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.]
Rating: R (M)
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 Seven: Tea and Strumpets
Wind swept trash across the dark alley and whipped dead leaves and dust particles into a frenzy. An aluminium can rolled forward in the road, reflecting the yellowish light cast by the single working street light. The whistling wind drowned the soft rasp of metal grinding against asphalt. Then a man appeared out of the blue with a sharp crack of displaced air, thousands of bright, golden sparks swirling around his black-robed form and briefly illuminating the back alley. The discarded beer can was crushed under a heavy, leather boot.
The green-eyed wizard scanned his surroundings and frowned thoughtfully. There was definitely something wrong with Apparation. It worked, yes, but it certainly did feel right. Also he couldn't forget how his first Apparation attempt had ended... That was the only time he had tried to Apparate to a location within the same dimension. Every other time he had managed to Apparate successfully, which led him to his little theory: one could only Apparate between the mortal realm and Nevernever; that teleportation was impossible without crossing the planar border. Of course, it was just a half-assed theory with hardly any evidence backing it. But as this world lacked Ministry experts to put him back into one piece after a failed Apparation, he wasn't too keen at testing his hypothesis even if it was just a glorified gut feeling.
A wand slipped from Harry's sleeve into his gloved hand, and there was a soft creak of leather as his fingers tightened around the holly handle. With a few idle flicks, a Notice-Me-Not Charm settled on him and concealed the young wizard from Muggle vision. He didn't know if the spell would hide him from the vampires of the White Court or not. Normal vampires were able to casually pierce these kind of low-level illusions but he had no idea if these living vampires could. Frankly, Harry didn't know what to think of them. The idea that a vampire could actually be alive was beyond ridiculous ‒ it was like saying that vampires sparkled in direct sunlight. White Court vampires seemed more like bitchy Veelas than real blood-sucking, night-skulking nosferatu, except that they ate people. That was a big minus.
Aurora didn't share his indecision ‒ she absolutely loathed both living and dead vampires, that much was certain even from the one short conversation they had on the subject. Since vampires begun joining Voldemort en masse, Harry too had understandably acquired a moderate dislike of them. Of course, this world's vampires had never joined the Dark Lord and so he couldn't really transmit his antipathy to them. On the other hand, vampires here already had what Voldemort offered for their services in the first place; the ability to feed on any Muggle they desired. It was insanity. Harry couldn't understand why the White Council had let things deteriorate this far. Were they simply too weak or didn't they care about Muggles at all?
For some time he had entertained ideas of bargaining with the vampires for the ring. He had eventually abandoned those thoughts simply because he had nothing of equal value to offer them except his enchanted sword, and it was not something he could just trade away. He doubted that they would simply accept Muggle money that Aurora kept throwing at him. Besides, bartering with them was not the brightest idea to begin with ‒ vampires were notoriously bad business partners and he would be liable to be back-stabbed at the earliest convenience. Wizards were a step below them on the food chain, after all.
Harry's current plan was not burdened by any overt complexity: he would find a single White Court vampire and see if they could see through the Notice-Me-Not Charm. And if they could, he would then pick a fight to see just how hard their powers were to resist. After that he would interrogate and Obliviate them. It wasn't like he was intending to attack their base with wand blazing and defeat them all in a straight battle, no, but he had to gauge their strength before dealing with a whole group of them. He was planning to sneak in, steal the enchanted ring, and then sneak out without anyone being any wiser. With his ability to Apparate, getting out would be absurdly easy; getting in and finding the Arthame was the tricky part.
Being extra careful in crossing the four-lane street as Muggles were pretty much incapable of seeing him, Harry reached the towering hotel that was his destination. Pushing the large glass and steel door open, he strode into the well-lit lobby.
He briefly glanced at his wristwatch and hoped that he wouldn't have to wait too long for his...informant to arrive.
Natalia Raith smiled as her back hit the wall with a soft thud. Her newest lover ‒ if she could ever really call a weak kine as such ‒ rained soft kisses down on her neck while her hands slid under his shirt and ran up and down the muscular back, her manicured nails drawing red lines on the tanned skin.
His breath came in quickened pants and she could literally feel his desire. She too hungered for him, albeit in a very different way. It wasn't like she found him undesirable or his attention unwelcome. He, like every other human male she associated with, was young, healthy and attractive ‒ full of vitality of youth. But in the end, the young businessman was just a buffet and business combined.
She hooked a leg behind him, her short skirt riding up her thigh to expose even more skin, and her arms slid around his neck as she drew him into a deep kiss. Her hips shifted in little hungry rolls with every tiny correction of her balance and Natalia revelled at the almost dizzying wave of blissful power that surged into her when their lips touched. The man in her arms shuddered a little, his eyes widening, but showed no other sign of even noticing that she was feasting on his life. She could hear his pounding heart as their tongues duelled and when she finally broke the kiss, he swayed on his feet a little, his breath gone.
It never ceased to amaze her how willingly and eagerly humans let her to devour parts of their immortal soul. They literally begged for it; did almost anything for it. With a few sultry words, a promising wink and a brief flash of cleavage, she could get men eating from her hand. They laid their riches on her feet just for her to walk over them...and the mortal fools loved every second of it. Even when she ruined their fortunes and drained their life they still desired her. And that was the problem. It was simply too easy and ultimately so...unsatisfying. She hadn't felt the joy of hunt for ages and even all these business dealings were slowly losing their glamour. Feeding was feeding and money was money; both were nice, more than nice even, but neither ruled her life. She craved a proper challenge, a strong man that wouldn't turn to putty at the first flash of her vampire powers. But until that day came, these rich weaklings would have to keep her entertained.
Natalia giggled softly as the man scooped her onto his muscular arms and carried her to the huge bed, gently lowering her onto the silken covers. She knew it was vain, especially because she was much stronger than the human could ever hope to be, but she certainly liked being pampered like a princess. Despite being a member of the infamous Raith family she was still a woman, with all the strengths and weaknesses thereof.
The miniskirt gathered around her waist when she rolled on the soft bed and beckoned her lover to join her. Arching her back and thrusting her breasts forward, she stretched on the bed, mussing the red sheets and pulling a seductive pose. His weight settled next to her and she quickly crawled over him, straddling his waist and rubbing herself against his erection. She smiled wickedly at the almost painful look of desire on the businessman's young face. In response, his hands slid up her thighs, trailing soft, tantalizing touches, and she barely registered the sound of her silky thong being ripped apart. The little white garment, slick with her arousal, was carelessly tossed over a shoulder. Placing her hands on his bare chest, Natalia leaned down to kiss the man, her long, dark curls tickling his face.
Then the vampire's eyes fell upon a dark-robed figure sitting lazily on a cushy armchair on the other side of the room and her good mood vanished in an instant. The intruder's arms were crossed non-threateningly on his lap and an amused smile graced his lips. She didn't know if the freak was just a harmless pervert who got off watching other people get down and dirty or if he was here for more nefarious purpose. Whatever his reasons were, Natalia didn't feel like finding them out and, as such, decided to go for pre-emptive measures. Her hand slowly reached into her companion's black suit and surreptitiously drew his gun from the armpit holster.
The wizard couldn't even blink before she emptied the clip at him.
Harry felt decidedly voyeuristic but still couldn't help but smirk ‒ he was a teenage wizard with raging hormones, after all. Or at least that was his excuse. While the vampire wasn't up to Aurora's class, she was still positively stunning. She had a dancer's body, the curves of her hips and breasts making a lovely outline, and her flowing black hair looked both silky and luscious. Besides, she had on decidedly less clothing than he had ever seen the Summer Lady wear. The vampire really wore her silky, white lingerie well but that was to be expected from a quintessential femme fatale. He was even further distracted when her knickers arched through the air and landed a foot from his shoe.
While he had assumed the woman would have company, with her being a supernatural sexual predator and all, he had not anticipated that they would start to tear off each other's clothes the moment they walked in. Thus it was no wonder that he was somewhat at a loss of what to do now. While he had entertained some perverted ideas of simply letting the pair continue and waiting until she went to sleep before Stunning her, he knew he couldn't do so ‒ it would be both immoral and disturbing in more ways than one. Then again, because of the Muggle he couldn't really just start flinging spells.
His pondering was interrupted when the sleazy vampire whipped out a gun at him. It happened so fast that he had no time to react, his eyes barely following the motion. The Muggle firearm roared repeatedly, smoke and fire bursting out of its nozzle. The deafening bangs seemed to reverberate inside his skull and the rain of bullets fell upon him like a series of sharp slaps. Despite that he, rationally, knew he was almost impervious to small-calibre fire and in no real danger, his hand still rose to protect his face and he stood up in one violent movement. Something slammed painfully against his palm and his fingers tightened around the small object out of pure reflex.
Then the pistol clicked empty and Harry released the breath he didn't knew he was holding. His heart was pounding against his ribcage and he was practically shaking out of pure shock. Drops of scarlet seeped through his clenched fingers and when Harry opened his hand, a blood-coated bullet clattered against the dark carpet. The vampire cursed softly and Harry found it hard not to smile. Catching a bullet with your hand, no matter how accidentally, was a cool feat.
He drew his wand took and a few slow steps forward whilst keeping his eyes locked on the woman. The vampire let the gun fall from her fingers in a placating gesture and it fell with a loud clunk. Needless to say, Harry wasn't very placated and it probably showed on his face as her pale eyes started flicking wildly around the room like a caged animal looking for an escape. As Harry moved, his wand flashed and a silent Episkey mended the broken skin of his palm. His second spell was directed towards the floor and it vanished the bloodstains and a few of the bullets scattered on the carpet.
At this point the Muggle had turned around and his searching gaze travelled across the room. The businessman's eyes slid over Harry many times and the man was clearly having huge difficulties in focusing at him despite the fact that the wizard now stood right in front of the bed. The man blinked repeatedly as he tried to clear his vision ‒ not that it helped. “I think a forgot my wallet in the bar,” he eventually said, his pupils dilated and voice puzzled. The Muggle's eyes glazed and he licked his lips as he fully succumbed to the mind-bending charm. “Just wait here. It won't take long.”
The vampire obviously did not agree, apparently greatly disliking the idea of losing her meat-shield. Her arms tightened around the man and stopped him on his tracks. “It's alright, Love. Please stay with me,” she whispered lovingly in his ear and the man instantly stopped fidgeting, although his immensely confused expression remained. The soft words were said with absolute conviction and if Harry didn't know better, he could have sworn she was sincere.
“He doesn't see me, vampire,” Harry said casually and pointed his wand at the embracing pair. “Nor does he truly hear me. My business here doesn't involve him and so you could as well ask him to leave.”
Her eyes narrowed even as she gently played with the businessman's short, brown hair. He was now completely supine and leaning against the vampire's chest, his fingers intertwined with hers. His expression was somewhat disturbing ‒ Harry had never even seen a teenage witch with such lovelorn face and it was painfully clear that the man's will had been thoroughly broken. No wonder he fell so easily under his barely average Notice-Me-Not Charm, then. “Do you think I'm stupid, wizard?”
“Holding him hostage won't help you any,” Harry bluffed and brandished his wand a little, a few bright sparks escaping the tip. “Killing you both is just as easy as killing just you.”
“Technically, you are correct, I would think,” she admitted with a dismissing wave of her hand. “However you White Council Wizards have strict rules about not killing humans with magic.”
Harry lifted an eyebrow. “Are you saying they are permitted to kill by non-magical means? Anyway, I'm not part of that particular cabal, and so don't think I will stay my wand because of him.”
“You lie,” she spat. “If you were allowed to kill us both, you would have already done so.”
Harry cocked his head. “Why are you even thinking I'm here to kill you?”
“Are you saying you are not?”
She was obviously not very convinced but as convincing her of that would be pretty counter-productive, anyway, Harry deigned it not necessary to answer. Instead, he whipped his wand and something invisible tore the Muggle from the vampire's arms, throwing him across the luxurious hotel room.
The woman's eyes took an eerie silvery-white glow and she moved with speed surpassing that humanly possible, kicking the bed's end for even greater pace. She reached Harry in a heartbeat, deftly batting his wand arm to the side and ramming her shoulder in his chest. As he was blasted backwards by the unnaturally strong woman, Harry reflexively caught a hold of her slim wrist, drawing her with him as he half flew, half back-pedalled. The vampire might have been supernaturally strong but she lacked the body mass to efficiently resist the movement.
Harry's back came into a contact with the bullet fractured glass wall and it proved woefully incapable of killing his momentum. “Merlin,” was the only thing the young wizard could say as he and the silver-eyed vampire went through the fourth floor window. He tried to grasp the thick curtain as he went by but his fingers just slid along the slick fabric. Harry's robe flapped in the wind as their tangled bodies fell down accompanied by a shower of glittering glass shards, both deadly and beautiful. Closing his eyes and bracing himself for the painful impact, Harry hoped that no-one was directly underneath them ‒ his magic would protect him, others might not be so lucky.
The impact was jarring, blasting the wind out of him, and it took him a few seconds to reorient himself. The woman, pumped up with the freaky vampire power, suffered under no such disadvantage and instantly took off, sprinting down the road faster than a human had any right to. It was almost unfair that she could do so while wearing four-inch stiletto heels... The cowardly bitch had apparently decided that discretion was the better part of valour, which made things a lot harder as he couldn't let her escape to her kin.
Blinking furiously to clear his vision and desperately trying to catch his breath, he scampered back to his feet. Outstretching his hand, he used the wand-holder's magic to summon his wand, having lost it in the impact. Harry caught the wand from the air as it zoomed to him and twisted on the spot, vanishing with a soft pop. Blinking through the Garden of Elysium, his second Apparation brought him a dozen yards ahead the half-naked vampire.
He had a clear shot at the vampire but he hesitated, his wand wavering a little. There were simply too many witnesses and potential victims. He could hardly start a magical battle in city streets. The sexy vampire running around nearly naked was gathering enough stares as it was and not even the Notice-Me-Not Charm would stop things from becoming a public spectacle if he started spewing ribbons of light from his wand and blowing shit up. There were limits even to the Muggles' ability ignore everything that happened around them.
She cornered with fluid grace and was running away from him again. The vampire stopped as she reached a dark-clad motorcyclist just starting his bike. With casual disregard usually reserved for swatting a bug, she lifted the man high into the air and threw him away, sending him rolling on the street until he hit the wall. She jumped on the bike and hit the gas. The powerful engine roared, tyres screamed and rubber burned as the bike shot into the streets.
Harry walked leisurely after the escaping woman, his black robe swishing with every step. He lifted his wand with a flourish but waited until the motorbike had accumulated some speed. The wizard almost shook his head. Really, she had made it all too easy... “Accio.”
The effect was instantaneous. The bike stopped as if it had hit a wall but vampire was not so lucky. She flew over the handlebar, spinning through the air and hitting the asphalt four yards away. Harry cancelled the Summoning Charm before it had dragged the motorbike more than a few feet to him and sprinted towards the prone woman.
He knelt next to the moaning figure and placed his hand on the vampire's bare shoulder, her flesh warm and pliable under his fingers. Closing his eyes in concentration, Harry focused his will and called up a destination. The crushing pressure of Apparation settled on him as they were whisked deep into Faerie, the nearest portion of Nevernever. Golden sparks of leftover magic danced around the pair as they materialized in the lush gardens surrounding the Summer Palace and landed in a tangled heap.
Harry was spitting dirt from his mouth when the vampire splayed under him suddenly turned around. Her inhuman eyes were burning pale silver and her bloody face looked like it had been repeatedly pushed over a grater. Her flesh was quickly resewing itself in front of the young wizard's wide eyes but at the moment the hateful expression on her half-repaired face was simply terrifying.
There was a flash of red and his Stunner tore into the black soil, having missed the lightning fast vampire by a mere inch. A second later the young wizard found himself yanked up into the air as the vampire stood up and her fingers tightened around his throat. Coloured blobs splattered over his vision as the air was choked out of him. Harry's feet dangled a foot above the ground and he aimed a few sharp kicks into her groin and stomach but he could have as well kneed a brick wall; it had no effect whatsoever. The woman's other hand clasped his wrist, forcing his wand away from her, and applied such pressure that his fingers were quickly going numb.
“Interesting tricks you have, wizard,” she drawled, her previously perfect teeth now stained with crimson. “But it's over now.”
“I have to agree with you,” Harry managed to gurgle through the choke hold, his eyes looking over the vampire's shoulder.
She lifted one, bloody eyebrow. “The old 'there's something behind you' ploy, eh? Even if there, indeed, is something behind me, I can still-”
“Kindly unhand my Emissary, Miss Raith. Do it now. It's unbecoming to assault servants of the Summer Court within Elysium.”
Harry found himself being tossed to the ground in no gentle fashion as the vampire turned to face the Summer Lady. She was sitting behind an ornate wooden table and taking small, elegant sips from the painted, porcelain cup in her hand. There was a whole pack of green-furred scrunts lying on the soft grass around the table, their fiery eyes fixated on the vampire and the vine-like tails twitching agitatedly. They made no move to attack but their soft growls and high-pitched whines weren't very reassuring.
He stood up and cleared his sore throat while at the same time massaging his aching neck. While Harry couldn't see the red marks marring his neck, he could feel them all too well. He pointed his holly wand at the vampire's defenceless back and met Aurora's gaze for a moment. She shook her head once, the message loud and clear, but Harry continued the staring match for a few seconds more before finally sheathing his wand.
“Tea?” the Summer Lady asked and when the vampire didn't answer, she eventually continued more forcefully, “Please have a seat and enjoy some tea. Don't be impolite.”
That seemed to do the trick and the vampire hesitantly walked to the table and sat down on one of the empty chairs. She wasn't even limping. Aurora clapped her manicured hands and a small army of glittering sprites came out of nowhere, bringing out more porcelain teacups, small plates and a steaming pot with them. The little creatures kept buzzing around the table, visible as hardly more than zigzagging motes of light. Their tiny wings beat the air madly as they moved, filling the cups and bearing more plates of croissants and colourful pastries. The Summer Lady turned to look at him again and made a beckoning gesture with her hand. “Ah, Lord Potter. Why wouldn't you join us?”
He did so. While the vampire sat with her back straight as if someone had rammed something up her ass, Harry leaned back lazily, tilting the ornamented chair a little. Despite his apparent unconcern, he was careful not to choose a chair adjacent to the Raith woman. There was something to be said about the sensibility of wilfully coming to the grabbing distance of a being capable of ripping man from limb to limb.
Even as he sipped his citrus flavoured tea, the wizard never let his eyes wander far from the vampire, whose face had now fully regenerated, lovely once more although her torn clothes and the red splatters on her skin did inhibit her beauty somewhat. The situation was getting a bit too absurd for him. He had brought her here to be questioned, sure, but he had never expected it to happen over tea and crumpets.
“What do you want of me?” the vampire eventually asked. Harry noted that she hadn't even tasted her tea or touched the newly-baked pastries. Perhaps she had heard the old tales about faeries enslaving mortals by offering them Glamoured food... He suddenly blinked and almost choked on his croissant, staring wide eyed at the seemingly innocent pastry in his hand. Harry couldn't help but to wonder if he had been a naïve moron...
A delicate had grasped his shoulder firmly. “They are quite safe, Harry,” Aurora said calmly, although she was clearly amused. “I wouldn't try anything so underhanded with you. Nothing has changed between us.” She turned at the vampire. “And to answer your question, Miss Raith, we want nothing complicated.”
Suddenly it was very warm but pleasurably so. His hand trembled a little and a few drops of the golden liquid splattered on the table. The Summer Lady's radiant beauty drew in his gaze, demanding his full attention, and he was instantly and utterly fascinated by this unbearably lovely creature. Her feminine allure far exceeded mere words; she was the absolute perfection of muliebrity, desirable beyond reason. The band of yellow diamonds circling Aurora's slender neck sparkled as she flipped her hair in an elegant motion, the gorgeous white locks swaying around her. Harry's breath escaped in a soft, rattling hiss.
Delirious heat surged through him, filling his heart and...certain other body part with burning need. He wanted her so much that it was almost painful. Hypersensitive, Harry became decidedly aware of how his clothes pressed against his skin and he knew if someone were to touch him, it would feel really, really good. The young wizard's mind conjured up phantom sensations and vivid images of tangled bodies, warm touches, and sweet kisses. He licked his lips.
Then the coldness came; it settled over him like a silky cloak, tingling his skin and sending a shudder through his body. All the whilst cold clarity returned to him, his eyes narrowing. Aurora's high-powered Glamour had not been directed at him but he had still clearly felt its effect. Harry didn't know much about faerie magic but in his experience it was usually much more subtle than this. Apparently the Summer Lady went straight for the big guns.
The vampire's luminous eyes stared unblinkingly into the High Sidhe's green orbs as they pitted their power against each other. Their battle wasn't anything like a wizard's duel; despite the consequences of being equally dire, this was more about willpower than magic. For some unexplainable reason, his Outsider nature granted him a measure of protection against the sorceries of this world but it was far from absolute; if he focused more than a few seconds on either woman, some of their beguiling power seeped through his defences. Still, Harry could hardly avert his eyes from the pair. It probably wasn't due any magical effect but rather for the fact that two paragons of female beauty were making out three feet from him.
Harry's cheeks burned and he squirmed on his seat uncomfortably as his erection strained against his trousers. He had never been particularly into lesbian action but watching it live was another matter entirely. Besides, the two women in front of him would make the average porn starlet hang her head in shame; Aurora literally looked like what she wanted to and Raith was a born and bred seductress. As it was, they both looked like they had walked directly from wet dreams.
Endeavouring to retain some modicum of sophistication and quell the primal urge to join them, Harry's wand moved furiously under the table as he cast a bunch on Calming Charms on himself. He tried to focus on icebergs, glaziers and frozen tundras...instead of supple flesh, flawless skin and delicate curves. Unsurprisingly, he didn't have much success.
The vampire's breathing turned ragged and small quivers ran through her, the generous contours of her body shifting in a delicious way. Aurora cupped the vampire's flushed cheeks, her fingers sliding down her face and then her neck. “My little pet,” the Summer Lady whispered, her words sweeter than honey. The tone sent shivers down Harry's back. “I would be pleased if you answered a few questions for me.”
“Anything,” Raith breathed, completely besotted, her voice nearly worshipful. The vampire had lost and Harry could certainly appreciate the sheer irony of it. The vampiric mind-bender had just gotten a hefty dose of her own medicine. Still, watching her ecstatic face, Harry couldn't help but to think it was not right. Even the Imperius Curse, as bad as it was, just made the victim follow orders ‒ it didn't make her want to obey. Direct control was simply...cleaner. It corrupted neither mind or soul.
The wizard conjured a quill, ink, and parchments and begun taking notes as Aurora interrogated the vampire about the Raith manor and the White Court in general, while he stole only occasional longing glance at the pair. Minutes passed by and eventually she stopped asking questions, the soft scrape of Harry's quill ceasing soon after. He lifted his eyes from his work and the quill in his hand snapped in two when he saw the Summer Lady nibbling the other woman's lower lip.
“Aurora?” he questioned rather meekly, a faint blush settling on his cheeks again. If he didn't know any better, he would have though she did it just to torture him.
“Oh, yes...” she said breathlessly and released the vampire who slumped back into her chair, blinking repeatedly and looking dazed. “I suppose we are done here.”
She stood up and started walking away without saying another word. Harry watched the High Sidhe's abrupt departure for a few seconds in growing confusion before he quickly scooped the stack of parchments into his arms and dashed after her. Once he reached the Summer Lady, he fell in step with her. They walked in silence until he spoke, “Um... Don't those scrunts kill all outsiders not escorted by Sidhe?”
Aurora turned at him, her full lips slithered into a playful smile and she took his arm, drawing him close. The Summer Lady's body felt warm and soft next to him, and Harry could smell her perfume, a pleasant scent like that of a sunny field in full bloom. “Indeed. Isn't that a fitting end for a Jezebel? As the Romans said, Ad bestiam.”
A shrill scream of pain echoed through the garden for a second before it was cut short. Birds fell into deathly silence and Harry easily could hear the wet, tearing sounds over the soft flutter of millions of leaves shaking in the soft spring breeze. The young wizard just stared the Summer Lady, his eyes wide.
For a moment, Harry was scared shitless of her. Of course, he still had his raging hard-on, too. He didn't know whether he wanted to run the fuck away or rip off her fancy clothes and ravish her on the spot. Not that he could do either. Some days a man just couldn't win...
“We have arrived, sir.”
The taxi drivers deep voice brought his mind back to focus and his eyes snapped open. Rows of tall trees surrounded the winding road to the Château Raith and only a few golden rays of morning light filtered through the thick foliage to reach the sandy road or the slush carpets of dewed grass skirting it. Peering through the wide, moss-covered tree trunks, Harry could already see the large gates made of gleaming steel and white stone that guarded the entrance to the vampire mansion.
He yawned and rolled his neck. Shifting his position on the comfortable leather seat, Harry sat a bit straighter and reached into his over-robe, his hand withdrawing a porcelain, skull-like mask. The wizard placed the authentic Death Eater mask onto his face and a second later felt the slight tickling sensation as the special Sticking Charm attached it securely to its proper place. Although this was the second time he had worn it, he was still a bit surprised at how comfortable the mask actually was. It felt like cool silk against his face and the spells woven onto it guaranteed that it didn't impair his sight, hearing or ability to speak in any way. It seemed that the Death Eaters had actually managed to create something practical. Did wonders never cease?
The car stopped a respectable way from the gates. Apparently the driver was a bit unnerved by the small group of large, armed men standing in front of it, not that Harry could blame him. The balding man turned to him, his curious eyes flickering over the black-robed, white-masked wizard. “Are you going to a party?”
Harry smiled behind his mask. “You could certainly say that. Although I'm not sure if they are in the right party mood. So, how much do I owe you?”
“You don't want me to take you to the manor?” the man asked, sounding a bit surprised. At Harry's nod, he simply shrugged and glanced at the meter attached under the CD-player. “Eighty-six dollars and forty cents.”
“Keep the rest,” Harry said, giving a single note to the driver, and stepped out the car, taking slow steps towards the bunch of heavily-armed guards and the rather impressive gate topped with a coil of razor wire. He took a moment to assess the threat they posed. The guards were presumably all Muggles; no wizard would bother carrying around an assault rifle or grenades, or wear bullet-proof vests, for that matter. Vampires might but he seriously doubted that they could actually stand the inconvenience of standing in guard. From what he had learned, these White Court fellows seemed to be a bit too sybarite for that.
Harry waited until the taxi made an U-turn and sped away before walking any closer, not wanting any witnesses for what was about to happen. Sure, he had not originally planned for frontal assault but the fact that Lord Raith wore the Seal all the time made sneaking around a bit redundant ‒ he would have to confront the leader of the White Court and his bodyguards anyway. Creating some diversion could only help.
When he was about six yards in from guards, they lifted their weapons, all of the rifles now pointed at him. Whether it was in warning or if they were really preparing to shoot him, he didn't know. The young wizard's eyes narrowed and his fingers practically itched to draw his wand. While he didn't think the assault rifles could kill him, they might still harm him; those guns packed a lot more punch than a pistol. Then one of them, the one Harry presumed their leader, spoke, “Stay right where you are. Take off the mask and announce your name and purpose.”
He ignored the large man and took a few steps forward. Harry lifted his arm, the wand shooting into his waiting hand, and two things happened simultaneously. The guards' assault rifles roared full-auto, spitting death with a piercing staccato of ear-splitting bangs, whilst bright yellow light blossomed from his wand tip. Most of the bullets missed him by a wide margin and even those few that hit failed to accomplish anything more than bruises. They still hurt, though.
Then Harry's spell manifested itself in an explosion of light and wind that shook the very earth under his feet; the spell had enough concussive force to carve a foot-deep crater under the guards and hurl them over a dozen yards from the epicentre, their flailing bodies spinning through the air. A few of them flew past Harry, one missing him by mere inches. The men hit the ground with loud thuds and rolled a few yards more until finally stopping in moaning and cursing heaps, their weapons now scattered into a wide area. Dust filled the air, reducing vision to zero and making it hard to breathe, and Harry was bombarded by a shower of small stones kicked up by the powerful area banisher. While the spell was far from gentle, the guards shouldn't suffer much more than a few fractures and a whole lot of bruises. Not that Harry cared too much ‒ they were serving beings who enslaved and killed humans for living. Those Muggles were no better than Death Eaters.
When the dust cleared somewhat, he quickly strode towards the gate without giving the defeated guards a second glance. A second later the metal construction fell under the weight of neon-green fire, molten steel hitting the ground in a burning flood while wisps of dark smoke curled in the air for a moment before dissipating into the wind.
Harry stared at his wand, its glowing tip still trailing grey smoke and ghostly flecks of green fire. He had never been bad at calling fire but the Summer Fire burning within him made it a second nature. Not only that; it greatly empowered his other spells, too. Well, at least those that depended mostly on raw power; Summer Fire didn't exactly grant him any extra aptitude in delicate magic. There was no short cuts to skill and knowledge.
Walking through the burning gate, Harry stepped into the manor grounds proper. He could now see the actual manor in the distance and was just about to Apparate when he caught movement in the edges of his vision. Harry's heart jumped into his throat at the sudden flash of yellow and the young wizard instantly spun around, his left hand whipping up in a warding gesture. A two-feet-wide, electric-blue shield flickered into existence by the courtesy of the charmed ring he wore and intercepted a long-tailed jet of sickly-yellow light. The deadly curse was swallowed with a small plop and effortlessly encased within the circular screen, leaving behind only the stench of something rotting.
Harry didn't know how he hadn't seen the vampire sorcerer before but there he was, crouched about ten yards from him, luminous strands of necrotic power coiling around his hands and cackling faintly. Their gazes met and the young wizard found himself staring into those eerie, silver domes that burned with an inner power. He quickly tore his eyes away, not wanting to fall prey to the vampire's mind-bending powers, and the two warlocks moved almost in synch, both going for the kill. Harry whipped his wand, calling forth a blazing arc of amethyst fire, whilst the vampire unleashed another twisting ray of greenish-yellow light from his outstretched fingers.
The vampire sorcerer was forced to jump away from the bright filament of liquid flames ‒ an act that gave the initiative to Harry as he just had to shift his hand a little to absorb the handful of green death with another plop. All the while his wand flashed, sending a flurry of curses and hexes at the other sorcerer.
In a display of inhuman speed and fluidity of movement, the vampire sinuously danced around the blazing bolts of light, sometimes avoiding them by mere inches. Harry frowned behind his mask as the vampire kept avoiding explosive death and was even slowly moving toward him. The young wizard knew he would be in serious trouble if the vampire ever reached him.
With a sharp wave of his hand, Harry cancelled the spell-capturing shield and the appropriated spells were hurled toward their original caster. The vampire was very quick on his feet and neither of the twisting jets of necrotic energy came even close of hitting him. This, however, didn't avail him too much as an enormous fireball erupted from Harry's wand and swallowed the vampire in a heartbeat, immolating and blasting him backwards. Accompanied by the cocoon of swirling flames, the meaty thud of the vampire slamming against the wall was drowned by the low roar of flames. The burning carcass hit the scorched ground a second later.
The air was uncomfortably hot and thick with the smell of smoke and burnt flesh, making it hard to breathe. Lowering his smoking wand, Harry stared at the burning body of his first sentient victim in this world with something akin to apprehension. Then the supposedly lifeless heap moved, rolling in the damp moss to quench the flames devouring him.
The wizard blinked. Apparently vampires where a bit more resilient than he had given them credit for. Not that it mattered too much. In fact he was kind of happy that the sorcerer had survived; despite the man being a vampire he didn't want his death on his conscience. He had already killed far too many for his comfort.
Harry watched curiously as the still smoking vampire crawled towards the bunch guards that were lying flat on the ground, variegating between unconsciousness and groaning. When he reached the nearest one and placed his blackened fingers on the Muggle's temples, the guard immediately screamed in terror. A few seconds later the man's back was arching and he started to claw his own face, his piteous wailing growing even stronger.
No longer feeling even remotely curious, Harry ran towards the pair, his robe billowing behind him. This particular White Court vampire was obviously not of the Raith lineage as he fed through fear instead of lust. Even though the end result was mostly same, the Raith victims at least had fun instead of being tortured. Motes of silver light played around the vampire as he regenerated, the burned and broiled skin swiftly regaining more healthy texture. The vampire drank on the Muggle's life to sustain his own and, no doubt, he would drink until nothing remained.
“I don't think so,” Harry said coldly and lifted his wand, his face hardening with resolve. One that would kill his own allies to survive deserved no shred of mercy ‒ even that worthless and traitorous rat, Pettigrew, had just sold them out. “Avada Kedavra!”
Invisible wind howled and the vampires life expired in a flash of sickly-green light. The screaming Muggle slumped back on the ground and fell silent, his body still twitching slightly. Closing his eyes for a moment, Harry tried his best to ignore the euphoric feeling of Dark magic surging through him. He exhaled loudly.
A second later he vanished with a sharp crack and flicker of golden fire.
A jab of his wand Transfigured the jumping guard dog into a small kitten. The furry animal slammed against his chest and then fell onto the floor with a pathetic meow. Harry strode forward and resisted the urge kick the little cat now nibbling his robe's hem ‒ it would just be cruel.
His next flick of his wand summoned the weapons from the guards' hands. Before they even reached Harry, he had already turned the firearms into delicious pumpkins. The vegetables fell with a splatter and sprayed the wizard's shoes and robe with their sweet juices. He stepped over the mess and two wand thrusts later the guards were hanging upside down in the air.
“So, which one of you will tell me where your king is?” Harry asked the pair of guards. Seconds ticked by and neither of them seemed to be providing him with an answer. “Very well then. We can do this the hard way. Stupefy.”
The bright jet of red light slammed squarely into the guard's stomach and he suddenly become completely limp. He then pointed his wand at the remaining man. Harry met his gaze and drawled dangerously, “Unless you wish to die too, you will tell me where Lord Raith is.” It was complete bull, of course, but the Muggle had no way of knowing it.
“I'm right here, Sidhe.”
Harry swivelled around, the incantation for a Shield Charm ready on his lips. It was not needed, though. A lean, handsome man was standing behind the doorway and looking at him intently, his gaze, cold and calculating. The White King had strong, appealing features and the same glossy dark hair as his daughter. The white-clad man looked to be in his early thirties even though Harry knew for a fact that he was many centuries old.
“If you didn't reek of Summer Fire, I might have believed your disguise as a mortal wizard,” Lord Raith said conversationally. There was no hostility in his voice and he sounded almost bored. “It's a pity, though. You would have made a fine pet for one of my daughters.”
Then the White King lifted his hand and Harry's eyes focused on the small metal cylinder in the vampire lord's open palm. It was a detonator, with the big red button and all. As if by a cue, Raith's long fingers coiled around the device and his thumb moved on the button.
“Sweet Morgana,” Harry breathed just before his vision went white and the earthshaking roar of explosions drowned all other sounds.
Somebody had lined the walls with explosives.