Harry sat in his study. Papers were spread over his desk, some stacked and organized, some only seemingly so. He raked his hand through his hair and glared at them all – maybe the force of his frustration would present him with an answer as to what it all meant.
In the beginning, it was a project that took up all their free time – they’d meet weekly to discuss their findings. Well, he, Ron, and Hermione would meet weekly - Draco would pass Harry in the hallway at work and shake his head. Soon, in the face of dead-ends and seemingly futile searching, their lives had taken over. There was an underground ring of dark relic smugglers, for which Harry and Ron had to coordinate a special Auror squad. Hugo had come down with ear-infection after ear-infection and both Hermione and Ron had started using all their free time to sleep or sit around in pathetic dazes. Draco must have stopped making a point to pass Harry in the hallways, because eventually Harry only saw him once a month at most. Instead of shaking his head, Draco would fix Harry with a haughty look, as though Harry were the one that was failing them all completely – and maybe he was.
Then there was the news from America – upon Harry’s request, Phil was keeping him well informed. Hunters weren’t Phil’s department, but the American Ministry was small and it wasn’t unusual for everyone to know each other’s business. An old Hunting clan had suddenly become much more active, seemingly being gathered under a new leader. In itself, it was not overly concerning, but the name sparked Harry’s attention – Campbell. Harry knew that Sam and Dean were Winchester’s through and through, but that didn’t mean that activity in their matrilineal line should be ignored. It definitely seemed like odd timing – as soon as the last remaining Winchester retired, the Campbell clan suddenly had a resurgence.
On top of that, the muggle monsters were acting strangely – if Harry didn’t know better, and actually, he didn’t, he would think they were gathering forces. The Seers pretty much confirmed it, from what the Department of Mysteries was allowed to tell Harry in any case. There was talk of a growing storm, of coming war and war already begun, turmoil in heaven, and something a Seer only referred to as “the empty vessel.”
Harry also had a stack of letters sent from Bobby Singer to Hermione. He had tried to find some sort of hidden meaning in the lines, because although he had never met the man, he could not believe that Bobby Singer had given up on rescuing Sam. It’s true, Mr. Singer made a good point about how Sam made his choice and it was important that they all respected it – but it just seemed...off. Harry was beginning to wonder, if maybe Bobby was already fully aware of how fruitless all their searching for a solution had been and was just trying to come to terms with the disappointment in his own way.
There was the small white envelope from Draco that had been passed to Harry via George. George had then oddly asked if Harry knew of any muggle books for children about mechanics, claiming that it was all part of this glorious prank he wanted to pull. Harry had directed him to a local bookshop, before he had torn into the envelope baring Draco’s rather pretentious handwriting. He had hoped, of course, that Draco had stumbled onto something brilliant. Instead, he found more Divination riddles from an extremely questionable source and Draco’s humblest apologies that he had exhausted all his resources and could only hope that Harry would “have better luck as usual.”
Only, he hadn’t had better luck. Not at all. Harry wasn’t sure how he could ever face Dean Winchester again – not after having failed so spectacularly the one time Dean really needed him.
There were voices from downstairs. Harry wondered if maybe Ginny had turned on the wireless, but then he recognized Ron’s voice, and Rose’s delighted talking – then many feet on the stair, and suddenly Ron, Hermione, and Ginny come crowding through the door wearing expressions both happy and disbelieving.
“What is it?” Harry asked.
“I’ve got a letter from Bobby,” Hermione said, brandishing a folded bit of stationary.
“Has he found something?” Harry asked.
“Better than,” Hermione smiled. She opened the letter and began to read:
Dear Hermione and friends,
Cat’s out of the bag around here, so I figure that gives me permission to tell you too. I only hope you can forgive me for keeping it from you for so long.
Sam’s back. He’s been back nearly a year now, not too long after he went. He made me promise not to tell Dean, or you. He had a good argument for keeping it from you all at the time, or else I’d never have agreed. Dean’s found out now, and he’s none too pleased that I didn’t tell him. For the record, I wanted to tell him and tell you – but like I said, Sam had made me promise. Maybe it was stupid of me, but I’ll blame it on the shock of seeing the boy when I thought I never would again.
Now, of course, he ain’t exactly the same as when he went – it was the same with Dean though, when I think back. You didn’t know him back then, of course, so you wouldn’t know the difference – but Hell does change a person, no matter how brief their stay. Sam doesn’t talk about it. Neither does Dean.
I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you sooner, I really am. If it makes any difference, I did argue with Sam about it whenever I saw him. He was convinced you’d tell Dean though, and he wanted to give his brother a chance at a normal life. Dean would of never stayed put if he knew Sam was back – and well, we both thought that maybe Dean had found his ticket out, and the last thing either of us wanted was to drag him back in.
Like I said though, he knows now. Some Djinn eventually tracked him down, Sam had to step in to help him – and well, that was that. Dean and his new family are okay, by the way, so don’t worry about that. Dean’s upset by being kept in the dark, and I don’t blame him. He’s still living with the family for now, but now that he knows Sam’s out there...well, time will tell, I suppose.
So, I wanted you to know that you can stop your searching – we don’t know who brought Sam back, but we’re not about to look a gift-horse in the mouth. No one had to sell their soul this time and that’s all that matters.
Again, my apologies for not telling you sooner – but I’m blaming Sam for that, so you can have it out with him. I know Dean has.
Harry stared gobsmacked at Hermione, and then all but tore the letter out of her hands so that he could read it himself.
That. Utter. Bastard.
Harry was torn between traveling to America just to hug Sam, and traveling to America just to punch him in the face. How could he have possibly thought that keeping this from them was for the best? How absolutely inconsiderate of his friends...no, not just his friends, his brother - how on earth could he have done that to Dean?
“Oh, don’t be angry, Harry,” Hermione pleaded. “It is good news – and I know...I know that it’s hurtful that he let us think...that he let Dean think-“
“That he was suffering eternal torment in Hell!” Harry said. “We’ve been so desperate to find way to help him that Malfoy even considered-” Harry cut himself off when Ron stepped forward slightly and glared at him.
“There’s no need to shoot the messenger, Harry,” Ron said.
“Right, right,” Harry said. “Sorry, Hermione.”
“Read the letter, Harry,” Hermione said. “Bobby says right there that Sam’s...that he might not be completely okay. Maybe he’s judgment is a little off, and Bobby just agreed because it was upsetting him or something – I doubt he’d lie to Dean without good reason.”
Harry nodded. Now instead of being angry, he was concerned – was someone trying to blackmail Sam somehow? What could possibly keep Sam away from his brother for so long?
“I should try to get in touch with Dean,” Harry said. “And write Malfoy.”
“What did Malfoy want to do anyway?” Ron said. “He’s not about to start using dark magic, is he?”
Harry shook his head. “No, no, nothing like that. Don’t worry. It’s Malfoy – he’s not exactly the impulsive type. He’s all suggestions, but he isn't about to put himself in danger for someone else's sake.”
“Git,” Ron muttered.
“Hey, give me ten minutes to write some letters, and then I’ll join you in the kitchen for a celebratory drink, yeah?" Harry suggested, "I don’t want to distract Teddy from his exams, but unlike some people,” Harry waved the letter, “I think it’d be kind of cruel to keep this news to myself.”
“I’ll go break out the good wine,” Ginny smiled, and kissed Harry on the cheek. “Plus, we’ve just left five children all alone for twenty minutes, I shudder to think of the state of my living room.”
Harry laughed as Ron and Hermione both scrambled out of the room to go check on the kids. There was very little damage children could do in a wizard household that wasn’t reversible with some good spell-work, but that didn’t necessarily mean that you could let children run amok.
In his head, Harry compiled a list of people he needed to write to immediately – Draco, Teddy, George, Professor McGonagall...
First though, he pulled the sleek flip mirror out of his pocket and tried calling Dean.
There was no answer.
“Do you think unicorns are going to be on the written portion of the exam?” Iggy asked Penelope, just as Teddy sat down for breakfast.
“Florence thinks so,” Penelope replied. “We’ve been studying together.”
“I hope not,” Nate said, “I know loads more about Threstals. Pass the jam down to Teddy. He needs a little sugar to wake up in the morning.”
“You say the sweetest things,” Teddy smiled.
Jam and bread miraculously appeared in front of him, and Teddy tucked in with his usual enthusiasm.
There was a hoot from the open window near the ceiling and the morning post flew into the room a second after. Some students subscribed to the Daily Prophet, and Teddy knew some of the graduating students were awaiting replies on employment applications. Teddy was only a little surprised to see Muffin swoop down and land gracefully on the table. Muffin then carefully placed a white envelope on Teddy’s plate next to his jammy toast.
“Hello Fin,” Teddy said. “What’s this then?”
Teddy recognised Harry’s handwriting right away – so, it wasn’t just that James, Albus, or Lily, had drawn him a picture, which was usually the sorts of thing that Muffin delivered. Teddy had three years worth of crudely drawn pictures at the bottom of his trunk.
Muffin bobbed his head excitedly, and Teddy noticed that nearly the whole table was glancing at him curiously – ‘Yes,’ Teddy thought, ‘The great Harry Potter writes to his godson on occasion just like any other godfather would, thank you.’
He slid the envelope open and kept the paper close to his chest as usual while he read. Then he reread. Then he took a deep breath and pinched his own leg under the table – and then read it for a third time.
“Teddy? What is it?” Andy asked cautiously. Teddy swallowed.
“It’s...good news,” Teddy said.
“What sort of good news?” Iggy asked, “because you look a little...um...”
“Sam’s alive,” Teddy said, and he smiled, and he felt his hair go blond and pink in happiness, and his eyes turn green. “Sam’s back, and he’s...he’s alive.”
Teddy looked across the table at Nate, who sat there with wide disbelieving eyes, and he did the first thing that came to mind, which was scramble over the table and tackle Nate to the ground in a hug – which didn’t seem like nearly enough, so he kissed him for good measure. Then Teddy sat back, and thrust the now crinkled letter in front of Nate’s dazed face.
“See!” Teddy explained.
“Mr. Lupin!” Professor MacMillan’s voice suddenly came from beside him, and Teddy realized that the great hall had at some point erupted in noise – probably the point where Teddy tackled a fellow student to the ground. “What’s the meaning of this? What did Mr. Lewin possible do to-“
Teddy smiled up at Professor MacMillan, who seemed a bit confused as to what was going on.
“They aren’t fighting,” Iggy said frantically, “look at his hair! It’s fine!”
“I got some good news!” Teddy said. “Nate’s happy too!”
“Yes, I’m sure he is,” Professor MacMillan sighed, “but this is still not appropriate behaviour for the breakfast table.”
“Sorry,” Teddy laughed, and got off of Nate. Nate was still reading the letter with wide eyes, but quickly scrambled up after Teddy and then gave Teddy a proper non-flying hug.
Teddy saw Vicky standing on the bench at the Gryffindor table, trying to see over everyone’s heads as to what was going on.
“VICKY!” Teddy yelled, taking the letter from Nate and waving it over his head as though Vicky would understand what it said just by seeing it. “SAM’S OK NOW!”
“What do you mean?” Professor MacMillan asked in such an oddly stern voice that the smile dropped off Teddy’s face.
“Harry says – see!” Teddy thrust the letter at Professor MacMillan, and smiled at him.
“How?” Professor MacMillan said under his breath, “this is impossible – how did- even Harry couldn’t have...could he?”
“Harry didn’t do anything,” Teddy said. “He says so in the letter – Sam just came back. He came back because...because...everyone loved him...and um...he wasn’t supposed to die, I guess.” The smile slipped from Teddy’s face a little, and he tried to keep his appearance steady, but he wasn’t sure if he was successful. “It’s ok if someone survives, Professor, it doesn’t mean...Just because other people don’t survive, doesn’t mean that they didn’t deserve to, either. It’s ok to survive. You shouldn’t make him feel bad, just because he’s ok and other people are dead. We don’t get to chose, and I wouldn’t want to. It’s good news, Professor, I promise.”
“Of course, Teddy, of course,” Professor MacMillan said, and then pressed the letter back into Teddy’s hand. “This is very good news, I’m happy for you and Sam’s family.” Professor MacMillan then looked at Teddy oddly for a moment, “Merlin, you look just like him when you-"
“Let me read it!” Vicky said from beside Teddy, pulling on his arm. Teddy turned and smiled at her. Nate reached over and ruffled his hair, and Teddy was surprised to feel it turn thicker and darker under his touch – black now, Teddy thought, black and turquoise – he wondered what colour it had been while he had been talking to Professor MacMillan.
Teddy gave Vicky the letter. He clapped Iggy and Andy on the backs, as he sat back down to finish breakfast. The murmuring in the great hall slowly dimmed as the students realized that nothing really interesting was going on – and the news was about someone they didn’t even know, or well, didn’t realize that they knew. Vicky sat with them as they finished up breakfast, and Teddy tried to just appreciate the moment – for once, and probably only this once, someone he cared about had been brought back from the dead.