An accident sends Harry Potter into another world and soon his talents are needed more than ever before. The question is not whether he can win, but can he survive?
By Random Shinobi
Summary: An accident sends Harry Potter into another world and soon his talents are needed more than ever before. The question is not whether he can win, but can he survive? Insurmountable odds have never been this insurmountable for him. [HP/Dresden Files crossover. Not DH compliant. Starts before Grave Peril.]
Disclaimer: If you recognise it, then it might well belong to Ms. Rowling or Mr. Butcher. I only claim my OCs and plot.
Special thanks to snuggle the muggle for her help.
Chapter Five: Key of Solomon
He woke up to the bright sunlight shining from a large window.
Harry groaned softly and lifted his head from an open book, blinking furiously to clear his vision. Harry had spent the majority of the evening and night reading books from the many bookshelves in his new room. While he could have simply asked Aurora, he had decided it would be better if he didn't make a fool of himself by asking stupid questions. Besides, he was probably supposed to know all this stuff and so it would arouse suspicions if it become clear he didn't. He certainly didn't need any more problems that he had already.
Anyway, the books had proved to be highly illuminating. Apparently Summer was one of the two Faerie Courts and Aurora one of the three queens of Summer. Those two were the most important things of the wealth of information he had acquired; everything else was secondary. Those two things signified very well how royally he had screwed up.
Faeries here were probably even trickier and nastier than in the Muggle books he had read as a child, and that was saying something. At least it seemed that he had had the luck to make a deal with a Summer fae instead of Winter. Of course, there was a distinct possibility that everything he had read about Summer being nicer was simply propaganda.
While Harry was fairly certain that Aurora would get much more out of this whole thing than he; he still held hopes that he wouldn't be totally fucked over. To him it was of no consequence how much the Summer Lady would profit from the deal as long as he advanced his own cause as well.
Harry threw the green blanket off and sat up on the bed. Turning on the spot, he threw his legs over the edge of the four-poster bed, his toes touching the cool parquet. He stood up shakily.
He took his wand from the bedside table and waved it lazily, dispelling the radiant ball of pure white light that hovered four feet over his pillow, the luminous sphere vanishing with a soft pop and cascade of silvery-white sparks. It had served as his reading light last evening and he was fairly surprised to see that the spell had lasted overnight. It probably had something to do with the Summer Fire mixing with his own power. From the two fights and the brief experimentation last night, Harry knew the fiery power greatly augmented his magic, especially spells dealing with fire, but somehow left him unable to cast even a passable Cooling Charm; forcing him to drink his water lukewarm.
Harry yawned. Perhaps a long, hot shower would wake him up better...
Elaine's knuckles drummed against the oaken door for the fourth time. It was starting to seem that the new Sidhe Lord wouldn't just open the door and let her in. The female wizard sighed tiredly and her fingers reached for the dull copper doorknob, twisting it sharply. The old-fashioned lock opened with an audible click and she pushed the large door wide open, stepping in uninvited.
She immediately knew it was a bad move.
Elaine let out a small yelp of surprise as the gravity that usually kept her soles tightly on the ground reversed and she suddenly fell upwards, her feet leaving the floor. Before she could realise what was happening she was already hanging upside down in the air, something invisible coiling and tightening around her with a soft hiss. A split second later he was totally immobilised; unable to move even a finger.
The large wooden tray filled with food slipped from her hands as her arms were forcefully slammed and bound against her sides, and clattered against the shiny floor, glass shattering and floorboards denting. The bottle of vintage wine distributed its valuable contents on the floorboards, the deep-red liquid mixing with the steaming spaghetti sauce slowly spreading from the cracked and overturned plate. Newly baked bread quickly soaked in the wine surrounding it, turning into wet paste, while the silver knife had sunk into the wooden floor and was still vibrating from the impact.
She closed her eyes and breathed in as deeply as the constricting spell allowed, clearing her mind and opening her senses to the magic that surrounded her. Elaine immediately became aware of the innumerable strands of Summer Fire tickling her skin and humming faintly around her as they held her helpless mid-air.
In the middle of the luxurious room stood a man of average height, wearing only a bottle-green bathing robe, water still trickling from his messy hair after a shower. The man was rather handsome, but not exceptionally so; in fact he looked more of a human than the Sidhe Lord he was. His skin was quite pale and his features fine-boned and delicate, betraying his Sidhe heritage, but his hair lacked any otherworldly colour common amongst fae, instead being black as a raven's wing. His eyes were of the exactly same shade of striking green as the Summer Lady's, but without the cat-like pupils that most fae had. She guessed she wasn't looking at the High Sidhe's true form, but his human guise.
The deceptively young-looking man made a lazy motion with his wrist and a short wooden stick shot out from the sleeve into his waiting hand. Then he lifted the thin rod and pointed it at her, speaking a single word of power, “Finite.” The spell that had held her suspended in the air simply ceased to exist, like it had never been there in the first place, and she collapsed unceremoniously to the floor.
“Sorry about that, but you should have knocked instead of just barging in,” the man said amusedly as Elaine stood up, using her hands to brush spilled food off her clothes with rather poor results; she only succeeded in spreading the greasy stains. “In fact, you're lucky I didn't ward this room with something more nasty.”
She pulled her gaze from her dirtied clothes and looked sharply at the Sidhe sorcerer. “I did knock, you just didn't answer.”
There was a moment of silence before the fae spoke, “I assume you were bringing me some breakfast... Or actually, it's probably lunchtime already, right? Hmm... I am sorta hungry. Lets see if the food is still salvageable...” He waved his wand, muttering silent incantations under his breath, and the tray rose from the parquet, twisting mid-air so that it was upright again. His next few wand movements repaired the broken glasses and bottles, and a few seconds later they were lifted by an unseen hand and deposited on the wooden tray hanging in the air. The plate of spaghetti followed, the painted porcelain mending in front her eyes. Soon the floor was clean again and the food in its proper containers.
The man ignored her wide-eyed expression and looked at the foodstuff critically, “The floor was pretty clean and so it should be all right. I've eaten worse...but the bread is still wet with wine...” He jabbed his wand a the pieces of bread and they dried instantly, red mist briefly rising from them, before another flick of the wand vanished the chromatic wisps.
Then he turned his attention back on her and she quickly closed her hanging mouth with an audible click. The Sidhe pointed his wand at her and before she could react he had already uttered an unknown incantation, “Scourgify.”
There was a faint flash of light and she was suddenly surrounded by pink bubbles, the stains on her clothes disappearing and a faint but rather pleasant scent of lavender filled the air.
“Sorry, Miss. I thought you were a witch and could do that by yourself. My mistake, you have my apologies.”
His condescending words and tone sent a wave of fury across her, but she reined in her instinct and spoke evenly, “Ah... I'm a wizard.” Dammit, but she was no two-bit witch and the faerie Lord insinuated that she was even lower than that... A girl's gotta have her pride, after all.
The man blinked in apparent confusion, cocking his head slightly as he looked at her in askance. “Don't you sorta lack proper endowment for that?”
She gritted her teeth and her hands balled into fists, her nails digging into her palms, but said nothing; Elaine knew without a shadow of doubt that anything she said now she would later regret. While she certainly didn't like her talents and skills being questioned, there was not much she could say to the Sidhe Lord; not after that dazzling show of power and fine control.
“I think we started off all wrong, although I really don't know why,” the man spoke after a moment. “The name's Harry Potter,” he said with a small smile and offered his hand. She blinked but shook it anyway, the magic in his touch tingling her skin like static electricity. His giving his name had pushed her off balance. It displayed utmost arrogance of a Sidhe to give what might possibly be his full name to a human wizard. By just knowing his name she could Summon him or target him with a huge number of rather nasty spells, but his actually saying his own name aloud to her was simply...ridiculous. It was like letting her to put a shotgun loaded with cold iron to his head... And this man had cheerfully done so. Also, now she knew he was, or at least had been, a Changeling. Otherwise, he wouldn't have a human name.
“I'm Elaine,” she said after a brief pause, not wanting to appear impolite. Truly, as long as she owed Summer a huge debt it wouldn't be very wise to antagonise a High Sidhe. Such things had a habit to come around at the worst possible moment...
The Sidhe looked at her, appearing as if he was debating something. Eventually he seemed to come into a some kind of conclusion. “Hmm... You wouldn't happen to know anything about King Solomon?”
“Why do you ask?” she asked suspiciously, answering his question with a question.
“I'm looking for a certain late possession of his – an arcane tool,” he explained. “Considering that it's still missing, I doubt it's stored away in some dusty human museum, so I'm a bit lost as to how to begin my search.”
“Why don't you visit a library or something?” she snapped and then almost slapped her hand on her mouth. Elaine mentally berated herself of acting out of annoyance and quickly continued, “but if ordinary humans don't know about the item you are searching for, then it would likely be futile. What about Clavis Salomonis? I have never seen the book myself, but I know it's a text about magic written by Solomon himself.”
“Thanks,” the Sidhe Lord said, sounding pretty un-Sidhe-like and flashing a smile at her. “I will try to find that book.”
Then the man made a motion with his wand and the food tray sailed slowly across the room and landed on a table. “Do you want some?”
“Ah... No thanks, Lord Potter. I have already eaten.” With those words she hurried away from the weird faerie Lord.
Harry paid the driver and stepped out of the taxi onto the Chicago streets.
For what felt like the millionth time that day, Harry cast a Point-Me Charm to locate a copy of the book. Truly, the taxi driver had given him weird looks as Harry had them follow the lead of his wand across the city.
The holly stick spun in the air, eventually stopping and pointing into one direction like a compass needle. Harry looked at the direction and saw something that looked like a bookshop dealing with occult. He had tried to locate the Arthame using the same spell, but unsurprisingly it hadn't worked. If Aurora couldn't find it by herself, it had to be pretty well hidden.
On the short way down the lane to the occult store, Harry had to step twice over collapsed trash cans and he could count four drunkards. He shook his head lightly. If the place was this bad during a sunny day, he didn't want to be here during a night.
It certainly wasn't a very prestigious location for a bookshop...or any shop, really. In fact, the area seemed barely fit for human habitation. The neighbourhood was a bizarre blend of the worst a large city had to offer marching side by side with the erudite academia of the University of Chicago.
One of the drunks sitting on the street reached towards him as he walked by, grasping a hold of the hem of his robe. Now as she had her hand extended, he could see the countless needle-marks on her arm. The young wizard grimaced – not drunkards, druggies.
“What are you?” she asked, her voice hoarse and eyes dull. “You're all wrong... You shouldn't be here!”
Harry yanked his robe from her hand and looked at the delirious girl for a moment, disgust and pity battling within him. Her dark hair was unkempt and dirty – just like her clothes and general appearance. She probably wasn't old, but life had used her hard. Compassion won.
He reached into his pocked a drew a thick pile of notes given to him by the Summer Lady – all of them were hundreds – and tossed a few of them to the woman. She opened her mouth to say something, but shut up as Harry's wand pressed against her forehead. “Imperio.”
A bland look spread over her face and Harry re-sheathed his wand. “Get something to eat, clean yourself up and try to act like an upstanding citizen and proper witch...I mean, woman. Rethink your life and decide if you really want to live like this. Also, buy some new clothes, yours are nothing but rags.”
He walked away, leaving the Muggle to handle herself. The Unforgivable would fade away in a few days, depending mostly on her willpower and desire to struggle against his commands. Hopefully she would be able to drag herself out of the streets... The young wizard sighed dejectedly. He wasn't stupid; Harry knew that it was more than likely she would fall instantly back to her old ways the moment the spell ended.
The door chimes tinkled as he went in, and there was another chime from somewhere behind the counter. Harry took a sharp breath as the Summer Fire burning within him suddenly diminished greatly, turning from a blazing bonfire into a flickering candle. He almost shivered at the sudden loss of metaphysical warmth. Harry cursed inwardly; he should have checked for wards before he walked in. In hindsight, it had been rather stupid of him to assume it being a Muggle shop just because it wasn't in any magical location.
The proprietor had one arm on the counter and one out of sight under it until he peered over his reading glasses at his face. He was broad-shouldered, unshaven, and heavyset man who looked to be in his fifties. Placing the magazine he had been reading on the counter, the man focussed fully on Harry and spoke, "I'm afraid I don't know you, sir."
“Well... I don't know you either,” Harry said flippantly with a faint smile, quickly recovering from the vanishing of the Summer Fire, “but I think that's rather usual as this is a shop, after all.”
The man arched his eyebrow and cocked his head s little. “Not as usual as you might think, but yes, how may I help you?”
“I need a book called Clavis Salomonis,” Harry said curtly. “Do you have one?”
“Ah... The Greater Key of Solomon,” the man said, nodding to himself. “An excellent text concerning Circles and Summons. Supposedly written by King Solomon himself. Let me get it for you.”
The shopkeeper reached behind him without looking and snagged a key from where it hung on a peg on the wall behind him and walked to a door a few yards in his left. He opened the door with a metallic click and went in for a half minute. When he came out he had a large book in his hands.
Placing the old, leather and iron bound tome on the table, the shopkeeper opened it and took out a yellowing piece paper from inside the cover. The man briefly looked at the card and said, “Nine-hundred sixty-five.”
Harry gave him the money and pocketed the grimoire, the arcane text shrinking to fit into the much smaller pocket. He was expecting his change when a part of the ambient magic permeating the book store vanished, some unseen constructions of magic rumbling down. It was the metaphysical equivalent of a cold breeze blowing against his face; both refreshing and alarming. “What was that?” Harry asked as he scanned his surroundings and his hand surreptitiously reaching into his black robe, the fingers coiling around the haft of his sword. If the ominous feeling came from falling wards as he suspected, it would probably denote an immediate attack.
He was not disappointed. Or actually, on second thought, he was.
The shopkeeper opened his mouth to answer, but was silenced when the front door was slammed wide open and a mass of Inferi poured in, in their all decaying glory. To make things even worse, their appearance was instantly followed by an oppressing flash of spiritual coldness that signified an anti-Apparation ward powering up.
“Oh bloody hell,” Harry exclaimed softly. His hand rose and he called his wand from the enchanted holster almost by pure instinct, red light exploding from the tip. A loud explosion of super-heated blood and scorched flesh followed as a sizzling filament flashed through the first Inferius' face before hitting the one behind it, causing yet another deafening bang.
Harry's next flick of wand and a snarled word caused numerous, brilliant orange threads of thrumming fire-magic to spin around the third zombie, and a second later it erupted in a fiery geyser of immolated flesh and burning blood. The violent blast of searing air was enough to billow Harry's robe and throw the nearest Inferi around like rag-dolls.
Killing Inferi was almost too easy when they came from one direction only, and Harry was all but ashamed that it took him many seconds to realise they had to be just a diversion. Out of sheer paranoia he jumped to his left and not a second later, a blazing curse sailed by him. It missed him by less than a foot, blasting into a bookshelf and showering burning pieces of paper and wood around.
Quickly diving behind another shelf, Harry whipped his wand and tore one of the prone zombies in half with a powerful Ripping Hex while he was still in the air. Black blood plashed everywhere from the lacerated wounds and pooled onto the floor, the upper half of the undead monster still slowly clawing its way towards him, drooling blood with every movement. It was rather disgusting...and even somewhat amusing, in a very morbid way.
Then a wide arc of pulsating purple fire blasted through the nearby bookshelves, setting them aflame, and cutting apart the last two standing Inferi. Harry was buried under a veritable flood of smouldering books as the broken shelves collapsed. It wasn't very nice, but if he hadn't been lying on the floor the powerful curse would have killed him instead of burying him under partially smouldering books.
“Perite!” Harry cried out and an Area Banisher hurled the rubble away from him like a miniature tornado, the tremendous pressure blast collapsing most of the few still standing bookshelves not pressed against a wall. The shop's windows exploded outwards, raining glass shards on the hopefully empty street.
Quickly rolling over the dirty floor he avoided a streak of azure light that, instead of tearing a fist-sized hole onto the young sorcerer's body, ripped up a few floorboards with a loud sizzling hiss and set them alight, bright lightning snaking briefly around the smoking shards. Harry could distinctly smell the sharp stench of ozone left behind by the super-charged Shocking Hex.
He jumped back on his feet, dashing to his right to avoid the next barrage of Dark magic, and finally got a sight of his assailant. He instantly recognised her; she was the witch from yesterday –the one who saw him come into this mad world. Harry had no time to wonder why she was after him, however, as the witch hurled a rather nasty Explosion Curse at him – the very same spell Pettigrew used to kill nearly a dozen Muggles. Despite its sheer explosive power, the curse was not a very hard spell to block and so the young wizard decided to '' it. Aligning his wand in a sufficient angle, Harry summoned a simple Protego. The blazing curse was deflected with a loud clang, sailing through the air and hitting an Inferius right into its torso.
It was like a Muggle demolition charge had went off right next to him, smouldering pieces of flesh splattering against his shimmering shield. Despite he had closed his eyes in time, he was still blinded for a moment and his ears rang horrendously, drowning all other sounds. Not that he would have been able to see through the thick cloud of dust and smoke, anyway.
Shooting curses blindly where he thought the witch might be, Harry staggered around, hoping that luck would favour him over his opponent as it become obvious that the witch was doing the same. After a few seconds of aimless and apparently futile barrages, both duellers ceased their attacks, instead opting to conserve power. Silence settled down on the occult store turned battlefield, except for the crackle of flames.
Then the floor creaked faintly behind him and Harry spun around, a hazel Annihilation Curse leaving his wand in a split second and promptly turning everything it touched into fine powder. The spell made a faint whooshing sound as it ate through the zombie's chest like an army of starved termites. What remained of the Inferius' body collapsed a heartbeat later. Harry cursed. The witch now knew his location and there might be even more Inferi hiding in the smoke...
Wind whistled and something barely visible went by him, distorting air and gashing a bleeding cut on his shoulder. Whatever spell it was, it had cleared the path between the two sorcerers. “Immolatum,” Harry snarled as his wand whipped towards the woman, dark smoke and almost painfully-bright green fire bursting out of the tip. The blazing dart of all-consuming elemental fire burned blue and purple after-images into his retinas, the stench of sulphur mixed with something sweet filling his nostrils.
The dark-clad woman didn't even bother to bring up a shield, instead the very powerful and obviously Dark witch casually back-handed the roaring curse away from her, sending the blazing bolt spiralling towards the ceiling, which it hit a second later, neon-green conflagration spreading across the wooden panels and raining fiery sparks upon the two duellists.
Then the woman's thicker rod was already pointed at him and, as she spat out two sinister words, the runes carved on the wooden device lit up with a yellowish-green glow. A twisting bolt of sickly green light blossomed from the end of the rod and sped towards Harry, who instantly swayed to his side. Invisible wind howled into his ear as the life-snubbing Unforgivable went by him, the bookshelf behind him exploding with green fire. Apparently the dreaded Killing Curse existed in this world too. The young wizard knew he shouldn't be too surprised about the fact as they obviously could use Necromancy...
“Contego!” Harry yelled, brandishing his wand that was still trailing grey smoke after his last spell, and a purple shield swirled into existence, intercepting the foul beam of inky darkness that the Dark witch had almost lazily tossed after the Killing Curse. The long-tailed jet of liquid-looking shadows splashed futilely against the shimmering amethyst barrier, but the clearly Dark curse didn't dissipate like it should have, instead it divided in two and slid towards the edges of the shield. Harry cursed inwardly and frantically pumped more magic into the shield, willing it to take a spherical shape. Thankfully the advanced shield expanded faster than the other spell slid along the barrier, fully enveloping Harry in a heartbeat. However, the shadowy spell just coiled tightly around the protective dome, releasing a continuous, sizzling hiss as it did so.
“Avada Kedavra!” Roared the woman again, her face a mask of hatred and glee, the two foul words releasing another deadly jet of magic at the young wizard. Harry's eyes widened in horror; the Unforgivable would tear straight through his shield and he couldn't drop the protective spell and dodge because of the shadowy threads circling him...
There was a flash metallic light as the Gryffindor's sword left its plain scabbard, the magnificent silver blade sheathed in golden flames slashing vertically across the purple barrier and cutting through the writhing strands of pure darkness. Harry dived forward through the opening he had just made, the Killing Curse fluttering his unruly black hair as it passed barely an inch over him.
He somersaulted on the floor and was instantly back on his feet again, the Summer-empowered blade slashing through the air and cleaving an incoming spell in half, the two unravelling smidgens of yellowish light went by either side of him in spiralling paths, releasing ominous hiss as the foul magic dispersed.
The sickly-yellow Flesh Rotting Curse was quickly followed by a twisting spear of reddish-orange light that left a wispy trail of fire behind it. The young wizard twisted his torso almost violently, his robe billowing out and the fiery spell burning two smoking holes into the pitch-black fabric, coming within a hair’s breadth of hitting him as it flew past. Harry's hand rose and a sharp jab of his wand sent a vicious Cutting Curse aimed at the older magician's neck. but the woman quickly flicked her wand-imitation and the red filament was redirected towards the floor, the spell burrowing deep into the concrete below the wooden floorboards with a loud crunch.
Then the witch abruptly sped up her spellwork and and suddenly the air between them was full of streaks of coloured lights. Barely avoiding the first three blazing curses, Harry was forced to bring up an amethyst barrier to shield himself from the almost continuous stream lesser spells. He gritted his teeth and steeled his will as the holly wand vibrated violently in his hand, forcing the magic to keep its shape. What the spells lacked in raw power, they more than made up with sheer quantity and his Contego shield was quickly rupturing under the relentless barrage.
The Potter scion exploded into motion, the purple shield shattering and streaks of multicoloured light passing through the spot he had just vacated. Harry swirled his sword, hitting a Heart Stopping Curse with the flat of the blade and batting it away, and brought his wand down in a slashing movement, unleashing a pulsating arc of deep purple fire.
The witch sidestepped, not even trying to shield against the curse and gracefully letting it rocket by her, while a complicated motion of her rod hurled dozens of small silver darts at Harry.
The deadly projectiles hit an invisible shield with loud gong-like clangs, all but two of them rebounding into random directions at the contact. One of the two that managed to puncture the shield missed the young wizard by over a foot, but the other went straight through his wand arm, eliciting a pained scream from Harry. The enchanted dart easily overcame the specialised Cushioning Charm capable of stopping bullets and the spell-reinforced fabric of his robe, bursting through soft flesh and shattering bone with a loud crack. The wall behind Harry stained with thousands tiny droplets of vivid crimson and the wand fell from his suddenly numb fingers, clattering against dirty floorboards.
His green eyes watered and an agonised hiss escaped his lips, but the the young wizard otherwise ignored the piercing pain radiating from his broken arm. With the last step, Harry finally reached the Dark witch and slashed his flaming sword at her belly, intending to cleave the bitch in half.
The wild swing never landed. The witch whispered a single word of power, the tip of her rod lighting up with a faint scarlet glow that quickly grew into a brilliant halo as more strands of light burst out and coalesced around the wooden stick, and brought it in the sword's path. The blasting rod and the sword met with a loud crack-hiss accompanied by an explosion of fiery sparks.
Then a wave of the woman's hand and a wandless Banisher sent Harry flying across the room, smashing against a tall bookshelf, the jarring impact toppling it. Gryffindor's sword slipped from his fingers and hit the floor with a loud clang, the golden flames dying in an instant.
Harry quickly rolled off the fallen bookshelf, barely avoiding the searing torrent of Cursed Fire that instantly consumed the wooden shelf and the Muggle books, and snatched his wand from the floorboards. The young wizard could see multiple demonic shapes becoming more and more defined in the swirling reddish-orange flames as the magical fire spread and grew in intensity.
Harry was forced to draw his attention from the ravenous flames as a bolt of green light exploded out from the witch's pointed rod. His wand moved in blur and the Killing Curse exploded against a slab of conjured marble, the force behind the spell fracturing and blackening the white stone. His next spell exploded the piece of marble with a thunderous crack, sending a deadly shower of sharp stone shards at the witch, who waved her rod in an elaborate loop.
Bluish light enveloped the woman, swirling around her and catching the projectiles, holding the stone fragments within it as if the air was suddenly made of jelly. Then the distorting light died and the pieces of marble fell with faint clatters.
By this time Harry had already repaired his arm and Summoned his sword, the enchanted blade igniting in his hand and bathing the shop in its warm golden hue again. The lacerated wound hadn't been very complicated, nor had the spellsilver conjuration left any inhibiting magical residuals, and so a simple but rather painful Episkey was able to mend the bone and reknit the flesh... Well, at least temporally.
“Intending to fight with a sword like a filthy Muggle?” the witch drawled, as she stared the blade with clear distaste. She sniffed haughtily and lowered her rod, blazing threads of destructive energy still crackling around it. “If that's the case, then you might as well give your wand to me.”
Harry blinked owlishly and his mouth hung open. The nutty Dark witch desired his wand? It was rather novel; nobody had ever wanted to murder him for a wand before... “What?” he exclaimed after a moment as he stared incredulously at the blonde woman, the word leaving his mouth without conscious thought.
“You destroyed my wand and the Elder Wand; yours is the only proper wand in this pathetic little world.”
“Voldemort?” Harry muttered disbelievingly, the woman's true identity suddenly dawning to him. “What the bloody hell are you doing here? Don't tell me you came after me...”
“Stupid boy,” Voldemort snarled. “I would have happily let you rot here without any interference, but alas, my desire to see you die led me to be caught in the Circle when it activated.”
“So... I burned the fabled Deathstick... Boo-fucking-hoo,” Harry remarked after a brief silence. “If I remember right, Bellatrix incinerated my Hallow with Fiendfyre...while Neville was still wearing it. I say we are still far from even!”
“Very well then, Potter,” Voldemort said in his...her...customary hiss, lifting the blazing rod. The witch's lips slithered into a faint smile. “I can take it from your cold fingers too. In fact, I prefer it this way; you have been a thorn in my side for too long already.”
“Or perhaps,” a third voice joined the conversation, “you will just exit my shop and continue your argument outside.” The shopkeeper had risen from behind the counter where he had taken cover when the fight begun and was now pressing a shotgun barrel against Voldemort's back. Harry drew in a sharp breath. Why did the stupid Muggle decide to intervene in a wizarding duel when he could have run the fuck away while they were still fighting?
“See, Harry. This is why I dislike Muggles,” Voldemort said and turned around. The crude Muggle-made weapon roared as it spit out a lethal shower of speeding metal balls, but Harry wasn't sure if any of the projectiles managed to penetrate the magical defences undoubtedly woven around the witch. 'Her' hand flashed, flesh parting and searing as Voldemort's magic-empowered rod carved it's path through the shopkeeper's torso, showering her with copious amounts of boiled blood, the man's dead body collapsing on the desk. The pump-action shotgun clattered against the floor in two parts, both pieces smoking and partially molten. As the witch turned to face Harry again, he could see a small bleeding wound on her side, but if she even felt it, she showed none of it. “They don't know how to act with their betters.”
She rolled her wrist and the fiery halo that surrounded the rod quickly ebbed away. Seeing this, Harry finally recovered from his stupor and flicked his wand, amethyst light exploding from the tip. A brilliant beam of purple energy lanced forwards, barely missing Voldemort as she jumped out of the spell's way, the Gouging Charm hitting the oaken desk behind her and tearing a fist-sized hole through it, raining wooden shrapnel on the two duelists.
A quick jab of the witch's rod hurled a burst of innumerable burning arrows towards Harry, forcing him to erect a silvery shield, deflecting the flaming projectiles into random directions with a sharp staccato of echoing clangs. Voldemort fluidly evaded the three of them rebounded back at her and flourished her rune-etched rod, something oily and sickly-yellow spurting out of the tip and forming into a sleek spear that rocketed towards the younger magician.
The high-level conjuration tore effortlessly through Harry's hastily created Protego, but the young wizard was already on the move, easily sidestepping the gleaming spear, and trained his wand at the witch. “Avada Kedavra!”
Voldemort made no move to dodge the spell, instead she caught the Unforgivable with the tip of her rod, the long-tailed jet of sickly-green light coiling around the wooden device. Then she gave it a little flick, hurling Harry's spell back at him. As he frantically dodged the Killing Curse, he was woefully unprepared the Cursed Fire burning nearby suddenly animating and jumping up at him.
Harry screamed in pain and surprise as a huge serpent composed of ravenous orange-red fire coiled around him, his wand flashing through a set of complex motions. Only the multiple layers of defensive magic around him kept him from being instantly immolated. As it was, the protective spells bought him the second he needed to cast the counter-curse, enabling Harry to escape a certain death and suffer only minor, if extensive, burns. The magical flames died in an instant, leaving behind only a plume of dark smoke and a few orange sparks.
Then there was a faint flash of yellow light and Harry found himself being hurled across the room, slamming against the wall with a dull thud and slumping down in a heap. The jarring impact sent his wand flying into the dusty corner, the Gryffindor's sword sinking into the wall behind him. He lay on the floor, groaning softly. The pain was quite severe; not only did he feel decidedly sick, his skin was a one big burn. After a moment, Harry lifted his head from the parquet and looked at the gloating Voldemort.
“Any last words, Potter?” she asked in a sibilant drawl and lifted her smoking rod. Harry's eyes focused on the small, burning dent cut by Gryffindor's sword, wisps of black smoke and occasional fiery spark rising from it. “It seems that your persistence was a simple fluke, after all. This time you won't be saved by the ancient blood magic, nor will there be any cosmic accidents. This time you will die. Avada Kedavra!”
There was a brilliant flash of sickly-green light and her rod exploded, the damaged channelling device finally breaking under the strain. Vivid red and pieces of charred flesh stained the scorched walls and what remained of Voldemort's half-exploded body collapsed a second later.
There was a brief moment of stunned silence until Harry burst out laughing. The laughter was hysterical and decidedly maniacal, lacking any real mirth. He stopped only after it got too hard to breathe due to heat and noxious smoke permeating the air.
Harry looked around. Voldemort's wraith was nowhere to be seen, but he couldn't say whether it was a good thing or not. The building was badly ravaged and happily burning, but it was probably for the best as he and the Dark Lord... Lady, or whatever, had unleashed a shit-load of Dark magic here. He would let it burn. The place was tainted and flames would be enough to purge it.
He stood up shakily, waving his hand and using the charmed holster attached to the underside of his wrist to call back his wand. The holly stick sped through the air and slid directly into the wand-holder. After sheathing his sword, he checked he still had the book, and with a final, remorseful look at the dead shopkeeper, Apparated away.