“I have an idea for your school problem!” Lars says brightly that morning.
Hermann looks at him warily over his cornflakes. Lars’ last idea for helping him- apart of just not going to school, was to turn up at the school and yell incomprehensibly at the principal until she threatened to call the police.
If nothing else, everyone thinks his father is a nutcase and have mostly left him alone, physically, at least.
“I have booked up a research trip for November,” he smiles fondly at Hermann.
Hermann cannot help but smile. Lars went to all sorts of fascinating and interesting conferences, he’d always longed to come along.
“It will be highly educational, and will get you out of that colliseum for a few weeks- until Christmas, at least.” Lars continues. He smiles happily. “I tried this once before- it’s so much easier now! Tours and everything!” He nods at Hermann, “What do you think? Antarctica?”
Antarctica? Hermann stares at him, is about to protest- this is impossible, he needs to go to school, he can’t just go.
Lars is looking so eager, so happy- and Hermann thinks about it, really thinks about it. No school. He can do most of the work with the text books- and it would probably be easier without the other students hissing insults and throwing things at him. He would see a place so very few ever did, and – Lars was a professor, surely it wasn’t really home-schooling if your parent was a professor?
“I’d love to go.” He admits.
“Wonderful!” Lars beams, “We’ll be able to write letter and everything, so if you want to keep in touch with your friends-”
“I don’t have any.” Hermann mumbles.
“What about Monica’s little boy?” Lars looks at him, “You seem to enjoy going to Innsmouth.”
Hermann shrugs but- Newt is nice. Weird, but then he’s half fish-person so weird is to be expected. It would be- nice, to stay in contact.
“Antarctica?” Newt squeaks, his eyes shine. “Are you going to see a Shoggoth?”
“I think so,” Hermann helps himself to a crispy seaweed crisp, it’s really good. “He needs to find out about-” Hermann isn’t sure, Lars seems to assume everyone knows what he does- which is better than being superior and arrogant as before- and Hermann’s been trying to piece it together. “Something about- creatures who live in mountains, who take- things? And go-” he shrugs helplessly.
“Oh, the Mi-Go!” Hermann feels a flash of irritation, is he the only one who doesn’t know about these things? “They’re assholes, seriously. They steal all kinds of crap- they’ll steal your brain if you’re not careful.” He pats Hermann’s arm. “You be careful, okay?”
Hermann gives him an alarmed look. So far, the strange creatures he’s been encountering have been- well, nice. The Deep Ones have been very friendly and welcoming, and the Shoggoths seem okay- minding their own business in Antarctica and not bothering anyone. This is a bit worrying.
“Here’s my email.” Newt pushes a peice of paper into his hand. “You write every day, and tell me if any weird fungiod things are hanging around- although Shoggoths hate the things, so you’ll probably be okay.”
Lars buys them enormously heavy jackets and snowboots and pants and luminous backpacks, potters around packing, as eager as a child going to Disneyland. Hermann sits on his suitcase, looks at him.
He wonders what would happen if the Mi-Go took his brain. It’s stupid, but he wonders if Lars would turn back to- the person he had been.
“Are there any Mi-Go in Antarctica?” He blurts out finally.
Lars pauses. “No?” He smiles gently. “The Shoggoths detest the things, they never come any further South than the Equator.” He walks over to him. “Have you been worrying about this?”
Hermann looks away, flushes, nods.
“You don’t need to worry.” He sits down on his haunches in front of Hermann. “I wouldn’t take you anywhere that wouldn’t be safe.”
“What about you?” Hermann breathes.
There’s a pause, then Hermann is pulled into a hug. “I’m being very careful with- with myself. You don’t need to worry at all- they wouldn’t dare bother with me.”
Hermann nods. Closes his eyes. Feels good.