Safe and secluded in the faintly run-down Palermo apartment, Reborn allowed himself a brief sigh and loosened his tie. It had been some time since a job had actually posed a challenge, and as much as he had enjoyed the adrenaline rush, it was always nice to wash his hands of…nasty business. But, now that it was done, his schedule was cleared for the Vongola Alliance meeting next week.
He chuckled darkly to himself; it would be the first of the major annual meetings with Dame-Tsuna in charge. It was always fun to fluster the boy– well, man, Reborn supposed; he was twenty-one now, after all, and finally starting to look like it. He hummed thoughtfully, then amended himself. Tsuna still looked like a teenager, just a particularly striking one. He chuckled again, anticipating seeing his former student again next Saturday. Or was it Friday?
Glancing at the calendar mounted above a dusty desk to confirm the date, Reborn frowned in brief consternation before understanding.
Ah. Seventeen months out of date. Not particularly surprising; this was Reborn's least favorite alternative residence, and he visited here with relative infrequency. Too many memories.
Disregarding the old paper calendar, he turned instead to his phone to review his coming appointments. The hitman was just settling onto the dusty old sofa in the sparse living room when a sharp staccato rap echoed from the door. Reborn froze, tensing. He was quite sure no one had seen him enter, and he was equally sure this apartment was still unconnected to the greatest hitman in the world, so there was really no reason for his instincts to be tingling at him the way they were.
He approached the door, ears primed to recognize any voices or pick up the tell-tale sound of weapons being handled, but all he could hear was the vague shuffling of nervous feet on the ratty carpeting in the hallway. Reborn did nothing so plebian as squint through the peephole, and swiftly pulled the door open.
There in the hall, staring up at him through rather thick and unflattering round lenses, was a short young man with a horrible mess of dark hair and the brightest green eyes Reborn had seen in – well, decades, perhaps? He could not quite recall, but was momentarily overtaken by the breathless feeling of having seen precisely those eyes before.
Rather than contemplate further, and seeing as the man was still staring up at him uneasily, Reborn confronted him. "Well? Your business? If you're selling something, I'm not interested."
"Ah, no," he said. "I – I'm looking for someone. A man. Um, you don't know a 'Renato Sinclair,' do you?"
Reborn did not stop to think. He pulled out his pistol and fired.
Two months prior
Under ordinary circumstances, Hermione Jane Granger would never be caught in such a– a distasteful situation, but, well, her boys were her boys, after all, and as such, completely useless when it came to such things, she contemplated as she peeled another cobweb from her face. Truly, she mused, brushing a spider off her knee and crawling deeper into the darkness, she was just too good to them. Really, she considered, her hand falling unfortunately into some unidentifiable puddle of slimy goo, they owed her big time.
Just because she happened to be the slightest bit smaller than either of them wasn't cause to relegate her to crawling around in tiny, dirty old attics whose doors were too narrow to admit their broader shoulders. They were wizards for Merlin's sake! But then, inevitably, came Ron's complaints about spiders, and Harry fretting over some ridiculous newly-acquired dust allergy, which Hermione just knew was complete bollocks, as Bubble-head charms existed for a reason and–
Well. A fair bit of complaining and arguing ensued, and the dirty deed was left to loser of a game of stone-cloak-wand.
Hermione huffed a bit over the lighted wand clutched between her teeth. She glanced around and reached the conclusion that she was situated as near to the center of the attic as the clutter would allow. Flicking her wand up at the ceiling, an undulating glob of light siphoned off the tip and floated up to the rafters, where it attached itself and cast a pale blue glow around the small room. She grimaced; there was a noticeable trail through the thick dust that coated the floor where she had crawled, and a similar layer covered all the boxes, trunks, and bags surrounding her.
Another brief glance confirmed that there were no valuables or delicates laying about haphazardly – at least someone in that family had some common sense – so she felt free to cast the single most powerful cleaning charm in her arsenal. Another dozen sweeps of her wand had the belongings all shrunken and stored in her pockets, and Hermione scrambled back to the small entryway and out into the house-proper.
Where no one awaited her. Hermione huffed again, becoming increasingly frustrated with her precious boys, before storming back into the master bedroom where they had found a hidden stash of comic books from the fifties, which Ron had taken an immediate liking to and which Harry was equally interested in examining. Sure enough, she found the pair sprawled across the large bed surrounded by comic books in plastic sleeves.
"Really now, boys, we've only got the rest of the day and tomorrow to finish up with this place, and we won't if you keep fooling around!" she groused.
"I'm exploring history, Hermione," the Savior of the Wizarding World protested.
"Superman isn't history, Harry."
"About ten million people would disagree with you, there," he pointed out, finally putting the comic down and carefully reinserting it into its plastic cover.
"Which is still a global minority," Hermione sniffed. "Ron, that's quite enough. Help me un-shrink these." She emptied her pockets of the two dozen boxes and trunks, and Harry groaned.
"Bloody hell, that attic was supposed to be, what, two hundred square feet? How in the name of Merlin's gym socks did my grandmother fit these in there?"
"Well, she had a witch for a daughter, didn't she?" Ron reasoned, flicking a few finite incantatems at the trunks.
"Ooh, what's this one, important documents?" Hermione exclaimed, thrilled by the find. "Maybe wills, or birth certificates, even a journal or two… How exciting!"
"Uh-huh," Harry enthused, poking around a trunk packed to the brim with old fur coats.
"Hey, Harry, 's there anyone you need to find a birthday gift for? Your gran had some nice silverware," Ron mused. Harry nodded; that sounded perfect for Andromeda. He opened his mouth to say as much when he was cut off by a sudden gasp from Hermione's direction. The witch scrambled over to him and shoved a thin packet of papers in his face. Harry grunted and leaned back, then let out a startled gasp of his own when he read the first lines on the coversheet.
Petition for Divorce
By request of Mr. William Frank Evans, conceded to Mrs. Violet Katharine Evans
For reason of infidelity
17 May 1959
Ron let out a low whistle. "Trouble in paradise." Harry frowned.
"But I'm sure they weren't divorced," he said, confused. "I mean, surely that would have been obvious when Aunt Petunia used to talk about them, right? But she never let on that they ever had any problems like this…" Not that she used to speak about them with great frequency; Petunia's regard for her parents, who had so lavished love and attention on Lily, was only marginally higher than it was for Lily herself.
It was for this reason that Harry was even here at his maternal grandparents' house in the first place. They had died many years ago, when Harry was barely four, and their house had remained empty of habitation for decades. Petunia had taken the fine china and damask tablecloths from the kitchen and had left the rest to gather dust in the house long since paid for, unwilling to take on the hassle of selling the place or sorting through it.
And now Harry – finally able to dedicate some time to inspecting his family's estates after the four years of stressful political appearances, hectic Auror training, and advanced unit specialization since Voldemort's defeat – was spending a week-long vacation visiting old family properties on both sides. He had opted to save this one for last while awaiting confirmation from Petunia – via Dudley as proxy – that she had no more interest in the property therein.
But wow, just. Harry couldn't help but snicker; finding this sort of scandal would have thrilled his aunt more than any treasure. He scanned the document further. Apparently, his grandmother had had a brief affair while his grandfather was away on a very prolonged business venture– wait. Harry's eyes widened and his breath caught in his throat. Not his grandfather, because a child had apparently resulted from the affair, which must have been the reason it was even discovered in the first place. He glanced at the date once more. May 17, 1959, this was filed. Mum was born on January 30, 1960.
Harry wasn't an Evans at all.
Two months later
A stroke of luck had Harry noticing the tall, dark man tense for a brief moment before his arm became a blur of motion, whipping into his jacket to draw out a matte black pistol. Harry, running on pure instinct, twisted to the side and ducked in close under the man's arm to evade the bullet.
"Please! I just want to talk!" Harry yelped, scrambling backwards as the man pushed forward. He barely dodged the pistol aiming to crush into his temple, but fell clumsily to the man's sharp ankle cut. Harry tumbled to the ground and the man pursued him, gripping his collar and flipping him onto his front, before dragging him back to his feet, wrists crushed in the grip of the man's hand and his head tilted back by the press of a cold metal muzzle to his chin.
Harry tried to force himself to relax into the hold, tried to project placating thoughts – not an enemy, want to talk, don't hurt me – and allowed himself to be walked backwards into the man's apartment, where he was promptly spun around once again and pinned to the door.
"How do you know that name." Harry swallowed. The man's voice, which had previously been low and smooth and faintly irritated, was now cold and entirely free of intonation. His eyes were hard and dark in the shadow of his fedora.
"He's my grandfather."
Six weeks prior
Harry did not enjoy coming to Gringotts these days. Every step he made within the bank was attended by a full contingent of armed, snarling guards who fingered their blades and gnashed their teeth at him. While they considered his having killed Voldemort (who had murdered dozens of goblins) as sufficient reparation for having robbed them, they could not forgive the insult of it, nor would they ever trust him again, both of which they were unnecessarily blatant about. Ron and Hermione suffered the same treatment and were always willing to commiserate with him; even to this day, any two or the three of them together were banned from entering the bank.
So yes, Harry preferred to avoid Gringotts whenever possible, and usually sent his key in with a trusted friend when he needed money instead. Unfortunately, for matters related to bloodline persistence, his physical presence was demanded. Hence the armed guard, Harry grimaced in disgruntlement.
And then he was grimacing in pain, because the goblin teller had just roughly sliced through his palm with a ragged stone knife. He briefly contemplated protesting – he distinctly recalled Hermione mentioning that the ritual required only the prick of a finger – but opted to hold his tongue in the face of the sneering goblin, daring him to make a move when surrounded by such hostility. Harry schooled his features and nodded for the creature to continue. Its sneer deepened before a thin veneer of professionalism returned, and it shook a small drop of Harry's blood off of the blade into a stone bowl filled with some herbal poultice he could not identify.
After quickly mixing the droplet in, the goblin poured a small well of ink into the bowl. Rather than merge together with the poultice, however, it simply rested above it, like oil separating from water. The goblin ran a long, crooked finger in a curious pattern around the rim of the bowl, then tilted it to let the ink run onto the parchment on the table.
Harry watched, enthralled, as the ink spider-webbed across the page, curling and looping and spreading. There was the name on his birth certificate, blooming in an elaborate scrawl, followed by his parents' above that, and their parents' names above those. James Potter, born of Charlus Potter and Dorea Black, and Lily Evans, born of Renato Sinclair and Violet Livingston.
Harry breath left him in a rush. There it was, confirmation of the evidence that had confronted him a week ago. His grandmother, Violet, had an affair with this 'Renato Sinclair' in 1959. William Evans wasn't his grandfather, wasn't Lily's father. Lily was only Petunia's half sister. He wondered if either of the girls had known, but he doubted it. The divorce papers had never been signed, for one reason or another, left in a box and forgotten in the attic, and Lily had apparently been raised and loved as William's own daughter. A perfect, happy solution. And yet…
And yet, Harry wondered who Renato Sinclair was.
Six weeks later
Reborn froze, pure shock surging through him. He cursed himself as he felt his lip twitch in surprise before he schooled himself once again. He dug his Beretta deeper into the man's throat.
"What sort of bullshit are you spouting, boy?" he growled. The other's eyes were blown wide and Reborn could see his pulse fluttering wildly in his throat, but his face remained still and attentive. Reborn was grudgingly impressed; there were very few people who could face his full intensity without wetting themselves.
"None," the man asserted. His voice was even, if a little hoarse from the press of the gun. "I recently found an incomplete divorce file belonging to my grandparents. My grandmother had an affair with Renato Sinclair, and my mother came of it. The divorce was never finalized, but a family tree has my mother's father listed as Renato Sinclair." The kid swallowed, then licked his lips, but his eyes never wavered from Reborn's. "My parents died a long time ago. I just wanted to meet him out of curiosity. I don't want or need anything from him."
Reborn stared intently at the boy pinned to his wall. He had certainly reveled in his own sensuality in his youth, and he certainly lain with married women in that time, but…
"How did you find this apartment."
"I– we couldn't find any record of Renato. It's like he completely disappeared after he turned ten, but this is the forwarding address for Beitris Sinclair, Renato's mother. Even though it isn't held under the name Sinclair, ownership of this place hasn't changed for decades, not since the forwarding address was established. I thought it was a good place to start."
Four weeks prior
"Ah, Mister Potter, we meet finally," the Italian Minister for Magic greeted him jovially in English. Harry grinned at the man, shaking his hand. Only entered into office in the last year, Harry had not yet met Titus Quintelli at one of the obnoxious annual meetings Kingsely insisted he still attend. Still, he had heard good things about the man's progressive approach to werewolf rights, which automatically placed him higher in Harry's books.
"Minister Shacklebolt tells me you require the assistance of my administration in locating a relative of yours, yes? This is surely a simple favor, but perhaps an exchange would not be amiss…?" And then he pulled out a snitch and a quill and Harry's grin slipped slightly, before forcing it brighter and scrawling his signature across the delicate fluttering wings of the ball.
Quintelli's eyes lit up with boyish delight. "Excellent, excellent. Now then, if you'd just tell me the name, I will set my secretary to the search while we have lunch, yes?"
"Renato Sinclair," Harry recited. "A Sinclair family apparently immigrated here from Scotland decades ago, and there's no record of a 'Renato' Sinclair having been born in Scotland, not around the time I'm looking for, so I thought perhaps he was born here."
Quintelli gave a sharp nod, sent off a memo to his secretary, and, with a jovial arm around Harry's shoulder, guided him into the elevator.
Well, Harry contemplated, that could have gone much worse. And having thought such, it did indeed become worse.
An hour after lunch while touring the Italian ministry's facilities in Rome, they received word that one Renato Sinclair had indeed been born in Italy to Scottish immigrant Beitris Sinclair and an unnamed father in 1932. Unfortunately, with that birth certificate came the death certificates of both Beitris and her son in 1942. Harry frowned, examining the memo containing copies of the documents.
"'Unfortunate accident?' That's rather vague, isn't it?" Harry wondered. Quintelli hummed thoughtfully.
"This is true; even documents much older will usually list a more… ah, specific cause of death. Such vagueness, we see when there is something to hide." Again, Quintelli's eyes were alight with interest; he appeared enthralled by the potential mystery, and Harry grinned despite himself at the man's enthusiasm.
"The Sinclairs are an old Pureblood family, right? They do seem to tend toward secrecy."
"Were," Quintelli corrected. "They apparently came to our country from Scotland to… em, be better? To rejuvenate. They were dying, and came here for new blood, new wealth. But they failed, you see? This Beitris, she was the only heiress, now gone."
"But she had Renato," Harry argued. "And Renato couldn't have died, because he lived long enough for my mother to be born!"
Four weeks later
Reborn's mouth thinned. Shit, shit! He couldn't believe he had forgotten a detail like that. He thought he had thoroughly erased even the slightest evidence of the existence of Renato Sinclair when he became an Arcobaleno all those years ago, but to neglect to change the forwarding address of his mother's apartment… It was because she had never once received any mail, he realized, so he had never known of the listing, but that was no excuse.
More pressing, however, was the fact that this boy in front of him had been able to find such outdated information, that he had found any trace of Reborn's former existence at all. He sensed no deception from the young man; he had spoken no lies, and yet he was definitely hiding something. The vagueness of the details grated on the hitman's nerves. There was no way he could have found those small details, unless…
'It's like he completely disappeared after he turned ten.'
"Tell me," Reborn said slowly. "How did you get here?"
The young man stared up at him, confused. "But I just said–"
"No. I mean, by what means did you travel here?"
"The, er… the metro? From the airport? And then I walked."
"Ah," Reborn acknowledged, and then continued slowly, deliberating putting weight into his words. "And did you have trouble with the metro system or the airport?"
And Reborn could see precisely the moment his meaning became clear to the young man. His eyes widened for a brief moment and his lips parted in a silent exhalation of epiphany.
"No, but I would have if I hadn't been raised by muggles."
A wizard, then, so Reborn didn't have to worry about breaking the Statute of Secrecy. Bitter though he may be at the world that had rejected him so long ago, Reborn took oaths, even those imposed upon him, seriously. He understood that the consequences of breaking a vow of silence like the Statute could be as severe as breaking Omerta – despite that no wizard official might ever learn of his indiscretion – and was not willing to temp fate.
"So, you wizards still have a record of my existence?"
And the kid froze, tensed in Reborn's grip with bulging eyes. Reborn allowed himself a brief moment of confusion, before clicking his tongue at himself. 'My' existence, not 'Renato's.'
Three weeks prior
"So?" Harry blinked in shock; he had barely stepped through the Floo before Hermione was in his face, eyes wide and demanding information. Ron was bouncing on his heels just behind her, only slightly more restrained. Harry grinned.
"A moment to unpack my luggage, if you please?" he said in a pinched tone, his nose in the air. He slipped his knapsack off his shoulder and dropped it on the table, then shuffled through it to retrieve a few papers. Hermione grabbed them eagerly.
"Well, Minister Quintelli wanted a signed snitch in exchange for information about Renato," he sighed. Ron snickered at him. Harry gave him a one-fingered salute.
"Anyway, apparently he was born a bastard child to a Beitris Sinclair, the fifteen-year old heiress to the Sinclair family, which is now effectively extinct," Harry said for Ron's benefit; Hermione had entirely commandeered the notes Harry had jotted down. Ron gave an appreciative whistle. "The only other record of Renato – anywhere – is a death certificate, both his and his mum's, from when he was ten."
Here Ron frowned in confusion. "Wait– so the goblins were wrong, or…?"
"Hold on, I'm not done yet," Harry continued. "Minister Quintelli and I thought the death certificates looked a bit off, so he introduced me to the President of Muggle Italy to see if there are any records of Beitris or Renato on the mundane side of things."
Ron sputtered. "So what, you met muggle president, just like that?!"
"Well, yeah," Harry said. "He said he'd have some people look into it if I taught him how to ride a broom."
At this, even Hermione glanced up, and the couple gaped at him incredulously. Harry just shrugged, grinning lopsidedly.
"Anyway, I'm heading back as soon as I get word from the President. If his administration can't find any records, then I'll probably poke around graveyards, or look more into the Sinclair family. But either way, I was thinking I could probably use a little liquid luck. Could you help me with that, Hermione?"
Three weeks later
Green-eyes was still gaping at him, and Reborn sighed internally at his misspeak.
"What d'you mean–?!"
"Shut up," Reborn growled, pressing his gun up to force the kid's jaw closed. He complied. Smart. "I'm not done questioning you yet. So you're a wizard who somehow was able to find a record of my existence, and were also somehow able to find that minor detail remaining of my mother. How?" He lowered his gun slightly to allow the wizard to open his mouth again.
"I'm…influential. The childhood record was a personal favor from the Italian Minister for Magic, and the bit about the mailing address was all the muggle President could find. Everything else was luck. But, please, how can you be–?"
"Shut up, I'm thinking." He forced the wizard's mouth closed again, mind racing. His hand involuntarily clenched on the younger man's wrists, who flinched at the sensation, but Reborn ignored it. That such minute details from the first ten years of his life – more than fifty years ago! – had led this little green-eyed slip of an apparently very influential young man to him was absolutely mind-boggling.
He sighed, then; despite his general paranoia and the spiky anger curling within him – at himself, at the boy, at the world he was being forcibly reminded of – he could not help but believe this young man's words. His instincts were gently probing at him to release the kid, to sit him down with a cup of coffee, and to talk. But first…
"Hey!" the wizard yelped as Reborn yanked the younger's wand out of his wrist holster, tucked it into his suit jacket and then pulled away, leaving the younger to steady himself against the wall. He doubted that the wand he had taken was the only one in the boy's arsenal, would be disappointed if it was, but he knew that any others would be in less convenient hiding places, and Reborn would be able to draw his gun faster than the other could draw a spare wand.
"You may speak now," Reborn called over his shoulder as he sauntered into the kitchen to make himself an espresso.