Pairings somewhat undetermined, though pairings are not really the focus. There will be an OC from Harry Potter, not sure who to pair them with yet. Yeah I know everything else I've ever written is unfinished, I don't care, I was inspired.

"Well, that sample is bollocks." Hermione roughly yanked the 357th slide and let it fall with a clink into the trash full of the other failures.

"It wasn't me who thought it'd be anything other than a damp squib."

"If my pretty pureblood lab partner over here wasn't bloody skiving off-"

"You think I'm pretty? Scrummy even? Do you think of me when Weasley's on top of you huffing away and-"

"Draco Malfoy! One more word and I'll owl your mother." His grin broadened, impossibly wide for all the angles on his pointy git face.

"You wouldn't." He flicked a straightening charm at her rumpled attire for good measure.

"Keep being a todger and I will." She insisted in what wasn't quite a deadpan voice, grabbing at the front of her lab coat and crumpling it in her sweaty fingers in defiance. Draco abruptly switched tracts then, knowing he'd been skimming right along the line in the sand that would see the war heroine send a Howler to the small manse in France where his mother resided, which he'd simply never live down. He wouldn't put it past her.

"We don't know what it does then? It just roams around in magical folk with seemingly no purpose?"

"It's so frustrating because that's exactly it! It's an empty vessel, no virus would normally be so vulnerable- wait, that's it. That's- oh." Hermione Granger, who had withstood the cruciatus at the hands of Voldemort's most insane, most loyal Death Eater and had walked away with sanity intact, paled. Draco, an all around coward who had joined with Voldemort's cause because he felt he'd had no choice and in the end had coasted to safety on his mother's better choices, took notice.

"Draco, get me Shacklebolt on a floo call, now, I need-" He raced to do so, never having seen her so frazzled since, well, since the battle of Hogwarts years ago (still not enough time to stop the nightmares completely).

Of course, by then it was too late.

- Harry Potter, Sentinel in the North -

Harry rode beside the quiet family in the crisp morning air. The sun had risen, but hadn't quite taken away the chill that was settling across the land. Land that was still foreign, yet possessed characteristics that were achingly familiar to home. It was the ninth year of summer, but it had been only a year since they'd come to this place. This place of long summers and winters that, as far as Hermione had been able to discern, had no reasonable explanation for being so. Any normal world would have followed the laws of physics and orbiting planets. Magic, for all that any of the common folk and their nobility knew of it, wrote stories of it, experienced its ancient consequences, was something that had eluded them here and now. The presence of witches and wizards in Westeros was too new for there to be expeditions into new territory to look for whispers of foreign magic that had either died an ignoble death or was simply hiding. But it was also the reason that Harry was here in the North, closest to the source of whatever had been written. The wall, and whatever was behind it.

Harry distantly noted that even after a few months time, out of the adults, or who passed for adults in this place, it was only Theon who would brave spontaneous interaction with him. The Iron Islander likely believed that in their own way, he and Harry had something in common, being so far from home and generally not well liked. It suited Harry just fine to be disliked, a welcome experience after the trappings of Magical London where he and his family were pursed by photographers for far too long. His heart constricted though, to think of it, even the bad times, the annoying times, were now tinged with a longing that could not be quenched.

But for now, Harry tried to remain in the present, leaving memories for behind closed doors, stable wards, muffliato's and floo calls. There was no reason to be alert in the sense that he feared for his safety; the Stark family may not have accepted him as a person, but they acknowledged his place in their world now and weren't prone to pushing or outright disobedience. Of course, he didn't like that the fearful rumors of what his people had done that ran abound were mostly true, even as he used that fear to his advantage. Harry once again shoved down feelings of intense dislike for how all of this had played out. How it was. Unlike his mostly Slytherin counterparts in other places of Westeros, he did not care for being feared. And he especially didn't care for how Theon would attempt to pry stories of war and fighting from him, like a foolish boy who'd seen no such thing, but in this positively medieval place was determined to follow that short, bloody path if he could.

A hard place, this world was. And insistent on staying that way. Even now, Lord Stark's seven year old son traveled with them this morning to watch, of all things, a man be beheaded for breaking an oath. To think, that Harry found it humane compared to many of the curses that wizards had invented. Though, a wizard's oath would have struck the man dead the moment he stepped away from whatever he had vowed to stay true to. There'd be no beheading or tracking the man down. Harry also supposed that the magic would have warned the man, protected him from making an impulsive decision. But, there was no way they would make every man at the Wall take an Unbreakable Vow. These people had balked at schooling their peasants, their beliefs about classism and ethical obligations to the poor being worse than many purebloods. Well could only go forward now, and accept these new circumstances, even if they included beheadings. Otherwise the past would haunt him more than it already did. Thoughts of nasty curses he'd used, at times when he'd been in the war, spittle and harsh words flying at his enemies, stalked him in even his waking hours these days. Worse than it had been after the war.

For many of the older magicals, the second war signaled true peace, even as it left a generation of scarred and shell-shocked young adults that no longer knew exactly what to do with themselves. It should come as no surprise then, when something far more terrible and exacting than the war came, his generation was ready.

"Did they cut off the heads of bad men where you're from?" Bran's small pony wiggled its chunky body forward to sidle up next to Harry's palfrey, the boy's deep blue eyes seeking his.

"No. There were worse things." He winced at his own words, knowing it might start Bran peppering him with questions. Children were immune to the institution of prejudice, even as the Lady Stark would drag her wayward children by their collars, a keen maternal hatred shining in her eyes that reminded him all too much of Molly Weasley. Here, it was Jon who slipped in between Bran's laxly steered mount and forced the pony to careen off to the side. The Snow had no hate in his eyes for Harry, and no fear either.

"Jon." Harry smiled warmly. Jon only nodded and moved forward. Despite Lady Stark's attempts to isolate Jon away from his siblings, he stuck by them loyally, and that included abiding by the relative disdain the whole of Westeros now held for his kind, even as Catelyn did her level best to disinclude him.

Before them stood the holdfast and a small contingent of men awaiting the Lord of Winterfell.

The man that was to be punished for desertion was old and scrawny, bound hand and foot as he awaited justice. Parts were missing from frostbite, and his black cloak looked ragged and greasy. As Harry watched with the Stark family dismounted around him, Lord Eddard Stark raised his mage-forged sword, speaking, "in the name of the United Westeros, for the Andals, Rhoynar and the First Men, by the word of Eddard of House Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, I do sentence you to die."

Harry whipped a wandless calming spell at the horses, prefering to not pull out his wand. The small sticks his kind possessed made everyone nervous, and from that Harry had opted to pursue learning wandless magic with a greater fervour than when he'd been studying to defeat the Dark Lord. He could hear Jon whispering to Bran, and Harry cringed inwardly that this world was so harsh that a boy who wouldn't have even been invited to Hogwarts yet would be watching this. When the sword came down, only a few men flinched. Bran's eyes were wide, while Theon whose lean and dark person found everything amusing, smiled and nudged the severed head with his boot.

Harry froze, looking at the blood, remembering a person sprawled out on cobblestone, limbs askew with butcher-precise cuts of flesh and tissue laying scattered about them from some unknown curse. He blinked and the image was gone. His gorge rose and he licked his lips, opened his mouth and let the air turn his saliva cold. It helped with the nausea, especially not being able to smell anything but the loamy soil around him.

"Ass," Jon muttered in regards to Theon, then sheepishly spared a glance for Harry before turning away to put his hands on Bran's shoulders. A faint wind blew, dispelling the tension and lifting the two banners that stood over the holdfast. The pure red flag with a golden symbol of the deathly hallows was the new House Potter sigil and it flapped lazily in the breeze along side the Stark banner of a grey direwolf racing across an ice-white field. And no, he didn't want a sigil, or words, or even a House, but it wasn't all up to him. He could almost hear Hermione's lecture about cultural integration being a sign of respect and that it was the least they could do to incorporate themselves. Yet the pureblood contingent of their group delighted in the distinctions, already looking to make betrothals to their new and old great houses. Of course, these negotiations did not include any of the houses of their new home. No Starks, Tyrells, Lannisters, Baratheons, Martells, Tullys or any of the non-magical people would find themselves married into a wizarding family. But oh how they had tried, at first, before the natural segregation was codified by the new Wizengamut of Westeros. The whole business left a foul taste in Harry's mouth, even as he understood the reasons.

The Lord of Winterfell mounted his horse, white salted beard and gray eyes roving over his children, stopping to linger on Harry a moment before he turned his grim expression to his youngest son Bran, beckoning his son over. Jon helped the boy mount up, and the two took the lead for the return to Winterfell. Harry eyed the blade at Eddard's side, feeling slight irritation that the man wouldn't even let him touch the thing, shining at the seams with magic as it was. One of the few artifacts left to these people. Granted, Hermione had unprecedented access to such things at Oldtown and there was no real need for him to examine "Ice" as the sword was referred to, but it was the lack of trust that got Harry down.

"The deserter died bravely," Robb said, looking to Jon deliberately. He was broadening everyday, his fair skin, auburn hair and blue eyes a portrait that was a few sizes up from his younger brother Bran. "He had courage, at the least." He thought he'd be resistant by this point, with all of Theon's prodding and poking about bravery and acts of violence, but Harry chuckled harsh and low in his throat before responding.

"Courage? That man lived and died in fear." His green eyes shined, taking in all the light even as he narrowed them at Robb, the eldest son and heir to Winterfell. The boy blanched, but recovered.

"He died well, nonetheless," nudging his destrier forward, Harry could hear him mutter, "the Others take these Magi." Harry hadn't used his influence to make anyone here fear him specifically, and the consequences were that at times the teenagers didn't anticipate the danger inherent in him being a wizard. Not that Harry wanted them to; he wanted to belong, like he had once in the Burrow not so long ago. The Starks reminded him of the Weasleys, in a way. Quiet, stoic Weasleys without red hair, all as serious as Percy with all the honor of a Longbottom. He was weary now, thinking of his losses, trying to fit in with this implacable family. He tried to remember why they had done this, why they were here now and that he was alone amongst these people by choice. Truly, he couldn't stand to look into the eyes of anyone who had been there the day they'd arrived for very long. He saw too much of his own failings staring back.

"I cannot go on like this." He said to no one at all. Jon had raced ahead to catch Robb and Theon had given in to the urge as well, racing ahead to catch up. In a fit of unethical pique, he cast a spell George had perfected in lieu of using Extendable Ears.

"Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?"

"That is the only time a man can be brave. Do you understand why I did it?"

"He was a wilding. They carry off women and sell them to the Others"

"Old Nan has been telling you stories again. In truth the man is an oathbreaker, a deserter from the Night's Watch. No man is more dangerous. The deserter knows his life is forfeit if he is taken, so he will not flinch from any crime, no matter how vile. But you mistake me. The question was not why the man had to die, but why I must do it."

Harry dispelled his magic, somewhat ashamed at his insertion into a father's teaching moment. Yet he appreciated some of what Eddard was saying. The philosophy worked well in their society as it had stood. Before, well, everything changed with the arrival of their people.

He didn't have too long to ponder the situation, as he heard shouting in the distance ahead of Lord Stark and Bran. He kicked his horse into a canter, catching up to the scene quickly. The horses all idled on the riverbank north of the bridge, the summer snows laying heavy on the sides of the flowing river. Robb had dismounted, striding through the snow like some demented yeti, one of the magical creatures they'd failed to find and take with them in their hurry to leave.

In Robb's arms he cradled a small furry bundle, Bran leaning forward to look while Jon stood surveying something out of sight. Harry dismounted and trudged over, shins pushing through the hardened top of the snow to where Jon was standing. Before him lay the largest wolf he had ever seen. And within its injured body, he could detect trace magic, whether it was touched by it or contained within it, he couldn't tell from the state of the animal. But it was one of the first creatures he'd ever encountered that might be considered magical in nature.

"Gods!" Theon exclaimed, stomping holes in the white as he placed himself next to Harry.

"Robb get away from it!" Jory, Eddard's man at arms called out.

"She can't hurt you. She's dead, Jory." Robb smiled, looking up from the object in his arms.

Pulling his wand and casting a silent healing diagnostic on the creature that laid before him, Harry found otherwise. It was horrid, to be sure. Maggots had settled into the rotting flesh quickly, and frost coated the fur while red blood stained the snow around it. Yet the wolf before him had a sluggish pulse and shallow breath. If it had been up to Muggle science, it would have been declared dead. Yet, there was some amount of hope.

"I have to disagree. Do stand back." His voice rang out into the stamping of the horses hooves and the soft murmuring of the men. Hullen and his son pulled Robb's horse back as Robb made his way towards Jon. Theon scurried back to the lines as well. Harry stood next to the great beast, feeling determined to see that it live. Possessed by the urge to prove his skills in a manner that did not result in death of another, he cast every healing spell he could remember from the war. Accio'ing the antler he could see sticking out from its throat, he cast a nonverbal Vulnera Sanetur after to close the wound. A flurry of spells left his wand, removing the blood, and snow. The lungs inside the shaggy furred body expanded and it huffed through its wide mouth of yellow teeth. Eyes that had been milky and sightless, were now red rimmed but alert.

The wolf stretched its paws and gray furred legs forward, planting them in the snow and pulled itself up. Several men gasped and continued backing their panicked horses instinctively, not thinking that if the wolf wanted, the horses wouldn't be able to escape anyway. Harry's eyes shined as it stood, towering above his shoulder and gazing at the men more serenely than an animal ought to.

"That's a direwolf," Jon said with a dissociated calm.

"There's not been a direwolf sighted south of the Wall in two hundred years."

"I see one now," Jon replied. Its eyes alighted to Robb, causing the boy to drop to one knee and let the squiggling bundle go. It skidded over the snow, finding its way easily to its mother. More yips and small cries sounded as the large animal swung its head to examine the pups that had whelped out of it while in its previous death throes.

"Those pups won't survive long without a den. It would have been best to let the beast be." Lord Stark's brow was furrowed, disturbed by what he perceived as an interruption to the nature of things. Every man that had one had pulled his sword by now, shivering in cold and fear, twitching when the wolf shook its shaggy fur, freeing it of the last vestiges of white. Her pups crowded around her legs, seeking suckle from her slightly sagging teets. With a harumph, she sat in a squatted position and gave Harry a look that reminded him of Ginny when James and Albus had been young. James had only just weaned when Albus was born, and his quiet boy had picked up where James had left off at the breast, though with less teeth. His wife's exasperation was mirrored in the beast's face, and he chuckled before sucking in a breath at the memory, pain welling in his heart for his lost wife and children. Intense guilt at the fact he could barely look his daughter, Lily, in the face, without feeling trace resentment and loss.

It was good that she was fostered in Dorne, where Doran Martell had taken to the orphaned magical children with a tenacity that disturbed the rest of the Martells. Still, with Pavarti as the Sentinel of the far South, no one would dare harm any child that frollicked in the Water Gardens. And if Pavarti found comfort in Doran's arms, well, none could complain as it did not strictly violate the laws set down for wizarding kind.

"This beast was sent. By something magical." Harry contradicted Eddard in a way the man could not find reproach with his actions by law. All magic was governed by the Wizengamut and their Sentinels within each region. Harry reached and caressed the wolf's mind, looking for that elusive taste of something old and deep, much like the flavor of magic that ran through the Weirwoods. And, like the Weirwoods, he found himself pushed away from whatever it was that held the creature's mind.

Unlike the respect Harry offered the Weirwoods, trees that almost felt like sentient beings, he did not offer it in regards to the animal. He latched onto the foreign magic like a bloodhound, searching and pulling its slippery mass forward for examination.

"Legillimens!" The wand in his hand was eager for the spell, as it was for all magic. A tiresome object, the death stick was, with its hunger and its pining for use. Yet during these times it was most effective and as Harry sunk into the confines of the direwolf's golden eyes, he found himself confronted with a song.

Who are you?

Those who sing the song of the earth.

Abruptly he was shoved out, but not before a fleeting glimpse of nut-brown skin and mossy green eyes flashed at him. And not before he felt whatever magic in the song had taken hold of the direwolf's mind.

Having been released from the song, the direwolf turned feral, snarling and whipping her head around at the men surrounding her.

"Kill it!" An unknown man shouted in fear, and Eddard strode forward with his longsword, ready to impale the wolf.

"No! All of you, back down!" He shouted, just as the wolf took a swipe at him and he raised a hastily erected protego to stop the slashing claws from disemboweling him.

He knew if he pushed, he could imitate that song, that magic. Magic was intent, it was borne out of desperate want. The most powerful of magic was that which arose from primordial muck, that was only base need. Of man over man, man over self, man over his environment. Harry felt the thrumming of his own blood rising in his ears and he briefly wondered if the first wizard ever faced such an animal and in his need had done something otherworldly to escape death. Something new and powerful. He called on that sentiment now, wordlessly pushing his will into the direwolf.

"Stand down!" Eddward bellowed, pulling his sons back.

It was easy to calm the creature, the previous magic having carved out paths in the wolf's mind that lay waiting like barren channels. The magic sluiced through, and the wolf became serene as it had been before. Unfortunately Harry couldn't sustain this magic for long and he needed more than this. More change, more permanency, more acceptance.

Be what I need you to be. The Elder Wand hummed with joy as it drowned the wolf with Harry's innermost desires. Familiar, it whispered. Companion.

Before Harry could register what his heart had wanted and how it ran counter to what was ethical, the spell was complete.

"Harry you need to stop using that wand. We've talked about this." Hermione's face glowed in the flames of his hearth, her voice stern as the logs cracked for emphasis.

"I know you're right, I do. But it's my fault. It was my intent that changed the wolf to be something other than what the original magic was. That made it more. It's not on the wand." Yet he knew that the wand took special delight in perverting whims. Or rather, understanding the darker desires of the wizard and giving them shape. In the direwolf, Harry had not made the song permanent; he'd altered the wolf to be more similar to a familiar or owl. The creature now radiated that slight sentience all magical familiars did once bonded with a witch or wizard. Thankfully her pups did not. He didn't think it was such a great idea to go about creating magical familiars with impunity. Not to mention the implications if the wolf were to ever breed again. Would her future pups be closer to sentience than she? It was sobering, the idea that he could be responsible for a drastic change in an entire species.

"Really, you know the first thing you should have done was put in a call to me and I would have portkeyed to you. We haven't had a single encounter with the magic of this place but for the debacle at the Isle of Faces and assorted Weirwood related incidents. As it stands I'll need your memories for the pensieve." He hadn't thought about it in the moment, the excitement of having finally found active magic took over, with encouragement from his rebellious wand. It wasn't a tree, and the magic clinging to the wolf hadn't belonged to it precisely. Whatever it was, was as much a trespasser into the animal as he had been.

"Of course, I'll draw them out and portkey them in. It's good to see your face. Any idea when your Sentinel tour begins?"

"Percy hasn't sent out any schedules. You know how he is about security. And don't think you won't be hearing more about how that wand is a menace, Harry. I haven't forgotten and I've kept the fact that you have it from just about everyone. For now, I'll have to report to the Wizengamut on your encounter. Perhaps they'll get off their arses and send an expedition North like we've been asking for months to do." The Weirwoods, while filled with active magic, remained closed doors to their kind. No amount of cajoling, shooting spells or pleading with the trees had made them do more than their usual red-sap weeping from the carvings in their trunks. Something was there, but it wasn't interested in contact. At least the magical species they'd brought with considered the trees magical enough to be attracted to. But if there had been many things about their society that the faction Hermione and he belonged to disliked about this new world, they had won the battle on whether any witch or wizard would force open a connection to the trees. The answer being that no, they would not assault another magical entity knowingly. Not without provocation, of which there'd been the opposite. Yet Harry had done just that, really. Even if he hadn't known that what was affecting the direwolf was a sentient being, not a spell or curse.

Further, research was only important currently if it contributed to the well-being of magical society and their relationship with the non-magicals of this place. In a society with so few bodies, each individual had a responsibility to the collective that was greater than it had ever been before. Harry and Hermione couldn't run off like they had seventh year at Hogwarts, not with a deceptively stable government that had usurped the nobility of this world so handily, such that it was a surprise no one had successfully murdered a wizard in their sleep. It had only been by strict protocol involving warding and notice me not charms that they'd suffered no casualties so far. And if there hadn't been two wars previous that almost all of the adults had experienced, well, things might have been different.

"Just tell them I have a giant, magical wolf that follows me around now. I'm not above threatening to have her piss on rugs or legs in order to get priority." Hermione cackled, and it was so good to hear. To laugh and carry on like they had when it had been all of them at a dinner table, their children throwing food and and accidental magic at each other in equal measure. His smile fell as hers did, both remembering what was lost.

"Have you spoken to Lily?" She asked gently.

"You'd know if you'd spoken to Hugo." Harry snapped irritably at her, feeling sensitive and vulnerable. Lily was like Ginny, his mother and himself all rolled into one. Green eyes, hopeless with her hair and fierce. Hell on a broomstick. It broke his heart into a million pieces, and simply watching her live was so Merlin be damned painful, he couldn't do it. Couldn't be a father, like he'd always thought in the beginning when he'd remember his own parents were dead, so how would he know how to be one? Ginny had convinced him he could, and without her, he was back in his cupboard, wondering what it would like to be cared for by someone who wanted him. His tediously childish personal hell. Because yes, he knew that there was Hermione still, and Hugo who was the spitting image of Ron, and Lily, yet somehow it didn't feel like quite enough to want to wake up each day and be content.

"I'm trying to help Harry. Hugo still isn't speaking either. But I still call, and talk to him. About Ron and Rose, if I can bear it. You can't leave her there alone Harry, I'm your friend and I've watched you go through losing them, but I have to put my foot down, you need help."

"Was it Charlie that put you up to this? George?" He groused, his emotions fraying and twisting up inside him.

"Neither! No one put me up to this, you numpty tosser! Harry James Potter if you think you can pull the wool over my eyes about what's going on with you, you're sorely mistaken. And further, if your discovery constitutes real first contact with other magical beings, as I believe it does, you can bet Morgana's left tit that we'll all be Portkeying up North. In that foreseeable future, you will be dragged kicking and screaming south to see your daughter and get help from a Mind Healer because I've had just about enough of your stroppy attitude. So help me if you try and stop me I'll get Draco to find you a wife per our new and lovely marriage laws." Her voice climbed higher and higher, and Harry wondered belatedly if she just should have sent a Howler. It was what he needed to hear, at any rate.

"Alright! You're right, I know, I need help, I'm sorry. Please don't sic Malfoy on me? He'll hit my glasses with unnecessary reparos all while politely going on about his previous non-existent research into hair potions. As if I hadn't spent my entire life with this mop on my head enough to know what it looks like."

"Don't judge Malfoy, he's gotten a lot better these days. He'd only force you to go on long walks for air and not burn your entire wardrobe." The fireplace flickered as her flame-face shook its head. "It's fine though Harry. I mean the attitude. But I do mean everything else too. You went North alone and we all accepted that each of us needed to grieve in different ways. But it's been long enough now." What went unsaid was that he should have called Lily sooner. Participated in the rebuilding of this society as he had the first time around. Maybe not as a symbol, but as one of the few wizards left in a population of only three hundred or so magical people. He had responsibilities beyond his urges to explore the deep North, past where humans could safely roam.

"I know Hermione. A thousand times I know! And I can't explain how it's so much harder to do what is right now than it was then. How easy it was to fight Voldemort, compared to visiting my own daughter. And now I think we've done terrible things here that I can't see any way around not having done." There had been many debates on the ways the wizarding populace could have integrated into Westeros. The pureblood faction's points had been a cruel reality, however. Genetic diversity was almost too low within their populace, but magic was a multiple allele inheritance that would likely see magical blood too much dispersed within a population of people who didn't have any of the alleles necessary to carry on magical blood. With the muggles from earth, it had been different, in that magical blood had evolved from or devolved out of the populace, leaving many people with a few genes short of a full magical deck, but just enough that two muggles could still produce a magical child. In the new order, it was magical blood that was pure, no matter if you were muggleborn or Sacred 28. It grated on both Harry and Hermione that the pureblood acceptance they had stopped craving long ago, but still wistfully wondered what it would be like to have, had come on the heels of more prejudice. Prejudice against the very people whose system they had usurped and forcibly inserted themselves into.

Wizards had brought with them the finer things of civilization, but these were a people who were being dragged kicking and screaming away from an almost feudal system to capitalist structures and institutions. It was painful all around.

"You know I hate this. We all- well, not Draco, but even he finds some of the actions that have been deemed necessary distasteful."

"The man lives on a mountain of gold with Goblins, Sphinxes and Griffins. Don't tell me he's not blissfully sneering at his non-magical counterpart as he counts coins." Harry sighed, "I don't want to admit it, but we could have had more of a hand in all this."

Hermione hummed in solemn agreement through the flames. They'd both run to the places that they understood: her to books and him to the most possible danger he was allowed to be in. It was what they had known before settling down. Before they'd lost it all over a decade later.

After his floo call with Hermione, Harry drifted through the halls, meandering down to the kennels. Eddard had, under no uncertain terms, made it clear that the direwolf wouldn't be allowed in. Harry had only agreed because they'd had to bring the pups along too. As soon as they were weaned, he intended on bringing her inside. Any magically altered creature craved to be around other magical things. It was why a muggle wouldn't run into magical creatures all that often back on earth; magical creatures coalesced into tentative communities around witches and wizards. Even the predatory creatures doubly avoided non-magicals.

"Lady Catelyn." Before he'd made it outside, the Lady of Winterfell crossed his path with a small curtsey.

"Lord Potter. I have news from the south." Her blue eyes were flinty with distrust, irritation.

Jon should thank me for being the distraction I am. Catelyn hated Harry almost as much as she did Eddard's bastard son. But not as much as Petunia Dursley had hated him. Not nearly so.

"Walk with me then?" He breezed past her, forcing the woman to turn and attend him. It was a petty delight, but at his age he indulged at times in his position of authority. Especially when the woman, though a motherly and well-meaning person, rubbed him the wrong way when it came to Jon. He did understand her ire. Had he done what Eddard had done, Ginny would have castrated him. But, he did imagine that pureblood families had children on the wrong side of the sheets more often than not, and these arranged marriages, like Eddard and Catelyn's, surely needed their outlets. It didn't justify any of her behavior, but he supposed he could see where Jon stood as a threat to Robb's inheritance. If the man had a traitorous bone in his body, which he did not.

"Lord Arryn has passed on." She fell into step beside him, awaiting some kind of response. Harry had none; he'd never been a stellar student of history of magic, and he certainly hadn't examined the intricate and complicated relations of his hosts to the rest of Westeros.

Sensing his confusion, she continued.

"Lord Stark fostered with the Lord of the Vale when he was young. And Lord Arryn was hand of the King." She was referring to the Baratheon King, who'd been all but deposed, had been guided by this Arryn. Harry did not know much more about the situation, other than that Percy was handling it currently and that the man had racked up a sizeable amount of debt to the Westerlands and elsewhere.

"They will pick a new hand?"

"Yes, I suspect." Catelyn continued her sedate walk beside him. For all the woman did not like him, she did take a while to reach her point. He recognized that at one time in her life, Catelyn had come here and married someone she did not know. So new as Lady Stark, to watch her husband come home with a Jon and force the woman to accept him was not something Harry could even imagine. It was understandable then, that she deeply despised Jon, as he represented the betrayal of a vow that would be thrown in her face again and again. He didn't think her behavior was forgivable, however, and it wasn't at all endearing how she let it trickle down into her children. Nor how he seemed to be included in her spite.

They had reached the courtyard, where Robb and Jon traded blows with practice swords while Bran practiced with his bow. Without Catelyn, the boy would have run up to Harry. The children made him think of his own, and at times when he was wracked with guilt over Lily, he perversely appreciated that Catelyn did her best to keep them away from him.

"Robert and Ned are long time friends. It was Ned to rallied to Robert's call for Rebellion." They stood watching the children in the yard, breaths puffing out white and misty.

"I've always hated politics Lady Stark."

"Robert will ask for Ned."

"He can always say no."

"He won't." Catelyn looked miserably angry, but Harry still didn't know exactly what she was asking of him. If Eddard left, Robb would be here to learn how to rule in his stead. And the occasional scheduled visit with a Portkey and magical escort could be arranged. It wasn't the kind of life Harry would want to live, being in King's Landing, nor was it Eddard's he suspected. Harry still didn't consider it within his duties to advise a man who had made it clear he wanted nothing to do with magic-kind, including him.

"You're asking the wrong man. I can't convince your husband to stay."

"I am aware." She bit out. "But if he could be outfitted with- with one of those keys, to come and go home at night as he pleased?" Oh how it must have burned her to even ask. She who disliked the North and its crude, primal ways and had added Harry to that collection of hate easier than breathing.

"You are aware of the laws. And you know me well enough to know that I don't get involved," he looked at her, trying to ensure that she did not see it as personal that he wouldn't, couldn't help. They had already interfered enough, and there had been growing concerns that had been there from the beginning that these people would come to expect more than magicals would be able to offer. And when they didn't get it, they would take it, or destroy it so others couldn't have it. The purebloods had sniffed and instead of considering it flattering or dangerous, deemed the esteem their abilities were held in as a matter of course. Not that they were all naive to the danger; Draco Malfoy had been enjoying the un-tender company of Tywin Lannister long enough to have a grasp on just how similarly power hungry certain families were to pureblood ones. No one had given more than token protest to Draco's methods of ascertaining truth, not when the risks were so high.

"Then if that is all, my Lord." Catelyn would have made an excellent pureblood scion of a noble wizarding house, the way her curtsey was sharp enough to be an insult. She didn't wait for his dismissal before making her way to where Eddard was in the Godswood. The man sought refuge in prayer and worship after taking any man's life.

"Cold as a river trout, that one." Theon slinked up to him, the boy's smile a mischievous line across his face.

In his pocket, his official Protean charmed Dragon warmed. Likely a Sentinel call regarding the late Jon Arryn.

"You know Theon, there is no going back. I remember what it was like to be between two worlds, two families. Lady Catelyn may not be your mother, but she's treated you kindly." The boy's adolescent face turned morose and pinched at the rejection, and he spluttered.

"I'm a Prince of the Pike, and I always will be! What do your kind even know about family anyway? You're just some sad Magi that couldn't handle being a man." He stomped off after hissing his words at Harry, not waiting for Harry to do something magical and awful to him. As if Harry could be intimidated by the words of a child, even as he did think that maybe there was some truth to them. That he couldn't handle loss, not like he should.

"I'd forgotten how boys are." Harry said to the empty air before continuing on to the kennels. The Protean Dragon could wait.

A/N Hope it's likable?