[identity profile] tupocalypse.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] remix_redux
Title: Aether (A Man Walks Into A Subtitle Which No Longer Fits)
Fandom: Artemis Fowl/Harry Potter Crossover
Pairings: Godric Gryffindor/Julius Root, Julius/Briar Cudgeon, Godric Gryffindor/Salazar Slytherin
Genre: Crossover, Drama
Rating: T
Summary: A meeting of magic, of times. History is created by the little leniencies of Julius Root.
Warnings: None
Original story: by [livejournal.com profile] humble_mosquito
AN: If this Author’s Note still exists when you read this story, I’m not happy with the fic and it will receive another treatment of editing, which has the possibility to change the meaning. This also suffers from not being my ‘real’ Remix, since this is Remix Take 3, and the least loved of all of them. Perhaps with Mozzie's bugging, or my own perserverence you'll see the far more cool attacks on Mozzie's babies.




The pub smelt of stale hops, crusted over stew, and the sharp sweetness of goat dung walked in over the rushes. Salazar had followed him down to the fledgling village, and was glaring at him from across the ineffective barrier of the long table, and all Godric wanted was a drink, an escape, and for Salazar to stop looking at him with quite so much unmet responsibility.

“Why are you here, Godric? We need you at the Castle. The workers plan to raise the central beam of the Great Hall this afternoon. We need your strength.”

“You don’t need me, Salazar.” Godric looked away, sweeping his surcoat to the side to sit, thought better of it as he stared at Salazar’s stomach, and stood again.

“No, I don’t need you at all. That’s not the problem. The school needs you.”

“Rowena will handle it.”

Salazar glared. His eyes were fierce and dark, slightly inhuman in their disregard of his soul. “Is this about the squid in the loch? We need something, some creature, to act as guardian between ourselves and Atlantis. All waters are one, you know that. You don’t know what is really down there, not like I do.”

“So Slytherin’s ghastly knowledge of everything evil is once again relevant. You think I am useless because I don’t court Hades like you do. At least I respect the powers. What do you think of Helga, then?”

Salazar stopped, as cold as the wind chill blowing across the mountain ridges. “How I know of these places and creatures doesn’t matter. Trust me. Like before. We have to protect our borders if we are ever to be independent of the non magical humans.”

“You are proposing an entire dukedom relying on isolation, Sal; we can’t do it. We don’t need to be cut off from those who aren’t strong in their magical inheritance. We need to create alliances with everyone who can help us. This notion of yours won’t work, not if we’re to find enough students to survive.”

“Oh, it will work. We will have stronger defensive magic to work with. If you’d only join with me on the restriction of children with non magical parentage, perhaps I could allow you your path to the netherworlds. You don’t want a monster in the lake in case it eats a child, but magical children can defend themselves, and can defend us, so—“

“—and we won’t be busy defending ourselves against their religious fanaticism and inhospitable views. I have heard this speech of yours before. We all have. I suspect Rowena is inventing a spell to steal your voice.”

“That my arguments are repeated doesn’t make them less truthful. The reality of years ago is the same as today. Seven years ago we decided to build our Castle out of stone, regardless of the difficulties, the costs. We need to build our policies of stone as well. Our school, not our castle.”

“Very nice rhetoric about my castle. I’m sure Albus appreciates it.” Albus smiled at them both, with that seductively vague expression of his, and slid away behind a barrel of ale, checking the new cooper’s work.

Godric sat again, this time dismissive and preoccupied, not caring that he hadn’t won this round. The weight of the sword on his back, and the temptations of alcohol, was too great to continue with reordered arguments from the last seven years. “Go supervise the raising of the beam. It won’t happen tonight. We don’t have the manpower at the moment – we need more men, more oxen.”

He looked up, as he shifted the scabbard across his back. Their gazes met, held, until Godric’s skited away like scared birds. Salazar lent down, across the table, and kissed his lips with only a tinge of hatred.

“Anyone would think this wasn’t your dream at all.”

Salazar pushed open the door, against Godric’s soft mumbers of ‘it’s not’, pulling his cloak as a buffer to the clear, afternoon sun, and the chill of November. He sank to the single wooden step leading into the pub, waiting for his heart to cease beating so loudly that he couldn’t hear himself think; he could not do the rituals required of him through a haze of adrenaline and anger.

When he stood, the shadows now stretched long across the grey grasses, he knocked against a little man who seemed to have appeared from nowhere. He was not more than three foot high, so Salazar looked down. “My pardon, Goodman.”

The man met his eyes, and Salazar kept his usual poker face, so no one watching would realise the twisting and turning of his belly.

“That’s quite all right, Master Slytherin. Give my regards to your mother.”

“And you, sir, to your sister,” he replied in automatic.

“Of course. My pardons.”

Julius Root entered the pub. Salazar didn’t call out for him to wait.




Godric’s head rested against the hard wood of the table, the fire crackling in the now silent public house. “Something to drink please, Albus.”

“Of course, Lord Gryffindor.”

The short, bearded Albus, who didn’t seem to be able to decide on an age - his skin smooth and youthful, but his hair thin and wispy grey - pushed something before him. It was a wooden goblet with something clearer than ale or whiskey, and far more pungent in scent. “It’s the ‘goblet of fire’, I call it. Guaranteed to wipe out the worries of the modern wizard.”

“And maybe a few memories?” Godric asked, edging close to the fire, even though the Scottish wind was blowing through the smoke openings, pushing the soot back towards his face and covering his surcoat in ash. Alb sat down opposite; it was still light outside, even though Autumn was well on its way, and the small public house was otherwise empty. It usually was.

Godric sniffed at the alcohol, tilted it against the side to check the colouring, and then swallowed half the contents in one gulp. He spluttered and choked; Alb laughed heartily.

Godric coughed into his own hand, looking up with tear-blurred eyes. “What is it?”

“I imbued regular whiskey with a little magical addition of my own. I used the aquafortus spell, to spell water to rum, but I didn’t focus the spell properly. It channelled the property of fire, rather than water. I don’t suppose anyone but you will cope with my fire whisky.”

Godric stared down at the drink before him, lifted the goblet once again, and downed the rest, with a suppressed splutter. “I like this invention.” He vaguely waved his hand towards the goblet, and Alb obligingly filled it from a small open cask and brought it back. “Cheers,” Godric said, before sipping at the drink more slowly. “It tastes like an Englishman’s bollocks, but I can feel it eating away at my soul…pleasantly.”

“I’m glad you like it, my Lord. I’ve been working on something sweeter, as well. Maybe some way of turning those plagues of frogs you’ve got up in the Castle into sweetbreads. Something the children would like. I have plans to trade them with little pictures of famous wizards, so the children will know what our heroes look like, not just the king on his coins, if they ever see a coin. It’ll be easy enough to figure out some way to replicate an etching, so long as we don’t need the charm to last very long.”

“That sounds like a good idea.” Godric swallowed; the goblet was almost empty again; his throat raw, his mind cushioned in wool fluff, and his stomach hot. “You should talk to Helga. She had this daft idea of getting the figures in her tapestry to move, and has been trying to get us to give her spells. When we don’t have any time for anything but making sure the Castle will stand, and that our apprentices don’t fall behind in their studies.”

There was a noise at the door, and a very small man – not deformed, anyway, but maybe part goblin; which wasn’t unheard of – entered the pub. Godric slumped over his goblet, as if the intimidation of his embroidered surcoat and broadsword angled across his back were not strong enough deterrent.

“Have a good night, Lord Gryffindor,” Alb murmured.

Gryffindor grunted into his goblet.

“Good evening, neighbour. What can I help you with?”

“Something strong,” said the man. His voice was dark, lethargic and low, as though he couldn’t be bothered to speak more clearly.

“You have coin?” The man popped a copper penny upon the table. “Do you take ale, mead, or whiskey?”

“I don’t want to be pissing all night.”

Alb nodded amiably, filling another wooden cup with his newly invented firewhiskey. “I warn you, it’s potent.”

The little man stood on tiptoes, in a way that almost looked like floating, in order to pull the drink towards him. He drained it in a succession of two overlarge gulps, shook his head slightly, and then pushed it back for a refill. “That’s good.”

“Thank you…”

“Root.”

“Thank you, Master Root. It’s my own brew. If you need any other help while you’re in town, don’t hesitate to ask.”

Root nodded, making overlong eye contact with the barman, as though against his will. He took his drink to the long benched table by the fire where one man slumped, the world crushing his shoulders and self assurance. The coals glimmered, orange and white, from the worn, decorative cross hilt of the man’s sword. He was tall, for a human. His hair was combed, his beard trimmed, and his luscious clothes brightly embroidered with dragons. He looked like some stained glass notion of Saint George. Mockable. Unreal. Dark and deadly for all his sweetness. He tingled with magic. Old magic, the kind which Root could barely feel in the fairies who had lived down below for too long.

Root climbed onto the seat, adjusted his uniform breeches, and sat across from the other, so the coals would warm his back. He dropped his eyes, because otherwise he would stare.

The whorls of the wood were worn, ingrained. Perhaps something had once been carved into the surface? There was a spider’s web strung between a stacked barrel and the new palisade wall. There was Briar, waiting in a small public issued apartment, half a mile underground. He shouldn’t have to be here.

“Rough day?” Saint George asked. He had looked up now, and there were grim lines around his mouth, and shivers of grey at his temples. His eyes were dark with a soul crushing intensity, even coloured a pleasant blue. He looked like he’d fallen under a Dwarf. He looked like Briar.

“Had better.” Root murmured, breaking the eye contact. There was something carved into the table. Dirt had worn its way into the cracks, until they were almost flush. He blew along the lines of the letters, then rubbed at them with one thumb. He could feel Saint George was still watching him; the hairs along his neck were registering the pressure of his gaze, even though half his mind was muddled with the drink already. Mud Man strength drink was strong, potent. He didn’t dare spit on the table to clear the dust; maybe he could spill his drink, just a little.

“Mine wasn’t great either.”

Root grunted. The man smelt vaguely of fish, and mouldy water, a feat rather unusual for the Scottish highlands. He was no less attractive for that, though, even as Root catalogued the smell of his skin, and the dirt smeared across the back of his hands. The oil to his hair, the crusted stiffness of his clothes, the orange splash of reflected flames across his skin.

“You’re a freeman?”

Root sighed. Saint George’s voice was deep, dark, so much darker than he ever heard Underground. And he insisted on using it. This was only meant to be a step of distraction, a meeting with the Underground’s Mud Fairy contact before moving on to the half completed Castle. “As free as anyone ever is.”

Saint George nodded; Root couldn’t tell if he was smart, or taking that long to process basic information. His cynicism pronounced the latter. “Are you a travelling man, then? A pedlar?”

“You could call me a steward. My… my lord has interests he wishes me to look after.”

“Then you are Lord Alfred’s vassal? Why didn’t you come to the Castle directly? I have been anticipating your arrival.”

Root looked up quickly. This was Gryffindor, the Mud Man with this magic which still tingled in the air, even through a half-drunk stupor on both parts. No wonder Frond was paranoid about him. “Sorry, not that one. I don’t know a Lord Alfred.”

“Who else is interested in our work?”

“No one you would know of.”

Saint Gryffindor bristled. “Then you are a trespasser on my land, if you refuse to divulge the man who is asking your favours.”

Root rolled his eyes, and pushed Gryffindor’s drink closer to his hand. “I was being honest, you fool. You wouldn’t know my lord. Lord Frond, if that makes you happier.”

“Is this man a new vassal of the King of Scotland?”

“Frond is no man’s vassal. He has his own land underground, and no one who can be bothered to contend him for it. But that’s none of your business.” Root swallowed the rest of his drink, and made to leave. He’d said too much; he’d have to rectify that with a mesmer, but he was likely to say something more compromising with the power of magic behind it.

Gryffindor’s hand shot out – far faster than Root would have expected – and gripped his wrist. “No. Stay. Explain this to me. A land, underground?”

Root attempted to shake him off, but couldn’t break his grip. “You wouldn’t understand. Humans never do.”

“I am reminded of stories my mother told me. Of Loki and his imprisonment underground at the centre of the world until Ragornak comes.”

Ha!

“That is no answer.”

“You didn’t ask a question.”

Saint Gryffindor nodded, slowly and stately. “Will you sit? Alb will furnish us with some more of his wonderful firewhiskey. We will talk.”

“You don’t have much tact, do you?”

“Neither do you. You called me a fool when I called you a trespasser. You are tactless or foolish or don’t care for your own skin.”

“And if I pretend my business is your business, you will let me go?”

“Yes.”

“Then let us pretend.” Gryffindor released the tight grip on his arm, and Root moved back around the table so that he could face him. He resolved himself to making eye contact, and pretended the heat flooding his body was from the fire at his back and the alcohol flirting (distorting) with the magic at the base of his skull. “And get some more drink. I wasn’t lying when I said I had an awful day.”

The drinks were placed before them. Alb’s eyes glittered in an almost genial way as he set them before them. Root tried to place where he had seen him before, but ignored the mystery as soon as Alb turned his back, his long dark hair floating in the air as he turned.

Root met Gryffindor’s eyes, harsh and blue and dark, set back in an odd, cross-race face. Root’s own were small, narrow and black, he knew; nothing to write a Pixie Ode about.

“I am an educated man. I read Latin, Greek and Runes. I hold four boys as apprentices, and am building a school which we hope will educate all Wizarding children of these nations in the practise and moral uses of their magic. I know a lot of magic. As far as it is possible for a man to know magic.” Root nodded, sipping at his drink again. He said nothing. “You are not a man.”

“You judge quickly. You don’t even know my name, and you call me names.”

“I do not believe you a demon, like the Christians tell.”

“Because you are not a Christian man; you are a pagan. A Norseman.”

“Half of one; the other half a respectable bastardry. But I do not believe you are even half a human.”

“How do you define the word?”

“You are not, then. What are you? Are you Loki?”

Root flicked his eyes away for half a moment, silent.

“We have had very strange occurrences up at the Castle. Hard rock became swamp overnight, so we could not build our foundations where they were to go. We had a strange, violent creature in the Loch which defies categorisation, but it disappeared last summer solstice. Twenty score oaks completely rotted through from one morning till the next. And my student, Hamish, a boy of non magical birth, he is sick with something – Salazar says a possession, and Rowena agrees.”

“There’s no such thing as a non magical birthright. It is just further away than the family can trace. However, you wish me to cure these ills?”

“I am willing to negotiate. We need to build our school, my Castle. Or else our world of magic will be destroyed by those outside us. I will negotiate, if that is who you are, if this is something you can do for me. But if you were Loki, you would lie to me. And you haven’t lied.”

Root smirked, raising one eyebrow against the assurance. “I am an accomplished liar. How could you know?”

“If you do not know, you have not had an extensive magical education. The true master of wizardry can see lies in people’s eyes. There are rumours that those who make alliances with… non, yes, Christian, natural powers can gain the ability to bend people to their will only by applying magic to intense gaze between the wizard and the subject.”

“Interesting.”

“Are there any skills of mine that you could use? Do you wish me to teach you swordplay, or magic, in return for your cooperation.”

“But I have not lied. I am not your Loki. I am not destroying your Castle.”

“You have not been honest. I do not know what force you are, only that you are not the Trickerster God. Are you his man?”

“No.”

“Are you a demon?”

Root laughed, a harsh barking backed by the crackle of the fire. “No, of course not.”

“What are you, then?”

“Have you ever met an Irish wizard?”

“You are not Irish.”

“I am Tuatha de Daanan.”

“You are feared?”

“We are not well known.”

“You are dangerous.”

You are dangerous. Your sword is taller than me.”

Godric laughed, the sword in question bouncing up and down on his back. “But I have learnt to aim at a man’s heart. I could not spear you.”

“And why are you here, in my fief?”

“Do you have children? A wife?”

“Ha ha! Helga and Rowena feel like it sometimes. With none of the pleasantries.”

“Feel like children, or wives?”

“Both.”

“I have a child.”

“And now you have lied to me. I see it, in your eyes.”

“He is no longer a child in your terms.”

“You cannot be older than twenty and five. You could not have a grown boy.”

“I am one hundred and seventeen years.”

Godric grunted, just once.

“And your son is the reason you are here? To visit with him? Who is he? I know everyone in the village by name.”

“No. But it would have been a good lie.”

“You will not tell me?”

“I won’t disobey Frond so openly. He’d have my head when he found out.”

“I would not wish to court your death. You are rather more interesting to talk to than my friends at the Castle of late.”

“I’m not a fan of death, either.”

“Then let us not die together. I shall not court your death, and you shall not court mine. Is there another level at which we can interact?”

“I can be your teacher. You can be my student. There are things you will need to know, if you are to survive in the world outside your Castle.”

“What can you teach me?”

Root thought of Briar, and the bleached white faces of those Underground. The sun had set behind the rocky, bare mountains a while ago now, and this was their time, the time of the fairies, before they had run off underground into the perpetual night for fear of these Mud Fairies.

“I can teach you everything you need to know. Magic of the highest, most pure form. How to turn a man’s will to your own.”

“Salazar consorts with your kind, doesn’t he? I knew he was deviating, he was communing with unusual powers.”

“Do you wish to have the powers which Salazar displays? His power, for your own. You don’t have to just be the Lord of your Castle, dispensing favours, while your students learn from Salazar.”

“You’re drunk.”

“Perhaps. But don’t you want to trust me.” Root’s voice slurred through the call of the mesmer, layers upon layers, upon wishful thinking. This would separate the Mud Fairies from the Underground, and no one would ever know.

“I trust you. What’s your name?”

“Julius.”

“I trust you, Julius.” Albus was watching from behind another table. Watching them both. He didn’t know what Root’s assignment was. He’d never know if it had been fulfilled or not. “Do you want to come to my Castle? We’re making it of stone.”

“I’d be delighted.”

The magic swirled around them, in unifying concert. Root raised a hand in thanks to Albus as he stumbled from the public house, and Godric’s hand fell to his shoulders in heavy possession. It made Root feel warm from the magic at the nape of his neck, to the coiling heat at his groin.




The blinding white behind his eyes dissipated into a thousand strands of silky cobweb, a transparent gauze between the white dream and the waking world. Julius felt the rustle of his toes against the sheets; the brush of his thigh against Briar’s, the iron weight of his eyelashes as they brushed against his cheeks.

There was light flooding the room, as it had flooded the dreamscape with brilliant haze. It beat against his eyelids until they danced their delusory pink.

His mind jumped, a shivering leap sideways as his consciousness tried to catch up with his hindbrain, which was basking in the filtered rays of lukewarm sunlight. The Haven light sources were weak bluish fires maintained by warlocks, not this profusion of warmth and whiteness. He awoke silently, without moving, without jumping, without changing the pattern of his breath. Whoever was in the room with him, the bed with him, they would not know that Julius had woken.

The strongest impression of the immediate past he could muster was overwhelming blankness. Not just the dim, blackened slate of alcohol, which he could taste on his breath, but a searing whiteness which had bleached his memories clean. The scent of sex, and the drained feeling of running low, his limbs heavy and lethargic.

Julius let his eyes crack open. There was a broad, heavily muscled shoulder in his vision, and a tumble of sandy hair across it. The shoulder was scored with scars – the thin flicks of a whip from childhood, perhaps, and the broad slash of a sword. The memory sauntered from the whitewash, of tracing the scar with tickling fingers and a laughing tongue, making light of war. It felt wrong, like someone else had fingered that scar, had tasted that blonde skin. His fingers moved, he watched them silently, as they made their way across the back to slide in one soft stroke across the scar. It was rough and raised beneath his hand, but filled with warmth. His palm slid to the base of the man’s neck. He could kill him, heal him, but instead he just reached out and with the tingles of blue at his fingertips he called to the Mud Fairy’s magic. It rose to his will, so willingly, like his own son’s. The magic danced across the man’s nape – Godric – it whispered, - Salazar’s.

Julius jumped back, the magic split and shattered under his fingertips, swirling away like a spring disappearing back Underground.

The man stirred, rolling away so that his hand slid from spine to shoulder, to slip from skin onto bedclothes. There was nothing to save this situation.

“Good morning,” Julius said.

The Norseman jumped. His eyes flashed open, blinded by the sun which shone through the unshuttered windows, slashing a golden stripe across his face. Julius laughed, a proper bright laugh, loud and shameless in the silence of sleep. The sensation was strange, unnatural, but he couldn’t stop himself from laughing.

“Uhgh.” The man turned towards him, raising himself on one muscular arm. Julius admired the tensing of muscle, the shifting skin. “Albus,” he muttered.

“No, I’m Julius, thank you.”

The pale eyes looked blank for just a moment, then failed to smile alongside the false twisting of his mouth. “My apologies. Albus is supposed to stop me if I’m drunk.”

“At least you ended up in your own bed.”

The man grunted once again, and looked him over in a single, assessing sweep: the scraggly dark hair of his chest, the shortness of his shoulders, the proportions of his face with its two day beard.

“What do you remember of our night? Together.”

“Enough.” He gathered his wits; as he sat up straight the bedcovering slipped from his chest to pool around his groin. “Are you a man who only reveals his passions in drink?”

“No. When I’m well marinated it just becomes a little more obvious.”

The man nodded, a short, constrained movement. Then he bent forward in another awkward movement, balancing on wide spread fingers and a trembling elbow, and kissed him.

The white swept back. A fleeting warmth, a burning cold flooding the channels and well trod paths of his mind. There was only white, and the brilliant flight of a sprite almost within his grasp. A hurricane of blue sparks flying in his head. His.

The man pulled back, and the sensation pulled away; it lurked in the corners, near the golden sunlight, and behind the red tapestry. His tongue flicked out, catching the remains of a taste.

“If I weren’t certain that Rowena would be hollering in the hall to wake me in minutes, I would be willing to perhaps remember last night,” he smiled, his eyes flickering away once more. “Would you be missed?”

“Yes.”

“Ah, perhaps another time.”

“Yes, perhaps. The sun has almost cleared the mountains.”

“The sun rises late in November.”

“Which makes my escape all the more pressing.”

There was a sharp rap on the door, wood on wood. “Your student has taken ill again, Gryffindor.”

“I will be there momentarily.” The man replied, and left the bed with a single glance back at Julius.

“That was not Rowena.” Julius said, moving towards a pile of green clothing not any messier than they would have been discarded at home, except that it was lying across a silver sword in a brilliant scabbard.

“No. That was Salazar Slytherin. Rowena would not have been content to only knock at the door.”

“And your student is often ill?” Julius could hear the man dressing behind him, with a certain amount of hangover clumsiness and unvocalised cursing.

“Often, yes.”

He glanced over his shoulder; the man had the drooping eyes of an unholy night before. Julius pulled on his own britches and tunic. They smelt like soot, strong alcohol, and the lingering tang of the sword – blood and sweat and metal and the man. He strapped on his own knife, and then took the sword up in two hands. ‘Godric Gryffindor’ was looped across the cross hilt; he ran his fingers across it, the same way he had tracked the scar.

Julius turned. “Godric, do you need your sword?”

“Thank you.” He adjusted his surcoat, and reached for the scabbard.

Julius withheld it, at the same time as stepping forward towards the door. They were close enough to touch once more, and so they did. Godric’s hand brushed his own as he took the straps of the scabbard, and adjusted the sword to lie across his back.

Julius reached up one hand, stood on tiptoes, and touched the Godric’s nape. The magic there was still alive, still vibrantly turning. Julius sent it to the brain, the liver, and Godric visibly jumped. Julius didn’t move his hand away.

“You’re not a fan of death. I remember.”

“They need you alive. This world you’re making, it needs you.”

“Will you teach me your magics? What we did last night, we need to study it, make sure we can adapt it for our own use. Without magic as strong as yours in all our students, we will die when the first knight attacks our walls.”

“You don’t need me. You need to make your own way. And to guard against me, my kind. Most will hurt you.” He sent a jolt of malice, and Godric cringed away.

“Julius…”

The hand dropped away. “I do have to go. My People will notice.”

“Godric!” Salazar swung open the door, and his bright, vibrant face was shining on the other side. “Godric, is that your spell on the beam? To lighten the load? We have raised the beam already, with barely a score of men, and two horse.”

“Yes, I’ve been working on that.”

“I thought I heard you talking to someone?” he said, looking around the bareroom, with a slight shimmer of the heated air visible around the hearth.

“Just me and my demons.”




Still wet, and smelling of squid, Julius slipped out of his Above uniform, and into nothing. The sheets were warm, the perfect reward for a night’s magic spent.

“Did you achieve anything?”

Julius shook his head, noncommittal. “I saw my son.”

“Does Lord Frond know? The Council?”

”They don’t need to know.”

Briar lay on the bed, the mattress dipping beneath his weight. A human Lord’s straw palate last night was nothing to this comfort which they hadn’t learnt from magic, but which Foaly the centaur was spreading around the upper echelons of the People’s haven.

“They didn’t need me there. We have nothing to worry about Mud Fairies.”

“You’re bias. Does the Council even know about little Sal?”

“He’s in his thirties, Briar. That’s a wise, old man, up Above.”

“I don’t care. I remember when he was small and greenish.”

“He had been playing in moss that morning.”

“You smell like you’ve been hanging around my Atlantean cousins. All fishy. You need a shower.”

”I know.”

“You should speak to the Council.”

“Damnit, no, Briar. I don’t need this stupid Council dictating every action I ever make. I need a shower, and that’s it.”

Briar’s hand caught Julius’s. “I know you don’t like it. Come on, we can shower together.”

Julius just made a noise, a half confirmation. He allowed Briar’s warm hand to lead him away, and wash away the stink of the loch.

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