Work Header

equus albus

Work Text:

Harry at three is smiles and laughter, filled with the innocent vigour of youth. The Don watches him with a smile of his own, keeping a respectful distance as the boy’s parents dote on their son in a way he wishes he could have done for his own child. When they are felled in battle a mere year later, he vows not to make the same mistakes with the grandson that is now his to raise.


Harry at five is sombre. He rises each night with calls for his parents on the tip of his tongue, and each night it is the Don that answers in their place, pushing through his own exhaustion (because running a guild takes its toll, especially when that guild is the biggest, the most famous, the one everyone looks to and the one everyone fears) to answer his grandson’s cries for the parents he doesn’t understand are gone.


Harry at seven stumbles into the side room of the Sagittarius long past his bedtime, rubbing tired eyes as he reaches for the only family he has. The Don scoops him up, lets him curl into a tiny ball in his grandfather’s larger lap, and resumes his negotiations. Harry will remember little in the morning, and they’ve done this dance enough times for him to know not to talk about what details remain clear. One of the men sitting opposite him shoots the child a questioning look but wisely says nothing; the other has witnessed this before, and continues as if there has been no change.


Harry at nine begins to feel the pressure of his name, begins to understand fully the role he was born into and the role he must play. He withdraws entirely from his social life - although his lack of socialness has always been a concern of the Don’s, so there isn’t much to withdraw from - and throws himself into the non-vital tasks passed his way. When he finishes those, he always requests more. Always more.


Harry at twelve knows he is loved, knows it in every fond glance his grandfather spares, knows it in every pat on the shoulder or one-armed hug, knows it intimately and undeniably. Harry at twelve begins to wonder whether he is worthy of such love, whether he is truly capable of living up to the imposing figure that looms over every aspect of his life. He looms with love, though. That is never in question.


Harry at fourteen appears in his grandfather’s doorway in the dead of night. The Don, as he always has and always will, invites the boy inside without hesitation. He doesn’t comment on the bruise blooming on Harry’s cheek; that can wait until later. Instead he silently passes over a cold pack. The next morning he tries to reduce Harry’s workload, but the boy, eyes blazing as furiously as the mottled purple staining his skin, demands otherwise.


Harry at sixteen stands stiff beneath his grandfather’s scrutiny, shoulders hunched against the weight of what he has done, and the Don’s heart aches for the kid - aches for what he knows must come next, because Pallestralle will not let this pass without Altosk paying a price, and the Don won’t let that price be his grandson. Mistakes can spiral grossly out of control - a fact the Don knows all too well, a fact that Harry is learning in the harshest of manners now. There is nothing he can do but squeeze the boy’s shoulder one last time and promise, falsely, that it will all be okay.


Harry at sixteen buckles under the pressure and the guilt and the grief. His grandfather is dead, sacrificed to atone for Harry’s mistakes. Raven is gone, disappearing with the guild he’s been trailing, taking with him the advice and affection Harry desperately craves for himself. Altosk is in disarray following the loss of their leader, some turning to Harry for guidance, others shunning him for his role in their downfall. Harry cracks. He shies away from every duty, every responsibility, offering his guild nothing and gaining nothing in return.


Harry at seventeen is lost. When Raven returns, briefly, for no more than a week, he has the nerve to tell Harry to get his act together and work (and Harry wonders how much work Raven has done while gallivanting with a guild that isn’t even his). That same guild talks, with no concern for privacy and protection of information - skills Harry has had drilled into him from a young age - and Harry overhears. They are doing so much while he runs and hides and mourns. Raven says nothing when he sneaks them the Apatheia they need, but Harry can feel the familiar proud smile directed at his back and resists the urge to shudder. He doesn’t deserve praise.


Harry at eighteen is the only one who hasn’t turned down to request to travel to Aurnion, and, after running for a year, is struggling to get Altosk to listen to him. So, he agrees, with minimal hesitation, minimal complaint, and makes the flight. That guild, still stealing Raven from him, asks permission to rob the world of its Blastia. Harry squares his shoulders, emulates his grandfather, and announces the Union’s agreement with all the authority of its leader. That’s what he is, what he must be, what he was always meant to be - the day just came sooner than any of them expected. Raven is smiling again. Harry resolutely ignores him.


Harry at eighteen witnesses the saving of the world and knows he played a part, however small. Raven returns, all smiles and quips and arrogance, as if he never abandoned Altosk, never abandoned Harry, and takes his rightful place as Harry’s adviser. He also makes a number of confessions, and once Harry gets a punch in he forgives him for it all. Harry leads, forever in the shadow of his grandfather, forging Altosk a new path in a world without Blastia. Harry accepts the burden of his name, and grows stronger for it.


Harry at twenty-two is feared and respected, reviled and loved. Contestations over his leadership have long since faded, replaced with loyalty and faith. He is not the Don, and never will match the man that made him, but he is Harry, and that, he decides, will have to be enough.