Chapter: 19 of 35 - Sexual Tension and Other Matters of the Heart
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 19 Sexual Tension and Other Matters of the Heart
Anita had just finished her last zombie animation of the night when her phone rang. The number did not look familiar and she considered not answering it, but the little voice at the back of her mind, that tended to kick in when it was important, spoke up so she picked up.
"Hello," she said, ready to put the person in their place if they were a cold caller.
"Anita," the voice on the other end said, "is that you? This thing makes you sound really strange, please tell me I did it right."
"Draco," she said, rather surprised, "what are you doing ringing me? I thought you didn't have a phone."
There was a pause.
"I don't," Draco replied, "I'm at the neighbours, I found your number in Harry's pocket and I didn't know how to turn on the stupid little thing he has so I walked round. I didn't know what else to do. Harry's locked himself in the bathroom and nothing I say will make him come out."
That didn't exactly sound like a major emergency to Anita, but there was something in the wizard's voice that stopped her dismissing him out of hand.
"Why did Harry lock himself in the bathroom?" she asked, not sure she was going to like the answer.
"Graham dropped us home after Harry fed tonight at the Circus, and well it seemed to put Harry in the mood. We were kissing like we've done before," Draco said, sounding as if he really did not want to reveal the information, "and I pushed it a little further. Just a bit of heavy petting, and Harry seemed to be really enjoying it. I remembered your warnings and I didn't go too far, but then I felt claws on my shoulder I pulled back and he'd shifted slightly. Just his fingers and his teeth, and he shifted back to human as soon as he realised, but he's convinced if he so much as touches me he's going to hurt me. I've been trying to get him to open the door for hours."
It was the description of a lover's tiff, but with a sigh Anita knew it was probably not that simple. Draco Malfoy was a survivor; that much she knew, and if he had called her he had had a good reason.
"I take it you told him what I told you?" she said slowly.
"Harry won't listen to me," Draco replied and he really did sound desperate. "People have died on Harry before and he blames himself for their deaths. Unless you can talk some sense into him he may never unlock the door again, and he's powerful enough to stay in there until he keels over."
She had known Harry would snap in the end; the kid had been under too much pressure, and it seemed to have happened. Fearing that you would kill your boyfriend was something that could push a mind that one bit too far.
"I'll be there in twenty minutes," she said and tried to keep the resigned tone out of her voice.
She had wanted to go home and fall into bed with Micah and Nathaniel and sleep, or possibly have sex and then sleep, she wasn't sure, but she couldn't abandon Harry. That the kid had lasted this long was quite a surprise.
"Thank you," Draco said with genuine gratitude and then hung up.
Harry was sitting in the furthest corner from the door, curled into the smallest shape he could manage under the sink. He had no idea how long he had been there, but his feet were numb from the way he had them curled under himself. It was at least a little distraction from the thoughts whirling around his head.
Anita had told him to be careful, she had warned him that strong emotions could cause a shift, but he hadn't taken it to heart. He could have hurt Draco and that would have been unforgivable. What if his claws had sunk into Draco's pale flesh, or he had bitten him while they were kissing? What if the instincts had come out or he had crushed Draco with uncontrolled strength. He could never let that happen, never.
"Harry," the voice from the other side of the door brought his attention back to the outside world, "Harry, you need to come out."
The voice of his Nimir-Ra called to him, but he was not simply an animal and he remained still and silent, staring at the door. He was not going to leave this room; he couldn't risk what he might do.
"Harry," this time Anita's tone was less happy, "don't piss me off, it's been a long night."
"Go away," he said, unable to remain quiet under the threat.
If they would just leave him alone they would be safe. With the monster locked away no one would get hurt.
"I can't go away, Harry," Anita's voice had lost its edge again; "I'm worried about you and so's Draco. You've been under too much stress lately and this is the result."
Stress? This had nothing to do with stress; this was because he was dangerous and could kill someone.
"Draco told you what I did," he shouted back. "I'm a monster, I could have hurt him."
He heard a sigh from the other side of the door and his sharp hearing picked up a whispered conversation.
"He sounds like he's in shock," Anita said in a low voice, although she must have realised he could hear her. "Go and get some blankets and then use my phone to ring Micah. When you're ready just press this button, and when you're done this one. Tell him I need him and Nathaniel over here, Harry's going to need more of the pard to get through this."
Harry felt like shouting his objection to those ideas, he was not coming out and he would not let the others near him. He was a weapon, he had always been a weapon and now he was too dangerous to be let out. Why couldn't they understand that? Why couldn't they see? He was a wereleopard and a vampire for Merlin's sake; he was lethal. Control had been an illusion, nothing more.
"Harry, all you did was get a little over excited and partially shifted," Anita was talking to him again and her voice was calm and even. "It happens to all lycanthropes some times, it doesn't mean you're dangerous. You need some practice, but you can control it."
"My claws were so close to his neck," Harry insisted, the mental image of those sharp, pale points only millimetres from Draco's throat so captivating and terrifying at the same time.
It would have been so easy to just flick his fingers and watch red blood trickle over Draco's pale skin. So easy to lean forward and taste the sweet taste.
"But you didn't do anything, Harry," Anita said, her tone firm. "I understand the instincts, Harry, I know what you wanted to do for just a moment. You didn't hurt anyone and you won't. We'll make sure you won't hurt anyone, even accidentally."
"No!" Harry cried, burying his head in his arms.
They had told him that killing Voldemort was for the best, that he would still be Harry afterwards, but he knew that in those moments when the bastard died he had enjoyed watching it. He had revelled in his enemy's death and he could be that monster again. He could not have any more death on his conscience so he would stay here, safe from the world.
"Harry," Anita's voice had a hard edge again, "open this door."
His leopard wanted to obey, this was his Nimir-Ra, and his beast shifted under his skin demanding that he move, but he held himself still.
"No," he whispered to himself, unable to shout his objection as the conflict moved through him.
Then he felt it, cold tendrils of power reaching for him. This was not the warm lycanthrope power, this was vampire magic and he understood in a second that Anita was calling him. She was using her animal to call, to pull him from his hiding place, and it was seductive enough that he moved slowly to his hands and knees.
"Don't make me force you, Harry," Anita's voice sounded from the other side of the door, "please, just open the door."
He crawled towards the door, his beast taking him where the human part of him did not want to go. Anita's power called to him, promising things and threatening things in equal measure and part of him so wanted to give in to the power. By the time he managed to stop he was pressed up against the door and the gentle hum of the spells he had thrown up on the wood began to seep into his body, breaking the hold Anita had over him.
"I can't," he whispered at the door, tears slowly leaking from his eyes. "I can't," he said louder. "Don't you understand, I can't," he yelled at Anita and pushed himself off the door, throwing himself to the floor and curling into a small ball.
"I can't," he slowly repeated to himself, over and over again.
He would not hurt anyone else he cared about, he would not.
Anita almost wrenched the front door off the hinges as she simply knew that Micah had arrived. She had been pacing in the hall for the last twenty minutes and she had left Draco sitting outside the bathroom door before that. Neither of them had heard anything from Harry since he had refused her call and she only hoped that with Micah as well, they might be able to bring Harry out.
Reason didn't look as if it was being of much help, and all they had left was brute force. With Harry in such a state they might have a chance and the way Draco had explained it, the only way the bathroom door was opening was if Harry opened it.
"What's happening," Micah asked, reaching for her hand, but offering no other support.
The warmth of his skin comforted her and she thanked the lord for the chance of fate that had given her, her Nimir-Raj. Micah knew just how to help, but not to push support onto her she would not let herself take.
"Harry's gone over the edge," she said shortly, leading Micah and Nathaniel up the stairs. "He's in shock and he's locked in the bathroom with some very powerful spells. We need to pull him out."
"You could not call him?" Micah asked in an almost professional tone.
"No," Anita replied with complete honesty. "It almost worked, but he broke away. With both of us I think we might have a chance."
She was praying it would, because otherwise she had to involve Jean-Claude, and playing with control and vampires was a lot more dangerous than lycanthropes. Micah just nodded his consent.
"What do you want me to do?" Nathaniel asked from his position behind them.
"Just be you," Anita replied as they walked along the landing towards where Draco was just staring at the door. "As soon as the door is open, wrap Harry in a blanket and hold him. He needs comfort and he seems to react well to you. Once we have him back we'll get him into bed with Draco and at least you two, and hopefully he'll wake up in the morning much calmer."
With no objections from either of her leopards Anita turned her attention to Draco. She knew from her own experience that Draco would want to go to Harry as soon as they had the door open, but she also knew that would be a mistake.
"Draco," she said, trying to find the best way to say this.
"I know," the blond wizard said and looked up into her eyes, "stay back because he's afraid of hurting me; I'll be in his room."
For a moment she was shocked and just watched Draco climb to his feet and walk away, but she shook herself out of it in a moment. The blond wizard was obviously far more practical than she had given him credit for. Looking at Micah she nodded, readying herself.
"Together then," she said. "We try and make him open the door."
Micah acknowledged her with a slight smile and then turned to the door. Anita felt his power almost immediately and her beast reached up to touch Micah's without hesitation. Her beast revelled in being allowed to join with its counterpart and Anita could almost feel the two cats rubbing fur on fur. Warm lycanthrope power flowed out of both of them and with it she sent cold vampire energy as well, seeking the leopard within the room.
"Harry," she and Micah spoke at the same time, in perfect unison, "open the door."
With the words she sent everything she had and she felt the answer of lycanthrope power from the other side of the door. It washed over her in a wave and spoke to her of strength and pard, but also pain and fear. It almost took her breath away as she felt the raw energy that was Harry's cat, but gripping Micah's hand hard she did not waver.
For a few silent seconds she could hear nothing from the bathroom, but after what seemed like forever she heard movement. The hum of magic she could just feel from the door dropped so suddenly that she almost stepped back, and then there was the soft click of the lock. There was the sound of hurried movement as if Harry was retreating from the door as fast as possible, but Anita had not doubt that the barrier was now open. Reaching down she carefully turned the handle and then let the door swing inwards with a little push.
The sight that met her wrenched her heart as she saw Harry as far away from the door as he could get, looking so small that she almost did not recognise him. He was huddled under the sink and he was sobbing into his arms. The sight caused her to pause, but Nathaniel was past her in a second and then, before she could react, the shuddering mess that was Harry was enveloped in blanket and wereleopard.
As soon as she saw Harry lean in to Nathaniel she knew she had made the right call in having Micah bring her pomme de sang along. If there was proof anywhere that broken things could be fixed it was Nathaniel. It took time and love, but it was possible.
Harry had almost panicked when they had finally calmed him enough to take him to his room and he had seen Draco, but both Nathaniel and Micah had been glued to either side of the wizard and had managed to urge him onto the bed. Moving from bathroom to bedroom had taken over half an hour and then getting Draco onto the bed with the other three had taken nearly an hour.
There was no way Micah or Nathaniel was going to be able to move for a good while yet and so Anita had decided to take a walk around the house. Draco had told her that if she walked into the dining room and requested food or drink it would appear; she had not bothered to ask how and the cup of coffee currently nestled in her hands was all the explanation she needed.
Harry struck her as the resilient type and she expected him to bounce back, but it wouldn't be instant. The kid needed to come to terms with what he was and not be afraid of it. Being wary of your beast was a necessity, but being afraid was a recipe for disaster. Richard had found that out and she could not help but remember all the pain her one time fiancé had gone through; partly because of her. Richard was adjusting now, at times he almost seemed a peace with his werewolf part, and she only hoped Harry would not end up hating himself as Richard had for a long time.
The young man she had come to know did not seem to be the type of person who would hate himself. Blame himself, yes; demand of himself perfection in control, most probably; but she suspected the breakdown she had been witness to that night was more to do with being overwhelmed by too much, than anything to do with an underlying emotional schism. Anita was no psychoanalyst, but she knew quite a lot about self disgust and a hell of a lot about fear.
Trying to focus on nothing except enjoying her cup of coffee she actually started and almost dropped the mug when her phone went off. Feeling like an idiot she was thankful that no one had been around to see her blunder and then pulled the gadget out of her pocket.
"Blake," she answered, recognising a number at the police station, but unsure who's number it was.
"Anita, it's Zerbrowski," the voice on the other end announced, "we've got trouble."
It had been only just over twenty four hours since she'd last seen her friend, but with everything that had been happening it felt like longer. It was at times like this she wished that St Louis could stay out of preternatural trouble for one night at least. It would be nice to just do her job and go home for once.
"Shit, what's happened?" Anita asked, putting her mug down on the table next to her and dismissing it from her mind.
When Zerbrowski used his current tone of voice, then it was trouble with a capital 'T'.
"Our prisoner is dead," the cop replied bluntly.
Anita swore colourfully and did her best not to turn around and break something in the room where she was standing. For just a fraction of a second she wanted to ask if one of the team had become over enthusiastic with the perp, but she knew them too well to believe that. Dolph had nearly done a suspect serious damage once, but that had been last year and he'd been in counselling since.
"How?" she asked, going for the much more diplomatic question that would still give her the information she wanted.
"That's what we're hoping you can tell us," Zerbrowski replied. "See it seems to be something up your alley. We have a cell which is now a crime scene, and a perp with his insides displayed to the world. When can you get here?"
Anita put her hand to her head and rubbed her aching forehead; this was all she needed now. She had done four zombie raisings, then dealt with Harry, and she was ready to fall into bed and sleep for what felt like a week.
"Give me twenty minutes," she said eventually, planning what she was going to say to the guys even as she spoke, "I'm on my way."
This was the last thing she needed. One preternatural crisis at a time would have been manageable, but a melting down wereleopard and a crime scene were not a great combination. Walking back into Harry's bedroom she was still not quite sure what she was going to say. What she saw made her want to forget the whole second problem and just concentrate on this one.
Harry looked so small next to the three other men. The kid was snuggled in close to Draco and he looked more like a twelve year old than nearly an adult. All she could see of him was his messy black hair and just a hint of pale face where Draco was holding Harry close. The kid appeared to be sound asleep, and she only hoped it would last. Micah was behind Draco, his arm slung over the blond wizard so that his hand was on Harry and Nathaniel was curled up behind Harry as if he was a human blanket.
Anita knew that Micah was the shortest of all the men in the bed, and yet when he looked up at her it was as if he was the largest. Her Nimir-Raj was radiating power and it made Micah appear to dwarf those he was looking after. Micah was also the only one still awake, but Anita suspected it would not take much to wake the others.
"How is he?" she asked quietly, looking at the shock of black hair poking out of the covers.
"Calm for now," Micah replied in an equally low tone. "I think he'll sleep until morning, but I'll sit up and make sure."
Anita nodded. If Harry were to wake and panic he could shift and that would be disastrous. In a deliberate shift there would probably be nothing Micah could do to stop Harry since the kid was an alpha, but Micah could definitely control anything accidental.
"You have to go?" Micah asked as she just stood there watching for a while.
That shocked her out of her reverie and she looked at her Nimir-Raj in surprise.
"I heard the phone ring," Micah explained with a tired smile.
"They need me at the station," Anita replied, as usual grateful that her lover seemed to understand without having to be told anything.
"Bad?" Micah asked.
"Very bad," she told him with complete honesty. "I'll explain when I get back."
Micah just accepted that with a nod, relaxing back onto the bed where he had sat up slightly to talk to her. She was too tired for a meaningful conversation now and she did not want Harry accidentally hearing about the death of their only lead in the case. Having that to deal with as well would probably undo any good they had managed to do that night. Turning she was about to head out the door when Micah spoke again.
"Anita," she looked back at him and his kitty eyes pinned her gaze from across the room, "be careful."
That earned him a smile and then she headed back into the corridor.
Anita had really not wanted to leave Micah and Nathaniel to deal with the Harry and Draco situation, but when she was shown to the suspect's cell she knew why the cops needed her. The man was on his back on the floor, and from the look on his face he had died in agony, which wasn't surprising when her eyes reached his chest.
When Zerbrowski had said the suspect's insides were on display he had not been joking, what the sergeant had failed to mention was that the damage had not been done from the outside. The gapping wound where the man's chest should have been was very obviously from the inside out. Testament to this was also given by the fact that the walls, ceiling and floor were all splattered with blood and in some places other bits as well.
Anita did not want to make an analogy, but she couldn't help thinking Alien. Not really her type of movie she had made the mistake of letting Caleb choose what to rent one evening when some of the pard had descended for a bonding session, and the man in front of her looked almost exactly like the guy whose chest had exploded.
Her beast stirred at the smell of all that blood, but she ignored it and stepped round the body to where Dolph was talking to one of the forensic guys.
"What happened?" she asked as soon as the big cop turned his attention to her.
"We don't know," Dolph told her shortly, obviously in a foul mood. "The uniform on duty heard screaming and by the time he got here this was what he found."
There was the hint of something nasty, in a metaphysical sense, in the room that Anita had not felt around the man before. Glancing around the room she tried to pinpoint it.
"First guess was something got in," Dolph explain, and his tone was almost accusatory, but then she was used to that from him these days.
"But then someone realised that the wound comes from the inside out," Anita said and gave her one time friend a look that said back off.
She had had enough stress for one day and she did not need Dolph throwing a snit fit and causing any more. She was worried about Harry; she was worried about Nathaniel and Micah having to cope with a potentially deadly wizard without her; god help her she was even worried about Draco and the blond wizard had shown he was virtually completely self sufficient; she could do without Dolph in one of his moods.
"What could have done it?" Dolph asked without any sign of remorse or an improvement in his temper.
Having a degree in preternatural biology meant that Anita was quite familiar with what most of the world considered nasty critters, but this did not seem to really fit anything she could name.
"There are some things that could make this type of wound," she said, leaning over the body and keeping her thoughts to purely analytical subjects.
If she thought too much about how horribly the man had died she might lose what little food was in her stomach, and that would be embarrassing. The fact that from this distance she could tell that something had shredded the prisoner's heart did not help stop the bile rising in the back of her throat. All she could hope was that whatever had done this had destroyed the heart first and put the poor bastard out of his misery.
"But most things are driven by food, and anything I can think of would still be here, munching on the dead guy, or leave obvious signs," she concluded. "Nothing that could do this lives in the continental United States either. China and Russia, in the middle of nowhere, are the only places you would find a monster that could cause wounds like this."
There were two creatures she could think of, off the top of her head, which might produce this kind of damage; one was a small monkey like monster with a very long tongue that the delightful creature would use to implant an egg in a living host, via the throat. The egg would then develop into a miniature version of its parent and eat its way out of the unfortunate creature chose to hold the parasite. Only two human victims had ever been reported for the creature, its usual prey being primates. Humans tended to be able to fight the trance the creature had to put its prey into to complete its task.
The other creature lived in one lake in China and was dangerous only if swallowed in its larval stage. In their adult form the insect like creatures were used for their ability to enhance psychic powers, unfortunately as a larva, if swallowed they broke down and were absorbed into the body, causing so much stimulation to the victim's cardiovascular system, that their heart would explode with the force of a small bomb. The resultant reaction left a bright green residue behind that was unmistakable.
Letting her eyes wander across the wound she began to notice that the mess of flesh was even stranger than she had first thought. There were marks on the ruptured tissue, but they were not teeth or claw marks. Anita knew teeth and claw wounds very well, and nothing about the body was consistent at all. Something had come through the man's chest, from the inside, with considerable force, but it was going to take a lab and someone more versed in science than she was to tell what.
The closer she was to the body the more black magic she could feel, and she would have sworn it was man made, rather than anything natural, but she had no idea what exactly she was sensing. It made her flash back to the original crime scene, when she had first seen Harry. The magic she had felt coming from him was similar to that which she could sense from the dead man in front of her. If pressed she would have said they came from the same source.
"I don't think whatever did this is natural," she said eventually, standing up straight again and looking at Dolph. "I think we might be dealing with some sort of construction, but unless we find it, forensics are the only ones who can tell us what it was."
Dolph looked even less happy at her conclusion and Anita suspected her one time friend had been hoping for a simple, creature explanation. If Dolph had something to hunt down it made his life a hell of a lot easier. Anita wished she could have given him a simple answer, but this was not turning out to be an easy case at all. From Dolph's expression she knew she was not getting out of this any time soon, but she was not sure how much use she could be. About all she could do was point at anything really nasty.
What she wanted to do was turn around, climb back in her jeep and not stop until she was back at Draco's house. Crawling into the overly large bed with the four men she had left there would be comforting and give her a chance to process everything that had been happening tonight, but she doubted she would be allowed to leave in the near future. Dolph was in a piss mood, and unless she did something to get her thrown out, she suspected Dolph would be working on the 'misery loves company' principle.
End of Chapter 19
On to next chapter NC17/18 | On to next chapter R/15