Better Than Bedfellows
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, in this case try, try, try again will get you no where.
Sheen Of Polish
"Why?" Remus asks of Jim Elder, as Griphook leaves, going down the spiral of stairs sent by a god to retrieve a piece of Tom Riddle's soul. Bill stays, but is silent – it's as if he knows what's coming and wants no part in it.
"It is a Horcrux, one of seven. We'll take it with us to Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place – the door of the Order. This time, I will not fail." Jim Elder vows, and Ollivander is still and silent behind him, guarding and watching.
"There are only five." Sirius protects, because he's heard Dumbledore explain it – in his own house.
"Two are living." Ollivander agrees, easily - as if what he says isn't against the nature of things – and he ought to know, because the way between Harry and he is unified. Where one theos is, another is usually close by to be found. Sirius thinks he's found out the reason 'Jim Elder' is the way he is, and from the way Remus frowns, they are in agreement.
Two fingers are held up for them, and Jim Elder catches their eyes.
"Nagini," he says, tucking on finger to his palm.
"Me." He gives a reckless grin that both recognize as James's own, like father – like son, with teeth gleaming wicked white, which sends a chill down both Sirius's and Remus's spines. He'd chosen the name James – Jim – well for himself.
"This time, I'll die and be rid of Tom Riddle once and for all – this time I'll do it right. It's what went wrong the last time." He's serious and Sirius has never been more against a sacrifice for the greater good, as Dumbledore might claim. Remus makes a protesting growl, but does not speak – it's Ollivander, old and silver eyed like the moon – that dares speak.
"I disagree." Ollivander states, which Remus nods to, and Sirius does nothing to protest.
"It's me, or Harry." Sirius's godson, Remus's student: who is going into his Fourth Year at Hogwarts.
"Will you come back from that?" Sirius asks, shakily. Come back from death, he's asking. Jim Elder is theos, Bill claims – maybe – or maybe not, but Sirius wants a answer from his lover's lips. Remus licks his own lips, as if remembering that first reckless night of lust – and the second, a sea of memory that tides them over for more a promise of return, it's as if he is preparing for bad news or to give a lecture. It makes Sirius nervous.
"With the Deathly Hollows? I might, or I might go to where I belong." By which he means either death, or that distant future that he hasn't spoken about. Sirius has a bad feeling about both.
"You know where the Horcrux are, that's obvious: what of the Deathly Hollows?" Bill finally speaks up, curiosity driving him to it. He doesn't know that Jim Elder is Harry Potter, Sirius sees that much – and Remus nudges his arm, for it's clear that Elder doesn't want Bill to know who he really is. What Bill does guess is that Elder, being what he is, has insights even the likes of wizards and witches do not, and so gain.
Three fingers stand against the light of a dying sun.
"Marvolo Gaunt's Ring – a Horcrux, holds the Resurrection Stone. It is in Dumbledore's keeping. Dumbledore also holds the Elder Wand. The Cloak of Invisibility? That was in his keeping, but he gave it up to Harry Potter before possessing the Resurrection Stone: an inheritance gift." The son of James claims, and there is no reason to doubt it.
Remus and Sirius both have very fond memories of that Invisibility Cloak, and they'd last seen it with Harry - the student, the godson.
"You had this all planned out?" Bill asks a tinge of awe in him. Sirius doesn't think it's good for him, this god-worship. But then, this is Harry (albeit an older and deadlier version, mayhap – but Harry) and he knows it won't go anywhere.
Remus catches Sirius's eyes, and he knows that – yes – he's being possessive, and yes – it's being noticed.
Harry only smiles, which could mean yes or could mean no.
"What then of your choice - between fae and theos?" Ollivander asks, his voice hushed – he means no harm in what he must ask. He does so because no one else will.
"There is still time, it will wait – this, this I won't delay." That's all well and good, but Sirius and Remus both know when it's business and when it's personal, the choice of what comes first ought to be –naturally - personal. Yet here is James's son, the Elder, putting his life and power aside in favor of the distraction of the Dark Lord. Putting their world and war before his own life and safety, surely safety – because between the two great powers of theos and fae is a bridge of relation, and it is perilous to walk too long between – to not choose is, in it's own way – a choice. The fall would certainly end in death, at such a height from powers.
Griphook steps from the stairs, Helga Hufflepuff's Cup in hand. Harry sees it, and his green eyes flash with silver light, the same moon grey of Ollivander's eyes behind his spectacles.
"Hand it here." It is an order, not a question or request, but Griphook does not flinch from those eyes that gleam like steel. He obeys, standing aside. Harry looks down at what is in his hand, and seems lost, seems not to see it. Sirius and Remus have both been very aware that this man is not their Harry, there is something seducing strange in him. The power of magic calls to it's like, but with Harry's eyes like that, the silver lining of clouds, it's as if Harry had been hiding something out of sight within his very self, he'd been so alive and they hadn't thought to the cost, that someone so powerful must cast a long shadow to be so tainted and torn and tired.
They see it now; it has red eyes and speaks in a hiss.
Helga Hufflepuff's Cup seems to rot and blacken in his curled hands, his fingers are like claws of bone, clutching – draining, the cup is gleaming gold, and it should not look rusted. Yet they see it, and can not deny it, the thing that isn't Harry is hungry - the life and magic – the soul - of the Cup, of Tom Riddle himself - rises up, free in a dark cloud of smoke it twists like a whirlwind, going into Harry's lips - and Harry, with his red eyes and snake tongue, swallows it.
He looks up, the red eyes gleaming, and his grin isn't Harry.
Sirius jerks forward, ready to fight for Harry – for what has possession of Harry's body, but Bill and Remus hold him back before he gets too close. Ollivander sets his hand on Harry's shoulder, and the shadow of a soul that isn't his – that is Tom Riddle, growing stronger with Harry's own body and soul – like some nightmare parasite: turns to look at Ollivander.
Ollivander's eyes are silver fire, a warning – a calling: and the red eyes die with a wash like light of gleaming foam bubbling out of the dark red eyes.
Harry takes a breath, then another, as it is going to be alright. He glances to the four of them, and something in him seems to wilt, to flinch from them.
"Sorry." Harry says, as if it's his fault: he licks his lips as if he has a bad aftertaste in his mouth, "we'll go now."
Griphook takes back what is left of the Cup though it is melted of its fine designs and dull – as if in need of a good shine, for life. It isn't ruined, but it is a husk of its former glory. Griphook nods his head in respect, as if in goodbye. When he looks up again, his gaze catches Bill's who is keeping his mouth shut.
"We all have much work to do." Griphook agrees, and Bill can at least take a hint.
Griphook goes again, and his low bow is for goodbye.
"Where to…?" Sirius asks, because it is summer and Hogwarts is where most of the Deathly Hollows could be collected come school time. Not before then, and it's obvious that Harry isn't inclined to wait so long. That he doesn't think he has that time to waste.
Sirius hurts at that realization, and he longs to put James (James's) Elder (son) under his arm and keep him at his side.
He doesn't answer – not right away – what he does is put his hand to the floor, and the silver fades from his eyes as a green fire roars to life between his knees.
"Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place." Harry tells them, looking up as if in a dare – and then he falls into the fire, like it leaps up to consume him. Ollivander nods toward it, as if in agreement, or to urge them into following. Remus needs no urging, and is gone in flash of flame before Sirius can think to go or stop him.
He realizes, though, while looking at Ollivander looking at him, that the old theos isn't coming with them. This is Harry's choice to make, just as Ollivander did not go below the earth – he will not follow now and interfere.
"Take care." Sirius hears, before the world becomes a roar of green flame. Of him, Sirius finishes, a vow a pure blooded wizard knows from birth to keep. The consequences for not doing so would be worse then death; he does not have to be told.
Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place is exactly as Sirius remembers it. Nobel woods and bleak designs and dreary shadows, not enough light to keep the air clear and clean. It feels dirty and is dusty, and Sirius is shamed by that, he knows it shows a side of him he'd rather not see – let alone let the Order of Phoenix walk about unchecked within.
It makes him itch as if something is under his skin, his very blood protesting, but there it is, and where is that lazy house elf to set it to rights?
Sirius Black takes a step out of the fireplace, and takes a moment for getting his breath back and to be grateful: for he had wondered where they would end up, it wasn't as if they'd used a Ministry approved fireplace. It was downright dangerous what they'd done, but Sirius hadn't thought of it beyond staying with Harry. Because Harry the Elder needed someone, both of James's boys did, and even if Sirius knew he wasn't the perfect first choice –or the best - he'd still do his damnedest.
Yes, Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place is exactly as Sirius remembers – save for one very important thing. There is a white owl on the coat rack. Harry, he thinks, his godson.
Yet it is the man who calls himself James Elder who seems most surprised, as he looks to the owl wide-eyed.
"Hedwig?" He asks of the snow white owl, who hoots – as surprised to see him as he is to see her: of that much Sirius is sure. She ruffles her wings and swoops to Sirius, he notices now the letter tied to her leg. She keeps still and silent, as if trying to prove something despite being kept waiting.
Dear Sirius, the letter starts, in that endearingly loopy sprawl that is Harry's handwriting – the letter mentions the Durleys (which is just depressing) – them being turned into bats by himself at Harry's bidding, which Sirius just grins at – and something that sends the wings of worry stirring at the depths of his heart – the scar, the same scar James Elder has now – had hurt his godson, and he feared Voldemort was near – and Quidditch World Cup tickets. Sirius handed it solemnly off to Remus, let him be the responsible one and give a lecture to an elder Harry who probably knew better.
"Your scar hurts and you go to the Quidditch World Cup?" Remus asks his voice full of frustrated disbelief. It would be out in the open, no doubt, with muggles near: a near perfect Death Eater target.
"Yes?" Sirius hears his answer, but writes a hastily worded reply –flying north, rumors –go to Dumbledore if that scar hurts – and eyes open, please. That's the gist of it, Sirius thinks as he turns the note over to Hedwig.
"Perfect." He says, as he watches the snow owl in the middle of summer: it's not as bad as all that, he'd tried to offset that oddity by sending ridiculously bight colored and sized birds to Harry, in hopes that muggles would ignore it once it became something that happened normally. He'd never asked if he succeeded, but Harry had seemed to enjoy the little (or not) oddities, which came from having magic. That had been enough for Sirius.
Now it was just another worry, if by the frivolous birds he had endangered one of the few important people to him.
"What was all that about? Who is this?"