expressed regret, I… we didn’t tell you because, if there is still even a remote threat to Kevin from Heaven-”

“You have my word that I will tell no one,” Gadreel said solemnly. “Even with Metatron defeated, there are those who have seen the power of the angel tablet, and may seek to use it for themselves. It is better that the tablet remains locked away, in pieces, and the prophet hidden. Angels are meant to protect the prophets. To harm Kevin - it went against every fiber of my being. I was a fool to believe my instincts incorrect and my path righteous.”

“Thank you,” Harry replied.

“Please, tell Kevin that I am sorry for what harm I caused him,” Gadreel continued. “And give Hermione my thanks for protecting the prophet when I failed to do so.”

“We will,” Harry promised.

Nate smiled, though he still looked mortified that he had let a secret slip.

“What about you, Gadreel?” Harry asked. “What will you do now?”

“Hannah has offered me a chance to redeem myself,” Gadreel replied. “I am to help restore Heaven and undo the damage that Metatron has caused. My first task was to restore your soul to your body. Once Castiel dismisses me, I will return to heaven.”

“Once Castiel dismisses you?” Teddy repeated.

Gadreel nodded. “A condition of my… parole, if you will. I am to be the lowest ranked Seraph and will not be allowed outside of Heaven without an approved guardian.”

Harry nodded, he wasn’t sure what to say. After seeing Gadreel’s extreme fear of returning to prison, Harry found himself glad that the angels had found a compromise in his punishment.

“Hannah has ordered all angels to return to Heaven,” Gadreel continued. “We have harmed too many humans since the fall and Hannah has decided that we must be reminded of the purpose and mission that God gave us before His departure.”

Harry nodded, before he could formulate a reply, they heard steps down the hallway as Castiel and Sam arrived. Nate leapt out of his seat and began pouring tea. Harry stood as well, turning towards the door in anticipation.

Sam looked a wreck. His clothes were covered in blood and sweat, he smelled vaguely of whiskey, and it was obviously that he hadn't slept in far too long. The full reality of the evening crashed into Harry at the sight of him.

Dean was dead.

“Harry, thank God,” Sam greeted and all but fell into Harry as he hugged him.

“Sam, I- Dean- I’m so sorry…” Harry said, fumbling for words as he felt the grief finally hit him.

Nate pulled Sam over to the table and forced him to sit down. He poured Sam’s tea and Gadreel brought over the plate of sandwiches that he had prepared. Sam seemed to be in a daze.

“Is there anything else you require of me, brother?” Gadreel asked Castiel.

“No, you may return to Heaven, give news to Hannah,” Castiel instructed. “And Gadreel, if Heaven should hear of where Dean has been taken…”

“I will tell Hannah that you wish to be informed at once,” Gadreel finished. Then he looked at Harry, Teddy, and Nate, “I would like to thank you for your forgiveness and trust.”

“You’re welcome,” Teddy replied.

Gadreel turned to Sam and his expression turned anguished. “Sam, I am so sorry. If I could-”

“Yeah,” Sam cut him off.

Gadreel nodded. “Please know that if I am ever able to make reparations in any way-”

“Yeah, I know,” Sam replied. “I’ll, uh, I’ll keep it in mind. And Cas tells me you were the one who saved Harry, so… thank you… for that.”

“Yes, thank you Gadreel,” Harry added.

“It was the least I could do,” Gadreel replied.

“I’ll walk you out,” Castiel offered.

Gadreel bid a final farewell as Castiel swept him from the room and then it was just Harry, Sam, and the boys left. Nate hovered behind where both Teddy and Sam sat at the table.

“Eat, Sam,” Nate ordered, placing his hand gently on Sam’s shoulder.

“Right, thanks,” Sam muttered and started eating sandwiches.

Nate didn’t remove his hand though, and as Harry raised his gaze to see why, he realized that Nate was muttering a spell. Harry darted his eyes down to Sam and realized that his clothes were no longer covered in blood.

Teddy smacked Nate’s arm and rolled his eyes. Nate shrugged and lifted his hands, and Harry had to bite back a smile as he saw Nate carefully tuck his wand up his sleeve.

“I’ll start on the washing up,” Nate declared, and moved across the room to the sink. There was already a stack of dishes, no doubt left over from Sam and Dean’s last few meals.

Harry turned his attention back to Sam and Teddy, who both sat across the table from him.

Sam took a sip of his tea and his eyebrows furrowed for a moment, then they rose in surprise.

“Did you make this?” Sam asked Teddy, after taking another sip.

“Yes, what do you think?”

“‘s good,” Sam nodded.

“How’s your head?” Teddy asked.

“Better,” Sam replied. “It makes me feel a little like… “

“Like you’ve slept?” Teddy prodded.

“Yeah, but not the way caffeine does,” Sam said. “More like… sobriety?”

Teddy nodded, as though that’s exactly what he had expected.

“I mean, I sobered up by the time I ran into town, but…” Sam trailed off.

“But a demon still stole the two things that mean most to you,” Teddy said softly. “And everything was spinning out of control.”

“Yeah,” Sam swallowed.

Teddy patted Sam on the arm. “It’s a version of my recovery tea. Now, eat your sandwiches before Nate comes over and starts mother-henning.”

Over at the sink, Nate was humming while he washed the dishes, seemingly completely oblivious to any conversation in the room.

Harry watched as Sam and Teddy both sipped at their tea in silence. They made quite the pair, both had eyes rimmed red from crying, disheveled hair, and looked wan. Although Sam’s clothes were clean, Harry could still see the blood staining his fingernails, where they were wrapped around the white tea cup. Harry was momentarily surprised to see that Teddy’s fingernails were the same - stained in blood. Harry’s blood. Harry slipped his left hand under the bottom of his shirt and ran his fingers over where the wound had been. The skin there felt new. He wondered if there was a scar.

“Are you okay?” Teddy asked, giving Harry a frightened look.

“Yes, I’m fine,” Harry replied. He quickly removed his hand and smiled at Teddy before taking another sip of tea.

“Are you sure?” Teddy questioned.

“Quite sure,” Harry reassured him yet again. Teddy seemed to accept the answer only grudgingly.

Harry turned his attention back towards Sam.

“Sam, can you tell me what happened?” he asked.

“Metatron killed Dean,” Sam replied. “I took him back here….” As Sam related the story of summoning Crowley and the disappearance of Dean’s body, Harry couldn’t help but watch Teddy’s reactions.

Teddy’s whole appearance changed with his emotions - something that only happened when he was either physically or emotionally exhausted. Harry listened to Sam, but at the same time, he was completely overwhelmed with watching his godson - realizing that he knew what every single change in Teddy’s appearance meant, what colour streak in his hair reflected his mood, the person foremost on his mind, his thoughts on what should happen next. Teddy was heartbroken for Sam, worried about both Winchesters, he wanted Sam to have courage and to find his brother’s body.

Yet, as much as Harry knew Teddy, he had seen Teddy in new situations during the trip, looking like he never had before. He had seen both an amazing side of Teddy - competent and assured in his spell work, potion making, and tea mixing - and a side that really scared Harry - the side that had shook apart in Harry’s arms with a panic attack, the side that had hidden pain from Harry for nearly two years at least. Harry couldn’t help but feel like he had let a giant parenting ball drop - that he had failed somehow.

Harry decided that his first mistake was not recognizing himself as Teddy’s father - foolishly thinking that there was someone more qualified and knowledgeable, just out of reach behind the veil. Maybe there was, but they were behind the veil and would remain there, Harry was not - Harry was the only father that Teddy had ever known and Harry couldn’t help but feel like he had never treated that fact with the respect that it deserved.

“... that’s when Cas called. And uh, yeah, I guess you were back for that.” Sam concluded, just as Cas walked back into the room.

“Gadreel has returned to Heaven,” he announced.

Sam nodded.

Nate shut off the taps and turned his attention back to the room.

“How about you?” Teddy asked. “Are you staying to help Sam?”

Castiel paused and looked concerned for a moment, before answering. “Yes, I… that is, I had planned to. Sam?”

“Yeah, Cas, that would be great.” Sam gave Castiel tired but grateful look.

Sam turned to glance at Harry. It wasn’t an question, really, it was just a glance - because Sam had been recounting the events of the evening to Harry and Harry had yet to really respond to them. At the same time, though, it felt like a question.

“I’m… not,” Harry said slowly. “Sam… I… I have to go home.”

Sam blinked at him for a moment and then nodded. He gave Harry a bittersweet smile. Teddy was looking at Harry with wide eyes, Harry wasn’t sure what Teddy had been expecting, but as soon as the words left Harry’s mouth, he knew they had been the right ones. He glanced between Sam and Teddy and knew that if he had to make a choice, his priority would always be Teddy, and right now, that’s exactly what he had to do. Teddy needed to go home. Harry needed to repair his relationship with Teddy - and he couldn’t very well do that if he were half a world away, nearly getting himself killed for the Winchesters… he wouldn’t have any relationship at all with Teddy if he were dead.

“I’m sorry, Sam,” Harry continued. “If you need… research, information, contacts in the Wizarding World, anything - uh, anything I can provide, please don’t hesitate to ask. But right now, I have to… I have to…” Harry wanted to say ‘I have to keep my own family together’, but that seemed exceptionally cruel.

“Hey, hey, don’t worry about it,” Sam said. “You have your family to think about. I get it, Harry - believe me, I get it more than anyone.”

Harry nodded. “Thanks, Sam.”

“If you need potions-” Teddy offered.

“I’ll let Harry know,” Sam assured him.

“I’m sorry, Sam,” Teddy said. “I… I thought we could save him.”

“Hey, no, it worked - it just wasn’t enough,” Sam replied. He pulled Teddy into a sideways hug. “Thank you for trying. I appreciate it.”

Harry watched as Teddy’s hair turned the same shade as Sam’s and he knew he had made the right decision.

*

Teddy and Nate stored the left over potion ingredients and put away the cauldrons, so that Sam didn’t have to worry about tidying up. Teddy carefully bottled and corked the leftover potions and wrote their approximate expiration dates in black sharpie on the labels. They worked mostly in silence. Dean’s absence from the world felt heavy in the room. Something they knew they could both feel, were both grieving over, yet could not bring themselves to speak about - not yet, anyway. Teddy knew that eventually, once he and Nate were home, they’d have a sleepover and whisper their thoughts to each other in the safety of a darkened bedroom; but Teddy also knew that night was days, if not weeks, away.

When they were finished, they made their way back to the war room, where Sam, Cas, and Harry had been discussing what Sam should do next. Nate started fidgeting as soon as they got there. Teddy shook his head, already knowing what the problem was.

“Sam has Cas to look after him, Nate,” Teddy said softly, so that the adults in the room couldn’t hear him over their own conversation.

“Cas doesn’t look so good either,” Nate argued.

“And Cas has Sam to look after him,” Teddy said.

Teddy could see that Harry had noted their presence, possibly even caught Teddy’s words. Sam and Castiel’s conversation seemed to have come to an end as well.

“Ready to go?” Harry asked.

Teddy nodded.

“Thanks again for all your help,” Sam smiled. “Are you heading back to New York to finish your vacation?”

“Er, I’m not,” Teddy said, turning towards Nate as he said it. “I’m going to go back to the UK and… and stay at the Potters’ for a bit.”

Teddy hadn’t discussed this with Harry, but he knew that the invitation was there, unspoken, and Teddy felt like that’s what he needed - a chance to repair things between them, now that Harry knew… everything.

“Oh,” Nate said. “I… right… certainly, if that’s what you’d like. It’s just that… I told-”

“Nate, you don’t have to come with me,” Teddy said. “You should go back to New York.”

“But-”

“I know you like to look after people, and I love you for it,” Teddy interrupted. “You know I do. But… If I need someone, well… I’ve got Harry now too. You deserve some time off.”

“Your friendship isn’t a burden,” Nate argued.

“I know,” Teddy said, placing his hands on Nate’s shoulders and looking him dead in the eye. “But, pretend for a moment that you could do anything you wanted right now, what would you do?”

Nate blinked at Teddy for a moment and then smiled. “I’d go to New York and fuck Clay.”

Teddy smiled. “Then go to New York, Nate, and fuck Clay. Fuck him well.”

“I only ever fuck well,” Nate replied with a wink.

“You’re the best fucker I know,” Teddy nodded seriously.

Sam coughed in way that sounded like he was trying to not to laugh. Teddy felt a rush of victory, knowing that in this dark time, they’d managed to bring a little lightheartedness.

“Boys, please,” Harry said, his hand covering his face in embarrassment.

Nate blushed, but he was smiling too, and Teddy knew that he was equally pleased with Sam’s reaction.

Teddy turned back to Sam. “Okay, time for hugs,  before we leave.”

“You got it,” Sam replied.

They all took turns hugging - Teddy even hugged Castiel, which was a funny experience, given that Castiel seemed to hug rather stiffly as though there were some procedure to it that he was nervous about getting wrong.

“Call as soon as you find something- anything,” Harry ordered.

“Yeah, I know, just because you aren’t in the trenches, doesn’t mean you’re out of the fight,” Sam nodded. “I’ll let you know, I promise.”

“Take care of each other,” Teddy said. He had promised Nate they would, after all.

“You too,” Sam said, with a none too subtle glance between Teddy and Harry.

Teddy nodded.

“Nate, I hope you enjoy… New York,” Sam said, biting back a smile.

“Thanks,” Nate said with a wink.

They made their way up the metal stairs and paused at the top, turning to wave one last time at the two figures below.

Teddy could feel the absence in the Bunker like a cold vice around his heart and, in truth, he was torn about leaving. But then Harry gently wrapped his hand around Teddy’s arm, and pulled him towards the door before letting go again  - and all Teddy could think of was the warmth of Harry’s hand. He had almost lost Harry, not even just due to a spell and Harry’s constant desire to throw himself into danger, but before that, long before that, on that day at Hogwarts when he had decided to hide part of himself from Harry, and accidentally started pulling away completely. If Harry had died when they’re relationship was at it’s worst…

“Teddy?” Harry asked gently, as they walked through the dark corridor towards the outside world. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah,” Teddy answered, though his voice caught a little in his throat. “I just… it’s hard to leave.”

“I know,” Harry replied. “But… you can’t help anyone unless you look after yourself first.”

“Is that what you’re doing too? If you’re leaving on my account-”

“No,” Harry interrupted. He reached back and squeezed Teddy’s arm again. “I’ve been thinking of myself a bit too much lately. Don’t tell your Uncle Ron, but I think he’s been right in every argument we’ve had over the past year.”

Nate opened the heavy door to the open air and they walked out into a surprising amount of sunshine. It was weird, Teddy thought, for the world to look sunny when everything still felt out of balance and wrong in the building just behind them.

“It might be time for me to realize that I’m not seventeen anymore,” Harry continued. “I’ve got… I’ve got things that I am frankly unwilling to lose for the sake of a little excitement.”

Teddy stopped and stared at Harry. “You came here because you were bored?!”

Harry grimaced.

“Oh my God,” Teddy muttered. “That’s it, you’ve just nominated yourself as my new test subject, if you need excitement that badly.”

“Thank goodness,” Nate declared, where he was walking ahead of them down the road. “The last experimental tea gave me the jitters for a week.”

“Uh, Teddy,” Harry said, tentatively. “Not to… stir up arguments, but… have you ever considered the Healing arts?”

Teddy rolled his eyes. Of course, it was too much to ask for Harry to drop the subject of careers. If he wasn’t still desperate to cling as hard as he could to Harry for fear of losing him, Teddy might just consider returning to New York with Nate instead of going home.

“I’d be a crap Healer, Harry,” Teddy replied. “For one week per month, I basically collapse under stress unless heavily medicated.”

“I’m not talking about being a Healer,” Harry said. Teddy raised and eyebrow. “I’m talking about your teas. I’m talking about research… proper research, with proper test subjects. You’re brilliant, Teddy, what I’ve seen you do in the last couple of days alone… I think you could help a lot of people.”

“Oh, helping people, my only weakness,” Teddy said, perhaps a tad sarcastically. “You’re pulling out all the stops today.”

Harry sighed. “Right, forget I mentioned it… Teddy, you know I’m proud of you even if you never work a day in your life. I just thought… maybe you’d like access to more resources.”

Nate threw Teddy a quick glare, too fast for Harry to see it, especially since Harry was looking at the ground in obvious defeat.

Teddy closed his eyes for a few steps and took a moment to push his defenses down a little. He thought of his lab in the attic, how it was a little cramped and didn’t really have everything he needed. He thought about how he’d exhausted the supply of Healing textbooks at Florish and Botts, and how he really needed someone to help with the more advanced chapters.

“Maybe,” Teddy conceded.

Harry’s head shot up and he smiled widely.

Maybe,” Teddy repeated.

“Understood,” Harry said, visibly tamping down his smile. “I’m more than happy with a maybe.”

Teddy cast around for a subject change, before Harry started making plans - and found one immediately.

“Where are we even walking to?” Teddy asked, gesturing to the empty road and vast amount of American mid-west that stretched to the horizon. “New York? Britain?

“At least you’re wearing comfortable shoes this time,” Nate declared.

*

Sam watched as Harry pulled Teddy into the dark corridor that let out of the building. He waved one last time as they faded from sight. He understood. He did. If Sam had a kid… well, he’d put him first, above anyone else’s problems. Hell, Sam had a brother, and Sam put him over everyone’s problems.

It was the right call. Sam thought of Kevin and how Sam could simultaneously miss him, but also be thankfully that he had escaped when he did - before the Mark of Cain, before… whatever Sam had to do next to find his brother. Yes, it would be nice to have help, but, above everything, Sam wanted his friends to be safe - so, until he had no other choice, he was more than happy to keep them safe, to let them go.

But whoever had written that note in Dean’s room had gotten one thing very wrong.

Sam would never let Dean go, not while Sam was still breathing.

He turned towards Castiel, who stood at his side. He saw the same resolve reflected back at him.

“Come on. We’ve got work to do.”