It had been 2 weeks since Harry had been knocked out by a spell that gave him all the memories of his past lives. He was having trouble coping. It was bad enough that he now felt ancient, like he'd suddenly lived so many lives himself. To make matters worse, though, he now had to handle the various emotions and morals of his previous lives mixing in with his own. Most of his past lives had been nothing particularly noteworthy. He had magic in most of them, but often it didn't manifest as anything and he'd lived his lives just thinking he was weird. There was one, however, that was giving him no end of trouble. He had a hard enough time hiding how he truly felt from Bob before Winifred's memories were thrown into the mix. Now, the best he could do is put off the inevitable by avoiding Bob like the plague.
Bob was brilliant, of course, and knew from the beginning that that spell had done something odd to Harry. He'd done his scans and found nothing physically amiss, and Harry wouldn't tell him what it had in fact done, but he knew there was something. And Harry had started leaving his skull in the lab at night. He'd not let it out of his sight since it'd been stolen and retrieved, but now suddenly he was leaving it in the lab. He knew Harry was trying to avoid giving something away by sleeptalking, and he was a bit hurt that Harry'd go to such lengths to hide something from him. It seemed a bit pointless anyway, as he clearly wasn't getting much sleep. He decided a bit of deception was for Harry's own good. He'd instruct him to make a potion of meditation or some other such thing that he'd be able to convince Harry to drink, but would actually have him make a sleeping potion. There was one that Winifred had invented that he knew Harry wouldn't recognize for what it was. And if he happened to fall asleep downstairs where he might give Bob some hints as to what's wrong, all the better.
That evening, as Harry was following Bob's instructions for making the potion, he immediately recognized it for what it was, since he remembered inventing it. He almost gave himself away right there, but caught himself and decided to play along. He knew there was no malicious intent behind the deception, and he wished he could just tell Bob what happened, but it would only dig up old wounds and make their relationship very awkward. He hoped Winifred's potions of alertness that he'd been taking were stronger than her sleeping potions.
It turns out that mixing Winifred's sleeping potions and her potions of alertness is a great way to kick yourself into an astral trip. His body fell to the ground where he stood, before he even made it to the couch, and yet his mind was wide awake. He left his body for a bit and wandered around the apartment in awe. Astral travel was something even mundane people could often do, but Harry'd always struggled with it, only succeeding once before. It was a shame that now he found himself doing it he couldn't leave the apartment, but he wanted to know what kind of disaster he was waking up to, so he had to stay and watch. Sure enough, about 5 minutes later his body started to show some signs of dreaming. Funny how that works, you astral travel and leave your body, but it still dreams on without you. He'd been having nightmares of his life as Winifred ever since the spell had hit him. It was not pleasant knowing what death was like, and knowing what it was like to be forcibly yanked back from the beyond. For the past 2 weeks it had been always the same nightmare. He could almost see it playing out in the expressions of his sleeping face. His hands started to twitch like he was trying to grab onto someone or something, his sleeping form whispered "Hrothbert, no!" and he fell back into silent sleeping. He knew that at that point Winifred had passed out and begun nightmares of her own, once upon a time.
He glanced over at Bob and wished he hadn't. He had such a heartbreakingly pained expression on his face. Spectral tears were glistening down his cheeks. Harry wanted so desperately to be there for him, to hold him and comfort him in whatever way he could. He felt himself start to fade and remembered suddenly that astral travelers can travel to other planes of existance. Theorhetically he should be able to travel to Bob's plane. Perhaps not if he were regularly astral traveling, the weirdness of the situation would likely cause him to wake. But with the counteracting potions he'd drugged himself up on, he shouldn't have to fear accidentally waking for quite a while. He concentrated on Bob and imagined himself as a ghost as well. When that didn't produce much of an effect, he tried imagining Bob solid and the rest of the world ghostly. That seemed to do the trick and pulled Harry over to the other side. He was still not physically present, but this was a plane where things without physical form have weight and substance, so he thought it was worth an attempt. He walked silently up to Bob's side and put an arm comfortingly around him. To his elation it didn't sink through, and Bob whipped his head around in surprise and shock. Harry reached out and brushed Bob's tears away with his thumbs,
"Winifred? Or Harry?" Bob asked, confused.
"It's Harry. Sorry," he looked down sheepishly, "I have all her memories though."
"She was one of my past lives. I regained memory from my past lives, up to and including a few before her. I was taking her potion of alertness. Combined with her unique sleeping potion, I finally got the hang of astral travel."
"Well this is awkward,"
"Yeah, um... I don't know if this will make things better or worse at this point, but for the record, I loved you already before I got her memories." Harry was looking anywhere but at Bob. He wasn't good at this type of talk.
Bob grabbed Harry's head and forced him to look at him. His expression was stern and no-nonsense, his eyes hardened. "Harry. You don't need to act like this or say such things on my account. I have survived without Winifred for 800 years, having her memories in you so close by will be awkward but nothing I cannot handle. I'm sorry for any awkwardness this situation will have caused you."
Harry looked at him pleadingly. "You don't believe me do you?"
"What reason have I? It is only reasonable that you would react in such a way after all you've been through and given the current situation."
"I've been proposed to twice."
Bob blinked at him and tried to follow Harry's meandering logic trail. "What? I don't follow."
"I'm not so bad with relationships. They only don't work out because I've been in love with you since I was 12. It seemed ridiculous at the time because you were so much older than me, but I couldn't help myself. And it's not like I'd ever age enough for the gap between us to be noticeably lessened. You may look 57 but you're 800 years old!. But now at least I have memories of living various lives for the past 900 years or so. It's not really the same thing, since most of the time was spent relearning the same things over and over in each life, but it might make me a little less of a child?" He ended with such a hopeful plea to his words that Bob couldn't find words to respond for a minute.
He opted to draw Harry in for a kiss instead. Unfortunately the sleep potion, which had been mild at best, was starting to wear off by this time, and the shock and elation of being kissed by his Bob caused an increase in heart rate that woke Harry right up. He suddenly found himself blinking up at Bob from the floor, a question in his eyes.
Bob smiled down at him and said "Dear boy, I have loved you since I first saw that you would refuse to become a true Morningway."
Harry grinned up at Bob and they headed into the lab together to work on some more potions.