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Reborn entered the abandoned building, smirking on the inside while considering the very obviously intended, ominous feel of the old storage facility. Yeah, very intentionally, supposedly abandoned seemed about right.

He was just going to get in, extract the information and get out before anyone noticed that he had ever even been there. The base belonged to the Corocos Famiglia, a small unimportant Famiglia that had only started to appear on the radar of the bigger players due to their involvement in some unscrupulous and definitely not entirely sanctioned businesses. Corocos had signed their own death warrants with several idiotic decisions. Too many people out for revenge, too few people that would work for a Famiglia that did not hold up their end of the contracts. They would vanish within the next few weeks, taken apart by various players, big or small, their business re-distributed between whoever got there first.

And Reborn himself, well he was always first, always faster, always better than anyone else.

He had gotten information about Corocos 'obtaining' technology that was somehow related to Flame activation - and wouldn't Vongola be horrified at that when they heard about it. As the Corocos Famiglia was not known to have any powerful Flame users, this had already been interesting enough for him to at least come check it out. This information – the very existence of this technology - was naturally not supposed to be available, but well, he wasn't the World's Greatest Hitman for nothing. So, here he was.

Even though information brokering usually wasn't his thing, he had been entirely too bored and the offered contracts far too much more-of-the-same to hold his interest. Some information brokering was at least going to break up the routine.

Reborn made his way through the building, quite leisurely to be honest. The security was almost humorous. Cameras evenly spaced, moving steadily in defined angles... Maybe this wasn't going to be quite as interesting as he had hoped.

 


 

Reborn moved through the second floor basement level of the 'secret' base.

Even though he had already found the target and extracted any and all information on the technology - which had surprisingly turned out to also include a list of potential Flame users that really shouldn't exist, especially in the hands of some small Famiglia without any sort of conscience - something in this part of the building had his instincts coiled quite a bit tighter than usual.

It might have something to do with the information he now carried with him. Reborn knew how the technology had been obtained, but there had been no clues as to how the list had been compiled.

His insticts lurched just as he passed a corridor to the left, not necessarily to warn him of any danger, but rather as though to make him take notice. While Reborn did not have the Vongola intuition, he had not survived in his line of work for this long or reached and maintained his position at the top by ignoring his instincts, be it good or bad.

To the left it was.

Reborn moved down the corridor and came to a stop at a door on the right side. His instincts were pulling at him insistently and there was nothing in this world that would have been able to keep him from entering this room and investigating. He abhorred going into anything without sufficient information - meaning all information there was on any given situation - but this was...

Not knowing what to expect on the other side, he quickly threw open the door without letting go of it to prevent any noise, gun in hand. There were two men in the room with their backs to him and they were focused entirely on the observation window on the other side of the room. Reborn moved slightly to the side to see better, his Flames humming in the back of his mind.

There was someone tied to a chair in the room on the other side of the window with someone standing over them. Well, that solved his need for a source of information then.

The two men in the room with him were taken out without ever noticing his presence and Reborn moved towards the window. The man in the chair seemed to be either unconscious or close to it, his head lolling and his body only held up by the restraints that kept him tied to the chair. Reborn could only see dark hair and a slim body, as the man was only wearing boxers.

Old school interrogation then? Make the body feel weak and the mind will follow?

The other man, assumedly a member of Corocos, was staring down at the man with a seriously deranged expression, a mixture of uncontrolled anger, enjoyment, greed and power. Reborn abhorred that kind. People who found enjoyment in a completely powerless opponent were entirely beneath his notice.

Though he disliked people who were weak enough to get into a position of complete helplessness almost as much.

However, there was something not quite right about this situation. The assumed interrogator was not asking any questions, didn't even seem to be trying to get any kind response from the prisoner. Just stood there, leering.

Suddenly, he grabbed the prisoner's hair and harshly pulled his head up.

Reborn almost drew in a sharp breath. The man - or should he say boy, probably not quite out of his teens yet - was quite beautiful, almost delicate features with fine bone structure and pale skin. But what really grabbed his attention were the blazing green eyes. Even though the prisoner clearly didn’t even have the strength to sit up on his own, there was no capitulation in his gaze, no fear. There was resentment, resignation and anger - or rather utter fury - and contempt in the small slits of his eyes.

Well then. Even if this person turned out to be entirely useless, Reborn would truly enjoy having him writhing beneath him, eyes blazing up at him.

Decision made, Reborn nonchalantly entered through the door next to the observation window, while surreptitiously confirming the lack of cameras in the room, fully intending to move towards the two occupants. However, with the opening of the door, his prior assessment of the situation was entirely thrown out.

Sky Flames. Powerful Sky Flames of ridiculous purity saturated the room.

His brain took only an additional moment, a slight hesitation that was barely noticeable on the outside, while re-calculating everything. The man in the chair was a Sky, a ridiculously powerful one at that.

The Corocos goon had not even really noticed Reborn's entrance, too focused on the captured Sky. However, the blazing green eyes had immediately focused on Reborn, assessed him and apparently determined him to be more of a threat than the guy standing close enough to actually physically harm him. Reborn felt himself almost preen on the inside.

Though the Corocos member appeared to have noticed his presence now, even if only because the object of his interest had his focus diverted elsewhere.

He still did not turn around, even as he spouted, "Fuck off. It's my turn. All of you tanked. But I'm not a pussy like you. I will be first."

He sounded quite deranged, but Reborn understood immediately what was going on, easily putting the information together now that he had all the variables.

The list with potential Flame users. There had been different Flame types on that list when he had glanced at it and it wasn't too much of a stretch to assume it might have included potential Sky Flame users. Possibly even civilian. Because there was no way the Sky tied to the chair would have been able to go unnoticed in the mafia. It was a miracle someone had not stumbled across him by accident, civilian or not.

So the Sky had been identified, somehow, and had been forced into activation with the newly 'obtained' technology. However, there was no apparent usage or leakage of the Flames. Had the Sky somehow been able to rein in his Flames almost immediately? Now wouldn’t that be something.

The setup in the interrogation room also gained an entirely different context. The temperature was set incredibly low, so much so that Reborn could feel it even though his Sun Flames kept his temperature elevated at all times. Probably starvation and sleep deprivation as well, going by the haggard expression on the Sky's face. This setup was intended to weaken the Sky, force him into accepting bonds, and with Elements far below his own power at that. With a Sky of this power any Famiglia would immediately move up in the ranks. Though Reborn doubted that they would have remained there. For a Sky like this, some other more powerful Famiglia would soon have swooped in and taken him for themselves.

However, going by what the goon had said, so far no one had been able to force the Sky into any kind of bond. Reborn felt like licking his lips. Even more so, as the green eyes had not left him since he had entered, almost seeming to dismiss the Corocos entirely as a threat in comparison to Reborn.

A quick move forwards and the deranged mafia goon was unconscious on the floor. Just in case there was any information Reborn might need later on and if he didn’t, well, killing him would not require any additional effort on his part. With the same movement that took out the Corocos goon Reborn reached out and supported the Sky's head underneath his chin.

It had been instinctive, his Flames, his entire being focused on the Sky. Afterwards, he would be torn between calling himself all kinds of a fool in the privacy of own mind or enthusiastically congratulating himself for this action.

With the skin contact, the bond slammed into place.

Chapter Text

Harry hated the Potter luck.

Everyone was always talking about his incredible luck for getting out of all kinds of sticky situations. However, no one ever appeared to remember that it was the same luck that had gotten him into those messes in the first place. His luck was incredible alright, continuously switching from incredibly bad to incredibly good and back around again, getting him into the worst kind of situations and then promptly flipping around and getting him out of them again. In reverse, whenever anything really good happened in his life, Harry knew the Potter luck would come around and ensure that he did not get too comfortable.

Well, it certainly kept his life interesting at all times and made boredom pretty much impossible.

Case in point, not even three months had passed since Voldemort's defeat - he had finally dared to hope for a life without obligations - and here he was, tied to a chair, by Muggles of all things. Not that he wasn't glad that it wasn't some kind of Death Eater faction that had captured him, but still, he could have done entirely without to be honest.

Especially, as he couldn't use his magic to get away.

+++

After the Battle of Hogwarts, he had been in a state of shock, trying to get used to the idea that it was over, he had done it. They had won. Voldemort was gone. He was finally free to live his life, a life after Voldemort, something he had barely dared to hope for.

It had taken him a while to get over the vertigo of his sudden freedom.

And then his mind had burst into a flurry of activity, considering options, dreams, possibilities. First, he had gotten a flat right off the Leaky Cauldron in the Muggle World. His own place. Something to make everything seem more real. Somewhere just for him and his thoughts. Though at that point, most of his time had been spent helping with the restorations, organizing funerals and attending trials.

But whenever he got to his flat, he had a few moments for his own grief, of quiet and contemplation and memories. He had kept the flat secret, even from friends and allies, and for the first time he did not feel any guilt for keeping something - anything - of his life entirely to himself.

And then the Potter luck reared its head.

In the weeks after the battle, he had felt a kind of disquiet in his magic, neither in the way it usually warned him of the worst kind of danger nor in a way that might suggest a loss in its strength. Just a certain unsteadiness. For as long as he could remember, his magic had been a soothing, steady background hum in his mind - even at the Dursley's, long before he had had a name for it. Only during his worst moments - Sirius - did his magic turn tumultuous.

This waver in his magic had terrified him, especially when he had felt his magic start to retreat further and further into his core.

Between the restorations and the funerals it had still taken him a while before he actually managed to go to visit Madam Pomfrey. Her horrified expression had done nothing to calm his already frayed nerves. She had immediately called for a mediwizard from St. Mungo's for a consult.

There had been a lot of tests and prodding, discussions and theories. Additional specialists had been called in. And then more tests.

Turns out, his magic had been working to recalibrate itself so to speak, trying to find a new balance without the effects of the horcrux to be constantly isolated and counteracted. And hadn't that been a kick in the teeth. Madam Pomfrey had practically been spitting nails when she and Mediwizard Biran realized what was causing the imbalance. Apparently, there would have been options – options, as in plural - for the removal of the horcrux, options beyond him walking to his death like a gullible fool.

Additionally, the final battle itself had also taken a toll on his magic. Even though Harry had been able to dodge most spells aimed at him, he had not been able to entirely escape the magic and the intent behind the curses. The spell currents that remained with each casting, whether a spell reached its intended target or not, had been thick in the air that night. The currents of numerous dark and light spells cast during the battle had taken a toll on his naturally grey magic and thrown it out of whack.

And last but not least, the Avada itself.

Once the cause for the imbalance in his magic had been determined, Mediwizard Biran and the other specialists had quickly devised a treatment plan to help support the balancing of his magic. It had included rituals and a strict potions regimen, as they had agreed that any additional magic cast on him directly was more likely to be harmful rather than helpful.

They had been adamant that he was to start the treatment immediately. Harry had been informed that the treatment would be a shock to his system, as it would pretty much remove any kind of previous structure his magic had fallen into over the years. The treatment would allow his magic to form an entirely new balance, without any outside disturbances. Accordingly, he would probably be out of it for quite a bit, while his magic recalibrated itself and settled back into his core.

Even though Harry had not been amused in the least, he had to concede that there was a distinct lack in his usual instinctual magic. Which had been utterly terrifying to him. The bone deep relief he had felt at the news that this could be fixed had almost taken his breath away. For once in his life he would actually adhere to the recommended treatment plan. Because he treasured his magic unquestionably.

The healers had agreed to Harry starting the treatment at St. Mungo's and staying there in the beginning. He was to remain in a magically stable environment, especially during the initial phase of the treatment. As soon as his magic smoothed out, he would be moved to Hogwarts - he had argued that St. Mungo's and Hogwarts should be at least kind of similar regarding the day to day magic use happening around him. Harry had no interest in staying at the hospital indefinitely even though he wasn't too thrilled about returning to the site of the Final Battle right away either.

After the treatment, he was to refrain from using any magic for a while to give his magic some time to settle. According to the healers, his magic should be sufficiently reliable again about two months after the start of the treatment.

Unless there were any exacerbating factors that might induce stress or fluctuations of his magic, as Madam Pomfrey had pointed out sardonically. Well, she had been treating him for years, she was used to his luck by now.

They had started the treatment as planned and the final procedure had been a ritual designed to support the stabilization of his magic. Harry had not been lucid after the first few rituals, so he was not entirely sure how much time had passed at that point.

Unsurprisingly, this was not enough for the Potter luck.

Even though he had barely had any meaningful contact with anyone for weeks at this point - all of them, him included, far too busy to take the time to get together, and in the case of the Golden Trio actually glad to be able to separate for a bit after seeing each other day in and day out for months, living in a tent - they had apparently heard of the treatment somehow.

His wonderful friends - though he was not certain whether he wanted to call them that at this point in time - and the remaining Order members had crowned themselves his keepers while he was in no shape to object. For some reason, they had decided that he should stay with his relatives while he recuperated.

Never mind that Madam Pomfrey had specified that he should not switch between locations of strong and weak magical saturation. Not like his opinion on the matter had been considered - or asked for.

Harry could barely remember the trip from St. Mungo's - though Merlin only knows how they got him released, as he was sure Madam Pomfrey and Mediwizard Biran would have ripped them apart - and there were some recollections of Ron and Hermione explaining their reasoning. As far as Harry understood, Ron and Hermione were going to leave for Australia soon to look for the Grangers. They felt it was too much of a hassle to keep him at St. Mungo's during that time - and didn't the Headmaster always say, there were extra protections at the Dursleys' for him? - completely disregarding the fact that they had not been involved in his treatment or hospital stay at all.

It hadn't made much sense to him then, and it didn't make any more sense now. Actually, he was rather spitting mad.

They had dropped him off and disappeared right after. He had realized that none of his 'rescuers' had thought to inform his relatives of his return to their home, as signified by his Aunt's screeching when she found him in one of the beds the next morning.

The adjustment to the lack of surrounding magic had thrown him into a semi-lucid state for a while afterwards. What he did remember however, was his Uncle's yelling and threats. And then there had been strangers. He was not sure what had happened, though he could mostly guess. He remembered his Uncle's satisfied expression in the hallway as Harry was carried outside. There might have even been some money involved for all that Harry knew or cared.

Harry had lost track of the proceedings for a while and he guessed they had traveled, as he had felt the strain on his core, before they had finally stopped. He had focused what remained of his awareness on soothing his magic and keeping it as tightly coiled into his core as he could.

The pain had brutally shocked him out of his focus. Not physical pain - he had learned years ago that physical pain could rarely ever compete - but it felt as though something was ripping at his very center. He had frantically checked on his magic, to find it in chaos though not directly affected by whatever was happening. He only coiled it tighter into his very core.

No, whatever was slowly, excruciatingly ripping was something else entirely.

He could feel something - a warmth he could only barely remember ever having felt - seep into the spaces his magic usually occupied, moving outwards. Not knowing what was happening Harry immediately reached for the warmth pulling it in, coiling it with his magic at his core. More and more and more. He coiled the warmth around - not into - his core as though it were an extra layer around it, before he lost consciousness entirely.

When Harry came to again, to his utter relief his magic was still coiling smoothly in his core and the warmth had formed something of a protective layer around it. It felt strange, but oh so very familiar.

Okay. He was okay. Whatever that warmth was, it felt like a part of him, something that should be right where it was, similar to his magic but not, and Harry had lived by his instincts and intuition for as long as he could remember, so he was damn well going to stick with it.

Not so okay was the cold that had his limbs shaking. Limbs that seemed to be tied to a chair.

+++

Which brought him back to his current problem and how for once in his life he could not rely on his magic to get out of it. He could not simply magic his way out of the ties and walk away. For one, he would prefer to not hinder the recuperation of his magic as Biran had emphasized that using his magic at this point would set back his recovery significantly. Additionally, he did not think he would be able to actually walk at all.

Someone - a man going by the voice and the shoes he could see off to the side - was gripping his arm and saying something, yelling more like. Whether it was aimed at him or not, neither did he care nor did he have the strength to sit up or react. Then his arm was let go and the man was moving away, a door slamming.

It was quiet, but Harry was pretty certain there was still someone in the room with him. Then a small, feminine hand was pressed to his chest - his naked chest, well, that explained the cold at least – accompanied by a stream of lilting words. Something was reaching for him, something intangible - electricity? - prodding somehow, prodding at his awareness, his being, trying to wind past his defenses.

Harry wanted to snort. Yeah, good luck with that, he thought haughtily and slammed his shields down. A loud gasp. The hand and the damn prodding vanished.

He lost track for a bit then. There was more prodding - he suppressed a shudder and made sure his shields were impenetrable - then something with a bit more force - liquid, it felt oily somehow - and then again - heat, too dry - and again - the electricity again? - and again and again and again. Merlin only knows how long it went on. Harry was aware sometimes, but mostly focused inward, sometimes he slept. It might have been days.

Although the prodding had gotten very annoying very quickly. At some point he would really have liked to forcefully 'prod' back. Though, better not irritate these people before he could at least get some kind of read on his situation.

He might have drifted off again, but abruptly came awake when someone grabbed his hair and pulled up his head. He peeled his eyes open as far as he could and did his best to convey his utter contempt with his eyes. The guy who had grabbed him was saying something, though it sounded unintelligible. It might have been a different language altogether or Harry's brain might have just decided to go on vacation, but even though he did not understand a word, he could certainly recognize greed when he saw it.

So this guy - or these people as the case might be - wanted something from him. Well that was just bloody perfect, wasn't it.

Then, the door on the other side of the room opened unobtrusively. Another man entered and Harry's instincts immediately kicked into high gear.

This one was dangerous, truly dangerous. He could practically see the air around the man shimmer - not a wizard though, that much was easy to tell. Harry kept his eyes fixed on the man - as much as he could - and he noticed a barely there hesitation right after the man stepped into the room.

Something was off, Harry could practically feel it. This man was dangerous and he didn't belong here. So Harry's situation might either be getting better or a whole lot worse.

He barely registered the man's quick movements across the room - Merlin, he was fast - before the hold in his hair disappeared as the guy in front of him just collapsed. But before his head could even start to fall to rest on his chest again, Harry felt two fingers slip underneath his chin, holding his head up.

Blazing green met shadowed black.

Harry felt the warmth around his core lurch forwards at once and an answering heat - firelifelightheat - from the man in front of him. A connection practically slammed into place. A connection that - though it felt rather comforting - also felt very much permanent.

Harry saw the man's eyes widen slightly, a conflicted look flitting across his face for a brief moment, before a smugly satisfied grin took its place.

"Well, this certainly is a surprise. Wouldn't you agree, beautiful?"

Harry could only reiterate: He absolutely despised the Potter luck.

Chapter Text

When Reborn had first joined the Mafia – years ago - he had been far more interested in making a name for himself than in finding Harmony. He had been quite happy to remain free, unattached, able to do whatever he pleased. Reborn had been in no hurry to bind himself to a Sky or a Famiglia.

It had taken years before his Flames had actively started searching for a Sky. Long after he had attained a reputation – a reputation that had his targets tremble in fear and Famiglias lining up to recruit him, to somehow tie him down - he had started to miss that connection, a place to belong, to rest, to call home. In the beginning it hadn't even been a conscious decision, but his Flames had just started to search for a bond and - though he would not admit it on the pain of death - he himself had also started to long for some sort of companionship.

But no luck. Even though he had been looking for years, even though his Flames – at this point almost desperately - longed for the connection, Reborn’s pride was also immovable. He would not - could not - settle for just any Sky. And neither would his Flames.

He was The Strongest Sun in the Mafia World, the World's Greatest Hitman. And as it turned out, he was also too strong for any Sky in existence.

The Sky Flame users he happened to meet quickly had him to generally despise or at least distrust Sky Flame users. Because Reborn was famous and skilled, had a reputation and his own network of spies and alliances, the offers just kept coming. Any position of his choice in any Famiglia of his choice would be open – or opened - to him, if he were to show even the slightest amount of interest. But even as a Famiglia would be offering him the sweetest of deals, he felt their Sky already trying to force the bond.

Still they failed, whether they used force or subterfuge. Every single Sky a disappointment, not able to form that bond, wearing on him and his hope of ever being able to find that bond at all.

When even the Vongola failed - and they had tried, every single one of them, some trying for 'subtle' and possibly convinced he hadn't noticed their reaching for him - he had consciously given up on that hope.

There simply wasn’t a Sky strong enough to reel him in.

Well, until now that was.

 


 

The bond, as brutal as the forming of the connection had been, was pure welcoming warmth.

When he had entered the interrogation room earlier, Reborn had immediately felt the Sky’s Flames, had been surprised by their strength and purity. Still, he had not been prepared for this.

The Flames he had felt saturating the room were nothing compared to what was still hiding within his - his - Sky.

Despite this, it took less than a moment to take stock, to revel in the feeling of the bond and to let his satisfaction steal across his face. Well, the welcoming feeling of the bond certainly wasn’t mirrored on his Sky's expression, that much was for sure. The green eyes were challenging him.

Reborn just couldn't help himself. "Well, this certainly is a surprise. Wouldn't you agree, beautiful?"

The eyes blazed to life - and something inside Reborn purred at the fire, the strength, the defiance - even though the owner wouldn't even be able to stand on his own.

Speaking of which, this just wouldn't do. The restraints had to go. And if his Sky was still unable to sit up by himself… Well, Reborn was more than willing to have his barely clothed, beautiful Sky lean on him - rely on him - in order to remain upright. Very willing indeed.

He easily removed the bindings one-handed and as expected his Sky sagged towards him immediately - why these people had thought it necessary to restrain his Sky at all would remain a mystery. Reborn easily lifted his Sky and with a few quick steps carried him into the adjacent observation room. Setting him down onto the table - so Reborn could have his Sky lean on him while also remaining upright, without compromising his ability to defend them if necessary - his Sky certainly felt lovely tucked into Reborn's side. His mostly naked Sky.

Letting his eyes drift shamelessly, Reborn had to say, he approved. Very much so.

Although at a shiver of the slight form leaning into his side, Reborn immediately let his Sun Flames warm the room. His Sky almost seemed to press closer at the additional warmth.

"W- Where?" His Sky's speech was slurred, but at least he knew to ask the important questions first.

His Sky was also surprisingly calm, even more so if Reborn was actually right about him being civilian. Definitely a story there. Or maybe just good instincts. Because there would be no harm done to Reborn's Sky, ever again.

"Base of the Corocos Famiglia." Reborn could see the confusion in his Sky's expression. One more point for his theory of a civilian Sky. "Do you know what they drugged you with?"

A look between confusion and irritation. "No dr'gs."

"You can barely speak much less move on your own, beautiful. This certainly looks like drugs to me." Reborn did not even try to keep the humor out of his voice.

His Sky paused. "Med'cine."

His humor evaporated immediately and a chill worked itself down Reborn's spine. Medicine? His Sky was sick? Reborn’s chest tightened as ice-like fear dragged through his veins.

Blanking his face, he asked without any of his previous mirth, "Medicine for what?"

Apparently, his expression had not been quite as blank as he had intended. For a brief moment Reborn could see hesitation flit through his Sky's barely open green eyes.

" 's cure."

A cure? What kind of cure had a patient still barely coherent for an extended period afterwards? 'Poison.' Reborn's mind whispered.

"To a hospital it is."

"No." There was strength in this one word.

Reborn raised his eyebrows. His Sky was sick and he did not want to go to a hospital? Maybe there was a story there. Had he been abducted from a hospital? Another try couldn’t hurt though. "I know a very good and trustworthy doctor."

"No."

Hn. Trust Reborn to end up with a stubborn Sky. But there was something in his Sky's eyes. Not fear of the hospital. Something else. There seemed to be a definite reason he did not want to go. And most importantly of all, Reborn's instincts were urging him to believe his Sky.

"Where would you like to go then?" Though Reborn sounded sardonically amused at best, there was clear relief in his Sky's expression. Well, worst case, Reborn could always order Shamal to come to him.

"Home."

"And where would that be?" Not that he would be taking his Sky anywhere but Reborn's own place. That didn't mean Reborn wouldn't fish for any and all kind of information he could get his hands on.

Now it was his Sky's turn to look slightly amused, clearly aware of what he was doing. There was no answer forthcoming. Well, well, well, this was getting better and better.

A smirk stole across Reborn's face. "Off we go then."

And suddenly something like panic sparked in his Sky's expression. "Th'ngs."

Ok, this was even beyond Reborn's mind reading capabilities. The question must have shown on his face.

"My possess'ns."

Ah. He could see the urgency on his Sky's face. It didn't make much sense though just for some missing clothes. His civilian Sky should be far more concerned with getting out of here, so there had to be something else that his Sky was worried about. Still, he tried "Don't worry, you look lovely as you are. We can get you something to wear later."

The blush spreading over his Sky’s face was certainly lovely.

But Reborn could also see the refusal without having to wait for him to say something. So, there was something important missing then.

Taking off his jacket and wrapping it around his Sky's shoulders, Reborn felt like sighing. Definitely stubborn.

Barely open green eyes blinked at him sluggishly, as he had his Sky lean against the wall the table was pushed against.

Okay then.

Reborn turned to the still unconscious goon he had dragged with them from the interrogation room.

 +++

Harry watched as the man turned towards the unconscious guy on the floor.

Today was certainly turning out to be... interesting. Not only had he been captured, then apparently freed, but he now also had some kind of - magical? - bond with this man. A man that definitely knew how to fight just judging by what little Harry had seen.

And by Merlin, he was gorgeous.

Ok. Stop.

This really wasn't the time to start for Harry to start contemplating his sexuality... Even if that is definitely the right face to start contemplating for. Harry actually felt a slight flush crawling up his neck and was suddenly even more thankful for the jacket around his shoulders. The man had already been leaning towards infuriating during their brief conversation, no need to give him any more ammunition.

The man was wearing a black suit - well, now Harry was wearing part of it - with a yellow shirt that seemed oddly bright on his person, though the color surprisingly suited the man. Harry would do his bloody best to ignore the fact that he himself had been mostly naked for most of their conversation.

The man's hand had covered most of his right ribcage, front to back, while he had held him up on the table. Harry was blaming the shiver that had gone through him at that feeling on the sudden warmth that had spread through the room and he was going to stick with that story.

Just based on their brief - very one-sided - conversation, the man was also used to an interesting lifestyle. The comment on knowing a trustworthy doctor - as in contrast to non-trustworthy doctors - made that very clear, even beyond his presence here. Wherever that may be.

The picture Harry was putting together of where exactly he had managed to end up was turning out rather grim indeed. The clues were all there. Considering the combination of human trafficking - they had bought him from his family -, money - private air travel wasn’t cheap and pretty much ruled out any wizarding involvement - and human experimentation - something in Harry had been changed, freed -, the only explanation Harry could come up with was organized crime. Well, the man’s answer to Harry's first question had made that even clearer, because even after years in the Wizarding World, Harry was well aware of what the term ‘Famiglia’ signified.

Their conversation had also been rather strange. The man seemed to actually be seriously invested in Harry's wellbeing as their brief discussion regarding hospitals and doctors had shown. Harry could not actually be certain that he hadn't been drugged at some point during his captivity - it was even rather likely he had been – but he also knew that his natural defenses would have already taken care of that. The basilisk venom in his blood alone would burn out any non-magical medicine, drug or poison within moments, while the phoenix tears would work to counteract any potential damage he might have taken. His healers had been torn between enthusiastic curiosity and resigned exasperation when they figured out that depending on the ingredients a lot of potions would be useless for Harry's treatment.

Then there was the bond. Although Harry would usually just dismiss the man's seeming concern as some kind of ploy, there was the bond's urging to trust this man to be considered. And while a mysterious bond trying to influence him would normally only elicit utmost mistrust from him, if his magic hadn’t been so very calm and clearly unconcerned by the man or the bond.

All in all, Harry had to admit he was more than of out of his depths here. Not necessarily because he had been captured and held by people who wanted something from him, while completely disregarding Harry himself at the same time.

That was his entire life story, just more of the same. No the problem here was, that Harry had no idea where he was, who the people that had brought him - bought him - were, who this man was. Too many unanswered questions. The bond hummed and even though that might still turn out to be a problem - he did not even know what the warmth forming the bond was - his magic remained calm.

Harry felt incredibly vulnerable right now. Not only because his magic was not available to him, but even more so because he could barely focus on anything happening around him. Well, with the exception of this man in front of him. Although his magic was calm right now, he might not be able to focus on defending himself even if it became necessary.

Right now, there was no way Harry would be able to overpower this man - who had shown he was very much capable of taking out his opponents, like the guy he was questioning or the two bodies on the floor that Harry was doing his very best to ignore - or even have the strength to get up and walk away.

This was exactly what the healers had described as a consequence of moving locations him too soon after his treatment and why it was to be avoided. They had even vetoed the trip from St. Mungo's to Hogwarts for the initial phase of his recovery for that very reason.

Harry was going to have words with his friends.

Still, this man's presence was somehow calming his instincts, soothing his magic, making Harry feel safer, almost protected. At least his ability to focus had definitely increased with the man’s appearance and even his magic had settled further - almost like it had taken a step back, certain that Harry would still be protected.

It was disconcerting.

Well, earlier he had barely been able to form a thought much less words and the turning point seemed to be the appearance of this man, or rather the bond that had formed between them.

Additionally, Harry had no way to judge whether he might be better off in his previous situation or not, so his instincts were his only reference right now.

Instincts which were urging him to trust.

Well, here's to hoping.

However, even assuming that in contrast to any other situation of Harry's life there was suddenly a person that was entirely safe - who would want to protect Harry for once - that did not mean this man was actually capable of it. Harry would remain alert so he could at least try to keep an eye on things.

Harry heard the man get back up again. There had been some back and forth between the two men - one calm, the other panicked - but Harry had not even tried to focus on it and at some point he must have closed his eyes. Which spoke for itself. Not only did he trust this man enough to close his eyes in his presence at all, but even more so in the presence of a known threat.

Interesting didn't even come close.

 +++

As Reborn got back to his feet he was already remapping the route to the room with his Sky's - and it would definitely take some time to get used to that - possessions in his mind. Though some of the things the goon had babbled at him didn't make much sense to Reborn. Still, he would have time - all the time in the world - to figure out the answers to any and all questions he had about his Sky later on. He had felt his Sky's stare during the brief interrogation and seeing his Sky's half-lidded, slightly darkened out-of-focus green eyes on him definitely confirmed that thought. Oh yes, finding out anything and everything about his Sky would be fun indeed.

"Your possessions are kept one floor up. According to him, there should be no additional guards."

There was pure skepticism on his Sky's face, questioning the reliability of the information. Definitely not stupid.

"I've got a reputation, beautiful. He wouldn't dare lie to me." Reborn smirked lazily. "Finding your things shouldn't be a problem at all. Getting there, however..."

He could see the realization on his Sky's face, not only regarding the fact that he would require Reborn's support to get there but also how much Reborn would be enjoying lending a helping hand. Or two.

He stepped in close, looped his Sky's arms around his neck and slipped an arm underneath his legs, easily lifting him while wearing one of his most infuriating smirks.

It was so very worth it, just to see the slight flush on his Sky's cheeks and the green eyes blazing up at him.

 

Chapter Text

There had been no interruptions on their way to the room with his Sky's things. And to Reborn’s surprise, those possessions hadn't actually consisted of much at all. A non-descript bag - kind of like a messenger bag - and a strange wrap-around kind of gown, but there had been no shoes. It seemed unlikely that the Corocos would keep the gown but throw out the shoes, so it stood to reason that his Sky probably hadn't been wearing any shoes during his capture. Reborn’s hospital theory seemed more and more likely.

His Sky had immediately reached for the bag - was this what the goon had been babbling about? - and after a brief search dragged out a small pouch on a thin leather string as though to be worn around the neck.

And then his Sky had stuck his hand and far more of his arm into the pouch than should ever have reasonably fit.

Reborn would definitely be demanding some answers. Soon.

But his Sky had apparently found whatever he had been looking for in that pouch, because there had been clear relief in his eyes.

And soon after gathering his possessions, whatever stubbornness had let his Sky stay awake had finally ran out. Even though he had clearly tried to remain alert, his eyes were now closed.

Reborn moved silently and swiftly through the base, with his Sky tucked neatly into his arms. He felt the exhaustion pulling at his Sky's Flames, urging Reborn to get him somewhere safe.

Still, the Corocos Famiglia had deprived his Sky of his freedom, food, rest and who knows what else. Reborn had already rigged the lower levels with explosives and added more along the way, making sure that nothing of the place where his Sky had been held prisoner remained. It would also take care of any possible traces of them ever having been here. Even better, Reborn had gone after the technology without a contract, so there would be no way to link the destruction to him.

The rest of the Corocos Famiglia would have to wait until he had his Sky safe and tucked away at home. And even though Reborn would love nothing more than razing them to the ground, he would have to be careful. It would raise too many questions if the World’s Greatest Hitman was seen carrying out a vendetta against an insignificant Famiglia like the Corocos.

He had no intention whatsoever to make the existence of his Sky general knowledge, so he would have to find another convincing reason for his rampage. Maybe he could take on one of their contracts - which at this point were avoided by most - let himself be betrayed and then take the Famiglia apart. This would have its own drawbacks as he would have to get the contract anonymously - no one, absolutely no one would be insane enough to try and set up the World's Greatest Hitman. Definitely something to consider though.

Well, first things first. With the exhaustion pulling at his Sky Reborn had all the more reason to get him to his apartment and hide him from the world - keep him to himself.

As he made his way outside, Reborn considered his options. Though Reborn had an apartment in the next city, it did not even come close to being sufficiently fortified and at the very least Vongola might know of its existence. But he had another secure apartment a little further away but decently close still.

Decision made, Reborn tucked his Sky into the passenger seat before rounding the car. Just in the time it took him to move to the other side and get behind the wheel, his Sky had started to rouse slightly. Reborn noted smugly that just a brief reassuring touch of his hand was enough to settle his Sky.

The bond that had formed between them was ridiculous in its strength.

Reborn had seen other newly bonded and neither Sky nor Element had been quite this dependent. It might be increased by the stressful circumstances, or the setup in the interrogation room, or his Sky's barely lucid state and his increased need for protection. However, Reborn had a feeling there might be other exacerbating factors. Factors that he was not aware of.

Reborn definitely had questions for his Sky.

Well, as far as the dependency on touch went, Reborn was very willing to accommodate. A smirk flitted across his face. He re-arranged his Sky's position to lean against the passenger seat sideways and settled the slim, naked legs into his lap for the drive.

The trip to his safe house passed without a hitch and without his Sky truly waking at any point. Reborn even switched cars in between - there was no such thing as too paranoid, especially now - and his Sky had barely twitched during the transfer.

Pulling up to the apartment complex, he punched in the code to the garage. It was 3am right now, so it should be relatively safe to assume that even if he were to carry his Sky through the building to the apartment directly, there would be no one to see them.

Reborn would actually prefer to check the apartment first, however, leaving his unconscious Sky in the car wasn't an option. At all.

This was certainly giving Reborn a taste of why single Guardians were always so damn twitchy. Being forced to drag a Sky into a potentially dangerous situation in order to avoid a potentially dangerous situation. That would wear on anyone.

Not that Reborn would have problems defending his Sky on his own, even with his Sky in his arms.

Reborn would just really have preferred not to.

 


 

That had been five days ago. Reborn watched as his Sky slept tucked into Reborn's bed. He had been sleeping for almost five days straight at this point, only ever rousing enough to drink some of the soup Reborn offered, without ever being truly aware. Something in Reborn purred at this kind of unquestioning trust, but the long period of near-unconsciousness was gnawing at him.

Reborn moved towards the kitchen area as he considered all the questions that had amassed along the way.

+++

Harry felt himself come aware. He actually felt rested, his mind better focused and his magic coiling rather smoothly in his core. Just how long have I been out of it?

The new bond was still humming in his mind. So, that hadn't been some weird dream his semi-lucid mind had come up with. Wonderful.

So, where exactly am I then? Harry thought, trying to get an impression of the room he was in.

Harry remembered the man carrying him for a bit and collecting his things. To his utmost relief his pouch had been there. The pouch had originally belonged to Sirius and Harry had found it when he had started to sort through Grimmauld Place in the weeks after Voldemort's defeat. The pouch was small from the outside, just big enough to fit his hand, but it was of course extended on the inside. It also carried some rather ingenious charms against theft of the pouch itself, theft from the pouch, charms for diversion of attention and quite a few more, probably even some that Harry wasn't even aware of.

He had stored some of his most treasured belongings in the pouch, including the few memorabilia he had of his parents and of Sirius, as well as the Hallows which he had re-collected a few weeks after the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry had no actual interest in holding another title, real or not, but just the possibility that the legend might be true... At some point someone else might go for the elder wand and even worse he had dropped the resurrection stone in the Forbidden Forest on Hogwarts grounds. What if a kid found it by accident? Harry had never had anyone check whether there might be any harmful magic remaining on the ring after the removal of the Horcrux or the curse that had been triggered by Dumbledore.

Harry had gathered the wand and the ring and stored both with his cloak in Sirius' pouch. Maybe he would research a way to destroy the items at some point or bury them in his Gringotts vault never to be found again. And – most importantly – Harry had told no one. No one knew he carried all three Hallows. As far as Ron and Hermione knew, the wand had been destroyed and the ring had been lost. Harry did not intend to ever inform anyone otherwise, hoping the legend might simply die out.

Well, back to his current situation. Harry slowly peeled his eyes open. Dear Merlin, was he tired still.

Harry stared at the unfamiliar ceiling, which wasn't that surprising as the man from before had pretty much declared he was taking Harry somewhere. Home, as Harry had demanded - wherever that turned out to be.

He heard movement off to the side and as though summoned by his thoughts the man appeared in his field of vision.

"Hello there, beautiful. I hope you had a good rest." And with that greeting the man easily lifted Harry from the bed he had been lying in, neatly tucked under the covers.

Harry was still too close to sleep to even think of a protest while he was carried out of the bedroom into what seemed to be the living room and settled on the sofa. The man poured a glass of water from the pitcher on the low table and sat down next to him - close, really close - and easily wrapped an arm around Harry's waist, pulling him into his side. He offered the glass of water with a straw and Harry slowly blinked at the man, trying to compute his situation in general and his change in location in particular.

He saw a grin work itself onto the man's face. "Enjoying the view, beautiful?"

By Merlin, this guy was going to be infuriating, Harry could already tell. Still, he laboriously reached for the water - his throat felt as though someone had taken some sandpaper to it - but hesitated when he saw his hand shaking. Sighing internally, he reached for the straw instead - the man accommodated easily, probably having expected something like it already - and Harry gratefully drank some sips.

He could easily recognize the deprivation in himself - damn his childhood - to know to measure himself and take small sips as to not overtax his stomach right off the bat. Harry could feel the man's eyes intently fixed on his face.

"How long?" Harry asked and was surprised how clear the words sounded compared to the slurring from before.

"It's been five days since our meeting." The man answered. "You were awake a few times, enough to drink some soup, but not lucid. Going by your expression you are aware of your tendency of rousing from unconsciousness long enough to be fed, before going under again. It's an interesting habit you have there."

That was definitely a question, or rather a demand for an answer. Harry was well aware of how his magic made sure he survived. However, it was still rather disturbing that his magic and instincts had trusted this man unquestionably, in a way that he would take sustenance without any kind of awareness on his part.

Well, maybe pretending obliviousness would get him out of answering that one for now. Harry would like to keep this man agreeable at least until he could move on his own again. He considered the first part of the statement. Five days? Well, that explained why he felt a clear difference compared to the last time he had been aware.

"Where are we?" His speech was still kind of dragging, but he was definitely getting there.

The man obviously knew Harry was avoiding the question but seemed to be willing to let it go for now. "A safe house."

Or not. He was clearly aiming for reticent as revenge for his lack of answers. "What country?" Harry could still remember the strain on his magic during the airplane travel.

There was no surprise on the man's face and the man's expression seemed to soften slightly at the edges. Harry felt his stomach drop.

"We are in Italy at the moment."

Well, damn.

At least it was still the same continent?

+++

Reborn could see the shock and definite irritation in his Sky's eyes.

He felt tremendously relieved at seeing his Sky aware and somewhat recovered from his previous state. If it hadn't been for his Sky's clear assertion to avoid doctors - their bond urging Reborn to believe, to wait - he would have brought his Sky to a hospital days ago. Despite just the thought of taking his Sky anywhere else making Reborn gnash his teeth, because bringing anyone to his apartment - and thus divulging their location - wasn't really an option either.

It would also have required Reborn to reveal that he had bonded and the news that he had a Sky would spread through the Mafia within hours. And then the hunt would be on.

From now on the easiest way to permanently tie Reborn to any Famiglia would be to capture his Sky and force additional Guardian bonds on him. Reborn would not be able to kill any other Guardians without risking harm to his Sky. So, after all these years of freedom, Reborn would be caught. And his Sky would be the tool to get him there and keep him there, constantly in danger and under threat possibly from the very Famiglia that they would be forced into.

For the first time since he had gained a reputation in the mafia, the World's Greatest Hitman had a weak spot.

Mafia Famiglias would be climbing over each other to be the first to get leverage over Reborn, force Reborn into an alliance. By using his Sky. His civilian Sky.

The world would burn before Reborn let anything happen to his home.

Chapter Text

Harry watched from the couch as the man prepared a meal for them in the kitchen.

Even though Harry still felt the exhaustion pulling at his limbs he felt better rested and more focused than he had felt in a while - definitely since the start of his treatment and maybe even since before that, when the terror of his wavering magic had kept him awake at night.

And Harry was definitely more than happy to have regained some control over his limbs and to be able to sit on his own now.

A tray with two bowls of steaming soup as well as two tall glasses with something pinkish was set on the low table in front of him.

"Chicken soup and a strawberry smoothie. It should be alright for your stomach." The man said as he sat down next to him again, handing him a bowl of soup.

Harry's arm was still slightly weak, so he was relieved that he was able to hold the bowl. Well, the only reason he did not spill soup everywhere was that the bowl was barely half full. The man had clearly anticipated Harry’s lack of control over his own limbs. The spoon the man set into the bowl was rather ladle-like in its form, so unless the shaking got too bad, Harry should actually be able to manage to eat without help. Harry felt something warm spread in his chest at this small, considerate gesture from the man.

And he really needed to ask for a name soon. At this point, calling him 'the man' in his mind - trying to keep his thoughts neutral - was starting to sound kind of ominous.

Feeling his stomach protest in hunger, Harry reached for the spoon and was about to lift it to his mouth as the man caught Harry's hand in his own. Even from the corner of his eye he could see the smirk on the man's face.

The man leaned into Harry's space - close - and gently blew over the soup in his spoon, still holding Harry's hand in his much larger one.

"You have to be careful. The soup is still hot."

He nearly gaped at the man - almost leaning towards the tempting warmth, so close, so warm - before he caught himself, though still staring.

There was a pause, as Harry felt a blush spread over his cheeks.

The smirk on the man's face widened. "You should eat."

At that, Harry couldn’t help but deadpan despite his intense blush, "Thanks. I'll wait for the soup to cool down a bit." Thankfully he didn't stutter or anything equally embarrassing - like asking the man to do it again.

If anything the man's smirk got even wider. By Merlin, the man still looked ridiculously handsome even while being infuriatingly disrupting for Harry's thought processes.

The bond between them hummed as Harry considered the man next to him - had he been sitting this close the entire time? - and the situation he found himself in.

For one, there was the bond. A bond that felt permanent, reliable, anchored, urging him to trust.

Magical bonds trumped pretty much everything else in the Wizarding World. And true bonds, like traditional wedding bonds, soul bonds, adoption bonds or troth pledges, were one of the most explicit exceptions for the Statute of Secrecy.

Finishing his soup as far as he was going to get with his still rather unsteady hand, he was immediately handed the fruit smoothie without prompting. Harry took small sips and for a while they sat in comfortable silence as he considered his options.

He definitely needed more information before he could even begin making decisions. Hopefully, the man would be agreeable.

So, borrowing some courage from his inner Gryffindor, Harry asked, "The warmth, what is it?" He couldn’t get much more straightforward without directly asking about the bond.

And even though he was quite sure that the man could feel the bond humming between them as well - what other reason could he possibly have had to rescue Harry - he couldn't be entirely sure.

At his question, the man seemed to only further relax into the couch as he asked lazily, "Hm. It's rather convoluted to explain. How about we save the elaborate explanation for later and start on your side of the story?"

Though assertive there was surprisingly little vehemence in the man's statement. Harry had expected him to be far more adamant about hearing his side of the story first.

But still, Harry slumped almost unnoticeably.

He just wanted to rest some more - bask in the assuring hum of the bond and preferably sleep for about a month - before he had to focus on any explanation, elaborate or not, that would most likely end in some kind of disagreement.

+++

Reborn watched as his Sky tried to gather himself.

The five-day rest had definitely helped him recover his coherence, but he still looked fatigued and worn. Reborn would have his Sky rest for as long as it took him to recover to full strength - his protective and possessive side surged at the thought of keeping his Sky in his bed, relying on him.

Still, there were questions that needed answers, not least of all about his Sky's health and definitely about how he had ended up a prisoner of the Corocos. Reborn needed to know if there were any definite threats to his Sky out there, beyond those of having harmonized to the World's Greatest Hitman.

Not that there would be any chance that any of those threats would ever so much as touch his Sky.

But, all of that aside, there was also something more to his Sky's question.

Reborn was almost certain that his Sky was a civilian. A civilian with an interesting background for sure, but not Mafia. Despite this, his Sky had not even questioned the existence of some strange kind of power inside himself - disregarding the fact that he was able to identify the presence of Flames at all - but rather asked for a name to call it by.

That was more than interesting, but almost worrying.

Finally, his Sky responded. "It depends on your answers to my questions."

Reborn actually felt his eyebrows rise. And not in a good way. Well, that’s far more abrupt than I expected.

His thoughts must have somehow shown on his face, because his Sky wrinkled his forehead - looking quite endearingly confused - obviously thinking back on his words, before almost flinching backwards.

"No, no. That's not what I meant at all." A flush was making its way slowly across his face. "I didn't mean... It's just..."

His Sky was almost stumbling over his words and Reborn could see the frustration and even panic mounting. So, trying to calm him down he reached out to rest a hand on his Sky's shoulder.

And his Sky – his Sky - flinched backwards. Flinched away from him, from his sole Guardian, from the one person he should be able to trust instinctually and unconditionally.

Reborn was going to murder whoever had conditioned that reflex into his Sky.

Still, he didn’t interrupt his movement and instead easily pulled his Sky back into his side.

After a few tense seconds, he felt his Sky relax minutely.

Reborn asked calmly, "Try again."

"I don't... I can't explain without more information. Truly can't. There would be consequences. Consequences neither of us is prepared to live with."

How ominous, Reborn thought. But all the more interesting for the included threat.

Still, his Sky clearly wanted to share information but was convinced he couldn’t until he had more information. While Reborn couldn’t even imagine why that might be the case for a civilian, he considered their situation.

This was his Sky. A Sky with active Flames and an active Guardian bond with a recognized member of the Mafia. Technically, the two of them could be considered a newly founded Famiglia from the moment his unaffiliated Sky had formed his first Guardian bond. So, even if his Sky truly was a civilian, Omerta didn't apply here.

Additionally, his Sky seemed quite familiar with powers of the supernatural variety, so the risk of him freaking out at the explanation should be minimal.

Reborn decided that he might as well start. He would have preferred hearing his Sky’s side of the story first, if only to get a better grasp of how to tell his own, but well. Not like his Sky would be going anywhere soon - or ever really - so he would get his story sooner or later.

"The warmth, as you so adorably put it," - and there was that blush again - "is called Flames."

His Sky was endearingly easy to fluster with just a few words or gestures - Reborn could definitely see himself getting possessive of those reactions. And even though he shied back from the more overt gestures - the fierce blush when Reborn had 'helped cool down' his soup had been delicious - right now he was subconsciously leaning further into Reborn's side.

"Flames are a power anchored in our very soul." Reborn continued. "They are based on our resolve and created from our very life-force. There is only a very small number of people who can use Flames world-wide and the secrecy of Flames is protected by Omerta. As Flames are based on resolve and strength of will we call them Dying Will Flames."

His Sky was looking up at him intently. "We?" And damn he was astute.

"The Mafia." This might just be the most crucial part of the explanation. Civilians almost instinctually shied away from organized crime. Their ingrained believes of right and wrong made it impossible for them to consider anything related to crime even remotely acceptable. "Do you have any relations to a Mafia Famiglia?"

Reborn already knew the answer to this question, even though there had been no overt reaction from his Sky at the mention of the Mafia except for the slight widening of his eyes. His Sky might have already figured something along those lines. Something in Reborn's chest loosened slightly.

"No, I don't." His Sky's eyes remained slightly wider than normal - but he had not moved away from Reborn - and he was still watching Reborn intently.

His Sky really was a civilian. Reborn felt a slow smug smile spread across his face.

This Sky with ridiculously pure Flames was not only powerful enough to draw him in - him, the most powerful Sun Flame user in existence - to bond with him, but he was also unattached.

Reborn had not only finally found what he and his Flames had been longing for, he had also somehow managed to avoid the drawbacks. There was no Famiglia to get in their way, to command missions and behavior. No enemies or allies - beyond Reborn's own - to contend with or to endanger his Sky. Even further, as his Flames had been forced into activation during his recent captivity - as signified by his complete ignorance of what Flames were in the first place - there were no other Guardians or Guardian hopefuls.

His Sky was Reborn's alone. His smile widened as his possessive, selfish side seemed to almost contently stretch like a cat in the sun.

Still, he continued his explanation as though he hadn't just realized something extraordinarily pleasing. "Dying Will Flames are almost exclusively found in the Mafia and most people outside of it who manage to activate their Flames are pulled into the Mafia at some point, because for a Famiglia to reach a certain standing strong Flame users are vital. Thus, unaffiliated Flame users are rare, even more so if they are strong, as they will have numerous Famiglias vying for their attention."

Reborn couldn't help but think of his own long history of Famiglias lining up to try and pull him in. Only to disappoint, over and over and over again.

His Sky was watching him intently and Reborn got the feeling that he might be very much able to recognize the desperation, the longing, the yearning that Reborn had been doing his best to ignore for years.

Well, he had a Sky now, he finally knew what home - freely given welcome, approval, warmth, unconditional acceptance - felt like.

"Depending on the Flame user there are several factors that affect overall Flame characteristics but the main factors are Flame type and purity." Reborn continued. "There are a number of different Flame types, though for brevity's sake I am just going to summarize the ones that directly apply to us, the Flames of the Sky which includes the Elements Sky, Sun, Rain, Cloud, Storm, Mist and Lightning. Each Flame type has its own ascribed characteristics of personality and abilities."

By now his Sky was leaning fully into his side, his head almost resting on Reborn's shoulder. And even though Reborn wasn't really one for touching - outside the bedroom that is - the show of easy trust and acceptance had something in his chest purring.

If this was what he got for the small concession of explaining first, well, to hell with always getting what he wanted. This would definitely do as repayment. Well, for now at least.

"Each Flame type brings additional abilities, the strength of which is based on the underlying purity. Purity varies depending on the Flame user's strength of will and resolve that feeds the Flames. My Sun Flames allow me to use Activation which is more or less a way to increase efficiency of any activity. Your Flame type is Sky and this gives you the ability of Harmonization. The other Flame types are also called Elements of the Sky as users of these Flame types can harmonize with a Sky Flame user. A Sky can form bonds with other Flame types that are traditionally called Guardian bonds. The Guardians offer a form of protection, while the Sky offers a home, a place to return to. Most powerful Famiglias are built around a Sky with a full set of Guardians, meaning bonds with Flame users of every Element. Sky Flame users are rare and something like royalty in the Mafia World."

Reborn saw his Sky wrinkle his nose – mio dio, he was adorable - and mumble something that sounded suspiciously like 'that bloody figures'. His Sky seemed to sigh in resignation before the look of annoyance faded. "The bond between us?"

"Exactly, it is based on your ability of Harmony. There are various factors that affect a bonding. For one, the Flame purity and strength of both Elements has to be taken into account. A strong Sky cannot be forced into a bond with a weaker Element. It can be offered by the Sky, however, it is rarely ever done as the Sky's Flames are looking for Elements of mostly equal strength, which makes sense as Guardians are traditionally tasked with protection. Essentially, Sky bonds are give and take, however, the Sky is always considered the pivotal center of any bond and awarded an additional amount of respect instinctually by other Elements. Sky Flame users generally seek for a full set of Guardians, meaning bonds with users of every Flame type."

"This bond cannot be dissolved." His Sky was looking pensive and if it hadn't been for the factual phrasing and tone Reborn might have been driven to do something drastic immediately.

He still felt the anxiety tightening in his chest and his answer came out maybe a bit harshly. "No, it can't. The only way to dissolve the bond is for one of the Elements to go into discord or by being rejected by the Sky. Due to the Flames being anchored in the soul, such a disruption is incredibly harmful to Sky and Element, even to any other Elements bonded to the same Sky, and can even be lethal."

However, his Sky was still watching him fully alert, his focus seemingly on another part of the explanation. "It’s based in our soul and life-force?"

Still no direct questions about Reborn's involvement in the Mafia. To his exasperation it was actually starting to make him slightly apprehensive, as he couldn't quite anticipate his Sky's reactions.

+++

So. Flames? Mafia Royalty? That was... different.

And Harry just wanted to throw his hands up into the air and stomp from the room like a petulant child.

He had gained yet another power.

Again, Harry was special.

Another rare ability that was only wielded by very few people in the world - probably even less people than magic, because no matter how vast, an organization, criminal or not, could not possibly compete with an entire race in numbers.

And even with Flames Harry had somehow managed to gain the extraordinary kind.

But of course he had.

At least he didn’t have some incredibly rare once-a-millenium kind of Flame type, as there seemed to be at least a few others with Sky Flames.

… his priorities sure were messed up these days, weren't they.

And taking the Potter Luck into account, Harry was just going to assume that there was more to Dying Will Flames than keeping him warm on the inside and forming bonds. The value that the Mafia apparently placed on Flames made that distinctly clear.

And, the Mafia?

Really?

Come on.

He was finally done with being the hero, having done everything that could be and had been demanded of him, including letting himself be martyred for a cause he did not even entirely believe in.

Just like in all those stories of the nice heroes with the shining armor. And no brain whatsoever.

Harry had just begun to hope that he would be able to start fading into obscurity, to live his own life, to just be. And now after all the hero business, he had somehow managed to get himself thrown into the world of organized crime?

By Merlin, he needed to file a complaint or get himself a restraining order against Fate or Destiny or whoever it was that kept messing with his life.

He had already been haphazardly thrown into an entirely new world at eleven to either sink or swim. He was part of a world that had bloody unicorns! What was going to come next? Aliens? Well, at least at this point, there wasn't anything that could be thrown at him that had a chance of truly surprising him anymore.

Though, best not think that too loudly lest someone up there decided to prove him wrong.

Ok.

So, that inner tantrum was done with for now.

There had been a lot of information in the man's explanation that Harry would have to mull over at a later time. It would definitely take him a while to sort through all of it.

The fact that the Mafia was somehow involved hadn't really been that much of a surprise. Harry had already guessed organized crime when he had been captured and the Mafia was just one step further. He was going to ignore the implications of his bonded - his Guardian - being Mafia for now and what that would mean for Harry's future involvement.

For now, he had to consider his own side of the explanation. The most pressing question was what to tell the man and how to tell him.

Well, a bond tied into his very soul would certainly qualify as a magical bond no matter what power it had actually been initiated by. A permanent life-force bond might actually be just as indisputable. So, that was the Statute of Secrecy taken care of.

On that note, Harry was pretty certain that the supposed option of dissolving the Flame bond was not actually open to them. He could feel the bond in his mind and magic. Even though the bond might have been initiated by their Flames, his magic had definitely gotten involved.

And true magical bonds were permanent.

And Merlin, he wanted this. For once in his life Harry wanted to be selfish, to have someone for himself.

It was all he had ever wanted. Ever since he was a child and realized that the Dursleys did not want him and later on that he did not want the Dursleys.

Same with the Wizarding World.

He wanted someone to want Harry, him, unconditionally, just him being himself. And now, a bond, a person that Harry could truly rely on. The thought of someone truly his, his to keep, to want, to trust, had him almost aching with hope.

That was worth everything.

Harry immediately dismissed the option of trying to get around telling the man about magic. The man had told Harry about an entirely different world that was apparently protected by something similar to the Statute of Secrecy.

So, Harry was damn well not going to lie to him. Fair is fair, and all that.

And if the bond truly was permanent and Harry had finally found someone who was going to be there, who wanted him, accepted him, protected him… Then Harry was not going to risk losing the trust a bond like that could potentially provide just to hide a world that would be revealed to this man at some point anyways, if only because they were permanently stuck with each other.

Also, as the man was aware of a world that seemed to be based on something very much not normal, Harry was cautiously hopeful that he would not react negatively to magic.

Though best warn him about possible Auror arrivals, lest the man shoot someone. And Harry had no doubt who would win in that fight - he had seen the man move during his rescue, there wasn't even a question who would win, magic or not. Italian Aurors couldn't possibly be that much better than their British counterparts.

So, surreptitiously taking a bracing breath, Harry said, "I am part of another world that is segregated from the normal world. Its secrecy is harshly guarded and they can usually tell if it is revealed to anyone who is not a part of our world. Still, there are universal exceptions to these laws and in our world bonds are indisputable. However, I don't know the procedures here in Italy, so if someone does show up here, you need to let me explain to them and if they don't listen you need to get out and away. You cannot risk them catching you before I get them to listen to me."

Harry watched as the man became more and more attentive, his muscles contrarily loosening - Harry was well aware that a loose posture was far more suited for immediate reaction than tightly coiled muscles. But instead of drawing away from Harry, the arm around his waist tightened and pulled Harry protectively closer. The man's eyes were shadowed but almost glowing as he continuously assessed the empty room around them.

And Harry suddenly knew that the last thing this man would do was run and leave Harry to deal with the problem on his own. What was it he said? Guardians protected their Sky.

For a moment Harry tried to inconspicuously press even further into the man's side, trying to absorb as much of his presence as he could before he had to take the leap.

Harry's chest still tightened with anxiety. "My world is based on magic." And despite the dread roiling in his stomach, Harry could not look away from the man's face. Anxiously awaiting the reaction that would decide whether Harry would ever have a chance to trust this bond, to rely on it. He barely remembered to keep any possible Auror arrivals in mind as he focused entirely on the man’s reaction.

There was a slight widening of the man's eyes at the announcement but he remained right where he was, with Harry protectively tucked into his side, his focus on Harry and his eyes continuously assessing the room, prepared for an attack.

Cautious hope expanded in Harry's chest.

He continued. "The Wizarding World is mostly segregated from the non-magical world, inaccessible and mostly invisible to people without magic."

There was still no disbelief or apprehension in the man's eyes and Harry only just kept himself from slumping in relief. Remembering the wealth of information the man had provided on his own world, Harry tried to return the favor.

"Wizards and witches are born with their magic. Even though magic comes to us naturally it takes a while to mature and we have schools that take care of magical education. Most of the things mentioned in fairy tales or myths are actually true and can be found in the Magical World. There are magical creatures, like... dragons and unicorns… and oh, merpeople! We send our mail by owl… and we have an international sports league!"

Harry knew he was rambling, but he only now realized how terrified he had been that this man would just simply reject him and the bond - the bond that felt so very safe and protective and accepting - would dissolve. Or even worse, that the bond would remain and be twisted and Harry would constantly be reminded that he had lost this chance at acceptance.

He felt the arm around his waist giving a slight squeeze and when Harry looked up there was an amused glint in the man's eyes. Harry could feel the heat in his cheeks. But there was no mocking, only amusement.

"What exactly does magic mean?" The man asked.

Harry felt perplexed at that question.

It must have shown on his face as the man elaborated, "What can magic do? Can you read minds?" Something dangerous flitted through the man's eyes only to immediately disappear again. "Can you fly?" And the amusement was back in the man's voice at the last question.

And, if the man thought that to be ridiculous he was in for a shock. But there was still no disbelief. Definitely an interesting life.

Harry tried to remain neutral, but some amusement still bled into his voice. "Well, yes, we can. I myself cannot read minds, but it is possible and I am actually a pretty fantastic flyer." Harry was so not mentioning broomsticks right now, even if just to spare himself the blushing at the man's inevitable comments. "In general you can pretty much assume: If you can think it, magic can do it. Wizards might not yet have invented a general way to do some things, but magic itself has very few restrictions."

Huh, there was nothing even remotely close to shock in the man's expression. Harry really hoped that the lack of surprise wasn't because the Mafia was just as insane as the Magical World. Harry didn't think he would be able to take it.

"What exactly is magic?"

Well, that was a good yet quite complex question. Harry took a moment to consider his answer before replying. "Magic itself is not easily defined. It is not just something to be quantified or categorized but more something that just is. It encompasses an entire world and has far too many facets of powers and creatures and cultures for it to be sorted into neat little boxes. No single being can actually access all kinds of magic. There are beings that cannot directly weave magic at all, like centaurs. Just as there are beings that are magic in themselves, like phoenixes or unicorns."

Harry continued, still watching for the appearance of distaste in the man's expression. "Normal wizards and witches are actually pretty boring in comparison, even though most have an extreme superiority complex that would have them tell you otherwise. We can weave magic and we have extended life spans, but that's pretty much it."

"Wizarding magic has several branches based on the nature of the wielded magic. The most common branches are light, dark and gray. There are numerous smaller branches of magic such as elemental, black or nature magic and there are also some branches of magic that wizards cannot access directly at all like time magic or chaos magic. It gets complicated pretty quickly because we use tools to help us weave magic such as wands or artifacts that are centuries old as well as rituals. And then, even with extended life spans, wizards do not live long at all in comparison to other beings. There are creatures more than a thousand years old and our history is still recorded almost in its entirety. Thus, the knowledge still available is immense."

There was definitely a keen interest in the man's eyes at that part of the explanation. Harry knew he had left out most of the negative sides of the Magical World, hadn't even come close to explaining the complexities of magic itself. But for one it was far too complex an explanation right now and also he was pretty certain that they would be discussing both their worlds in more detail in the coming days. Now that he was done with revealing the Magical World, he felt the exhaustion returning as the adrenaline of wondering how this discussion would end was dissipating.

Still, Harry wanted to show his Guardian, show him the wonders of magic and that Harry was telling the truth. Harry couldn't perform any magic right now, because of his unstable magic and because it would increase the chance of the Ministry being able to detect a possible breach of the Statute of Secrecy.

Harry looked up. "My pouch?"

The man looked at him for a moment before reaching over to the armchair next to the couch. Well, Harry would certainly have to think about why in the world this man was able to touch or even see the heavily warded pouch at all.

He felt the man's eyes intently fixed on him, watching as most of Harry's forearm disappeared into the tiny pouch. Harry almost wanted to smile, thinking that the man had probably been wondering about this ever since he had watched Harry do the very same thing a few days ago. Harry reached for the invisibility cloak, and as always the desired object immediately appeared in his hand.

Harry slowly pulled out the cloak, which by itself shouldn't even have fit inside the pouch. Harry figured this was the easiest way to prove the existence of magic. His picture album might have been another option, but for one Harry was not quite ready to share that much of himself with the man and also Harry was well aware how fast technology developed. The moving pictures could be explained away. The Wizarding Space in the pouch and a cloak that made everything beneath it disappear entirely from view and even extinguished sound and smell should be far more convincing.

Harry easily wrapped the cloak around most of himself, watching his right side and most of his legs vanish, before hesitantly offering the cloak to the man.

This was probably the most critical part of the explanation. Because being told about magic and seeing or experiencing it were entirely different things.

However, to his unending relief there was only curiosity in the man's eyes as he examined the heirloom.

+++

So.

Reborn had to admit that even with the evidence presented before his Sky's explanation, he would not have even thought of magic.

If only because it sounded so completely ludicrous.

Now though, watching his Sky almost casually breaking a few laws of physics and reality - and Reborn had thought he had seen most of everything strange on this earth.

... on the other hand as extraordinary as the cloth and the pouch were, Reborn had seen definitely stranger. The Mafia World was not normal in any sense of the word.

After his own explanation, Reborn had fully expected a slew of questions from his Sky on Flames, the Mafia, his involvement in either, how it would affect his Sky, maybe even demands to change, to leave the Mafia.

Instead his Sky had done exactly as he had implied before Reborn's explanation. Listened to Reborn, considered his options and then revealed his own secret world. Reborn would have to keep this seemingly natural sincerity in mind, lest he unintentionally hurt his Sky with his usual mind games.

More importantly, he could still see some anxiety and apprehension remaining on his Sky's face and that just wouldn't do. So, he briefly considered their exchange and then decided to just go with it.

Easily offering his hand, he introduced himself honestly, "Reborn. The World's Greatest Hitman. Strongest Sun Flame user in existence, tutor from hell and unaffiliated member of the Mafia."

Immediately, relief spread over his Sky's face.

Harry reached for Reborn's hand while he considered the introduction. Well, there was really only one way to answer that declaration, "Harry. The-Man-Who-Conquered. Savior of the Wizarding World, run-off-the-mill storybook hero and all-around good guy. Just ask anyone."

There was a brief pause, as neither withdrew their hand and they calmly considered each other. And even though both introductions sounded unbelievable, ridiculous even, both of them only felt amused acceptance.

Reborn felt the corners of his mouth lift up in a small genuine smile. "Well, I think it's safe to say that between the two of us, my days of boredom might just be over."

The tired grin spreading over Harry's face made his eyes crinkle slightly. "Believe me when I say, that with me in your life you will be ruing the day you ever thought that might be a good thing."

Chapter Text

Reborn was lying awake, watching his Sky sleep.

Harry had fallen asleep soon after their belated introductions. Even when Reborn had carried him back to bed and settled him under the covers, his Sky had kept one hand curled into Reborn's shirt. Reborn had thought that to be a wonderful excuse to get into the bed as well.

And now, Reborn was basking in the feeling of Harmony with his Sky curled up on his chest.

It also gave him some time to consider the recent revelations. There was so much that had been said and even more that hadn't been directly put into words. Reborn had definitely noted that there had been little to no personal information in Harry's explanation, much like Reborn's own.

The fear he had seen in his Sky's eyes at the beginning of his explanation about magic, expecting Reborn to react negatively possibly violently, had his Sun Flames dangerously honed towards whatever had made his Sky so very cautious to trust, ready to tear it apart. His Sky was a civilian. Civilians were mostly not even really aware of the dangers around them and generally trusted far more than someone like him could ever find reasonable.

It was obvious that his Sky had been burnt by someone he trusted at some point. Harry had scars - he had carried his half naked Sky out of the Corocos base, no one could blame Reborn for looking - and was far too thin as Reborn had been able to see every single of Harry's ribs. The scars were not even close to the worst Reborn had seen - and that was a good thing, otherwise the world would already be burning down around them - but they spoke of a harsh life, of things that shouldn't even come near his Sky.

Take that in combination with Harry's apparent ability to adapt and his strong situational awareness... Reborn wasn't at all happy with the conclusions he was drawing. It not only spoke of a life full of pain and danger, but also of a lack of someone to take care of his Sky's needs, be they as basic as food.

During his explanation, Harry had mentioned a magical government, had called himself a hero, a savior - without any boasting or pride, but rather resigned acceptance of the title - and talked about superiority complexes of wizards, while also emphasizing the existence of truly ancient beings in their world. Just Harry's contempt while asserting that magic was not to be categorized spoke for itself. What kind of picture did that paint not so much of magic but rather of the society around it?

Clearly there had some kind of conflict, possibly political in nature. But his Sky's behavior spoke of something that went well beyond verbal disputes.

A savior was only ever needed if there was a threat and the title of hero could rarely ever be gained without sacrifice.

And what had Harry said, 'The-Man-Who-Conquered'? You could practically hear the hyphens in that name, a title. Which meant that there had been people quite willing to hand out medals afterwards but no one willing to do the conquering itself.

And 'Man'? What a joke. His Sky looked still in his teens, though he acted older. Ok, so maybe that was part of the long life-spans that Harry had mentioned. Reborn would have to ask for a specific age, but he felt slightly better at the tentative thought that his Sky might at least have reached his twenties before going about any 'savior-conqueror-hero' business of any sort.

So, Harry was young but weary, revered but alone, distrustful but so very very desperately hopeful.

And Reborn felt like ripping the world apart for hurting his Sky, while fully aware that there was probably going to be more to come for Reborn to be angry about. That much had been obvious in Harry's eyes as he talked about the world he came from.

At this point Reborn would not even try to get his head around the existence of dragons of all things. Seeing is believing and all that. He had more important things to consider.

Like how his Sky had ended up in the hands of the mafia - and Reborn wanted to grit his teeth just considering what could have been done to his Sky while he was captured. When Reborn had found him his Sky had been barely aware - though Reborn preened thinking of how his Sky had immediately, entirely and constantly been focused on Reborn from the very moment he had entered that room, even before their bond formed. Still, his Sky had been incoherent and incapable of defending himself.

And why had his Sky not used his magic to free himself or used it after he had woken up in Reborn's apartment? Reborn could only come up with reasons that made him even angrier. Reasons like his Sky was either forbidden or unable. And if that was the case, Reborn would find and tear apart whoever had failed in protecting his Sky while he couldn't protect himself.

Even further, why had his Sky been in need of a cure - probably at a magical hospital - in the first place? Some kind of magical illness might be an explanation of how the supposed medicine could make his Sky barely lucid for such an extended period of time. Reborn could not even begin to guess what kind of illnesses there could possibly be in a magical world.

But then, how in the world had the mafia been able to get to his Sky in a magical hospital? Because if anyone in the Mafia World was even somewhat aware of magic, Reborn was sure that word would have reached him by now. So, his Sky had probably not been in the magical world while incapacitated. Which increased his need to go on a murderous rampage, because this was starting to look like deliberate endangering of his Sky’s life. And if that was truly the case, there wouldn't be anything left of the Wizarding World by the time Reborn was done with it.

Harry's hand on his chest twitched slightly and Reborn forced himself to calm down. It wouldn't surprise him if his Sky could feel the anger in Reborn's Flames. With how strong their bond was turning out to be - and Reborn's Flames curled in contentment at that thought - it was actually rather likely, especially with Reborn being his sole Guardian at the moment.

Reborn did not like the thought of his Sky finding more Guardians, taking part of Harry's focus off his Sun. He very much loathed the thought actually. There wasn't anyone who could possibly be good enough for his Sky anyways. Well, other than Reborn himself of course.

Not that Reborn would force the issue. It was mostly instinctual for Skies to seek out Elements. Also, more Guardians would mean more protection for his Sky and Reborn was starting to get the feeling that he might actually need the help.

 


 

Harry woke up feeling mostly like himself for once. He felt much better than before - well rested and so warm - and relaxed in a way that he hadn't felt in a long time, if ever. Still half asleep he burrowed deeper into the covers and went back to dozing lazily. The world could wait a while longer.

It was quite a bit later, while his awareness was slowly returning when he started to realize that the warmth he had his face pressed into was moving slightly and though his brain refused to compute that information properly, he was suddenly very aware where exactly he was and what he was lying on.

There was a light chuckle. "Finally awake?" And Merlin, with the slight gravel of sleep the man's voice was pure sin.

Harry was blushing before the thought had completely registered. He tried to regain some composure, before opening his eyes and tilting his head up.

Reborn was reclining slightly against the headboard - a book in his hand - watching him intently, while Harry had his head settled on the man's stomach, one arm thrown over Reborn's waist. The arm holding Harry against Reborn's side tightened and Harry could actually feel the heat of his own blush.

"Mornin'." Harry mumbled, trying to fight off his embarrassment.

"Good morning, lovely. Well rested?" The man asked warmly.

Harry stretched slightly and thought, to hell with it. He had already been sleeping on the man and then just a while ago deliberately snuggled back into his stomach, he could very well avoid making a further spectacle of himself by trying to get away - not that Reborn showed any intention of letting him go anytime soon - and instead resettled into the warmth exuded by his Guardian and their contently humming bond.

"Definitely better than before. How long have I been asleep this time?" Harry tried to ask casually, while doing his best to fight down his blush.

Reborn’s hand started drawing lazy patterns on Harry's back. "Just another twelve hours this time. You sound much better. And you actually have some color back in your cheeks." At the last statement Reborn's grin turned teasing and despite his best efforts Harry felt his blush increase again.

Deciding to spare his dignity, Harry didn't even try to reply. He was feeling lazy and would have loved to go back to sleep but then his stomach started complaining. Noticeably.

Another deep chuckle and Harry was glad he was able to suppress his shiver at the sound.

"How about a shower and then some lunch?" Reborn asked him easily, setting his book on the nightstand. "Do you want coffee?"

"Oh, do you have tea?" Harry perked up while moving to the side.

"Tea." At the accusing expression on Reborn's face, Harry just couldn't help breaking down into a fit of giggles - manly giggles, more of a throaty chuckle, really, no giggles at all.

"I'm British. We like our tea." Harry made sure to make that statement sound as condescending as he possibly could - mix Ron's but-all-wizards-know-this-astonishment with Hermione's I'm-telling-you-facts-so-you-better-listen-voice, throw in some Malfoy haughtiness and some Snape dunderhead-exasperation and finish it off with Dumbledore's my-dear-boy-twinkly-eyed-disappointment. There you go, one complete wanker at your service.

Reborn just scoffed though Harry could see the amusement in his eyes. "Coffee is the drink of the Gods. Who still drinks tea these days? You British are stuck in the past."

Harry grinned as he watched the man get up from the bed. "The British Wizarding World stuck in the past? You have no idea. No idea at all."

+++

They had taken turns in the bathroom - where Harry had his little freakout that he had been sleeping on top of someone, an incredibly hot someone, his incredibly hot soul-bonded someone - and by the time Harry came out Reborn had already prepared a light lunch.

Reborn smirked while holding out his chair for him and Harry couldn't help blushing while sitting down.

As Reborn settled on the other side of the small table, Harry immediately honed in on the juice on the table. "Ooh, Pumpkin juice." Though even while saying it he realized how unlikely that was.

It still got him a slightly incredulous look. "Pumpkin juice? Really? Isn't that a bit too cliché?"

"Ah, well." Harry paused slightly before just going with it. Communication is key and all that and this was a topic he had no problem talking about. "Actually, there is no such thing as too cliché in the British Wizarding World. It is very... obvious? Hm, it's hard to explain. For one, most of the clichés that you have probably already discarded while considering the Wizarding World, will likely be true. That is not necessarily true for the Magical World in general, just whenever wizards are involved."

Reborn was watching him while sipping his coffee. He seemed curious but not pressing. How refreshing.

"We wear pointy heads and can fly on broomsticks, we make potions in cauldrons and use a wand to do magic." Harry hoped that by slipping it in the list Reborn would miss the broomstick comment. Though going by the man’s smirk, his attempt at subtlety had failed spectacularly.

Harry quickly continued. "Also, in the Wizarding World pretty much everything has to be taken very literally. In a way that is almost ridiculous. For example, we have a candy that is called Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans and that is exactly what it means. Flavors include strawberry and vanilla, but also vinegar and dirt." Harry had to think a moment. "There are two main streets in the London Magical District, one is called Diagon Alley and the other Knockturn Alley. Guess which one is the one with the shady businesses."

Harry could see that Reborn was laughing internally, while his eyes had actually widened a bit with incredulousness. Harry hid his grin by taking a sip of his orange juice. They were getting along. Thank Merlin.

Reborn watched Harry unashamedly, seeing no reason to hide his watching. Harry will have years to get used to it, Reborn thought cheerfully. The obvious enjoyment at their conversation on his Sky's face had pure and utter warmth pulsing through his Flames.

Still, there was a question Reborn had to ask. No matter how much he would like to just bask in their mutual enjoyment without interruptions. Reborn had to know about his Sky's health. Had to know if there was still a problem.

"I have a question, beautiful." And mio dio, did Reborn adore that blush. If it got him to blush like that, Reborn wouldn't ever even consider calling his Sky anything else. Well, maybe in the company of others, as he was definitely getting possessive of his Sky's adorable reactions. Still, Harry's eyes were fully focused on him - Reborn would just ignore the obvious apprehension, his Sky would learn that there was never anything to fear from Reborn. "When I found you, you were barely lucid and you said something about medicine, a cure."

Reborn did not actually make it a question, not wanting to make his Sky feel cornered. However, there was clear relief on Harry's face. What in the world had his Sky thought he was going to ask?

His Sky took a moment to answer. "I have a... condition."

Harry knew immediately that had been the wrong way to put it, as Reborn's eyes widened and Harry could see something close to terror flit through his eyes. He hurried to explain almost stumbling over his words.

"It was my magic. Something happened to my magic and it got... unbalanced. So the healers had to reset it, which put me in that disoriented state. The condition was healed and you, our bond, actually helped settle my magic. I feel much better than I should under these circumstances. I am fine."

Reborn felt his thundering heart slow down as his Sky talked. He was the World's Greatest Hitman and could easily get rid of anyone or anything that promised harm to his Sky. However, he would be entirely powerless if the problem was an illness. He could not lose his Sky - his home - after just having found him.

Reborn forced himself to calm down before asking for confirmation. "The condition is cured?"

"Yes. The treatment was definitely completed, so any danger there might have been, has already passed. The extended disorientation was due to my magic settling after the treatment. I told you yesterday that our magic matures with age?"

A lazy nod.

Harry almost wanted to smile at the gesture. "Well, for each wizard when their magic matures it falls into a sort of pattern. The basis of this pattern is etched into our very core and it is fundamental to wielding magic. Even further, we are magic and our bodies and minds function based on the presence of it. For wizards their core is fundamental to their very being. However, the condition with my magic was of the sort, that this structure of my core had to be reset. Meaning the healers mostly removed the underlying structure of my magical core. What you saw was the disorientation after the reset which was expected, though exacerbated by other factors. It just needs time to heal at this point."

Ok. So that answered a number of Reborn's questions, including why his Sky had been at a hospital, the disorientation and why he had not rescued himself with magic. It also opened up a whole slew of other questions. He wasn't even going to ask how common this condition was, because he was definitely starting to get the feeling that his Sky was a magnet for the unusual. Reborn could see himself going grey early.

"Exacerbating other factors?" He asked pointedly.

"Well, the healers had specified that I was to stay in one place for the initial phase of my treatment. And definitely to not change between surroundings of high and low magical saturation." His Sky was clearly hesitating at that part of the answer and Reborn could already see himself tearing someone apart in punishment for whatever his Sky was trying to avoid saying right now. "The treatment was started at one of Britain's largest magical hospitals, a magically rich environment. I was supposed to stay there for at least the first week immediately afterwards and then after my magic had somewhat recovered move to another magically saturated area. However, I ended up in the non-magical world instead. The healers had explained to me before that something like that would be greatly disorienting as my magic couldn't rely on the balance of my surroundings to help anchor itself."

As there was no reaction from Reborn, Harry kept talking. "The largest problem was the change from a magical environment to non-magical surroundings. But this was even further aggravated by me being moved large distances across countries, as even in the non-magical world there wasn't a new constant environment my magic could to adjust to."

Harry hesitantly finished the explanation. Reborn seemed to be actually grinding his teeth as he sorted through that information.

"If it was so clearly against doctor's orders, how did you 'end up' in a non-magical environment, exactly?" Reborn asked sharply.

This gave Harry pause. He had known that this question would come up at some point. A part of him was elated at the thought that Reborn was truly worried for him, would mind very much that someone had screwed up his recovery this badly, would unquestionably be on Harry's side.

And Harry was still so angry at Ron and Hermione and at the Order for again assuming they had the right to make decisions for their Savior. During the war any decisions 'for his own good' had been made on the basis of 'the lesser evil', rarely if ever considering any input Harry himself might have had. In his darker hours he had almost felt as though he was less of a person and more of a commodity, a weapon in their eyes.

Now Harry had finally left the war behind him, was finally his own man, no obligations, no decisions imposed on him, no guilt to fight a war that should have been ended decades ago by the very adults that had taken to hiding behind Harry Potter, the Chosen One.

And he had thought that Ron and Hermione of all people had understood what it meant to Harry to finally be free. He knew they would not deliberately cause him harm but their selective disregard of anything that concerned Harry and not Harry Potter - things like his less than ideal home life - had created problems between them before.

That didn't make answering this question any easier though.

Reborn's eyes were still focused intently on his face and Harry refused to lie to Reborn. How to put this though without the context of the war, the Golden Trio, the Order?

"The answer to that, is... complicated. There are a lot of circumstances that I will have to explain to you at a later point. I was not lucid for most of the situation that got me into the hands of the mafia, so the explanation is even more convoluted as I will have to guess at some parts. Would it be enough right now if I told you that there was no ill intent from most of the people involved?"

"Most?" Most?! Reborn felt utter fury burn through him.

"Ah." Now his Sky was looking up at him with large green eyes. "Well, no, the healers probably thought I was safe at the hospital. And my friends do have the authority to make decisions for me if I am ever incapacitated. Despite all they have seen, they are still very naïve in their beliefs about family and trust. It wouldn't even occur to them that family might sell someone to the mafia."

By now Reborn was halfway out of his chair. How could Harry screw up a simple explanation this badly. He wanted to bang his head on the table in frustration. Repeatedly.

Actually. Harry attempted to do just that. He didn't even manage to hit the table once, as his forehead was caught in a large warm hand. Harry cautiously looked up at Reborn. There was pure fury in his eyes.

And Harry did not feel threatened at all. Well, wasn't that just something.

Harry reached up to touch Reborn's arm, trying to find the right words. "It's complicated. I don't know exactly what happened because I was not aware for most of it. There were some definite screw ups, but I don't have the whole story. And now I am fine."

His Sky seemed utterly calm, even in the face of his fury, Reborn noted absently. But more importantly, Harry was safe. Safe here with him. Where no one - no one - would harm him ever again.

Still. Reborn tugged his Sky out of his chair, moving them to the living area. He settled them on the couch, dragging his Sky close to his side, so close he was almost in his lap.

Harry considered this change, internally shrugged his shoulders and pressed himself into the warmth of Reborn's side. Their bond hummed contently.

It was strange. Harry usually didn't like physical contact, shied away from it actually. But here, it was different. The closer he was to Reborn, the safer he felt. And the warmth. Not only the actual physical warmth Reborn seemed to radiate, but also the pulsing warmth of their bond.

He tried to explain further. "I was not actually physically harmed. The only time I felt pain was when my Flames were freed. If they had tried to harm me physically, my magic would have interfered, disrupted or not. My magic is almost autonomous in its defense of me."

There was so much his Sky was not saying. So much he was hiding behind partial truths. But even though Reborn knew that his Sky was not telling everything, he also didn't sense any lies.

It was also becoming apparent, that his Sky was pretty good at subtly changing the topic - not even close to good enough to actually distract Reborn - but not bad at all. Talking about something different that he expected Reborn to focus on. Instead of the mention of being sold to the mafia. Reborn had definitely noticed his Sky's nervous mention of friends and family as well as the actual reason for the problems with his magic. Well, Reborn had no problem with getting all available information on another topic before returning to that part of their discussion. He would grant his Sky the reprieve if only so Reborn could settle his fury.

Another round of questions about their respective worlds then. Not like the topic of a magical world was going to get boring any time soon.

"That sounds as though automatic magic is not the norm." He asked, generously delaying the truly uncomfortable questions. At least for now.

Harry was glad that they were moving away from the personal, far more complicated questions and moving into magical theory again. He latched onto the topic. "Magic itself is closely connected with nature and has its own... sense of things. If something, a place or an artifact, constantly experiences high levels of magic for a very long time, it gains a certain level of sentience in itself."

Reborn took a moment to digest the information. Sentient magic? Well, that was definitely different from Flames then.

Still, his Sky was trying to avoid the actual question. Reborn kept silent with his attention focused on his Sky. He had noticed early on that Harry would keep talking if he wasn't interrupted. It infuriated him because it was typical behavior for children suffering from neglect. Their subconscious interpreted the missing reaction as a demand for more and they obeyed without usually even realizing it themselves. Reborn would definitely have to counteract that pattern, though it should easily be done with general acceptance which Reborn would gladly provide. While also ripping apart whoever had not only drilled this behavior into his Sky but also those who - by not counteracting this instinct and reassuring his Sky themselves - had seen fit to let the pattern remain.

As expected his Sky continued after a few moments."A wizard's core constantly holds a certain amount of magic and is a power onto itself, but it is not actually some kind of separate entity as it remains connected to the surrounding magic. Depending on the wizard the structure and the core size can vary incredibly, especially if additional abilities or powers come into play. Most of the magical core's patterns are established while a wizard is still young and is directly affected by his surroundings. My magic is unusually instinctive and very automatic in its defense of me, conscious or not. It is also the reason why the procedure of my treatment was especially disorienting to me and my magic."

Again, so much information that wasn't directly given but implied in his Sky's statements. The defensiveness of a wizard's magic was determined in his youth depending on his upbringing? And his Sky's magic was especially defensive? With this Reborn's first targets were already determined. Now he just had to find out the names of the people his Sky grew up with - he refused to call them family – and Reborn would tear them apart, slowly and painfully, making sure that nothing of them remained.

Harry watched Reborn as he worked through that information. After a few moments of silence he took the chance to ask a question that had been on his mind since Reborn's explanation.

"I also have a question." Harry watched as Reborn focused completely on him again. "You said that a Sky can bond with Flame users of every type. So, does a Sky have to have a full set of Guardians?"

Well, wasn't that just exquisitely perfect. His Sky was reluctant at the thought of other Guardians. Reborn felt his smugness raise another notch, or ten. Not only because his Sky himself didn't seem to want anyone else, but also if his Flames were not instinctually urging him to form more bonds it meant that his Sky felt perfectly safe and protected with just Reborn.

Reborn didn't even try to keep the smugly satisfied grin off his face. He got more comfortable on the couch kicking up his feet on the low table, coincidentally pulling his Sky completely into his side. Harry seemed to consider their position for a moment before curling his legs up onto the couch and delightfully resting his head against Reborn's shoulder with a slight blush on his cheeks.

The bond was humming comfortably between them and Reborn answered easily. "Sky Flame users generally look for a full set of Guardians instinctually as fully bonded Guardians offer additional protection to their Sky. In the Mafia the prestige that comes with a full set of Guardians factors in as well and individual Guardians can bring even more renown to a Famiglia depending on their own identity. For one, an Element cannot harmonize with a Sky weaker than itself and thus a Sky aims for the strongest possible Flame users in order to emphasize their own strength. Additionally, Harmonization is pretty much absolute, so once a Sky has managed a bond with an Element they also gain their loyalty. As such any of the Element's own alliances and reputation will automatically be considered part of the Sky's Famiglia. A lot of Sky users barely consider whether an Element is suited to their character, as long as there is a sufficient amount of prestige involved."

At this point, Harry was completely resting against him and Reborn felt his Flames almost purr in contentment as his Sky's slim form fit perfectly into his side.

Reborn continued lazily. "Also, Sky users are normally part of a Famiglia. Even if they would prefer to wait to complete their set of Guardians, they are generally pushed into a full set by the Famiglia for stability and reputation. But even for those who do not aim for a full set of Guardians initially, they still tend to have at least a few bonded Elements."

Reborn watched his Sky mulling that over for a few moments, could almost see him thinking back to their introduction yesterday.

"You are the strongest Sun in the Mafia World right now." Harry more stated than asked.

"Strongest in existence." Reborn answered cheerfully while still watching for is Sky's reaction.

Harry hesitated a moment. "Others have tried to bond with you." Another statement. His Sky sure wasn't naïve.

"Yes, they have. Since I gained a reputation pretty much every Sky I have come into contact with has tried to pull me in. They failed. Spectacularly and without exception." Reborn was well aware of his Sky watching him as he answered.

Harry wasn't completely certain how to react to that declaration - and for now Harry was going to entirely ignore what this meant for the strength of his own Flames. Harry's focus was entirely on his Sun right now. The emphasis so far had been solely on a Sky looking for an Element, a Sky wanting additional protection, a Sky's Famiglia pushing for bonds. It sounded far too one-sided when talking about a bond based on their souls and life-force. And the mention of Skies trying to just bond any Element they deemed suitable for whatever reason, sounded alarmingly like a forced bonding.

Harry tried to keep his dread at bay that this bond might not be as welcome as he had assumed.

However, Harry had also seen the desperation beneath Reborn's brief mention of the many Skies that had tried but failed to bond with him. It sounded like a strange mixture between longing for a bond and pride that no one had been strong enough to establish one.

Still, he had to make sure. Because Reborn did not yet know about Harry's magic somehow having gotten involved with their bond and thereby precluding the option of dissolving the bond that Reborn had briefly mentioned before.

"Harmonization is… advantageous?" Harry put the question in a way that left Reborn free to comment on as many of the unmentioned aspects as he wanted. But Harry needed reassurance that Reborn truly wanted this bond, everything else could come later.

Reborn had felt the tension in his Sky increase and answered the immediate question instantly, lest his Sky get any ideas. "Harmonization is something that is widely sought in the Mafia World. While it can be tainted, in its pure form it is incomparable. For the bonded Elements Harmonization offers unconditional acceptance, a true home. It is something that Flame users dream about, similar to civilians dreaming about true love. There are books using Harmonization as a plot element in the place of love at first sight. It is definitely a good thing."

For the rest, Reborn took a moment to consider his answer. "As I am probably the most well-known unaffiliated member in the mafia, Skies of pretty much all powerful and most not so powerful Famiglias have tried to pull me in. It is not necessarily a bad thing that they tried, as their inability to do so constantly reaffirmed my position as the strongest Sun." Reborn would not mention right away how much of a strain it was for an Element's Flames to constantly have a Sky pull at them.

His Sky was still intently focused on him, though some of the tension had bled out of his form. Probably also reading more from what Reborn was saying than he was actually putting into words. Just as Reborn had done during Harry's explanations.

Reborn continued. "Our situation is slightly different from the norm," - and there his Sky went with his adorable reactions again, wrinkling his nose and mumbling something that sounded quite resignedly disparaging into Reborn's shoulder - "because you are not actually part of a Famiglia. Active Skies are pretty much immediately assimilated by a Famiglia, by force or coercion. Sky Flames are incredibly valuable in the Mafia World."

"As with everything there are pros and cons of course. While a Famiglia brings restrictions in the form of traditions, feuds, established alliances and enemies, it also offers additional protection to a Sky and his Elements. One definite drawback is that a Sky without all Elements is rarely left to his own devices and as the Famiglia is interested in the Sky completing their set of Guardian bonds, they will pick which Flame users to more or less parade in front of the Sky in question, thus extremely limiting the Sky's options."

"Furthermore, joining a weak Famiglia will immediately make the Sky and his Elements the main targets for any attack on that Famiglia. On the other hand, the strong Famiglias are generally based around a Sky in a hereditarily determined leadership position, thereby making a new Sky and his Elements cannon fodder in case of a conflict."

There was pure scorn on his Sky's face at that. Reborn was well aware he himself was biased but he had still tried to at least somewhat give Harry both sides of the argument. He was relieved at Harry's apparent disinterest in joining a Famiglia. Even though Reborn had been looking for a Sky bond for years now, he had always felt peeved at the idea of being ordered about by a Famiglia.

Now, somehow, he had the bond without those drawbacks, he noted smugly.

"We, however, have a significant advantage. Not only are you unaffiliated but I am also well capable of keeping us as independent as we wish to be. I assume you have no interest in joining a Mafia Famiglia?"

Harry's reaction was instant. "No. Definitely not. I categorically refuse any imposed obligations. Especially if it involves some old feuds that should have been cleared up years or even decades ago by whoever initiated them in the first place."

Harry huffed his answer maybe a bit too adamantly. Ok, so maybe he had not yet entirely gotten over the war, but the cannon fodder comment had struck a nerve. He had already martyred himself once in his life. He refused to even risk having that happen to him again.

There was definitely a smugly satisfied vibe to the bond now, Harry noted.

"Ok." Reborn stated easily, although he had definitely picked up on his vehemence at that statement and the arm along Harry's back tightened noticeably.

"What exactly does unaffiliated mean in your case?" Harry asked before any questions on his last statement could be asked. "I mean before you I didn't have any connections to the Mafia World at all. But in your case? Do you have specific alliances in the mafia?" Harry decided to leave the topic of Reborn's reputation as a hitman alone for now. That was a conversation for later.

Reborn answered easily. "I have my own network of alliances and contacts. It is another reason why any Famiglia would profit from having me in their ranks. And it is also one of the reasons why you as my Sky are definitely and specifically in danger. The easiest way for me to be tied down at this point is simply by capturing you and using our bond as a bargaining chip. They wouldn't even have to threaten to kill you. Just driving your Flames into discord would be enough of a threat. And they know that."

Harry loved and hated that statement at the same time. For one it implied heavily that Reborn would put Harry above anything - everything - else. And Merlin, did Harry adore the idea of finally having someone who would unquestionably put him first.

However, the other part of the statement made it very clear that not only would Harry be considered a liability from now on - and that was definitely a first for Harry, he had always been the one to get leverage over, not the tool to do so - but he felt his barely soothed magic join with his Flames and surge viciously at the thought of someone not only threatening Reborn but taking him from Harry.

Harry was well aware that he could get dangerously possessive of things he wanted or truly considered his. And he had never wanted anything quite as much as he wanted this bond, the unconditional acceptance, his Guardian, his Sun. His.

Their bond as a bargaining chip? No. He refused.

Harry took a brief moment to consider his response. "Well, there is something you should know, just to clear up any misunderstandings."

And that certainly got Reborn's attention.

Harry managed to keep his voice firm, even though he was slightly apprehensive about Reborn's reaction to this. "You mentioned ways to dissolve the bond between us."

Harry paused and waited until Reborn nodded carefully at that statement.

"Ok, so I don't think that is actually an option for us." Harry could feel Reborn's focus on him and he quickly rambled on to get the entire explanation out. "Our bond is not solely based on our Flames. My magic got involved as well. Our bond is based in Flames and magic. And magical bonds of this kind are permanent. No exceptions."

Reborn could see the apprehension on his Sky's face at his brief explanation. His Sky was watching for a reaction that signified Reborn being angry or resentful. But all Reborn could think was that this bond might be truly, definitely permanent. No way to force a separation. His Sky was worried, worried that Reborn would not like being bound to him permanently and indefinitely.

And Reborn felt a rush of possessiveness.

This was his Sky. His perfect Sky. He had finally found a Sky strong enough to harmonize with him, a Sky that was unaffiliated and thus free, a Sky who seemed to solely worry about Reborn's reaction to these revelations and who didn't seem to feel any concern himself at being bound to Reborn permanently.

The side of him that was so very possessivegreedyprotective, curled further around their bond in pure contentment at this.

Reborn didn't have to hold some of himself back in worry that this bond might be broken at some point. The worry that stemmed from the knowledge that truly good things did not happen to the World's Greatest Hitman. Except now it had.

And Reborn was done.

This was good enough to make up for all the crap that had been heaped on him in his life, to make up for all the years of loneliness and longing, to make up for everything.

He tightened his arm around his Sky, basking in the feeling of Harmony and the knowledge that it wouldn't be taken from him. His Sky seemed to have understood that Reborn was quite content with this truly permanent bond and now had his eyes half closed, seemingly very willing to drift off again with his head rested against Reborn's shoulder.

Although he was still waiting for the questions about the Mafia World. The first questions his Sky had asked had not been about the mafia at all but rather about the Flames and their bond. His Sky's priorities were certainly refreshing.

They sat in content silence for a while before Reborn asked distractedly, "By the way, what do you call the magical mafia?"

His Sky looked slightly confused for a moment before responding. "Magical mafia? I don't think we have anything of the sort."

Reborn paused. No mafia equivalent in the Wizarding World?

He felt a diabolical grin spread over his face. Why not just move to there and take over the Wizarding World's criminal underworld? Now there was a thought.

Harry blinked up at his Sun apprehensively. He was pretty sure that the smirk on Reborn's face did not bode well. For anyone involved.

Chapter Text

Harry was watching Reborn, utterly mesmerized by his Sun’s large and graceful hands, expertly putting together their dinner.

He was sitting at the kitchen island after having been banned from helping. Harry could concede that his limbs were still feeling rather sluggish and he would in fact prefer to not lose a finger due to falling asleep while cutting vegetables.

After their discussion and the confirmation that their very-much-permanent bond was welcomed by both of them, they had just spent some time relaxing on the couch. Harry had been comfortably dozing against Reborn's shoulder while they basked in the humming of their bond and Reborn had only moved them to the kitchen when Harry's stomach had inconveniently started complaining.

While Harry enjoyed cooking – actually even prided himself in his own kitchen skills – he had only ever really been allowed to cook at Privet Drive. And while he had always wanted to try experimenting with different styles of cooking, that truly hadn’t been an option at the Dursleys’.

Only British food was acceptable to those paragons of healthy and balanced eating.

And in the Wizarding World, Molly Weasley had been very clear on just who reigned in the kitchen. She had been quite miffed the few times Harry had tried to get involved in the kitchen without following her clear and very strict instructions.

So, Harry had had plenty of chances to watch someone else cook.

But, the Weasley matron certainly didn't have hands like that.

Harry felt almost hypnotized by the sinuous movements of Reborn's – large, warm - hands dexterously handling the kitchen knives. And something in him was definitely intrigued by the thought that as a hitman Reborn could easily turn the kitchen utensil into a weapon at a moment's notice.

So, Harry was mesmerized.

+++

Reborn was keeping his Sky constantly in view while preparing a light Italian dish. Harry was watching him intently, seemingly filing away every single movement. He was just utterly adorable with his attentively widened eyes, tracking his every movement. Reborn certainly wasn’t complaining about having the entirety of his Sky's attention focused exclusively on him.

He commented, "Is there a specific kind of pesto you prefer with your pasta?"

"Never had it." Harry replied absently.

"You’ve never had pesto?" Reborn asked.

"Well, no. I’ve only ever had English food, expect for trying a few French dishes." Harry admitted somewhat sheepishly.

Reborn paused. "That, we will definitely have to correct. Italian food is divine." Again, something to add to the ever growing list about his Sky's previous life.

Reborn was loathe to interrupt Harry's complete focus on him, but Harry seemed to come out of it as soon as Reborn put down the utensils and lifted the two prepared plates. His Sky immediately looked up with slightly flushed cheeks - and mio dio Reborn was going to have to lock him away, lest someone else witness his delectable responses - getting up to move with Reborn to the dining area.

They easily settled at the table and Harry watched Reborn curl his pasta onto his fork before imitating the movements… and Reborn was just going to have to give up on commenting every time his Sky did something adorable that made Reborn want to hide him away from the rest of the world.

A thought that was immediately thrown out again, when Harry took the first bite, humming luxuriously at the flavors, his eyes half-lidded.

Trying to distract himself from the odd mixture of adorable and almost sinful expressions on Harry's face, Reborn restarted their earlier conversation.

"So, you mentioned a magical education." Reborn commented.

"Yes, Hogwarts." His Sky practically lit up at the question.

Reborn incredulously raised an eyebrow at the name, but was entirely ignored by his Sky, who continued enthusiastically, "Hogwarts is a boarding school in the Scottish Highlands. It is a huge castle that has been a school for several hundred years now and the castle itself has gained a certain level of sentience due to the constantly high magical saturation. There are moving stair cases and talking portraits and moving sets of armor in the halls."

Harry knew his enthusiasm was showing. He flushed - yet again! - when he caught the softened look in Reborn's eyes.

Thinking of Hogwarts always brought back some of his initial marvel when he had first been told about an entire new world, a world with magic and wonder and most importantly without the Dursleys. It hadn't taken him long to figure out that the oh-so-very-shiny new world hid some truly dark spots on its flip side. But some of his initial wonder had always remained at the mention of his first ever home.

He tried to continue in a slightly calmer manner. "Magical education starts at eleven, includes most of the basic magical subject such as Transfiguration, Potions and Charms, and has a seven year curriculum."

Reborn considered several questions this brought up and just went with the most obvious. "What about magical education before Hogwarts, before turning eleven?"

"Well, there are no magical primary schools in the British Wizarding World. Parents either tutor their children themselves or get a tutor to teach a group of kids. Children in the Muggle World just go to primary school until they get the Hogwarts letter." Harry stated simply.

Reborn just had more and more questions. "Muggle?"

"Ah. Non-magical people. The same way you seem to refer to civilians." Harry explained.

"So, the Wizarding World isn't completely separated from the non-magical world with wizards living in the Muggle World." Reborn commented.

"Hm, well the worlds are separated, but the Magical and the Muggle World were pretty intertwined well into the dark ages. While the separation process started long before that, they only ultimately separated a few hundred years ago. Because the two worlds used to live right alongside each other a lot of magical sites are embedded into the non-magical world, though generally only accessible through certain magical gateways."

"Doesn't that make keeping magic a secret quite difficult?" Reborn inquired dubiously.

"Well yes, but we have entire government branches assigned to taking care of exactly that. They can detect if magic is revealed to muggles, mostly by detecting magic in any unregistered non-magical areas. They show up and erase or change memories of any witnesses."

Reborn remembered Harry's comment before his initial explanation about magic that someone might show up at the apartment if he told Reborn about his world. It hadn't made much sense then, but it certainly did now. And Reborn really didn't like the idea of someone screwing around in his head.

He would leave this topic for now as it was already late and this would probably turn into a longer conversation. His Sky was still recovering and he would be maneuvering Harry to bed soon – preferably with Reborn in it - as his rest was far more important. Still, they would definitely be returning to this topic.

There was a short silence as they finished their dinner and Reborn considered the conversation.

"So, a boarding school. Sounds incredibly boring. Or incredibly fun, of the not so innocent sort."

Harry paused, confused, before he flushed. "We start at eleven years old!"

"Hm, right before puberty hits then." Reborn agreed lazily.

Harry spluttered. And Reborn smirked while watching as his adorably flustered Sky tried to regain his composure.

 


 

The next morning Reborn went out for groceries as well as to check on the current state of affairs regarding the Corocos Famiglia. He knew that his Sky would soon start asking the harder questions - about the Mafia, about his role in the Mafia - and Reborn wanted to have as many clear answers as possible.

For now he would ignore the blind fury that was still burning through his veins whenever he thought of where and how he had found his Sky and who all might have been involved in that particular scenario. Reborn really didn't like leaving his Sky alone in the apartment, though he knew it was safe, but he had to keep on top of things and make sure that there wouldn't be any surprises.

It also gave him a moment to think about the various revelations of the past few days.

Reborn had a Sky.

The strongest Sun in the Mafia World had finally found a Sky strong enough to pull him in. He had finally harmonized, was finally experiencing the sheer warmth of Harmony, the feeling of having a home, of genuine welcome, of unconditional acceptance. For the first time in his life Reborn had somewhere - someone - to return to.

And what a someone that was.

He had not only found himself a Sky strong enough to bond with him, a Sky with ridiculously pure Flames, but he had found Harry.

Harry who was kind and shy and strong and innocent and wholeheartedly accepting of Reborn. Who no matter how young seemed to understand the harsh loneliness of being on your own even while surrounded by masses of people. Who knew the crushing disappointment of having people want you but not for the reasons you would like. Who understood loyalty, just as he knew the paralyzing disillusionment of betrayal. Who had returned Reborn's shift of focus onto his Sky by ignoring the outside world entirely and making Reborn his focal point instead.

This didn't even factor in yet that his Sky was free. No ties to the Mafia, to any Famiglia and –going by his vehement denial of accepting any new obligations - also free from obligations in the magical world.

Reborn was a lucky bastard. He was well aware just how very damn lucky he was for having found Harry, his Sky. But there had been so much crap in his life, he had been looking, desperately longing for so long. He damn well deserved this.

And as a final glorious bonus, the bond was permanent, apparently went even beyond Harmony and had been turned into a magical soul bond.

Though if there had been an additional power pushing for a bond, that might actually explain how very instant the bond had been upon their meeting. The fact that there was actual magic out there... well, it had certainly been a surprise but it wasn't something that was going to really throw him for a loop. Flames were already well into the realm of the supernatural and magic just added another layer to that.

Reborn had no problem with shifting his entire focus, the center of his world onto Harry. His Sky had not even yet deemed it necessary to inquire about his job as a hitman. Harry didn't really seem to care, seemed to simply accept Reborn in whatever way he could get him.

And Reborn would gladly rearrange his life based on that.

Reborn's own life in the Mafia was easily put on hold. He did not have any obligations to anyone. So, he could go with his Sky to the Magical World, sort out whatever or whoever needed any form of 'clarification' in Harry's life. And then they could decide what to do, whether to stay in the Magical World or to move to Italy.

To be honest, Reborn didn't even really care either way. He would bend the world to his and Harry's will anyways, no matter who they had to bring over to their way of thinking.

He almost felt like cackling gleefully as he made his way through the city.

It didn't take him long to get the information he was looking for and he was reassured that the destruction of the Corocos base was not being linked to him at all. Mostly because starting almost right after his own wave of destruction, other players had started taking the Corocos Famiglia apart. By now there really wasn't much of Corocos left, just as Reborn had predicted.

He had been tempted to leak some information on the Corocos to the rest of the Mafia in order to facilitate their destruction but he had decided against it, lest someone linked it back to him and started wondering why he would be interested in such a minor player of the Mafia World. Though apparently others had heard rumors of the technology that Reborn had 'liberated' from the Corocos and were now looking for it in a desperate race to get there first.

Reborn snorted internally. Obviously he had gotten there first. Not only first but also before anyone else had even really known about it.

With his information confirmed he made his way back to the apartment, where his adorable Sky was waiting for him.

+++

Harry had curled up on the couch while Reborn had gone out 'for groceries'. Groceries. Right.

Harry wanted to snort at that particular excuse.

Though he was grateful as this gave him some time to consider his current situation and the revelations of the past days.

He now had another power - entity, energy ? - that tied into his very soul in addition to magic and that was part of his very being. Harry was getting the feeling that Flames and magic weren’t actually preclusive of the other. Though he would definitely need to research this topic and see whether there was anything on Flames in the Magical World. His magic and his Flames appeared to get along just fine and seemed to agree with his instincts on every level.

All three of which agreed - adamantly – regarding the safetyprotectionsanctuarypriorityhome of his new bond, a bond based in his magic and Flames. A soul bond to a hitman - and hadn't there been enough crazy in Harry's life already between magic and Dark Lords and now Mafia?

Not to give the wrong impression, he adored the idea of this bond. Of a permanent anchor in his life, someone he could turn to, who wanted Harry - just Harry - and who truly seemed to enjoy Harry's presence.

And even though mention of the Mafia made him slightly nervous, Harry was well aware that one of his main problems was his endless and uncompromising curiosity. He was actually kind of looking forward to finding out what exactly Reborn meant by 'Mafia'. So far, he had avoided this topic as it seemed to be too personal, too much conflict potential while they did not know much about each other.

They would get there at some point.

Harry had decided early on to treat the hitman topic the same way he wanted the savior topic to be treated. As long as he did not feel anywhere near comfortable to discuss the war, he would not force any answers on Reborn's previous life either. It seemed only fair and to be honest Harry adored the time they spent just talking without any contention.

There were still enough topics available that would already be hard to discuss, such as Harry's capture or his home life. Harry could see that Reborn was starting to put together the various clues and though he would really like to avoid that particular epiphany there were far worse topics yet to come. His Sun would find out about the Dursleys eventually.

And if Harry was honest it’s not like he had ever put any effort into hiding anything about his home life. It was just that no one ever seemed to ever want to notice or care enough to take a second look. Until now that is. And Harry adored his Sun for that alone.

Harry had also noticed that he had started to refer to Reborn as his Sun sometimes in his mind. It wasn't only the fact that he referred to him as a Sun - the warmthlightlifeheat pulsing along their bond made it easy to identify Reborn with that word - but more that he referred to Reborn as his, as Harry's.

Harry had learned early in his life that he was not to own anything. That he was only ever given things because no one else wanted them. That anything he did receive actually belonged to someone else while Harry was just generously allowed to use it. That it could be taken away at a moment's notice because it wasn't really Harry's in the first place.

It was the first lesson from the Dursleys that Harry had identified as something that only ever applied to him. Everyone else had things, belongings, favorite toys, friends. Harry didn't.

It was a lesson that left its mark.

It had taken him years to actually refer to Ron and Hermione as his friends. They had been Ron and Hermione in his mind for a long time and there had only been a short time where he had truly thought of them as his, before the first conflicts between them had started to drive that thought out of his head again. Now he rarely referred to them as his friends in his mind. Well, unless he was being a sarcastic shit.

It was also one of the reasons why Harry treasured some of his possessions so much. His cloak was the only thing he truly had left from his family - something that had been intended for him by his parents - but even that had been passed on by Dumbledore and not by his parents directly which somehow changed its meaning in Harry's mind. He loved his photo album for the thought that had been put into it and for the memories, it was something that had been made for him and he definitely loved that thought. Still, the one thing of value that had only ever and truly been his was his wand. No one had owned it before him. No one had any proprietary rights regarding his wand or any history to tell about it that Harry did not know about.

But now, suddenly, he had Reborn - and Harry would raze to the ground whoever thought to try and change that - Reborn was Harry's. Harry's Sun, his Guardian, his bonded. Simply his.

And the bond pulsed with utter and comforting warmth at that thought.

Harry would trust Reborn, he would do his best to make their bond into the best it could possibly be, because it was invaluable to him. Harry knew that he had always given his trust easily, maybe simply because in his childhood he didn't have anyone to trust. Though on the flipside his trust was just as easily and uncompromisingly broken.

Even though Ron and Hermione had always had a kind of special standing and more leeway than anyone else, this had still always applied to them. No matter what happened and how much Harry treasured their friendship he had never truly forgotten or forgiven the various breaks of trust. He was devoted to their friendship first and everything else second, but Harry was well aware that this was not entirely reciprocated.

Ron's friendship had always had conditions attached. His initial interest in Harry and his friendship had been due to him being the Boy-Who-Lived. Which was fine as Ron didn't know Harry himself at that point. However, Harry knew that even at this point Ron was a bigot and utterly despised anything he considered dark, pureblood or Slytherin. Even if that would include Harry himself. Not to even mention his jealousy.

Ron had entirely broken their friendship twice, once during the tournament and once during the horcrux hunt. Both, situations where Harry had truly needed him and depended on him. That was something that Harry could not forgive. He still considered Ron a friend, Harry just knew better than to trust him.

Similarly, Harry had realized years ago that even though Hermione was a great friend who stuck with him through most of everything, her first loyalty was not to him but to her own beliefs. This sounded far worse than it actually was, but Hermione had always been uncompromisingly insistent on her own interpretation of things. If Harry truly decided to go against her, she went over his head. It had started with simple things such as the Firebolt in third year, followed by her easy acceptance during the TriWiz Tournament of Ron's jealousy as enough of a reason to shun Harry with the rest of the school and finally her willingness to listen to Dumbledore and ignore Harry during the summer of fifth year.

She was still a great friend and had seen the entire war through at his side, but again, Harry could not and would not trust her with himself the way he would have liked to.

Ron and Hermione's friendship was based on conditions and Harry knew that if he wanted to keep their friendship he could never stray from those. Harry was for example convinced that if he were to ever voice interest in what the other side was going for politically Ron and Hermione would never be able to accept that. Even though they knew him best, they still had problems separating Harry from Harry Potter and tended to treat him and his so called responsibilities based on his status as a symbol rather than as their friend.

And their decision to leave him at the Dursleys was yet another instance – possibly one too many - where Harry himself and his opinion didn't really factor in for them. It was yet another break of trust and though he would do his best to wait to pass judgment until he could talk to them and listen to their reasoning, he didn't think he was going to be able to get over this.

It had pained him when he had allowed himself to consider this during the time after the Battle of Hogwarts but he had come to the conclusion that they were not effectively loyal to Harry himself. Not like he was loyal to them, unquestionably and immovably loyal - loyal like Neville or Luna.

Which reminded him, he needed to contact someone in the Wizarding World as some people were probably going out of their mind with worry, trying to find him. With his Guardian present Harry had been able to mostly avoid thinking about the situation with his magic and various friends and the Dursleys and, dear Merlin, Madam Pomfrey was going to kill him. Or tie him to his bed. Not that Reborn would be complaining in that case.

Harry blushed. He really needed to get a grip on his thoughts. And his priorities.

Back to the topic at hand, how to contact anyone in the Wizarding World. He knew that the Wizarding World wouldn't be able to reach him easily either, as owl post worked based on a wizard's magical signature. Harry's core had been reset and not yet entirely been re-shaped, so owls would not be able to find him.

Additionally, even though the healers had been certain that his magic would settle on its own and wouldn't need any further outside assistance after the treatment, this prediction had been based on the assumption that someone would be there to monitor his recovery and step in if required. Though based on Harry's instincts, his magic seemed to be fine and settling, getting smoother every day and continuously coiling with his Flames along the edges of his core. It was incredibly reassuring feeling, the smooth humming of both these... hm, energies, entities, powers?

He had not yet had any chance to actually use his Flames but they seemed to reassuringly pulse with his magic. He was truly looking forward to trying them as even just pulsing around his core he felt the utter warmth they radiated. But it would probably be best to wait to try out his Flames until his magic had settled down into his core again and he had been given the all-clear by a healer.

Still, how to contact the healers all the while being unable to enter the Wizarding World due to his magic having adjusted to his non-magical surroundings? If Hedwig were still alive this wouldn't even be a problem. She would probably still have been able to find him based on their bond and would have shown up by now, pissed as all hell that he had left her behind. He would have spent a few hours groveling and offering her food before she would graciously give in and start pecking at his hair trying to put it into some kind of order.

Merlin, how he missed her. Harry felt the pain of the grief and the guilt swell and he forced his mind away from these thoughts. He would have time for grief later. Much later.

So, he couldn't enter the Wizarding World - he didn't even know where the next Magical District might be located around here, or even where exactly here was - and he couldn't travel to England because that would also strain his magic. He knew that there was some way for normal post to reach the Wizarding World as that system allowed muggleborns to keep in contact with their parents, who obviously wouldn't have an owl. But he was pretty certain that system would have collapsed during the war.

Well, damn. He couldn't think of a single way to reach anyone in the Wizarding World.

At this point, his best bet seemed to be to wait until his core calmed entirely, travel to Britain and try to contact someone from there. If everything else failed, Reborn could just visit the Leaky Cauldron and have someone there contact a healer.

Harry grinned viciously. The Wizarding World so wasn't ready for a muggle like Reborn.

+++

Reborn returned to the apartment to find his Sky settled on the couch smirking wickedly at his own thoughts. He felt something in his chest purr at the sight.

Setting down the groceries, he pulled out the tea he had brought for Harry.

"Thinking good thoughts?" Reborn asked casually as he walked over.

"Definitely." Harry's eyes lit up as he saw the tea. "Thinking about you."

Reborn actually felt his eyebrows rise at that response. That certainly was unexpectedly assertive of his Sky.

There was a pause. Then Harry's face practically exploded in red as he started stammering, "No... not like... I was just... not like that... and just... you're... and the Wizarding World..."

His blush was starting to look painful. Reborn just couldn't help himself, he leaned down and pressed an affectionate kiss to one of his Sky's glowing cheeks.

"You are exquisitely adorable." He stated aloud.

It certainly didn't make the blush any better but at least it stopped his Sky from starting to hyperventilate.

Reborn moved towards the kitchen to give Harry some time to gather himself, while smirking wickedly. Oh yes, his Sky would be his entirely. There was no way he was going to let anyone else have his endearingly delicious, innocent little Sky. No way at all.

He prepared some tea for his Sky and an espresso for himself before moving back to the couch where Harry was still looking flushed. Reborn settled on the couch, handed him the tea and wrapped an arm around his Sky, unceremoniously pulling him into his side.

It took a moment before Harry tried to elaborate on his last statement.

"I was just thinking about how to reach anyone in the Wizarding World. I can't travel right now and the usual channels of communication aren't available to me here. Even if I could get to England, I can't enter the Wizarding World, as I am not supposed to switch to a magically saturated area right now. So, I was just thinking that if you were to go in my stead and give someone a message that they really wouldn't know how to handle a muggle like you."

His Sky still had a slight blush on his cheeks - so damn adorable - and was mumbling slightly, not directly looking at Reborn.

"Muggle like me?" Reborn asked cheerfully.

"Well, when the Wizarding World separated from the Muggle World muggles were still mostly uneducated and not so big on hygiene. Wizards born and raised in the Magical World tend to still think of muggles as they were at that time, pitchforks and all, even though they regularly see parts of the Muggle World and should be able to see beyond their ignorance. And just imagining some of those bigots meeting you... it's quite amusing."

"Huh. That we will definitely have to try." Reborn smirked. Cutting some bigoted idiots down to size... yeah, he could definitely have fun with that. "Why do wizards regularly enter the Muggle World at all?"

"Oh. Well, the lines between Wizarding and Muggle World are not quite as clearly defined as you might think." Harry took a moment to consider how to best explain the intricacies of the Magical World. "Ok, first, the main difference between wizards and muggles is having a magical core. However, while a child from a magical household will always have a magical core, it will not necessarily be able to access the magic. These children are called squibs. Similarly, muggles sometimes have children with a magical core and the potential to use magic. These children are called muggleborns. With their eleventh birthday when the Hogwarts acceptance letters are sent out, most squibs are tossed into the Muggle World as they can't weave traditional wizarding magic while muggleborns are brought into the Wizarding World to attend Hogwarts for seven years."

"Hm, with the muggleborns joining them at school shouldn't wizards have realized that they are very much literate these days?" Reborn asked dubiously.

"They should, but wizards aren't big on common sense. Maybe they use muggleborns having magic, no matter how tainted in their eyes, as an excuse." Harry commented with a snort.

Reborn raised an eyebrow and asked pointedly, "Tainted?"

"Well, no not really tainted." Harry hesitated trying to think of a way to explain the Wizarding World's rampant bigotry and racism without also mentioning the war. He truly wasn't ready for that conversation yet. "The Wizarding World is incredibly racist though not on the same topics as the non-magical world. Wizards don't care about skin color or sexuality even though that is a far wider topic for us than for muggles. Instead racism in our world is based around blood purity and magical orientation."

Reborn would definitely be getting back to the topic of sexuality being a wider topic for wizards. That sure sounded... intriguing, to say the least.

"Blood purity refers to a wizard's ancestry and exactly 'how' magical they are." Harry's tone was more than a little disparaging. "Depending on their ancestry wizards are referred to as pureblood with a long ancestry of only wizards, muggleborn with no wizarding heritage, and halfblood which describes pretty much any possible variation in between those first terms."

"What are you then?" Reborn asked his Sky interestedly.

"Well, I'm a bit complicated. My parents were both magical but I grew up muggle. My father was a pureblood from the Ancient and Noble House of Potter but my mother was muggleborn. So, I'm halfblood." Harry answered carefully, while hiding his brief anxiety at revealing his last name. He relaxed when Reborn didn't show any sort of reaction to him being Harry bloody Potter.

Another hurdle out of the way.

So much information in that brief statement. Potter, his Sky's last name. Ancient and Noble House. Noble, as in aristocratic? Definitely noting that down. And grew up muggle? So, not with his parents then. Harry's mother was muggleborn, so it had to be her family that Harry grew up with. That definitely made Reborn's revenge easier.

Also, Reborn had definitely noticed his Sky strangely tensing up during his answer, so there was clearly something more to it that Reborn was unaware of. He hated not being able to ask and satisfy his curiosity, but he would not press for information yet. Reborn liked getting to know his Sky during their talks about their respective worlds without tainting their conversations with difficult topics. Also, his Sky was clearly willing to start giving out more personal information. Reborn could wait.

But he had noted the disdainful way with which Harry talked about this matter. Still, he aimed to get the full picture first, "What do you mean by ‘magical orientation’?"

Another brief pause, before Harry answered. "As I mentioned before, magic weaved by wizards and witches is classified into several categories. Right now it is quite common to categorize all magic as either light or dark. Even creatures are included in this for some reason. Sadly, these definitions have become more and more political rather than factual. Over the last decades the terms light and dark have become pretty much synonymous with good and evil and have very little to do with the nature of the underlying magic."

Harry continued, while trying to figure out how to describe one of the biggest conflicts in the Wizarding World as unbiased as possible. "The branches of light and dark magic originally describe the nature of the underlying, weaved magic and have nothing to do with the intent or moral disposition of the wielder. Any wizard has a natural inclination towards light, dark or grey magic, which is mostly shaped based on genetics and magic use while young. For any given application, there are dark as well as light spells because it is easier to use spells corresponding to the tint of one's magic. For example, it is quite arduous for someone with a dark core to use light spells and the other way around."

"Bigotry in the Wizarding World is rampant, though kind of mirrored on either side of the argument. I'm just speaking in general now, of course there are numerous exceptions." Harry paused for a moment as Reborn left him to gather his thoughts. "Purebloods mostly come from old noble houses with ancient history and thus they still pass on old family Magicks to their children. Muggleborns in general cannot access old Magicks as it is anchored in bloodlines. The Ministry however has been making old Magicks illegal by claiming them to be dark magic, which of course is unacceptable to the purebloods. Additionally, in their craze to ban all old Magicks the Ministry also banned most of the just naturally dark magic, which is thus never practiced by muggleborns. This manipulates their cores towards light no matter their natural inclination simply because they have never practiced any other kind of magic."

Harry figured this was the best way to describe wizarding bigotry for now. "In summary, purebloods already detest anything muggle and thus also muggleborns. They see muggleborns as inferior due to their inability to manipulate old Magicks, which are essential in wizarding history and culture. Additionally, purebloods hold muggleborns responsible for the banning of large parts of their culture. In turn, muggleborns revile anything dark as it is now used synonymous with evil and thus, they not only reject anything traditionally pureblood such as old Magicks but also the entire dark magic branch, further tipping the already fragile balance."

Ok, there was a lot that was still missing in that explanation and Reborn knew that this kind of societal discord had to erupt into a conflict - his Sky had said Savior of the Wizarding World - at some point. Still, Reborn easily decided to remain on topic, reminding himself that they had time.

He summarized. "So in general, purebloods are racist based on blood purity and muggleborns are racist based on magical orientation."

Harry nodded after a careful pause. "There are of course exceptions as some pureblood families have traditionally light magical cores, just as there are wizards coming in from the Muggle World who have dark magical cores."

Reborn could sense that his Sky was quite afraid of the obvious follow-up questions and switched to a different topic. "You mentioned quite a few more magic branches during your initial explanation."

The relief in his Sky's eyes was clear. "Well, there is grey magic which is kind of neutral, as grey spells can easily be performed by light and dark wizards and grey wizards can use light and dark spells. There is elemental magic which is directly connected to natural elements, though far more complex than just fire, water, wind and earth. There is also black magic, which is actually more along the lines of what people mean when talking about dark magic, though they have nothing to do with each other. Black magic is a completely different branch of magic and includes practices that are considered unnatural even by magic itself, such as necromancy."

"Raising the dead? Really?" Reborn asked, somewhat irritated at the thought.

"Well no, not really. There are ways to call back souls from the beyond or re-animate a dead body, just as there are ways to keep someone indefinitely alive no matter how close they are to death. But actually bringing a person back to life after they have died is very much impossible."

Reborn couldn't help himself. He asked amused. "Re-animated corpses. You actually have zombies?"

Harry looked slightly amused as he clearly got the reference, though a shudder worked itself down his spine, as he unconsciously tucked himself closer into the warmth of Reborn's side. Surprised by the reaction - and there was definitely a story there - Reborn tightened his arm around his Sky's shoulders, letting his Sun Flames warm the room around them even further.

Still, his Sky still answered easily. "Something like zombies, eerily like it to be honest. We call them Inferi and they are re-animated corpses, puppets to their creator's will though they can exist well beyond the master's death."

Reborn took a moment to digest that that particular revelation. Actual zombies. He certainly hadn't counted on ever confirming that part of entertainment media to be true. The Magical World sure had its unpleasant sides. Harry was watching him intently, obviously still fearing a negative reaction to magic. But he relaxed when Reborn just reassuringly pulled him in closer into his side.

They sat in comfortable silence, enjoying the feeling of their Flames pretty much purring in contentment.

After a while Harry asked, "What about Flames? What are they used for?"

That was an easy enough question for Reborn to answer.

"Flames themselves are quite complex and their use largely depends on the user. However, in the Mafia they are mainly valued for Harmonization, for imparting additional abilities and for enhancement during fights. The Harmonization is mainly valued for its role in strengthening a Famiglia based on Guardian bonds with the Famiglia's Sky. The Flame abilities depend on the Flame type with Activation for Sun, Harmony for Sky, Disintegration for Storm, Tranquility for Rain, Hardening for Lightning, Construction for Mist and Propagation for Cloud. These abilities do pretty much exactly what their names imply, as for example Activation is generally used defensively to activate healing properties and Disintegration is used offensively for destruction. How far these abilities are developed entirely depends on the strength and the discipline of the user. All Flame types can generally be used in battle to augment weapons or reflexes, however, it again depends on the skill of the individual."

His Sky had set down his empty tea cup and was now leaning his head against Reborn's shoulder. Reborn lazily noted to himself that he would gladly spend days just sitting in his apartment, with his Sky tucked into his side and their bond humming between them, while being certain that the threat level was at a minimum simply because no one even knew about his Sky yet.

He continued, "Additionally, Flame types have certain personality traits attributed to them. It is of course a general description and doesn't always apply entirely or it can even be inverted, but the stronger the Flame the stronger certain character traits will be emphasized. There are also several other Flame types that are either part of an entirely different set, such as the Flames of the Earth which is equivalent to the Flames of the Sky, or can mix in with existing Flame types. There are also some special Flames that have only ever been wielded by a single individual but those are rare."

Harry considered this. "How do you learn how to use your Flames? Is it passed on in the family or the Famiglia?"

"We actually have a Mafia academy, though its main purpose is to educate Mafia children on the politics involved. A tutor actually handles most of the training of newly activated strong Flame users. Also, while the predisposition for Flames is certainly genetic, the Flame type isn't, with Sky Flames being the only exception as they are actually mostly hereditary."

Harry was silent for a moment. He loved Reborn's voice and could spend the entire day listening to him talk. He was also a really good teacher and Harry adored how Reborn would answer all his questions even though he seemed to be leaving out some information, just as Harry had done during his explanation. For now he would assume anything that Reborn didn't explain to be complicated and should be discussed later on. There still were enough questions to ask without badgering his Sun for details.

"The other Flame types, how are they relevant to the Mafia? And the personality as well as the polarization, how do they affect the Flames?"

Ok, this was going to take awhile. Reborn got comfortable, leaning back in his seat and pulling his Sky fully against him. In the end he had Harry curled into his side with his head resting against Reborn's chest and his curled up legs partially resting on Reborn's lap. His Sky certainly didn't seem to have any complaints about this arrangement, though there was a slight blush on his cheeks.

Cheerfully, Reborn got started on explaining the different variations of Flames, the rarer ones and how personality also played a role for Flame users, how it could affect Guardian bonds. His Sky was attentively listening throughout the entire explanation, while distractedly playing with the buttons on Reborn's shirt. The absentminded touches were honestly starting to drive him insane, especially since he was certain that Harry was entirely unconscious of his actions. From time to time Harry would ask questions for clarification but otherwise he was just listening.

When he finished with his explanation and his Sky didn't ask any further questions, they remained sitting on the couch for a while. With his Sky curled against his chest as he was, Reborn was in no hurry to move.

After a while Reborn asked a question that had been on his mind pretty much since the beginning. "By the way, was there a particular reason you refused normal doctors so adamantly when I found you?"

Harry paused, not expecting this particular question right now. "Well, for one, they could never have diagnosed me correctly, as the problem was my magic, so who knows what they might have come up with."

"Hmm." Though plausible, his Sky was definitely leaving something out.

"Erm, well. For me there is also something else. I have something in my blood that makes non-magical drugs completely useless, burns it out of my system pretty much immediately. Even some magical drugs are useless for me. The muggle doctors would have noticed something strange if any medication they gave me would have just pretty much vanished without any effect." Harry tried to put it diplomatically.

"Something in your blood? Genetic?" Reborn didn't like where this was going.

"Well, no." Harry considered his answer and decided to just be honest, though not without warning his protective Guardian. "Ok. So you are not going to like this."

"Ominous." Reborn really didn't like where this was going.

Well, nothing for it then. Harry responded. "It's a very potent poison, basilisk venom. Actually one of the most potent poisons in the Magical World."

"And how exactly did that get into your blood?" Reborn tried to remain calm.

"I was bitten?" Harry answered hesitantly.

"By a basilisk? As in the reptile that kills with one look? And apparently has a very potent poison?" Reborn was infuriated. And fucking terrified by what that could have meant - he could have lost his Sky before he ever even met him - even though Harry was sitting right next to him.

Harry tried to calm his Sun, "But right after the bite, a phoenix cried into my wound. Phoenix tears are one of the most potent healing agents in the Magical World."

An incredulous silence. Reborn for once didn't know what to say. First the most potent poison and then the most potent healing agent?

Harry had to admit it sounded ludicrous. He stated humorously, "I call it the Potter luck."

"...mio dio, my heart might just give out before we ever make it out of this apartment. Actually, I don't think you will ever be stepping a foot outside that door. That should keep you at least decently safe." Reborn commented. He grumbled internally. Why were the truly adorable ones - the most important thing in his life - always so much damn trouble?

Harry was amused. "Heh, believe me, there is no such thing when I'm concerned. Trouble finds me anywhere."

Reborn took a moment to digest the new information and to calm himself down. He was almost tempted to ask for the details of that particular story, but he decided he might just have had enough of a shock for one day. He considered their conversation and finally commented, "I have to say, you are being surprisingly candid with your answers. I had expected some reticence to be honest. Just as I had expected a lot more questions."

Harry responded comfortably. "Hm. I really really hate being lied to, but I find the notion that we should expect to know everything about the other, or have the right to demand such, ridiculous. I would just prefer that if you don't want to tell me something you simply say so."

Ok. So there was definitely a story behind that. But it was also a mindset that Reborn could easily live with. Or rather, his Sky was ridiculously perfect. If Harry's main condition was not being lied to, Reborn's life just got a whole lot easier than he had ever dared to hope.

Chapter Text

It had been several days since Harry had finally woken up entirely aware. With some decent sleep and no travel he was feeling much better than he had just a few days ago. Reborn's presence also definitely helped with settling his magic and Harry was ecstatic to finally feel his magic as a steady hum at the back of his mind again.

They had spent the last few days mostly talking, explaining, discussing. And he loved it. By now Harry's favorite part of the day were the evenings they spent talking about anything that came to mind. Harry would usually somehow end up tucked into Reborn's side and basking in the warmth of his Guardian and the pulsing of their bond.

Harry blushed at that thought. It still made him slightly anxious, simply because he was not used to that kind of intimacy, to physical reassurance and contact. He had never had that before, had never had anyone who he wanted to be close to, had never had anyone want him there without an agenda. The ease with which they had fallen into this pattern was still slightly confusing to Harry.

Still, Harry loved their conversations and although they had not yet broached the topics of saviors or hitmen, they were definitely working their way towards the more difficult conversations. So far, they had mostly talked about things like Hogwarts and its curriculum or some of the more important Mafia Famiglias.

Still, Harry could see how Reborn was putting together the various clues and crumbs of information into the not so nice picture that was his life.

Right now they were comfortably chatting while Reborn was writing something in his notebook at the dining table and Harry was in the kitchen preparing some tea. Reborn - the heathen - was still refusing to even so much as try Harry’s tea.

Reborn had mostly been asking questions about the Wizarding World, though mainly about harmless topics. They were now talking about Harry's magic, his treatment at St. Mungo's and how to get in touch with the healers in the Wizarding World.

Reborn inquired about one of Harry's earlier comments. "You mentioned that the usual channels of communication for contacting someone in the Wizarding World aren't open to you right now."

Harry considered how to answer as he settled at the table with his tea and a glass of water for Reborn. He was well aware that the day to day life in the Wizarding World sounded absurd enough to make his attempted explanations sound somewhat insane but he still did his best to give Reborn an overview of owl post, communication mirrors, charmed journals and any other form of magical communication he could think of. His explanation of the Floo Network - almost getting a double take from Reborn at the phrase ‘stick your head in a fire place’ – immediately led to the topic of magical transportation, including Floo Travel, Apparition, Flying, the Knight Bus and Portkeys.

Harry could only reiterate that it really wasn't easy to rationally and comprehensively explain any part of the Wizarding World.

But - as had been the norm over the past few days – Reborn immediately returned the favor by talking about Mafia organizations outside of Italy, with Reborn describing most of Europe's various criminal underground organizations. It was actually somewhat shocking to hear just how vast a system the world of organized crime truly was. So far, Harry hadn’t really what the existence of a somewhat supernatural criminal underworld in Italy might mean in regards to other countries. He should’ve, though.

Now, he was pondering Reborn’s mention of Britain's criminal underground which was apparently mostly focused on trading rather than combative power. Reborn had mentioned one of Britain's larger Famiglias being a trading partner of Italy's most powerful Famiglia and thus under their protection. Apparently, due to the British Empire covering a large part of the world for centuries Britain's Mafia still had access to a lot of resources across the globe that weren't easily accessible to most others.

While he was still mulling over that information, Reborn jumped topics yet again, asking casually. "I had wanted to ask before, but how old are you exactly?"

"I'm seventeen." Harry hesitated for a moment. "Actually, what's the date?"

"August 14th."

"Ah, I'm eighteen then." Harry concluded easily. Beyond his magical majority - and thus being allowed to use magic outside of school - age really didn't mean much to him anymore. What did the number matter if you had experienced more in those few years than others had in double or triple the time?

Reborn, however, felt his mind screech to an immediate halt. His Sky was eighteen. Hadn't even hit his twenties yet. Harry had given enough clues for Reborn to be certain that he had major part in some kind of magical conflict - The-Man-Who-Conquered - so, how old had he been when that particular clusterfuck had occurred?

Feeling his anger rise, Reborn tried to buy himself some time to calm down. "Oh? When is your birthday?"

"July 31st." Harry answered with slight apprehension, feeling Reborn's anger surge along their bond but not quite sure what had caused it.

Reborn didn't like this. "A celebration is in order then? For the big eighteen?" Reborn inquired, still outwardly calm.

"Ah, not really. I was never really one for birthday celebrations. I'd usually just wait up until midnight of my birthday. So, I don't really need a party or anything of the sort. And in the Wizarding World the age of majority is seventeen, so that has passed." Harry knew he was rambling, but he still couldn’t help himself when he was nervous about what might have caused his Sun’s change in mood.

Reborn didn't like anything about this. It was becoming clearer with every conversation that his Sky didn't have anyone at home - no one to wait up with him for his birthday, no celebration, no family - confirming all the other hints about his home life. And, his Sky was young - too young, making his Flames surge protectively, curling around their bond, obsessively scanning the room for threats - and already branded by conflict and strife and pain.

Reborn had very few facts to work with, but what he could put together was just enraging him further. His Sky had a bad home life, no family to speak of, and he couldn't have gotten to experience much of life while stuck in a boarding school in the Scottish Highlands as a teenager. Then, Harry had somehow gotten involved in a conflict that had branded him a hero – and there was no hero without sacrifice.

Unless Reborn was really misinterpreting anything - like that would ever happen - his Sky had been titled a savior, a conqueror before he had ever experienced love and life and family. And all this had resulted in a magical illness that made his Sky completely defenseless, while Harry's 'friends' were at least partially responsible for him ending up in the hands of the Mafia.

Reborn was angry, utterly furious but he could see the anxiety in his Sky's expression, clearly uncertain what had Reborn so enraged - which did nothing at all to calm him down - so Reborn needed a distraction. He asked randomly."How does your pouch work?"

It took Harry a moment to follow that change in topic. He was amazed by the realization that he still felt no fear even in the face of Reborn's fury. Still, he was glad to have something different to talk about as he was uncertain just what had gotten Reborn so angry in the first place.

Harry answered carefully. "The space inside the pouch is extended. We call it Wizarding Space. It can be applied to pretty much everything, like bags or even entire houses."

Reborn appeared thoughtful. "Hm, the Corocos goon told me that they had been trying to go through your things but even though he knew you had a bag he couldn't seem to really remember any details about it."

Harry was getting the feeling that Reborn might have been keeping an internal list of all the things he had wanted to ask Harry at some point but didn't have the chance to ever since they met. That didn't bode well for Harry because there were a lot of questions he had thought to have cleverly avoided and that he would really prefer not to come up again anytime soon.

"Well, for one there are spells on my book bag that would have prevented them from finding the pouch in the first place. Additionally, there are some heavy-duty protective spells on the pouch. It has muggle-diversion, notice-me-not, anti-theft spells and so on. You shouldn't even be able to see much less touch it. Hm, maybe the spells on the pouch are canceled out by the soul bond? I will have to read up on that…"

Reborn considered that. Anti-theft and notice-me-not spells? The Wizarding World truly was about as creative with its naming as Harry had indicated before. Though those spells, especially the space extension one, could be incredibly useful. In the back of his mind he was already calculating where he could hide some more weapons around his various safe houses that no one would ever be able to find. Hm, or even better, maybe some form of panic room that no one could find except for him and Harry, for whenever Reborn had to leave his Sky on his own. So many possibilities. Reborn smirked gleefully.

Harry was watching his Guardian with a certain level of suspicion as the glee in his expression was more than obvious. Harry couldn't even begin to guess what kind of plans his Sun was currently concocting. He quickly tried to change the topic, lest this escalate further.

He so wasn't ready for his Sun to start planning world domination yet. By Merlin, Harry was demanding a vacation first!

"So you said, people are born with Flames but they still have to activate them. When do Mafia children usually activate their Flames? What about civilians? Is it an automatic process or does it have to be induced in some way?" Harry stopped himself from rambling any more questions.

Reborn answered amusedly, while getting up from the table and moving towards the kitchen. "It is actually mostly impossible to just force Flame activation. Of course there are some ways but it is only ever used for fights within the Mafia and not to force Flame activation in civilians. The Famiglia that captured you developed a way to force activation based on this technology."

Harry didn't think that sounded at all reassuring. "What if I hadn't had Flames, activated or not?"

Reborn answered while preparing coffee and more tea for Harry. "They had a list of Flame potentials, although I am still not entirely sure how that list was compiled. Though based on what the Corocos goons told me, you were only the second one they tried this on, while the first actually joined the Corocos Famiglia. After proving that the technology worked they picked a potential Sky. If a civilian activates his Flames it is usually at a very young age mostly due to incredibly strong Flames or later in life in case of a life-threatening situation. They probably assumed that a civilian without activated Flames would be a weak Sky that they could force into Harmony with the Elements of their choice."

Harry felt his irritation rise. The Potter Luck strikes again.

Reborn could see his Sky's annoyance - he was adorable with his nose wrinkled in exasperation - and continued. "Mafia children usually activate their Flames some time during their childhood. However, the ages vary between toddler age and teens. Activation of Flames after they have reached sixteen is rather rare, though not impossible."

Reborn carried the freshly prepared drinks to the living area and after a moment's hesitation his Sky followed. Reborn thought it endlessly charming that Harry still seemed to be slightly nervous about how to act around his Guardian. His Sky always seemed to be making sure that he truly was allowed to be close to Reborn, that he was welcome to curl into his side.

Like he did every evening his Sky initially settled onto the couch next to him sitting upright. Harry accepted his tea with a small smile and a fetching blush when Reborn smirked charmingly at him. Reborn knew by now that their position wouldn't last and that by the time Harry had finished his tea, he would probably be curled into Reborn's side. Reborn thought this little ritual of Harry's to be delightfully enchanting.

"So, at the Mafia Academy they start at different ages then and not like Hogwarts where everyone is sorted into classes based on age." Harry asked while pretending to concentrate on his tea in order to hide his blush.

Reborn was still grinning internally at his little Sky's delectable reactions. But he nodded and then asked another question he had been wondering about. "When you talk about magical education it sounds as though Hogwarts is the only option?"

Well, that settled it. There was definitely a list of unasked and avoided questions in his Guardian's head, Harry concluded exasperatedly.

Still, he answered easily. "Well, Hogwarts is the only wizarding school in Britain. There are other schools around Europe, though pretty much only one school per country."

"One school per country and a boarding school at that? Just how big are these schools?"

"Well, Hogwarts Castle is huge, but most of the castle isn't really in use. While I was a student, there were only a few hundred students at Hogwarts in total. Britain's wizarding population really isn't all that big currently. But in the first year of staying at Hogwarts everyone gets hopelessly lost on a regular basis because the castle is humongous."

Reborn considered whether to ask the obvious question here or whether to leave it like he had all the times before. He decided to give his Sky an opening to talk about it but he wouldn't push in case Harry avoided the question. "Not all that big currently?"

Harry paused. Here it was, an opening to mention the wars, to mention Voldemort and cowardly two-faced adults hiding behind a child and horcrux hunts and being so very desperately alone in the face of insurmountable obstacles that the only choice he had seen had been to martyr himself for a world that had never given him a reason to do so and would probably never try to pay him back in any way.

Harry tried to inconspicuously look over at Reborn. The inconspicuous part failed of course, but Reborn was calmly looking back at him, no pressure or demand to give information. Harry pretended to concentrate on his tea again as he flushed.

It was something that had always aggravated him in the Wizarding World. Somehow he had always been expected to reveal anything that happened to him, anything he heard, anything he had been told, down to his innermost thoughts. Dumbledore and Hermione had been the worst offenders in this, as not even his dreams had been considered private. Harry's mind had been regularly ripped open for anyone's benefit. Everyone else was entitled to privacy. But not Harry bloody Potter.

He of course understood that with his connection to Voldemort, the information to be gained had been immense and during the war he would have been the first to reveal any visions, had even been hoping for a clue on what Voldemort might be up to. But it had still bothered him that it had been assumed that he was to reveal everything of himself to his friends, to the headmaster, to Snape of all people, without anyone else being held to the same standard.

Once he had gotten over his anger, this certainly had helped drive home the fact that in the eyes of most people - even some of those that he trusted - he had never been Harry. He had always been Harry Potter, the Chosen One. It had crushed something in him.

Not to mention that after the Department of Mysteries and Sirius being killed, Harry barely trusted his own mind. Still, the Occlumency 'training' with Snape was one of the things he had not been able to forgive Dumbledore for. Everyone had known how much Snape hated him, how he had used his position of power over Harry ever since the first Potion's class and still Harry had been forced to let the man into the sanctity of his own thoughts, to give him even more power over Harry. It was unforgivable.

In his opinion, looking into Snape's pensieve might have been his best decision between Voldemort's resurrection and the horcrux hunt. Not because of what he had seen - that had mostly been a hit to his own world view - but because Snape had finally stopped ripping into his mind on a regular basis. Harry could still feel the endless, bone-deep relief at finally ridding himself of this frequent violation of his mind.

Of course, he hated that his inability to occlude at that point had been a factor in Sirius' death but he was also convinced that Snape's 'lessons' - torture or mind rape might be a better description - wouldn't have changed anything. The man had had several months’ worth of time to teach him, but had done fuck all to help him and instead seemingly delighted in forcing his way into Harry’s mind over and over and over again.

Then Snape had died in the war and Harry would never get to demand retribution for the man's actions against him.

Though this brought him back to the problem at hand. Reborn had been patiently waiting for him to sort out a response and Harry knew that if he wanted to stay away from this topic for a while longer, Reborn would let him.

And honestly, that was worth everything to Harry, who was rarely if ever given a choice on what to reveal and what to keep to himself.

Maybe it would be best to get the topic of the war out there. He could still keep the discussion of his bloody savior status for later. There were so many topics to be covered just with the war, that it might be best to try and separate the conversations anyways.

Harry knew that even though those were all valid reasons to continue avoiding this particular topic, his main reason was his desperate fear that something in Reborn's behavior towards him would change as soon as he learned about Harry's role in the war. Harry was damn certain that this fear was unfounded, but he couldn't help it. So much of his life - all of his life, even before his parents had died, when his family had been forced into hiding - had been ruled by that single bloody prophecy...

Still, he had to start somewhere. Harry set his empty tea cup on the table, drew in a breath and turned to face Reborn.

+++

Reborn had attentively watched his Sky struggle with himself while considering Reborn's question. There had been so much doubt, so much contained hope and resignation, so much pain flitting through his eyes during the internal struggle. And Reborn wanted to burn down the world around them in order to make sure that whoever had made Harry so apprehensive would burn with it.

He knew that there were difficult topics to be discussed between them. Harry's behavior, the clues he had given about the Wizarding World and his own life, had made it very clear that there were aspects of Harry's life that Reborn really wouldn't like. However, watching the doubt and pain flit across Harry's expression, Reborn realized that this might extend a lot further, might be far worse than he had initially expected.

Even while mostly turned away from him, Reborn could still see the tension in Harry's shoulders, recognized the helplessness and resignation and anger in what little he could see of his Sky's expression.

When he saw Harry draw in a bracing breath before turning around to fully face him - his Sky definitely wasn't a coward - Reborn immediately reacted by focusing his entire not inconsiderable attention on Harry, determined to show his Sky that Reborn would always, unconditionally, uncompromisingly be on his side.

No matter what.

+++

Harry saw that Reborn had already drawn some conclusions just based on Harry's reaction to the initial question. He could almost feel his Sun's Flames saturate the room around them, warming him, guarding him. And Harry wanted to sigh in bliss at the feeling of protectionsafetycareshelter.

Almost automatically he curled his feet on up on the couch - Reborn immediately wrapping an arm around Harry - and let himself be tucked into Reborn's side. He took a moment to gather his thoughts – breathing in the scent of coffee, metal and sunshine - before starting.

"In the last century, there were three Wizarding Wars in Britain. Not like muggle wars, not between countries and there weren't even always clearly defined factions.” A brief pause. “The wars itself were mostly fought between the so-called light side and dark side, yet again not based on actual magical orientation, but rather on the previously mentioned political definitions."

Reborn hadn't shown any reaction to this declaration, so Harry had been right to assume that he had put at least part of the picture together based on the various clues Harry had given, consciously or not.

"In the first war, the dark side gathered under the banner of a Dark Lord. It was a German wizard who swept across most of the European Magical World at the same time as the Second World War was raging. He was defeated by Albus Dumbledore, who then became the hero of the light side and gained an immense amount of power. But instead of choosing any overt political positions he became the headmaster of Hogwarts."

Reborn could easily see the implications of a war hero as headmaster of the only wizarding school in Britain. Anyone who fought in a war had political interests or at least opinions and something of the war would always remain with them. It was unwise to put a war hero into a powerful position that went beyond politics, as even if only unconsciously he would continue to act on his beliefs and influence those around him.

Also, Reborn definitely sensed Harry's mixed emotions at the mention of this Dumbledore character. There was respect but it wasn't reverence of someone held personally in high esteem but rather like the recognition of a powerful authority figure. There was also a sense of disappointment and anger with the mention of that name.

And Harry had mentioned a Dark Lord specific to the Second World War, did that mean there had been others afterwards? And who had 'defeated' those then? He really hoped his Sky's mention of being a savior did not come into play here - mostly because it would be quite stressful if he had to get rid of the entirety of magical Britain in revenge for putting his Sky in danger.

"As with any kind of conflict, the victors not only wrote the history books but also changed the political landscape to fit their ideals. The political climate became very favorable for the light side and resulted in the ban of most dark magic, forcing anyone with a dark core to hide their nature. The light side saw the terms light and dark as synonymous with good and evil and entirely ignored the balance of naturally occurring dark and light magic. They considered themselves the protectors of the weak and welcomed muggleborns. In contrast, the dark side not only believed themselves superior to muggleborns but also considered any non-muggleborns on the light side to be blood-traitors. There was no middle ground for either side."

Reborn considered, that a lot of the various clues were starting to neatly fit into the puzzle with that explanation. Like the mention of the Ministry deciding to ban dark magic and old Magicks.

Harry continued. "As is the norm in a politically oppressive climate like that, about twenty-five years later another Dark Lord rose to power in Britain and anyone pureblood, naturally dark and even most neutrals rallied behind him. As the light side prides itself to be entirely muggle-friendly in order to make muggleborns feel more comfortable they did not have a recognized lord or anything of the sort. Rather they gathered under the unofficial banner of the last war's hero, Albus Dumbledore."

Reborn listened attentively to his Sky's explanation. His instincts were telling him that this was essential. He could feel Harry's agitation at the description and tightened the arm around his Sky even further.

"Another increasingly intense war started and decimated Britain's wizarding population as well as further splitting the political sides of the war. When the Dark Lord was subdued the light side refused to learn from their mistakes after the last war, where political and societal oppression had resulted in another war. Instead they escalated the pro-light sentiment and politics to the point where they removed most wizarding holidays and integrated muggle ones instead and even started sorting magical creatures into light and dark categories."

The Dark Lord was ‘subdued’, not 'defeated' like the last one? Reborn was clearly missing something here. He just didn't have enough information to put together the entire picture but he would leave it for now. For one Harry was sharing an incredible amount of information right now and also he could feel Harry getting increasingly agitated the longer the story went on. His Sky's parents had died when he was young, and based on Reborn's calculation this might actually fit with this time frame. Had they died in the second wizarding war? What did that mean for Harry's introduction into the Wizarding World?

"This continued for years and at this point Dumbledore had been elevated into several powerful political positions in addition to his headmaster status. Accordingly, the more powerful politicians, even those claiming to be on the light side, started to feel threatened by him. With that the Ministry was brought into the conflict as a defined third faction.” A brief pause, as though Harry remembered something. “Ah. Except for the Minister himself none of the influential Ministry positions are based on elections. Thus, most Ministry employees are mainly interested in personal gain, be it in the form of money or power."

Reborn knew very well how easy anyone without the incentive to keep their voters happy was to bribe. It was something the Mafia regularly exploited when dealing with politics. However, just how far behind was the British Wizarding World to have a Ministry that still entirely consisted of non-electable politicians?

"At this point the Ministry turned into a cesspool of bribes and personal agendas. The main legislative and judiciary body of the Wizarding World is the Wizengamot which is mostly made up of hereditary seats from old pureblood families. Thus, a weird equilibrium developed with a generally light sentiment and with the main political body made up of people who were mostly dark or neutral minded. Politics pretty much stagnated for several years."

"Three years ago the rift between the factions escalated again. Another war started under the banner of a Dark Lord while Albus Dumbledore led the opposing side. The third war started under almost exactly the same premises as the last one, though this time there was little actual fighting involved. This war was mostly fought by politics, partially by press fear mongering and largely by terror attacks on muggles and guerilla warfare within the Wizarding World. It destroyed much of Britain's remaining Magical World and the wizarding population was further decimated. The war ended just a few months ago. We are still picking up the pieces."

Reborn took a moment to work through the provided information, marveling at the described idiocy. Three wars because people were sheep, because no one was willing to learn from history's mistakes, because people were only concerned with their personal agendas. He had noticed that Harry hadn’t actually mentioned exactly how the last war had ended and for once Reborn actually briefly struggled with himself before asking carefully. "What happened to the last Dark Lord?"

Harry felt his chest constrict at the question, quickly considering how to answer. Though why not just tell his Sun. Harry would not yet mention prophecies or the horcrux hunt - or martyring himself - but he could tell Reborn about this at least.

"I killed him." He was utterly blindsided by the impact these few words had on his own mind.

It was the first time Harry had said it out loud, the first time he had allowed himself to think these exact words. Not 'I defeated him' or 'I vanquished him' or as the Wizarding World had taken to politely refer to it 'I ended the war'.

He had killed the Dark Lord. Voldemort was gone. And Harry was still alive.

Harry felt something in his chest expand painfully, making it hard to breathe, his heart desperately thudding through the ache. And then he was drowning beneath a wave of desperation and relief and anguish.

+++

Reborn had almost wanted to recoil at the statement. Not because of the fact that his Sky had killed someone - he really couldn't give less of a shit about that - but because of Harry's tone. Complete loathing - of the Dark Lord, of himself, of being forced into his role. Complete and utter loathing.

He could feel his Sky's emotions getting increasingly tumultuous, could feel anguish and anger through their bond. And suddenly Harry's Flames were desperately reaching for him along their bond as though pleading for an anchor, for security, for acceptance.

Reborn immediately reached back for his Sky. And the emotions along their bond became even clearer and the helplessness, loneliness, desperation, anguish, resentment that hit him… Without much thought he dragged his little Sky into his lap, settled him against his chest with Harry's head tucked into the crook of Reborn's neck and curled around him as much as he could. He fed his Sun Flames into the bond while also saturating the room around them.

The anguish in Harry's Flames increased, before something seemed to release.

Reborn just tightened his hold on Harry as he felt his shoulder grow wet, not saying a word while trying to soothe his Sky's anguished Flames with his own.

The British Wizarding World was done. Reborn would personally see to the end of anyone he deemed even remotely responsible for his Sky's pain.

Chapter Text

Reborn remained silently focused on Harry, lazily stroking his hand up and down his little Sky's back, doing his best to provide the shelter he so clearly needed.

Not that Reborn was going to complain about having his little Sky curled up in his lap, hiding his face in Reborn's neck, entirely ensconced in Reborn's presence - as safe as he could possibly be.

And Harry was now breathing calmly again, his Flames no longer desperately latching onto Reborn for support. But despite calming down, Harry had yet to move so much as an inch from their position or even to lift his head from Reborn's shoulder. And Reborn sure as fuck wasn't going to be the one to make him.

And, having his little Sky curled up in his lap right now was about the only thing keeping Reborn from getting up and hunting down anyone and everyone involved in driving Harry to this point of utmost desperation. Just thinking about it made Reborn want to grit his teeth.

Because Reborn was very capable of reading between the lines.

There had been three wars in Wizarding Britain, three wars that had spanned three generations. And instead of fixing the problems behind all three wars, they had been passed on from generation to generation. Which had somehow led to his Sky getting involved, forced his teenaged Sky to take on the role of a hero. It was unforgivable. This Dumbledore character had clearly been a figure head in all three wars, so it was safe to assume that he had also been a powerful figure in Harry's life. He was one of the people Reborn was going to hold directly responsible for at least some of his Sky's pain.

But it was the desperate loneliness, the paralyzing helplessness that Reborn had felt along their bond that had him in a state of deadly fury. And Harry had even specified that this last war had not gone all out. Why had a teenager felt so very desperately, helplessly alone in a war that had been fought via politics and guerilla warfare? Where had the adults been, the ones who were responsible for dragging the baggage from the last wars along with them?

Reborn felt his anger spike again. His Sun Flames were still saturating the room around them - Reborn kept them carefully contained to this room, lest someone else detected the outpouring of his Flames - and they pulsed with his fury.

He felt his Sky move slightly to rest his head on Reborn's shoulder instead of having it tucked against Reborn's neck. Reborn was kind enough - only ever kind to Harry - not to force him into facing Reborn immediately and just reacted by tightening his arms around Harry.

But this brought him back to the topic at hand. While he had numerous - countless - questions about what Harry had just told him, Reborn also knew that he had just been told an essential part of his Sky's personal history. Who had yet to ask for anything in return.

Reborn felt something in his chest almost purr at the show of confidence and trust.

+++

Harry stubbornly kept his face tucked against his Sun's throat.

He was not moving.

Nope.

Not ever.

The relief of finally talking to someone about the war was staggering. To have someone listen, not judging. He knew his breakdown had been a long time coming and strangely he did not even feel embarrassed. Although, that might change as soon as he regained the capacity to feel anything beyond bone deep relief...

He was resolutely ignoring the fact that he was currently in Reborn's lap, curled against his chest and how incredibly good it felt to simply be held by someone while he fell apart.

Harry knew that he had not given himself the chance before to process everything that had happened in the past years. The end of the war, the deaths, the betrayals, the switching loyalties, the accusations, the loss of trust and friendship and belief in the goodness of people. And through it all, there had been no one at his side to support him, to help him grieve, to comfort him as he fell apart. He was Harry Potter, the Chosen One, the one who never had a choice and still had to actually do everything, the one whose opinion was never taken into account but who was still responsible for bloody everything. Why would he of all people need some time to work through the war?!

And right now, with Reborn curled around him - body and Flame - Harry felt protected and safe and sheltered and so warm. So, Harry was not moving, he concluded stubbornly. He was going to stay like this forever and Reborn would just have to deal with it.

Still, Harry knew that in order to complete his account, to explain how the wars were relevant in Harry's life specifically, he would have to tell Reborn about what he had meant by being the Savior, that this title went well beyond actually saving anyone and was more about having been supposedly destined to do so.

Harry had a ridiculous number of titles for someone his age. Some old, some new, some temporary, some already past. His current titles referred to very distinct parts of his personal history.

The-Man-Who-Conquered, the one who killed the Dark Lord. Harry had already narrated that bit to his Guardian.

A hero, he had earned that title by martyring himself for an entire world. But there was no way he was explaining that right now, because it would require an explanation of horcruxes - which would have to include Voldemort's personal history - before he could even get started on explaining why he had been convinced that walking to his death was the only way. Harry was so getting into that today.

The Savior of the Wizarding World, the Chosen One proclaimed by prophecy. That would actually be comparably easy to explain and it should be enough information to tide Reborn over until their next conversation.

And Harry knew that explanation of being the Savior was unavoidable, if only to protect the general public of Magical Britain from their own idiocy and ignorance when they would inevitably mob Harry at some point. He didn't think his Sun would take well to Harry being crowded, with or without an explanation. But if he knew what was going on Reborn might be content with leaving the masses crippled instead of outright incinerating them. Harry actually felt a small smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth.

But that reminded him of something else to be considered. Due to Omerta Reborn would have to keep his Flames hidden in the Wizarding World, which would give his Sun less of an advantage if faced with an actual fight. The thought of Reborn being at an increased risk because he could not use all of his strengths - irrespective of whether he would actually need his Flames to deal with any self-glorifying wizards moronic enough to start a fight with his Sun in the first place - was unacceptable.

However, they could not just ignore Omerta and being allowed to tell your bonded about a fancy supernatural power didn't equate with revealing it to an entire world.

On the other hand the Wizarding World's sheeple would never even consider the existence of muggles with powers beyond magic. If Reborn was ever forced to actually manifest his Flames, wizards would be eager to explain them away as magic.

Now there was a thought.

Harry would have to read up on whether there were any actual magical gifts that might be similar enough to Flames to serve as a cover. Magick was definitely multifaceted enough that  there should be something.

Although, Harry was getting ahead of himself.

Now that the topic of the war was already out there he was surprised at how little he was bothered by the thought of telling Reborn about being the bloody Savior since birth. Although, Harry's current casual attitude towards the Savior topic, was probably a result of him already having exhausted his quota for dramatic reactions for the day.

In any case, it would be easier to tell Reborn about this now than having to come back to it later and it was something that Reborn had to know before they went anywhere near the Wizarding World. Also, after having explained the war talking about the whole savior business didn't seem so bad.

With his decision made, Harry refocused on the present.

His Sun was still giving silent comfort and Harry was hit by another wave of helpless gratitude for having found Reborn. Being reminded of his Guardian's unquestionable support only made continuing his story easier.

Harry took a bracing breath and moved slightly to rest his head on his Guardian's shoulder instead of having his face tucked against his throat. Reborn immediately tightened his arms around him as though worried that Harry might try to move further away. Though honestly, there was no way Harry was moving from their current position unless Reborn specifically asked him to. He could take some time tomorrow to be embarrassed about their position, but right now he was going to absorb as much warmth and comfort from his Guardian as he possibly could.

Although, by moving even slightly Harry had refocused Reborn's entire attention on himself. His Sun had clearly realized that there was another part of the explanation coming.

Just get it over with. "Before I was born, there was a prophecy proclaiming the birth of the Dark Lord's vanquisher, the criteria of which fit me perfectly. The thing with prophecies is that they only have power if someone believes in them. Lucky me, the leaders of both sides of the war believed in this prophecy and also believed it to refer to me. Thus, my role in the war was set."

Reborn had actually started slightly in incredulousness. A prophecy? Like with the oracles in Greek mythology? Or any half-decent science fiction novel? If it weren't his Sky telling the story and if Reborn hadn't been able to feel the emotions pulse along their bond he might have thought this to be some kind of joke.

Harry continued. "Me being the assumed Savior led to my parents being killed while I was still a toddler. I grew up without any knowledge of magic and when I received the Hogwarts acceptance letter at eleven I was fascinated by the thought of this entirely new, wondrous and magical world." There was a brief pause. "The marvel didn't last. Being famous in a world you know nothing about is already daunting enough. Random strangers knew more about my life, my parents, my history, my role in society than I myself did. To my eleven year old self, it was terrifying."

"School wasn't the greatest time for me either due to everyone being convinced they knew me and then being offended if reality did not fit their expectations. But it got far worse when the war started, when it became clear that most people believed it to be my duty to take care of the Dark Lord despite me still being in my teens at that point. The adults had gotten so used to the thought that there was someone else who would take care of their problem that most forgot that I was still a teenager. They didn't even consider that they might be able to do anything themselves instead of taking cover behind a child. Most people hid themselves away when the war escalated."

Reborn was seething while his Sky spoke monotonously, clearly trying to get through this explanation without letting the feelings of desperation overtake him again.

"In the end, the war was mainly fought by a handful of children, while the adults kept scolding us about being too young to fight but still expecting me specifically to do my Merlin-damned duty."

Reborn carefully kept his anger tucked away in the center of his Flames. He could feel the stillness of his Sun Flames still saturating the room as they tried to keep from lashing out. This was far worse than Reborn had expected. He had suspected that his Sky had been forced into the conflict in some way and also that the people around him might not have been as supportive as they should have been, but this went far beyond that.

Because, if Harry had been recognized as the Savior from birth it was easy to surmise that the Dark Lord would have specifically and continuously targeted him. This certainly explained Harry's vehement denial of ever being cannon fodder again.

Harry stated unemotionally. "It was me or him in the end. I was the one left standing."

Reborn swallowed as he kept his Sky tucked in close, protected and warm, wrapped in Reborn's presence.

There was silence between them as Reborn's Flames communicated clearly what he wasn't saying out loud. 'You won and I don't care how you got there. No one will ever get to you again. I will destroy anyone who dares trying to force you, harm you, touch you.'

Harry suppressed a tremulously relieved sigh and let himself sink even further into Reborn's presence, basking in the feeling of comfort and warmth.

He had said his piece and his Guardian was still here, holding him. The rest of the world could go to hell, for all that Harry cared right now.

But after a while spent in comfortable silence he couldn't help but ask a question. He knew it was just his experiences with the double standards of the Wizarding World and with Dumbledore's 'always-a-second-chance' policy that made him ask, but he still couldn't help wanting reassurance.

"You don't mind that I have killed." He asked without inflection, already somehow knowing the answer but still so very anxious to hear it from Reborn.

Despite the infuriating question, Reborn was reassured at there being no actual question mark included in that statement. He still confirmed. "No. I would not condemn you for doing something to protect yourself in a war that I do for a living."

Reborn thought it was only fair to stop avoiding being a hitman now. They had clearly moved past the stage where they just talked about random topics in order to get to know each other.

He knew how essential their conversations of the last few days had been in order to get to know each other. An eighteen year old war veteran and a twenty-seven year old professional hitman. Trust did not come easily to people like them. Still, as much as he had enjoyed the last few days spent with his Sky focused entirely on him, talking and discussing, Reborn was looking forward to finding out as much about his Sky and his previous life as he could.

At his answer, there was a slightly tremulous breath against his throat and Reborn felt the slight tension that had gathered in his Sky's form vanish.

Harry's commented pleasantly, "No double standards, that's certainly refreshing."

"Isn't it just?" Reborn responded drolly.

+++

Reborn considered the new development of their dynamic. Harry had talked about a war, about decimated populations and terror and guerilla warfare. He had also been mostly objective regarding all factions of the wars, trying to avoid blanket terms.

Or maybe it was just that Harry seemed to be completely fed up with the entirety of the Wizarding World, no matter their respective sides.

Still, his Sky had made it clear that he would not assign a moral label to Reborn and he was getting the impression that Harry would be just as willing to give up their bond as Reborn himself was.

At that particular thought, his Flames curled lazily in possessive contentment, like a cat lounging in the sun.

Still, Reborn had never thought that he was going to have to explain his lifestyle to a civilian no matter how uncommonly used to violence and death. But it was inevitable that they would come in contact with each other's worlds and Reborn would damn well reciprocate the sharing information about his life. His Sky clearly sensed Reborn's intention to talk and immediately focused on him entirely.

With his Sky's attention focused on him, Reborn found it surprisingly easy to begin his story. "I already told you about how the Mafia World is mainly designed around Famiglias and that all the powerful Famiglias are based around Flames to the point where anyone with active Flames is pulled into the Mafia, by force or coercion. While the background and history of each Famiglia differs, at this point most Mafia Famiglias have turned towards crime and violence."

"Still, the Mafia World is actually better governed than one would expect simply due to a few very strictly enforced laws. The law of the Mafia is enforced by the Vindice who are a neutral entity within the Mafia. Even though no one really knows much about them, they are very powerful and thus their rules are unquestionably accepted. The laws enforced by the Vindice also ensure a certain standard even in the criminal underworld. They don't tolerate unprovoked massacres of rival Famiglias and thereby prevent powerful Famiglias from simply obliterating their competition. On the other hand, the Vindice do not get involved in day to day Mafia business and are only rarely seen unless their laws are broken."

"Of course the Mafia is not the only kind of organized crime, not even in Italy, and non-Mafia crime is just as common. As the Vindice do not get involved with non-Mafia crime, the more atrocious business practices are found there. But just out of self-interest the Mafia World makes sure that outsiders do not get too powerful and thereby automatically also put a limit on the level of crime that can be organized by non-Mafia. If the Mafia interferes with non-Mafia crime it is generally preferred to not send in Flame users at all. Only in really harsh cases do Flame users get involved since no one from the other side will walk away alive to tell the tale anyways. Even in this case the Vindice will only get involved if Omerta is broken."

Harry was kind of surprised. When including the information Reborn had given him before, the Mafia World actually seemed to be based around a struggle for economic power rather than the criminal cesspool he had imagined. A deadly and illegal economical struggle for sure, but still far less repulsive or gruesome than he had thought.

Reborn briefly considered just how clear he should be about his occupation, before deciding that his Sky's trust was worth too much to risk it by even slightly distorting the truth. He did not yet need to tell Harry everything but he would not intentionally mislead his Sky's perception of Reborn's involvement in the Mafia World.

"Omerta is the most harshly upheld law in the Mafia World and thus most Flame active Mafia members tend to avoid civilians. As a hitman with Flames, I only ever take hits in the Mafia and as I am unaffiliated I can accept or deny any contracts offered to me. At this point, the criteria for contracts I will accept are well established as I for example unreservedly refuse hits on children, be they trained assassins or not. If I am lied to about the specifics of any job, I am known for turning around and killing my contractors rather than finishing the hit. I also only do clean jobs meaning no torture or kidnapping. At this point, I don't ever have to worry about extracting information from anyone, because the World's Greatest Hitman is so universally feared that people will tell me what I want to know anyways, no torture needed. I rarely if ever do something like an extraction because those tend to get messy."

There. That was the harshest part of the explanation. But so far his Sky had not moved away from him in the slightest, hadn't flinched or even winced.

Good to know. He continued. "Information gathering is the one thing I do continuously with or without there being a contract involved. Though I don't usually do information brokering as it is too boring for my tastes, the one time I did was when I found you half-naked and tied to a chair, so I might have to change my stance on that."

Ah, how he had missed his Sky's delectable blush. He could actually feel the heat of the blush against his shoulder. Reborn tightened his arm around his Sky and smirked cheerfully as he continued.

"I tend to know more about any given situation than anyone else in the room and I never go into a situation without sufficient, independently provided information. Because of my very extensive network supplying me with detailed information on anything relevant, I also usually know about a job before it is even offered and can immediately decide whether I want to take the contract or not."

Now to the part about his personal history. "My Flames exceed most everyone else's in the Mafia world. But because of their strength my Flames also activated very early even by Mafia standards and thus I got involved in the Mafia absurdly young. Still, I hid quite well and by the time someone found me I had already integrated into the criminal underworld, even without the guidance of a Famiglia or a tutor. Thus, my view on organized crime and anything included in it might be slightly skewed when compared to most anyone else."

There was a brief pause and Harry just managed to keep his questions to himself for now. How young was 'early'? Grew up where? What happened to Reborn's family? And, 'found'? What did 'found' mean?

Reborn continued. "The man who finally identified me as Flame active, took me in and tutored me for years, teaching me to survive in a world that is pretty much designed to tear someone like me down."

Harry had to actually clench his teeth together in order to keep silent. Just imagining a young Reborn, not yet able to protect himself, constantly worried about what the next day might bring... It made Harry want to travel back in time to protect him. And it reminded Harry far too much of his own childhood, the utter helplessness, the desperate longing for a safe place, for a family to belong to, all the while well aware just how unattainable that dream was.

Harry focused back on his Sun, when he continued.

"Being a hitman and an unaffiliated one at that means that I can accept or refuse any and all contracts on offer. It gives me an unusual amount of freedom for someone of my strength. From a certain level of Flame strength upwards everyone is pulled into some kind of Famiglia affiliation even if only as a loose association. Me being as strong as I am gives me an additional level of freedom. I am not only unaffiliated but the less powerful Famiglias wouldn't dare mess with me and the stronger Famiglias prefer not to get on my bad side especially as they hope they might be able to pull me into their own Famiglia by Harmonization at some point. Although honestly, the main reason for me being left alone is probably that people are uncertain whether an assassin would actually succeed in killing me. Anyone putting out a hit on me would risk me surviving and turning into an enemy instead. "

"At this point, no one will interfere with me and they missed the point in time where they could still have forced an association. A few years back, I was becoming too strong and too well-known for the powerful Famiglias to accept me as a free agent but I didn't have enough contacts yet to effectively tell the bigger players in the Mafia to go to hell. They would have gotten rid of me if they had been able to find me, so I vanished from the Mafia World for a while, to get stronger, to widen my network, to make alliances. While I was gone I had my past including my name erased in order to prevent anyone tracking me down through my real name."

Harry was looking up at him, still with his head on Reborn's shoulder. There was a question in his eyes, clearly wanting to know but not wanting to ask in case his Guardian didn't want to tell him.

It was surprisingly easy to answer the unasked question. "My name was Renato Sinclair." Although, saying his real name out loud for the first time in a long while, actually made him pause briefly.

"After I returned with a new name I quickly gained a reputation. Of course anyone with half a brain knows that I must have had a past before I suddenly appeared under the name Reborn and there are some people in the Italian Mafia World who knew me before my name change. But generally my past cannot be traced back to me. Soon after I returned I claimed the title of the strongest Sun and of the World's Greatest Hitman. Now, no one will just mess with me simply because they don't like how powerful I am. At this point there is no one who would dare accept a hit on me or even anyone stupid enough to put one out on me."

Reborn knew he had given out a lot of information. About the Mafia, himself, his past, even his name and his life. He trusted that Harry would not react too negatively to the revelations about the life of a hitman. His Sky was still resting against his chest - apparently neither of them was willing to move unless forced to - and hadn't distanced himself from Reborn in the slightest which was definitely calming his Flames despite the difficult topic.

Then Harry tilted his head and focused on him with slightly widened green eyes. "Do you want me to call you Reborn or can I call you Ren?"

That definitely hadn't been the question Reborn had expected at this point and he took a moment to consider it.

He actually liked the thought of his Sky calling him by his real name. In the abbreviated form no one would be able to directly link it to his past as it could even be taken as an abbreviation of Reborn. No one but Harry and Reborn would know.

"Ren is fine." Reborn responded finally.

"Ren then." Harry concluded with obvious satisfaction, clearly pleased.

Reborn tightened his arms around his Sky at that. Harry now certainly knew more about Reborn than anyone else alive. Having his Sky be the only one to call him by his true name was certainly fitting and Reborn definitely liked the intimacy of it.

Harry was pleased. He liked having a name to call his Sun that no one else would be using but him. A sign of trust and confidence, something just between them. He didn't think he would stop calling his Guardian 'Reborn' completely or even mostly. But being allowed to call him by his real name, by a name no one else knew or was permitted to use was definitely something he enjoyed. He felt his joint magic and Flames curl in contentment.

+++

Reborn had prepared a quick dinner after Harry's stomach reminded them that the day had already turned into evening. They settled at the dinner table though this time Reborn sat right next to his Sky and not opposite him as usual. After the revelations of today, Reborn was not going to let his Sky leave his immediate presence anytime soon.

While they ate in comfortable silence, Reborn contemplated a lighter topic. "I had been meaning to ask. The story of the basilisk and the phoenix?"

Harry paused. "Well, you are going to like the full story even less than the abbreviated version."

There was a drawn out sigh from his Sun. Harry actually had to grin a bit. Reborn had no idea what he was in for.

But Harry had always thought that the adventure with the basilisk was one of his more fun-to-tell stories. Well, if you left out Harry's age, the fact that an entire school had been threatened, that several children had almost died, that the teachers who were tasked with protecting them had been entirely useless or unwilling to help...

Actually, maybe the story wasn't that fun to tell after all. On the other hand, which of his stories was?

Still, Harry knew that this topic was preferable to most others that could have been suggested at this point, so Harry started on the story of his second year. He carefully edited out most of the more delicate bits, especially his age and how very close he had been to dying at the end. Also, no way was he mentioning soul fragments right now. They had had enough heavy topics for one day. He finished his story with Fawkes carrying them out of the tunnels.

There was a moment of silence as Reborn considered what he had been told. "Ok. I'm getting the feeling, there is something you are leaving out of the story. Something that I will definitely not like."

"Well." Harry hesitated. "This was during my second year at Hogwarts. I was twelve at the time."

Reborn forced himself to keep eating casually. Oh, he would definitely be having words with anyone even remotely responsible for this specific fuck up in his Sky's life. Reborn was well aware that his Sky had left out a lot of the more controversial parts of the story. There had been no mention of teachers helping out, which collectively put them on The List.

He certainly hoped that this adventure was a singular occurrence in Harry's life. Though considering what he knew about his Sky so far, he was getting the feeling that might be just wishful thinking on his part.

+++

Like every evening they moved back to the couch after dinner and this time Reborn had just ignored Harry's little ritual of initially pretending to sit properly and away from Reborn. Instead Reborn had just dragged his Sky in close. Harry had went without protest and had easily tucked himself into Reborn's side.

Reborn was still considering their dinner conversation and was debating whether he should just ignore the implications. Although, he had already kept quiet about the war and the savior business. This was about school - a civilian school, magic or not - about a place where children should be protected.

He asked casually. "So, just to get this straight. You were in school with numerous people who were far better qualified than you to take care of this, including the teachers and five years of older students. And the only help you got against a deadly mythical creature was another mythical creature?"

Harry hesitated. For future reference, second year was not one of the fun to tell stories after all.

"Well, yes. It was just me and Fawkes against the basilisk. Fawkes was actually - "

There was a brilliant burst of red fire, a trill and suddenly Harry was crowded behind Reborn on the other side of the room.

Harry hadn't even realized they had moved until after they had crossed the room. Now, his Guardian's back was blocking Harry's sight of the rest of the room. Harry took a brief moment to bask in the feeling of complete and utter safety that radiated from his Sun before he shook himself.

He tried to shift slightly to the side to see what was going on but Reborn fluently moved with him, easily blocking his sight. There were no further noises in the room and Reborn remained entirely focused forwards. So, Harry lifted up on his toes - curiosity was definitely his greatest weakness - to take a glance around the living room. He could see what appeared to a burning pile of ash on the coffee table. Reborn still had a gun pointed at the ash, the moving ash… wait, moving?

Harry started when he realized what had happened. "Fawkes!" He tried to squeeze past Reborn but he might as well have tried to push aside a mountain. "Ren, that's Fawkes. That's the phoenix."

Reborn paused for a moment before he let Harry pass him as his Sky obviously knew what was going on. He ignored the pleased purring of his Flames at the being called by his real name. There would be time for that later.

He closely followed his Sky back across the room, watching dubiously as Harry knelt next to the coffee table. Reborn was still not entirely sold on the immortal burning bird thing to be honest.

And then - bizarrely - a head  poked its way out of the pile of ash.

Huh. That sure was different. There was a tiny bird in the ash.

Magic sure was bizarre.

When the burning bird had appeared in front of him without any warning, it had simply been a reflex to shoot. He had instinctively assumed the fire surrounding the bird to be Flames, Flames not formed by him or his Sky, which automatically translated into an enemy in Reborn's flat, meaning in the immediate presence of his still not entirely recovered Sky.

Reborn had simply reacted.

He was still on a hair trigger temper due to the revelations of the day, due to having to keep his deadly fury locked within his Flames throughout their discussion. It had been a point blank shot augmented by his Sun Flames in a room saturated with his Flames.

Still, he could have sworn that the shot hadn't actually connected.

Harry heard Reborn move in close behind him, obviously still skeptical, but Harry was focused on the reborn - giggle - phoenix in front of him. It was Fawkes! Harry was overjoyed to see the phoenix. Even though the phoenix had been bound to Dumbledore, ever since the Chamber of Secrets Harry had always associated Fawkes with loyalty and support.

"Hello Fawkes." Harry said softly. The phoenix chick turned in his direction and chirped at him. Harry had to smile at that.

"How did you find me here?" He immediately reconsidered the question. "You found me because I said your name."

Fawkes chirped again and Harry took that as confirmation. "I have missed you and I am so glad to see you again. I haven't seen you since Dumbledore's funeral. How have you been?"

The phoenix chirped at him again and he carefully reached out a finger to run it over Fawkes tiny head. He felt a strong pulse of magic from the phoenix at the contact, although it did nothing beyond spreading a wave of warmth and calm through him.

He continued his light petting through the clearly pleased trills of the creature. Though he would have liked to lift Fawkes, Dumbledore had mentioned at some point that it was more comfortable for a recently reborn phoenix to settle in his own ashes.

Behind him, Reborn had settled down on the couch again and was watching Harry carefully.

Harry turned to Reborn. "Is it okay if I take one of your bowls for Fawkes to settle in for the next few days while he recuperates?"

Harry was already moving towards the kitchen before he finished the question, but he still heard Reborn's confirmation.

Though being gone Harry missed the piercing look Fawkes immediately sent towards Reborn, clearly assessing him. It only took a few moments before Fawkes moved his stare away, apparently approving of the Sun's presence.

Reborn felt somewhat aggravated by how weighty the bird's stare had felt, by how much this had felt as though Reborn couldn't afford to be found wanting. On the other hand, it was an immortal creature, who knows how old exactly, so maybe Reborn would cut himself some slack in this.

Harry returned a moment later with a flat bowl that he set down next to the phoenix. Using a soft dish towel he carefully cupped his hands around the little phoenix and most of the ash and transferred all of it to the bowl. It only took him a moment to transfer the rest of the ash. Fawkes seemed to be drifting towards sleep already by the time he was finished.

Done with his task, Harry automatically settled next to Reborn again who immediately dragged him close, obviously not entirely trusting the entire situation yet... and that was definitely the only reason Harry was not protesting against almost being settled in Reborn's lap again, really.

Reborn had listened to his Sky speak softly to the mythical bird. It was clearly a reunion of comrades if not friends. Reborn's head was circling with the revelation that there had been a funeral for Dumbledore at all, meaning the man was apparently dead. Which meant that one of the people Reborn would have really liked to sit down with in order to 'discuss' his role in Harry's life was not available anymore.

Reborn certainly hoped that wasn't going to be a trend.

His Sky clearly felt the unasked question and again provided the information without Reborn having to ask. "Fawkes was Dumbledore's phoenix. I don't know how or when exactly they met, but they were companions. For me Fawkes has long since been a symbol of loyalty and support, because in some of the situations where no one else was available or willing to help me, he was there. He is a truly loyal friend."

Well, that settled it. There had been more than one situation where his Sky had been so very alone that a mythical creature was his only support? Reborn was starting to loathe the Wizarding World and all its inhabitants. Be it due to their actions or their inactions, but it was starting to look like Harry hadn't had any sort of reliable support throughout his life.

Reborn tucked him in closer, joining his Sky in watching the chick sleep. It was strangely soothing to listen to the trills the little phoenix seemed to give with each exhale.

 

Chapter Text

Reborn woke up on the couch. They had not actually made it back to the bed yesterday after the appearance of the phoenix. Harry had been dozing while resting mostly against him and Reborn had not felt like rousing him at all, so he had rearranged them without any protest from his Sky. They had fallen asleep on the couch listening to the mythical bird trill soothingly in his sleep.

He decided they should do this more often as he realized that while he was lying down on the couch, his little Sky was curled up entirely on top of him, face tucked into Reborn's neck.

Yeah, definitely something to repeat.

Reborn grinned lazily to himself, watching the sunlight draw patterns on the ceiling.

He was glad they had been able to relax after the disquieting revelations and confessions of the day. And the appearance of a magical creature. Speaking of which. Reborn slightly turned his head towards the coffee table and was met by a steady stare.

Hn, there was a little magical fire bird staring at him.

Always something new with his Sky. Harry had certainly been right when he said that boredom was not something Reborn would have to worry about in his presence.

Even though the phoenix was staring at him, Reborn didn't get the same weighted feeling as yesterday, which had certainly felt like an appraisal. There was clear curiosity in that gaze and when the phoenix chirped at him Reborn actually couldn't help but smile slightly. He was feeling incredible contentment flowing through him at the entire situation he found himself in. The best part of the situation was actually starting to move on top of him, pressing his face further into Reborn's neck to block out the sun.

Just to make sure that his little Sky did not jump off as soon as he woke up, Reborn settled his arms loosely but securely around his waist, before greeting him. "Good morning, lovely."

His Sky twitched, clearly realizing that there was something off about their current position. He slowly untucked his head from its hiding place and seemed to be slowly glancing around. Reborn moved back a little so he could fully appreciate the wide green eyes meeting his own and the heavy blush spreading across Harry's face as he realized his position on top of Reborn.

Yes, Reborn found life quite enjoyable at the moment.

His Sky cleared his throat softly before mumbling. "G' morning."

Mio dio, his Sky was the most adorable creature he had ever had the pleasure to come across. And he was all Reborn's, he concluded with satisfaction.

"Sleep well?" Reborn asked slyly.

"Very." Harry mumbled into his shirt. A pause, and then the blush actually increased at the obviously not entirely thought out response.

At that Reborn amended gleefully, that he loved his life.

 


 

Despite having covered some pretty heavy topics yesterday, to Harry's relief there was no awkwardness between them in the following days. Still, as they watched Fawkes mature into the breathtaking creature he normally was at an incredible rate they kept to lighter topics only occasionally interspersed with some heavier conversation.

At this point it seemed to Harry as though they had been here in the apartment forever, but thinking back it had barely been two weeks since he had woken up entirely lucid. Still, so much had changed for him in so little time, especially the bond with Reborn.

Not only the Flame bond, but rather the personal bond between them, nourished by their conversations. Harry knew that Reborn had left out a lot of the personal information, but Harry had barely given out any personal information at all either only ever talking about his world rather than his own life so he couldn't really point fingers. They had time, those topics could come later.

Harry felt that he was slowly getting to know a part of Reborn beyond them being instant-bonded. They had found in each other what they had looked for in other people for a long time. But Harry knew he wouldn't have been happy if their only connection had been the Flame bond. He wanted to know his bonded, to trust him and to be trusted by him.

It was something that also worried him when thinking about getting more Guardians. He was quite convinced that he didn't want anyone else other than Reborn, though the way Reborn had described it, looking for Elements would mainly be instinctual. But Harry was almost certain that he wouldn't be able to open up to someone else quite as fast or as completely as he was doing with Reborn.

It might be influenced by the entire situation of being locked in the apartment due to his inability to move anywhere. But Harry thought the main point why it was so very easy for him to open up to Reborn beyond his yearning for this kind of connection was the fact that Reborn had made it undoubtedly clear right from the beginning that Harry was and would always be the center of his world. Harry had easily and enthusiastically reciprocated the sentiment. It was so very, incredibly, unquestionably worth it.

Although, gaining the power of his Sky Flames was an entirely separate topic on top of everything. He had no clue whether having Flames and magic was something that happened frequently, how Flames and magic were supposed to interact, or even how the presence of both would affect his bond with Reborn.

It was reassuring to feel that his magic was now mostly calm again but the additional pulsing of his Flames made it hard to compare it to how his magic had felt before it had been thrown out of whack originally.

He really needed to get in contact with the healers.

Harry was convinced that if there was something really wrong, his instincts as well as his magic would warn him in some way, so based on that everything should be fine. But it would be better to have Madam Pomfrey check anyways, even if only so she would forgive him for vanishing from the hospital.

Fawkes' appearance had finally given Harry a way to contact the healers in the Wizarding World. He had already asked Fawkes whether he would be willing to take a message to Madam Pomfrey whenever the phoenix recovered from his Burning Day. That was actually far better than any other solution he had been able to come up with before Fawkes' appearance.

Harry had also noticed that Fawkes' presence was truly calming to him and even to Reborn to a certain degree. Harry had explained phoenixes to Reborn, that their death triggered their burning which in turn triggered their rebirth. There needed to be death for rebirth to occur, but phoenixes never truly died as they were instantly reborn. It was one of the best described magical paradoxes. And even having seen it before, Harry still felt utter wonder at witnessing the cycle again.

Though Reborn still swore that his bullet hadn't actually connected with the phoenix but that he had already been burning when the shot reached him. Harry wasn't entirely certain what had happened as Fawkes couldn't possibly have reached his next burning day already.

Despite some initial suspicious glances between Reborn and Fawkes, they had clearly come to terms with each other's presence and were now starting to gang up on Harry in order to get him to eat more and to rest longer. Though Harry suspected that there might be a slight difference of motivation for the latter as Reborn not only insisted on Harry resting more but he also tended to arrange Harry rest on Reborn.

Harry also spent a lot of his time in the afternoon with Fawkes perched on his lap, petting his developing plumage, sometimes talking but mostly in silence. Fawkes seemed to truly enjoy it as well, because after their lunch he immediately appeared expectantly hovering by an armchair for Harry to settle down.

And though it was reassuring to finally have a way to contact the healers - and just how telling was his certainty about Madam Pomfrey not only being worried about him but also that there was no way she had been involved in his unsolicited move to the Muggle World - but thinking about his return to the Wizarding World also made him somewhat nervous. Because he wasn't naïve enough to think that he would be able to avoid the masses. Especially after having been gone for about a month now.

"Brooding?" Reborn drew him out of his thoughts.

Harry looked up at Reborn from where he had been staring at the book in his hands. Reborn was sitting at one end of the couch while Harry was laid across it with his head on the other end of the couch and his legs in Reborn's lap.

"Well, I am just considering the different scenarios of what will be waiting for us in the Wizarding World." Harry paused as he realized they had yet to even really discuss this. "Are we even going to the Wizarding World?"

Reborn lazily looked up from his notebook. "Of course. You need to go to a hospital for a check-up and the healers you trust are in the British Wizarding World."

Harry hid his smile behind his book at Reborn's easy concession. When he looked back up he felt a blush creep across his face at the fond look in his Sun's eyes.

"When do you think Fawkes will be ready to fly again?" Reborn asked.

"Well, he already looks pretty good now, though maybe still a little small. He will let us know as soon as he feels up to it." Harry looked over at Fawkes where he was perching on the back of one of the kitchen chairs with his head tucked under his wing. Harry felt a pang at the familiar picture reminding him of his lovely Hedwig.

Reborn had clearly felt the maudlin turn of his emotions. Harry had to suppress a slight shiver at feeling the large warm hand easily wrap around the bare skin of his ankle. Even without looking at his Sun he knew that his entire focus was on Harry.

"Until recently, I had a snowy owl. She was a real beauty, my wonderful Hedwig. She was my first real birthday present and my most loyal companion. She was the only friend who never left my side, the only one who unquestionably stood by me and kept me company when no one else could. Or would." Harry stated absently, remembering his friend. He missed his Hedwig, her pecking at him to take better care of himself, her always knowing if there was a letter to pick up for him, always knowing when he needed her with him and even understanding when he asked her to stay away for her safety during the summers.

Reborn kept silent as he let Harry grieve his companion. He would not even begin to consider that his Sky's 'first real birthday present' was an owl, something that was clearly from the Wizarding World, which Harry didn't know about until he turned eleven. He just noted it down on his ever growing list of reasons why he would have no problems tearing specific people in Britain apart.

Harry's honest grief at the loss of his companion was almost palpable to Reborn. He could not even imagine what it would mean if he ever lost Leon, who had been his truest companion to date.

He glanced over to the plants on the window sill in the kitchen where Leon had taken up residence pretty much immediately after they arrived at the apartment. Leon spent his days there lounging in the sun, only ever moving away when the sun had already set. He was clearly enjoying their down time.

Harry meeting Leon had actually been quite entertaining. Reborn had been taking a shower and his Sky had already settled into bed. But Harry had decided to get a glass of water from the kitchen, coming across Leon in the process where the chameleon had been moving towards the food Reborn had laid out. When Reborn had come looking for Harry, he had found his Sky at the sink in a staring contest with Leon on the kitchen counter, both seemingly quite at a loss. After having a good laugh - internally of course, Reborn didn't do laughter unless it was the evilly maniacal kind - he had introduced them and Leon had pretty much instantly fallen in love with Harry.

Now, Leon often joined Fawkes whenever Harry settled down for their 'cuddle sessions'.

Though the one time Reborn actually called it a 'cuddle session' out loud, all three of them had given him the evil eye - which translated into kitten glowers at most - so he refrained from that specific designation.

How he - one of the most feared members of the Mafia World - had managed to acquire what amounted to a small petting zoo and a Sky so adorable he fit right in with them… he had no idea. But he was so damn glad he did.

 


 

It had taken another two days before Fawkes was recovered entirely. Harry had somehow just known that Fawkes was ready and by the time he had written a brief but carefully worded letter to Madam Pomfrey Fawkes had already be expectantly settled on the armrest next to him. When Harry had sealed the letter Fawkes had just leant in, taken it with his beak and vanished in a colorful blaze of red and gold.

Reborn had watched interestedly as all this occurred while he prepared some coffee - yet again - for himself.

Harry had warned him of various ways this could turn out. From Fawkes reappearing without a response to bringing a horde of healers with him. Reborn certainly hoped for a sensible compromise but wanted there to be at least one doctor to do a check-up on Harry in the immediate future.

His Sky seemed to anxiously be watching the sky outside of the window though, which didn't make much sense until Reborn remembered owl post being the most common form of wizarding communication. Watching the sky for a response on reflex made some sense then. Still, Reborn stepped in close to his Sky's armchair in case of something unexpected happening. Harry was nervously fiddling with the pen still in his hand while they waited in silence.

The half-hour mark was approaching, when Fawkes returned in a fiery blaze with two passengers in tow.

Harry immediately jumped from his seat when he felt Fawkes return before the phoenix fire was even visible in the room.

He felt a wave of relief wash through him at seeing that Fawkes had not only brought Madam Pomfrey but also Mediwizard Biran with him. Both healers looked quite ruffled which was to be expected considering that Fawkes had probably picked up Madam Pomfrey before getting Mediwizard Biran and both of them having gathered everything they needed within half an hour, as it was unlikely that they had been coincidentally in the same room when Fawkes appeared.

Madam Pomfrey gave him a brief once-over before greeting him pointedly."Mr. Potter."

"Madam Pomfrey, Mediwizard Biran. It is very good to see you again." Harry replied, feeling like a scolded first year. Harry was amazed by how Madam Pomfrey had always been able to put an entire scolding into just saying his name in a weighted tone.

At Harry's greeting Madam Pomfrey visibly softened, though still looking quite stern. "Indeed, Mr. Potter. Though it wasn't the first time that you had vanished from your bed against my orders, I was quite disconcerted at the knowledge that you would have been entirely incapable of getting up and fleeing our care unaided."

At Madam Pomfrey's stern glower, Harry was just glad that he could not be held responsible at all for leaving his bed this time.

Reborn carefully observed both of the newcomers and his Sky's reaction to them. Harry clearly trusted both of them so he let himself relax slightly as he moved forwards. The woman looked harried probably due to being unexpectedly contacted by Harry but still well put together. The man looked slightly at a loss at the entire situation and he still seemed to be having difficulties to look away from the phoenix at all.

Although, neither of them seemed to have the best situational awareness as neither of them seemed to have really registered Reborn's presence at all. Huh. So, Harry was in fact not the norm in that regard.

Harry then remembered his manners and turned to introduce Reborn. "Reborn, these are Madam Pomfrey and Mediwizard Biran, my main healers. Madam Pomfrey is the nurse of Hogwarts' hospital wing and she has been treating me since my first year at Hogwarts. Mediwizard Biran is a specialist in the field of maladies of the developing magical core. Healers, this is Reborn. He is the one who retrieved me from the situation I found myself in after having been removed from your care and he has given me a place to recuperate afterwards."

Reborn gave a lazy nod towards both healers still not moving too far away from his Sky. He inclined his head slightly towards the sofa and Harry immediately reacted, offering the healers a seat and some of the already prepared tea. This got him a reproachful look from Madam Pomfrey until he assured her that he had not used his magic to prepare the tea at all.

When everyone was settled around the coffee table with a warm drink in hand - Reborn thankfully still had some coffee from earlier - Madam Pomfrey asked primly. "Have you been in contact with the Wizarding World at all since your treatment?"

At Harry's denial, she continued. "After you disappeared from your hospital room in the middle of the night, we started a frenzied search for your whereabouts. It wasn't until later that we were made aware that others had deemed themselves entitled to make uninformed decisions about your care."

Harry definitely did not envy whoever had borne the brunt of her anger, he really didn't. No matter how well deserved it might have been. To this day Madam Pomfrey remained one of the people he respected most in the entire Wizarding World, for her uncompromising stance on the care of everyone she considered to be in need of it.

She continued. "By the time we found out about your new placement and promptly came to retrieve you, you had already been moved to another location." There was a minimal pause as she primly took a sip from her tea. "Anyone involved in your displacement from our care has been advised of the imprudence of their decisions. Though I have to wonder, why you haven't thought to contact us before now." The no-nonsense woman asked pointedly.

Reborn definitely liked this woman.

Harry hurried to reply. "Ah, well, you see. The initial move from St. Mungo's to the Muggle World was immediately followed by a move across Europe. I was incoherent for most of it and by the time I came back to myself I found myself in another country, with no idea where the next Magical District might be and also unable to reach Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade as that would have required even more travel. I asked Fawkes to find you as soon as he recovered from his Burning Day."

Here, Mediwizard Biran decided to get involved in the conversation for the first time. "Then you were very right to refrain from trying to contact us, Mr. Potter. Traveling a larger distances at that point, or putting any sort of additional strain on your core could have been truly detrimental to your health and your magic. Just from your general demeanor it is obvious that you are doing much better than I would have expected. It seems that your magic is settling down nicely. While we are sitting here comfortably let me just do a quick check-up."

Harry saw Reborn tense slightly as Biran pulled out his wand. Almost automatically he moved to press the side of his leg against Reborn's - though he wasn't even certain whether it was more to reassure Reborn or to calm himself.

Though Reborn only knew about wands from his Sky's explanations he was also very aware that it was the key to a wizard's offense. He did not like to have it pointed in the general direction of his Sky. At his side, Harry remained entirely calm though, so Reborn refrained from lunging across the coffee table and taking the stick from the man, breaking the wand and every single of the man's fingers in the process. A swish and a weird twirly flick later and suddenly there was a dull glass-like sphere about as large as both of his fists together, floating between them.

Reborn decided then and there that he was just going to ignore things appearing from thin air from now on.

Still, the healer had clearly picked up on Reborn's less than trusting thoughts and instead of having Harry reach for the sphere he reached for it himself. To the side the woman made an impatient noise clearly not in the mood to humor Reborn's paranoia but a lazy flick of his eyes in her direction showed something like approval in her eyes.

She clearly cared for Harry deeply and generally approved of Reborn's caution.

When the healer touched the sphere it was immediately filled with a soft green light, seemingly pulsing and shimmering with various shades of green and even a few yellow-green flecks from time to time.

Harry knew this part already. The orb was a way to view the general state of someone's magical core. They had used this before to assess his core's state in order to avoid having to apply any diagnostic spells directly to Harry which might have negatively affected his magic. When touched, the orb would mirror the current state of the wizard's magical core. These spheres could only be used once as they immediately adjusted to the magic of whoever touched it but any diagnostic spells could then be applied to the orb instead of the wizard making it the optimal tool in Harry's case.

When Biran conjured a second sphere and had it float over to him Harry calmly reached for it. He wasn't even sure what he was expecting, the tumultuous surging of his golden magic - he had gotten a good laugh out of that when he realized that calling him the Golden Boy had been far more accurate than most suspected - or the stillness that had become the state of his magic at some point during the treatment after the first few rituals.

Instead, when he touched the sphere, his bright golden magic immediately seemed to fill the sphere, flowing smoothly except for some occasional surges here and there. Looking closer he could see some clear streaks of orange shimmering and coiling with his magic at the edges of the orb. Immediately, Harry suspected that the orange streaks might not be his magic at all but rather to be his Flames that were mixing with his magic at the edges of his core. Harry really hoped the healers wouldn't read too much in the slight change of coloring.

Reborn watched interestedly as the glow of his Sky's magic permeated the room. The light - magic - in the sphere seemed to be different from the one filling the orb the healer had touched even beyond the completely different coloring. The light filling Harry's sphere seemed more viscous somehow, denser, more substantial. Except for the orange streaks at the edges - and Reborn thought just based on the color those might represent the Sky Flames - which seemed to be more elusive, lighter somehow, quickly flickering in and out of sight, not quite as leisurely coiling as the rest.

Reborn was captivated by the entwining magic and Flames as well as by the wonder on his Sky's face.

Far too soon the healer cleared his throat as he leaned forward to focus on the sphere better. "That is surprising. Your magic seems to be settling down very well indeed, despite the setback due to your, erm, displacement. There are still some surges so it hasn't yet resettled entirely but it is far smoother than I had feared given your unexpected removal from a stabilizing environment."

Both healers were focused intensely on the sphere and seemed quite surprised at what they were seeing.

"Would you please briefly pull at your magic?" Biran asked absently as he waved his wand at the sphere in a complicated pattern and Harry did as he was told, watching as the magic in the sphere reacted accordingly. For the next twenty minutes both healers performed various tests to assess the health of his magic.

To his relief neither healer seemed to be give too much attention to the additional color scheme in the orb. Although honestly, there was no reason not to assume that those orange streaks hadn't been a part of Harry's magic originally.

Harry would have liked to tell them about the Flames if only to have them include their presence into their considerations for his treatment. But even though the healers were under unbreakable oaths not to reveal anything they learned about Harry, they clearly fell under Omerta.

How inconvenient. It would certainly have been handy to have his healers' help in trying to organize a cover of Reborn's Flames.

Finally, the testing drew to a close and Biran summarized. "This looks very promising, Mr. Potter. I would recommend to still refrain from using your magic at this point. It is unlikely to cause any immediate harm but it will delay your complete recovery. By my estimation, and that could be significantly off to be honest when considering your recovery up to this point, it should take another two, maybe three weeks until you are entirely recovered. But to be clear, this is actually a crucial phase of your recovery as the development now can go two ways: towards further smoothing out the random surges or towards increasingly strong surges which can become dangerous to you and your surroundings."

Harry assimilated this, not entirely certain what to make of the information.

"Mr. Potter, will you be returning to Britain so a regular check-up could be performed?" Madam Pomfrey asked in her typical no nonsense voice.

Harry was surprised. "Would it be safe to travel that far at this point?"

Biran picked up at this point. "Ah, well no, not by usual means, but travel with a phoenix would be fine. The problem with normal magical travel for you is the crossing of Ley Lines. Are you familiar with the term?"

Harry had heard of Ley Lines of course - it was a well known fact that Hogwarts itself was built on one of the major Ley Line Crossings in the northern hemisphere - but he had no clue as to why they would affect his ability to travel.

He shook his head, waiting expectantly for Biran's explanation.

It was something he really liked about the mediwizard. After their initial meeting Biran had quickly realized that Harry 'The Savior' Potter actually lacked a lot of what was considered common knowledge in the Wizarding World. So, Biran had taken off his rose-colored glasses, put aside his reverence towards The-Man-Who-Conquered and done his best to explain anything Harry did not know or understand with as much background as he felt was useful. When the other healers had picked up on the reasons for the frequent impromptu lessons they had joined in as well. Harry had gained a lot of his background knowledge on Magick from his healers' explanations.

"Ley Lines are paths of magic that support a clearly defined flow of natural magic all over the world. They differ in their individual strength and flow of magic. Portkeys and apparition make traveling large distances within moments possible, they still traverse the entire distance, just really quickly. Thus, with magical travel or muggle travel you would cross numerous Ley Lines of various strengths at random intervals which would be highly disruptive to your still sensitive magic. In contrast, phoenix travel is truly instantaneous and without actual traversing of space but rather an disappearance and instantaneous reappearance in a different location. Additionally, any strain on your magic will be further decreased due to your bond."

Harry had listened interestedly to the explanation of magical travel, but he startled at the mention of the bond. He had been so certain the healers had not realized that he had a soul bond with Reborn. He felt his Guardian tensing next to him as Harry fixed a surprised but pointed stare on the mediwizard. "Bond?"

There was confusion and some hesitance on the face of both healers. Madam Pomfrey was the one who replied. "We had assumed that Fawkes had bonded to you as he seems to be staying with you and is clearly doing your bidding. Especially with the mention of his recent Burning Day, which is required for forming the familiar bond between phoenix and wizard."

Okay, Harry had not expected that.

Fawkes had bonded to him? Though that would explain how Harry seemed to be aware of where the phoenix was at all times. Like right now, where he knew that Fawkes was perched on the backrest of the chair by the dresser in the bedroom, even though he had not even consciously seen Fawkes retreat that way.

Huh. Some warning would have been nice though. Thinking back, Harry assumed the pulse of magic he had felt when he had first touched Fawkes after his Burning had something to do with this as well. It was actually pretty obvious now that he thought about it. He just really had not expected anything of the sort.

Well, it was definitely a nice surprise for once. Harry felt warmth flow through him at the thought of Fawkes staying with him and Ren from now on.

Harry shook himself internally and picked up the conversation where they had left off. "So, travel with Fawkes' help will not be too disrupting for my magic, no matter the distance?"

"Ah, I am not actually certain whether a longer distance might have a more adverse effect." Biran responded, though he still looked slightly confused by the sudden intensity that had suddenly permeated the room and then vanished just as abruptly.

The mediwizard was entirely unaware that it had been only Reborn's instant focus on him due to his previous comment.

Harry easily distracted the healers with some more questions. "What about re-entering a magical environment? I have been staying in the Muggle World for weeks now, pretty much since the treatment was concluded."

"Hm, yes, it might be preferable for you to remain mostly in a non-magical environment until you have completely recovered. Though some brief visits to a magical surrounding might help your acclimatization to a magically saturated environment at this point and won't delay your recovery. It would still be better to avoid a prolonged stay in a magically saturated environment until your magical core has settled entirely."

"That will actually not be a problem. I have a goblin-warded apartment in Muggle London." Harry replied.

Reborn noted this down as he had not been aware that his Sky owned any properties much less in the non-magical world.

"Ah, that would work perfectly." Biran paused briefly before continuing. "I assume the apartment is warded against apparition and portkeys?"

At Harry's confirming nod, Biran continued. "Would it be possible to arrange the regular check-up with the help of your phoenix then? I am sorry to say that you were found at St. Mungo's last time due to a number of people discussing your regular appearance for your appointments. Be assured that while I was not able to hold any patients responsible for sharing that kind of information any hospital personnel involved in divulging any information about your presence has been punished severely."

Reborn decided he liked this healer as well. There seemed to be quite a few rather sanguinary people intent on his Sky's protection. If there were more people like this in the Wizarding World he might actually quite like it there, he concluded cheerfully.

Harry responded. "I will have to ask Fawkes - " There was a trill from the bedroom, sending a warm pulse through everyone present, and Harry concluded happily. " - but it should not be a problem."

Though at this point Reborn felt it necessary to speak up for the first time. "Are you aware of who specifically was involved in removing Harry from your care?"

Reborn was aware of the clear accusation in his phrasing though it was far milder than it could have been since this screw-up was actually the reason he had found his Sky at all, so he couldn't be too resentful. Though in return for his leniency he was expecting a list of names so Reborn would have the chance to visit every single person involved in this personally and make his displeasure excruciatingly clear.

Both healers focused on him instantly and he could pretty much see them re-assessing him. Reborn was very good at masking his presence - it was essential in his line of occupation - and the healers had clearly dismissed him after his prolonged silence. Though they were both aware enough to recognize the folly of that now. He could practically feel the amusement and satisfaction coming from his Sky.

It was Madam Pomfrey who responded in the end and mostly towards Harry as well. "I am sorry to say that it was mostly the Order and your friends who were involved, though thankfully not everyone. We initially assumed the worst, that you had been taken by Voldemort sympathizers. It wasn't until Elphias Doge decided to give a statement to the press that you were recovering from an illness at a safe location that we realized who exactly had been responsible."

There was a slight swooshing noise as Fawkes suddenly settled on the armrest next to Harry.

After a brief pause the nurse continued. "Apparently, Mr. Doge used his influence in the Ministry to have you removed from St. Mungo's with the help of Aurors and transported you to a new location. After we convinced him that it was in everyone's best interest to divulge your location to us, we immediately sought to return you to St. Mungo's. They had even stationed guards at your relatives' residence. Foolishly, these 'guards' had not thought it necessary to give visiting muggles any form of attention and they could only retrospectively recall a larger group of muggles visiting at some point. You were assumed to have been removed from the residence at that point."

There was a prolonged moment of silence between them. Reborn liked how much information he was gleaning from this conversation, though he didn't much like what he was hearing specifically. Harry's friends and allies were responsible for his removal from the hospital, he was apparently enough of a person of interest that it had been deemed necessary to make a press statement regarding his whereabouts. Harry had been brought to his relatives, who were thus most likely responsible for his Sky ending up in the hands of the Mafia. Reborn had already put most of this together based on what he had gleaned from his Sky previously, but this was a definite confirmation of where to direct his wrath.

After some silence Harry asked softly. "Are they aware of my magical condition?" It was a multi-layered question. Not only whether the general public knew about his condition due to information leaked to the press, but also whether the Order had known about it when they had decided to remove him from St. Mungo's, whether they knew how much danger they were putting him in.

Madam Pomfrey's reaction was instant. "No. That information has been kept entirely confidential. The other specialist have been under vow not to keep any records from the beginning and there is no way to make us reveal any information about your treatment personally, as our oaths as healers protect us even from Veritaserum. So, when the public interest increased exponentially due to the public mention of your illness and we had to fear a Ministry search, Mediwizard Biran and I decided to destroy any records. We can always write it down again… at some point. "

Harry released a relieved breath though he did not take his focus off Madam Pomfrey who was clearly hesitating to mention something. "While I was informed that they had been directly involved in your unauthorized transport, I have not been able to get in contact with Mr. Weasley and Ms. Granger due to them being out of the country."

Harry was not surprised, though it was disappointing to hear that they had not thought it necessary to inquire about his well-being from anyone remaining in Britain. If they had, they would have heard about his disappearance and no matter how angry he was at them Harry was also convinced that they would have returned to help with the search if they had thought him to be in any real danger.

"I was informed though that they will be returning within the next few days to attend the eighth year at Hogwarts. You might even be recovered in time for the new term at Hogwarts." Madam Pomfrey concluded.

That gave Reborn pause. He had just assumed that Harry had already finished his education based on the information that Harry had given on magical education so far, though maybe that had been a bit hasty when including the war in the equation.

Still, so far his Sky had not mentioned returning to school and going by his renewed silence on the subject Reborn concluded that this was definitely something to be discussed.

Harry did not react to the mention of Hogwarts and going by silence around him that had not gone entirely unnoticed. He stubbornly kept silent though and returned to their previous topic. "How often would you prefer to do a check-up?"

This was something Harry intended to discuss with his Sun alone and not as a general topic of conversation. He had some ideas of what to do instead of going to Hogwarts and he would like to discuss those with Reborn, especially since they had not yet discussed their plans beyond the immediate future of returning to the UK.

Both healers were easily distracted by the topic of his future medical treatment though. They had a brief discussion amongst themselves before concluding with, "Every two days might be the best initially, just to gauge how quickly your magic progresses from this point onward. We could arrange a meeting time to come see you."

Reborn got involved again. There was no way he would be willing to reveal where exactly his Sky was residing to any number of healers who might come to visit. "We can easily visit your office if we can agree on a specific time and date. It should be more convenient for you and it would mean less travel for Fawkes as well if he just had to take us to the hospital and return us afterwards."

At the last part his statement Sky immediately nodded along with his suggestion. Harry was far too kind, so very easily putting anyone else's comfort above his own. But in this instance it suited Reborn's paranoia just fine.

"That would indeed be more convenient. Short-distance phoenix travel will be no strain on your core at all. As soon as Hogwarts starts again we could also arrange the meeting at the hospital wing in Hogwarts. I could easily get there by Floo." Biran suggested.

Luckily it was Madam Pomfrey who argued against that suggestions with a glance towards Harry. "Regrettably, I cannot guarantee that the hospital wing will be empty at any specific time, so that might not be advisable. Just one of the children seeing Harry arrive there will be enough to rekindle the media frenzy. So, it might still be best to continue the appointments at St. Mungo's even then."

Reborn could practically feel the anxiety emanating from his Sky at the repeated mention of Hogwarts and so he easily concluded the conversation. "That would work perfectly. The day after tomorrow in your office then? What time would suit you best?"

Another brief discussion between the two healers before they agreed on noon as the time for the appointment and also promised to include the other specialists that had apparently been involved in Harry's treatment.

Fawkes had clearly sensed Harry's anxiety as well because as soon as they had agreed on the time and date he shuffled towards the healers, giving them only a brief moment to conclude their goodbyes before transporting them away in a golden flash of phoenix fire.

They remained sitting in silence for a moment. With the healers gone Reborn felt comfortable moving away from his Sky for a bit and went to prepare some coffee and some fresh tea water, giving Harry some time to collect his thoughts.

But instead of remaining in his spot as Reborn had expected, Harry got up as well and followed him to the kitchen taking a seat at the kitchen island instead. He continued to remain silent while Reborn got some grapes and some cheese from the fridge as well. Reborn had taken to providing regular snacks in order to make sure his Sky got enough to eat. Harry was still far too skinny.

As soon as Reborn settled on the chair next to him - if he had stealthily maneuvered the chair much closer than was strictly necessary his Sky certainly wasn't complaining - Harry said, "I guess you have some questions."

Well, if that wasn't the understatement of the day. Though Reborn was actually most interested in the reasons for Harry's strange reaction at the mention of his school, there were some far more pressing questions he wanted to ask, like his level of fame when considering the mention of press releases and Ministry ordered searches to find him. Still, probably best to start out with something easier though.

Reborn leaned back in his chair so their arms were pressed together. "You have an apartment in the Muggle World." He mentioned carefully.

Harry was starting to adore how Reborn always stated - not asked - his questions if he wasn't entirely certain whether Harry would be willing to answer. Not having his willingness assumed actually made him want to answer a question more.

"When the war ended, I decided to get a place of my own. As I mentioned before, wizards rarely venture into the Muggle World purposely, so I felt it was safer to buy an apartment where I wouldn't constantly be running into someone who would recognize me and thus revealing my location. I had the place warded against anything I could think of. Also, it is actually very close to the most prominent Magical District in London in case I ever need to reach the Wizarding World immediately."

His Sky sure wasn't stupid. But him getting an apartment immediately after the war meant that his Sky had not had anywhere else to stay. Those relatives that had been mentioned by the healer might just be Reborn's first stop in England. Also, spontaneously buying an apartment meant Harry had to have some money, which fit well with his mention of the Ancient and Noble House of Potter. So many clues were starting to fit into a complete picture.

Though he had to ask about Harry's schooling at some point, so better get that over with now, as it would affect any plans for the immediate future. And Reborn was kind of split on the topic. On the one hand, he felt that education was far too important to just leave it be. On the other hand, there was no way he was okay with his Sky going back to a boarding school - away from Reborn - for an entire year. So, he was honestly hoping for a decent alternative.

His Sky clearly knew what was going through his head though. "I do not intend to return to Hogwarts to finish my seventh year. Or eighths year as they call it because of the number of students who effectively missed an entire year of education due to the war."

There was a pause but Reborn kept silent. He would be hard pressed to just accept it if Harry's reasoning for this decision was simply because he did not feel like it. Still, even if he just wanted to take a year off or something similar to recuperate from the war- a war veteran at eighteen - Reborn refused to exert any pressure on Harry yet. Reborn would not be able to accept something like that indefinitely.

But no matter what, after listening to Harry tell some of his life story Reborn would not join the queue of people who had forced his Sky to do something due to their own sensibilities or preconceived notions. So, he waited patiently for his Sky to continue.

"There are several reasons actually, not the least of which is the fact that the Final Battle was fought at Hogwarts and I do not yet feel ready to permanently return there." Harry continued hesitantly clearly having expected some kind of response from Reborn.

Final Battle. That probably included Harry killing the Dark Lord. At Hogwarts, his school. What the fuck was wrong with the British Wizarding World?

Reborn had to admit that was actually a pretty decent reason for his Sky's refusal right there. Though he had said several reasons, so Reborn continued to wait patiently.

"Also, as you have probably surmised at this point, I am famous in the Wizarding World. Not just well-known like a celebrity, but more like president famous, world-famous." Harry didn't feel comfortable talking about this, but he forged on. "It was already irritating when I was eleven and entered the Wizarding World, it got maddening when everyone acknowledged me as the prophesized savior in fifth year. After the war it became intolerable. I will not subject myself to that."

Harry refused. He would not return to Hogwarts, he already knew he would hate it and it would destroy the few good memories he still had of his only childhood home.

There was another long pause and Reborn forced himself to remain neutral on several counts. As the silence stretched he decided to ask a question. "What are your plans then?"

At that Harry seemed to light up a bit. "I want to self-study. The only requirement for taking your NEWTs is actually that you have to have passed your OWLs and have reached your majority. Also, I would really like to invest some time on the non-magical side of my education. I haven't been to a regular school since I was eleven and it is embarrassing how little I know about that side of the world."

Newts and owls? As in amphibians and birds? Just by the phrasing it was clear that Harry was talking about some form of exams but still, the Wizarding World sure had a strange sense of humor. At least Reborn hoped it was humor …

Though back to the topic at hand, with that explanation his Sky's reasoning definitely made sense. It also neatly solved the boarding school problem and would also keep them entirely independent, not chained to one specific location. Actually, Reborn really liked this option. He relaxed in his seat as the tension he had not even really noticed before released in his chest.

 


 

They had decided to leave for Britain as soon as possible instead of delaying another day, so the next morning they had packed what they needed. Harry just stuffed what little he had used back into his bag, while Reborn spent most of his time removing any and all traces of their presence - especially Harry's presence - from his apartment.

When they were done, Harry took another look around. He was actually kind of sad to leave. It had been a wonderful few days completely cut off from the world, lazing about, recovering, talking, spending time with Reborn. Even though Harry would like to continue on the same in London, he was not that naïve. As soon as it became known that he had returned to England he would be haunted by anyone and everyone.

He suppressed a sigh. First order of business would actually be to get himself personal wards against owls and house-elves, so he would be as hard to find as possible. They would be swamped otherwise.

Harry felt Ren step in close and wrap an arm around his waist from behind. He automatically leaned back into his Sun's chest and took one more wistful look around.

As though called, Fawkes appeared in front of them. Within an instant they vanished from their little apartment and from Italy altogether.

It wouldn't be until months later that they realized how much their departure would affect the future of the Mafia World. Not even Reborn would have been able to anticipate the chaos their disappearance would leave in its wake.

 

Chapter Text

Barely a moment passed between reaching for Fawkes and finding themselves in Harry's apartment in London. Harry noted with some surprise that there was only a slight sense of vertigo immediately afterwards. Well, that was certainly different from any other form of magical travel he had experienced so far.

His Sun was still keeping a firm hold of him, but Harry was in no hurry to step away from where he was leaning against Reborn's broad chest. He assumed that his Guardian was probably checking their new surroundings for threats, but instead of feeling irritated by the overprotectiveness Harry only felt strangely fond.

Reborn kept holding his Sky as he scanned the room and the entire surrounding area with his Flames.

Even after ascertaining that there was no immediate threat to his Sky to be found, he did not let go of Harry but rather kept him pulled against his chest - fitting perfectly into the contours of his body - and took a few moments to take in the apartment.

They were standing in the living/dining area and Reborn could see what appeared to be an entrance area through an open door slightly to the right. Though the layout was less modern than his place in Italy, Reborn actually quite liked the feel of the apartment. The small kitchen had been opened to the living and dining area by a ceiling-to-counter breakthrough in one of the walls which had been converted into a kitchen island. The kitchen itself seemed rather modern, clearly recently re-done with polished metal and light wood fixtures.

"I bought the flat from the elder lady who owns the house. She is very kind and said I reminded her of her grandson. When she realized that I did not own any furniture she more or less filled the apartment with whatever she found in her attic. I mostly just bought the bed and the couch." Harry seemed to be fidgeting slightly from where he was still leaning against Reborn, clearly looking for some sort of approval.

The living area had a large, grey leather couch with chaise that looked perfect for Reborn to stretch out on with his little Sky curled up on his chest. The modern couch was set off by two dark-leather, high-back armchairs and a low coffee table on rickety legs. A dining table was pushed underneath the window next to the kitchen island giving a pretty nice view outside.

Reborn honestly found the random assortment of mismatched furniture quite charming.

At his prolonged silence, Harry continued to ramble on. "I actually declined a lot of the furniture she offered to me, but I quite like the look of it right now. But if you have something you want to add from your place feel free to do so. The breakthrough to the kitchen is new and I had the kitchen installed professionally, though I haven't really had time to use it yet. There is also a small study that you can have for your work. If you want to."

Reborn affirmed to himself - yet again - how very adorable his Sky was as he briefly squeezed him to calm him down - not at all because how very good it felt to have him pressed even closer to his chest.

"It is very charming." Reborn replied, almost wanting to smile when the tension immediately left Harry's form at the minimal reassurance.

+++

Moving into the apartment was done quickly.

Reborn had brought all the things he would need to assure himself of their safety and he immediately set about checking the apartment physically after already having scanned it with his Flames.

Harry gave him a brief tour through the three other rooms that were connected to the entrance area.

There were some rather nice features, such as the narrow, floor-to-ceiling windows covering an entire wall of the bedroom. The bathroom was pretty spacious and had obviously been recently redone. The large bathtub immediately had Reborn's mind drifting towards not so innocent images, with his little Sky featuring prominently.

Harry watched Reborn suspiciously, clearly uncertain of what to make of his sudden smirk.

Finally, Harry showed his Sun the study, though he was suddenly mortified to realize that he had never even brought up the option of converting the study into a second bedroom, simply assuming they would continue sleeping in the same bed.

Harry could actually feel the heat of his blush, which got even worse at Reborn's reaction when he brought it up.

Suffice to say, they would not be converting the study into a bedroom.

Although Harry was honestly glad that they were keeping the study, not only because of their sleeping arrangements - cue the blush - but also because he had turned it into a small library. Two walls of the study were entirely taken up by bookshelves, filled with old, leather-bound books.

Reborn was clearly fascinated by the collection of ancient tomes, especially as Harry explained that these were all books from his Family Vaults, that some of them were literally hundreds of years old and that all of them were a part of his family's history.

Harry adored having a room filled with reminders of his family, which he had brought to his warded flat from his various trips to Gringotts. Though that had only been after he had cleared up the situation of the horcrux hunt break-in with the goblins.

(+++)

After the Final Battle, the break-in at Gringotts had been everyone's favorite topic to discuss with or without him. Most likely because it was one of the very few things he had done during the war that people actually knew about and thus they seemed to focus all their gossiping enthusiasm on this particular topic. In his darker hours, Harry couldn't help but think cynically, that they would have had far more 'topics' to discuss if they had deigned to get off their own asses to actually help fight the war.

It was particularly annoying because no one aside from Hermione, Ron and Harry actually had any idea just why they had broken into Gringotts in the first place. The theories had run wild.

Even the remaining Order members and Hogwarts teachers had seemingly wanted to get their own two cents in, speculating how the goblins would get their revenge for the break-in. The general consensus had been that they would  ban Harry from their bank, seize his money, confiscate his family heirlooms, and so on.

Even Hermione had been clear in her opinion that the goblins would consider their break-in a breach of several treaties between the Goblin Nation and the British Ministry of Magic and thus they would hold them harshly responsible. At least she had been very sympathetic while explaining that the Goblin Treaties allow them to seize anything owned by the offender as compensation. Hermione had of course promised to look into it but hadn't had much hope of finding anything.

Of course Harry had been bitter at losing whatever remained from his family this family, but he also knew that even if he had known about the consequences beforehand, he would have done the exact same thing in order to rid himself of Voldemort.

So, he had resigned himself to losing whatever there might have been left from his family and waited for some sort of notification from Gringotts. Which didn't come.

It had been about two weeks after the Final Battle and Harry had been mentally and physically exhausted. From assuring the public, from consoling survivors, from attending funerals, from giving statements at one trial after the other. From everything. He had just wanted to resolve anything else still hanging over his head from the war.

Sick and tired of listening to everyone around him painting increasingly awful scenarios about what the goblins would demand in compensation, one morning Harry had simply decided to gauge the situation himself.

Harry had decided to simply approach the goblins directly instead of pussyfooting around the issue. Entering Gringotts Harry had been apprehensive but to his relief - and contrary to everyone's stated opinions - Harry had neither been barred from Gringotts nor had he been detained. After stating his reasons for being there to a goblin teller - though admittedly under the very suspicious eyes of the goblin guards - he had been brought to an elaborately decorated office with a truly ancient-looking goblin sitting behind the desk.

Harry had settled into the chair he been pointed to by the guards. Then there had been silence. Heavy silence. He had honestly been quite confused by the situation as - just based on the office and the guards stationed around the room - this was clearly a goblin quite high up in the hierarchy.

Not knowing what to expect and so very damn tired, Harry had just decided to go ahead and ignore any social etiquette. Breaking the loaded silence in the room, Harry had done his best to explain the background of the break-in That it had been part of the war against Voldemort and not been aimed at Gringotts itself. That Bellatrix Lestrange's vault had held an artifact that had been crucial for their winning over Voldemort.

His statement had just been met with more silence.

Not sure what to make of it, Harry had continued by assuring the goblin that he would be very willing to finance the repairs and refund the loss of the dragon. The goblin had listened to Harry prattle on for a while before abruptly lifting his hand - effectively silencing Harry - and finally opening his mouth.

Contrary to all the scenarios Harry had come up with beforehand, the old goblin had merely stated gravely that goblins were a warrior race.

After that entirely unhelpful statement, the goblin had fallen silent again.

And Harry had been far too tired to even try to interpret what that was supposed to mean. At the lack of reaction from Harry the goblin had graciously - and clearly aggravated by Harry's inability to understand - added that as a warrior race they considered any act of war not aimed at them to be governed by the laws of warfare. Thus, Gringotts would be demanding compensation for any repair costs as well as additional compensation for the inconvenience.

Then the goblin had abruptly booted Harry out of his office.

And that was that.

Harry had been baffled, wandering through the Alleys mulling over the new information for a while. Clearly, the goblins hadn't had any intention of turning him into a persona non grata. Well, as long as he came up with the repair costs.

He honestly had no idea whether he even had enough money to cover the costs of the repairs, although the goblin would have probably said so if he didn't. Harry came to the conclusion that he needed a lawyer. Thankfully, he also remembered Luna pointing out her father's barrister to him at some point during the smear campaign in fifth year. Harry figured that for Luna's father to have maintained an independent newspaper despite the Ministry's media policies he had to have a decently good barrister on his payroll.

So, he sent a letter to Barrister Motley from the owl office in Diagon Alley. The reply was almost immediate and assured Harry that the law firm would make time for him tomorrow. For once there seemed to be actual perks to being the Savior, he supposed.

The next day he sought out the office Motley & Wellington in Form Alley.

Barrister Motley - a tall, older man with a calm air about him - not only appeared to have cleared his entire schedule for him, he had also contacted the firm of Clarke Solicitors who had apparently been the Potter Family's main lawyers some decades past.

Laura Clarke was a middle-aged witch - though jovial she seemed very efficient - who had just recently taken over the firm of Clarke Solicitors with her brother and cousin from their fathers. She started out by conveniently producing her firm's previous contract with the House of Potter to renew the old secrecy clauses.

Then Harry had spent most of the day behind closed doors his lawyers.

All in all Harry was very grateful that they had been easy to get on board with his most pressing concerns.

Barrister Motley had easily sorted out the situation with the goblins. He had conceded the fees for the repair costs, the lost dragon and the inconvenience, before promptly turning around and starting the process of reclaiming the money from the Ministry, citing some complicated legalese on privately funded war contributions or something similar.

Wizarding Britain had seemed close to deifying Harry at that time, so the Ministry had easily and without complaint agreed to reimburse Harry.

Harry had protested in the beginning - wanting to cover at least some of the costs as he felt personally responsible the break-in - but Motley and Clarke had cautioned him gravely. Both barristers were certain that if The-Man-Who-Conquered so much as hinted at covering any war costs, it would start a trend and soon the public and the Ministry would be asking for more. They had come to the compromise that Harry could always anonymously donate funds but the lawyers had been very clear about leaving his name out of it.

In hindsight, they had been probably been right.

Their willingness to get reimbursements from the Ministry had also earned Harry and his lawyers the appreciation of the goblins. Add in his role in the war already earning Harry the goblins' respect as a warrior and the goblins were unusually willing to endure his presence. It had definitely shown in any of their dealings afterwards and the goblins' help in the following weeks had been invaluable.

Additionally, Harry had been briefed intensely by Clarke for some specific situations and during one of his many many not so voluntary interviews - read: being mobbed in the Alleys and having people shout questions at him - Harry had stated that 'obviously, everyone knew that it was impossible to break into Gringotts and that the help of the goblin nation had been invaluable for the war effort'.

It had somehow convinced the public that the goblins had been on their side all along and had helped stage the dramatic escape on the dragon in order to avoid Voldemort's suspicion during the war.

The goblins had promptly spun the situation even further in their favor and claimed monetary recompense for their help in the war and the Ministry had not been at all prepared to deal with their demands until it was already over and done with. With the added boost in reputation due to Harry's statement and thus increased business from the sheeple, the goblins seemed to have decided to take the forgive-and-forget approach in regards to any of Harry's previous actions.

Regarding the 'theft' from Bellatrix Lestrange vaults, the goblins had decided that not only was it an act of war - and thus apparently entirely justified as long as there was monetary compensation for the goblins themselves - but as Harry had been made Lord of the Noble and Ancient House of Black by Sirius - and hadn't that been a surprise - he had been entirely justified in entering the vault of a family member that had forfeited any and all privileges by killing the previous head of house.

His claim to the House of Black had been yet another aspect that took him, the goblins and his lawyers quite a while to sort through.

The accounts of the House of Black were a mess, all the while everyone had been suitably horrified at how little Harry actually knew about his privileges and obligations as a Lord, not to even mention his complete ignorance of estate matters. Until that point in time, Harry had not even considered that he would become the Lord of House Potter with his majority - not that he had thought there would be much left of the House to begin with - or what that might mean. So, it had come as quite the shock to find out that he was now part of the main legislative and judiciary body of the Ministry of Magic, twice over.

No one had seen fit to warn him about this, prepare him for his role in society, explain the intricacies of wizarding politics to him.

Additionally, with his majority he gained access to his Family Vaults. Harry hadn't even known that there were more vaults to the Potter name.

His lawyers had been horrified. Even the goblins had been kind of stumped at the situation. Up to that point, they had simply thought Harry to be a moron due to him ignoring his vaults instead of considering that he simply might not know about them at all.

And then in addition he had also gained the Ancient and Noble House of Black on top of it, which had sent Clarke into a frenzy trying to find the most recent Black family solicitors. By combining two of the remaining Ancient and Noble Houses Harry had suddenly turned into one of Gringotts' most prolific clients. Not only due to his pure monetary wealth but also because of his political power based on his number of Wizengamot votes, his shares in numerous wizarding and muggle companies, and so on. It had sent Harry spinning.

From then on any of Harry's requests had immediately been put on top of the pile. It was one of the reasons why he had been able to get his apartment warded so quickly after buying it, even though a lot of people had lost the protection of their homes during the war and had been asking for Gringotts' warding services.

All in all, the entire situation had worked incredibly well in Harry's favor.

So, of course that was the point when the Potter Luck had reared its head, screwing up his magical core and ultimately sending him tumbling head first into the world of organized crime.

Figures.

(+++)

Harry took another look around his small library and the history buried within, before turning back to his Sun. His Sun, who was gleefully but carefully examining some of the ancient tomes still open on the small desk under the window, who had saved him from the Mafia, who had put his entire life on hold in order to take care of Harry, who was bonded to him.

And who had come to Britain with him, just because Harry had to be here.

He was suddenly overcome with a feeling of helpless gratitude at having Reborn here, at having been found by him, at finally having someone wanting to be a part of his life, wanting to share whatever Harry was willing to give and more than happy to return the favor.

Clearly, some of his feelings must have leaked through the bond, because Reborn looked up from the book in his hands, his entire, eerie focus unerringly fixing on Harry. The affection in Reborn's eyes made Harry swallow at the warmth welling up inside him, as their bond pulsed between them.

Then Harry's stomach rumbled.

His face was immediately suffused by a blush, as Reborn grinned, putting down the book and wrapping an arm around his waist.

"How about some lunch, beautiful?"

Harry nodded, doing his best to ignore the utter mess of feelings still swirling within him. Not at all helped by his Sun's closeness.

+++

They had decided to go out and grab something to eat.

Even though Reborn was intensely curious about the Wizarding World, they had decided to postpone 'acclimatizing Harry's core to a magically saturated environment' as the healers had put it until tomorrow at St. Mungo's.

Instead they went to a small bistro just a few blocks down from the apartment - not too close to their home in order to quiet Reborn's paranoia - for a late lunch. On the way, Harry - who had finally gotten rid of his blush - did his best to explain goblins and Gringotts to Reborn, which somehow led to a discussion about creatures in general.

Settling into their seats at the bistro, Reborn brought up Obliviation Squads, a topic that had been on his mind ever since Harry had mentioned them.

Harry tried to conceal how much this topic affected him as it brought up memories of Occlumency lessons, visions, possession and Sirius' death. He was also slightly apprehensive of talking about this, as it was definitely one of the darker sides of the Magical World.

But as much as Harry would have liked to avoid this topic indefinitely, he would not send his Guardian into the Wizarding World unaware of specific dangers. So, he explained the Mind Arts to Reborn, focusing on applications of Occlumency and Legilimency.

He completed the explanation with, "To me, mind magic is one of the most insidious kinds of magic. Masters of the Mind Arts can manipulate your very thoughts, alter memories, control your actions. While mind control spells are obvious to the affected, compulsion spells and suggestion spells are subtle and frighteningly effective. Thankfully, Mind Arts are an Obscure Art and most mind magic can be defended against by using Occlumency, which is mainly a question of strength of will. It does not actually require an accessible magical core. I myself have very strong mind barriers and thus, I am protected from pretty much anything except for the most focused attacks of a skilled and very powerful legilimens."

Reborn considered the new information as they finished their lunch. This certainly settled his previous thought that he would be learning as much as possible about mental defense. Just the thought of anyone having any sort of access to his mind it made him gnash his teeth.

Harry concluded with a brief explanation of actual Obliviation. "While the Obliviate Spell is based on the Mind Arts, it does not really work the same way. For Obliviation the caster does not have to enter someone's mind. He just specifies a thought, a set of knowledge or a memory and the spell erases everything that is directly connected to it. The spell erases parts of your memories and does nothing to fill in the holes, thereby making it easily detectable if you know what to look for."

Harry was still watching him worriedly, clearly apprehensive about his reaction. And for once, Reborn really couldn't fault him for it. Because he certainly agreed with his Sky's assessment that the Mind Arts definitely topped the list of things that made the Magical World not quite as magical as you would assume.

"How long does it generally take to develop a decent defense against the Mind Arts?" He asked calmly. Because this was just another threat amongst thousands to be eliminated from his life. He certainly had enough experience with those to feel no apprehension, especially as a solution had already been offered to him by his Sky.

Harry immediately answered, his relief at Reborn's calm reaction palpable. "It is actually quite time-consuming to learn and even more so to put into practice or to reach the point of automatic mind shields. But there are artifacts that provide almost impenetrable defenses until you get to that point."

Something in Reborn relaxed at hearing that there was an option to have his mind protected without delay. Stepping into the Magical World would have been an entirely different story otherwise.

He also had to marvel at how well his Sky already knew him. Because there hadn't even been a question about whether Reborn would actually want to learn to defend his mind despite there being artifacts that would provide that same protection without any effort on his part. For Reborn, it was a foregone conclusion that he wouldn't rely on an artifact for any longer than was necessary. Something his Sky had clearly figured out without even having to ask.

His Flames hummed contently at the thought that Harry was just as invested as Reborn in their conversations and in learning as much as he possibly could about his bonded.

As they made their way back to the apartment - with a detour to the closest supermarket for groceries - his adorable little Sky continued to mumble to himself about whether he should ask the healers for an amulet, or maybe he could ask his lawyers, or even better they should try to find something in his Gringotts vaults so no one would try to use it against them.

Clearly, the protection of Reborn's mind had immediately become Harry's top priority.

Reborn grinned to himself, tightening his arm around his Sky. All was right with the world.

+++

When they got back to the apartment, Reborn immediately started rearranging the kitchen to his liking with all the things they had bought at the supermarket. Apparently, the spells on the cabinets kept everything fresh indefinitely, but so far Harry hadn't really have time to cook since moving in and thus had been missing a lot of the small things that would be required for making a decent meal.

It was already close to evening and they were discussing what to do after the appointment with the healers tomorrow. Harry had explained the various points he thought were to be considered before they actually went to the Wizarding World, such as finding an explanation for Reborn's Flames. There was no way Reborn would be willing to let his Sky walk into the Wizarding as long as he was not able to use his Flames to take care of possible threats.

So, Reborn had been very interested in the possibility of there being some kind of magical gift sufficiently similar to Flames that Reborn could claim it. Though they would have to research a bit. Good thing that Harry had his own private book collection. And if they didn't find anything in these books, they could always get more from his vaults. Although that would mean entering the Wizarding World, bringing them full circle.

The evening boasted typical London weather - the kind that made you want to stay inside, tucked under a blanket with a good book and a hot drink. So, they decided to do just that.

Reborn had been anticipating going through some of the ancient tomes so he was actually quite happy to stay in. The fact that they spent their entire evening on the couch with Harry on the chaise and Reborn's head settled in his Sky's lap certainly didn't hurt his enjoyment.

After getting over his initial shyness, Harry's hand kept returning to play with Reborn's hair, curling individual locks around his slim fingers. Reborn loved it and he decided then and there that they would be making this a regular thing from now on.

 


 

The next morning Harry was quite anxious about the appointment at St. Mungo's. He was afraid of something going wrong, of running into some of the people he did not want to face yet, of the healers figuring out his bond with Reborn or figuring out that Harry suddenly boasted an additional power.

Reborn remained calm, entirely certain that he would be able to easily take care of any threats that might develop along the way. According to Harry, wizards were entirely unprepared to defend themselves if an attack did not include wand movements or fancy light shows. Which Reborn thought was rather convenient as any possible attackers would be dead at his feet before they had the chance to put his Sky into any real danger.

He wasn't the World's Greatest Hitman for nothing.

Though Reborn could feel his superior smirk soften when he saw Harry fidgeting with his tea cup at the kitchen island.

Stepping in close from behind he settled his hands on either side of his Sky on the island. Immediately, some of the tension seemed to bleed out of Harry's form as he leaned back slightly against his chest. Looking for something to distract his Sky from his thoughts, Reborn randomly asked for a summary of magical offense.

Harry gratefully latched onto the topic. Combat magic had actually been something he had looked into at some point after finding out about the prophecy. "In general, offensive curses can do pretty much anything to your opponent you can possibly imagine, from instant death to infinite torture. But real combat magic isn't actually something that a lot of people know how to use. Most wizards rely on a very limited number of spells that have been designed for specific applications in a fight, such as the killing curse or the bone breaking curse. They have one application only and are either sufficiently powered or not. If successfully cast, the killing curse kills on contact, no exceptions. It has a bright green color and is to be avoided at all costs. It cannot be stopped by other spells, only by physical shields of certain materials."

Harry felt Reborn resting his head against the side of Harry's, while wrapped around him from behind. Harry adored the affection, even though he was kind of irritated to realize that despite bending down Reborn's chin was still only level with Harry's temple. He hated being short.

After a brief pause, he continued. "Other curses such as cutting curses for example can be applied in more varied ways depending on the power and the intent put behind the spell. A cutting curse can be used to cut paper just as well as to slice an entire house in half. However, this demands a lot of power and control from the caster and thus, they are not used offensively by most people."

Reborn made an affirming noise from where he now had his nose buried in the hair on top of Harry's head.

"The best duelers use a mixture of low and high-power spells to distract and fell their opponents, whereas good fighters know to throw in apparition, silent casting and sometimes even chain casting. True warlocks can level cities by bending the elements, by weaving runes with potions, by performing rituals before or even during a fight, by bending space and time, by summoning assistance from other realms. However, true warlocks are rare as it requires the mastering of several disciplines at once and it is something to devote your life to. The last known British warlock lived about six centuries ago. There are supposedly some scattered around the world right now, but no one is really sure of their identities as warlocks rarely get involved with other people's business."

"There are only a handful of really good fighters in Britain right now and none of them would dare attack me or someone walking at my side." Harry stated confidently. Then he cracked a smile. "Even if only for the fear of getting dog-piled by everyone around for attacking the Savior."

Reborn chuckled and Harry had to suppress a shiver at the feeling of it vibrating through the chest pressed to Harry's back. He knew that Reborn had intended to distract him with the question, but it had worked a little too well because now all Harry could focus on was the warm body wrapped around him, especially the large, warm hand curled around his hip. Harry congratulated himself on his messed up priorities.

After a prolonged silence Reborn made another humming noise before standing up straight again though not letting go of Harry and stating. "It's noon."

Before Harry could react to the statement in any way, Fawkes already appeared hovering in front of them.

+++

They appeared in Mediwizard Biran's office and Harry could feel the clear and immediate change in Reborn's aura. It was clearly honed to protect and only relaxed slightly when no immediate threat was apparent. The presence of the three other specialists in Biran's office probably didn't help.

As Harry stepped forward to greet everyone present, Madam Pomfrey looked plainly relieved at seeing them appear in the office, probably having already come up with various scenarios of having to hunt Harry down again.

Though even now, as Reborn did nothing to call attention to his own presence, Biran and Pomfrey mostly disregarded him. It was understandable as Reborn made a living by disappearing into the background whenever he chose, but Harry was slightly irritated that by ignoring Reborn the healers had failed to draw several essential conclusions.

The healers clearly assumed Reborn to be a wizard and thus he should have been able to get in contact with the Wizarding World earlier, even without Fawkes. Accordingly, they should have considered whether there were any factors that had Reborn refrain from doing so. He was glad they didn't consider any of this, as it made his life easier and he knew his aggravation was ridiculous, but still. It was the principle of the thing.

After introducing the older balding man as Mindhealer Brixton, the rotund middle-aged man with a permanent frown as Potions Master Holford - who had brewed all of the potions for Harry's treatment, despite the compexities due to Harry's basilisk-venom-phoenix-tear affliction - and the short younger man as Rune Master Travers - who had mostly designed and attuned any of the rituals needed to stabilize Harry's magic - to Reborn, it became clear that Holford and Travers had far more situational awareness than the healers. They seemed to instinctually avoid turning their back to Reborn if at all possible, keeping him in their line of sight.

After the introductions and some questions about Harry's general wellbeing, the testing and prodding commenced. In addition to observing his magical core by using the mirror sphere, Travers had prepared a rune array beforehand that would give him a clear picture of the flow of Harry's magic and would also neatly document the progress of Harry's magic during each appointment. Though after Harry stepped into the array, Travers looked slightly puzzled for a moment but didn't say anything, despite a slight frown not leaving his face during the entire testing session.

From that point on, Reborn didn't let the Rune Master out of his sight.

All in all, the testing was done with pretty quickly and afterwards they settled down to discuss how to proceed from here. The healers and specialists decided that it would be best for Harry to mostly continue as he had so far. As Harry had not been feeling any adverse effects of being in the magically saturated surroundings of St. Mungo's they also suggested that he spend short amounts of time every day in the Wizarding World, though not too extended until they could confirm that this wouldn't have any negative side effects.

Afterwards they drifted into conversation about the current state of the Magical World - with Reborn silent, but listening intently - though not much seemed to have changed since Harry disappeared. The Ministry was trying to rebuild itself with Kingsley Shacklebolt at its head, dark magic was still considered synonymous with evil and was to be destroyed at all costs, and Harry was still seen as the representation of all that was good and righteous.

There were some noteworthy topics, such as Elphias Doge - at mentioning his name Biran pratically exuded animosity, clearly not having forgiven the man for removing Harry from St. Mungo's - apparently vying for an even stronger position within the Ministry, while the pureblood wing was still almost entirely silent.

Although Harry was definitely surprised to hear that the post-war trials had quickly been put on hold after his disappearance as his presence was deemed crucial. As he had left written testimonies with the DMLE for any trials where he had thought he might possibly have anything relevant to say, knowing full well that he would be unavailable for a while due to his treatment, it baffled Harry.

Well, until he remembered that he was Harry bloody Potter and that the sheeple of the Wizarding World were apparently entirely unable to do anything without him.

Although this turn in the conversation apparently reminded Madam Pomfrey of something as she briefly rummaged through her bag before producing a small stack of newspapers. Handing them to Harry, she said. "Not knowing where you had ended up, I kept the newspaper issues with the more important articles. Though I only started about a week into your disappearance when Mr. Doge gave his statement about supposedly ensuring your safety during your recuperation." There was clear contempt in the last part of her statement.

Harry thanked her profusely. He was really grateful for her consideration. This was an incredibly convenient way to get himself up to speed again. He could already see Reborn eyeing the newspapers keenly, clearly interested as well.

Incredibly, the healers seemed to have forgotten about Reborn's presence altogether. Harry really needed to learn whatever trick his Guardian was using. His life would be so much easier if he were able to actively disappear into the background.

Though seeing the Daily Prophet in his hands reminded Harry to ask about what the Wizarding World currently thought about his whereabouts.

It was Biran who answered. "The Wizarding World was made aware that you had been removed from St. Mungo's without your healers' approval. However, it wasn't advertised too strongly as we did not want to have the entirety of Britain including whatever remains from the Dark Lord's forces creating chaos while looking for you. The DMLE was of course made aware, the same with Minister Shacklebolt who had apparently approved your removal from St. Mungo's, though he had been given the clear impression that your move would be healer sanctioned."

Harry mulled over the information before stating decisively. "I will let Kingsley know that I am back. It will be better if the Minister and the DMLE are informed early on, lest the Aurors try to arrest me as an impostor."

As the conversation went on around him, Reborn noted to himself, that not only did Harry know the Minister of Magical Britain well enough to call him by his first name, but also that his disappearance had been newsworthy enough to make it into the papers several times and to be considered an issue of importance for the magical police.

Madam Pomfrey confirmed. "That would definitely be a good idea. The number of articles about your supposed whereabouts have been steadily increasing in number." At this point she briefly hesitated.

Harry questioned sardonically, "Let me guess, the public opinion alternates between me recuperating on a beach somewhere and me being incurably sick and dying in an underground bunker."

The healers chuckled at his depiction and Travers commented. "Pretty much, Mr. Potter. Though right now no one would dare say anything bad about you, so our wonderful press has kept it on the supportive side."

"Well, let's give it another few months." Harry just kept himself from snorting in contempt.

Travers nodded solemnly. "Indeed, Mr. Potter."

They returned to the topic of Harry's health when he asked when he would be able to use magic again. The healers did not entirely agree on the answer, though they all assumed something between two to four weeks before his core would have sufficiently recovered.

Remembering their conversation about the Mind Arts yesterday Harry asked Mindhealer Brixton about the barriers protecting his mind and how they would be affected by the reset of his magic.

Harry himself had never actually mastered Occlumency. Any mind shields that he might have purposely or subconsciously built at some point, had been eradicated during fifth year under the near constant pressure on his shields by Snape and Voldemort. However, due to the numerous and ceaseless attacks his magic had instinctually come up with its own form of defense which now worked just as well as Occlumency if not better in defending his mind. It had even incorporated quite a few automated offensive reactions to any attacks on his mind.

It had driven Harry into absolute fury when he Brixton had initially told him that though it was of course more reliable to master Occlumency himself, it was not actually something that was recommended for children. Their mindscape was still fluent and it was recommended to only learn to built Occlumency barriers with a stabilized magical core meaning after magical maturity. Parents who wanted their children's minds protected, usually gave them a protective artifact.

The healers were very aware of Harry's history with Legilimency attacks and possession, which was actually the reason why Biran had demanded Mindhealer Brixton be included into the team of Harry's healers in the beginning. At Harry's question Brixton immediately reassured him that his barriers would have reformed almost immediately after the reset of his magical core. Though the treatment had removed the underlying structure of his magical core, his actual instincts wouldn't be affected and thus, any of the intrinsic patterns especially those based on his instincts would be reformed by his resettling magic.

Harry was relieved and, thinking of Reborn's clear interest in being able to defend his mind from magical attacks, asked. "Could you maybe recommend some books on the topic. I know that Occlumency is rather obscure, but I would really like to read up on the topic."

Reborn had been listening intently to the conversation, especially after Harry asked about his mental shields. Harry had mentioned before that he had strong barriers against mind magic attacks, but it had been in the direct context of Occlumency, so Reborn had assumed his Sky's shields to fall into that category. Based on what the healer had said though, Harry's shields were instinctive instead of a learned skill.

This was far too reminiscent of their conversation about his Sky's magic being unusually autonomous in its defense of Harry as a direct result of his treatment during childhood.

Reborn sure as fuck hoped that he was putting the clues together incorrectly and that his Sky had not learned to mentally defend himself due to having his mind attacked often enough for the defense to be instinctive. Harry's last question however lent further credence to this assumption, as evidenced by the suddenly heavy atmosphere in the room.

The healers clearly knew something about this that Reborn was unaware of. The question itself also pointed in this direction as well. If Harry didn't possess any literature on the topic of Occlumency, how did he learn to defend his mind? Other than by force and necessity.

After a weighted silence the healers seemed to come out of it and assured Harry that they would be sending Harry some books on the topic or at least some recommendations on which books to order.

Knowing full well that Reborn had to have picked up on some of the clues in this conversation, Harry was feeling apprehensive about returning to their apartment. But he wasn't a Gryffindor for nothing. So, he wrapped up the conversation with the healers, agreeing to see them again in two days at the same time, and after saying his goodbyes had Fawkes transport them back to the flat.

Jump feet first, eyes open, hope for the best. They should just make it the unofficial Gryffindor motto.

+++

When they arrived home Reborn did his best to contain his questions and going by Harry's obvious anxiety, he was quite aware of it.

Watching his Sky fidgeting at his side, opening his mouth as though wanting to say something, closing it, opening it again, Reborn decided, to hell with it.

He easily moved them to the sofa and settled Harry against his side the same way they had usually sat in the evenings at his apartment in Italy. His Sky immediately settled into the contact, resting his head against Reborn's shoulder and curling his legs up on the couch.

There was a brief silence as Reborn tried to find the best way to approach a clearly sensitive topic. He decided to go with the careful approach, as usual leaving it up to Harry how much to actually tell him.

"You didn't learn from books how to shield your mind." Reborn stated, knowing that this was somehow connected to the main problem, though he had not yet entirely seen through what the main underlying problem was despite already having put together quite a detailed picture of his Sky's past.

But he also knew that there were about three years that had barely been touched upon in his Sky's stories. At this point Reborn knew that he was not going to like whatever explanation he was going to get.

Harry hesitated.

Strangely the Occlumency lessons with Snape seemed far worse to talk about than any other topic they had covered so far. There was so much he would have to get into in order to explain. The regular violation of his mind by Snape was only a small part of the problem, as the betrayals at the hands of those he had trusted had been far more severe.

Dumbledore had sacrificed him, had not only raised and guided him towards willingly sacrificing himself, but Dumbledore had not even had the decency to tell Harry himself. Harry had been losing more and more of his trust in the headmaster over the years. The most brutal break had been when he realized that Dumbledore would not risk his political standing to fight for Sirius after finding out about his innocence. It was a breach of loyalty, a betrayal that Harry had never been able to forget or forgive.

However, even then he had truly believed that Dumbledore had wanted the best for everyone, aimed for the Greater Good. He had held fast to that belief until the very end of the war. He had been blindsided by the fact that this Greater Good had not included Harry at all.

Harry had not only had his childhood taken away as a direct result of Dumbledore's actions, a man he had trusted deeply for years, but he had been conditioned to see himself as the one to save people, without ever considering his own worth or seeing himself as 'The Savior' at all.

He had his early teenage years invaded by monsters and plots and betrayal, whilst everyone else had the luxury of mostly normal teenage years. Then Dumbledore had sent Harry to hunt the horcruxes, had him give up the last of whatever time he might have had left to live before martyring himself for Dumbledore's Greater Good.

And Harry had believed in Dumbledore. Had believed that the headmaster had everything planned out in a way that if Harry did everything just right, if he saved people, destroyed the horcruxes, trained children, that in the end Harry would have a decent shot at living a life of his choosing. Harry had known that he would have to confront Voldemort, but he had thought it would have been with an honest chance, that he would have been free afterwards if he survived.

Instead after all the grief and pain and loss he had found out that he was to die. At that point, if Harry had not sacrificed himself everything he had done before, had been done by others, would have been worthless.

So he had martyred himself.

It had been well played by Dumbledore. In the instant Harry had realized just how well he had been played by someone he trusted, something in Harry had broken.

Harry Potter had been worth more for the Greater Good than the entirety of the Wizarding World put together, while at the same time being worth less than any other individual in the Wizarding World.

And even afterwards, after he had ended the war, killed the Dark Lord, sacrificed literally everything, the Wizarding World had been ready to demand more of Harry. There had already been mentions of Harry joining the Auror corps and 'doing his duty in keeping the Wizarding World safe'.

His duty.

Harry had already done his Merlin-damned duty.

Harry knew he could just tell Reborn only about the Occlumency lessons with Snape and be done with it. But that would definitely be distorting the underlying reasons for his aversion to this topic. Their easy communication and the trust they had built in their conversations was something Harry refused to jeopardize.

And here, tucked into Reborn's side, Harry felt a level of safety he had not ever had the chance to feel before in his life. Here, he was safe and protected and sheltered and finally someone's first concern. He had found his focal point and was the center of his Guardian's world in return.

Everyone else could go hang for all that Harry cared at this moment.

So, instead of answering Reborn's question about how he had learned Occlumency, he started further back. Started with the underlying reason for his messed up life, started with the prophecy.

"They think me their Savior, their Chosen One, their hero for vanquishing the Dark Lord. They do not realize that me killing Voldemort was just the tip of the iceberg, that the sacrifices had started decades earlier. By the time of the Final Battle I had nothing in my life that wasn't directly tied into Voldemort's defeat. Leaving Voldemort be was not even an option because everything I held dear, my whole life, was built on his demise."

Harry paused before for the first time admitting out loud what everyone preferred to ignore, especially the ones who should know better. "I did not safe them. I saved whatever remained of what I held dear. The survival of the British wizarding population was no factor in this. I am no hero. I am a survivor."

With that, tucked into Reborn's side, the entire story spilled out of him. The war, the intentional and unintentional failure of any and all authority figures even remotely involved in his life, the end-of-the-year trials at school, the Halloween disasters. Being conditioned into a protector, being directly and indirectly attacked by their government, being a chew toy for the press, being abandoned so often he lost any ability to be surprised whenever it happened again.

Snape and Occlumency became a side note, just another aspect in his incredibly screwed up life, another example of how Harry Potter had never been considered a real person, how his future - a future after Voldemort - had never even been a factor. He talked about the betrayals at the hands of those he trusted, having his childhood taken from him, his teenage years turned into a social experiment, before being forced into a war and not even realizing when the goal changed from winning for moral reasons to pure survival.

He talked about the sacrifices anyone even remotely close to Harry had made. His parents and Sirius dying for him, to protect him. Remus, Tonks and Fred dying for the people they held dear, for their families. How children had fought this war and stood on the battle field opposite their own friends and family.

Harry felt like he had been talking for hours. He was exhausted and his voice was hoarse, but now that he had started he would be finishing his tale.

At his side, Reborn was silent through it all. Not speaking even when Harry fell silent for more than a few minutes - trying to gather his thoughts or re-living various scenes of his life - before continuing with his story. The arm around Harry's waist did not loosen at any point. Fawkes had long since settled on the closest armrest, though not making a sound throughout.

Harry talked about Voldemort and about Tom Riddle. About childhood abuse, immortality and terror. About human evil, the destruction wrought by arrogance and willful ignorance, greed for power and the soul-deep abyss found in those who were supposedly normal, decent people. About living in a tent for a year, being hunted, wondering whether there would still be anyone left when they made it back. About torture and possession and desperation and the occasional hope that they would survive this.

About martyring himself.

Reborn felt his heart stop. Simply stop for a moment. That was it. That was what he had been missing, the fact that had been resonating in all of Harry's stories. Death.

His Sky had died. Willingly.

Reborn couldn't help but remember the utter desperation he had felt in his Sky's Flames when he had broken down after telling him about killing the Dark Lord. Harry had sacrificed his life.

Reborn had subconsciously dragged his Sky even closer at this revelation. His Sky was entirely tucked into his side, head resting on Reborn's chest and legs thrown over his lap. Their bond was humming and it reassured his frenzied Flames that Harry was safe here with him.

Harry had left this revelation for last, clearly aware that Reborn would be needing a moment afterwards. Though there was no way Reborn would be able to work through this so easily. He would need some time. Though hopefully Harry was aware that after this revelation Reborn wouldn't be letting him out of his sight anytime soon. Or ever, really.

They remained silent for a while, before Reborn simply decided to reciprocate.

He talked about his youth, somewhat glossing over his childhood, though he mentioned finding himself thrown into the Mafia World as a child, simply because he had activated his Flames far too early even by Mafia standards, about having no family left to protect him and thus learning very quickly to protect himself.

Most importantly, he learned that everyone had a price on their loyalty, even if not necessarily monetary. That loyalty never extended beyond one's own interests.

Reborn talked about his mentor, the man who had taken him in at a point in time that he most likely wouldn't have made it through without help, when he had been too young to make a living outside of the Mafia World but not old enough to defend himself against anyone wanting to take advantage, when he had been to powerful to remain unnoticed but had been living on his own for too long to accept anyone's will over his own despite not being strong enough to effectively fight for any amount of freedom.

His mentor had taught him not only how to survive in the Mafia, but how to survive well. How to always come out on top, to always win no matter what, to never accept any other outcome. And most importantly, how to remain free. He talked about his mentor's death and suddenly finding himself without even that form of support right after having been identified as an incredibly strong Sun by the rest of the Mafia.

He talked about Famiglias trying to convince him to join them - still so young and supposedly easily manipulated - before turning right around and trying to kill him when it became clear that Renato Sinclair wasn't only strong, he was too strong. None of those Famiglias had lasted long past trying to get rid of him.

His mentor had taught him well.

Reborn talked about vanishing from the Italian Mafia World when it became clear that this pattern would continue, cutting all ties, erasing his name, his history, his very self. Reappearing as Reborn two years later and easily claiming the title of the Strongest Sun. Being immediately pursued with assassination and blackmailing attempts.

He talked about claiming the title of the World's Greatest Hitman. Of being offered contracts that should have killed him, of ambushes and betrayals. And of learning that loyalty suddenly meant something again, because anyone that high up in the food chain had their soft spots protected, knew how to take care of their own needs and thus - though counterintuitive - suddenly valued loyalty again.

Reborn talked about Famiglias and Skies vying for his attention and favor, the constant pulling at his Flames by one Sky after another as they tried to bond to him, to pull him in, pull in the Strongest Sun. His pride and disappointment each time they failed and the chafing of his Flames when yet another Sky tried and failed to force a bond. The reason why Reborn never even considered allying himself with any Famiglia, as they only tried to gain an allegiance after they failed to force a bond.

Reborn had found no small pleasure either denying or eradicating every single one of them depending on their transgressions.

He talked about the increasingly desperate longing of his Flames for Harmonization, the hope for companionship and a place to return to. He talked about the contempt he had developed for Sky Flame users in general.

He talked about all of it with his Sky's solemn green eyes focused on him, listening intently and pressing further into his side whenever he even alluded to pain, longing, disappointment or betrayal.

+++

Later, after dinner and some more time spent talking on the couch, when Reborn was taking a shower - Harry ignored his blush when his treacherous mind pointed out that Reborn had not entirely closed the bathroom door - Harry settled in the middle of the mattress though still remaining upright. Usually he pretended to settle on one side of the bed until Reborn just pulled him over anyways.

Not today.

When Reborn appeared Harry couldn't help but appreciate the view, as he did pretty much every evening. The usual slacks, shirt and tie - though the tie usually disappeared when they were just lounging about in the apartment - were replaced by a soft pair of sleep pants. And best of all, no shirt.

Harry forcefully suppressed his blush at his thoughts. He loved the difference between Reborn's usual attire and his casual dress for bed. He was very much okay with being the only one to see Reborn dressed like this.

Reborn's surprise at seeing Harry sitting in the middle of the bed was barely noticeable before he was already settling right next to him with a grin and Harry wanted to curse as he felt heat spread down his neck. Thankfully, Reborn didn't actually comment but just looked up at him with warm eyes waiting for Harry to settle down.

After the heavy conversation earlier - this time about their personal history, betrayals and disappointments, childhood and hopes, friends and family - Harry's shyness seemed ridiculous.

So, he simply stretched out against Reborn's side who immediately wrapped an arm around his waist pulling Harry ever closer. In the end Harry was curled mostly on top of Reborn's chest and he felt a tension he had not even realized was there release in his chest at how safe and warm and welcome he felt.

 

Chapter Text

Reborn let his fingers draw lazy patterns on Harry's back.

After having slept restlessly due to the memories brought up by their conversation yesterday they had both woken early, but instead of getting up they had remained in bed, watching in easy silence as the room steadily brightened with the sunrise.

For his part, Harry was basking in the warmth radiating from his Sun - he was so used to waking up curled up mostly on top of Reborn that he didn't even blush anymore, even though he was actively ignoring the fact that Reborn was still shirtless - feeling no urgency whatsoever to start the day. It was surprising just how very comfortable he felt right now despite having revealed so much of himself to Reborn - most of which he had never talked about or even mentioned to anyone before.

They were finally driven from the bed by Harry's complaining stomach and Reborn's need for coffee. As it was a rare sunny morning, they decided to go to a café down the street for breakfast. They took the long route, lazily making their way to the café and Harry continued to enthusiastically compare flying to driving - they had been passed by a Porsche on their way and Reborn had mentioned loving the thrill of high speed cars.

Though as Harry talked animatedly, laughing at Reborn's responses to his claims, he gathered more than a few appreciative glances from other people in the street.

Irritated - and completely disregarding the admiring looks sent in his own direction - Reborn smoothly stepped in close and wrapped an arm around his Sky's waist - making more than a few people twitch when he turned his glare on them. When he focused on Harry again, he was met with huge green eyes blinking up at him questioningly, clearly not aware what had motivated Reborn's public show of affection.

Hm, his Sky certainly was oblivious to his effect on others. That could potentially make Reborn's life infinitely more stressful in the future.

Though after a few moments Harry continued talking, easily leaning into Reborn's side despite the slight blush on his cheeks.

Finally reaching the café, they settled at a table outside, continuing their discussion on the best way to reenter the Wizarding World from here - while Harry had a far better idea of what would work and what wouldn't, he had no intention of making any decisions without Reborn's input - beyond Harry informing Kingsley of his return as soon as possible in order to avoid the hassle of overzealous Aurors.

Harry would ask Fawkes to deliver a message to Kingsley when they returned to the flat. He refused to just walk into the Ministry of Magic. He'd either be mobbed by the masses or arrested for pretending to be the Savior, either of which had a high likelihood of Reborn going on a rampage.

He couldn't help but smirk to himself, remembering his thoughts a few days ago of how the Wizarding World was so not prepared to handle someone like Reborn.

Watching his Sky grin slyly to himself - looking adorable curled up in his chair as he was, almost wrapped around his cup of tea - Reborn decided that he liked this café. They would definitely be returning. Also, the coffee was good - of course not quite up to his standard, but definitely better than he had expected outside of Italy.

And then, his good mood vanished within an instant.

Someone was watching them.

Someone with Flames, though well masked. Masked well enough that Reborn actually couldn't entirely make out the position of the watcher. Which could only mean that this watcher was not only really good, but had also probably worked with Reborn before to know how to best evade his senses.

But despite this, his instincts were also telling him that there was no immediate threat from this person, even further annoying Reborn.

No one had any reason to look for Reborn in London, so it was either coincidence - he had never believed in coincidence - or someone was looking for him. Someone who knew him. Even worse, whoever it was had seen him with Harry.

Reborn was more than irritated. And Harry had clearly noticed something as well, watching his Sun closely without being obvious about it, going so far as to start an utterly inane conversation so as not to give away that something had changed.

Then the feeling of being watched dissipated just as suddenly as it had appeared.

Clearly, the watcher had retreated from their immediate surroundings entirely - otherwise Reborn's Flames would have kept track of the presence once they had honed in on it.

So, yes. Reborn was more than irritated.

Getting up from their table, Reborn took a rather circuitous route back to their apartment, making sure that they weren't being followed.

When they finally arrived at the flat, Reborn finally felt some of the tension leak from his body and Harry immediately turned to him with a question in his eyes.

His Sky had clearly realized immediately that something was wrong, but trusted him so utterly that he didn't even attempt to ask questions before Reborn's sense of paranoia had been satisfied.

He basked in the knowledge of his Sky's utter trust for a moment as he took off his jacket to get a little more comfortable as he usually did in their apartment. Following Harry who had started preparing something to drink for them, he settled at the kitchen island, before answering the unasked question.

"There was someone watching us at the café, beautiful. Someone who has Flames and who is powerful enough to at least somewhat evade my senses."

Harry was surprised. How strange, my instincts didn't warn me at all...

His thoughts stuttered to a halt as he watched Reborn remove his tie and undo the top two buttons of his shirt. Regrettably, his Sun stopped at two buttons as usual.

...

Good job, Potter, those are some wonderful priorities you got there, Harry thought sarcastically.

Snapping himself out of his thoughts, he lowered his eyes to hide the blush from watching Reborn's every movement. He ignored the smug smirk on his Sun's face.

Clearing his throat, Harry asked, "Why would it be easier for someone powerful to hide from you?"

Reborn swallowed down the hunger still rampaging through his mind as he watched his Sky. His innocent little Sky, who was helplessly blushing just from watching Reborn undo a button of his shirt. Dio mio. Reborn was so done for.

He didn't even attempt to tone down the lecherous grin on his face as he answered, "It does sound quite counter-intuitive. But for this person to be able to watch us and still evade me, they would have to have an immense amount of control over their Flames, over their presence. It is very rare for weak Flame users to reach that level of control, because their weak Flames will be barely detectable as it is. It is truly the mark of someone high up on the food chain. And more importantly, they knew how to evade my senses, meaning that they most likely have worked with me before. I don't work with small fries."

His Sky actually rolled his eyes at that particular statement, but there was nothing but fondness in his eyes as he replied humorously, "Right, I see. That certainly explains it."

Reborn smirked in response. "Doesn't it just?"

Then before his eyes, Harry's demeanor suddenly changed. He seemed to turn older, more mature, sobering as he stated, "But as long as we are in the apartment, you don't have to worry. I had this place warded against anything you could possibly think of and it literally cannot be found. Even if someone were to follow us to this very building, they wouldn't be able to find the apartment itself. At most they could drop a bomb to flatten the entire block. But again, the apartment is warded against that sort of outside interference and we wouldn't notice anything beyond the drop from 5th floor to ground floor. This place is as safe as it possibly can be."

Hn, an actual safe place? That was certainly reassuring to hear.

But just to make sure, Reborn asked, "What about magical means of tracking?"

"The same thing still applies. As long as we are in the apartment, nothing and no one can find us. Of course, if wizards were to track us to this building they would possibly be able to detect the wards and could then start dismantling the protections. But I have warning systems in place for that as well. These are goblin wards. It would take even the most experienced curse breaker or ward specialist hours to dismantle a single one of the many, many individual wards. We would be long, long gone before they managed to so much as scratch the first layer of protections. Not to even mention the defensive wards that will take out anyone stupid enough to attempt anything along those lines in the first place." Harry stated with certain amount of viciousness.

When Harry had bought the apartment and asked the goblins for their warding services, he had initially been somewhat hesitant about implementing some of the more brutal protections they had offered.

But a rather condescending comment from one of the warders, had reminded him that no one had any business dismantling the protections of his home. This was his home, his safe place, and anyone attempting to get past his wards was by definition an intruder, an attacker. So, if someone was stupid enough to try, they deserved whatever was coming to them.

The goblins were clearly used to wizards hemming and hawing about implementing any of the fiercer protections. They had been utterly delighted when - after his initial hesitation - Harry had suddenly changed his mind and told them to implement anything and everything that they thought even remotely useful. To make his apartment as protected as it could possibly be. He could certainly afford it and actually feeling safe somewhere was more than worth it.

The goblins had been so delighted by his sudden viciousness that in the end he had gotten quite the discount on the completed wards. Apparently, goblin warders quite enjoyed coming up with the most effective - read: vicious - ward combinations. Even turned it into some sort of contest if possible.

When he had finally been given the list and a detailed description of the ward network they had applied, he could honestly say they had gone well beyond what was reasonable.

But.

Harry's apartment was now one of the best protected places in the entirety of Britain. And he finally had somewhere where he could safely fall asleep without worrying about waking up to someone standing over him. He especially liked some of the outermost protection wards, such as the one that would immediately obliviate the entire past week of anyone who so much as sent an inspection spell at his wards.

Reborn eyed his little Sky's vindictive smirk with approval.

So, apparently he wouldn't have to worry about their safety whenever they were in the apartment. That was more than reassuring.

And he finally felt some of the constant tension that had continuously been battering at his mind ever since their Harmonization - reminding him that his Sky was at risk, that he needed to protectprotectprotect - leak out of his frame. Having a place in the world where you could actually feel safe - could relax completely, not worry that any moment someone could break down their door, try to harm his Sky - was worth more than he could say.

And Harry was watching him attentively from where he was leaning against the counter - still not having lost his suddenly more assertive demeanor - clearly aware how reassuring it was to have a safe place.

And wasn't this just an effective reminder of the fact that his Sky was a war veteran, had fought against people and creatures far more powerful than himself for years, had protected an entire world from tyranny. And had had nothing and no one willing to offer protection in return.

Indeed, just one of the many reasons to look forward to finally getting to the Wizarding World. There were quite a few people Reborn was itching to have a 'discussion' with about their role in his Sky's childhood. Oh, yes.

+++

Harry was lost in thought, contemplating all that had already happened today. And more was likely yet to come.

He had just sent a missive to Kingsley, informing him of his return and asking for a meeting.

It had also reminded him that he would have to contact his lawyers as soon as possible. Of course, he had informed Motley and Clarke about his treatment at St. Mungo's beforehand and Biran had apparently informed them about Harry having been removed from the hospital against healer's orders. They were probably chomping at the bit to unleash learn who was responsible for that particular fuck up and to unleash all hell unto anyone who could even remotely be held responsible for messing up his recovery.

He would let send them a letter as soon as Fawkes returned from the Ministry.

Shaking himself from his thoughts, he watched as his Guardian picked one of the newspapers Madam Pomfrey had given Harry and started thumbing through the pages.

Well, now was as good a time as any to start playing catch-up with recent events. He joined Reborn at the dinner table - who immediately threw an arm over the back of Harry's chair - and started looking for the most recent issue.

Reborn had just grabbed a random issue and skimmed any article that seemed interesting. A newspaper was always the most comprehensive summary of any society's state of mind. And the pictures alone were already interesting. Not so much because they were moving - there were far, far stranger things in his life than moving pictures - but because it was the easiest way to prepare himself for whatever awaited him in the Wizarding World.

And Reborn was missing a lot of information on the day-to-day life of the Magical World.

Like the apparent wizarding fashion or rather the lack thereof. Robes, pointy hats and hairstyles from a few centuries back? Harry sure hadn't been kidding when he claimed that Wizarding Britain was stuck somewhere in the 1800s.

There was an article in the 'The Resourceful Muggle' section, describing the incredible and supposedly recent invention of refrigerators as an equivalent of cold-charm cabinets. Harry hadn't been exaggerating how backwards wizards thought non-magicals to be whilst it actually appeared to be the other way around.

And the weather section not only predicted the weather for the next eleven months - automatically updating every seven minutes - but also warned residents of northern Scotland that Aurors were still looking for whoever was messing with the weather there.

From time to time Reborn would ask his Sky a specific question when an article made no sense whatsoever without at least confirming the validity of the claims therein. But they only drifted into longer discussions about the background of something once or twice. Like an article on a poltergeist finally moving on after having terrorized a castle in Wales for going on 900 years.

A Poltergeist. As in, ghosts were real.

Magic was starting to give him a headache.

But as long as no one started telling him that there were actual angels in heaven and demons in hell, he could probably take everything else.

Like house-elves. Reborn didn't quite know what to make of that to be honest. But he was mainly stumped by the immense security risk that wizards were apparently willing to take just for the convenience of unpaid labor. A risk that Harry was apparently entirely unwilling to take - and Reborn could tell that there was a story there - because he had his apartment warded against all house-elves. Good.

And then there were the articles about Harry himself. Just looking through the first two newspaper issues already produced five page-long articles about Harry Potter. The articles speculated about Harry's health, his whereabouts, his future career plans and his current love affairs.

It was also more than apparent that these people didn't know anything about his Sky and were just making stuff up as they pleased. They weren't even trying to stay consistent with their stories, one article claiming that Harry had already started secretly training to be an Auror and in another article in the same issue saying that Harry was taking a year off to travel the world and look for his true love, with a detailed list of the countries and places he had supposedly visited just this week.

Reborn was actually starting to find it amusing.

At his snort, Harry glanced over and then just rolled his eyes contemptuously, apparently utterly disinterested in reading any of them.

"It's not like they can tell me anything about my life that I don't know. And you can always tell by the headline whether they are spreading dangerous rumors or just gossiping for the fun of it. Right now, I'm everyone's darling, so they won't actually write anything that would make my life harder. So, I honestly couldn't care less." Harry snorted derisively.

There were also quite a few mentions of the 'dark forces' being beaten down, either in the connection with politics, newly implemented laws or the halted post-war trials, like this last article.

Harry was brought out of his focus on an article about newly implemented security at Azkaban by Reborn putting down his newspaper. Clearly, he had found something to discuss. Glancing over at the newspaper Reborn had been reading, he immediately picked out the article. Ah.

It took Harry a moment to formulate the best way to explain. "Our justice system, if you can even call it that, is a joke." That was really the only way to describe it. "It is entirely subjective and not at all dependent on supported evidence."

Reborn already knew about Sirius - his decade-long imprisonment without trial - and Harry had mentioned before that Death Eaters had often just bought their freedom, so he didn't have to explain why this was a sensitive subject.

And after the war, Harry had quickly realized that the Ministry hadn't learned from previous mistakes at all and was just as liable as ever to send someone to Azkaban because everyone just knew they were guilty.

But actions during wartimes could not be sorted quite as neatly into boxes as these people now liked to pretend. At the end of the war, people had been terrified and a lot had gotten injured or even killed in the crossfire, sometimes killed by neighbors or friends who attacked first and asked questions later.

People were already doing their best to put the war out of their minds - in his darker moods Harry thought disparagingly how the ones now passing judgment were the same people who had hidden themselves during the war, so it would be easy for them to forget.

While Harry had been happy to hear that Aurors had permanently replaced the dementors at Azakaban, he had been appalled to realize that the Kiss had still been passed several times after the war. So, after finding out about his Wizengamot seats and realizing he actually had the right to speak at the trials and even to influence any rulings simply by voting, he had started attending as many trials as he possibly could.

Although he was glad that voting in the Wizengamot was actually anonymous. He had had no interest in always getting his way simply because people wanted to vote the same as their bloody Savior.

"Before my treatment at St. Mungo's started, I actually left written statements for a lot of the trials. So, I have no idea why they stopped the trials just so I can personally attend." Harry paused, before saying sardonically. "Well, at least this way no one else has gotten Kissed."

Reborn raised his eyebrows. "Kissed?"

Reborn immediately became more alert, when he saw his Sky actually hesitate to explain. Clearly, he was not going to like whatever he was going to hear next.

"Ah. The Dementor's Kiss is our version of capital punishment, but it is actually far worse than the death penalty. The Dementor's Kiss is said to suck your very soul from your body but no one actually knows what happens. Just that your body itself is unaffected but remains an empty shell afterwards and simply starts wasting away. And the worst thing is, no one actually knows what happens to the soul or spirit or essence or whatever it is that the dementor takes from you."

For once in his life, Reborn was actually feeling vaguely horrified. Taking the essence from people instead of just killing them? Without actually knowing what that meant? What the fuck was wrong with wizards?

And going by the resentment on his Sky's face, he was getting the feeling that there was another story behind this as well. A story about soul-sucking creatures near his Sky. Reborn just kept from gritting his teeth and instead forced himself to ask calmly, "What exactly is a dementor?"

But before Harry could answer, Fawkes reappeared in a brilliant flash of phoenix fire, hovering over the dining table in front of him with a letter in his beak.

Harry reached for it immediately. He had not actually expected a reply from Kingsley.

The missive was just a hastily scrawled sentence on very official looking stationery of Kingsley asking for a meeting later this afternoon. Harry looked up at Reborn, who had meandered into the kitchen for some more coffee when Fawkes appeared.

"Kingsley is asking for a meeting today. He's fine with Fawkes just taking us to his office, no additional procedures required." Harry loved having Fawkes back in his life and he was so grateful for the phoenix making his life so much easier on various levels. And right now it was certainly convenient, if only because the phoenix served as an identifier to anyone who had worked with Dumbledore.

Harry was also well aware of how easily wizards fell back on their various stereotypes. He knew that a phoenix would be seen as confirmation that Harry was a light wizard - light meaning good in the eyes of the sheeple. It was a strange notion to Harry, because Dumbledore had been many things, but the embodiment of all that is good and pure had not been one of them.

Unlike unicorns - as beings of light magic - phoenixes were simply beings of magic. Phoenixes didn't care about magical orientation and were just as prone to diverging perceptions as people. Most importantly, neither unicorns nor phoenixes - or any creature really - adhered to any human idea of morality or ethics. Well, Harry was also very aware that this would be working in his favor, as the general wizarding population would take one look at the phoenix on his shoulder and assume they could unquestionably trust in him, just as they had with Dumbledore.

They still had some time before their meeting with the Minister, so Reborn settled back into the chair next to his Sky with a fresh cup of coffee.

After going back to the topic of dementors - and really, what the fuck? - Reborn decided that this was one creature he wouldn't mind extensively testing his Flames on for all the pain they had caused his Sky over the years. Even better if he could make them go extinct entirely.

Harry started describing various magical creatures, which they might come in contact with at some point. But all of them seemed pretty fucking harmless in comparison.

+++

When the time for the meeting with the Minister came around, Reborn didn't wrap himself around Harry the way he usually did when Fawkes transported them somewhere. This time they could not be entirely certain what would be waiting for them and Reborn needed his to be able to react in an instant.

Still, Reborn - with Leon settled on his shoulder in easy reach - stepped in next to his Sky, wrapping one arm around his waist, to make sure he stayed close and it would be easy to immediately move him behind Reborn for protection.

Going by his slightly exasperated but fond expression, Harry clearly knew what Reborn was doing.

Harry truly adored his Sun's protectiveness, even though he knew that he would get annoyed fast if Reborn had been overbearing. But so far, his Guardian had let Harry take the lead in the presence of other people - seemed to prefer it actually, as he faded into the background - and he only stepped in front of Harry when he suspected a possible physical or magical threat. Harry was fine with that.

Additionally, Harry had no doubt, that Reborn would be able to take anyone apart, with or without his Flames. It was in the fluid way Reborn moved, the absolute self-assuredness in his movements, the near constant scanning of their surroundings that had obviously become second nature to his Guardian at some point in his life.

Also, Harry was very aware that he was mostly defenseless right now. Not being able to use his magic and not having even tried using his Flames, made him an easy target. And honestly, he adored knowing that there was someone who had his back no matter what, who would immediately step up to his side to protect him. Not in a way that made him feel incompetent or smothered, but rather filling in when Harry himself was not able to protect himself.

He would just have to wait and see how this developed when he got his magic back, whether Reborn would accept that he was capable of defending himself. However, Harry felt strangely assured about that because so far Reborn had seemed very much able to see beyond Harry's stories, see what it meant to have fought in a magical conflict, to have lived through a war.

And to be honest, Harry was just as obsessed with his Sun's safety as Reborn was with his. So, they would have to find a compromise to keep both of them safe. Harry would make sure of it.

The world would burn before he let anyone or anything take Reborn from him.

Reborn watched interestedly as a dangerous glint appeared in his Sky's eyes, all the while Harry easily leaned into his side. Reborn adored how his little Sky fit perfectly into the contours of Reborn's body. His lithe form was easy to entirely wrap around even with just one arm, to envelope him entirely in Reborn's presence. It satisfied some primal urge in Reborn to have Harry so very pliantly fitted into his embrace.

After they had settled, Reborn forced himself to refocus on his surroundings as Fawkes flew over without having to be asked and easily took them to instantly re-appear in Kingsley's office.

With their appearance in the office, Harry immediately registered the presence of several Aurors.

Everyone froze at their arrival. Then there was madness as they tried to go for their wands.

Reborn was already moving. Harry found himself behind his Sun and before anyone could react, the two closest Aurors were on the ground disarmed and unconscious. All the while Reborn remained mostly in front of Harry, blocking Harry from the other people in the room.

When another Auror went for his wand, he joined his two comrades on the ground before he even finished drawing. Even Harry had barely seen Reborn move.

Stunned silence filled the room.

Harry remained where he was though with his wand drawn - there was no way he was leaving Reborn on his own in case he needed support, his magic would recover again if he was forced to use it here - watching calmly as Reborn settled in a seemingly relaxed slouch mostly in front of Harry.

Kingsley should have known better.

Even if it had only been Harry, he would not have reacted well to having unknown people in the room after having been assured of a private meeting. Harry had told Kingsley that he would be coming with a companion so a single additional presence might have been justified but there were six Aurors as far as Harry could see.

So, as far as Harry was concerned this outcome should have been expected.

Harry watched with smug satisfaction as the remaining three Aurors stared uncomprehendingly at their downed comrades. Two of them had their wands out though seemed experienced enough to know not to aim them in Harry and Reborn's direction. Harry would have liked to simply see how this situation worked out, but he felt the need to step in when he saw the tell-tale wrist movement of Kingsley going for his wand.

Harry was irritated by what felt like an ambush, but it would be far too much hassle if Reborn were to kill the acting Minister of Magic. Harry had no doubt who would come out the winner in the current scenario. The wizards would end up with a bullet between their eyes before they even realized where the actual threat was.

Still, it would not be worth the hassle, so Harry stepped slightly forward, though in easy reach for Reborn. "Hello, Kingsley. This is certainly an unexpected greeting."

At Harry's greeting the people in the office faltered and Reborn felt delighted at their hesitation when seeing his Sky with his wand drawn. There was apprehension reflected in their eyes as they clearly didn't know how to handle their Savior when angered.

The tall black man behind the desk answered carefully. "Harry. Good to see you."

Harry actually snorted at that. He took a deliberate look around the room though remaining relaxed as though feeling completely unthreatened. "Well, based on this situation, I'm really not too sure that I can say the same."

Reborn had to force himself to ignore his reaction at the hard glint in his Sky's eyes and his easy confidence, as well as the obvious intimidation of everyone else in the room. He felt a rush of possessiveness and arousal at seeing Harry command the entire room with just a single glance around, to the point that no one present seemed to be even willing to challenge his authority.

There was a brief silence and several suspicious looks in Reborn's direction before the apparent Minister gave a sign for the Aurors to leave the room. After some hesitation, they quickly cleared out, taking their felled compatriots with them, except for one woman who remained standing at Kingsley's side.

When everyone had left - and Reborn made sure of it, scanning the room with his Flames - Harry tucked away his wand. At that the Minister seemed to mostly relax again, though he did not let Reborn out of his sight. So, apparently not stupid this one.

Kingsley offered, "I apologize, one of my meetings ran late. This is Head Auror Savage who took over as Head of the DMLE. There have been a series of attacks on various ministry personnel and thus the more important members of the Ministry have been assigned a constant Auror guard since two weeks ago. I forgot to mention it in my letter."

Harry briefly considered the current Minister of Magic. Though they had only little contact during the war, they had always gotten along rather well. He liked Kingsley' calming presence and he could understand that the Minister would have a guard during these times. He could easily forgive the oversight.

So, Harry finally reached out his hand to greet one of the few remaining Order members properly and Kingsley immediately reached for it.

"It's good to see you again." Harry paused briefly before introducing his Guardian. "This is Reborn. He has been helping me while I was incapacitated. Reborn this is Kingsley Shacklebolt, the Minister for Magic and a comrade from the war."

Everyone shook hands before all of them settled down in the various chairs in the office, though still eyeing each other suspiciously. Harry did his best to ignore the reverent stare of the woman which was only interrupted from time to time by brief mistrustful glances in Reborn's direction.

In the following silence Kingsley seemed to be arguing with himself whether to ask questions about Reborn's presence, so Harry decided to quickly head him off.

"I heard my healers visited you during my absence." He stated.

Kingsley immediately focused on Harry. "Yes, they came to me right after it became common knowledge that you had been moved from the hospital with the help of Aurors on Doge's insistence. Let's just say that the information I was provided with by Doge was not as accurate as I had assumed. Though it is regrettably far more convoluted than even that. I was given the impression that your move was healer sanctioned and thus I actually thought it prudent to offer a Auror guard for the move."

Harry nodded to Kingsley's answer. He couldn't really blame Kingsley for the situation, despite the man not even thinking to check with Harry himself. If he had really been given the impression that the healers had actually agreed to having Harry moved to the Muggle World then the man hadn't had much reason to check into it further. Especially, if Doge had been backed by other Order members.

Still, it would have been nice if the man had thought to actually inquire about Harry's thoughts on the matter before making decisions. But honestly, if anyone could claim that they just had too much stuff on their mind to consider every aspect of Harry's personal sensibilities, it would be the post-war Minister.

Harry did not mention any of this out loud, though going by Reborn's focus on him, his Sun was well aware of it.

Leaving this rather volatile topic behind, Harry inquired about the halted trials instead.

Kingsley explained that during one of the trials after Harry's disappearance when it looked like the defendant would walk free, one of the main accusers claimed that Harry had to be at the trial because he would have more incriminating evidence. It had quickly become a standard claim for whichever side was losing that Harry would have more information and thus just had to be there.

They hadn't been getting anywhere anymore and had just halted the trials at some point.

Kingsley himself seemed rather glad about the respite of having one less thing on his plate to take care of simultaneously with everything else. But Harry just felt annoyed. Apparently the Wizarding World couldn't even get the simplest things done without him there. While he was happy that they had been trying to get the full story before passing judgment on anyone, it was also exasperating that it was just assumed that Harry would have some sort of information no one else had.

He had been on the run for most of the war and not directly involved in the Wizarding World at all. He doubted he would have anything to say for most of the trials but he also knew he would not risk letting an innocent person going to jail or a guilty person walk free if he could do anything about it.

Great, just more stuff for him to somehow fit into his schedule.

Kingsley and Savage had kept Reborn in view the entire time during their talk, even though they were mostly focused on Harry, with Reborn vanishing into the background by not contributing to the conversation directly at all.

Well, after having made his presence so very clear within a few seconds of appearing in Kingsley's office it was no wonder that the other two were not quite able to forget about him. They even tried to nudge the conversation in the direction of Reborn's presence a few times but there were more than enough topics for Harry to distract them with.

Despite the rocky start of the meeting, they quickly starting covering numerous topics ranging from the safety in Diagon Alley to the rebuilding of Hogwarts.

At the mention of Hogwarts, Savage very zealously emphasized that she would be very willing to immediately instate Harry as an Auror even without him finishing school.

"The Auror Department would welcome you right away. It would be very reassuring for the people to see the Man-Who-Conquered still protecting them in this time." Savage pointed out.

Harry paused. This was not a good topic. He had no intention whatsoever to become an Auror at any point of his life, finished education or no. Harry wanted the chance to live his life for once and he would not have that taken from him. Also, his bonded was involved in organized crime, it so wasn't worth the hassle to join the crime fighting side of society. No way.

At his side, Reborn clearly wasn't thrilled by the offer either, probably due to the mention of Harry's status in the Wizarding World and what people expected of him.

When the silence in the office stretched too long, Harry refocused on the Head Auror who was still staring at him. "Thank you for the offer, but I will have to decline."

Kingsley who been watching him closely had clearly picked up on there being more to that statement than Harry had actually said. He stated carefully. "While it would certainly make my life easier, I can understand if you would want to finish Hogwarts first before joining the Aurors."

Well, nothing for it then.

"I don't intend to join the Aurors at all. It is not the job for me." At this Savage was already opening his mouth to respond, so Harry quickly added, "I will not be returning to Hogwarts either."

That stopped them short, but Kingsley responded calmly, clearly trying to get the whole picture first. "Which job are you aiming for then?"

Savage was now giving Reborn some truly suspicious looks, obviously blaming him for Harry's opinions.

The Minister was clearly hoping that Harry would not make his life any harder than necessary and Harry actually felt a slight twinge at having to disappoint him. "I am not aiming for a specific job right now. I intend to finish my magical and muggle education and I am not certain what job I will be aiming for afterwards."

This seemed to stump even the Minister, but still Kingsley just nodded carefully, clearly not happy but also not planning to start throwing his weight around to get his way.

It was the Head Auror who responded far more pressing than before. "I don't even… You are not joining the Aurors? It is expected for the Savior to join the Ministry in maintain law and order in Magical Britain. It is your duty! If you intend to finish your education first you have to attend Hogwarts, so you remain in the public eye and so people feel assured that it is safe to send their children to school."

Expected to? Duty? Have to?

Yeah, no.

Harry forced himself to remain calm despite this being a perfect example of why Harry truly despised the Wizarding World at times.

Going by the sudden pressure in the room, his Sun felt the same. Reborn shifted slightly, so their arms were slightly pressed together while Harry tried to think of a response that might be socially acceptable.

"The Auror corps is not something that I see in my future." Harry responded to the main issue in the woman's statement instead of addressing her other claims.

Before he could continue, Savage interrupted him irately, "That is unacceptable! The Man-Who-Conquered has to be visible to the public in order to reassure them. The Savior needs to be seen supporting the Ministry!"

And Harry felt his patience simply vanish into thin air.

She sounded just like Fudge and Scrimgeour. Harry did not like her and he felt his anger being stoked with every word she said. He hated being referred to in the third person or by his titles only.

Kingsley had remained silent for the last few statements and he was watching Harry intently. Harry was still unsure whether this was a sign of Kingsley's support or whether the Minister was still hoping to change the Savior's mind.

In the end it was Reborn who responded instead, instantly reorienting everyone's entire focus onto himself.

"Excuse me for interjecting on The Savior's behalf. Despite the ever so nicely stated suggestions from who I assume is a truly essential part of this government, The Savior will be unable to fulfill any of those particular requests. Regrettably, due to the interference in The Savior's treatment against healer's orders, The Savior is currently still recovering and unable to stay in any area with high magical saturation for an extended amount of time. But should his condition change you would of course be the very first person to be informed of The Savior's recovery."

Harry had to restrain himself from laughing out loud at the incredibly heavy sarcasm in the brief statement. He especially enjoyed Reborn's pointed use of his titles, each repetition further deepening the flush on Savage's face.

Though at Reborn's explanation Kingsley turned to Harry. "Your health has been compromised?"

Harry briefly considered Kingsley, entirely ignoring the woman whose embarrassment seemed to be turning towards anger now. "The move from the hospital was pretty much the worst that could have been done in my condition and delayed my recovery significantly. Initially, I should have stayed in the Wizarding World for my entire recovery and at this point I should actually already have entirely recovered. Now though, I have to slowly acclimatize to magical surroundings again before staying for an extended period of time even becomes an option again. And even this is still on a trial basis and the healers will decide within the next few days whether I will be able to return to the Wizarding World for regular short visits at all before I have entirely recovered."

Kingsley briefly closed his eyes. "Do the healers have an estimated time line for your recovery?"

The man was clearly feeling bad about his own contribution to this particular mess despite his minimal involvement. Kingsley had always been one of the very few people who had realized just how much Harry's role in the war had actually cost him.

"So far nothing is really certain, as we are just now trying to get me acclimatized to magical surroundings again." Harry responded carefully, not giving any indication that the healers had estimated only a few weeks until his full recovery. No matter how much he liked Kingsley, he had no interest in having the Ministry knocking on his door every few days to inquire whether he was recovered enough to start helping out yet.

Though Kingsley seemed to have understood that Harry's decision to avoid the Aurors and Hogwarts was absolute. He also knew Harry well enough to realize that once he had made a decision it would not be easily overturned. On the other hand, Harry knew how much of a difference it would make for the Ministry to be seen to be supported by the Savior, so he had no doubt that even Kingsley would be asking for favors and being a war comrade, Harry would be likely to grant them as well.

"Can we expect your attendance at the trials and the Wizengamot sessions then?" Kingsley finally asked.

"I will have to await the healers' verdict on whether I will be able to come to the Wizarding World regularly at all. I will let you know as soon as I know whether it is even an option." Harry responded easily, as he definitely intended to attend the trials if at all possible.

At this point Savage suddenly spoke up again. "We will need your home address on file. I will assign a six-man Auror guard for your protection. You have to be kept safe."

Harry couldn't help his snort - though he tried to quickly turn it into a cough - and he felt mixture of intense scorn and amusement coming from Reborn at the statement. Even Kingsley seemed amused.

Harry still forced himself to respond civilly. "No thank you. I think we got it covered."

The woman responded scandalized. "But the Savior has to be protected from the dark forces!"

Oh wow, Harry really didn't like her.

It was Reborn who responded again, calmly leaning back in his chair and crossing his ankles. "You are welcome to provide any number of Aurors to try out for the position." - the woman's eyes lit up with satisfaction at that - "Though as the protectors should be stronger than the guarded, only those who are able to get past the both of us will be allowed to remain."

Savage had already opened her mouth - probably to list some names of suitable Auror candidates - but at the second part of Reborn's statement no actual sound came out. She seemed to be remembering their entrance a few hours earlier, Reborn taking out several of her Aurors - her personal guard included - before anyone had time to react. Add in The-Man-Who-Conquered as a hurdle… She was clearly at a loss of what to say.

Meanwhile, Harry was doing his best to suppress his shiver at seeing Reborn so self-assuredly smack down her suggestion. At the same time there was clear anticipation swirling in Reborn's eyes at the thought of a fight, of obliterating a large number of opponents. The feeling of Reborn's Flames - lazily twisting on their search for an opponent, all the while coiling around their bond - was breathtaking. Harry pushed away the reproachful thought that he could not possibly be turned on by his Guardian's apparent bloodlust.

The stand-still was ended by Kingsley who concluded. "I think it might be better for the Aurors to continue keeping the Wizarding World safe instead."

Harry couldn't help grinning at the Minister's response. They quickly concluded the meeting with the woman still fuming in her seat. Harry just knew she was going to be a problem in the future.

Finally, Kingsley stood up holding out his hand which Harry took immediately. "For what it's worth, I really am sorry for what happened with your recovery. You are the last person who deserved having even more complications heaped on you. If there is anything I can do to help, just please let me know."

Kingsley even shook hands with Reborn and Harry agreed to let the Minister know about the healers' verdict on whether he would be able to visit the Wizarding World regularly.

The meeting at the Ministry had taken far longer than they had expected and the healers had recommended brief stays in the Magical World in the beginning in order to confirm that Harry's core would be able to adjust. So, instead of visiting Gringotts as they had originally intended, Fawkes took them back to the apartment.

As Reborn was still irritated by the watcher earlier, they spent the rest of the day in the apartment reading newspapers and searching through some literature for a possible magical explanation of Flames. Reborn had easily manipulated them into the same position as before, resting his head in Harry's lap and enjoyed Harry playing with his hair as they relaxed.

 


 

The next day continued in the same vein until the appointment at St. Mungo's. Harry had been considering trying out his Flames but in the end they agreed that it might be best to first hear the healers' opinion on how their excursion yesterday had affected his core.

The testing at St. Mungo's commenced pretty much the same as it had the last time - though the Potions Master was not present this time as he was apparently visiting a conference - and the healers agreed that their visit to the Ministry yesterday had not had any negative effects on his recovery. They were quite satisfied with the progress and recommended he continue to visit the Magical World daily.

After the testing was done Madam Pomfrey unexpectedly pulled Harry aside to inquire after his wellbeing in her usual stern way. She had clearly reconsidered Reborn's presence in Harry's life since their last appointment as she had been trying to keep an eye on Reborn during this meeting. She did not directly say so but Harry just felt his respect for her increase further and assured her that Reborn was beyond any doubt on Harry's side.

After getting her reassurance there was a brief pause before Madam Pomfrey offered. "They are delaying the start of the new term for another two weeks due to the rebuilding of Hogwarts. You should be recovered by the time the new term starts. I would recommend you make preparations though in case your magic cannot immediately handle a permanent stay at Hogwarts."

Harry considered the nurse closely, before stating, "Madam Pomfrey, I will not be returning for the final year at Hogwarts. Even though I would love living another year at Hogwarts as I remember it, going by my experiences with the press and the general public I probably wouldn't be able to really enjoy it."

There was no surprise in her expression at his statement. She had clearly picked up on his hesitation before and she seemed to have expected something along these lines. Still, there was also disapproval clearly visible as she responded. "Might I suggest you take some time off then before joining the Ministry in its efforts of rebuilding the Wizarding World."

And this was why Harry had always liked Madam Pomfrey so much. She simply accepted his decisions - well, unless they were about his health - despite quite clearly disapproving of him not finishing school. She was also clearly assuming that he would be joining the Aurors, but was well aware that Harry did not in fact enjoy his fame or the hunting of criminals. Still, she did not even attempt to impress her own opinions on him or to change his mind.

Harry answered easily. "I will not be joining the Ministry any time soon either. I think it might be best to get everyone used to the idea that I might not be fitting into their mold of me quite as perfectly as they might have envisioned. I intend to finish my schooling by self-study, see a bit of the world and choose my profession when I have had time to consider alternatives. Although, I don't see law enforcement as a viable option in my future at all."

Madam Pomfrey had started to look more and more satisfied as Harry answered. She had clearly been worried about either of the most likely scenarios, Harry joining Hogwarts and being hunted by his peers or Harry joining the Aurors and hunting criminals. The press didn't really factor into the equation as they would be a pain no matter what.

"Well then, no matter what you decide, I expect you to stay in contact, Mr. Potter. And to arrange regular check-ups for your health." Then a vindictively satisfied expression briefly flitted across her face. "In any case, after your tumultuous recovery who knows whether you would even be able to permanently join your peers at Hogwarts at all or what kind of late-onset side effects there might be yet to appear."

A pause. Then Harry grinned at her. With her brief statement Madam Pomfrey had just made clear that should his staying away from Hogwarts become an issue, the blame would easily be pointed at the Order and whoever else had been involved in his removal from her care. Madam Pomfrey was vicious in her revenge.

Reborn had been keeping an eye on his Sky a few steps off to the side but as Harry had not seemed upset in the least at any point during his talk with the school nurse, he had kept his distance. When they moved back towards them Reborn clearly noted the sudden approval directed at him from the woman.

Strange, but hats off to her for finally taking note of Reborn and his presence in Harry's life. Reborn was getting the feeling that Madam Pomfrey would turn out to be a wonderful ally in making sure that everyone who had somehow screwed his Sky over got what they deserved.

When everyone finally started to disperse after they had agreed on another appointment at St. Mungo's in three days, they were stopped by Travers who had been watching Harry very closely during the testing and had even brought some additional rune arrays this time. It made Reborn suspicious - though he could sense no ill intent - especially when the Rune Master asked if they would be able to briefly join him in his office, clearly wanting to have a discussion separate from the other healers.

Definitely suspicious.

After a quick glance between them, Harry and Reborn agreed and let Travers go ahead via the Floo before following with Fawkes.

Chapter Text

Reborn and Harry appeared with Fawkes in the Rune Master's office at St. Mungo's - he apparently had his own office here due to his frequent consulting with the hospital's healers - finding Travers already settled behind his desk.

"Please, sit down, sit down." The man greeted them enthusiastically, waving them over to the chairs across from him.

Reborn was alert, scanning the room with his Flames - he didn't like not knowing what was going on - and Harry was feeling just as apprehensive as Reborn. Clearly, the Rune Master had noticed something off during the tests, which could really just mean either his Flames or their bond. And Harry had absolutely no idea how they could possibly explain away either. Especially to someone like Travers whose magical knowledge vastly exceeded his own.

On the other hand, ever since getting involved with his treatment Travers hadn't done anything beyond helping Harry to the best of his ability. And he had always liked Travers, his enthusiasm for his own field of study and his willingness to patiently explain even the most obscure Magicks to Harry. So, he was really hoping this wasn't going to end badly.

Harry settled into one of the offered chairs and Reborn followed without any outward sign of hesitation, both of them seemingly relaxed, but their intent focus on the Rune Master unwavering.

And clearly, Travers' situational awareness far exceeded that of most wizards, because now he was watching them slightly wide-eyed, obviously not having expected the intense feeling of their combined focus on him.

But after a few moments the Rune Master apparently decided to simply ignore the heavy atmosphere in the room, stating rather cheerily. "I asked you for a private meeting, because my arrays detected something which is most likely irrelevant to your treatment and thus, I wasn't certain whether you would prefer to keep this to yourself."

At that, Travers abruptly stopped himself, seemingly just noticing Reborn's presence being in direct contrast to the intended privacy of the meeting. As the man turned a questioning look towards Harry, Reborn did nothing to cover his amusement at Travers' sudden epiphany.

Harry actually found it quite entertaining that this was the point where Reborn's presence at his supposedly private healer appointments was suddenly questioned. None of the healers had bothered to ask about his Sun's presence until now. Keeping his amusement to himself, Harry indicated for Travers to continue.

After another look in Reborn's direction, the Rune Master continued a bit more carefully. "To monitor your recovery, I designed some of the rune arrays to specifically compare the flow of your magic before and after your treatment. During your last appointment the arrays pointed out an additional current to your magic that cannot entirely be explained by the resettling of your magic."

Well, damn. It sounded very much like he had either discovered their bond, his Flames or both during the testing. At his side, Reborn appeared deceptively relaxed in his slightly slouched position but Harry knew better.

All the while, Travers continued talking. "This current seems to have formed an entirely separate, outer layer to your magical core. It is astounding, honestly!" Here, the man's enthusiasm was starting to bleed through again. "It is likely that the removal of all internal and external restraints on your magical core during your treatment might have allowed a dormant talent to manifest."

Reborn felt himself relax slightly at realizing that their bond had not been discovered. Travers even appeared convinced that there was a logical - and even magical - explanation for the sudden appearance of Harry's Flames. How convenient.

Although Reborn could almost feel his Sky's nervousness along their bond, so he easily moved his thigh to press against Harry's for reassurance.

Harry felt some of his tension evaporate at the contact - and he was just going to ignore what that meant for now - and focused on figuring out how best to handle this. While he could claim not to know a thing - which would seem unlikely at best - this might actually work in their favor. Because so far nothing hinted at Travers suspecting foul play and if the man could actually come up with a magical explanation for Flames that would solve quite a few of their problems.

He quickly glanced at Reborn before venturing. "I did notice the additional dynamic, but so far I have not been able to identify its nature. Did the arrays give you any more information about it?"

Travers considered both of them briefly, clearly suspecting that he wasn't being told everything. "The arrays I used today were mainly designed to make sure that there would be no negative effect on the stability of your magic, which I am glad to say there won't be. If anything it might actually help stabilizing your core. " A brief pause. "Although, just based on its pattern it almost looks to be somewhat related to Elemental Magic. But I really would have to perform additional tests in order to confirm its exact nature."

Harry stared. Elemental Magic? Like in the stories of mountains being raised at a whim or infernos that laid waste to entire countries? Like Atlantis, which was probably the most cited example of why messing with an Elementalist was a really really bad idea?

Although, Harry had no idea what 'related to' Elemental Magic might mean.

Travers continued to explain. "The dynamic around your core most closely resembles that of a Fire Elementalist, but it doesn't fit entirely. So, actual Elemental Magic is unlikely."

Amusingly, Travers' seemed honestly peeved at having been unable to identify the nature of Harry's additional power.

No one said anything for a few moments before Harry carefully interjected with, "Well, to me it feels warm. Really warm. Like fluid, coiling warmth around my core. Does that - "

Travers had abruptly sat up, staring at Harry with wide eyes. "Fluid warmth. But that - " Travers continued to stare speechlessly for a moment before jumping from his chair and quickly moving to one of the book cases along the wall of the office, mumbling to himself. He quickly picked out one of the books before paging through it, mumbling to himself. "Fluid warmth, that's the exact phrasing."

Harry looked over at Reborn who was still entirely focused on the Rune Master - though still aware of his Sky as evidenced by him smoothly pressing his thigh further against Harry's.

"Here! Igneomancy. It's an intersection between Elemental Magic and Prime Magic." Travers was almost bouncing with excitement as he made his way back to his chair, his nose buried in the book. "This is amazing! Igneomancy is astonishingly rare. The last British Igneomancer lived more than 150 years ago!"

Harry was completely lost. Most of those terms meant nothing to him.

It must have shown on his face when the Rune Master looked up to share his enthusiasm. The man coughed awkwardly. "Well… as I said, Igneomancy is considered an intersection between Elemental and Prime Magic. Elemental Magic is based on the five Natural Elements, but Igenomancy is specific to Fire. Prime Magic is based on the non-physical Natural Aspects underlying nature itself, such has heat, light or gravity, and thus far more multifaceted. Everyone has an inborn affinity for at least one Natural Aspect and they are even said to be related to specific character traits, such as insight or tranquility."

Reborn immediately felt himself become even more attentive. This was actually starting to sound similar to Flames.

"Prime Magic is also entirely instinctive and actually the basis of accidental magic in children. However, after magical maturity, Natural Aspects generally go dormant, only affecting a wizard's affinity for specific spells or calculations for specific rituals."

At this point they were just letting the Rune Master ramble on, glad for all the information they were gaining and Harry almost wanted to smile at his obvious enthusiasm at the topic.

"The combination with various Natural Aspects such as radiance or electricity gives Igneomantic Fire an incredibly wide range of manifestations. But because Igneomancers can only manipulate the fire they themselves created and cannot affect the Element Fire as such they are not actually considered Elementalists. Still, Igneomancy is exceedingly rare because it requires not only manifestation of one's Natural Aspect after maturity but also a latent affinity for Elemental Fire. "

Here, the Rune Master quieted down a bit. "However, Igneomancers are known for having a weak magical core and I should not be impossible in your case for that reason alone.”

Harry wanted to snort at that. It should be considered impossible, so of course that's what he got. Hello, Potter Luck!

"Also, it would require you to have manifested your Natural Aspect which is not only dangerous due to adding onto an already stabilized magical core, but also… Hm, maybe if your temporary loss of magic reactivated your instinctive magic? Bringing your Natural Aspect to the front? And during the resettling of your magical core, it was integrated with your magic?" The Rune Master seemed dubious at his own theory.

"Let me just have another look at the arrays…" Travers went searching through a stack of parchment on his desk and then quietly focused, from time to time mumbling to himself and paging through a book next to him clearly looking for something.

Harry looked over at Reborn, who had been keeping the Rune Master in sight at all times, but he also seemed far more relaxed than before. This was starting to sound like a sufficiently plausible explanation for Flames, so that Reborn might be able to claim it. And if Travers found it in a book of all things and he never actually learned of the Mafia from them… Omerta really shouldn't be affected by this, right?

After a while, Travers spoke up again. "Igneomancy might actually fit based on this. How astonishing! I could prepare another set of arrays for your next appointment? To confirm and also to identify the specific Natural Aspect that is the basis for your igneomantic powers."

Harry nodded immediately. "That would be great. Would you maybe also be able to recommend some literature on the topic? I would really like to read up on it."

Travers frowned apologetically. "That might actually be difficult. These sorts of Magicks are so exceedingly rare or so incredibly dangerous that they are rarely if ever even mentioned in commercially available books. I only have access to tomes like this one due to my guild. I would have to acquire permission to lend them to you because you would have to be keyed into the wards…" Travers paused for a moment. "But I assume you would prefer to keep this quiet for now?"

Harry confirmed strongly. "Yes, at least until I have had time to get familiar with the topic myself. I have not yet dared to even test this power as I was worried it might negatively affect my recovery."

"Oh, yes. I can reassure you, that its presence will not negatively affect your magical recovery. Still, it might be best to wait until you are cleared for general magic use before trying it out as there really aren't any cases to compare your situation to." Travers confirmed, bright-eyed with interest but knowing Harry enough by now not to ask to be included when he did test his Flames.

Harry was grateful for the man's insight.

Although, not having access to any books on this was disappointing. Because, even if Travers tests turned out to show that his Flames were in fact not related to Igneomancy, it still finally gave them an explanation for Reborn's Flames in the Magical World.

Harry really had no interest in informing an entire guild of Rune Masters about this shiny new power of his and then being hounded by a horde of Travers-like enthusiasts.

On the other hand, giving his Sun the peace of mind not to have to worry about Omerta if he was ever forced to actually use his Flames in the Wizarding World… That was more than worth the discomfort on his part, Harry decided immediately.

But before he could open his mouth to give Travers the go-ahead to tell his guild and get him access to the books, Reborn lazily spoke up for the first time. "Could you maybe give us a list of books that discuss these Magicks? We do have access to a rather large collection of magical tomes."

And Harry wanted to face-palm at forgetting about his own personal library, filled with ancient, magical tomes collected over several centuries.

Travers was visibly reining in his interest at the mention of Harry's tome collection and instead immediately bent over a random piece of paper to scribble down a list of book titles. When he handed over the list, Harry realized that there were actual subsections for the different topics. The Rune Master definitely knew his field.

Harry honestly thanked the Rune Master for his help and willingness to invest even more time. Though Travers assured him enthusiastically that it really was no problem at all and that Obscure Magicks were one of his areas of interests. Harry never would have guessed.

Fawkes took them back to the apartment and there was a brief silence between them as Harry read through the list in his hands.

He ventured, "Well, that was certainly unexpected."

"Indeed." Reborn replied from the kitchen. "And mio dio, all that enthusiasm…"

Harry actually had to laugh at that. Travers had certainly seemed fascinated.

+++

As luck would have it, Harry actually had two of the tomes on Travers' list. One was actually a book he had bought on Biran's recommendation before, because it gave a comprehensive summary of various magical branches. It didn't so much as mention Igneomancy, but it had an entire chapter dedicated to Prime Magic. The other was a rather dusty tome that Harry must have gotten from his vaults at some point that actually seemed to refer to Igneomancy several times.

They easily settled on the couch with the books, Harry on the chaise and Reborn's head in his lap. In the end, Reborn simply read from the first book out loud instead of them trying to read the book at the same time.

As Harry silently listened to his Sun, he thought to himself that he could really get used to this. If he had had Reborn read his school books to him he would have had no problem doing the assigned reading in Hogwarts. No problem at all.

Dear Merlin, Reborn's voice was sinful.

Reborn stopped briefly to smirk up at his blushing Sky - he had absolutely no idea what had brought it on this time, but he was taking credit anyways - before continuing.

The book was actually pretty interesting and gave a great summary on various magical disciplines that Harry had never even heard of.

Reborn seemed utterly fascinated by Prime Magic and its Natural Aspects, which actually shared quite a few characteristics with Flame types. One thing Travers hadn't mentioned earlier was the fact, that the most commonly known branch of Prime Magic was Focus Magic.

Focus magic was based on a wizard’s magical affinity for certain gemstones which again depended on one's Natural Aspect. Depending on your Natural Aspect you could pull power from nature itself and then store it in a suitable focus stone. It was apparently pretty common use in the fields of Rituals and Warding.

"So, according to this if your Natural Aspect is Light, you could pull power from the sunlight itself, filter it through your core to make it your own and then store it in a stone of -  what was it - heliodor? And this power would then be available to you and only to you at any point in time?" Harry asked incredulously. "And no one thought to tell me about this?!"

A pause.

"But of course they didn't! This would have been far too useful for a teenager fighting against the most powerful wizard of the century! Good Merlin no, that would have required for wizards to actually use their common bloody sense!" Harry huffed.

Reborn grinned at his Sky's adorably crinkled nose. His kitten glower was just too precious.

+++

Reborn was currently making his way through the streets of London. He had decided to go check on some of his contacts. After noticing their watcher yesterday, he had been restless with the need to check what was going on in the Mafia World.

Today had actually been quite fortuitous. Not only had Travers helpfully hand-delivered a magical explanation for Flames - meaning he wouldn't have to worry about having to hold back anymore -  and Omerta hadn't been affected at all. Because there was apparently actual literature - centuries-old literature at that - on the topic.

Checking in with his contacts, he was irritated to realize that there had been numerous attempts to contact him ever since he had left Italy. Far more attempts than was reasonable for the three days since their move to London.

There was definitely something going on.

And the messages weren’t even offering contracts but trying to arrange meetings with him, which was even more suspicious. Because generally, people tried their absolute best to avoid having to meet him in person.

He got bored far too easily in meetings. And the Mafia feared little else as much as a bored Reborn. Rightfully so.

So, something was off. And it had resulted in someone finding him at a random café in London. In the company of his Sky. Reborn’s Flames had been on high alert ever since yesterday just at the thought of a potential threat to his Sky.

Although, reassuringly all of his contacts appeared to still be entirely unaware of his recent Harmonization. That was something at least. Leaving instructions with some independent contacts of his network, Reborn made his way back to the apartment.

To his disappointment the watcher did not return while he was wandering about outside. It would have been incredibly convenient if he could have hunted the person down without putting his Sky at risk.

Although, Harry might just murder him, if Reborn were to go off on his own. He sure had found himself a protective and headstrong Sky, that much was for certain.

Reborn smirked smugly to himself.

Life is good.

+++

While Reborn was busy Harry had decided to finally write to the various people whom he really should have gotten in contact with as soon as he had the option of asking Fawkes to deliver a message to anyone.

Thankfully, Harry had set up several post boxes soon after the war so he could still be contacted despite the wards surrounding his flat, one of which he never even checked on as it was for all letters addressed to any of his many titles. He wouldn’t be interested in their content anyways.

He hadn’t even yet checked on the general post box set up for anything addressed to Harry Potter, but the mail that had accumulated in his personal post box – the one aside for anyone Harry knew personally - just in the few weeks he had been gone was ridiculous.

He would have to set aside some time to actually sort through the mess of letters.

For now, he was just going to let the more important people know about his return.

Going for the easiest letter first, he quickly sent a missive to Motley and Clarke asking for a meeting tomorrow.

Then Harry paused, pondering who should be next on his list.

While he wasn't entirely certain who exactly had been involved in his involuntary removal from St. Mungo's, there were some people he was unquestionably certain would never have agreed with anything being done to him while he was unconscious. Not to even mention leaving him insufficiently protected in the Muggle World.

The first of which was George.

Not Fred and George.

Not the twins.

Just George.

Harry forced down the onslaught of painful memories.

If there was anyone in the Wizarding World Harry would count as family, having never abandoned him, always there to lighten his world with a prank or two, it would be Fred and George.

The twins had always been something of a safe haven for Harry. Ever since their first meeting at the train before his first year, Fred and George had kind of taken Harry under their wing. During their time at Hogwarts they had been always and unquestionably on his side, willing to just let him sit with them in the common room, getting rid of anyone - even their own siblings - by just looking like they might play a prank on anyone who thought of approaching their corner.

Through all his years at Hogwarts, Harry had never been plagued by their pranks, never been used as a test subject for their more inventive experiments, never been humiliated by them. By the twin's fourth year, Harry had been the only person in the entirety of Hogwarts who had been completely exempt from being targeted by them. Including the upper years, the teachers and the ghosts.

The twins had simply understood.

Understood how Harry hated his role in society, hated people just assigning him a label, hated the fickleness of everyone around him, hated being used and discarded as people pleased, hated being singled out all the time - be it in school or in the press or in the war or however else.

And then Fred had died.

George had always been the quieter one of the twins, slightly more introverted and tending to let his twin speak for the both of them. While Fred had been the less vindictive one, often curbing his brother's vicious streak. Fred had been the planner, George the inventor.

Both had always been immovably loyal.

Not that anyone ever noticed the differences, because to almost everyone - even most of their own bloody family - the twins had been something of a singular being. Barely anyone ever saw the need to differentiate between them.

The thought of losing Fred still had a painful ache burning through Harry. But he reminded himself that he still had George and how much more George was hurting at the loss of his other half.

After the Final Battle, George had been the only one Harry had kept in regular contact with no matter his other obligations. Harry had visited George regularly at the shop, even though their interactions had been pretty one-sided. Simply because George had been near catatonic during that time.

Harry had taken to bringing his various stacks of paperwork with him to the joke shop and work through it there, while George worked on potions or spells or whatever else he could think of in order to distract himself. Sometimes he would just sit down right next to Harry or lay on the couch with his feet in Harry's lap, clearly seeking the reassurance of another presence at his side. It had not only helped George but it had been pretty much the only regular interaction with anyone Harry had had during that time.

He hadn’t really missed being hounded by everyone else. At all.

George had barely said a word through most of their meetings, just focusing on inventing, experiments, the shop. Anything to distract himself from the gaping hole at his side. Where Fred was supposed to be.

He had also been one of the very few whom Harry had informed of his treatment at St. Mungo's beforehand. Even if only so George wouldn't worry when Harry stopped showing up for their regular meetings - official arrangement or no - unannounced.

Harry shook himself from his memories and started on the letter. It was actually quite brief, letting George know that he was back in London and that he would be visiting his shop within the next few days.

Thinking about it, Harry was actually looking forward to introducing George and Reborn. He had a feeling that they would get along quite well with their tendency to unobtrusively fade into the background if they wanted to and causing chaos whenever they didn't.

Harry grinned. The Wizarding World just might not survive their meeting.

Next, Harry wrote to Neville and Luna, both of whom had left the country to go traveling with Luna's father to search for fantastic animals and rare plants. Harry knew they had mainly wanted to get out of Britain for a while. Especially Luna had needed the distance and Harry had been in full support of them getting away for a while.

Actually, he had no idea whether they were even aware of Harry having disappeared from the Wizarding World at all. And he also had no idea where they were currently staying and whether the sudden appearance of a phoenix would be appreciated he decided to send their letters from the owl office tomorrow.

Neville and Luna were incredibly loyal friends and he had truly missed them ever since they left for their travels. They had always understood the kind of devotion Harry himself felt for his friends and were so very willing to reciprocate with the same level of loyalty.

So very different from most of the Wizarding World, the Order, Ron and Hermione…

Despite having had quite some time to sort through various possible reasons for their actions - which had ultimately led to him being bought by the mafia - he had yet to come up with a single scenario that even remotely satisfied him. Harry was still so incredibly angry at all of them.

It also reminded him of the conversation that had sent Reborn into an utter fury a few days ago. The story of how he had been removed from the hospital by his so-called friends and allies and then handed over to the Mafia by his so-called family.

Harry still hadn't really talked about his messed up childhood at the Dursleys', but he knew that Reborn had pieced most of it together by now anyhow. And Harry had never been subtle about his treatment at the hands of his relatives. It had simply seemed like no one ever really cared enough to put it together, much less do something about it.

Telling his Sun about the Dursleys' part in Harry falling into the hands of the Mafia - he was still pretty sure money had exchanged hands there - had already left Reborn in a towering fury.

But when Harry told him about the people he trusted - people he had fought alongside in the war, people he had literally given his life for, his two best friends - betraying the trust put in them to look out for Harry's needs when he himself was unable to do so, his Sun's fury turned to a cold, seething rage breathtakingly contrasting the fiery fury of his Flames.

It was a relief to have someone just understand. Reborn knew - as only someone who had been betrayed by someone they trusted could know - that that sort of betrayal left scars.

Harry shook himself from his rising anger.

Now he really wasn’t in the mood anymore to write to anyone else. Instead asked Fawkes to deliver his letter to George, before going to look through the books in his study once more, hoping to find something that might have some more information on any of their various research topics.

Immediately three piles - possibly useful, possibly amusing, entirely useless - were formed. Though Harry was slowed down when he found one that seemed promising just based on the title 'Fire of the Soul' but turned out to be a romance novel instead.

By the time Reborn returned to the apartment Harry was giggling - manly giggles, manly chuckling really - at the complete ridiculousness of the story. If all of the Wizarding World's fiction was anything like this, it was no wonder there were barely any fictional books to be found in magical libraries.

Reborn couldn't help grinning at the image his Sky presented, sitting on the floor leant against the lone arm chair in the study, in the midst of piles of books, giggling himself to tears. Though the picture of Harry's tousled hair and slightly reddened cheeks had Reborn's thoughts drifting into a decidedly not so innocent direction. Mio dio, his Sky was adorable.

As Reborn set about preparing dinner, Harry giggled his way through an explanation of the so-called plot of the book describing the tumultuous journey of Elfreda the Endowed being courted by Theobald the Thunderous.

Reborn actually snorted a few times at Harry's depiction of the book.

They spent the rest of the evening reading and conversing, just enjoying each other's company.

+++

Harry was lying awake in bed. As usual he was curled against Reborn's side with his head resting on his Sun's chest.

He pondered the revelations of the day.

They finally had a magical explanation for Flames. It was endlessly reassuring to Harry that Reborn could now use his Flames in the Magical World if it ever became a necessity, without fearing any backlash from the Wizarding World for an unexplained power or from the Mafia World for breaking Omerta. And they even had a Rune Master to back up their claims if things went side-ways.

Although honestly, Igneomancy was starting to look less like a cover and more like an actual explanation for Flames using magical terms.

According to the book Igneomantic Fire was seen in various colors, most of which fit perfectly with the colors of Dying Will Flames and it even described the forming of close-nit groups of Igneomancers with almost opposing Natural Aspects. Although, no actual bonding or an involvement of life-forces or souls was mentioned.

It also seemed very suspicious that the appearance of Igneomancers had suddenly stopped almost 200 years ago and Reborn had postulated that if only wizards with very weak magic activated these powers, they might have just been assimilated into the Mafia, never learning of magic at all, or keeping silent about a world they were supposedly not a part of due to their weak magic. It actually seemed like a pretty reasonable explanation.

One thing they both agreed on was that they would keep Harry's Flames a secret for as long as possible. Reborn thought it would be a great ace up his sleeve if he ever needed to get out of a sticky situation. And Harry had no intention of claiming an incredibly not-seen-for-a-hundred-years power in addition to his magic.

No way.

He was fine with Reborn claiming the spotlight in this. Even though Harry doubted Reborn would have any need to reveal his Flames anytime soon, going by what they had seen yesterday in Kingsley's office. The Aurors sure hadn't been any sort of threat to Reborn.

Harry grinned with smug satisfaction into his Sun's chest.

Taking a quick peek up at Reborn's face to make sure he was still asleep, Harry pressed himself even further into the warmth of his Sun's side. He sighed happily at the scent he had come to associate with his Guardian. The smell of sun-warmed skin, coffee and a mixture of other things that he hadn’t quite figured out yet.

Harry didn't mind. He had time to figure it out. Lots of time.

+++

Reborn opened his eyes to look down at where his Sky had curled further into his side, looking soft and content in his arms.

He smiled slightly and feeling his Sky fall into a deep sleep, he finally let himself drift off as well.

Chapter Text

Reborn was enjoying watching his little Sky flit about the kitchen in his pyjamas. Harry was preparing breakfast and looked wonderfully relaxed in his soft flannel pants - too long and covering most of his feet - and a large t-shirt - reaching his upper thighs and slipping slightly to the right, exposing his collar bone.

Reborn himself had already changed into his usual clothes, though still missing his tie and suit jacket. Additionally, his shirt was still mostly unbuttoned and going by Harry's frequent glances in his direction and his near permanent blush, this was definitely met with approval.

Reborn grinned. He would definitely be making this his regular morning dress code from now on.

Harry was doing his best to keep his focus on their conversation and away from Reborn himself. Somehow, seeing his Sun with his usually neat, rather formal attire disheveled was incredibly appealing to Harry. The glimpses he was constantly getting of Reborn's upper chest were definitely not helping his focus any.

He knew Reborn had noticed him looking. How could he not have, what with Harry initially trailing off in the middle of a sentence once or twice. Reborn's smug grin kind of gave it away as well.

Harry barely kept himself from huffing - he wasn't pouting, really, he wasn't - and forced himself to keep up their conversation despite his wandering attention.

They were discussing their plans to visit Gringotts today.

In his last letter, Harry had told Motley and Clarke about wanting to register a bond. His lawyers had recommended to have Gringotts test, certify and file it. Registration at Gringotts would make their bond indefeasible based on Wizarding Law but the goblins were not actually required to inform the Ministry about newly registered bonds.

It would hopefully help them keep it quiet for a while longer. Well, here's hoping.

While Motley and Clarke now also knew about their bond, Harry hadn't mentioned it being a soulbond. Because a normal magical bond would be just as permanent anyways and would invite far less scrutiny than the near mythical soulbond.

Not that Harry actually doubted his lawyers' loyalty. He was quite certain they would rather take their clients' secrets to the grave and tear apart anyone who dared try interfere with it. But there were far too many magical means of getting information out of a wizard against their will for Harry to be willing to take the risk.

Goblins had no such problems.

All magical creatures had natural, inborn mind barriers and no wizard accomplished at Occlumency would be stupid enough to so much as attempt getting past them. A clash with a magical being's mind never ended well for the wizard involved. And wizarding potions - such as Veritaserum - had been invented by wizards for wizards and never had the intended effect on creatures. They were just too different.

So now, Harry had an actual to-do-list for things to get done at Gringotts. The three main points were registering the bond, checking his finances and looking through his vaults - for more books on Igneomancy but also for some sort of occlumentic artifact for Reborn. Because no way was he taking his Sun on a stroll through the Wizarding World without some sort of reassurance that his mind was protected until Reborn had a chance to learn how to defend his mind from magical attacks himself. And finally, they were going to meet his lawyers at Gringotts to make use of one of the goblins' secure meeting rooms.

After breakfast Harry asked Fawkes to deliver a letter to Sharpwell, the goblin who had been handling most of his affairs ever since he had merged the Potter and Black accounts.

Reborn decided to use the time waiting for Sharpwell's response to continue reading up on Occlumency. Now that they finally had a cover for Flames in the Magical World, Occlumency was definitely the topic he wanted to cover next. Someone screwing with his mind? Not happening, he thought scornfully as he felt malicious irritation spike through him.

Feeling their bond pulse, Harry interestedly looked over at his Sun from where he was just getting settled on the couch with Fawkes and Leon after changing into his usual clothes of jeans and t-shirt. His change in focus was immediately returned, as Reborn paused in his reading to look over at his little Sky curled up on the couch, cuddling their companions.

The hitman grinned at the adorableness of it all.

Seeing his Sun's fond expression, Harry couldn't help but blush slightly. Trying to hide his reaction, he pointedly turned away.

Leon and Fawkes imitated him haughtily.

And Reborn thought it was just about the most adorable thing he had ever had the pleasure of seeing.

+++

Arriving in Sharpwell's office with Fawkes, the phoenix actually remained settled on Harry's shoulder for once.

Reborn almost wanted to comment about the phoenix not being satisfied by their cuddle session earlier. He refrained. Though just barely. And mainly because of their audience.

As though knowing exactly what Reborn was thinking, his Sky sent a reproachful look up at him. Which didn't really turn out all that impressive, considering there was a phoenix cooing on his shoulder while nestling into the side of Harry's neck.

Reborn just barely managed to keep a straight face under Harry's regard.

Huffing slightly, his Sky turned to the other occupant in the room, giving a nod to the goblin behind the ornate desk. No actual greetings were exchanged.

They settled in the chairs across from the goblin who immediately got down to business. The goblin handed Harry another parchment. It was a list of names.

"There have been numerous contributions made to your accounts and several clients left their assets to the Savior at their passing. As requested these monies have been set aside in a separate account." At this Sharpwell looked deeply disapproving, clearly remembering Harry and his lawyers discussing investing these monies in charities.

Harry however was surprised. "Their assets?"

"Their assets. Including money, artifacts and residences." Sharpwell confirmed aggravated.

Harry paused. That was unexpected.

Right after the war people had started adding money to his vaults - anything from just a few galleons to what would be considered an actual fortune by itself - and he had initially been mortally offended at anyone trying to pay him back for his sacrifices with money. However, after a while it had occurred to him that the normal wizard - who never met Harry and most likely never would - might simply not have any other way to say thank you at all.

So, he had accepted the monies, but set them aside into a different vault. And then he had tried to find uses for it. However, his search for charities to give the money to had come up entirely empty. There wasn't anything even resembling a general welfare organization anywhere in Wizarding Britain.

Which was just another example of just how behind the times Magical Britain was. Now, Harry was now considering starting his own. While he had no intention of actually running a charity himself, he was planning to finance one and his lawyers were currently trying to figure out the legalities of such an endeavor. Harry was anxious to talk them today and hear whether they had gotten anywhere on that front.

Fawkes shuffled on his shoulder, bringing Harry out of his thoughts and reminding him that they still had some things to do before his lawyers got here. Like filing their bond.

He looked up to find Sharpwell impatiently waiting for Harry to either bring up any requests or to get out of his office. Goblins definitely liked to be efficient with their time.

Accordingly, Harry simply stated, "I would like to register a soulbond with Gringotts." There. That was as brief as he could possibly make it.

Harry thought he might actually have seen Sharpwell's eyes widen slightly - a bit… maybe? - before the goblin sent a deeply suspicious look in Reborn's direction. Harry had to admit, the suspicion was understandable. Just his wealth alone was enough to suspect foul play of some sort.

Entertainingly, Reborn only responded to the goblin's glare with a bored stare and after a while of enduring said stare by slightly raising an eyebrow. Sharpwell seemed beyond irked, clearly used to having more of an intimidating effect on people.

Irritated, the goblin inquired sharply, "Based on which bonding ritual?"

"There was no ritual." Harry stated, trying to hide his amusement at the goblin's frustration. "The bond was formed naturally."

He was well aware just how ridiculous this sounded. Natural soulbonds were rare. Legendary kind of rare.

Now, Sharpwell was clearly torn between calling Harry an idiot for that claim and accusing Reborn of fraud. Possibly both.

Though at Fawkes' reprimanding shuffle the goblin finally seemed to almost shrug, before turning around to a large chest next to his desk. He pulled out a parchment as well as two potion bottles from one of its many drawers.

Sharpwell set the parchment down on the table - Harry could see a circular inscription of runes on the lower half of parchment around a central rune - before slowly pouring first a dark blue, then a clear potion into an elaborately decorated chalice.

"One drop of blood onto the central rune, both of you." Sharpwell stated while handing both of them a dagger.

Still, outwardly entirely calm his Guardian reached for both daggers, handing one to Harry and they did as Sharpwell had instructed. Harry could only tell due to their bond that his Sun was getting aggravated by the lack of explanation.

Then, unexpectedly, the goblin simply poured the entire potion mixture from the chalice onto the parchment. Instead of spilling over the entire sheet, in the instant that the potion touched the central rune it formed a dense bluish mist, hovering in the constraints of the runic circle.

It was quite mesmerizing.

Then, as though driven by an unfelt breeze the mist began moving slightly and going through a wide range of colors before dispersing abruptly.

It left behind dense runic writing around the original rune circle. As well as a silver-blue shimmering gem stone as large as Harry's thumbnail set in a strangely shimmering metal.

The stone looked a bit like moonstone, but the blue and silver veins pervading the mostly clear stone were moving slightly, ever-changing and seemed to almost glow from within the gem.

Having no idea how the ritual was supposed to go, Harry looked up at Sharpwell again, unlike Reborn who had never let the goblin out of his sight in the first place.

There was a slight pause as the goblin stared at the parchment. Then he glanced up, sharply focusing on Reborn before abruptly returning to his professional demeanor.

"Gringotts will register a naturally formed bond in soul and magic. After you fill in the required information."

After a brief pause Harry started filling out most of the document before passing it over to his Sun who only took a few moments to fill in the rest.

When the document was completed - blood quill signatures and all - Sharpwell claimed it with surprising eagerness, looking over the information before quickly letting it vanish into a different drawer than it had come from.

Then the goblin unceremoniously pulled out yet another parchment from somewhere. It was another list of names, this time including a date and time for each name.

"During your absence, a number of people have tried to gain access to either side of your account, citing various reasons, from you not being the true head of house Black to looking for a possible clue to your whereabouts in the Potter Family vaults." Sharpwell's words were dripping with disdain for anyone stupid enough to attempt getting past Gringotts' security.

The goblin was also looking quite eager, well aware after handling Harry's accounts over the past months that he and his lawyers would be more than willing to get reimbursements.

So, they tried looking for me in my vaults after my disappearance, did they? Harry felt utter fury burn through him.

Although, he calmed when he felt Reborn's Flames curl languidly - menacingly - around their bond. Harry looked over at his Sun who appeared entirely relaxed where he was sitting slightly slouched in his seat.

And even though Reborn's suit and tie were about as muggle as could be in these very clearly magical surroundings, he still made for the most impressive display of uncompromising confidence Harry had ever had the pleasure of witnessing.

Thinking about it, with Reborn in his life Harry wouldn't ever have to worry about any offenders paying their dues. In full.

Harry suppressed another appreciative shiver.

And apparently, Sharpwell had sensed the menacing confidence practically oozing from Reborn as well. The goblin had a bloodthirsty gleam in his eyes and suddenly seemed to very much approve of Reborn.

"The list includes the details of every attempt to access your vaults. Your lawyers also received any pertinent information." Sharpwell supplied. How generous.

Goblins liked to be helpful if they saw potential benefits for themselves. And Harry increasing his wealth by suing everyone on this list, would definitely benefit Gringotts in general and Sharpwell in particular.

But, knowing that he might lose his composure completely depending on the identities of the offenders, Harry decided to ignore the list in his hands for now. He would have time for that later.

Harry felt Fawkes nestle into the side of his neck, even further calming him.

Now that the goblin's demeanor had gotten slightly more agreeable again, Harry asked, "During the ritual, what was the significance of the stone?"

The question though got him an aggravated look and the oh-so-informative answer of, "The stone confirms the presence of a bond. The materials identify the nature of the bond."

How utterly unhelpful. Harry wanted to sigh and decided they might just as well pick up a book on bond-identifying rituals from his vault while they were at it.

Which reminded him. "I would like to access my artifact vault." Harry requested.

Within moments, a younger goblin entered the office at some sort of unseen signal.

"Goblin Gnish, take the client to vault 87." With that Sharpwell turned to the paperwork on his desk, clearly done with Harry and Reborn.

As they left, Reborn looked at least somewhat bemused by the exemplary goblin manners they had witnessed here today.

Harry could relate.

+++

Reborn continued to take everything in but had so far refrained from actually commenting.

After the absolutely ridiculous rollercoaster ride through the bank and getting past some weird security features, they left the goblin - whose resting face seemed to be a severe, suspicious frown - behind at the door.

Reborn had to admit, that the vault certainly deserved to be called 'the artifact vault' as Harry had earlier. It appeared to be truly massive, seemingly consisting of several interconnected rooms, separated into sections by content.

And there seemed to be something of everything and anything you could possibly imagine. And some things, you really rather shouldn't, thought Reborn eyeing the weird mass of moving socks of all colors and sizes in a fancy glass cabinet off to the side. It looked like a really weird insect tank. But with socks.

Reborn gave up on trying to understand wizards' sense of aesthetics then and there.

"I have not yet had the time to sort through my vaults, so most of it is utter chaos. Apparently, my family didn't think it necessary to keep any sort of order in here and must have just kept adding things randomly." Harry was saying as he made his way across the vault, clearly having a particular goal in mind.

His Sky was keeping up a running commentary and Reborn happily listened to him chatter on.

The rest of what appeared to be the main vault, seemed to be filled with an insane number of portraits haphazardly stacked on top of each other, household utensils and clothing from various eras.

Although, why anyone would feel the need to store their shoes in a high-security vault, Reborn had no idea.

Wizards.

But there were definitely some sections that looked more interesting than others. Like the armory Reborn could see in one of the connected rooms over on one side. He would most certainly be interested to test just how magical weapons differed from Mafia ones.

His Sky stopped at what appeared to be the jewelry section. There were numerous glass cabinets, shelves, stands, actual chests filled with a diverse selection of rings, amulets, brooches, barrettes and more.

All of which looked old. And very very valuable. Just a cursory glance highlighted several pieces that had to be worth an actual fortune all by themselves.

Ever since earlier when the goblin had mentioned people leaving their entire worldly possessions to Harry and his Sky barely blinking at the news, Reborn had increasingly gotten the impression that Harry's claim of 'having inherited some money' from his parents might have been something of an understatement.

And seeing this vault, certainly confirmed those thoughts, especially as this was apparently just the 'artifact vault', suggesting that the money was stored somewhere entirely separate.

Reborn was more than slightly rich himself - because people would pay a literal fortune to get the World's Greatest Hitman to take just a single contract - but this was something else entirely. This was true wealth.

So, apparently his Sky was loaded.

Harry really could have mentioned that little detail.

Although, admittedly he had mentioned his family vaults and their truly diverse contents. But it had only ever been in the context of having reminders of his family. It just figured that his little Sky couldn't care less about his monetary wealth and only cared about possibly reading the same books that his parents might have once held in their own hands.

The purity of his little Sky's soul was truly astonishing.

My Sky, Reborn thought smugly to himself.

"Thankfully, one of my ancestors must have been rather keen on jewelry, because this is one of the few sections that is very well organized." Harry was saying earnestly, completely unaware of Reborn's thoughts.

"And best of all, there is even a magical ledger!" Harry stated rather enthusiastically, as he pointed to a large, leather-bound tome on a stand next to one of the cabinets.

"Hm?" Reborn hummed curiously, utterly content watching his Sky flitting about and chattering on.

Harry immediately explained, "Magical ledgers can be used to search a defined content based on any combination of criteria you have. They are usually tomes like this that contain a combination of identification wards and can be keyed to a content of choice. The only drawback is that every item has to be keyed to the ledger individually, so they aren't used all that often."

"Hm, a convenient wizard invention? How unexpected."

Harry snorted amusedly. He had had the exact same reaction, when a goblin had first - rather aggravated by Harry's question - explained magical ledgers to him.

"Unsurprisingly, no. Magical ledgers are most likely a goblin invention. Although they have been in use for centuries, so you can't be entirely certain. But I do find it the more likely explanation." He grinned, from where he was handling the tome.

"Indeed." Reborn agreed, loving the view of his grinning Sky. He unceremoniously wrapped himself around Harry under the pretense of reading over his shoulder.

Ah, there is that blush I so adore, he thought.

"This ledger details materials, origin and so on. And this one even identifies any spells or wards that have been applied to each individual piece." Harry continued, clearly doing his best to ignore his blush. "Once you find something that fits your criteria, the ledger will summon the item of choice to you."

The magical ledger was truly convenient and they quickly narrowed the selection down to three amulets that contained several wards for protection against the Mind Arts.

"I only know some of the wards listed for each of these, so we'll have to look up the rest later. We should pick up some books on wards as well." Harry remarked as they made their way to one of the doors on the left.

Following Harry into the next room, Reborn actually felt impressed for once.

The room was quite literally filled with books.

It was huge, bookshelves to the ceiling - which reached ridiculous heights in some places - and several movable shelves stacked in front of each other, books scattered everywhere, precariously balanced stacks of books, actual heaps and piles of books.

There was so much knowledge buried in this place.

Reborn would love to visit this particular section of Harry's vault as regularly as possible. And going by the fond look in Harry's eyes as he watched Reborn, his Sky was aware of his fascination with the thought of century-old knowledge still being recorded in its entirety ever since Harry had mentioned it during his explanation of magic back in his flat in Italy.

Regrettably, they didn't have much time before their meeting with the lawyers and as Harry reached for the magical ledger next to the door, Reborn immediately stepped in close again to read over his shoulder.

Harry's shiver was only due to the sudden change of temperature at having a warm chest suddenly pressed to his back. Really. It was.

He actively ignored his Sun's smirk at his reaction.

Focusing back on the ledger, Harry quickly started narrowing down their selection.

Though he immediately felt a flush creep up his neck when Reborn tightened his arm around Harry in reaction.

From where he was mostly curled around his Sky under the pretense of reading over his shoulder, Reborn possessively eyed the slight flush spreading over Harry's cheeks. He might have to revisit the thought of locking his innocent little Sky away from the world, keep Harry to himself entirely.

+++

The meeting with his lawyers was efficient as usual and took up comparatively little of their time.

Though, Clarke had briefly stared wide-eyed at Reborn when he had appeared behind Harry, before turning with a clearly approving - almost congratulatory - expression towards Harry. Harry hadn't known whether to feel smug or embarrassed.

Reborn's grin at the situation certainly hadn't helped any.

Then his lawyers had promptly tried to boot Reborn from the confidential meeting. Harry had refused, keeping his amusement at the mental image of the two lawyers trying to force Reborn into anything to himself.

Afterwards, the meeting went smoothly.

First thing on the agenda, were the people who had tried to access his vaults in his absence. And Harry was ever so relieved when he didn't find a single name of anyone he trusted on that list. Though the Ministry - either under the heading of Doge or Savage - had tried to argue their case multiple times.

It wasn't really all that surprising, as Reborn and Harry had already figured that Savage might become a problem. And Doge had made it very obvious that he intended to use Harry's name as a tool to get his own position elevated.

Clarke had already compiled law suits against all offenders and Harry gave her the go-ahead to claim whatever she could, monetary or otherwise.

Then they spent the rest of the meeting talking about any remaining issues.

Regarding the charities, Motley produced a stack of documents that Harry needed to sign so they could even start trying to set up an independent charity.

Clarke had also gotten her cousin Lewis and her brother Anthony - the other owners of the Clarke Solicitors law firm - involved, to help work through everything. Lewis had compiled a list of possible candidates for running a charity in Harry's stead.

Harry agreed to take the files home to read through, so they could get the charity started as soon as possible.

And on the way out, Harry suddenly realized that he had never actually told Reborn just how much money he had at his disposal. And he didn't think his Sun enjoyed being surprised like this. In his defense, he himself hadn't yet quite process just how wealthy he was.

 


 

The next two days passed quickly. There was surprisingly little time actually spent researching, except for the evenings spent on the couch reading and conversing.

Harry was constantly working through a seemingly ever growing pile of paperwork from his lawyers or Gringotts or his postbox and Reborn had been immersing himself in the information provided by his contacts in the Mafia World.

Reborn didn't like being out of the loop, especially with so many people suddenly trying to contact him for anything but his abilities as a hitman. It irritated him.

To Harry's aggravation, despite most wanting to go visit George, what little time he was permitted to spend in the Wizarding World was spent in various meetings.

Though the only reason Harry was actually willing to delay his visit by a few days was that George's response to his letter started sounding mostly like the George he knew again.

The redhead's vindictiveness had certainly made a comeback when mentioning the Order and their messing with Harry's recovery.

Well, at least Harry wouldn't have to worry about George and Reborn getting along in that regard.

Now, they were exchanging letters several times a day. Though at some point Harry had voiced his worry that he might be asking too much of Fawkes, constantly sending him to deliver letters between him and George.

In reaction Fawkes had actually scoffed at him. Harry hadn't known phoenixes could scoff.

Still, Fawkes tended to stay with George until the redhead had the time to respond to Harry's last letter. Sometimes hours at a time. It definitely made Harry feel better, because he knew how very soothing the phoenix's presence could be.

In one of his missives, George also let him know that while Fawkes was waiting for him to write his reply to Harry, the phoenix was having fun scaring the crap out of his customers by pretending to be a decoration on the counter before abruptly bursting into flames whenever someone came close to touching him.

Reborn had commented in passing - from where he was sorting through information provided by his contacts in the Mafia - that only Harry could manage to find the one phoenix in existence with a twisted sense of humor.

Yes, Harry affirmed to himself, Reborn and George won't have any problems getting along.

Harry grinned and resolved to introduce the two of them as soon as possible.

 


 

To everyone's relief, the healers finally declared Harry's magic recovered enough for him to start using it again, though preferably in small steps.

Regrettably, Travers hadn't been able to come, as he was attending a meeting of his guild. The Rune Master had seemed so utterly crestfallen in his letter that Harry had almost wanted to console him.

On the other hand, Travers was sure that he would be able to find someone who knew more about Igneomancy or had some additional literature on the topic at the guild meeting. He earnestly promised Harry that he would not reveal Harry possibly being an Igneomancer and do his best to just claim general interest.

Going by the man's near childish delight when talking about anything even remotely obscure, Harry had no doubt that Travers' colleagues would easily believe him on that front.

But Harry was elated about finally being able to use his magic again. He only just kept himself from starting to shoot sparks from his wand right away by reminding himself that he had no idea how his Flames would react to him using his magic.

Seeing his elation, Madam Pomfrey had pointed out sardonically, that Harry should still try to avoid any of his more spectacular adventures.

Reborn had agreed and - while Harry was getting instructions from Mediwizard Biran on how to best go about getting used to his magic again - made his way over to Madam Pomfrey. Harry watched from the corner of his eye how his Sun and his school nurse quickly settled into an intense conversation.

The vindictive light in their eyes and their satisfied expressions didn't bode well. For whoever was unlucky enough to be their topic of conversation.

Well, Harry would plead innocence. He knew nothing.

He focused on Biran again who was explaining what signs to look out for while he got used to any possible differences of his magical flow compared to before his treatment.

Biran actually had no idea just how many differences there were to Harry's magical core at this point.

So far, Reborn had preferred to keep his Flames from manifesting physically before they found a good explanation for them in the Magical World, but he had given Harry a few quick impressions of them.

Harry had loved the warmth radiating from his Guardian with the use of his Flames, loved the intent and enjoyment on Reborn's face, really loved how the Flames had curled around his fingers when he went to touch them.

Reborn had initially looked surprised when Harry had only felt warmth when touching his Sun Flames. Though he amended that it was probably due to their bond.

If it wasn't, Harry was blaming the Potter Luck. Nothing ever went the way it was supposed to as long as he was involved.

Harry was really looking forward to trying out his Flames, spreading them, mixing them with his magic outside of his core.

So, when they returned to their apartment from St. Mungo's, Harry didn't even pretend to get started on anything else. Instead he just turned towards his Sun waiting for instructions.

Reborn actually had to blink once at the huge green eyes suddenly blinking up at him from his Sky's face.

Well damn.

Hopefully, his Sky never figured out that with just that one look, Reborn would simply agree. It wouldn't even matter what he was agreeing to, he would just be nodding along.

Mio dio, no one had ever affected him like this. Reborn was so very happily doomed.

Not even attempting to resist, Reborn moved to prepare them something to drink while he started on an explanation of how to best pull on your Flames, while avoiding the outpouring of an uncontrollable amount.

Normally, he would be taking anyone who was going to use their Flames for the first time somewhere remote, to avoid potentially massive destruction of their surroundings.

However, he had seen Harry's astonishing control even right after having his Flames forcefully activated. While being prodded at by various other Flames users. In an extremely stressful situation. While barely lucid.

Reborn wasn't worried about Harry losing control over his Flames. And even if he did. This was his Sky, their Flames had harmonized. Reborn could use his Flames to soothe and contain Harry's.

Harry had listened closely to his Guardian's explanation of how to use his Flames. Still, he decided to first try out his newly settled magic to see how that went, before attempting to use his Flames.

Reborn watched interestedly from the couch as Harry almost giddily drew his wand.

Harry focused internally for a moment, focused on his core, on the flow of his magic. His magic was already surging slightly clearly anticipating being let out after such a long time, ready to act on Harry's will at the slightest indication.

He couldn't help but smile and simply flicked his wand. A shower of bright golden sparks briefly illuminated the room. Harry couldn't help but laugh in elation. How he had missed this feeling, the feeling of his magic flowing within him and around him.

His magic was surging happily, pressing to be let out, to do more. Another flick of his wand, more sparks, but this time they did not actually dissipate as before, but rather floated in the air around him, seemingly only moved by the slight breeze coming from the open window and spreading further throughout the room.

Looking over to the couch, he could see the clear interest on Reborn's face. His Guardian had leant forward in his seat and actually lifted a hand to move through some of the sparks hovering close to him.

At Harry's change in focus, his magic seemed to suddenly hone in on Reborn's presence beyond its own delight of being let out again.

Harry watched slightly wide-eyed as his magic - and most of the sparks in the room not hovering near Harry himself - surged towards Reborn, twisting in the air around his Sun in endless coils, never stilling.

After a few moments, his Sun looked up at Harry and grinned fiercely.

Harry knew the feeling of utter delight his magic transported when it was happy. It was infectious.

His magic's sentiments were always on the extreme end of the spectrum, usually landing anywhere from joyful delight to crippling lament to malicious wrath to serene contentment.

Harry had never dared to ask anyone directly whether their magic felt like this to them as well. The few times he had tried to nudge a conversation in that direction during his Hogwarts years, he had been laughed at just for the question whether magic was sentient. So - even though he knew better - he had given up on that conversation.

His magic was very much sentient, while in tune with Harry's emotions, his thoughts.

And now, his magic was happily curling within him, but still dissatisfied, waiting.

And suddenly Harry felt ridiculous in his care about using his magic again. His magic had always been willing just there to fulfill his wishes, always eager to follow his command no matter the intent.

And in his apartment which was warded with everything just short of the Fidelius Charm he could let go.

So, briefly glancing at Reborn, Harry did. He let go. Freed his magic from its near constant restraint. It immediately spread to fill the room, the apartment, anything in reach within the wards.

Reborn was captivated. Just the amount of magic densely filling the room… It felt as though instead of air, he was breathing magic. And in contrast to any Flames he had ever felt, there was nothing oppressive about Harry's magic. It felt lively and joyful.

His Sky seemed to be basking in the feel of his magic for a few moments before calling it back to himself, though not really hiding it away, more calling it closer to himself.

Harry was elated to feel his magic again and he was so looking forward to adding his Flames to the mix. He focused inward again, carefully and intently tugging at the feeling of warmth around his core, as Reborn had instructed.

His Flames answered eagerly - spreading outward guided by his magic - and Harry's entire world was bathed in an orange glow, the golden sparks still filling the room just enhancing the visual.

It was breathtaking.

Reborn had been fascinated by the display of magic. Not so much the golden, sparkly light show, but the feeling of Harry's magic and the expression of utter joy on his Sky's face. That was certainly an expression Reborn could get used to seeing on Harry's face. Maybe even putting it there…

Reborn was abruptly pulled from his not so innocent thoughts by the feeling of Harry's Flames filling the room.

He watched as his Sky activated his Flames without any form of aid to channel them. Sky Flames were lazily winding their way up Harry's arms and there seemed to be no need for Harry to exert additional control over his Flames, or curb their progress, at all.

Harry was watching wide-eyed as the Flames continued to gather around his arms, slowly curling upwards until most of the Flames that had filled the room were instead focused around his arms from above his wrists to just below his shoulders, like fiery snakes coiled around his arms.

And at the feeling of Harry's Flames gathering around their user, Reborn couldn't help but reach for his own Flames, letting them spread through the room. Harry's Flames seemed to almost whip towards the newly presented Sun Flames, surging towards them just as Reborn's Flames did the same.

Both their Flames mixing and winding around each oter, Flames filling the room, coiling around them, around their bond.

It was magnificent.

Sun and Sky. Harmonized.

Reborn had listened for years as others talked about this. And none of them had even come close to describing the feeling of having his own Sky's Flames surround him.

He closed his eyes.

Just for a moment, basking in the feeling of utter contentment emanating from his own Flames.

His Flames which for once were quiet, calm, almost still when compared to their usual constant movement, always surging, always active.

Reborn released an inaudible breath. This feeling. This was home.

Harry watched with bright eyes, even as he felt the exhaustion pull at him. He reminded himself, that Biran had specifically told him not to overdo it the first few times he used his magic.

He had entirely forgotten in his delight.

Adding the use of his Flames to using his magic, this was probably far more than the healers had intended for him to do right away. He felt his thoughts confirmed, even as he started pulling his Flames and magic back into himself, as the edges around his visions started to darken.

The last thing he saw, was his Sun suddenly in front of him as he sagged into Reborn's chest.

Going by his Guardian's expression they would be having words about him overexerting himself right away.

But for now, Harry was content to let go of his consciousness, in the knowledge of having his magic back with him and of being completely safe in Reborn's presence.

Reborn looked down at his Sky where he was pliantly resting against his chest and almost wanted to shake his head. The cute ones were always the most trouble.

 


 

The next morning, Reborn thought it finally time to address the issue of their watcher.

Now that Harry was recovered and could use his magic again to defend himself if needed, Reborn felt better about dragging his Sky into potential danger. He still didn't like it, but so far it seemingly hadn't even occurred to Harry to ask Reborn to stay behind for any of the meetings in the Magical World.

And Reborn would be damned if he was going to force a break in their easy trust for any reason.

So, they decided to go to the café down the street again for breakfast.

Reborn knew that visiting the same café - at exactly the same time, in the same company, after having been discovered there before - would be a clear sign for anyone who knew him at all to show themselves.

Reborn had briefed Harry on various scenarios for this meeting, doing whatever he could to prepare his Sky.

He still wasn't happy about this situation at all.

Meanwhile, Harry was actually trying to hide his excitement, as he was really looking forward to meeting any of Reborn's acquaintances. His unending curiosity was rearing its head again.

Harry was quite fascinated by the thought of Reborn communicating his agreement to meet someone simply by showing up twice in the same place. The Mafia World sure seemed to be filled with paranoid people.

Still, Harry was insanely curious about the Mafia itself. Especially how the other members would compare.

Based on what he could remember of the Corocos Famiglia, their members hadn't really seemed all that impressive. Harry really wanted to see whether that was the norm or whether there might be more people like Reborn to be found.

And exploring yet another new world actually sounded quite exciting when he had his Sun at his side, accompanying him on his endless quest of sating his uncompromising curiosity.

Add their planned visit to the joke shop later on…

Today was a good day.

Leaving the apartment, they lazily made their way towards the café, taking an elaborate detour to confuse any possible watchers.

If Reborn made the way longer than was strictly necessary while enjoying having Harry tucked into his side, chattering happily about their intended visit to the Wizarding World, green eyes blinking up at him whenever he waited for Reborn's responses… well, Harry certainly wasn't calling him out on it.

Ever since the mixing of their Flames yesterday, their bond's humming had increased in strength.

Reborn was slightly stumped at having the feeling of Harmony enhanced even further. Based on what he had observed in the Mafia over the years, he had thought their bond to be incredibly strong before already. He had no idea what to call it now.

Not that he was complaining.

Fuck no.

Life sure seemed intent on making up for some of the crap it had heaped on both of them over the years.

And if that compensation included an even stronger bond with his adorable little Sky, then Reborn could definitely live with that.

He smirked at that thought as they settled at one of the café's tables, flustering the waitress.

They took their time with finishing their breakfast and afterwards settled into a conversation over coffee and tea, waiting.

Just as Reborn had expected, the watcher returned at the exact same time as he had appeared before. This time though, after a few moments the watcher briefly flared his Flames, making it easy for Reborn to identify him.

Reborn was quite surprised at their identity, though it didn't show on his face.

He even felt somewhat reassured that there would be no actual threat coming from their watcher. In contrast to most of the Mafia World, this man held loyalty and integrity in high regard.

Reborn flared his Flames in response and a few seconds later he could feel the man slowly making his way along the street towards their café. Harry was calmly sitting at his side watching the proceedings, ready to act if needed.

Reborn looked up, straight into the man's eyes when he stopped at their table.

There was a moment of silence.

Knowing the other man wouldn't start a conversation, being far too polite to do so without introductions, Reborn greeted first.

"Hello, Fon."

A quick bow. "Zǎo, Reborn. I am glad to see you in good health."

Reborn wanted to snort. Always the polite one.

Despite his Flame type, Fon always appeared to be the embodiment of calm and quiet, unobtrusive, almost harmless.

Well, at least to anyone who didn't know him.

Reborn had witnessed the unimaginable destruction wrought by this man once angered.

Fon could be just as lethal as Reborn himself, though he tended to try for a less brutal resolution of any given situation first. In the Chinese Triads, he was known as 'Eye of the Storm'.

Reborn thought it to be the best possible description for the man.

Deadly and deceiving calm, backed by inescapable, utterly destructive force.

No one ever saw the attack from the calm and polite Chinese coming. The man's inverted personality - contrasting sharply to most, usually obnoxious Storm Flame users - was probably one of the reasons the two of them had gotten along surprisingly well right from the start.

They had met years ago during the time Reborn had disappeared from the Mafia World to erase his existence. Both of them had still been pretty unknown in the criminal underworld at that point.

Though quickly figuring out their similar backgrounds, Reborn had joined Fon on a few jobs he had been doing for the Triads during that time. They had come to know each other quite well during that time, and Reborn would even go so far as to say he trusted the Storm Flame user.

Well, as much as someone in their position could be trusted.

At the very least he was certain that Fon would never stab him in the back - he was too honorable for that - but would announce his intent to kill Reborn beforehand if it ever came to that. Which was as close to friendship as you could ever expect to get in their circles, without bonding or Family loyalty playing a role.

Reborn indicated for Fon to take a seat at their table and turned to introduce Harry.

His Sky was clearly taking his cues from Reborn's behavior as he showed no signs of apprehension at Fon's appearance.

Instead he was watching the Storm Flame user with intent and bright eyes.

And Reborn wanted to shake his head.

His Sky's curiosity was going to get them in trouble. Probably quite frequently as well. Boredom was definitely a problem he wouldn't be plagued with again anytime soon, Reborn thought cheerfully to himself.

"Harry this is Fon, a member of the Chinese Triads and a comrade. Fon this is Harry, my Sky." Reborn just couldn't help himself.

He was well aware that Fon would have sensed Harry's Flame type even when he had first seen him, distant as though it might have been. A Sky of Harry's purity was like a beacon to Flame users like them.

But this was the first time Reborn got to introduce Harry as his Sky.

Harmony was something he had sought for years, and now he not only had a Sky, he had Harry.

He damn well deserved to show a little smugness every once in a while.

Chapter Text

Fon sedately made his way through Milan Central Station, observing the people scurrying between the platforms.

He had arrived in Italy just a few hours ago, on a contract from the Triads to look for information on a rather delicate and quite convoluted situation.

The Tarasov Brotherhood of the Russian Mob had developed a way to force Flame activation.

Fon almost wanted to frown just considering it.

Just the idea of a technology like that existing at all was already distasteful, even more so when in the hands of a small, unscrupulous group of the Russian Mob - who might now create any number of Flame users from their own ranks and wherever else they could find them. Or sell the technology to the highest bidder.

It was calamity in the making.

The destruction wrought by their newly activated Flames - uncontained and with no way to control them - would be immense. And who knew what kind of damage forceful activation might do to someone's Flames.

Fon didn't even want to consider what might happen if the Tarasov ever got their hands on someone truly powerful or - a truly horrific thought - on a powerful Sky.

It would be a bloodbath. The Sky's uncontained Flames would pull at any Element within reach - looking for a bond, for protection – who would fight ruthlessly over the Sky.

Uncontrolled Sky Flames were dangerous, usually ending either with the Sky crippled – in mind or body or both – or with multiple Flame users dead - either at the hands of other Elements or simply because they couldn't handle the strain of having a Sky pull at their Flames without actually forming a bond.

Having Sky Flames pull at you without subsequent bonding - due to a difference in power levels or simple unsuitability or any other possible reason – was pain. Pain that ached down to your very soul. Pain with no way of relief.

Fon knew. Over the years, there had been numerous Sky users who had tried and failed to pull him in.

There was a reason why any decently strong Sky was taught by a one-on-one tutor at least until they gained a certain level of control over their Flames. And that was just considering the possible ramifications of forcefully activating Sky Flames, not taking the destruction wrought by other Flame types into account.

And now someone wanted to go about indiscriminately forcing people into activating their Flames.

Fon felt like sighing at the entire situation.

One of the more powerful Triad branches, the Shuǐhé Yī, had found out about the Flame activation technology just a few days ago, after eradicating the Tarasov Brotherhood - in revenge for an attempted double-cross - when cleaning out their compounds. However, there had been no information to be found anymore on how the technology had been developed or what the exact plans for its implementation had been.

The Tarasov had been working with a small crime family in the UK, the Duggan Firm, who were apparently supposed to provide some sort of essential information for the project. However, the exchange had been yet another double-cross that ended with the Russians entirely destroying the Duggans with the help of an Italian ally, the Corocos Famiglia.

Who had then promptly turned around and betrayed the Tarasov.

In the end, it had been the Corocos who had somehow made away with both Tarasov's technology and Duggan's information.

And before the Russians had a chance to follow the Corocos to Italy, they had been wiped out by the Shuǐhé Yī in retaliation for an attempted – though entirely unrelated - betrayal.

Fon held nothing but contempt for most of the smaller groups in the world of organized crime. They were ridiculously faithless, waging a continuous war of cut-throat and betrayal amongst themselves.

These groups would do anything to rise into the ranks of the bigger players. Literally anything. Apparently even mess with Dying Will Flames, with someone's soul and life-force.

How utterly distasteful.

But now, the Triads' higher-ups wanted the Tarasov technology and also preferably the information from the Duggans – whatever that might turn out to be.

Thus, they had followed their only lead for finding either to Italy. Where the situation promptly escalated even furhter when a large Corocos compound had been blown up - under questionable circumstances - quickly followed by whatever else remained of the Famiglia.

At this point, supposedly no one was aware of the Flame activation technology yet, so the Triads had decided to send someone to unobtrusively gather information and possibly even attain the technology itself.

Which is how Fon found himself in Italy.

He had been contracted for this particular job due to him being considered something of a neutral enforcer within the Triads. Even the leaders of the Triads preferred him in that position, as he could be called upon in cases such as this where multiple branches held separate interests.

Especially, as Fon had no additional loyalties such as a bonded Sky and thus it was considered near impossible to sway his loyalty in case of a conflict within the Triads.

His position gave him an unusual amount of freedom - a rarity for someone of his strength – as Fon had the advantage of not being directly affiliated with any particular branch of the Triads. And he would fight to keep this freedom with every resource available to him.

Ever since making a name for himself Fon had also taken care to keep a rather low profile outside of the Triads' higher-ranking members. He liked that by being mostly unknown in the underworld he could move rather freely.

Subtle gathering of information or manipulating shifts of alliances or acquisition of specific items were his preferred areas. He excelled at inconspicuously molding even the most delicate of situations to fit his goal, at acquiring anything – be it information or an item or a person - he aimed for. While afterwards, no one would be able to actually recall any details about his person, having entirely dismissed him during the process.

Fon preferred to solve any situation without actual violence, but if he ever had to there were very few people who had a chance to defeat him. Very few. As in barely any.

Because, while Fon himself was unknown, his reputation as 'Fēngbào zhī yǎn' - the 'Eye of the Storm' - was met with fear and respect throughout the criminal underworld, well beyond the Chinese Triads.

But despite his position as a neutral enforcer between the branches, he was still very much considered a part of the Triads. Thus, he wasn't entirely free in which jobs to take and which contracts to refuse.

So now, he was in Europe to gather delicate information that the higher-ups had not wanted to entrust to just anyone. In Italy. The land of the Mafia. Who had no idea that the 'Eye of the Storm' was in their country.

Fon's serene smile tilted up another notch at that thought.

There were some people he wouldn't mind seeing again.

Well, first he would have to take care of this contract. He might as well seek out the Triad's informant in Milan who would be his starting point for this job.

Fon placidly looked around - reaffirming that there was no one paying any sort of attention to him – before sedately moving towards the main exit leading to the city center of Milan. Had anyone been watching they would have seen him entirely disappear from view between one blink and the next.

 


 

Leaving yet another informant and making his way further into the city, Fon contemplated the information he had gathered over the past few days.

He had no doubt that he had gotten every last bit of relevant information the informant had known. And quite a bit more actually, as the man had started babbling in a panic at the near tangible pressure of Fon's Qi. It was always gratifying how easily people got scared of his polite smile when backed by the roiling power of his Flames.

Things didn't add up.

It appeared as though someone hadn't been entirely honest with him regarding the specifics of this job. Although it was well known that Fon would not tolerate any sort of betrayal from allies, so it was likely that his contractors hadn't deliberately kept information from him but rather simply hadn't known.

As soon as he got back, he would be having words with the higher-ups. At the very least about the quality of their informants.

Fon had no patience for incompetence.

Still, the information was not adding up.

Taking a seat at a restaurant's table to wait for the meeting with his next informant, Fon contemplated what he had gathered so far, all the while vanishing into the canvas of the multiple awestruck tourists milling about.

While most of the Triad's background information had been correct - as in the Tarasov betraying the Duggans and being betrayed by the Corocos in turn – the Flame activation technology wasn't nearly as secret as he had been led to believe. It was actually more of a general topic of conversation in the Mafia World right now and thus also very much sought after by multiple parties.

Additionally, he had been informed that shortly before the first Corocos compound had been destroyed, the Strongest Sun had also been looking for similar information.

Reborn. As in the World's Greatest Hitman.

Who would never leave such an obvious trail to follow. Who even Fon would have trouble finding against the man's wishes despite knowing his modus operandi well enough to have an advantage over most anyone else.

For Fon, the Sun Flame user fell cleanly somewhere in the middle between colleague and friend. Just as Fon was one of the very few people in the world who could count themselves as something more than an acquaintance or an annoyance in Reborn's eyes.

They had met years ago, occasionally worked together, trusted the other for support during a job or for providing information. While there was no definite bond of loyalty between them, they both valued integrity enough to trust that no actual betrayal would come from the other.

Fon truly valued their understanding. Honor was hard to come by these days, especially in their circles.

Over the years, they had even done their best to avoid ending up on opposing sides of any larger conflicts and had both previously refused contracts for that very reason. In their position, you tended to do your best to keep the few truly reliable alliances you managed to build.

Still, no one in the criminal underworld actually knew about their amicable acquaintance. And just based on their roles and conduct, they were even seen as polar opposites.

Reborn enjoyed leaving chaos in his wake, using his reputation to strike terror into anyone opposing him and making them surrender without much effort on his part. In contrast, Fon preferred subtlety, undermining his targets to the point that they simply handed him whatever he had been aiming to achieve, but barely leaving a trace of his ever having been there.

Reborn liked to exhibit the exact personality traits expected for a Sun Flame user, but used his Flames in the exact opposite way. Offense instead of defense, annihilation instead of activation. Fon was known for presenting the exact opposite of the personality ascribed to Storms, but could use his Flames to literally disintegrate anything they touched.

Reborn was provoking and dismissive all the while easily fading into the background - his presence vanishing from anyone's radar - if he so chose. Fon was the embodiment of calm and polite, but he had mastered the use of his Qi to focus anyone's attention on himself all the while distracting them from actually seeing what Fon was doing.

In the end, it didn't actually matter. Both of them always, unquestionably, uncompromisingly achieved their goal.

Though to be honest, they both also had their chosen indulgences, cultivated as appeasements for their tempers, for their Flames, their nature.

Reborn had made an art form out of driving people to the edge of insanity with his mind games, having the person unlucky enough to be his target questioning their own loyalty by the end of it. Fon on the other hand preferred frustrating people into losing control, simply by showcasing his legendary calm, uncompromising politeness and complete lack of reaction no matter what was thrown at him.

There were few things that Fon priced quite as much as self-control. Thus, driving others into completely losing control of themselves was his preferred way to show his disdain. Not that anyone ever suspected something that underhanded from him, his mask of politeness clearly working to his advantage.

He had made his unshakably cordial mask into one of his most useful weapons.

Fon and Reborn found similar gratification in revealing other people's weaknesses, their deficiencies, emphasizing the vast gap of abilities. Reborn for the joy of messing with other people's minds, Fon for his disdain of anyone not trying to better themselves due to the misconception of having reached mastery of anything - there was no such thing as far as Fon was concerned, there was always some way to get better, to improve, to reach.

Fon found satisfaction in making people entirely lose control - of themselves and thus of the situation - and Reborn liked watching people flounder helplessly while he held the life vest that they were so desperately searching for.

None of their targets had walked away entirely sane from any of the jobs where Fon and Reborn had joined forces.

Still, they had managed to keep their acquaintance a secret. It wasn't even that hard to do, considering that they generally worked on different continents. But they often used the other for information that might otherwise not be easily accessible to them.

Their alliance widened their respective networks considerably simply by including the other's contacts, which were already immense due to their position and abilities.

Which brought Fon back to the problem at hand.

After hearing that the Flame activation technology suddenly become general knowledge – raising everyone's interest to absurd levels - Fon had already been suspicious.

But then, everyone also seemed to suddenly have figured out Reborn's possible involvement, going by the general search for the World's Greatest Hitman.

There was no way that this information had become available without interference.

Someone must have pointed out Reborn's involvement in this situation. Either Reborn's own informant - though Fon doubted anyone would be stupid enough to betray the World's Greatest Hitman - or someone who apparently knew far too much. But Fon had so far been unable to find the source of the leak, which made the entire situation even more suspicious.

It stunk of someone desperately trying to find Reborn. So much so that they made any and all information they could find on the Strongest Sun available – even revealing the existence of the Flame activation technology to increase general interest - hoping that someone else might then find Reborn.

However, how had that person even found out about Reborn having been involved in the first place?

And who would be idiotic enough to anger Reborn of all people, who was known to rip apart anyone who got in his way. For someone to risk Reborn's wrath by giving away this sort of information to the entirety of the Mafia there had to be something else at play.

While nothing showed on his face beyond a calm smile, Fon felt like frowning. Not even only at someone possibly betraying Reborn but also at being unable to find even a trace of who that someone might be. There should be a trace. No one was that good.

He felt his instincts tugging, warning him that there was more to this situation, something even more dangerous, permanent, damaging than the norm.

Reborn was at the very least an ally. So, Fon would seek him out. To warn him about the increased interest - so the man could prepare himself – and possibly even to offer his help.

Considering that Reborn seemed to be conveniently involved with the technology, Fon even had an excuse for seeking out the Strongest Sun whilst on contract.

As the first Corocos compound had apparently blown up right after Reborn having shown interest in the Famiglia, Fon felt it save to guess that Reborn had probably found out about the technology somehow and decided to get involved for some reason.

Knowing the man, Fon was sure it had been boredom driving the Sun to do so.

And then Reborn had vanished from the Mafia World right after. So, it might be safe to assume that Reborn had made away with the technology. Before anyone else had even gotten wind of it. Typical.

Reborn's need to be constantly active, moving, entertained was the one thing that actually gave away his Flame type. Other than that Reborn's personality, like Fon's, didn't really match Sun Flames, preferring to fade into the background, rarely showing any form of true enthusiasm, always remaining level-headed.

But for Reborn to disappear entirely, to the point that his own contacts had no reliable way to get in contact with him, was unusual.

Reborn always kept his information channels open. The man was obsessed with having any and all information available in the entirety of the criminal underworld. But if the World's Greatest Hitman wanted to disappear… well, chances were he would only be found when he himself intended it so.

It was yet another sign that there was more to this situation than appeared at first glance, so Fon spent the next few days looking further into the situation and found out that the Corocos had made another transaction in the UK.

Some more digging and Fon found records of a plane leaving Italy with three Corocos and returning from London with four passengers, just days before the destruction of that first compound.

If they had returned to the UK despite the risk after already having double-crossed the Tarasov and the Duggans, they must have had a good reason. And if something had dragged Reborn away it must have been pretty interesting, so this might be his most promising lead yet.

Fon would follow the trail and hopefully find out more regarding Reborn's whereabouts in the process.

 


 

Leaving Italy, he easily picked up the trail in London.

The Corocos really didn't know how to cover their tracks. After having ascertained the information himself, Fon erased all tracks, making sure no one would be following the same trail he had.

Fon quickly uncovered the origin of the additional passenger, though he still didn't actually have a full name, just an address of where the Corocos had gotten this person.

Apparently, Fon's next stop would be Surrey.

But he never actually made it out of London.

Before he could make his way towards British suburbia, something pulled at his attention - suddenly and fiercly, tugging at his instincts, his Flames, his intuition, his very being.

Never having been one to ignore his instincts, he unerringly followed the pull across the city. It led him to a street somewhere in the middle of London.

It took him a few seconds after getting there to realize that it was Sky Flames insistently tugging at him, having his instincts on high alert.

Strong, pure, untainted Sky Flames.

Of the Sky sitting at the café at the other end of the street.

Right next to the World's Greatest Hitman himself.

Fon paused.

It actually took him a moment to process this. Despite instinctually smothering his Flames entirely after recognizing the Strongest Sun, Reborn had clearly noticed his presence. But at least Fon was certain that the Sun had not been able to actually identify him. Fon's control over his Flames was too good for that.

Fon carefully considered the situation, while assessing his surroundings. He had found Reborn. By coincidence.

Right.

This was too easy. It was either an incredible bout of luck – finding Reborn by coincidence of all things - or some kind of trap - but Reborn would not set him up in this fashion and his instincts were not giving any sort of warning.

Fon took another careful look around. Coincidence it was. How absurd.

He needed a chance to work through this. Reborn's Flames were curling aggressively, trying to identify the threat – though thereby confirming that Fon finding Reborn here, was not some sort of setup designed by the Strongest Sun himself.

No one knew Fon was even in Britain. Even the Triads thought he was still in Italy.

He briefly considered the option of making his identity known to Reborn but decided against it. This situation was far too volatile.

And the Sky's presence was definitely throwing Fon off.

The one thing Reborn and Fon had always shared was their longing for a Sky, a true Sky. The kind of Sky that offered a boundless canopy for the Elements to settle and spread, an expanse to orbit without restraints, as well as the focal point to always return to.

Still, they were also both well aware that they were far too strong to ever expect to find a Sky that might be able to pull them in.

That of course didn't stop the numerous Sky users they met to try and force a bond on them. Although Reborn had possibly had it harder than Fon.

The Triads were very interested in keeping Fon in his position of a neutral enforcer between the branches, thus none of the weaker Sky Flame users were willing to risk their wrath by trying to harmonize Fon. However, the same could not be said for the high ranking members of the Triads, though they tried to be subtle in their attempts – 'tried' being the key word there, Fon thought, making his lips almost curl in contempt.

Still, it at least limited the number of Sky Flame users trying to pull him in. Reborn had not had such luxury.

However, where Reborn had developed a clear dislike for Sky Flame users in general due to their constant attempts to pull him in by force or subterfuge – only ever asking, when their schemes failed – Fon held most Sky Flame users in contempt for letting themselves be used as tools by the powerful members of the Triads trying to further strengthen their base. The idea of being bound to a Sky like that, someone who would do the bidding of someone else - no questions asked - was abhorrent to Fon.

Despite this, Reborn and Fon had always agreed in their wish for a suitable Sky – their Flames longing for the bond - despite their less than friendly feelings for any Sky Flame users they had met.

Accordingly, Fon was especially surprised by the obviously amicable atmosphere between Reborn and the Sky sitting at his table.

The Sun simply did not do amicable. With anyone. No exceptions.

Fon kept his direct focus off the two Flame users sitting at the table, knowing that was the only way to avoid Reborn immediately pinpointing his position. Still, Fon could tell that the Sky who was sitting with Reborn was young, teenage young.

What little he had been able to witness of their interactions - in the few moments before Reborn had noticed his presence - had been surprising. Fon knew Reborn outside of a job or during a job. Knew what he was like when he was pulling in a target or charming someone out of information or into his bed.

This was unlike any of those situations. Reborn had seemed genuinely invested in the conversation. Focused intently on the little Sky sitting across the table.

Additionally, Fon could feel the astonishing purity of the Sky's Flames despite not even being able to get a clear read on the entirety of his Flames. How had Fon not heard of a Sky like this before?

The Sky was also a sharp contrast to Reborn, even disregarding his age. Where Reborn was dressed in his suit as usual, the Sky was wearing jeans and t-shirt, had fly-away hair that was obviously unstyled and was mostly curled up on his chair as he talked animatedly.

Though Reborn's focus on the Sky had quickly turned into a front while Reborn tried to figure out who was watching and from where. Fon was one of the very few people who had sufficient control over his Flames to hide his identity even from the World's Greatest Hitman.

The Sky also seemed to have amazing situational awareness as even though Reborn had not given any outward sign of having noticed a watcher, he had clearly realized something was off. He was actually keeping up the conversation and to anyone not quite as skilled as Fon, it might have seemed as though neither of the two sitting at the table had noticed anything.

Fon knew better.

Going by Reborn's instant and almost aggressive alert at noticing that he was being watched, Fon decided that it might be best to leave for now and wait whether Reborn would return tomorrow without the Sky.

When the two of them got up to leave, he stayed where he was for a moment, before quickly disappearing in the opposite direction.

 


 

During the next few days Fon returned to the café in the mornings and when Reborn didn't appear, he spent the rest of the day looking for more detailed information on the Corocos situation.

However, just as Fon had thought, several days later Reborn returned to the same café at the same time.

And surprisingly also in the same company.

That was unexpected.

Well, Reborn had always been good at surprising him and the World's Greatest Hitman clearly had no intention of leaving the young Sky out of this situation. Nothing for it then.

After flaring his Flames and getting confirmation from Reborn that he could approach, Fon calmly made his way towards them. All the while he assessed the Sky not only sitting with Reborn but also apparently included in Reborn's scheme.

Reborn wouldn't drag such a young Sky - not just any Sky, his instincts whispered - into a situation he couldn't entirely anticipate. Fon knew there was some piece of vital information he was missing.

Well, Reborn had always excelled at keeping Fon's life interesting, the Storm Flame user thought with a serene smile as he reached their table.

Chapter Text

My Sky?! Did Reborn just say my Sky?

Fon could practically feel his serene façade slip. The façade that he had spent years perfecting, right along with his absolute self control and his reputation of unshakable calm. At Reborn's statement however, for the first time in years, Fon could actually feel his eyes widen in surprise, as he – for a moment utterly speechless – simply stared at the World's Greatest Hitman.

Going by Reborn's smugly satisfied expression, Fon's reaction was also exactly what he had been aiming for. The Sun sure loved creating drama wherever he went.

Even when he had first seen Reborn in the presence of this Sky a few days ago, Fon had immediately discarded the thought of this possibly being Reborn's Sky.

But apparently Reborn had harmonized. Reborn had a Sky.

Almost involuntarily, Fon's eyes snapped to the Sky in question.

Only to be met with large green eyes staring right back at him.

This Sky who could not possibly have passed his teens yet - looking almost endearingly harmless in his slightly too large dark grey sweatshirt, halfway curled up in his chair - appeared entirely at ease sitting right next to the oh-so-very-feared World's Greatest Hitman.

A Sky strong enough to pull in the World's Greatest Hitman himself.

This certainly was not what he had been expecting to find when he followed Reborn's trail to London.

Though, forcing his amicable mask back into place, Fon bowed slightly in his seat and greeted Reborn's Sky politely, "Zǎoshang hǎo. It is nice to meet you."

With curiosity shining out of his eyes - having watched him ever since Fon had walked into view, never losing sight of him - the young Sky responded smoothly, "Nice to meet you as well."

+++

Fon's reaction was priceless, Reborn decided smugly.

It had been years since Reborn had been able to get a visible reaction to anything from Fon. Seeing the unflappable man's eyes actually widen slightly in surprise – it was minimal, barely visible, but there nonetheless – was more than a little gratifying.

It actually took the Storm a few moments to recover – still much too quickly in Reborn's opinion – regaining his legendary calm and offering a polite greeting to Harry.

Whose interest in the proceedings shone clearly out of his eyes even as he returned the greeting politely.

His Sky's curiosity truly was endless Reborn thought cheerfully to himself leaning back in his seat with a smirk.

+++

Harry was feeling slightly nonplussed.

Meeting an actual friend of Ren's was definitely not something Harry had expected for today. Well, his Sun had said comrade, but that was probably as close to the word friend as Reborn ever got.

Though 'comrade' - as in someone who Reborn had fought with, would rely on if necessary - certainly appeared to fit, as Harry couldn't even doubt the Chinese man's capability.

Just the power practically radiating from the man...

Even the brief flaring of the man's Flames earlier when he had announced his presence had made Harry's Flames surge abruptly.

And there was something else as well. Something other than the man's Flames. Something he couldn't quite put his finger on. Something imposing, towering, formidable tugging at Harry's senses.

It had been easy to pick the man out in the crowd. With his foreign features and his exotic embroidered red clothes this man stuck out like a sore thumb from the drab background of British city life of pale faces, grey suits and black umbrellas. And the fluid way he moved…

Everyone's attention should have been focused on the Chinese. But even as the people around him had parted like the sea when the man walked past them, they hadn't actually seemed to be affording him any sort of additional attention.

That had to be some kind of trick. A trick Harry desperately wanted to learn.

Harry was brought out of his thoughts by the man's polite greeting, which Harry returned easily, his magic near buzzing in excitement at meeting someone else like this – so self-assured, capable, powerful.

Someone so clearly very interesting.

+++

Fon had apparently decided to entirely ignore Reborn's previous statement, going for banal smalltalk instead as he stated serenely. "It is good to see you, péngyǒu."

Harry almost wanted to grin when he felt Reborn's smugness turn into slight irritation at the man regaining his composure so quickly. Not that Harry had actually been able to tell that there was anything off about the Chinese man's reaction in the first place. He was just going by the smug satisfaction that had practically been pouring off of Reborn after the introductions.

But despite the grouchiness Harry could feel along the bond, Reborn replied casually. "Yes, quite. Though unexpected."

"Unexpected indeed." Fon nodded placidly.

Reborn relaxed slightly at that. So, Fon's main purpose for being in London wasn't actually to track down Reborn.

He still wanted reassurance and asked lazily. "What brings you here?"

"Business relations."

Fon's easy reply answered all of Reborn's most pressing questions - business relations, meaning that while Fon's presence here was indeed due to a contract, their meeting itself was not actually covered by it – but at the same time gave Reborn only the bare bones of information.

How delightful, Reborn thought, leaning back in his seat and getting comfortable for an intense game of words, something he so very rarely got to indulge in with a conversation partner who would be able to entirely keep up.

Sitting at Reborn's side, Harry listened entirely fascinated as the conversation quickly gained layers and sub-layers within and underneath the words actually being said. All the while appearing like a polite back-and-forth between vague acquaintances.

About the stock market, of all things.

Even though Harry could pick out the layers beneath the words, he still was unable to entirely pick most of them apart. Although, he definitely understood the not so veiled threats being bandied about on both sides.

Their interactions definitely gave weight to the word 'comrade' that Ren had used to introduce Fon.

Harry was sure that he was missing quite a bit – possibly most - of what was actually being said. But he was also quite content to just listen - happily sipping his tea, relishing in having found something to focus his not inconsiderable curiosity on.

Fon noted to himself that this meeting was actually going surprisingly well so far. Especially considering the rather volatile situation, what with the presence of the young Sky, newly bonded to the World's Greatest Hitman.

Now though, Fon was about to ruin the surprisingly relaxed atmosphere at their table. He had been planning to tell Reborn about the suspicious happenings in the Mafia World even before pretty much stumbling across him in London.

The Sun having recently harmonized put a far more menacing spin on Fon's assumption that there was someone with far too much knowledge and power – and complete disregard for others' safety - searching for Reborn.

Especially, as Fon wasn't entirely certain just how well this Sky might be able to defend himself. He had certainly noticed that Reborn hadn't actually mentioned a Famiglia affiliation during the smug introduction of his young British Sky.

And this Sky simply did not feel like Mafia - Fon just wanted to take a moment to bask in the mixture of pure Sky Flames and untainted Qi curling in the air around them.

Also, British. Just like the additional passenger that the Corocos had brought with them to their compound.

At this point, Fon was rapidly putting the clues together. Starting with Reborn looking into a Famiglia attaining Flame activation technology and ending with him in the presence of a young, unknown Sky with Flames of ridiculous purity.

The only explanation how a Sky like this – young, unaffiliated and powerful - could possibly have evaded the notice of the world of organized crime was, that he simply had not been active before.

If he were to guess, he would say that Reborn had probably found the young civilian Sky with recently and forcefully activated Flames in the hands of the Corocos, freed him and after erasing their tracks – read: erasing the Corocos compound from the map - took the Sky back to Britain. Somewhere along the way they had harmonized.

It was no wonder Reborn had decided to disappear from the Mafia World for a while.

A newly formed bond to be settled and a civilian Sky to be taught before Reborn could even consider returning to the sink-or-swim world of organized crime.

Wǒ de tiān a, Fon did not even want to imagine the unfathomable destruction the Sun would wreak upon the world, if something – anything - were to so much as threaten Reborn's Sky.

So, Fon would warn Reborn about the current happenings in the Mafia World and then he would offer his support. If only to help protect the young Sky from whoever was apparently pulling the strings behind the scenes.

Still, it was regrettable that he was about to ruin the surprisingly relaxed atmosphere at their table, Fon thought even as he leaned forward in his seat, immediately bringing the entirety of Reborn's focus onto himself.

 


 

Fon made his way back into the city as he considered the events of the day. Finding Reborn with his newly harmonized Sky certainly went beyond anything he had been expecting.

He would have liked to continue their discussion, but Reborn and his Sky had a prior engagement and Fon had to get in contact with the Triads to keep them at least somewhat in the loop.

Well, for now he only intended to tell the Triads that the much sought after technology was currently in the possession of the World's Greatest Hitman himself and therefore simply 'liberating' it as planned was not actually an option.

As Reborn's involvement was already widely known in the Mafia, word would reach the Triads soon anyways, if it hadn't already.

And considering just who had the technology currently in their possession… Well, the Triads would definitely prefer bargaining with Reborn before even considering making him into an enemy by attacking outright.

Conveniently, his contract only required Fon to report in regards to the technology itself. He had no plans whatsoever to reveal anything about Reborn's Sky or even about having left Italy.

Especially, as he already had enough topics to distract his employers with. Like the incompetence of their informants.

Fon let his serene smile widen a bit. He was already looking forward to that discussion in particular.

But Reborn and his Sky had agreed to meet again tomorrow at a different café, too cautious to meet at the same place again. The Sky had seemed amused when they had discussed their meeting place for tomorrow, muttering something about 'vigilance' under his breath.

Fon had to admit that he had been surprised - and quite gratified for Reborn - that the Sky had apparently kept up with their conversation, even reacting with amusement to some of the jibes Reborn and Fon had thrown at each other.

Despite his endearingly harmless appearance, his bearing and ability to read the situation lent credence to the intently focused look in the Sky's eyes that was anything but harmless. Taking the ridiculously pure Flames into consideration and going by Reborn's obvious smugness, this Sky – Harry – probably also measured up in most everything else a Sky was supposed to be.

Fon ignored the slight twist of longing in his own chest at that thought. Reborn deserved a Sky, a true Sky.

And Fon had felt something else from the Sky, in addition to his Flames and his Qi, mixing, intertwining, to the point of the lines between these usually clearly separate energies blurring. Something that Fon had only felt a handful of times before, when he had been studying the most obscure forms of martial arts, while traveling through the most rural parts of his country, where true shamans still practiced their craft.

And the feeling had never been anything like this. Then, it had been barely there, teasing at the edges of his perception, weak but still poignant in its difference to Qi or Flames. With this Sky, it was something different altogether, the strength of it right up there with the Sky's Flames.

This Sky, the young Sky who had bonded to the Strongest Sun and whose Flames had been tentatively coiling towards Fon from time to time, this Sky had magic.

And wasn't that just something.

 


 

Reborn kept Harry tucked into his side the entire way back to their apartment.

Even though Fon's presence hadn't really bothered him as much as he had assumed anyone's would, someone having found them at all – having another Flame user, a potential threat, so close to his Sky - had his Flames on high alert.

Additionally, Fon's suspicions about there being someone pulling strings from behind the scenes - someone who Fon had not been able to identify at all, someone who apparently wanted to find Reborn no matter the cost - certainly fueled the need to keep his Sky close.

Despite the increased alertness he could sense from his Sun, Harry decided that he had had a great day so far.

He had met someone from Reborn's life, someone so very incredibly interesting. And who also clearly deserved Reborn's apparent trust just going by the fact that Fon had sought them out just to warn them about a possible threat.

Harry might not have gotten all the nuances of their conversation, but he had definitely understood that there was something going on in the Mafia World that pertained to his Sun. Someone was looking for Reborn and going by their methods they had no compunctions about putting everyone else in harm's way to get reach their goal. So, that someone might then try to pose a threat to Reborn.

Which is laughable and unacceptable at the same time, Harry thought irritably.

But at least it was only midday, so they still had about two hours until they were supposed to meet George at the joke shop. It should give them enough time to discuss everything that Harry was certain he had missed in their multi-sub-over-under-layered conversation.

Harry's mood immediately lifted at the thought of seeing George today.

George only had very little time to meet today, because he was planning to leave for Spain right after. George was planning to travel to various cities in Europe over the next week or so to look for potential locations for the opening of another joke shop outside of Britain.

Based on George's letters, Harry had surmised that the redhead had thrown all of himself into his work as soon as Harry had started his treatment at St. Mungo's - just as Harry had feared - and even more so when Harry had disappeared entirely.

With all the additional work George had put into the shop - and with people still feeling an increased need for anything joyful in their life now that the war was over - the joke shop was doing better than it ever had before and George was looking to expand further. Harry also knew that George simply needed to see something that didn't constantly remind him of the war, of losing Fred.

Harry forced his mind away from that train of thought.

The point being, that their meeting was on a pretty tight schedule with George leaving for at least a week, first to Seville, then Lisbon and then possibly Palermo and Paris to check out the competition there.

But Harry was so looking forward to introducing George to Reborn. Oh, did he ever anticipate that meeting. The Wizarding World won't know what hit it, Harry thought gleefully to himself.

Reborn couldn't help but grin down at his Sky who was nearly bouncing in excitement where he was tucked into Reborn's side.

He knew that Harry was excited about meeting George later on. His Sky had become increasingly agitated with each time he had been forced to push back their visit to the joke shop, clearly worried for his friend. Reborn was also looking forward to meeting one of the very few people in Harry's life who had actually stuck by his side through all the crap that had been heaped on his little Sky.

Reborn was still planning to make his displeasure regarding the treatment of his little Sky at the hands of various people in the Wizarding World known. He could use an ally in that, if only to make sure Harry didn't 'forget' to mention anyone who might have been involved.

And based on Harry's stories of the twin redheads, Reborn had a feeling that he would not have any problems getting George on board with that particular endeavor. No problems at all.

Reborn did nothing to suppress the sadistically vindictive grin spreading over his face.

A random pedestrian walking in their direction flinched at seeing his expression, quickly crossing the road to hurriedly walk past them on the other side of the street.

Good instincts, Reborn thought magnanimously.

+++

Arriving at their apartment, Reborn – as usual – prepared something for them to drink while Harry – also as usual – cooed over Fawkes and Leon as though he hadn't seen them for weeks. Both of their companions preened under the attention heaped on them from his adorable Sky.

Reborn watched on with amusement.

There really wasn't any reason for the pretend separation anxiety, especially since Leon had been hiding on his person the entire time. Well, Reborn also wasn't going to comment, since in his humble – and completely unbiased – opinion, Harry cuddling with their companions was just about the most adorable thing to ever grace the face of the earth.

Settling on the couch with their drinks, he was soon joined by Harry - Leon returning to his usual spot in one of the window alcoves to soak up the sun and Fawkes disappearing to places unknown as he was wont to do - who leaned against one of the arm rests and after a moment of hesitation, settled his legs across Reborn's lap. Reborn certainly had no problems with this arrangement and wrapped a hand around one of Harry's slim ankles.

He noted the way his hand easily wrapped around the entirety of Harry's ankle, with room to spare. His Sky was still far too skinny, he observed, his thumb drawing small circles on Harry's shin where it was tucked under the leg of Harry's pants.

It was wonderfully calming.

And Reborn did nothing to hide his smirk at the blush spreading over Harry's cheeks, who immediately took to hiding behind his tea cup but did nothing to remove his leg from Reborn's grip. Relaxing in the comfortable silence, Reborn was glad that they still had some time before they had to leave again.

Fon had been fine with cutting their meeting short and Reborn knew that the Storm would be getting in contact with the Triads, if only to let them know that the much sought after technology was currently in Reborn's hands and therefore non-retrievable. He trusted Fon to keep anything regarding Harry out of his report.

Reborn knew that there were some aspects of today's conversation that Harry couldn't have understood simply because he lacked the background knowledge of the Mafia itself. So, after relaxing in silence for a while, Reborn started explaining the intricacies and implications of today's revelations as Harry listened intently, rarely throwing in a comment or a question.

Reborn had been relieved that nothing in Fon's account had even hinted at the list of potential Flame users. If even Fon didn't know of the list - especially after digging specifically for information regarding the entire situation – it was unlikely anyone else had been able to find out about it.

Not that the list itself actually existed anymore.

After confirming that Harry's name was actually on it - and thereby giving it validity - Reborn had destroyed it. Of course, only after memorizing every single name on it. It never hurt to have something extra to bargain with.

However, even now they were no closer to figuring out how the list had actually been compiled or how Harry's name had ended up on it. Especially, as only a very limited number of people had had access to Harry over the past year, almost all of whom were wizards and thereby incredibly unlikely to be involved in the non-magical Mafia in any way.

Additionally, Reborn was certain he was missing some piece of vital information regarding the list.

The Corocos goon had told him that they had only tried the technology once, before immediately moving on to Harry. It seemed incredibly unlikely to Reborn that they had picked a Sky of Harry's purity by coincidence on their second try.

Especially, as the Corocos had traveled to another country to specifically pick Harry up beforehand.

It was far to organized to be a coincidence, meaning they must have known somehow that Harry might turn out unusually powerful. But there had been no indication of that on the list at all.

Harry was aware of all of this, so Reborn felt no need to mention it again.

Instead he concluded with, "Although pretty much everyone in the Mafia World will be interested in the technology, most groups will try bargaining instead of directly attacking, as the small fries will not actually dare mess with me and the big players are mostly interested in maintaining the current power balance."

When Reborn paused, Harry easily added. "But the groups in the midfield have a lot to gain by coming after us."

Reborn took just a moment to appreciate the natural us in that sentence, before agreeing.

"They'll probably pool resources with other groups to increase their chances. And depending on the group they would have no problem with just forcing Flame activation in anyone, hoping to hit the jackpot with someone truly strong. Someone like you."

Reborn knew what was coming, but they lapsed into companionable silence for a while.

Finally, Harry broke the silence by remarking, "So, we might need support."

And it pained Harry say so because he hated having to rely on anyone - with the sole and fairly recent exception of his Sun - but Harry was also very aware that he was currently near useless where Mafia matters were concerned, so he would damn well make sure that they had some decent support, as his Flames and magic were urging him to do.

Reborn wanted to frown in irritation at the truth of that statement.

He knew that Harry wasn't weak, but he was also aware that his little Sky was a magical fighter. And while Harry had the Flame power to beat out most everyone else, he had used his Flames for the first time only a few days ago and couldn't possibly know how to use them effectively in a fight yet.

Meaning, his Sky was vulnerable, even more so as he could not actually use his magic in any Mafia matters due to the Statute of Secrecy.

And when the Mafia found out about Harry…

Just attaining a powerful Sky like Harry would be enough to bring out even the most influential players of the criminal underworld. As well as the most unscrupulous. If gaining control of this Sky would then also mean gaining leverage over the World's Greatest Hitman… It would be calamity.

Add in the new and entirely unknown threat that Fon had brought to his attention and Reborn's Flames were urging him to accept Fon's not so subtle offer of support. If only as additional protection for his Sky.

At least he knew that he could rely on the Storm, trust him not to stab him in the back and to keep his word of protecting Harry. If he had to rely on someone, Fon was actually the best possible option he could possibly think of.

Something Harry had clearly picked up on as well, going by his next question.

"Fon is a friend?"

Reborn considered for a moment, before explaining. "We have a pretty solid alliance and I know that I can rely on Fon for information and support during jobs. Most importantly, I trust that he will never betray me directly, which is about as much as you can trust anyone in our circles."

Harry was clearly fascinated. "How did you meet?"

Reborn relaxed back into the couch, resuming drawing circles on Harry's shin. "We met during the time I spent away from the Mafia to erase my name. We were both pretty young, still teenagers. Considering that I ran into him, while he was just finishing a hit it wasn't all that hard to figure out that we were both involved in organized crime."

Reborn grinned at Harry who was watching him with bright eyes. "We might have indulged in some less than verbal disagreement, before we decided to leave each other be." He drawled.

Harry couldn't help but grin at that.

With an answering smirk, Reborn continued. "We ran into each other again about a year later, when I was still avoiding the Mafia itself but he had been starting to make a name for himself. I joined him for some higher ranking jobs, though even now no one is aware that we know each other beyond maybe running into each other by coincidence."

"So, you work well together?" Harry asked.

Harry had clearly realized from his comments that Fon could probably keep up with Reborn in regards to influence and power.

"Fon actually has a unique standing in the Chinese Triads, holding the position of a neutral enforcer, with no defined loyalty to any particular branch but the power to bring most of them to their knees." Reborn considered for a moment.

He continued, "Fon actually prefers subtlety to force for achieving his goals and after taking the position of enforcer, he has kept a low profile. Though if he wanted to he could easily claim the title of the Strongest Storm."

And Reborn definitely meant that.

He had never seen anyone use Disintegration the way Fon could. Reborn had witnessed the Storm literally disintegrate entire buildings and on one very memorable occasion even an entire forest.

There had been nothing left after. Nothing. Not even a pile of dust. It had definitely been impressive.

It had also been the day Reborn decided to avoid ever truly angering the Storm.

"Strongest Storm…" Harry mulled over that assessment even as he thought of the strange feeling he had gotten from the Chinese man and hesitated slightly, not entirely certain how to even put it into words. "There was something else, other than his Flames…"

Reborn marveled at Harry's instincts.

Fon had absolute control over his Qi and his Flames, so for Harry to still feel not only the man's Flames but also his Qi was quite the feat. Reborn steadfastly ignored what this might mean for their compatability.

" Fon is a master of several martial arts and he has an insane amount of Qi with legendary control."

Qi? Harry had no idea what to make of that. He opened his mouth to ask how Qi fit into the picture between magic and Flames, but before he had the chance, Fawkes suddenly re-appeared on the back rest of one of the dining chairs in a burst of flames. With a letter in his beak.

Immediately, Harry was up and reaching for the letter, absentmindedly stroking over Fawkes' feathers and trying to ignore his anxiousness at the thought that only very few people knew to call Fawkes in order to get in contact with him, namely his lawyers, his healers and George.

He quickly scanned the missive. It was from George. Who was letting Harry know that he had already left for Spain.

Because the Order had shown up at the joke shop.

To discuss some sort of new Order business.

And George had just turned around and left.

Fred had died fighting for the Order. For anyone to approach George with anything that included even a vague mention of the Order was just another example of apparently no one realizing just how incredibly lost George was. How helplessly he was floundering after losing his other half.

And how close they still were to losing him as well.

Harry gnashed his teeth in frustration.

Before his treatment, Harry had done his best to be there for George, if only to just give him the simple comfort of another presence close by – something George had never ever been without as long as his twin had been alive - but even then he had known, it could never possibly be enough.

Harry felt Reborn step in close behind him and for once he refused to feel self-conscious when he leaned back into his Sun's chest who reacted immediately by curling an arm around Harry's waist.

Reborn read the letter over Harry's shoulder, though showing no outward reaction to the contents. He was definitely getting sick and tired of any mention of Order members at this point. These people were continuing to pop up as the main instigators of most of his Sky's anger and pain.

And Reborn certainly hadn't forgotten that it had been the adults closest to Harry who had failed him the most. Before, during and after the war.

He knew how very resentful Harry still felt about the actions of the Order after the war, content to entirely ignore Harry after he had done what an entire world had demanded of him, but then feeling entitled to make uninformed decisions on his behalf, which had put his Sky's health in serious danger and even put him in the hands of the Mafia.

Oh, Reborn had not forgotten at all.

Harry almost felt like popping over to the joke shop to confront the Order members. Or rather to unleash Reborn on them, Harry thought vindictively.

And now George had already left for Spain. Harry couldn't even send him a letter with Fawkes before tonight, because he had no idea whether George might already be meeting with one of the realtors right now.

He breathed out harshly in frustration. "How dare they? How dare they even consider calling on George whenever they feel like it?"

Reborn didn't even try to placate him, resting his chin against Harry's temple, as Harry took a deep breath trying to calm his temper. His anger gave way to irritation.

"And what in Merlin's name could this 'Order business' possibly be about anyways?" Harry huffed. "The Order's purpose was to fight against Voldemort when the Ministry wouldn't. But the war is over. Voldemort is dead. The Order has no reason to have any business anymore at all!"

Harry was sure that this 'Order business' somehow pertained to him or one of his many ridiculous titles. It always did in some way.

He rambled on in irritation. "So, not only is there something happening in the Mafia that we will have to deal with, but now the Order is up to something as well?!"

Reborn couldn't help his grin as he watched Harry rant on.

His Sky was adorable, all fluffed up like an angry kitten. Not that he would ever be mentioning this thought out loud. He enjoyed Harry's kitten glowers too much to risk him trying to stop throwing them around.

With Harry's fury mostly abated, Reborn squeezed the arm around Harry's waist whilst eyeing the delicious picture his Sky made – with those green eyes blazing up at him and the slight blush on his cheeks that Harry seemed to be incapable of suppressing at even the slightest provocation.

Reborn grinned, "Well, you did give me fair warning when you said that I wouldn't have to worry about boredom while having you around, lovely."

Chapter Text

Harry's good mood was starting to border on the ridiculous - and no, he was not nearly skipping at Reborn's side as they made their way to meet Fon - but he simply did not care right now.

George had finally replied to his letter this morning and it had clearly been an excellent idea for the redhead to get out of Britain for a while.

George sounded so cheerful! Harry thought happily.

The other wizard was currently staying at a hostel in Seville - enjoying the 'Muggle Experience' as he called it - and appeared to be endlessly entertained by the muggles around him.

Although the redhead's accommodations also made it quite difficult for them to meet right now.

Harry had refused to let George interrupt his trip, even if only to visit their apartment in London. But George had promised to get himself an actual hotel room for his next stop. And then Fawkes could take Harry and Reborn to visit George there.

Finally.

So, they were going to visit George within the next days and Harry was going to see a foreign country for the first time - his last stay in Italy obviously didn't count because between being held prisoner by the Corocos and recuperating in Reborn's apartment he had never actually stepped foot outside – and he was so excited!

A new country to see, with Reborn at his side. Going exploring with Ren was bound to be exciting.

He felt his grin widen even further at that thought and he simply ignored Reborn smirking down at him. Harry certainly wasn't complaining about the arm sneaking around his waist and tugging him into his Sun's side.

During their discussion yesterday, Reborn had told him that whatever was currently happening in the Mafia was most likely entirely unrelated to their bond. Because Fon had not known about Harry at all. Reborn was convinced that if anyone had found out about Reborn harmonizing, Fon would have heard about it.

When it had become apparent that they would not be able to meet George as planned, Harry had instead decided to get a little more familiar with his Flames.

His Sun had been happy to give Harry pointers on how to direct his Flames to either manifest – curling around Harry's arms as fiery snakes - or to remain invisible - spreading throughout his surroundings, increasing his awareness of everything around him.

Or how to let his Flames entwine with Reborn's own Flames– and Merlin, the feeling had literally taken Harry's breath away.

And no, just because by the end of it Harry had been more or less curled up in Reborn's lap as their Flames twined around them, they had not been cuddling. They hadn't.

Harry suppressed the blush that threatened to spread over his cheeks at the memory.

Reborn grinned down at his Sky. Harry was being impossibly adorable right now - almost bouncing at Reborn's side, keeping up a constant stream of chatter, near beaming with happiness. Though Reborn would really like to know what had brought about the blush that was currently gracing his Sky's cheeks.

Harry had been in a constantly good mood ever since receiving George's letter this morning. His little Sky had even stated that he would be holding on to his good mood for as long as he possibly could, damn whatever the Mafia and especially the bloody Order are up to.

His Sky had been puffed up in his indignation and if it weren't so very undignified, Reborn might have cooed at the picture he made.

Reborn himself was actually feeling pretty good right now. Everything seemed to be going in his favor recently.

He had his adorable little Sky at his side – their bond pulsing with Harry's good mood – and the situations apparently brewing in the Mafia as well as in the Wizarding World virtually guaranteed that Reborn wouldn't have to worry about anything even resembling boredom any time soon.

Additionally, Fon – one of the only people Reborn would willingly trust to watch his back – had shown up and Reborn's instincts – which had been insistently clamoring at him that his Sky needed more protection – had calmed slightly ever since they had decided to accept Fon's offer of support.

And while his instincts' insistence regarding the necessity of additional support already confirmed that whatever was happening in the Mafia was just as fishy as it appeared, having to accept anyone's help at all still rankled Reborn. Not to even mention his irritation at letting someone else – comrade or not - close to Harry.

Not like I'm going make it easy for him in any way, Reborn smirked cheerfully to himself.

Turning another corner, they spotted Fon sitting at a table outside at the café Harry had suggested for their meeting. Harry had remembered passing the cozy-looking café a few times on his way between the Leaky Cauldron and his apartment before his stint to Italy. He had always wanted to check it out.

When they reached the table, Fon stood to bow politely in greeting, smiling serenely.

"Good morning." Harry greeted cheerfully, while Reborn just nodded in return.

As they settled at the table, his Sun immediately restarted yesterday's conversation as though the two men had never interrupted their discussion in the first place, quickly turning to the details of Fon's report to the Triads, all the while appearing like a discussion on the inner workings of hospital administration.

Well, Harry knew that the more boring a conversation appeared, the less likely anyone was to try and listen in.

Nothing made people as curious as a whispered conversation. He could attest to that.

And Harry was entirely content to observe them as they conversed, just as fascinated by their dynamic as he had been yesterday. Just sitting there, the two Flame users still made for two impressive figures, practically oozing capability and self-assuredness.

Curiously, even though the aura around them was quite intimidating, to Harry it felt almost soothing. He definitely did not know what to make of that, though he was certainly not going to complain about feeling entirely safe while in public for once in his life. His magic and Flames were basking in the calm he could feel on Reborn's side of the bond.

Harry had to remind himself again, not to get lost in the feeling of the bond – its humming seemed to only have increased with Harry's use of his Flames - and tried to focus on the discussion going on in front of him.

+++

When the waitress finally approached their table for their order, Reborn did not even bother to pause in his discussion with Fon about the Triads' not-so-enthusiastic reaction to finding out about Reborn being the one to have 'relieved' the Corocos of the Flame activation technology.

Though seeing the blushing waitress' eyes fixed unwaveringly on Fon, Reborn gleefully threw in a jab about Fon's apparent admirer.

To Harry's obvious amusement.

But sadly the Storm did not actually deign to respond and turned to the waitress with a serene smile to order his usual swill – read: tea.

Tea like Harry. To his Sky's apparent delight, who decided to entirely ignore the gravity of their current discussion, instead throwing a smug look in Reborn's direction. Reborn could almost hear the unvoiced, triumphant Hah! that went with it.

He couldn't help but respond cheerfully, "Priorities lovely. Priorities."

He watched delightedly as a slight blush made its way across his Sky's cheeks in response.

Harry decidedly ignored Reborn's comment and the utter fondness he could feel along their bond from his Sun.

Still, that is two out of three for tea, Harry thought petulantly. Take that, heathen!

Fon let his serene smile actually widen slightly. Their dynamic is certainly amusing, he observed silently.

He had certainly never expected to witness the World's Greatest Hitman seriously debating the merits of coffee versus tea. And despite the ridiculousness of their argument, Reborn appeared to be reacting with nothing but utter fondness to the young Sky. That was definitely something Fon had never thought to see in his life.

Fon could only congratulate this young Sky on seemingly mastering arguing with the World's Greatest Hitman.

Usually, any discussion with Reborn was an exercise in patience and over the years the Sun had managed to exasperate Fon nearly to the point of murder several times. Though Fon had learnt to cover his reaction, just as Reborn had learnt to ignore any attempts from Fon to make him loose control.

It is certainly nice to catch up with old acquaintances, Fon thought serenely.

Especially, if they came with such interesting company.

A Sky, strong enough to pull in the strongest Sun, a Sky with magic and who looked so endearingly harmless - a sharp contrast to Reborn's menacing presence - that Fon already felt an urge to protect him. Even without a bond helping him along.

And if Fon felt like this without Harmonization, what must this feel like to Reborn...

Wǒ de tiān a, the Mafia had barely been able to handle Reborn on his good days. Fon did not even want to imagine the chaos that would come with Reborn in full protective mode.

Especially when considering the effect just the Sky's existence was going to have on the Mafia.

The Mafia took comfort in the 'fact' that there would never be a Sky strong enough to pull in an element of Reborn's strength.

Because if there ever were a Sky strong enough for Reborn, that Sky would also be strong enough to pull in any other high-rank Element of their world - and Fon actively did not think about what this might mean for himself, for his own chances of finally finding a Sky, finding Harmony, finding a home.

And a group formed around a Sky like that would instantly render the existing power structure utterly obsolete.

So, just the news of Reborn harmonizing would throw the entire world of organized crime into chaos. And that was without taking into consideration what sort of mayhem Reborn would be causing purposefully. Add in the young Sky that seemed to be entirely willing and capable to keep up with the Sun...

Fon personally was just looking forward to the entertainment.

He almost wanted to let his serene smile tilt into the anticipatory grin that he could feel tugging at the corners of his mouth. Offering his support to Reborn - and thereby staying close to the Sun and his Sky - had definitely been one of Fon's better ideas.

He refocused on Reborn when the Sun turned back to Fon with a last mirthful grin in his Sky's direction, effectively ending their coffee-versus-tea debate.

Harry looked to be somewhere between blushing in mortification or huffing in exasperation at the Sun.

Fon could more than relate to the sentiment.

+++

Harry knew that Fon was assessing him even while they talked. And it made him slightly nervous.

He was well aware that he generally did not paint a very impressive picture, that he tended to be dismissed, overlooked.

Harry had learned early in life to appear as nonthreatening, unobtrusive, invisible as possible, if only to avoid Vernon's anger or Dudley's little gang of bullies. He had certainly gotten good at appearing like the least interesting thing in a room, possibly even too good, as people rarely ever thought him to be worth their notice.

Well, unless he got angry.

Then he had been told he was utterly terrifying, with his magic coiling at his back, pressing down on everyone around him. Leaving no illusions as to who was actually to be considered in charge.

It was his version of the vanishing trick he had seen Reborn and Fon pull. While Harry never actually disappeared from anyone's radar, people tended to entirely dismiss him right from the get go. They only ever realized their mistake if Harry chose to 'point it out' to them.

But Harry would very much like to make an at least generally good impression on the Chinese - and Harry ignored all the possible reasons for this - despite still not quite knowing what to make of the Storm.

Based on Reborn's stories, Fon was one of the most powerful players in the world of organized crime. But while the Storm seemed to exude self-assuredness and uncompromising capability - just like Ren - he also appeared to be surprisingly amicable, polite, friendly, peaceful even.

Well, peaceful might not be the best word, considering that at this point their conversation had devolved into a near humorous verbal war. The two Flame users nudging at each other's patience with hints, half-truths, condescending almost-questions and placating non-answers.

Harry was certainly amused.

But then.

A sudden ripple in his magic – a nudge, a warning - abruptly caught Harry's attention.

From one moment to the next, Reborn felt Harry's attention suddenly focus elsewhere. Somewhere beyond their table.

Immediately he let his Flames curl in the air around them in response to Harry's alert. And Fon obviously caught on right away, letting his own Flames join Reborn's, spreading through the wider area around them, giving Reborn the peace of mind that someone was watching their back.

Not that anyone would have been able to tell that his or Fon's attention had in any way wavered from their now entirely meaningless conversation.

His Sky had obviously sensed something, long before Reborn or even Fon. Which could really only mean one thing.

Magic. Or more specifically, wizards.

Just then three people wandered out of an alley on the other side of the street. Two men and a woman, Reborn noted from where he appeared to be lazily sprawled in his chair.

The wizards were scanning the street with their eyes - obviously looking for something or someone - and suspiciously quickly fixed their sight on Harry. They promptly started towards their table, not even considering the mayhem they were causing by blindly walking out into the traffic.

Imbeciles.

Harry certainly hadn't been exaggerating about the idiocy of wizards.

Well, this should at least be interesting, Reborn thought. Especially, with Fon here as well.

They certainly hadn't been planning to confront the Storm with the Magical World right away, much less without ever getting the chance to explain the situation to him.

Well, nothing for it now.

Harry was not amused. He had been in such a good mood, too! But well, it had been several weeks since life threw a wrench into his plans.

About time the Potter Luck acted up again, Harry thought testily.

The three wizards approaching their table were easily identifiable as such, seeing as they had only slightly transfigured their clothes to look a bit like really old-fashioned floor-length coats instead of actual robes. They had not even bothered to change the colors, two men in Auror-red and a woman in dark brown.

The latter, Harry immediately recognized.

Hestia Jones. A member of the Order. Who according to Madam Pomfrey had been directly involved in getting him removed from St. Mungo's and quite vocal in her defense of the Order's actions afterwards. Any positive feelings Harry might have had for Jones had instantly evaporated with that information.

And wasn't this situation just wonderfully fishy, an Order member in the company of two Aurors, searching for Harry. Their obvious non-surprise at seeing him sitting at a random café somewhere in Muggle London certainly answered any questions of whether this might be a coincidence, Harry thought disparagingly.

Fon calmly observed the situation, letting his Flames spread through the wider area, leaving Reborn free to focus most of his attention on their immediate surroundings and the people approaching their table. Even though Fon had no way to really interpret what was happening, neither Reborn nor his Sky appeared to be pleased in the least.

Watching the three wizards approach Reborn noted that there was barely any power to speak of between them. Nothing like his Sky's magic. And even though, there was very little in the world that registered as an actual threat to his instincts anymore, these three certainly didn't, Reborn thought derisively.

Although that really wasn't the main concern here.

These wizards had clearly known exactly where to look for Harry. A clear example of foul play, and Reborn was really looking forward to confronting whoever had decided to screw his Sky over in this instance.

Looking forward to it indeed, Reborn thought menacingly.

His Sky was radiating irritation as he watched them approach. Which went entirely ignored as the younger of the two wizards - wide eyes near obsessively fixed on Harry ever since spotting him – burst out as soon as they reached their table

"Harry Potter! It is so wonderful to finally meet you!"

Irritation flickered through Harry at the Auror's words, even as he calmly kept his focus on the woman of the group.

Fon observed that there was a strange familiarity in the way the man spoke to Reborn's Sky despite his own assertion of never having met Harry before. Although, the Sky certainly didn't seem to share in the familiarity.

And going by his expression, Reborn appreciated it even less.

Though the newcomer remained oblivious, earnestly trying to get Harry's attention with some sort of magazine, nearly falling over his own feet trying to get closer to Harry. By getting past Reborn.

Good luck with that, Fon thought amused.

Still, the man babbled on, "Harry Potter, would you sign a copy of Teen Witch Weekly for my niece? She is a big fan and I promised her I would ask you when we found you."

Fon could feel Reborn's focus shift slightly onto himself.

And with good reason. Fon had guessed that this situation would have something to do with magic, as these people had magic as well, though at a ridiculously lower level than Reborn's Sky.

But, Teen Witch Weekly? Fon had no words.

He actually had to take a moment to assimilate this.

While he had been aware of magic itself existing, this hinted something much more far-reaching than he had expected. Fon definitely had questions. Numerous questions.

But they could wait and until then, he would lend the support he had promised. There would be time for questions afterwards.

Fon briefly moved his eyes from scanning their surroundings to steadily and calmly meet Reborn's. The Sun tilted his head slightly in acknowledgement before returning his complete attention to the conversation taking place in front of them.

Harry wasn't even going to consider the fact that these people had just revealed the Wizarding World to Fon. Even though as a Flame user he couldn't really be called a Muggle, it should still count.

Well, not Harry's fault, not his problem and he would really love to see some Ministry official trying to get past Harry, Reborn and Fon himself in order to wipe the Storm's memory.

Oh yes, that should be quite the sight indeed, Harry thought vindictively even as his focus never wavered from Jones, entirely ignoring the presence of the other two wizards.

There was a slightly awkward silence before the woman attempted something of a smile. "Hello, Harry."

"Jones." Harry returned calmly.

So, his Sky knew the woman at least somewhat, but going by his demeanor it also wasn't a positive acquaintance. Possibly one of the numerous people in Harry's life that failed him, purposefully or not. Another name for The List.

There was a brief pause, before the woman apparently decided to switch gears and continued in an almost reproachful manner. "It is very good to see that you are well. We were very worried about you when you disappeared from your relatives'."

Just going by the menacing edge of Reborn's lazily curling Flames, there was clearly more to that statement than the obvious, Fon observed. He was certainly getting the impression that the woman was obliviously digging herself a nice, deep grave.

Fon had to admit he was slightly surprised at the Sky being the one to handle this situation, as he had expected Reborn to do everything he could to keep his Sky out of any given conflict. It spoke of a reassuringly balanced bond between the two Flame users if Reborn let the rather young Sky handle his own conflicts.

The Sky himself showed no outward reaction at all, sitting primly and inquiring calmly, "Disappeared?"

Jones was clearly registering some of the underlying aggression in his response, hesitating for a moment before continuing. "Yes, it was very unwise to leave your relatives' without informing anyone of your whereabouts."

"Leave?" Here, Harry mockingly raised his eyebrows - sadly he had never mastered raising just one, and he had tried, oh had he tried.

Fon could not help but enjoy watching the drama currently unfolding in front of him. It was clear that the woman had been anticipating a different sort of reaction from the young Sky and was growing increasingly flustered with Harry's one-worded responses.

Who suddenly didn't appear all that endearingly harmless anymore.

Instead his Qi, his presence was taking on a looming edge, pressing down on the people across from them.

Reborn looked somewhere between turned on and wishing for a bowl of popcorn to enjoy with the show. Fon felt his impression confirmed that this Sky would be more than interesting to be around. Honestly, idleness was never a problem in Reborn's presence but apparently even less so if Harry was thrown into the mix.

The woman continued with forced obliviousness. "Yes, anything could have happened to you outside of the Order's protection."

Harry calmly took a sip of his tea, leaving an awkward pause, clearly having no intention of responding.

The Sky was certainly succeeding in flustering the woman, who continued. "And to find out that you were staying here in Muggle London, not letting anyone know even though there are a lot of people worrying about you right now! It was very irresponsible of you, Harry."

… Muggle. That was certainly a word Fon had never heard before. At this point, Fon had resolved to keep a list of all the words, that he had never heard before. He would have time to ask his questions later. He would indeed.

Though the last statement finally brought more of a reaction from the young Sky, as he put down his teacup and leaned forward slightly.

"Find out?" And despite the young Sky not really changing anything about just repeating a part of the woman's previous statement, instead of the slight sarcastic mockery of his previous questions, there was suddenly a lot of weight behind his tone.

The woman immediately came to a screeching halt, clearly at a loss what to say.

In the subsequent silence no one moved, waiting for a reaction, any reaction at this point. The atmosphere was growing increasingly oppressive the longer the silence continued.

Still, Harry had heard enough and had no interest in listening to another rambling statement designed to anger him into losing control. He let his eyes visibly narrow and his magic snap in the air, making the three wizards flinch.

Reborn's lazy smirk just widened. Fon took another sip of his tea.

Harry let them stew for a few moments before calmly asking as though he was not letting his magic communicate just how very not pleased he was right now. "And how exactly did you find out about me staying in Muggle London at the moment." Harry was very aware that there was no question mark at the end of that sentence. He had not intended there to be one.

There were very few people who even knew that he had even returned to Britain at this point, most of whom he trusted to keep his secrets, either due to loyalty or due to self-interest.

And Harry did not actually have to ask where the information leak had been. He knew the older Auror standing next to Jones. Auror Proudfoot.

Harry remembered Proudfoot as Savage's partner during Scrimgeour's time and certainly remembered him from Neville's stories of Hogwarts during the war. At least his loyalties were pretty predictable going by the fact that his old partner was Head Auror and by his general puffed up appearance.

Harry was sure he would be getting along with Proudfoot just as well as he had with Savage.

And it was indeed Proudfoot who responded self-importantly – confirming every thought that Harry had just had about him.

"Head Auror Savage informed her most trusted officers of your return and the importance of keeping you safe from the Dark forces."

Harry had expected something like that, but it was still incredibly irritating. He ignored the second part of the Auror's statement. It was just the same drivel he had been forced to listen to before.

So, Savage had apparently taken the information she had gained during their confidential meeting with Kingsley and spread it around as she pleased to Ministry personnel who then apparently felt no compunctions revealing this information to their extended relatives going by the younger Auror's exclamation about his niece.

Wizards. It was probably only magic itself that let wizards survive this long at all. Otherwise they would definitely have misjudged themselves out of existence by now.

Still, the question remained, just how had they known exactly where to look for him? He raised his eyebrows at the rather obvious gap in the information.

Fon was impressed at the way the young Sky was handling the situation.

The younger Auror apparently saw his chance to get Harry's attention back onto himself, completely oblivious to the anger roiling in the young Sky's looming presence.

"Right after we received the Head Auror's orders, Senior Auror Proudfoot contacted the Department of Mysteries who provided us with a tracking spell to hone in on your magical signature as soon as we were close enough." The idiot explained happily.

Proudfoot clearly hadn't planned on Harry finding out this particular detail of how they had been able to pin point his location, looking uncomfortable though trying to cover his reaction. The younger Auror happily rambled on obliviously. He was near glowing at having Harry's attention.

"And then thankfully, the Order of the Phoenix pointed us to this part of Muggle London, giving us a starting point. Combined with the tracking spell it proofed to be just perfect!"

Fon calmly expanded his list of vocabulary questions in the pause that followed.

Harry felt calm settle over him. So, that was how they had found him. They had used his magical signature. Which he had entirely forgotten to mask in his joy at using his magic again after such a long time.

During the war, everyone had had their magic masked. No one, be they Death Eater, Auror, Order member or civilian was stupid enough to leave their magic unmasked. And Harry had had more interest than most in keeping his magical signature hidden.

But the reset of his magical core would have removed those protective spells and then Harry had used his magic for the first time in months and he had entirely forgotten to reapply them.

And somehow these people had known about it, had known it was something they could exploit. How bloody convenient.

As for the Order supplying information of his potential whereabouts to the Ministry…

They had definitely done worse to him before. Still, the war was over now, dammit all to hell. The Order had no business using and much less providing information like that to third parties.

Reborn remained focused on the three wizards even as he let his Flames curl along their bond to soothe his little Sky. He knew how hurtful it must be for Harry to hear that the Order was working with the Ministry to get their will.

Basking in the calm radiating from his Sun, Harry managed to suppress his reaction and turned back to the woman of the group, "And just how is it that the Order was aware of my general whereabouts?"

Jones had apparently also realized that this situation was not going to resolve quite the way she had envisioned.

She had clearly been aiming from the start to make Harry lose control, probably with the goal to have the Aurors bring him to the Ministry for revealing magic to Muggles, or for his protection, or for endangering Ministry personnel, or whatever other ridiculous reasoning they could come up with in order to justify it.

Harry raised his eyebrows.

Jones finally answered, trying to hide her defensiveness, "Well, a while ago Diggle saw you at St. Mungo's after the Final Battle and he followed you, to... to make sure you were doing alright. You were spotted a few times by Order members in this area afterwards. It was easy to conclude that you had a place to stay somewhere close." The smugness in her voice at her own perceived cleverness made Harry want to grind his teeth.

So, that was how they had found him.

'Having been spotted' probably meant that the Order had actively taken up their perceived duty of Harry watching again when he did not keep them up to date with his plans and actions. They had probably followed him from St. Mungo's regularly.

During the time of his frequent checkups at the hospital before the actual treatment, he had had to struggle increasingly just to make his way home at all, what with his waning attention due to his retreating magic.

His magic had retreated to the point that it hadn't been safe to apparate any longer and he had refused to have a Floo connection installed at his apartment, because that would have decreased the security significantly and also required registration with the Ministry if done legally. And he absolutely abhorred portkeys and would avoid using them if at all possible.

So, he had been forced to Floo from St. Mungos to the Leaky cauldron and then make his way to his apartment on foot.

At least this was finally an explanation just how the Order had known that he had been at the hospital at all before they made the decision to 'get involved' with his recovery.

Though, just when had they found out about this? Had they known he was visiting St. Mungo's regularly, known there was probably something wrong with him and no one had thought to actually approach him prior to him being incoherent in bed after the treatment?

Had no one thought to ask him if everything was alright with him? If there was something they could help him with for once?

Harry forced his mind away from these thoughts and instead focused on the information on how they had found him here in Muggle London. Apparently, he simply hadn't been careful enough, recently by forgetting to mask his magical signature and previously by not checking whether he was being followed after his visits to St. Mungo's.

How embarrassing. Especially when considering that he was currently sharing a table with two people who had made subterfuge their profession.

Nothing to be done about it now though. He would learn from this mistake though, that much was for sure.

At this point he did not have an ounce of patience left in him for the Order or the Ministry. And definitely not for the Head Auror. Who had not only proven herself to be the type of person Harry disliked intensely, but who had authorized his removal from the hospital without taking his health into account, moved him to the Muggle world while obviously incapacitated but then not providing him with any sort of effective protection – the Corocos had simply taken Harry and walked out the front door with him for Merlin's sake – and had then tried several times to gain access to his Gringott's vaults while supposedly trying to find Harry.

Harry was doing his best to keep his anger contained.

Grasping for calm, he focused on his Guardian.

Reborn was lazily sprawled in his chair - appearing utterly relaxed even as his Flames snapped in the air around them - and Fon seemed to be taking his cues from Reborn, calmly sipping his tea, completely impassive.

If this situation was anything to go by, Harry was definitely getting a taste of why the Sun and the Storm got along so unusually well.

Fon sure seems to share Ren's love for drama and apparently holds the rest of humanity in about the same amount of contempt, Harry thought amusedly, feeling his frayed temper calm down.

The silence around their table stretched, but having regained his equilibrium, Harry had no interest in making any of this easier on the wizards. He was quite content to let them stew.

Finally, it was Proudfoot who couldn't hold out any longer and made another pompous attempt to get a reaction out of Harry. And a reaction he got.

Proudfoot stated pompously. "Now, we have orders to escort you to safety immediately. On the Head Auror's order you are to be escorted to your place of residence or to the Ministry in order to ensure your safety. A safety detail is to be assigned for your protection."

Harry almost wanted to laugh derisively. Ensuring his safety, were they? Oh, they clearly thought themselves quite clever, giving Harry two choices that would either reveal his current address to the Ministry – thereby becoming accessible to them at all times – or immediately have another meeting with Savage – who probably had concocted yet another genius scheme on how to force Harry into her mold of the Savior.

In this wonderful two-option-scenario of theirs, they apparently entirely forgot to factor in that Harry had no obligation at all to comply with either of the presented choices. But wasn't this just another wonderful example of the Ministry considering Harry to be some sort of public property to be ordered about.

Harry had half a mind to immediately sort out this misconception that he was to be considered public property. But instead he let his magic snap in the air around them making the wizards flinch. He knew that at this point his anger was becoming tangible in his magic which was only enhanced by Reborn's Flames coiling around them, twining with his magic.

By now even the non-magicals around than seemed to be feeling something, all of them avoiding to even look in the direction of their table at this point. And the waitress was making absolutely no attempts to approach their table to ask for the newcomers' orders

Harry loved that Reborn had let him handle the entire situation by himself so far but immediately threw himself at threatening these morons if given half a chance. Seeing the wizards shrinking into themselves with each second of continued silence, Harry felt no small amount of satisfaction.

Still, Harry couldn't help but comment mockingly, "How strange that the Minister did not inform me of this, considering that we had agreed on something entirely different during our last meeting." Seeing Proudfoot open his mouth, Harry stated preemptively, "A meeting which included the Head Auror."

The Aurors' sudden squirming made it clear that Kingsley had not in fact been involved when this particular scheme was concocted. Harry was relieved.

Savage had probably told her Aurors to keep this on the down low and at least Proudfoot was probably aware that this was not Minister-sanctioned at all. So, just another attempt to browbeat Harry into submission, make decisions for him under the guise of trying to do 'what was best' for the bloody Chosen one.

But in contrast to the last time they had tried, this time Harry was very much coherent and able to make his disagreement known.

And - for the first time in his life- he had someone sitting right next to him, who was unquestionably and uncompromisingly on his side.

Reborn wouldn't give a damn if the safety of the entire British Empire depended on Harry's cooperation. Actually, if Harry decided to burn down the entirety of Britain himself, Ren would be bringing the marshmallows to properly enjoy the bonfire.

The ensuing silence grew increasingly oppressive, the wizards across from them tensing further with every passing second, waiting for Harry's reaction.

Again it was Proudfoot who decided to break the silence and forge on, entirely ignoring Harry's previous statement. "We have already called reinforcements. They will provide sufficient protection on our way to the Ministry."

Hm. This was apparently the point where Reborn decided that he had enough, reminding the wizards of his presence by simply leaning forward to reach for his coffee on the table, letting even more of his Flames join Harry's magic in pressing down on the wizards across from them.

As the Aurors flinched hilariously at Reborn's movement, almost reaching their wands in reaction, Harry reaffirmed to himself that he really needed to learn this trick of vanishing into the background at will that both Reborn and Fon seemed to have mastered to an absurd degree.

His Sun didn't deign to react to the wizards almost drawing their wands beyond slightly raising one of his eyebrows in utter condescension. And while there was no visible reaction from Fon, Harry could almost feel the disdain oozing from the man's every pore.

What impressive upholders of law and order these two Aurors were turning out to be.

Though Proudfoot immediately tried to cover his reaction by sneering in Fon's direction. The man apparently had enough survival instinct to not turn the sneer on Reborn, who - after intentionally having called the wizards' attention to his presence - was now very much projecting his killer intent onto the group. Instead, the Auror had apparently decided that the serenely smiling Asian would make a much easier target.

Hah. Harry almost wanted to snort in amusement.

But at this point Jones decided to reinsert herself into the conversation, stating condescendingly, "You can send your friends away now, Harry. You really should know better. You wouldn't want to endanger anyone untrained and unable to defend themselves in case of an attack, would you?"

Wow. Harry could almost pity her – for being so phenomenally, catastrophically unaware - though Proudfoot's next comment put a quick stop to any feelings of pity.

"Yes, send them away, Potter. They will only interfere with Ministry business."

Ministry business, was it? So, Harry's own status had been demoted from public property to just plain business, had it?

And Harry just had enough. Simply enough.

Enough of the Wizarding World's incompetence, their arrogance, their utter disregard for Harry's own notions of what his life should look like. Enough of hearing the phrase 'for your own good, Harry' - not that anyone ever took responsibility when those actions turned out to be anything but - and definitely enough of anyone claiming to be trying to do what was best for him.

He was done being treated as though he were incapable of making his own decisions, of being ordered around, pushed to the front whenever it suited those in power and being put back on a shelf whenever they had no need for him. Enough of being treated like a bloody commodity - Harry Potter, the Chosen One, always and unquestionably at your service.

And now they obviously had something else they wanted from him. And Harry simply did not care. Whether they wanted political support, his money, his fame, his status, his votes or even just his bloody opinion.

Harry was done.

Reborn obviously noticed the very moment Harry had decided that enough was enough as his Flames turned from aggressive to foreboding. And Fon easily adjusted his Flames accordingly.

Slowly, Harry turned his entire focus on Hestia Jones. Who suddenly looked as though she might want to be anywhere but here at this moment. She had clearly witnessed enough of Harry's reactions during the war to know that silence, stillness was the worst reaction you could possibly get from Harry Potter. And she was right. His magic was only ever still when it was at the verge of exploding.

And Harry very much felt like that might happen. Soon.

But as annoying as these people were, they were not actually the ones he wanted to explode on. He had no interest in these imbeciles. Oh no, he had bigger fish to fry. He knew exactly where he wanted to express his utter discontent with the situation.

He knew very well.

Pushing back his chair from the table, Harry calmly got up. Reborn and Fon followed unhurriedly.

Fon can come, Harry though. If only to enjoy the show that will follow.

Harry did not care that he had met Fon just yesterday. Ren trusted this man, so Harry would as well.

The man had already agreed to support them and it was only fair to let the Storm know what sort of situation he would be getting himself into – especially, after these three morons had so easily revealed the Magical World to the Chinese. Harry had not been able to tell whether Fon had actually been surprised by the revelations as his face hadn't given anything away, but at least Harry wouldn't have to worry about it now.

So, Harry simply walked past the three wizards, flanked by the other two Flame users.

He certainly did not need any help in getting to the Ministry just to have a word with a certain Head Auror regarding any future plans made with him in mind.

And we will be having words indeed. Harry felt a decidedly unpleasant smile settle on his lips.

After their talk, he doubted Savage would be willing to make any plans regarding the Chosen One again anytime soon. Or ever hopefully.

The threat curling menacingly at the edges of Reborn's barely there smirk as well as the calm condescension oozing from Fon's placid smile, Harry could see from the corner of his eyes, promised as much.

The wizards reacted with affront to their leaving without comment.

Harry just walked past them, straight into a small alley while thinking of Fawkes. The phoenix appeared as soon as they left the view of any watching muggles entirely.

Harry calmly reached for the phoenix, as did Reborn. Fon copied them.

Just as they were engulfed by the warmth of Fawkes' phoenix fire, right before they disappeared, Harry saw the group of wizards burst around the corner into the alley.

With their wands drawn.

Maybe he should have waited a bit to leave after all, Harry thought mournfully. It would definitely have been satisfying to see the wizards trying to go up against Reborn and Fon, or at the very least amusing.

For all of three seconds before either Reborn or Fon finish it, Harry thought with disdain.

Chapter Text

The Ministry Atrium was just as busy as on any other given day, people coming and going via the numerous fire places lining the sides of the hall, appearing and disappearing in the assigned apparition spots or the designated portkey areas, lining up at the wand checking counter or happily chatting in small groups scattered throughout the hall.

Though the sudden flash of brilliant phoenix fire brought the bustling activity to a screeching halt, everyone's attention - assigned guards, Ministry workers and random wizards milling about - instantly focused on the area between the apparition and portkey areas. Only to be left staring speechlessly at the sight of their supposedly missing Savior in their midst.

Harry took a calm look around, showing no reaction to the people gawking from all sides, before smoothly starting for the elevators at the other side of the Atrium, Reborn and Fon seamlessly falling into step on either side of him. Fawkes remained in flight, swooping above their heads.

It was quite the spectacular sight. And exactly what Harry had been going for.

Harry knew that the news of his appearance in the Ministry of Magic would quickly travel around the Ministry and beyond. But he was so done being used as a pawn and if Savage was going to try and use the knowledge of his return to Britain to further her own agenda, he was going to make damn sure that his return would be common knowledge throughout magical Britain by lunch.

Reborn couldn't remember the last time he had this much fun without him having to somehow exacerbate a situation into utter chaos while trying to stave off his boredom. There was certainly no need for that here, people being left speechless just by their mere presence.

His little Sky - flanked by Reborn to his left and Fon to his right, both of them half a step behind Harry to cover all potential angles of attack, Fawkes remaining in flight, swooping above their heads – was confidently making his way across the impressive hall they had arrived in, his magic swirling in the air around them. Harry was clearly still irritated, though at this point the anger had given way to menacing resolve.

Reborn was truly looking forward to the confrontation that was about to take place with the apparently suicidal Head Auror.

Life is good, he smirked to himself.

Fon had to admit that the events today were going far beyond anything he had been expecting. Even the instantaneous travel - by fire bird? – aside and ignoring the fact that they had arrived in a place that itself was practically drenched in magic and that was crowded with people who all had at least some magic, many of which were staring at them – rooted to the spot, mouths hanging open, some of them gripping a strange collection of house-hold items like a single old shoe, a fishing rod or an electric kettle...

It certainly made for an entertaining picture.

And most interestingly, while the people around them stared at the young Sky in awe and wonder and adoration, there was also apprehension in their eyes. Oh, there was certainly a story there, a story of devastation and adulation, a story Fon could not wait to hear.

He let his placid smile widen slightly. If today was a sign of things to come if he decided to stay with Reborn and his magical Sky, it might actually become a challenge at some point to constantly maintain his mask.

I do so love a challenge, he thought contently.

Letting some of his magic continue to coil in the air around them somewhat calmed Harry's frayed temper. Also making it uncompromisingly clear - even to the normally so forcefully oblivious sheeple of Magical Britain - that approaching him for any reason would be an incredibly bad idea, Chosen One or not.

For once, Harry even found a certain satisfaction in being able to simply walk past the wand checking counter, no one so much as attempting to stop them. Definite perks of being the Savior, and a clearly pissed off one at that.

They reached the elevators in record time. A Ministry scribe standing there, squeaked at the sight of them and scrambled to the side not even attempting to enter with them. Reborn's lazy smirk only widened further.

In the elevator, his Sun settled himself just behind Harry - and Harry gladly took in the few moments of relative privacy that the elevator provided, leaning some of his weight against his Guardian's chest.

Fawkes had taken his usual spot on Harry's opposite shoulder.

Now, Harry turned to Fon – who he had not even exchanged that many words with until now – giving a slightly sheepish grin.

"By the way, welcome to the Ministry of Magic." He couldn't help the slightly droll tone of voice.

Fon just smiled at him placidly, the very picture of serenity, "Thank you. Today has certainly been eventful. Although, I would enjoy a slightly more comprehensive tour at a later point in time."

Harry grinned sardonically, "Oh yes, a slightly more thorough introduction might be a good idea."

It was definitely a new experience for Harry to have such unwavering and unquestioning support even while gearing up to rip into some of the country's more powerful members. Two people who were simply following his lead, not questioning whether it would be a good idea or not, but rather assured in their own ability to strike down the opposition if necessary. Harry adored it.

The almost merry atmosphere between them also helped Harry calm the last of his anger – it was incredible how soothing the presence of these two Flame users was to Harry - and their agreement to discuss the Wizarding World as soon as this 'situation' was done with, also soothed the nagging fear that had been pushing at him since yesterday. The fear of how Fon might react to magic.

And Harry ignored all the reasons why it was so very important to him that Fon was not reacting negatively to magic. Why his Flames and magic calmed at the assurance that the Storm would stay with them despite his abrupt introduction to the Wizarding World.

Reborn was clearly picking up on some of the apprehension Harry was feeling as he slightly tightened the arm around Harry's waist. Still, the smirk on his face did not waver.

His Sun was clearly looking forward to the upcoming confrontation, especially as it would be so very easy to lay blame. Their meeting with Kingsley a few days ago had been for the specific purpose of informing the DMLE of Harry's return to Britain to prevent any misunderstandings with the magical law enforcement, but according to Proudfoot's boasting, Savage had informed only a handful of her 'most trusted' Aurors instead.

Which, while unsurprising, was still all kinds of infuriating.

And also quite stupid. Savage had met Reborn. She should know better.

Well, if anyone tried to arrest them for impersonating the Savior, the Aurors' injuries would be on Savage's own head for trying some half-manipulative bullshit to further her own agenda and not keeping her department informed.

Savage was probably trying to keep the Savior's return quiet until she could browbeat him into agreeing to join the Aurors or at least into accepting that 24/7 Auror guard.

The Ministry has to be seen to be doing something.

And the protecting the Savior would definitely be something in the eyes of the public.

The Savior under the Ministry's protection. Protection by Aurors. The same Aurors who had been entirely content to stick their head into the sand during most the war and wait out the worst of it. While children fought endlessly, desperately, hopelessly.

Those Aurors.

Right.

And as the elevator stopped at the DMLE, Harry almost let his lip curl in derision at the idea of exchanging the protection of his Sun for some Ministry stooges. The thought alone was laughable.

They were greeted by the usual chaos of the Auror office - Aurors hurrying to and fro, Unspeakables appearing seemingly out of nowhere, a few reporters scattered around the room, civilians lodging this or that complaint and the occasional hunter collecting a bounty – and some of the people present noticed their entry immediately, instantly zeroing in on their little group.

Harry ignored all of them and calmly made his way across the room towards the Head Auror's office.

It took quite a bit longer for the room at large to notice them, as marked by the ensuing silence.

Then chaos erupted as some of the Aurors present scrambled to do, well, something - Harry wasn't entirely certain whether most of them were trying to go for their wand to arrest the Savior-impostor or trying to get closer to request his autograph.

Harry had no patience for either.

He let his magic snap, just for an instance, a single surge of his magic, pressing down on everyone in the room with them. It was certainly effective in stopping everyone in their tracks.

Harry took an impassive look around, further impressing his displeasure before continuing towards the secretary's desk in front of the Head Auror's office. He must have appeared sufficiently impressive, especially with Fawkes still settled on his shoulder - unapologetically claiming Harry's shoulder as his own as he was wont to do whenever it suited him – who joined him in staring unimpressed at the people present.

Reborn thought the double stare-down was plainly adorable.

He loved watching his little Sky command an entire room full of trained professionals with a single scathing glance around and a quick pulse of his magic. What a sight indeed, he thought feeling a shiver of arousal and possessiveness at seeing Harry's authority unchallenged, his dominance unquestioned.

Next to him, Fon smiled placidly at the Auror positioned behind the secretary while Reborn turned slightly, lazily observing the room. Several people actually flinched when Reborn turned his casual regard on them.

Harry couldn't help but think with mock surprise, that there were some people after all who could actually tell that there was something about his Sun that simply shouldn't be, couldn't be ignored. At least if you liked making it through the day in one piece.

Especially, the two wizards standing at a desk close by – not Aurors just by the look of their rather functional clothing instead of the bulky robes wizards preferred, most likely hunters or maybe hitwizards - had not taken their eyes off the three of them ever since they entered.

The woman sitting behind the secretary's desk was still staring open-mouthed.

Harry gave her a chance to gather herself but when her expression didn't change after a few moments, he stated calmly. "The Head Auror... requested my presence for a meeting."

That seemed to be enough to shake the secretary from her gawping. But being addressed directly still seemed to be beyond her capabilities as she only reacted with a shrill, "Mr. Potter!"

A brief pause.

Harry barely refrained from rolling his eyes in annoyance, before responding with a deadpan, "Yes, that's me."

In that moment the Auror Floo activated and spat out the three stooges, Proudfoot at the head. They must have sprinted the entire way to the Leaky cauldron to make it here this quickly.

They were also followed by a group of four more people in slightly transfigured Auror-red coats. Ah, those must be the reinforcements that had been called to 'ensure his safety' on his way to the Ministry. Running a calm eye over them Harry confirmed that he didn't know any of them and that they looked entirely clueless as to what was currently going on.

Oh yes, what wonderful protection they would have made with that level of awareness, Harry thought mockingly.

Harry watched their approach calmly, Proudfoot huffing and puffing alongside a nervous looking Hestia Jones and the happily bouncing younger Auror – whose name Harry still didn't know.

Spotting Harry, Proudfoot exclaimed angrily. "Harry Potter!"

Merlin, could people please get over calling his name like that! Harry felt his irritation surge and decided that if he had to deal with this level of annoyance, he would at least drag as many people as possible along with him. Which, coming from him, could almost be considered a threat, if he said so himself. Snape would agree.

Accordingly, Harry turned some of his focus on Proudfoot and confirmed the Auror's exclamation with a deadpan, "Yes?"

Proudfoot puffed out even further in anger as he finally reached them, repeating, "Potter!"

And although the man was clearly intending to continue, Harry interrupted him by nodding helpfully, "Truly."

Proudfoot's looked like he might combust from anger at this point, but even as the man opened his mouth to continue, the door to the Head Auror's office opened. And out stepped Savage.

Neither Fon nor Reborn reacted to her appearance beyond compensating for the presence of another potential threat. Reborn moving slightly closer to Harry in a casual move that Harry was certain no else even noticed while Fon moved a little further away for a wider field of vision.

Harry couldn't help but be fascinated by the easy and entirely nonverbal byplay.

Savage clearly had not been expecting to see Harry in front of her office without warning going by her surprised exclamation of "Mr. Potter!"

Harry just couldn't help himself and responded with an almost cheerful, "Indeed."

He could have sworn one of the most-likely-hunters to their right actually snorted in amusement at that.

Harry doubted that Savage would be stupid enough to actually start their discussion in front of witnesses. She had to have at least some political awareness in order to have gotten her position and being chewed out by the Savior was about the worst thing you could possibly do in the current political climate.

Sadly, Savage seemed to be aware of this, pulling herself up - though who she was trying to impress was anyone's guess - and stated patronizingly, "Mr. Potter, I am glad that we could arrange this meeting."

Harry almost wanted to snort at that. So, she was trying to make it seem as though this meeting had been desired equally on both sides, was she? Hmpf. It was about time he taught her that any plans made with Harry Potter in mind had a tendency to go topsy-turvy quite quickly. Just ask Voldemort.

So, with a pleasant smile, Harry nodded as though agreeing with Savage, "Yes, I'm glad I could make the time despite the suddenness of your request." Not giving Savage any time to actually respond, Harry turned to the secretary, "Has Minister Shacklebolt given any indication about when he will be able to join us?"

And Harry would definitely be making sure that Kingsley was present for this meeting.

Not because he actually needed the help, but because of their mutual understanding that had developed during and after the war. They agreed on the most important topics – such as human and creature rights - and trusted the man to never be swayed by promises of personal gain.

Additionally, having been an Order member for years, Kingsley had experienced enough of Dumbledore's highhanded for-the-Greater-Good tactics to be averse to falling into that same trap himself.

And Harry also knew that having the Minister in his corner afforded him definite additional leeway as well, because Kingsley the Minister would not demand anything from Harry the Savior beyond what he was truly willing to give, even if it actually made the man's job harder. As had been reaffirmed during their last meeting where Kingsley had clearly still been expecting Harry to join the Auror corps or return to Hogwarts to provide a stabilizing force in the public eye, but had immediately backed off when Harry had made his contrary decision clear.

Similarly, Kingsley knew that if he ever truly needed Harry's support either in the form of his Wizengamot votes or in his role as the Man-Who-Conquered, Harry would grant it immediately.

Manus manum lavat, at its best.

And between the two of them - with Kingsley being the effective political leader of Magical Britain and Harry holding the confidence of the people - they were in the unique position of combining almost the entirety of the support of the British Wizarding population.

While the Minister was in fact elected, it was also the only elected office in the British Ministry of Magic, giving the Minister a tremendous amount of power based on popular opinion.

If only because the sheeple rarely cared to learn the names of anyone else in the Ministry. And if pressed, the magical people of Britain would always go with the guy that they themselves had put into office - whether they actually liked him or not - and would side with him above anyone else. Even if they had no clue what was actually going on.

It was the reason why Fudge had been able to get away with so much when he held the office.

So, very few – if any – politicians in the British Ministry of Magic would be stupid enough to go directly against the Minister.

Well, and also, having Kingsley at this meeting would make the discussion so much more uncomfortable for Savage, which in itself was already reason enough to ensure the man's presence.

Turning back to Savage, Harry continued seamlessly, "I'm assuming Minister Shacklebolt will be joining us if we are to continue our discussion from last week?"

There. That was more than enough. Savage couldn't afford to be seen actively preventing the Minister's presence after having been publicly reminded of it.

Something Savage was clearly aware of going by her expression. She was grinding her teeth while glaring at Harry, leaving no doubt to any onlookers with half a brain exactly what was transpiring here. The two most-likely-hunters-maybe-hitwizards off to the side were grinning in amusement, clearly enjoying the show they were unexpectedly being provided with.

Harry hadn't even gotten started - not to even mention Reborn and Fon - and was just waiting for Savage to give him an opportunity to do so.

Savage possibly realized this as well. The Head Auror almost visibly swallowed down her retort to Harry's 'suggestion' and gave a magnanimous nod towards her secretary.

Then she made a gesture towards her office. "We should get started right away, to spare some of the Minister's time."

But Harry wasn't quite done yet.

Because this right here, the current discussion in full public view - here in the Auror department where you could find people from all parts of the British and even international Magical World, including the different law enforcement agencies, with civilians, criminals and reporters mixed in - was the actual power-play.

Savage had tried to use him and his title to promote her own standing in the eyes of her department, of the Ministry and of the public. Harry would do his utmost best to undermine any of her efforts, to turn them to the opposite effect even.

If fifth year had taught him anything, it was that in Magical Britain popular opinion was everything.

And Harry wasn't here to 'discuss' viewpoints on whether he might register his address with the Ministry or whether he would accept an Auror guard or whether he would reconsider returning to Hogwarts or joining the Auror corps. Or whether it was at all acceptable for the Ministry to track him down like a common criminal.

He was here to cut Savage back to size, to make it clear to her that even the attempt to use him in any way would come at a very steep cost to her own standing, to once and for all end any attempts to treat him as public property, to clarify for her and if need be the entirety of the Ministry that if anyone so much as dared to interfere with his privacy like this again, heads would be rolling. Literally or figuratively.

Harry almost wanted to smile at the anticipatory menace he could feel from his Sun, as Fon looked on serenely.

So, Harry responded pleasantly, "Of course! But I would love to meet the Aurors that you had intended to assign for my personal guard last week. It is a shame that I had to turn down that particular... offer, as I had already arranged for my protection after the alarming happenings that disrupted my recovery at St. Mungo's weeks ago." Harry cheerfully pointed out.

The woman's glare reached a new level of baleful intensity even as she was clearly trying to suppress her reactions. She was only minimally successful. But Harry was sure that the Aurors all the way across the room might not be able to hear her grinding her teeth anymore. Maybe.

Sadly, before he could continue further escalating the situation in full view of the entire Auror department, Kingsley strode through into the room.

Huh, that was quick, Harry thought but he should have expected for the news of his spectacular entrance to reach the Minister almost immediately.

Kingsley easily made his way over to their group.

"Harry, it is good to see you again. I heard you were visiting." There was definite amusement in the man's voice, though he lost none of the shrewdness in his eyes, especially when he noticed Hestia standing with their group.

"Did you now?" Harry just blinked innocently as he reached out to shake the man's hand. "It's good to see you as well."

Then he immediately proceeded to introductions, making it even clearer how little he thought of everyone compared to Kingsley.

"Kingsley, this is Fon. Fon, this is Kingsley Shacklebolt, the British Minister of Magic." Considering that Fon was obviously foreign, Harry could get away with this sort of introduction without anyone suspecting Fon's missing knowledge of who Kingsley was due to him being non-magical.

Fon bowed politely, never once taking his attention off the other people present or moving from his position, maintaining his impassive mask despite his swirling thoughts. Even disregarding the animated inanimate objects everywhere, instant travel through fire – by holding onto a bird? - or people blinking in and out of existence without warning, there being a British Minister of Magic was definitely the thing to get stuck on. British. As in, requiring a distinction from other magical government leaders. The implications of that alone…

Harry continued, "And you have already met Reborn."

Reborn nodded to the Minister of Magic - and wasn't that still one of the strangest descriptors he had ever had for a person – from his position right next to his Sky. His little Sky who had an entire room playing so beautifully to his fiddle. And going by the muted menace he could still feel coming from Harry, it was only going to get better.

The Sun ignored the people who flinched at seeing the wicked grin that spread over his face at that thought.

Kingsley nodded to both Flame users in greeting before turning back to Harry, responding with the same ease that had made him one of the very few Order members Harry had actually liked during the war. "Still, I was not expecting to see you again so soon. What brings you to the Ministry and to the DMLE in particular?"

Kingsley had clearly figured out that something was going on but Harry still kept up the wonderful charade they had going for the benefit of the gawking masses.

"Ah, you see, I am not quite sure yet about the Head Auror's reasons for requesting a meeting. So far, the Aurors who were sent to find me in Muggle London only informed me that my immediate presence was requested."

After a brief pause, Harry continued. "I was quite concerned that something might have happened since our meeting a few days ago. Especially, as the DMLE went through quite a bit of trouble to find me, even involving the Order and the Department of Mysteries, despite me informing you both of my current health restrictions due to my ongoing recovery."

There. That should give the Daily Prophet reporter - who was trying to hide his furious scribbling behind one of the more burly Aurors - enough information to make up some wonderfully exaggerated story about the Saviors woes. Including the fact that Harry might still be recovering from something. At the very least the stories they would come up with to fit all these hints should be an amusing read if nothing else. It also left barely any wiggle room for Savage to talk her way out of this situation.

And it was always good to lay some groundwork in case Harry needed to start pointing fingers in the near future.

After all, Madam Pomfrey will be the first to back up any claims about my tumultuous recovery being to blame for any delay in my full-time return to the Wizarding World, Harry thought vindictively.

Hestia Jones was almost gaping at this point, clearly having had no idea that Kingsley had been in contact with Harry at all since his return.

It helps if you talk to people and not just assume you know everything, Harry thought disdainfully.

So, Harry finished his performance with, "I had just inquired about your presence for this meeting. I hope the timing does not interfere with your schedule?"

Kingsley had turned his gaze on Savage, but confirmed gravely. "Oh no, not at all." A brief pause. "Why don't we move this to my office? Is your Floo available, Head Auror Savage?"

Harry vindictively observed the angry flush that had spread over Savage's face at being entirely excluded from their brief discussion. Her standing in the Ministry would definitely suffer from this. She was still able to gather enough of her composure to state through clenched teeth, "Yes, of course, Minister."

She took a step to the side, letting Kingsley enter first. Reborn promptly followed - always ahead of his Sky to eliminate any potential threats, especially now that he had Fon there to watch their backs.

Harry refrained from shaking his head at his Guardian's protectiveness - it still warmed his insides every time - but he couldn't even gather the slightest bit of irritation considering that Reborn had not once tried to interfere with Harry's handling of the current situation.

Instead he just sedately wandered after his Sun.

Quite a few people followed, though there was a brief standstill when Fon - insisting on his I'm-a-polite-Asian-façade - held the door for the last person before firmly closing the door behind himself.

The same scene would probably repeat itself at the in-house Floo connection to the Minister's office.

Harry certainly had to hand it to Fon.

So far, the man had not shown any sort of noticeable reaction to anything he was witnessing here today, including the moving portraits, the self-writing quills and the flying, inter-department paper messages – things that even still threw Harry from time to time.

As he followed Reborn through the Floo – telegraphing his movements, so Fon could easily copy him - Harry thought admiringly to himself, that 'unflappable' really wasn't a sufficient discriptor for Fon's control over his own reactions.

Being the third to enter Kingsley's office via the Floo, Harry immediately noticed the fourth presence. An older man in slate grey robes was standing next to Kingsley in front of the imposing office desk, watching Reborn with suspicion. Harry thought he might actually have seen this wizard somewhere before, though he couldn't quite remember where.

Thankfully, Kingsley introduced them as soon as Harry stepped up next to his Sun, "Harry, this is Head Unspeakable Croaker."

Ah, this was the Unspeakable Mr. Weasley had pointed out during the Quidditch World Cup. Though, Head Unspeakable? Impressive.

Kingsley continued. "Croaker, you know Harry Potter and this is Reborn, Harry's security detail, who will be joined by Fon in a moment."

Hm, not quite accurate, but it worked well enough as a reason for Reborn and Fon's presence, which Kingsley had probably been intending in the first place.

Amusingly, no one in their group actually reached out to shake hands, only exchanging nods in greeting.

Paranoia all around, Harry thought with amusement.

When the Floo stopped spitting out people – Fon being the last, as expected - Kingsley gestured everyone to the seating area on the other side of the room. Settling almost across from Kingsley, Harry was again amazed how Reborn and Fon angled themselves in a way that had them cover each other's blind spots - Reborn lazily sprawled in the chair to Harry's left and Fon sitting almost primly to his right.

Croaker was watching them with shrewd eyes. The man certainly had quite the presence, though as the meeting started he almost seemed to disappear from view, clearly using some sort of spell to cloak himself.

What's with all the people who can vanish at will recently? Harry grumbled to himself.

Kingsley took a look around all the people gathered in his office, before turning to Savage pointedly.

The woman immediately jumped at the chance to make herself look better. "I'm glad we could arrange this meeting, even though I'm sorry to say that Mister Potter must have misunderstood the Aurors who ran into him in Muggle London."

Harry almost wanted to let his lip curl in derision. Misunderstood? Ran into? Well then.

If she wanted to play, she could look somewhere else for an opponent willing to lower themselves to her level.

While Harry had been portraying the naïve, teenaged hero in the Auror office, it had solely been for the benefit of the public.

In this far more limited setting and with the secrecy spells that were in place in the Minister's office, Harry easily rid himself of his previous affable mask, doing nothing to hide the mocking in his voice, "Oh? I thought they were pretty straightforward. According to Auror Proudfoot your direct orders were for them to seek me out and either escort me to my current residence or to the Ministry for a meeting. Please do clear up the misunderstanding, though."

Going by her rising flush, Savage hadn't expected him to suddenly switch tracks. Narrowing her eyes at him, her voice gained a frosty edge as she tried to recover, "But of course, an Auror guard for the Savior is an absolute necessity, if only to assure the public that The-Man-Who-Conquered is protected from the dark forces at all times."

This again? She was clearly ignoring the smackdown his Sun had given her during their last meeting for this very suggestion. What a wonderfully selective memory she had.

"This topic was already concluded during our last meeting and shouldn't be a point of discussion at this point. But to reiterate, there will be no Auror protection detail for me, at any point." Harry stated firmly.

Savage floundered for a moment at the finality of his statement, "I simply assumed you might have reconsidered your stance on this issue."

Kingsley was frowning at Savage over his steepled hands, clearly unhappy with the apparent reason for this meeting, but so far not saying anything. The man knew that Harry could take care of himself, didn't need direct support, but just the Minister's presence prevented Savage from trying any of the less than savory tactics to force Harry's compliance.

"There is nothing to be reconsidered." Harry stated with finality. "I have seen to my own protection, which is more than sufficient and does not require any form of input from the DMLE."

At this point, Proudfoot practically exploded in anger, "Now listen here, Potter, just because the media has overinflated your ego ever since you were born to your overprivileged life - "

Harry silenced the man with a single look that was more effective in conveying his disdain than anything he might have put into words. Still with insulting him with things that he had had to listen to ever since he stepped foot into this world at the age of eleven?

He almost felt sorry for them trying to get a reaction out of him this way. If Snape had been good for one thing, it was for ensuring that Harry had about the thickest skin imaginable for insults and Snape had certainly been far more impressive in the delivery than Proudfoot of all people.

An awkward silence followed, which Harry ended by commenting impassively, "I do not enjoy being insulted. Please refrain from trying to do so."

At his side, Reborn let his grin widen slightly as Fon just continued to smile placidly from where he appeared to be engaged in a staring match with the one of the Aurors. The poor wizard was sweating buckets under the Storm's regard, but appeared to be entirely incapable of actually turning away, frozen like a rabbit in the face of a snake.

Proudfoot continued to gape at him well after Harry had already turned his attention back to Savage.

Savage was clearly floundering and Harry was just waiting for her to dig herself a little further into her nice little hole. He didn't have to wait for long.

She was now growing increasingly flustered with Harry simply refusing to submit to her demands in any way, but tried to bring the others onto her side by exclaiming, "But it is tantamount for the DMLE to be seen keeping the Savior safe. The Aurors need to be kept informed about your whereabouts at all times in case there is an attack by dark forces. The DMLE has to be able to reach the Savior immediately."

Ah, there it was. She wasn't even really trying to cover the fact that she wanted access to Harry not only to keep him 'protected' but also so she could call on him whenever she pleased for support against the supposed 'dark forces'.

Yeah.

Not happening.

He turned the entirety of his focus on her, before stating with absolute calm, "No."

Hm, this meeting escalated impressively quickly, Fon thought to himself with some amusement.

Still, Fon had to guess at most of what was actually going on here, seeing as he had no context regarding the personal relevance to Reborn and his Sky or the world Fon had been 'introduced' to unexpectedly.

But the young Sky was certainly handling himself quite well, especially considering that these people were apparently the absolute top of the magical government. Though most of them certainly were less than impressive.

And the law enforcement officers especially so, Fon thought, when a slight tilt of his head startled the man across from him into a coughing fit. How truly pathetic.

After a few moments of stunned silence in the room, it was the young Sky continued with finality. "I can be contacted via the usual channels. My current address will remain unregistered for security reasons." Certainly able to handle himself, this one.

Harry was annoyed. They were just going in circles at this point. About time to turn this argument around on the Head Auror. Harry almost wanted to bare his teeth.

"But I agree that it would indeed be very detrimental to public morale if something were to happen to any of the war's more prominent fighters at this point. Especially if the Ministry could potentially be accused of ineptly handling their safety."

Silence. Again.

Clearly no one had been expecting Harry to agree with any of Savage's points, least of all the Head Auror herself, going by her slightly gaping mouth. Taking in the reactions around the room, Harry thought he deserved a pat on the back for his acting.

Well, Kingsley certainly knew that Harry would not simply give in like this and rightfully expecting some sort of turnabout, watching Harry over his steepled hands. At Harry's side, Reborn was entirely relaxed, clearly guessing where Harry was going with this based on the merrily foreboding churning of his Flames.

Harry nodded sagely - he might be overdoing it a bit at this point, but he was too annoyed to care - and continued, "Which brings me back to the topic of compromised security and the question of just how the DMLE was able to find me in the middle of Muggle London. I find myself quite concerned that the means to do so, are so readily available in the Ministry of Magic."

There.

Let them try talking their way out of that one.

While it was the Head Auror's purview to request assistance from the Department of Mysteries, her Aurors certainly didn't, contrary to what Proudfoot had said earlier about the tracking spell. Harry could guess that this was also the reason for Croaker's presence.

His thoughts were confirmed, when his last statement had Croaker leaning forward slightly, uncloaking his presence and making a few people flinch.

The Head Unspeakable asked pointedly, "I have to join in on that particular question. The spell that was used to pin point Lord Potter's location was provided by my department, but no formal request was lodged."

And wow. The Unspeakable certainly had quite the commanding presence. The man didn't even formulate a question but the Aurors who were present immediately started spluttering, about official channels and necessity to speed up the process and the urgency of the situation and this being how it's had always been done. Nicely digging themselves in deeper and deeper with every word coming out of their mouths.

The 'discussion' ended fairly quickly. With Croaker and another Unspeakable leading the Aurors unceremoniously from the room to ensure an immediate investigation into the mentioned claim of this being 'how it's always been done', Savage watching on in impotent fury.

Harry certainly hadn't been expecting to be joined in his crusade to cut these imbeciles back to size by the Head of the Unspeakables, who gave an acknowledging nod to both Kingsley and Harry as he left the room.

Harry leaned back in his seat, slightly nonplussed. What an interesting day this was shaping up to be.

 

Chapter Text

Reborn had rarely felt quite this annoyed.

At least the current combination of idiocy, self-importance and utter ignorance being shown off in the Minister's office was a good chance to start forming subcategories on 'The List'.

As in 'the list of people Reborn intended to visit in the near future in order to discuss their life choices and their involvement in his Sky's life'.

That list.

He had been getting short on targets anyways.

Soon after the Unspeakables' rather dramatic exit, the meeting had descended into chaos. Because seeing the DMLE reprimanded for their actions had somehow given everyone else the impression that this would be the best point in time to make their own opinions regarding 'the Savior's duties to the Wizarding World' known.

Listening to these utter wastes of space talk about his Sky - arguing about which of their concerns Harry was to address first and how he was to go about it - as though their input regarding his Sky's life and future choices was requested, welcome or even permitted...

Yes, Reborn was annoyed.

As could be felt in his Flames, some of which Reborn let leak into the room to join Fon's, which were curling with the Storm's derision at the audacity of these people to try and direct their betters.

Clearly even a few of these imbeciles had started to feel something by now, as they had developed a wonderful tic of frequently looking around themselves nervously, looking for the threat that their atrophied survival instincts were warning them about. Only to be met with Reborn's utterly blank face and Fon's serene smile.

Although his Sky's anger and frustration - at being talked about as though he wasn't in the room, much less as though he had a say in his own future - was more than apparent on his face. A few more moments of silently listening to the ongoing 'discussion' - on the order in which Harry was to personally check the wards of every single ancestral home to ensure the safety of the more prominent members of society, such as the department heads currently present - before Harry clearly had enough.

A sudden shift of the atmosphere in the room - not that these imbeciles noticed - his Sky's magic starting to swell, slowly, steadily, in a single surge, uncompromisingly increasing in pressure, taking the very air from the room.

Until there was silence.

Absolute quiet.

Several of the previously so opinionated cretins seemed to have stopped breathing altogether, their utter stillness speaking of everyone being suddenly - and very uncomfortably - reminded just who they were trying to bend to their will, nervous glances being shot between their clearly furious hero, the suddenly so ominously smiling Asian to his right and the shadowed eyes promising a painful death of the man to his left.

Reborn could feel Harry's absolute determination to not let anyone have power over him again - to not give in to anyone's demands, to always and uncompromisingly remain free - as he relished in being surrounding by Harry's vast magic. The background feeling of Fon's Flames and the Storm's invisible menacing glee at witnessing these fools being brought to awareness of their own short-comings, certainly didn't hurt Reborn's enjoyment of the situation either.

No one moved.

Finally, it was Shacklebolt who broke the terrified silence, addressing the room at large, "If there is nothing else to discuss, today's meeting is concluded."

The Minister's general dismissal seemed to break the spell and the immediate, almost mad scramble for the door was beautiful to watch.

Harry was still frowning as he observed the mass escape. He clearly wasn't satisfied with having driven people into desperate flight away from himself as repayment for thinking they might have power over him.

Reborn approved.

Although, their focus shifted when the Shacklebolt stopped Savage before she had a chance to join in with the rest of the fleeing imbeciles.

"Head Auror Savage. A word."

And then - with everyone else gone - the Minister proceeded to beautifully rip into the woman, for the first time that day allowing his displeasure to show through at her transgression, from the willful ignoring of the Minister's orders in particular to the inept handling of confidential information in general.

Shacklebolt ended by stating severely, "It is entirely unacceptable for the rights of a British wizard to be ignored in this manner. There is no acceptable explanation for this breach of trust that the public is putting in this Ministry. It is inexcusable."

There was a brief pause after the Minister's emphatic statement. At this point, Savage looked to be caught somewhere between anger and embarrassment.

Finally, Shacklebolt sent Savage from the room without ever letting her get a word in edgewise, "We will continue this meeting later today at my convenience. As soon as Head Unspeakable Croaker finishes his investigation, inter-department collaborative measures will have to be re-organized. You will be informed as required."

Watching Savage stomp from the room like a reprimanded child, Reborn couldn't help but think that he would really love to witness the continuation of this particular discussion. But based on the vindictive glee he could feel along their bond, his Sky clearly considered his immediate thirst for revenge sated by her sufficiently public humiliation. Reborn simply adored the uncompromisingly vengeful glint in his little Sky's beautiful, green eyes.

As Harry and the Minister quickly slipped into a debate on various matters regarding the running of the Wizarding World, Fon continued to observe everything silently.

With only the four of them remaining in the office, the dynamic between the young Sky and the British Minister of Magic had changed, now more of a friendly discussion than a political debate.

And they were covering a wide range of topics including courses at Hogwarts - a school? -, current policies regarding Dementors - clearly not a pleasant topic, based on the young Sky's obvious abhorrence - as well as the entertainingly unrelated topic of sewage systems in a place called Knockturn Alley.

Right now, the young Sky was arguing with the Minister about a set of legislation, which would apparently grant magical orphans the same rights and protections that were afforded to any other magical child - and just how backwards was this society that this needed to be discussed at all?

Just by following the argument between the two wizards it was becoming very clear to Fon, that there was some sort of background story behind the young Sky's demands. He certainly looked entirely unwilling to back down, which the Minister - going by the man's increasingly resigned expression - seemed to be realizing as well. Reborn's Sky was clearly going to get his way in this.

...Reborn's Sky. It still sounded surreal to Fon. But today's events at least showed why Reborn seemed so absolutely satisfied with the young Sky who had managed to draw in the World's Greatest Hitman.

Not only did he wield Flames of a purity Fon himself had never felt from a Sky before, but their strength was also clearly matched - if not exceeded - by his magic, and that was without even mentioning Harry's apparent political power in his world. Just watching the young Sky discuss the running of the magical government with its apparent leader - while showing nothing but absolute confidence that he would be heard, that his opinion, his word, his demands would actively be met - certainly confirmed his influence in this world.

But at the same time, Harry's effortless kindness and warmth was not only apparent in his Flames, his Qi and Reborn's smugness, but also in his arguing for the more defenseless members of society, despite the young Sky's own age and clearly having only recently passed into adulthood himself.

And true kindheartedness - something Fon encountered ever so very rarely in his position - that was something that Fon could easily commit himself to protect.

All in all, today was making it very clear that Reborn's obvious pride when introducing the Sky as his, had been more than justified.

Although, all of this was just leading to more and more questions that Fon was getting quite impatient to ask. Not that you could tell by looking at him. But still. He was more than looking forward to having an in-depth discussion with Reborn and Harry as soon as their privacy was assured.

Fon had questions indeed.

Reborn could practically see the Storm mentally noting down everything he was observing, making lists of things to be discussed, asked, argued at a later point in time.

Well, Fon has always liked his lists, Reborn thought lazily.

By now, he was certain that the Storm would not be chased away by anything they threw at him here, but rather that at this point the Storm was entirely hooked by the promise of new knowledge and this new world that had been presented to him. There was no way Fon would willingly give up this sort of mystery without investigating even the minutest detail.

And that was without even mentioning Fon's clear interest in Reborn's Sky. He could practically taste the Storm's interest in Harry.

But best continue to ignore that for now, Reborn thought. Lest they ended up tearing down the entirety of the British Ministry of Magic in the fight that would follow.

As always most of Reborn's attention was focused on his Sky, who – after fleshing out the details of the orphan protection legislation, which would also lay some groundwork for Harry's charities - was now discussing the reinstatement of the post-war trials with Shacklebolt.

The Minister was emphasizing just how important it was to speed up the trials after the delay due to Harry's absence – and Reborn really didn't like what the Minister was implying here, whether the man had intended to do so or not. And of course Harry immediately offered to do his best to be present for as many trials as his schedule allowed.

The Minister was of course all too happy with Harry's offer and responded quickly, "If you prefer, we could arrange the trials to fit your schedule so you can attend every session. How much time will you be able to spend daily in magical surroundings while you are still recovering?"

Knowing better than to promise more than he was actually willing to give, Harry worded his response carefully, "The healers haven't given me an exact time frame yet as this is still the testing phase."

Reborn approved of the response, but he could also see that his Sky's conscience was already starting to rear its head. He knew how very worried Harry was about the trials being restarted without him, despite also being convinced that most of the claims regarding his supposedly indispensible testimony were complete bullshit. But just the thought of potentially being responsible for innocent people being locked up because Harry wasn't there to testify had his little Sky endlessly worried.

This situation was certainly giving Reborn a very clear picture of how the Wizarding World had been able to regularly manipulate Harry into willingly bending to their demands.

So, while he had been almost entirely silent throughout today's meetings, this was the point where Reborn felt it necessary to interject with some 'input'.

From where he was lazily leaning back in the chair next to his little Sky, he asked, "Is there a list of the individual requests for Harry's testimony? We will be unavailable for the next several days, but we could certainly sort through the claims to identify any obviously false claims and let any cases where Harry's presence isn't actually indispensible proceed immediately."

As he spoke, Reborn could see the Minister gaining a slightly resigned expression, clearly having hoped to quiet any critics' demands by having Harry as the supposedly unbiased party present. But - as before - Shacklebolt still nodded in acceptance without a word to the contrary.

Harry on the other hand looked almost startled. Seeing his Sky's surprise at someone trying to come up with a solution designed to first and foremost suit Harry's needs - lightening his workload all the while still letting him salve his conscience – just affirmed Reborn's utter loathing of the British Wizarding World.

His kindhearted Sky, so very willing to help wherever and whenever he could, but entirely unused to anyone so much as attempting to return the favor.

Reveling in the warmth of almost helpless gratitude pulsing along their bond - even as Harry happily promised Kingsley to let him know which trials he would be attending as soon as he had a chance to look over the claims - Reborn thought to himself that with him in Harry's life, people would suddenly find it much harder to take advantage of his little Sky's kind heart.

Slanting a look over to the Storm sitting at Harry's other side - who was doing nothing to hide the hint of menace curling at the edges of his placid smile and whose position as one of the main enforcers of the Chinese Triads had definitely not been gained due to his lenience or altruism – Reborn thought to himself, that it would turn out to be much harder indeed.

One might even say impossible.

+++

Leaving Kingsley's office, Harry was still basking in the feeling of his Guardian's Sun Flames curling warmly and protectively around him. He would have loved nothing more than to just sit down and revel in this feeling of safetysuretyprotection for a while.

But as always, there were things to get done.

So far, today had been quite eventful, even though Harry still wasn't quite sure whether to actually call the day a success or not.

He was still so very embarrassed at having forgotten to mask his magical signature, thus giving the Aurors a way to track him down in the first place. At least nothing really bad had come of today and making a complete fool of Savage - cutting the Head Auror and her little troop of loyal Aurors back to size, even implicating her Aurors in unlawful use of resources - had certainly been satisfying.

But the Ministry's desperation to get Harry under their thumb wasn't actually the most troubling thing about today's events – it was rather expected to be honest.

However, the Order's involvement in this mess was certainly disappointing. Harry wasn't sure whether this was just a few Order Members trying to regain their previous glory - or hobby or whatever - by sticking their nose into his business, or whether there might be something more sinister at play here.

At least not everyone from the Order seemed to be involved, going by Kingsley's apparent exclusion.

Well, that's one at least, Harry thought bitterly.

Savages' actions had given Harry the chance to draw very clear lines at what he would be willing to tolerate from the Ministry. And what he simply wouldn't. And for once there even seemed to be some actual consequences for their actions if Croaker's involvement and Kingsley's reaction were anything to go by.

Still. Harry sighed. Dealing with the Ministry was always so stressful.

Stepping into the elevator to take them back to the Atrium, Harry felt some of his tension - which he had been carrying around with him ever since his magic's warning nudge right before the Aurors had burst into view in the middle of London, far too well informed about Harry's whereabouts and far too close to his Sun for comfort - release.

His sudden relaxation had nothing at all to do with Reborn's arm easily curling around Harry's waist as soon as the doors had fully closed behind them. It hadn't.

And Harry happily ignored how absurdly quick his instincts had decided that Fon was entirely safe, that the Storm's presence was not to be considered an invasion or a threat in any way. He would have time later on to consider what this quick acceptance meant.

Ignoring the blush he could feel on his face, Harry still gratefully leaned into his Sun's side as he considered what to do next.

Harry was not naïve enough to believe that he had seen the last of the Ministry's or the Order's meddling. History had taught him otherwise. They definitely needed to contact Gringott's as soon as possible and his lawyers would need to be updated - about Fon, about the Ministry tracking him down like a criminal and about the Order's interference.

A slight tightening of the arm around his waist had Harry look up at his Sun. Who was watching the doors with slight suspicion, reminding Harry that the two Flame users had no way of knowing about how they operated and were probably suspicious of their return trip taking so long.

Harry easily explained, "The elevators are charmed to take exactly as long as their occupants want them to. They are also warded to high heavens against any sort of monitoring as they quite often spontaneously double as conference rooms. Or as the perfect place to take a quick nap between floors." A brief pause. "Thankfully, magical elevator shafts are not actually limited to a single carriage like the Muggle version or the Ministry would get even less done than they do now." Harry grinned sardonically.

Reborn smirked disdainfully, his irritation from the previous meeting clearly not entirely abated yet, "A convenient wizard invention, how impressive."

Harry couldn't help his grin up at his Sun, as Reborn unknowingly echoed his exact reaction when Barrister Motley had explained the elevators to him some months back. "Isn't it just?"

Thinking that it would actually be convenient to discuss their plans for the rest of the day now, Harry non-verbally threw out a privacy charm - despite the supposed warding.

When he looked up both Reborn and Fon were watching him.

It brought Harry up short.

Had they just read his body language or had they actually been able to feel him cast the spell? Unless you had Magick Sight, actually feeling someone cast magic was considered to only be possible if you were incredibly attuned to the other person. It wouldn't be too unlikely for Reborn to be able to detect and recognize his magic by now, but that couldn't possibly apply to Fon as well. Could it?

Harry forced himself to shake off the thought of what that might mean and instead focused on the two Flame users.

Unnecessarily he clarified, "A privacy ward."

Neither of the men shifted their gaze away from him, though Fon inclined his head slightly. It was reassuring to see that the man actually was capable of reacting with facial expressions.

Although clearly only if he deigns to, Harry thought with a slight grin.

While Fon's introduction to the Wizarding World had been inevitable if he was truly going to stick around them, immediately dragging the Storm into the political intricacies of the Magical World certainly hadn't been the best way to go about it.

So, considering that it would only be fair to keep him in the loop now that they had the chance to do so, Harry suggested from where he was happily leaning against his Sun's side, "We should probably stop by my lawyers' office first to keep them updated."

Reborn nodded agreeably where he was resting his chin against Harry's temple. Fon showed no actual reaction to Harry's proposal, but continued to watch them intently.

Harry was sure that Fon was expecting a comprehensive explanation as soon as they managed to get somewhere quiet. Which was more than fair, considering the Storm's nonchalant acceptance of everything they had thrown at him in the span of two days and his stoic support through rather volatile situations. One truly had to admire the man's poker face in the face of today's insanity.

Harry continued. "After that we can go somewhere quiet for a discussion," - Fon deigned to give another nod of agreement at this – "and I would like to mask my magical signature as soon as possible. It requires quite a bit of concentration to effectively mask my magic in its entirety but that's about it."

And wasn't it just doubly embarrassing to admit that Harry could have masked his magic at any point before, if only he had actually remembered to do so.

Well, with today's experience he certainly wouldn't ever be forgetting about it again, that much was for certain.

If anything Harry could already see this joining the list of his various neuroses. Along with his need to check the door of any room he was in regularly to make sure he hadn't been locked in – thank you Dursleys - or his need of watching anyone he met obsessively whether they had a tendency of hourly drinks from a private bottle to make sure they weren't polyjuiced – thank you Moody and Crouch - or his need to religiously check his mental defenses for any sort of tampering throughout the day – thank you Dumbledore, thank you Snape and thank you fucking Voldemort.

Merlin, did he live an interesting life or what?

+++

When the elevator finally came to a halt at the Atrium Reborn stepped out first, then Harry with Fon following sedately behind.

They were met with countless stares from the wizarding masses that had gathered in the Ministry's arrival hall. Clearly word of the Savior's appearance at the Ministry had gotten around, going by the obvious anticipation that permeated the room. The immediate gawking was also a big hint. Cue the sarcasm.

Harry had warned Reborn and Fon in the elevator to expect the Atrium to be packed with gossip mongers hoping to get another glimpse of the Harry Potter Show. Better to give the two Flame users a heads up, lest a good portion of Ministry workers ended up dead or maimed by the end of today if they started clamoring for his attention.

Harry knew that if he made eye contact with even a single person here, that person would feel encouraged to voice his oh-so-relevant thoughts and it would quickly turn into a mob of people trying to make themselves heard. Then he would have to ask Fawkes to take them away and Harry had no intention of looking like he was avoiding something. No. They were going to leave from the exact spot they had arrived at. See if they didn't! Hnpf.

Smoothly starting across the hall - Reborn and Fon easily falling into their positions at his side - Harry let his magic convey utter calm, in direct contrast to the irritation he had radiated earlier at his arrival. Considering that the papers would be printing about his meeting with the Head Auror and the Minister himself, Wizarding Britain would be all too happy to draw their entirely uninformed conclusions.

For once, the Wizarding World's obsession with gossip would actually suit Harry's needs.

While Harry didn't necessarily need the support of the wizarding public, it certainly made his life easier. Harry's current popularity gave him a lot of leverage in the Ministry, but public opinion could all too easily be swayed, the sheeple so happily feeling appalled, so very eager to watch an idol's fall from grace.

And Harry's only real weak spot in the political arena was his age. While his wealth, his political power and his magical prowess would never be put into question, Harry knew that today's events were a perfect chance to impress on the wizarding public that - despite his age - not only was he considered an equal party when meeting the Minister and various department heads but also that he got exactly what he wanted from the Ministry.

Having actively escalated the conflict with the DMLE, anything reaffirming his status in the eyes of the sheeple could only help him in the future. So, while he would love to avoid the masses, today Harry was going to give them their spectacle.

And then, he spotted Hestia Jones not so inconspicuously lingering next to the wand checking counter.

She couldn't possibly be stupid enough to actually confront him in public, could she? To give him a chance to air his grievances with the Order directly in front of the Wizarding World's worst gossips?

Though, wouldn't that be mightily gracious of her, Harry thought vengefully.

Who was Harry to deny Jones her very own, very public smackdown. That still didn't mean he was going to make it easy for her. Oh no.

Calmly continuing on his path across the Atrium towards the apparition areas, Harry couldn't help but feel vindictively amused at her obvious befuddlement when he made no move to stop by for another chat despite clearly having spotted her.

Then she stumbled after them, "Harry!"

The wizard who had been standing next to her was following her across the hall. His scowl looked somewhat familiar, though Harry couldn't actually place him.

"Harry! Harry, wait up!" At this point, Jones had gathered quite a bit attention as well, although not a single Ministry worker deigned to actually step aside to let her through, Harry's obvious dismissal of her doing Jones' reputation no favors. "Harry Potter!"

At the last shout, Harry came to a stop and – back to his affable public persona – affected a slightly surprised expression.

"Jones." He greeted pleasantly. Reborn and Fon turned with him and were watching her predatorily, clearly unused to having their prey actually run after them.

Harry's sudden politeness seemed to throw Jones for a loop, as she stopped to gape at him for a moment. Seriously. People should really get used to the fact that Harry rarely behaved according to their expectations of him.

He continued innocently, "Was there something other than what was discussed with Minister Shacklebolt just now?"

At her continued floundering, Reborn apparently decided to move things along. Jones actually flinched visibly, when he turned the entirety of his focus on her.

Fon's placid smile was practically oozing derision at this point.

"Ah. Harry. Yes." She was trying to collect herself, clearly looking for a way to get a handle on the conversation. Then she seemingly remembered her companion. "Ah, this is Edward Smith."

Harry gave a nod in the wizard's direction, only to receive a scowl in return. The resemblance to Zacharias Smith was suddenly very obvious, now that Harry knew what to look for. And the scowl aimed at Harry was nearly identical to the one Smith the Younger had been fond of giving him ever since fifth year. What joy.

Jones had clearly expected Harry to react in some way, but when he did not actually respond verbally, she continued. "Edward joined the Order just recently. He's been a great help with our efforts."

Again with the 'efforts'. What bloody efforts? Although going by today's events, those 'efforts' clearly included messing with Harry's privacy. And that was plainly unacceptable.

Still, Harry asked calmly. "Oh? So the Order is recruiting again? Even after the war?"

"Well, yes, of course. It never hurts to keep prepared, you know. It is important to stay wary for when the dark forces try to rise again eventually. We need to bolster our numbers, gather as many decent wizards as possible under the banner of the light." Jones stated fervently. "The Order will continue to defend the light!" Her zeal was disturbing.

Harry kept his expression neutral as he inquired calmly, "Hm. Anyone I know?"

Jones responded patronizingly, "Oh, Harry. You know I can't discuss those details out in the open like this."

She actually reached out, clearly intending to condescendingly pat his arm. His right arm. Where Fon was standing, smiling placidly, but still somehow exuding disdain.

A slight shift from the Storm had Jones flinching backwards before she even came close to finishing the motion. Then she stared in complete befuddlement, apparently baffled by her own reaction to the serenely smiling Asian.

Well, at least there is some sort entertainment to be had, Harry thought cheerfully.

Awkward silence ensued, as Jones just continued to stare at Fon, caught in his gaze and entirely unable to look away.

Which gave the other Order member a chance to put his foot in. Smith's anger was clear to see and his frown was deepening by the minute.

Finally, the man burst out with, "Just send your bodyguards away, Potter! We will escort you to headquarters and the Order will provide your protection from now on."

Huh, Smith the Older is clearly just as personable as his younger relative, Harry thought drolly.

Although, even Harry didn't expect the wizard to then actually wave his hand at the two Flame users, pompously stating, "You can leave now."

A pause.

Reborn didn't react beyond raising an eyebrow at the dismissal by a stranger and Fon's serene smile only gained an edge of actual amusement. And Harry just couldn't help himself anymore. He laughed.

Out loud.

There was actual mirth in his voice when he said clearly for all to hear. "While I thank you for the offer of protection against those supposedly 'rising dark forces' even despite there being no evidence of any such movement whatsoever, I will give you the same answer that I gave the DMLE earlier today: Your offer comes far too late."

Then, Harry let the hilarity in his voice dissipate, gravity taking its place. Lowering his voice slightly, so only the few eavesdroppers standing directly around them would actually understand him - so his words would spread from just a small group of people, like any other rumor - he continued, "Just weeks ago, the Order had the audacity to remove me from St. Mungo's against healers' orders, brought me to the Muggle World and then left me without any sort of protection while barely conscious. My healers are still struggling to counteract the damage that has been done to my health. Your offer of protection at this point is laughable and almost insulting."

Harry paused to take in the reactions around him.

Jones and Smith - and every single eavesdropper - looked absolutely gobsmacked at his words.

Having made his point, Harry continued with a normal tone of voice, which - in the complete silence of people hoping to listen in - almost echoed through the Atrium, "The war has been over for several months now and I have long since seen to my own protection. Any offers of protection at this point, are unnecessary, as any threats that I myself am unable to take care of, will easily be disposed of by either of my 'bodyguards'."

Silence.

Then a collective swiveling of heads, as the gawking people in the hall suddenly regarded both Reborn and Fon in an entirely new light. If the Savior, The-Man-Who-Conquered, their hero claimed these two men to be just as - if not more - powerful than himself…

Quite a few people actually took a step back to get a little further away.

Harry took a brief look around, entirely satisfied with himself. It was certainly nice of Jones to give him a chance to rehash this particular part of today's confrontation in public. Making a joke out of the Order's fear mongering about supposed 'rising dark forces', indirect criticism for the DMLE – for not protecting their hero – as well as once and for all clarifying Reborn's and Fon's positions at his side.

And most importantly, his statement would ensure that no one would ever so much as consider that either Fon or Reborn could possibly be non-magical. It was unfathomable to any wizard that a Muggle could ever possibly defeat a magic user.

Job done, Harry turned on his heel, flanked by Reborn and Fon as they made the final few steps towards the very spot they had arrived in. Raising his hand as Fawkes appeared in front of them in a spectacular flash of phoenix fire, Harry took a last look around the hall, he felt immensely satisfied with the stupefied looks all around.

And as Fawkes' fire enveloped them, Harry couldn't help but gleefully think that his lawyers were going to have fun 'taking care' of anyone who had been even remotely involved in today's events.

Chapter Text

The foyer of Motley's firm was empty when they arrived in a flash of phoenix fire.

Well, empty except for Mrs. Lynton sitting primly behind her desk between the offices of Motley and Wellington, the other partner of the firm.

Harry gave Fon a moment to take in their surroundings, but smiled at her in greeting across the foyer. She cheerfully waved back at him.

Mrs. Adelaide 'Della' Lynton was the secretary of Motley & Wellington and she had been running her bosses' lives for decades now. Despite her age, she had definitely kept her spirit young, her grey hair always in a loose elegant bun, wearing dark traditional witches' clothing, but always in combination with numerous colorful accessories made by her many grandchildren.

Her extended family was also her absolute favorite topic to talk to Harry about, usually over homemade cookies and a nice cup of tea while they waited for this or that document to come through or for one of his lawyers to arrive.

She also seemed to know just about every single person in a secretarial position throughout the Alleys, the Ministry and possibly the entirety of Wizarding Britain. Whenever Motley needed something, there always seemed to be 'that one nice lad, who was in charge of that and who coincidentally was also the grandson of that gentleman her cousin had gone to school with and that lad surely wouldn't mind giving Motley's request preference and she was just going to quickly step out and bring it over personally'.

She was truly invaluable for getting things done quickly. And Merlin help anyone, who tried to stand in her way. Her efficiency was not to be compromised by others' incompetence.

Harry had only had the pleasure of seeing her patience be tested once, when she had come with him to the Ministry to pick up some documents. She had apparently felt personally offended by the gall of the Ministry clerks trying to claim that Harry didn't actually have the authority to request those files. Her grandmotherly smile had suddenly grown teeth and she had brought both clerks almost to tears while explaining ineptitude to them in very small words. Sure enough, they had left with the requested documents in hand and to the sound of the clerks being verbally ripped apart by their supervisor, an older woman who clearly knew Mrs. Lynton quite well.

Harry still thought fondly of that particular day. And had pledged to never get on her bad side. His self-preservation instincts were very much intact, thank you very much. Thankfully, Mrs. Lynton seemed to have decided early on to take Harry under her wing.

As he stepped up to her desk with Reborn and Fon at his side, she greeted them cheerfully. "Lord Potter, how nice to see you again. How have you been?"

Harry already felt his mood lifting at her cheer, "Mrs. Lynton, it is good to see you again. I'm doing quite well, thank you. How was your trip to Venice and your grandson's bonding ceremony?"

She beamed at him, "Oh, how nice of you to ask. It was magnificent. The ceremony was stunning and the festivities afterwards were so very marvelous."

After exchanging a few more bits of small talk, she quickly got back to business, "Your timing is impeccable, Lord Potter. Barrister Motley just had another meeting with the Clarke siblings this morning and I was to contact you in order to set up another appointment, which we could take care of right now if you have the time. Barrister Motley is on his break currently but he should be back in a few minutes and I will contact Clarke Solicitors momentarily. Would you mind awfully waiting a moment for everyone to gather here?"

"That would be no problem at all. Thank you, Mrs. Lynton." Harry smiled at her, already considering whether he could make use of the time until the meeting.

He had been feeling incredibly uncomfortable ever since being made aware that his magical signature wasn't currently masked. It bothered him endlessly to be without that additional shield, that protection, even more so after the Ministry had already used it to track him down once.

So, any chance of correcting that oversight was more than welcome and if they had to wait for his lawyers anyways...

Masking one's magic didn't actually require anything beyond a lot of focus, excellent magical control and the knowledge how to cast the required ward. All the more embarrassing to admit that he could have taken care of this at any point.

If only I had remembered to do so.

Well, a lesson learned and all that.

Still, this would be the perfect chance before they had to step out into the Wizarding World again, to make sure that there would be no chance of anyone tracking him again and possibly even following them back to their apartment based on his magical signature. All the better, if he could do it now in one of Motley's heavily warded meeting rooms, so anyone who might still be tracking him would lose sight of him immediately.

A quick glance over at Reborn, before he turned back to Mrs. Lynton, "Would it be possible for me to make use of one of the meeting rooms until everyone gets here? It won't take long."

"Yes, of course. Just go on through to that room on the left. There is no one scheduled to use it until later today." She said, pointing at a door on the far side of the foyer.

Harry thanked her, which she waved off with a smile, and by the time they reached the other side of the foyer she was already penning a note - presumably to inform Motley and the Clarkes of Harry's presence here.

Despite Harry actually having been half a step ahead of Reborn and Fon the entire way across the foyer, his Sun somehow still managed to step through the door ahead of him. At Harry's exasperated – not fond, no not fond at all – huff, he just threw a smug smirk over his shoulder.

"What's the hold up, beautiful?"

Harry's face immediately lit up with a blush. He could feel his cheeks glowing red at being called by one of Reborn's preferred names outside of their home.

The obvious amusement of the Storm - who was still holding the door open for him, clearly having no intention of entering before Harry – at their interaction didn't help his blush at all.

Insufferable, the both of them, he huffed internally but made his way into the room the small meeting room.

Refusing to meet his Sun's satisfied grin – much less acknowledge the affection he could feel along their bond - or remark on the amusement radiating from Fon, Harry picked one of the chairs further away from the door and settled at the oval meeting table without further comment.

At least there were no teasing comments about the blush he was still sporting, as Fon leaned against the wall across from where Reborn was propped against the table. They had positioned themselves right between Harry and the door with an unimpeded view of both, while covering each other's blind spots perfectly.

Really, at some point that overprotectiveness was going to start annoying Harry something awful.

Although, probably not until he stopped feeling all warm and fuzzy inside whenever his Sun did something like this. Making Harry and his safety unapologetically, uncompromisingly his first priority. Being unquestionably put first was still an utterly new concept for Harry.

Well, he could accept his Sun's overgrown overprotectiveness, as long as he didn't complain when Harry started returning that favor at every opportunity.

We'll be having words otherwise, Harry thought and relaxed back in his seat, closing his eyes, turning his focus inward, slowly letting his mind settle into his magic.

Usually when casting this ward, he struggled endlessly with trying to turn his entire focus inwards, having to entirely let go of his outside awareness, despite knowing of the threats that constantly, continuously, relentlessly loomed over his shoulder. But this time - with his Sun just a few feet away from him, quietly conversing with Fon - Harry simply had no doubts regarding his safety and it was so very easy to just, let go.

With a silent breath, Harry let his outside awareness fade away, focusing inwards, centering himself, gathering his magic - even the smallest amount from around himself - and drawing it into himself, into his core. All while wrapped in a warm cocoon of Flames, Sky and Sun Flames intertwining through the bond, reassuring, pulsing with the feeling of safetywarmthhomeprotection.

And being as focused on his magic as he was, Harry was entirely unaware of the serene smile on his face or of the peaceful sigh he let out.

But the two Flame users certainly noticed.

Fon could practically see Reborn's smugness reaching new heights.

And Fon refused to react. He wouldn't. Not on pain of death.

He was quite disinterested in hearing Reborn actually verbalize his smugness. Ever since smugly introducing Harry as his Sky, the Sun had been doing enough bragging without words, thank you very much. Because this Sky hadn't just harmonized with one of the strongest Flame users in existence – pulled him in and happily kept him there – but apparently also measured up to Reborn's ridiculously high standards in everything else.

A part of his mind - the small, hidden part of him that had been yearning for that bond for years now, surreptitiously searching for Harmony - vibrated with excitement, because Fon's presence clearly didn't interfere with the young Sky's feeling of safety at all. Despite only having met days ago. Fon couldn't remember the last time a Sky had actually relaxed in his presence.

And - silently - Fon could admit that this Sky was utterly fascinating, would have been even if Fon hadn't been able to literally breathe in the purity of his Qi and Flames and Magic.

It was the first time in years that Fon actually felt any sort of interest in a particular Sky.

The Triads kept their unbonded Skies close, protected, pampered, as everyone tried to curry their favor, minions falling over themselves, trying to impress. Just in case that Sky ever came into a position of real power. The powerful Branches encouraged this behavior, because it kept the Sky Flame users in the smaller Branches spoilt and soft, making any sort of effective rebellion on that front unlikely. And keeping the Skies tucked away also let the leaders unobtrusively handpick any Guardian potentials, who then always coincidentally turned out to be uncharacteristically loyal to existing power structures.

Admittedly, this system had granted a surprising amount of order and peace in the Triads - and Fon could generally care less about these sorts of power games – but it had also resulted in entire generations of utterly ruined Skies.

Fon wouldn't even so much as consider binding himself to a single one of them.

Well, the Mafia's route wasn't any better. In Italy it had become common to kill off any Skies your Famiglia failed to bind to itself - just to make sure that they didn't bolster any rival Famiglias - which had led to a dramatic drop off in the overall number of Skies in Italy.

Not an optimal approach either, that was for sure.

So, in Fon's experience, Skies were either spoilt – their self-importance laughably overinflated – or meek – kept small by whoever got their hands on them first – or fury personified – when their Guardians' loyalty turned out to be to someone else first and the pain of betrayal was unbearable and inescapable.

It was the same problem everywhere in the criminal underworld. Everyone wanted Harmony - for the bond, for the power, for the prestige - but anyone in power wanted to keep potential opposition down, which was most likely to come from strong Skies with a strong group of Guardians. So, across the world of organized crime Skies were either killed off, kept weak or kept loyal.

It was a cutthroat world. And unbonded, unprotected Skies tended to get the worst of it. The few Skies that were decently strong and actually managed to survive with their health and sanity intact were rarely able to keep more than even the smallest fraction of any positive personality aspects they might have originally had.

All the more ludicrous for Reborn to actually have found a Sky like this.

A Sky without a Famiglia - without ties or obligations, without someone pulling his and his Guardians' strings - but with the strength to back it up. A Sky with power of his own and - going by what Fon had witnessed so far - with determination of steel. A Sky with true compassion - who did not wish for power, reputation, wealth or social standing – and with a kind heart, whose main interest was freedom.

Freedom for himself and for his Guardians, to spread as they pleased but with a center, a home to return to.

A true Sky.

The sort you read about and dreamt about but that wasn't actually supposed to exist in reality. A nice dream, nothing more.

And now, Reborn had actually found it.

Well, if there was anyone who would manage to find himself a young, pure, untainted, civilian Sky, it would be Reborn. If only so the Sun could claim to have the very best. Always.

One look over at the man – Reborn's face still radiating lazy satisfaction - and Fon was almost tempted to roll his eyes. Regrettably, he had a reputation to uphold.

The hitman really was insufferable sometimes.

Completely focused on his magic - which was happily humming in his core, tendrils coiling through his body - Harry noticed nothing of the outside world.

Once his magic entirely settled within him, casting the ward came almost automatically.

As soon as he could feel the command of the ward spread through his core - his very self – he smoothly let go of his absolute restraint on his magic again. And it elatedly took back the freedom it always so enjoyed, immediately spreading outwards again, never straying far, just slightly tinting his world and increasing his awareness as it always did.

But even as Harry's awareness returned to the outside world, he could feel his magic spreading further. Spreading, expanding. Joyfully following his Flames' path along the bond to his Sun.

Until it covered Ren in its cloak as well, feeling like it belonged right there, winding around his Sun in joyful tendrils, as though it had been doing it all along.

Harry could practically see some of the tension that had gathered in Ren's frame leak out of his posture again, as his magic practically hummed in delight, nudging at Harry's awareness, See? See?

Which, what?

Before Harry could consider what in the Merlin's name his magic was doing, there was a knock on the door, Mrs. Lynton letting them know that everyone else had arrived and was waiting for them.

Well, this was definitely something to discuss later. Not like Reborn would be averse to testing anything involving his magic, considering how utterly fascinated he seemed every time Harry let his magic out to intertwine with their Flames.

And, while they were at it, maybe Harry could also test his Flames some more. That at least, was something to look forward to for later.

His eagerness to use his Flames again had nothing to do with how it had felt to have his Flames intertwine with Reborn's the last time he had tried. Or with how Harry had pretty much been curled up in his Sun's lap by the end of it. Really, it didn't.

Keeping step with Harry across the foyer, Reborn did nothing to suppress his lecherous grin at the renewed blush on his Sky's cheeks. Even though he had no idea what exactly had brought it on this time, Harry doing his best not to actually look at him as he tried to suppress the blush, sure made it seem like he was somehow to blame.

And Reborn was gladly taking credit for that delectable look. He did so adore that blush.

Although, by the time they reached Motley's office the redness of his Sky's cheeks was barely noticeable anymore, which was just fine with Reborn. No one else should be allowed to see his little Sky's adorable reactions.

Those were his and his alone.

Cue the maniacal laughter.

While Reborn pondered his Sky's adorableness, Harry introduced Fon to his lawyers, which included Motley, the female Clarke and her brother Anthony.

The latter was definitely the least likable of the three Clarkes, far too pompous for Reborn or Harry's taste. But he was also incredibly good at his job - weeding out even the slightest pitfalls in legal documents, going through every paragraph, sentence, turn of phrase with a fine-toothed comb and with a sixth sense for anything fishy even if not actually apparent in the phrasing itself - and he was also entirely focused on keeping Harry and his interests protected. Which was the only reason that Reborn hadn't shredded the man during their first meeting for daring to actually question him and his reasons for being there.

And also, the fact that the man had no sense of humor or sarcasm whatsoever, making it far too easy to have fun at his expense.

Reborn had driven his Sky almost to tears with silent laughter by purposely misunderstanding every single question the man had asked him. Anthony had given up in exasperation after trying to rephrase the third question for the seventh time.

Fon was currently getting the exact same treatment, being asked thinly veiled, suspicious questions about his intentions.

The Storm was clearly just as irked about being questioned by a stranger, but decided to go a different route. Namely, taking the man's questions absolutely literal and he was currently in the process of making up an absolutely bullshit story about his personal details with infinite diligence. He started by inventing a date of birth – exact, down to the second and for several calendars, including the Western, the Chinese and the Japanese calendars -, then expounded on the geographic importance of his fictional birth place, before explaining the historic value of the hospital he was supposedly born in and was now in the process of giving the family history of the midwife who had apparently been involved in his delivery.

Throughout, he was smiling serenely, practically oozing politeness and cordial amiability, daring anyone to call him on his bullshit.

At Fon's side, Harry was trying unsuccessfully trying to cover his wheezing laughter by faking a coughing fit.

And Anthony Clarke looked on in confusion, clearly no idea what to make of the Chinese man at all.

Motley put an end to the spectacle - sadly before Fon could finish his detailed story about how the midwife's childhood pet had been her inspiration to go into medicine - but made no efforts to hide the amusement in his eyes as he did so.

Then, they immediately got down to business, which promptly went into an entirely different direction than they had originally come here for, because the lawyers had finally completed the preparations for legalizing Harry's charity just this morning.

And Reborn knew how anxiously Harry had been looking forward to any progress on that front. The thought of the children orphaned by the war - who had lost not only their families but also their homes and any sort of legal protection – practically haunted his Sky.

While Reborn could more than get behind any effort to protect children - young children, true innocents, those who never had to fight for their own life, who hadn't yet learned that the world even had harsher sides, who had never so much as gone a day without a full meal in their stomachs, guileless, wide-eyed, innocent children - he also didn't struggle with the thought that these children might have a slightly harsher life than necessary for another week or so.

Because they would be saved - they would maybe be a little more weary than before, a little wiser to the harshness of life - which was more than most children in their situation could say. However, soon they would be rescued, guarded, shielded, protected, sheltered again. His Sky would see to it. And that was all that Reborn thought should matter.

But as always Harry's kindness was truly a warmth all of its own.

And so, Reborn was entirely unsurprised when Harry promptly forgot about their original reason for coming here and instead happily focused on his lawyers' progress.

Anthony Clarke was currently explaining, "We now have most of the legalities in order for the charity itself. We were trying to find some sort of precedent in Wizarding Britain and we went back all the way to the founding of the Magick Council, but there simply is nothing of the sort."

Here, Laura Clarke continued, "Instead we are going to base the entire case on your intention to build orphanages and we will use Hogwarts itself as a precedent. The founders actually got a lot of private support, monetary and otherwise, that allowed them to finish Hogwarts at all in their own lifetime. Going this route will also make it almost impossible for anyone to go against your charity due to the similarities, a place to provide homes and schooling for children the same way Hogwarts was originally intended." She opened a heavy roll of parchment with teeny-tiny writing and pushed it towards them, as though that would illustrate her point.

Harry glanced at the scroll without attempting to read it, but was nodding enthusiastically, always happy to hear his only childhood home mentioned in a good light and not in reference to any occurrences of his own school drama or the Final Battle.

Anthony Clarke took over again. "Lewis has also arranged interviews with the two candidates that you picked for the running of the charity itself. Both of them will be available two days from now as you requested. At this point neither of them has any idea that you are involved, but they have been warned that Lewis will be joined by other parties during the interview."

During one of their previous meetings, Lewis Clarke had proposed that he take over the initial setup of the charity until Harry could appoint someone to do so full time once the charity was legally sound. There had been a pulse of amusement along their bond from his Sky, before Harry had proceeded to give his lawyers quite the fight on that front, finally pretending to only grudgingly give in.

Reborn had been endlessly entertained, because he knew that Harry was actually quite happy with the offer. They had even discussed this beforehand when his Sky had worriedly mentioned to him that he had no idea where to even start with setting up a charity. They had spent many a conversation discussing everything that would need to be organized even after the legalities were sorted, like getting facilities built, staffed and equipped. Not to even mention figuring out a way to get any orphans assigned to the charity's care in the first place.

Additionally, Harry had resignedly admitted that if he were to actually arrange these things himself, people would quickly get wind of the fact that Harry Potter, the Savior was holding job interviews and he would be buried in claims from people who just wanted a chance to talk to The-Man-Who-Conquered and who had no actual interest in or qualifications for the job. And the Ministry would certainly soon find a way to stick their noses into his business as well.

So, at the lawyer's offer, Harry had let himself be 'convinced' into letting someone else take care of the initial setup and thereby gotten exactly what he wanted in the first place.

Harry - the troll - had only made his lawyers argue their case to make sure that they were truly behind the idea. And for the sake of it.

Reborn simply adored his Sky's propensity to stir things up.

Harry confirmed to himself that he would never ever so much as consider going into law.

His enthusiasm at his lawyers' offer of explaining the charity's legal setup had quickly dwindled once they had started explaining the finer details of the documents that were to be submitted to the Ministry. Listening to his lawyers monologuing about how this or that paragraph was supported by this or that regulation of this or that Ministry Department was mind-numbing.

But they were clearly doing their best to skip any not so essential sections of the documents, which was the only reason Harry was still even trying to listen to them. Although, he couldn't help letting his mind drift slightly from time to time. Fon hadn't moved so much as a millimeter for quite some time now and at this point Harry was getting suspicious that the Storm might actually be meditating to escape the pain of having to listen to Harry's lawyers drone on.

As usual, it was Reborn who was avidly listening to Harry's lawyers explaining the more intricate details of the documents.

Harry had realized during their first meeting with Motley and Laura Clarke that Reborn could more than keep up with his lawyers. And whenever Harry needed clarification, his Sun easily filtered out the lawyer speak and translated everything they had said into plain English for him.

Reborn could actually get quite nitpicky about certain ways to phrase things that he thought might come back to bite them later on, even arguing for the lawyers to change, remove or add paragraphs. Well, his Sun tended to consider the more brutal eventualities that might come to pass in any given situation, possibly brought about by himself.

And so far, they haven't won a single argument against Ren either, Harry thought cheerfully.

They had been at it for quite some time now but they were finally drawing to a close. After a few more minutes, they finished with an air of accomplishment and there was a brief quiet in the office as Laura and Anthony Clarke gathered and neatly stacked the various papers scattered over the table.

Now, the documents could finally be submitted to the Ministry.

Which reminded Harry of his original reason for coming to see Motley. Well, no time like the present.

Quickly glancing between Reborn and Fon, he turned back to his lawyers.

Despite having just spent a grueling three hours of legal discussion, all three of them immediately honed in on his serious expression, their eyes gaining a certain gleam, as though they could already smell the blood in the water.

Harry had learned early on that his lawyers could be quite bloodthirsty and that they found an absurd amount of satisfaction in tearing people apart in entirely legal but excruciatingly painful ways.

And Harry took no little amount of glee in quickly bringing them up to speed about the events of the day. They were immediately taking notes and asking questions about specifics. Especially Laura Clarke seemed to be chomping at the bit to bury all involved parties in law suits.

But before she could open her mouth, Motley spoke up to claim the Department of Mysteries as his. The barrister apparently had contacts among the Unspeakables and thus could easily follow the fallout. He calmly assured Harry that just because there seemed to be some sort of investigation on the side of the Unspeakables, there was no reason not to make sure that there would be actual, cautionary consequences to deter anyone else from ever attempting something similar. The threat was clear, but Motley's peaceful, grandfatherly smile never so much as wavered on his face.

Reborn wasn't even trying to hide his bloodthirsty appreciation and Fon was looking on in definite approval.

Satisfied, Harry gave his lawyers the absolute go-ahead to get compensation for his 'distress' at having been sought after like a common criminal.

And as Harry, Reborn and Fon left for the Alleys, the Clarke siblings were still locked in an intense staring match, silently fighting over who got to go after the Order and who got to go after the DMLE.

Harry really should really send Luna a thank you note for originally pointing him in Motley's direction.

Chapter Text

Stepping into Form Alley just outside Motley's office, Harry considered what to do next.

Their next stop should probably be Gringotts, because the goblins' secure meeting rooms would be the best option for the explanation they had promised Fon.

But on the other hand, they had spent their entire day so far in arguments with either government personnel, lawyers or vigilantes, so maybe they could at least take a break before sitting down to rehash the details of their day and its various confrontations?

Honestly, Fon had to be wondering at this point whether there was anything to the Magical World but arguing with self-entitled morons.

And, if Harry was entirely honest, seeing as this was their first time actually stepping foot into the Alleys, Harry would also love to show Reborn some of the Magical World's more intriguing sites. Because so far, his Sun hadn't seen all that much aside from the Ministry, Gringotts and St. Mungo's.

A hospital, a bank and a governmental building really weren't the most fascinating parts of any city, much less a city in the Magical World.

Harry had been looking forward to showing Reborn some of the things he had only been able to describe to his Sun before, like the joke shop – though they wouldn't be going there until George came back from his trip – or the Quidditch store or the various sweets shops or the Magical Menagerie or the Market.

To this day Harry still hadn't lost some of his wide-eyed wonder at the things you could find tucked away in the corners of the Wizarding World and he really wanted to share more of this fascinating world with his Sun.

And since Fon was already there... Harry had no problems dragging the Storm along. If the Chinese was actually going to stick with them, then it was only fair to show him what he was getting into.

With that conclusion in mind, Harry turned to the two Flame users who had been watching him as he tried to make up his mind.

"So, Gringotts should probably be our next stop for that discussion we need to have and it will only take a few minutes to go there directly. Or we could take the more circuitous way through the Alleys? See some of the sights?" Harry suggested hopefully.

Reborn didn't even really need to think about it, immediately tilting his head in agreement to Harry's suggestion.

It was beyond time for him to gain some insight into British Wizarding society and what better place to start than in the middle of what appeared to be the very epicenter of Wizarding Britain. Although, his inability to resist his little Sky's obvious enthusiasm when suggesting a stroll, might also have something to do with his immediate assent.

He was promptly rewarded with a happy grin from his adorable Sky, which only widened once Fon nodded his approval as well.

As they started down Form Alley, Fon interestedly observed the two bonded Flame users interact.

Their bond was clearly strong, despite only having been formed a short time ago. And while the young Sky clearly held enormous sway over the Sun, he was also - seemingly instinctively - taking cues from his Guardian.

Newly harmonized pairs rarely had such an easy and balanced bond.

It was quite astonishing. Even more so when considering their circumstances.

A young – and until very recently civilian – Sky bonded to one of the most feared members of the criminal underworld, with Sky Flames so pure they shone like a beacon and Qi so untainted it made Fon want to just hold still for a moment to simply breathe it in.

And the young Sky also seemed entirely unbothered by his single Guardian's protectiveness, the Sun walking as close to him as was physically possible without actually stepping on his toes.

Fon let his serene smile widen slightly. Reborn in full protective mode. How entertaining.

If this was Reborn's base level of protectiveness with only civilians milling about... Fon didn't even want to imagine how Reborn would be acting once they inevitably came in contact with the criminal underworld. And gods above, the utter devastation if there was ever an actual threat levied at Reborn's Sky.

The Sun's protective fury might just level an entire country's criminal underworld in one go.

Although, if he was being entirely honest, Fon really had no right to comment, seeing as he had joined right in with Reborn in glowering at any magicals, who looked like they might be considering to come over and talk to the young Sky.

… considering that he himself had not even harmonized with the young Sky and was already acting like a jealous Guardian, Fon really was in no position to make fun of Reborn,.

And his own feelings of protectiveness for this Sky were another thing that was honestly surprising about the entire situation.

While it was normal for Flame users to generally want to protect Sky Flame users - especially if unbound themselves - Fon had long since mastered absolute control over his Flames. For them to still be urging him towards this young Sky was rather startling.

Fortunately, any magicals they came across promptly reconsidered approaching them once they had Reborn's and Fon's combined stares focused on them.

So, there were at least a few magicals who had retained some sort of survival instincts.

I had honestly been starting to doubt that, Fon thought derisively.

Although, all of this just made Fon all the more curious about the young Sky.

Fon's list of questions seemed to just be getting longer and longer with every minute he spent with the other two Flame users.

How wonderfully intriguing, Fon thought with a serene smile as he leisurely followed after the bonded pair.

From Form Alley – where anything related to bureaucracy congregated - they turned onto Joe Vee Alley – where anything related to the arts as well as anything for recreation or hobbies could be found.

"There has been an ongoing fight between the different kinds of businesses to rename Joe Vee Alley. Particularly the acting branch has been trying to pass motions to rename this alley into Dramatic Alley or something along those lines with almost amusing frequency." Harry was explaining.

Somewhat counter-intuitively Joe Vee Alley was directly connected to Mort Alley - the place of any shops concerning themselves with the more dangerous applications of magic – crossing Knockturn Alley – the place of the shady businesses, but apparently also where the more dangerous and less prestigious businesses where located.

"A lot of creature-run and creature-catering stores are located in Knockturn Alley, which is actually far more expansive than most of the other Alleys. It even has its own side streets just like Diagon Alley but they are generally subsumed under Knockturn Alley by the 'reputable wizarding folk', who of course would never step foot in here. Unless they need something less than legal or want to get to the red light district." Harry's derision at the Wizarding World's double standards was more than apparent.

Next came Bowtanic Alley – the name was pretty self-explanatory and Reborn had never seen a place quite this green before outside of a forest – followed by Mat'eery Alley – the home of all magical crafts and arts.

Reborn had to admit, this network of streets was certainly far more expansive than he had assumed based on Harry's casual mention of 'the Alleys'. At Fon's question, Harry had reiterated what he had explained to Reborn before, namely that only Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley were actually physically located here in London at all. The other Alleys were all located somewhere else entirely or even only existed in Wizarding Space. The different Alleys were only connected to the two main Alleys via so called Intervalleys, direct pathways through Wizarding Space.

"This way you can directly access the Alleys from numerous places in Britain." Harry mentioned.

But why make it so complicated? Reborn thought somewhat incredulously.

While most Alleys could easily be accessed, some Alleys could only be reached by jumping through ridiculous hoops. Like having to turn left at Orb's Globe and actually walking through the store's sign out front boasting 'Naturally Spawned Crystal Balls, of all sizes and fortuities' in order to get to Mannew Alley.

Reborn still hadn't decided whether wizards simply lacked common sense entirely or whether some of them just had a very odd sense of humor.

Which would certainly explain a lot, he thought.

Still, it was actually quite relaxing to wander through London's Magical District, learning more about this world, while his Sky enthusiastically explained Wizarding Space to Fon. Who was by now taking full advantage of Harry's willingness to answer any and all questions he had.

Fon was clearly trying to feel Harry out. And it was setting Reborn's teeth on edge.

He knew that by now the Storm had to have figured out just what kind of Sky Harry was.

A Sky with ridiculously pure Flames, without ties to the world of organized crime and with a heart so kind it made you want to wrap him in cotton and never let the Mafia so much as fucking touch him.

In other words, Harry was the holy fucking grail of the criminal underworld.

And having witnessed Harry's power – magical and political - earlier, having watched him unquestioningly and uncompromisingly command an entire room full of what amounted to this world's leaders…

That sort of power was catnip for people like them.

But Reborn also knew that Fon more than understood. Understood just what having a Sky meant to Reborn, understood the longing for Harmony, after having resigned yourself to the fact that there would never be a Sky strong enough to pull you in, much less one who would be worthy of the devotion that came with Harmony.

They had never directly talked about it aside from a few comments here and there, but both of them had long since resigned themselves to the fact that their exceptional strength - the reason for their unusual freedom from most restrictions in the Mafia - would also prevent them from finding a Sky strong enough to harmonize with either of them. Much less one as pure and kind and strong - and adorable - as Harry.

And Harry and Fon had to be exceptionally compatible for the Storm to feel the pull of Harry's Flames half-way across the city and for Harry to be able to sense Fon's Flames and Qi despite the Storm's absolute control.

Reborn could almost taste Fon's interest in Harry.

And honestly, it would be somewhat ridiculous to expect Fon to simply ignore these signs of absolute compatibility with a Sky strong enough to pull him in, especially considering that this Sky also clearly more than lived up to their other ridiculously high standards.

So, Reborn could already see where this was going. With this level of compatibility, it was almost a given that Fon was going to join Reborn as a Guardian sooner rather than later.

And Reborn was actually surprisingly okay with that.

His possessive side was practically snarling at the thought of someone joining them, but having Fon walk on his Sky's other, unprotected side had finally calmed his Flames - which had been almost frenziedly urging him to find additional protection for his Sky ever since they had left his safehouse in Italy - somewhat.

And as much as he would love to think otherwise – and despite Harry's assertion otherwise - Reborn knew that with the activation of his Sky Flames Harry would continue to gather Guardians around himself. It was in the very nature of Skies.

And Reborn himself wouldn't restrict his Sky by trying to interfere with that process. He would not.

Which, however, also meant that there was a certain chance of Harry picking incompetent Guardians or untrained Guardians or - god help him - he might exclusively stick to Guardians his own age or even younger as most Skies did.

A horrified shiver worked itself down Reborn's spine at some of the alternatives. Mio dio, he would be surrounded by a gaggle of children.

Yeah, no thanks.

If Reborn was going to have to deal with other people as his Sky's Guardians, then Fon might just be his top pick for a position. The Triads' Enforcer, the Eye of the Storm, the Strongest Storm - claimed title or not - was one of the very few people in the criminal underworld who could not only keep up with Reborn but even bring something new to the table.

And he already knew he could trust Fon – unquestionably so if the Storm actually harmonized with Harry – and honestly Reborn might actually be glad for the help at some point considering his adorable little Sky's propensity for trouble.

If he was honest, Reborn could actually enjoy the thought of Fon joining them in shaking up this world of moronic, ignorant imbeciles - the utter chaos they would bring – or having Fon along for all the various talks Reborn was going to have with any wizards who had played not so wonderful roles in Harry's life.

If there was one thing that Fon excelled at, it was making everyone else look like bumbling fools compared to his unshakable calm.

So.

Reborn had a very good idea how this was going to end.

A thought which was only affirmed once Harry's Flames had started to sporadically curl – tentatively, curiously - in Fon's direction from time to time.

While Reborn was quite certain that Harry was not actually aware of what his Flames were doing - much less what it signified - he was just as certain that Fon was more than aware of it. Although, so far the Storm had had the decency to refrain from letting his own Flames actually react.

He was clearly still trying to feel Harry out – to get a feel for what kind of person his Sky was, whether he would be worth the lifetime of devotion that came with Harmony – although Reborn knew that Fon would find the same thing he himself had.

That Harry was everything a Sky should be.

Thus, it was a foregone conclusion in Reborn's mind that the Storm would finally decide to try for Harmony with Harry.

Still, that doesn't mean I have to make it in any way easy for him, Reborn thought with wicked glee.

He hadn't had a good, all-out, hold-nothing-back fight in a long long time. Reborn did nothing to suppress the bloodthirsty tilt that curled at the edges of his grin. Especially, when he felt an answering anticipation from Fon.

Still, that was a topic better to be ignored for now. If only to avoid being hunted down by the Vindice for revealing Flames to numerous bystanders in the fight that would inevitably follow whenever they decided to address this particular issue out loud.

Glancing at Reborn, Harry decided that neither did he need nor did he want to know what exactly was going through his Sun's head at the moment. Well, going by the happily malicious feel of his Flames and the vicious grin on his face, it was at least going to be entertaining.

If worse came to worse Harry would pretend to be entirely ignorant. He knew nothing.

He ignored the pulse of arousal that went through him at feeling his Guardian's bloodlust, the bond between them humming with the feeling of protectpossessiveminesmugnessanticipation. Nope, not getting into that right now.

Instead Harry was going to happily continue commentating whatever they came across and answering any questions Fon came up with.

And he was ever so glad that he and Fon were actually getting along– he entirely ignored why that was apparently so important to him – and that the Storm hadn't been put off by today's events. Ever since finding out about their watcher being some sort of ally or friend of Ren's, Harry had been somewhat worried about the impression he might make. But the more time they spent talking, Harry was getting the feeling that Fon was not actually finding him wanting.

How refreshing, Harry couldn't help but think.

Harry had quickly learned after first entering the Wizarding World when he was eleven, that it was never enough to be just Harry. Everyone always seemed to somehow expect more of him. More knowledge, more effort, more money, more time. Just always, always, always more.

Except for Ren, who - from the very beginning - had made it very clear that just Harry was exactly what he wanted.

And as they reached the end of Mannew Alley, Harry contentedly basked in the utter warmth immediately coiling through him at that thought of his Sun's acceptance.

Reborn interestedly glanced over at the feeling of utter contentment, of warmthwelcomehappinessmineminemine that curled along their bond. Whatever had elicited that reaction from Harry, Reborn definitely wanted more of it. Not to even mention the slight blush on his Sky's cheeks.

So, when Harry came to a stop at the mouth of Mannew Alley, Reborn promptly stepped in close - letting his Flames curl possessively around his little Sky, the warmth from Harry's Flames only increasing - as he took in their surroundings.

After giving Reborn and Fon a few moments to catalogue their surroundings, Harry stated with a certain amount of flair, "Welcome to the Market."

And Reborn had to admit that this place certainly deserved the grand introduction.

They were standing in a huge square - seemingly the nexus of several Alleys diverging from here - bustling with activity and crammed with tiny stalls, fancy booths and what looked like grandiose portable stores, praising their foods, delicacies, cooking utensils, cleaning materials, pottery, woodwork, furniture, jewelry. Really, there seemed to be something of everything to be found here.

Harry continued his ongoing commentary, "The Market is Britain's central trading point, accommodating businesses from all over the world that either take up a permanent spot here or frequently travel between the various international markets. Some even only have a display here, while the connected shop is located somewhere else entirely."

Reborn listened to his Sky talk, even as he continued to take everything in.

There were quite a few foreigners - going by their appearance and clothing - milling about and manning the stalls as well as a colorful amalgam of creatures browsing the displays. Having read a few of Harry's various magical tomes, Reborn could at least recognize some of the creatures wandering between the stalls. There were numerous house elves shopping for groceries, leprechauns selling their gold as souvenirs to tourists, a group of pixies fighting over what appeared to be a very big red leaf and a creature that looked suspiciously like a sphinx, even though Reborn had not yet known those were actually real.

But that was only a fraction of all the different creatures he could see. He had no idea what to make of the rest that was flitting about the square.

Although, one look over at the Storm almost made Reborn cackle with glee. Fon's expression had gone entirely blank and even his serene smile was looking a little fixed right now.

Clearly, this went far beyond whatever Fon had been expecting when considering the implications of there being a Magical World.

And Harry clearly didn't even realize he had kind of broken the Storm. In his enthusiasm to share more of the Magical World with them, to show them some of the more colorful, more exciting parts, he had seemingly forgotten, that Fon had had no warning whatsoever on what to expect here.

Bless his little Sky's enthusiasm.

Fon was grateful that his signature serene smile had long since become his default expression. Because he doubted he would have been able to keep up his passive facade otherwise.

Because nothing could have prepared him for this sight. Even having had time to assimilate the idea of there being a Magical World at all, he had not even come close to considering something like this.

Because just within the first few moments after stepping into the bustling square - and after overcoming his initial shock - Fon had already registered seventeen, clearly different kinds of beings. From tiny to absurdly tall, some with wings, some with horns, some with a tail. Some just looked like small old men that barely came up to his knee and some sported a full body of fur except for their human face. Some beings that almost seemed like humans mixed with something else, like the tiny flying beings with dragonfly wings, the men with a horse body or that woman with the cat ears. And everything intermingled with what appeared to be humans from all over the world.

How incredibly fascinating!

And the young Sky just continued to commentate, as though he hadn't just made Fon realize, that the term 'humanity' was far more relative than had previously assumed.

But despite his distraction, he kept an ear on Harry's commentary about imps endogenous to Britain, Sasquatches originally from the Americas and Okamis from Japan.

Fon honestly felt slightly breathless with fascination.

Oh, Reborn and his Sky were definitely not getting rid of him now. There was no way he would be going anywhere until he had a chance to explore this world to his satisfaction. No way at all.

And his fascination only increased, as he watched people and beings from various parts of the world bow or at least nod respectfully as soon as they spotted Harry in their midst.

The utter respect afforded to the young Sky made it more than clear that Harry not only commanded respect with the government due to some sort of political leverage. No, this young Sky was clearly respected amongst beings from all parts of the world.

Esteem like this was not easily earned, even less so from everyone. It spoke of the young Sky not only having power but also of him wielding it in a way that yielded respect.

That was no easy feat.

And Fon could feel his Flames hum in anticipation for a chance to sate his curiosity, to ask all those questions on his now rather expansive list. He truly couldn't wait for that explanation he had been promised.

+++

They spent far more time on the Market than Harry had originally intended. But neither Fon nor Reborn had seemed at all willing to leave that particular, utterly fascinating part of Magical Britain behind.

However, as they still wanted to have that discussion today they had to leave at some point to make their way to Gringotts. The quickest way was through Lojiqué Alley - where the residents prided themselves in their rational and critical thinking.

"Most publishing houses and newspapers of any kind are located here. Well, Britain's foremost Wizarding newspaper 'The Daily Prophet' was kicked out a long time ago and their headquarters is located in Diagon Alley now." Harry explained with clear derision.

At Fon's slightly questioning head tilt, he continued, "There is no such thing as journalistic integrity in Magical Britain. The libel laws haven't been changed in hundreds of years, a time when people were their own deterrent for slander, when honor still was everything and any sort of defamation was immediately met with a challenge for a duel."

Both Reborn and Fon promptly looked almost wistful at that description.

Harry suppressed his grin. He was sure that both, the thought of a society built on honor and integrity as well as the thought of frequently putting idiots into the ground, appealed to them.

"These days, duels are frowned upon, but there is still barely anything that can be done against slander. Well, unless you can prove that the writer was intentionally slanderous in order to profit personally. Then, however, the old defamation laws get very brutal very quickly and go far beyond losing one's career or being fined." He paused, thinking vindictively that a brief stint to Azkaban might actually not have been entirely undeserved for someone like Rita. "But because the general public much prefers reading juicy gossip to being educated and because it is so easy to get away with writing gossip, Britain's foremost magical newspaper turned into little more than a gossip rag."

Fon almost wanted to let his lip curl in derision. And going by Harry's bitterness there was clearly something more to this.

Fon absolutely abhorred people who were too lazy to put in the effort to educate themselves and actually form their own opinions. Just the idiocy required to read and then actually believe pre-chewed garbage like that…

Although, it really wasn't that uncommon – a certain percentage of the populace everywhere on earth seemed to enjoy this sort of thing - but usually it wasn't the foremost newspaper that participated in it. Well, except in those countries where freedom of speech was questionable at best, those places where the press had been turned into little more than the respective ruler's mouthpiece.

Which actually fit perfectly with his other observations, indicating that there had been a recent, rather radical and rather brutal change in this society.

Fon commented, "It is certainly terrifying how closely gossip mongering and fear mongering appear to be related these days."

There was absolutely no joy in the young Sky's smirk. "Isn't that the truth."

There was a brief pause before Harry continued, not even trying to hide his bitterness, "The Daily Prophet is doing a little better now, as they now have, both, a gossip column and a news section in their paper. And the government even stopped persecuting the other newspapers that were never quite as close to their views and interests during the war."

Fon almost wanted to smirk at the casual mention of a war. The young Sky was quite good at this, explaining easily while giving an idea of the more difficult topics to come. And definitely good at keeping Fon's interest alive.

Still, Fon only noted down the mention of an actual war – so much more than a conflict – but didn't actually ask Harry to explain now. That was truly a topic for a more private setting. The Sky's relief at Fon's willingness to play along for now was more than obvious, as he quickly moved on to the next topic by pointing out Arithmancy Square at the end of Lojiqué Alley.

Only to suddenly stop in the middle of his sentence.

Reborn immediately stepped in close at Harry's hesitation, but didn't let his Flames spread out any further. His Sky had clearly spotted something but didn't actually feel any sort of alarm. Rather there was brief flash of surprise and then joy that pulsed along their bond.

Harry lifted a hand and with a grin waved back at two teenagers - a boy and a girl, looking to be about Harry's age - who had just stepped into Logique Alley from Arithmancy Square.

Both of them wore answering smiles and immediately made their way over to them.

Reborn assessed the two teenagers as they came closer. The boy had brown hair, a rather strong built and one of those faces that would have made him look utterly harmless and forgettable, if it weren't for the deep, gauging scars on his face. The girl was just as attention-grabbing. Slight, with long blonde hair and graceful - almost flighty - movements. Strangely enough, her presence was weighty but also negligible, grabbing attention but averting it at the same time. The contrast was almost jarring to Reborn's senses.

Hm, his Sky certainly had interesting friends.

As the two teenagers reached them, the girl gave a little wave and the boy greeted, "Harry. Great to see you."

The boy was smiling openly at Harry but didn't even attempt to hide his appraising look in Reborn and Fon's direction. And his eyes spoke for him. This boy knew strife, knew conflict and hardship. Knew how to survive.

Going by what his Sky had told him about his friends, Reborn already had a pretty good idea who these two teenagers were.

His thoughts were confirmed when Harry greeted them with a smile, "Hi, Neville. Hi, Luna."

His Sky then - ever the epitome of British manners - immediately turned to introduce everyone.

Which was promptly commentated by the girl with, "Oh, Harry, how wonderful! You're gravity! Oh, daddy would be so excited. He has been hoping to see magnetism ever since that one witch in India gave him such interesting material on it. You should really come visit! Daddy would love to talk to you!"

There was a certain dreamy quality to the girl's way of speaking. But going by the reactions from both Harry and Neville, her statement wasn't to be ignored.

Reborn remembered Harry telling him about Luna having some sort of sight - or rather insight - for things that other people just weren't able to see. And even Reborn could tell that the girl had just pretty much told them that they should go visit her father because he would have information they wanted. Adding the fact that Harry's tomes liberally used the words gravity and magnetism when describing the apparent force drawing different Igneomancers together… Yeah, visiting her father was definitely to be added to their list.

Harry was clearly thinking along the same lines. "Thanks, Luna. I would love to visit. I'll try to come by as soon as I can." A pause. "How have you been doing?"

"Oh, just fine, Harry. I just wish we could have had more time for our expedition. It was such a wonderful holiday!"

Next to her, the boy gave a dramatic shudder, grumbling under his breath.

His Sky grinned at that, "Yeah, how was Greenland?"

The smile that touched the girl's face was distracted but honest, despite her eyes not entirely focusing on anything around her. "It was very interesting. And we had a lot of time to relax."

The boy at her side snorted and grumbled to himself, "Yeah, relax. That's the totally the word I would use."

The girl just reached over to absently pat the boy's arm as she continued, "Daddy had hoped to find some Yetis in Greenland to prove that they are not actually Tibetan but just Sasquatches in their winter pelts. But apparently Yetis are rather shy."

Harry nodded as though that sentence made any sense whatsoever, listening seriously but with a certain air of amusement as the girl described her father's various attempts at luring Yetis - which were apparently real, who knew?

She finished with, "And then, we almost did find some!"

Here, she was interrupted by the boy at her side snorting humorously, "Yeah, but we didn't in fact find Yetis. No. Turns out we found a Mahaha colony instead."

Harry snorted, making the boy immediately focus a humorously baleful stare on him.

"Yeah, laugh it up." He grumbled good-naturedly. "The Mahahas weren't even the worst of it. I can totally deal with Mahahas. But did you know that Wendigos apparently like to wander the outskirts of Mahaha colonies, hoping to get a bite out of their victims?"

The girl promptly lit up and didn't give Harry any time to respond to that rather chilling comment. "Yes, it was wonderful. Such an interesting cohabitation. Do you think that the Wendigos might have been courting them? Mahahas are all female, you know."

Harry was grinning. "No, I had no idea. But it certainly sounds interesting. Maybe you can take Neville and your father back to Greenland over the next holidays and investigate further."

It earned him a humorously betrayed look from Neville.

"Oh, shut up, Harry." He grumbled good-naturedly. "We had to run for our lives three times to avoid ending up as dinner. And most of the time, I had to physically drag both Luna and her father away with me, because they were distracted by a glowing rock or an especially beautiful tree."

Harry's grin only widened.

"Well, then I have to agree with Luna. After the last year, running for your lives just three times sounds pretty relaxing to me." A pause. "Admit it, Neville. You would have been bored to tears otherwise."

The boy snorted. "Actually, you know what? You're right." Then, slyly. "How about you come with us on our next trip? See how you like running from creatures you have never even heard of before."

Harry waved off the offer magnanimously, "Thanks, but I already have plans. And you know me. Life-threatening situations find me anywhere. No travel required."

"Isn't that the truth." The boy snorted. A pause as the mood abruptly turned somber. "Even in a hospital bed, I heard." He stated carefully.

"Yeah." Harry sighed. Then he tried for some levity. "You would have thought that Madame Pomfrey's wrath would be enough to deter anyone from messing with those under her care. But apparently the Order lost the last of their common sense at some point during the war."

The other boy snorted in amusement but sobered again quickly, "What about Ron and Hermione?"

"As far as I know they are still looking for Hermione's parents in Australia, although they are supposedly planning to return to Hogwarts for the eighth year, so they might have made it back to Britain by now."

The boy's eyes had narrowed at Harry's answer, clearly gleaning more from it than had actually been said.

"I take it they lost the last of their common sense as well?" Neville asked dubiously.

"Sure seemed like it." Harry sighed in response.

There were a brief moment of silence, before the other boy asked carefully, "Have you had any contact with them?"

Reborn's Sky sighed, "Not so far. I'm not much looking forward to it either, to be honest."

"Yeah, I can imagine. I really don't get what they were thinking. But it certainly confirms our assumption that trouble literally finds you anywhere."

Here, the girl suddenly spoke up, the atmosphere changing abruptly as soon as she opened her mouth. She had that same absent look in her eyes as before, but her voice had gotten slightly deeper and there was no smile on her face.

"It is nearing, the Seven Evermore. Seeking to snare the Beacon and wrest the Bonds, to tatter its Orbit and drain its Blaze. Gaia's False Heralds, beware, the Seven Nevermore."

A shiver worked itself down Harry's spine. This wasn't Luna's usual way of relaying her glimpses into the future and Harry felt distinctly reminded of the time he last witnessed a real prophecy in Trelawney's office.

He glanced at Neville who looked worried but not surprised. So, clearly this wasn't the first time Neville had heard Luna speak this way. Just what had been done to the small blonde?

Going by their tense frames, Reborn and Fon had clearly felt the change of atmosphere as well. Although, this didn't sound like a prophecy. More like a statement of fact, like a warning. And he would do his utter best to heed it.

Harry looked back at Luna and said without hesitation. "Thank you for the warning, Luna."

Reborn watched apprehensively. He didn't like the sudden feeling of foreboding. At all.

At his Sky's reaction the girl's eyes cleared and her smile returned, her gaze completely focusing on Harry for the first time. She didn't say another word. But it was clear she was exhausted and going by his Sky's worried expression, he clearly thought so as well.

The boy, Neville, was watching her with worry and said, "We were just on our way to see Luna's father at the Quibbler's new office."

Harry nodded, asking worriedly, "You need help? We'll walk you there."

The boy actually smiled at that, "Thanks, but it's fine. It's literally just over there." The boy pointed to a building just a bit down the street. "I'll write, okay? And let's meet to catch up soon?"

Harry nodded, not wanting to push it - in case there was a reason for Neville's refusal of their help - and knowing that Neville would explain more in the letter.

"Yes, definitely. I'll write you as well."

"Talk to you soon, Harry."

A nod to both Reborn and Fon, and just a minute later the boy had guided the small blonde down the street and into a building on the right.

+++

Reborn walked as close to his Sky as he possibly could without actually picking him up and carrying him.

Which actually didn't sound like such a bad idea right now.

Harry had clearly been unsettled by the girl's seemingly incoherent statement. If it hadn't been for the ominous atmosphere while the girl spoke, Reborn might not have even taken her seriously. But there had been something in her voice, in the very air around them that had given her colorful statement weight.

At Harry's other side, Fon was silent, lost in thought, though focused on something else entirely.

Ignoring the odd and rather abrupt ending to their conversation, meeting two people who were clearly counted amongst Harry's friends, felt like the final piece of the puzzle of this young Sky.

Because friendship like that - full of amusement and non-verbal communication and mutual protectiveness and reciprocal respect - was rare and it spoke of Harry's character to receive that sort of unquestioning loyalty from people who clearly knew him well. It only cemented Fon's observations about the young Sky.

Today had certainly shown him, just what kind of person Harry was.

Pure Flames, untainted Qi and radiant Magick. Respected by creatures of all kinds and from all over the world. Uncompromising strength and genuine compassion. And a soul so bright and kind and generous that it had the World's Greatest Hitman practically besotted with the young Sky.

A Sky who appeared to have experienced strife in his life – enough to be weary but not to become hateful - and who knew loss – enough to desperately treasure his bonded, but still willing and able to trust.

A Sky whose Flames continued to sporadically tug at Fon's own Flames from time to time.

And he was truly glad for Reborn - for his comrade and for his friend - to finally have found Harmony. But Fon was also selfish enough to have hoped ever since the Sun's smug introduction of his Sky that - if this Sky actually proved himself worthy of the devotion that came with Harmony - Fon might be considered for a position of Guardian.

It wasn't even a question of whether this Sky would be strong enough to harmonize with him. Fon held no doubt that regarding the pure strength of their Flames Reborn had him quite clearly beat. It had always been Fon's Qi, his martial arts, his absolute and uncompromising control that had let him keep up with Reborn at all. So if this Sky was strong enough to bind Reborn he would definitely be strong enough for Fon. No question.

And Fon thought, yes, this is a true Sky, a Sky worthy of the devotion that comes with Harmony, this is a Sky I could happily follow.

And Fon wanted.

Well, that was his decision then, apparently.

And clearly Reborn had also realized that something had changed - his gait turning even more predatory and his eyes in the shadow of his Fedora meeting his with intent challenge - but Fon decided that he was still selfish enough to try.

Another beat of silence.

"So."

There was a brief pause in which the Sky also realized that something in the dynamic between them had just changed drastically.

He was glancing between the two of them with bright eyes but seemed entirely unworried. Fon noted to himself just how extraordinary this young Sky's intuition had to be for him to realize the threat but dismiss any danger posed to himself and his bonded.

Though Harry was not clear on what exactly was going on between the two men, he was also very aware that they were gearing up for a fight. Harry tried to ignore the pulse of arousal at feeling his Guardian's blood thirst at the thought of a decent fight.

And Merlin help him, Fon seemed to be enjoying the thought of a decent fight just as much as his Sun.

Yeah, Fon will fit in just perfectly with us, Harry thought amused as his own Flames pulsed in anticipation.

He spared only a brief moment of surprise at how factual that statement was – not might fit or would fit, but will fit, like it was a foregone conclusion – but dismissed it just as quickly. Their entire day had been leading up to this specific revelation. Harry's surprise was minimal and his Flames and magic pulsed outward happily at the thought of Fon possibly joining them soon, firmly covering all three of them.

Harry stumbled.

Something was coming, a warning pulsing through him, everything in him on high alert. He was abruptly reminded of Luna's warning just a few moments ago. Which only increased the foreboding feeling.

Then, there was a shift.

Fon and Reborn barely suppressed a flinch. And suddenly, abruptly something was wrong.

Harry had stopped walking, his eyes unfocused, directed at the ground, as though focusing all his attention on something that he still could not quite grasp.

The atmosphere around them changed drastically.

Something - someone - was watching them, inspecting them.

It was an odd feeling.

Harry absolutely hated it.

It felt as though someone had suddenly focused on them, someone who was able to see past some of Harry's most fortified defenses.

And that something was prodding at his magical presence.

A shudder of revulsion worked itself down Harry's spine at the incredibly invasive feeling.

Reborn could practically hear something buzz just below his usual range of perception and he could see Fon slightly tilting his head to the side as though to listen more closely.

And whatever it was, the feeling was familiar. As though it had been there for quite some time but somehow remained just below his perception. It was as though the presence had to exert far more power in order to focus on them, like trying to push past some sort of barrier. But also like it had long since been there. And Reborn hadn't noticed.

That was entirely unacceptable.

Fon let his eyes open, his smile completely gone, while Reborn's eyes disappeared entirely in the shadow of his Fedora.

Harry's eyes narrowed, as his Flames and magic snapped viciously.

Because the prodding was now trying to push past his magic, trying to reach further, trying to reach his core. His core where the warmth of his Flames had turned into a blazing, protective inferno. His core where his magic was curling aggressively, viciously awaiting a chance to tear the intruder apart. His core where his bond to Reborn was.

Harry had no idea who or what this was, did not know their intention. He also couldn't care less.

It was trying to reach his bond, his Guardian, his soul bonded. And well, Harry already had enough experience with people trying to mess with his soul to last him a lifetime. He had eradicated the last person who had tried. He was definitely able and all too willing to do so again.

He gathered his magic and let it swell. A shield of malevolent magic, a furious, fiery blaze of protection, stretching outwards and tearing at that presence trying to reach within him, making sure that whatever was prodding at him felt his utter displeasure.

The presence was pushed backwards. But it was still there, unrelentingly trying to grasp something.

With Luna's voice ringing in his head, Harry felt himself slipping back into his war mindset, where immediate reaction was the only way to stay alive. He knew that he might be entirely overreacting. He also could not care less.

"We are leaving."

Harry didn't even consider leaving Fon behind who had calmly been following along with them. Well, they had been planning to have a discussion anyways. Why not add this to the list.

Reborn was already as close to Harry as he could possibly get, not even needing to agree out loud. It went unsaid.

Fon tilted his head in agreement, but he almost wanted to raise his eyebrows at the sudden command resonating in the Sky's voice. That was not a tone of voice a teenager should be able to carry.

Fawkes appeared in front of him.

And as Fawkes' Phoenix Fire joined the furious swell of Harry's magic along their Familiar bond, Harry made sure to make his fury, his implacable wrath be felt.

Not a thought later and they were gone, leaving the invasive presence behind desperately trying to keep its hold of them.

Chapter Text

Like most of his people, Kawahira has always disliked Magick.

Well, not so much Magick herself but rather her arrogant denizens, Magicals - or wizards, as they apparently called themselves these days.

Magick and Flames weren't even all that different at first glance. Both were powers that existed freely in this world, both of them possibly as old as the planet itself. And both could be wielded by certain individuals, who were born with that aptitude.

But of course there were also some very significant differences, especially for those who could wield either of these powers. Because Flames were born from within oneself, from one's very life force, and thus dependent on the beings using them. In contrast, Magick also very much existed outside of living beings, an elemental, integral component of this earth, just as much as the water in the ocean or the very air around them.

And while Magicals were born with an aptitude for wielding magic just like Flame users were, the Magick they wielded was not actually born from within themselves but merely filtered through their core, making it their own for a while but always returning it to the all-encompassing cycle of Magick.

Just thinking about it was at least somewhat vexing to Kawahira.

Admittedly, true magical creatures had existed long before Kawahira's own kind, while Flames had only developed alongside his people and then humans.

The magical beings of old used to say that Magick was the planet's very soul, even used to claim that Flames were simply a derivation, a branch of Magick herself. And Kawahira's people had always hated that claim. It made their own powers seem so inconsequential.

Honestly, most of his people's dislike for Magick might have been based in some sort of misdirected jealousy at the ever-present, overwhelming, oh-so-versatile power that was Magick.

There were creatures who in themselves were Magick. It was a concept that boggled the mind.

All in all, there were several reasons why his people had always disliked or at least distrusted Magick and had been happy to ignore the existence of magical beings entirely for centuries.

Of course, Kawahira's people had their own reasons for feeling superior, namely the fact that they had been tasked with upholding the balance of the Tri-Ni-Set themselves, while Magicals had no such influence.

Because as all true powers in this world, Flames and Magick had a balance to uphold, an equilibrium, a symmetry to keep that was essential for the continued existence of this world.

But Magick also enforced her own balance, picked her own champions, supported her side of the equation, no overseer required. Without giving her chosen ones any choice in the matter whatsoever.

So yes, Kawahira's people had definitely felt superior to normal Magicals.

Well, at least until they had realized that their people were dying out.

Then, the Magical World had actually been the first place his people turned to, hoping to find an additional way to support the balance of the Tri-Ni-Set.

Only to quickly realize that the Tri-Ni-Set refused to mix with Magick. In any way.

Not because Magick and Flames couldn't coexist, but rather that it was plainly impossible to force them to do so.

Turned out that because magical beings were just that, beings of Magick, Flames had no way to so much as touch them.

Of course, wizards could have Flame potential just as regular humans, but their magical core already started developing and growing at birth. As such, by the time a Magical could potentially activate their Flames, Magick would have already inserted herself into every available space within their soul, leaving no room for the wizard's Flames.

Magick was a force of nature - an elemental force of this earth - and she made sure that her denizens, their very existence, depended on her presence within themselves. Once Magick had claimed something for herself, she did not release her hold by choice or circumstance.

At least that had been the accepted theory amongst Kawahira's people as to why Magick and Flames simply did not mix.

No one liked to speak about the theory that it might actually be their own fault, that by having ignored - almost shunned - the Magical World entirely for such a long time, Kawahira's people might have managed to push the two powers even further towards being mutually exclusive.

But when they had split the Tri-Ni-Set, Sepira had actually tried to shift the focus of the Pacifiers to also consider Magicals as an option, even if only as a last resort.

Suffice to say, it had not worked. The resulting backlash had certainly been impressive.

Oh, how much easier would Kawahira's life be if he could include some of the powerful, long-lived individuals from the Magical World in his regular search for Arcobaleno. Even as much as he disliked Magicals on principle and still thought they were at least somewhat beneath him.

After taking over the responsibility of the Tri-Ni-Set entirely, Kawahira had realized that he would not even be granted Sight into the Magical World as he had into any other part of the world. Well, that revelation had been a long time ago, and by now it had actually become habit to simply ignore the Magical World in its entirety. There never seemed to be a point.

But while Magick had never needed help with the keeping of her balance - had an entire world of magical beings to choose her champions from -, the Tri-Ni-Set seemed to become increasingly desperate with each generation of Arcobaleno, uncompromisingly siphoning the strength out of the Sky Arcobaleno, further shortening their life spans with every new generation.

Over the past decades it had become very apparent that this wouldn't be sustainable for much longer. Kawahira already had to exclusively rely on Sepira's descendants for providing the next Sky Arcobaleno, who died younger and younger with each generation, unable to shoulder the burden of the Pacifier with their - sometimes even not yet fully developed - Flames.

If things continued this way - even assuming that the Tri-Ni-Set wouldn't further increase its draw on the Sky Arcobaleno's life force as it had been doing over the past decades which seemed unlikely - within the next three or four generations, Sepira's descendants would barely reach the age for child bearing before their death, and certainly wouldn't survive until the next generation was old enough to take over their position.

So, Kawahira needed to change something.

He needed to give Sepira's children a chance to birth more than a single child every generation. He needed a back-up, someone outside of Sepira's bloodline to take on the position of Sky Arcobaleno, someone with enough life force for the Pacifier to siphon off to last at least one generation.

Which had immediately made Kawahira think of all those powerful, long-lived Magicals whose life force would probably be able to sustain the Sky Pacifier for at least a few decades before even their well of power dried up.

If only they had active Flames.

Because there were a few rare instances of magical Flame users over the centuries. But that had only ever happened when a wizard's connection to Magick was so very weak from birth that she hadn't been able to occupy all the space available in their soul before the wizard could activate their Flames or when the connection had been severed at some point.

In his long life, Kawahira had met only a few wizards with active Flames and most of them had been so incredibly weak in Magick that you could barely call them magical at all.

Although, not once had he met a magical Sky, but that was possibly just due to chance, seeing as Skies were pretty rare anyway and Magicals with Flames rarer still. The likelihood of a Magical with Sky Flame Potential actually activating their Flames without outside interference was infinitesimally small.

So.

What if Kawahira could somehow force Flame activation in a wizard with Sky Flame Potential? What if he had just one or two Flame active, magical Skies at his - quite literal -disposal, no matter how weak they might be magically?

That would be the perfect back-up to hold the Sky Pacifier until Sepira's bloodline had replenished itself.

And while only a very weak wizard would have the potential for truly pure Flames - strong enough to pull in Elements of the strength required to hold the positions of Arcobaleno Guardians – that person would still be a wizard and no matter how weak magically, they would still have an extended life span, giving Kawahira the breathing room he needed.

Maybe he could even repeat this once or twice, give Sepira's descendents the time to possibly birth two or even three generations of Skies before Kawahira once more turned his back on the Magical World and could go back to how things were supposed to be.

It was perfect. And thus, a plan had been born.

A plan which had actually been pretty simple all things considered. Give one group in the world of organized crime the knowledge how to forcefully activate Flames and then get a wizard involved to develop a spell to identify those in the Magical World with Flame Potential.

And then sit back and watch the chaos unfold.

It had been easy.

After getting all the elements of his plan in position - making sure that the technology and the information were available to the lower rungs of the criminal underworld - Kawahira had turned his attention back to important things, just letting everyone fight it out between themselves.

There would always be those sufficiently unscrupulous and with enough hunger for power to simply start at the top of that list of Flame Potentials and work their way all the way to the bottom. Kawahira couldn't care less if the list and technology switched hands a few times in between, only waiting for the characteristic feeling of a powerful Sky activating their Flames. He had better things to do than worry about just who got involved or who got left behind in the inevitable struggle over the technology or information.

He still had to fill the positions for the next set of Arcobaleno.

Kawahira already had a few candidates, like Reborn as the Sun Arcobaleno, Fon as the Storm Arcobaleno and Viper as the Mist Arcobaleno. He had picked those three as possible candidates quite some time ago, a choice which had only solidified over the years with their ever-increasing powers.

So much so, that at this point Kawahira didn't even feel the need to keep a particularly close eye on them - only checking in on them from time to time - seeing as there wasn't a single Sky around who would be powerful enough to pull them in.

Kawahira would know. Because if there was a Sky strong enough for those three - especially Reborn, whose power had grown to a point Kawahira wasn't quite sure he had ever seen in a Sun before - he would promptly have forced the Pacifier on that Sky and all of Kawahira's problems would already be solved.

And even if circumstances would have somehow made a bond possible for them, Kawahira's shield around his chosen Arcobaleno would make sure that they never harmonized with a Sky not of his choosing.

So, he had turned his attention elsewhere, trying to find candidates for the other positions.

Which had clearly been a mistake.

Because several weeks ago Kawahira had realized he had somehow lost Reborn. And no matter what he tried, Kawahira had been unable to find the Sun.

Kawahira had been counting on Reborn. He needed him as the Sun Arcobaleno, needed the ridiculously powerful Sun to balance out the Sky Arcobaleno, who - as a weak wizard and untrained Flame user - would probably be mostly useless in his position and get himself killed much too soon.

Kawahira needed Reborn to keep the Sky alive for at least a decade, maybe two, before the Pacifier siphoned off the last of their Magick, Flames and life force. So, Kawahira needed Reborn.

At first, he had tried finding the Sun subtly but once he realized that Reborn had somehow entirely vanished, he had pulled out all the stops. Still, it had been to no avail.

It almost seemed like something might actually have managed to kill his chosen Sun Arcobaleno. But in that case Kawahira should have felt the backlash of Reborn's death in some way at least. Something wasn't adding up.

Still, Reborn had disappeared, maybe even died. Which was more than annoying, but it also wasn't the first time one of his candidates had managed to get themselves killed before Kawahira could actually make use of them.

Although, annoyingly enough the Sun Arcobaleno was the one position where Kawahira hadn't even felt the need to look for other candidates, convinced that Reborn would be able to keep himself alive until Kawahira had at least gotten some use out of him.

But well, now he would just have to find another Sun Arcobaleno and shift the responsibility of keeping the magical Sky alive onto Fon instead. Because at least Kawahira still had two of his chosen Arcobaleno as well as several candidates for the other positions.

Although, he decided it might be better to keep a closer eye on them from now on. Because something about Reborn's sudden vanishing trick was making Kawahira apprehensive, almost suspicious.

Which was most likely the only reason why he even noticed when, suddenly, the presence of his chosen Storm Arcobaleno had flickered, had started waning from his senses.

Waning, fading, dimming. But not dispersing in the way their death would, but rather dulling. Like something was actually trying to occlude Kawahira's Sight.

Which should not even be impossible.

Kawahira narrowed his eyes, throwing his entire attention at the Storm, grasping onto his presence, his very essence. He had already lost the by far strongest Sun under suspicious circumstances, he could not lose his Storm candidate as well.

Following the Storm's presence - ripping through the veil that was starting to occlude the Storm from his Sight - to his utter surprise, 'lo and behold, Kawahira not only rediscovered his elusive Sun candidate, he was suddenly left staring at the reason why he had lost sight of Reborn in the first place.

A magical Sky. A strong magical Sky.

A strong magical Sky with pure Flames and powerful Magick. Who had also somehow gathered two of the Elements that held the position of most powerful for their own Flame type.

How in the world had Kawahira missed this? This wasn't even supposed to be possible!

Although, he certainly wasn't going complain about this.

Because even as he tried to grasp onto the three Flame Users' essences - as to not lose Sight of them again - his mind was already calculating the advantages he could draw from this.

A Sky, not only with Flames pure enough to bond Arcobaleno-strength elements but also with powerful Magick. More Magick meant a longer life span, which meant more power to be siphoned off and thus sustaining the Tri-Ni-Set for longer. This was actually perfect and exactly what Kawahira had been looking for.

He wanted that Sky, and he definitely wanted his Guardians.

Of course, seeing as they had already bonded it would be more difficult to get them to agree to take the Pacifiers. Promising his chosen Arcobaleno the bond they had been longing for their entire lives, dangling Harmony in front of them, was the easiest, most effective way to pressure them into accepting the deal without even knowing the full consequences of their agreement.

Well, Kawahira would just have to find a way to either force the Pacifier on this Sky - which would then automatically also bring in the Sun and the Storm - or he would simply have to break their bond and hope that at least one or two of them came out of it with their Flames intact. If it didn't, then they would be useless to him anyway. And a broken bond would also make them far more vulnerable to Kawahira's own influence if it really came to that.

Even as he felt the Sky's presence shift, almost as though Kawahira's attention had not only been noticed but something now seemingly poking at him, at his presence, he was still calculating how best to pressure agreement from the three Flame users, convinced that it should be rather easy to force them into their assigned roles.

Although, as happy as he was with the result - simply assuming that this was in some way due to Kawahira's scheme - he certainly hadn't counted on his plan leading to the existence of a Sky with pure Flames and powerful Magick, if only because it was supposedly impossible.

Suddenly, Kawahira couldn't help but think of his people's grave warnings to never dare interfering with Magick herself or her chosen champions. For her retribution would be swift and terrible.

But Kawahira had been counting on the fact that - despite his plan to use a wizard or two in his scheme - he was also the last of his people and thus, he was needed for keeping one of the essential balances in this world. So, Magick would have to direct her ire somewhere other than his actual person.

Kawahira ignored the thought, that as magically powerful as this wizard appeared to be, this Sky would always be absolutely and uncompromisingly beholden to Magick herself first.

Another shift, suddenly feeling as though something - that couldn't be the Sky himself, right? - was staring right back at him, returning his Sight. Then a shove, almost as though something was testing his presence. And not liking it at all.

Kawahira flinched backwards, the Sky's Magick slamming a not entirely metaphorical door in his face and immediately something else - something ancient and powerful - joining in with the Sky's Magick, abruptly cutting off Kawahira's Sight and his grasp on all three Flame users, leaving absolutely nothing of their presence behind for him to hold on to.

Something which a normal magical shield should really not be able to do.

A foreboding shiver worked itself down Kawahira's spine. He suddenly felt like he might have miscalculated somewhere.

But still, there shouldn't be a reason for Magick to seek direct retribution from Kawahira himself, if only due to his position as the only remaining enforcer of the Tri-Ni-Set.

It wasn't like this Sky was one of Magick's own chosen champions and thus under her explicit protection.

Right?