Disclaimer: not mine
Glad Ardyn's identity was a surprise to most of you.
He fought back a sigh of relief as Ardyn appeared in the distance, finding him gone had not been a pleasant surprise. He was walking slower than normal and then he spotted part of the reason, a child! There had been no mention of any missing children, Ardyn had gone into the woods looking for healing herbs. As they got closer he could see the child was dressed in rags, a hand clinging to Ardyn's own damaged cloak and he stiffened at seeing the dried blood on white clothing. "What happened?"
"Gilgamesh, this is Harry. Harry this is my friend and companion, Gilgamesh. He won't hurt you," Ardyn kept his voice calm and soothing and Gil looked down at the small boy, immediately seeing the similarities between him and the brothers.
He knelt down, knowing how tall he appeared to others, especially children, pushing back his hood to let the boy look at him. "It is an honour to meet you little one," he spoke as gently as possible.
"Hello," the boy whispered nervously, bright green eyes wide as he stared up at him.
Harry stared at the tall man, able to see the armour under his cloak, real armour like the knights in paintings around school. He was really tall too, not as tall as Hagrid but still very, very tall. He had to be close to seven feet! Maybe more. He was also very obviously armed and that made him wary. This place was so different to home and now back in human form he knew how vulnerable he was without his wand.
Then he knelt down and pushed back his hood to speak with him and Harry felt the nervousness melt away as he took in the kind eyes. "Hello," he whispered his own greeting.
"I am sorry for worrying you my friend, it was not my intention to be gone over night," Ardyn offered as Gilgamesh stood again.
"So long as you are both well?" he asked, eyeing them both.
"Nothing terribly dangerous but I dare say we could both use a bath and clean clothing."
"I will purchase some for Harry while you bathe," he offered and Ardyn nodded.
As they walked it became obvious Harry was flagging so Gilgamesh carefully picked him up, startling the boy, causing him to stiffen in alarm before gradually relaxing as nothing else happened. He would need to warn Gilgamesh of Harry's animal form in case he changed, he did not want Gil to do anything drastic and destroy the boys trust. They would need to see if he could do anything else with magic and then train him to use it. Learning to control his transformation would also be necessary. Too many would attack him on sight, either thinking him a threat or looking to sell valuable scales and feathers.
When they reached the village they went straight to the inn where they were staying and Ardyn was grateful it had an attached bath house. He led Harry through to it while Gil went to ensure they both had clean clothing. He smiled when he saw Harry's eyes light up at the sight of steaming water. "Have you used a bath house before?" he asked only to receive a head shake in answer. He eyed the depth of the water. "Can you swim."
"No sir," was the answer and Ardyn nodded.
"That is something we shall have to teach you then," he smiled and quickly stripped off, mindful of his wounds. Harry hesitated but copied and he spotted a handful of old scars littering pale skin.
Ardyn stepped down into the water and then held a hand out to help Harry in. if he wasn't injured he would give the first swimming lesson then and there but there would be time once they returned home. Instead he settled Harry on the step, seeing him wince in pain as the water hit his injuries before relaxing. Ardyn grabbed cloths and soap, passing some on to Harry to wash himself with before beginning to wash himself. A cleaning liquid was used on their hair and then a knock came and Gilgamesh entered with two bundles of clothing.
"Do you need any assistance?" he asked, putting down a satchel of healing supplies and Ardyn smiled in thanks, pulling himself out of the water to sit on the edge with his legs still in the water, letting his friend tend to the wounds on his back.
He looked up and smiled at Harry who was watching them, cheeks a little red as he kept his gaze up. It took him a second to realise why and it made him wonder where the boy had come from that people did not bathe together. How would he react if exposed to a mixed bath house? He let Gil re-tie his hair for him, saving his back form have to stretch his arms up. Overall, his injuries were a lot better than they could have been after two fights. "Your turn Harry, let's take a look at you."
"Ummm," he looked between them, cheeks now scarlet.
Gilgamesh got up and returned with a towel, holding it up and Harry stood up to wrap it around his waist, obviously embarrassed.
"Relax Harry, no one will hurt you," Ardyn soothed. While he could use magic to heal him, it was better to stick to various medicines and bandages, he did not want to risk Harry's own magic reacting negatively now that he was conscious and obviously unsure of things. "Bathing in groups is normal."
"What about showers?" Harry asked and Ardyn glanced at Gil who shrugged slightly.
"What is a shower?" Ardyn asked and Harry stared at them in confusion. "Harry, where are you from?"
"Surrey," he answered. "School's in Scotland though."
Another look was exchanged, neither of them had ever heard of such places. Ardyn, with his love of exploring places, knew their world was bigger than the areas he had travelled to, but nothing he or Aera had translated.
He finished tending Harry's wounds and got them both dressed before heading into the inn for a meal. Harry needed to put some weight on and after using as much magic as he had over the last two days, Ardyn was rather hungry himself. Once they had eaten they retreated to their room where Gil made up a pallet on the floor for himself, guarding the door, and leaving his bed to Harry who immediately tried to argue.
"You are wounded young Harry; you will sleep much better in the bed. Besides, it is my duty to guard you both," Gilgamesh wrapped himself in his cloak and lay before the door.
Harry was surprised to wake up on something rather soft, opening his eyes to blink up at a ceiling. He rolled over to see Gilgamesh was gone but the other bed was still occupied. He sat up slowly, happy to find he didn't hurt so much. Whatever Ardyn had used wasn't as good as potions but better than non-magical healing. He carefully got out of bed and walked quietly over to the window, looking out. He'd seen pictures of medieval villages in primary school and the village looked a lot like them.
Harry turned to see Ardyn sitting up in his bed, hair hanging loose around his face. "Good morning sir."
"Ardyn, Harry," he corrected and Harry nodded.
"Hungry?" Ardyn asked as he got up.
"A little," Harry admitted. Ardyn began to full re-dress, motioning for Harry to do the same, helping when he got a bit stuck.
"We will be moving on today, we will reach the city in about three days," he explained as they went downstairs to eat, finding Gilgamesh down there already, his hair damp. Once they'd eaten they went back up to collect their things and Harry was given a small bag with more clothing.
Gilgamesh watched as Ardyn taught Harry how to skin an animal for cooking. Many would not expect a noble to know such things but he had ensured both brothers knew how to do so. It came in handy with how often Ardyn was on the road. They would reach the city tomorrow and he was looking forward to being home again, to seeing how Somnus was. He had known the brothers all of his life and he disliked the growing chasm between them as Ardyn spent more and more time out among the people, healing those he could.
If Harry wasn't as old as he was, Gil would assume Harry was the son of one of them but even Ardyn was too young. However, it was very possible he was their cousin to some degree. The Lucis Caelum were one of the oldest families, of noble heritage, and they often wandered far across the land. It was not impossible for members of the family to enjoy themselves in those travels. Likely, there were many bastard children out there, scattered throughout the land.
Looking at the boy as he worked with Ardyn, it was hard to believe the tale his friend had told, but Ardyn was not prone to such jokes. He had never heard of magic that could transform man to beast and back again but Ardyn had sworn it was not the Scourge. If anyone could be trusted to know for sure, it was Ardyn who dedicated so much of his life to healing those afflicted. The problem was, he was but one man, for every person he healed, how many others were left to suffer and turn into daemons? There had to be some way to slow its spread.
Somnus walked quickly through the halls, word had spread, Ardyn had returned from his latest journey. It had been months since he had seen his older brother and despite their arguments he had missed him. He had sent word to Aera so that she would be aware of his return, everyone knew the two were smitten and would likely announce their engagement within the next few years.
He was seventeen now and while he had trained to fight for years, everyone had worked hard to keep him safely within the city. He was a man now and he would not stay locked away in the city any longer. Even Aera travelled!
He left the building and walked down the stairs into the courtyard, seeing Ardyn and Gilgamesh and then he saw Gil reach up to Ardyn's mount. He watched in confusion as a child was set on the ground before his brother dismounted. Somnus stepped forward and the boy saw him, watching him curiously. It took him a second to see the similarities in look and he was shocked.
"Brother!" he called, walking forward and Ardyn turned, gracing him with a smile.
"Somnus," he stepped forward and hugged him and Somnus sighed but returned the embrace. No matter their arguments, they were still brothers. "How are you?"
"Well," he assured him, inspecting Ardyn for injuries, not that he would find any. Ardyn never returned home injured, not wanting anyone to worry. "And who is this?"
"Come here," Ardyn held a hand out and the boy moved to his side.
Seeing him closer, Somnus adjusted his guess to the child's age, he was older than he first appeared. Seeing a boy who could be related to them was a shock. Had their Father…no, it was not necessarily him. it was more likely they were distant cousins, but that did not make it any less surprising.
"Somnus, this is Harry James Potter. Harry, this is my younger brother, Somnus Lucis Caelum," Ardyn introduced them, watching Somnus closely. He knew his brother had spotted the resemblance. He had managed to get Harry's full name out of him, the boy admitting James had been his father's name and his mother had been Lily. Not common names at all. He was thankful Harry had lost his shyness around himself and even Gil while they were on the road.
"Hello sir," the boy greeted politely. He looked much better even after only a few days. His hair had been tamed by tying it back and the clothing, while not the best fit, was far superior to the rags he'd been wearing. He was even beginning to tan a little from travelling in the sun, though he still needed to gain weight.
"Hello," Somnus returned. "I assume there is a story here?"
"Harry saved my life," he announced and Somnus started, eyes wide. He dd so love it when he could shock his little brother.
Harry stared around the rooms he'd been taken to in awe. He'd never seen such a grand bedroom before! But it wasn't just a bedroom, Ardyn had called it a suite of rooms, they were all his! He wasn't sure why he needed so many, though having his own facilities was a relief. He had a big bedroom with a balcony and large bed, and two other rooms, one like a loungeroom and the other with a desk and bookshelves. It seemed he would be going back to some kind of schooling, he didn't mind. He wasn't like Hermione who liked learning for learnings sake but he did enjoy learning what he was interested in. Without the Dursley's around to punish him for good grades, Ron to distract him or Hermione to force him to study he was looking forward to it.
Gilgamesh had said someone would be coming later to measure him for clothing which would be nice. The stuff he was wearing was good but it was also a bit too big, though not as bad as Dudley's hand-me-downs. He didn't understand why they were doing so much for him when they didn't know him, and he did wonder what it'd end up costing him in the end, but they did seem genuine.
"Finally back?" a laughing voice asked and Ardyn turned with a smile to see Aera in the doorway.
"Did you miss me?" he asked, teasing and she walked over to clasp his hands before kissing his cheek. He hated being away from her for so long, but he had a duty to the people. She understood, she was the God's voice to the people after all.
"I hear you brought back a new friend?" she asked as they moved to sit on a bench beneath a window.
"A boy, his name is Harry. Even Somnus has seen the resemblance to our Father's side of the family. He saved my life Aera and he has no home."
"So you will give him one," she smiled and he nodded. "I would like to meet him."
"And you shall,' he promised. "He has magic Aera, unlike any I have ever heard of. I could not leave him as he was, living alone in the woods. He was injured helping me."
"I must thank him then."