Disclaimer: I own neither Harry Potter nor Katekyo Hitman Reborn and I don't earn any money with this story.
Author's note: As you will see, both KHR and HP will be AU. All arising questions will (hopefully) be answered in the following chapters. The slash won't start until a lot later in the story. I'm not about to pair them up when Reborn's still midget sized.
Rating: T (for now)
Beta'd by the lovely NonchalantxFish, thank you very much :)
Reborn wasn't a particularly patient person. Never had been, in fact. Of course he was capable of waiting out the perfect moment for a hit, for days if necessary, but he always hated every second ticking by. Not to mention the bad mood he found himself in sooner or later. He was already prepared to feel grumpy while waiting for Shamal, a person notorious for being late for just about everything.
Apparently the doctor slash assassin was in the mood to pleasantly surprise him however, because just as the clock struck nine o'clock in the morning, Shamal and an unknown man stepped into the grimy alley, which had been designated the meeting spot for their information exchange.
Although he hadn't laid eyes on the brunet for almost two years, Shamal still looked the same – the same white coat, the same stubble on his chin and especially the same half-lidded, slightly sleazy eyes. There was something different about him, though, something that wasn't physical, but Reborn couldn't quite put his finger on it.
His assessing gaze wandered to the second man, who was clad in black trousers and a white button-down shirt. The dark, oily hair was pulled back into a low ponytail, drawing attention to the Roman nose and the dark, penetrating gaze. A gaze signaling that Reborn wasn't being underestimate in the least, his current baby-esque body notwithstanding. Was he part of the mafia world and had heard of Reborn's reputation? Had Shamal told him about Reborn? But even then people tended to take the Acrobaleno lightly during the first meeting. It was a psychological thing. Odd, that the man looked at Reborn as cautiously as people should. Refreshing, but odd.
"Yo, Reborn." Shamal had stopped in front of him, his hands burrowed in the pockets of his coat and his back bent into a slouch as if he couldn't hurt a fly, let alone send out a deadly insect with a flick of his fingers.
The Sun Acrobaleno tipped his fedora in greeting. "Ciaossu Shamal, punctual for a change, I see. Who is your companion?" 'And what is he doing here?' He didn't say, but his tone of voice implied the question all too clearly.
"This is Severus Snape, my colleague who will bring you to your destination."
Colleague? As far as Reborn knew, Shamal worked alone and especially never with another man. He was notorious for never even treating men. Except for that incident, one and a half years ago, when he had shown up at Ospedale Nicollò de Luca, an Italian hospital catering mostly to mafiosi, to cure a teenager boy of a seemingly incurable disease. The day the young man had been discharged, was also the last day he had been seen and, incidentally, Shamal hadn't taken on any new hits since then. And now Shamal showed up with a male colleague? If this was coincidence, he'd eat his hat.
"Destination?" Reborn questioned suspiciously, his eyes narrowing at the currently taller man. Shamal just shrugged lazily.
"Of course. You came here for information regarding Harry Potter. What better way is there than getting it right from the source?"
So Shamal not only knew where Potter was hiding out (for whatever reason), but had arranged a meeting? Suddenly the three days he had had to wait until the man had sent him a meeting spot and time seemed a lot more worthwhile. But why couldn't Shamal take him to Potter? Why was Snape necessary?
Reborn opened his mouth to fish for more details, but got interrupted, before the second syllable even left his lips. Rude.
"As much fun as it is listening to your tea party chit chat, I have no intention of doing so all morning. Either come to a decision soon or I will return without you," Snape drawled from his place next to an old, graffitied metal door, his arms crossed and his index finger tapping against his biceps. When Reborn started to glare at him, the brunet just raised an unimpressed eyebrow.
Shamal, on the other hand, pulled his hands out of his pockets and held them up in a placating gesture. "Geez, alright. Reborn, if you want any answers to your questions and a chance to talk to Harry, you better come with us. And decide quickly, Severus isn't all talk. He will leave without us and it's a pain to get to the location without him."
"Fine," Reborn acquiesced reluctantly. His intrigue was piqued and he wanted to get on with the task Vongola Nono had given him. And if it turned out to be a trap, well... it wouldn't be the first time he had to shoot a former ally.
Instead of leading them out of the alley, Snape came up to them and dared to pick him up. Before Reborn had the chance to express his protest in the form of a deft kick or a nice, shiny bullet, the world began to whirl around him and he felt starkly reminded of the time his body had been compressed to the size of a small child.
What. The. Hell?
When he was set back onto the ground, Reborn kept his breakfast where it was by willpower alone and drew long, deep breaths, until his stomach settled. All the while he forced his senses to take in his new whereabouts and screen it for immediate danger, his hand hovering over his gun.
He was surrounded by trees, the smell of late flowering plants and the sound of birdsong. Except for Snape and Shamal (who was retching and muttering to himself), no other person was present, especially not the one he was looking for. How had they arrived in the middle of nowhere, anyway? Mist Flames? Drugs?
"The location of Harry Potter is Rose Cottage in Cottesbrooke."
A relatively large stone cottage shimmered into existence in front of Reborn, barely visible behind the copious amounts of greenery and rose bushes of various colours, which had long since overgrown the wood fence.
Reborn stared at the building in front of him, which hadn't been there before Snape's disclosure. He still suspected Mist Flames with a generous amount of dramatics, but as someone who lived to keep other people on their toes, instead of the other way around, the last ten minutes had made him feel decidedly off-kilter. He had to get a grip on himself!
"Is this your handiwork?" Reborn pointed to the cottage, while pinning Shamal, whose face still held a greenish tinge, down with a narrow-eyed stare. He knew the brunet was a Mist, albeit not a very good one, but maybe his skills had improved during the last two years?
"It is not," Snape denied, his tone revealing a hint of impatience. "Depending on how your conversation with Harry turns out, you may obtain the answers you seek." Without further ado, the dark-haired man went inside.
Reborn returned his penetrating gaze to Shamal, who offered him a lazy shrug that might as well be an 'I told you so' and strolled after his colleague, leaving the Acrobaleno no other option than to follow them.
They entered the house through a set of double-glazed doors, which led to a brightly furnished sitting room. Sitting on a white leather settee was a young man, who was painstakingly writing into a notebook. Considering the awkward grip on the pen, he wasn't left-handed, but the irregular twitching of his right hand explained why he had switched to the other one.
"Didn't I tell you to rest, brat?" Shamal, still slightly green in the face, wandered over to the settee and tousled the teen's already wild hair. He plopped down next to the younger brunet and, to Reborn's amazement, started to examine the twitching hand. When Shamal looked up again, his gaze landed on Snape, who re-entered the room with a vial containing a purple concoction. Shamal nodded in approval, while the teen grimaced in apparent distaste.
"Don't pull that face. Be glad that the reversal of the effects is relatively uncomplicated and swift," Snape commented and held the potion out to the teen. "I wish you wouldn't act so imprudently, all the time, Harry!"
"Imprudently?" Potter repeated indignantly, before he reluctantly swallowed the purple liquid with a full body shudder. "I admit to running into trouble a lot, but it usually happens for a reason as you well know. That trap would have killed Tonks, if I hadn't interferred."
"Instead you almost died yourself!"
"How? Just a moment ago you said the effects could be handled easily and quickly!"
"Because I was there to stop them, before they had a chance to get worse!"
"Alright, you two, that's enough. We have a guest, remember?" And if Shamal was the voice of reason, the end of the world was imminent.
"Right." (Most likely) Potter took a deep breath and set the empty vial aside, before turning around to face Reborn. "I'm very sorry about that. We're all a bit tense, at the moment. I'm Harry Potter and you're Reborn, correct? You wanted to talk to me about the Vongola?"
Actually, Reborn wanted to talk about a lot of things, starting with the teen's current activities (Saving people from lethal traps?) and the reason for Shamal's presence. And he wanted to get his answers with guns (literally) blazing, as he was wont to do, but he was also pretty sure he'd be kicked out of the house and Harry Potter's life within seconds, if he tried. World's greatest hitman or not.
This wasn't a no-good boy with an oblivious mother or a pathetic, small whale, whose parents could be bullied into anything with enough force. Reborn knew what Shamal was capable of and Snape was probably no push-over, either. Not to mention Harry Potter himself, who was staring at him with the eyes of a fighter. If one looked close enough, the emerald green eyes even showed a hint of orange.
"I was assigned by Don Timoteo, the current Vongola Boss, to turn you into his successor."
"So… your choice has already fallen on me? There are two other candidates, right? My cousin, who shares my Vongola blood through our grandmother, who was Timoteo's younger twin, and the son of CEDEF's leader. Well, three, if you count my aunt, but I reckon she's too old now to bring her into the fold."
Oho, someone was up to date, wasn't he? With Shamal at his beck and call that wasn't a huge surprise and who knew which other connections Potter had up his sleeve?
"You are the most suitable for the job, so yes, the choice fell on you."
"But you don't know anything about me," Potter countered calmly. "You've known me for all of ten minutes and the information you've probably dug up on me is at least one and a half years old. You have no idea what my current circumstances are, how this-" He raised his still twitching hand. "-happened or even how you managed to travel more than eighty miles in a few seconds.
I seem to be the most obvious choice to you, because I'm not new to the whole mafia subject and I wouldn't be surprised if you're intrigued about all the blank spaces in my life, but please let me tell you that I'm likely the most unsuitable candidate of the three on your list."
Reborn narrowed his eyes. It was a lot more subtle and eloquent than Tsunayoshi Sawada's 'There's no way I'll ever become a mafia boss!' or Dudley Dursley's incoherent blubbering and wetting of his trousers, but it was still obviously a refusal and that was a no go! He may not have an answer to all of those questions, but there was no way in hell, Reborn would leave this house or dismiss this candidate without a damn good reason.
"And why would you think yourself unsuitable?"
"Because I'm currently facing a much larger problem than considering whether or not I want to be Italy's most influential mafia don. A problem that has a high chance of ending my life prematurely."
Reborn studied the brunet for a long moment and also took in Snape's and Shamal's grim faces. It actually seemed to be a serious threat and not just a dramatically embellished excuse.
"And what exactly is that problem?"
"A man hell-bent on killing me and everyone standing in his way. His followers also have a tendency to hunt innocent people. And by 'hunt' I mean that in the most literal sense possible. You may have heard about the increase of missing people in the United Kingdom."
He had, actually. Reborn also knew that the government had no idea how to handle the problem, because they had absolutely zero leads. The perpetrators weren't part of the Mafia, either; otherwise the Vindice would have intervened due to the threat on Omerta.
It was… quite astounding that Potter was in the thick of things and even a main target of the criminal group's leader. No wonder he had decided to live off the grid.
"So if that threat is dealt with, you're going to accept your position?"
"If I'm alive by the end of it, I won't refuse to be a candidate. Though there are still a few trials until I'd officially be considered the next boss, right?"
Reborn nodded thoughtfully.
"Tell me more about that man and his minions."
Assassination was his main profession, after all, and if the problem was solved by killing a person or two, then he might as well help to speed things up. And in the meantime, he could find out more about Potter.
He failed to notice Snape's and Shamal's minute smirks, too focused on Potter's slight smile.