- *No Site Warnings Apply
- Established Relationship
“Wow. It smells so good here.”
Harry placed his hands on his hips and took another deep and satisfying breath, letting it out slowly before taking another.
He gazed out unto the valley below with its lush green wooded hillsides and pristine lake. The placid surface was like glass, crystal clear and perfectly reflecting the pine forested slopes of the ice capped mountains towering above them.
The higher altitude meant that the breeze was crisp and cool against his sweaty skin and the colourful dotting of wild flowers filled his nose with a fresh floral scent.
Blair chuckled from where he was stooped over his backpack. “I bet. Living in a big city can be a lot on the senses. That’s why I bring Jim up here every couple of months to decompress, breathe in that fresh mountain air and enjoy the peace and quiet.”
He plucked out his army surplus canteen with a happy noise and took a couple of gulps, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand before passing the canteen to his sentinel. Jim took the canteen without a word, taking a drink and tucking it back into the bag with a frown as Blair made his way to where Harry was standing.
“Now that we’re here, how does it compare to the wilds of Africa from a sensory standpoint?”
His face was so eager, his eyes bright and curious that Harry couldn’t help but smile back, his brow wrinkling as he considered his answer.
“Africa was… I’ll call it spicy I guess. Musky. All sun baked earth, animal fur and minerals.”
He bent down and picked up a pine cone, running his fingers over the rough edges. Blair stooped next to him, watching closely as Harry brought it close to his nose and sniffed at it, humming thoughtfully.
“Here, it’s almost sharp. Actual pines trees smell so different from those house cleaning brands that claim to smell like them. The sweetness of the flowers, the cold of the icy mountain tops, the gamey smell of animals that inhabit this place.”
“Whoa,” Blair had pulled a notebook from somewhere and was scribbling hastily. “That’s amazing man. What about your other senses, do you think that you’d be comfortable going through each of them with me now, so that we can compare to the base line we established at the start of the hike?”
Harry shrugged and grinned. “Sure. That’s what we came up here to do right?”
The older man nodded enthusiastically, his curly hair bouncing in the loose bun he’d swept it up into to keep it off his perspiring neck.
Hermione watched them chat from her seat on a fallen log, savouring her water and the cool breeze as it caressed her bare calves and the heated skin of her neck. Thankfully her hair had been braided up by Harry the night before, a feat he was very proud of ever since he’d learned it from the women back at the DWB camp.
He’d even taken to You Tube to learn new techniques and would never fail to take photos and send back to Hermione’s mum to proudly show to the ladies. She reached up under her sun hat to pat at the neat but sweaty braids with a soft smile.
It always pleased Harry when he was able to do something like that or her. To him, it meant that he was providing well, both as a sentinel and as a life mate. To her, it was just another heart-warmingly charming thing he did for her as her best friend and lover.
To Harry, actions spoke louder than words and for him, doing these small, meaningful things was a way of showing his steadfast love without ever having to say the words.
Words meant almost nothing to the Boy Who Lived. For his whole life people used words to manipulate and control him, to hurt him and break him down. It had been a hard lesson to learn how cheap talk truly was but eventually he’d learned the lesson all too well and had taken it to heart.
Harry showed his love through action and intent. No flowery promises. No fancy and expensive things. But through thoughtfulness and care. Taking his time to show his affection in small and steady ways that went beyond speaking, beyond language.
Looking at him as he gestured something at a nodding Blair, she felt suffused with warm affection from her floppy hat straight down to her heavy hiking boots.
She happened to glance at Jim who was deftly checking over his and Blair’s knapsacks with angry, jerky movements and the smile slid off her face. Even without opening her senses she could feel the man’s anger and discontent.
She scoffed silently, rolling her eyes at his childish sulk and met his eyes steadily when he glanced her way. After a long heavy stare down, he was the first to look away from the open judgement in her eyes but she couldn’t bring herself to care. She was utterly fed up with his juvenile behaviour.
Merlin, the man needed to grow up already. It was getting to a point where Harry had started getting tense every time he knew he would have to interact with the other man.
Today’s hike was a last ditch effort on all of their parts, Blair hoping that being away from the pressures of the city would soothe any tempers or tensions but, sadly, the results had been one sided.
Where Harry seemed to unclench more and more the further they got away from the urban areas and into nature; Jim had stubbornly clung to his anger, creating a cloud of displeasure around himself.
He seemed to cling to the negativity, like a child with a favourite toy who refused to share. It was getting downright annoying and Hermione was ready to just hex him silly.
Maybe a double dose of the cheering charm would give them all a break. She made a complicated face at the thought. Just because they had some diplomatic leeway didn’t mean she wanted to face charges for muggle-baiting. Thought it would be amusing to see Jim grinning from ear to ear and laughing uproariously.
She carefully turned the idea over in her mind once or twice, savouring the mean spiritedness of it before letting it go with a sigh. Just because she tried to be a good person didn’t mean she didn’t have a wicked streak in her.
Besides, Jim was being an absolute asshole and she wasn’t about to be too charitable with someone whose deliberate behaviour hurt her Sentinel.
As Harry and Blair broke up their little pow wow, they all stretched and donned their packs once again, continuing along the trail to the picnic spot Blair had picked out.
Harry held her hand as they trekked up the well-worn trail, threading their fingers together and giving her a soft, pleased smile. Being in nature was really good for him and she mentally made a note for them to visit the Mt. Rainier nature reserve more frequently. Just the two of them.
It would give him a chance to truly stretch the limits of his senses without being overwhelmed like he would be in the city. As she walked, she thought out the logistics of it. They would have to get a car or access to one.
Their apartment did come with a parking space. They both owned bicycles and metro passes to get them around the city and up until then, that had been all they needed. She’d have to discuss it with Harry, see what he thought about making such an investment.
They picnicked near the lake, sharing sandwiches and juice blends Blair had been encouraging them to try. By some miracle of mercy, Blair even got Jim to loosen up a little and the meal was mostly enjoyable.
After shucking their socks and shoes and wading for a while in the cool waters of the lake, the four of the settled down unto the thick picnic blanket for a session in guided meditation.
“I really have to take you guys on a vision quest someday.” Blair said as he straightened out the blanket and assumed the lotus position. “A real one, not like those tourist trap ‘wilderness training schools’ which are just dangerously shoddy sweat lodges with the ‘plastic shamans’ who charge through the teeth to take you on a ‘spirit walk’.”
“Talking from experience are you?” Hermione quirked a curious eyebrow. “I can feel a lot of old anger about it from you.”
“You can actually feel that? That’s excellent Hermione. You’re skilled have been greatly improving for it to be sensitive enough to pick up both my anger and to determine how it’s been layered over time. I usually keep it buried pretty deep so it’s awesome that you were able to sense and identify it so precisely. Great job!”
Hermione flushed with pride and shared a happy look with her sentinel. It seemed that her authority pleasing thing was still something she was working on but Blair and proven himself to worthy of her trust several times over so she let it go.
The curly haired man then shook his head in exasperation. “No personal experience. Thankfully my mother took me on the real thing once when I was eight. She’d been doing a study on the First Peoples and had been invited on a Vision Quest.”
He shrugged. “And I say ‘thankfully’ now but back when I was a kid it was four days in a purification ceremony filled with fasting, burning herbs and chanting. I came out of there feeling like an overcooked noodle but my mind had been officially blown.”
He mimed the explosion at both his temples and made the whooshing sound, his cheeks dimpling as the young couple chuckled.
“Out of all the experiences my mother dragged me into as a child, that may have been one of the most influential in both my life and in my journey as a shaman and opened up my young mind to brand new paths I wouldn’t have even fathomed otherwise.”
“Then we definitely need to go.” Harry opined as they all fell into pre-meditation breathing.
Blair’s jungle was s vibrant as ever, heavily imbued with the man’s innate power that strummed through the very leaves of the trees.
Harry grinned and let his senses relax, feeling them spread out unto the spirit plane which welcomed him with open arms. He could feel Blair and Hermione like warm beacons of light floating around him and the rumbling welcome of Faraji as the lion ambled from the thick foliage.
There was an undercurrent of power he hadn’t felt before. A strange new thrum that permeated the ground and the air. It gave Harry a start when he realized that it was Jim. The man had never been with them on a guided mediation before.
Harry whipped his head to where Hermione was communing with Dayo, meeting her bright, intelligent eyes. It was easier to feel each other on the spirit plane, easier to slip into each other’s mental spaces with tender care and a deep yearning to be closer.
Jim was like the steady beat of distant drums, powerful and heady and rife with barely restrained emotions bleeding unto the spirit plane and soaking into everything there.
“Merlin…” Hermione uttered under her breath as she scratched and groomed her baboon’s thick mane. “He doesn’t do things by halves does he?”
Harry flopped down beside her. Pressing his shoulder against hers as his lion sprawled out next to him. “I kinda feel sorry for him though. Not that I don’t still think that he’s an asshole, but that level of emotional repression has got to physically painful.”
Hermione huffed. “He needs to unclench and pull that stick from his ass and let Blair but something else up in there.”
Harry’s barked laughter echoed through the jungle. “You’re awful, Mione.”
“Yeah, but I’m also right.” She snorted and curled her lip. “Sex has always worked great in settling any tensions within the bond. We know that both from the research and our own personal experience. Maybe Jim and Blair need to work it all out in the bedroom.”
Her sentinel grimaced, “Yeah… well, I’m not sure that anyone’s working anything out in the bedroom.” his whole posture was uncomfortable and Hermione sat up straighter, slightly alarmed.
Harry stared at her for a second before seeming to decide on something. He leaned in closer to her ear and whispered. “I never smell sex on them. Joint sex that is. I can smell when Blair … you know… takes care of himself but they don’t smell like each other the way lovers do.”
“Their bond is platonic? That’s…” Hermione’s face ran a gamut of emotions as thoughts raced like quicksilver in her head, finally settling on dismayed disbelief. “That’s… heart-breaking actually. And it also explains so much.”
She sat back, deep in thought, as Harry leaned against Faraji’s flank and fell into his senses. It was best to leave her to parse things out for herself after dropping that bomb into her lap.
He never liked speaking of the private things he was privy to as a sentinel but felt that his guide needed to know that small detail. She was always the one to put things together, arranging her thoughts and creating the bigger picture.
The spirit plane was different from the real world. They both had inherent dangers and were safe in different ways but the spirit plane was a place where he could let his senses go and stretch out without fear of zoning. He felt much closer to his guide here and had no fear that she wouldn’t be able to pull him back if he got a little lost.
So, as Faraji rumbled low at his back and Hermione at his side, he closed his eyes and let his hearing reach further than he’d ever tried before.
Naturally, he sought out Hermione first, grounding himself on her heartbeat and soft humming she always did under her breath when she was thinking things through.
Next was Faraji and Dayo with their resonating energy and warm affection. Then the jungle itself which thrummed with power and the mimic of distant birds and roaming creatures.
He meandered along, seeking out Blair almost y second nature. The man was a touch point for them both. A beacon and corner stone in one and Harry and Hermione both would always gravitate to him eventually.
Having Jim there with them this time made the thrall all the stronger, his warrior spirit heavy and heady with power. For all the reluctance he should back in the real world for his gift, he truly was Alpha here in the jungle.
His brow wrinkled as he grew closer to them. Their voices were raised, agitated and Harry could feel hin concern grow.
Blair was hissing something at Jim, his wolf agitated as it paced the tree line nearby. Jim’s jaw was clenched, his thick, muscular arms crossed over his chest. Faraji appeared crouched at Harry’s side, silent and wary as they edged closer.
Blair was pacing around the clearing in small agitated steps, fingers running through his wild loose curls. They had clearly been at it for a while because the small man was well on the way to working himself up into a froth.
Harry wondered for a second if he should go. He was basically eavesdropping. Still, they were on a shared spirit plane and both older men knew that Harry was bound to hear them. Besides, he wanted to be close if anything should get out of hand.
Jim seemed to be too upset to notice his presence and that was alarming in itself. He crouched lower, slowing his breathing and extended his hearing just a bit further, just catching Blair’s words.
“I can’t believe you man. It’s been months and you still have this attitude? Harry and Hermione have done nothing to make us believe that we can’t trust them. They have jumped through so many hoops for you, trying to reach out to you. Hell, I’ve jumped through so many fucking hoops for you. And now you want to complain but I’m doing things with them that I don’t do with you. Are you kidding me? You know how many times I’ve offered to take you on a vision quest? Seven times, Jim. Seven fucking times.”
He shook his head in disbelief.
“For years I’ve tried everything I could to help you with your gift. I’ve given and I’ve given until I’ve all but given way to work around your doubts… your fears and to support you because I believe in you and I believe that helping you be the best Sentinel that you can be is a worthy goddamn cause.”
He jabbed a finger at Jim’s chest.
“And you have fought me the entire fucking way … never giving an inch when I have had to give miles. You keep thinking that this is something that you can just stop doing, that this is some kind of job that you can retire from that one day. Like you can just say that you’re fed up with all of it and part ways.”
“Don’t you know that this is it for me? Don’t you realize what I’ve given up to be with you? What I continue the sacrifice so that I can be your guide?”
Blair huffed a pained laugh, shaking his head. “And you never even say thank you. You make it seem like you’re just putting up with me like I’m some kind of inconvenience. That I’m some kind of nagging wife that you can complain about to your co-workers and to your friends.”
“Like when I tried to help you with all those little tests and you put me down and made me feel like some fly buzzing around your head. Like I was some bothersome little pest that you could just swat away.”
Jim looked stricken. “Chief I never meant to make you feel that way.”
“But you did.” Blair retorts bluntly. “You still do with your casual dismissal of anything I say as some kind of flight of fancy as if it hasn’t been backed up by research. As if I’ve just been pulling it all out of my ass for shits and giggles.”
“And now that Harry and Hermione are here with actual proof of what we are and now that there is real evidence of what we are to each other, you want to push me away because there’s something real enough to break through that great wall of denial you’ve been building.”
Blair placed his hands on his hips with a scowl.
“But at the same time you cling to me, needy and jealous and angry that I don’t pay as much attention to you anymore is that it? Because I am not paying attention to you alone you’re not the centre of my world anymore and that pisses you off because you don’t have your Chief… your HairBoy at your beck and call anymore running to you every time you need something, am I right?”
“God, Jim…” Blair let his head fall back with a bone deep sigh. “You’re acting like a spoiled child and a large part of it is my fault because I enabled you and I didn’t stand up to you because if I did I thought that you what push me right out of your life that would have killed me because you know that I love you.”
“Blair … ” Jim’s voice cracked. “I’m so sorry.”
“Are you? Are you really sorry or is it because you think that you will lose this sweet little situation you have going and that you fear you’ll end up alone because nobody will cater to your every whim and put up with your bullshit like I do?”
The smaller man quickly dashed away tears from his eyes.
“Do you know what it feels like to be dismissed every time you try something new? Try to have an idea that goes against the ‘Way Things Jim Ellison Says They Are’? Eeven when we were back working with the police I felt as if you never really appreciated anything I did or suggested. That you were just humouring me and when my ideas worked they were either just luck or a fluke.”
“It’s like my work at the University. All the progress I’ve made on the subject all the while dragging your stubborn ass along because I couldn’t leave you behind.”
“Did you know that I was offered several prestigious positions and was asked to go on important expeditions, even asked to lecture abroad and I had to turn them down because you didn’t want to leave the city because you didn’t want the inconvenience of having to change anything in your life that doesn’t directly benefit you?”
“I didn’t know about any of that.” Jim protested, getting puffed up. Blair just rolled his eyes at the man.
“Oh please. I told you about several of them in the past few years and got nothing from you but complaints and grief. After a while I got fed up of beating my head against a brick wall so I stopped asking and I guess that’s my fault too because I wasn’t strong enough to leave your ass behind then to see my own dreams, thinking that I have some kind of ancient and noble duty to you. That we would doing something to protect the innocent. Protecting the tribe.
He gave another mirthless laugh. “And the stupid thing is that I let myself be put in this position. I let myself be pushed into this pigeonhole and I don’t really know what I would tell my younger self if I were to stand before him today.”
His shoulders slumped and he took a deep, wavering breath.
“I live in your house. I plan my day around you. I plan on meals around you. I make sure that there’s nothing there to harm you or hurt you. I’ve let myself become your servant instead of being your partner. But the awful thing is that I know that you know I love you and I’ll let you ignore that fact and continue to treat me like just a friend. And not even a close friend but that kind of friend that is a bit too much and you have to tolerate after a while and you just humour them so that you can get away from them faster.”
Jim looked devastated at the words that are coming out of Blair’s mouth. “My God… I never knew.”
But Blair wasn’t going to let things like that slide. Too much had built up inside of him and it was all coming out.
“What you never knew how you treated me or you never knew that I loved you because either denial would be utter bullshit. I’ve lived with you for over a decade Jim, you’re not that dense. Not with all the times I’ve all but offered myself to you and you’ve just brushed me away and pretended it never happened because then you wouldn’t have to deal with it. Deal with me..”
“Chief … ” Jim’s voice fell to a whisper. “What can I do?”
The curly haired man ran a trembling hand down his face.
“For this to work you need to meet me halfway. I cannot be the one always running after you anymore and you can’t continue to be so stubborn and unchanging. You can’t dismiss me when I say something that you don’t agree with. You have to be my partner in this. You have to be there for me as much as I am there for you.”
He moved closer to his sentinel, hands clasped over his heart.
“You have to pull yourself your head out of the sand and look around you because I’m right here. I’m right here Jim and I love you but I can’t stay here waiting forever.
Jim flinched, his face paling. “What do you mean you mean you’re leaving you just going to leave me like this.?”
Blair gaped then snarled in anger. “Are you fucking kidding me? Haven’t you heard anything I’ve said. I said that I need a partner and I want it to be you. I’ve been by your side long enough that you have to believe that.”
He shook his head running his fingers through his loose curls his eyes shining with unshed tears.
“I need you” Jim pleaded.
Blair laugh was hollow. “I know you need me but do you want me? I need you to love me like I love you in order for us to do this. In order for us to make this work we have to both be all in. I can’t do this by myself.”
“What do you want me to do?” Jim asked.
Blair let out noise a frustration. “I cannot be the one to tell you what to do. You have to decide what you want and own up to it. You need to make a decision because I can’t be kept hanging in the balance like this anymore. It’s like I’m walking a tightrope without a net and I don’t know if you will be there to catch me or not if I fall.
“I can’t live like that just as much as I can’t live without you and it’s tearing me apart to be so close to you yet so cut off from you because you never talk to me about anything important. You never let me in. You’re so closed off I feel like I’m out in the cold, forever looking in.”
Just then Blair’s wolf leapt from the treeline to sit at his feet the man’s face crumpled. He fell to his knees, hugging the giant animal as he burst into tears.
Jim look utterly heartbroken, his Panther, who had been lounging warily nearby, disappearing into the trees. Harry felt Hermione at his side and slung his arm around her, pulling her warmth against his side as she buried her face in his neck, her silent tears wetting his shirt as we both cried for their friend.
Suddenly, a strong wind swept through the jungle shaking the trees and rustling the leaves. And then, from one moment to the next, they were all back at the picnic spot, barely a ripple across the crystal clear lake.
No one commented on the tears in all of their eyes, hastily wiped away; all falling silent as they packed up the picnic and strapped on their backpacks for the hike back to the car.
Hermione wrapped her arms around Blair, giving him along an long octopus hug that had them both sniffling once more. Harry deftly stepped into place, bracketing Blair’s other side as they walked the trail back.
Jim was striding ahead of them, long legs eating up the distance on the trail. He hadn’t spoken a word since the meditation, his face looked carved from stone and his scent pile a riot of swirling emotions. Blair seemed both exhausted and relieved as if letting all that was festering in his chest out had given him some kind of peace.
They made idle conversation on the way back when the silence got to be too much and soon enough they were back at the car. The drive back to the city was tense as they were in close quarters in the cab of Jim’s truck, Hermione all but in Harry’s lap as Blair was tucked close to Jim’s side.
As they dropped Harry and Hermione back at their apartment, Blair got out of the truck and pulled them each into a hug, telling them that they would be ok and that he would call them in the morning. Harry seemed reluctant to let the man go, giving Jim a final scorching glare over the smaller man’s shoulders before finally letting Hermione pull him gently away.
Even though they agreed not to actively meddle in the other couple’s relationship, as difficult as that was to since them both wanted to take the man up to their apartment, wrap him in blankets and cuddle his face off, all they could do was be there to support him when he needed. Whatever happened.
The elevator ride back up to the apartment left them feeling exhausted and they took a bath a warm bath together wash off all the frustration of the day, talking silently to each other as they soaked in the infused water and kissed softly, taking comfort in their own closeness as a couple.
Hermione reassured him that, despite their urge to protect the older Guide, Blair was a grown man and capable of handling himself. That and that no matter what happened he was tribe and they would be there for him.
Harry then admitted that, even though the Alpha had yet to open up to them, he still saw Jim as Tribe as well. Hermione just sighed and kissed the crown of his head in silent acceptance and agreement, hoping that the Alpha pair would be able to truly work things out between them.
They’d had so many adults disappoint them in their lives and they both desperately hoped that this pair would not follow that less than stellar example.
They made tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner, craving comfort food above all; and had hot chocolate with marshmallows for desert; snuggled up in front of the fake fire place.
“It is going to be okay you’ll see.” Hermione whispered against Harry’s hair, hoping desperately what she wouldn’t be proved a liar. “One way or the other it will all work out and we will handle whatever comes because we will be together.”
Harry just nodded silently and tightened his arms around her.
They went to the bed, shrugging off their fluffy robes and curled around each other, seeking comfort in the soft warmth of skin on bare skin. They kissed softly, tenderly, savouring and enjoying each other as their bond sang between them.
After a while Hermione pulled back, looking down at Harry’s earnest, loving gaze.
“I’m ready.” She admitted. “I want us to complete the bond… fully. It’s time.”
Harry blinked then ran his hand up and down her trembling back. “Are you sure? I will wait as long as you need.”
The young guide nodded with a small yet adoring smile.
“I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want us to be as close as we can be. I want to comeplete this bond between us because I don’t know what I would do without you. I love you Harry Potter. My Best Friend. My Sentinel.”
Harry’s green eyes shone brilliantly as he smiled. “I love you too Hermione Granger. My Best Friend. My Guide.”
They fall together, bodies moving together; enjoying one another as they sought release. Then, as they both were joined together in bliss, the bond between them blossomed into completion, glowing and pulsing like a beacon in the darkest night.
They felt Blair’s effervescent joy and Jim’s quiet respect hook into them, cementing the older men as Tribe and filling a hollow inside of them both that they hadn’t even realized had been missing.
They laughed together, crying with happiness and fell back into each other’s arms with scorching hot kisses and delighted wandering hands.
They had each other now, truly and completely. They were a team. And whatever lay ahead, whatever the future brought their way; they would face it together. They had their Tribe… their Family… Their Friends. All their beloved people together.
And together… they would win.