"I would offer you a drink, but you're not old enough."
"Harry gets to drink."
"She's my wife and old enough in her homeland."
"Bah! Kanto's behind the times."
Giovanni chuckled quietly, ignoring the pout the girl sitting with him at the room's bar counter conveyed. Ash eyed him speculatively.
The truth was, she'd caught sight of him from out in the hallway and had seen him enter this room. So, in her usual fashion, she followed after him and found him sitting at the bar, nursing a glass of some kind of alcohol.
Hesitating, Ash decided to just go with it.
"You're a Team Boss…how does that…how does that go with falling in love and making decisions from then on?"
He watched her curiously. "Are you asking for me or are you asking so you can think behind Cyrus' thoughts?"
She turned red, lightly glaring at him. "No!" At his look, she fidgeted. "Maybe?"
"It certainly changes things," Giovanni answered honestly. "What you do and say after, you have to be conscientious of her…or him, if you're inclined. You wonder about what you're doing or going to do, and you have to weigh the consequences more. And you think of what you should do and what's worth it, and can you be the person the person you care about deserves."
Seeing her listening intently, Giovanni decided to give further words of advice, as much as he could. He had a feeling Harry would prefer he did anyway.
"I've known Cyrus a long time," he told her. "Mutually through business, but I've also known him –and the other bosses –through all the intel myself and my Team have gathered over the years. Not that you should be spouting out to the others about what I do and don't know about them."
She held up her hand and put it over her heart. "Scout's honor! So long as you share what you know with me," she added mischievously.
He snorted, but conceded. This girl had always amused him when it came to the others. If she wanted to torment them, it wasn't any skin off his back.
"Like I said," he continued. "I've known him for a long time. You and I both know he's not the emotional type." They shared a roll of the eyes, while Ash muttered under her breath that that was an "Understatement."
"But he's willingly showing more of them now, isn't he?" He caught her off guard, and she bit her lip. She nodded in answer to that.
Giovanni took a sip of his glass, watching her thoughtfully. "You know, from the reports I received from the JJM unit," he smirked as he saw her make a face, "he was starting to be like this during your time in Sinnoh, when you'd been around him. I think you just entered a time in his life where you were just a little bit too late into his plans and he couldn't stop then. Who knows? Maybe if you'd been a little bit earlier in his life, he would have stopped before he could start on anything."
She didn't know if that made it better or worse for her.
"I like Harry," she said suddenly. "You did a good job, catching a pretty and awesome girl like her."
"Was that a compliment?" he asked sarcastically, finishing off his drink.
"Yep, you jerk. Don't lose her, idiot."
She held out the bottle and poured him another glass, and he thought on it before inwardly shrugging and grabbing another glass for her. He poured a little and she eagerly accepted it, taking a sip and then making a face. Still, she kept it and continued to sip at it occasionally.
"So…I notice about Harry and her own emotion stuff. Any tips on how to deal with unemotional-prone loves? And their tendency to shut down?" Ash asked, trying to be nonchalant.
"…One, Harry can't help it, unlike Cyrus who voluntarily shuts himself off. Good luck on that, by the way. Two, Harry does show emotion, just muted down. Cyrus doesn't know how to show emotion."
"He tries," Ash supposed, thinking about it. At least he was doing his best. But…She groaned quietly and lightly thumped her head onto the counter. "Arceus, why does he have to be such an ice block though?"
Giovanni smirked. "That's your fault for attaching yourself to a man like him."
Ash reluctantly conceded he was right about that.
Cyrus watched as the girl who he knew as Giovanni's wife, silently mimicked humming as she groomed the Shiny Glaceon on her lap. She made for an elegant picture, so he could see how Giovanni had been captured by her.
Hesitantly clearing his throat, he suddenly wasn't sure what to say or do when she looked up at him and had her attention all on him. He noted she didn't seem surprised to see him there, though he'd thought he'd been silent enough in approaching her. She motioned to the chair next to her, and he went forward and sat there.
For a moment, she just continued to groom the Glaceon, while Cyrus silently sat with her. And then she put down the brush and quirked an eyebrow at him. He felt himself flush in embarrassment, and wished he wasn't becoming so used to showing emotions these days, despite that being part of the reason he'd approached Harry Rocketto anyway.
"I…I understand that you, though not completely the same, similarly have issues with expressing yourself. Especially towards someone you…care about," he finished off uncomfortably.
She gave him a gentle smile and nodded. She opened her mouth and he prepared himself to pay close attention, knowing that he would have to lip read and it was important he not miss a word.
'You like Ash, don't you?' she started off and he flinched. He nodded reluctantly. 'Don't be reluctant. If you like her, you should accept that and move on.'
He swallowed heavily. "I'm not an emotional person. I used to not like emotions and was totally disgusted by them and the show of them."
'And what changed?' she asked.
He thought back to then and his shoulders slumped. "Her. I met her and I don't know how or when it all shifted. And now she and I are here and there is a now, but I don't know what's going on or how to show or allow myself any kind of emotion, even for her."
'I think you need to be patient,' she mouthed the advice. 'It's obvious you are trying and doing your best to change, and I'm sure she knows that. And if it's all the same to you, if you're so worried about this and trying to do all that, I think your first step is to acknowledge you want to be with her and probably already in some sort of relationship with Ash already.'
He was behaving so strangely these days and he admitted that there was a multitude of emotions that seemed to always plague him everyday towards Ash.
"What if she doesn't feel the same?" he muttered, looking down.
He felt a slender hand touch his shoulder and squeezed. He looked to her smiling softly.
'Trust me. I know she does.'
Maybe Cyrus should try harder to open up to Ash.
If she was swaying, she wouldn't be noticing. She was probably a bit drunk, but that was her fault. She was the one insisting on drinking.
Humming under her breath, she continued to drunkenly walk around until she remembered something.
Wasn't Ash supposed to be meeting Cyrus in the library?
Giggling to herself, she almost rather skipped in amusement there, stumbling through the doors. Seeing he wasn't there yet, she browsed cheerfully through the shelves. She wondered if she could get Cyrus to read her a fiction book. She knew he liked legends and they weren't always true, so maybe something like fantasy…
She laughed aloud to herself, looking rather odd. But at least there was no one else there to see her. Or so she thought. Because Cyrus decided he wanted to pop up all of a sudden after all.
Where'd he come from?
"Are you alright?" Cyrus asked, looking at her strangely, though concern seeped through too.
She waved a hand at him, smiling goofily. "'Course I am."
He gave her a look.
"Maybe a little drunk?" she said sheepishly. "I was commiserating with Giovanni."
"Over what?" he asked hesitantly.
Ash giggled again and leaned closer to him, poking him in the chest.
"How haaarrrdd it is to LIKE someone who prefers to be unemotional," Ash leaned even more and ended up losing her footing and tumbling into Cyrus, who caught her. She laughed at herself. "Oops. Anyway, it is. 'Cause I like you. Even back then. Do you like me?" she peered into his face.
His face involuntarily turned red, extremely visibly (unlike most times). But as she waited for a reply and grew increasingly depressed when he said nothing, he panicked and blurted out his answer.
"Yes," he said suddenly and she blinked at him. "Yes, I do."
Ash broke out into a wide smile and threw her arms around him. Flustered, Cyrus wasn't sure what to do then. But just as he decided to finally reciprocate the embrace, the sweet moment was interrupted.
"Goin' to the chapel and we're gonna get married
Gee, I really love you and we're gonna get married
Goin' to the chapel of love~"
The music blasted around the library, and Ash stiffened in his arms. She moved away from him slightly, glaring around suspiciously.
Ash jerked away from Cyrus and began to savagely whirl around the library, trying to find the source of the music.
"Where are you, Arceus damn it?!"
Cyrus watched blankly and was certain he'd gotten himself into a crazy relationship and that Ash was not a stable drunk.
Outside the library, one Sirius Black was wheezing and laughing as he leaned tiredly against the wall next to the doors. His goddaughter happened upon him and took a quick look inside. After she closed the door, she looked at Sirius and gave an exasperated sigh.
'Only got back and not even fully rested, and you're already up to pranks,' she gave him a smirk.
Sirius shrugged. "The Marauder Legacy must go on."
Besides, if Harry was Prongslette Jr., then Sirius had to go find a suitable heir to his Marauder throne.
The wooden chair smashed against the wall and broke apart upon impact. Archer's eyes blazed angrily, his usual placid and polite attitude forgone for just pure rage. Arabella quivered away from him, but he was too busy catching his breath and being angry to notice.
"Mr. Archer, if you would calm down –"
Archer turned his angry gaze on Rufus. "Calm down? Do you realize what I'd just seen? I will not calm down!"
He'd been correct in that he would be more than furious once he'd seen the last vial. But he wasn't just furious –he was enraged. How could they think he wouldn't be, after seeing what Harry had gone through? His boss' wife hadn't deserved the treatment she'd endured, especially after what she'd done and lost for the lot of them.
It hadn't taken long for Archer to see the whole collection of memories, some part of the magic allowing him to condense the time he saw them all in one day. But he hadn't immediately gone to Giovanni and handed the vials over. For one, he had needed the time to calm himself down and not react as he was (he also knew that obviously that hadn't worked out so well, since he was still angry and he had gone to Arabella's house and lashed out).
He also knew that Giovanni would be worse than he was, and he had to think about the consequences if he handed Harry's memories over to him. He also didn't want to upset Giovanni, as he knew the memories (especially the last vial) would. And then there was Harry, who wouldn't appreciate their reactions, or the reminder of the torment she'd had to endure.
But he'd promised his boss he'd hand over the memories when he was done, and that world needed to be taught a lesson anyway. And if it was by their hands…
He doubted either of them would have any regrets.
"I advise you two to not keep too much contact with the Wizarding World in the coming days," Archer said coldly. "At least the British part of things."
He clenched his jaw and then turned to stride quickly out of the house and to his car, intending to quickly make it back to Giovanni's estate. In the hours it took to drive there, he continued to stew in his thoughts and anger, though he'd calmed down some once he'd received news of Harry's reunion with Sirius some days ago (he wished Ariana would tell him these things immediately), as well as the arrival of her niece and Cyrus Akagi. Interesting. He wondered if his previous recorded analysis on the two together would be correct…
By the time Archer had reached the estate, he'd long reached a more morose state, though he knew that if he'd thought of or was reminded of the memories, he'd fly into another fury-fueled state. He constantly reminded himself to keep to a meditative, calm mindset.
Once he'd entered the premises, he'd immediately caught sight of a raven-haired girl dragging a familiar light-blue haired man down the corridor leading towards the kitchens.
"I made it! I want you to test-taste it first, so when I hand it over to Harry, I know it won't taste awful," she was saying vehemently.
"You are not a bad cook. I am sure it will be fine," the older man was uncomfortably answering back.
"Not the point! I know I'm at least good, but she's a fantastic cook and I don't want to embarrass myself and I want her to like it! Come on, Cyrus. Please?"
Once again, Archer could say his observations had been spot on. He'd always thought those two were rather close in the girl's Sinnoh days, and would have (if they hadn't been already) gotten together.
"It's nice to formally meet you, Miss Ash," he called out, startling the duo.
Ash looked at him hesitantly, stopping in her tracks and making Cyrus stop with her. Cyrus was obviously frowning and looking at him.
"Do I know you?"
He smiled primly. "No. But I am one of the Rocket Executives and a colleague of your aunt's. Ariana might have mentioned me?"
She seemed to slowly come to a conclusion about him. "Oh, are you that Archer guy she talks about, sometimes in annoyance?"
Archer's smile twitched. "Yes, that would be me. I'm not surprised about the annoyance –your aunt seems to perceive a rivalry between the two of us."
She raised an eyebrow. "A rivalry?"
Archer's smile turned amused. "Which is nonexistent, because your aunt isn't a threat and I'm clearly superior."
Ash burst into snickers. "Aunty Ariana isn't going to like that! Ha, I bet she's going to rant and seek you out!"
Archer gave a slight mocking bow. "I'll look forward to it."
He inclined his head her way once, before leaving as she burst into full laughter. She was still laughing as he walked away, even as he turned a corner. His good cheer dulled a little, as he remembered that he had to report to Giovanni and eventually give the Pensieve full of memories over to him.
It would do no good to delay then.
"I suppose we need to have a talk."
Giovanni had a feeling this was coming. Though wary, he was rather calm about facing Harry's godfather and talking with him. He had, after all, only the best intentions when it came to Harry and he was prepared to show Sirius Black that.
"We do," he acknowledged. He gestured for the wizard to take a seat in one of the chairs in front of his desk. And instead of sitting at his usual desk, he took a seat next to Sirius. "I assume you wish to talk about Harry with me."
Sirius frowned at him, but nodded to that effect. "Yeah…She told me everything. Since you're not covered in the Taboo, she didn't have to skirt around."
Giovanni acknowledged that and understood that Harry had probably covered most definitely everything she could. She was the sort to be completely honest, but also pragmatic in the way that she would think it was best to get it all out in the open. He would even guess she'd learned that the hard way.
Sirius shrugged. "I can't say I disapprove of you. You're a hell of a lot better than the other choices she could've gotten stuck with. Purebloods back home are inbred, glory hounds who want her for her fame and money, and immature brats who don't know shite about her or would understand her. You're rich enough to provide for her, as she could probably provide for you back tenfold. You've got the means to get her away from the hell she was stuck in, and you pulled through with that –which outweighs everything by far.
"And from what I hear from her, when you found out about her phoenix Animagus form, you didn't freak out. You're patient and mature enough to handle her, and despite her age, she can more than match you in maturity. Then speaking of age, despite your own age and the age difference being a seeming problem, it really isn't. In the Wizarding World, wizards and witches live to a long age anyway, so all's the best. And with the magical birthrate being so low, it's hardly a matter either, and age difference couples are common in the Wizarding World, especially in the olden circles. You've got old, dysfunctional courting traditions that are worse off and stranger than what you two went through too. And speaking of age difference couples, I've got to find out what happened to Remus and Tonks…" Sirius trailed off in thought.
The other man sighed heavily. "I haven't been there for most of her life and when I did, I managed to knock myself out of it for another few years. I can't say I deserve having my word count as anything, so I'm glad that it does somehow. I love Harry. So I'm glad she found you and I approve."
Surprised and extremely pleased, Giovanni broke out into a genuine smile.
"Thank you. The truth is, I'm very happy you do because I would never want to upset her and I know how much you mean to her."
Sirius nodded. But then his face darkened. "But if you do harm her or hurt her in any way, I will show you exactly what I learned from my crazed up family."
Giovanni blinked before barking out a laugh. He clasped Sirius' shoulder, smiling a rather shark-like smile.
"Oh, we'll get along just fine indeed."
Sirius, slightly bewildered, shrugged. "I suppose." He looked a bit sorrowful then. "I guess I only regret missing her wedding."
Giovanni wasn't thrown off and rather glad to have him mention that. "Oh, don't worry about that. It was just a quick –if as pretty and special as I could make it for her –wedding, so that we could hurry and make it official and get things underway. I promised her that a real and much more extravagant wedding would happen later on, one that you can be in and even walk her down the aisle."
Sirius looked ecstatic at that, though he gave a sly look to Giovanni. "To her consternation though, huh?"
"She did promise I could plan it."
Sirius laughed at that. "Ah, poor girl's never been used to having time and attention spent on her. As her godfather, I encourage you to make the wedding as sorely excessive and showy as possible. Merlin, I can't wait to embarrass that girl."
"I promised her it would be tasteful," Giovanni said apologetically, making Sirius almost deflate. "But she never said how ornate and exaggerated I could be, or that I had to show any restraint."
Sirius nearly cackled at that, because his poor goddaughter really needed some spoiling –especially after everything. And if they had fun at her expense, it was with love. Lots and lots of love.
The door being knocked on interrupted them, and Giovanni looked at it in thought.
"Who is it?" he called out.
"It's Archer, sir."
That made Giovanni wary, considering the last he heard from his subordinate, he'd been off to go looking at Harry's memories. He glanced at Sirius quickly, and thought the man might want to be here for this.
"Come in, Archer. We have a guest."
The blunet came in, looking briefly surprised to see Sirius.
"Sirius, this is my second in command and longtime friend Archer Bellafonte. Archer, this is Sirius Black, Harry's godfather," Giovanni introduced them to each other.
Archer looked surprised again, before looking very pleased. "Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Black. I've seen great things of you, though questionable parts as well."
Sirius raised an eyebrow. "Seen?"
Archer took out the Pensieve from the bag on the side, the lid miraculously allowing the mysterious liquid inside to stay in place. By the look on Sirius' face, he recognized the magical object.
"That's a Pensieve," Sirius stated curiously.
"I received it from one of my contacts. It contains all of Harry's memories, including up to her time being held captive in the Ministry."
Matching dark looks crossed his and Sirius' faces.
"As you requested, Giovanni," Archer indicated towards the Pensieve. "You wished for me to hand them over when I'd finished viewing them."
Giovanni nodded determinedly. "Thank you, Archer. I will view them as soon as possible."
"I would like to be included in that," Sirius said stubbornly, and Giovanni agreed and decided that then was a good time.
"Keep an eye on things here, Archer," he told the other man. "I suppose we'll see you in a day then?"
Archer grimly confirmed, and then Giovanni lifted the lid. Glancing at Sirius, the two of them then touched the liquid and disappeared into the Pensieve.
As Archer searched around for Harry, wanting to make sure she was alright and not in need of anything, he found her staring stiffly into a mirror in her suite. Concerned, he announced his presence.
Harry looked up at the sound of his voice and gave him a weak smile when she saw him. He cautiously entered her suite and sat near her, waiting for her to tell him whatever bothered her, if she wanted to. After a few moments of silence, Harry reached over and grabbed her journal and handed it to him, with it opened to a certain page. He was quick to read it and he frowned.
"Your godson Teddy was kidnapped and taken from Andromeda, his grandmother. Andromeda contacted you through that mirror?"
Harry nodded angrily.
He could tell she was incensed, which wasn't good. Especially if she was going to do something rash, as she was prone to do as he saw from her memories. That was especially true when it came to her loved ones.
"I can't stop you from going after him, can I?" he asked with a sigh. "If I try, you'll just find a way to leave, and we'll be unable to find or help you in time."
Harry gave him a hard stare. Archer returned it easily.
"Fine," he told her. "But only if I come with you. I doubt Giovanni will be happy either way, but at least he'll be less aggrieved than if you were to be alone and without any help."
Harry's shoulders slumped in relief and she gave him a tired smile.
'Thank you,' she mouthed.
"Don't thank me yet," Archer told her. "We still have to successfully retrieve your godson."
He also had a feeling it wouldn't be an easy task.