An accident sends Harry Potter into Dresden universe 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 Dresden universe 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 Two: The Other Side of the Circle
Somewhere under one of the poorer parts of Chicago a certain individual was performing a forbidden ritual – she was trying to breach the Outer Gates and summon an Outsider to do her bidding. She knew that the seventh law of the White Council, the world's greatest conclave of wizards, forbid such practices under pain of death, but she wasn't about to stop now as she was so close of fulfilling her goals. Besides, if she succeeded, the aforementioned Council wouldn't be a problem for long.
She forced her excitement and nervousness to the back of her mind as she begun uttering the last seven quatrains of her incantation, the complex spell spilling from her lips in a continuous stream of syllables. She had finally found all of the information and items she required to attempt this highly complicated summoning. It had taken her a full four hours to draw the three-layered circle and the multitude of elaborate symbols that now glowed dimly before her. Prior to that there had been three months of collecting components, scouting for a suitable location and waiting for a good opportunity. However these were but blinks of the eye compared to the fifteen long years of painstaking investigation, research, and practice that had allowed her to truly begin her quest for vengeance and justice.
Legends scribed in the margins of ancient tomes and whispered amongst practitioners of the Art claimed that beyond the known world were beings of almost unsurpassed power, whose mere presence was enough to bend reality and send most mortals into throes of insanity. It was said that reality itself was a far-too-frail cage to truly hold these mighty beings and that God himself had exiled them into the dark edges of the multiverse, imprisoning them for all eternity in endless, bleak darkness.
Now the prison was in a process of being broken; each chanted word was like a small pick chipping the sturdy stone wall that separated their dimensions – slowly but surely. It was only matter of time until the mighty barrier would break under the unceasing efforts of the strong, female warlock.
She had always known that reality was a fragile thing, composed of a host forces beyond the ken of most mortals and immortals alike, awaiting only the hand that knows and eyes that see. She knew, she saw. And thus the power beckoned her. Tonight she would finally answer.
The runes carved onto her staff flared into life with brilliant reddish-orange light as she reached both inwards and outwards, tapping greedily into every source of magic she could find. A loud cackle filled her ears and red lightning snaked alongside the long wooden cane as she channelled the wild power of the storm raging outside as well as her own seething anger and almost unholy thirst for vengeance into the spell. The barely controlled power surged nearly painfully through her body, and her staff vibrated almost violently in her hands, quickly gaining heat – like it was a pipe used to channel liquid fire. The stench of brimstone filled her nose and the wooden shaft burned painfully into her palms and fingers but she knew better than to let go – doing so would invite disaster. The backlash would make Pompeii look outright tame...
Gathering her will she pushed the immense build-up of searing power into the carefully prepared circle, causing the complicated line works and symbols drawn onto the floor to glow brighter, and igniting the ethereal purple flames that began fanning over the whole circle. The large gold mirror in the centre of the summoning ring begun to glow as well, albeit with a pure silver light. Her breath fogged slightly in the bright light, making her archaic words nearly visible as she chanted. The wind howled in her ears, gaining more speed and force with each spoken syllable, and her vision was obscured by bright sparks of magic rising from the flickering pool of amethyst fire. When she came to the end of her long string of quasi-Latin, she felt the magic tear at her will, as if the thrumming threads of blazing power were trying to force itself of the restrictions she had put on them.
Just as she thought she couldn't hold the spell a second longer and that the mystic energies she sought to control would reduce her to a greasy spot on the floor, all individual threads of searing power suddenly snapped together and the dimensions were bridged, the majority of circle's energy dissipating into the vast, lightless void.
Then with the final howl of wind and a blinding blast of light, the swirling flames rose higher and the mirror burning with the brilliance of midday's sun shattered into thousands drops of molten glass supercharged with leftover magic. The lethal shower of burning droplets clattered harmlessly against the invisible but far from intangible barrier created by the circle and a human-sized figure appeared in the middle of the smoking frames accompanied with something that looked like an explosion of liquid shadows.
The inky darkness dispersed almost instantly and the figure stood still, oily tentacles of dark smoke curving slowly upwards around its body, briefly forming into a helix before slowly dissipating into the air. The Outsider was not raging against the magical barrier like the demons of Nevernever were required to do, nor was it trying to threaten or cajole her like the fairies of Seelie and Unseelie. It just stood there almost unmoving, only slightly turning its head to look at her.
She was somewhat disgusted of the fact that the demon seemed to be checking her out... And not only that – the soulless Outsider demon had dared to assume a human shape, and considering the quality of the highly detailed clothing the thing had created as it materialised, she was willing to bet that the body hidden under the concealing robes was perfectly and undistinguishable human, even if the spirit that inhabited it was anything but. In a way, the Outsider was the very image of a fallen angel, a dark malice shrouded in a pure shell. But on the other hand, she certainly didn't want to see the demon's true form and so she, perhaps, should be just thankful about it.
The Outsider's entire attire spoke of wealth...and a sense of style that went obsolete at least two hundred years ago. It was wearing flowing, dark robes of some velvety material and a gleaming white mask that concealed its features. A few locks of unruly, black hair dangled over the skull-like mask and she could see the demon's emerald eyes glinting behind the eye-slits. She immediately turned her gaze away – not wanting to know what the Outsider could do to her mind if she was foolish enough to meet its eyes. The pitch-black over robe with silver and deep green trim hung wide open, revealing a high-necked dark-green under robe with hems and the collar richly embroidered with thick golden threads woven in a highly complicated pattern, and a wide burgundy coloured leather belt that went twice around the Outsider's waist. There was an empty, black scabbard hanging on the gold buckled belt and she briefly wondered what had happened to the blade it used to contain. On the gloved, human-like hand that peeked out under the long black sleeve the demon had a small wooden stick, which reminded her of a blasting rod, except it was much thinner and a bit shorter.
There was a moment of silence, broken only by a soft swish of the Outsider's dark robes. The demon seemed to be highly disoriented, which was made even more evident as it lifted its gloved hand in front of its eyes, flexing the fingers. Somehow she got an impression that the Outsider was hardly believing its eyes. Perhaps it hadn't been summoned ever before? It wouldn't be inconceivable as summoning Outsider was an occurrence only slightly more common than a Denarian celebrating Christmas.
Then an unthinkable happened; the Outsider seemed to stumble, taking a step backwards and somehow stepping straight through the supposedly impenetrable summoning circle. Her mouth dropped wide open and her blue eyes widened in utter terror while her face lost all of its colour. How could the demon be strong enough to break through the magical barrier that could keep an archangel in... No, it was even worse, she quickly realised and gulped loudly. The Outsider hadn't even broken the circle – it just casually slipped through the barrier like it wasn't even worth its notice. And to think that the Outsider had managed to do this without her feeling anything... Her breathing quickened as paralysing fear churned her innards. How strong was it!? Was it immune even to circles? Had she accidentally summoned one of the Dread Lords of the Outer Night instead of a 'common' Fell Knight?
She held her wizard's staff protectively in front of her, the arcane symbols inscribed on the dark wood glowing with bright, fiery orange light. She clutched the wooden device so tight in her trembling hands that her knuckles went white. She knew that if the demon attacked, she could do nothing to stop it as quick and dirty evocations had never truly been her forte. Sure, she could easily decimate any normal human or even a vampire of any Court in a few seconds, but Outsiders were notoriously magic resistant and any spell that was capable of destroying it would probably kill her too at this distance, and unlike the demon she wouldn't just eventually reform. No, fighting was not really an option here...
Cold sweat ran down her back and she was taking slow steps backwards, away from the freed demon, as she pondered her options, quickly deciding the most sensible action and then promptly acting on it before the Outsider could recover from its stupor. Abandoning her pride she ran for her life, hoping that the demon wouldn't follow her outside into the magic-dissipating downpour.
She couldn't have her revenge if she was dead, after all.
Magic roared through his veins and his vision went white. Harry could feel himself detach from his body to become something intangible. He lost all his physical senses but gained...awareness that was much more acute than anything he could have ever imagined. Time and space lost their meaning as he fell through the endless void.
Something struck him. He could only describe it as chanting given a physical form, except that nobody actually spoke the words. Still each inexplicable syllable was fire-branded directly into his conciousness, the words scribed in thousands of forgotten alphabets taking up an arcane orbit around his mind.
His world exploded into a realm of pain, or at least he thought it would have been pain had he been able to actually feel anything. In shades of shrieking red, endless black, and brilliant yellow, the cosmic forces underlying the multiverse made themselves known to him, enveloping him in a cascade of swirling colours.
Then it was over and his senses returned to him. It felt like he was suddenly set on fire only to be then doused in ice-cold water.
Harry blinked as he regarded his new surroundings in total amazement. He was standing in the middle of a shadowed room filled with foreign magic. It wasn't anything like the calm, almost soothing power that permeated the Hogwarts corridors. No, this energy was blazing, vibrant and somehow much more...solid, if something fully intangible could be called as such. Harry wasn't exactly sure whether it was even magic or something else entirely...
A dark-clad woman was standing a few feet from him, breathing heavily and leaning on a staff like she had just recently exerted herself. She was looking at him expectantly, but for some reason kept avoiding his gaze. The woman looked like she was from Nordic descent; she had fair hair, greyish-blue eyes and she stood an inch taller than him, but that could be attributed to the black high-heels she wore.
She was also a witch – the long wooden staff that was engraved with blazing runes made that abundantly clear. While History of Magic lessons had pretty much skimmed over alternative magical foci, the young wizard knew that staffs had been widely used before modern wands were invented near the end of the fourth century. Harry briefly wondered why the woman was using an inferior and antiquated tool instead of a proper wand.
A few oily threads of dark smoke were slowly spiralling upward around him, already in the process of dissipating, and a quick glance down told him that the floor beneath him was sheathed in purple flames that were also quickly flickering away. The flames seemed to be completely illusory, however, as they didn't burn him or radiate any heat. Another thing that caught his notice was a weird gold rim surrounding him vertically, like a thin doorway, but without the wall.
The most peculiar thing, however, was that the pain was gone and could stand and breathe without any problems at all. He felt very tired physically, mentally, and even magically, and his whole body was stiff and aching, but he was in no real pain. Harry breathed in deeply and enjoyed the blissful feeling of air flowing into his lungs, despite said air being almost uncomfortably hot, before lifting his right arm that should have been broken into his eye level, slowly flexing his fingers and making circular motions with his supposedly broken wrist to just see if everything was working. It was – the arm that had been badly fractured was now inexplicably healed just like his lungs.
At this very moment the magical flames died away and Harry noticed that he was standing in some kind of runic circle. Already shocked and confused, this was all that was needed to send a wave of panic coursing through him. He stumbled a few steps backwards, almost managing to trip on the sword that had been lying on the floor just behind him, and it felt like he had stepped through something ice-cold and partially solid.
Warmth and magic were suddenly drawn out of him and he shivered, a soft hiss escaping his lips. It felt like someone had stuck dozens of icy needles deep into his flesh and the next few seconds made it clear that he had just accidentally done something he certainly shouldn't have as the edges of his vision seemed to blur and the trembling increased tenfold. Harry managed to take a few shaky steps before collapsing to the dusty concrete floor like a marionette with its strings cut.
He felt weak and utterly spent as he lay on the floor waiting for the dizzy spell to pass and some strength to return to his trembling limbs. Harry seriously hoped that the witch he had seen wasn't on Voldemort's side, because if she was, he would soon be an ex-wizard – a dead wizard to be more exact. It was not like he was in any shape to fight if she decided to attack; Harry could hardly lift his wand, let alone duel a fresh opponent. The young wizard turned his head resting against the floor to look at the thirty-something woman, but she wasn't there any more and he could faintly hear her running-steps going further away from him. Harry blinked in confusion. Why was she running away?
The only conclusion that made any sense to him was that the circle wasn't supposed to transport him here and the witch had just gotten scared when she saw a man wearing Death Eater garb appearing out of nowhere. Yes, Harry thought sagely as he stared at the unpainted concrete ceiling that hung three yards above him. Something must have gone spectacularly awry. It wasn't exactly Voldemort's style to simply kick the intruders out from his base without harming them – yet alone healing them in the process. He smirked weakly with no real mirth. He really did have all the luck; improbability was always with him in both good and bad...
It took him a few minutes to regain enough strength to stand up. As he almost absently dusted his dark robes with his free hand he noticed something very odd: the robes were in a pristine condition discounting the small amount grime and dust from the floor. He could see no bloodstains, no rips, no cuts, no burns... Nothing! No visible trace of his recent fight against the bunch of bigoted Death Eaters remained... Even his skull-like mask was somehow fully whole and untarnished again – Hell, it probably looked better than it did when he had stolen it. The teleportation must have fixed his clothes too...
Harry looked around, searching for any clues about his current whereabouts. He was clearly in some sort of basement – the bare concrete floor and the multitude of pipes attached on the brick walls made that more than obvious. Interestingly enough, the room was lit by a score of paraffin lamps scattered on the walls, strangely put on one of the horizontal pipes. It certainly wasn't the safest idea, especially not when the witch obviously hadn't even bothered to apply measly Sticking Charms on them to keep them from falling; one of the lamps had already dropped and shattered against the dirty floor, spreading nearly half gallon of burning paraffin oil on the grey concrete.
A single jab of Harry's holly wand snuffed the brightly burning flames and a thin film of frost spread over the floor and the pieces of the broken lamp. Normally he wouldn't have even felt the minuscule amount of magic spent on as minor spell as the Freezing Charm, but now the drainage was easily noticeable. It was an all too clear sign of that he was scraping the bottom of his magical reserves.
Harry absently twirled his wand in his fingers as he pondered his next move. Unless he was still in England or somewhere near it, he couldn't just Apparate back to number twelve, Grimmauld Place. Or at least not until he had rested. He didn't really feel like performing an intercontinental Apparation in his current shape, or in any shape really.
Harry took a few steps towards the runic ring and lifted the silver sword from the floor, being extra careful not to touch still dimly glowing lines of the circle. He had had more than enough magical accidents for one day already. Then he sheathed the deadly blade slowly and with utmost care. It simply wouldn't do to accidentally cut himself because of shaky hands as the goblin-made weapon had absorbed the venomous qualities of a basilisk when he had used it to kill the great serpent hiding under Hogwarts. That incident made the goblin-wrought blade one of the most deadly swords in existence; even the tiniest scratch from it was lethal unless proper medical attention was administered immediately.
According to Hermione, the sword was made by the legendary goblin smith and warrior Ragnuk the First and that it was a very special blade even before it become infused with the deadly basilisk venom. She said that the goblin-silver weapon would never lose its razor edge or become dirty and had an ability to absorb magical substances into itself. To make things even better, Godric Gryffindor had enchanted the sword almost as soon as he had acquired it; giving it the capability to resist and cut magic. All in all, it was an excellent weapon if you managed to get close enough to your enemies.
The basement had only one door and it was currently wide open. Harry could see narrow, metal stairs leading up behind the small doorway. The rickety-looking stairs had probably once been red, but now the paint had mostly chipped off and the metal beneath was badly corroded, a thick layer of rust covering much of the surface. The green walls of the stairway seemed to be in an equally bad condition. It was clear that water had damaged them too as there were large, darker blotches scattered on the upper part of the walls.
With almost painful slowness Harry dragged himself up the creaking stairs, his tired muscles aching with every laborious step he took, into a dirty room with a large crumpled boiler that looked like it hadn't been used in years. Harry could hear the wind howling and the sound of thousands raindrops striking against the ground coming from the door on the other side of the cramped room.
Harry walked past the badly-dented boiler, his gloved hand reaching out for the blackened, copper doorknob and twisting it sharply. The lock opened with an audible click and Harry pushed the door wide open, exposing himself to the raging storm outside. The sounds of rain increased tenfold, and strong, wet winds billowed his outer robe and fluttered his black hair. He took off his stolen Death Eater mask and just stood there for a moment, letting the cool wind brush refreshingly against his face and allowing his eyes to adapt to the lack of light.
The dark street opening beyond the doorway didn't look even vaguely familiar. Most of the street lights were dark but even in the relative darkness Harry could easily see that the wet asphalt was badly broken on many places. From the bad shape of the shady buildings towering around him, he could tell that this was certainly not a prestigious part of the whatever city he was in, but beyond that he had no idea. He sighed tiredly and pocketed the porcelain mask.
He quickly cast an Impervious upon himself and stepped into the downpour, the heavy rain sliding down his fine robes without wetting them in the slightest. After putting his wand back to its holster attached on the underside of his right arm, he drew his black outer robe tighter around his thin body to shield him from the cold wind and rain. The heavily charmed wand holster was an authentic Auror model and had cost him over a hundred galleons, but as it has already saved his life for more than once, Harry wasn't about to complain about the very high price tag. Besides, that price had been nothing compared to the cost of the enchanted contact lenses he wore. Harry had a bad feeling that he had really been ripped off with those...
He wandered the dark streets aimlessly for a few minutes, looking for any clues about his whereabouts. It didn't take him long to guess the country he was in. The few signs glowing with neon colours told him that he was somewhere in the USA as many them prominently featured the Star-Spangled Banner. This wasn't exactly good news as he knew next to nothing about American wizarding culture and society, and he was in the need of wizarding transportation back to Britain. He didn't want to even try to Apparate across the Atlantic Ocean and he had no Muggle money to buy an airline ticket. To be honest, he had hardly any wizarding money with him either, but that could be remedied easily enough once he got into a wizarding bank.
Then he heard a creak coming from his left. Harry spun on the spot and looked around, his hand instinctively reaching under his robe, towards the sword handle. The young wizard almost expected to see burning buildings, skulking Dark wizards or possibly even the Dark Mark lighting the sky with its sinister glow. He saw nothing of the sort – actually he saw nothing threatening or alarming at all. The whole dark street, however, was shrouded in a deathly silence sans the sounds of the storm, and somehow it was far more unnerving than burning buildings, roaring explosions and blood-curling screams. As a honorary Auror he had heard far more than his share of those...
Then the creaking sound came again and this time Harry managed to confirm the cause – an old-looking, wooden signboard swinging slowly in the wind. He looked at the plaque more carefully, reading what it said in silvery letters: McAnally's Pub and Grill.
The pub seemed to be mostly below ground level, although there were lots of small windows just above street line, inviting beams of light filtering through the bars into the dark alley. Harry walked down the few stairs leading to a sturdy wooden door. There was another sign above the doorway: ACCORDED NEUTRAL GROUND. Harry had no idea what it meant, but as it didn't sound exactly hostile, he opened the door and stepped inside, light flooding into the young wizard's eyes and temporarily blinding him.
He blinked furiously to clear his vision, and what he saw was encouraging. The pub had low clearance and ceiling fans, a combination that could be be fairly dangerous – although Harry with his slightly below-average height had nothing to fear. There was no television, no electronics, no jukebox, but he could see an old dusty piano standing in one corner. There were thirteen stools at the bar and thirteen tables scattered in the room. There were also thirteen mirrors on the walls. Thirteen wooden columns, carved with likenesses from magical creatures and arcane symbols, majority of which he couldn't recognise. Harry smiled tentatively. The place certainly looked like a wizarding pub and it had even a feel similar to Leaking Cauldron. Could he really be so lucky as to stumble into United States' wizarding world after only ten minutes of searching?
He was walking towards the bar when a lone, dark-haired woman sitting in the table he was just passing by spoke, her words just above a whisper, probably to not disturb the few other patrons, “You don't have any reflection and neither are your clothes wet despite it's raining outside. How curious.”
Harry turned his head towards the nearest mirror, and interestingly enough, she was right; he had no reflection. Indeed, the mirror seemed fairly certain that he didn't exist – showing anything and anyone but him. He looked around and the other mirrors seemed to agree with the one near him. They had to be magical!
Harry turned towards the woman and his lips curved in a weary smile. “It certainly seems so, no?” Deciding that she could be a good source of information as any, he slumped on the seat opposite her.
The woman just cocked her raven eyebrow and took a sip of her drink. “Indeed, Mr-”
“Black. My name is James Black.”