- *No Site Warnings Apply
- Established Relationship
“Wow, when you said that you had gotten a place near the college, I was thinking more along the lines of college dorms.”
Blair blinked at the bright and airy penthouse apartment, his wide blue eyes taking in the sparse yet comfortable furniture, the many plush and colourful rugs and seating cushions, the small but well equipped kitchen and the large balcony filled with plants and tatami mats through the open sliding doors.
Hermione laughed and took his bag from his limp fingers, hanging it over one of the tall chairs along the butcher block kitchen island. “We thought about it for all of three seconds and panned the idea completely. Just the idea of living in a cramped dorm with loud, noisy and hormone ridden college students seemed like an exercise in self-flagellation.”
“The smell alone still haunts me from the tour we took at orientation.” Harry mock shuddered from where he was cutting up ingredients for salad, his face curled in a grimace. “Let’s just say that we’ve recently been given access to some funds held in trust for us and decided to splurge a little. This place has everything thing we need.”
Hermione nodded. “Yup. Close to the university campus and the park. There’s a private pool and parking garage as well as space enough on the roof for a small greenhouse. Great view of the city and easy access to public transport. Plus, the construction of the building is quality enough that we have a good amount of built in sound proofing from both the city and our neighbours.”
“Tell me about it,” Harry made another face. “And it beats living in hotels. If I have to listen to another couple have loud and, by how it sounded, mediocre sex through paper thin walls, I may just fling myself into the harbour.”
“Don’t judge other people’s sex lives, Harry.” Hemione chided, poking her sentinel in his side and smirking as he squealed and squirmed away from her finger. “No matter how mediocre they may be.”
Blair lid unto the chair with a chuckle, accepting a glass of crisp white wine from the young guide. He gave her raised eyebrow as he expertly swirled the wine in his glass and brought it to his nose. Hermione laughed, her pink curls bouncing around her face as she threw her head back.
“Don’t worry Doc. Wine is for guests and cooking only. We’re sticking to sparkling water.”
“Speak for yourself, ” Harry griped good naturedly, scrounging up his nose in irritation. “… those damn bubbles have become my bane these past few weeks. After a few years in Africa not drinking it at all, never thought I would miss drinking soda.”
“That’s understandable.” Blair pursed his lips in thought. “It’s an added layer of stimuli that you will have to work your way through. It should pass soon enough, or at least become tolerable.”
Hermione nodded, “That’s what I thought, thus the sparkling water. Taking out the taste layer so that we can deal with those dastardly bubbles by themselves.”
“Amen.” Harry grumbled. “God forbid me having to drink flat soda for the rest of my life.”
They all laughed as Harry finished his prep and began tossing the salad in a large wooden bowl with some homemade vinaigrette. The older man hummed at the warm sense on hominess that already permeated the brightly lit apartment. It had been less than two months since the couple had walked into his classroom at the university and upended his world, bringing with them a fantastical tale to incredible to believe.
He’d often despaired, in the years since he’d met Jim, that they would never find anyone like them; that they would remain unique and alone, only stumbling across rogues like Alex, who had grown warped and dangerous from being solitary for so long. To be found by an already bonded pair, happy and healthy and seeking Blair out for counsel, had loosened a knot in him that he hadn’t even realized had been tucked under his ribs.
Not to mention the endless knowledge contained in the three massive binders that the young woman had thumped on his desk with a proud grin; enough data held within them to feed the next decade of his research. There had also been an instant kin ship that blossomed between them, a love of knowledge and study that drove them both.
He’d been even more ecstatic when they’d approached him about attending summer courses at Rainier, Hermione wanting to dip her toes in Anthropology so that she could better relate to Blair’s passion for the subject. Harry, on the other hand, just wanted to get some varied courses to firm up the informal education he’d gotten in Africa.
They had proven to be bright, driven young people with a bond that rang strong and deep, tempered by years of love and friendship and he was all the happier for knowing them. For knowing that he and Jim weren’t alone. For knowing that there was someone who shared their experiences. Who he could talk to when he felt alone and overwhelmed in his care for his own sentinel.
He huffed softly and brushed off the melancholy thoughts that had been creeping in and curled his mouth around the lip of his wine glass, making a soft noise of pleasure as the wine’s delicate flavour burst across his tongue. He held the glass up to look at the wine before taking another, deeper sip.
“Oh… This is wonderful.”
He licked his lips and made a noise of satisfaction, looking up at the Hermione who was placing a dish full of freshly tossed pasta in deep red sauce to the table. The young woman preened, bumping her shoulder against Harry as she hustled off to grab the cutlery.
“Thank Harry here. We were doing a spot test at the grocers. Trying to see if he could smell the wines through the sealed corks enough to differentiate the different flavours. We just got the one that smelt the best to him.”
“That’s such a great idea!” Blair perked up, eyes bright. “Will you be willing to share the data you collected with me? I know that you’ve already shared so much that it’ll probably take me years to wrap my mind around all of it but there’s nothing like field research you know. Finding out if those old records different from what’s happening now. Oh boy, Jim hates it when I try to test the limits of his senses. He’s always hated them. He thinks they’re annoying and always brushes me off unless I really needle him.”
His bright smile wavered a bit and he took a sip of wine to cut himself off from rambling on, missing the fleeting glance that the younger pair exchanged as the joyful mood dipped. Hermione reached over and squeezed his hand, smiling when he met her warm brown eyes.
“Of course I’ll share the data with you, Blair. We guides really have to stick together to keep up with our sentinels.”
“I’ll drink to that.” Blair raised his glass, his smile brightening once again.
Dinner was excellent and afterwards they settled on the cushions in front of the fake fireplace. Conversation flowed, touching on funny stories of daily life on campus and quirky anecdotes of Blair’s childhood travels with his eccentric mother.
They delicately talk around the subject of Jim and the way he hasn’t really warmed up to the young couple the way Blair has. The way the man stays wary of them yet never seems interested in any of the overtures they’ve tried to make in the subsequent weeks to get to know each other better. They politely skip over the fact that they’d only ever been over to the loft at 852 Prospect one time and that was the afternoon that they’d first introduced themselves to the older couple.
They don’t discuss how Jim was consistently abrupt, even rude, just bordering on antagonistic towards Harry in particular, in an obvious staking of territory that most times seems to include Blair and the irritation and anger the smaller man feels to be caught in the middle of it.
Harry retreated to the kitchen to wash up while Blair followed Hermione to the office she’d set up for all their research in the smaller guest bedroom. The walls were lined with shelves for their mundane books, the more sensitive magical ones stored in an expandable trunk disguised as an artsy footrest.
Percy had sent along a sleek Stark computer, tricked out with Goblin warding tech so that it wouldn’t short out being surrounded by prolonged magic. The redhead was shamelessly using them as guinea pigs for the idea and they loved him for it, eager to invest in the project should it get off the ground.
Both of them had geeked out over the wickedly complex arithmancy that they’d been able to discern from an image of the talisman the Percy had been able to show them. As far as they knew, even MACUSA didn’t have anything as advanced or cutting edge. And with Stark apparently in the know about magic these days, the man was sure to make waves in the slow moving, often backwards society.
The room itself was double warded, the security runes that lined the doors and mouldings carved meticulously by them both. They’d discovered that even though Harry no longer had a magical core, he was still able to arrange and carve runes and arrays; his spiritual connection to Hermione allowed for her to power said constructs after the fact. It required intense concentration though, usually proceeded by hours of meditation and deep concentration to synch up their intents and expectations.
He was just setting the last saucepan to dry when laughter made him turn to see both guides leaving the room, Hermione running her finger tips over the key array to reset it as she passed. It had become habit by now to do so even after just a couple of weeks living there. Drying his hands, he joined them on the cushions once more, passing out some bottles of water and getting into the lotus position.
This was the first time that they would be doing a guided meditation with Blair in somewhere that felt safer than a hotel room. They’d tried a few times but Harry had never felt safe enough to go too deep. Just the thought of putting himself and his guide in such a vulnerable state without someone to watch over them and keep them safe had put him on edge. Every soft word from down the hall or shrill from the busy street below would knock him right out of it and leave him feeling off kilter.
The apartment was different with all its wards and seals. He felt settled there. At peace. Safe and secure. When he’d broached the subject with his guide, she’d confessed to feeling the same way; suggesting that they’d most likely claimed the place as their territory and thus would feel safer there.
Harry had nodded thoughtfully in agreement, remembering how he’d all but claimed the Doctors Without Borders compound and would prowl the perimeter like clockwork, eventually coming to know the staff and volunteers by their heartbeat alone. He’d felt safe and contented there too. Secure in his territory and his ability to defend it. Cascade, on the other hand, was still new to him with its sights, smells and sounds and their apartment was an comforting oasis in the middle of such unfamiliar waters.
Harry shook his head ruefully, wondering how Ellison did it, claiming the whole city as his territory. Harry would have been overwhelmed from the get go. He chalked it up to the man’s military experience and maturity. He chuffed at the thought. Ha. Ellison wasn’t being very mature at the moment, judging from the faint scent of distress that had been clinging to Blair for the past few weeks.
They’d discussed it, Harry and Hermione, and had agreed to stay out of it for the time being. They were stepping into a situation already in play for years and it was never a good idea to get between two people over something that was frankly none of their business. All they could do really was give Blair the support and friendship he needed while they surreptitiously buffered his shields.
Guided meditation with Blair was vastly different that anything Harry and Hermione had experienced in Africa. Where Harry and Hermione’s shared spirit plane had manifested itself as a vast savannah, with wide open skies and lush green vistas; Blair’s was a dense, verdant jungle, with towering trees and dappled sunlight over vibrant flowers and rushing clear rivers.
The man’s shamanistic powers surged and ebbed across the entire plane, swirling in and around the teens as they traversed the space, thrumming through them with a welcoming warmth that had their bond flourishing happily as it steadily grew stronger.
Faraji and Dayo came out to explore the new vista, much to Blair’s delight. His own spirit animal, a great grey wolf, still remained elusive to the man to his quiet dismay; appearing fleetingly withing the dense forest but never coming closer. Apparently Jim’s panther was the same, only appearing in cases of dire emergency.
They didn’t even have names, which had surprised the teens when Blair had first spoken about it, the faint thread of hurt and rejection buried deep in his voice. Hermione had immediately delved into her notes and she and Blair had spent many an hour going over the data and talking about what she and Harry had gone through with their own companions.
It was slow going, despite their best efforts. Blair’s wolf still remained aloof but he often wandered closer, taking longer to vanish into the bush. The older man’s breathless joy at that small gesture alone had been heart-breaking and both teens swore to help as much as they could.
Seeing Blair kneel before their companions with such a look of awe and reverence on his face made something twist in both Harry’s and Hermione’s hearts and they looked at each other. The man was surely Tribe, a respected elder, just as Hermione’s parents were. Even if he weren’t a shaman and Alpha Guide of the City, both teens were in agreement that he man was still a treasured companion.
Harry came out of the session feeling relaxed and somewhat giddy, sharing wide grins with a flushed Hermione as their bond sang between them. It was a vast difference from the struggle it had been in the beginning. Hermione, armed only with her mum’s scant knowledge of Yoga, the dusty tomes of the basement archive of Côte-d’Ivoire L’Academie De L’unité Magique as well as the hurriedly copied journal Percy had snuck from the Doctors at Santa Brigita’s; had managed to cobble together a regimen that suited them both after much trial and error.
Though, while his guide had taken to the combined yoga/meditation/exercise routine like a proverbial duck to water, Harry’d had a much tougher time of it; struggling to clear or settle his mind enough to make any real progress. He’d never been one for sitting still and introspection. It reminded him too much of his formative years trapped in a cramped and silent cupboard, holding his thin little body absolutely still, not making a sound so as not to incur the wrath of any of the Dursley’s. Too many years filled with fear and sinister dread wrapped in silence and stillness.
Hogwarts had been noise and light and warmth and freedom, slinging himself from one experience to the next, trying to stuff as much life down his throat until he was all but choking on it all. He’d been like a boy possessed, needing to keep moving from one thing to another, jumping into another crisis just as the last one had settled. Ron’s friendship had been like fireworks in the dark quiet of his mind, Hermione like glass prism, sharp and filled with intense light and colour.
Others had been light bright sources of light smashing and scattering across the empty dark, illuminating his life in pops and sparks. Dumbledore, Sirius, Snape, hell, even Voldemort was there with his insidious green flame that flickered and whispered in corners. Looking back on it now, Harry wondered if his ‘people saving thing’ hadn’t been more of a ‘Live fast. Die young. Leave a good looking corpse thing’ instead.
It was during his time in the squib hospital, recovering from having his magical core ripped out, that he’d had to come to terms with the fact that his fate as the Hero’s Sacrifice that he’d been groomed almost from birth into becoming, had been subverted, leaving him all but cast aside and declared useless, a worthless weapon with no target or purpose.
For so long Harry had been running, either to something or from something. Escaping from some nameless, relentless dread that dogged him from one breath to the next. His life had been a series of reaction after reaction, life and destiny twisting around him, pushing and pulling him along like a rag doll. He grown accustomed to it, had resigned himself to it; and when it had been brutally stripped away by Riddle’s desperate attempt to defy death one last time, Harry had almost gone insane from its absence.
His Magic, the one thing that he thought that no one would ever be able to taken from him, was gone. Ripped away from his clinging hands like almost every other good thing he’d treasured in his life. The pain of it had been immense, the hysterical shrill of Riddle’s enraged and desperate shrieking as he clawed savagely at Harry’s magical core had felt like a physical thing. So real that even when he’d been screaming himself hoarse and writhing on the infirmary bed, he’d actually looked down at his chest to see if he was bleeding from physical wounds.
Then, after it was all said and done and Ridddle’s soul ripped apart and dragged to hell, Harry had been plunged into a silence so cold, so dark and so deep that it left him stunned and reeling.
It had taken him six months to recover enough to travel to Africa with Percy, and another few years and more to find himself once more. Fragments of the old Harry had clung to him like cobwebs, muddling his brain and sent him spiralling down emotional pitfalls. It had taken Hermione’s patience, infinite care and compassion and sometimes her scorching ire to get him to the good place he enjoyed currently.
He cracked open his water and drank hungrily, smiling around the rim as Hermione delved into deep conversation with Blair about the five kinds of African Spiritualistic Meditation and how she had painstakingly curated a regimen that actually helped Harry instead of just making him fall asleep from utter boredom.
He straightened his spine, making a face at the memory of how awful his posture used to be. Long term childhood malnutrition and the habit of slouching in on himself in order to be a smaller target had not done Harry nor his spine any favours and it had taken years of nutritional supplements and the Doctors Granger awesome parenting influence to get him sitting and standing properly. Sometimes he still forgot, reaching his hand to rub against the base of his spine as he drained the last of the water.
Faraji rumbled into being behind him and he gladly leaned back unto the lion, warm and content both in body and spirit as he felt the rise and fall of the spirit animal’s massive chest. Hermione and Blair had stopped talking to stare in awe at the huge lion sprawled in the middle of the room and Harry smirked as the vain bugger shook his huge mane and roared with smug pride. Thankfully, Faraji could only be heard by those he chose or they would have been kicked out of their place over noise complaints long ago.
Blair took his leave a short while after, his entire being relaxed and happy and wrapped in Harry and Hermione’s affection. Harry sighed as he walked out unto the balcony, scanning the street below for the curly haired man. He spotted him hailing a cab and followed the car until it finally swung out of view.
The evening air was crisp as Hermione slung her arms around his waist, leaning her warmth into his back and nuzzling at his neck.
“I worry for him. For them both.” Harry murmured, his voice almost taken by the wind and the noise of the city. “I know we agreed to stay out of whatever it is between them but I still worry.”
“Of course you worry Harry. You wouldn’t be you if you didn’t worry. Sentinel or not, you care deeply about those you love.”His guide hummed, pressing a kiss to the soft warmth of his neck. “But Blair and Jim are grown men and we know too little about what we are to judge on what is normal and what is not.”
She pressed her cheek against his shoulder blade and he centred himself on her steady and familiar heartbeat. He frowned to himself and placed his hands on hers.
” I want them both to feel the same joy we do. They are great people and deserve better. Even though Ellison’s being a bit of an arse right now.”
Hermione chuckled and let Harry turn around in her embrace so that they were now facing each other. She pressed a kiss to the underside of his chin and he hummed in contentment.
From what Blair had shared with the young couple about Jim’s past, they understood a bit of about his reservations and mistrust. The older sentinel had been through a lot, even before coming online and ever since he’d started the journey to discovering his powers; he suffered through a lot of pain and loss.
Still, that didn’t mean that he had to be as stubborn old cuss to his own guide as well. Blair hid it well, but the easy partnership and understanding between Harry and Hermione had thrown his own relationship with Jim into a new and unflattering light.
It was a private matter, one that the curly haired man didn’t like to discuss, so Harry and Hermione respected that and didn’t broach the subject again.
“Don’t worry.” Hermione smiled and pressed a kiss to the corner of Harry’s mouth. “He’s not alone now. They’ve got us and we’ll get through this together. You’ll see. Jim will realize what an absolute gem he has in Blair and get his shit together. Just you wait.”
“My Hermione. The eternal optimist.” Harry grinned and squirmed as she nipped along his jaw in response. “Where is that practical girl who thought getting expelled from school was a fate worse than death?”
“I’ll show you a fate worse than death, you git!”
She growled and dug her fingers into his sides, making him squeal with unrestrained laughter and chased him as he ducked out from her hold and scrambled into the apartment.
She laughed as they chased each other around a lounging Faraji, a screeching Dayo joining them as he jumped up and down on the couch. She finally tackled unto the cushions and kissed him, revelling in the sight of her sentinel and love of her life laughing, wild and unrestrained.
So far had they come from those Hogwarts days. Not that she didn’t treasure those memories still but she glad to leave behind the fear and prejudice and the tragic hero and broken boy Harry had been there.
She kissed him again, grinding against him and was rewarded with a breathless moan. She smiled coyly as she rotated her hips, driving Harry’s moan deeper as his face started to flush.
“Are you ready to surrender to your fate, Mr. Potter.” she drawled out his name and giggled as he gave her a look of utter dismay.
“Please, for the love of Merlin, do not imitate Snape while you’re kissing me. I may just throw up on you.”
His hands came up to rest against her hips as she cackled, snorting inelegantly as the image formed in her mind. Harry groaned and let his head thump against the carpet below.
“God, now I’ll never get that out of my head.”
She leaned over slowly, carefully pressing her body against his; enjoying every hitch of his breath and the flush of his neck as she pressed her lips to the sensitive skin just below his ear.
“I guess I’ll have to do something else to keep you occupied then.”
She kissed him then, hungrily and deeply, as his hands slid down to squeeze her full bottom. They still hadn’t done everything yet, at first waiting until they were legal for their parents sake and their own, but then wanting to take it slow as their bond grew and matured.
They still did things, of course, hot things. Really hot things. But they were both comfortable with taking it in their own timing. They felt comfortable and unrushed, exploring each other tenderly and patiently. Hermione appreciated Harry for that and knew that he in turn was grateful to her for being tender and understanding with him as well.
Neither of them had ever been followers of social norms and they absolutely refused to let ‘expected teen behavioural norms’ to dictate to their relationship, physically, mentally or emotionally.
That’s not to say that they could have some fun though.
Hermione sucked at that sensitive spot, humming as Harry’s hips bucked helplessly. She could already feel his hardness through the fabric of his cargo pants and gave the spot one last lick. Standing up, she held out a hand to him and he took it without pause, jumping up to kiss her on the mouth.
They stumbled towards the bedroom, kissing and fondling and giggling as they went, leaving a trail of clothes behind and two smug spirit animals who quietly slipped off to the spirit plane, leaving their humans in privacy and peace.