Restoration Part Three

Part Two

Chapter Seven

KING ARTHUR, Clive Owen, 2004, (c) Touchstone

It had been four months since the death of the king. Draco had taken the reins of the kingdom, and he hoped that there hadn’t been any wobbles. He didn’t think so, at least. No one had told him that there had been, and he was going to have to trust that he would be informed if things changed. He was pretty sure that he was going to be feeling that way for a while.

He was also worried sick about Harry. His lover had started getting sick multiple times a day, was avoiding certain areas of the fort, and had taken to eating in their rooms. Draco was about at the point where he was going to be getting Guin to nail his lover to the floor and find out what in the hell was going on.

The feel of magic snapping through the fort rolled over his nerves, and Draco jerked his head up, trying to figure out where it was coming from. Whatever it was, it wasn’t a dangerous spell, but it was attention-getting.

The sound of his lover’s voice echoing through the fort pulled him out of his office. “You had better fucking run like the wind, Draco Malfoy! Your bollocks are going to be gone when I get ahold of you!”

Discretion was totally the better part of valor and he turned around and went to find Tristan and the other knights. Whatever had caused Harry to scream at him like that, it wasn’t a good thing. Maybe the men would have a clue?

Ducking into the Round Table room he looked over his shoulder, checking to see if Harry was coming up behind him. Since it didn’t seem that he was, he turned to the four men and waved a hand at the roof. “I think I did something and I have no idea what I did,” Draco told them.

Bors started laughing and the other three joined in. “Lad, you are so fucked. Actually, that’s what got you into this situation. I hope your bollocks can grow back.”

“What do you mean?” Draco asked as he slid into a seat beside where Arthur had always sat. While he was king, he wasn’t quite ready to take his place in that seat. Not while the memory was so fresh.

“Lad, he’s going after your bollocks. In a woman, that means that you got her up the duff. I don’t know what it means for wizards, but I would expect things are going to get interesting in your relationship,” Gawain told him as Bors sat back and laughed.

“Pregnant? Harry can’t be pregnant!”

 

Peeking around the edge of the door into his rooms felt like he was taking his life into his hands. Harry was fully trained, both as a wizard from Hogwarts and as the latest Merlin. He was deadly and dangerous and apparently really ready to do damage to delicate parts of him.

“Killing you would be too quick, Draco. Get your super-sperm producing arse in here so I can kill you,” Harry told him from the inner room.

“Love? That makes no sense,” Draco told him as he walked into the room. The stinging hex to his bollocks was totally expected. He didn’t even bother to try to protect himself. If Bors was right, he really couldn’t see any way to get around or away from Harry’s temper.

“It doesn’t have to make sense, you blond bastard. I’m pregnant. And you never told me that wizards can get pregnant. I had to find out from Guin,” Harry told him. He was curled up in his favorite chair, slowly sipping at a cup of something steaming. “You’re lucky you ran. Because I wouldn’t have used a stinging hex when I found that out.”

“Right. I can’t say that I’m sorry Harry. Having a child with you has been something I’ve wanted since we started seeing each other,” Draco tried to explain. If things had been a bit different, he would have carried their child. But to have a child when and where they were?

“If we get to see Lady Magic when we die, I’m going to cunt punch the bitch. Because I didn’t sign up for this shite when I accepted that letter,” Harry muttered as he pinched the bridge of his nose. “And no one told me this was a possibility when two wizards started to shag!”

Draco cleared his throat and carefully made his way over to his chair before sitting down, trying to make sure that his very sore balls weren’t crushed. Harry had one hell of a stinging hex. He was going to have to make sure that he still had use of them later. Where Harry couldn’t see him checking.

“Love? Can I run a diagnostic on you? Check to make sure that you and the babe are good?” he asked, hands empty and letting his lover make the decision.

Harry nodded. “Guin did, but I didn’t fully understand her version of it. It doesn’t match the one that I know.”

“Okay. Let’s see what’s going on in there,” Draco offered. The flick of his wrist and hand was smooth and unconscious and the arrival of his wand in his hand was totally expected. For a moment, the movements of the spell were just out of his reach as his mind went blank from nerves. He took a deep breath and raised his wand again and let the movements flow. As the gentle magic covered his lover, he turned his attention to the visual results.

The spell showed that Harry was exhausted, needed to eat, and was sixteen-weeks pregnant with a baby boy. Draco swallowed heavily and let the magic go. “So, you’re sixteen-weeks pregnant. And need to eat.”

“If I eat, I vomit. There is no way in hell, Malfoy,” Harry told him, voice brittle and strained. “Guin was very cheerful when she told me that I could expect this to be the status quo for the rest of the pregnancy.”

“I don’t know if it’s going to last that long, love, but we can see if there’s a spell or something else to help get you through it,” Draco offered. He mentally combed through the catalogue he had for his bracelet and paused on the gingersnaps he had tucked in it on an impulse buy. Withdrawing them took only seconds, and he offered the tin to his lover.

Harry gave the tin a dark look before setting his cup aside and taking the container. The cellophane wrapper got an amused snort and then it was tossed into the fire. Harry was still trying to protect the time line, in great and small ways. When he got the tin open, the smell of ginger filled the room, and his mouth watered.

The first cookie was slowly and cautiously nibbled at, and when that didn’t cause any problems, he quickly stuffed a second in his mouth. The third and the fourth went down just as quickly before he capped the tin off. “Think we can get the goblins to import us some ginger?” he asked as he sipped at his cup.

Draco made the note on the pad that was on the same table as his book. The first meeting with the goblins had been very tentative on both sides; with nothing being really decided other than an agreement to do business together. He had an appointment with them in three days, and the list of wants and needs was getting long.

“Tea, ginger, paper, silk, sugar, more tea, maybe some citrus.” Draco ran down the list and tapped the items as he passed each of them. “Spices would be nice.”

“They would,” Harry muttered. “The food is fine here, but I would adore a nice curry.”

He could feel his mouth water at the thought. He had grown up as the pureblooded wizard son of two pureblooded lines. And that meant that take away, regional ethnic foods, and non-English foods hadn’t been on the menu for him on a normal basis. At best, he had gotten French food, and he was very familiar with that cuisine. Dining out with Harry had been an eye-opener.

“So you think they can get some?” he asked.

“I don’t think we can get them to produce some for us like a takeaway place. But we may be able to get the spices. I think I would adore having them at hand. Even if my stomach is rebelling against the idea right now,” Harry told him.

“Right. I’ll add it to my list,” he said and looked at the cup. “What are you drinking?”

“Cider again. It seems to be what I can tolerate without a problem. I’m not happy with the habit of drinking weak beer, and the local water is a horror. See if the goblins can figure out a way to get a water filter together for us? Because I can’t see those little bastards drinking the water in London,” Harry directed.

Draco nodded and added the item to the list. So many things to discuss with the goblins and he could only hope that they didn’t give him too much trouble over any of it. Setting aside the list he sat and stared at his lover. The revelation of the pregnancy was… It was world shattering and rocked him down to his core.

He knew that he was powerful. It wasn’t a boast. His magic had always been something that he could count on and it had just grown more and more powerful as he had aged. His magical maturity had added to the depth of his powers.

His lover was another thing altogether. Harry, before his final maturation, had managed to defeat the Dark Lord of their age. With his final maturation, he had reached the level of archmagus. He hadn’t joined the aurors like he had originally planned, but had taken up his title and the training for his magic. That had led to the first break with the Weasleys, and when he had started dating Draco, it had apparently broken the relationship for good.

When they had bonded, it had forced Draco’s core to expand in relation, and over their time together, he had been adjusting to the changes. So having his archmagus partner carrying his child was unexpected but not… unlikely. Magic responded to need and wants and this was something that he had been aching for since he had fallen for Harry.

He slid out of his chair and knee-walked over to kneel between Harry’s legs. “I just wanted to tell you, this is the most amazing thing ever. No matter what may happen, the fact that you are capable of doing carrying a child, and are willing to do it, and that Magic gave us such a gift, blows my mind.”

Harry closed his eyes and leaned forward, touching his forehead to Draco’s and sighed. “I could no more harm our child than I could harm you. That hex is just the skin. This kid is going to be so damn spoiled. I love it already, even if it is making me sick as hell.”

“It’s a boy,” Draco shared. “May I touch?” he asked as he stared at his lover’s belly.

“Sure,” Harry agreed before leaning back.

Looking at him, Draco couldn’t figure out how he had missed it. Harry had never been chunky, but since the defeat of the Dark Lord, had never again been thin. So the bump of the baby was obvious as he stretched out. He carefully reached out and let his hand cover the small mound. There wasn’t any movement to feel yet, but the potential for it was there.

Leaning forward, he rested his head against the mound and tried to project all the love he felt for Harry and the baby. “You are the two most important people in my life. I will never, ever be able to tell you how happy I am to know that you are there. Thank you.”

Harry curled over Draco and wrapped him in a hug. “You’re welcome.”

 

 

 

The goblins of this new time and place weren’t quite like the ones they had left behind. For one, they weren’t dressed like the wizards surrounding them. No suits, no ties, no little shoes. Fur and leather seemed to be the normal attire.

Second, they were more overtly bloodthirsty. The banker was accompanied by human and goblin guards, and all of them had their swords well-sharpened and at the ready. Draco would have been offended, but he had spent too long riding the countryside dealing with the dregs of the Saxon army not to recognize prudence. That and the goblins routinely dealt with masses of gold or trade goods and being well armed was just good sense.

“Razoredge, thank you for coming,” Draco greeted the goblin in careful Gobbledegook. “May your enemies die screaming and their gold enter your vaults.”

The grin that crossed the little creature’s face was full of too many teeth for comfort. “May our business be profitable and our enemies bankrupt. It is good to know you can speak a civilized tongue, wizard.”

“I have many skills, Razoredge. Let us do business together.” Draco waved at the papers before them.

“Let us then.” The goblin grinned that terrible grin again and sat down to start to deal.

The discussion between them went on for several hours, and Draco made certain to serve some goblin-specific foods that got him several sharp looks, but Razoredge seemed to appreciate it. Draco himself was slowly working his way through what was basically an antipasti platter of foodstuffs that the kitchens had put together for him. Neither offered to share their delicacies.

They managed to get through both of their lists, and Draco sat back satisfied. He hadn’t been cheated and he hadn’t cheated the goblin, so he was sure that they would be satisfied as well. Harry was taking care of going over their gold and finding all the most ancient of coins and getting them ready for a deposit. Thankfully, the Horde rarely changed the designs of their money, so most of it would be useful.

Sitting back in his chair, he slowly sipped at his mead, watching as Razoredge packed up his mobile office. “How soon do you think your people will be able to get everything to us?”

Razoredge gazed back at him, settled into his own chair and picked up his glass of ick. Draco knew what it was, but there was no way that he could describe it as anything other than ick. The goblin seemed to like it though. He started sipping it and was quiet for several moments before he set it aside. “We have most of what you want accessible via relays. Getting it up here can be done in two ways. The physical way that will take time and effort, or by magic, and we can get it to you within days.”

Days? Magic was indeed a wonderful thing. “For the sake of most of my subjects, I want to at least try to hold close to what they know. I would like to contract for twenty percent of our goods to be delivered via magical means. Also, I have no idea, but do you have an office in India?”

“You know an awful lot about bank business for a human,” Razoredge mused as he slowly sipped on his drink. “It is good that business with you is profitable. What do you want from India?”

“Curry. Or at least the ingredients for it. And rice,” Draco requested. “My partner and I have traveled extensively and enjoyed the taste of the dish when we last had it.”

“Neither of those are well known in this country, sire. You are indeed well-traveled.” The goblin relaxed slightly. “That will cost you. While we have an office in India, we don’t import from there.”

“I have no problems paying for what I want. And I have every faith that your people will come through for us.”

The look of satisfaction that crossed the goblin’s face was expected. Even if it was disturbing.

 

 

The first delivery from the goblins came in two days after his meeting with Razoredge. The bundle smelled amazing, and Draco took most of the spices down to the kitchen and talked to the fort’s chatelaine, Maude. While Jols was in charge of the knights and all the armed men in the fort, the chatelaine was in charge of the actual household of what was now the king.

The dear lady had managed to keep everyone fed and healthy through the winter, and the influx of spices and foods made her day. He took the time to talk recipes with her and left her office with some supplies for a private meal. Harry was pushing six-months pregnant and was incredibly picky on what he was willing to eat.

The package from the goblins had been timely since his lover had eaten the last of the ginger cookies two days before. He wasn’t quite at the stage of being ready to vomit, but Harry had admitted that his stomach was very touchy. He was still avoiding the more fragrant areas of the fort, and Draco couldn’t blame him.

When he made it into their rooms, he found that the suite was empty. The fire was banked, and he smiled in anticipation. Harry had a full set of cauldrons nestled into each other in his private work area, and Draco grabbed one of the smaller ones to start his surprise.

The spices were carefully laid out, and he worked with his ingredients, determined to come up with an edible meal. The end result smelled lovely, and he made sure to seal up the spices in well-labeled containers. Especially the candied ginger. He had well over a kilo of that stuff and more on the way.

He grabbed the smallest usable cauldron left and poured some of the ever-present cider into it and dropped in a small piece of ginger, a clove, and a small piece of cinnamon, and set it beside the fire to warm. Spiced cider, heavy on the ginger to soothe Harry’s stomach would hopefully go over well. The soup was simmering, he had the table set, and all he was missing was his lover.

Draco took a tour around the room and sighed. He and Harry had schedules that barely met, and he still hadn’t managed to get in lessons with Guin. She was expecting her three partners to arrive in a month, planting was going full tilt, the castle had broken ground, and he was swamped. If Arthur showed up, alive, right then and there? He would hand the whole mess back to him.

Noises from the outer room pulled him away from his fussing, and he leaned into the jamb. Harry had his first apprentice and was busy passing on his knowledge. Bors’ oldest boy had proven to be magically talented and seemed to be enjoying himself. His slightly younger sister was also talented, and Guin had taken her on.

Renfry had proven to be a very valuable investment. He had taken over the role of front man to Harry like he had been born to it. No one got past him or his siblings, who he pressed into service. Harry constantly had a small tribe of kids following him around, and a number of them were redheads. He had his suspicions about them, too.

From the way Renfry was hovering, the day hadn’t been too good. Harry was moving slowly and had a heavy frown on his face. One hand was pressed against his belly and his magic was curling under his skin as it worked to support the baby growing within him. Draco was sure that Harry wouldn’t appreciate the sentiment, but he thought his partner was beautiful.

“Hello, love,” he called softly.

The magic under Harry’s skin flared out for a moment and then pulled back as he tried to turn around. Draco sighed at the sight. It was coming up on the time when Harry wouldn’t actively be able to use his magic offensively as it was used by the baby. But right then and there, his archmagus lover was still armed and dangerous and on a hair trigger. Thankfully, he was also able to restrain the urge to kill everything in his path.

“You are so lucky I don’t want to rebuild the building,” Harry told him.

“Thank you for that,” Draco said dryly.

“Eh. Maybe we could put a skylight in,” Harry muttered in English and Draco snorted softly in laughter. Yeah, their quarters were a bit dark. He was looking forward to the castle. Really. Maybe they could get a window or two?

“I’ll do my best to get us a window,” Draco promised.

“Eh. I’m good. I smell spices?” Harry asked as he peeked around Draco into their bedroom.

“Yeah, I have some stuff for you. Renfry, I think your father is in the tavern. Might want to get him home before your mum cracks him over the head with a jug,” Draco directed.

“Aye, sire. Thank you. Master Merlin, I’ll be in the same time tomorrow?” the boy offered.

“That’s good. Wear something that you can get very dirty in. We’re going to be doing some tramping through the woods,” Harry told him, eyes on the boy’s clothes.

“Uhm… Sir, these are all that I own,” Renfry told him, voice small. “Mum hasn’t gotten around to making me any more.”

Harry nodded and obviously tried not to sigh. “Right. Well, we will be fixing that. There will be times when you need to be dressed in different clothes or have the clothes you’re wearing washed. See Jols for a few new sets in the morning. If he doesn’t have any for you, check with the chatelaine. I’m sure that we have extras around here somewhere.”

“Thank you, milord!” Renfry chirped with a big grin before running off.

“That was sweet of you,” Draco told his lover as he walked over to him. He reached out carefully and gathered Harry to him. He had to be careful with Harry because his lover wasn’t too keen on being manhandled. As pregnant as he was, he was very body shy and determined that he wasn’t going to be handled against his will.

“Kid needs to be able to change clothes because we get filthy. And there is no way that I’m going to let my apprentice look like I don’t care about him.” Harry sniffed, offended and upset. “If I can fix it, I will. I know that his mother’s thrilled that I’m feeding the kid at least. He eats like a horse.”

“And you don’t want to let any kid in your reach not have things that are nice and theirs?” Draco asked as he rocked his lover from side to side.

The next sniff was quiet but he still heard it. Draco had to refrain from mentally cursing every person who had ever given his lover shite about his clothes and belongings. He was including himself in that because he had been a little monster when he was younger. Now, Harry dressed well, stood proud and wasn’t even trying to hide the pregnancy. All things he could live with.

“Yeah. If it’s going to be years yet before Hogwarts gets up and running, I’m going to have apprentices. And I figure Renfry will be able to reach what amounts to journeyman status in about three years. Especially if I get Guin and her gang to help. And see if they can take on a few apprentices as well.” Harry sighed into his chest. “This is nice. What smells good?”

Draco started them towards the bedroom and his treat. “I made some soup and some spiced cider. We got a package from the goblins today and I already took most of the spices to Maude and she has them under lock and key. I have enough here for some goodies for you and the potion supplies. Everything is stored, sealed and labeled.”

“Good. Because you’re a bitch when you can’t find the potions supplies,” Harry groused.

Snickering softly, Draco nodded. He was and there was no denying it.

The small table in their room was set, and Draco served Harry the meal he had prepared. The scents and tastes of the soup were reminiscent of what they had left behind in their England, and Harry got a smile on his face. The cider was cooed over and drunk down to the last drop. All the spices were designed to be soothing on the stomach, and, from the way it was being enjoyed, it seemed that he had succeeded.

Draco refilled the cauldron and set it on the hearth to get warm and steep again. Settling into his chair, he sat back to bask in his lover’s contentment.

 

 

 

“You can’t be in here, Majesty!”

Draco leaned forward and growled at the little woman barring his way. Helga Hufflepuff was a sweet round woman with a spine of steel and a temper that had to be seen to be believed. He just didn’t give a shite, and his inborn respect for her name and place in his history weren’t stopping him. He needed to be in there with his lover. “Harry is my lover, my partner and my bonded mate. There is no way in hell that you are going to keep me out.”

“But birthing isn’t for men!” Hufflepuff waved her hands at him and tried to keep him out of the room with her body. “This isn’t for you.”

Draco hissed and wandlessly picked the woman up and set her aside. He remembered, at the last moment, to be gentle when he put her down. That was the extent of his consideration to anyone. Slipping into the room, he cast a wordless scourgify to clean himself up. A second spell he had learned from a healer at St. Mungo’s helped sterilize his skin and clothes and he was as clean as he was getting.

Harry was laboring to bring their child into the world and Draco wasn’t going to be looking too hard at what was going on below his beltline to allow that to happen. His concentration was on the head of the bed and he knelt by it, brushing Harry’s hair off his forehead. “Hello, love.”

“You, Lady Magic and whatever fucked-up thing that let me get pregnant are all getting beaten when I can. This is worse than anything Voldemort or my uncle ever did to me,” Harry gritted out between clenched teeth.

“I’ll hold still, not a problem,” Draco promised. There was a rag in a bowl of water on a table and he used the wet thing to cool down Harry and clean up some of the sweat that was running down his temples. He kept his eyes and attention on his lover and not what was happening south of Harry’s beltline. He saw nothing, he heard nothing, and he sure as hell smelled nothing.

Every single direction that was barked at him, he followed. When his son finally slipped into the world, he was there to cut him free of Harry. Helga took him while Guin finished the nasty last business on the birth, and Draco stood and vibrated. He couldn’t help Harry and he couldn’t assist with his son and he had nothing to do. How had the Weasley patriarch done this shite six times?

When Helga came back, she had the baby all swaddled up in a clean blanket. Harry was being cleaned up as well, and Draco held out his arms for the son he and Harry had made. Helga carefully transferred the baby to him and he looked into the face of his legacy. The child was a perfect combination of Harry and himself, and he fell in love in an instant.

Walking back to the bed, he knelt by the head and settled the baby on Harry’s chest. “Look at what you’ve done Harry. Look at him. He’s beautiful.”

Harry stared at their son and reached out a hand to touch him. “Poor kid, it looks like he’s got my hair. Hello, baby Kerrick Brice Malfoy, from the family of Pendragon.”

 

 

 

Draco had managed to get an afternoon free from his responsibilities and headed out with Harry, Salazar and Gryffindor. The knights came as a matter of course. The goal was to take a look at the castle and check on how the work was going. He had the plans for the compound rolled in a tube attached to his saddle.

“Do you think you will be able to strengthen the walls?” Draco asked as they crested the low rise that hid the site.

“Depending on what’s been done, I can tailor the spell to grow with the construction,” Godric told him. “Keeping the spell up will be something that needs to be discussed for a long term solution. Do you have any ideas, sire?”

“There is a ley line that runs under the site. We’ve got the major ward stone already in place and it’s tied to the line.” Harry waved a hand, drawing pictures with the motions of his fingers. “If we tie the spells for strength into that, will that work?”

“I would think so. Is the stone keyed to anything or anyone?” Salazar asked as he shifted uneasily on his horse.

Of the four Founders of Hogwarts, he was the one who liked roughing it least. Salazar was definitely a man of the cities and had made no bones about that. He was also sharp, witty and embodied everything that his future house adored. Draco honestly wanted to smack him with the flat of his sword about twenty times a day, but the man made him laugh about as often. Harry kept muttering about wanting to tape his mouth shut. To top it all off, the man was making his way through the female population of the fort. If he left any bastards behind, Draco was hitting him with a contraception hex.

“It’s keyed to Harry and me,” Draco said as he scanned the countryside around them. No one supposed to be working that day as all their workers were also their farmers. Food was taking precedence over a building that wasn’t going to be finished for at least another two years. And, even then, that would be the shell of the outside. The rest of it, including all the outbuildings the castle would need, would be taken care of as they went along. “We haven’t locked it off, but we’ve made it about as difficult as we can to tamper with. The wards we have on it say that it’s been left alone.”

“Then it’s good that you came along, sire. Have you ever done perpetual warding on this scale?” Salazar asked.

“No,” Draco admitted. “I’ve used wards, but never set up more than temporary ones around a space that I’m using. I was never taught how to set wards that could outlive me.”

“The longest lasting wards I have set are the ones on our rooms,” Harry admitted. “And even then, most of those are copies of ones I’ve seen. Understanding the various layers and reasons for them was never a lesson I got. I can mimic, but I know I need to get a firm understanding before we move into the castle.”

“I find that I don’t think much of your magical education, sire, consort, if your masters left you this ignorant of basic magical matters,” Godric muttered as he controlled his horse with the absent skill of the true master. Gryffindor was the opposite of Slytherin in that he seemed to thrive in the fort, enjoying the rough and ready lifestyle that they were in. He was far bigger than his counterpart and was indeed, brave, slightly foolhardy and willing to laugh at just about everything. In other words, he seemed to be the perfect Gryff.

Draco should have loathed the man on sight. He didn’t. He could see the traits that had been used to found his house in his lover and thus was reluctantly charmed. But unlike Slytherin, he could hit this one at least. Gryffindor spent several hours a day on the practice grounds with the knights training. It was very liberating to know that he had put the founder of his rival house on his arse several times in training.

“Our training is long and far away from here, Master Gryffindor,” Draco told him without the slightest bit of irony. “And we’ve both spent a great deal of time filling the gaps of our educations. Warding, while very useful, wasn’t high on the list. We had access to warded properties and that let us pass it by.”

“Still, I’m not happy to know you missed getting trained in that discipline. Sal, make sure we put warding high on the list of things we’re going to be teaching,” Godric called as he spurred his horse forward. The construction site was in view and the mage was apparently impatient to inspect it.

“Galahad?” Draco called out. The knight just shook his head and took off after Gryffindor.

“The man would lose his head if it wasn’t attached,” Salazar muttered as he watched Godric ride off. “But I hate to say that he’s right. While we’re here, you two need to get a through education on warding. Among masses of other things. Merlin did what he could, but we’re from a vastly different tradition of magic, Godric and I. Rowena and Helga are more like Merlin was.”

“Add it to the list that I know you all have going,” Harry sighed. Draco couldn’t blame him. The things they had found about their education after they had ‘graduated’ Hogwarts had made them both see red. Over the years, the institution had pared down the careful curriculum the founders had put forth to make something that had… Well, it hadn’t been enough. Independent study after they left the school had barely prepared them for their lives as lords. It was only their hobbies that were getting them through their current lives.

“It’s a long list, consort,” Slytherin warned. “And only so many hours in a day.”

“And of the two of us, I have the most free time,” Harry retorted. “While I have Renfry as my apprentice, he’s also in need of the lessons, and looking like an arse isn’t something that I’m unfamiliar with. He can learn some of this beside me.”

Draco moved forward and let them argue. Harry would let him know the results of everything, and he wanted to know what Gryffindor was doing. A glance behind him showed Bors and Gawain staying with the two, and he had Tristian at his side. They were as safe as they were getting, then.

“So what’s this Gryffindor going to be doing to the castle?” Tristan asked as he almost glided with the gait of his horse. Draco ignored the stab of envy at the man’s skill with the ease of long habit. “You seemed awful interested in getting him out here.”

“One of the things that Guin told us about Gryffindor was that he was able to manipulate stone. He will be making sure that we don’t have any hidden weaknesses in the foundations, that the stone will be strong as it’s built and stay sturdy after we finish. Plus, he’ll hopefully be able to give a clue at the quarry about where the best and soundest stone is located so we can use that for the necessary stuff like the walls,” Draco explained as he watched the mage push his horse all over the huge site. “And if we can slip it in where it won’t be noticed, he might be able to draw stone up from far away to add to what we have. Or even take some of the scrap stone and construct new stone blocks. It isn’t like we don’t need it.”

He had, after all, been ambitious in how he had laid out the castle. There were almost three acres contained in the walls and it was all going to be used. If he had time, they would be building a further outer wall with more acreage, but that was an expense that he couldn’t see right then. So, the castle itself, an inner wall, and the outer wall as it was. All as well-built and warded as he could manage.

“Not a bad idea,” Tristan agreed. “Will we be able to trust him not to sell the information he gets on the castle to anyone?”

And thank you, paranoia, you showed up right on time, Draco thought with a wry mental chuckle. He could always count on one of the knights to let it out. “Yes. He swore a very specific type of oath to me when he got here. It covered this. All of them did, as a matter of fact. Betraying us would be rather fatal.”

“I like it,” the knight said with a bloodthirsty grin.

“Me, too. Let’s go see what he’s got for us, shall we?” Draco asked as he spurred his horse into a trot.

Gryffindor was looking at the piles of stone they were using for the walls and waving his hands around in a manner that spoke of spells being performed, and he wanted to watch. Maybe see if he could pick up some new skills. After all, he and his people were going to be the ones to live in the castle, not the four founders. It would be best if he had some idea what was going on with the bones of it.

 

 

Chapter Eight

lh-harryasmerlin

“I want more children,” Harry told him as they lay in bed and watched as Kerrick played with the blocks that Tristan had carved for him. At three years old, he was a bright and cheerful child who was into everything and was as fearless as only a well-loved one could be. He had a nanny elf who had appeared within days of his birth and doted on him with all the loyalty of her kind.

“We have no idea how you got pregnant in the first place, love. And I’m not too sure I want you going through that again,” Draco admitted. “We aren’t in the 21st century, and medical care isn’t at a level that I feel comfortable trying again.”

“Agreed. We did the natural way once, but as interesting as the experience was, I don’t want to do it again. I’m certain that we can support a ritual child between the two of us. We certainly have the power levels,” Harry admitted.

Draco grunted in agreement. He was sinking as much of his personal power into the wards of the new castle as he could spare, and since he wasn’t actively using his abilities like Harry was, that was a fair amount of power. The construction was almost finished and the move from the fort to their new home was scheduled for midsummer.

He was happy they had finally gotten all the buildings ready and had started moving all the various supplies over. With the spring, they had eaten their way through most of the winter stores and that meant that there were very few perishable goods to move. For the most part, he had decreed that the supplies were to be left with the fort since he would still have men stationed there. The castle was going to have the greater majority of the men from the garrison, but not everyone.

Hadrian’s Wall was still useful, and, even if it divided his kingdom, it provided a great deal of protection to the fort and the lands surrounding it. He held sway above it because of Merlin, and Harry had spent the year of his apprenticeship with the old man traveling to all of the Woad villages, securing their fealty to him.

When Arthur had died, the village elders had all come round and pledged their fealty in person. Agreements had been hashed out on how much of each harvest they would get and how many men would be sent for military training. It had taken weeks.

With the fall harvests, they had sent out wagons and gathered what was promised. They had been rich in food and gotten through that first winter without a hitch. Draco spent the time looking at ways that his little kingdom could actually become financially solvent and started implementing the solutions.

His court, such as it was, was reassured that he had an heir, even if it wasn’t with Guin. Their arrangement was no real secret, and Draco found that he didn’t care. Guin had very few problems with the masses and most of the ones who had an issue with her, seemed to have it due to her inability to give a fuck on what they thought.

“We have two more years until the four of them head up to their castle. Godric says that they have the site picked out and he’s planning on taking an extended trip up there this summer to work on getting the ground ready for him to raise the structure. Salazar said he would go up with him,” Harry pushed on. “I want to have our next child before they are all out of reach.”

“I can understand that,’ Draco allowed. “So, I know how a child is created in ritual where we grew up, but do you have any idea how it’s done now?”

“Guin, Helga and Salazar all looked at me as if I was insane when I asked,” Harry admitted. “Godric was the only one who seemed to have a clue and he told me to ask the goblins. Something about them having access to everything and anything.”

“So a trip to Londinium then?” Draco asked as he started to mentally rearrange his schedule. It was early spring and the most important thing was the planting. Which, frankly, their steward could handle far better than he could ever dream of. And their chatelaine was able to coordinate all the various chores related to the running of their household without them.

“Yes. And if we’re going, we need to take Guin, her apprentice, Renfry, Kerrick, and at least Tristan.” Harry rolled out of bed and went to get his handy tablet to start writing down notes.

“Why the apprentices? And why Kerrick?” Draco asked as he smiled at their son. The boy had looked up at the sound of his name but gone right back to his play when he didn’t see one of his parents gesturing for him to come to them.

“Because both kids need wands, and I want to register Kerrick as our heir with our vaults,” Harry told him absently. “And Tristan said something about taking Lucan down to deal with Dagonet’s things. He’s almost to an age where he’s going to need to get a wand. I figure he’ll be heading to Hogwarts when it’s ready.”

“Okay, I can see that. I’ll take the kids to Ollivander’s and you deal with the bank and the goblins?” Draco asked.

“It needs both of us for the stuff with Kerrick,” Harry reminded him. “And I figure I’m going to have to talk to a goblin healer to get the globe I want. It won’t be fast, so you can take the kidlet with you when you head out.”

“Sounds like a plan. So, portkeying? Tristan will have to give us the location. Do you think he can?” Draco asked as he got off the bed to scoop their son up. “Hey, lad, time for you to be getting ready for bed.”

“No, Da! Wanna stay up!” Kerrick demanded as he twisted in his arms.

“Not happening, little man,” Draco told him cheerfully before placing a kiss on the boy’s brow. His son had gotten grey eyes and skin tone from him, and his hair from his other father. The combination was startling, and he figured that he was going to have to make very sure that his son didn’t make them grandfathers too soon. “Time for a story or maybe two before bed. Now let Nanny get you all ready.”

The grumbling from their son was deeply cute, and he shared an amused look with his love as he followed behind the boy. His nanny elf had his night clothes ready for him and a warm wet cloth to clean up the worst of the day’s mess. Kerrick was being raised like the boy he was in their new culture, but neither of them could stand the thought of him being as filthy as was the norm for the time period they were in.

Once the wipe down was done, with special attention paid to hands and feet, Draco settled in to tell his son stories about the knights, Arthur and even a bit about himself. By the end of the second story, his son was sleeping like the toddler he was. If nothing else ever came out of this adventure, he was thankful that he and Harry had managed to make the little human sleeping so soundly beside him.

Walking back to his bed, he hoped it was full of his lover. Draco had the urge to practice making their next child. Several times.

 

 

“Kerrick! You will not run off like that!” Draco barked out as he walked down what would be Diagon Alley someday, far in the future. “Get back here.”

“Yes, Da! Look!” his son shouted as he waved at the windows of a shop selling breads. The smell of hot sweet bread wafted out the open spaces and Draco silently congratulated the proprietor on their strategy. A quick stop got him a twist of pastry to share with his son, and he kept them moving.

He needed to get his wands looked at and Harry had demanded that he take Renfry with him to get him fitted for his first. Guin was with him to take care of her apprentice, and they were all making their way over to Ollivander’s. He knew that the wand shop had been in the Alley for a very, very long time, but he wasn’t too sure about who the proprietor would be at this point in time.

Opening the door to the shop, Draco smiled at the racks of small boxes that filled it from floor to ceiling. It seemed that the decorating scheme that he had seen when he had gotten his wand hadn’t been special to the Ollivander he had met.

“Hello! I’ll be out to see you in a moment!” a male voice called from the back. Draco frowned slightly and tried to smooth his expression out. Was he really sure? When they went back in time, it had been a few years since he had seen Garrick Ollivander, so he could be mistaken.

He wasn’t. Although, the Ollivander he was looking at seemed to be a great deal younger than the one he had met. Instead of crazy white hair that stood up worse than Harry’s, the wandmaker’s hair was black as pitch and just as messy as always. He was still dressed well, if comfortably, and his silver eyes were taking in every inch of them.

“Welcome to Ollivander’s! Are you here for wands?” he asked. Looking at Guin, he smiled in recognition. “Rosewood and powdered Han Fireball scale. Very powerful for hexes. Welcome back.”

Draco watched as Ollivander looked at the two teenagers with them and then waved Renfry to stand still as his tailor’s tape started measuring him. “It looks like you are here for a wand or two. Now, lad, which is your dominant or wand hand?”

Renfry glanced at Draco, and he nodded permission. The lad held out his right hand, palm up, and Ollivander leaned over to look at it for a moment before humming to himself and walking over to one of his shelves. Picking out several boxes, he set them on the counter that ran the length of the store and hovered his hand over them. Staring at the boy, he ran his hand over the boxes before nodding and holding one box out to him. “Try this one.”

When Renfry opened it, Draco smiled in appreciation. The wand looked to be willow, and whatever the core was, it apparently was compatible, because as soon as the boy waved it, a set of green and blue sparks shot out, bursting in the air like fireworks. “Ah, excellent. Willow, with a braided strand of unicorn hair. Very good for charms.”

Guin’s apprentice stepped up next and went through the same routine. Her wand was easily found and made out of rosewood and unicorn hair. It was obvious the teens were related, and it showed in the similarities of their cores. Draco paid for both wands without a wince and smiled softly as the kids chattered about their newest acquisitions. Lucan and Kerrick were peering in the boxes with avid curiosity on their faces.

“Milord Pendragon? If you could stay a moment?” Ollivander asked as Draco started to herd the kids out and onto their next stop. Draco had planned on coming back to the shop when the kids weren’t with him, so this was a surprise. Eyebrow raised, Draco looked at Guin, and she nodded. She would take the kids onto the next shop they had on their list.

“What can I do for you, Master Ollivander?” Draco asked as he leaned against the counter.

“I felt at least two of my wands enter the store when you came in. I knew Rowena’s wand, but yours… while they show as mine, they aren’t ones I know,” Ollivander told him, silver eyes shrewd as they gazed back at him.

And there was confirmation that Garrick Ollivander was far more than they had ever thought. And most definitely, far older. Harry was going to be pissed that he had missed this. “Can you swear an oath not to tell anyone what you learn today?” he asked.

Ollivander paused before nodding. The oath he swore was as through and binding as Draco could have wished and the whole shop lit up when it sealed. With two careful flicks of his wrist, he pulled out both of his wands. The elm and dragon heartstring wand that he had picked up from Ollivander after the war was serviceable at best. It fit his magic and did the job he needed, but it wasn’t his favorite of the two he had. The second was one that he had gotten from the family vault when he had lost the Elder Wand to Harry. It was made of Kingwood with a core made of the heartstring from a Ukrainian Ironbelly. His lover had laughed himself sick over the irony of it when they had realized the roles they had taken on.

While he might not use either wand as often as he used to, they were both well cared for and it showed. The wandmaker made no sound as he picked up each and examined them closely. “They are fine wands, well taken care of and don’t need anything on that vein from me. This one,” he said, pointing at the wand that had come out of his family vault, “is far older than the other. However you got them, I will not say, but they are mine of the making, even if I haven’t made them. Yet. I will keep your secrets, and when the time comes, I will make the wands. Thank you for showing them to me.”

Draco could only nod.

 

 

 

“You’ll be happy to know that the goblins have a means to allow us to get what we want,” Harry told him, leaning forward to speak directly into his ear. “And I got the book on it, the spell components, and one of their healers ran me through the spellwork needed to complete it. She did say that we’re going to be very, very tired the first few months, though.”

Draco leaned back in his chair and hooked one arm around his lover’s neck, pulling him close for a kiss. The sound of his son’s laughter was sweet to his ears, and he smiled against Harry’s lips. “I can live with tired. How tired is tired?”

Harry walked around and settled into his own chair beside the fire in their room. The inn had set up a meal for them, and he quickly poured a glass of small beer for himself and then started eating. After several bites, he sighed and took a drink. “Fillii Autem Cor et Anima or ‘Children of the Heart and Soul’ is the name of the spell and book. It’s in the range of grey arts because it takes blood, but the whole thing is doable. You remember how tired I was with Kerrick the first few months? That tired.”

“Sounds like masses of no fun at all. I’m guessing that having this out where anyone can find it would be bad?” Draco asked as he sipped at his own beer. Vanora, Bors’ woman, brewed a much better beer, one that had an actual flavor beyond alcohol, than the brewer the fort had kept on hand. And mead, cider and frankly anything that needed to be fermented. Draco had contracted her services after the first winter because he wasn’t facing rotgut for a second. She worked with the steward every year to make sure that they had enough supplies of everything to last through the winter and into spring.

“Well, it’s going to look like something deeply weird. And having people touch it would be bad. We also need to figure out how we’re going to explain the babe. And arrange for a wet-nurse,” Harry reported between bites of food. “You know, we’re spoiled. Our cooks are much better than the ones here. And let’s not talk about their brewers.”

Snickering softly, Draco nodded. “Maybe we can look into exporting some of our beer and stuff? I know we have some very nice orchards for ciders. Isn’t Cecily expecting?”

“She is. I’m not sure if it’s Tristan’s though. Speaking of ciders, the oak forests can make some lovely casks,” Harry said with a head tilt. “And we need to make sure that we replant the oaks when our woodsmen take the trees.”

“Sounds good. And maybe we can put a few casks of that stuff the goblins like for future negotiations?” Draco suggested as he took a final sip if his beer. “I’m not too sure if the babe is his either, but she’s healthy, right?”

“I think they would like that,” Harry admitted. “She was as of the last check with me. No diseases and she carried Indus without a problem from what Agnes said.”

Kerrick came up as Harry was finishing his meal, and he offered his son a sliver of apple which he took with a smile. Draco watched his two favorite people snuggle together and settled in to enjoy his evening.

 

 

They were back from their trip to Londinium. Thanks to the portkey, the trip took only minutes, not the weeks that it would have taken them if they had traveled by horse. They had spent two days in the city and picked up a large number of goodies. The second day of their trip, he had made it a point to visit the shops he liked and arranged to have stuff delivered to the bank and then sent up to him. Some of the goods were likely going to be sold to some of the freeholds that dotted his kingdom.

Marius Honorius might have had the best known of the freeholds, but he hadn’t been the only one. When the Saxon general had fixated on Arthur, it had let the rest of the countryside ride out the invasion. Once the army was destroyed, the various communities had reached out to Arthur. The trip the see those places had been wholly separate from the one to check on the various villages. The negotiations with the freeholds had rested almost entirely on Arthur, with Draco backing him up. Arthur had managed to get most of them in on that first trip and when he had died, the rest had joined.

Now after four years under Draco’s rule, the various freeholds had been fully folded into his kingdom and were basically his nobles. It was very weird. However, those nobles all had coin, and he had stuff that could be sold in the various shops in the town that was springing up outside the castle. It would be one additional reason for his nobles to visit, one more hook he could use to tie them to him.

Galahad and Gawain had no bastards among the ladies of the fort, and neither seemed to be interested in courting anyone there. Draco was actually hoping that would change. Vanora had staked her claim to a central location for her tavern and had made sure that Bors knew that he was going to be helping her build it. The knight had given her a look like she was insane. Draco’s money was on Vanora. Bors liked his kids too much to piss of their mother.

Bors’ two eldest were apprentices, and the rest of Vanora’s kids were too young to be used as shopkeepers. Draco needed to find a few shopkeepers who were honest, willing to sell what he could give them, and look for new products to add to their stocks. And then make sure that he got his percentage of the profits.

Something to look into then.

Harry had taken to reading the book he had gotten from the goblins at every hour of the day and poking at the little ball of silver and glass they had presented him with. Their private potions lab saw constant use, and there was always a cauldron bubbling away. Draco wasn’t going to indulge his curiosity on the contents until Harry gave him access to the book and let him at the whole thing.

While all of this was going on, he was holding court, training, and working with Salazar to make sure that, in case of invasion, he knew and could set the many little traps that would fuck people up. He had a great deal of fun working on that. Draco had honestly figured that he finally knew why the Weasley twins had done what they did. It was incredibly freeing to think of ways to be an arsehole to people.

Salazar was using the practice of the castle to work out what he wanted for the school. Draco had declined the moving staircases, but had accepted the secret passageways. He had declined the animated armor, and taken the reinforced front gate. So, his castle was mostly mundane, at least in looks. Anyone with the least bit of mage sight could see the spells woven into the very fabric of the place.

Three months after their trip to Londinium, Harry handed him the book, and he had to work his reading into his own schedule. Then he started to brew the potions needed. It took him a few times, but he managed to get it right. Comparing his potion to Harry’s, they were identical. He slapped his in stasis and set it aside. Cleaning up his mess, he took the time to survey their rooms. They had a bedroom and an outer sitting room again, along with a further outer room where they could hold meetings. The room looked to be very private, but it really wasn’t.

His office and Harry’s was also on the same floor with their potions lab, which was tucked into an alcove off his lover’s office, and an extension charm was laid into the stones themselves. It let them lock the area and also take advantage of the quirk of the architecture to expand it to fit their needs. Upstairs, the nursery for the royal children were located off what would have been the Queen’s quarters.

Guin was not living up there. She was on the floor below them. So the Queen’s quarters were doubling as the playrooms and classrooms for his son and the other children of the knights. It meant that all the kids were going to be literate, with at least the basics of a general education. For the kids who had magic, there were additional lessons from the four. Helga had cornered him to thank him for the opportunity to practice what they were eventually planning on doing later.

Draco didn’t have the heart to tell her that he was the one who was honored to see them teaching his son his letters. Salazar was having fun with teaching the kids the skills they would need when they started learning potions, Godric was laying the basis for transfiguration and Guin, or Rowena as she was known in class, was showing the kids how to love learning for its own sake. Helga kept taking the kids outside to help her with the gardens she had laid out. They were functional and full of things that could either be eaten or used in medicines.

Every day, his son came home tired, happy and full of the things he had learned from each of his teachers, and he shared it all with them. Even with all the things that he had to do, with all the responsibilities that had piled onto his shoulders over the last few years, he took the time to spend every evening with his son. He was never going to let his son think that he wasn’t as important as the kingdom he was going to inherit one day.

Walking out of Harry’s office, he made his way to their bedroom. He wasn’t expecting to see Harry there, but his lover had the small bauble made of glass and goblin silver in his hands. His magic surged inside of him and he made his way over to his lover. “I think it’s time. What do you think?”

Harry set it aside to slide into his arms, and Draco could feel the magic that tied them together surge again. “Yeah, I think it’s time. The potions lab?”

“It’s the safest place in the whole castle,” Draco agreed. “And the potion we need for this is there.”

Harry nodded and brushed a kiss over his lips before picking up the physical embodiment of their hope for a larger family. The trip back to the potions lab was silent, but not awkward. The stone they were using for the base was solid and attached to the floor, unlikely to move even in the worst of events. It was out of sight of the window, and he grabbed the potion as Harry settled the womb in place.

The spell needed to start the child was actually pretty easy to do. The potion was added, the blood was produced and the whole thing was infused with their magic. Holding each other, they watched the little ball sit. It stayed dark and still for several moments before there was a bloom of dark rose colored light from within. The blessing they had asked for was coming alive before their eyes.

It took time for them to pull themselves away from their little miracle. It was too soon to see anything, but the pulse of the light in the glass was moving as fast as a hummingbird’s wings. He couldn’t feel the drain on his magic yet, but he knew it was coming based off the information the book had given them.

The walk back to their room was silent, but filled with a great deal of satisfaction. Draco pushed Harry against the wall next to the bed and kissed him. He wanted to celebrate the conception of their second in the best and most traditional manner possible.

He worked his hands under Harry’s shirts and slid his hands over his runes. He didn’t push his magic into them, but he pulled out of the kiss to brush his mouth against his lover’s ear. “May I?”

“You had better. But if I get up the duff from this, I will cut off parts of you and roast them,” Harry hissed.

Draco chuckled softly as he cast a series of contraception charms on them both. Nothing that would affect their pleasures, but they would make sure that his lover wouldn’t be getting pregnant. The hint of stiffness that had marred Harry’s frame melted away.

His hand moved over the runes as soon as Harry relaxed into him and pushed his magic into them. The rush of their activation brought a moan to his lover’s lips, and his cock surged with blood and he was hard so fast his head swam. Using his position, he pushed the shirts over Harry’s head, baring his chest for him to play with.

Moving Harry away from the wall, he placed him on their bed and stood between his legs. Rubbing his cock against the seam of his lover’s pants, he started worshiping at every stretch of skin that he had ever found that made him squirm. His nipples had become incredibly sensitive after the birth of their son and Harry could almost come from that alone.

He got his hands on the buckle of Harry’s belt and managed to get it undone without smacking anything important. Drawing his pants down his legs, Draco ran his mouth down his lover’s belly and nosed against his bellybutton, riding out the giggles that caused. Running his hands down Harry’s legs, he used his magic to get everything off.

As soon as the way was clear, he stepped forward and took the cock before him deep into his mouth and swallowed around it. The short sharp scream as Harry bucked his hips was worth the blocking of his air for a moment. When his lover’s hands fisted in his hair, he hummed in contentment. He adored doing this for Harry, and, from the moans, Harry was enjoying getting it.

It took several tugs before he pulled off his treat, and Draco panted into the crease of his lover’s hip. Running one finger behind Harry’s balls, he could feel that the lubrication charm had done its job and he whispered a second charm to add some lube to his own fingers as he pressed them against his lover’s ass. They sank in without pause and he shuddered at the feel. Harry shuddered as well and spread his legs as wide as he could.

When Draco grazed his prostate with the tips of his fingers and pressed, his hips snapped up. “Draco, please! Stop teasing,” Harry panted. He sounded beautifully wrecked.

He pulled his fingers free after one last press against Harry’s prostate. A quick spell cleaned his fingers and scrabbled at his own clothes. He managed to get his flies open and pushed everything down enough that he wasn’t likely to strangle his dick. A second spell got him more lube and he slathered it all over his cock, hissing at the sensation. The lube wasn’t cold, but it was cooler than the flesh he was getting slick.

A third spell cleaned his hand, and he ran his clean hands up the back of Harry’s legs and pushed them back, baring his tender pink hole for his view. Lining his cock up, he pressed against the furled bud that he was going to be sinking into. Teasing himself, he pressed and relaxed several times until Harry tensed up and tried to push back against Draco’s hands.

“No, love, let me,” he ground out.

Harry glared up at him, lips parted in what looked like a pained grimace. “I would, but you are being a teasing bastard.”

“Oh, you want this?” he asked as he slowly sank his cock into the hottest part of his lover. From the strangled scream that clawed its way out from behind Harry’s teeth, he was getting exactly what he wanted.

Draco sank in until his pubic bone pressed right against the bulge of his lover’s perineum. He rested there for a moment and then slid Harry’s legs around his waist, before leaning forward to rest his arms against his lover’s shoulders. Draco had Harry fully bracketed, and, as soon has he was comfortable, he started fucking into him, strokes long and hard.

The clenching of Harry’s muscles against him pulled a moan out of him. In retaliation, he thrust in harder and rode out the shudder that shook his lover’s frame. He could feel the burn of his orgasm starting to gather at the base of his spine, and he did his best to push it back. He wasn’t going to come until he had made Harry fall apart.

He could feel the head of Harry’s cock brushing against his stomach, and he changed his angle slightly to push everything together just a bit more. Each and every thrust made contact with Harry’s prostate and his cock glided up Draco’s stomach. Draco could feel from the clenching of Harry’s muscles that he was getting close. He drew in a deep breath and decided that the hot slick head of his lover’s cock moving against his abs was a delicious sensation.

Draco shifted, kissing his way up from his lover’s neck to his lips, and he tried to pour his feelings into what his body was doing. Pulling back, he looked down into Harry’s eyes and watched as the green eyes he adored go hazy and blank as his pleasure washed over him. Draco let his control go, and his orgasm roared forward and he came in hot pulses into his lover.

Whimpering slightly, he locked his elbows and tried not to collapse. He didn’t want to pull his cock out of where it was; the hot sheath was still rippling slightly from their shared pleasure. The feel of Harry’s nails scratching his scalp pulled him back to himself, and Draco slowly pulled his cock free before falling to the side and sliding onto the bed.

“Happy baby conception day,” Harry muttered before giggling and rolling into his side to throw one leg over Draco’s torso. All Draco could do was laugh in response. Happy day indeed.

 

 

Chapter Nine

kingarthur2

 

 

Five years had flown by very fast, Draco thought. His marriage to Guin had been officially dissolved and Harry had been named his consort in truth. The polite fiction they had been living with was over. Kerrick and his sister Amaryllis were installed as his children and heirs and all was right in his world on that front. Any children that Guin had after the date of their dissolution weren’t his.

With the five years being up, they were planning on riding north to where they had started the preparation for Hogwarts. Each of the four had spent time on their site, making sure that the ley lines in the area all gathered under the location chosen for the castle. The soon to be founders had also bonded with a number of house elves, and they were all meeting them there. Draco was certain the little guys would be able to get the castle livable quickly. Once Godric got it built anyway.

The trip up had to be done in a traditional manner since everyone knew they were going. So, off they went on horses with a lot of pack horses trailing behind. The children were staying with their nanny elf, and Vanora had promised to keep an eye on them as well.

The weather was actually cooperating for the trip out, and they rode under clear skies with nary a hint of rain. Draco was actually happy with it since it meant his farmers could get their crops in without drama. A good bumper harvest was always nice to see. And would help pad their granaries for the future.

He was using the trip out to check on the various villages on the way. Peace was apparently doing great things for the population, too. He saw a large number of children running around, and he made a mental note to send some of the healers Hufflepuff had trained around to all the villages under his control. He wanted no diseases to run through his people if he could help it.

Draco had decided that he was going to basically say ‘fuck it’ and treat the time line they were in as a whole new universe. To do otherwise would lead to him going insane from trying not to change anything. It wouldn’t work and it would just damage him if he tried, to say nothing of what it would have done to the Gryff he had fallen in love with.

Besides, doing nothing would have meant they wouldn’t have their children and there was no way he was going to pass that up.

At any rate, the trip up to where Hogwarts was to be went smoothly. He was getting a good idea of what was happening to his kingdom at a ground level, and he was spending time with his lover. The food was good, they weren’t rushing to get anywhere, and he was actually comfortable on his horse. It was as close to a vacation as he had gotten in years.

When they reached the site for the castle, Draco stared. As a child he had never noticed, but now, as an adult looking at the empty landscape, he could see why the site had been chosen. The castle would be situated so to overlook the loch lapping at its feet. The forest spread out in dark waves, but currently without the more interesting wildlife. There was no village of Hogsmeade, but there was plenty of space for it to grow up.

It was a good site. He could even see where the Express would someday run. Sprout’s green houses had been inside the walls of the school, but if he squinted… Draco pulled himself out of his memories and started pitching in with the set up for camp.

Sitting around the campfire, he watched as the house elves attached to the four worked around them. Dinner was being prepared, the tents were being raised, a portable privy was going in, and enough wood had been gathered to last the night.

“Camping on our own. Isn’t this nice?” Gawain told the group as he leaned back against the carpet-covered log the elves had placed around the fire. “And I know my cooking isn’t as good as what they are doing.”

He grandly ignored the snorts of agreement from his fellow knights. Draco muttered his agreement as well. Gawain was not to be allowed to do more than stoke the fire. Any fire.

“If I didn’t think there would be some serious screaming, I would bond with more house elves, just so we can get them to cook for us. As it is I have Tans. Harry, of course, has Nanny and Pins.”

Tristan sat forward from his spot on the outer edge of the circle and looked at Harry. “Who is Pins?”

The rest of the knights nodded, and Harry sighed. Draco shrugged his shoulder against his lover and left the decision up to him. The four had proven to be utterly trustworthy, and there was no way in any universe he could see the knights betraying him or his family.

“Pins is Kerrick’s bodyguard. He’s there just to make sure nothing and no one hurts our son,” Harry finally told them. “We can’t be with our son every moment of every day. So for the times when he isn’t with us, Pins is.”

“Good idea,” Bors grunted. “The gods know, there are a large number of arseholes running around. And a child is always vulnerable.”

“And while we’ve vetted our people pretty well, not everyone who comes to the castle is going to pass our checks,” Draco admitted. “Causing an ‘accident’ for my heir isn’t outside the realm of possibility.”

Harry nodded in agreement and then chuffed out a laugh. “You can’t kill them long distance, Guin.”

Guinevere, now Rowena, flicked her hair over her shoulder before huffing in anger. “I can lay a hex on him that will only trip if someone approaches him in anger?”

Draco shook his head. “And what happens if I walk by him after a council meeting? You know I leave those meetings more pissed off than I entered 9 times out of 10.”

Her shouters slumped and she nodded. “Okay. I can see why that would be bad. I’ll research it. See if I can come up with something intent-based instead.”

Salazar nodded as well, and Draco could see the anticipation on his face. Something was going on in that sneaky mind, and he was certain it would be painful for someone. “Just make sure whatever you come up with ramps up from a deterrent to something bad, Salazar. Going right for the fatal response, while entertaining, isn’t good in the long run,” Draco suggested.

“Spoilsport,” Salazar muttered with his eyes alight with vindictive glee. “If I figure it out?”

“And it proves to be safe?” Draco finished the thought. “Then I can see placing it. Until then, no. Kerrick will have Pins, and we’re looking for an elf for Amaryllis. Nanny will likely have a new charge next year, so if your elves have someone that they can recommend, that would be good.”

“What about having one on you or Harry?” Galahad asked from his spot next to Gawain. It was typical of them to be within arm’s reach of each other every chance they got.

Draco was of the private opinion that the two of them needed to find a nice girl to put between them because they were as bonded as he and Harry were. Or, more likely, like Arthur and Lancelot had been. If they had a wife, it might help with the last bit of broodiness they both seemed to have.

“Stop matchmaking,” Harry hissed at him from where he was smuggled into his side.

“It’s been six years since we got here,” Draco muttered back. “How much longer do you think it will take them?”

“A lot less time than you think,” Harry informed him, voice even quieter as he used English. “They’re dating a girl in town.”

“Finally. Her family knows it’s the two of them, right?’ Draco asked.

“Yup. And they know that you approve of the union because they introduced me the last time I went down to check on Indus,” Harry told him.

“How’s the kid?” Draco asked, dropping back into the local language they had spent so long learning. English, while secure, was also fairly rude. He tried not to shove their origins to the fore any more than he had to. But getting the straight skinny on those two was too tempting to pass up.

“Enjoying being an older brother and looking forward to getting a wand of his own. He’s interested in going to the school when it opens,” Harry told him.

Godric looked up from his own spot and blinked a few times, obviously pulling his attention back from wherever it had been. “If I can get the basic building up tomorrow, our elves can finish the insides within weeks. Once that’s done, we can be ready for students with the fall.”

Bors and Tristan both grunted in satisfaction, and Draco hummed. That still fit the timeline in his head. The one person who had been quiet finally spoke up.

“Harry, I know you’ve got Renfry at the level of a journeyman, but have you figured out who he’s to go to for his mastery level classes?” Hufflepuff asked as she sat knitting something.

Of the four, she was the most baffling to Draco. She reminded him of Molly Weasley at times, but she seemed to have much more sense. Plus, a rather nice habit of not smothering everyone who came into her range with her presence. But she still tried to feed everyone in reach, made knitted things, and had the mothering touch the other woman had. It was creepy.

Harry stared over at Helga and then looked at Bors. “He’s your son, Bors. Do you want any say in this? Because I’m sure not going to make any arrangements that you and his mother don’t agree to.”

The knight looked up from his drink and shook his head. “Lad’s damn near grown. I just want him to be happy and remember to visit his mother every once in a while.”

“Then I would say that if he agrees, Helga, you can invite him to stay,” Harry agreed. “We’ll get together to talk about what his strengths and weaknesses are after we get the castle up.”

The pop of an elf arriving shut down talk for a moment, and the little creature looked at Rowena. “Cookie has dinner finished, milady. We serves it at table?”

“That sounds grand,” Rowena agreed with a clap of her hands.

Draco stood up and offered his hands to his lover and pulled him up firmly. Dinner was going to be one more thing to add to his list of good things about the trip. Someone else was cooking and definitely cleaning, because he was wretched at them and had never improved, no matter how many times the knights had tried. Camping was always more fun when he wasn’t expected to help with the mundane things.

 

 

The next morning dawned cool and clear. Breakfast was provided by the elves and everyone ate heartily. The sun had been up for an hour by the time they were ready to begin.

Godric settled on a spot on the rise and thrust both hands in the soil before him. Salazar stood behind him, hands on his shoulders, getting ready to feed him power as needed. Harry was behind him with Draco bringing up the rear. If it took the power of the four of them to do this, Draco was going to be horrified and impressed.

The site the mage had settled on directly overlooked the loch. The cliffs leading to the water were sheer, and before Godric started to work, there was no way down. The first flush of power from the mage pulled a seam of water up from the loch, through the rock, and carved a set of stairs down to it on the face of the cliff. The next pulse capped the water and formed a small fountain. A third pulse ran a series of pipes through the ground where the castle was to sit.

Draco had always wondered how the castle got water. Now he knew. They had talked about how to deal with waste, and he and Harry had made a case for a deep borehole to hit far enough down to incinerate it thanks to the heat of the Earth. Baffles and various other things made sure that the noxiousness that was endemic to things of the sanitary nature were filtered through many tens of feet of rock and soil. A second set of shafts were designed to pull heat up from the earth going straight down from the castle. Hogwarts had always been chilly, but not frozen, even in the depths of winter. Magic after all, could only do so much to overcome weather and a building made of stone. He wasn’t sure that they would be able to put enough fireplaces in to make the place warm if they didn’t use the heat of the Earth.

Once the basics were done, Godric moved onto the foundation. Draco could tell because the ground started to heave as the stones rearranged themselves. The shaking was intense, and he gestured Rowena over with a jerk of his head.

“Something tells me this is going to get worse before it gets better,” he called out to her. The noise was increasing and so was the movement of the ground. “Get the knights and our horses off the promontory.”

All she did was nod back before heading down to make sure the rest of their party stayed safe. As soon as they were out of range, she and Helga linked hands and raised a shield around the area. The small pebbles that had been rolling downhill stopped against it.

Godric was sweating, and Harry had his hands clamped to Salazar’s shoulders. The soil that had filled the space in with the foundations vanished and reappeared against the shield. The newly exposed basement and foundations looked an awful lot like the pictures he had seen of the muggle Colosseum. Just in better shape.

Draco kept an eye on the sun, and it was almost at its zenith when Godric pulled his hands free of the soil. The basement was fully done and the stone floors, or at that point ceilings, had started levering themselves into place to cover the arches. It was like watching a puzzle be put together by an invisible giant.

“Godric? How are you?” Draco asked as he signaled Rowena to cut the shield. The pile of dirt from the foundations shifted and he could hear the sound of it sliding. At least it was far enough away from anything important, he thought.

“I’m fucking tired,” Godric admitted. “I hope the elves have food ready. Because I’m going to make their day by eating everything.”

“Then you are napping, Godric,” Salazar muttered. “Because I’m tired, too, and I’ll be eating just as much as you will.”

Draco turned to look at Harry and relaxed slightly at the wave he got. “I’m good. Neither of them had started to draw from me, but Salazar was shaking pretty hard there towards the end. Help me make sure the two of them make it to camp without killing themselves?”

Snorting lightly Draco walked over and pulled Godric up. The walk over to where Rowena and Helga had been standing was complicated as he and Harry figured out how to carry their charges around the masses of dirt. The six of them then staggered down to the camp, and, true to their words, the men both ate everything they could get their hands on. The elves were thrilled that both wizards were finally eating what they thought of as proper meals. Snickering softly at the sight, Draco managed to eat until he was stuffed and then headed out for a walk.

Making his way back up the hill, he saw that the knights were all gathered around the pit that was housing the finished stonework. Walking up to them, he heard them muttering in the language of their childhood and he left them too it. Magic might let him translate anything, but common courtesy meant that he wasn’t going to stick his nose in.

Turning his back on them, he looked over the length of the loch. He had to wonder if the giant squid was in it? Were there merpeople in there? When had the forest changed from the typical Scottish forest to something that belonged in a muggle horror movie? He had so many questions, and he wasn’t too sure that he would ever get the answers.

“Draco.”

Twisting around, he turned to stare at the men behind him. “What can I do for you?”

Bors waved his hand the evidence of destruction and construction. “Can my son do this? My daughter? The rest of my kids; who I know that you’ve marked as being like you?”

Oh, shite. Well. It had taken him six years to ask the question, and Draco owed it to the man to answer honestly. Taking a deep breath, he spread his hands and tried to look sincere. “No. Your children are magically talented, but Godric Gryffindor is… Well, to use a comparison that makes the most sense, he’s like a Knight of the Round Table in his skills. Your kids are more like one of the guardsmen. Talented, even very talented, but not at the extreme level that you and your cohorts are.”

All four of the surviving knights frowned. Tristan was the only one with active magic. The other three weren’t really Squibs, but they weren’t magical enough to attract the attention of a teacher. Their children, as evidenced by Bors, all had a very good chance of being more magical than their parents.

Of the twelve kids he had, eight of them were magical enough for schooling. The other four were at the same level Bors was, magical, but not magical enough for anything special. Well, if they didn’t have Harry around them. He was going to make sure that those four kids got at least the basics of hedge witchery. It would let them brew potions and do some simple magics that had always proven to be useful to their communities.

“So, they can’t do this?” Bors asked as he walked over to the edge of the pit to look in.

Draco walked up to the edge as well and saw that the foundation was level with the soil. The center of the space was filled with the flagstone flooring. He could see that what he had thought were arches were actually barrel vaults that had the pipes and the like running alongside. He had no idea what Godric was doing with the base of the castle, but he had to trust the man that he knew what he was doing.

“No, they can’t do this. At best they might be able to put small things together like furniture or something similar. The level of work that Godric is doing is beyond them, both in power and knowledge. He spent years learning how to do this and not burn himself out,” Draco tried to reassure him. “I’m sure he could teach the small skills, but this is just beyond them.”

“Good. This much power is very disturbing. Because no one should have that much power,” Bors mumbled as he poked the shaft of his axe at the joins of the stones.

“You understand, this isn’t just Gryffindor, right?” Draco asked as he looked at his men. “He’s the one providing the direction and skill for sure and certain. But much of the power behind this is coming from Slytherin, Harry and myself, plus Godric. It’s going to take all four of us to build the shell of the castle. The ladies are keeping you safe by having a shield up, but the rest of us are only concerned with getting the major parts of the buildings up. Once that’s up, the elves will start working on the innards of the place under the ladies eyes.”

Tristan nodded and reached into the pouch at his waist to pull out an apple and a knife. Slicing off a sliver he carefully ate a bite before offering some to Bors. “Will my sons be at this level?”

“We don’t know,” Draco admitted. “We’ve got a decent idea about the rest of Bors’ kids, but one of them might surprise us. The rest of the children who show the spark of magic haven’t gotten any in-depth training and so we can’t really say what’s going on with them. That’s one reason why Guin and her friends are putting together this school. So they can make sure that all the kids who have magic can be trained. So they can have an ethical foundation on how to use, or not use the power they have.”

“Good. I’d hate to have to hunt my kids,” Tristan told him. “My training stopped when I was fourteen, but I knew what I was and wasn’t supposed to do with it.”

“So are we good?” Draco asked as he looked at Galahad and Gawain.

“You’ll keep an eye on any children we have?” Galahad asked as he looked at his partner and then at him.

Draco nodded. “Oh, yeah. We’re going to be keeping an eye on every single kid in our reach.”

“Good. If you and Harry are helping provide the power for this, you need to at least try to rest,” Gawain spoke up.

Draco chuckled slightly and bowed his head in acceptance. “I’ll get some rest. You four try not to freak out.”

The looks the four men gave him were as insulted as a wet cat, and he giggled all the way down the hill.

 

 

Midafternoon brought the four wizards back up to the top of the promontory, and the two witches had the shield up before anything started.

Godric sat down again and thrust his hands back into the soil. Salazar, instead of standing, knelt behind his friend and put his hands back on his shoulders. Harry took the standing position behind Slytherin again, and Draco went back to supporting his lover.

“Ready gentlemen?” Godric asked as he took in a series of deep breaths. At the sounds of assent, he relaxed back into the ground and picked the magic up again.

The invisible giant picked up the next pieces of the floor and started fitting them into place. Once the floor was finished, the walls started to grow in fits and starts. The central core of the tower went up first and then the outer shell. For a long time, nothing seemed to change, but Draco could feel Harry stagger as Godric started drawing on him.

He could only guess at what was happening inside the castle. He was betting the various floors were being put into place, the staircases, and the classrooms. He could see the basics of the castle he had known in his childhood taking shape, but there was still so much to go.

The castle wasn’t the tower that he had thought it would be. It was a large rectangle with the round towers at the corners. He looked up and smiled at the familiar façade that was appearing through Godric’s magic. As he watched, he saw the stone that made up the roof slotting into place. He had no idea how long the whole thing was taking, but he finally felt the tug on his magic about the same time the last roof piece was locked into place.

Draco relaxed into the tug and let his magic flow into Godric. He didn’t try to direct it, just let the man have access to the power he needed to complete the castle. Closing his eyes, he watched as his power was moved through the earth and directed around the castle itself. The wall was high, thick, and strong enough to protect a school full of children who only wanted to learn magic.

When the draw on his core slowed to a trickle, he opened his eyes to see that the walls he had seen in his mind’s eye had been made fact. The only thing missing from the whole place was the glass for the windows and the metalwork. Godric had only worked with stone. They would need to figure out how to use their magic to get the metal and wood gates they would need.

The trickle died off, and he took a step back and tried to breathe. “Wow.”

Godric was leaning back against Salazar, and they were both staring up at what they had wrought. “Well, fuck me. Look what we did, Sal.”

Slytherin chuckled softly and hugged his friend. “It’s magnificent. And it will be more so once the rest of us get to put our stamps on it, too.”

“Just make sure that nothing that you do can hurt the kids,” Godric muttered as his head rolled back on the shoulder behind him.

“They won’t be hurt. But I want to make sure that if we need to, the castle can help us defend the children,” Salazar murmured as he worked his arms around the other man. “And I don’t care about invaders. They can all fucking die if they try to hurt anyone I like.”

“Works for me,” Gryffindor mumbled before passing out.

“Jackarse. Draining yourself down to dregs,” Salazar bitched quietly. “Can one of you two please send a burst of blue light up to let the ladies know that we’re done and could use some help?”

The look Harry gave him was exhausted, and Draco nodded. Pulling his kingwood wand out, he got the burst of light out. He could feel the strain of it pushing against his core. What would have been done without a thought that morning made him ache after the pulls on his core in the afternoon.

Looking over at the empty gatehouse, he sat down on the ground, waiting on the ladies to come and fetch them. Instead of the women though, three of his knights made their way over to them.

“So, I’m guessing you overdid it?” Galahad asked as he grabbed the hand that Draco held out and helped heave him back up on his feet.

Staggering slightly with exhaustion, he nodded. “Oh, yeah. We pushed it just a bit too far. But trying to complete it all tomorrow would have meant that we would have basically had a seam in the middle of the castle. It wouldn’t have been good.”

“If you say so,” Galahad told him as he moved over to Harry.

His partner was basically passed out on the ground, and he sighed. Yeah, they had overdone it.

Each of his knights snorted in amusement before heaving the three unconscious men over their shoulders. “Think you can walk, sire?” Gawain asked as he shrugged Salazar’s unconscious body into a better position.

“You are not funny,” Draco muttered as he started staggering toward the exit.

“We’re hilarious,” Bors grunted as he managed Godric’s larger frame.

“You’re all arseholes.”

The laughter that followed was warming, even if he felt like shite.

 

 

It took two days for them to feel recovered enough to stagger back up to the castle. The house elves had fallen all over themselves to take care of the exhausted magic users. Food, potions and pampering had been the word of the day, and Draco wasn’t too proud to admit that he had wallowed in it.

Walking back up the slope, he saw that the gatehouse was still empty. That would need to be fixed before the school started. Maybe see if he could get the goblins to craft them?

The courtyard was dominated by the castle itself. Large steps led up to the main door leading into the interior of the structure, and he could see the giant wooden slabs in his mind’s eye. Again, something that would have to be dealt with and soon. “Maybe you need to contract with the goblins to get the gates and the doors?”

Salazar waved a hand in dismissal. “I set that up when I went to Londinium. It’s why I made sure that you followed the plans for the size we agreed on and didn’t go any larger.”

“You are pushy, you know that Salazar?” Helga asked as she poked at the dirt of the courtyard. Most of the space was strictly dirt, but the area in front of the doors was set with flagstones to form a flat area. The rest of the area in the walls still showed the natural lay of the land.

“If I wasn’t pushy, we would be years away from this point, Helga. And who knows when we would have our first class? Milord Pendragon has been willing to sponsor us for the last five years and now he’s helped us construct the castle we will be doing that in.” Salazar threw his arms out and spun around to draw her attention to the place they were in. “Overstaying our welcome would not have been wise.”

“And I’m going to be sending you your first class of students. But you need to get the castle ready for it,” Draco observed. “Where’s the ward stone for this place?”

“In the lowest levels of the castle,” Godric told him. “We’ll be waking and marrying it to the ley lines tonight. But the worst of this is done. Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”

Something in Draco’s heart sang at the sound of the words. The best home he had ever known before he fell in love with Harry was back in the same world that he was in. One more piece of his reality had just slotted into place.

 

Chapter Ten

lh-stonehenge

One hundred years was an extraordinary length of time to have lived, Draco Malfoy, known as Pendragon, thought. To have lived as long as he had, he had seen an amazing number of events.

Hogwarts was a shining example of hope for the future of the magical world. The four founders were still kicking and teaching class after class of children. He and Harry had even closer ties to the founders than they had had while sponsoring them. Their son Kerrick had married the oldest daughter of Godric and Rowena.

Salazar had already been married when Hogwarts had been raised. The entire time he had been with them, he had kept quiet about his spouse. When she had shown up, Draco had completely understood why. Daughters of Cesare, even if they came from the wrong side of the blanket were boons in status to whomever they were married to. If things had gone wrong for Salazar, having her be totally unknown would have protected her and their children. And they did have some. When she arrived, she had several with her, and in their years at the school, they had produced even more.

Draco had laughed like a loon when he had gotten the announcement that Godric’s oldest boy, Geoffrey had married Salazar’s only daughter. Verdiana was a viper and a vicious one at that. Geoffrey had been panting after the girl since he started noticing that girls existed. Draco and Tristan thought it was cute. Harry just thought they were twisted little bastards who liked to make everyone around them choke.

Helga had married far later than her friends and had one set of twins. Unlike the rest of them, her spouse hadn’t lasted long. But she hadn’t killed him. Neither, to the best of Draco’s knowledge, had anyone else. The man had gone home to his village and had caught a nasty case of dead when he had tripped over something and snapped his neck. Helga hadn’t been too broken up about it though. He firmly wasn’t thinking about that.

His knights had prospered and added to the population as well. After seventy years on the throne, they were all dead, but they had all lived full and wonderful lives.

Bors had managed to sweet talk Vanora into marriage after years of tap dancing around the issue. Draco and Harry had a private bet going that the family was the start for the Weasley’s. The red hair was hard to miss. They had never managed to confirm if their supposititious had been right, but it had still been fun to try to pick out the possible relationships to people they had known. Even if the Weasley matriarch had been an utter bitch at the end.

Gawain and Galahad had managed woo their lady, and Harry had found her sweet but surprisingly uncomplicated. Draco had taken her at face value and hadn’t tried to get anything more out of her. His knights had been happy enough with her and with each other. Their kids and grandkids were all mostly happy little things with wicked edges to their minds and tempers. And their forefathers’ skill in battle.

Tristan only had the two boys with Cecily and had never seemed to be interested in anything further. When Draco had asked Harry about him, he had been advised to let him be. He wasn’t going to try to remember everything Harry had hammered home about a person being asexual but still interested in having children.

“Contemplating our friends?” Harry asked as he leaned against the doorjamb.

“Contemplating how different things are from what I remember of English history when I was a kid,” Draco admitted. “I don’t remember hearing that Helga Hufflepuff had ever married or had children, for one. And I think the knights never had children in the history Binns tried to teach us.”

“I never heard anything about Slytherin’s wife,” Harry confided. “Hermione looked into the Gaunts and Salazar when we were running around sixth year and found the relationship to be tenuous at best. In that time line, Salazar never brought his wife here from Rome. Only one of his children came here and Salazar died a bitter, nasty old bastard who thought putting a basilisk in a school was a good idea.”

Draco held up one finger and tried not to smile at the huff it got him. “In his favor, he’s really good with the dangerous beasties. Reminds me of a more normal-sized Hagrid.”

“Uh-huh. I know he is. Which is why there is a village of merpeople in the loch,” Harry bitched as he waved the latest letter from the school at him.

“Is that James’ most recent letter?” Draco asked as he reached for their grandson’s missive.

“It is. Kerrick already read it and spent most of the morning laughing as I bitched about it,” Harry huffed out on a laugh. “He has far too much of your sense of humor, love.”

The glow of pride at the thought of their firstborn was warm and soft now. Kerrick was almost seventy and had taken over most of the day-to-day work of the kingdom. They had a plan in the works, but Draco was waiting on a reply from Godric before putting it into play. Time was starting to weigh on them both, and they wanted some time outside the pressure-cooker that was being king and consort.

Their son was a grandfather several times over and a very capable knight in his own right. Unlike his uncles, he didn’t enjoy battle for its own sake. He enjoyed the forms and the traditions, but not the blood. Tristan, in his last years, had complimented them on raising a child who didn’t have that broken bit inside. Galahad and Gawain had agreed before they had died.

Bors had been the first to go when he had died about ten years after his marriage to Vanora, but he had always had soft spots for the children of his friends. Dagonet’s son, Tristan’s kids, and the tribe that Galahad and Gawain had produced had always been indulged by the big man.

Draco had been absurdly happy when their children had been included in the rough affection Bors had doled out. Kerrick was his first child and he always seemed to have an extra bit of something for him. He had done his best not to treat him any different than he did their other kids, but he wasn’t sure how well he had done. “He’s a good blend of the both of us, Harry. It could be worse. He could have come out and been like my father.”

“We’ve had this discussion,” Harry reminded him as he carefully walked over to his chair. “If we had managed to produce your father, or even mine, we would have done our best to warp the kid back to something closer to normal. Snotty arrogance and insane mischief weren’t needed in their childhoods!”

The shudder that racked Draco’s frame wasn’t feigned. After the four had left to establish Hogwarts, the war that had been brewing with the Saxons had exploded again. The school had hidden itself behind a series of shields and baffles, trusting in them to keep the place safe. No one had gotten near them, and Draco had taken advantage of that several times to send the children there for refuge.

Because their castle hadn’t faired quite as well. The fortifications had been put to the test on several harrowing occasions. Plus the fields surrounding it had gotten watered with the blood of their enemies more far more often than he wanted to think about. Every time that happened, the next year’s crops had come up especially well though.

But no matter how hard the Saxons tried, they had never been able to break through. Draco and Harry had both earned the name Pendragon on that campaign. They had taken to the skies in their animagus forms and used them to harry, harass and frighten the army before their gates. It had worked, and the Saxons had run back to their boats, screaming of the dragons that Draco had under control in his kingdom.

When the kingdoms to the south had gotten restless, Harry had taken to flying over the skies of the castle to reinforce the rumors. Draco would often join him and they would play tag in the sky. On those afternoons, they would land and disappear to their rooms for a well-deserved romp. Peace had stayed the way of the land for a number of years due to that.

“Well, the kids are a bit arrogant,” Draco allowed. “And they have a fair amount of mischief going. I mean, who else would spike the knights’ cider with that applejack that you made? Just to see them act like arses.”

The snicker that broke out between Harry’s lips was still one of the cutest things that he had ever heard. Draco smiled at the memory, even if, at the time, he had wanted to tan the hide off the children responsible. The knights had all had hangovers that had lasted days. Because the kids had taken it one step further and hidden the cure. Evil little shites.

“I don’t think the knights ever forgave them for that. And I know that when I went to help Indus with Tristan at the end, he still had some of the hangover cure stashed away. Just in case.” Harry smiled in memory. “Did you manage to start the process to get Tristan’s family on their way to being Ancient and Noble?”

“Tristan had a great deal more wealth than anyone gave him credit for, and he banked it with Gringotts. Indus has managed that well and has started branching out into other things to make more money.” Draco shrugged. “He’s got a title, and I figure that if the family is even a tenth as clever as Tristan and Indus, they’ll make it soon.”

“The first incarnations of the Wizengamot seem to be forming in Londinium, and Renfry has been asking me to come down to sit one of the sessions. He wants to see if getting the greatest Merlin to grace them with his presence will give it a bit more legitimacy.” Harry leaned forward to take a cup off the tray that appeared in front of them. Nanny had graduated to their personal chef and was constantly trying to get them to eat.

They indulged her fussy nature a lot.

“Do you want to go?” Draco asked.

“No. They need to do this without me propping them up.” Harry sighed.

“Will you be okay with us retiring to Hogwarts?” Draco asked as he looked out the windows they had put in only twenty years before. They had both agreed that the danger was low enough to take the risk by then. The glass was mage-glass and was weather tight, but would let a mail owl through. Like the one making its way over the parapets to them.

Just like he had for the last seventy years, Harry followed his lead and stared out the glass as well. “Looks like we may have an answer to that. But yes, I would like to take a step or two back from Camelot.”

The owl glided through the window without a pause and took up a spot on the roost they had set up just for them. Tans was still with them, and he popped in to take the letter clutched in the bird’s claws. A snap of his fingers filled the treat and water bowls, and the bird started eating greedily.

“Master Draco, yous and Master Harry going to Hogwarts?” Tans asked as he handed the letter off.

“If Gryffindor agreed, yes,” Draco told their number one elf. Tans hadn’t changed in the years that he had been tied to his magic. It spoke well of the bond between them that his elf had stayed healthy and spry, no matter what life threw at them. “We’ll want you there of course.”

Tans wriggled in pleasure and started straightening the already spotless room. Draco wasn’t going to call the little guy on it though. If he was in his position, he would want to know, too. Breaking the seal, he saw that Rowena had written the reply and her first word took up most of the first third of the page.

“I would say that Rowena wants us there,” he told Harry, voice dry and amused as he turned it around so his lover could see. The giant “YES!” was a good indicator that they were welcome.

Harry snorted in laughter and nodded. “Gee, looks like. Tans, I think you can start packing.”

The high-pitched squeal of agreement brought a smile to Draco’s face, too. Opening the bottom third of the letter, he saw that Godric had added a postscript. It seemed that he was in agreement with his wife. They had a place in Hogwarts and the founders wanted them, both for their friendship, and to press them into teaching some classes.

Laughing lightly at the irony, he folded it back up. They were off to their next adventure.

 

 

They had been at the castle for six months. The adventure had been… exhausting. Kerrick had taken the crown of Camelot and the turnover had been as smooth as they could wish. From all the reports they were getting from friends and family still there, the kingdom was thriving. Putting the letter with the news away, he got ready for bed.

Draco climbed into bed behind Harry and snuggled in. He had spent the day with some of the seventh years, getting them ready for life outside the walls of their school. It wasn’t going to be the same as it was inside, after all, and the kids needed to know that. Some of them were going to go back to their families, take up their trades and make lives. Others would be going on to apprenticeships or even the forming universities that were starting to take magical students. While still others would be taking up their positions as heirs to the various levels of peerage across Britain. It was interesting to see how things were working out.

He was tired. The tired that came from having worked, done things and lived fully. Smiling softly, he kissed the nape of the love of his life’s neck and fell asleep.

 

 

Waking up, he wasn’t in Hogwarts. He wasn’t in Camelot. And he wasn’t in the body of a man who was just over one-hundred-years old. Draco looked down at his body and cursed. He was in the same body and same clothes that they had come back through time in.

Looking around, he tried to figure out where he was. And where Harry was. From the lintel stones, he was back at Stonehenge. Draco didn’t take the time to try to get away, he just started searching the site for his lover. Following the warmth of the bond that he had been living with for most of his life, he zeroed in on Harry’s position.

Standing over Harry when he came around the bluestone was an androgynous figure in white. The flick of his wrist was instinctive, and his hand was filled with the sword that he had carried for more than seventy years. “Who are you? What have you done to him?”

“Peace, Pendragon. Your mate is safe,” the figure told him. Frowning he tried to remember where he had heard that voice but it kept slipping away. Warm and calm, it flowed out and was neither male nor female, but both at once. “You have a choice.”

“We’ve always had choices, whoever you are,” Draco snarled and made his way over to Harry. Dropping to one knee, he tried to see what was causing his lover to sleep.

Like himself, Harry had been dressed in the clothes they had arrived to the past in. He appeared to be as young as Draco was and yet was sleeping soundly. The flick to return the sword to his bracelet was quick, and he pulled Harry up and over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry. The movement took only moments, and he got his wand out next. If the sword wasn’t going to do it, maybe that would.

“Good, Pendragon. Much better. You have a choice,” the figure told him again.

“What choice?” he asked, voice heavy with dread.

“Your mate was right. When you went through my fairy ring here at Stonehenge, you slipped between worlds and moved to one where you two were needed to set into motion a change to history. Magic grows and flourishes there. Your line has lived for more than a thousand years and your names are honored.”

Draco took a deep breath and tried not to scream. “We’re no longer there, are we?”

The figure shook its head. “No. You are, for the moment, nowhere.”

He wasn’t going to be facing this on his own any more. Firing a controlled burst of magic down their bond, he forced Harry to wake up. Ignoring the swearing, he let Harry slide off his shoulder and turned him around to face the figure before them.

“Harry, meet the personification of Magic. They’re offering us a choice,” Draco started to explain to him. “We’re back to right before we went to the alternate universe and lived for seventy-odd years, had kids and lives.”

“We’re back there?” Harry asked, voice breaking slightly.

Draco nodded. He knew exactly why his lover’s voice had broken. Kerrick, Amaryllis, and all their children were in that other universe. Depending on their choices, they might never get to see them again. “Looks like you were right on where we landed, by the way.”

“Goodie,” his lover told him dryly. Turning to look at Magic, he moved forward, wand at the ready. “And what are our choices?”

Magic nodded at them and spread their hands to the spaces between the lintel stones. The first space lit with a white light. “You can go back to where you were. You will live out your natural life there and die within minutes of each other. You will pass into myth and legend. In the fullness of time, you may be reborn to find each other again.”

Turning to the second lintel, the light wasn’t quite as bright and threating shapes moved within. Draco shivered at the sight. “You can go back to the world that you were born in. You will have to deal with the darkness that infests it, and there are no guarantees that your lives will not be cut short. But you will be the rallying point for all of the light to gather around and fight.”

“Will we win there?” Draco asked.

“There are no guarantees,” Magic said, voice level.

Draco looked at the two choices before them and sighed. He knew what he wanted. But was it what Harry wanted? Turning to look at his lover, he saw that the green eyes that he loved so much were bright with agreement. Nodding, he reached down and took the smooth hand that he had held in his for a lifetime, and took a deep breath.

Turning to the lintel of their choice, they stepped through.

 

Restoration Part Two

Part One

Chapter Four

KING ARTHUR, Clive Owen, 2004, (c) Touchstone

Draco sipped at his wine and tried not to grimace at the taste. Vinegar tasted better. Handing the goblet back to Tans, he waited as the little elf quickly mulled it with sweet herbs and spices and a generous dollop of sugar. It was a much more palatable drink when he got it back. “Thank you, Tans.”

From the way the little elf’s ears moved, he was pleased with the praise. Draco was certainly pleased to have him there. Within hours of accepting the bond, Tans had organized their rooms, gotten their laundry done and was working on their armor. He hadn’t felt so spoiled in months.

He set the goblet aside and picked up his sword again. The lumos he had cast earlier was still glowing over his head and Draco used the steady light to check the edge on the blade. Straight and pure, the razor finish he was putting on the sword went all the way to the tip with no hesitations or curls. Both edges showed sharp and clean when he inspected them. No chips.

Next to the sword, he had the blade’s sheath. Cleaning the leather and metal contraption was not easy. A clean rag threaded through a metal rod and dusted with oil and he was ready to condition the inside. Draco kept stuffing the rod down the length of the sheath with new rags until one finally come back clean. Only then did the outside of the leather get treated and the blade slid inside. He had no intention of letting the leather rot or the blade rust.

Tans had apparently finished with the mail and moved onto Draco’s plate armor. He wore a combination of the two in battle since they covered different areas in different ways. But no matter what he wore, it was bloody heavy. And feather-light charms didn’t last due to the energy for them coming from his core. Exhaustion played hell on charms.

The bond he shared with Harry was slowly feeling thicker, as if he was getting nearer. Harry was exhausted from what Draco could tell, but he also seemed to be rather ecstatic. So whatever he and Merlin had done, it had gone well. When the feeling of his lover’s presence seemed to be within the fort, he cleared his throat.

“Tans, please get a hot bath together. My bonded mate is going to be arriving soon,” Draco directed.

“Master wants Tans to get good smelling soaps, too? Tans knows where to find some,” the house elf asked as he set the plate armor aside.

“Not now, Tans, we have some. Just get a hot bath with plenty of water together. And maybe a bath sheet or two,” he said as he waved at the trunk at the foot of their bed. Rather than carrying all their toiletries around, they had commissioned the trunk just for that purpose.

“Okay. Tans gets,” the little elf agreed before snapping his fingers and one of the deep tubs that the laundry used appeared. The elf peeked in the wooden vessel and huffed. “Humans is so messy!”

Draco smothered a chuckle at the disgust in Tans’ voice. From the impatient snap of his fingers, the house elf was less than pleased. A second snap brought water in and filled the tub. He could feel the clammy cold of it before Tans stuck his finger in and it started to warm. “Can master tell Tans if water is warm enough?”

Getting up, Draco appreciated how much warmer the mass of water made their room. Dipping his hand in, he sighed in pleasure. “That’s perfect, Tans. Excellent job.”

The elf wriggled his ears and went to the chest for soaps. As he was poking through the various bottles, the door to their room opened and Harry walked in looking tired, but elated. As soon as he got a look at the room, his lover stopped.

“What have you been up to?” Harry asked as he dropped his backpack on the bench by the door. “And how did you get the tub in here?”

“Tans do! Master Draco’s mate is stinky and needs a bath!” the elf called from the chest. “Does Master Draco’s mate like sandalwood or unscented?”

Harry looked at the ears wriggling over the chest and goggled. Draco was incredibly amused by how surprised his mate was. When Harry pointed at the elf, Draco just shrugged. “He said he felt us, and that I needed him first.”

“Master Draco was lonely and needed Tans. Master Draco’s mate had a house elf before?” Tans asked as he took the sandalwood soap out and set it beside the tub. “Water cools, Master Draco’s mate.”

“My name is Harry, Tans. And I had an elf many years ago,” his lover told their new servant.

Draco sighed softly. They had discussed Dobby and how he had died not long after they had started dating. None of those discussions had led him to believe that Harry wouldn’t be able to handle the reality of Tans. And where Tans was, more elves were sure to follow. It was just a fact of life when a house elf tied itself to your family magic.

“He’s been very helpful,” Draco offered as he walked up to his tower and kissed him hello. Harry tasted of something roasted, as if he had grabbed a bite of meat on the way past the kitchens.

“They always are,” Harry sighed into his mouth, before dropping one last kiss on his lips and moving away. He made his way over to the tub and dipped a hand in. At the feel of how warm the water was, a tension Draco could barely see seemed to melt away from the smaller man’s shoulders.

Watching Harry strip was a pleasure that Draco indulged in every chance he got. His lover had finally hit his full adult stature before they had been pushed back in time and had been sleekly muscled before. He was even more muscular now with all the swordwork he had been doing. He was also browner than ever, and Draco could feel his eyes be drawn to the line of skin at his waist where his tan faded into the milky white skin of a true Englishman.

“Stop staring at my ass,” Harry muttered as he bent over to work his boots off.

“Never going to happen,” Draco immediately vowed as he walked over to pick up Harry’s pack to deal with it.

Harry snorted in amusement and then groaned in bliss as he sank into the hot water. Draco let him soak as he poked through his pack, putting things away. He was fairly sure that his lover would share what he could of the week he had been away. Bag empty, he dropped it on the bench again and moved back to his chair.

“So animagus forms. I know you have one and it’s a dragon. I just never found out what type,” Harry called from the bath before ducking under the water to wet his head.

Draco picked up his book and marked his page carefully. He wasn’t interested in it any more. A quick flick of his wrist returned the book to his bracelet and he settled back in his chair to enjoy the show his mate was giving him. The part of him that was a dragon, specifically a Hebridean Black, looked on possessively. His mate was gorgeous.

“Pervert,” Harry told him fondly. Tans dropped a flannel over the side of the tub before hanging two bath sheets near the fire to warm. Draco watched as his lover scrubbed up, white suds running over skin he wanted to taste. Harry was apparently enjoying the bath enough to hum softly as he cleaned up from his travels.

“So why did you want to remind me of my form?” Draco asked finally.

“Merlin is a bastard,” Harry started, and Draco snorted. Yeah, the old wise man was that and much more. But he was also generous with his knowledge and willingness to teach Harry all that he knew. He just liked to play head games with everyone on occasion. “I’d teased the edges of my form years ago. I knew it had wings, but I didn’t hear feathers and that made me hesitate. When I lost Hedwig, I stopped looking. It took you daring me to catch a snitch against you to get me back on a broom.”

If his father hadn’t been dead, and thus far out of his reach by more than space and time, Draco would have hexed him to death, just for that. Hell, if he had known about that when they had been in the future, he likely would have gutted a few of the surviving Death Eaters over it. Harry had loved flying since the first time he had gotten on a broom. For him to be scared off flying for almost five years was a wretched thing.

He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. His temper did not belong in the discussion they were having. “So, you have wings and don’t have feathers. A dragon?”

“Yup,” Harry agreed with a pop of sound on the ‘p’.

Draco could be patient while his mate dipped below the surface of his bath to wet his hair again before starting to later soap into the semi-sentient mess. He even refrained from tapping his fingers in impatience as he waited for Harry to finish washing his hair.

“So, I’m apparently a pale cream color with pearly scales and my eyes are multicolored with no pupils.” Harry told him after rinsing the last of the suds out of his black locks.

Draco froze and racked his brain for a moment, trying to remember why that description was familiar. “An Antipodean Opaleye?”

“I guess. I wasn’t all that interested in dragons when we were in Creatures; that was more Ron and Hagrid. And I learned enough about the dragon I had to deal with in Tri-Wizard Tournament so I wouldn’t die, but that’s about it. No curiosity,” Harry told him as he dropped his head against the side of the tub and settled in to soak.

“Master Harry is wanting to stew?” Tans asked as he popped back into their room with a tray of food.

The laugh bubbled up unexpectedly and Draco let it roll out. Biting off his chuckles, he shook his head at the elf. “Tans, he’s just relaxing and enjoying the heat of the water. Can you make sure that it stays as warm as it was to start?”

Tans looked back and forth between Harry and Draco and shrugged. “Not stewing?”

“I’m not stewing, Tans. The bath you put together for me is lovely and it feels great. Thank you,” Harry told the little creature before dropping farther down in the tub.

“Water will stay warm, Master Draco,” Tans told him carefully. “Should I have a tub built so I can return this one?”

The one that he had borrowed had to be from the laundry given it was big, big enough for the two of them if they were willing to share space, and Draco eyed it carefully. With judicious usage of a shrinking charm, a tub could be stored in their room without problems. And save them from having the go to what passed as public baths in the fort and dare the state of their water. Sold.

“Yes, please do. And Tans? How are you hiding yourself?” Draco asked carefully. Some magic might be known and accepted, but house elves were another species. And even in this time, someone would notice a little floppy-eared person running around in a linen toga. Because that was all he had managed to get on the elf before he got upset about the possibility of being handed clothes. He was going to have Harry deal with that issue.

“Tans use illusion to look like short human,” the elf told them proudly and with a snap of his fingers, there was a… well, as he had learned, painfully, a little person. Tans appeared to be fully human and dressed in clothes that could pass for anyone else’s in the fort. Excellent.

“You look great, Tans! Well done,” Harry complimented their servant.

Draco watched, fascinated, as the house elf blushed at the praise. So weird.

“Now, with you going around and about, is the weather giving you any problems with that toga of yours?” Harry asked as he scooted to the side and waved a lazy hand at Draco, inviting him in. Draco suppressed a sigh of relief at his lover taking the clothes issue in hand. He was certain Harry could get their elf into better clothes without a problem.

Head cocked to one side, the elf let the illusion fall. “Is cold, Master Harry, but Tans is used to it.”

“Right. Well, to make sure that you can keep serving us correctly and without fail, I want to put forth two rules,” Harry told him, eyes on the elf. “You are to wear the correct clothes for the weather. That means a shirt, trousers, shoes and socks, along with a cloak as needed. That does include the toga if it’s the correct item for the weather. These are not clothes to dismiss you, these are your uniform. They belong to Master Draco and I; you use them to make sure that you are, and stay, healthy enough to serve us.”

The scared look on Tans’ face cleared up at that. He had been getting more and more upset as Harry had laid out his clothing demand. S.P.E.W. had been a horror, and Granger had been a nutter for trying, but she had had some good points on how an elf dressed. If his servant was wearing dirty rags, it looked bad on him. And Draco wasn’t willing to have that.

“And second thing?” Tans asked.

Harry’s eyes were level and very serious as he laid out the second condition. “Since you are set on serving Master Draco and me, we require that you vow on your magic that you will not betray us or our secrets by thought, word, or deed. And if anyone or anything puts you in a situation where you think you will violate that oath, you come to one of us and let us know. Understood?”

Tans stood still for several seconds before pulling in a deep breath and making the vow that Harry had demanded. “I’s going to get clothes made for me,” he said before popping away.

Draco finished undressing and slid into the bath beside his lover. The hot water slid over him like a caress and he sighed into the heat before pulling his lover into his arms. “Well, that went well.”

Harry just laughed at him.

 

 

“How are you doing today, Arthur?” Draco asked as he slid into his chair in the king’s study.

The large, burly and healthy man that he had started this process with was gone. Arthur had lost weight, he looked haggard and no matter how much food or sleep they pushed on him, he seemed frail. Actually, Draco was certain that the man was holding on by sheer willpower alone.

“I’m dying, how do you think I feel?” Arthur retorted dryly. “Let’s not talk about the upcoming depressing event of my death. Let’s talk about how you are going to deal with the meeting of the other kingdoms.”

Draco glared slightly and then sighed. Arthur had officially named him his heir, and his knights had all stood up and approved of and for him. The general populace had also rallied behind him with a great deal of goodwill. Harry found it hilarious.

“Well, smacking them all with the flat of my sword isn’t going to go over well if they start being arseholes,” Draco settled into his chair and pulled the pitcher that had been softly steaming on the table closer to him. Sniffing the steam, he smiled. Mulled cider. Pouring himself a goblet, he waved the pitcher at Arthur and filled his when he pointed at his own cup. “In all honesty, I’ll be sitting there, watching and trying to keep up our end.”

“I’ll give you a list of goals that we want to have come out of this,” Arthur told him as he sipped at the warm beverage. Draco took a sip of his own drink and enjoyed the rich and mellow liquid. “I know you aren’t thrilled with this, but I’m very glad that you and Harry showed up.”

“I’ve come to terms with what brought us here, Arthur. I have no problems with being your heir,” Draco allowed. “Actually I’m honored beyond all measure that you are want me to take care of your kingdom.”

“I would say that you are welcome, but I know what’s coming for you.” Arthur smiled and then started to cough.

Draco quickly grabbed the cup out of Arthur’s hands before handing him a cloth to cough into. He wasn’t going to mention the blood on the cloth if the king wasn’t. He sat back down only when the other man was breathing easier.

The deep breath that Arthur took sounded far too wet, but Draco ignored it. “Now, since you will be there as my heir, we need to discuss that.”

Eyebrow raised, Draco waved a hand at him to continue. “Hesitating over this isn’t going to help any, Arthur.”

“You need to marry Guinevere,” Arthur told him with a straight face.

“You realize that I’m actually bonded to Harry in the way that you weren’t to Lancelot? And that even if I take Guin to be my wife, I’ll never touch her? Never have children by her?” Draco demanded as he sat up in his chair. “And have you even talked to her about this? Or Harry?”

“Merlin and I have spent the last few months working out what’s going to happen when I die, Draco. You know that he’s going to be dying not long after me due to the stress of keeping me alive this long,” the king explained as he picked up his own cup. Draco ignored the shaking of the other man’s hand. “And yes, we are both aware of your relationship with Harry. Guin isn’t interested in you that way either, but there needs to be an heir.”

“Harry and I are wizards, you know this, right? This means that we have other ways of actually producing a child. There will be heirs,” Draco told him, voice short and clipped. He really didn’t want to marry anyone but Harry.

Arthur nodded. “Talk it over with both of them. Harry will be your Merlin anyway. Plus, it isn’t like we’re somewhere far north of the wall and uncivilized. The two of you being together isn’t anything unusual.”

“Well that’s good to know,” he muttered. “Write your lists for the meeting, old man. And make sure that you explain exactly why you want things that way.”

“I can get that done. Are you going to hold court today?” Arthur asked.

“Judgment court? Where I get to actually show that I’ve learned something from you? Oh, yeah.” Draco nodded before standing up and shaking his tunic out.

“You look good. Very kingly,” his mentor told him before coughing into his cloth again.

He had gotten dressed in the clothes that Tans had laid out for him. The little elf was making sure that he was actually dressing in something other than black. Greys, greens, reds and blues were the major colors in his wardrobe, besides the black. His elf had started looking into what he needed to do to make his clothes stand out even more. Draco, for all that he had grown up rich, hadn’t picked up the affectation of decorating everything he owned with gemstones. As nice as they were, they weren’t practical for the life he was living. That left jewelry, and at this stage in his life, he had very little to choose from.

“Tans makes sure of it. And Harry is aiding and abetting him in his efforts to make me look like a glittering peacock.”

Snickering softly, Arthur waved his hand in dismissal. Draco gave him an abbreviated bow before walking out. On the other side of the door, Tristan was waiting for him. The semi-feral knight was as well dressed as he ever was and Draco didn’t even blink as he slid into place beside him.

“It won’t be long now.”

The feeling of regret washed over him and Draco sighed. “No, it won’t. I have no idea how he’s hanging on, but he is. He wants to make sure he’s here for the meeting between the kingdoms.”

“Galahad says that he’s staying for this meeting to make sure that everyone knows that you are his heir. And to impress upon them that messing with you would be a bad idea. Merlin and his Woads have done a lot to give us the forces we need to beat back the Saxons, but the kingdoms to the south are another matter.”

“They are,” Draco agreed. “It’s edging towards spring and the planting. Once we have that done, we need to see if we can get some training in for the men. It shouldn’t be five knights protecting this place. And maybe talking to those people you know in Londinium about contracting for some troops.”

Tristan just hummed for several moments before nodding. “They have humans they use, so I’m sure they can offer a recommendation.”

“I bet they can,” he agreed. “How did you meet them anyway?”

The side-eyed look he got was assessing and Draco stared back. Tristan was, well, feral was the best descriptor for him. But he was also very observant and liked to surprise people. He was also the most private of the surviving knights. Whatever he was looking for in Draco, he apparently found it. “When we came out here with the legion, we passed through Londinium. One of the legionaries was like us and took several of us to the bank. We met the little people who control it, and I have an account with them; it’s where all my pay went. With the spring, one of their people will be coming up to talk to me about keeping my funds with them.”

“Good to know when they will be here. Do they help with anyone else’s funds?”

The knight shook his head. “Everyone else like me died. Dagonet was the last. He adopted Lucan the night before he was killed. Kid might as well light up like a bonfire.”

Oh, sweet merciful magic. A child with strong magic here? And no school to send him to? “Who’s teaching him?”

“So far, I am and Guinevere. We’re planning to ask your mate to lend a hand soon. Seeing as he’s been trained by Merlin to hold the magic of the land and teach,” Tristan told him.

“I think he would be happy to help. And I know I can teach, too,” Draco offered, voice dropping slightly as they came to the room where Arthur had held open court for petitions, disputes and judgments. He had been standing with the King at most of the events since he had been named heir, but this would be the first one where Arthur wasn’t present to back him up. It would be interesting to see how that changed things.

Walking up the length of the room, he tried to take a measure of the people in it. Mostly farmers with some of the craftsmen and a few soldiers, which seemed a very normal content for judgement. No one was setting off any danger signs to him, which was nice. Sitting in Arthur’s chair was still surreal, but getting less so all the time.

Draco nodded at Jols and pulled the first paper towards him to review as he listened to the first case. Time to earn his keep.

 

 

 

“Harry?”

With the confirmation that Draco was Arthur’s heir, he had been given new quarters. They now had a sitting room, a bedroom and a garderobe. Tans had been ecstatic about the increase in room and had set up a small area for himself off the sitting room. As for the… facilities, he was still looking at some spell work to keep the place from becoming a horror in the summer months. Since it was winter, the area was just damn cold.

“Bedroom!”

Draco headed back into their room and found his lover was up to his neck in hot water. Again. Unlike a number of the men and women of the kingdom, Harry liked being clean. And Draco enjoyed him being clean. Frankly, keeping his face straight and not showing his disgust took all his concentration some days when he was around some of the more fragrant of his kingdom’s people.

“If I actually gave a shite about what the priests go on about, I might have to worry about your obsession with being clean,” Draco told him as he started stripping off his own clothes.

Harry paused for a moment and Draco could almost see him parsing out what he had said. Snickering slightly, he slid into the bath and then hissed at the heat. Bloody fantastic. “I love Tans and his ability to keep us in hot water.”

“Nutter,” Harry told him fondly.

“Like you aren’t, love? Now why the bath at this time of day?” Draco asked as he grabbed some of their dwindling soap supply. Mentally adding it to the list of necessities to try to trade or buy, he started lathering up.

“Merlin had me delivering a baby,” Harry told him before ducking under the water. When he came back up, he leaned against the side of the tub and started at the ceiling. “I got some pretty disgusting stuff on me, so bath time. Since baby birthing apparently comes with the job, I’m instituting standards of cleanliness I can live with.”

“It was that gross?” Draco wasn’t really healer material, even if he had some of the aptitudes. He just. Well, to be frank, he didn’t like people enough to want to try. He would far rather brew everything that Harry needed and let him deal with the squishy bits.

“It was that gross and more. Mom wasn’t too happy to have me there, Dad was even less happy and Merlin was being an arse and letting me handle everything. Then again, the old bastard is fading just as hard as Arthur, he’s just better at hiding it,” Harry told him with a sigh. “We have weeks, Draco. Merlin’s about burnt himself to a cinder to get us this far.”

Draco pulled in a deep breath before wrapping his arms around his knees. Now or never. “I know. And I need to talk to you about something that Arthur’s been planning.”

Laying out the plan wasn’t easy. Marrying anyone other than Harry felt like the worst sort of betrayal and there was nothing that he could think of that would take that feeling away. Political marriage or not, it was going to have to look real. Keeping his kingdom out from under the collective thumbs of Kent, Gwynedd, and Sussex was a big draw though.

“So let me get this straight; Merlin has been training me to be his successor, all so you can take over the kingdom from Arthur, marry Guin, have fat healthy babies and make sure the place doesn’t burn to the ground?” Harry asked, eyes shifting slightly to take on the gleam of his dragon.

“No shifting in the bath, please. It makes a mess,” Draco tried to interject some humor into things. From the glare his lover was sending him, it mostly failed. “I already told Arthur that if this farce takes place, I wouldn’t be touching Guin. No way, no how. And that you are the only one I’m having kids with.”

“If we aren’t married, Draco, the kids are magically bastards and that’s bad. Even back here,” Harry bit off. His skin was starting to shimmer with a pearly sheen and the sight was breathtaking.

“We’re bonded in love, life and magic, Harry. In all the ways that matter, you are my spouse and I’m yours. Any kids we have will be completely legitimate, and my heirs. Guin has never expressed any desire for me or you, or anyone else that I know of,” he tried to explain, hands up and empty in supplication to his mate.

Harry was growling softly and he just let him. There was no way to make that better, and Draco knew it. Damn Arthur and Merlin for this plan. And damn Guin for agreeing with it.

“Five years,” Harry offered. “We’ll give it five years and then Guin can retire from public life as your wife. That should be enough to let the kingdom recover from Arthur and Merlin’s death and get used to your rule. And at the end of five years, we will have a child and that child will be your heir. And I’ll need to look for my own.”

The sigh that burst out of him was deep and long. Draco had no idea what had been the tipping point, but whatever it was, he would take it. “Five years. I think Guin will agree. And by that time, it should be somewhere close to when Hogwarts gets founded.”

“Good,” Harry muttered and then flicked his wrist to pull out a flask. Draco saw some smoke subtly escaping Harry’s ears after he took a small sip of the liquid within. “Lucan will need it by then. And any kids we have.”

 

Chapter Five

lh-harryasmerlin

When Draco had been a child, his mother had hosted glittering galas, filled with every sort of person imaginable. For weeks before each event, the house would hum with the sound of cleaning, polishing, cooking and the like. Now, as he watched the preparations for the initial meet and greet with their nearest neighbors, he sighed in satisfaction. It wasn’t the ornate insanity of his mother’s parties, but it was pretty damn good none the less.

Kent, Gwynedd, and Sussex had all sent confirmations that they were sending ambassadors to the meeting. The four surviving knights and Arthur had sat him down and passed on everything they remembered about the last time Arthur had dealt with the three kingdoms. It had been a sobering discussion.

The kings had been less than gracious to Arthur when he had been a mere general in Rome’s legions. Now that he was a dying king with an unknown heir, no one expected even the appearance of civility. Draco wondered which of them would try to get him to agree to become a client state? Not that he would, but he had to wonder who would try. And who would try to threaten war if he didn’t do that they wanted?

Tristan was gusting around the edges of the various parties as they come within range. He was sometimes obvious, sometimes not, but always effective. No one ever looked at him and saw more than he wanted them to, and his reputation for being feral was well known. What was less known was his ability to see through bullshite.

Merlin and Harry had managed to cobble together something and it had given Arthur a boost. The king didn’t have much time, but right then, no one could tell. He looked just as healthy and in charge as he had when Draco had first met him. While nothing could hide the weight loss, his personality was totally unfettered.

While Arthur was being assisted, Draco work his way into a headache getting every one of their fussy guests settled. But they had managed, and now that all parties had arrived, he was sure the drama was going to show up, too. Everyone had their assigned places and roles for the evening, and it took everything he had to not hover over every detail.

Galahad, as the least physically imposing of the knights, was pressed into the herald role, announcing everyone’s names and titles. Harry had made him a list, spelled to show who had passed through the runic arch at the door, and the knight was getting every name right. From the faint expressions of irritation crossing some faces, Draco was sure that some of their guests weren’t too pleased to be so easily identified.

Bors, as the most physically imposing member, was standing two steps to the left of the throne, visibly armed. The knight was glowering at everyone, and had his hands crossed over the blade of Dagonet’s axe. Subtle Bors was not, but he was as effective as Tristan.

Gawain, lion-headed menace that he was, was stationed to the right of the throne, hands tucked into the broad leather belt around his waist. Just like Bors, he was heavily armed and had made no effort at concealing that fact. Unlike the scowl Bors normally wore, Gawain’s face was blank, no expression at all crossing his features.

As heir, Draco was standing one step down from the throne, dressed in his best, with a silver circlet crossing his brow. Unlike the knights, he had no obvious weapons other than a small belt dagger. His clothes were lush and of a heavy fabric that was keeping him warm without charms. Harry had appreciated the deep green color and what it had done for his looks.

Draco kept an eye on everyone in the room before turning his attention to the king. Arthur was seated on his throne and looked very regal in his black fur-lined cape and dark blue doublet. His crown was also silver and was much, much more elaborate than the one that graced Draco’s brow. He and Harry had spent time with the king’s regalia and managed to embed several different charms into each item to make them as comfortable as possible for the dying man.

When the last of the diplomats were announced and had taken their bows in front of Arthur, Draco stepped forward. “Welcome to our kingdom. King Arthur greets you and will be meeting with each of you to discuss our relationship with your kingdoms. For now, please mix and mingle and get to know us and each other.”

Stepping back, Draco moved to stand by the king. The throne was high enough to get a good view of the room, but still center enough to be involved. Arthur was alert, eyes bright and entertained as he watched the whirls and eddies of the reception. The blocks of people from each kingdom started breaking up and mingling, raising the noise levels in the room.

Guinevere was doing her part now. Where the knights were the overt threat, the open weapon, she was the subtle knife against a forearm, the garrote curled around a wrist. The fact that Draco knew she actually had weapons on her like that was just a lovely bonus. But she was also mixing and mingling with their guests, putting them at ease. Women in this world were not often seen as threats by men in power. More fools they, then.

Many of the other women from the fort were also dressed in their best and mingling. He would have to make sure that their visitors knew not to expect comfort from them. Or from the servant wenches the fort employed. Their guests were going to be making use of their own hands if he had his way. Unless they went to the one whorehouse in the fort, and then that group of women had his total permission to bankrupt them.

“Tans,” Draco called with intent.

The house elf poked his head out of an alcove, wearing his human disguise. Over the months he had been with Harry and Draco, he had learned how to blend in with the populace. His disguise, his clothes and his word choices had all improved in an effort to keep him safe.

“Master Draco calls?” the elf asked as he trotted over to stand by his master.

“I sure did. Let Agnes know if any of our guests come to her for her people’s services to charge them double. And make sure that Cecily isn’t to service or be seen by any of them,” Draco directed.

Tristan might not have much of a thing for the mother of his son, but it would do no one any good if she got hurt at her job. Everyone in the fort knew if they went to Cecily for some entertainment they were to treat her well. The new guys? Better to not take the chance.

“Tans tell,” the elf promised before walking back to his alcove and popping out.

“He’s not subtle,” Arthur muttered out the side of his mouth. “And good idea on Cecily.”

“He’s a lot better than he used to be,” Draco retorted. “And we don’t need a bloodbath.”

“No, that would not be in the best interests of making peace for the future, now would it?” Arthur murmured before leaning slightly to the side and nodding towards a far corner of the room. “It looks like one of the boys from Kent has Harry cornered. Should I be worried that the poor bastard is going to lose something vital? Not that I’ll mind too much.”

“Harry won’t kill him, sir. I won’t either,” Draco told him softly. He wasn’t going to look over to see the confrontation, but he could feel his lover’s irritation at the moron in front of him. “Now, Tristan might. You never know.”

“Tristan just likes to kill deserving people,” Arthur muttered with a savage smile.

“True,” he agreed. The king had gotten a lot more pragmatic in the months since he had been told he was to die. His faith in his god was still going strong and no one had the heart to try to argue with the man over it. But he had also learned how to take his optimism and use it to make plans for the future. Draco didn’t have the heart to tell him that some of his ideals wouldn’t be a reality until 1500 years in the future, and, even then, only in some parts of the world.

“Try to not let him keep leaping off that particular cliff?” Arthur asked as he took a goblet of mulled cider from one of the servants. Draco took a deep breath and smiled slightly. The drink was one of Harry’s concoctions and the cider just a carrier for the potion they had in it. Full of calories, with enough taste to mask the potion, the cider was something that Arthur would drink no matter what.

“I’ll do my best, but it’s Tristan and he listens to me about as well as Harry does. That is to say that he either laughs in my face or straight up ignores me.” Draco shrugged slightly as he kept his eye on the conversations happening around them. “I believe Ywain, the ambassador from Gwynedd, will be the first to brave the gauntlet to come talk to you. Should I stay?”

Arthur eyed the man in question over the rim of his drink and nodded slightly. Bors and Gawain let the ambassador through when he came up to the throne and Draco stepped back further until he was behind the throne and on the king’s right. Unmeant pleasantries are exchanged before Ywain turned to look at Draco with a curious expression on his face. “We did not know that you had an heir.”

“I’ve had an heir for a year now, Ywain. And your king was informed as soon as I chose him. Please stop trying to play the fool. It serves you ill and irritates me,” Arthur bit out. He was as relaxed as possible in his chair, but Draco could read the tension in him by how tightly he was gripping his drink. Casting his memory back over back over the hours of meetings they’d had in preparation for this event, he was well aware of why Arthur was acting the way he was. Gwynedd was powerful, had a very nice army, and the king was eyeing his neighbors like they were prime slabs of beef.

Very disconcerting, that.

“Not everyone is as straightforward as you are, General,” Ywain told him bluntly, eyes flicking back and forth between them. “Not every situation demands a decision via a sword. Sometimes using your words is the better option.”

“Do not try to teach me diplomacy, Ywain. Settling things by the sword is a nice idea, but I’m tired of war. I don’t expect much from your kingdom. But, then again, straightforward dealing is beyond you,” Arthur told him bluntly. “You’ve seen my heir. You’ll get to talk to him in the negotiations tomorrow. I would suggest you leave.”

The ambassador gave him a peeved look before sketching a brief bow to them both and leaving. There was a subtle relaxing of the shoulders as the man passed out of reach from both Bors and Gawain and Arthur’s fingers relaxed on the goblet. What in the hell had they not passed onto him about the arsehole?

“Let me guess, Lancelot was the one who was actually the more diplomatic of you two?” Draco asked as he covered his words by pouring more cider. “Because that was ruder than I have ever seen you be to anyone. And that includes the priest who came through here over the winter.”

There was a loud cough from Bors, and Arthur’s lips twitched briefly as he stared up at Draco. “He was worse. He just wanted to kill them all and let their gods sort them out.”

“Fucking fantastic. Menaces, the lot of you.”

The choked off giggles from his mentor were totally worth the shite that Draco knew he was going to be facing in the morning. Turning his attention back to the party, he heard the small pop of noise that signaled Tans was back.

“Master Draco, Agnes says that she’ll skin them for all she can. And she’s already sent Cecily to knight’s quarters. Master Tristan asked Jols to look after her and boy,” the elf reported before moving away.

“Good job, Tans,” Draco called softly as he watched the next ambassador walk up. Kent if he wasn’t mistaken. “So which one of you pissed this kingdom off?”

“Gareth. One of their lordlings thought that Galahad was someone they could trifle with. He disabused them of that notion. With his fists,” Gawain muttered out the side of his mouth. “He died about six months later.”

“I’m sorry for your loss,” Draco muttered, keeping his expression neutral and relaxed. “And if you see that lordling in the group, let me know. He won’t be doing that shite again.”

“Good. Some people need killing,” Bors muttered, eyes fixed on the ambassador.

Draco snorted softly. “Who says I would kill him? That’s over too quickly.”

The rough chuckle that shook all four men caused a hitch in the ambassador’s gait, and Draco suppressed a smile at the sight. Good. If he was off balance, they had an advantage.

 

 

 

The room where they were holding the meeting wasn’t the one with the round table. That was only for Arthur and his knights. Draco, Harry and Merlin were allowed in, but he didn’t expect to get full access until Arthur died. And even then, there was a part of himself that felt he should close it up and preserve it for posterity.

But history and the march to the idolatry that came with being on the side to write it, was far from his mind this day. Jols had worked hard with Tans and the rest of the servants to put together a room where they could hold the meeting and not give any one person or group an advantage. Well, anyone other than their own people.

Harry settled into his spot to the right of him and dropped a sheaf of documents on the table before him. His lover had completed his training with Merlin a fortnight before the ambassadors had arrived and the tattoos of his new rank were a brilliant blue against his skin. Draco found them fascinating and traced the whorls and patterns of them as often as Harry would let him. He could feel, faintly, the power of them thrumming under his skin. The sight of them certainly caused a distraction wherever Harry went, and today, that was an advantage.

His lover and counselor had a second batch of fresh hemp paper bound together to take notes on. Draco eyed the pad and tried to remember when actual paper had come onto the scene, instead of vellum. “This had better be a new universe,” he muttered, leaning close to Harry’s ear. “Because I don’t think paper showed up in England for at least another 600 years.”

“You worry too much,” Harry muttered before patting the pad. “Besides, I spelled this to only show up for you or I. Everyone else sees a bunch of vellum.”

“Good to know,” Draco murmured before sitting back in his chair. He kept an eye on the room as everyone settled in. From where he was seated, he couldn’t tell if anyone was armed, and he was hesitant about checking magically. On the other hand, he had a number of people scattered throughout the room who were perfectly willing to kill their guests if anyone got stroppy, so it all balanced out.

Only when the last person sat down, did he bother to stand. “Welcome, my lords, to our hall. King Arthur isn’t able to meet with you today, but, as his heir, it is my duty and honor to stand in his place.”

One of the men from Kent stood and stared down the table at Draco. From what he remembered of his briefing, he was Thomas, a second cousin to the King of Kent and rather smarter than anyone gave him credit for. “When we last met Arthur, he was a general for Rome and her armies. Now, he is a king. Who has declared him king? My liege needs to know who has granted him this grace.”

Eyebrow raised slightly, Draco watched as the other two delegations nodded in agreement. It seemed that they all wanted to know who or what had pushed to put Arthur on a throne. Fantastic. When Harry touched his leg, he sat down. His mate had this in hand.

“That would be Merlin,” Harry told the room at large. His facial tattoos shone blue and vivid against the skin of his forehead when he pushed his hair back. “And I am his heir. All you need to know now is that Arthur is king until his death and Draco is his heir. So, shall we get down to the reason for this meeting? Working on the treaties between our nation and yours?”

“Merlin declared him King?” Ywain asked as he half-stood, half-leaned against the table. “And you are his heir?”

“I am now Merlin, yes,” Harry confirmed and let his eyes glow with the power he had spent a year learning to harness. Draco settled into his chair and tried not to smirk. The plan that Arthur and Merlin had put together was audacious in the extreme, but it seemed to be working. The doubt that had been floating through the room wasn’t gone, but it was, mostly, pushed to the side.

“You expect us to believe that Merlin has taken this boy as his heir? That he is worthy to be Merlin? I doubt it,” sneered Merick, the Ambassador from Sussex. “This boy is making fools of us all. Arthur has some plan…”

The explosion of movement from his right was totally expected, and Draco didn’t even blink. He, better than anyone else, knew that Harry had a temper. So having that temper unleashed beside him was not a surprise. It was for the moron at the other end of the table who got pushed up the wall in a display of power that made everyone else in the place freeze like scared little bunnies.

“I find your lack of faith disturbing,” Harry ground out between clenched teeth. “This is not your kingdom. It’s Arthur’s and will be until his death. You are here by invitation only. It would be wise if you remember that.”

With that, he let the Ambassador drop to the ground and sat back down. Draco took a deep breath and tried not to bust out in laughter. He was going to be teasing the hell out of his lover when they made it back to their room. Quoting Darth Vader at someone had to be the best thing he had seen yet.

“Thank you, Merlin. Shall we get started?” he asked as he looked around the room. Merick didn’t say anything as he took his seat. “Good,”

 

 

“That was an interesting reaction,” Galahad observed as they sat in the anteroom set aside for them.

“Wasn’t it?” Harry asked as he moved over to the sideboard that was filled with food.

“Why do I have the feeling that making someone piss themselves was a goal for today?” Galahad asked as he moved around the table in the middle of the room to take a seat. Of all the knights, he was actually and truly the nicest one. As if the fighting they had done for the years of their enlistment had only impacted him on the surface.

Draco chuckled softly as he sat down in his chair and leaned his head against the back. The negotiations had been an unholy mess of shouting, vicious verbal backstabbing, and a few more instances of Harry making his displeasure known by pinning people to a wall. He had the start of a vicious headache, and if he hadn’t been around the knights, he would have pulled a nice pain potion out without hesitation.

“Here,” he heard as he felt a vial tap his shoulder. Harry was staring down at him, eyes warm and concerned. “Take this.”

Thank goodness for dimensional stores, he thought as he pulled the cork out of the vial and drank the mouthful of liquid. Unlike his godfather’s potions, this one was cherry flavored and worked quickly. Severus hadn’t been a nice man and had gotten his digs at the student population every chance he got. The necessary potions he had supplied to Pomfrey had all been perfect in every way that counted. However, the ones for discretionary uses like headaches hadn’t worked quite as fast as anyone had ever wanted them to, and they had all tasted like shite. When he had started to brew his own potions, he had made sure that his worked quickly, completely, and tasted decent.

Harry hadn’t been all that surprised to find out that Severus had been skimping on the non-emergency supplies. Neither, frankly, had Draco. He had been well aware that the man was an arsehole.

Grabbing his lover’s hand, he kissed it in thanks. Tipping his head back further, he let it rest against the chair again and closed his eyes. Harry had let him hold on for several beats before tugging lightly. “You need to let my hand go, love. I need to eat.”

Draco squeezed the hand trapped in his briefly and then let it go without opening his eyes. He wanted a nap. He wanted a drink. He wanted not to have to deal with this massive shite storm that was building around them. When a plate was dropped in front of him, he opened his eyes and sat forward. What he wanted wasn’t going to happen right then.

Looking over at Galahad, he shrugged. “Making someone piss themselves wasn’t a goal, more a bonus. The real goal was to actually hammer out some peace treaties. I say we have a good start on that.”

The mutters of agreement echoed through the room and he settled in to eat the meal he had been served. From the choices, he was certain that Harry had loaded the plate and Tans had done the cooking. The first bite was a chore to get to his mouth, but as soon as he tasted it, he dived in. The hunger he had been ignoring all morning came roaring back, and he cleaned his plate before going back for seconds.

He made it through his second plate before business came back up.

“So, who do you think is going to give us the most trouble?” Harry asked as he sipped at his drink.

“Oh, I would say that Sussex is going to want to try to get his pride back,” Galahad muttered as he took a deep drink of his own.

“Should we make sure he has a fresh chair when we go back in?” Draco asked as he contemplated a baked apple for a sweet finish to the meal.

“Please. Smelling him was bad enough this morning. Hopefully he’s changing his pants,” Tristan muttered as he speared cubes of meat. Pointing the knife at Harry he raised an eyebrow in question.

Snickering softly, his lover nodded. “Yes, I can change his pants out, but do you really want to see his tiny dick while everything switches?”

Everyone in the room shuddered slightly and shook their heads. “Let’s not,” Draco announced. “Maybe wrap a kilt around him before dealing with the pants?”

“I can do that,” Harry assured him. “Or I can just dump his dumb arse in the nearest horse trough. Since he stinks, even without the scent of piss.”

“Oh, gods, yes. He does. I think Kent will cause us the least problems. Their main argument seems to be with Arthur, and with him dying, I think they’ll hold off to see if I follow in his footsteps.” Draco dropped his opinion on the matter out and then got up. That apple sounded too good to pass up. “I vote for Sussex to give us shite while they’re here. Just from this morning’s display.”

The discussion that sparked lasted through the rest of the food and all of the drink in the room. Draco was happy they had a strategy at the end though. Once the joint meetings were done with, he would be meeting with each of the ambassadors on his own, and wouldn’t that be problematic?

Filing back into the meeting room, he made sure to check out Sussex’s pants. New. A discrete sniff told him that the man at least had attempted to clean up after himself. He sat back down in his chair and nodded at Galahad to recount the last issue discussed. Once their memory was prompted, he picked up the threads of the meeting and started pushing his agenda again.

Their time was running out. Everything, this meeting, the meetings with each of the ambassadors, the bullshite with the delegations, all of it, needed to be done and done soon. Even his marriage to Guinevere. Before Merlin lost his hold on the magic that was keeping Arthur alive and burnt out. Before Arthur died and went through the Veil to meet with his soulmate.

They were under a countdown. And no one could tell him how much more time there was on the clock.

 

 

Chapter Six

lh-gwen

Draco and the knights had placed bets on when one of the ambassadors would try to meet with him alone and try to get him to bow to their plans. Merick, the ambassador to Sussex broke the bet by arranging a meeting right before the three parties were to leave. He was actually upset since it meant that he now owed Tristan money.

Once he let the older man into his office, he sat and stared at Draco for several minutes before firing his first salvo. “You are young yet to be taking over a kingdom.”

“Not really,” Draco disagreed. “I’m older than your king was at his coronation.”

Merick snorted and waved a hand. “Still, you are young. And wholly untried. How will you hold the realm together when Arthur dies? You will not have his advantages, his knights, his training, the reputation he built while laboring for Rome.”

“True. But I am his heir. Chosen and trained by him for the position. So, Ambassador Merick, what does that mean?” Draco asked as he watched the other man settle into his chair.

“You should let us help you,” Merrick offered; eyes shrewd as he stared at Draco. “We can help you solidify your rule, make sure you have the resources you need and advisors to teach you how to lead.”

“What makes you think I need any of that?” Draco pushed slightly. He wanted to see how far Merick would go.

“Arthur will be dying soon. His knights have stood by him and stayed when they had the leave of Rome to go. There is no guarantee they will stay with you. As a new king it will take you time to gather the reins of power to yourself. We can help with that,” Merick explained.

Draco sat back in his chair and tried to figure out how to tell the man to go fuck himself without being too obvious. He wanted to keep some kind of relationship with his neighbors after all. But not at the expense of them thinking he was weak.

“With Merlin taking an apprentice, will he still be by your side? After all, Merlin worked against Arthur for more than a decade before joining forces with him,” Merrick observed. “What is to say the new Merlin won’t start working against you?”

“The new Merlin is loyal to me, thank you, Ambassador Merrick. And the knights who served Arthur serve me as well. Your offer of advisors, military assistance, or economic help, while generous, isn’t needed,” Draco told him. Because fuck it. He would deal with the fallout, but he wasn’t going to appear to be weak. Nor would he let Harry be seen as disloyal. Rumors like that had a tendency to cause major problems later.

“We shall see,” Merick sniffed in disbelief. “I will be telling my king that you aren’t willing to work with us.”

Draco laughed with no humor. “You mean, since I’m not willing to let my kingdom become a client state to yours, you are going to tell him I’m too independent to control.”

The frustrated look that crossed the ambassador’s face was sweet, but he knew things were going to be rough for at least a few years thanks to this conversation. Then again, Sussex didn’t have anything he desperately needed. Londinium and the Alley were the only things that held any interest for him in the kingdom, and the goblins were their own nation. He had a completely separate meeting planned for them.

Merrick just glared at him for a moment before smiling. “You may be independent now, Prince Draco, but that won’t always be the case.”

“Don’t push your luck, Merrick,” Draco advised.

”Don’t think we can’t handle your little upstart of a kingdom,” the ambassador shot back before exiting the room in a huff.

Draco waited until the ambassador had left the room before laughing. Merick had damn near flounced out of the room, and the last time he had seen that mannerism, his father had been the one to pull it off. Merick had given it a good try though.

Kent and Gwynedd didn’t try to corner him, and for that, he was grateful. Holding his temper through two more meetings would have been impossible. Besides, he thought as he watched the caravans carrying the ambassadors disappear over the horizon, he had a wedding to plan.

Trotting down the steps on the wall to the main courtyard of the fort, Draco headed over to Arthur’s rooms. There was a countdown going in his head, and they were very close to the year deadline Merlin had given them. After that, it was anyone’s guess if Arthur would make it day to day. The longer he held on, the better. But the cost to the king would be high.

Knocking softly, he poked his head around the door. “Arthur? Are you awake?”

“Yes. Come on in.”

Draco walked in to see Guin curled up in a chair next to the king’s bed. From the scattered parchments, he had a feeling that Arthur was still pushing himself to work. He couldn’t find it in himself to be upset. He had taken over the day to day running of the kingdom, but the planning for the future? His lessons with the king had been through, but still, having someone outline a plan he could use? He was all for that.

“Planning something?” he asked as he took the seat beside his future bride.

“Crop rotations, percentages tilled, taxes demanded of the barons, levees of fighting men, royal forests, where to build the royal castle. More farms because people have babies, storage for grain… The lists are endless,” Guin muttered as she pointed to piles of paper.

“Things to look forward to,” Draco muttered as he looked everything over.

Arthur chuckled, voice dry and brittle as he laughed at the disgusted look on Draco’s face. “Ah, lad, I said the same damn thing when I got this place turned over to me. And it was a lot smaller an area. Merlin has us claiming lands above the Wall, up past where Marius Honorius claimed as his home. I figure the least I can do for you is help plan for what might be coming, since I’m leaving you with all of this.”

“Thank you,” Draco told him dryly. “But can you two put that aside for a moment and maybe concentrate on a wedding? Since Guin and I need to be wed soon.”

The look the Woad woman flashed him was just as dry as his voice. “You sound so thrilled to marry me.”

“Guinevere, you are as fair as any maid ever born. And are as fierce as any warrior to carry a blade, and as brave as a dragon. You love with everything in you, and that is so very rare in the world,” he told her with brutal honesty. “But, you are lacking in one thing for me.”

“A penis?” she asked, eyes suddenly twinkling.

“You aren’t Harry, love. The penis is just an added bonus. Unless we’re required by some obscure law to actually have sex?” he asked the king.

Arthur was giggling slightly as he listened to them. “No, you actually don’t have to consummate the union. There’s nothing magical or binding about the ceremony that Merlin is planning. It’s just a wedding.”

There was a large part of Draco that was deeply relieved to hear that. He hadn’t been lying when he had praised Guinevere on her various virtues. But that was the extent of his regard for her. She was indeed lacking the things that he needed in a mate, and he had found in the form of Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, all around Gryffindor, and general prat. Plus his dick was quite nice too.

“I know this isn’t for the rest of our lives, and I’m good with that,” he asked.

Guin shook her head and he took a deep breath. The look she passed him was full of understanding and resolution. “Five years. We only have to be married for a handful of years. And there will be no requirement of fidelity from me or you.”

“And that won’t look bad on you?” Draco pressed. Even if she was blameless and everyone knew what was going to happen, she was still going to be seen by some as the guilty party if they split.

“No. I think I’ll be disappearing from history. I have a new name and identity worked out and I even know where I’ll be going. And what I’ll be doing when I get there.” Guin smiled, a bit crookedly, but it was a smile.

Draco cocked his head to the side and nodded. If she wasn’t going by Queen Guinevere, daughter of Merlin, she could probably hide who she was. If nothing else, it would put a layer between her and anyone looking for her. “What will you be doing, love?”

“Did Harry tell you that I helped Merlin train him?” Guin asked instead.

“Yes. He said it was some of the most intense training he’s ever had in his life and you taught him more about combat magic that he had learned before,” Draco confirmed. “I was very jealous and still am.”

His future wife laughed softly and shook her head. “I taught him more than that. And we’ll have five years where you can learn just about everything I can teach you. Him, too. I still have more to pass onto him.”

“Thank you!” Draco cut in quickly. Combat magic was something that, as a king, he would need to know, if only to counteract it. If she could teach him how to wield it, that would be even better.

“Once the five years are past, I’m planning on heading north.” Guin pulled a map over and tapped a point much farther into what would be the future Scotland. “Years ago, Merlin set four of us to a task. It’s to found a school and teach a codified and repeatable course on magic. We’ll be using my years here to iron out everything.”

Draco felt a terrible suspicion move through him. He knew, he knew, the date that Hogwarts had been founded. He even knew the names of the founders. Who didn’t? After all, the very houses that students lived in were named after them. But was Guin going to be who he thought she was? She had a decidedly black thumb, so that left Hufflepuff out. The accepted portrait of Rowen Ravenclaw looked nothing like the woman in front of him and well… Slytherin and Gryffindor were both provably male.

“So what will your new name be? Once you and I are no longer married?” Draco asked, anticipation and curiosity pooling in his gut.

“Rowena Ravenclaw.”

Shite.

 

 

 

Entering their quarters later that night, Draco was still trying to wrap his mind around what Guin had told him. There was no way that he would ever have connected a woman reputed to be one of the biggest intellectuals of her age with the same woman who kicked his arse on the practice fields. And she knew that he had been flabbergasted by something that she had said. Arthur, the bastard, had just sat on his bed and cackled like an arse.

That alone made her reveal worth it. But her revelation really had knocked him off his pins and he needed to know if his lover knew. Because if Harry had known and hadn’t told him, he was going to shave the dear man bald. He had always been curious how long it would take before the semi-sentient hair came back.

“Harry?”

“Bedroom,” his lover called.

“Just out of curiosity, why are you never in the sitting room?” Draco asked as he walked into their inner room. Harry was curled up in front of their fireplace, reading one of the books that had been in his bracelet when they had come back. Tilting his head, he saw that it was Lord of the Rings. “You know, now that I think about it, I’m really glad that we didn’t get sent back before I saw the last one of those in the theaters. I think I would have broken magic trying to figure out how to see it.”

“And weren’t you the one who told me that Muggle entertainment was lackluster compared to the stuff the Magical world puts out?” Harry asked as he flipped a page. Draco noticed that he hadn’t answered his question either.

“Being smug is bitchy, darling,” Draco huffed as he threw himself into his own chair. Sitting on the table beside it was a leather-bound copy of The Hobbit. “Then again, you carry smug well.”

“Kiss arse,” Harry told him cheerfully. “So what’s got you in a swivet?”

“I just got some news from Guin. We’re going to be getting married in about two weeks, if that’s okay with Merlin. Once we have me established, she wants me to set her aside because she plans to head north with three friends of hers. And she’s going to be changing her name,” Draco reported as he leafed through the book. It was illustrated and he was charmed by all the hints the images were giving him to the story. “Is this one going to break my heart?”

“Yes. And frustrate you. You’ll still enjoy it,” Harry told him bluntly. “I sit back here most of the time because I don’t want to deal with the various leeches that try for my time now that I’m taking over for Merlin. It’s getting to the point where I want to get someone like Jols to be my public face.”

“You threw one of the ambassadors into a wall, Harry. And you did it without touching them. Merlin hasn’t had a display like that in decades,” Draco told him. “I agree, you need someone there to act as a buffer, but Jols is a little rough around the edges. And I don’t think Tristan would be good.”

Snickering quietly, Harry nodded. “Yeah, he’s not quite the image I want to project.”

“What about Bors’ oldest boy? He’d got at least a touch of magic, and, if I’ve got his age right, he’s about twelve? Maybe thirteen? Old enough to apprentice at least,” Draco suggested.

“I’ll check him out tomorrow. If he passes the check, I’ll talk to Bors and the kids’ mom.” Harry looked up at him. “Now what did Guin do?”

“She’s… Harry, she’s planning at the end of the five years to go north and help found a school for magic. And she’s going to be one of the teachers.” Draco closed his book at put it back on the table so he could get up and pace. Waving his hands, he struggled to get the whole conversation out in a way that made sense. “She’s going to be using a new name, and it just floored me, because the woman doesn’t match the image at all!”

“Uh-huh. I’ve got a pretty good idea,” Harry prompted, and waved him on when he would have stopped. “Who is she going to be?”

“Rowena Ravenclaw.”

“Bugger,” his lover breathed and then sighed. “And did you manage to get a glimpse of the other three?”

“No, they aren’t here yet. She expects them to arrive this summer. Apparently, Merlin set this up years ago. Everyone has basically completed their magical training, so now they need to actually serve somewhere. This will let them get some experience under their belts, maybe some acquire a nest egg, and then strike north,” Draco explained.

It actually made a fair amount of sense. Merlin, Harry’s mentor, hadn’t had a great deal of wealth. He was rich in influence, in magical power and in favors owed, but money was thin on the ground. So having a royal house sponsor the school, maybe support it in the first years, help staff it and even protect it? Was a gift of immense worth. Five years as court sorcerers wasn’t a bad tradeoff for either party. And if he could get Helga Hufflepuff to help him set up his crops?

Yeah, he was a Slytherin, not a moron. Hufflepuff, in the histories he had read, had been reputed to be the best horticulturist of her age. He was going to take every advantage of that he could. Gryffindor had had a talent for building and working with stone, and, hey, he needed a castle now, didn’t he? Slytherin had been described as a whiz at the subtle traps that allowed a defender time to overwhelm any invaders, and he had also a dab hand at medicine. Something that even their Muggle healers could pick up on.

So, yeah, he was going to be picking a LOT of brains over the next five years.

“She’s also offered to continue training us while we while away the next five years,” he offered as a consolation.

The look his lover shot him was full of wonder and irritation. Draco was reasonably certain that his plotting had made it across their bond and Harry was at turns amused and appalled at what he was thinking. Not that he was worried. His lover had been conspiring just as hard.

“Rowena Ravenclaw is the person who trained me in hand to hand, dagger fighting, advance combat magics and how to pinpoint aim spells?” Harry asked as he marked his place in his book and set it aside. “And then takes me out to have a beer and tell bawdy stories?”

“And I’m marrying her,” Draco confirmed.

“You poor bastard,” Harry told him, sarcasm thick in his voice. “You have to marry a beautiful woman. One who is a legend throughout history under her own name and the use name she’s taking.”

“Very funny, Merlin. You have your own legends,” Draco shot back.

“Are we arguing?” Harry asked as he raised an eyebrow at him. Draco stared and then shrugged. Hell if he knew. “Because if we are, I want to skip the whole screaming mess and go straight to where you and I see who can fuck who into the mattress.”

Draco opened his mouth and then snapped it shut. He really couldn’t see a problem with that, and skipping the argument that they were gearing up towards didn’t bother him at all. “You’re a genius; I am all for getting fucked through the mattress, getting pissy with you just… Why would we be arguing?”

“Over who has the biggest legacy?” Harry asked as he climbed out of his chair and headed towards the bed. A wave of his hand and the covers were pulled back and the pillows piled out of the way. “Are we going to wrestle for who’s on top?”

“Love, you know you adore getting fucked. Do you want to give that up just to plow my arse?” Draco asked as he pulled his shirt over his head. To press the point, he turned around then bent over to pull his socks off. He knew that the move did good things for his arse, and, from the sound of his lover choking on air, so did Harry.

“Plowing your arse is looking mighty fine from here,” Harry admitted. “But I have a better idea. Something that will get us what we both want. Now get over here so I can play with your arse.”

Draco laughed softly as he kicked his trousers and pants off before crawling onto the bed. Lying down, he made sure that his dick was tucked up against his belly. The sheet covering the mattress was just a bit chilled and he could feel his nipples crinkling up from the change in temperature even as his cock enjoyed the cool cloth.

“Should I put a warming charm on the bed?” Harry asked as he ran his hands up Draco’s legs. Thanks to an ancestry that was slightly broader than the average purebloods, he had very little body hair. Harry had been fascinated by that when they had first gone to bed, and Draco had reveled in the attention. His lover, on the other hand, was furrier than people would expect, and he had been just as fascinated. The hair felt fantastic moving against his skin.

“No charm, I’m good,” Draco admitted as he spread his legs.

“You are not all that subtle, love.” Harry laughed against the back of his knee. He bit the tendon that ran there, and Draco could feel the shiver move over his skin.

“Why try for subtlety when directness gets me what I want?” Draco asked, voice breathless as his lover bit his way up the back of one leg and down the other. Harry was well aware of exactly how turned on Draco got when he was bit that way.

He had to shift slightly as his cock throbbed and he slid one hand down to palm it. Smoothing his hand up and down the shaft, he turned his head and moaned as his lover parted the globes of his ass. He clenched down, suddenly feeling empty and his runes hadn’t even been touched.

The feel of Harry’s tongue gliding up and down the skin of his perineum got another moan and he whined when he felt the wet tip circle his arsehole. He didn’t bother to hide how much he was enjoying himself as his lover slowly, lovingly, and with great concentration took him apart with his mouth. He let his hand rest against his cock only, and pushed back against Harry, trying to get more.

“Pushy,” Harry muttered right before he turned his head slightly and bit the skin of Draco’s arse.

He panted, voice overwhelmed by the need he was feeling from himself and his lover. The hand he had resting against his cock was almost a tease and Draco shifted to grasp the shaft, not trying to stroke, just holding it. Just as he had his hand clamped down tightly on his cock, Harry activated his prep runes, and the rush of pleasure tipped him over and he screamed his orgasm into the mattress.

When his brain came back up, he could feel the hot length of Harry’s cock in his arse. His lover wasn’t moving, just resting in the clench of the muscles as they rippled with his orgasm. “Fuck me. Please, Harry.”

The growl as Harry pulled out was deeply satisfying and he relaxed into the pleasure burning through him. The orgasm he just had felt like it had only primed his need, and he wanted, oh he wanted, the next rush of pleasure that the cock in his arse was promising.

Hissing slightly at the burn and stretch, he pulled a bit of his magic out and cast a spell that they had talked about, but never used. From the shout and hard thrust of his cock into Draco’s arse, Harry was discovering the benefits of it.

“You beautiful freak,” Harry panted as he slammed harder and harder into Draco. “I can feel a cock made of magic in my arse and it’s amazing. I am so doing this to you as soon as I can.”

The thought of maybe feeling a cock in his arse as he fucked his lover, or even two cocks in his arse as he was fucked, was just too much. The white hot pleasure that had been teasing him with each stroke of Harry’s cock exploded from its spot at the base of his spine and into his brain. For the second time that night, his brain went white with his pleasure and all he could do was ride it out.

 

 

Two weeks later, he was standing before the old Merlin and promising that he would respect, honor and provide for his new Queen, Guinevere, to the extent she wished for as long as she wished. In turn, she promised to do the same. The promise that was inherent to his magic, his kingdom, took hold, and he could feel it settle into his core. The room that they had left for themselves within the vow would let them have their own lives until they ended their five-year marriage.

The wedding feast was as lavish and as sumptuous as they could manage, and everyone got to eat their fill. After that, the celebrations, both public and private, went on deep into the night, and Draco got to experience the magic cock as he fucked and was fucked by Harry. It was a fantastic night, and he slept far later than he had expected.

When he woke up, the knights were standing in his sitting room, all decked out in their most formal armor. Dressing quickly, he stepped out and carefully closed the door.

“Okay. Let me have it,” Draco told them.

Galahad took a deep breath and nodded. “The King is dead. Long live the King.”

With that announcement, the four remaining Knights of the Round Table dropped to one knee and swore their loyalty to him in a united voice. Draco ignored the tears running down their faces as they ignored the tears streaming down his when he accepted. They were on their own then.

Part Three

 

Restoration

Title: Restoration

Author: Ladyholder

Fandom/Genre: Harry Potter, King Arthur, Time Travel

Relationships: Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy

Summary: When you have to meet your destiny, sometimes that means traveling further than you expect.

Warnings: Some canon typical violence for the movie King Arthur, and mention of the aftereffects of love potions

Word Count: 49,437

 

restoration_final

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

Draco Malfoy moved through the set forms for his sword work in silence. He had been at the whole thing long enough that his muscles were burning pleasantly, moving smoothly with the beat of the metronome. As he reached the end of the movement, he set the sword down carefully, point first, with his wrists crossed over the pommel.

“Very good! You are progressing nicely, Lord Malfoy.”

Draco didn’t respond with more than an abbreviated bow as he breathed deeply. His sword was damn heavy and he was still, a year after Voldemort’s death, recovering from that final year of the war. Thinking about that time, he suppressed a wince. His health after the final battle hadn’t been all that great due to the crazy bastard and the shite he had put everyone through. Despite everything that his parents had done, he had still come into his share of torture from Riddle, and he had paid a hefty price for the privileged position he had held in the ranks.

As a budding potions master, Draco hadn’t been expected to take part in some of the more horrific entertainments that had been the norm among the Death Eaters infesting his home. His Mark, that identifying stain that said someone had been a Death Eater, had been impressed on him by Voldemort and his father against his will. He hadn’t wanted to get the damn thing, and had put all his will to fighting the thing’s hold on him. Meanwhile, he had been set to brewing the potions that were needed for Voldemort’s forces.

The internal fighting he had done to try to get free of it, and the external fighting he had done to stay alive, had cost him. He had been exhausted physically and magically from the whole mess by the time the war was over. When the time for his trial had come around, the prosecution had pulled his left sleeve up and tried to show his Mark. The skin of his forearm had been smooth and unblemished. The revelation had caused all sorts of consternation from the court and the spectators. He had been dosed with enough Veritaserum that he had been in danger of overdose and questioned until he had been fighting unconsciousness as he tried to answer.

Potter had come to his rescue and raised an unholy amount of hell at the way the law was being violated to satisfy the prosecution’s very personal curiosity as to why his Mark had faded. Draco couldn’t say that he had minded the assistance at the time. A year later, he still didn’t mind what Potter had done. The other man had slowly but surely teased out the circumstances behind his service to Voldemort. The fact that he hadn’t wanted to serve, had, in fact, done all he could to sabotage things and then had fought on the side of the Light, carried a great deal of weight with everyone on the court. He had been cleared of all charges.

His father hadn’t been so lucky. Unlike Draco, Lucius had taken his Mark willingly. And had supported Voldemort for the length of the first war, through the years of peace, and then into the second war. His trial had been just as long as his son’s, and the elder Malfoy was in even worse physical shape. Years of abusing alcohol, drugs and other illicit substances had weakened him to the point where the damage done by Voldemort had won out. Lucius Malfoy, Lord of the Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy, had died on the stand. More importantly for Draco, his father had died before spilling too much in the way of secrets from the second war, and before he had been convicted of the crimes he had committed.

Draco had taken the family signet ring from Potter’s hand, ignoring the tingle that had come when he touched the other man. With his father dead, and dead before being convicted, the whole trial had fallen apart. The Wizarding world didn’t have the option of convicting a man after his death and, for that, Draco was grateful. It had saved his family’s fortunes. It hadn’t saved their reputation, but that could be repaired.

Breath caught, Draco turned to his sword master and raised one eyebrow in question.

“You are ready to start working with the rest of my students. I have one in particular that I believe will challenge you sufficiently,” the older man told him with a smirk.

“You are aware that not everyone is thrilled to associate with me, right? And putting me against a bunch of other lords and their scions is just asking for bloodshed. Either mine or theirs,” Draco informed him dryly.

“Not this student. And if you can successfully spar with him, I figure you will be safe enough with the rest of them.”

Draco hefted his sword up and onto his shoulder in a casual carry gesture. “I hope so. Lead on.”

The room he had been practicing in was warded against unauthorized entrances. After all, the students were practicing with very real and very sharp swords, and anyone walking in was at risk. It also protected the students from people who might have… objections to those who were learning there. The feel of the wards passing over him as he left his room were a familiar caress and completely ignorable. The trip through the hallway was quiet and Draco eyed the closed doors as they walked past them. He had no idea who was on the other side and wasn’t all that curious to find out.

His teacher paused in front of another plain door and placed his hand on the brass plaque attached to the wood. The glow of magic was subtle and Draco cocked his head to the side. The spells on the room were just as robust as the ones that had been on his own. Whoever was on the other side of the door was someone very special indeed. When the door opened and he saw the occupant, he completely understood why there had been the high level of security.

Harry Potter was going through his forms, and, from what Draco could see, they were about at the same level. He hoped that the truce they had started the year before was still standing. Otherwise, the room was going to get very bloody.

“Potter,” Draco offered as the other man reached the end of his set.

“Malfoy.” Potter eyed him, gaze keen as he looked him over. If it had been in his nature to blush, Draco was sure that he would be doing so. The clothes he wore to practice in were nothing like the robes the modern Wizarding world normally wore, and they showed everything. Useful when fighting, but very revealing on a personal level.

“It looks like Master Baudin has decided that we are to spar against each other. See if I’m fit to join the rest of the students.”

Draco watched as Potter looked at the Master of the school and raised one eyebrow in question. When the older man nodded, the Gryff grinned and waved a hand at the practice circle taking center stage in the room. “I think I can work with that. And I promise not to skewer you.”

Reluctantly amused, Draco took his sword off his shoulder and stepped into the circle. Rolling his head slightly, he felt the muscles of his neck relax before shrugging his shoulders to settle everything out again. As he took his spot for the match, he kept one eye on Potter as he settled into the first form. Unlike the last time he had seen the Gryff, he was actually looking healthy. Potter was almost four inches taller than he had been at his trial, about a stone heavier, and, from the magic swirling around the room, just as powerful as before. Good. When his opponent took his spot, he waited until he heard Master Baudin clap his hands and then nodded.

“I’ll do my best not to get skewered. What brought you here?” Draco asked as he started moving around the circle, breath coming in easy gusts as he held his sword in a light but sure grip. From the sure and easy stance Potter was displaying, Malfoy was sure the other man was trained in the basics at least. Their forms were mirroring each other and they stayed on opposite sides of the ring, moving until the time felt right.

“I needed something that wasn’t riding a broom for exercise, and lifting weights was boring as hell. So I got my physician to recommend something that might actually be fun. He was right,” Potter told him right before he exploded into movement.

Draco grunted in reply as he moved to counter each move, the forms slipping from one to another without conscious thought, so ingrained into his muscle memory were they that he didn’t have to concentrate on them. His eyes were glued to Potter, watching as he moved, trying to gauge where a weakness was going to appear. The back and forth nature of the match was soothing and even the clanging as their swords met blended well. As his breath started to come in pants, he stepped back slightly, and started circling in the opposite direction. Potter pulled back as well, eyes intent on his stance.

“Well, you seem to be doing great,” Draco said when he had gotten enough air back that he wouldn’t sound like he was knackered. Because he wasn’t.

The smile that crossed Potter’s face was disconcerting. “Thank you for that. Why are you here?”

“I took lessons as a child, but when I went Hogwarts, they stopped. My father didn’t think I would need them anymore and, well, it was difficult enough finding the time for the independent studies I was doing in Potions, let alone in this,” Draco explained before he drew in a deep breath and launched his own attack. Parry, riposte, lunge and a small twist! Potter’s sword was wrenched out of his hands and across the floor. Draco stepped back and pulled his sword up in front of his face, saluting his opponent. “That was a good match. Thank you.”

“It was,” Potter agreed before shaking his hands out like the action had stung. Well, Draco was aware that the move wasn’t all that pleasant to have happen against one, and the Gryff’s hands had been twisted slightly as he had connected. “Shall we do it again?”

Draco looked at Master Baudin and the older man was smiling. “Sure.”

 

 

“You know, Master Baudin wants to get you on the lists for international competition,” Harry muttered as he threw a towel at Draco.

Draco grunted slightly as he caught the cloth and ran it over his face. After several years work with Master Baudin and his merry band of sadists, he was a very skilled swordsman and had branched out to axes and knives. Add in some of the Muggle kickboxing that Harry had talked him into and he was a force to be reckoned with.

Their competitiveness at Hogwarts had resurfaced in the salle, but it no longer had the bitter edge it had once carried. This was more about the fun of learning something new and using the skill. Plus getting a free drink out of it. Draco had stepped up his game when Potter had beaten him to the punch by getting the first wandless spell out. A completely unexpected Impedimenta had stuck his feet to the floor as he had twirled through one pirouette and all had been lost.

He had paid his wager like a gentleman and had taken Potter, now Harry, out to dinner. That had been happening a lot recently, and Draco was starting to get some inkling that Harry really didn’t mind. Were they dating? If so, he was really, really bad at it. Because most of their dates seemed to revolve around using their swords. Wincing slightly at the mental double entendre, he tried to keep his expression neutral.

“I don’t think I want to get that high profile just yet, Harry. You saw the shitestorm that came up when the press found out you and I go here. Can you imagine what they would say if I went to compete? Let alone on the same team as you?” Draco grabbed the sheath for his blade and slid the gleaming length of steel into it. The sound it made was a quiet whisper and he smiled. The first time he had seen a Muggle movie with swords and heard how they got theirs out of the sheath, he had freaked out. Harry had thought the whole thing was hilarious.

As if he was going to let any blade of his sound like it was being scrapped on a dull corner every time it was drawn. That could fuck up the edge! And don’t get him started on the shite they passed off as fighting in most of the movies Potter had shown him. It was depressing.

“You can’t keep living your life by the swaying of the public’s opinion, Draco. It won’t work, they’ll still hate you, and worse, you might come to hate yourself,” Harry told him, eyes serious.

Bloody buggering fuck, the bastard would have to remind him of that, Draco thought savagely. After years of keeping a low profile, he had slowly, carefully been getting more and more open about being in England and starting to take a hand in the world around them. For the first four months, he had actually read everything the Prophet and Witch Weekly had written about him and reacted accordingly. It hadn’t worked.

Harry had finally had enough during one practice and had beaten him black and blue with words, the flat of his blade and some well-timed jinxes. It had been a miserable afternoon. But he had stopped paying attention to the two premiere gossip rags in England and had been happier for it. Even if he did return the favor, in spades, when some of the Weasley’s had gotten on Harry’s case about the time he was spending with someone other than Ginny.

“You’re right, but I think I left part two of that revelation to too late,” Draco shook his head and stared up at the ceiling. “Living by the opinion of the public sucks.”

“It does indeed. Good thing for you that Master Baudin was willing to let me sign you up and all that shite. No need to thank me,” Harry grinned at him and spread his arms wide.

Draco wasn’t sorry at all when he threw his towel into Potter’s face, followed closely by a nicely cold, conjured snowball. The shriek the other man let out as the cold, wet slush went down his shirt was fantastic.

 

 

“Lord Malfoy, I didn’t realize you were competing,” Minister Shacklebolt observed as he shook hands with everyone on the team representing England.

“I have the skill and am sufficiently high enough in the ranks to try, Minister. If nothing else, I can say that I did just that. Try. Merlin knows, there are some very talented people out here today,” Draco informed him with a wry smile as he waved at the masses of competitors.

“Indeed. It will be interesting to see how you represent us then. Good luck, Lord Malfoy,” Shacklebolt murmured as he moved onto the next person in the line.

Draco didn’t sigh, but he wanted to. Especially with who was closely following the Minister. Granger had made it far up in the ranks of the Ministry in just a few short years and while the old him might have wondered if the chit had gotten there on Harry’s coattails or some other means, the newly grown up and aware Draco knew she had done it all on her own. That and Harry had been muttering about what he had been up to for most of the time they had been sparring together. Granger was scary smart and after sloughing off the Weasel, had shot high and far. He didn’t even try to do anything but nod at her when she passed him.

The narrow-eyed glare he got in return just made him shrug, and he moved to the back of the room, looking for the bar. He didn’t want alcohol, but he did want something to drink. And maybe use as a prop. One soda water with lime later and it looked like he was having something else. Picking a slice of wall to hold up was even easier and Draco settled in to watch the room and all the various circling sharks.

“It’s amazing who they allow to compete in international competitions now-a-days, isn’t it?”

Draco didn’t turn his head, but sighed internally. Where you had the Minister for Magic, you always had his entourage. And that in this case, meant Blaise Zabini. “Do us all a favor, Blaise, and go the fuck away.”

“Why should I, Malfoy? I’m here to watch the competition,” Zabini told him with a toothy grin.

For the life of him, Draco couldn’t see what had made him even try to be friendly with the other man at Hogwarts. He was vain, cold, cruel and, above all else, shallow. Even as shallow as he had been, Zabini had been worse. But he and his mother were survivors. He had to give them that.

“So what number spouse is your mother up to now? Ten? And are any of them alive?” Draco asked cheerfully, eyes full of malice as he sipped his water.

There was a slightly darker stain to the other man’s cheeks and Malfoy counted that as a win. Ms. Zabini and her black-widow tendencies had been gossip beyond compare in the social circles of his youth. He was betting that they still were years later.

Zabini pushed off the wall and walked away. The feelings that stirred in his gut were bitter. That had been the single most civil conversation he had had with any of his housemates since the war. It was depressing as fuck.

Surveying the room, he sighed. He wasn’t up for this shite. Draining his glass, he set it onto the closest table and headed towards one of the side doors. He was going to go to his room and try to get some sleep. The drama wasn’t worth it.

***

The competition was rough. Everyone in the place knew who he was and what he had at one point been made to stand for. It made the various matches interesting to say the least. Draco kept a casual eye on Harry and enjoyed the spectacle as he managed to kick a great deal of ass over the days of the competition. That wasn’t to say that he was being shy or retiring either. He managed to do a lot to advance England’s standing in the trials.

His last bout had been close, and he had had to pull out some fancy maneuvers that he had actually seen in one of Potter’s movies to achieve victory. It had been too weird. Master Baudin had been less than pleased with him for his audacity. Draco had been made to run drills until he puked, but it had totally been worth it when he had sent the Bulgarian fighter’s sword spinning off into the wards.

Harry, the little bastard, had laughed until he cried when he found him sipping at his glass of soda water and ignoring the results of his exercises.

Two weeks later they were back in England and Draco was sitting in his study, admiring the decorative sword that was now hanging on his wall. It was bejeweled, shiny with gold, and absolutely useless for actual fighting, but it was precious none the less. He had won that. In an honest competition, without a wand and without using his innate magic. Sipping at his brandy, he smiled in pleasure.

The sound of the bell to his apartment was just odd enough that he had to test the wards to see who might be at his door. Whoever was on the other side didn’t seem to have any ill intentions at least. Draco unlocked the door and took a deep breath before opening it. “Harry?”

“Gonna let me in, Draco?”

He didn’t bother to reply, just stood aside and let Harry make the choice if he wanted to come in. When Potter walked in, Draco felt his breath catch. Whatever this was, it was something important. Leading the way to his study, he waved at the chair opposite his own. “Brandy?”

“Please,” Harry confirmed before looking around the room.

Draco tried to see his study with the eyes of someone who had never been in it before. The apartment was a minor Malfoy property that had originally intended to house a mistress of the Lord of the House, so it was very nice, but not up to the extravagant standards of Malfoy Manor. It was richly appointed in wood with brushed nickel accents, plush fabrics and enough leather to be comfortable. Since the apartment was for a mistress, it was set up for someone to live in without servants.

Unlike his childhood home, there were no house elves keeping an eye on him, popping in and out all day long. The Malfoy elves had all gone with his mother when she had retreated back to France, and he was content to let them. Draco had found, over the years since Hogwarts, that he was capable of a lot more than he had ever expected when he had been living under his father’s thumb. Not to say that he didn’t enjoy a spot of spoiling from the elves, when they had the time, but their devotion to his mother came first.

“It’s a muggle brand that I found recently,” Draco told him as he offered up the beverage. His fingers brushed Harry’s when he handed over the glass and they tingled again. The feeling had been happening a lot and he looked forward to it each and every time.

As he sat back in his chair, Draco watched as Harry took a sip of his brandy. The pleased hum Harry gave as he tasted the drink, gave him a warm feeling and he didn’t try to analyze it. He just accepted it. The question on if they were dating was still rather up in the air, especially since they hadn’t even discussed the finger thing going on. He watched as Harry set the snifter aside, and put his aside as well. Maybe the reprieve was over?

“Are we going to talk about what’s happening between us?” Harry asked as he stared over at him.

Draco looked down at his hands before raising his eyes to meet the green ones gazing back at him. It figured that Potter would be the ever-brave Gryff and push things on first. “You mean the thing that happens when we touch?”

“Yes.” Harry leaned forward and extended one hand.

He stared at the limb and reached out his own hand, carefully grasping what was being offered. The tingle that had been hinted at every time they brushed erupted in a blaze of warmth. There was no way he wanted to let go. “That wasn’t what I expected.”

“It was what I was expecting,” Harry admitted as he tightened his grip. “I had this best friend when I was a child… She loved to research everything, including how her new world dealt with marriage. She discovered that some magicals are gifted with the ability to have something like soulmates. And one of the things that showed that compatibility was a flash of warmth when they touched. Like what we’re feeling.”

“Huh. I should have known that,” Draco mused as he debated between pulling Harry over to him or just giving into the warmth and dragging him upstairs to his bed. “So, is this a fated thing and Magic has determined that you are the one for me and that’s it?”

“Compatibility, Draco. Not fated. This doesn’t determine that. We would have to go visit the Book of Souls to determine if the compatibility is actually a soulbond,” Harry explained as he smiled softly.

Draco mentally shrugged and slid out of his chair and moved to kneel in front of Potter. He reluctantly let loose of the hand he was holding to run his hands up the length of Harry’s thighs to grasp his arse and pull him forward. The surprised huff of air brushed over his face and he breathed in the scent of vanilla brandy and something that was uniquely Potter.

“Okay. I can live with that,” Draco told him, as he stared into the deep green eyes of his friend. “But we need to discuss a few things. Ginevra Weasley?”

“I haven’t been anywhere with her, socially, in about three years. I told her parents that there was no way that I could see me marrying her,” Harry told him, voice even. “I know that when the war was over, everyone expected us to get together, but it didn’t work. We tried. It was like… what I imagine kissing a sister would be. Towards the end, it was just duty that kept us trying. Mutual decision ended that, and the elder Weasley’s told me that they are fine with the lack of a relationship between us. So’s she. Ron’s the only one still bent on it.”

“Right. That’s good to know. I probably won’t get hexed from her, then.” Draco muttered as he knee-walked a bit closer. When Harry spread his own legs, he moved even closer, enjoying the warmth that came from being so close. “What about Ronald and Hermione?”

“Ron would love nothing else but for me to marry his sister,” Harry informed him, eyes solemn. Draco could feel one of the hands that had been resting on his shoulders move and he tilted his head into the stroking of his hair. “I can see you like that. Good to know. Hermione isn’t interested in controlling who I date at this stage. She’s much more wrapped up in the last stages of her mastery. That and she hasn’t talked to Ron in about a year.”

“You have until forever to stop doing that.” Draco was hard put not to let his eyes close and purr into the feeling of Harry’s fingers. “So the Golden Trio has fallen apart?”

“You didn’t notice?” Harry asked as he moved his fingers through Draco’s hair.

He shook his head slowly, being careful not to dislodge those wonderful fingers. “You know I don’t get the Prophet or Witch Weekly. And while I do get the Quibbler, Luna hasn’t really been concentrating on gossip over the last few years.”

“Huh. Yeah, we haven’t really had time for each other. Hermione went for her mastery in Charms, Ron went for the Aurors and you know I took over my lordship. There was a lot of catching up to go with that and I just haven’t had time.” Harry shrugged carefully. “What about your mother?”

Draco hummed softly at that. Catching up was a mild term for the intensive studying that Harry, as Lord Potter-Black, had done. He had inherited one of the most Ancient and Noble houses directly by blood from his father, and another by magical inheritance from Sirius. Hogwarts had in no way prepared him for it, and Dumbledore sure hadn’t bothered to before he had died. Draco had long ago come to terms with that and no longer harbored the guilt about his part in the old bastard’s death. Helping Harry learn everything he had needed had been a welcome refresher for what he had needed to rule his own house.

“My mother honestly won’t notice. She’s in France for a number of reasons, Harry. Keeping her away from the arseholes here in Britain is only one of them,” he revealed. It was a closely held secret, what was actually going on with Narcissa Malfoy.

“She’s okay?”

“No. She isn’t. And there’s nothing that’s going to change things either.”

Harry leaned forward until his forehead was resting against Draco’s. “I am so sorry.”

“Thank you,” was all he said for several moments. Pulling his courage together, he asked the question that had been weighing on his mind. “So, how long have we been dating, do you think?”

The giggle that erupted from Harry was sweet and carefree. “Months. Months, Malfoy. And you owe me a kiss.”

“Well, I’ll just get right to that,” Draco returned before leaning forward and brushing his lips over the ones before him. He kept the kiss soft, simple and just enjoyed the rush of heat that moved between them.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two

lh-stonehenge

The thing about dating the Boy Who Lived was that a large portion of the British Wizarding World seemed determined to hate anyone he stepped out with who wasn’t Ginny Weasley. Given that Draco was the son of a Death Eater and had stood in the Death Eater ranks, most of the population really, really hated him. They had started going on dates into Muggle London and avoiding Diagon Alley due to the bullshite that kept coming their way.

He was ordering all his normal shopping from either catalogs or muggle sources because dealing with people in the Alley was mostly out. Gringotts was about the most neutral place to be had in the Alley and even then, the customers in the bank never shut up. Draco had started requesting that the goblins who handled his estate meet him at his apartment. It was calmer for him and for them.

Some things, though, required a physical presence. He and Harry had apparently been dating for almost four months before he had acknowledged it with a gentle kiss in his study. The mind-blowing sex later that night had been a wonderful way to celebrate. Six months later, they had decided to look at the Book of Souls. The warmth that infused them when they touched had never gone away and his curiosity had been burning since Harry had told him about the possibility.

The floo exit into the atrium of the Ministry was about as public and open as was possible to get and still be relatively safe. Draco stepped out of the fire and made sure to banish the soot from his travels. Harry was arriving on his own so he made sure to approach the main desk openly and with his body language showing he was relaxed. It didn’t work all that well, but then, it never did.

“Wand please.”

Draco set the wand he had for this purpose on the counter. It was one of several hundred that had lived in his family vaults for at least a century and the original wielder was lost to history. He had never used it, and, since it was ancient, the last spell listed on it was a stasis charm. The Ministry employee picked the wand up and sniffed over the condition of it before he handed him a claim ticket for it with an affronted air.

It took a great act of will not to snap back at the little twit, but he managed it. Getting delayed or detained wouldn’t serve his purpose at all. That and Harry would be less than pleased with him.

The way down to the Department of Mysteries was clearly marked and the parts of him that had been trained for and in war winced at how exposed everything was. To have one of the most important and crucial departments in the government so clearly labeled for anyone to find was just stupid. To compound it, every other department in the building was similarly denoted. If anyone invaded now, they would be able to find everything. Including the Minister for Magic.

Shaking his head, Draco followed the signs until he reached the right corridor and tucked his hands into his sleeves, trying to keep his face smooth. He had every right to be there, and he just kept moving like he did. The door leading to the Book of Souls was a high arch, the wood of the door covered in all the symbols denoting soul mates from cultures around the world and accented with gold and jewels. If it hadn’t been in the Ministry itself, he would have thought it vastly overdone. As it was, it was still a bit much.

Pushing the door open, he saw the room beyond was a very plain and uninhabited anteroom. Sitting in the center was a desk that should have had someone manning it. From the sound of voices echoing out of the room behind the desk, he could only presume they were with someone else who was looking at the book.

A quick, wandless tempus confirmed that he was on time and all he had to do was wait for Harry. He had just settled into one of the benches when the doorkeeper came walking back out with the person they were escorting. Draco didn’t know the witch, but from her slightly depressed mien, he could only conclude that she didn’t have an entry in the Book. He did grace her with a nod of acknowledgment before leaning back once again.

“Lord Malfoy? Are you waiting on something?”

“Or someone, Madame,” Draco murmured before closing his eyes.

The tingling warmth that tied him to Harry was getting closer, and he let a small smile cross his lips. He had no real doubts as to what they would find in that other room, but Harry wanted the confirmation and, to be fair, so did he. If their relationship was going to go public, they needed all the help they could get. The visit to the Book was thus a very calculated endeavor. Harry had mentioned the hope that the reinforcement of a soulmate bond on their status would help, hopefully, keep the baying for his blood down.

Draco wasn’t actually betting on that, but he was hopeful. Hopeful enough that he had agreed to come to the heart of the Ministry on a weekday, meet up with Harry and look at the bloody Book. He wasn’t stupid, however. The wand he had given over was one thing, but he also had his sword strapped to his back, his actual wand tucked into a holster in his forearm, and a whole slew of useful potions and other stuff tucked into a dimensional bracelet. Smart, not stupid had become a mantra over the years of training.

“Draco,” Harry called and his eyes snapped open.

“Harry.” Draco would have loved to kiss his lover hello, but they had a witness and they still needed to see the Book. Dressed in dark green and black, Harry was in the formal robes he used when he was playing Lord Potter-Black. “You look great.”

“So do you. Shall we?” Harry asked as he held out a hand.

The warmth that was living in his core seemed to be concentrated in the grip he shared with Harry, and Draco couldn’t help the sappy smile that crossed his face. He might have actually been a bit slow when it came to figuring out he was dating Potter, but he was pretty sure that he loved the bastard. And that he was willing to do just about anything to keep him safe.

“Oh!”

Draco looked at the third person in the room and raised an eyebrow at her. “As I recall, your oaths mean that you can’t speak of what happens in these rooms?”

“You would be correct, Lord Malfoy. Lord Potter-Black? Are you both going in?” the lady asked. She had answered his question only grudgingly, but seemed happier dealing with Harry. That damn Death Eater connection, Draco thought.

Harry glanced at her and nodded. “We are. Thank you.”

Walking into the room where the Book of Souls was displayed stirred a weird feeling in his gut. There were ancient wards designed to protect anyone within them, emanating from the center of the space. When Harry had first mentioned the mystical item, Draco had known of it only from the fairytales he had been told as a child. Afterwards, he had done his research. His father hadn’t been a believer in sentiment, so he had paid scant attention to the legends of Britain, so he had been surprised at how much there was to learn.

Enchanted by someone, the Book of Souls sat on a solid marble plinth in total darkness. When people entered the room, it lit from an unknown source. No one could figure out how the magic for it continued to work, century after century, but it did. The Book itself was plain, the leather of the cover unmarked and unadorned by writing, tools or jewels. The only time it opened was when someone had an entry in it. If anyone else tried to open it, it stayed stubbornly shut, resisting all efforts at discovery.

“So, shall we?” he asked as he walked over to the plinth, never letting go of his lover’s hand.

Harry didn’t reply, just pulled him closer and stepped up. When they were both in front of the Book, the edges lit up and Draco could hear the long sigh of relief, and he shared a smile with the other man. “On three?”

Harry nodded. “On, three. One. Two…”

“Three,” they said together and put their hands on the Book.

The white light of confirmation exploded from the pages and they leaned over to read the words written on the pages. The script was the formal form that was seen in ancient documents, but still clearly legible. The names Draco Lucius Malfoy and Harry James Potter were spelled out for them to see.

“So that’s that,” Harry muttered. “This will get announced automatically.”

“That there’s a new soul-bound couple, or our names?” Draco asked as he stared down at the script. His mind was starting to spin out, trying to make decisions on what they needed to do next. Number one decision on his list was to keep Harry safe and damn the consequences.

“Yes. To both items. I suggest we get out of here before something of a bullshite nature happens,” Harry confirmed before stepping down from the plinth.

As soon as his feet hit the floor of the room, the light from the book faded. Draco could still see Harry’s name, but the light from the book was softer, less outrageous and startling. He stepped back as well and sighed as the book went dark. Fate was such a bitch.

Turning to his lover, his soulmate, he smiled. “Let’s go.”

The anteroom had been empty when they had entered, but was full when they walked out. The attendant was standing in front of the door waiting on them to come out. Gathered on either side of her were a number of aurors, Unspeakables and the Minister himself. Harry shot him a grim look and turned to the woman. Draco had vaguely recognized her, but didn’t have a name to put to the face. Harry apparently did.

“What’s all this, Candace?” his lover asked as he stepped forward. “I thought you couldn’t speak of what went on in here.”

The look that the woman flashed him was filled with malicious satisfaction, and something in Draco stirred. “I can’t speak of what happens in here, but I can make sure that the right people are here if something interesting happens.”

“So you obey the letter of the law and totally ignore the spirit of it. How Umbridge-like of you,” Harry sneered back, green eyes bright with temper. “So, Minister, to what do we owe your presence?”

Shacklebolt stared at the two of them and shook his head. “When it reached my desk that the two of you were seen in public together, I wasn’t too concerned. I mean, you couldn’t stand each other in Hogwarts. Your rivalry was immense, deep-seated and bitter. That you had overcome it enough to be civil was good. It meant that you were putting the war behind you. You even competed on the same team for Britain and brought home the first championship in years. Your closeness after that was a bit much, but still, wasn’t a problem. This is a problem.”

Draco stepped up beside his lover and kept a wary eye on the men in the room as Candace faded through their ranks. “How is our private life a problem for you, Minister?”

The Minister didn’t even look at him, which raised his hackles and he felt his magic start to rush until it was contained just under his skin. “Your private life isn’t really a concern, Lord Malfoy. We would prefer that you stop associating with Lord Potter-Black, but that will get taken care of soon enough. His private life though, that is a concern.”

“Really, Kingsley? You think you have the right to tell me who I can be with?” Harry snarled softly, a faint questioning tilt to his voice as the only thing keeping Draco on the side of civility. “The last I knew, you were the Minister for Magic and that position doesn’t mean you can control people’s love lives.”

“Ah, lad… For anyone else on this island, that would be true. But you are the Boy Who Lived and there is no way that we’re going to let you be soul bound to a Death Eater. Even one who got cleared in court,” Shacklebolt told him with a mournful shake of his head. “The announcement’s been blocked. Just let it happen and it’ll be as painless as possible.”

They watched as the Minister walked out of the room and turned their eyes to the crowd. There were enough Unspeakables in the place that Draco was certain that they would be trying something horrific to block what hummed between the two of them. He swiftly reached out and grabbed Harry’s hand, pressing hard on the bones to lock their grip together.

“You lads don’t want to do this,” Draco murmured as he tried to figure out how they were getting out of this mess.

“Oh, we really, really do,” Blaise told him as he moved forward from his spot in the back. His former classmate was sneering at them both as he looked at how their hands gripped the others. “Potter’s too important to Britain to waste on you. He’ll be happy enough with the bride we’ve picked out for him.”

“So what I want means nothing to you? Free will doesn’t seem to be something that you’re interested in letting me keep, eh, Blaise?” Harry fired back. Since he had his hand on his lover’s skin, Draco could feel the gathering of magic surging to the fore. Whatever Potter was planning, it was going to be big. Harry was heavily trained in Defense and he would back him against just about anyone. Including Riddle.

“Like I said, you’ll be happy enough Potter. And Malfoy will be well taken care of. Don’t you worry about that,” Blaise told him. “Separate them!”

Harry drew in a deep breath and Draco got ready as well. As soon as his lover let loose whatever it was he was planning, he was going to apparate them out of the Ministry and to the safest place he knew. With the first step from the mob before them, Harry let loose a blast of magic that exploded out of him, into the room and out into the Ministry itself before collapsing unconscious. Draco wasn’t going to stick around to see what the result of the blast would be. Using the connection of his hand on his lover’s wrist, he pulled him into his arms and apparated them both to Stonehenge.

Right into the middle of a fairy ring.

Bugger.

 

 

 

When they had acknowledged that they were dating, one of the conversations they had had, had focused on what could be done if the public turned against them. Escape with a minimum of casualties had been their first option. But doing so took massive amounts of power and neither of them were under the illusion that they wouldn’t be tracked. To that end, they had both looked for areas that could be a safe stop to allow them to regroup.

Stonehenge had not been his first choice of emergency apparition points, but Draco hadn’t been able to find another spot that had power as clean and as pure as the old henge. If either he or Harry blew their reserves for something, the pool of magic under the ancient monument would do wonders to recharge them. They had both found that being conscious didn’t make a bit of difference when it came to recharging; the lack of it actually made it easier since their magic automatically reached out to tap into the pool.

But whatever their experimentation had proven, it hadn’t been under circumstances like this. Draco tapped into the pool of magic and used it to top off his reserves. Side-apparating with an unconscious passenger from London to Stonehenge wasn’t a big deal. Even blowing through the shields at the Ministry hadn’t been that big of a deal. What was a big fucking deal were the pops of noise all over the place as he was followed.

Draco shifted Harry into a more comfortable spot across his shoulders and tucked them closer to the bluestone monolith they had appeared by. The magic of the fairy ring they were in seemed to be floating above that of the henge and he wasn’t able to confirm if the living circle was complete. Visually tracing the ring, it didn’t seem to meet up, but he couldn’t tell magically, and he was quite certain he wasn’t going to have time to meditate down to find out.

That left hoping and luck that the living connection to the wild magic of creation wasn’t going to harm them, or even worse, help them. He wasn’t all that sure he wanted to do that, but it wasn’t like he had much choice. Pushing down the line of warmth that connected him to Harry, Draco tried to assess how his core and reserves were doing. Potter’s core seemed to be back at fully charge, and his reserves were filling rapidly. Which was good, because he could hear their hunters coming up on their position. Launching a shield would likely be the smart thing to do, but it would also be draining. And apparating out was chancy due to the fairy ring.

Running away was basically just as chancy. Their clothes were rich and sumptuous, more suited to marble manors or glittering palaces than running around in high grass. Reaching into his own core, Draco pulled out a whisper of magic and slowly, carefully transfigured his outer robe to its second form as a long leather duster of a jacket. It was still black, but it no longer hindered his movements the way the robe had.

Emboldened by that success, he carefully did the same with Harry’s robes, all the while keeping an eye out for enemies. Flipping the hood of his trench coat up over his hair took only seconds and he rested against the stone for several moments. He let another small thread of magic out to follow the path of the fairy ring as it circled their position. The searchers were getting closer and he needed to make a decision soon. Chance it? Or stay and fight?

Shrugging his shoulder slightly, Draco tried to nudge Harry awake, but whatever he had let loose in the Ministry had completely knocked him down, and all he got was a weak moan. The shadows were all they had to hide them, and there was no telling how long that would last. Peeking around the edges of the stones, he tried to trace the ring and finally gave up. He was going to have to trust the Lady Magic to get them through.

He shifted Harry one last time and silently thanked Master Baudin for being an utter bastard in making sure that he was as strong physically as he was magically. Straightening up, he got ready to move when there was a shouted word that echoed across the site.

“Lumos!

The sun bright ball of magic burst over the henge and took all the shadows with it. Draco bit off several virulent curses and gathered his energies. Whatever was going to happen, he had to be ready to move.

“Draco? Harry?”

“Son of a bitch!” Draco muttered as he looked over to see Molly Weasley picking her way across the field to him.

“There you are!” Molly said as she walked around the stone across from them. She stopped just outside the fairy ring and looked at them before shaking her head. “You should have just given in. It would have been a lot less painful. Harry and Ginny will do well together.”

“For Merlin’s sake, Molly! You know neither Ginny nor Harry are interested in each other. Why are you going along with this?” Draco asked as he watched their enemies gather. “You told Harry that you understood when they told you that they were breaking up!”

The Weasley matriarch bit her lip and then firmed up her gaze. “I know I did. But things change and now I believe this is the best thing for the both of them!”

“Really? Because from where I’m standing, it looks like you are trying to split a soul-bonded couple apart and then magically rape three people every day for the rest of their lives to make this work. One of those people is your own daughter,” Draco fired back at her, trying to get her to see sense.

Molly looked devastated for a brief moment before she shook her head. “She’ll understand soon enough.”

“Even if the potions made her go along with it, you know somewhere deep down, that she’ll hate you for the rest of her life. So will Harry, under whatever enchantments you layer on him. And that doesn’t even count what I’ll do to you lot,” he snarled.

The witch shook her head. “You won’t even know, lad.”

“Oh, yes I will, you old bitch. We’re bonded. That means your plan won’t work,” Draco spat. He had the ring mapped out now, and he had to take the chance. It went around the lintel set and he had to take the chance it wasn’t physically complete, even if it felt magically complete. If he could get to the other side of the stone and out of direct sight, even if it was for a moment, he could get them away.

“It has to work,” Molly yelled at him, eyes flashing with the light of fanaticism.

“Fuck you,” Draco yelled back. Flinging up a shield, he stepped back to the center of the lintel and passed through the opening. Magic, both his and the innate magic of the fairy circle caught them and he could feel something happening. Whatever it was, it had them in a firm grip and wasn’t letting them go. Draco tightened his grip on Harry and held on.

Colors he has no words for, sensations that made his skin crawl and sounds that he heard more with his bones than his ears all assaulted them.  Eventually he had to close his eyes as his brain tried to make sense of what he was seeing. Even that barely helped, and his stomach lurched as the force that had moved them released them and the magical insanity ended. His paranoia made him launch a shield and Draco took a deep breath as the world came back into focus. The feeling of magical danger had faded as soon as he had stepped through the lintel, despite not being able to see anything.

He had no idea how long they had been held in the embrace of the magic that had moved them, and he wasn’t too sure he wanted to know. But what he did know was he hadn’t been expecting to get dumped out into the middle of a full scale battle when they had been released. Draco would love to say that he had taken the surprise well, but that would have been a lie to end all lies and he wasn’t in the mood to lie to himself.

Looking around, he tried to figure out what in the hells he was seeing. Several different cultures of men were racing around the battlefield and from what he could see; the whole thing wasn’t a reenactment at all. The whole place stank of blood, shit, soot and the peculiar smell that well-used armor carried. Draco sidestepped one man who was running by them dressed in ragged armor and then reached up to zap his lover awake, Harry would have to work through the magical hangover he likely had.

“Draco!” Harry’s gasp was flattering, but they didn’t have time. “What in the hell is going on with my head?”

“You have what amounts to a magical hangover. Please tell me you brought your sword?” Draco asked as he tried to figure out what in the hell was going on. The second side of the battle seemed to be mostly naked, wearing blue and screaming in a language that he was sure had been absorbed into English more than a thousand years before his birth.

“The whole kit,” Harry agreed as he looked around the sooty landscape, with his eyes squinted against the pain in his head. “Where the hell are we, Draco?”

“I have no idea, but I know we aren’t anywhere close to home,” Draco told him as he pulled his own sword out of the sheath strapped to his back. “You need to get up, Harry. And figure out where the hell we are.”

“I’ll get right on that,” Harry muttered before pulling his own sword out and flicking his wand out of its forearm holder. Draco was too busy keeping them safe to pay any attention to what his lover was up to until their bond started reverberating with shock.

“So, what’s the news” Draco asked as he traced the movements of a man in black armor through the battlefield. He was wielding twin swords with enough skill to rack up an impressive body count. Whatever he was hunting, though, he wasn’t finding because he kept moving. “Is it bad?”

“Oh, it’s bad. We’re 1500 years in the past, Drake. And up next to Hadrian’s Wall,” Harry reported. “From the date and location, my best guess is this is the Battle of Badon Hill where Arthur won against the Saxons.”

“For fucks’ sake,” Draco muttered softly. “Right. Well, I think I may have my eye on one of the good guys, but we need to survive this first.”

“How can we tell who the good guys are?” Harry asked as he moved to stand beside Draco. They had practiced fighting together, but that was in the salle and in the ring, not on a battlefield where people really were trying to kill them. But better that practice than none at all.

Draco waved at the man he was watching. “History tells me that the native population of this area used a lot of blue woad in their personal decorations, so I think the ones in blue are good guys. And the one I’m watching hasn’t attacked a single one of them either. He does seem to be having a great deal of success at taking care of the other rabble.”

“So, and I’m reaching here, but I think that means the guys in crappy armor are Saxons, the ones in the really impressive black stuff are Arthur and his knights, and that leaves the blue-painted group as Arthur’s allies?” Harry asked as he cut down one of the semi-armored men chasing after a blue painted woman.

Holding his hands out, he tried to show his peaceful intentions toward her when he saw a Saxon running towards her with a sword at the ready. Draco saw the movement and put his wand away before his hand flicked out again, only this time it was filled with a dagger. As soon as she saw that, the woman raised her own axe, and he could see Harry shake his head. Draco threw the blade at the man coming up behind her and grunted in satisfaction as it entered his throat.

Harry grabbed her attention as he started approaching the woman, weapons carefully held so the points were to the ground. Draco’s own attention was pulled away before he could watch the end of the discussion between the two by more men in armor arriving. They were shouting something unintelligible and he was suddenly sick of not understanding what in the hell was being shouted around them.

The Latin phrase for the translation charm used at by the ICW was fairly complicated, but he had done it damn near daily while away on competition and every time he traveled abroad, so he knew it well. Hopefully it worked in the here and now. When he started understanding the shouts and threats coming from the troops around him, he almost sagged in relief. The charm to make sure that he was understood could wait.

“Die, Roman scum!” one of the men attacking him shouted, and Draco tried not to roll his eyes at the words.

“Bastard, I’m English, not Roman!” he groused as he twisted to avoid one awkward slash before he returned the favor with more skill and cut the man’s throat. His back slash took out the second man and he swallowed heavily. Killing with his wand was one thing, but this was totally another. Neither option sat well with him.

But if he wanted them to stay alive, he would kill everyone on the battlefield with them to do it. “Harry, try the translation charm so you can at least understand what’s going on,” he directed as he stepped around the bodies and put himself on guard.

Harry grunted and Draco ignored the squishy sound that followed it. “When you finished yours it got me too. Guess the bond’s growing. I’ll do the second charm, you guard us. Also, the lady I saved? She says her name is Guinevere.”

“Oh, balls,” Draco breathed out as he risked a glance over his shoulder. The very blue young lady just grinned at him; eyes alight with a mad and hungry light as she kept her part of the battle under her eye.

He could feel the instant the spell took hold and he shot Guinevere a glance. It seemed that she could feel the magic as well and was giving them both a considering look before taking out the next man who came their way.

“So, we’re not fighting your folk, right?” Draco called back, ignoring how his words twisted from the English he said them in to something that sounded like the bastard child of Welsh and Latin.

“No, you aren’t, Mage,” she shouted back right before she screamed a war cry and took out a man with a crossbow.

“Great. And the other guys are Saxons?” Harry grunted as he blocked an overhead blow with his sword and then kicked his opponent in the stomach.

“Yes! Where have you been that you don’t know this?” their ally asked as she stabbed Harry’s challenger.

“We have been long and far away from here. And the men in black armor?” Draco asked, already panting from the exertion.

“Arthur and his knights. The one with two swords is Lancelot, Bors has an axe, Tristan has a slightly curved sword and a bow, Galahad and Gawain both carry swords as well. Arthur has a great sword,” she told them in between sharing blows with a bigger opponent.

Draco finished off his latest Saxon and looked around the battlefield. Guinevere had projected the faces of Arthur and his men as she named them and he had enough legilimency to pick them up. He had been right; the man he had seen with two swords was indeed one of Arthur’s, and his face matched that of Lancelot. Looking around, he noticed another of the knights was in trouble.

“Guinevere! Is that one of yours?” Draco asked as he pointed at the battle taking place roughly fifty meters away from them. It might as well have been fifty miles away as he tried to figure out how to get over to the two men.

“Yes, that’s Tristan!” she screamed as she glanced over at the battle before hamstringing a Saxon as he ran by. She quickly wrapped a garrote around the man’s neck, and Draco didn’t bother to worry that the man was going to be standing up ever again.

Draco had a bad feeling about the fight and started pushing the other two in that direction. “Harry!”

“Shielding?” Harry asked.

“You two talk too much. Save your air!” Guinevere snapped as she got off the battle’s latest corpse and looked at Tristan.

“Healing,” Draco disagreed grimly. Battlefield medicine wasn’t his specialty and he was aware of it. Harry had more, but that was through hard-won experience. Neither of them were Pomfrey but they should be able to keep someone alive long enough for an actual healer to get to them.

It took far too much time to get over to where the two men were battling it out. Draco knew that he could have run the distance in seconds if conditions were clear, but with all the men fighting there was no speed available. He had already acquired numerous nicks and cuts all over his arms and legs and he was ignoring the line of fire that crossed his ribs. Battle was messy as fuck, and he hated it.

Tristan wasn’t doing too well in his own fight, and his opponent even seemed to be bored as he slowly worked to kill the knight. Draco kept pushing to get over to him, something in him saying that he needed to make sure that someone else lived through this day. When the Saxon stabbed the knight under the arm, Draco broke and ran, shoving his way through the mass of weapons and men, shaping his will enough to clear the way.

Skidding to a halt, Draco shoved his own sword into the asshole’s shoulder and twisted. For once, the scream as he hurt someone sounded good. He jerked the blade free as he moved to protect Tristan and trusted Harry to keep him safe as he got to work. Flicking out his wand hand, he grabbed the smooth wood of his wand and started running diagnostics. The man under his hands was utterly fucked up and if Draco didn’t help him soon, he would be dead in minutes.

Charms and spells, both verbal and wandless fell from his will and wand in a continuous rain, and Draco could feel the damage being staunched and then repaired. He was ignoring the battle going on over his head and around him. He only stopped when he recognized the knees that dropped down into his vision.

“Enough, Draco. He’s good enough to make it to Guinevere’s healers. She says that have a number who will be able to get him through,” Harry demanded.

Draco looked up and blinked as the world followed moments later. “I think I overdid it, Harry.”

“No shit. We both have,” his lover told him grimly. “You can’t pass out yet.”

He squinched his eyes tightly closed and shook his head slightly, trying to resettle his brain back into his skull. His hands gripped his weapons and he took the time to run one last diagnostic over his patient. The results showed someone who was gravely ill, but not dying at that moment, and if he got some care, likely wouldn’t die. Letting the spell go, he tucked his wand away and staggered to his feet, his grip sure on his sword. “I’m up.”

“Good. You can tell me what you were doing to him,” came the growled command from his right.

Looking up, Draco tried not to be impressed. He was actually considered to be rather tall, but the man before him made him feel dwarfed. Tall, broad and built, he was solid as the mountains and seemed very unamused to find someone he didn’t know hovering over his knight.

“Arthur Castus, at your service.”

“Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter at yours, sir,” Draco managed. He knew that the person in front of him was someone he had studied in history, and he only hoped he didn’t fuck everything up.

 

 

Chapter Three

 

lh-arthur

The aftermath of a battle was never mentioned in all the various tales he had read. Draco was reasonably certain he knew why, too. Reading about your hero’s delivering peace to the dying, stripping bodies of armor and filling mass graves wasn’t part of the derring-do of those heroic sagas. There was no valor or honor in the tasks, just heartbreak and misery.

Unfortunately for him, he had to think about it. In the three days since the battle, he had divided his time between making sure Tristan kept breathing, gathering bodies, and sleeping. It wasn’t glorious, it wasn’t exciting, but it was what was needed. Harry was doing much the same thing, only instead of one patient; he was looking after everyone in his reach.

His wand stayed in its sheath. Magic, while known, wasn’t acknowledged. Events that could be excused in battle, couldn’t be passed off in the cold light of day. There was no way for them to clean the battlefield in an instant that wouldn’t be noticed by everyone.

Now, three days after everything, he and Harry were in a small set of quarters waiting on Merlin (Merlin!) to show up and talk to them. It was enough to make him insane.

“So before we meet Merlin, do you think we’re in the past, our past? Or in an alternate universe?” Harry asked as he used his wand to repair and refresh their clothes.

Draco grunted softly as he shifted on the bed. He was sitting cross-legged as he took a complete inventory of what he had in his dimension bracelet. There were a lot of potions, some interesting books, grooming supplies, spell-ready parchment, his main wand plus the three spares that actually fit him. He even had his personal grimoire, a round dozen pens, his broom, and a Quidditch set. What he didn’t have was more clothes, boots, armor, or any of a hundred things they needed and couldn’t get. What he had was useful for the world they had left, but very little applied to their new circumstances.

He had his Gringotts’ key and some gold, but even with the difference in worth, living would be damn expensive. And the key brought up all sorts of issues directly tied to their unexpected time travel.

“If we are very lucky, it’s a new universe,” Draco muttered.

Harry walked over to stare at him from the foot of the bed. “And if it’s not?”

“Then I just fucked time the time line six ways from Sunday,” he told his lover blandly.

“Going to explain that?” Harry pushed.

“Tristan felt familiar. It’s why I’ve been so driven to protect him,” Draco explained as he began reloading his bracelet, starting with the gold. “He feels like family. So while I was doing a check on him, I cast a familius spell. He’s related to us on the Black side.”

“Really?” Harry stared into the distance for several moments, and Draco was content to let him. He wanted to be packed and dressed before Merlin got there. “Well, he does actually look like Sirius.”

“Given that I think he’s the start of the Black line here in England, I would expect so,” Draco agreed. “But all the history I’ve been taught says that while the progenitor of the Black line was a knight of the Round Table, they said nothing about the mother.”

His lover cocked his head to one side and huffed, amused despite himself. “Would that be the young lady who works at the tavern and keeps visiting him with a little boy in tow?”

“That would be her,” Draco agreed. “Lady is a bit of a misnomer though. From what I’ve overheard, she’s at best a tavern wench, and at worst a whore. Tristan doesn’t seem too attached to her, but he’s very attached to the boy.”

“Does this boy have a name?” Harry asked as he settled onto the bed and started to empty his own bracelet. Draco leaned into the cushions at the head of the bed and watched. Harry’s bracelet was several years older than his, and his lover was orders of magnitude more paranoid than he was.

Draco’s bracelet was spelled to be as plain as possible and covered in matte black enamel that hid all the spell work that went into its creation. Harry’s was still the original Goblin Silver and the spellwork almost glowed off the surface. Draco was certain that it was full of enough survival gear to keep them alive for months. Maybe it included some clothes. If not, he would have to part with some of their gold and he wasn’t looking forward to that at all.

“His name’s Corvus,” Draco told him absently as he sorted through the pile of clothes that appeared around them. “So that’s where my favorite shirt went! Anyway. His full name is Indus Corvus Black. I find myself really wishing I was able to let Walburga and Bellatrix know where their illustrious family history started from.”

Harry looked over at him from his side of the bed with a faint look of horror on his face, and Draco pushed on their bond to try to figure out why. His lover was physically fine, so it had to be something else. “What’s wrong?”

“The astronomical name tradition started all the way back here?” he asked, curiosity and horror warring in his voice.

“Yes indeed,” Draco agreed before crawling off the bed to change clothes. Harry just took advantage of the space to pile up more stuff. “Just how much stuff do you have in there?”

“It’s a transfigured dimensional trunk, Draco. I have tons in here thanks to Hermione being pushy and me never removing stuff. Plus I tended to store anything I held for more than five minutes out of habit,” Harry informed him. “If Tristan was supposed to die in the first timeline, I think we’re in the new universe explanation. Because otherwise we have problems. Problems like we could cancel out our own births.”

The feel of clean clothes was heavenly and he ran a quick scourgify over the clothes he had been wearing. The worst of the remaining muck from the day flaked off and Draco banished the mess to the nearest midden. “We have problems anyway, love. How are your reserves?”

“Good,” came the distracted answer. Harry was paying more attention to what he was moving in and out of his bracelet than anything else. “Do you think Tristan could handle a healing potion or two, now that he’s recovered enough from your spellwork?”

“He’s magical,” Draco agreed before looking at the vials Harry was holding out. Both were decent broad-spectrum potions that would do the knight a great deal of good.

Before Harry could respond, there was a knock on their door, and Draco moved to answer, sword in hand. From the whispers of sound behind him, Horry was storing everything away. Opening the door, he kept the naked blade out of sight and peeked around the edge.

Merlin was standing there in all his blue-painted glory, and Draco fought a bone-deep twitch at that. He had been studiously ignoring certain parts of their current predicament but this was shoving them to the fore. Merlin. Arthur. Knights of the bloody Round Table. Nightmares.

“Are you going to invite me in, traveler?” Merlin asked.

Draco managed to pull the door open wider and waved him in, without using the hand that held the sword. Harry had the only chair in the place set beside the table, and Merlin made for it without a blink. Eyebrow raised in question, he looked at his lover. A feeling of caution and duplicitousness pulsed through the Bond and he figured his lover wanted to present a mostly harmless image to their guest, which was why he was sitting tailor fashion on their bed.

“Thank you for seeing us,” Harry said.

“We have never gotten visitors from as far away before.” Merlin looked at them both shrewdly.

“No you haven’t,” Draco agreed before sitting on the bed and placing his sword beside him.

“Magic flows from you two like water from a river. We have no one trained like you so close to the wall,” Merlin told them, blunt and, to Draco’s ear, honest.

He tried to remember where magic had been taught before Hogwarts had been built and couldn’t. Londinium had the bare beginnings of the Alley, but the sprawling collection of streets were still for the future. Formal schools were rare things, and if he remembered his history right, such schools were in Rome, Athens, Cairo or Constantinople at this time. England wouldn’t have a recognized school until Hogwarts, and that august body wasn’t due to be formed for another six to ten years.

“No, I’m sure you don’t,” Harry offered cautiously.

“Time flows around you in waves as well. As if the sea spat you out and now is making sure you stay,” Merlin announced, and Draco could feel Harry flinch.

“Lady Magic has had a hand in this yes,” his lover said.

“Indeed. Since Lady Magic has dropped you here, we should take advantage of that.” Merlin smiled at them. It was all teeth and danger, and Draco wanted to protest. Take advantage? How? The teachings of his father rose up in him, and Draco throttled the urge to protest back. He was no longer his father’s son.

The clamping of Harry’s hand on his leg reminded him that they didn’t really have any other options. Damn it. The grin on the old man’s face got even bigger, and Draco could feel a growl tickle the edges of his control. Harry’s hand gripped harder, and he settled back into the bed. He hated having people move him around like a chess piece. It reminded him far too much of Dumbledore and his ‘greater good.’

“It is good you have him to help your control, Dragon,” Merlin told him with cold certainty. “Just because I am not what you are used to, does not mean you can best me. Your lover has skills that I can train. You however, will train with Arthur.”

“Why?” Draco bit out.

“Because this is a new world for you. And Lady Magic has plans,” Merlin told them before standing and heading towards the door. “Dawn, young apprentice.”

Draco sat silently for several seconds before pushing off the bed and grabbing the sheath for his sword. The action of sheathing the blade was familiar and practiced to the point of muscle memory. He would inspect the steel in the morning to see if it needed any attention, but at least it was clean.

He managed to wedge the chair at the door before whispering a locking charm that would hold up to just about anyone. Except maybe Merlin. Better to be safe than sorry. Hence the chair.

Plus, he had no idea how well trained the rest of the magical population of the area was.

“Still leaning toward the alternate universe?” Draco asked.

“More than ever,” Harry told him.

“Lovely.” He sighed. “Lumos pila!

The ball of light was easy enough to set onto the metal plate where a tallow candle had been sitting before he removed it. Draco was deeply grateful that his wand and his magic had come back with him, because smelling tallow as he slept was obnoxious. And he had no idea if it was even safe to have a candle going all night. What if it lit something on fire?

“Come to bed, Draco,” Harry demanded as he settled down onto the ancient mattress.

”I know it’s a bit late to ask, but you spelled this thing against bugs, right? And the linens are clean?” he asked as he pulled his clothes off before hanging them on a handy hook.

”Totally bug free, down to the smallest bed bug. And the linens were clean when I got them from Jols and I did a scourgify to make sure of it,” Harry told him from under a much more modern quilt. “You need sleep, Draco.”

What he needed, Draco thought privately, was a good shag. He gave it even odds on if he wanted to be giving or receiving. As tired as he was, he didn’t even want anything outrageous. Sliding into the bed, he reached out to gather his lover into his arms and tried to tamp down on his neediness. Harry had been just as busy and was likely just as tired.

He even tried to sleep. He closed his eyes and everything. Just, behind his eyes, there were the bodies of the men he had killed instead of sheep. There was no way he was going to be able to sleep with that running through his head. Instead, he just lay still, holding his lover close, and tried not to think.

”This isn’t going to work,” Harry muttered before flipping over and staring in his eyes.

“I’m resting! See? Lying down and everything,” Draco protested softly.

“Bullshite. You’re tying yourself up in knots and it’s affecting me, too,” Harry told him bluntly. “So if lying here isn’t going to be doing it for you, then we will have to find something else.”

“Something else, huh?” Draco whispered before using a wandless warmth charm to make the bed more tolerable. Pushing the cloth away, he took in the form of his lover.

Harry was never going to be the tallest man around, but he was perfectly proportioned and had just enough color to his skin to be interesting. Draco was milk white and stayed that way, no matter how much sun he got. His lover though, tanned to a beautiful shade of brown when exposed to the sun. He was looking forward to summer and exploring the tan lines he was going to be able to explore.

Flicking his eyes up, he took a quick look at Harry’s face. The smile and nod he got were all the permission he needed. He leaned over and started kissing his way over the other man’s collarbones then to his lips. The feel of Harry’s lips under his own were the best homecoming ever, and he sank into the feeling. It had been days since he had been able to do more than look at his lover, and he was savoring the taste.

Reaching up, he rubbed one finger over the dark beard that covered Harry’s cheeks. It was long enough now that it was soft, and Draco was fascinated by it. What would it feel like if Harry gave him a blow job with it? Or rimmed him? Shivering in anticipation, he saved the idea away. Something for later when they had more time and energy.

But first he needed to activate the runes he had placed on the small of Harry’s back, right above the cleft of his ass. They had chosen to get them when they had gotten disenchanted with using their wands to prep each other for sex. A quick brush over them with his fingers, a push of his magic, and Harry would be physically ready for sex.

Draco smiled in satisfaction as the runes took the small pulse of power he sent them and his own throbbed in answer. They had gotten and tested them right before their trip to the Ministry, but never had a chance to use them. The gentle push of power into them sparked a feeling of warmth that he could feel under his fingers before Harry moaned, wanton and unashamed, and spread his legs wide.

“Oh, Draco. You will love this when I do it to you. So much better than the charms,” he moaned, voice drugged on the pleasure Draco was giving him.

They had chosen a rune set that would react to the wearer’s pleasure and increase it, would stretch the recipient for anal sex, protect the health of both parties, and finally make everything slick. It seemed to have worked well.

“Good to know, love,” Draco panted lightly. He was so turned on his cock hurt slightly. A wordless charm got him a bit of lube to slick his dick up and then he was gently nudging the head against the furl of his lover’s ass. Sinking into the warmth of Harry’s body, he moaned at the feel of his mate wrapping around him. The urge to stay there, to rest and revel in the feeling was present, but he knew that if he moved, it would be even better.

“Move.”

Draco laughed on a breath of air before pulling out and then plowing back into his lover. From the way Harry’s legs wrapped around his hips, the action was well received. “Greedy bastard.”

Placing his hands on either side of his lover, Draco moved his knees to get a bit more leverage before settling in to blow his mate’s mind. From the way Harry was babbling in English, Parseltongue and Latin, he was succeeding. He could feel the tension of an approaching orgasm running through their bond and Draco pushed his pleasure down it as well. That seemed to be the final thing that Harry needed to push him over the edge. As Draco sank into his lover one final time, Harry’s muscles locked up and his orgasm rushed out of him in pulses that pulled Draco’s out of him.

Instead of collapsing like he wanted to, Draco carefully pulled out of Harry, ignoring the moan of protest. A scourgify took care of the wet bits and he settled into the curve of his mate’s body. The bond that had been humming between them for so long blazed, and he didn’t know if it was because they had been to see the Book of Souls and acknowledged what was between them, or if it was something else. He really, really didn’t care. He was just glad that the tie that bound them together felt unbreakable.

 

Six months later

Draco was exhausted. If he had ever thought Master Baudin was a harsh taskmaster, he wasn’t ashamed to admit he had been wrong. Tristan was a thousand times worse. Add in the lessons from Arthur and his men, and he was just done.

Harry was doing no better. He had his lessons with Merlin that were full of things he was not able to share. He tried, with various levels of success to pass on the information, but Draco could only grasp at the edges of some of the concepts. Harry was also taking a variety of lessons from Tristan, Galahad and Gawain, and he seemed to be doing well.

The Saxon army had been pretty well decimated by the battle at Badon Hill, but small raiding parties were still wandering the countryside. The hell they were causing was enough to be distracting, and Draco had gone out with the knights several times over the last six months to deal with them. Mainly this meant killing them, and that was never pleasant. He had, mostly, conquered his need to vomit after skirmishes, and took care of the urge on his own time.

None of the surviving knights gave him shit about it either, not even Bors, and he was by far the roughest of the lot. Arthur just looked on and offered sage advice on how to compartmentalize what he saw and did. As time went on, the others offered their own coping mechanisms.

They were riding back from dealing with another raiding party when Arthur waved him forward. Draco maneuvered his way up next to the king and tried not to wince as his horse threw his head back to protest the action. Damn animal, he thought as he shifted his seat and firmed up his grip on the reigns. Unlike a good broom, his horse had a mind of its own and liked to move in unexpected directions.

The sound of amused chuckles coming from his right reached his ears, and he looked over at the king. Arthur looked tired, stretched as if his anchor to life was pulling free. Draco pushed the thought away. The older man was still holding on and that was as it needed to be.

“You don’t seem to be too comfortable on your mount,” Arthur mused as his amusement died down.

“I’m more comfortable than I was, I suppose,” Draco allowed.

“And settling into your lessons with me. I think it will be another six months before I’ve passed everything along,” the king told him with a tired look in his eye. “Merlin can keep me going for about that much longer.”

Fuck. So the older man really did have a problem. “So you and Lancelot?” Draco asked. Lancelot was the one person that every single surviving member of the Round Table admitted that Arthur had been close to. Guinevere had even confessed that while Arthur had wanted to bed her, he had always looked to Lancelot for emotional support.

The look the king gave him was in part frustrated and the other part seemed to be an overwhelming grief. “Bonded, though neither of us knew it. It wasn’t until he died that any of us figured out there was a problem.”

“I’m sorry. I have no idea new you are holding on,” Draco offered, eyes serious as he looked back at his mentor. The thought of losing Harry was enough to take his breath.

“I’m tied to the land. When we found out, Merlin told me I had a year before it wouldn’t be able to sustain me anymore,” Arthur said with a grunt of pain as he shifted. “I’m quite sure that, while I may be alive in six months, I won’t be riding horses for much longer.”

“Understood. Do your knights know?” Draco asked with a nod to the men surrounding them.

“Yes.” The king shrugged and leaned slightly forward in his saddle to pet the neck of his horse. “They’re aware of the whole thing with Lancelot. Galahad and Gawain are upset for me. Bors just wants me to let Lancelot know that his latest son looks nothing like him, and Tristan wished him happy hunting.”

“And when you go?” Draco asked. He had a very bad feeling about things. “What will happen after? To the country and to Guinevere?”

“When I go,” Arthur allowed. “You get the country. Guin will be your spouse and my knights will be your knights. Merlin’s already told me that the land is accepting you as its own. Like it did me.”

Draco dropped the reins to his horse, and the damn beast stopped in place as he sat on its back, completely flabbergasted. From the laughter of the men around him, they found his reaction hilarious.

“I was not expecting that,” Draco growled as he picked the reins up and kicked his horse back into line. “And Merlin?”

“Isn’t going to last much longer than Arthur will,” Gawain told him from his position behind Arthur. “He’s teaching your Harry everything he knows in an effort to make sure nothing’s left hanging when they both go.”

Damn it,” Draco muttered briefly to himself in Gobbledegook.

“They’re in Londinium,” Tristan told him cheerfully.

Malfoy twisted slightly to look at his family member before sitting back into his saddle. Gringotts was a very old bank, and, if his memory served, the physical building itself had been on the same spot since the branch had been opened. And that had been about ten years after Rome invaded and set down roots in the country, if the history Binns had taught them was to be believed.

Londinium and the burgeoning Diagon Alley were well within his range for apparition, so they were also within Harry’s. They needed to go to the bank and deposit their gold, figure out how much it was all worth, and maybe get their wands checked out. Ollivander’s was an English institution and was certainly in the Alley, given that they predated Londinium and the Alley.

“Thank you for letting me know,” Draco called, nodding at the raised eyebrow his words brought. “Despite what Merlin has to say about the land accepting me, I don’t get why you are going along with it. Why me? Why Harry?”

“You think any of us want the throne?” Galahad asked as he circled his horse around. “Or the mess with Guin? This country? Most of us aren’t real fond of it, but it’s home now after so many years. Even if we were willing, none of us have it in us to lead this mess to a safe and prosperous future.”

“And you think I do?” Draco asked, turning to look at the men around him. He would be the first to admit that he was a lot deadlier than he had been when they had arrived. However, the five men riding with him were all death incarnate to their foes. But would that be enough to hold the peace? “You didn’t even know me six months ago!”

“Yes. I’ve watched you as Arthur passed on everything he has to teach to you,” Bors suddenly spoke up and everyone turned to look at him. “You already know most of what he’s been telling you, but you still don’t fuss or ignore it. And yes, you were a stranger six months ago, but you aren’t one now. Besides, if not you, then who will?”

“Gawain and I don’t want it,” Galahad told him, voice just loud enough to be heard over the sound of the horses. “Tristan has never wanted command and, if you notice, his son lives with his mother. Poor kid would be hard put to live with us at the moment. And Bors? He’s got his woman, his bastards and his tavern. If Dagonet were still alive, he would want for nothing.”

“And Guin?” Draco pressed. He rather liked the little Woad princess and she got along well with Harry.

“Guin could have been my wife, if I was going to live longer than I am,” Arthur told him with a wistful smile. “Lancelot and I weren’t like you and Harry. For all we shared a bond, there was no romantic love.”

“Neither were Harry and I when we first met. Far from it,” he admitted. The rest of that story was going to stay behind his teeth. “So I’m getting the kingdom and the girl by default since you all declined before I knew I was in the running?”

“Basically,” Tristan allowed as he whistled down his falcon. Draco was going to ignore how the bird carried a familiar bond to his relative. “Besides, do you really want to see what would happen if I started running this place?”

Draco shuddered slightly at the thought. Tristan was one hell of a fine knight, but he was never placed in command of anyone, by Arthur’s own admission. The one time they had tried, he had brought all his troops home, but they had been deeply traumatized. Arthur had had to keep the men at the fort for months before they were ready to go out again.

The rest of the knights laughed and teased each other in the short hand of very old friends. Draco relaxed and settled back into his saddle, content to let the conversation move on to something else. Harry was going to shit bricks at his news.

 

 

 

“Guin?” Draco called, checking the areas the Woad woman normally worked.

“Over here!” he heard a light female voice call from the stables.

Wandering in that direction, Draco tried to figure out when he had gotten comfortable with where they were living. He missed curry, Chinese food, coffee, tea, and chocolate! Having the option to pop over to Paris and dine in the little restaurants his mother had shown him, or to just go to Flourish and Blotts to get a new book? Oh, he missed those things. He missed having the ability to call his house elves and request his share of the care the little creatures lavished on wizards, too.

But what he didn’t miss was the overwhelming amount of suspicion that had come his way in the old time line. Suspicion of what he wanted, why he was around, what he was doing… His coin was accepted without quarrel at the fort, and, for that, he was grateful. When he and Harry were together in public, no one gave them side-eye looks of disapproval. It was just… better.

Stepping into the barn, he blinked rapidly to try to adjust his eyesight to the gloom. Movement about halfway down the room proved to be the woman he sought, and Draco rocked back on his heels as she finished doing something to the horse she was messing with. As soon as she had finished with her chore, he cleared his throat and tried to put his thoughts in order.

”I talked to Arthur today.”

Guinevere grinned at him, sharp and foxy. “You talk to him every day.”

“Funny girl,” Draco teased with a smile. “Anyway. He told me about why I’ve been taking lessons from him.”

Eyes sad, Guin nodded. “I know. I discussed this with Merlin months ago.”

“I’ll need to talk to Harry, Guin. He’s my first priority before I even think about agreeing with their plans,” Draco told her.

“Good. As it should be,” she agreed.

“Any idea where he is?” Draco asked as he followed her out of the building.

“He and Merlin went on a vision quest last night. I would expect him in about three days. Merlin was saying something about him needing to meet his inner beast,” she told him with a small shrug.

“His animagus form? As far as I know, he doesn’t have one,” Draco said.

Guinevere stopped before they fully left the building and turned to face him. Tapping one finger against his armor’s breastplate she smiled. “He isn’t quite like you, milord dragon, but he does have a form.”

Sweeping her hand up in his, Draco pressed a small kiss to the back of it in a fit of overblown gallantry. “Not quite like mine, huh? Well, I’ll just have to wait until he gets back to find out.”

“Walk me to Arthur’s quarters?” she asked.

“Sure.” Draco held out one arm in an unconscious courtesy, and she gave him a deeply amused look before tucking her hand into the crook of his elbow. On the short walk to the king’s quarters, they chatted idly, going over the gossip of the fort. Nothing earth shattering, just comforting chatter between two people learning how to be friends.

As soon as he delivered her to Arthur’s suite, Draco headed back to the rooms he shared with Harry. Closing the door, he leaned against the seasoned oak and tried not to freak out. Arthur and his knights wanted him to take over for Arthur. To become the king of Camelot. And Merlin! Wanted Harry in his place? For fuck’s sake! What next?

“What is master wanting Tans to do for him?” came a voice from down by his hips. “Tans can clean, mend and make armor?”

Looking down, Draco saw a very naked house elf standing by, big green eyes filled with yearning. Thumping his head against the door, he sighed. Well, he had asked.

 

Part Two 

 

To The Far Distant Shore

On the Wings of Unexpected Change – Part Three

Part Two

on-the-wings

Chapter Eleven

 

“This quorum is called to order!” Rodney almost had to shout to make himself be heard over the top of the noise that his people were putting out.

When that didn’t work, he grabbed one of the laptop cases piled behind him and whapped it on the table. The boom of noise worked better than his voice had. Everyone shut up.

“Thank you,” he said without an ounce of irony shading his voice. “Now that I have your attention, we need to call this quorum to order. I’ve taken myself, Dr. Zelenka and Dr. Kusanagi off the panel. We have all been affected by the events being discussed today and can’t be considered impartial.”

There was a great deal of discussion on that and Rodney let it go on for several minutes before he interrupted again. “The list of people who took the time to qualify as part of a quorum before we left were limited, so we took what we had. Dr. Grodin, Dr. Biro, Dr. Abrams, Dr. Gaul and Dr. Dumais, you are up.”

Radek picked up the thread of his speech and took over. “You will have the floor to question the people who are under review for quorum. The questioning cannot be aggressively confrontational, but you can request clarification when an answer does not meet your needs.”

Kusanagi took the reins next. “You will have up to four hours or until the rest of us vote to end things. Whichever comes first. Remember, you are not playing to the audience, no matter how it seems. You are trying to get the information behind why the events that led to the formation of this quorum came about. If you can’t remember that, you will be removed and one of the alternates, Dr. DiAngelo, Dr. Wagner or Dr. Kavanagh will be called in your place.”

Rodney took a deep breath and stood up. “Is this all understood?”

The five scientists that had been chosen to man the quorum all stood up and nodded. Good. McKay moved out from behind the table that they had set at one end of the room they were in. It had enough chairs to accommodate the five scientists and each of the alternates. “So, it’s all yours now. I’m gonna sit down and have some coffee.”

The five scientists huddled together and talked while McKay got his coffee and settled into his seat. Whatever they were going to do, he at least needed to be awake for it. The discussion at the lead table seemed to be finished as he settled into his seat and he sighed. Knowing the people that had been picked, they would run hard up against the four hour limit. But he couldn’t find it in himself to be upset at that. For what they were dealing with, the more time his people had to hash things out, the better.

“Dr. McKay, before we get started, we do have a question of you,” Grodin announced, and Rodney nodded. He had a hunch he knew what was coming. “Dr. Weir. We know that there has been a change in the leadership of the Expedition, but we need to know that she is being treated well.”

“What happened with Weir is germane to this quorum, but I am not going to start off with that. You need to determine what is happening to Simpson and Miller, first. However, having said that, Dr. Weir is safe, comfortable and not in any distress at this time,” Rodney told the men and women before him. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to tell them, but there were things they needed to find out ahead of his announcement that would affect how they took the news.

There was more whispering at the table and Rodney took a deep drink of his coffee. The whole scene where they had gone to take custody of Weir had been heartbreaking. The ‘alternate’ version of her had been in charge when they had come in, only to be completely replaced by the Elizabeth Weir he had known in Antarctica. Sedating and then transporting her to an isolation room had almost broken him, and he knew that Carson was beating himself up over the whole mess. Heightmeyer was just as bad.

Sheppard had rightly decided that he wasn’t going to get involved in the whole mess. Once they had things stabilized on the leadership front, Rodney was going to push to have a quorum called to deal with Elizabeth herself. And get everyone, scientist and military in on it. Because what had happened to her needed to be disseminated to all of them, if only to quash the rumor mill.

Sipping at his coffee, he watched as the quorum members sat down and looked to Grodin to lead them. Simpson and Miller were led in and sat in the two chairs that had been left empty in front of the main table, looking nothing so much as two people on trial. Which they totally were, and if he had his way, they wouldn’t have made it this far. But then, that was why he had pushed for this. He was far too bloodthirsty to be allowed to pronounce judgment on someone.

Grodin had a computer open and he stared at the screen for a moment before he turned to the two sitting in front of them. “Why don’t you tell us what happened?”

The whole sordid tale fell out in fits and starts as the two scientists under trial tried to explain themselves to their peers. Rodney did his level best to keep his mouth shut the entire time. It didn’t always work, but every time he had the urge to leap in and scream at them, he either took a sip of his coffee or ate some of the food that Miko had shoved at him.

It wasn’t lost on the people in the room either. As the tale wound down, the members of the quorum looked at him and then back at the other two. Grodin pulled everyone in and had a very hushed conversation before he took the lead again. Rodney was certain that the Englishman had a list of questions waiting on the laptop.

“Dr. McKay, when you set up the generators in the ZedPM room, who did you have with you?” Grodin asked, opening the floor.

“Dr. Miko Kusanagi accompanied me since I needed an ATA carrier to initialize all the equipment and safely access the power runs tied into the ZedPM plinth,” McKay told him calmly.

“Whose codes did you find when you went to check the status of the generators when you were called by Major Sheppard?” Dumais asked as soon as he finished speaking.

Rodney fought not to grimace. “I found that Dr. Kusanagi’s login code had been used to disconnect the power cables connecting the generators to the plinth.”

“Since she had been the one to help you with the installation, would it not be logical to assume she had tested the ability to disconnect the cables from their positions?” Dumais observed.

“Possibly, Doctor, but the time stamp recorded for the entry of her code took place while Dr. Kusanagi was a large cat and her every move was under review by upwards of a dozen people. There was no way she could have gotten away from them, down to the ZedPM room, entered her code and gotten back under observation without her absence being noted,” Rodney explained.

The people at the head table all leaned together and had another discussion. The scientist was ignoring how Miko was stiffening beside him in waves. That behavior brought up some interesting things that he wanted to check into, but this wasn’t the time or the place to do so.

Grodin looked at the two scientists in front of them. “From your own admission, Dr. Weir gave you the orders to remove the generators and that was it. Why did you use Dr. Kusanagi’s login instead of your own?”

Simpson looked like she had swallowed something sour and Miller was looking at her, too. “I used hers because she is one of McKay’s favored children and I wanted her to have something not go the way she wanted. Plus she had the level of authorization to actually remove the cables.”

That answer caused some whispers to break out, both with the quorum and in the crowd. “We realize that Dr. Kusanagi would not have given you her passcode, so how did you get it?”

Miller was looking at Simpson as well. From the way he was reacting, Rodney was fairly certain that there had been a lot left out of the explanations she had given the man. “Dr. Weir gave me the code.”

“Fuck, you didn’t tell me that!” Miller exclaimed.

And trouble in paradise, right on time, McKay realized. He picked up his coffee cup to help hide his expression and found that it was empty. Staring down at it, he tried not to glare. God damn, but he was glad that they had locked Weir out of everything. When a coffee carafe appeared at his side, he looked up to see it was one of the nurses on Carson’s shift. Nodding his thanks, he tilted his cup to accept a refill. “Thanks.”

“Not a problem, Dr. McKay. You’re doing great.”

He flashed her a brief grin and turned back to the drama. There was currently a raging argument taking place between Miller, Simpson and Dumais, with asides being thrown around by the rest of the group. It was confusing, entertaining, and he really, really hoped someone was recording the whole mess since he wanted to pick it apart later. Entertainment on this level was so very rare in his life.

“Don’t worry, Rodney. I talked Atlantis into recording the whole thing,” Miko told him, voice pitched low enough that he was certain that only he and Radek heard her.

“You are totally one of my favorite people ever,” he told her without an ounce of shame.

Rodney kept an eye on everyone and set his coffee down as Grodin took control of the quorum again. The questions came thick and fast, and he spent quite a bit of time answering and explaining what had happened, how he had figured out who had done what, and what had been done to fix the damage. They even managed to get Sheppard on the radio to answer questions on what he had found when he had walked into the ZedPM room.

The four hour mark was coming up on them hard and no one had voted to close the discussion down. McKay was deeply proud of all his people. They were taking the whole event as seriously as he did and trying to figure out what the repercussions of it would be. It was good that they had gelled the way they had.

“Ladies and Gentlemen of the quorum, you have fifteen minutes before the end of your four hour period,” Miko announced from her spot beside him.

The silence that announcement brought was swift and the quorum gathered together behind the table, voices quiet. They seemed to be reaching a decision, and Rodney sat back, trying not to squirm. They had been at this now for hours, and his coffee was starting to catch up with him. But he could hold out a while longer. The end of this mess was near.

Grodin took the lead again when the five judges sat back down in their chairs and called the question and answer stage to an end. “We have reached a decision as to the fates of Doctors Simpson and Miller. At this point, there is no way we can fire you from the Expedition. And we don’t have the option of shoving you back through the wormhole for Earth, so something has to be done about you here.”

He was silent for several heartbeats and Rodney wondered what he was thinking. The Englishman was normally one of the gentlest men he had ever met, but on the rare times that his temper lit, he was incredibly vicious. It would be interesting to see what side won.

“The both of you, but mostly Dr. Simpson, almost caused the deaths of every person on this city. That isn’t just the Expedition, your coworkers, that’s also the remaining members of the Athosian peoples. So in one fell swoop, not only would you have been committing mass murder, but also genocide. If the generators, whose function by your words, you didn’t check, had gone unstable and had an uncontrolled reaction, we wouldn’t be here,” Grodin told them

“I can personally only be glad that the Major took the time to check out the power supply and saw the problem. Because there is no way that could have lasted,” Gaul muttered.

“No, it wouldn’t have lasted much longer. There were already instabilities building up in the system, enough to overwhelm the four generators that we had in place. And without the other two there to absorb the pulls on the power supply, it would have only taken one large spike to set everything off,” Grodin agreed.

“We didn’t know that was what was going to happen,” Simpson protested. Miller was shaking his head as well, but Rodney could tell he was angled away from her. At this late date, it wasn’t going to save him, but pointed to some interesting fissures in their relationship.

“You didn’t bother to find out either,” Biro told her. “And you knew that anything to do with the power supplies for the city needed to go through McKay or Zelenka. From your own testimony, you hadn’t been put in charge of the power supplies, you had been put in charge of determining what was needed to keep our new spaceships up and running. The puddle jumpers, as the Major calls them.”

Simpson settled into her chair and, the only word for it was, sulked.

Miller sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. Rodney could feel for the guy. If he was right, pussy blindness was going to get the man in a shit ton of trouble. “If I haven’t said it before, I want to say it now. I really, really didn’t know that she didn’t have permission. I didn’t hear Weir give her the codes, I didn’t hear her direct Alicia to pull the generators, even if they were in use. All I was told was that I was to help move them once they were disconnected,” Miller told the room

“Understood, Dr. Miller. We will be getting to you in a moment,” Grodin promised him. He was staring at Simpson and Rodney waited. “Dr. Simpson, it is the decision of this body that you are to be stripped of all your projects, your accesses and privileges. Once contact is resumed, the recommendation that we will be putting in your permanent file is that you be fined at the maximum rate possible for an Expedition member and fired. Whether you will be blacklisted is totally up to Dr. Carter.”

Simpson deflated and sat back in her chair. “What am I going to do then while you all make life changing discoveries?” she asked with a sneer.

“I hear that Lt. Cooper needs some help in the mess,” Rodney informed her. “But I really don’t want to let you near something as important as our food supply. You might poison someone. What you are going to do will be determined later.”

Grodin flashed him a searching look before nodding briefly at Miller. Rodney just shrugged. He had known that Miller would come out the better of the two of them. Pussy blindness was bad, but thankfully no one had died. If anyone had, there would be no saving the man. “Dr. Miller, you are also to be stripped of your individual projects and will be closely supervised for your remaining time on Atlantis. Again, as soon as we can get contact with Earth, you are going back. We are recommending that you also be fined, but at a reduced rate. Any other disciplinary actions will be up to Dr. Carter.”

Miller let out a huge sigh and nodded. “Fair.”

“This quorum is now closed. But before we go,” Grodin turned to him and McKay stood up, “Dr. McKay, you said that you would explain what was going on with Dr. Weir?”

“I did,” he agreed. Taking a deep breath, he launched into the whole messy tale. Had it only been two days since everything had gone to hell?

 

 

 

“Fuck, that could have gone better,” Rodney told his hands. Both of them were over his face and trying to rub out the stress headache that had developed over the last six hours. Four for quorum and two for the whole Weir mess. His people needed to learn the meaning of the word succinct.

“It went about as well as it could have, lad. And really, no one is trying to talk Kate out of her diagnosis, so that is a plus,” Carson told him.

“Right.” He looked up and stared at Sheppard. “Did we find any place for her to live until we can get her back to the SGC?”

The Major nodded. “We found a series of rooms that have access to an outside terrace where we can install some planters to give her something to interact with beyond that artificial world Miko is constructing for her. Plus there are plenty of spots for you to put shield generators up to keep her contained.”

“Thankfully there are a lot of those little things running around here. We can easily grab some to repurpose to keep Weir safe,” Grodin informed them. He had been added to their council when it became apparent that the admin side of the Expedition wasn’t being represented.

“Where are they coming from?” Sheppard asked.

“The walls,” Rodney told him. “About every ten feet or so, there is a set. We’re just removing some from the highest levels of the tower. The chances of us using those rooms is rather slim at the moment and I would like you to lock the access to them out of the system once we get them removed.”

Sheppard nodded without questioning him on it. “Done., Let me know when you are ready for me to lock everything down.”

“Thank you. Once we get the generators installed, we will be able to adjust the density of the shield. I’m thinking that I want it thin enough to let wind and rain through, but not allow anyone to throw themselves off. Does that sound about the level that everyone else is comfortable with?” Rodney asked.

The agreement flowed around the room and he nodded. Adding the task to his list, he sighed. It was a good thing that the day here on Atlantis had been proven to be 28 hours long. He was going to need every single one of those hours to make a dent in the ‘to do’ list in front of him.

Tuning back in to the conversation around him, it took him several seconds to realize that Carson was being lightly grilled on what medications would need to be produced for Weir. Most of them weren’t in their physical pharmacopeia, but were present in the list of drugs that they had brought the formula and creation methods for. The part none of them were looking forward to was how in the hell they were going to get the drugs down Weir. If the ‘original’ personality was in charge, there was no way she would take pills, if it was the ‘alternate’ version, coming after her with a needle would make her freak out. And hiding the medications in her food was just asking for haphazard dosing.

“We can’t not try to treat her,” Heightmeyer protested when Miko had wondered why they were bothering.

“She’s dangerous,” Miko told her, and actually the rest of them, bluntly. “I am building her a world that she can play in, can try to get around us and commit her little insanities without hurting the rest of us, but what happens in real life? We are going to be asking the nurses and any volunteers to go into her rooms with her and interact. To try to get her to take her meds and not escape. There is no real way that we can do that long term.”

Carson sat back and sighed. He was looking resigned and so was Heightmeyer. “We know, lass. But we can’t not try.”

“If I am not overstepping myself,” Grodin spoke up. “I would suggest that we get the whole area ready for her while she is in medical. Stock it up well with enough easily eaten food for a week and then put her in there unconscious. She can wake up by herself, with stuff to do and all the planters you all were talking about ready to get planted. We can spare some seeds as needed for her to plant. That will help, I hope, when things get tight.”

The room was quiet and then Heightmeyer nodded. “All in favor?”

Everyone raised a hand in agreement. They had a plan to handle Weir at least. “Major, we are going to need the men you have on the cleaning crew to get to work on the rooms we have set aside for her. And someone needs to go to the mainland to get us some dirt to replace what is currently in the planters. Ten thousand year old dirt won’t sprout anything, I’m sure,” Heightmeyer told him.

Sheppard looked at her for a moment before he nodded. Rodney wasn’t kidding himself when he made a bet with himself. He was sure that Sheppard wasn’t going to be this easy going for much longer. Right now, it suited the Major to agree with them, but there was going to come a point in time where some hard decisions needed to be reached. The council method they had worked well, but there still needed to be someone in charge.

But that was something else for their next meeting. And it really was, because he put it on the minutes to be discussed. He wasn’t going to have that hanging over his head any longer than he had to.

Last item on the list for this meeting though. “What are we doing about the Athosians?”

 

Chapter Twelve

 

“I want to trust them,” John told McKay, voice steady.

“I want to trust them, too. After all, they live in this galaxy and know a lot of stuff that we don’t. And they seem to be willing to share that knowledge, maybe take us around to some trading partners, let us know what food can kill us or won’t. All good things to know,” McKay answered.

“They didn’t have to tell us about the Wraith,” John continued, thinking aloud. Well. That was what it looked like he was doing…he had learned politics at the knee of Patrick Sheppard as the man moved in and out of the various parties that were trying to control his company. His dad had been very good at getting people to do what he had wanted without letting on that he was manipulating them.

“True, they didn’t. Especially since we were very up front about not knowing about them. And when the Wraith showed up, you said that their leader shoved you out of the way of a culling beam,” Bates muttered.

John suppressed a smile at how disgruntled his new Captain was. Becoming an officer had not apparently been on the former Gunnery Sergeant’s to do list. Too bad that he was one now. The muttering Bates had been indulging in had been pretty epic. “She did,” he allowed.

And hadn’t that been a surprise. He had known the woman for all of two hours and she had taken his place in front of her greatest nightmare. John wasn’t certain why she had, but he was very grateful that had done so. The rescue wouldn’t have stood a chance otherwise.

“So I want to move up the suggestion that we take two puddle jumpers through the gate tomorrow and start salvage efforts on the Athosian village,” Cooper put forth. “Even if we don’t find much of their stuff, we can take some of them to help us hunt in their hunting grounds and get some game to supplement our supplies.”

John looked around and saw that everyone else was nodding. “I can get behind that. This means I have no problems releasing enough troops to guard everyone while they are out and about. It also means that we will need at least two pilots for the mission and two here on Atlantis.”

“Speaking of pilots,“ Miko said, raising one hand to get everyone’s attention. “How long does it take to confirm if the gene therapy has taken?”

John nodded to himself. Kusanagi was one of the ATA positive people who would be on call for the duration of the mission and she still hadn’t sat in a jumper. He made a note on his tablet to get all the ATA positive people familiar with the little craft. Thankfully they were pretty intuitive.

“… about four hours lass, why?” he heard Beckett tell her.

“Because I want everyone who was tagged as a recessive carrier to get it. That way we don’t have to worry when one of the natural carriers is off the city,” she told him bluntly.

“You’re right.” Biro sat back in her chair. “It’s you, Carson, the Major, Stackhouse and Chuck right now. That’s not enough to run the city at all.”

“Jesus, we only brought five natural ATA carriers? What in the hell was Weir thinking?” Bates muttered into his coffee. The room fell silent and he looked up. “Look, before the Major got the wild hair, I was the senior noncom for this mission. I know that of the Marines and Air Force personnel we had under consideration, around a dozen of them had the active genome. And Coop, those two seamen that were cut? They had it as well.”

Everyone was silent for a moment and then they all cursed. John had a feeling he would be doing that a lot in the coming months. Weir had managed to fuck them over royally and he was deeply worried about surviving to see the coming ships. He really, really didn’t want to play Survivor: Atlantis where people just died instead of getting voted off the city.

McKay flicked him a quick glance and then nodded. “I’m getting it.”

Grodin nodded his head as well. Every person that he knew who had the recessive genome raised their hand. In the end, it was most of the people in the room.

“Did Weir man the Expedition on the basis of our genome?” he asked. He hadn’t been there for the initial stages of filling the rosters, he had come on too close to the end to do more than be sneaky and add some odds and ends to the supply lists. Useful stuff, but not enough. “I mean, there are five active ATA carriers, enough to wake the city and get some control and then what? She gets Beckett to offer everyone the chance at the ATA and they are all grateful to get it and go along with her madness?”

“I have no idea,” Grodin told them. As her second, he was, by their charter, the current head of the Expedition. John wondered if he knew? Tapping out the question, he sent it to McKay and Zelenka. “She didn’t share much with us beyond the basic operational information that we needed to run everything. I was hoping that Miko would be kind enough to break the encryption on her private journals so I can at least figure out what in the hell she was hiding.”

“Already done, Peter. The passcode is in your email. So is the method to come up with a command code and once you figure that out, I can get that entered,” Kusanagi told him.

John looked at the little Japanese scientist and shook his head. She was a very pretty picture, all demure looks, sweet smiles and an impression of absolute calm. But he knew that was, mostly, a lie. The woman ran over McKay and Zelenka in ways that only a trusted ‘minion’ could. She was the third in command of the labs, and if McKay was the one who everyone looked to for direction and Zelenka to temper his boss’s fits, Miko was the one who made it all work.

So, yeah, he respected the hell out of Miko Kusanagi. Because after the weeks he had spent right in the middle of the labs, he had a very good idea of all that she did. Actually, that all three of them did. His email pinged right then and he opened the three replies. All three of the science department triumvirate told him that, no, Grodin didn’t have a clue. When he looked up, they were all smirking at him. He quickly sent back a single word: ‘Showoffs.’

“Thank you, Miko,” Grodin told her softly. There was a slur at the edges of his English accent and John grimaced. They all had been running long and hard over the last three planetary days and it was really starting to catch up with them. They all needed a good night’s sleep and food. Soon.

“So, should we get the shots tonight?” McKay asked. His hands were wandering over his laptop keyboard in a nervous manner and John could sympathize. If everything went according to plan, the scientist had a 50/50 chance of waking with fur in the morning.

“I would suggest it, yes,” Carson told him. “And I want everyone in medical when we do this. I want to monitor the first batch of ATA carriers to see how they react to the treatment. If they get fur, it will be after the four hour mark and humans have a 90 minute sleep cycle. Depending on when you fall asleep, we should have at least a few REM cycles to see if you transform.”

“And if we transform back,” Cooper muttered. “It’s damn hard to cook when you have fur and no thumbs.”

Miko snorted softly and then clapped a hand over her mouth to cover the laughter that broke out. It really wasn’t funny, but it was the note that needed to be hit and everyone started laughing. Yeah, thumbs, they were important.

 

 

 

John was the only one that had the time and frankly the connections to meet with the leader of the Athosians and let her in on their plans. Hopefully she would be okay with them going back to Athos to get anything that had survived the bombardment.

“Teyla, would you be okay with us going back to Athos with your people in some of the little ships, puddle jumpers, and seeing if we can bring as much as is still good back here to Atlantis?” he asked carefully. He sucked at talking, but he was the CO of the military and he was just going to have to be a big boy and use his words.

The look the alien woman was giving him was full of bemused consideration. “You would do that?”

Sheppard winced. Yeah, the Athosians had been on the city for three days and events had basically shoved them to one side. Thankfully Grodin had stepped up and gotten them spaces to live and supplies, but the Athosians had pretty much been ignored while the Expedition had sorted out its own drama.

“We would. I know that there will be a lot of damage and things will be bad on the other side, but you need to go back and see if there is anything left of your village. And frankly, we need to make sure that we have enough food to feed everyone, so we will be seeing if we can find anything to hunt while there. It’s your planet, so your people know what is good to eat and what isn’t. We were hoping that some of your people would be open to helping us with that,” John explained bluntly.

And if the Athosians brought their own stores back with them and started eating out of them, they would be that much less of a burden on the Expedition supplies. He was reasonably certain that the lady in front of him could figure that out as well.

“It is a generous offer. Will we be allowed to come back to the City of our Ancestors?” she asked carefully.

John took a deep breath before letting it out carefully. “Yes, we want you all to come back. And to make sure that you all get everything that you need, we are going to be taking as many puddle jumper trips as is needed to pack everything up. If that means that we are moving the whole village through the gate, so be it. We have the room, you need the things left behind and we have the time right now to do it.”

The look of relief that flashed across the Athosian’s face was startling. She was so self-contained that it was a surprise when she showed any overt emotion. “Thank you.”

“No.” John shook his head. “Thank you. Thank you for warning us about what we didn’t know. Thank you for saving my life when you shoved me out of the way of the culling beam. And thank you for keeping your head while you were captured. You were a huge part of why so many of your people and mine had a chance to come home.”

The look she flashed him was full of a shy type of pride before she stood tall before him. “What time should we expect to go to Athos?”

“When is dawn there? If we start about then, we will have as much time as possible to get your people’s things,” John asked her.

Teyla stared into the distance for a moment and played with the necklace he had found for her. Reaching out, he carefully touched one finger to it. It tingled with the feeling that was almost like the Ancient tech he brought back to life did. Reaching across the mental distance, he firmly told the equipment to turn itself off. The little piece of tech fought him for a moment before it went dark.

Sighing in relief, he made a mental note to get Radek to look at the damn thing before they went out the next day. He didn’t want to take any chances with any lives. Blinking back to himself, he looked at Teyla. “Sorry! It was blinking and well. I was wondering if it was something that the Ancients had made. I can get one of our people to look at it to make sure that the blinking isn’t something that means I broke it?”

The Athosian clutched her necklace for a moment before slipping it off and handing it to him. “Please. I had it for a very long time as a child and I would rather it not be damaged by its extended stay in the cave. And I believe the best time to get a full day’s work will be if we leave right after the midday meal here.”

John carefully slipped the necklace into his pocket and nodded. “That will work out great. Thank you. I’ll leave you to your rest.”

“Sleep well, Major. And thank you again. From all of us,” Teyla told him with a smile.

“You are most welcome,” he told her.

And hey, he was even sincere. He just really, really wanted to get this thing to Radek and then send out an email to all their volunteers. He needed to arrange some really quick flying lessons. His newest potential pilots were all adults and he was fairly certain that they could all drive. Hopefully that would carry over to their flying lessons?

 

 

 

“So, lad. You certain that you want to do this?” Carson asked his friend.

McKay was clutching a newly christened LSD in his hands. Since he only had the recessive genome set, it was inert. The LSD was a good thing to test his abilities on. Much better than the piece of unknown tech that he had originally brought in. Miko had plucked that right out of his hands after saying something scathing in Japanese. Carson hadn’t understood her, but apparently Rodney had because the man had actually blushed.

He was going to have to ask Miko exactly what she had said to the Canadian to get him to comply with her order.

“Yeah, I do.” Rodney looked at him, face serious. “We don’t have enough ATA carriers, and, to be honest, I need it for my job. I can’t keep having Miko drop what she is doing to come play with whatever Ancient thing I’m examining at the time.”

“Point. Well, let me at it.” Carson waved a hand at his friend’s ass. He had a syringe full of the gene therapy in hand and he just needed a square of skin to poke.

“Does it have to be my ass?” Rodney groused as he pushed the side of his sleep pants down.

Carson had made damn sure that all of his test subjects had gotten good meals and then prepped out for their snoozes in something comfortable and easy to get out of. He remembered, unfondly, how hard it had been to get out his own clothes when he had been a wolf. It had not been the most enjoyable experience he had ever had.

“Yes, it has to be, you daft man,” Carson muttered as he swiftly swabbed the pale skin before him and then uncapped the needle and stabbed it in deeply. Ignoring the cursing going on over his head, he made absolutely certain that every cc of serum got deposited into the Canadian’s muscle. Taking note of the time, he recapped the needle. “There now. All done.”

“You enjoyed that,” Rodney accused as he rubbed the skin over the injection site.

“No, I didn’t,” the doctor lied without a qualm. Yes, he was a very nice man. He just liked stabbing people with needles. Sue him, it was one of the reasons he had become a doctor.

“I really don’t believe you,” the other man told him with a pout before settling back into his bed. He was hooked into a number of monitors to see if there was any way they could monitor the transformation.

“Go to sleep, Rodney,” Carson told him.

Patting his friend on the shoulder, he stepped out of the area his bed was in and drew the curtain to give him as much privacy as possible while he settled in to try to sleep. As soon as the dozen test subjects were all asleep, those curtains were going to be opened so the medical staff on duty could monitor them easier.

Rubbing his hands together, Carson walked back to the small room he had designated as his office and the pallet he had set up for naps. He had three and a half hours before the earliest of the volunteers was slated to become an active gene carrier. Enough time for a nap. A quick stop with his head nurse and he was shuffled off to his sleep. His people were good.

 

 

 

“Dr. Beckett?”

Carson woke up with the clearheaded clarity that any survivor of med school and a residency got ingrained into them. If there was an emergency, they didn’t have the time to try and get rid of the fuzzes. “Maria? Is it time then?”

“Yes, sir. We are at the three hours, forty-five minute mark on Lt. Cooper. Dr. McKay is at three hours, forty minutes. The others are just behind them,” she reported.

“Vitals?” he asked as he threw off the covers and stood up.

“Steady, no fevers and no one has sprouted whiskers yet,” she told him.

“Cute,” he grunted as he stretched the kink in his back out. Cocking his head to the side, he could hear an alarm going off. “Sounds like something is happening out there.”

Stepping around his nurse, he hurried over to the site of the alarm. Of course, it would have to be Rodney. Damn the man for being the over achiever that he was. Sprawled out on his bed was a very large… puma? Whatever type of cat it was, it was buff colored, huge and totally out. Even wrapped up in the Canadian’s sleep gear.

Carson reached over and shut off the alarm and the cat didn’t even twitch. Smiling slightly at the evidence of how tired his friend was, he looked over the animal. He was damn large. Larger than Miko or Chuck by almost half. Whatever the thing was that was allowing them to transform, they were keeping most of their mass when they did so.

Another alarm went off quietly and he headed over to see what had come about with that one. Cooper was the second alarm and he took note of the time. Three hours fifty minutes. The Lieutenant was also sleeping soundly, mostly hidden under her blankets. The doctor switched off her alarm, and her head popped up, a fold of blanket over her forehead. Large green/gold eyes looked at him, all hazy with sleep, and he waved at her carefully. “Go back to sleep, lass. Nothing bad going on.”

Grumbling, Cooper dropped her head back onto her pillow and snuggled under the covers. Carson had to suppress a laugh as her tail fell out and flicked from side to side. Whatever type of cat was under there, it was large, black and mostly asleep.

All across sickbay, the alarms attached to their guinea pigs were going off and his nurses were quickly shutting them off. No one else woke up, but everyone transformed. Rubbing a hand over his head, Carson deeply hoped that the ATA carriers all learned how to control their shifts soon. Because this was getting ridiculous. How in the hell were they going to feed themselves? What could sustain a human wasn’t going to be enough for thirteen large canines and four huge cats.

At least the Major was going to be happy. There were now more people to carry the load for pilots. And that meant that the mission for the next day was totally a go.

 

Chapter Thirteen

 

“I managed to watch over our volunteers as they slept and they all seemed to shift on the same basic schedule. The first REM after the genome activated caused the initial shift and the only person who woke up was Lt. Cooper and she settled right back down. After that, everyone followed the standard REM sleep pattern, even when they were transformed.” Carson took a sip of his coffee. “Right before I left, most of our people were shifting to a waking routine and none of them were in fur.”

“So what, it’s us waking up in the middle of the cycle that caused us to get stuck?” John asked.

“I believe so, lad. Marie, my night nurse said that I shifted as soon as I fell asleep and when she checked on me about 20 minutes before she was to wake me up, I was human,” Carson told him.

“Well, this is weird,” Stackhouse muttered as he watched the feed into the medical bays. His eyes were wandering back towards where Markham was stashed and John suppressed a sigh.

When he had gotten sucked into the mess that was the SGC, he had found that the whole base was so far out of compliance on DADT that it was insanely lax compared to his previous few duty stations. The whole attitude could be traced back to some really fascinating shenanigans that were only hinted at in the reports that he had access to.

But there was the SGC’s habit of ignoring the fact that DADT existed and then there was flaunting the mess wholesale. He was far too certain that the Expedition was going to get back in contact with Earth to let the whole wretched directive be forgotten. Plus he had eight soldiers who he had just pissed off and one who was pissed off to the max at everyone. So it wasn’t outside the realm of the possible that one of them would be an asshole. Until they heard otherwise from General O’Neill that it had been repealed, DADT was the order of the day.

In other words; discretion, discretion, discretion. He was so going to have to teach the two of them that skill.

“Has anyone tried to get up while furry?” Radek ask, face smoothly innocent.

John flashed the engineer a sharp glance. He knew that the other man had opened a book on the whole mess. So far, the engineer had pulled a steady amount of goods in. Everyone knew he was the bookie for the city, but they were being fairly discrete about placing their bets.

“No, everyone slept the night through,” Carson told them before cupping one hand over his radio adorned ear. “It looks as if people are waking up. I’m going to head down.”

John nodded and stood up with Stackhouse. “Looks like we are following, doc.”

As they walked down to where they had stashed medical, John debated when he would call the two of them into his office. Or even if he would, because he had no idea how in the hell to approach the whole mess without it blowing up in his face. Clattering down the stairs, he looked around. The tower was 250 stories, there was no way the Ancients had used the stairs for everything. But there were no recognizable elevators.

Something to have the guys who were on the field day duty to look for. The eight who were on the field day punishment could look for the Ancient elevator while they were cleaning everything in sight. It would give them something positive to do and free up manpower they didn’t have to do other things. Win, win, and also a morale booster.

The infirmary was thankfully only a few floors away from the main level that they were branching off from, so the trip was fairly quick. Walking into the room, all three men moved back into the recovery room and spread out. Stackhouse actually showed some discretion and survival skills and went to check on Cooper. John checked in with Markham and found his new Lieutenant staring at the ceiling. “Markham? How are you doing?”

“Was this place always this noisy sir? And what’s with the smells?” the newly awakened man asked.

“As near as I can tell, it’s the leftovers from the transformations you had last night. I know that mine have stayed fairly steady, but then, it seems we are still transforming in our sleep,” John briefed him. He had curled up in his skin because he wasn’t planning on waking up to being strangled by his t-shirt again.

“Won’t that be a joy,” Markham muttered. Sitting up in the bed he looked at his hands and then scrubbed his fingers over his scalp. “Damn, that feels better than normal. So what did I turn into?”

“A very large canine. Something along the lines of what the Major did,” Stackhouse reported. He was escorting Cooper over to sit in the chair by the bed and the Navy Lieutenant flopped into the seat as if she had no bones. Trailing behind them was Bates, who looked just as wrecked as the rest of the room’s overnight guests.

“So, I can guess that Cooper is a cat of some type and I am guessing that you pulled the canine card,” John observed. It was a well-known fact around base that Cooper was one of the people who needed caffeine to get to a level of human that was safe to be around other humans. Given their new abilities? “Hey, Doc? What’s the word on coffee for the feline among us?”

One of the nurses wondered over and looked at the five officers and sighed. “Coffee, tea or any other caffeine-like substance is fine while you are human. If you ingest it while furry it might poison you. We’ll have to do some testing to be sure.”

Cooper woke up enough to flash the nurse a grateful smile. “Thanks. I’ll try to remember that.”

The nurse just laughed and patted her on the shoulder before walking away. John was carefully watching and saw the moment when the Lieutenant held in her reaction. Voice soft, he let her know he had seen. “Good job on suppressing that.”

“There are reasons, sir, that I put out the notice not to touch me before I wake up,” she confirmed.

“One of these days, I’m gonna have to ask about that,” John told her and then changed the subject. “So everyone changed and that means you get lessons in how to fly a jumper. Go get something to eat, shower and then meet me at the jumper bay in an hour.”

The chorus of agreement was ragged, but there, and he moved away from them to check the rest of their people. Everyone seemed to be coming to terms with their new natures and most of them seemed to be adapting to the enhanced senses well enough. He made it a point to stop by and check McKay while he was there. The scientist was sitting on his bed playing with an LSD.

“Pretty nifty little machines, aren’t they, Doc?” he asked as he sat down in the nearest chair.

“Yeah, they really are,” the other man agreed. “Look, we’re going to be working with each other a lot. Call me Rodney?”

“Only if you call me John. Being called Sheppard or Major gets old after a while,” John shared.

Smiling ruefully, McKay, no Rodney, nodded. “I really understand that. Anyway, I think I’ve figured out some ways to change the parameters on these things to they are useful for more than telling us where various life-forms are. Now they’ll tell us what the life-forms are, how far away, and something about the area surrounding us. Changing them to check for allergens will take more time.”

John took the little machine out of Rodney’s hands and stared at the symbols on the screen. It was all written in Ancient and he had only the most minimal understanding of the language. He had been studying it, but it was a pain in the ass to learn. “Any hope that you can get these things to work in English?”

Rodney took the LSD back and poked at the back. From the angle that John was at, he could just barely see a seam. “Maybe. I’ll have to get Miko on the programming for them, but we should be able to load up something pretty quickly.”

“Thanks. Not everyone reads Ancient as proficiently as the science department does and if we are going to get a lot more active ATA members, I want them to have one of these as standard issue. Which means they need to be able to read them. And have them reprogrammed to fit the various jobs they are doing,” John told him.

“Something to go over then.” Rodney nodded and dropped the little machine beside him on the bed. “So I understand we are all to get lessons in how to fly a jumper?”

Sheppard nodded before waving a hand back at where he had been standing. “I’m going to be teaching my officers first, but then I’ll grab the next best pilot and we’ll start on the civilians who are ATA positive. We can do that while we get the salvage mission going.”

“Sounds like a plan,” the scientist told him and then yawned. “So, I need to go find me some coffee and then find out what happened while I was getting furry. Call me when you are ready to take us out for our lessons.”

John closed his eyes and did his best not to watch the man walk towards the door in sleep pants that were doing wonderful things for his ass. Sighing, he gave up and looked. Yup, he was so, so screwed.

­

 

 

“You know, I’m really, really glad that you are another wolf,” Stackhouse muttered into his best friend and lover’s shoulder. “It would be too weird if you were a cat.”

Joseph Markham ran a careful hand over the other man’s head. “I am not a cat. I could have told you that before I got the full Monty last night. Now I need to shower and get some of the loose fur I can feel in my clothes off me, and then find some breakfast. I’m hungry!”

Stackhouse laughed and released him to the shower. “At least we don’t smell like wet dog when we shower in human form.”

Joseph looked over at him from his spot in the bathroom, playing with the temperature of his shower. The whole mentally controlling the tech around him thing was very handy. If he was ever injured, it would be beyond handy. At any rate, the water was at an acceptable level of heat and he wanted to be clean. He was not a fan of dog hair inside his clothes. “If we smell like wet dog while wet, I’m gonna be pissed. And we are sleeping in the nude from now on. The clothes thing sucks when you shift in your sleep.”

“I can get behind that,” his lover murmured as he stripped down and climbed into the shower with him. Their morning routine was very brief since they were working on a time limit, but it was enough that they reconfirmed the connection they had shared since they had started at the SGC.

Getting dressed, grabbing breakfast and then heading to the hanger bay took up the last twenty minutes of their allotted hour, and they got there with three minutes to spare. Cooper rolled in right after them, but she was talking to her people in Housekeeping and Services as she walked in, so she got a nod from the boss to stand to the side. Everyone was silent as she finished her conversation and then signed off.

“So, sir. We have enough MREs for four months of eating them three meals a day. We have enough flour to last us about a month of very skimpy baking–not counting McKay’s shortbread for Miko–and the rest of our ‘fresh’ supplies are about the same. Veggies consist of massive amounts of dried goods, and I am not thinking of how much beef jerky one of my guys found. Plus the two pallets full of fifty pound bags of various types of beans. None of which is what I ordered,” she told him.

“Using the food on hand? How long will we last?” Sheppard asked as he leaned against one of the jumpers.

“If we use the dry stuff first and just that? I would buy us two months,” Cooper told him. “But we’re living on a floating city. Said city is floating on an ocean. There has got to be fish out there. We need to get the science guys to tell us what’s edible and then have people at the piers with lines and nets. We need all the protein that we can get. And if we can get more off of Athos, that would be great, sir. Plus there are other edibles to be found in an ocean, so we need to see if anyone can do a study on seaweed and stuff.”

Bates was staring at the ceiling and doing the math. “Does that take into consideration the Athosians?”

Cooper shook her head. “No. It doesn’t. Cut everything down to a third the time if we fold them in. They have kids and a number of pregnant women, who all eat more and need a more diverse set of foods.”

“So number one priority after we deal with Athos is looking for a trading partner?” John asked.

“More than one if we can swing it,” Cooper told him. “We need everything. Remember, there is no Costco out here. Or NEX either.”

The Major nodded and looked at the spaceship he had been leaning against. “Okay everyone. You are going to practice opening and closing the back door of this beast first. Once you have that down, we’ll get started on the next steps. Bates? You’re up first.”

 

 

 

John spent two hours running his people through a very through training to make sure that all of them could handle what they might run into on Athos. Flying, some evasive maneuvers, cloaking and entering a stargate. Or, as Stackhouse and Markham called it, threading the needle. It was an apt term.

The training showed him the areas that he would need to modify for the civilians and he let them go after he had gotten them comfortable with the systems. The little craft were incredibly helpful in supporting his new pilots. John was hoping that the helpfulness would extend to the civilians.

Opening a line on his radio he called for his first civilian class. He had just enough time to get them trained and then they needed to go to Athos as scheduled. “Kusanagi, Grodin, McKay and Campbell, this is Sheppard. It’s time for your flight lessons. Meet you in the hanger bay in ten.”

Each of the people he had called straggled in with only Campbell being on time. Then again, the man was actually RCMP, and civilian wasn’t quite right. “Sir, I can fly a bush plane. It was something handy to know on my last duty station before I came to the SGC.”

John looked at the younger man and nodded. “Go warm up a jumper. Let me know if you have any problems understanding the controls?”

“I read Ancient, sir. So, that won’t be a problem,” Chuck told him dryly.

“One up on me then, Sergeant,” John told him. “I have to guess. Thankfully the programming is learning how to adapt.”

“Sounds like a blast, sir,” Chuck said as he walked down the row of jumpers, before stopping at one. Trailing his fingers over the back end of it, he got the little spaceship to open up and let him in. Once inside, he closed it up and John watched as he put it through its paces.

So far he had a total of four natural pilots, and the rest were technical flyers who could do in a pinch. About what he had expected, if he was honest with himself. Chuck, Markham, Stackhouse and himself as the primary pilots so far with Bates and Cooper playing backup.

When Grodin, McKay and Kusanagi got in, he set them to the same exercises that he had his officers. Grodin was looking like he would be decent at the helm, and Miko was at a level where she could at least pitch in. He wasn’t however, letting McKay drive anything he was in if he had a choice. He could make every sensor in the little ships sit up and take notice, but he just could not fly. It was a good thing that the gate room had safety features built into it or the Canadian would have wrecked most of it in his maneuvers.

“You don’t drive, do you?” John finally asked as he took over the control of the little craft from the copilot’s seat.

“No, I really don’t. When I was working at the SGC, if I needed anything in town, I either got a cab or I called for a driver from a service I know. Otherwise I didn’t need to because I rarely went anywhere. When I was in Antarctica, well. We were flown in and then out of the Outpost and I never drove.” Rodney shook his head. “Same thing when I was in Russia and then Area 51. The only reason I have a driver’s license is that it’s a form of ID.”

John shook his head and made the scientist switch seats with him. “You aren’t flying anywhere, Doc. If you have to get somewhere you need a jumper, we will assign you a pilot. I want you proficient enough to take over if your pilot is incapacitated, but you aren’t to fly if we can help it.”

“I can live with that,” McKay admitted.

He was very careful follow the rest of the lesson on how to access the cloak on the ship and shields. When it came time for him to put them up, they went up without hesitation. For that alone, John was going to pass him. He just wasn’t going to let him get behind the metaphorical wheel, ever, if he could manage it. His nerves would never forgive him otherwise.

His watch beeped out an alarm as he got Miko to put up the shields on her jumper and he called the lesson at that. His students were as ready as they were going to get. “Lunch and then meet back here to get assigned your group to ferry to Athos. Ninety minutes.”

Miko, Grodin and Chuck all nodded, and Rodney looked at him, eyes curious. “If you want to come along, McKay, I have no problems with it. But you aren’t driving.”

The scientist shook his head and chuckled. “I didn’t expect I would be. Ninety minutes? Do you want me to tell the Athosians?”

“Nope, I’ve got it,” John told him. He knew where the refugees were being housed and it took him only a few minutes to reach that level. Stopping the first person he saw, he asked after Teyla.

“She is over there, Major.” The boy, Jinto, pointed towards the knot of people gathered around a table.

John nodded and let his hand rest briefly on the boy’s shoulder. “Thank you, Jinto.”

Walking up to the cluster of people, he could hear them making some kind of plans. The suspicious part of him that remembered IEDs and RPGs far too well stirred and then he caught sight of what they were doing. Laid out on the table was their village done in what supplies they had at hand. They were dividing up the salvage operations to get things done as fast as possible.

Excellent.

“Pardon me for interrupting, but I wanted to let you know that we will be ready to head to Athos in about eighty minutes. Uhm…” he looked at his watch and then at the Athosian leaders bare wrist. Pulling off the time piece, he quickly set the alarm to let her know when to show up at the hanger bay with her people. “When this makes noise, it will be just about dawn on Athos. So if you can head up towards the gate room by then, we can get started.”

Teyla looked at the watch and nodded. “A timepiece?”

John was reminded all over again that just because the Athosians looked primitive, didn’t mean they were. For all he knew, the village had had clocks. If they did, he was going to bring them back. There had to be something left for them to bring back to the city. “It is. I’ll explain how our version works after we get everything done.”

The smile Teyla graced him with could have come from the Mona Lisa it was so mysterious. “I would enjoy that.”

Bowing slightly at the waist, John excused himself and headed towards the mess. He was hungry as hell and he really hoped that Cooper had made something interesting for lunch.

 

 

 

The sight that greeted them on the other side of the gate was like something out of hell. “Oh. My. God.”

John didn’t have the heart to tell the person who had broken radio silence to shut up. What they were seeing was totally worth the break in radio silence. The Wraith had done one hell of a job fucking the place up. But he could see the underlying order and he hoped that they would be able to salvage most of the Athosians’ effects. No one deserved to have all traces of their home destroyed.

“Okay folks. Let’s get to work.”

 

Chapter Fourteen

 

John was carefully boxing up everything in the third tent he had entered in some of the crates that they were repurposing from the Expedition’s move. Everything was being packed up, loaded into jumpers and delivered to the gate where it was shoved through to Atlantis. It was the fastest method they had to get the goods moved.

Somehow, he was hoping that the person whose life he was handling was still alive and on Atlantis. They had very good taste in the things that they had decorated their dwelling with. The blankets were warm and sweet smelling, the leather was well-tanned and they had some really nice pottery. Shaking his head, he was very glad that the transformation that the ATA positive people had gone through had not led to telepathy. He was sounding way too gay even for himself.

Nestling the last item he had found in the corner into one of the boxes, he looked around. The only thing left to remove were the carpets, and from what he could see, they were all overlapping in an effort to keep as much of the chill out as possible. Walking back to the entry, John reached down and flipped an edge over itself and started to roll. Grunting at the effort, he got the first one done and sat back on his heels.

Taking a deep breath, he moved over to another edge and started again. He was on his fifth carpet when he caught the edge of wooden board. Exiting the tent, John looked around for one of the Athosians he knew. “Jinto? Can you come here?”

“Major? What have you found?” the teenager came trotting over, carefully weaving his way through the piles of goods outside of every tent.

“A possible hidden pit?” John waved at the wood peeking out from under the mass of carpets.

“Were most of these on the floor?” Jinto asked as he picked his way to the edge of wood.

“Yup. Should they have been?” Sheppard looked at the fabric and started trying to drag one of the rolls out of the way. Jinto helped by picking up the other end of the mass and they ended up piling the rolls just inside the entry, but not blocking traffic.

“No, they shouldn’t have been,” the young Athosian told him as they moved the final carpet. “Some of those were used to divide the structure, to make rooms.”

John looked at the pile of more than a dozen ‘carpets’ that had been piled on the floor and then at the wooden plank over a spot on the floor. He was desperately hoping that what he was worried about wasn’t under there. Taking in a deep breath through his nose, he tried to see if he could smell decay or even the stench of Wraith. Nothing. Tipping his head to the side, he listened. If there was someone under there, they were being incredibly quiet.

Waving the boy off, John moved them out of the line of sight for the pit. Their ear based comm pieces seemed to be working for the moment and he needed to get at least another Expedition member to help. Preferably two. One to help heave and the other to cover them. A few quiet orders and he had a set of Marines helping clear the area a bit further.

“You get the far end and I’ll pick up this end?” John directed his helper with a wave. When the Marine squatted down at the far end, Sheppard did the same. Wriggling his fingers under an edge, he counted down. “Three, two one, lift!”

They lifted the whole mass straight up and now he could smell what was missing before. Unwashed human, flavored with terror and long term hunger. Tipping the plank to the side, he looked underneath. Jesus, God. There were six kids crammed into a space the size of a large chest freezer. All of them were blinking at him and he felt a kick in the gut. They needed to get them to Beckett. They had been hiding for almost four days and he had no idea if they had had any water since they had been hidden.

“I will go get Teyla. And the ones you said were there to help when we are sick,” Jinto exclaimed before he ran off.

Tapping his radio, John pulled up an open frequency. “Bates, come in.”

“Major? What can I do for you,” his Captain asked.

“I need a jumper at my location and it has to have at least one of Beckett’s medics. It would be better to have two,” he told him as he squatted down to reach into the pit and carefully pull one of the kids up to ground level. Tapping his radio off, he carefully maneuvered the child onto the ground. “Hey, kiddo. I’m Major Sheppard. Do you remember me?”

The little girl, at least he hoped she was a little girl, shook her head. John smiled at her anyway and passed her off to the Marine helping and reached in again, pulling another child up. Child by child, they pulled each of them out of their hiding spot and into the light. The kids were all blinking hard at the sun and wincing away from the brightness. The oldest was holding her arms around her middle as she waited for her turn to be pulled up. Unwrapping her arms, she handed up child number seven, a baby who was so new that John was certain that it was almost a newborn.

Cradling the child to his chest, he reached down and pulled the eldest out just as he heard the sound of running feet. “Major! Major Sheppard, I have the people who can help!” Jinto yelled as he came back into the tent.

“I need some glucose, some water and a syringe without a needle,” John demanded of one of the nurses as she broke open her emergency kit. He was ignoring the nastiness that was coating the butt of the baby in his arms because the kid couldn’t help it and there had been no way to keep everyone clean while hiding. As soon as he had the items in his hands, he put the baby back into its caregiver’s arms and mixed up a sugar tit for the baby. It would help give the baby some needed energy, some water and hopefully keep the baby alive until they could find some formula or his mother.

Rubbing the wet edge of the syringe against the baby’s lips, he squirted the solution into the little mouth. As soon as the baby tasted the sugar, it latched onto the open end and started to weakly suck. John carefully pressed the plunger to keep up with the rate of the baby’s needs. He had a 30cc unit full and the baby had taken ten before it pulled off and panted. John let the tip rest against the baby’s lower lip and as soon as it tried for more, he started feeding it again.

“Major? How’s the baby?” the medic asked.

John looked up and saw that the person standing by him was Beckett’s night nurse, Marie. “Hey. So far, the baby’s taken about a third the volume and it is a pretty strong sugar solution.”

“Keep up the good work and let me check your helper here and then I will get to your patient,” she told him as she started getting the older girl’s vitals. The necessary information was jotted down on some paper and then pinned to her clothes. As soon as she was done, Marie turned to the baby. Carefully unwrapping the swaddling clothes from the little form, she hissed. The baby had done exactly what a baby did and the swaddling had contained the mess against the delicate skin. The kid had a raging case of diaper rash.

Wincing, John kept up a steady pressure on the plunger and let the liquid energy trickle down the small throat. His helper was wincing at the sight of the rash on the baby’s skin and he shook his head at her. “You kept,” he checked the little one in his hands before continuing, “him alive against all odds. Even if he has some rash, he’s alive. And we can fix the rash.”

The look of relief the kid flashed him made the mess on his hands totally worth it.

“Okay, Major. I have an interim diaper here and I can take over the food if our helper doesn’t think she can?” Marie asked as she washed the little form in his hands. The water was cold and the baby jerked away from the syringe and started crying. John handed the baby back to his caretaker and stepped back.

“Jinto? Can you take charge of the kids and help get them to Atlantis and their families?” John called out.

“Yes, Major Sheppard,” the younger man agreed cheerfully. Gathering the kids together, he started telling them who had made it and where they were. From the positive reactions, most of their parents seemed to have survived.

John walked out of the tent and into the sunshine, ignoring the mess on his hands for a moment. Glancing up and down the ‘street’ of the village, he saw that most of the tents had piles of boxes outside them. Turning back towards where the gate was, he could see that someone was running towards his location. From the flash of red hair and short stature, he was guessing it as Teyla. Resisting the urge to shade his eyes from the sun, he looked around for someplace to get clean.

One of the puddle jumpers was set up between tents and it had a large jug of water set over a basin to be used as a sink. Lava soap and some towels were set to the side and he went over to it gratefully. Yuck. He had touched grosser stuff, but the baby had been very generous in how it coated everything. He was scrubbing his hands for the second time when Teyla slowed to a stop beside him. “Two tents up from here,” he pointed with one soapy hand, “there are seven kids who had been hiding. All alive.”

The look she flashed him was full of gratitude and she was off again.

Finally clean, John tapped his radio again. “Bates, we have seven more Athosians who need to get back to the city.”

“I heard from Nurse Lopez about the kids,” Bates told him. “I’m glad that we came back, sir.”

“Me, too, Captain. Because there was no way that those kids would have been able to shift the lid of their hiding spot the way things were,” John agreed grimly. “What else has been found?”

The silence at the other end of the line was weirdly grim and the Major sighed. “We found another body sir. She couldn’t have been more than three and was sucked dry. We’ve put her with the others and are getting wood ready for a pyre for her.”

The Major swallowed heavily. That little girl made it body number twenty-five that they had found, and with the seven living kids, they had accounted for all but three of the missing Athosians. Wincing, he remembered the corpse that had been draped over the Queen’s dining room table. Make that two missing people. “Have someone go up in a jumper and see if we can get a life signs read on the surrounding area? If the two who are missing ran, they could be miles away from here.”

“Already done sir. They haven’t found anything. Current scans are at fifty miles away,” Bates reported.

“Damn it. Okay. Go out to one hundred and then bring them in. We need to start moving all this stuff back to Atlantis and I want to get it done before the local sundown,” Sheppard directed.

“Done, sir.”

 

 

 

Teyla Emmagan, leader of the last of the Athosian people, looked at the numbers of her dead and wanted to cry. It was so very many and she knew all of them. Knew their names, the names of their loved ones, their children and who their ancestors had been. It was a burden she was far too used to feeling as the Wraith culled their human herds.

The foreigners, the Tau’ri, had placed each of her dead on a pyre and she walked among them, one last time. None of them had been untouched by the Wraith and she could only hope that these people from Earth could keep their promise that none of her people would be touched so again. They had lost too many.

Stepping back into the embrace of all of her people who could come back to their planet to say farewell, she lifted her face to the sky and started to sing. It was a song that was taught to each child so that, if their people were culled that far down, the dead would still be honored as they left. As her voice soared to the stars, she hoped, she prayed that the Ancestors that she had spent so many years honoring, would hear her and carry the dead home.

As she sang the last note, she nodded and the men and women holding the torches thrust them into the hearts of the pyres. The dry wood caught with the help of whatever the Tau’ri had added to the piles and the night was lit by their flames. She stood there and tried not to breathe as their dead were reduced to ashes.

When the last fire had burned out, Teyla led her people back to the city. There was nothing left for them on Athos. Their future was on Atlantis. And she was going to build them a future that would allow them to stay safe.

As she walked through the Ring of the Ancestors, she looked at the one she had saved. Touching his arm, she drew his attention to her and away from the surrounding forest. “In the morning, I would meet with your council. We Athosians are known as careful traders and we would like to help.”

The Major nodded at her words. She was aware that he wasn’t the one in charge of the city, but he held some sway. Putting the request in with him was all she could do until she learned who was the leader. “We can do that. Thank you.”

“You are most welcome. I think, given how many we are, that we need to talk to a people I know who often have a surplus of foods and a willingness to trade it. They are called the Genii.”

 

The End

***********

Author’s Note:

 

So I’m doing an Author Note in reply to something that came up in the comments that I’ve gotten about this story… In regards to how Ford is punished for his actions when Sheppard is out of contact.

In the story, I had Elizabeth order Ford to pull the guards from the Gateroom, since they were going to rely on the shield that had been found to protect them. And he did it. No questions asked.

At the time she ordered this, Major Sheppard had been in his rooms, getting ready to sleep. He hadn’t transformed into his wolf form and wasn’t out of contact. I know Ford didn’t know about the transformation that was to come, but he did know that his immediate superior officer was still reachable.

Here’s the main reason he got hammered so hard. He didn’t tell Elizabeth; “Yes, ma’am!” and then go and clear the order with Major Sheppard, the man in *charge* of the Expeditions military. He didn’t post the guards on the outside of the doors to the Gateroom in a bid to get around the letter of the order, but still protect everyone. And he sure didn’t check with Bates, the guy in charge of internal security for the Expedition, to see if something like that was kosher.

What he did, was pull the men out of the Gateroom and then made sure that their replacements weren’t going to show up either. And he had NO firm knowledge that the shield that Elizabeth was relying on was still workable.

Because power was at a premium. The city had risen because there was so little energy left in the ZPM it couldn’t support its own shields that kept it safe from the water it was immersed in. There were four naquadah generators spliced into the ZPM mount to try to take up the slack and even they were only supporting a limited number of things. McKay, the Chief Science Officer for the Expedition, hadn’t authorized the use of the shield after the one time they had used it after the rescue. And Ford sure hadn’t checked with McKay if the shield was ready for use.

So on multiple counts, Ford fucked up. The military arm of the Expedition was on war footing. And Ford left their only means of egress unprotected. And he didn’t tell anyone else that there was no line of defense there anymore. In other words, their ass was hanging out in the breeze for all to see and shoot at. Given that they had just managed to not die due to the city raising and meeting the Wraith, it was exceedingly stupid.

And that’s why the whole damn bookshelf was thrown at him.

To The Far Distant Shore

On the Wings of Unexpected Change – Part Two

Part One

 

on-the-wings

Chapter Seven

 

Radek watched as McKay stalked into the main science lab. The dressing down that was coming would be epic and the parts of him that had allowed him to survive his childhood in his native country were looking forward to the chaos. He had spent more than a year working with the Canadian at Area 51 as his second before they had transferred down to the Ancient Outpost. During that time, Zelenka could fondly remember the hours he had spent being viciously amused at how the other scientist treated people.

Since he had a tendency of actually being able to keep his mouth shut, Radek found himself with the reputation of ‘good guy’ to McKay’s ‘bad guy’. As soon as they had figured out the dynamics of their new status, the two of them used it to ride herd on the labs. McKay really was as smart as he claimed, he just had no tolerance for people or their feelings unless they interested him. And even then, he was likely to forget their names in a conversation, or just in general. The one thing he didn’t do was forget their qualifications.

The Czech blamed the man’s parents for that failing. He had seen it in other child geniuses who reached adulthood without snapping. Kids who had been thrust into the world of adults far too early and never allowed to be kids didn’t relate well to others when they grew up. That McKay had any manners at all was a testament to his teachers and the man himself. He was actually grateful now that his parents had worked so hard to keep him off the radar in Czechoslovakia. It hadn’t worked forever, but it had lasted long enough to give him the social skills most of his peers lacked.

At any rate, Radek was mentally aware enough to know that the feeling of enjoyment he had at another’s pain was a bit sadistic, but he really didn’t care. The person who had removed the two generators had almost fucked them over in ways that couldn’t really be counted. The whole city was lucky that nothing had taxed the system and caused the little power supplies to burn out. Because that would have been the next best alternative. The worst would have been that the generators overloaded and blew them the fuck up in a quick fire of a nuclear fission explosion.

Neither were good options. He was glad that option three, nothing, had been what had happened.

Thinking about the show that was to come, Radek combed through his hair, remembering how Area 51 had only become interesting after Rodney took charge of the science division. One of the regular base personnel had been in place to start, and Radek hadn’t enjoyed his tenure in the least. Politics, backbiting, results stealing and, on one memorable occasion, attempted murder had abounded and been tolerated as the normal way to conduct research. At least it had until McKay had gotten sick of the mess and taken things in hand.

Rodney did not play politics. If he didn’t like you, you knew it and everyone dealt with it accordingly. If he thought he couldn’t work with someone, he either didn’t or he moved them somewhere others could, so he wouldn’t have to. Not the most normal or sanctioned ways of dealing with people, but it worked. And it got results.

What also worked was the man’s horrific habit of calling people out in public. Radek wasn’t sure why, but having McKay scream at some people seemed to straighten them out when everything else failed. Then again, he thought, Rodney only screamed at people when they did shit that was threatening life as they knew it. The rest of the time, he talked to them. And explained in very small words why they had fucked up and would never, ever do it again.

On the plus side, when he praised someone’s work, everyone in the lab knew that scientist had just done something good. McKay was not someone to blow sunshine up anyone’s ass and he never tried to be. Area 51 had been much better after Rodney had removed their original boss and stepped into his place.

The only one to complain about his treatment had been Kavanagh, and that had come after McKay has screamed at his sloppy work on the newest starship for over a week. That Calvin had fixed things without a qualm had been noted, but the American hadn’t liked being called a ham handed twit, which frankly was the mildest thing McKay had called him. He had complained about being called on the carpet in public.

Months later, the whole department under the Canadian had headed down to Antarctica when the Outpost had been opened for exploration. The lead contenders for the Expedition’s CSO position had been Kavanagh and Simpson, with Rodney as the shoo-in as he had been in charge before. The politicking for the CSO position had been fierce and Radek had stepped back to watch the carnage. He had no want to try for the position and could work with any of the contenders.

Once they had gotten settled in, every single person but Kavanagh and Simpson had fallen back into the pattern of looking at McKay as the boss and Radek as his second. Smiling slightly, he remembered the arguments on that issue. Kavanagh had, mostly, settled down when he had been given his own projects, goals and means to meet them. Simpson hadn’t. She had continued to complain and cause problems the entire time they had been down south.

When they had gotten back to the SGC, Radek had been very happy to dump her off with Carter’s people. He knew, because he had seen the initial personnel list, that McKay had tried to leave her behind. Weir had put her back on and assigned her as McKay’s second over a multitude of objections. The argument over that had been epic. But the Canadian had gotten his way in the end and Radek had taken his spot as 2IC to McKay as soon as they had stepped through the gate. Simpson had been aware of her demotion and had spent the weeks before their departure seething over it.

Now, thanks to what the Major had found, Radek was sure they were going to have another epic fit. Rubbing his hands together the Czech wondered where he could get some popcorn.

 

 

 

“So, imagine my surprise when I get called down to the power room,” McKay announced as he walked into the main lab. “I was in my private lab, working on the brand new problem of why our strongest gene holders were turning into creatures from the most insane of legends. I was even making something close to progress with Radek. And then! I get a call from Sheppard that something is amiss, in the power room.”

Rodney looked around at everyone and took careful note of everyone’s expressions. Most of his people had no idea what he was talking about, he could tell. The few who seemed to have a clue? He paid very close attention to them.

“So, you all know we have one ZedPM that is currently on its last ergs of energy, yes?” Rodney looked around and counted the nods. “To augment whatever we found when we crossed into Atlantis, we carried ten premade naquadah generators with us. We have the supplies to make another ten but they are buried in the back of some boxes somewhere in a supply room. I put six of the premade ones into the power room to handle everything we have been adding to the city. The other four are located in areas of heavy use. You know, medical, our new rooms, the commissary, and down here. So why then, did I get a call from Major Sheppard that there were only four generators installed?”

Rodney prowled around the front of the lab, carefully watching the ones he had noted earlier. “I have no idea if one of you morons knows what you did, but I want to enlighten all of you. It was determined that, yes, four naquadah generators could supply enough power to run the central tower and any low-level needs for the rest of the city. That would be things like the HVAC system, lights, basic computer use, heating water, running basic pumps. Other things like the stargate, the desalinization plant, the incinerator, buoyancy generators and ballast tanks, and the shields would need more energy than four generators and a mostly depleted ZedPM could supply. High energy uses like shields and thrusters to move the city, all would require a lot more energy and are out of our reach without another ZedPM to carry the load.”

McKay looked at everyone, and pushed the point home. “How many of you know what happens when you overstress one of the Naquadah generators?”

The answer came from a source he didn’t expect and was very happy wasn’t on his list of assholes.

“They blow up,” Kavanagh informed the room, voice quiet. “A single generator has enough high-grade naquadah in it to wipe out a city the size of Colorado Springs in a massive fission-like explosion. So since there were four there and a ZPM? I can’t even figure out how big of an explosion that would be.”

“Oh, I can,” McKay informed the American scientist. “I can very well. At best, it would take out this hemisphere of the planet. At worst? There would be a new asteroid belt in this system. And we wouldn’t have known about it, because we would be dead. Now, I want to know who removed the generators, where they went to and under whose orders did it get done? You have thirty seconds to start talking.”

Rodney looked down at his watch and then up at his silent audience. “Starting now.”

Kavanagh held up his hands and stepped back. “It wasn’t me. I’ve spent the last sixteen hours getting the Crays in place and getting the network up since Kusanagi wasn’t available.”

McKay didn’t even bother to glance at his protesting minion. “I know that, Calvin. You weren’t on the suspect list.”

The look Kavanagh flashed him was complicated and full of confusion. Rodney wasn’t interested in what was going on in the little shit’s head, so he ignored the whole thing. He didn’t have time to hold the other man’s hand through his personal mini crisis of the hour.

Looking around, the Canadian stared at each member of his team. He knew their weaknesses, their strengths, goals and dreams and the thought of one of them going along with what he had found was unforgivable. Rodney took a deep breath and glanced at his watch. The thirty seconds were officially up.

Taking a deep breath, McKay held it for a moment and then let it out in a controlled stream. This was going to suck, he thought bitterly. “Time’s up, boys and girls,” he announced. Rodney kept an eye on his problem children and pointed with his thumb at the door over his shoulder. “Everyone but Kusanagi, Simpson, Miller and Zelenka out of the room. Go do whatever it was you were doing before. If you were working in here, go either eat or clean up something.”

The rush of people towards the doors was gratifying. He knew he was an asshole, but there was a fair amount of respect in the looks flashed his way to go with the fear. The satisfaction he felt at the respect was there, but pushed to the side. He had something else grabbing his attention.

“Kusanagi? When did you get your thumbs back?” Rodney asked. The term from Sheppard seemed very apt. She had had her mind, she had found her voice, and with the ATA responding, she could work on things that were related to them since she could use the equipment. But for the cables to have been removed, she would have needed her hands. There had been no teeth marks on the cables.

“Fifteen minutes before you called the meeting, Dr. McKay. I took the time to shower and brush my teeth before I came down here,” she said as she waved a visibly wet braid of hair at him.

“Right.” He could check the records, but he was 95% certain that Miko had had nothing to do with the fiasco before them. She was one of the people he couldn’t put to work with his other two suspects. If he did, there would be bloodshed and none of it would be hers.

Jerking his head towards the door, Rodney dismissed her. Miko didn’t look back, just slid out the door, leaving the CSO with his second and suspects. “I find it absolutely amazing that one of you thought that it would be a good idea to implicate that woman.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” Simpson announced. She was doing her best to keep her face smooth and without expression, but Rodney had been doing this for long enough to know her tells. He kept an eye on her as he moved over to the bank of computers that Kavanagh had been working on. It took only moments to find one that was hooked into the network and he slipped a jump drive into the correct slot with ease.

“I really think you do,” Rodney fired back as he pulled up the computer logs from the scene of the crime. The file that showed whose log in had been used was easily highlighted. As were the lines showing who had entered the room and accessed the system. “Dr. Kusanagi had no thumbs at the time listed. It would be a bit hard for her to have typed anything into a key pad at that point.”

Simpson looked frustrated and Miller was starting to sweat. Neither were in the right mental spot though, and he pushed again. “To make matters even more fun, in case you want to say Miko gave you the code, she didn’t get her voice until an hour after the cables were unlocked. Got anything to counter that?”

Rodney clicked on another file and he heard Radek sigh as a video came up. They had watched the whole thing on fast forward in the ZedPM room, but they hadn’t bothered to listen to the soundtrack. It was a bit sloppy, but they needed the generators back in place before anything untoward happened.

The video was completely damning and Rodney could feel his temper truly igniting as he watched two of his people put everyone on the city, almost 350 people in danger on the word of a moron. “What in the ever living hell gave you the idea that doing that was a good idea?” he asked as he pointed to the two of them disconnecting the second generator.

“Dr. Weir gave us an order. She is the leader of the Expedition and she is the one running this place!” Simpson blustered. Her face was ugly as she tried to explain herself, desperation leaking through.

“Dr. Weir is a fucking social scientist with delusions of competency! She isn’t a hard scientist, she isn’t a part of this department, and she in no way, shape or form knows what is going on with our power flows! Why did you listen to her?” Rodney moved over to lean into Simpson’s personal space, voice starting to rise. “You fucking well know better, since you’re at least familiar with how the damn things work!”

“Hey! Back off, McKay. The power is fine. There’s been no problems since we removed the two generators,” Miller said as he tried to get in the way.

“Radek?” Rodney didn’t take his eyes off the two people in front of him.

The Czech put the current monitors of the power flows on the screen, blocking out the damning film. He watched as both of them saw the power projections. He knew, because he had pulled them up, that they had gotten very lucky. If anything unexpected had happened while the two generators that provided a cushioning effect had been missing, he wasn’t certain they would survive it.

“Still think that everything is peachy? You just put everyone on this city in danger. The explosion that could happen could take out the planet. And it would be fully on your shoulders. But hey! It won’t happen, right? And you won’t be at fault. Because you were told to do it.

“She’s our boss,” Simpson told him softly, her eyes on the power flows behind him. From the way her eyes were moving, he was certain that she was tracking the line of red that was flowing over the graphs.

“Bull-fucking-shit. I’m your boss. Zelenka is your boss. Kusanagi is your boss. Weir is the figurehead sitting in an office somewhere that I report to when I have no other choice. Not you, not any of the other people you work with. No one else but me. Because I. AM. YOUR. BOSS!” Rodney told her. He looked over at Miller and saw that the man was green around the gills. He had no sympathy. “Now. Where are the generators?”

“They’re in the storage room right outside the gate room,” Miller told him, almost whispering. “What is gonna happen?”

“Well, it has been fully proven that you two can’t be trusted to not try to kill everyone. So, you are both confined to quarters. If you don’t have a room, get one and stay there,” Rodney told them. “If we survive, you will be tried in a quorum of your peers and we will determine your punishment as a department. But I can guarantee you, no one is going to want to work with you. And if I had my way, I would space your dumb asses before you contaminate anyone else with your rampant stupidity.”

Both scientist looked at him and then back at the screen before nodding and heading out the door. Neither were happy, but he didn’t care about their feelings. Rodney leaned against the nearest table and gripped the edge, trying to control his temper. Jesus fuck, they weren’t out of danger yet, but all of this was because Weir wanted to do what?

“Have no idea, but she must be stopped,” Radek told him.

“Shit, I was talking out loud?” Rodney asked as he moved over to the toolboxes lining the walls. Thankfully, most of the work had already been done to get everything into place, but there were some things he needed to get everything in place. His tools were right where he had left them and he quickly grabbed the ones he would need. “Right now, she’s not the important thing. The generators are our first priority.”

“Yes, I agree,” said Radek as he did the same.

Rodney tapped his radio and ordered Kusanagi to the ZedPM room to wait on them. Since Sheppard had locked it, he was fairly certain that she would be able to unlock it. “Cart?”

“Yes, I think so. Otherwise generators are too heavy to carry and deal with easily,” Radek agreed as he started pushing the one parked by the door.

“We can work with that.”

The trip to the storage room was not fun. Way too many stairs. Why hadn’t the Ancients gone in for elevators? Had they all been fitness nuts? At any rate, there were several ways to get up there, and Rodney wasn’t certain that the cart was worth it. “Sheppard? I need four of your men to meet Zelenka and myself by the storeroom outside the gate room,” he demanded of the Major. “Leave the cart, this is taking too much time.”

Radek didn’t argue, just started moving up the stairs as fast as he could.

“You found them then?” the Major asked before the line went silent. “Stollins hasn’t gotten back to me.”

“Yeah, we found them,” Rodney agreed as he kept up. He was starting to pant and he checked one of the pockets in his cargo pants. He had a few Power Bars in case his sugars reacted to the exercise. “They are too bulky for us to handle without danger and we need to get them in quickly.”

“Bates and three others will be at the room and I just unlocked it. I’ll let Stollins know to call off the search,” Sheppard reported. Rodney blessed the ATA gene for all the good things that it was giving him right then, because he had no idea how much time they had. Rounding the corner, he saw the four Marines waiting outside the door.

Stumbling to a stop, the scientist took a deep breath before waving at the door. “Inside the room there should be two naquadah generators. I need you four to carry them down to the ZedPM room, two for each one, and do it as fast and as safely as you can.”

As soon as he got in the door, Rodney saw the two items in question, and sighed in relief. They looked okay. Radek took one and he took the other and they did a very fast check to make sure nothing was amiss with the little power sources.

“All clear, take them down,” Rodney told the other four men before he turned around and started for the door. They still needed to get to the ZedPM room and make sure it was ready for them. It should be okay, but…they were so close to the edge right there.

Rodney started running down the hallway, the sound of slightly lighter ones keeping pace with him and heavier ones following behind. Crossing his fingers in a superstition that he really didn’t believe, McKay moved down the first set of stairs. Time was ticking.

 

 Chapter Eight

 

“Ford.” Sheppard tapped his radio and tried to get his second in command on the line.

There was silence for a long count and then he tried again. When that still came up with nothing, John rubbed one finger at the spot right above his nose that ached and looked at one of the soldiers waiting on the meeting. “Smith, go check to see if the LT’s asleep. If he is, wake him up, please. If he asks, don’t debrief him as to what has been happening.”

“Yes, sir!” the Corporal said and then headed out at a trot.

Sheppard turned to look at the rest of the men and women under his command. “I need a report of everything that has been happening since I went to sleep after the party.”

The silence lasted for several seconds before Markham pushed forward with the large form of what had to be Stackhouse beside him. “Sir, we can get you up to speed.”

“I just bet you can, Sergeant. Stackhouse, good to see you,” Sheppard agreed with a nod towards the other wolf.

The wolf gave him a chuff and John grunted in agreement. He had a good idea of just how thrilled the other man was at being on four feet and without his voice. He made a mental note to talk to the two of them about what he had done to allow him to tie into the Ancient systems to allow him to talk. But first, he needed to make sure that the Sergeant knew that he wasn’t going to stay a wolf forever. “Next time you fall asleep and slip into REM, Sarge, you should slip back into your skin.”

The smile Markham flashed him was full of gratitude, and John watched as he ran a hand over the wolf’s head. From the way that Stackhouse tilted his head, the gesture felt good. Something to think about then. John sat down and waved a hand at the other two and they settled down to tell him everything that had been going on.

The feel of someone looking over his shoulder made him look up roughly thirty minutes later. Smith was back and standing behind him, waiting on a chance to interrupt the debriefing. “Sarge, what do you have for me?”

“Lt. Ford is on his way up, sir. He had his radio off and was sleeping,” Smith reported.

“Right, I think I will be getting with someone in the science group to come up with some type of an alarm we can set if we have our radios off and someone needs our attention,” John mused. “Okay, I have a fair idea of what happened while I was indisposed. Who had the duty in the gate room?”

There was a shuffle sound as the men and women around him moved. He wasn’t going to compromise on what he was doing next because the lack of guards had left the city vulnerable to invasion. The stargate had a shield, but they couldn’t run it full time. Blinking, Sheppard filed that thought away. Might that be one reason why Weir had stolen at least one of the generators?

“I told the men on the lower gate room doors to head back, Major. And the ones inside too. The ones on the upper doors were told to stay,” Ford reported as he walked up to stand before Sheppard.

John held onto his temper and tried not to grind his teeth. “Who told you to do this?” Because it sure as hell hadn’t been him and he was very sure that Bates hadn’t. The Gunny had a lot more time in the Marines than Ford had in the Air Force and there was no way the man would have allowed that. “And why wasn’t it included in the report you gave me?”

“Dr. Weir mentioned that we had the shield around the Stargate and we needed the manpower to patrol the city. I left the two at the upper doors, just in case, sir. She stated that she would be updating you on the changes when she went to talk to you,” Ford said. He didn’t seem to notice that the rest of the military in the room moved out of the way.

“Lieutenant, when did she tell you this?” Sheppard asked carefully.

“About two hours after you turned in, sir,” Ford reported. He was starting to look a bit wide-eyed.

John hummed and stared at the younger man. “Two hours after I turned in? That means that I was available to be called to see if I agreed with those orders since I am the one in charge of the military on this Expedition, not Weir. Correct?”

Ford swallowed and nodded. “Yes, sir.”

“When I decided to put the guards up in the gate room, did I not say that they were there to protect the techs in the command center and also Weir in her office? Since we didn’t have ready access to the shield over the stargate?” John asked as he rocked back and forth on his heels.

The normal rule that he had learned in the Academy was that you corrected in private and praised in public. Something that he had been doing for his entire career, without fail. But this screw-up was too big, had too much potential to have killed them all for him to allow it to get swept under a rug. Ford was just going to have to take his humiliation with a straight spine.

“You did, sir.”

“Then why in the hell did you obey the word of a civilian? She has no say in how I assign the men and women of this company. Yes, if we have gate teams that go out to explore, there will be some overlap between the civilians and military, but she isn’t your commanding officer. I am. Why?” John demanded. He walked over to his second to look him in the eye as he tried to come up with an answer.

Ford was starting to sweat, John saw from his new vantage point. Excellent. “I did protest, sir. And I upped the patrols around the gate room.”

“Didn’t make a whit of difference, Lieutenant, since I saw no one on my way down here. Want to try that again?” Sheppard asked.

“No, sir.” Ford’s voice was very quiet and John nodded.

“I’ll be dealing with you later, Lieutenant. As for the four people who got dismissed and every one of you that didn’t show up later? Well, I know we are on the ass end of space, but I will be dealing with you. I can promise you that,” John announced to the room at large.

He quickly moved over to one of the crates that was still packed. Hopping up on it, he looked over the crowd. He had too few people for what they were going to try to do, but he was going to work with what they had. And John really, really hoped that they didn’t get it into their heads to snipe him when they were in the field. Having to do aerobics until you puked, while not fully what he wanted to do with his misbehaving people, would have to do. He couldn’t afford anything else.

“Gather ‘round, kids. Time to explain what has been happening for the last day or so. And how that is gonna impact things in the future.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Nine

 

John was sitting in McKay’s private lab when he and Radek stumbled back in. He saluted both men with his coffee cup before taking a deep breath and chugging the liquid in it, shuddering at the taste.

“We haven’t even been here a week, Major. The stills can’t have gone up already,” Rodney said as he looked at the cup in curiosity.

“No booze, mores the pity, just stone cold coffee with no sugar or cream,” John told him.

“Yuck,” Radek offered as he went to test the carafe for warmth.

“That one’s cold too, Doc,” John informed him.

“Is fabulous, and we have no microwave to fix,” Radek huffed.

“Nope, they are still packed and with power the way it is now, I’m not certain if we should unpack them,” McKay informed him as he poured himself a cup of cold coffee.

John kept an eye on him as he drank it down and could only stare as he did it without a shudder before refilling the cup with more.

“Freak,” Sheppard mumbled into his cup.

McKay shrugged and pulled one of the lab stools out to sit on. “So, the two morons in my department pulled the Zed PM’s because Weir told them to.”

”Ford let the guards on the gate room go because Weir told him too as well,” John shared, voice grim.

“Medical keeps ATA carriers awake on her orders. She also bullied Carson into signing off on stims for Chuck,” Radek said as he paged through his email. “He is reporting to you about it, Rodney, and CC’d myself and the Major.”

“Jesus, what in the hell is she playing at?” John wondered.

“Her actions don’t make sense. Unhooking the generators and storing them in a closet by the gate room makes even less sense. They weren’t hidden, locked up or out of reach,” McKay told Sheppard. “All she did was come close to making all of us blowup.”

“She really had the generators moved by the gate room?” John asked carefully.

“Yes, she did. Why?”

“Because she told Ford that the reason he could remove the guards from inside the gate room was because we had the shield around the gate,” Sheppard told the two scientists.

“But we don’t! I told her very plainly that we didn’t have enough power to run the shield 24/7 and wouldn’t until I could get a handle on the power situation,” Rodney protested

“Was in meeting with you. She seemed to understand that shield was not readily available,” Radek confirmed.

“Maybe she didn’t,” John speculated. “It wouldn’t be the first time a traumatic event snapped people’s underlying control. Fear is a powerful motivator and can turn smart people dumb.”

“But she was told we didn’t have the power to change things and wouldn’t have it for about a week,” McKay argued, staring at his second. “And I know you and I told her we would be able to get at least one spare generator together by then.”

Radek sighed and John looked at the engineer sharply. That hadn’t been a good sigh. “But that was time she apparently didn’t want to wait, Rodney.”

“Why? The Major had men with very large guns standing by, ready to protect the gate room by shooting any intruders,” McKay informed the room.

“Very large guns, McKay. The biggest I could find that were easy to carry,” John said.

He had managed to get a good batch of .45 cal carbines added to their TOE and the Major had a feeling he was going to want more. The heavier the better, right up to and including a gross of .50 cal Desert Eagle handguns. If they ever got back in touch with Earth…

“But guns are not Ancient shield that had just kept two spaceships from coming into city. Filled with beings that wanted to eat her,” the Czech argued.

“Can this really boil down to something like fear?” McKay asked as he ran a hand over his face.

“Well, I would hope there would be more, but at the base, it seems likely,” John allowed. “That and a fair amount of stupid thinking on some people’s parts.”

“Oh, a great deal of stupid thinking,” Radek muttered. “We’re having to figure out what to do to punish those who nearly killed us.”

John winced. Yeah, that was going to suck. “I don’t think it would be wise for me to be a part of that.”

“We know, Dr. Sheppard,” McKay said with a cheeky grin. “Seriously, we are going to have to put a quorum in together to deal with this and it is gonna suck so badly.”

“I’m gonna need to get with Beckett when he gets human again. There are some things I am going to do that will cause some ripples his way,” John informed the scientists. “I’m also going to need to talk to whomever is in charge of the IT department on the city.”

“Privilege restrictions?” Rodney asked with a raised eyebrow.

“About all I can do to them without unduly impacting readiness,” John admitted. “Well, that and run them through a series of exercise routines until they puke.”

“Good idea to warn Carson, then. His nurses will appreciate it,” Rodney confirmed. “Should we do the same?”

Radek shook his head. “No, puking would happen far sooner than Major would want.”

“Yup,” John confirmed “If it takes tag teaming them, they are all going to puke. And then they are going to lose any rights to the entertainment servers. I want the only reading material those men have access to for the next six weeks to be the various Operations Manuals from every military represented in the Expedition.”

“Sounds riveting,” McKay muttered.

“Well, it really isn’t supposed to be fun.” John was also thinking about having the eight members who hadn’t bothered to show up for their watches do some other stuff around the tower. Scut work for punishment it might be, but the danger the Expedition had been in was very real and they needed to know their actions had consequences. “What are you going to do with yours?”

“No idea. Well, nothing definite,” Rodney admitted.

“Me either,” Radek agreed. “But this is why we have quorum to help decide.”

“But first we need to deal with Weir,” John cautioned.

“Agreed.”

 

 

 

“Dr. Weir?”

Elizabeth turned around from her contemplation of the stargate and looked at one of the banes of her existence. Dr. M Rodney McKay, PhD, PhD and all around smartass. He was too smart, too sure, and he had lied to her.

“Dr. McKay? How can I help you?” she asked carefully as she settled behind her desk. She was in control. She had the power. And she was smarter than everyone in the city. Hadn’t she proven that by getting them to the City of the Ancients?

“I have some questions for you about what we are doing with the city,” he said.

She cocked her head to the side and watched him. The Canadian’s eyes were calm and he was looking straight at her. Elizabeth had seen McKay trying to lie and the man was awful at it. He stuttered, sweated and his eyes went everywhere. There was none of that.

“The SGC wants us to find and deliver to them Ancient technology so they can use it to fight the Ori,” she explained. “I think that since we are here and living in the City of the Ancients, we need to see what they left for us in their search for Ascension. That is the ultimate goal I think. A way to fight the Ori on their own ground.”

The look on McKay’s face was complicated. She didn’t hold it against him. Not fully. He was a man who believed in what he could see and touch and she was telling him that he needed to trust more in something outside his normal environment. “This is what we will be doing. And we will be safe.”

“Safe?” he asked.

“No one knows where we are and we can look at and study the city without a problem,” Elizabeth informed him. Somewhere in her memory, she heard the sound of two deep thuds hitting a huge drum and reverberating through her bones. Shoving the thought aside, she concentrated on what would happen when she Ascended. She would be safe.

“Okay,” McKay agreed with a nod. “I think I will be getting back to work making sure we can start exploring the city.”

Smiling, she nodded. He understood! “Please make sure that the cats and dogs that have appeared are under control.”

“We can do that, Dr. Weir. You stay here and rest. I’ll send Miko up with some tea. I think she brought a set,” he offered.

Smiling she nodded before turning to look at the stargate again. “Thank you. That would be lovely.”

 

 

 

Rodney held his peace as he walked out the door of Weir’s office. Once he got to the main console, he pushed Stollins’ chair out of the way so he could get at the computer tied into it. The tech just raised her hands and pushed her chair back further. Accessing the internal scanners, he replayed the results from the last 28 hours. Nothing. Nothing that could explain the batty woman who was sitting in the place of the hardnosed bitch Sheppard had encountered. Tapping his ear piece, he opened a channel.

“Kusanagi, I need you to get some tea together for Dr. Weir. Please be as nice and as sweet as you can be without getting artificial. I’ll pay you back later this afternoon.” Rodney pinched the bridge of his nose, then tapped his earpiece again and opened a new channel. “Heightmeyer, this is McKay. I need you on the command deck. Now.”

“Sir? Is something wrong?” Stollins asked as she scooted the length of the console.

“Do you have any idea why Dr. Weir is acting like a hippy on weed?” He demanded.

“No, sir. But she’s been flipping back and forth between being really militant and being really flighty all night long. So, I’ve basically been writing down all of her requests and orders and I was planning on stopping by your lab after my shift so you could go over it,” she explained.

“Oh, very good, Dr. Stollins! I think you just won the award for most intelligent minion for the month,” McKay crowed.

“It’s under ‘grocery list’ in Word, sir,” she directed.

“Found it,” he muttered as he started to read.

Weir had been swinging back and forth between functionality and fluffy for most of Stollins’ shift. From the time stamps of the earliest entries, some of them might even be from Chuck. Jesus, the leader of the Expedition had cracked. Opening a blank email, he started typing in his own observations and attached the tech’s list before sending the whole mess to Heightmeyer and Carson. The sound of the door to the command deck pulled his attention away from the computer and he looked up to see the shrink walking in.

“You called, Dr. McKay?”

“Yeah, I did,” McKay agreed. “Take a look at that.” He waved a hand towards the computer files.

The door on the level they were on opened and he held his breath as Kusanagi walked in with a tray laden with a steaming teapot surrounded by nibbles. He crossed the room over to her to give her a brief description of what she was walking into. “You so, so owe me, McKay. Just because I’m female and Japanese, doesn’t mean that I will do the tea thing every time you need me to charm someone.”

Rodney nodded. He knew exactly how hard the woman before him had worked to be more than her looks and ethnicity. “I chose you because you are about as innocuous as they come in the sciences, you can hold a straight face no matter what is happening around you and you are more than smart enough to keep up with any changes she might throw at you.”

“Flattery will keep me from denuding your chocolate stash,” she told him with a sigh. “But I want a set of shortbread cookies before the flour is all gone.”

“Done.”

“Is Heightmeyer here to back me up?”

“I think so,” he allowed. He was keeping a careful eye on Weir as they talked. The glass office was a blessing at this point. From what Sheppard had told them, the chances of Weir being able to see out in their direction were rather slim since she hadn’t moved a muscle.

“You don’t find the easy ones for me, do you, Dr. McKay?” Heightmeyer asked as she walked up beside Kusanagi.

“Doesn’t look like it, no. Miko, Kate, I will leave this in your capable hands. I need to start putting together the quorum to deal with Simpson and Miller,” Rodney told them.

“Already done and scheduled for twelve hours from now, Dr. McKay. We’ve got this. Now go get some sleep so you make sense at the meeting,” Miko informed him. She was gesturing with her filled tray towards the door.

Rodney knew when he was done. “Going. Stollins, Grodin is your relief. He should be up in an hour.”

“Yes, sir! Good night!”

Stepping through the door into the main part of the city was one of the hardest things he had ever done. He had no idea what had caused Weir to go off the rails, but she had. Rubbing his forehead he went in search of Carson, Radek, Sheppard and hot coffee. He needed to let them know the latest clusterfuck before he could sleep.

What a day.

 

 

 

“Weir is totally batshit insane,” McKay told the conference room as he came in to the space they had confiscated to allow everyone to talk.

“You look like shit, lad,” Dr. Beckett observed from his spot on the couch they had dragged in. “When did you last get some sleep?”

John looked more closely at the scientist and winced. The man looked horrible. He had huge bags under his eyes, his complexion was starting to grey, and his hands were shaking.

“You and Kusanagi have got to stop trying to get me to sleep,” McKay bitched. John watched and the shaking didn’t slow down at all.

That right there was cause to worry, given the man’s fully admitted hypoglycemia. John sat up and tried to remember if there had been any food when he had left the scientist’s lab to go deal with things. “McKay. Rodney, when did you last eat?”

“Uhm?” McKay looked at his watch and frowned.

“Whenever it was, it was too long ago if you can’t tell time,” Carson declared. “I’ll be back in ten minutes. You sit down and eat one of those nasty Power Bars you like so much.”

When McKay didn’t argue or protest the high handedness of his friend, John twitched. If the irascible scientist was quiet and accepting, his blood sugar obviously wasn’t good. He kept a close eye on the other man as he slowly consumed one of the many Power Bars he carried in his pockets.

“Do you think anyone told Carson we are looking at a 28 hour day? And that was why I was checking my watch?” the scientist asked as he neatly folded up his trash.

“I know I haven’t.” John shrugged before sitting forward “What did you mean ‘she’s batshit insane’?”

McKay ran his hands over his face after he dropped the wrapper and sighed. John noticed that the shaking in them had gone down a lot thanks to the food. “Let’s wait a few. I need to eat a real meal, we need Carson in on this, and it would be wise to add Heightmeyer as well.”

Jesus, that sounded bad. The Expedition shrink was needed? “What’s Kusanagi doing?”

“Later Sheppard, I promise,” McKay muttered into his hands.

“Okay. “ John pushed his curiosity aside and tried to think of something, anything else. Not that he liked to talk, because he really didn’t, but staring at the scientist like he was a specimen was unkind. “So, Stackhouse has gone back to human again. He took a nap and just transformed right in the middle of it and kept on sleeping. Everyone who was in the room with him said the process sounded gross, but he didn’t seem to be in any pain. Chuck, when I made it to the conference room he was stashed in, had finally gotten to sleep and on his first pass through REM turned into a cat.”

The scientist chuckled softly at the last bit of news. “I would have expected him to be a wolf as well.”

“He was thinking that he would be one as well, but he missed that. Now, thanks to one of the social scientists squealing over his new form, he’s also a very awake cat. Who seems a lot more grumpy than normal,” John recalled.

“All that caffeine they gave him had to have some effect. But since he is a cat, someone might want to check how he’s doing with it in his system. It isn’t good for them,” Rodney commented.

“Point, but it is going to be a while before he can sleep, I bet,” John said.

“Cats can sleep up to twenty or more hours out of any given day on Earth, Sheppard. And they aren’t known for the long distance, run you into the ground hunting style that canines are known for. Have him chase one or two of your men up and down the corridors until he falls out and takes a nap. Should work,” McKay offered with a slightly smug smile.

“How in the hell do you know that?” John asked. He had been planning on asking one of the biologists what the pros and cons of his new form was. Well, he still was. After he went to see Beckett and he merry band of blood letters to see if turning into a giant wolf had any unusual aftereffects beyond the improvement to his senses.

“I’ve been owned by cats before. Admittedly, not one as big as Chuck is or even one the size of Miko, but my favorite breed can get up to twenty plus pounds.” The scientist chuckled and shook his head. “Magus still liked to leap down onto his prey to stun it and then kill it.”

“What cat gets to be over twenty pounds? Bobcat?” John asked. He liked dogs, had always had dogs as a kid and frankly, dogs could run with him. Which reminded him. The next time he transformed, he wanted to go for a long run around the city. It would test his nose and also let him explore some of the areas. Especially the lower levels of the tower they were in.

McKay laughed. “Nope. Maine Coon. They are sweet cats, all fluff, purr and pushiness. Plus they are highly trainable and can learn commands like a dog can.”

“Sounds like fun.”

“They are and I miss my cat. Anyway. I think I am going to take the chance and have Carson administer the gene treatment. All it has to do is switch on the part of the ATA sequence that I don’t have active at this time and then we shall see what happens,” McKay told him with a sideways look. “I figure if I go barmy or furry due to it, you can keep me in place.”

John nodded. “Yeah, I can do that. Shouldn’t be a problem.”

The door opened and Beckett, Zelenka and Biro stepped in, all of them carrying trays piled high with food. “The mess is running, Major. Your men are currently cooking up a good bit of food and making sure that everyone has a hot meal.”

“Did you check?” McKay asked carefully.

Beckett nodded. “No lemon anywhere, lad. And if there is, the cooks promise to label the food with it in it. They are already labeling for wheat, soy and peanuts.”

“Food allergies are no joke, Doc. The guys running the mess are Navy Mess Specialists and they are well aware of how careful they have to be. They are basically running a kosher kitchen depending on the dish,” John told the Expedition’s CMO.

“Good,” Beckett informed him with a careful sigh. “I saw too many people in the SGC coming in with allergic reactions due to the food the natives had eaten without a qualm. Radek? Do you think there is any way that we can adapt the little Ancient handheld scanners to look for allergens and display a readily agreed upon signal?”

“Better to ask Major if can be done,” the Czech told the doctor.

Carson turned to look at John. “Can you?”

“I really don’t know,” John confessed. He was watching as the people who had gotten the food laid everything on the table and passed around plates and cutlery. “I don’t see why not.”

“Excellent. Please work on that. Now, can you come here and eat? You are too skinny.” The doctor waved at the food before looking at McKay. “The same goes for you, Rodney. Eat something.”

Laughing softly at how pushy the good doctor was, John complied. He would be finding out what in the hell was going on from McKay, but he was certain it wouldn’t be right then. Now, he was hungry, there was food and he could enjoy it quite a lot.

 

 

Chapter Ten

 

They had just finished dinner and were sitting around the table when John brought the subject up again. “McKay, why did you say that Weir was ‘batshit insane’?”

“Because she is. Totally and completely cracked and off her rocker,” Rodney told him. The memory of the whole conversation he had had with the leader of the Expedition flashed through his head and he had to suppress his twitch. “When she came down to see us in my lab, she was pretty much the Weir we had all met in the lead up to coming out here. She was in control, no nonsense, and on top of her game and as sharp as always. She was following all the threads of events and managing the response, even if it was in ways that we weren’t happy with it.”

”I can agree with that assessment,” Carson muttered into his coffee cup. “She was incredibly involved in every part of getting ready for this Expedition. Down to helping me pick the blankets for the beds in medical. She was doing the same thing while we were trying to figure out what had changed the three of us over.”

“So what? She’s obsessive and controlling?” John asked.

Before Rodney could answer, the door to the conference room opened and Miko and Kate Heightmeyer walked in. Miko still had her tea set in hand, but the tray of nibbles was empty and the pot was turned upside down. Both women wore looks that Rodney could only label as being deeply creeped out.

“Didn’t I tell you to go to get some sleep?” Kusanagi demanded as she slid her tray onto the table and then settled her hands on her hips. She was glaring at her boss and Rodney could almost see the tapping foot.

McKay winced. It was a smart man who refrained from pissing off the women in their lives. Even if they were only friends. This one most of all. Given that most of his life revolved around computers, having his log in do weird shit would be bad. Not having one at all until he did what she wanted was worse.

“He will, lass. But first he needed to eat an actual meal and let us know what we are up against,” Carson soothed.

Miko snorted softly and moved around the table to drop into a seat by the doctor. “I can accept that. But he still needs to get some sleep before we deal with Simpson and Miller in just over eleven hours. Otherwise he’ll be unbearable.”

Radek growled lightly and pushed his glasses up before pinching the bridge of his nose. “Might not be a bad thing then. Others would learn to use brains before doing stupid shit.”

McKay looked at Heightmeyer and relaxed slightly at the smile she was wearing. “So I was starting to explain why Weir is batshit insane.”

Heightmeyer looked at him for the term and then shrugged. “Not the technical term I would use, but basically true.”

Rodney sat back and watched as everyone reacted to her announcement. Shock, disbelief and anger were all there to see. He wasn’t too calm either. “She seemed to think we all came out here to Atlantis to try to Ascend, not get the tech and weapons like the SGC wants. She seems to think it is the only way to be safe.”

“While Miko and I were having tea with her, she moved back and forth between the two states. The ‘original’ Elizabeth, the one we all met on Earth, and ‘altered’ Elizabeth, who seems to have developed here on Atlantis,” Kate told them as she reached for a coffee carafe. “There seems to be no real overlap, but she tracks through both of them. Everything that she seems to be dealing with appears to go through the ‘altered’ state with the ‘original’ state being the part of her that is starting to plan on how to make her delusions a reality.”

 

 

 

Rodney pushed the spare cup over to her and then the cream and sugar. The room was silent as she doctored her cup and took a sip. “At any rate, Dr. Weir is as of right now, not qualified to lead the tea party we just had with her, much less the Expedition. Carson, I am formally recommending that she be stepped down as leader until she comes back to herself or she gets shipped back to Earth.”

“Fuck. Are you certain lass?” Carson asked urgently. “You didn’t spend a lot of time with her after all.”

Kate sighed and exchanged a glance with Miko. “Yeah, I’m sure Carson. What is going be hard is deciding what we are going to do with her. We don’t have the drugs her care requires and confining her somewhere safe could be bad for her. Let alone how we are going to manage to care for her.”

“God, it’s like a mess of bad choices,” Rodney muttered. “What if we found a good suite of rooms with a balcony and some room for her to roam? I can hook a generator into the rooms so she will always have power and make sure the balcony has a shield so she can get sun and air, but can’t do anything drastic.”

“My nurses can do a lot of the daily care around their shifts,” Carson volunteered. “And I have the chemical formulas for most of the standard pharmacopeia; you can come and see if anything I have might help.”

“We can work with both of those suggestions,” Kate told them. ”I would also suggest that her command codes be stripped out of the system before she does anything. Her ‘original’ state is cognizant enough to do a lot of damage if she isn’t confined.”

”I already have that prepped, Kate,” Miko announced from behind one of the many laptops in the room that she had commandeered. “I just need two other command level people to sign off on the restrictions.”

“For obvious reasons, I can’t be one of those people,” Sheppard said, and held up his hands when he was glared at. “Guys, I’m the current head of the military here on Atlantis. We want to minimize any thoughts of this being a coup d’état and stuff.”

“Right. So that leaves Carson and myself with Kate putting her recommendation in to make it official.” Rodney huffed and waved at Kusanagi to pass him the laptop.

“That works for me,” Kate agreed with a controlled exhale. Rodney flashed her a concerned look and then another at Carson as he took the computer to complete his part. As soon as the CMO entered his codes and hit enter, Weir was firmly locked out of everything.

“God, that felt horrible,” Carson muttered, rubbing one hand against his breastbone. Biro patted him on the shoulder and something in Rodney relaxed at the obvious care his friend’s 2IC had for him.

“We’ll make it work, Carson,” she murmured.

“We’ve got to,” the Scotsman agreed. Taking a deep breath, he looked at the rest of the room. “Should we send anyone up to sedate and move her?”

“We don’t need to,” Miko said softly. “When I set up everything to lock her out of the system, I put her on a fake drive. She can enter her command codes all day long and the system will say that things are going just as she directs. In reality, she isn’t getting beyond one of the gaming areas on Cray number four.”

“That is a relief. We need to set up her new rooms before we confine her,” Biro announced. Looking around the room, she frowned. “Do we have any idea how long it will be before the ships under construction are ready?”

Everyone turned to look at him and Rodney sighed. “Six months for the Prometheus and a full year for the Daedalus.”

Sheppard sat up abruptly at the news and made grabby hands at a laptop. Radek silently shoved one down towards the Air Force officer and everyone waited. Whatever it was that had caused that reaction had to be interesting at least.

“We have food for four months, maybe six if we start to ration at breakfast,” he told them after several minutes accessing something.

“Maybe she started cracking before we left Earth?” Radek asked the quiet room. “The production and completion dates on the ships had been open news for anyone at Weir’s level at the SGC.”

“Okay, everyone, time to get everything we have on the table. Full and total disclosure of what was brought, no matter how minor. Down to the equipment for the stills,” Rodney announced. Nodding at Radek, he directed his second to pull up their real inventory list. Not the one he had shown Weir, O’Neill and the IOC.

“You take all the joy out of my life,” Radek bitched as he pulled the document up. “See if I give you any of my production.”

”The only reason you are going to have the possibility of a production, you crazy Czech, is because I signed off on bringing in the damned things,” McKay muttered.

Sheppard started laughing at the two of them and they both turned to frown at him. He just laughed harder. “Jesus, I thought you we kidding about the stills. What kind?”

”I brought basic vodka still and one for white lightening. The results of that one can be aged to make whiskey or bourbon if find the right ingredients,” the Czech said smugly.

“Well, if we can afford it, put me down for a bottle of each,” Sheppard told him. “McKay, I need to get Bates up here if we are going to talk supplies. And MS1 Cooper. She’s in charge of all the food we have.”

“Should we get the Athosians up here too?” Kate asked.

Sheppard shook his head. “No. Not right now. Once we have figured out our supply situation, I might feel more comfortable sharing that with them.”

“What about heading back to Athos to see if we can clean out anything salvageable?” Biro asked. “The people I’ve been talking to as we’ve treated them think there should be a lot left to rot if they don’t go back.”

”The Wraith were firing against the village, I don’t know how much might be left,” Sheppard offered.

“They know, Major. But unless the Wraith are hanging around in orbit, the surviving Athosians would like to go back and see if there is anything left,” Kate said quietly. “If nothing else, it would allow them some closure. They lost a lot of their population only a few days ago and this would allow them to close that chapter of their lives. Plus it would let us check to see if anyone else survived.”

“We can go in puddle jumpers so we have a quick way to get everyone under cover if needed. And someplace to store what they recover,” Sheppard said. ”That means that Stackhouse, myself, Kusanagi, Carson and Chuck as ATA carriers will be on for pilot duty.”

“You can’t all be off the city at the same time,” Rodney told the Major firmly. Having every ATA carrier gone at the same time would be deeply bad if there were any emergencies.

“Not all at once, okay,” Sheppard agreed. “I also want everyone who shows the recessive genome to get offered the gene therapy.”

“Almost ready for that,” Carson confirmed.

“Me first!” Rodney cut in.

“Me second.” Biro raised her band.

The door opened and Bates and another woman came walking in, both carrying laptops, a tablet and, in the case of the Gunnery Sergeant, a paper notebook. Rodney raised an eyebrow at that. He wasn’t aware that Bates was that much of a Luddite.

“If it’s on paper, it’s easier to slip it under the radar, Doc,” Bates explained to him.

“Okay, let’s get this started. We need to know exactly what we actually have to work with.” Rodney called the expanded meeting to order. Checking his watch, he saw he had about nine and a half hours before the quorum. He just hoped he could get a nap in somewhere.

 

 

 

“Okay, folks. As you know, the scientists are holding a quorum to deal with the people who disconnected and moved the generators. We should hear the results of that sometime soon.” John took a deep breath. “But we have our own mess to clean up, too.”

“Yes, sir, we sure do,” Bates agreed. His voice was tight with irritation, and John couldn’t blame him for it. It had been his men who had screwed up and concealed their crime. And were now on the block with the ax was coming to chop them to bits.

“Are we going to be using the UCMJ to try them?” Stackhouse asked from his spot down the table.

John made a note on his tablet to talk to the man about the lingering effects of the transformation. “Yes, but not the section that will let me shoot them for dereliction of duty. And no, I am not angling for that. No matter how things may look.”

MS1 Cooper snorted softly. “We’re on a floating city. I vote that we keelhaul them.”

“The city is the size of Manhattan, Coop. Exactly where did you want to tie a rope off of to drag them against the bottom of the city?” Markham asked, curious.

“The width of one of the piers might be good,” Bates mused.

John chuckled and waved a hand at the group in front of him. “You lot are awful bloodthirsty.”

“Yes, sir. But I’m not fond of the feeling of having my ass in a sling,” Cooper told him, eyes serious. John liked the woman who managed the mess. She was frank, knowledgeable and took no shit from anyone. As it was, she was one of the most pleasant US Navy sailors he had ever encountered. On the other hand, the lady played with knives all day long. He wasn’t planning on underestimating her for any reason.

“And they left us in one,” John agreed. “I fully and totally agree that they need to get punished for it, but I am not willing to unduly impact the levels of readiness that we need to maintain. We haven’t even been on the city for a week and we aren’t running missions. The eight men and Ford have all screwed up. But now I need to know the pros and cons of what to do.”

His senior enlisted members all looked at each other and sighed. “This isn’t normally how we do this, sir,” Cooper observed.

John looked at her and then around the room at the other three men. “Coop, I have me and Ford as my whole officer corps. There is no one else to talk to about what in the hell I’m supposed to do about the people who screwed up. I’m not willing to talk to the civilians in the Expedition about what’s happening either.”

“Damn it, sir. He’s right guys. Suck it up and let’s get this taken care of. I am still tired and I would like a chance at sleeping. Fur or not,” Stackhouse informed them.

“You aren’t the only one, Sergeant,” John agreed. Tapping his stylus against his tablet he brought up the first man’s file. “Okay, we have Lance Corporal Anders.”

The discussion took more than two hours before they had hashed out a plan to punish the eight members without completely destroying unit cohesiveness. Even taking into consideration Sheppard’s desire to have them do PT until they puked and then repeating it all until they puked again. For that, the five of them worked out a schedule of when they would tag out and what they would be doing. It wasn’t going to be fun for anyone, but it would get the point across.

The eight men who had left their duty stations without reporting it were also sentenced to completely field day the cleared floors of the tower they were living in. Since the place was over 250 stories tall, they had decided to call the thing a starscraper instead of a skyscraper. At over a mile and a half high, it was huge. And they had only the vaguest ideas of what was outside the dozen floors they had explored.

Since the Ancients had been nice enough to use ‘dust cloths’ to protect their electronics, it was certain that they were in decent shape. What wasn’t certain was the rest of the stuff in the rooms. The plants the Ancients had scattered through the whole place were most sincerely dead and needed to be disposed of. And then there was the furniture and stuff that was left. The in depth cleaning had to be done, and it would be nasty, dirty work that the guys could do and not have it affect their overall readiness.

“Okay, I can live with this as their punishment,” John said as he jotted down the final decisions on each man’s record. “Depending on how they act over the next months while we wait for a ship from Earth or the discovery of a ZPM, we might not have to send them back. Because right now if I had the ability, I would be shoving them back through the gate for being stupid dumbasses.”

Cooper started snickering and everyone else at the table joined in. The day had been too damn long and they were all punch drunk. But they still needed to figure out what to do with Ford. “So, Ford.” John laid the elephant in the room out on the table.

“Sir, you have to know that none of us will be able to work with him easily,” Bates informed him, voice apologetic.

“Yeah. I know,” John agreed and ran a hand through his hair. “This is gonna go over so badly with the SGC.”

“Not it,” Cooper announced unexpectedly. John snorted and shook his head. The other three men were looking at the only woman among them in curiosity. “Guys, he needs an officer corps. If Ford is out of the running for it, he’s the only one we have, and that isn’t gonna fly. So sir, respectfully, not it.”

“Sorry, Cooper. It isn’t gonna work like that,” Sheppard told her. “I can keep it within your branch of the service, but at least while we are by ourselves, you are going to be an officer. Lieutenant JG as a matter of fact. I can’t go any lower since you made it to E6 in the Navy.”

“You know that I got offered this ten years ago and I said no? Sir, why in the hell do I want to be an officer?” Cooper stared at him in horror.

“We aren’t all that bad,” Sheppard protested, feeling his honor as an Air Force Major be twisted.

“You are mostly decent. I think, given time, that you will be a damn good officer to serve under. But fuck,” she trailed off and then sat back in her chair, arms crossed over her chest and sulked. “Officers suck. I am not a happy sailor.”

“Sir? Are you sure about this?” Bates asked carefully.

“Yes I am, Captain,” Sheppard assured him. Turning to the last two, now former enlisted members, he let them in on their fate. “Both of you are Second Lieutenants. Sorry boys. I need an officer cadre and you are what I have. Deal with it.”

“Christ, this isn’t what I sighed up for,” Stackhouse muttered. “So this means that I need to get some new insignia made up. Joy.”

“I really, really hope O’Neill doesn’t kill you, sir,” Markham told the Major very seriously.

“Oh, me, too, Really.” John nodded carefully. The General was insane in all the ways that meant he had survived shit no one wanted to think of, and had gotten promoted for his pains. That he was also a damn good man and had the devotion of everyone at the SGC spoke incredibly well of how he acted outside of a crisis and how he treated his subordinates. “So, I’ve decided what I am going to do with Ford, and I am going to need you all to support it.”

“We can do that, sir. Not a problem,” Bates told him.

Sheppard sat back and ran a hand over his face. The worst of the meeting was over and now they just needed to hand out the punishments. “Stackhouse, get everyone together in the largest room you have found. I want everyone to be able to see what is going to happen. You have thirty minutes.”

“Yes, sir,” Stackhouse agreed softly and got up, starting towards the door.

“I’ll see the rest of you there.”

The room rapidly emptied and John sat in his chair and tried not to over think his decisions. Battlefield promotions were rare to the point of nonexistence as far as he knew. He was sure that he would be told that he had no real leg to stand on as far as IOA was concerned, but he was backed into a corner. There was no other way out that he could see that wouldn’t mean massive future problems.

 

 

 

The sentencing phase of the meeting had gone about as well as he had expected. That was to say; badly and full of hard feelings, at least from those who were being sentenced. Everyone else was a lot happier to see the people who had fucked up dealt with. The general feel of the room after the last sentence was read out radiated satisfaction.

That all changed as soon as Ford was walked in.

“Lt. Aiden Ford, you are here to take responsibility for your actions over the last two days. You were originally ordered by Colonel Sumner to direct and staff the security for the city of Atlantis. When I took command, I confirmed those orders,” John started things off. He really, really wasn’t looking forward to this at all.

“When the rescue mission returned from the Wraith, you were ordered to beef up the security in the gate room because a bottleneck in our power supply was keeping the Ancient shield around the gate from being used. This task was impressed upon you as being of vital importance to both the safety of the physical city itself and also the safety of the people of the Expedition. Do you disagree with these facts?”

The look Ford had on his face was resigned as he shook his head. “No, sir. Those are the facts.”

“Those are the facts, yes,” John agreed. “What happens next is where we get to the problems. You got an order from Dr. Weir after I retired to quarters. Without checking in with me, you followed it. The order from her was that the men who were stationed within the gate room were to be removed. Without attempting to contact myself or even go to the senior enlisted members of the military here on Atlantis, you complied with the order and pulled the four men off their stations. Further, you ordered the four men who would be taking their places to stand down.”

Sheppard took a deep breath and pushed on. “At that point, I wasn’t cut off from any form of communication, however several hours later, I transformed into a very large predator in my sleep. Given that I wasn’t able to communicate with anyone, I did not check in at my allotted time. You didn’t send anyone to look for me to see if there was a problem. This is unacceptable. Are these the events as you remember them?”

Ford swallowed hard and nodded. “Yes, sir. That would be how the events went, sir.”

“So you understand what was wrong with what you did, Lt. Ford?” John pressed. He needed to make damn sure the younger man knew what he had done wrong. That his actions could have cost everyone in the city their lives.

“Yes, sir. I have been made aware,” Ford said.

“You have been made aware?” John repeated. God, he hoped this lesson was hammered home. “Well, the lesson you have been made aware of is going to be reinforced. You are hereby reduced in rate to E1 and will be at that rate for the next six local months. You will be joining the group running the field day after every day’s official work is done, if you are not there, you will be confined to quarters. Once we have contact with Earth, you will be rotated back and surrendered to General O’Neill for any further consequences he deems fit. You will also be getting a formal reprimand in your permanent record.”

Standing up, the Major walked forward to stand in front of the now former Lieutenant and held out his hand. “Please remove your rank insignia. You won’t be needing it for quite a while.”

The newly designated E1 reached up and unclasped the sliver bits of medal on his collar. Ford’s hand was steady as he capped the sharp ends of the insignia and placed it carefully in the Major’s hand.

“Dismissed.”

The room was deathly quiet as it emptied and John curled his fingers over the symbol of Ford’s former rank.

 

Part Three

To The Far Distant Shore

On the Wings of Unexpected Change – Part One

Title: On the Wings of Unexpected Change

Author: Ladyholder

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Summary: Thumbs are important.

Warnings: Mental warping

Betas: Keira Marcos, Jilly James and Chris King

Art By: Fanarts

 

on-the-wings

Chapter One

 

John Sheppard walked into his new quarters and looked around, blinking slowly at the contents.

The room seemed to be decorated in what he was coming to know was the typical architecture of the Ancients. Which, he realized with a tired sigh, made sense since he was on Atlantis? His duffle, backpack and crate were all piled by the door with one of the mattresses that had been vacuum packed at the SGC. Looking around, he saw that there was something that might be a bed frame in the center of the room, but it was hidden under one of the ubiquitous drop clothes that littered the city.

John leaned back against the door and slid down it to rest on his ass. He was exhausted. The last two days had been nothing like he had expected, or been told about, and all he wanted to do was sleep. Finding new planets? Sure. Making new enemies? Okay, he could see that. Fire the bullet that was a mercy killing due to the new enemies? Oh, fuck a duck, but yeah. Being the one to have to kill his CO? O’Neill had never mentioned that shit being possible. Thumping his head against the door, he sighed. He needed to sleep, but he had things he had to do before he could pass out.

Rolling onto his knees, he heaved himself to his feet and shoved his gear against the wall to make room on the floor for his mattress. He wasn’t going to bother with the possible bed platform right then. Who knew what was hiding under that cloth? Finding out right then wasn’t high on his list. Pulling his knife, he cut the ties sealing the mattress and kicked it into place.

His uniform was easy to strip off, and he wrinkled his nose at the smell coming off it. Musty and faintly smelling of rotting insects, it was going to be washed as soon as he found the washing machines. His boots got kicked to the side and away from anything else because there was stuff on them that he was sure was going to do bad things to the leather if he left it too much longer. It was something for him to get to in the morning when he wasn’t blind with exhaustion. His weapons, though, were placed by the mattress when he got down to his skivvies and settled in.

The feel of Atlantis flowed over his mind and he gently pushed back, asking for the temperature to be raised a bit in his room. There was a brief hesitation and then the room started to feel a bit warmer, more comfortable. John murmured a brief thanks at the city and the feeling of happiness he got back was a surprise, but he was hazily certain that he would be thanking the city a lot.

Sleep finally reached out and grabbed him and he settled into its embrace without a fuss.

 

 

 

Hours later, he scrunched his eyes further shut, trying to block the light. Wherever the light was coming from, John really, really wanted it to go away. He was still tired! The light faded and he stretched out, enjoying the feel of his muscles pulling against themselves. Curling up, he settled in to sleep a bit more. If he were needed, they could come wake him up.

He was warm, comfortable and his tail was over his eyes to block the light.

Tail?

John jerked himself awake and stood up, staring at his paws. He had paws! Glancing back across his side, he saw that he had fur and a tail. He looked down his snout and saw what had to be a dog’s nose. Swearing, and ignoring how the words came out as a series of growls, he took a step forward and tripped. He was still wearing his underwear and t-shirt.

Wriggling slightly, he managed to grab the cloth of each garment and get it off. Huffing in frustration, John headed towards what had to be the bathroom and tried to ignore how natural it felt to be walking on four legs instead of two. Heaving himself up on the counter, he checked to see if the Ancients had believed in mirrors in their washrooms. From the blank wall in front of him, they hadn’t.

Growling, he dropped to his feet and headed out. Someone in the ranks of scientists had to have some idea of what had happened to him! Walking past the panels of glass that made up his windows, he noticed them start to shimmer and then a ripple move across the surface. Staring at the ripple move, he watched the clear glass change to a mirrored surface. Looking at the room, he picked out what had to be himself.

He was huge. And what looked like a wolf of some type. He really needed to know what in the hell had happened! Maybe McKay would know? He was always going on about what an expert he was with Ancient tech, and this happened while they were all aboard the biggest pile of Ancient tech anywhere. And if nothing else, the scientist might have a better clue than he did.

 

 

 

“Rodney!”

“What! Can’t you see that I’m busy?” McKay muttered as he tied another computer into the database on Atlantis. He had four of the super laptops that he had constructed for his personal use hooked into the system, and each of them was running different search programs. He was going to figure out how the damn thing was organized if it was the last thing he did on the city.

He was trying to put together a search program that would translate English to Ancient when his radio beeped in his ear. He nudged the activation stud between one word and the next. “McKay. What?”

The dulcet tones of his boss filled his ear. It was hypocritical he knew, but he had to wonder if Weir had learned that volume didn’t equal urgency. Or a sense of command. “Rodney! There is a huge wolf walking around the base!”

“What? A wolf? We didn’t bring any animals! And have you told any of the goon squad that it’s around?” he asked Weir as he moved to a fifth laptop and pulled up the internal sensors to see if they could scan for whatever it was that she had seen.

“Yes, I have. And they are saying that they haven’t seen it. I saw it walking by when I left my quarters,” Elizabeth reported.

“Right. I’ll talk to you later,” Rodney informed her, voice sharp and short. “Major Sheppard?” Nothing. The sensor array he hacked into showed a whole bunch of lights around the main tower. The Ancient script flowing down the page identified most of the dots as Earth born humans with only five in different colors. Tapping the one heading towards the lab, it showed as a male Lantean/human crossbreed with the percentage of Lantean genetics in the high… squinting, Rodney ran the mental math to convert the base-8 system the Ancients had used to current human standard. Whoever they were, they read as 96% Ancient.

Giving in to his curiosity, Rodney quickly tapped the other four dots to get the information files on them. One read as female crossbreed with a genetic percentage of 88%. The second was male and was in one of the personal rooms and read at 90%. The third and fourth were both male, in the 60+% range, and from the position of one in the control room, he thought it was the Mountie. That meant that the fourth was in one of the personal rooms, and, from the bio rhythms, was sleeping.

Order of elimination said that the highest one was Sheppard, the other two high level ones had to be Kusanagi and Beckett. The two lower percentage ones had to be the Mountie and the other military member. Tracing the route of the highest ATA carrier, he saw that the Major was heading towards Rodney’s new lab. Tapping his earbud, he tried to get ahold of the new military commander. “Major Sheppard, this is Dr. McKay, please respond.”

Nothing. Another tap of his radio got him on the main channel for the military members of the Expedition and Rodney listened closely. Despite Weir’s call to him, there was nothing about any large wolf-like thing running around, and no one was reporting that the Major was heading towards the labs. He glanced down at the sensors and took a deep breath. Sheppard was almost at Rodney’s lab, and he needed to talk to him.

Stepping out his door, Rodney looked in the direction that the sensors reported the Major was coming from. Listening hard, the scientist didn’t hear the sounds of footfalls on the floor, he heard something else. If he wasn’t on Atlantis, he would think that the noises he was hearing were claws… but the city had been underwater for ten thousand years, basically unpowered, and there was no way that there was anything living besides themselves. They certainly hadn’t brought anything with claws.

The wolf coming around the corner totally fucked up that theory, and Rodney ducked back into his lab. Waving a hand at the door sensor, he tried to lock it manually before he moved back to the laptop showing the readout from the internal sensors. Right outside his lab was the life sign for the male carrying the 96% genetics.

Staring up at the ceiling, Rodney tried to wrap his fully rational and scientific mind around the impossibility that was outside his door. When the door opened, and the wolf walked in, the scientist tried not to whimper. Wolves were wild animals and nope!

Backing up slowly, Rodney looked around the lab for anything to ward the animal off. Unless he was willing to sacrifice a laptop, he had nothing. Making a mental note to change that if he lived through the next few minutes, he watched the furry thing move around the lab. The wolf padded into the center of the room and sat down, hazel eyes staring at him steadily. He was big. Really, really big, the scientist realized. He was easily staring over the top of the tables Rodney had already set up, and they were waist height on him. While he had never been around a wolf before, he had been around a lot of dogs, and this canine was just too big.

Taking a leap of faith, he stared into the hazel eyes and stopped retreating. “Sheppard?”

The wolf before him nodded his assent and looked at him with the familiar impatience that the military man had often shown him when he had played light switch. Rodney swallowed heavily. “Oh, my god.”

Finally! John was totally going to have words with everyone about today and how fucking slow they all were.

In the form he was wearing, he was in no way subtle and yet he had wandered around the base for an hour before had found Dr. Weir coming out of her room. Through some cautious listening around corners, he had managed to avoid the patrols Sumner had set, but he shouldn’t have been able to. His claws clicked on the floor, and that noise sounded nothing like boots, plus it echoed. How the guys missed the whole thing, he really, really didn’t know. He hadn’t even made an effort to try to be quiet. Jesus.

He was so going to have words with both Ford and Bates over this farce. If he could figure out how to change back to being human that was. Because his voice still sounded like a series of growls and short barks, and the more frustrated he was, the worse it sounded. And he was frustrated as all hell, so he sounded very fierce and horrible. However, he couldn’t chew someone out for their crappy situational awareness while barking. And despite being some kind of a wolf, he had no wish to chew on anyone.

McKay, on the other hand, seemed to have a clue. He had grabbed some of the Earth-made scanning equipment and was muttering to himself as he scanned everything he could. Tilting his head to the side, John tried to figure out what the scientist was saying. Most of his noise seemed to be curse words, but occasionally there were demands being transmitted to Zelenka with exhortations to find Kusanagi and Beckett.

When the door behind him chimed, John watched it, waiting for the person or persons on the other side to enter. When they didn’t, he looked at McKay. Pricking his ears forward, he tried to convey his question.

“I locked the door when you came around the corner,” the scientist admitted. “Your gene will override almost everything, so the city let you in.”

Oh. Well then. Concentrating on the connection he had with the City, he flexed it enough to open the door by about three inches. He wanted to make sure he wouldn’t get shot before he let anyone else in.

“Uhm, Dr. McKay? Is everything okay?”

John looked at the person peeking in the door and shrugged. He didn’t know them. Well, beyond knowing they were an Expedition member and one of McKay’s minions.

“Oh. Why are you out there?” McKay stared at the door and then shrugged. “Never mind. Go find Zelenka and have Weir figure out what is going on with Beckett and Kusanagi.”

“Yes, sir. Should I get anyone else?” the minion asked.

“No,” McKay had turned his attention back to his scanners, and John took that as permission to close the door in the flunky’s face.

John watched as the scientist took reading after reading, moving from Earth-based tech to something on one of the Ancient consoles. Curious, he got up and looked at the readings. Surprisingly, given what he knew of the visual range of canines, he was able to see all the results, and he was happy to confirm that his family was deeply fucked up. He was ninety-six percent Ancient? If they ever made it home, he was going to scour his family tree to find out what in the hell had happened to cause someone born on Earth to have those numbers.

“I have no idea why you turned into a great big furry wolf-like thing, Sheppard. There’s nothing in all the data given to us by the SGC saying that Ancient tech can turn people into furry animals,” McKay explained as he moved on to a new search. “I’ve got four new searches running in the Atlantis’ database with different keywords, trying to figure things out. I had to stop the search for ZedPM’s to do so. Hopefully, those will come up with something we can use. I can’t do it now, but I’ll be getting someone to go through the files we brought from the SGC to see if they are hiding some clue. But that’s going to have to wait until we get the mainframes set up.”

John grumbled slightly and the noise that came out of his mouth sounded suitably frustrated.

”I can understand being less than thrilled that there are no easy answers. I sure am. I thought I would be doing hard science by now. Maybe looking at how ZedPM’s are put together. Not looking at something out of legend,” McKay bitched as he grabbed a Power Bar and started eating it. “Werewolves.”

John felt his stomach growl and tried not to whine. Fuck. He was hungry. Sitting back on his haunches, he hoped that someone figured this out soon. Closing his eyes, he relaxed and dropped down to lie on the floor and tried to ignore his stomach. He was going to try to nap. Before he dozed off, John remembered to unlock the door to the lab.

Rodney finished the last of his Power Bar and stuffed the wrapper into a bag filled with many others. As soon as the mess got their act together, he was going to eat there. He would never tell Carson, but even he got sick of the concentrated little energy bars. Sighing deeply, he settled into his chair to go over the data he had.

When Sheppard settled down to nap, Rodney was happy to let him. The Major was an imposing figure as a human, but even more so as a wolf. His thoughts were interrupted by a light whine and he looked under the table at the room’s other occupant. Sheppard had his head on his paws, eyes closed and whining slightly.

Checking the time, the scientist tried not to smack his own face in realization. It had been hours since Sheppard had shown up and the other man hadn’t eaten. “Dr. Weir, can I get something with a lot of meat in it brought up to my lab?”

“Rodney? What is going on? Have you figured out what the large canine was doing in the halls?” Weir demanded.

McKay tried not to sigh in frustration. He had forgotten to let everyone know what was going on and now that was biting him on the ass. “The wolf is Major Sheppard. Something happened while he was sleeping, from what I’ve been able to determine. Now, the Major barely ate anything last night at dinner, he needs to get something down him soon.”

The comm was quiet and then the carrier wave that denoted the open line closed out. Swearing softly in frustration, the scientist unwrapped a plain bar and put it on the Major’s paws. He wasn’t going to go out and get food right then, so that would have to do. He would get a minion to retrieve something if Weir didn’t oblige. McKay ignored the sound of large jaws working the Power Bar as he started poking at his computers.

The chime of the door rang and the door opened without hesitation. Looking down at the furry major, the scientist grunted out an abbreviated thanks. The chuff of air he got in return seemed normal.

“So Major is now furry?” Zelenka asked as he walked around the table. Following behind him was the minion who had stopped by earlier. Baxter, Brent, B-something. Rodney waved a hand at the tray the man was carrying, and he slid it onto the counter.

“Yes. Is there any news on Kusanagi or Beckett?” he asked before putting one of the bowls of stew down in front of Sheppard.

“Yes.” Zelenka was obviously feeling evil because he waited until he saw Rodney take a drink of his coffee. “Miko is big ass kitty of some type, and Beckett looks much like Major.”

The spit-take missed the food, but Rodney was coughing too hard to notice.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

“You are taking this awful calmly,” McKay commented as he mopped up the spilled coffee. Part of him mourned the lost caffeine, but he was glad it had missed the food and computers.

“Did not see fit I had in my lab. Ancients are even more bizarre than assumed from previous evidence,” the Czech informed him.

“You can say that again. I’m glad I missed that,” McKay allowed. “So all three of our super strong natural ATA carriers have changed into creatures out of legend and don’t seem to be able to change back. Do we have anything on the other two, with the lower percentage of Ancient heritage? Also this means that we are fucked if we need someone with thumbs to do something technical or quick that can’t be gotten across by charades. Joy. Anyway, I passed everything down to Beckett’s trained monkeys, so maybe they can come up with a medical reason for this.”

“Maybe they will have some luck. Have you asked Major if he can change back?” Zelenka asked brightly before he took a sip of his coffee.

“No,” the astrophysicist admitted. He wasn’t actually looking forward to interrupting the Major’s nap either. Big canine equaled big claws and really big teeth, too. He looked under the table at the furry mass of Major and prodded him with one careful toe. He was totally ignoring the empty bowl that had held the stew. “Sheppard, have you tried to change back?”

The look he got when the large canine opened his eyes was full of frustrated anger. There was also a growl that leaked out the edges of the wolf’s mouth and Rodney took the clue to heart. “Yeah, he’s tried and he isn’t thrilled that he’s still wearing fur.”

“Obviously with that growl,” Zelenka agreed, looking under the table as well. “But his ATA does work, even while he is furry?”

“He overrode me locking the door to keep him out when I wasn’t certain what he was,” Rodney said. “Plus when Baxter came over, he got the door to open only a couple of inches so he could see I was still alive.”

Zelenka looked out the door where the minion had disappeared after delivering the stew. “His name is Banner, but yes. It sounds as if the Major is in full control.”

“Yeah, seems pretty conclusive since I don’t have an active expression of the genome. Has anyone asked if Beckett or Kusanagi are cognizant of what’s going on?” he asked.

“Heightmeyer? The psychologist Dr. Weir brought along has gone to talk to them,” Zelenka confirmed.

Rodney snorted softly. Heightmeyer was just about useless in his books, since she was all about the squishy pseudoscience stuff. But he supposed if they had to have a shrink on this insane Expedition, she could stand in. Besides, at least Weir hadn’t offered up one of his hard scientists for potential sacrifice to a set of confused and possibly pissed off people.

“Your prejudices are showing.” Zelenka laughed softly.

McKay pulled a face at the Czech, but joined in the laughter. Like every other genius who had signed onto the SGC and then the Atlantis Expedition, he had talked to a lot of different shrinks over the years. Most of them had wondered why someone with his brainpower would be willing to go on what was likely a one-way trip. None of them been happy when he had told them how utterly stupid they were in great detail and small words. The whole reason boiled down to one word: science.

Every single one of his people had gone through the same thing. Every twitch, every habit, every tic that made up the jackasses under his leadership was put under a fine microscope and examined for every flaw. Rodney was quite certain that most of his staff had hidden some of their more extreme mannerisms just to get by. None of the scientists he knew had made it through graduate school without something interesting shaking loose in their brains.

“The Major checked out just fine on my tests and the sub cue that the SGC implanted in him comes up on the internal sensors,” Rodney informed his friend and 2IC.

“Good. So you have run many tests and yet haven’t asked the Major to initialize equipment. I will not ask why. Have you checked the phase of the moons like legends say?” the other scientist asked.

“The moons are in different phases with the closest being in the ‘new’ phase,” McKay muttered. Snapping his fingers, he pointed at Sheppard. “What about the Mountie? Carl, Clark, C something? If the other three ATA positive people have changed, has he?”

“Chuck was at his post in the gate room all night and so didn’t sleep. He is still human. He is currently drinking massive amounts of coffee to stay up in case that’s the reason for the shift,” Dr. Weir informed them as she walked in. “Stackhouse, the other ATA positive member, is sleeping. Thanks to you finding the sensors, we have some percentages of their ancestry, both of them are in the high sixties, so we shall see what happens.”

“Two different controls?” McKay asked as he carefully nudged Sheppard.

“Yes. Because we have to know what the cue was that turned three of our people into animals,” Elizabeth confirmed him bluntly.

 

 

 

John was keeping a careful ear on the two scientists as they talked things out. He was happy to know that someone else beyond McKay was trying to figure out what in the hell had happened to him. Maybe the medical staff would have a stroke of luck. The fact that the other two ATA positive people he knew who were close to his level of ability were also wearing fur wasn’t making him happy.

Kusanagi being a cat of some type was just weird and if he ever got back into his skin, he was going to ask if it was because she was female. Because Beckett being another wolf thing and male? Maybe…

The two scientists settled in to talk about the whole mess and he tried not to be annoyed at being ignored. When McKay asked him a really stupid question, he growled. Yes, he had tried to change back. No, he had no idea why he wasn’t able to. Yes, his ATA gene worked. It worked very well. See the door as an example!

Grumbling to himself, John looked at the sensors carefully. Since he couldn’t manipulate the Ancient tech with his hands, he reached out to bridge the distance mentally. He could feel the responsiveness of the programs, and gently pulled back before he did anything. McKay was using those computers to find out what had happened to him and he wasn’t going to fuck that up.

Now, if they didn’t get any results soon, John decided that he was going to take over one of the computers to communicate. As much as he could play the functional mute for everyone, he enjoyed the ability to talk when he wanted to. Sighing, he put his head back down on his paws and kept his attention on the two humans.

Nudging the bowl, Sheppard sighed. The food had been good, but he wanted more. He also wanted to check with someone on what he could actually eat. Wolves and dogs had certain things that weren’t all that great for them. Things that could actively make him ill if eaten to excess. Most of which he actually liked as a human.

Onion rings for the win.

Weir showing up and letting them know that she was experimenting on his men? Oh, he was not a happy Major. Standing up, John walked around the table to stand in front of her. “What in the hell are you doing with my men?”

The sounds were all growls, but he felt better for actually saying something.

“Major? Why don’t you settle in? You can wait to see if we can figure out what is going on.” the Expedition leader asked. To his ear, she sounded condescending and dismissive as she made her suggestion.

Yeah, no. He wasn’t going to get pushed around in his own command. Grabbing control of the computer system that had completed its search, he saved the data and flipped on the sound. Mentally typing in the question he pushed the Ancient tech to say the words he had given it.

“What in the hell are you doing with my men?”

 

 

 

Rodney felt his head snap up so fast his neck popped. Ignoring the rush of relief from the release of pressure, he stared at Sheppard. Once this whole mess was over, he was going to inspect every inch of the room to find the interface he had used. At any rate he really hadn’t expected the man to be able to manipulate the Ancient equipment in his lab like that. And he hadn’t seen any speakers in the room either.

To quote a childhood idol, fascinating.

Even if the words that Sheppard was ‘speaking’ were in Ancient, Rodney could understand him well enough. After two years of working on the culture’s systems, he was extremely fluent in the technical language, and passable in what would have been conversational Ancient. McKay knew that Radek was just as fluent, and given her position, he expected the same of Weir. If for no other reason than as a diplomat, having the basis of your opponent’s language down was a smart thing to do.

Rodney spared a quick glance at the Expedition leader. She seemed just as shocked as he was that the Major was ‘talking’. McKay just wasn’t sure if she was happy he was communicating or pissed that he was calling her on using his men as experimental subjects.

“Dr. Weir, what have you done with my men?”

Weir’s lips thinned and Rodney suppressed a sigh. He played the oblivious scientist often enough that no one thought to ask him to be anything but blunt, but he had enough social training, haphazard though it was, to understand what he was seeing. The good doctor was not happy to have her authority questioned. Especially not by the guy she had brought on the trip as a glorified, living breathing light switch that could maybe answer questions.

From what the CSO had gathered at some of the meetings between the high level department heads, Weir had never bothered to look into the background of the Major. Her interest in him had been firmly set after she had discovered that his ability to control Ancient technology had outstripped O’Neill, Beckett and Kusanagi, and his qualifications hadn’t mattered. Rodney hadn’t been so cavalier and had taken the time to read over the files that came with Sheppard. This scene was totally unsurprising in light of those documents.

Not that he was thrilled when his minions went and got stroppy with him, but he ran a lab. Putting forth opinions and theories was normal, accepted and expected. Arguing and pushing back in the military really wasn’t condoned. Unless you were the leader of the military wing and someone was using your assets in a ‘what does this do’ way. Sheppard only had so many men. Unless the SGC came through, they were all he was going to get, too. The Major was more than smart enough not to want any of them broken.

“Chuck and Sergeant Stackhouse have been thoroughly informed as to the risks they are undertaking,” she explained evenly. “As you likely know Major, we have every mind that can be helpful working to find a way to get you back to being a human being. We are also working on ways to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”

McKay winced at that. If they did manage to get Sheppard and any of the other ATA carriers back to human, he was willing to bet that every single one of them would start practicing ways to switch back and forth. For the scientists, it would be their innate curiosity that would lead them down the garden path to proficiency in their gift. For the military men, it would be the ability to move in ways that were totally unknown to any foe. Especially if they could practice the art of walking silently.

Yeah, Rodney had way too many years in the military machine not to see the advantages this could bring.

“I truly hope that you are right, Doctor. Because we are far too few to play with our people’s lives like this,” the synthetic voice of the Major said.

Rodney could almost hear the anger the voice was trying to convey in its measured tones. Well, he was also reading the cues that the wolf’s stance was conveying. Sheppard was not a happy man right then.

“I’m sure they will be fine,” Weir told him before turning to look at the two scientists. “Do you have any idea what caused this?”

McKay suppressed a sigh at her denseness. And people said he had no people skills. “I am nearly 90% certain that the phases of our new moons had nothing to do with the transformations. This is backed up by the fact that Kusanagi chose a room that has no windows to sleep in tonight.”

Waving a hand at the direction of the hidden speakers, he took a deep breath. “Now that we know Major Sheppard can talk to us, I’ll be asking him some very detailed questions about what happened last night. I would suggest that we get someone to interview the other two as well,” he tried to suggest. Or to be more realistic, order. But in a way that actually meant he had a hope of getting his way.

“Is a good plan,” Radek offered from his spot in front of one of the computers slaved to the database. The Czech was typing away at something, and Rodney dearly hoped he was accessing the information needed to transform people back into people instead of animals.

“Humph. I’ll get Grodin to talk to Beckett, and see Dr. Kusanagi myself. Since we are both above average speakers of Ancient, it should help to get the information in a smoother fashion,” Weir informed them before nodding at both scientists and leaving the lab.

Sheppard stared out the door at her retreating back and growled. The rumble of sound was almost subsonic and Rodney could barely hear it, more felt it moving through the room. Yeah, the Major was much more readable in his current form than he was when he was human. The Ancient equipment he had forged a connection with was silent, and Rodney flashed Zelenka a grateful glance. As entertaining as it would have been to see Weir knocked down a peg or two, the situation they were in precluded that.

“So, what do you want to know about my evening?” the flat Ancient voice asked. Sheppard was staring at the scientists, very obviously pushing his emotions aside.

“Everything from the point where you left the ‘We’re Alive’ celebration,” Rodney demanded. He needed all the information that he could get before he tried anything to change people back. “Radek, please make sure our people have everything set up so we can start working on a cure for this clusterfuck.”

His 2IC nodded and headed out. Neither of them were any more eager to blindly experiment on someone than the Major. Less in fact. He had learned that lesson and made sure that his people had learned it as well.

 

 

 

Radek Zelenka was very happy with his position in the hierarchy on Atlantis. He was number two in overall charge of the hard science departments. He was far outside of the position, or even heir to the position, of leadership for the Expedition, and totally out of the worst of responsibility for any lives beyond what was normal for his department. His role was to be the good guy, the ‘soft touch’, the reasonable one, and he took full advantage of that.

For all that he and Rodney could play at being rivals, and genuinely were at times, they had come to have one overriding mantra: Keep their people safe. No matter how many times McKay ‘forgot’ people’s names or screamed at them, that was the main thing they both clung to. Even in the face of limitless possibilities and the urge to discover everything they could, their goal was to keep everyone alive while they explored.

Atlantis throwing them a curve ball, to quote something he had learned at Area 51, by transforming some of their people was nothing he could have expected. And yet? The whole insane idea seemed to fit in with how the Ancients thought. After two years of playing with their systems on Earth, Radek was deeply convinced that the Ancients had been entirely fucked up and not playing with full decks.

McKay was riding herd on the Major, and he, lucky man that he was, got to tell the rest of the hard sciences that they needed to pitch in to help. They had figured out who needed to do what, and when, to get everything done. The Major obviously needed to be returned to his human form before he got too frustrated. Add in the fact that he ate more as a canid than as a human? The Expedition couldn’t afford to feed one of the ATAs like that, let alone five.

Pulling the science department together, Zelenka started parceling out assignments. Those with good to great fluency in the blocky Ancient language and an ability to think outside the box got told to research everything they could think of in the newly discovered database. The rest of the department was either assigned to the dialing computer project or unpacking and assembling the labs they had brought with them.

“Why are we doing this? If three members of the Expedition are out of commission due to something, we should be concentrating on that,” Kavanagh bitched when he was directed to start unpacking and setting up the series of supercomputers they had for the hard sciences teams. “I can help with that.”

“You’re doing this because you are an astrophysicist with a master’s degree in computer science. We have enough people working problem with furry coworkers to spare one to set up computers so we can use them,” Radek told the man. As much as the man was right, he was also wrong. His skill set was currently valuable elsewhere, and all his bitching wasn’t going to change that.

Kavanagh was an asshole, the Czech had long before decided. Very useful in his fields, but damn near useless outside of them. He was slimy, he was obsequious to those in power, and disdainful of those without. He tried to use his degrees to push his coworkers around and never accepted it when someone shoved theirs at him. He and Rodney had tried to keep the jackass off the team, but Weir had kept adding him back on. It got to the point where neither of them gave a damn.

However, right at that moment, the man was back in the useful column. He had skills as an IT tech they needed and since their true computer science guru currently had no thumbs, the long-haired mizera was just going to have to suffer. Getting the computers up and running was now a higher priority than he knew.

“I didn’t sign on to this Expedition   to be a computer tech, Zelenka. I signed on to do science. Now why…” From somewhere, Kavanagh  found his sense of self-preservation and shut up at the glare the Czech was giving him. Radek was almost sorry he had.

“Every person on Expedition was brought on because they have skills. In many cases, we have several people with same skills. Right now, all the other people who are capable of setting up the Cray supercomputers we will need to assist in our efforts to discover what caused three member of Expedition   to shift are either busy, or have no thumbs. You are only other person who is capable,” Radek stressed. “What is hard to understand about this?”

Swallowing hard, the other scientist nodded and shoved his glasses up his nose before scurrying away. The Czech kept a wary eye on him as he made his rounds, checking on everyone and their projects before heading out to check on Rodney. Kavanagh  had started working on getting the first Cray up and running, and he was even moving quickly. But Radek had learned his lesson with the jackass. As soon as Miko was back and able to deal with things, he was going to ask her to go over all the computers.

Trust was a two way street, and Kavanagh  had a long way to go before he was there. A very long way. But first he had to find out what his boss had been up to for the last four hours. He really doubted it had been sleeping.

 

 

 

The whole rundown of his evening had been more boring to recite than it had been to live. If nothing else, the fact that he hadn’t unpacked anything was a point in his favor. Fewer variables, since the seals were still in place on his duffle and his box. The mattress was a random one from the supplies they had shoved through the gate and his backpack had been snuggled up to his spine for hours on their first day on the city. So his gear from Earth was pretty much cleared of being the culprit for his transformation.

Still, if anything from Earth had been behind his transformation, it likely would have happened while they were still at the SGC. Thus, it was likely something on the city. McKay and Dr. Z seemed to come to the same opinion and asked him about everything that he had touched since he had stepped foot on their new home. Neither of them were too happy to know that they had touched most of the same things he had.

McKay had started barking directions at his people, and John resisted the urge to roll his eyes and make a very lame joke through his new voice program. Dr. Z went off to deliver assignments, and John was left to deal with McKay. In between the verbal fencing, he started poking around the edges of the thing to see if there was any way that he could make it sound less like an Ancient version of Stephan Hawking and more like a real person. Unfortunately, the program seemed to be hard coded into the city’s mainframe.

Sighing in defeat, John lay down. He really, really missed his thumbs. And his voice. And the ability to eat whatever the hell he wanted. Oh… and taking a piss without having to find one of the ten thousand year old plants to water. The less said about that experience, the better. He wasn’t going to think about any other bodily function. Nope.

“Major, I think we need to get someone from medical down to take a look at you. They are already examining Beckett and Kusanagi, but we need to make sure that everything is okay with you as well,” McKay informed him.

“Fine,” John agreed. Not like he was going to be able to weasel out of that. And he wanted to know what in the hell he actually was. He was too big, from what little he knew of wolves, to be an earth-born wolf. As a human he weighed in at roughly 172lbs, before his gear was added. John had no idea what he weighed as a wolf thing, but he was guessing it was far more than any wolf he had ever heard of.

“You’ll be happy to know that the other two can communicate as well. They found the program you are using and are getting their points across with vigor. Carson is even helping to direct his department on their search,” said McKay.

John just flicked an ear in acknowledgement. It felt like a grunt, the sound he used when he didn’t want to talk. Sighing deeply, he relaxed. Fuck if he was going to pace around and try not to have a fit. Everyone was tense enough without him going spazz.

Dr. Z arriving back in the room managed to distract McKay long enough that John was able to sneak out and… deal. Skulking back into the lab, he settled into his corner and faced the squabbling duo.

The sound of an open carrier wave reached his ear just as the warning beep of incoming communications emanated from both scientists’ ear pieces. John let his hearing focus on both men, and eavesdropped shamelessly. The enhanced senses of his form were useful for something at least.

“Gentlemen, I need to inform you that Sergeant Stackhouse did indeed transform while he was sleeping. The process seemed to be relatively painless since the Sergeant is still deep in the REM cycle, but we will be monitoring him for a while longer. And he is currently some type of a canine. One that doesn’t look like the Major,” Weir reported.

“Well, fuck,” John snarled.

 

 

Chapter Three

 

This was not how she imagined their first days on Atlantis going, Elizabeth thought. She had somehow thought the science personnel she had brought along would be able to treat the city just like they had the Antarctic installation. She expected them to have their ATA person activate the place, tie in their Tau’ri electronics and start pulling information out within hours.

Nothing could have been further from the truth, she thought ruefully.

The opening lines of every Star Trek show ran through her mind as she walked the hallways of her post and she sighed. Search out new life and new civilizations, indeed. They had found several different brands of new life and only one of them was reasonable. The other civilization apparently liked to eat people.

Unbidden, the words of some of the people she had worked with in the UN came to mind and she felt her gorge rise. Humanity had its own deeply disturbing corners full of things that no one wanted to pull into the light of day. So eating people wasn’t something that was solely a thing in the Pegasus Galaxy. Earth had its unfair share of sickos. Pushing the thought away, Elizabeth tried not to think of the various methods that the term ‘eating’ someone on Earth could mean.

At any rate, the Wraith had been a very unwelcome surprise. They had kidnapped several of the military members of the Expedition, and the Major had been right to get in her face over that. If she wanted to retain any loyalty from her people, she needed to put every effort into bringing them back if they went missing. She had only 149 intelligent mobile resources and they didn’t have replacements.

“Speaking of replacements,” Weir growled to herself as she walked up the stairs to get to the command level. Sheppard was going to be a major, no pun intended, pain in the ass. He questioned her on everything. When could he go rescue his men? Was it wise to try to negotiate with every new culture they encountered? Was it wise to let the science department use the Mountie, Chuck, as their control model? She had double doctorates in PoliSci and Cultural Relations, with emphasis on statecraft and negotiation! She was far better prepared to make the tough calls than some inbred grunt who flew helicopters for a living! So what if he was an officer?

The man was a fuck up and the only reason she had campaigned so hard to get him on Atlantis was he should have been easier to control than O’Neill. She was sorry to say that he wasn’t.

Then again, Sumner was dead. And by the Major’s hand. If they ever got in contact with Earth again, she might be able to use that, Elizabeth mused as she walked into the gate room. She really didn’t hold out any hope that the SGC would be able to get the Prometheus or Daedalus ready. Or that they would be willing to send one out to find them–riches of Ancient tech or not. That meant that she needed to get control of Sheppard as soon as possible.

As soon as she reached the command deck, she looked at Grodin. He was manning the console that McKay had determined was the central hub to the main operations for the city. Thanks to Sheppard initializing it, anyone could use it. Which was good since Grodin wasn’t currently ATA positive. But he had gotten the tutorial from her CSO on it and had been in the Antarctic installation for over a year without incidents. So…

“Nothing to report, Dr. Weir, on the external sensors that we have running. Chuck is still human, and Stackhouse is moving through the levels of sleep on schedule. Biro expects him to exit the deepest parts of REM sleep in the next 30 minutes or so. Once that’s done, she wants to wake him and get some of the initial data on any changes recorded,” he reported.

“Good. Check with McKay. Sheppard managed to interface with the Ancient equipment in his lab and come up with something that allowed him to talk,” Weir directed as she moved across the catwalk to the room she had claimed as her office.

“Oh, that is good,” Grodin agreed softly, his gentle British tones hushed for once. “Carson and Miko will appreciate that, I’m sure.”

“Once they are able to talk, get someone to go over their days with them. I am thinking Heightmeyer and yourself?” she suggested as she stood in the door to her inner sanctum.

Grodin nodded and immediately got on the radio to call up another of the people designated as operations room techs. Out of all her people, she only had four, and she was going to do her best to keep them alive. Hell if she knew how to put a DHD back together.

Elizabeth finished her walk into her office and sat down, surveying her view of the city. Oh, yeah. This was much better than some hole in the ground back on Earth. And as soon as they had whatever had caused her high level ATA carriers to change into animals solved, all would be right in her world.

 

 

 

John had honestly tried to follow the discussion flowing between the two scientists. He had managed to keep up when they were throwing math around, but as soon as they got into the particulars of nano-physics and subatomic particles, he was lost. A PhD in applied math and a graduate degree in aeronautical engineering did not prepare him for physics on the level McKay and Zelenka practiced.

Head on his paws, he watched the two men bounce ideas off each other. They were both talking faster than should be possible and using their hands to emphasize points. It was a fascinating show to watch, and John was honestly entertained, but he found himself wanting some popcorn to really enjoy the show. It only got better when they hit something he knew and he could join in to keep the insanity moving.

Thankfully neither man was fully used to his new ‘voice’ so any time he said anything, he had their full attention. Not to say that was always a good thing because both scientists took sarcasm to new heights and were having a grand ole time ripping any theory out there to shreds.

“Just because I’m not a physicist doesn’t mean my theories are any less valid, Rodney,” the voice John was starting to associate with Beckett snapped out over the speakers from medical. “Nanobots are a perfectly acceptable explanation.”

“Except there’s nothing in any of your rooms to suggest you got ripped apart at the atomic level and then put back together wearing fur. Besides, even the Ancients would need more than a couple hours to do that,” McKay shot back, eyebrow raised in challenge.

“Fine, you daft bugger!” If Carson could have, John was sure the CMO would have thrown up his hands and rolled his eyes. As it was, hearing the insult coming out in a flat Ancient voice was weirdly funny.

Chuffing slightly in amusement, John hunkered down to go over the math that was filling the lightboard Atlantis had made out of one long wall. It was fascinating stuff, all base eight and it twisted and turned in ways that were making the math geek in him very happy.

He was engrossed enough in the math that it took him a while to realize that someone other than Beckett was on the radio. Whoever it was, they were very enthused about their topic. “So as best we’ve been able to figure out, the Major is one of the ancient dire wolves of legend. So is Dr. Beckett, and Dr. Kusanagi is an unknown feline. It isn’t something from Earth that we know of, so we are going to be looking in the database as we get to it.”

“Dire wolves? What?” McKay asked. “Why does that sound like something out of a science fiction book?”

“Because the term was co-opted by a number of authors to represent some really big wolves until someone found out that they were real. Now they mean what they say, and dire wolves were big, fast and no joke. Anyway, you’ve said that the Major is roughly 170lbs in his current form, correct?” the voice asked.

John really didn’t want to know how the various scientists had figured out his weight. Given that he was within a pound or two of his untransformed weight, it was freaky. Glaring, he looked at the two he had access to and they both smirked at him.

“From the look he is giving me, I would say that is pretty much spot on,” Rodney agreed.

“Well you can cross nanobots off the list, lads,” Carson announced. “My blood is totally clean of those things.

“Magic?” asked the unknown voice.

“Really? Is not magic,” Radek disagreed as McKay sputtered into his coffee.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Clarke had it right. Which means that what we call magic can be extremely advanced technology,” the voice argued.

“Corrigan, don’t make me petition Oxford to take your degree away,” the CSO yelped.

John nodded to himself. He had a face to put with the voice now, and Corrigan was a good guy who was the only anthropologist on the whole Expedition. He did double duty in the languages department as well, translating for those whose Ancient was weak. He and McKay routinely got into some spectacular rows about the meaning of Ancient words.

Settling in, John let his eyes close. He wasn’t all that interested in what species of canine he was. He was far more interested in the efforts to change him back into a human being. Since that effort seemed to be hitting a wall, he was going to nap and let his hindbrain think over the equations he had been reading. The intermittent naps he had been snatching were no longer helping and it had been hours since he had woken up. He was just done with the day.

 

 

 

 

Rodney kept a close eye on the Major as he sprawled out in a protected corner of his lab. The military man had settled into the spot without a grumble and had been holding very still most of the time. He had gotten up and moved occasionally, but, for the most part, had stayed out of their way. To the point where Radek had actually stepped over him when he needed a part stashed in that area.

The man had a good mind though. He had kept up when he and Zelenka had started talking math and had only dropped out of the conversation when they had ventured into the purely theoretical. It was refreshing to have another person there to talk to about interesting subjects.

Taking a chance, McKay hacked into the Major’s file while he and Radek were discussing something on the glowboard. He had made sure to move through the previous duty stations without looking too hard. While the information on where the man had been stationed was useful, it wasn’t what he was after. His education was.

Rodney was fairly impressed at what he found. The doctorate was in something useful and that meant that Sheppard wasn’t the complete moron he had assumed. Jumping back into the discussion, McKay started firing off some of the more esoteric options that might explain the transformation.

From the dirty looks the Czech was giving him, Zelenka wasn’t happy with what might be at the end of his suppositions. Not his fault he had a love of Schrödinger. Corrigan suggesting magic had gone over just as well. At any rate, the silliness had helped and he was picking away at the edges of the problem, just like Rodney was.

When Sheppard settled down to nap, Rodney grabbed the coffee carafe and shook it. Empty. And he hadn’t unpacked the coffee maker he had for his office either. The food tray was bare, too. Damn it. “We’re out of coffee and food,” he announced.

“Bother.” Radek looked up from his spot in front of a computer. From the manner of sound coming out of the speakers, he was continuing to work with Miko on something. His hands were still moving as he stared at him.

“I’m free for a few minutes. I’m going to go get something to eat,” Rodney informed him as he picked up the tray. “And more coffee.”

”Thank you. I will not tell minions you are being nice,” his second agreed with a small smile.

“See that you don’t. They might rebel,” he called as he walked out the door. “If they believed you, that is.”

The trip to the mess wasn’t bad, and Rodney took careful note of exactly where everything was. The Ancients had gone in for very bland and mostly pleasant architecture that looked pretty much the same from corridor to corridor. Tapping his radio, he checked with the supply weenies. He knew that they had brought all sorts of things with them. Including the materials to make directional signs.

He made a mental note to suggest that someone put up the signs so people could find their way around. It was ridiculous that he had to backtrack twice to find the damn café! Grumbling slightly at the irritation he felt, Rodney walked into the large open room and checked the food in the grab & go bins. Sandwiches, fruit, and there were even some electric blue jello cups left. Good choices all and he could eat them without endangering his health. The coffee even smelled fresh.

Errand complete, he headed back to his lab. Down this corridor, turn into the connecting hallway, cross the atrium and there was his door. Eyes on his hands, Rodney carefully deposited the coffee and goodies on the clean part of a lab table.

Looking around he couldn’t see Radek, but he could hear the Major snoring. They were soft whistle sounds that seemed too weird to becoming out of the muzzle of a huge predator. Peeking around the mass of equipment hording Sheppard’s corner, Rodney fought the urge to curse.

Lying on the floor in all his naked glory was the Major. Fully human and sound asleep.

Fuck, fuckity, fucking hell.

 

Chapter Four

 

“Major!”

John jerked himself awake and sat up, shivering. He was cold?

Looking down at himself, the Major was startled to find skin instead of fur. He was human again. And totally naked. Which would explain why he was cold. Sighing deeply, John pulled his dignity around himself and ignored the parts of him that were touching the floor and shouldn’t be. Clearing his throat, he tried to put a causal tone into his voice. “So, is there any hope for a sheet or something similar?”

When McKay snorted in laughter, John nodded. Apparently his luck was just going that great.

“Can I borrow your earpiece then?” Sheppard asked.

“That I can do, Major,” McKay agreed as he unhooked the discrete communications device.

“Thanks,” John said as he curled up even further, trying to get his balls off the cold floor. Why hadn’t he noticed how cold the floors on the city were? “Lt. Ford, are you there? Come in.”

“Major?” the voice of his second was hesitant and Sheppard grimaced. Jeez, but the kid was green and it showed in so many ways. “Sir, it’s good to hear your voice.”

“Good to have one as well. Now, I need you to do something for me,” John requested. The assenting noise that Ford let out was enough for him to push forward. “I need some pants and my earwig from my room.”

The signal was quiet for a moment before he heard his second take a deep breath. “Yes, sir,” Ford finally snapped out of his silence. “Where should we look in your quarters?” the Lieutenant asked.

John restrained from commenting about looking in the obvious places. But yeah, no matter how many times Ford had been through the gate, he was still as green as grass. “My gear is in a pile by my mattress, Ford. Shouldn’t be hard to find. Now, while that is happening, I need a report on what’s been going on while I’ve been unavailable.”

“Yes, sir. Sergeant Markham is on his way to pick up your gear now, sir. We’ve been patrolling the central tower in six hour shifts, alternating pairs that check in frequently. The mess has been set up with the supplies allotted to it organized. MS1 Cooper states that they are all carefully stored…”

Sheppard listened to his second prattle on and felt his hackles start to rise. Ford was saying nothing about him being out of commission for a full day. The information he was reporting was good to know, but not what was most important at that point. What was important was that he, as the military commander of the Expedition, had been out of contact. And no one had come looking for him.

Holy shit was he going to be having words with Ford, Bates and Weir. Especially since two of the individuals who were affected by the whole shifting thing were military members. “Ford! Did Dr. Weir say anything to you about what has been going on in the last day or so?”

McKay’s head popped up, and John winced at the sound of his joints expanding. Apparently, he had kept some goodies from his canine shift because John was fairly certain that his hearing hadn’t been that good before. At any rate, the look the scientist was giving him was bleakly horrified.

The look John gave him back was just as upset. Mentally crossing his fingers, he waited for an answer from Ford. “Lieutenant? I need to know what Dr. Weir told you about what has been happening for the last day. And I need to know, now.”

“Yes, sir,” Ford’s voice was rueful and abashed. “Dr. Weir didn’t really tell us anything about what has been happening for the last day or so. Most of the information that we have gotten has been from Dr. McKay’s science teams and Dr. Grodin in Ops.”

“And what was the information that you all got?” John pressed.

“That you had been transformed by something Ancient. That you were out of contact since you couldn’t speak. That, until further notice, I was to be in charge of the military contingent here on Atlantis since you were unable to make actual contact. Sgt. Stackhouse, since he’s ATA positive, was under remote observation to see if he was going to suffer the same fate while he slept. Chuck, since he’s also ATA positive, is being forced to stay awake to see if he will go through the same process,” Ford relayed.

John tapped his borrowed radio off for a moment and growled. He could feel how the change he had gone through had affected his reactions. His emotions were much closer to the surface and he was very territorial over what he considered his. Well, more than normal at least.

“What did she tell them? I know that I missed the boat and didn’t tell any of the military, but yeah. What did she tell them?” McKay demanded.

“You weren’t the only one to drop the ball, McKay.” John ran a hand over his face and then nodded. “She told them nothing. Your people at least got them up to date on the basic information.”

“Well, shit.”

John nodded. “Yeah, that about sums things up.” Toggling his borrowed radio, he signed back into the channel with Ford. “Lieutenant, I woke up yesterday as a dire wolf. I couldn’t talk, my ATA gene still worked and I had all my faculties. It wasn’t a fun time.”

“Oh, my god, sir. That is so weird,” said Ford.

“Yeah, you aren’t kidding,” John agreed before he explained what had happened. The noises the Lieutenant made as John explained what had gone on were gratifying and something in John smoothed out. The anger he was feeling was justified, but he had to calm down, settle his emotions, so that when he went to talk to Weir, he didn’t go for her throat. Literally or figuratively.

The Lieutenant moaned softly in his ear before he cleared his throat. “Damn, sir. I’ll have the men go and do a physical check on everyone to make sure they’re all still human and able to communicate.”

“Good idea. I need to go figure out what has been happening for the last day. I’ll talk to you in a few hours.” John signed off and then turned the radio off before handing it over to its owner.

McKay absently cleaned off the ear piece and hooked the little radio back into place. “So, the days here are about 27 or 28 hours long. We are getting the average done now. I have no idea on how long the year will be. We’ll figure it out.”

John stared at the scientist before rolling his eyes. “That long? Well, it will make the adjustment period interesting at least.”

“Yup. Still gonna have to make sure that my people don’t drive themselves into the ground by working all 28 hours in the day,” McKay agreed cheerfully.

The chime on the door interrupted him before John could snark back. The level of comfortable he was with the scientist was something that was comfortably weird after the months that they had been working together. Glancing at the door, he gave the mental twist that told the equipment that he wanted it to do something. In this case, open the door.

Sergeant Markham was standing in the doorway with Zelenka, cradling his uniform, boots, and poking out of his uniform breast pocket, the radio that tied the whole mess together. “Markham, thank you,” John said from his spot on the floor. He wasn’t moving, thanks.

The Marine nodded and set the clothes on the table nearest him before putting the boots on the floor. From what John could see, it was the same uniform he had worn the other day, but he wasn’t going to be picky. And he was grateful Markham hadn’t gone through his gear. That would have been a step or two too far even for him. Holding out his hand, John accepted his radio and hooked it onto his ear. As soon as the lightweight piece of technology settled in place, he felt better. More connected.

“Sir? Has there been any word on Stackhouse?” Markham asked as he turned around and stared at the door.

John glanced at McKay and twirled one finger at the scientist, silently requesting that the other man turn around so he wasn’t looking at him as he got dressed. The look the scientist shot him was full of irritation but he got a blatant once over before the Canadian turned around. From that alone, John was fairly certain that the other man was enjoying the hell out of his accidental nudity.

McKay was taking the time to answer his man’s question, and John was going to take advantage of the distraction to get squared away. It wasn’t that he was upset at being nude. He had been nude a lot in his life. It was just… the floor was damn cold, he had been sleeping on it and his pride could only take so much shrinkage. Huffing out a breath at the insanity of being male, John stood up and started getting dressed. As soon as his briefs went on, he felt a lot more secure.

Having his dick and balls flapping in the breeze was not comfortable. Even if he could work around it, it wasn’t comfortable. Socks, pants, t-shirt and uniform blouse and he was ready to take on the world. But first, maybe a meal?

Rubbing his hand against his stomach, John ignored his hunger and grabbed one of the cups that McKay kept around and filled it from the coffee carafe. It was just at a safe temperature to drink and he swallowed every drop. He needed the jolt if he was going to go deal with certain parties.

“I have no idea what is up with Stackhouse other than what was reported a couple of hours ago, Sarge. He was sleeping peacefully and then transformed. Currently, unless some very brave individual has gone and woken him up, he is a sleeping canine of some type,” McKay was telling his Sergeant as John walked up and ran his fingers through his hair, trying to settle the mess.

“I can tell you that he understands everything that is happening around him, understands what you are saying and if he is anything like me, really needs some help from someone who has thumbs. Might want to go do that now,” John prodded the Marine along. He had a very good idea what was going on with those two and, well, he had no problems with it.

As soon as his subordinate ran out the door, John closed it up tight and looked at the two scientists. “Can you get on the radio and talk to whomever is running the whole thing with Chuck and make sure they let him get some sleep? If he’s been up this whole time, he’s coming up on thirty plus hours awake and there is no need. I have to talk to Weir and I want all my people accounted for.”

“We can do that,” Radek agreed after a careful look at his boss. “But we still do not know why you changed or how you changed back!”

John headed towards the door, intent on getting his errands done. “I have no idea why I changed in the first place, but I know when I did so. REM sleep was the clue. When I entered it for the first time here on Atlantis, I shifted into the wolf. Sleeping in here and actually relaxing enough to hit REM changed me back.”

The sound of fingers snapping and groans of realization were sweet to hear as he headed off to beard a lioness in her den. Wasn’t this gonna be fun?

Not.

 

 

 

Chapter Five

 

John moved through the hallways of his command, feet silent as they touched the floor. He was taking the long way ‘round to check on each and every person that Ford had said was on watch.

Thanks to the nifty side effects of his time as a canine, John was planning on inspecting everyone under his command to reset his impression of them. The ones he passed at their duty stations were cataloged and ticked off his mental list, each with their own notes about how he felt around them. Not all of his impressions were flattering, but he wasn’t planning on sharing them with anyone. He was also going to keep his opinion of some of Sumner’s choices behind his teeth.

Snarling slightly as he rounded a corner after checking another person off his list, John rested his head against a wall. What in the hell had Sumner been thinking?

The notes in his mental files were getting ridiculous. They were understaffed by an insane degree the way things were set up, he had no idea if the armory had been set up, let alone where his men were bunking down. What an absolute cluster fuck. Pushing off the wall, Sheppard headed towards the command center.

The first thing he noticed was that there were no guards on the outer door on the gate room lower level. Pausing, the Major studied the locking mechanism at the door. It wasn’t set in the manner that McKay had taught him meant that the door was actually locked. The whole thing was unlocked and with a wave of his hand, opened without a sound. There were no guards on the other side of the door, and he suppressed the growl that was threatening to erupt.

Rubbing one hand against his breastbone, John took a deep breath. He could not let the leftovers of his time in fur show in his behavior for the next while. He had to be 100% Tau’ri human, to use a phrase he had been hearing while at the Antarctic base. Not that he apparently was, he just had to act like it. Reaching back, he used the mental twist that told the city to lock the door behind him. Settling deeper into the mechanism, he coded the lock so only McKay or a high ATA carrier could override it.

The decision to add McKay to the pass list for the door was easy. The other man had been working hard to find a cure for whatever had caused him to go furry and had looked out for him as much as he was able. Plus, Weir didn’t like him at all. After the weeks at the Outpost and then time at the SGC, Sheppard had plenty of proof of how the woman felt about the scientist. Given that McKay didn’t seem to care one way or another about her, John wasn’t in a hurry to stick himself into the middle of that problem, even if he trusted the Canadian more than her.

At any rate, the door was secure enough to let him relax a bit and he turned around to look at the rest of the room. Frowning, he stepped out from under the raised walkway and checked the corners of the room. There were no guards stationed overlooking the gate, only one person manning the command console and, peering upwards, he saw the office was occupied. Weir. He was willing to bet that she was unarmed and he could see that the tech at the console was as well.

Oh, hell no.

Tapping his radio, Sheppard placed a quiet call. “Bates, what is the watch schedule for the gate room?”

The radio was silent for a moment before the distinctive tones of his Gunnery Sergeant came on. “There are supposed to be two of our people stationed in the room itself. There are four people cleared to run the main console, all but one of them non-ATA positive, so one of them should be there too. Chuck’s the only ATA positive tech and he’s currently being kept awake by order of Dr. Weir.”

“Who are the other three personnel?” John asked as he prowled the lower level of the room. From where he was, he could see Weir’s head in the office she had grabbed.

“The Expedition members assigned to the main console are as follows: Chuck Campbell, RCMP; Dr. Peter Grodin; Corporal Anthony Stephens, Army; and Dr. Andrea Stollins. With Chuck out for some reason, I was going to slot another of the men who’ve stood watch at the SGC into place,” Bates reported.

Wonderful.

“So, about whoever you have guarding the gate room? Unless it was Stackhouse and Chuck, they are all on report,” Sheppard informed his Gunny dryly. He could hear the wince over that across the airwaves. “Punishment to be determined later. Also, whoever is supposed to be guarding or securing the lower gate room doors? They are on report, too.”

“Sir, I know I assigned a full set of guards to the gate room,” Bates tried to explain.

John made an agreeing noise before he ran up the main set of stairs. He was very happy to be running on two legs instead of four and he was still happy with his thumbs. They were very cool. Pushing away his mental aside, John waved at what had to be Stollins to stay put before he walked over to the upper level doors. Sticking his head out them, he was mildly surprised to see the two assigned guards standing outside.

“As you were, men,” he murmured before letting the door close. “Oh, Bates? Two of your guys are here. Just on the outside of the upper doors. Still no one but Weir and Stollins on the inside of the gate room.”

The cursing he could hear over the line was impressive. Someone was going to have a very bad day before Bates got hold of them. Too bad John really didn’t care. Ford had mentioned nothing about the lack of guards on the gate room in his report. He couldn’t have missed the men not being on watch.

The military wing of the Expedition was going to be in for a damn big shock once he got things hashed out with Weir. There was no way in heaven or hell that he was going to let shit like this happen again. And if he had to break a few soldiers to get what he wanted out of them? Well, he could do that. He really could.

“Sir, I am going to call the troops together to get a head count. I also want to know who told them they could leave,” Bates informed him, frustration bleeding through.

“Good idea, Gunny. Set it for three hours from now,” John directed. “Any idea where Ford is?”

“As far as I know, sir, Lt. Ford is in the room he claimed as his office,” Bates reported.

The Major sighed. “Three hours, Gunny. Once I’m free from my meeting with Weir, I’ll call to get directions to where you lot have set up.”

“We can do that, sir,” Bates agreed before the line went dead.

John looked at what Stollins was doing at the main console and then leaned over to check the telltales. From what he could see, they were all clear and steady, situation normal then. Standing back, he cocked his head to the side and studied the scientist in front of him. “Do you need any more help here?”

Shaking her head, Stollins pointed at Weir’s office. “I’ve already been told that I’m it for the watch, Major. It would be nice to have someone else here to talk to, but the only request I have is that there needs to be an ATA positive person either on the watch with us, or we need an on call list for the command deck. Before they let Chuck sleep, he had to come up here a few times to reinitialize everything.”

“Well, that isn’t a good thing because there will be times when everyone is busy,” John observed.

Pressing a hand onto the console, he reached out. Every time he deliberately stretched himself to connect with the technology the Ancients left behind, it got easier. This, the console that acted as the central hub for the control room, wasn’t as easy as the other items. It had more levels of security and thus was shutting itself down when Atlantis informed it that there were no ATA carriers within a certain radius. He was certain that was the root of the problems Stollins had noticed.

Burrowing in hard, John made a few changes. The equipment had all the necessary components to get a genetic read on the Expedition members and he directed the city to recognize the main four members who would be manning the main console, himself, McKay and Zelenka. Before he closed out the command, John made sure to put in a set of overrides. Three command codes were needed to get around his orders. If the staff manning the console changed, it would take some time to get the changes input, but better safe than sorry.

Nodding to himself at how the city accepted his work, he backed out of the main computer and stared hard at Stollins. “The system will work for you now. If it breaks, kicks you out or someone is needed to be added, you need to get McKay, Zelenka and I here to fix it. Okay?”

“Yes, sir,” she said.

The scientist looked incredibly relieved that everything had been fixed and John tried not to snort. Yeah, it was fixed because he was stubborn and had no problems pushing until he had found a way around the bullshit programing that the Ancients had left behind.

“So, I’m gonna talk to Dr. Weir. If you have any problems, don’t hesitate to interrupt. But, I also need you to email me everything that you can think of that you need to be able to do your job more efficiently. Understood?” John questioned. Fuck if he was going to leave someone who was a junior level scientist in McKay’s horde of minions alone without trying to back her up.

“Yes, sir. I can do that. Should I pass that order along to the other three?” Stollins asked. She was standing a bit taller, as if his willingness to pay attention to her was some form of validation.

“Please. Also, see if you can set up some kind of logbook on the system so you can keep track of everything that goes on. It’ll make your turnovers a lot easier,” he directed.

The smile she flashed him at that suggestion was happy and full of understanding. Sighing, John turned and started towards Weir’s office. He had no idea why she hadn’t come out of it to deal with him. Staring through the glass at the woman sitting inside, he wondered how in the hell she had gotten through all the screening for assholery that General O’Neill had made sure everyone went through. Then again, the biggest assholes he knew were perfectly capable of hiding the fact that they were assholes from everyone.

John drew a breath in through his nose and tried to analyze the scents he was smelling. Nothing but the same Ancient dust and stale electric smell that permeated the whole city. Yuck. Resisting the urge to rub his nose and rid it of the dust it had taken in, Sheppard sighed. He was not looking forward to this discussion.

Knocking briskly on the glass panel beside the door to Weir’s office, John mentally pressed against the locking mechanism. He was much happier dealing with the basic Ancient equipment like the doors. Everything else made him…reconsider how his family tree forked. From his viewpoint, he could see the doctor working on something on her computer and he, frankly, didn’t care what it was.

The faint sound of the ‘doorbell’ could just be heard at the edges of his hearing and he watched carefully as Weir’s head came up. From what he could see of her face, she didn’t seem too surprised to see him waiting at her door. John was reasonably certain that she had noticed him skulking around the gate room and the command level, the only question was why she hadn’t come out.

When she walked up to the locking mechanism to unlock it, he resisted the urge to do it for her. One, it would be really unwise to point out that he could do that. Two, why give away an advantage? And as a bonus, it pissed her off that she had to get up to do stuff that he didn’t.

“Major, I didn’t expect to see you up and about. I thought you were still transformed,” Weir said as soon as the door to her office opened. John was close enough that he could see how her eyes dilated in shock at seeing him. Maybe she hadn’t seen him coming.

“Things changed, Dr. Weir. I would, however, like to talk to you about the last day.” Sheppard smiled, laying on a bit of charm as he casually looked around. His inspection of the office solved the mystery of why she wasn’t able to see him as he had moved around. The glass from this side was opaque. And he wasn’t going to change it, either.

Waving her hand back at the two chairs in front of her desk, the head of the Expedition offered him a seat without saying a word. Just as silently, he took a seat and tried to look relaxed as she resumed her spot behind the desk. Staring at the piece of furniture, John wondered where anyone had found it. And who in the hell had put it in the room, because he could distinctly remember the room being empty when they had arrived on Atlantis.

Letting the mystery go for the moment, he concentrated on his opponent. He wasn’t happy that at a little more than four days in, he was already at loggerheads with his boss. It had to be a record. Resisting the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose to relieve the pressure of the impending migraine, he waited for Weir to say anything.

When nothing was forthcoming after a long beat, he tilted his head in acknowledgement of her patience. Smiling slightly, he settled back into his chair and let his muscles go loose. He had read up on Weir when he had found out that she was to be the lead of the Expedition. Diplomat, architect of several well-known peace treaties, and the behind the scenes push on several other quiet ones, the good doctor was well known in the circles that parts of his family ran with.

She was also well known for being an ice queen that was perfectly willing to let her opponents spin themselves into making mistakes. Her personal life reportedly had always taken a far distant second place to her ambition, and she was fully capable of sacrificing anything and everything to the altar of the ‘greater good’. From what he had found out right before they had left, she had even left her fiancé behind and they had been months away from the wedding. Cold as ice was the kindest thing he could say about her.

He let all the information he had on her flow in and out of his brain and then settled in to wait. He had enough time to get some work done on what he wanted to do to the men who had left their posts, redesign the rosters for those walking the perimeter of the tower, and figure out what to set up as a training regimen to keep his people alive. It wasn’t the hardest thing he had ever done, but doing it all mentally and without something to keep it straight on was a bit more fun.

“So we can sit here and have a staring contest or we can actually talk about why you are in my office,” Weir interrupted his thoughts, voice as dry and as cold as the Antarctic base they had left behind.

“Oh, the staring thing is just a byproduct, Dr. Weir,” John assured her, voice smooth and just as dry. “I have to wonder what you were thinking when the new head of the military arm of this Expedition showed up wearing fur. Did you think that this would let you have uninterrupted access to everything? That maybe I could be moved out of the way? What? Because you were not a happy person when I found out I could talk.”

Weir didn’t bother to do him the discourtesy of denying the validity of the questions he was asking. There were far too many things that were starting to come together in his head for him to not want to make sure of her. Given who and what he was, integrity and loyalty had been bred into his bones, and the possibility of him going rogue was basically nil. That was something O’Neill had been well aware of before John had left his base.

“It would be less disruptive to have only Ford as the head of the military around here. And the chances of us staying under the radar would be much higher, yes. Your genome makes you useful, Major, but your will makes you a loose cannon. And I won’t stand for that,” she explained, face calm.

“My genome, Madam, is rather spread out among the people of this Expedition and thus hardly unique. The ones who have it won’t bow down to you and without us, you can’t run this city. She would still be under the waves, slowly drowning if we hadn’t arrived and I hadn’t reinitialized the main computer. So, loose cannon or not, you rather need me and mine around,” John responded agreeably. “No matter what you might want on that, we are here to stay.”

“But you cannot deny you have brought us to a higher profile than was intended in this galaxy,” Weir argued back. “Negotiations and low profiles are good things to cultivate if you don’t want to go to war.”

“Actually I could deny that, but that is neither here nor there. We are now a part of the Pegasus Galaxy and that means we have to live by at least some of their rules. The supplies we have aren’t going to be enough to make sure that the Expedition will live until General O’Neill can get either of the two ships under construction out here unless we augment them. The Athosians, while apparently unwelcome by you, will be invaluable in that respect. They know what is edible here, who trades and who doesn’t, and frankly, who to trust,” John said.

“They can no more be considered trustworthy than the Taliban,” Weir argued. “We got their home destroyed, their people killed and then we moved them here, to the center of their religious structure. And we have living examples of the very peoples that left them to die at the hands of the Wraith.”

“Actually, I find them far more trustworthy than the Taliban. And most of Congress for that matter,” John countered. He was holding onto his even-temperedness by teeth and toenail. “From everything that Teyla, the leader of the Athosians, has told me, this wouldn’t be the first time they have been chased off Athos. It happened several generations ago and they were folded into some kinclans they have on other planets. After the planet recovered from some disaster, they moved back.

“The people who died? Most of the Athosians don’t expect to see the equivalent of middle age, Dr. Weir, let alone die a natural death. The one woman they have who is old is revered since she has lived so long. If they are folded under our banner and kept safe, Charin may be the first Athosian in almost 200 years to die of old age and not the hand of a Wraith. As for the religion? Most of the Athosians I have met seem to realize that Atlantis is a city. She isn’t their Ancestors. And as such, isn’t a place to be worshipped.” The explanation was calm, and he kept his voice even.

John wanted the Athosians on Atlantis for a lot of reasons. First on the list was that he had no idea how they were going to feed everyone they had on the city. There had been at least one botanist included in the Expedition, but he had no idea if he or she knew what to do with food crops. He sure as hell didn’t. And for all that the village on Athos had resembled something out of old Westerns, the people had been plump and healthy. That spoke well of their ability to find food.

The rest of it? Would get hashed out. He was sure of it.

Standing up, John decided he was done with the conversation. “The Athosians are here to stay, Doctor. The military arm of the Expedition isn’t there for you to play with, so don’t try. If I find that you were behind my men being ordered away from their posts, I will make you regret it in every manner I can. As for the furriness of the ATA carriers? That will be looked into. But not by you. Leave that to McKay and his people.”

“Do you really think your word will outweigh mine, Major?” Weir looked amused. “I seem to remember someone was in the Antarctic for something other than his health.”

John looked at her and just grinned. “Oh, Doctor, you really shouldn’t believe everything you read in someone’s service record. You really shouldn’t.”

Whistling, John walked out. He could feel the poisonous glare that Weir was sending him between his shoulder blades and tried not to twitch at the feeling. Yeah, she hated his guts. Time to go check on Chuck, get cleaned up, and then go raise some hell on the military side. Humming the guitar line for his favorite Cash tune, Sheppard walked out of the lion’s den.

 

Chapter Six

 

The walk down to the main science labs and the room they had stashed Chuck in was literally a walk down the tower. A good half dozen floors below the command center to be precise. The ZPM room and McKay’s search for the Holy Grail, was equidistant between them and about as protected as they could make it. If he had a few more men, he would make sure to have a constant guard or two on it for a number of different reasons.

Following a hunch, Sheppard detoured over to the room when he reached the correct floor. Peeking in the small altar to Ancient power tech, he saw that there were only four of the Expedition’s ten naquadah generators on site. Something about the way everything was set twanged on his instincts and he stepped into the room to prowl around.

The generators were spliced into the plinth that housed the ZPMs in a way that seemed to leave the empty reservoirs for the compact crystal units free if they ever found any. There were six cables feeding off the unit but only four generators that he could see. Walking around the whole installation, he rubbed a hand against the back of his neck. Six cables. Four generators.

Bloody buggering fuck. That could not be right.

“McKay.” John had his radio open and a call in to the CSO as soon as he registered what he was seeing.

“Major? I thought you would be indulging in some manly military bonding by now, not calling me,” McKay answered.

John wished. Boy, did he wish. The day just wasn’t going his way. Hell, the whole week wasn’t. To say nothing of his month or even year. “Yeah, that is gonna have to wait for a few. I stopped by the ZPM room to take a look at it. How many generators did you put in place to carry our load and not tax the remaining ergs on the old ZPM?”

There was a loaded silence on the other end of the comm and John almost winced. He had a lot of memories of McKay losing his shit on stupid people in the build up to the mission. It seemed that he was going to get a few more.

“There should be six, Major. Four to carry the load of us and our gear and two to cover any spikes caused by our equipment meshing with the Ancient tech. Why?

Yeah, not good. “Because I am looking at only four wired in, two empty cables and no extra generators,” John explained.

“You are staying right where you are and I will be up there in five minutes,” McKay ordered.

John closed out the comms, without argument, as he snorted in amusement. Yeah, someone was going to run into the rough side of McKay’s personality. Right in the face.

He was enough of a geek, acknowledged or not, to want to play with all the high tech toys. But unlike some, soon to be unmourned people, he had some sense. He hadn’t installed any of the various pieces of equipment, didn’t know what they all did, and really wasn’t willing to find out the hard way. Doing so tended to lead to bad things. He had had enough of those happening to him for one day.

His ears caught the sound of regular, if fast footsteps hitting the composite material that made up the Ancient floor. The sound let something in him relax. When McKay and Zelenka stepped into the room, he moved out of the way. The scientists were silent as they inspected the room, and John held his peace.

“Radek, you came up to my lab hours after this whole mess started. Did you see anyone futzing with this?” McKay asked, voice calm.

John looked at the Czech and winced when he shook his head “I did not check room when I went back to your lab. I checked the power levels about two hours before when Kavanagh got last Cray hooked in. Power did not bobble.”

“So two hours before you came to meet me, everything was fine,” McKay muttered. Walking over to one of the many wall panels, the scientist poked at a spot on the surface. “When we set this up, I had Kusanagi with me, so everything in the room was accessible. Major, I need you to touch this spot and think ‘Open’.”

Sheppard didn’t even hesitate, just reached over and did as he was instructed. The panel opened up to show an Earth-born computer hooked into the hair thin fiber optic conduits within the wall. John had no idea what that meant for their current situation, but it spoke well of how paranoid the science corps were.

“So, we head out into the brave new world of Pegasus and the same shitty politics follow us. I hate being a suspicious bastard. I really do,” McKay murmured as he started pulling up diagnostic screens.

Sheppard looked at the screens and tried to follow what the scientist was doing. From what he could understand, he was looking at power flows and access points. “What is that, McKay?”

“When I put the power plan together after you went on the rescue mission from hell, I made it so the only way those cables would come unlocked would be with an override code. Every one of the scientists on this city has their own code, so it will be easy to determine whose code was typed in,” McKay explained.

Screens were moving faster and faster as he talked, and John looked at Zelenka. McKay’s second was watching the screen, face as intent as his boss’s. “Dr. Z? Do we have any idea where the extra generators might be stored?”

“No. At this point the remaining four generators that were assembled and ready for use are to be placed around the city at key points to take the load off the internal power grid,” Zelenka told him absently. His eyes hadn’t strayed from the diagnostic screens. “We have sufficient supplies on hand to make more generators, but that takes a little amount of time. Time we will have to make if we can’t find the generators from here.”

John found himself wracking his brain for everything that he had been taught about how the SGC powered itself. They had a number of the little generators running around the main base and most of the labs ran off of them. But naquadah was, from what he had been told, a very volatile element that, if treated wrong, was explosive. “Exactly how dangerous are the generators?”

“Oh, well.” McKay actually stopped what he was doing for a moment and looked at him. John tried not to freak out because even when there had been a containment breach at the SGC before they had left, the man had paid no attention to anything but his science. “They’re dangerous, Major. I mean, under the right conditions, one can blow up a fair sized chunk of the planet and could certainly sink the city again. But the conditions under which they can do that are pretty narrow and they were designed to be damn hard to put into that condition.”

“Right. So, do you mind if I get Stollins on the line and have her scan for any power sources that are out of bounds?” Sheppard asked carefully.

“Nope. Just make sure she doesn’t tell the dragon. We don’t need her huffing and getting in our way,” the scientist agreed with a wave. “I have the code that was used and the time, but this won’t work out the way that the perpetrators want it to.”

“Why? And who is they?” John asked. He was getting a headache and he had almost two hours yet until his meeting with Bates.

“Why, Major is because they use Kusanagi’s override code to open cables,” Zelenka informed him. “This was during time she was still furry and had no thumbs. She has since slept and come back to having them.”

Sheppard grinned at that news. So far he had confirmation that two out of the four affected people were human again. Excellent. “Thumbs are pretty damn neat, I agree.”

“Yes, they are. Especially useful for grabbing cables and leaving evidence,” the CSO muttered as he carefully inspected one of the two unplugged cables. There were still searches running on the hidden computer and John was wondering what he was thinking. “We need to go talk to our culprit.”

Cocking his head to the side, Sheppard watched the two scientists. “Do you need me there?”

Shaking his head, McKay put the computer back into its passive role and returned it to its niche. “Nope. The person we are going to talk to hasn’t had the spine to do anything but agree with higher authority for the last few years, so me coming down on them will be sufficient. Once we get the generators back though, I want you to do the same thing to this room that you did to the command console.”

John shot the Canadian a sharp glance and met the blue, blue eyes without a qualm. McKay was apparently well aware of just what he was able to do with the city and was willing to aid and abet him in his mission to actually have some kind of OpSec, or Operational Security, in place. There was too much city and not enough men to hold it without some kind of control in place. And if he had to go around the ‘dragon’ to do it, he would. Not like she was going to be able to get into anything he locked up anyway.

“Beckett said that he had a gene therapy that he had gotten a lot of success with that would allow someone with the recessive form of the ATA gene to get it activated. Are you going to try for it when he is human again,” John asked. The topic was completely out of left field, but he needed to know.

“Yeah, Carson told me the same thing, and right before we left, he said that since he got some samples from you, his success rate had gone up a lot,” McKay agreed. “I can tell there is a lot that I am missing and it is driving me mad. On the other hand, if it means that I turn furry every once in a while, I hope I become a cat. I am not really much of a dog person.”

John suppressed the flash of emotion he felt at that announcement and turned to the other scientist. The Czech shook his head. “I am not one of those who will likely get a good response from the therapy. There are no traces of ATA genome in me. It would take much more to get me to that stage. I am happy with my workarounds,” he said with a smile. Patting the wall, he murmured something in his native language and the light seemed to get a bit brighter where he stood.

“Okay, Doc, I can understand that. McKay, as soon as Beckett gets rehumaned, see about the therapy. I want some more controls in place, and if you have the ability to interface with the tech, that makes things a lot easier,” Sheppard said.

Waving at the door, he escorted the pair out and put a fairly firm lock in place. It wouldn’t keep McKay, Zelenka or Kusanagi out if they were determined, but it would keep everyone else away.

“The door is locked. I’ll leave you to the handling of the power supplies. I need to check on Chuck, go get cleaned up and then there is going to be a full meeting of all of the military assets on the city. Please keep your people under control and an eye on the Athosians,” John explained.

“We can do that,” Zelenka agreed before he waved a hand at the stairwells. “Chuck is on next level down in the large conference room. The coffee supply was stopped right before he went to sleep. He should be sacked out safely. If he changes, room is empty, so there is nothing in there for him to destroy.”

“Good to know. Thanks, Doc. See you both soon,” John said with a wave before he hurried down the stairs. He had a deadline.

 

Part Two

And Again

And Again by Fanarts

 

Title: And Again

Author: Ladyholder

Fandom: SGA

Relationship: None, maybe John/Rodney

Content Rating: Mature

Warnings: Life, Death, Reincarnation

 

 

Ioannes: Chapter One

 

Ioannes stared up at the stars over the city of Atlantis and wondered when his people had descended into madness.

He, like so many in his caste, still looked young, vital and full of the first blush of youth. He didn’t feel it however. He had lived for more than a thousand years on Atlantis. If nothing happened to him, he could expect to live more than nine thousand more. However, for the last one hundred of those thousand years, he and his people had been fighting the Wraith in a war that they were losing, one system at a time. Unlike most of the Lanteans living on Atlantis, he wasn’t willing to ignore the war either.

Their enemy had never truly given themselves a name, but the Lanteans who fought them did. The Wraith were a failed experiment of some minor incompetent scientist who had wanted to shortcut his way to Ascension. When his experiment had gotten away from him, the useless fool had been one of the first to die at their hands. Now the creatures were rampaging across his galaxy and the Council wasn’t letting him stop it. Ioannes thought he knew the location of the core world for the unnatural creatures, he knew their weaknesses and how to apply them. But he was being put off or ignored by the Council, his hands tied on how far they would let him go.

Like that late unlamented scientist, the Council had their eyes firmly set on Ascension, not on the brief lives of those their ancestors had Seeded throughout their new galaxy. That blindness was one of the leading causes of the losses Ioannes’s people reported to him on a daily basis. The Wraith used those brief lives as sustenance and took any chance of a greater future away from them. It was a horrific waste.

Ioannes was not one to stand around and allow those under his care to be used and abused. He and the ones under his command were well aware of the type of war they were fighting and they were grimly determined to do all they could to keep everyone safe

“You are going to your death.”

Ioannes ignored the voice behind him with the ease of long practice. He was more interested in getting one last look at the stars as they rose before he left.

“Ignoring me isn’t going to change things.”

“Janus, go away.” Ioannes growled without looking.

“I can’t. You are family. And for what it is worth, I don’t want you to die,” the younger man protested.

“I don’t want to die either, but we need to get this battle done,” Ioannes turned back to his cousin. “No matter what those fools on the Council like to say.”

“You are the darling of the Council, cousin.” Janus looked pained as he informed him of his status. “Unlike most of us, you have been on the verge of Ascension for the last five hundred years and yet you stay, tied to your physical body. And then there is this thing with the Wraith.”

Ioannes snorted. Darling of the Council indeed. Those dilettantes were useless. “I stay because I can’t see any reason to try for Ascension now. I am young, healthy and I have too many responsibilities to give up on life right now. Ascension is the end result of a life lived, not to be taken just because.”

Janus just looked at him and shrugged. “They don’t see it that way.”

“They don’t have to,” Ioannes told him. Reaching out, he pulled his cousin into a brief hug. Touching came hard for him and he let very few into his physical space. Janus was one of only two people he touched willingly. “Take care of yourself around those people.”

“I will.”

Ioannes let his cousin go and walked back inside his city. He had a battle to plan.

 

 

“Fuck me. How many?” Ioannes demanded of his bridge crew.

“There are at least forty mother-ships, sir. Plus an unknown number of cruisers and darts,” Roken, his science officer, reported promptly.

“Forty.” Ioannes didn’t curse again, although it took an effort. “Well, nothing for it then. Time to start killing Wraith. Patch me through to the fleet.”

“Yes, sir. You have an open channel.”

Ioannes took a deep breath and looked at the field of battle he had taken his people into. How? “To those under my command, we are about to deal the Wraith a blow I can only hope they never recover from. Remember, you are Lantean, you are mighty and I know you will succeed. Pick your targets and we shall see you on the other side.”

Reaching out, he mentally cut the channel and stared at the men and women on his bridge. They were all looking at him with hope, determination and amusement. “You are a horrible orator, sir,” his science officer told him bluntly, blue eyes sparkling in amusement.

“Never had to be better,” Ioannes admitted.

“Might want to work on that.”

“If we make it through this,” Ioannes promised before nudging the computer to put targeting circles around a series of Wraith mother-ships. The targeting circles from the other ships in his fleet showed up as shadows against their own targets. “Fire at will.”

The feel of lightening being let loose flowed across the edges of his mind as his ship fired and a fierce joy ran through him. This was why he stayed. To make sure that the enemies that threatened his people were denied the stolen form of life they ripped from everyone else.

The Wraith died. By the thousands, they died. Ioannes didn’t mourn their twisted lives at all. Once, their ancestors might have been Ancient or even something like the Seeded, but not anymore. Now, they were a plague. He was determined to burn them out.

Hour after hour, his ships slugged it out with the Wraith. Despite their advancement, the ships couldn’t maintain their cloaks while bombarding the enemy and they were paying the price for it. Deep slashes started to appear on the pristine white sides and Ioannes winced. So many lives lost in those wounds.

Reaching deep into the systems of his ship, he could feel how sluggish it was. The damage was heavy and it was starting to be a problem. Coughing at the smoke on the bridge, Ioannes settled deeper into the interface, working to patch around them ruined systems as they continued to fire.

“Sir.” His helmsman drew a wheezing breath and then coughed. “We are through the other side of the armada and our ships are reporting that they managed to destroy or cripple all of the mother-ships. Cruisers are harder to confirm, but the sensors report that we managed to take out at least sixty ourselves.”

“Good!” Ioannes barked out as he suppressed a cough as there was another explosion. Looking over at his science station he stared. The whole console had blown and was pouring smoke into the bridge. His friend was lying under the mess and Ioannes rolled off his couch before he finished processing what he had seen. Roken had a spear shaped slice of the console sticking out of his chest and Ioannes could hear the broken gurgle of his breathing from where he was.

Picking his way through the wreckage, he reached his scientist and looked at his wound. “It’s mortal.” He told him, voice broken and soft. Roken stared up at him and grimaced, gritting his teeth against the pain he was in and Ioannes ran a hand over his face. Roken nodded once and his breathing stopped before his body transformed into energy and the familiar form of an Ascendant took shape before flashing out.

“Take us back in.” Ioannes issued the command as he stood up and moved back to his duty station. He was going to ignore the blood staining his uniform and his hand. He had a job to do.

“Taking us back in,” was all he heard before he immersed himself in the battle before them.

The ebb and flow of battle was familiar and he fell into it, letting it take all his attention as he moved his fleet around to finish off the last of their foes. In the end, he pulled out of the battle systems of his ship and took stock. They had completely lost a third of their ships, and the rest were battle damaged to various degrees that would take a shipyard to make right.

Plugging back into the remaining sensors, Ioannes scanned the surrounding area and sighed. There were many energy traces that showed that at least a few of his people who had died that day had managed to Ascend. It was the only consolation that he had for what he had led them into.

Deep in the systems, he felt the familiar sensation of a Wraith ship heading his way. Opening his physical eyes, Ioannes looked up in time to see the wedge shaped tip of a Wraith dart impact at the view screen and force its way through.

As the feel of the fire and ice ripped through him, Ioannes let go of his hold on his physical life and screamed his way to Ascension, pulling his crew with him. He wasn’t going to leave anyone behind if he could help it.

 

 

Ioannes: Chapter Two

 

The patterns of energy that made up the universe were beautiful, Ioannes had to admit that. He did. He really did. He just hadn’t wanted to see them any time soon.

Sighing in frustration, Ioannes moved himself back to Atlantis, determined to check up on the people he had left behind. The men and women who had survived his from his taskforce had moved back into place on the city and the shipyards. They were working hard to get the ships back online and ready for another battle. He was proud of them for not giving up.

There had been much discussion among the crews when they had searched his ship and found that there was no one left. Due to the damage from the battle and then the Dart punching its way through the bridge, the ship had suffered from explosive decompression. It had been expected that the salvage crews would find everyone still aboard, dead. Only when the scans had shown a mass Ascension had they relaxed, despite the complete lack of bodies.

Ioannes chaffed against the restrictions hemming in his ability to interact with the world beyond the energy streams. His cousin had taken his spot on the Council and in his own sly way was continuing to work towards all that Ioannes had dreamed of in his life. It was going about as well for Janus as it had for him. Which was to say not all that well.

Even after his victory, the Council had been determined to ignore the Wraith for all they were worth. As long as the Wraith were quiet and not attacking a Lantean settlement, the Council wasn’t willing to stretch their necks out. Janus was trying, but he was only one voice and that was a voice that was being ignored. Ioannes wished that he could tell his cousin to gather the like minds on the Council, but the one time he had tried, the collective mass of previously Ascended had pulled him back.

Ioannes growled at that thought and felt Atlantis vibrate with him. Reaching out carefully, he did his best to soothe his city. Unlike his cousin, he hadn’t been born on the city and had only stepped foot on her when he had reported for service. The city had reacted by trying to wrap him up in her own version of care and for the rest of his life, every time he had been near her, she had reached out to him.

For his part, Ioannes had reached right back. He had fallen just as in love with the city as it had with him. It wasn’t for the Council that he had gone to war. It had been for the city, the people who lived in her, and the Seeded that he had done all that he had done. And now that he was Ascended, the care that Atlantis gave him wasn’t the same, but she tried.

Still, he was a floating, glowing squid creature who supposedly was all powerful and all knowing. In reality, he was a golden, glowing squid that had a pack of over interested, nagging culus keeping a close eye on him so he didn’t break the ‘rules’. Speaking of…

“You know, when you Ascend, you are supposed to let go of all your mortal cares. I don’t understand why you even bother coming back here too look at them. They are limited meat-sacks that haven’t reached our level of enlightenment,” a poisonously sweet voice observed over his shoulder.

He didn’t have eyes anymore, but Ioannes had the sensation that he had just closed them. “Chaya, what are you doing here?” he asked as he reached out to soothe Atlantis. The city did not like the female and made her dislike very clear every time she came near by trying to drive her off any way she could.

“You are planning on interfering again, aren’t you? Didn’t you learn your lesson last time?” She asked. Chaya was floating around behind him and Ioannes pulled his outer edges in, trying to make sure that none of the bits of his new body that sensed the environment around him were touchable. He had no idea how long she had been Ascended, but if she had still worn flesh, he would have done his best to get her away from everyone in an effort to keep people safe. She was completely mad and he was wondering if she wouldn’t feel more at home with the Ori.

“What I do is my business, Chaya. Why don’t you go away?” Ioannes asked as he soared in and out of the towers of his city. He was trying to be good and not attract attention.

“But I don’t want to go away. You are mine and I want to keep you,” she told him.

“Yeah, no,” Ioannes muttered before he flashed out, drawing the crazy thing after him. Once he was far enough away from the city, he turned and reached within himself, pulling up then energy that made up his new body into a more useable format.

“Keep your claws in, sir,” the feel of Roken was unmistakable and something in him relaxed. He had someone on his side. “She’s pushed things too far with a planet that she has been watching.”

“Pushed it how?” Ioannes asked as he relaxed and his aura and let himself touch his scientist. The feeling of comfort, of security that flashed across was breathtaking. He resolutely ignored the screeching that Chaya was doing as she was taken somewhere.

“She decided that she wanted to prove to you that she could save some of the Seeded too. And in doing so, got them to worship her,” Roken told him, disgust edging his tone. “And now she is being exiled. She will stay tied to that world for one full rotation of the galaxy. Might give her time to calm down.”

Ioannes snorted in bitter laughter. Maybe. He wasn’t going to bet on that though. Pushing her from his mind, he concentrated on his scientist, learning the new shapes that made up his friend.

 

~~

 

“What in the hell is that?” Ioannes muttered as he watched Janus talk with a human woman.

The small ship she had arrived in had been destroyed along with the bodies of those she had traveled from the future with. The only reason he was there to see her was the watch he had placed on Janus himself. His attention had been grabbed from his recon of a Wraith world by the alarm Janus had felt about something. Whatever it had been, it had been enough to cause his normally laconic cousin to flip over into a manic mode Ioannes associated more with Roken than with anyone else.

When he had gotten back to Atlantis, the city had greeted him with an overwhelming feeling of relief and sadness. Settling into the space where the center control chair for the city was located, Ioannes extended himself and merged with the computer. In moments, he understood what was happening. The urge to do something drastic, to fully flout the powers over his life flared and he left the control room to find his cousin. He wasn’t going to let this travesty stand.

Appearing behind the last family he had on Atlantis, Ioannes took an unneeded breath and spoke aloud for the first time in over two hundred years. “Janus.”

His cousin turned around and started, hand on his chest over his heart. “Ioannes? Is that you?”

Ioannes quirked an eyebrow at his cousin and then rolled his eyes. Who else would it be? “What’s happening? What’s got you so upset?”

The normally good natured lines of his cousin’s face settled into something old and bitter in a heartbeat. “The Wraith are winning, as you said they would. They have ignored the Seeded races for the last fifty years and moved to taking out our outposts. We have lost everything but Atlantis. Our ships are either destroyed or they are hidden so they cannot be easily found. There are less than a thousand of our people left on the city and every day someone reaches Ascension and leaves. The Council has determined that we are to sink the city, shut her down and let her sleep before they run.”

Ioannes growled lightly at that. “That won’t work. She doesn’t sleep like that. If they sink her, how will they replace the potentia? And when are they planning on coming back?”

Janus took a deep breath and squared his shoulders. “They aren’t planning on coming back. Ever. We have a visitor from ten thousand years in the future here. She says that the people of our home planet in our last galaxy, Tau, reached the city. It wasn’t able to be raised off the sea floor due to how things were configured, so I changed the criteria. She is willing to stay and change out the potentia when they need it, but the city will be on one at a time. It’s the only way to make this work.”

“That won’t leave any power to bring her back to full function,” Ioannes protested. He had listened the last time Roken had gone on a rant about how the Council went about supplying the city with energy. The potentia were an awesome power supply, but only having three on the city at any one time was asking for trouble. Ioannes agreed since he could remember times when the little power supplies had gotten low, causing some scrabbling to get another in place. If the city was underwater for ten thousand years, they wouldn’t be a little low, they would be exhausted.

“I know. I’ve done what I can to give the human the information to allow her people to actually get more potentia from where the Council hid some. I also slid the full set you had stashed away into the hidden spots in the Potentia Cubiculum. That way they have something to work with in the beginning,” Janus admitted.

“Good. Are you going back with the Council?” Ioannes asked. He hadn’t bothered to check on the outpost on Tau since the last time he had visited the world when he had still been mortal, so he had no idea what was going on there.

“I think I will. At least for a while. Too much to see and do while I can,” Janus told him with a shade of his old grin.

“Take your time,” Ioannes told him dryly. “Life is a lot more fun on that side.”

“I figured,” Janus agreed. Reaching out carefully, he hovered one finger over Ioannes’s arm. Shaking his head, the Ascendant declined the gesture. He was only visible, not tangible. “Things have been very quiet without you around.”

Ioannes rolled his eyes and nodded. Looking up, he felt the tug on his attention that told him that someone was looking for him. “I have to go. Take care. I’ll do what I can to watch the city while everyone is gone.”

The smile that crossed his cousin’s face was much more open than the last and Janus quickly finished packing his case before leaving. As soon as he was out of the room Roken took the last step to be visible. “I knew the Council were a bunch of idiots, but really? Abandoning Atlantis?”

“Mmmhmmm. Yeah, it seems so. Do what you can to make sure she can make it the ten thousand years he mentioned, please? I’ll be working with the computers so when the humans arrive they can actually interface with the city instead of getting killed by it,” Ioannes asked as he released his form.

He felt his scientist’s agreement before his attention was taken up by the AI and what needed to be done to allow her to safely hibernate the years away. He would be coming back as often as he could to keep her company, but best to make fully certain. While he was in the systems, he laid down a series of commands that could mean the difference between life of death for anyone else who might show up. Ioannes was fairly certain that if the Council had cared, they would have done the same. But once again, their attitude towards anything not Lantean was showing.

She was still his city. And he was going to make sure she survived.

 

 

Ioannes: Chapter Three

 

Ioannes kept a watch on Janus. Well, in between carefully tweaking events on Tau and back with Atlantis and his galaxy. He even went and looked in on Chaya, making sure that she was locked up good and tight. A full galactic year was nothing to sneeze at. There was hope that after 250 million years, she might regain some shred of sanity. Or dried up and blown away like the bitter thing she was.

Either way, Ioannes as happy she was out of his hair.

His cousin was getting into massive amounts of trouble on Tau and Ioannes was rather glad that he actually didn’t have hair for him to get into. If he did, it would be white, just from the sheer gall of Janus. The population of humans on the planet had advanced to the point of interest and a number of their brethren were interacting with them in ways that made him deeply uncomfortable. They were not gods. There lay the path of the Ori.

Janus on the other hand, seemed to take particular pleasure in certain cultures on Tau, teaching them things that would allow them to advance, but not over reach themselves. He appeared so many times in so many places that Ioannes spent one memorable year just tracing his footsteps. It wasn’t until Roken came to find him that they realized that Janus had rebuilt a quaerere navigo as a time travel device. It was the only explanation for what was happening.

Mystery solved, Ioannes went back to his city. It was almost time for the human woman to wake up and rotate the potentia. Settling into the command chair of Atlantis, Ioannes gently worked his way into the system, careful not to wake the AI. The potentia was still showing 10% full and he pushed the waking off for another century. Atlantis was safe at the bottom of the sea and they could afford the risk.

Chore done, he moved to the cryo tube and frowned. It wasn’t calibrated for her species and she was aging a lot faster than any of their people would. But then again, humans lived incredibly fast. Fifty years was ancient at that point and from what he had seen of the scans taken of her, by her point in history, humans hadn’t advanced to more than a century of life. So brief. Running one tendril over the clear cryo-field, he smoothed out the dreams she was slowly experiencing.

If she was going to sacrifice her life for his city, he would do all he could to make her rest as pleasant as possible.

“You are such a sap,” Roken told him fondly as Ioannes left the city to her dreams and started his rounds of the worlds under his watch.

“Only sometimes,” Ioannes agreed. It let him feel a bit better as he had to watch a Wraith hive cull one of the planets that had hosted his people so long ago. Just a bit.

 ~~

 When Janus finally reached the end of his mortal lifespan and Ascended, Ioannes was there. He had known that the day was coming and had stayed nearby, waiting. From the glances and sly smiles thrown his way by his cousin, Janus had known who was waiting.

“Hello, Janus,” Ioannes wrapped his cousin in a hug and used that gesture to pass on all the knowledge he had gained in the seven millennia since his physical death. From all the ways he could use his new form to how to get around the rules, to where the best places were to actually be alone, he made sure that his cousin was well informed.

“Ioannes! I thought I felt you nearby. And is Roken around as well?” Janus asked with a bounce.

Ioannes looked at that gesture and if he could have, he would have sighed. Oh, this was going to be interesting. “He’s on watch for the Others.”

“Hmmm, yes, I can understand why.” Janus allowed as he settled in to go over the information that Ioannes had shared. “Have you been back to Atlantis?”

“I have. And she is still there. The human is switching out the potentia on timetable you drew up,” he told his cousin. “The shield is still standing and the Wraith have left it alone.”

“Good, good. So what is there to do on this side?” Janus asked.

Ioannes smiled and chuckled. Oh, he had so much to show his cousin. Flinging out a bit of himself, he reached out to Roken and pulled him in. Time to go make some mayhem.

Janus still hadn’t gotten over his urge to meddle and spent a lot of time on Tau, now called Earth, fiddling with bloodlines. Roken was making incoherent noises every time he went over to check out what Janus was doing and that was good enough for Ioannes. Whatever his cousin was doing, he wanted nothing to do with it. Beyond making things glow when someone in power glanced their way. He could play bait as needed.

His cousin wasn’t really worshiped like the Ori were in their galaxy. But he had spread the tales of himself as the ‘Builder of Roads and Doors’ far and wide. The occasional jolt as someone made the connection and offered a prayer to him disturbed him greatly. Ioannes could fully understand why. He hadn’t done what he had done so he could be worshipped, he had offered his helping hand so his pet human might have a chance to show up. That didn’t stop people from offering him prayers.

Speaking of the Ori… Ioannes watched as a scoutship from their galaxy wandered into his. If he could have put his chin in his hand, he would have. Whatever the Ori were thinking, he was quite certain that they had no idea what they were going to be getting into.

“You can’t let the Wraith try to feed off of a Prior,” Roken told him from his place behind him. They were wrapped around each other, edges melded together to make pass the sensations along.

“Why not,” Ioannes asked over his shoulder as the enemy ship settled into place in front of a Wraith hive. “Not like they don’t deserve each other.”

Roken snorted in agreement. “Maybe. But can you imagine a Wraith made into a Prior?”

“Ick. They are ugly enough now. Let alone turned into a Prior.” Ioannes shuddered carefully, trying not to dislodge his scientist. Reaching out to the engine of the invading ship, Ioannes studied it carefully before he flipped one thing. The resulting explosion took care of both menaces.

Amused at the destruction, Ioannes moved the two of them to where Janus was.

“What did you do now?” Ioannes asked as he dragged Janus away from the masses of the Others. Whatever his cousin had done, it hadn’t gone over very well.

“I went and pushed a few final things into place and I had to be a bit more obvious than I wanted to be,” Janus admitted.

“Obvious how? And what final things? Were you able to see the future when you were mortal?”  Ioannes asked, voice breathless as he moved them safely through a trap set by one of the Others. Since they didn’t seem to actually go out and do anything in the universe, some of his Ascended brethren had gotten bored. And laid traps for those who tried to keep the promises they had made in their mortal lives.

“I needed to get a family together. It’ll be helpful in less than an hour.” Janus told him carefully. “And yes, I saw all sorts of things while I was living my life to the fullest.”

“That doesn’t sound good. Mauris,” Ioannes cursed. Pulling up short, he stuffed his cousin behind him and tried to look innocent.

“You have broken the rules again, Janus. And this time, you can’t get away with it. We stood by while you gallivanted about while you were mortal. But you are on our plane now, and that means that we are going to be taking care of you,” Ioannes couldn’t tell who was talking, but he had a hunch that whoever it was, had been Council. They were the only ones who actually liked the no interference rules.

“I really think you are mistaken,” Ioannes told the mass confronting them calmly. “I am the one who went in and changed things. So whatever you want to do, you do it to me.”

The mass of Ascended beings contemplated him for a long time and Ioannes stared at them right back. Whatever Janus was doing, it was important and he had told him that it was all aimed at giving Atlantis the chance to rise above the waves and live again. Ioannes was all for that goal.

“So be it.”

The feeling of the infinite edges of his being faded and he could feel himself fading, forgetting. Ioannes fought back, using all his abilities to place the things he would need in out of the way places of his mind, ready to be pulled back out at need. The feeling of compression continued and still he fought to keep everything important. Roken. Atlantis. Janus. His duty. It all got buried deep.

He slept.

 

 

John: Chapter Four

 

“John? John! Wait for me!”

John Sheppard stood at the door to his family home and waited for his brother to catch up with him. “Hey Davy.”

“John, where are you going?” The kid looked up at him with big green eyes.

John sighed and tried not to wince. He wasn’t leaving his brother behind. He wasn’t. “I’m going to join the Air Force, Davy. Dad isn’t thrilled, but I’m still going.” John told his younger brother.

“Dad wants you to follow him in the company,” Davy said, obviously confused. “He’s been saying that for years.”

“I know he has. But that isn’t what I want, Davy. I want to fly and the only way I can do that is to join up,” John tried to explain.

“You could get your pilots license like Caleb did,” his brother protested. “He’s flying our plane.”

Damn the kid was smart, John mentally grumbled. “I know Caleb got his license, but I don’t want to fly planes like ours. I want to fly jets and helicopters. And maybe if I am very lucky, I might get to fly a space shuttle.”

Davy stared up at him and then grabbed him around the waist, hugging him for all the strength his thirteen year old frame could muster. “You better write me.”

John wrapped his own arms around his brother and held on tight. “I will.”

Taking a deep breath, John let his brother go and stood tall for a moment before slipping out the front door.

 

 

The whole mess that was boot camp was so much less fun than anything he had been through before. John was well aware that the Air Force was considered the softest of the services, but it was plenty hard to him right then. His head had been shaved, he was wearing fatigues, he was eating food that he knew his family wouldn’t serve anyone and the less said about his lack of sleep the better.

But he was keeping his eye on the prize. He was going to get to fly. Spend a few years as an enlisted man, get the college requirements out of the way and go to OTS. Once he had that down, flight school and then he was going to have his wings. There was something inside of him that agreed with his plans and it made what sleep he managed to get, sweet.

John found that the level of discipline was just enough. So long as he followed the rules, and he had clear consequences for any fuck ups, he was happy. Life made sense.

“Sheppard, you have mail!” the commander of his company called out on the twice weekly mail call.

Mail?

“Here, sir.” John called out carefully. Slipping his way through the mass of men in his Flight, he reached out and took the letter from the other man’s hand.

Working his way back into the crowd, John stared down at the letter in his hands. The handwriting was as familiar to him as his own. Davy had written him. Smiling softly at the thought of his brother sitting down and writing him, he ran a finger over the carefully formed letters. He made sure that when he opened the letter he didn’t destroy them. Looking inside, he was surprised to see that there was a very thick letter in the envelope.

Pulling it out, John settled down next to his bunk to read the letter from home. Everyone seemed to be okay and the small dramas of his brother’s life were a welcome distraction from the boredom that edged his day. Pulling out his own issued stationary, John started to write his brother back. They might not be able to get together any time soon, but he wasn’t going to lose his connection to his family.

 

 

The dreams were of flying. He was energy, moving through space without a ship. There was someone beside him, exploring the cosmos with him, sharing in his adventures and getting as excited as he did at every discovery. It was an exhilarating level of freedom and John reveled in it.

He was flying around a city that had buildings that almost touched the sky. The feeling of freedom was there, but it was joined by peace. Where ever he was, this was home. If it meant that he had to leave where he was, he didn’t want to wake up.

 

 

John: Chapter Five

 

Afghanistan.

John was heartily sick of the sand, the heat and the missions that were a crapshoot on who was going to almost die that day. Leaning back on his bunk, he carefully wrote out a letter to Dave and tried to find things to say that didn’t sound like he was trying to bitch out anyone. Or give his brother nightmares.

Things between them had gotten rocky since his divorce from Nancy and John was man enough to admit she had been a total mistake. Dating her had been fine. The sex had been decent, but the instant the JOP had said that they were married? He had felt like something inside had shriveled and died. Getting served with divorce papers six months later had been fantastic.

Dave had liked her though. John wasn’t touching the thought that his younger brother might want to get a leg over on his ex-wife though. He wasn’t that insane. But Dave had liked talking to her and John, while he wanted nothing to do with Nancy, hoped that she hadn’t abandoned his brother just because she was pissed with him.

At any rate, he tried to get a letter a week out to him and the one for his current week just wasn’t coming. Putting the paper under his pillow, John headed out. Tipping his head to the side, he heard the excited babble from the flight line and headed their way. Might be something to break the monotony.

“Sergeant, what’s up?” John asked the first enlisted person he saw hanging around the airfield.

“One of our birds got shot down, sir. Captain Holland is on the horn requesting evac. He doesn’t sound too good.” The Sergeant reported. The woman’s eyes were grim and John blanched. Holland was one of his guys.

“Get a bird ready for me, Sarge. I’m going to talk to the Old Man to get the okay to head out.”

“Yes, sir.

The less said about his conversation with his boss, John thought as he made his way back to the flight line at run, the better. Being told that he had to let his friend die because some asshole was more upset at the possible loss of a helicopter? Oh, fuck NOPE.

The look the Sergeant gave him was knowing and he shrugged before climbing into the prepped bird and taking off. He was careful to tune into the line that Holland was calling over and ignored the screaming of his CO on another. No matter what happened to him after this, John was very sure of one thing. You didn’t leave your people behind.

When he got to Holland, John winced. Fucking, fuckity, fuck. Something inside of him was amused at his eloquence, but he had no time for his inner madman. Setting his own bird down and slightly to the side of Holland’s crashed one, John got out and cautiously made his way over to the disaster area.

“What in the fuck are you doing here?” Holland coughed out from his spot in the shadow of the downed helicopter.

“Saving your dumb ass,” John told him, voice rough with emotion, before checking the rest of the site. There had been three other people on Holland’s bird with him and three corpses were still strapped in. From the looks of them, whatever had hit the bird had taken them out too. Turning back to the living, John started to triage his friend.

“Major, they are going to have your ass for this,” Holland muttered as he weakly slapped at the hands laying pressure bandages all over.

“Let them,” John snapped back before heaving the Captain up and hauling him to his ride. Strapping him in, he got him as comfortable as he could before returning to the other craft. A quick check told him that there was no way he was going to be able to get the three bodies out and he regretfully took only their tags and off one hand, a wedding band before snapping some pictures with the cell phone he had picked up right before shipping out. It was useless for making calls, but the camera still worked. Threading that through the man’s tags, he hotfooted it back to his chopper. “Still alive back there?”

“Yes, you jackass.”

“You say the sweetest things, Holland. Now hold on,” John muttered as he took off and then swung around to line the wreck up. One Hellfire to the right spot and there was a fireball appearing behind them as he flew hell for leather back to his base.

 

 

“Major Sheppard, do you have anything to say for yourself?”

John stared at the General in charge of his court-martial. He hadn’t expected to be asked his opinion on the mess he found himself in and had to take a moment before he could think of anything to say. His CO had been less than pleased when he had come back with Holland strapped into his bird, three sets of dog tags, a half dozen disturbing pictures and missing one missile. He had pushed, shoved and ranted his way into getting John in front of the General over their mission and arranged to get him in as much trouble as possible.

The only thing that John had going for him was that he had brought Holland home, with three sets of tags and only missing one Hellfire missile. The Sergeant who had prepped his bird had gotten the merest slap on the wrist and she had shrugged when he had offered his appreciation for her actions before heading in for his own time in front of the General. Since she didn’t seem too concerned, John was going to let it go. Well. He had her name memorized and if he could ever do her a good turn, he would.

“Major?”

John stood tall and stared the General straight in the eye before he spoke. “Yes, sir. I do have something to say. I find it disgusting that the Colonel has spent the entire time we’ve been in here before you upset that I took a helicopter out and not that he was willing to let good men die. I will admit, the HH-60G Pave Hawk is expensive, but when we let the almighty dollar determine if we are going to bother to rescue our men out there, we have just lost the war. I sure as hell do not put my life on the line because of my paycheck. I put it on the line because I know that the men and women of my squadron would do the same for me. If the Colonel thinks that a dollar will do the same for him, sir, he has another think coming. Sir.

The noises coming from his CO were less than pleasant, but John found that he didn’t care. The asshole had put money ahead of his men time and again and it had cost a lot of good men an uncountable amount of blood and enough lives that it was ridiculous. If he had to use his own court-martial to get the man under review, he would. The General seemed to be amused by his words at least.

“At $15.8 million dollars, the Pave Hawk is worth a bit more than a dollar, son,” the General told him dryly. John tried not to roll his eyes. His trust fund could have bought the Air Force three of the damn things before getting close to empty. Big fucking deal. “But I see your point. After all, Captain Holland was still alive and at the start of his request for help, and at least one of his passengers had been as well. The Colonel refusing to send in a med-evac sure didn’t help, so I can’t in good conscious disagree with you. But you still left against orders and that has to be dealt with. So, Major here is my judgment. You are off the promotion grid for this round and I have a new duty station for you. That’s it. I expect that the next time I see you, you will be back at being the exemplary officer and pilot your jacket describes. Dismissed!”

John tried not to sag with relief. He had known that he was going to get the book thrown at him. But to have it be something as mild as a lag in his ability to get promoted? Yeah, he could take that. And whatever duty station the General wanted him to go to. Saluting smartly, he ignored his now former CO and moved out of the conference room the court-martial had been held in. Once out in the hallway, he did sag and then took a deep breath. Holy fuck.

“Major, the General would like for you to meet him back at his quarters to get your new orders,” a calm voice at his elbow said and John turned to look at the General’s aide. The Lieutenant waved his hand in a ‘follow me’ gesture and John nodded. He needed his orders anyway.

Thirty minutes after his fate had been decided, the General made his way back to his temporary office and took a seat behind his desk. John stood in front of it, at a level of attention he hadn’t practiced since boot camp. “At ease, Major. And have a seat.”

“Yes, sir,” was all that John could say before he perched on the chair behind him.

“So I have to commend you for not shooting that penny pinching asshole back there. He has a new note in his jacket, my attention and the ire of Colonel Holland, Captain Holland’s father. Who wanted me to pass on his thanks for saving his son. He might be retired, but he still has some pull,” The General told him, eyes level. “Now, I think it is going to be best if we get you out of reach of certain parties for a while. Let your name fade from their memories. So I am sending you down to McMurdo. It’s as cold as fuck, but calm and I think it will do you good.”

McMurdo? Wasn’t that in Antarctica? “Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”

“You’re welcome son. And thank you for going to get those men. That is what I want to see in my Air Force,” the General told him with a smile. “Now, you had best get a move on. You’ll be touching down briefly in Virginia to get supplied and all. Faster you get moving on this end, the more time you have over there and I seem to have heard that you have family in that area?”

John smiled. It seemed that this superior officer was worth the respect he was given. “I do, sir. I have my gear packed and ready.”

The General snorted and nodded. “I just bet you do. Pick up your orders from Michaels out there. And Major? Good job.”

John nodded and quickly made his way out of the man’s office to find his aide. Michaels had his orders and he made sure to check them over. He had two days in Virginia. Plenty of time to see Dave. Holland had already been taken to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, and there was no one else in his squadron to say goodbye too. Thanking the Lieutenant, he made his way to where his gear was stored and then his flight. Time to face the next big adventure.

 

 

The thing about sleeping, John had found, was that his dreams were always vivid. Flying seemed to be a big one. The city whose towers he swooped in and out of figured in his dream a lot. But the most common thing was the sensation of companionship, of peace, love and even lust that came off of his flying partner. He couldn’t wait to meet him.

 

 

John: Chapter Six

 

Antarctica was white, cold and very, very calm. The parts of him that had been wound tight by the pace and sound of war relaxed sometime in the first month he was on the continent. John spent a lot of his off time tramping around the area surrounding McMurdo and trying to absorb the calm.

The stark white of the ice was soothing something in him. The color hadn’t always been a favorite before, but it was growing on him. The deep blue that hid in the hollows of the ice brought an ache to the spot under his breastbone. John knew the color meant something to him. Something important.

The General who had sent him down had seconded him to the air wing of a classified project. When he wasn’t taking the time out to tramp the ice, he was flying copter’s full of people and equipment to it. The base that was the heart of the project looked like a cross between a bug’s eye and an art deco pimple. Totally wrong for the ice, but it had his curiosity up.

Whatever was down there calmed the restlessness that was plaguing him when he got near it. John started to swap out duty rosters with some of the other pilots and flying out to the Pimple more and more. He found that he was more comfortable when he was within fifty miles of the place than when he was at McMurdo.

His dreams were getting weirder too. The presence that had comforted him for years had disappeared and he was alone as he flew through his city. It was still comforting, but now, now he was looking for that blue presence and John wasn’t happy that he hadn’t found it. The amused something that overlaid the whole experience was getting more amused by the night. If he hadn’t needed to stay sharp to be able to fly, he wouldn’t have bothered to sleep at all.

John was inspecting his helicopter when the felt someone come up behind him. Firmly reminding himself that he was in Antarctica and not Afghanistan, he took a deep breath and then turned around. The man behind him struck something in him, something that was familiar. John tilted his head slightly and took him in. About his height, burly rather than stocky with sandy brown hair, the other man was staring at him and John had no idea why.

“Can I help you?” he asked carefully. There was no indication of military rank on the other man, but he stood like every Spec Ops soldier John had ever ferried around and something told him that he was far more dangerous than most people knew. Well, so was he, but that was neither here nor there.

“I believe you are my ride out to base?” there was an accent buried in that voice. It sounded like most of the American voices John had heard, but there were hints that English wasn‘t his only language.

Not that John had any reason to care. To even get to McMurdo a person needed to have some serious connections and there was no way anyone not cleared was getting out to the Pimple. So if the orders were legit, he had a new passenger.

“Is there anyone else going with you? And do you have your gear?” he asked as he opened the side panel of his bird up to accept cargo.

“There’s one other and we have a lot of gear to take. About 600 pounds worth. Will that be a problem?” the other man asked as he pulled a sheaf of paper out of his back pocket.

John took the paperwork and quickly scanned it. It seemed that his passengers were a Dr. Beckett and a Dr. Jackson, plus their gear. Well, okay. Thankfully he was fully fueled and he had a lot of bungee cords. “It won’t be a problem at all, Doctor. Are you Beckett or Jackson?”

The other man took his glasses off and John swallowed hard. His eyes were almost the right shade of blue. But not quite. Turning back to his bird, he started getting it ready to fly out.

“I’m Jackson. Beckett is a Scotsman and sounds like it,” Jackson told him cheerfully. “I’ll let him know you are getting ready to head out and to get his bags out here.”

“Thank you, Doctor,” John called as he watched the other man walk away. Someone, the other man’s blue eyes had shaken him to the core. He wasn’t the presence that had been in his dreams, but he had much the same resonance as the amused feeling that underlay everything did. It was disconcerting.

Thirty minutes later, he was in the air and headed towards the Pimple. He was as calm as he ever was while he was in the air and he wasn’t thinking about his passengers. The weather wasn’t the greatest for this trip, but nothing said that it was going to be dangerous. As soon as they passed the fifty mile marker away from the base, the feeling of calmness and peace came back.

This was why he kept flying out to the remote location. It wasn’t to get his hours in the air, although that helped. It was because for a moment, he was surrounded by the same peace he normally felt in his dreams. That was totally worth being the airborne taxi service.

 

Sleep was no longer a refuge. Something was building in his dreams now. Things were moving among the towers of his city and John was restless. The city was supposed to be safe. To have them near was bad. Very, very bad. He needed to get there. Soon.

 

 

Integrare: Chapter Seven

 

John was on his last official day in Antarctica before flying out and was wondering how he was going to arrange to stay down at McMurdo forever. Or maybe get on with the group that was working out of the Pimple. To say that his curiosity was burning a hole in his discretion was putting it mildly. He’d heard hints and some of the people he had ferried out had occasionally slipped, but there was nothing concrete to go on. Just the feeling of peace that he got when he was within range of it.

It was maddening.

He had one final flight out to the Pimple and he’d had to do some serious swapping of shifts to get it. The General who he was flying out was known to be a hardass and very few of the guys liked flying with him. When he showed up, John could see why. He walked like most of the military men and women he had taken out to the Pimple, fully aware of where they were and what was around them. And he was paying a lot of attention to the aircraft.

“Sir, Major Sheppard. I’ll be your pilot today,” John introduced himself and he carefully loaded the General’s gear into the cargo bay.

“General O’Neill. So you know how to fly this thing?”

John tried not to bristle as he got into the pilot’s seat and started his preflights. “Yes, sir. I’ve flown just about everything that the Air Force has on the books and whatever I could get air time in with the Joint Forces commands I’ve been with. The Army and Marines have some nice aircraft.”

“Impressive. And you’re down here?” the General asked as he strapped in.

John kept an eye on his actions and relaxed as he saw that the General was handling all the straps correctly. “Yes, sir. I like it down here. Very relaxing.”

“Relaxing?” The General shook his head and put the noise-cancelling headset on. “It’s white, it’s cold and there’s nowhere to go.”

“Yes, sir, it is all that. Plus there’s no explosions, no one shooting at me and I get to fly,” John told him evenly. “Besides, they have a lot of books to read in the base library.”

“You are deeply weird, Sheppard,” the General told him before relaxing back into his chair for the flight out.

John didn’t say anything else, just got them in the air and headed towards the Pimple. The flight was as relaxing as it always was and he tried to memorize the feelings he got as he got closer. After this, he wasn’t going to be coming back and he was going to miss the sensation. Smiling slightly, he shifted his flight path by a few degrees and took a mildly longer route into the base. It wasn’t enough to cause any problems with his fuel use and it did given them a better view as they fly over the landscape.

They were roughly 45 miles out from the base when something tripped the proximity sensors and John banked the helicopter hard, trying to get away from whatever had just buzzed his aircraft. He was in Antarctica for the love of God. What could be buzzing him?

The next few minutes were full of the type of adrenaline that he hadn’t had flood his system in the whole six months he had been on the continent. Heart pumping, he set the copter down and as soon as he saw the golden streak headed his way called for the General to get out of the cockpit. If the drone actually impacted on the aircraft, having a berm of snow around him would be better protection than actually being in the craft.

Head down in the snow with his hands over the back of his neck to protect it, John waited for the hot rush of fire and dead aircraft to wash over him. When there wasn’t he looked up. The helicopter was still there, there was no fire and the General was sitting on his ass in the snow, laughing softly.

“Sir? You okay?” John asked as he rolled to his feet. Ignoring the new white pelt he was sporting, he made his way over to his passenger. Sitting on the ground in front of him was a golden squid thing. “Was that what was fired at us?”

“I’m fine Sheppard. And yeah, this is it. You never saw it and I need a locating beacon,” O’Neill told him before standing up and knocking the snow off of his person.

“I never saw anything, sir. And let me get you that beacon,” John agreed. The beacon was a quick retrieval and he made sure to knock as much snow off himself as he could. The stuff was fucking cold.

The rest of the flight was uneventful and John used it to calm down. Landing at the Pimple, he carefully started his after-flight check and started to walk around the aircraft. Unlike a combat aircraft, it wasn’t built for the stresses he had put it through and he wanted to make sure that nothing was in danger of falling off.

“Sheppard? Come on, I’m not leaving you behind,” the General called as he walked to the entry to the hanger.

“Sir? I don’t have clearance to go in there,” John told him as he hurried after the older man.

“Yeah, that’s gonna be changing. Come on,” O’Neill muttered as he made his way through the levels of security to reach an elevator cage.

John looked up at the inside of the structure he had only seen from the outside and frowned. Whatever was happening here wasn’t inside the structure, it was below it. There were masses of supplies stacked inside the dome and a large number of insulated structures that looked like two man tents, but a bit more solid. No one seemed to be paying any attention to him walking behind the General and John was very happy about that. The less they questioned his being there, the better.

The feeling of peace that he always associated with the Pimple was joined by anticipation and John wanted the elevator to go faster. The trip down the featureless tunnel took roughly ten minutes and he tried to figure out how deep into the ice they had to be for it to take so long. His best estimate was almost a mile down. When they reached the bottom, John was immediately distracted by all the people moving and working in a space that he’d had no idea existed. He recognized many of them from his taxi trips, including Dr. Jackson who was there to drag the General away.

Wandering in and out of the mass of people John followed the feeling in his gut . Whatever was going on, he was getting nearer and nearer too it. Finding the source of his panic earlier led him to the heart of the anticipation he was feeling and John worked things around so he could explore.

The panic that caused would have been funny, but most of his brain was occupied with what was going on behind his eyes.

It has been too long since a Lantean child has come to me!

John tried not to flinch at that. The voice in his head echoed what he heard in his dreams. Closing his eyes, he settled into the chair. I don’t think I’ve much time. Who’re you?

I am what is left of Atlantis. Your city, Ioannes. The words were faint, and tinted with another language. John could almost understand it, but it was just out of reach.

I will help you, Ioannes. It is so good to have you here.  John gasped and tried not to writhe. Something was carefully reaching inside his head and the feel of a mental block crumbling surged through him.

Ruthlessly clamping down on the sensors built into the Chair, John, no Ioannes, made sure that nothing of what was going on with his brain or his body was getting out. He had no idea if the people who were in the facility had any idea who the Lanteans were and he didn’t want to be the one to blow that secret. Besides, in this life, he was an uninformed Major.

“I thought I told you not to touch anything?” O’Neill asked.

Damn it, busted. “I just sat down,” Ioannes told him.

“Major, think of where we are in the solar system,” a voice directed him and Ioannes responded without even thinking about it. Looking up, he smiled before tilting his head to see who had directed him. Surprise kept him still.

Blue? Blue! It was Roken.

 

 

Ancient Words

 

Culus = Assholes

Mauris = Shit

Potentia = ZPM’s

Potentia Cubiculum = ZPM Berth

Quaerere Navigo =Portal Navigator

Integrare = Integrate