Disclaimer: I own neither Harry Potter nor Katekyo Hitman Reborn and I don't earn any money with this story.
Author's note: Hi everyone, it's been a while, sorry. Things are a bit... difficult right now. Anyway, have a new chapter :) It's a bit of a transitory one, but it set up some interesting things to come!
Warning: emotional distress
Beta'd by the lovely NonchalantxFish, as usual! :)
Upon opening the door of the transformation chamber, Harry was confronted with a horde of red-heads and their expectant, worried stares. Harry could understand their worry, but after what had happened with George, talking with them was the last thing on his mind. Actually, he didn't want to talk to anyone at the moment. He just wanted to go home and hide under his duvet for a while. It wouldn't change anything, but who cared?
Unfortunately, Harry wouldn't get out of the house without any kind of explanation, so he opened his mouth, but snapped it shut again when a pair of hands landed on his shoulders. He listened with half an ear as Severus told them about the successful taming of George's werewolf side in his usual no-nonsense tone. His Cloud Guardian also cautioned them from crowding the redhead to give him room to recover. The Weasleys would probably assume the need for recovery was necessary due to the aftereffects of the transformation. Severus had vanished the remains of the damaged cage and repaired the walls and floor. Any hints to what had transpired with George's awakening Flames had therefore been erased.
Despite Severus' words, most of the Weasley family rushed into the transformation chamber, giving Harry a clear line of sight to his Guardians and Reborn. The group had initially stayed at Rose Cottage and it had been decided that they'd wait for Harry and Severus there, too. Did they think something would go wrong during the night and had been on stand-by for an emergency? Harry would've been annoyed if he had the energy (and if they'd been wrong).
Now he just blinked at them with a blank expression (which most likely rang every warning bell for them), slipped out of his Cloud Guardians light hold and shuffled towards the closest fire place. The group at his back didn't even try to keep quiet as they questioned Severus and commented on the man's recount of what had happened.
"Forget the leash, forget the constant security detail, we should just lock him into a tower like Rapuzel," Shamal grumbled.
"Brave of you to assume he won't be able to find trouble in a tower," Spanner countered in his usual deadpan tone.
Harry chose to ignore the ongoing conversation. He flooed home and fell into bed upon reaching his room.
Usually it helped to be close to his Guardians when he wasn't feeling well. Now though, it seemed to make things worse. Lightning, Mist, Rain and Cloud were a soothing presence in the back of his mind, but that somehow drew more attention to the still scarred spot where a Sun bond should be. The sharp pain had dulled enough for him to occasionally forget about it, but now it seemed to throb in solidarity with the void, which had been tempted with a Storm bond, just to be denied.
He had never really set out to find Guardians, but he had never regretted Harmonizing with any of his precious people. Harry would've just loved to forgo all the drama connected with it - all the attacks, manipulative arseholes, bad timings, and circumstances.
Harry knew he'd made the right decision with George. If only his soul would agree with the rational parts of him and shut up. Yes, the red-head would've made a great Guardian. Even without the official title and bond George had always had his back and tried to brighten his mood. If only he could've been a great Guardian to a Harry Potter who wasn't the next Vongola Don. One who didn't have to give up his whole life, his dreams, and the close connections to his family in order to follow Harry into even more danger and a completely different country.
Harry burrowed under his comforter and let himself mope for a while. He ignored the knocks on his door and the attempts to talk to him. Call him childish, he honestly didn't care at that moment.
A few hours later, the door opened again and a weight flopped on top of him. Harry grunted when the breath was knocked out of him and an elbow dug into his side.
"A little bird told me that you needed company."
Blaise. Of course it was Blaise.
Spanner had probably come up with that idea when Harry hadn't reacted to any of them. In better circumstances, Hermione would've been here, too, Harry was sure. Both of them knew him best, bar his Guardians.
Blaise rolled off of him and peeled back the top part of the comforter until Harry's head became visible. Harry reluctantly let him. He even turned his head to the other side to stare at his friend.
"Do you still remember first year, when the biggest of our problems was Malfoy?" Harry asked after a few minutes.
"To be fair," Blaise countered with a little smirk playing around his lips, "he mostly hated you . It's a good thing I taught you those locking charms. Who knows what would've happened to your stuff otherwise."
Harry hummed in agreement. He'd left some things outside his trunk in the beginning and had promptly regretted it. They'd either disappeared or were mysteriously broken the next time he'd seen them. Nothing had been valuable, but Harry had quickly learnt to put his stuff away and ward his trunk. Complaining about Draco's actions to his head of house, who was also the boy's godfather, had not been an option back then. Harry felt slightly guilty that their relationship had soured, after Severus had affiliated himself with Harry.
"I wish things were still easy like back then. Grandpa would be alive, too… I wonder what I'd do today if I could live a normal life without Voldemort or the mafia," Harry mused.
"Maybe be a professional duelist? Or maybe a DADA mastery and become either a professor at Hogwarts or a private tutor," Blaise suggested.
"Not a big fan of the rules in professional dueling, remember? But a DADA mastery doesn't sound bad. What are you going to do now that the war is over? You have pretty good control over your Flames already."
Blaise shrugged and rolled onto his back. Harry instantly recognised it as the ploy it was to avoid eye contact with him. He reached out to pinch Blaise in the side, before the other teen even had time to open his mouth to feed him bull.
"I already suspected you weren't joining me on my epic quest to mafiadom. There's no reason to spare my feelings." He was sad, of course, but he really had seen it coming and now was as good a time as any to have a heart-to-heart with one of his best friends. If Harry added to the pain now, maybe he could spare himself pain another time.
"This whole Flame and mafia business is still weird to me to be honest," Blaise admitted haltingly. "I knew you had them, but having them on my own is different. If Snape weren't your Cloud Guardian, I think we would have clicked and maybe things would've been different, but..."
Blaise sighed and pulled Harry into a tight hug.
"That doesn't mean I won't help you, whenever you need my help. You're still my best friend Harry and you will be important to me forever, but even during the last few years, we weren't as close. You have people whose main priority is keeping you safe and even though your health is very important to me, too, I have other plans for my future. Plans centered in the Wizarding World. I want to help with the rebuilding. Hopefully we can make it even better than it was before, so that it's not as easy for another Voldemort wannabe to gain power."
Harry smiled bittersweetly and hid the wetness in his eyes in Blaise's shoulder as he returned the hug just as tightly.
"I'm sure you'll do great with the rebuilding and who knows? Maybe you'll become Minister of Magic one day," Harry joked weakly. Then he shrieked when Blaise started to tickle him unexpectedly.
A couple of minutes later, when both of them were gasping for breath, Blaise turned to him yet again.
"And you're going to be the best damn thing that's ever going to happen to the mafia."
Harry spent the next few days training with Fon. For one, it really helped his control over his bo staff, for another the Arcobaleno was not involved in his Guardian drama and therefore good company. During breaks they talked and drank the oolong tea Harry had procured upon learning it was Fon's favorite.
Another thing filling up Harry's days were the preparations for the approaching ritual to separate Reborn from the Sun pacifier. Most of the crystals were ready for action. Only one for each - magic and Sky Flames - were left. It was an important, delicate, but absolutely boring task. One that didn't distract him much from the flood of thoughts and worries in his mind.
Harry carefully set the crystal he was working on on his bedside table and went down to the kitchen to make some cannoli siciliani - a Sicilian dessert made of fried dough, cream filling and espresso.
Reborn's offer for an exchange of dessert for information was still weird and probably unnecessary for them to get to know each other better, but one of Harry's main traits was curiosity and a little bit of baking or cooking was a small price to pay to get trivia of someone so close-lipped about personal information. Also, it couldn't hurt to work on resolving at least one of his Guardian problems.
A few hours later, the cannoli were ready for consumption and had turned out well. He'd also made other treats for the rest of his Guardians as an apology for pretty much avoiding them. Harry prepared a plate and headed upstairs to Reborn's room. Prior to George's second transformation, the Arcobaleno had started to spend his free time trying to understand what the ritual was going to do in detail. That had led to half a library ending up in Reborn's room, because he had to cross-check magical concepts and theories of different disciplines. Harry figured he was still at it.
And as expected, Reborn was sitting on his bed, surrounded by countless, open tomes and loose sheets of paper with notes scribbled onto them. Meanwhile, Leon was curled up on a little clear spot left on the bedside table. Both of them looked up when Harry entered the room and at once Reborn's gaze zeroed in on the plate of cannoli.
"Are you interested in some sweets?" Harry asked with a little crooked smile.
He crossed the labyrinth of book stacks. It was almost like being in Hermione's room. When he'd reached the bed, he held out the plate and softly snorted, when it was snatched from his fingers almost too quickly to see.
"Grazie," was Reborn's only reply, before the first bite disappeared into his mouth. The appreciative humming made Harry smile a bit wider and he wasn't surprised when the plate was empty a little while later.
"I'm fluent in eight languages and know another ten enough to get by," Reborn, being as good as his word, revealed, after he'd licked his fingers clean of cream.
"Italian, English, and Japanese have to be three of the ones you're fluent in," Harry mused. Those were the ones he also knew and had heard Reborn talk in already. "What are the other ones?"
"French, Mandarin - though I know some Cantonese, which Fon taught me - Spanish, Russian, and Italian sign language."
"So, you pretty much focused on the languages most often spoken in the world and otherwise picked up things you knew or were interested in?" Harry clarified. It wasn't a bad strategy, especially for a hitman, who had probably visited various countries for jobs. "What did-"
Harry's breath hitched.
That had sounded like George's voice.
The twins were keyed into the Fidelius, but had been in Rose Cottage only once. Considering the current situation between them, Harry was torn. On one hand he wanted George to become his Guardian after all; on the other hand he wanted George to firmly refuse and (hopefully) give him closure.
Harry pushed off the bed, where he'd sat during his little talk with Reborn and pretended his hands weren't shaking. He found George (and Fred) in the sitting room, looking just as nervous as Harry felt.
"What, uh, what can I do for you?" Harry asked, stopping a good distance away from the red-heads.
This close, the urge for Harmonization had become even stronger. He didn't see any Storm Flames, but he could still feel them drifting around him, coaxing. It was like a siren call luring him towards doom, though in this case George would be the one bearing the consequences not him.
Said red-head walked in front of Harry, barely in touching distance. Usually he didn't hesitate going right for a hug in greeting. It had started a few years ago as a joke, but had somehow become the norm. Harry was missing the easy contact, but knew it was better like this. Maybe in time- No, it was better not to think about it.
"Harry, can we talk please?"