Chapter: 12 of 35 - Information
Pairings: Asher/Anita/Jean-Claude, Anita/Nathaniel, Harry/Nathaniel/Draco, Harry/Draco, Anita/Micah
Rating: R/15 or NC17/18
Summary: Harry Potter could find trouble in paradise and when Draco sends him to St Louis for a holiday it's not paradise and there's lots of trouble. With dark magic, vampires, lycanthropes and more, who else could sort it out but Anita Blake?
Chapter listing: click here for other parts, publishing schedule and A/N
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling and Laurell K. Hamilton, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoast Books, Orbit books, Time Warner Book group, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Warnings: This story is set post Harry Potter and the OotP and post Incubus Dreams and therefore has SPOILERS for all previous books. If you don’t want to know anything that went on in or before HP book five or AB book twelve do not read this story.
Chapter 12 Information
Lying was something Anita tried not to do. She would much rather tell someone to their face that she could not tell them something than lie to them and pretend she didn't know anything. However, that wasn't going to work in this case. Glancing at the folder on her passenger seat as she sat in the police station parking lot, she steeled herself for lying to Dolph.
If she so much as hinted that she knew more than she was telling she knew that Dolph would not hesitate to throw her in an interrogation room until she provided what she had left out. Dolph was touchy about things like withholding evidence, especially when it came to evidence about the preternatural community.
Picking up the folder she opened the door, climbed out, locked the jeep behind her and began to walk towards the entrance. She had too many ideas floating around in her head, like how it was that Harry seemed to be able to detect when she and Jean-Claude used the marks, and she didn't need the distraction right now. This case was weird enough without having to worry about all the new revelations that kept occurring.
As she walked into the squad room she barely looked around. Once she had done the same and every desk had had a fluffy penguin on it thanks to Zerbrowski, but these days only Zerbrowski's desk still had a trio of the toys on it. Anita hoped that it was just that the joke had worn thin, but the pessimistic side of her tried to convince her that it was the growing distance between her and some of the police officers. On good days she was sure it was the first reason, on bad days she was sure it was the second. Today she chose to ignore it, and merely nodded greetings to all those who acknowledged her.
Having knocked on Dolph's door she heard a gruff 'come in' and opened it, hoping that her one time friend was in a better mood than he had been last time she saw him.
"Hi Dolph," she greeted with a smile, hiding any disquiet she was feeling behind a mask.
"Anita," the Lieutenant returned, no smile, but at least it wasn't 'Blake' that came out of his mouth.
Zerbrowski was sitting in one of the chairs in front of the desk, which made things simpler, since Anita had no doubt the sergeant would be in on this.
"I have something for you," she said and closed the door before walking over and placing the folder on Dolph's desk. "Info about our dead vamp."
She knew better than to mention it was Jean-Claude's sources that had provided the information. That would have just ruined the mood before they started.
"Any clues as to who's behind this?" Zerbrowski asked as Dolph opened the file.
"Nothing obvious," Anita replied, glad that she could be completely honest, "but then you guys are the experts in detecting. What we do know is who the dead vamp was and when he disappeared."
"What the hell was a vampire from New York doing in St Louis?" Dolph asked before Zerbrowski could get another word in. "Is there some preternatural event going on you'd like to tell us about, Anita?"
That was less friendly than she had hoped.
"No, Dolph," she replied pointedly, "Jean-Claude doesn't know why he would have been here anymore that you do."
Mentioning the Master of the city was likely to be a mistake, but she had had little choice. Dolph's eyes were cold as he looked at her.
"And this is everything your boyfriend knows?" Dolph asked and looked Anita straight in the eye.
The 'your boyfriend' sounded like an insult, but Anita did her best to ignore it. What she would have given for Damian to be beside her calming her down at that moment. The way her vampire servant could give her the edge of self control that she needed never ceased to amaze her and she missed it when he wasn't there. Damian would, however, have made the situation worse simply by being preternatural. When Dolph wanted to rub her up the wrong way he was very good at it. If she hadn't already fed the ardeur and had a chance to relax a bit she would probably have bitten his head off.
"Yes, Dolph," she said without allowing the eye contact to drop, "that's all Jean-Claude knows."
The fact that Dolph blinked and then looked back down at the folder was almost worse than if he had seemed suspicious. Anita decided that she was getting far too good at lying for her own comfort. Sitting down without being asked she settled in for what she suspected were going to be an uncomfortable few minutes as Dolph took apart all the information she had given him. Sometimes she wished she was back to the other side of the line she had crossed into the preternatural world.
Harry sat in the high backed chair and stared at his fingers, trying to decide what to ask first. He was sitting in Jean-Claude's study where he and the Master of the city had retired only a few minutes previously. There were things they needed to talk about where they would not be disturbed and Harry had reluctantly left Draco with Asher in the living room.
"Perhaps this would be easier were I to ask one of my questions first," Jean-Claude said after the silence had lengthened into something rather awkward.
Harry just nodded mutely; he did not know what to ask.
"I have lived a long time, mon enfant," Jean-Claude continued at his agreement, "and yet I have never heard of wizards. You, however, appear to know of vampires; are my kind well known to yours?"
That was actually quite a difficult question because Harry had been asking himself it since he met Jean-Claude.
"I knew vampires existed," he replied, thinking it through carefully, "we studied them in Defence Against the Dark Arts, but I don't think our references are very accurate. I didn't know vampires were made legal citizens of America or the UK by Muggles, they're classified as dark creatures by the Ministry, and they definitely aren't described like you."
A thoughtful look passed over Jean-Claude's face.
"If you would not mind, how are we described?" the vampire asked.
"Pale, gaunt, unpleasant, basically a monster," Harry replied honestly, "but none of the vampires I have met here are anything like that."
"Bon," Jean-Claude said as if the description had confirmed something, "I believe that your texts describe the older generations of vampires. Once we were creatures of decay and darkness, but that has changed."
Harry preferred the reality of vampires to anything he had been taught and it made him wonder how many other facts he had been given that were inaccurate. With vampires legal citizens of the UK the Ministry were going to have to update their ideas sooner rather than later. It would probably take them a few more years to notice that Muggle culture had changed, though; the Wizarding world was slow like that.
"My subordinates probably believe I have brought you in here to create a blood oath between us," Jean-Claude said after a moment.
"Blood oath?" Harry asked, not sure he liked the sound of that.
"It is a method to ensure loyalty," his companion explained, "it would bind your power to me. Vampires are very volatile creatures, to maintain a structure it is necessary."
Now Harry was sure he did not like the sound of that.
"But that is not my desire," Jean-Claude said just as Harry was about to stand up and walk out. "I can taste your power, mon enfant, and I do not believe I could force an oath on you even should I wish it. Not without damaging us both. That is why I ask you a simple question: do you desire any of mine harm?"
"No," the answer came out of Harry's mouth instantly without him even having to think about it.
Jean-Claude's face was completely serious, but after a moment he nodded his head and smiled slightly.
"Forgive me," the vampire said, "but I had to ask."
For a while Harry just sat there looking at Jean-Claude, his confusion and nervousness forgotten. He was beginning to see exactly what Jean-Claude was; the vampire's responsibilities and power. Harry understood that kind of responsibility and he did not blame Jean-Claude for his question. He wondered briefly what the Master of the city would have done had he not said 'no', but it was not really worth thinking about.
"Why am I a vampire?" he asked, at last finding the question he wanted to ask.
"In truth, mon enfant," Jean-Claude replied, eyes never wavering from Harry's face, "I do not know. The power of the vampire lives within you and yet you are not truly one of us. The spell on your chest was intended to make your blood the conduit for human, lycanthrope and vampire power. Something within you took that power and made it part of yourself."
"Just like I did with Voldemort," Harry said before he realised he was speaking.
He looked down at his hands again, unsure of how Jean-Claude would react to his admission.
"You do not have to tell me, Harry," his companion said and Harry believed Jean-Claude would not push the issue, "but I am willing to listen if you wish to talk."
Harry did not trust easily anymore, but Anita trusted Jean-Claude and for some reason he still couldn't fathom Harry trusted Anita. Peering up through his eyelashes he looked at the Master of the city, not knowing what to do.
"Voldemort," he said, surprising himself as he spoke, "tried to kill me when I was one, but the curse bounced back onto him. It nearly destroyed him and it created a connection between us. I gained some of his abilities, like the speaking to snakes. I always thought it was the curse that caused that, but it's like I've done the same thing again with..."
In his confusion he could not remember the vampire's name.
"Philip," Jean-Claude filled in for him.
"Maybe it's me," Harry concluded, almost afraid of what that could mean.
His eyes searched out details of the room in an attempt to distract his thoughts from their morbid path, but that one question brought up so many others that he felt lost.
"To survive is not a crime, mon enfant," Jean-Claude said, and when Harry looked up the vampire had moved and was standing beside him.
Harry had not seen Jean-Claude cover the distance between them and he was not sure if that was because he was so distracted or if the Master of the city had chosen to move that fast.
"But why me," Harry asked, unable to agree; "why do I always survive? My parents died, I didn't, my godfather died, I didn't, people died in the final battle, I didn't, and now a vampire and a wereleopard died, but I didn't. Why didn't I die?"
He looked up then, into the blue eyes of his companion and for a moment he wished that he could become lost in those depths.
"Some of us are fated to live, Harry," Jean-Claude said calmly, "some of us are fated to die. Your time has not yet come, mon enfant. You have a will to survive and that will is formidable indeed. You may mourn those who have gone before you, but never mourn the fact that you live."
A hand rested on his shoulder and Harry found it a strange comfort. He could feel the vampiric power moving through Jean-Claude as he touched him and it soothed him some way he chose not to try and understand. This was not what he had expected to talk about when he entered the room, but the way the question had come pouring out he realised that he had needed it. They remained still and silent for what seemed like minutes to Harry, but he had no way to be sure as the comforting web of cold magic wound around him.
"You are a master vampire, mon enfant," Jean-Claude said eventually, "however impossible that should be, it is undeniable. From what I have felt from you and what I now know about Philip, I believe that it is possible you directly absorbed that which was Philip when he died. Perhaps it would help to know the vampire which lives on through you?"
Harry sat straighter in his chair and looked up at his companion, turning the idea over in his mind. Jean-Claude had a very poetic way of talking about things and it made it all seem just slightly less terrible. He nodded slowly, giving his consent, and Jean-Claude moved back around the desk and sat down.
"Philip was descended directly from Belle Morte, the sourdre de sang of my line, although thanks to Anita I am my own sourdre de sang now," Jean-Claude explained as if telling a story. "All of Belle's vampires hold sway over things sexual; from what I know of Philip he had certain talents in these areas. Belle would speak of him, even though she had banished him, and she would boast that his greatest wish was to return to her. She had forbidden him to become Master of his own territory although by all reports Philip was capable of holding his own city. He was number four in New York only because his devotion to Belle made it impossible for him to be completely loyal to the Master of the city, and hence prevented him rising further."
"You mean a blood oath would not have held?" Harry decided that being interested was better than being afraid and roughly forced his worries back where they belonged.
Jean-Claude gave a small shrug.
"Had Belle called him home he would have gone," the vampire replied, "but it is doubtful Philip would have risen up against a blood oath. However, in our society appearance is everything and Philip did not hide where he wished to be."
It was odd the way Jean-Claude spoke about the dead vampire, almost as if he knew him, although Jean-Claude had already indicated that they had never met. Harry could only conclude that the closeness of the bloodlines must be important in vampire circles.
"Philip was a Master vampire with a beast to call," Jean-Claude continued, "and his animal was as mine; the wolf. That is one part of Philip's power I have not seen in you. It is possible that your cat will not allow such an affinity."
"My Animagus form is a wolf," Harry replied and then realised that he was saying things it might better to have hidden, but it was too late now. "When I tried it my leopard didn't like it at all."
Jean-Claude simply nodded as if this made sense to him, and Harry was not sure how much the vampire understood of the situation. He remembered confessing about the Animagus transformation in the hospital room, but he was not quite sure how much information he had given away at the time. It did not seem to be important to Jean-Claude if the way the vampire had reacted was anything to go by. Of course Harry was pretty sure with vampires he'd never be sure of anything. Half the time with people he wasn't sure either.
"It will take time for you to understand that part of you which is a vampire," Jean-Claude said in a perfectly calm voice, "and I would ask that you allow me to assist you. I require only two things in return. Firstly that should it be in your power to protect those around you, you shall do so."
Harry nodded without question; that was in his nature and he could never leave those in danger if he had the ability to help.
"I've been doing that since I was eleven," he said plainly.
"And secondly," Jean-Claude continued with a nod of acknowledgement, "that you will not deliberately undermine the authority of myself, Anita or any in this city that you will eventually leave behind. You are a powerful child and I fear you have it within your power to destroy us if you choose to use it. In a conflict between us, in truth, I cannot say who would emerge the victor, but it would destroy us all, never the less."
That was not as easy to agree to. Not because Harry wanted to hurt any of those around him, or that he wished to take over in any way, but because of the guilt that swam in the back of his mind about Micah. He had undermined Micah's authority by so effectively beating him, and he had tried to make amends, but he was not sure it was enough. He had acted without thinking and he could have broken more than bones with his actions.
Thinking about it he had effectively done a similar thing to Jean-Claude, at the hospital, only that didn't seem quite so personal and a whole host of vampires had not been there to witness it. That had been wizard's magic against vampire power and it was a different type of conflict.
"I will do my best," Harry said eventually, meeting Jean-Claude's eyes and letting his defences fall just slightly.
If request one ever conflicted with request two he knew that he would not be able to keep to the second agreement.
"Mon enfant," Jean-Claude replied, holding his gaze, "that is all I could ask."
It was then that Harry realised the purpose of the endearment. There was a fondness in Jean-Claude's eyes, and Harry was pretty sure that the vampire did in fact like him, but the use of the pet name had a much more important aspect that was suddenly crystal clear. Harry was powerful and he could not hide that with his current state of experience, but by referring to him as 'my child', Jean-Claude was declaring to all that, no matter how gifted, Harry was but a babe under the Master's wing. It made perfect sense to the Slytherin part of him.
"Will the other vampires be able to tell if there is a blood oath between us?" Harry asked as these things became clear in his mind.
"Non," Jean-Claude replied without the slightest trace of emotion, "it is a thing done which is evident due to consequences rather than visible truth."
Harry decided that that probably meant the vampire did not quite know how to take the question.
"Then I don't see why those that want to believe the oath exists shouldn't be allowed think whatever you feel like implying," Harry said before he could change his mind. "I won't deny it, and I'll make sure Draco doesn't deny it either."
There was a momentary spark of surprise in Jean-Claude's eyes, but it was gone almost before Harry had spotted it. They sat in silence for a few moments, just looking at each other.
"My apologies, mon enfant," Jean-Claude said eventually, "I believe you grasp the situation far better than I had thought. I shall speak to ma petite and guarantee that she understands the situation, or she will, I believe she would say 'have my balls', for forcing you into such a bond. Are there any others you would wish to be excluded from our deception?"
"Only those you think need to know," Harry replied, even though part of him wanted to make sure all his new friends knew.
If it meant that he did not destroy something that seemed to be working so well, his pride could take the hit. Jean-Claude nodded and sat back in his chair.
"It is time you understood more of vampire society," the master of the city decided in a tone that begged no argument. "I believe you must hear of the council."
Harry didn't know what council Jean-Claude was talking about, but he had a feeling the information would be vital to his continuing good health, so he sat up and prepared to pay attention. Gone were any thoughts of Gryffindor guilt and in their place were the calculating musings of a Slytherin mind.
End of Chapter 12
On to next chapter