Chapter: 25 of 35 - Relationships
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 25 Relationships
Harry had gone out of his way to show Remus that being a werewolf could be fun, and he, Nathaniel and Remus had played like two kittens and a puppy for literally hours. They had only broken one priceless antique and a quick spell had fixed that before Draco noticed. The fact that Harry could do magic wandlessly in his cat form had surprised the hell out of Remus, if the sitting down with a stunned expression was anything to go by. A stunned expression on a wolf was quite amusing. After that they had headed into the enchanted back garden that was a lot bigger than should have been physically possible, and they had hunted.
When they had finally shifted back, Remus had gone back to bed at Harry's insistence, once Harry promised to explain everything in the morning, and had fallen straight asleep. Richard had had to leave by that point and Anita left soon after she had Nathaniel back in human form.
It was now 'the morning' and Harry really wasn't quite sure where to start. They had made it through breakfast in a terribly British, civilised way and were now in the lounge with instructions from Draco not to come out until they'd talked everything through. Draco had privately offered to stay with Harry, but he had declined, wanting to sort out the whole preternatural issue rather before having to deal with the 'I'm gay and sleeping with Draco' issue as well. It wasn't that he thought Remus would disapprove; it was just that he felt it better to deal with one thing at a time.
"So," Remus finally broke the silence that had descended, "care to explain what's going on, Harry?"
That was it, the last nail in his coffin, so Harry put down the mug of tea he had been nursing and tried to figure out how to begin.
"When I said I was kidnapped I left out a few details," he said, deciding that being upfront was probably the best policy.
"You lied to us," Remus was also in a blunt mood, it appeared.
"No," Harry replied, and he was rather upset by the accusation, "I just didn't mention some things. I know you lot, you'd all have been on the first portkey out here and that would have made things worse. You mean well, but a hoard of British wizards and witches barging into a delicate preternatural situation wasn't going to help anyone. I didn't want you to worry."
Remus did have the grace to look a little cowed by that response.
"I'm sorry," he apologised and Harry knew his friend meant it, "we do tend to forget you're not a child anymore."
There were many things that jumped into his mind in reply to that, but Harry refused to say any of them. His friends only ever tried to help him, that sometimes their attentions were unwelcome was not their fault. Dredging up such things would not help.
"That's okay," he said instead, giving his friend a small smile, "I do have a knack for finding the worst trouble."
Unfortunately that did not draw an answering smile from Remus.
"Like now," the werewolf said in a perfectly serious tone.
"Like now," Harry had to agree.
Taking a moment to gather his thoughts, he took a calming breath and tried to ignore the fact that he had tuned into Remus' steady heartbeat. It was a comforting sound, but if he let it he could easily be distracted by it.
"The Muggle world over here is a lot less Muggle than at home," Harry decided that he had to explain that, or the rest would probably not make sense. "Some of the Muggles over here have magic, but it's not broad like our magic, it's more like they have a specific talent. You met Anita last night, she's a Necromancer; she raises zombies for a living. That's her magical gift. She can't use a wand or transfigure things, or use charms, but she can raise the dead, and there are other people who can do other things."
He looked at Remus and tried to gauge if his friend was following what he was trying to say.
"So they aren't witches or wizards," Remus said as if the werewolf realised Harry needed some reassurance, "but some of them have a dedicated power."
"Sort of," Harry replied with a nod. "They have what they call witches as well, people who can call on certain types of magic. They seem to have people who can channel power, but they need complicated rituals and symbols and you get a very different type of result."
Remus just nodded at that.
"When I was kidnapped I was taken by a group who wanted me for a ritual," he continued, his voice losing a bit of its strength as he recalled the memories he was speaking of. "I was the human sacrifice. They had a vampire drink my blood and a wereleopard bite me, then they killed them and covered me in their blood before they opened an artery in my leg and tried to drain me dry. We think they were trying to use my blood as a conduit for human, lycanthrope and vampire power, but they didn't know about wizards so they didn't know I wasn't a run of the mill sensitive. I didn't die and you've already seen that I'm a wereleopard, what you don't know is that I'm part vampire as well."
There was a shocked and saddened expression on Remus' face, but Harry was glad he did not see horror. If Remus had been horrified Harry wasn't sure he could have taken it.
"How is that possible?" Remus asked in an almost reasonable tone. "I never read anything that would suggest anything like this could happen."
"But we both know how accurate the books are," Harry said, unable to keep the bitterness out of his voice, "they've been lying to you all your life, Remus. They bound you and then made everyone afraid of you when there was no need, and I know for a fact that most vampires don't know we exist and the ones I've met are nothing like we studied in school. Our little world seems to like lies."
When he had finished, Harry just sat there looking at his friend. Remus did not look angry and Harry couldn't understand why. Didn't he understand that the Wizarding world had stolen half his life.
"Did you know that it's legal in the Muggle world to be a lycanthrope or a vampire now, even at home," Harry tried again. "The Ministry haven't bothered to tell us that. Muggles have it better than we do and we're the magical ones."
Still little more than a flicker from Remus.
"I gave up being angry a long time ago, Harry," his friend finally said. "If I hadn't I would have self destructed. I'm not happy about what they did to me, but I understand fear and if we lose control we let them win; we prove what they've been saying. Now we know the truth we can do something about it."
Remus' calm words cut straight through Harry's righteous anger and the werewolf smiled at him. How Remus could be so collected was beyond Harry, had it been him he would have wanted to kill someone, but Remus seemed to be at ease with that part of the situation.
"But back to you," his friend said before he had a chance to reply. "Are you okay, Harry?"
It was so like Remus to be worrying about him and not himself and the last of Harry's anger melted away.
"I feel better than I have since the final battle," he admitted, trying not the think about the werewolf situation at home, "and the people here have been very helpful. The vampires are ruled by the master of the city, Jean-Claude and he has been making sure my vampire side is under control. Anita, who isn't one of us, is the Nimir-Ra, the leader of the local wereleopard pard and has all but adopted me. She's also a Federal Marshal and is investigating the kidnapping with the police. So far I don't think I've done anything completely stupid, except for freeing your wolf without the proper precautions, and I'm adjusting with everyone's help."
Remus looked at him steadily as if trying to gauge the truth of what he was saying and then the werewolf smiled.
"You look better," his friend said, "there's been a weariness in your eyes since the battle and it's gone now."
Harry managed a small smile at that as well; there was an upside to all this chaos.
"How about you," he asked, uncomfortable with the attention being all on him, "how are you feeling?"
"Like I've never really been alive before," Remus replied with a distant expression in his eyes.
It was a moment before the werewolf snapped out of it with a small shake of his head, and then he looked Harry straight in the eyes.
"I don't quite know how to thank you," Harry felt a lump in his throat at the depth of gratitude he saw in his friend's face. "I can never repay you for what you have done for me."
Harry didn't know what to say; how could he respond to that?
"Anyone else would have done the same thing," he said eventually, lowering his eyes to the floor.
People thanking him for things that any sane person would have done always made him feel awkward and he never knew how to react. Accepting with grace was not something he understood how to do and it all rather embarrassed him.
"Harry," Remus' voice was so close by that Harry looked up sharply.
When the werewolf had crossed the room he had no idea, but Remus was stood in front of him.
"You gave everything you had to save our world," his friend said, "and yet you still find ways to keep giving. Thank you."
Then before Harry could think of anything remotely sensible to say he found himself being dragged to his feet and enveloped in a strong hug. At first he stiffened, but Remus refused to let go and eventually he relaxed into the embrace and accepted the love and thanks that went with it. He didn't think he deserved it, but it felt nice all the same. When Remus finally pulled back Harry found himself on the receiving end of a huge smile and he tried not to feel too embarrassed by the whole thing.
"Now," Remus said cheerfully, "tell me all about your new friends and how long you've been involved with Draco."
It took a moment for Harry's brain to catch up with what the werewolf said and he blinked in shock.
"You know?" he asked rather stupidly.
"Werewolf nose," Remus said, his smile becoming a grin, "and the fact that several of the older members of the Order have a pool on when the pair of your would finally recognise what you had."
Harry decided that silence was the better part of valour and chose not to ask.
Having had to abort Jean-Claude's visit the previous evening it was postponed until the following night and Anita found herself walking around the front room of the luxurious Malfoy townhouse yet again as night fell. She had not had much chance to talk to Remus Lupin yet, since Richard had arrived before her and had been talking to the other werewolf before she came in. They appeared to be talking about the conditions werewolves had to live under in the UK Wizarding population and Anita could feel Richard's anger almost as if it was her own.
They had worked miracles on the lycanthrope situation in St Louis and she had a feeling they might be extending their influence overseas at some point. From what she'd picked up from overhearing some of their conversation, Lupin was a pleasant, well educated man, but she could feel the dangerous edge to him as if he was barely controlled.
New lycanthropes could be unpredictable and dangerous, and although Lupin was not new he was new to having control and Anita was a little worried about the air of danger she felt from him. Lupin himself seemed oblivious to it; either that or he was a good actor.
Draco was being the perfect host, but she could not help but hope that Jean-Claude would arrive soon. She had other appointments tonight which she had put back slightly for this meeting, and she did not want to stay too long. She was here because of Harry, and because, quite frankly, she was a control freak and needed to know what was going on for her peace of mind. Lupin was a wild card and Harry's new ability to call wolves was only one of the consequences of the werewolf's presence.
"Our apologies," Anita's breath caught in her throat as she turned to see Jean-Claude walk into the room, "yesterday's business attempted to rise again this evening, but it has been dealt with."
The vampire was resplendent in white and deep blue to match his eyes, and Anita walked over to him without thinking. She leaned forward and was rewarded with a kiss and a smile from Jean-Claude.
"Good evening, ma petite," he greeted warmly, "I am sorry I was unable to answer your request last night."
"We managed," Anita replied.
"What, don't I get a kiss too?" Jason chose that moment to walk in the door behind Jean-Claude and Anita felt something change in the room instantly.
Warm lycanthrope energy spilled into the room and Anita felt her beast shift in recognition. She smelt wood and dust and dank, dark forest and it brought forth in her thoughts of sex and heat and wolf. Jason's eyes had gone wide as he froze on the spot as if he was caught in a spotlight and Anita could feel her friend's beast answering whatever was in the room.
Jean-Claude was staring over her shoulder at something behind her and she turned to find out what was happening. What she found was Remus Lupin on his feet, staring at Jason with a hunger in his eyes that she had rarely seen on anyone before. That look had been deep within Jean-Claude's eyes when he marked her; it had been in Richard's eyes when he had chased her after she accidentally declared herself Freja; it had been in Micah's eyes when they first had sex; and she saw it in Nathaniel's eyes whenever he came to her.
Passion was burning in wolf coloured eyes and it was directed completely at Jason. It was as if there was no one in the room except the two werewolves, and Anita did not know whether to feel like an intruder or a protector. This was the type of passion that could burn and leave nothing but a burnt husk in its path, or it could also warm and thrill a heart like nothing else in the universe.
Jason made a small whining noise in the back of his throat, part fear and part something from the other end of the spectrum. It made Anita want to help him and shield him, but there was something going on here she did not quite understand and she looked to Richard to see if he knew what was happening. If the Ulfric had been in wolf form she was sure his hackles would have been raised.
When Lupin took a step towards Jason she went to move and bar his way, but Jean-Claude's hand rested on her shoulder and held her back.
"Non, ma petite," he said quietly as Lupin walked straight past them both, as if he did not even know they were there, "it is not our place to interfere."
"What's happening?" the feeling of lycanthrope power had not dimmed at all, in fact it was becoming stronger.
Part of her wanted to go to help her friend, but an instinctive part held her in place as firmly as Jean-Claude's hand. Jason was still standing stock still as Lupin walked up to him so that they were almost nose to nose. Such a mixture of lust and fear answered what had to be Lupin's power, that Anita could not tell if Jason thought Lupin was going to eat him or jump him.
"I believe, ma petite, that you have felt something similar when you first encountered your Nimir-Raj," Jean-Claude whispered to her.
"It wasn't like this," Anita replied; the power in the room was breathtaking, "and they're both male."
"Compatibility does not always require the opposite sex, ma petite," even Jean-Claude's voice sounded tight, "it requires only a match. Our Jason has always sought someone whose love will consume him, and if he accepts, he may have found him."
Anita had to remember to breathe as the werewolves stood nose to nose. Lupin was much taller than Jason and the younger man seemed small somehow, as if he was about to be devoured.
"How can it be love?" Anita had very distinct ideas about love, and she did not believe in love at first sight; lust yes, love no.
"It isn't," Jean-Claude said very simply, "but I have seen this only twice in my lifetime, and both times that is what it became."
There was such fear in Jason's eyes, and yet such longing as if he knew what was happening at more than an instinctive level. His eyes had shifted to wolf gold as well and he was shaking as if he might lose control completely at any second. Lupin and Jason were rooted to the spot as they stared into each other's eyes and then Jason moved. It was such a small move and yet it caused such power to fly around the room that Anita thought her teeth would vibrate out of her head. Jason turned his head to the side, eyes closed and neck bared to Lupin.
The tableau held for just a second and then Lupin was on Jason like a predator on prey and for a moment Anita thought Lupin was about to rip Jason's throat out. Lupin's mouth attached to Jason's throat and the whine that answered the touch was half pleasure, half terror as they ungracefully fell to the floor. The impact separated them and they ended up kneeling on all fours beside each other. Jason's face was a picture of bewildered wonder, and although Anita could not see Lupin's expression, from his body language she had no doubt his face would be the same.
Neither of the werewolves seemed quite sure what had just happened and finding herself finally able to take her eyes off the pair, Anita glanced around the room to see what everyone else's reactions were.
Richard's eyes were wide and shocked, but there was also an acceptance that Anita rarely saw in her Ulfric. In this the beast had spoken and the human had listened. Harry was looking rather dazed, almost as dazed as the two werewolves involved and Anita wondered if the wizard had felt more than she did thanks to his connection to Lupin. Nathaniel was wide eyed and if Anita knew her leopard well, aroused, and Draco seemed shocked, but was recovering fast. The look in the blond wizard's eyes was far more sentient that the rest of the room.
"Remus meet Jason, Jason meet Remus," Draco said sarcastically.
If it had just been hormones Harry thought he might have been able to think straight, because after all he was a teenager and teenagers had to deal with hormones on a daily basis, but this wasn't simply a matter of lust. He'd thought he had a handle on the calling wolves problem since he'd been able to shut it down to almost nothing over the day, but it had flared into a kind of feedback circuit the moment Jason had walked into the room.
Part of him had remembered Jason as food, part of him had looked on Remus as a pet and both had sat up and taken notice the moment Remus' lycanthrope power had surged into the room straight at Jason. It had been a bit like being hit with a stunning hex at low power as his vampire nature reacted, the lycanthrope power coiled under his skin and they hit each other head on.
"What was that?" Anita asked bluntly, putting into words what Harry suspected most of the room were thinking.
"Werewolf bonding ritual," Richard said shortly, and Harry could not help but notice that the Ulfirc's voice was low with power.
At least, he realised, he was not the only one in the room to be having a problem.
"You've seen this before?" Anita was clearly uncomfortable with not knowing what was going on and appeared to be trying to take it out on those around her.
"No," Richard replied with a shake of his head and Harry thought the werewolf was trying to gather his wits, "heard about it. I thought it was a myth."
"It is, mes amis," Jean-Claude said with his usual flare for the dramatic, "usually."
So far no one had made a move to help either Remus or Jason off the floor and Harry was in no condition to do so. It was only when Draco moved to offer his assistance that those in the dark discovered why those who understood what had just gone on had not moved. Remus actually growled, and it wasn't a playful human sound it was very much all dangerous werewolf. Almost immediately Remus looked shocked and apologetic, but that didn't change what had happened and Draco did not move forward any further.
"Well if you're going to be like that you can stay there," was the Slytherin's offhand reaction and Harry was glad when his lover stepped away.
Remus' reaction had brought his own beast to attention as his boyfriend was threatened, which was about as alien a feeling as he had felt so far. Remus had never been the enemy, not even when the werewolf had been in a killing rage, not like this.
"I..." Remus seemed to be at a loss to respond; the werewolf appeared totally confused, and his eyes kept moving to Jason who looked equally dazed.
"Can I get off the roller coaster now?" Jason asked, although the young man made no move to shift away from Remus.
There was a clear and definite bite on Jason's neck where Remus' teeth had bruised the delicate flesh and in one spot broken through it. Harry watched, fascinated as the werewolf ran his fingers over the spot and looked at Remus with a kind of awe in his features. Lycanthrope power was still shifting in the room, Harry could feel it, but it was more of a settling than the explosion of strength he had felt earlier. The fact that Remus' and Jason's beasts were metaphysically rubbing against each other had to be clear to every person in the room sensitive to lycanthrope power.
"What happened?" Harry found his voice and tried to ignore the desire to reach out and harness the power he felt coming from the two werewolves.
It was intoxicating in its intensity, especially since it spoke to his lycanthrope side and his vampire.
"As ma petite and her Nimir-Raj are a match on a metaphysical level," Jean-Claude said with a wistful smile, "so it would seem are Jason and Monsieur Lupin. I believe the events of yesterday may have led Monsieur Lupin's reaction to have been a little stronger than it would otherwise have been."
"Remus," the still kneeling werewolf said in a reflection of his usual polite self, "please call me Remus."
Harry would have laughed if he hadn't been so bemused; it was typical of Remus to manage to find his manners even in the middle of all of this. As the werewolf dragged himself to his feet it was almost as if Harry could feel the power in the muscles that moved Remus, and when his friend turned and reached out to offer his hand to Jason and the younger werewolf took it, it was like being blasted by a furnace. The two werewolves were just staring at each other after Jason came to his feet in one graceful move and Harry had great difficulty not reaching out to the power he could feel.
Everyone's attention was on the werewolves, and Harry really didn't want to be the centre of attention again, but he needed some assistance.
"Jean-Claude," he forced between gritted teeth, "help."
Keeping his vampire from the surface was very difficult and Harry was very glad when Jean-Claude appeared in front of him. He wasn't sure if the master of the city had moved very fast or if he'd just missed the whole thing. When it came to the metaphysical sometimes perception of time did funny things.
"Mon enfant," Jean-Claude said calmly making him look into midnight blue eyes, "concentrate on me."
"What's going on?" Anita sounded worried and Harry felt awful for causing yet more anxiety.
"He is attempting not to call the wolves," Jean-Claude said without breaking eye contact with Harry for a moment. "Bring your focus onto me, mon enfant, concentrate on my presence, not that of the wolves."
Jean-Claude burned so brightly as a source of vampire power that his presence almost swamped the power coming from the werewolves just by being there, but not quite and it took a little work for Harry to focus only on the vampire.
"Bon," Jean-Claude said when Harry managed it, and Harry had no doubt that the vampire could feel exactly what he was doing. "Now reduce your awareness back to yourself, mon enfant, let everything else fade."
That was easier said than done, but slowly Harry reigned in his preternatural senses and the pressure on his mind dimmed. It wasn't like shutting a door, he could not just turn off the preternatural world in his awareness, but it was more as if he found himself again. It was an incredible relief.
"Thank you," he said eventually, eternally grateful that Jean-Claude had been there to help.
He did not know what would have happened had he called Remus and Jason to him, he had just felt that it would be wrong.
"My pleasure, mon enfant," Jean-Claude replied with a smile.
"Would someone please start from the beginning and explain to me what is going on in my lounge and why it had such an effect on Harry?" Draco did not sound as if he was in the mood for an argument and Harry could not help feeling guilty for worrying his boyfriend.
"Um, I'd like to know as well," Remus' polite tones sounded from the other side of the room.
Everyone's attention turned back to the pair of werewolves, and although they were no longer touching they were very close together. It seemed to Harry as if that was where they were made to be, even though before today Remus and Jason had never met. Harry looked to Jean-Claude, and it seemed it was unanimous as everyone else did the same for an explanation.
"It is said," Jean-Claude began, taking the mantle of teacher easily, "that once all pairing for those of a lycanthrope nature occurred the same way; two would meet, their beasts would reach out to each other and they would be declared bonded. Over time, and as lycanthrope populations grew and spread out this became rare, but never the less, possible. I feel it a blessing to have seen it twice in my lifetime. Remus is alpha, Jason is not and hence mon pomme surrendered to the stronger wolf."
The vampire looked around the room as if to make sure he still had everybody's attention, and Harry doubted Jean-Claude needed to have bothered.
"As for why is affected mon enfant," Jean-Claude continued with a fond smile. "The power of the wolves is intoxicating, especially to a master vampire who has just discovered his power to call them. Had he so desired, mon enfant could have had both our friends grovelling at his feet, but such is not in his nature. When one is inexperienced, stopping such a thing can be difficult."
"You call wolves now?" Jason was looking at Harry as if the werewolf didn't know what to think; Jean-Claude had obviously not seen fit to enlighten the young man of Harry's new ability.
"Since yesterday," Harry admitted with a nod, "it was sort of an emergency."
That drew a snort of laughter from Draco.
"What he means is, Remus was about to eat people and Harry decided to expand his repertoire in a desperate attempt to stop him," the Slytherin said in an exasperated tone.
Now Jason was looking at Remus as if he didn't know how to react to that either.
"It's complicated," was all Remus found to say.
Remus' usual eloquence seemed to have deserted him and Harry did not want Jason to get the wrong idea.
"Remus' wolf was bound against his will when he was a child," he said quickly before Jason could step away from Remus or do anything equally as wrong in Harry's eyes, "I set it free. It was really angry, I calmed it down. He's fine now."
As explanations went it left out a lot of details, but it had the pertinent information. Jason looked shocked and then kind of sad.
"Your wolf was bound?" the young werewolf asked as if it was one of the most horrific ideas he could think of.
"It appears my community has been doing a great deal of lying about werewolves," Remus said, almost back to his usual calm self.
"That stinks," was Jason's succinct opinion on the matter.
Harry was in total agreement.
"So what does the bonding mean?" Nathaniel spoke up for the first time.
"It means, mes amis," Jean-Claude said with a knowing smile, "that it would be a very good idea for Remus and Jason to come to know each other better."
Harry was pretty sure there was a double entendre in there, but he chose not to comment. The way Remus blushed told him that his werewolf mentor had most probably been having some very impure thought about Jason anyway. Knowing how it had been for him when his beast set its sights on Draco, Harry had no doubt that the two werewolves would probably know each other extremely well in a very short space of time. He only hoped that both of them were happy with the idea.
End of Chapter 25
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