Chapter: 13 of 35 - Touch of Evil
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 13 Touch of Evil
Anita watched Draco wiping the mug while continually glancing at the entrance to the living room where she knew Harry was talking to Nathaniel. Harry wanted to learn about wereleopards and hence Anita had invited the two wizards over, but she did not think it was sitting well with Draco. The jealousy in the young man's eyes was obvious and had been ever since Harry had all but seduced Jason. Anita knew she had to say something.
"You're in love with him, aren't you," were the words she finally chose.
The blond head snapped to her as if she'd shot him with an undisguised look of horror, but Anita was positive it was not to do with the suggestion.
"You're insane," was Draco's hesitant response.
"No, I'm observant," Anita said, making sure he knew she had no intention of arguing about this. "It's part of the territory."
Draco was glaring at her now, but he was not saying anything which she took to be a good sign.
"I'll be blunt," Anita told him openly. "If you want him, stake a claim, or someone else will. Wereleopards are very tactile creatures and they are not shy about sex. Lycanthropes are very strong and they have to learn control during sex or they can hurt a human partner, someone is bound to offer to show him the ropes sooner or later. You need to have made your feelings clear before Harry attaches to someone else as he adjusts."
That caused heat behind her companion's eyes and she could see the jealousy burning brightly.
"He's oblivious," Draco finally admitted. "In some ways Harry has seen everything and in others he's just so completely innocent. How do you tell someone who has probably never even considered men that you're in love with him?"
"With Harry I would suggest blatant honesty," Anita told him with a smile. "From what I've seen of him he's a very upfront guy. If you wait you'll lose him. And the way he was looking at Asher the other night I wouldn't be too sure about the not considering men thing."
Draco made a face.
"I've never been brought up to tackle a problem head on," the wizard said reluctantly, "I plan and I come to a solution in a round about manner. There's no way I can win this one like that is there?"
Anita gave her companion a sympathetic smile; it was not as if she was new to romantic complications. She would have offered some jewel of advice to Draco, but as she opened her mouth a most horrendous scream came from the other room. She and the wizard shared a look and then they moved.
"Anita," Nathaniel sounded panicked and she sped up.
The scene that greeted her as she almost ran through the door was startling to say the least, and she had seen her share of worrisome scenes. Harry was lying across the couch, arms spread and back arched with his head back and his scream had become the most pitiful moan. There was light coming from under the young man's white shirt.
Nathaniel was crouched a few feet from Harry as if torn between going to help his new friend and shielding himself from the light. Neither Anita nor Draco hesitated as they walked straight over to the couch.
"Don't touch him," Anita said as she felt the magic radiating off Harry.
It was cold and dark and she did not like the sensation it gave her at all. This was not a nice spell and she would have known that it was likely to result in bad things even if she had had no idea of its origins. To her great relief and not a little surprise, Draco did as she instructed, even though it was quite obvious that the wizard wanted to go to his friend.
Very carefully she moved forward and knelt beside the sofa, on the alert for any indication that the magic was going to break away from Harry. Reaching out she tentatively touched the cotton of the shirt to try and move it out of the way so she could see the spell. In only moments she felt magic shoot into her fingers, stinging her before she could release the first button that obscured her view. She snatched her hand back and shook her fingers as they smarted.
"Dammit all to hell," she said succinctly and went to try again, but a hand stopped her.
"Let me," Nathaniel said, and displayed a single clawed finger.
It had only been recently that they had discovered Nathaniel could consciously shift parts of his body at will, something to do with the power boost of the triumvirate, but Anita was glad of it now. She really didn't want anyone else near the magic, but Nathaniel was quicker than her, even though she could tap into Lycanthrope speed, and the claw would be a very useful tool. She nodded and sat back slightly to give him room.
Draco was watching intently from the side and Anita noted the wand in the wizard's hand, but he was obviously bright enough to realise that throwing more magic as an unidentified spell was a bad idea. She had no idea how Nathaniel managed it, but in under five seconds the wereleopard was backing away and Harry's shirt was lying open to reveal the spell.
The scar on Harry's chest was literally alight with flame, although from her earlier encounter, Anita knew it was nothing like an ordinary fire. This was magical and cold and moved through the spectrum like an obscene parody of a Christmas light.
"What's happening to him?" Draco sounded in control, but there was an edge to his voice that told Anita the young man was out of his depth with this.
Hell, she was out of her depth with this. She raised the dead for a living; she did not perform complicated rituals to do nasty things with vampires, lycanthropes and virgins.
"He was left for dead," she said as she rationalised the whole thing in her mind, "so whoever's doing this probably has no idea the owner of the blood they took is still alive. Blood is a very powerful magical source and when used in spells it forms a connection. Harry must still be connected to his blood, and those that tried to kill him are performing magic with it."
"Can you stop it?" Draco asked, and when Anita looked at him the grey eyes regarding her were rather haunted.
Her instincts said not to touch this magic with a fifty foot pole, but Harry was suffering. The kid's breathing was becoming laboured and if he hadn't been a lycanthrope Anita was sure his current position would have been impossible. If his spine arched anymore it was likely to snap.
"I can try," she said and slowly reached out her hand.
As she held out her palm above the scar, the flames reached up to lick at her hand and it made her shudder. This was magic of the blackest kind and it repulsed her, but she could not leave Harry to this alone. Calming herself she tried to focus. This magic had been formed by sacrifice and death magic was woven throughout it; death magic was her magic and Anita began to feel her way to it. Just as she was about to place her hand on Harry's chest the fire went out. Like flicking a switch it was instantaneously gone and Harry collapsed onto the sofa with a groan.
For a moment she knelt there on the floor and just stared, a little shocked at the sudden absence of magic after the overload. Then Harry moved and green eyes opened to wearily look up at her. Those eyes were full of knowledge and pain that one as young as Harry should not have known and they stared into her soul.
"Just once," the wizard whispered in a voice that sounded as if it would give out at any moment, "I wish I could have a scar which didn't connect me to a psychotic madman."
Then those eyes slipped closed and Harry passed out. Now Anita moved. Although she was pretty sure he had just fainted she felt for Harry's pulse. It was strong and sure, and on a quick inspection the young man was breathing normally. There was a faint residue of black magic running through Harry's skin, she could feel it where she touched him, but it was fading and she was sure the connection was dead again for now.
"Help me get him comfortable," she said after she had satisfied herself that it was safe, "he's fainted."
With a lycanthrope and an able bodied wizard it took only a few moments to move Harry into a proper lying position on the couch. He gave no hints that he was coming around so Anita decided to make sure they were ready when he did.
"Nathaniel please make some of the special tea from the caddy in the back of the cupboard," she instructed as she went to collect some things from the other room. "Draco, stay with Harry in case he wakes up."
There were many traditions of magic and many ways to get things done, and Anita did not hold with all of them, but she knew a sure fire way to clear the air. If there was one thing that could purify a room it was burning sage, and she efficiently set up a burner beside the couch and set it alight.
"Sage," Draco said as soon as the smell began to filter around the room, "good choice."
Anita nodded; it seemed wizards knew their herbs as well. By the time Nathaniel walked back in with a delicate looking tea cup, Harry was beginning to show signs of life.
"Welcome back, Harry," Anita greeted when green eyes blinked at her, "how are you feeling."
"I ache," was the simple response, "and I feel like I want to scrub my skin with bleach."
"Know the feeling," Anita replied with a nod, "but I have some tea here that will help dispel the residue."
Harry propped himself up on his elbows and looked at the cup dubiously where Nathaniel had placed it on the coffee table.
"What's in it?" he asked and flicked his eyes around all three people in the room as if it might be a conspiracy.
"Not sure," Anita said, since she had never asked for details, "a friend makes it for me to an old secret family recipe. It tastes like something died in it, but it works."
"Every potion I have ever had that did any good has tasted foul," Harry said and sat up with an ease that belied the stress his muscles must have been under only minutes before. "If you had said it tasted okay I would have known it was useless."
She wasn't sure if he was being serious, but Harry picked up the tea and gave it a sniff. The wizard made a face and then took a sip.
"Ugh," he said pointedly, "I think the dead thing may have passed away some time ago."
Anita had to give a little smile at that, at least Harry seemed to have his sense of humour intact. Her next thought was more sobering, however, and she sighed quietly.
"Fancy telling us what you meant about being connected to a psychotic madman?" she asked, knowing that it had to be done, but wishing for once that she didn't have to do it.
Harry took another couple of sips of tea before he finally nodded. Before he said anything the wizard swung his legs off the couch and sat on it properly; Anita thought he was gathering his thoughts.
"See this," Harry said and lifted his messy fringe.
Anita lent forward and was surprised to see a faint scar on Harry's forehead in the shape of lightening bolt. It looked old and was so faded that unless she had been shown it she would never have noticed it.
"I've had it since I was one and until six months ago it was very prominent," Harry explained and let his fringe fall again. "Voldemort gave it to me and we discovered in my fourth year at school that it connected me to him. When he was very angry about things or was doing a lot of magic I sometimes saw it. Well the arseholes who kidnapped me aren't finished with my blood and I saw them."
He sounded very angry and Anita could not blame him. This new information, however, was very welcome.
"Did you see their faces?" she asked, the years of helping the police coming out straight away.
She was disappointed when Harry shook his head.
"They were wearing hooded robes," he told her apologetically, "and it was like I was floating above the circle. The only face I saw was the guy they had chained in the middle of their gathering. He had something carved on his chest like me."
Anita did not want to ask, but she had to.
"Did they kill him?" if there was another body out there they needed to know.
It was a strange relief when Harry shook his head again.
"I don't know if they did anything else to him, I only connected to the ceremony when they used my blood," he seemed very sure of what he was saying and Anita found herself confident in Harry's conclusions. "One of them was making some sort of potion and the last ingredient was some of my blood. They have it in a bizarre looking bottle and they kept the rest. Once he added the blood, the potion maker put some in a cup and gave it to one of the others. She held the victim's head back and poured it down his throat. From the way he screamed I don't think the effects were very nice."
Harry seemed to have forgotten his tea now and was staring over Anita's right shoulder looking at whatever image was in his mind rather than the living room. She wanted to reach out and tell him that it would be all right, an unusually motherly impulse, but stopping him was not an option.
"When he stopped screaming they let him loose," Harry continued after a moment. "He just stood there, like the others in the ceremony with me, and they began to tell him something. I heard them mention the Master of the city, but whatever my blood had done must have been finished because the connection broke. I think they might be after Jean-Claude."
Anita went icy and the part of her that was cold bloodied killer woke up and took notice. She was sure that her face had gone blank if what she saw in Harry's eyes was anything to go on. Nobody threatened Jean-Claude; not and lived to tell about it. She felt the marks open as she instinctively reached out for her lover.
[Ma petite,] Jean-Claude's voice and presence flooded into her at once, [what troubles you?]
[Harry just had an episode,] she told him with complete openness, [he saw the people who kidnapped him. They have created some sort of slave and Harry heard you mentioned.]
[They cannot reach me here, ma petit,] Jean-Claude told her, trying to ease her distress. [Tell your police friends what has happened and then bring Harry to the Circus. We will solve this together.]
[I'm not sure telling Dolph will be a good idea,] Anita replied, [he already suspects you.]
[And this is the best way to prove I am not involved,] Jean-Claude assured her. [Should it prove necessary to defend myself and our people then so be it, but if this may be solved by your police friends it will reflect better on our community.]
Anita didn't like it, but Jean-Claude was the perfect politician and she could not fault his logic.
[Okay,] she finally agreed, [I'll see you later.]
[Je t'aime, ma petite,] her lover said sweetly and then he was gone.
Anita snapped back to the rest of the world to find Harry looking at her intently.
"The buzzing again," the wizard said simply when she raised her eyebrows at him.
It was rather disconcerting that Harry seemed to be able to tell when she was communicating with another in her first triumvirate.
"I was speaking to Jean-Claude," she said, deciding that there was no point in playing that particular game anymore. "We have a telepathic connection through the marks."
The way Harry accepted that fact told Anita that her guest was close to having too many things thrown at him. She hoped he wouldn't snap.
"We need to let Dolph know what happened," she said, taking charge, "and then Jean-Claude would like to see you if you're agreeable."
Harry nodded, which was a relief because she did not want to have to push the issue, and for a moment Anita let herself wish that the young man in front of her had never come to St Louis. It was an empty wish, but there were burdens hidden in the green eyes looking at her that she did not want to know about, and all her city seemed to be doing was adding to them.
Waiting outside Lieutenant Storr's office was not the most fun thing to do, especially since some of the looks he was getting were not overly friendly, but Harry tried to look as inoffensive as possible and counted to ten every time he wanted to say something. Draco had taken to staring at anyone who looked their way, which appeared to be scarier than anything Harry could manage, so he left his friend to it. Anita was inside explaining what had happened before Harry had to deal with any of it. He was pointedly refusing to listen even though he could hear just about everything.
Nathaniel had been with them, having insisted that he come as well, but he had gone to find coffee for them all. Harry had never really drunk coffee much at home since tea was the drink of choice with the Dursleys and in the magical world, but he was picking up a taste for it here. He was relieved when he saw his new friend weaving his way back between the desks.
They had connected, that much Harry knew, but he was not completely clear on why yet. When they had been talking earlier, Nathaniel had been surprisingly open about his life, and Harry knew rather more about the other wereleopard than he had ever expected. The fact that Nathaniel was one of Anita's boyfriends had come up, along with the reasons he trusted her with more than his life. It had made Harry very glad he had not come to St Louis before Anita had changed the face of the preternatural community, because he did not think he would have been welcomed by people like Gabriel and Raina. They had not discussed details, but he knew enough to be shocked.
There was a momentary frown on Nathaniel's face that disappeared before he turned towards the desk of one of the detectives. The woman had called to him as he walked past and Harry could tell his friend had been hoping not to talk to her. It wasn't really any of his business who Nathaniel talked to and he tried to look somewhere else and not take any notice, but he had never been very good at keeping his nose out.
Snatches of the conversation made it to his newly sensitised hearing when he wasn't attempting to be good, and he heard something about chains and whips and humiliation that he really would rather not have. Nathaniel seemed to be holding his own, but from the bits he overheard, Harry was pretty sure that his friend was trying to be far too polite. It was only when the detective grabbed Nathaniel's wrist that the wereleopard began to look worried, and there was a little panic in his eyes.
"But she's abusing you," were the words Harry heard and he couldn't help himself, he stood up.
Several eyes turned to him, but he chose to ignore them since Nathaniel needed his help and he was not about to leave a friend in need.
"Harry?" Draco asked all possible questions with one word.
"Stay here," Harry replied and was very proud of the calm, friendly tone he managed to achieve, "I just have to ask Nathaniel something."
Then he began walking, and he knew everyone was watching him, except the two people he was heading for.
"Excuse me, Detective," he read her name plaque on her desk, "Arnet, would you mind if I borrowed Nathaniel for a minute. I need to ask him some things and since he's working later, now's the only time."
For a moment he thought the polite English act might have worked as the detective blinked at him, but then her face hardened. She was obviously on a mission, and from what he had heard, Harry had an idea of what it was.
"We won't be long," she said in a tight voice with what Harry supposed was meant to be a pleasant smile.
The woman still had hold of Nathaniel's wrist and the wereleopard looked very uncomfortable. The pleading look Nathaniel sent Harry was enough to let him know that his friend needed help.
"Please let go of Nathaniel's arm, detective," he switched from polite English school boy, into veteran soldier and lowered his voice so no one else could hear, "you're upsetting him."
For a moment the woman appeared shocked, but that moved to annoyed almost straight away.
"This is none of your business," she said pointedly, still not letting go.
"I heard the whole conversation," Harry said, cutting her off, "and it is my business if you're upsetting my friend."
"If you were his friend you'd let me help him," Arnet said in a voice that told Harry all he needed to know; the woman didn't have a clue.
Part of him wanted to snarl and drag Nathaniel over to the other side of the room with him, but he didn't think that would go down well, so he sat on it. Taking a deep breath there was only one course of action he could think of.
"Have you ever been abused, Detective?" he asked in the most direct manner he could.
Arnet looked shocked.
"No," she said, unsure of the change in tack.
"Then you have no idea what you're taking about," he said shortly. "Because Nathaniel is too polite to pull away you are doing more damage than you could possibly understand by refusing to let him go."
It was probably an exaggeration, but the look in Nathaniel's eyes showed the wereleopard was very upset by this.
"And I suppose you do, with all the money that's flying around since your friend arrived in town," was the counter argument Arnet chose.
Harry had hoped that a little rational argument while he channelled Hermione would work, but it obviously was like talking to a brick wall. He had to laugh because of how wrong the detective was.
"Never judge a book by its cover, Detective," he said, metaphorically taking the gloves off. "I spent eleven years living in a cupboard under the stairs surviving on leftovers because my relatives thought I was a freak. That's one of the reasons I'm not as tall as most of my friends."
He had her whole attention now and he couldn't fail to notice that he had Nathaniel's as well.
"You'd think that I wouldn't like small dark places wouldn't you?" he continued without letting Arnet drop his gaze. "I mean any sane person would assume that having been forced to live in one and being locked in for often days at a time that I'd hate them. Well they'd be wrong. I like small dark places; they comfort me. None of my relatives ever came into my cupboard so I was safe. It's important to me because it was mine. Do you understand what I'm trying to tell you, Detective Arnet?"
The woman had gone white, but she slowly let go of Nathaniel's wrist. Harry did not know enough about the whole situation to be completely sure of all the facts, but Arnet's reaction told him that he had hit the nail on the head. He did not know if the woman was finished with her crusade, but at least it was over for now.
Picking up two of the cups Nathaniel had placed on the desk when he stopped, Harry then stepped back and allowed his friend to proceed him back towards the chairs. He wanted to glare at everyone and make them stop looking, but although the conversation had been low enough so very few would have been able to hear it, Arnet's reaction was there for all to see, so he tried to slip back on the unthreatening English school boy mask in the hope that no one would shoot him.
As soon as they sat down, Nathaniel put his head on Harry's shoulder.
"Thank you," the wereleopard said quietly, and Harry found the gesture surprisingly comforting.
"What did you say to her?" Draco asked from his other side.
"Just a little truth," Harry replied and sat on his sudden desire to reach out and touch his Slytherin friend as well.
He did not think Draco would take well to the sudden touchy feely urges he seemed to have every now and then. They were still sitting in their little tableau when Anita finally opened the office door and invited them all in.
End of Chapter 13
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