Chapter: 2 of 35 - Investigation
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 2 Investigation
Anita had worked the crime scene and given her report, but she was no clearer than anyone else about why the crime had been committed. She knew the details of the hows, but the whys were a complete mystery. The spell carvings were not her speciality and had been sent to an expert to process, so she was left to wonder like everyone else.
In the end she had called Micah and Jean-Claude and arranged to meet them at the hospital at Dolph's request. When vampires were being murdered it was Jean-Claude's business so now he could be involved. She was the first to arrive and was shown into a small office on the preternatural floor. At least they were lucky in one respect; the hospital had staff trained in preternatural medicine since there was a research lab with a large government grant in residence. No one was panicking because of possible contamination or anything ridiculous like that.
It was Zerbrowski who showed up a few minutes after she had tried to drink the hospital coffee and was hence suffering from some form of poisoning. The sergeant entered carrying a blue travelling bag.
"Zerbrowski," Anita said, a little surprised, "I thought Dolph wanted to handle this one?"
"He was called in by the brass," the cop replied with his usual smile. "Don't you love me any more, Anita?"
She gave him a look and he put the bag on the table.
"Going somewhere?" Anita asked in attempt to lighten the mood.
"This is the kid's bag," Zerbrowski said and rather killed the joke.
"Isn't that evidence?" it wasn't done to walk off with items found at a crime scene.
"Forensics said it was contaminated by handling and was useless as evidence," her companion said as if it was a completely normal happening. "I figured the kid might like it back if he ever wakes up."
Anita frowned; that sounded a little odd. She always had trouble with the forensics people; they held onto the smallest little thing because of their precious evidence trail. It didn't seem like normal procedure to let a member of the investigation walk off with such a large item, contamination or no contamination.
"They really let you just have it?" Anita knew she sounded paranoid, but something was off.
"You think I'd walk off with something like this for fun?" Zerbrowski sounded as if he might become annoyed if she pushed, which just wasn't right either.
The cop picked up the bag again and put it in the corner and looked at her pointedly. She was going to ask for more details when the door opened again and Micah came in. When she was distracted the bag did not seem so important anymore.
They needed a game plan and she wanted to get closer to the kid as soon as possible. She had been given no time to assess Harry Potter away from the overwhelming black magic at the crime scene, and she wanted to see what she could tell about him, preferably before he woke up. When they were conscious people could hide things, when they were out for the count so much more showed through.
Convincing Zerbrowski to let her at the kid alone should at least be easier then if it had been Dolph. When she knocked heads with the lieutenant they really knocked heads, and Dolph was not in a good mood with her at the moment. Maybe the higher powers really were looking out for her tonight.
Harry's whole body was buzzing; it was the most peculiar feeling, and he was hot. He was sure he ached from head to foot and yet his skin was tingling in a very strange way. It occurred to him that it could be some form of magical healing, but he had never felt anything like it and he had been healed for a huge host of ailments. His thoughts seemed to be on the fuzzy side and he wondered where he was since his memory was failing to give him any useful information. In a bid to find out what on earth was going on, he slowly opened his eyes.
The florescent tube in the ceiling and the slow beeping beside him rather took him by surprise. He was in a Muggle hospital, and he had no idea why. Turning his head slightly he saw a woman with dark hair reading some sort of file and it occurred to him that she might know the answers to his questions. He opened his mouth to ask, but all that came out was a rather undignified grunt. His throat felt like he'd just drunk bubotuber pus, but the noise did at least grab the woman's attention.
"Mr Potter," she said as soon as her eyes met his, "welcome back."
She knew who he was then, which was a good start, but there was something funny about the way she spoke which his confused brain couldn't quite work out.
"Harry," he managed to force out of his unhappy throat (when anyone called him 'Mr Potter' he could not help but think of Snape, and the Potions master was the last thing he wanted on his mind at the moment).
"I'm Anita, Harry," the woman told him in a calm matter of fact tone. "Do you know where you are?"
"Muggle hospital," was the only answer his befuddled brain could provide, and he said it without thinking.
The second time it was easier to speak, but it was not exactly pleasant. Anita frowned at him a moment, but Harry was far too distracted to worry about it. The tingling in his skin was so very strange.
"Do you remember where?" she asked.
Harry thought a moment and then realised that he really didn't know and so shook his head.
"You're in St Louis," Anita provided helpfully.
The information actually jogged his memory and he smiled at the recollection of Draco forcing the portkey into his hands. His friend had totally refused to take no for an answer, and it kind of explained what he couldn't place about Anita's voice: she had an American accent.
"Draco sent me," he said, the facts falling out of his mouth as if there was no gap between his thoughts and his lips; "said I needed a holiday. What did I walk into this time?"
"This time, Harry?" Anita asked standing and moving closer to the bed.
"Hmm," he replied, as his mind wandered, "Draco will be furious. I was supposed to relax and rest, but trouble always finds me somehow. Thought I might have finished that once I killed the Dark Bastard, but seems I was wrong."
He smiled up at Anita as the most peculiar feeling ran from his toes to his head; for some reason he felt like rubbing himself against her and he was too tired to do so, but he didn't feel remotely embarrassed about it. She was looking down at him intently now.
"The 'Dark Bastard'?" she enquired as Harry tried to figure out if he could move his arm; he really wanted to touch Anita.
"Voldemort, he was really evil," he said absently as he managed to shift his hand so that it made contact with Anita's fingers on the side of the bed. "Draco came up with the title Dark Bastard; he's good with names. Why do I want to touch you?"
"You were infected by a wereleopard," Anita said, allowing him to play with her fingers. "You could say I have an affinity with leopards which is why you're reacting to me."
"Wereleopard," Harry repeated slowly. "Didn't know there was such a thing, but one of my best friends is a werewolf. Hell, I hope it won't affect my Animagus form; I'm a wolf y'know. Remus thought that was really cool because I could keep him company at full moon."
Anita's frown was deepening and Harry hoped he wasn't upsetting her, he really didn't want to do that.
"Animagus?" she asked. "Are you a werewolf?"
She sounded annoyed and Harry didn't think that was a good idea.
"No," he said and patted her hand absently, "Animagus, y'know, the spell; nothing to do with the stupid moon."
His head was beginning to pound and the tingling was becoming annoying. He found himself wishing for St Mungo's, something he had never thought he would ever do.
"Are you a witch?" Anita asked and Harry actually laughed, even though it hurt.
"Not unless I changed sex," he said cheerfully and then it occurred to him he was feeling rather strange; "I didn't did I? It took us three weeks to get Seamus back to male after Fred and George tried out their Sex Shifting Sherbet on him. He was not happy."
The frown was still deepening.
"No, you're definitely male," Anita said in what seemed to be a rather cold voice. "What are you, Harry?"
"I'm a wizard," Harry replied and gave her his best smile, even though with the headache he really just wanted to close his eyes and go to sleep. "Are you a Muggle? I'm not really supposed to tell a Muggle all this, but I can't seem to stop talking. You didn't give me Veritaserum did you, 'cause when they did that for the official records I was sick; everywhere."
Anita pinched the bridge of her nose and Harry thought that maybe she had a headache too.
"Harry," the woman said slowly, and he had the feeling she was holding on to her temper by the merest thread, "do you remember anything about the attack on you?"
Some very nasty thoughts tried to make it to the front of his brain at that question, but Harry squashed them back down ruthlessly.
"Don't want to remember," he said in a very tight voice.
The confused floaty feeling was being replaced by something much darker and he did not want that to happen. He might have had a headache, and he might have tingled all over, but he thought that where the other ideas would take him would be worse.
"We need to know as much as possible about the people who did this, Harry," he figured that her tone was supposed to be cajoling, but he also decided that she wasn't very good at it. "We have to find them to stop whatever they are planning."
Images forced themselves into Harry's mind even as he tried to stop them and they made him afraid and angry. The memory of the smell of blood surged into his thoughts and pain that made him want to curl up and cry for help. Anita was making him remember and he didn't want that; he just wanted to forget. As his anger burned he snatched his hand away from his companion's and energy surged through him, wiping away the ache and tingling.
His vision changed, growing brighter and coming into sharp focus so that the light in the room was almost painful, and his teeth felt like they were being pulled from their sockets. Sitting up he pulled his feet under him and snarled, power flowing through him in waves.
"No," he all but growled.
Anita backed away from him, her expression completely devoid of any reaction, and the door to the room banged open. Three men charged in and Harry glared at them all. One of the men had curly hair and was holding a gun, the second was short with long black hair and the third was the one that caught Harry's attention. This man was the tallest and he had black wavy hair, very pale skin and deep blue eyes that Harry stared straight into.
The power flowing through him recognised something in the beautiful stranger, but he still snarled none-the-less. The power spoke to him, but it brought with it a need that he did not understand. That need demanded to be answered, but he had learned not to obey impulses in his fight against Voldemort. Too many things crowded into his mind at the same time as one blood ritual overlaid on another and he put his hands to his head trying to stop it.
"No," he all but begged the world in general.
The power was fading as he refused to feed it and the ache and the tingling were coming back. He could not fight anymore and as his mind filled with things he did not want to remember the weakness returned and he began to slump forward. He would have hit the metal bar on the side of the bed if it hadn't have been for the pale man, who moved impossibly quickly and caught him. The magic that flared between them as the stranger touched him was too much for Harry and he let the darkness take him back.
Anita stood there for a while and tried to figure out what had just happened. As Jean-Claude placed the boy back down onto the bed she attempted to rationalise what she had just seen.
"That is not possible," she decided eventually.
Even with everything she had seen, this was outside the pale. The kid had been leaking magical energy ever since he had been brought in, lycanthrope energy. Since he had been infected so close to the full moon, the changes in him were happening rapidly and she could sense him almost as if he was one of her cats. What she had just faced down was a Master vampire that had called to her necromancy, and the cold power she always felt from Jean-Claude had rolled off the boy like a wave.
Anita held within herself the power of lycanthrope and vampire thanks to the triumvirate, but she showed the physical characteristics of neither when it came to shape shifting and fangs. She changed on a metaphysical level and gained some of the physical advantages, but she was neither a true vampire nor a lycanthrope. She had just seen Harry Potter change from human to vampire and back again, which was simply impossible.
"Will someone tell me that he did not just become a vampire and then go back to being human again," she said pointedly, "or I may start thinking I'm on what they've given him."
"I wish I could, ma petite," Jean-Claude said in a surprisingly calm manner, "but this child just looked me in the eye and it was I who almost flinched."
Anita swore colourfully under her breath. Weird things gravitated towards her as if she was a preternatural magnet, but she had never seen anything quite like this. Thanks to the Mother of all Darkness she had met a vampire that was both vampire and lycanthrope, but Mommy Dearest was definitely undead and the kid in the bed was not.
"Micah," she said slowly, bringing herself under control, "I'm not hallucinating right, he feels like he's one of ours."
Her Nimir-Raj appeared somewhat torn, but eventually he nodded.
"I would have bet money that tomorrow night he'll shift," Micah acknowledged.
Anita swore again.
"What the hell did they do to him?" she asked bluntly. "Vampire and lycanthrope are mutually exclusive except for Mommy Dearest who last time I heard is still very much asleep; there is no way in hell he can be both."
"If he were a true vampire I would say that possibly you were feeling his beast to call," Jean-Claude revealed what he was thinking. "However, he is neither old enough to be the Master I sense, nor is he undead. Whatever this child is, I have never been witness to it before."
Knowing it was true and having someone else say it were two different things and it drove home to Anita quite how in the dark she was with this. They had found the boy in the middle of a ritual circle, left for dead and almost there. The doctors had not been able to explain how he survived even with the lycanthrope angle because he had been bled almost dry and should have gone into shock. It looked as if they had a partial answer to that, since vampires did not always die if you bled them, you had to be more insistent than that, but as usual, in her life the answer brought up more questions that needed answers.
"I do not believe this was intentional," Jean-Claude decided to break into the silence of everyone trying to figure out what was going on. "I believe someone may have made a serious error and that it may be a consequence of the young man's claim to be a wizard."
"So none of you know what's going on?" Zerbrowski didn't sound as if he liked the situation at all.
Anita looked at her friend and shrugged; what was she supposed to say? She was used to wandering around blind these days, but cops never liked their experts to admit such things.
"Whatever our ritualists did, Zerbrowski," she said, going through the evidence in her head just in case something occurred to her, "it's new. The magic they used was old and black and I would have sworn our living victim was a third sacrifice until he breathed. They either chose their third participant very well and he's supposed to be alive, or they chose badly and we now have something on our hands that no one expected. Either way, I suggest we don't let him out of our sight."
"I'll have the room secured," Zerbrowski said in a tone the brooked no argument. "Let's move this discussion down the hall."
No one argued.
The little office was almost claustrophobic with all the tension in it, and they had been standing around in silence since they arrived there a good five minutes previously. Anita was trying to find anything in what she had seen and felt that might explain it, but even with her wide experience with monsters she had never met this before. Micah was there as the representative of the Coalition for Better Understanding Between Lycanthrope and Human Communities and this was more complicated than that; Jean-Claude was hiding behind his emotionless mask which meant he had no clue either; and Zerbrowski was simply lost.
There had been cases that involved lycanthropes and vampires, demons and demigods, but never had any of them seen this confusing mix of preternatural in one person. No death, no vampire; if there was vampire, no lycanthrope unless you were older than god and the source of all vampirism: those were the rules and they seemed to have stepped out for the evening.
Finally Zerbrowski moved and picked up the bag he had thrown into the corner earlier in the evening.
"Let's see if there's anything in here that can give us more information on the kid," the sergeant said decisively. "If his attackers were stalking him, maybe there is something in here that can tell us who the hell they are."
Zerbrowski then unzipped the bag and upturned it on the table. What fell out looked at first glance to simply be what any seventeen year old boy might pack for a trip abroad. Anita chose to just watch at her friend sorted what were clothes and what were items that might be of interest. With care that he did not seem to show his own wardrobe, Zerbrowski then put all the clothing back in the bag, leaving everything else on the table.
"Passport," he said, picking up the small blue book and flicking through it. "Looks old fashioned, but it's in date and valid."
"Can I see?" Anita asked and held out her hand.
Zerbrowski handed her the official document without a fuss. The first thing she noticed was the tingle of magic that coursed through her finger tips as she took the blue book. The cover was gold embossed showing what she assumed was the British coat of arms and it appeared to be made of leather rather than plastic. The front looked perfectly normal as she flicked through it; that was until she reached the end and the page with the kid's picture. At first she almost dismissed it and gave it back, putting the magical residue down to the ritual, but then the picture blinked. Her mind immediately dismissed it as a trick of the light, but then the boy in the photo did it again.
"That's not normal," she said, mostly to herself.
"What's not?" Zerbrowski asked, and Anita had the sneaking suspicion that her friend had seen nothing unusual.
"Zerbrowski," she said, holding up the passport with the picture displayed, "what do you see?"
The cop raised his eyebrows at the question, but looked anyway.
"The kid from the other room looking worse than he does now, like every other passport photograph I've ever seen," Zerbrowski said as if he was stating the obvious.
"Micah," Anita held it up so that her Nimir-Raj could see the photo, "what do you see?"
"The same as..." Micah stopped mid sentence. "He blinked."
There was definite surprise in her lover's face.
"Jean-Claude?" Anita asked and showed the vampire the picture as well.
For a few moments those intense blue eyes did nothing but gaze at the passport in her hand.
"He did indeed blink, ma petite," Jean-Claude said eventually, "I do not believe that that is an ordinary photograph."
"Give that here," Zerbrowski said and snatched the passport back before Anita could take another look.
The curly haired cop stared at the photo hard.
"Ha, ha," he said after a moment or two, "very funny, that's just a passport photo, the joke's on me."
Anita put her hands on her hips and gave Zerbrowski a look that meant she was serious.
"No it isn't," she said pointedly, "it blinked."
For a moment she thought Zerbrowski might think she was just pushing the joke, but eventually he frowned at her and his expression was the one she had come to expect when he was thinking like a cop.
"Something you all see and I don't," he concluded slowly and then looked nonplussed, "something preternatural. But why would there be anything funny about a picture in a passport?"
Anita shrugged; this case was getting stranger by the minute.
"Maybe there's residue energy in it from what was done to the kid," she suggested, unable to come up with anything particularly sensible. "Personal items can pick up echoes and there was so much magic flying around in that ritual that there might be a power memory on the photograph that we can see and you can't."
She'd never seen anything like this before, but Anita did not like to put anything past black magic. When you messed with arcane powers sometimes things happened that no one could predict.
Zerbrowski pocketed the passport.
"I'll have Tammy look at it," he decided with a finality that Anita chose not to argue about.
It was one of those things that Anita knew was going to bother her, but she turned her attention back to the pile of other personal effects. There was a wallet, a scroll with a ribbon, two letters, a gold key, some sort of feather, a dog-eared book, a ball point pen, a note pad, a leather holder that appeared to contain four test-tubes sealed with wax containing an odd coloured liquid and a small leather bag. Not what she would have expected really.
"No key chain," she said as the thought occurred to her.
Everyone she knew carried keys, it was part of the modern world like mobile phones and cars. That they were missing could be significant.
"Could have been dropped," Zerbrowski said, picking up the leather bag.
It jingled and Anita thought it was a change purse. The cop set about trying to open the small bag, but the knot appeared to be being stubborn.
"I have smaller fingers," Anita offered after she became fed up of watching and although he did not appear to be pleased with his failure, Zerbrowski handed over the purse.
The knot came open for Anita in only a few moments and she handed it back, unable to resist a smug smile. The coins that Zerbrowski tipped onto the table did not look remotely familiar.
"Unless the currency has changed significantly since Requiem and Byron arrived in St Louis," Jean-Claude said as he looked at the odd looking coins, "those are not coins of the British realm."
"Gringotts," Anita read from one of the large gold coins. "Where the hell is Gringotts?"
She looked at Jean-Claude since he was the most cosmopolitan of all of them, but he simply shrugged.
"I have never seen such coins before, ma petite," Jean-Claude said with an apologetic gesture.
Micah had picked up one of the large gold coins while she was looking at Jean-Claude and was weighing it in his hand.
"Heavy," he commented and flipped it for good measure; "like real gold."
"No one makes coins out of real gold anymore," was Zerbrowski's comment on the matter as Micah placed the coin back on the table.
As Anita watched her Nimir-Raj picked up one of the middle sized, silver coloured coins and held it for a moment.
"Well," he said as he placed it back on the table, "I can't tell about the gold, but that's real silver; it burnt my fingers."
Silver alloys would not burn a lycanthrope with such little contact, only metal pure enough to be considered real silver would do that and Micah looked very sure of himself.
"This is getting weirder," Zerbrowski said and he didn't sound happy, "but so far we're no closer to anything useful."
Anita decided to take the initiative and picked up the scroll and felt the tingle of faint magic again. She was not pleased when she opened it and the odd textured paper was covered in nothing but blurred grey smudges. It looked as if someone had written something and then rubbed it all out so that it was almost completely gone. Passing it to Zerbrowski she resisted the urge to add her own complaint to the conversation.
Jean-Claude was looking at one of the letters. From where she was standing it appeared to Anita as if the envelope had never been sealed and when she lifted it up at the corner as Jean-Claude was holding it she realised why - there was no stamp; it had not been mailed yet.
"Dear Draco," Jean-Claude began to read the letter he had taken from the envelope, "they're making me wait at customs thanks to those potion vials you made me bring. I'm sure I could have found an apothecary somewhere, but now I have to wait while they test them, so I thought I'd write and let you know that I made it in one piece. You could have warned me that international portkeys make you feel as if your stomach is three paces behind you for ages. I made a right prat of myself when I landed, but then you probably guessed that. How exactly do you always make it look so easy?"
The vampire looked up.
"It ends there," was the even pronouncement.
"Draco Malfoy, Malfoy Manor, Wiltshire, England," Anita read the front of the envelope. "Maybe this Draco can give us some more information about the kid."
Zerbrowski nodded and took the envelope when it was offered back to him.
"I'll run it through channels as soon as I get back to the office, see if we can contact him," the cop said and pocketed it as well.
At least it was something, but the pile they had left did not look very helpful. It was annoying to have quite so much information, but not be able to make any use of it. They were most likely going to be here for some time.
Fate really did not seem to be on their side. About the only good thing that happened while they tried to understand more about the mysterious Harry Potter was that the information on the spell carved into the young man's chest came back. It had been rushed through because the victim was still alive, and spells had a nasty way of having side effects. The most significant piece of information about the spell was that it required someone magically gifted; the other proviso was that the victim be a virgin. Anita could not help thinking of the kid as even younger with that piece of information.
The phone rang just as Anita was about to climb into bed and she looked longingly at where Nathaniel was curled up under the sheets before answering. Nathaniel had been waiting for them when they finally arrived home and if Micah hadn't had a meeting to be at they would all have been crawling into bed together now.
"Dolph," she greeted after her eyes scanned the caller id.
"They finished the tests on the kid," were the first words out of the cop's mouth, "negative on everything."
This was just getting crazier and Anita sat on the edge of the bed with a resigned sigh. Nothing about this was going to be normal, she could tell.
"Everything?" she had to ask.
"No reaction to dawn," Dolph told her evenly; "nothing to holy objects; nothing on the blood tests; and only a slight allergic reaction to silver. If I didn't have Zerbrowski's report in front of me I wouldn't believe he was anything but human."
She sat there in silence for a while, too tired to make her thoughts work properly.
"Anita, you still there?"
"Yeah, Dolph," she replied without trying to hide her weariness, "I'm here. I just don't know what to make of all this. The sooner he wakes up and we can ask him questions the better."
"My thoughts exactly," came the response. "Get some sleep, Anita, I'll see you tonight."
"I'll be there," she replied. "You never know, maybe the day shift will solve it all before it's ours again," she joked.
"Only in our dreams," was Dolph's dry reply.
"Bye, Dolph," she said with a finality that ended the conversation.
Even when the phone went dead Anita sat still and stared at the floor for a while. This child lying in the hospital could be the break in the case they needed, or a dangerous entity bringing harm to her people. The leopards were hers, through Jean-Claude the vampires were hers, and through Richard the pack was hers, and this could endanger them all. A small part of her wanted to get rid of the problem before it became a real threat and that frightened her.
Arms wound round her from behind and a head rested on her shoulder.
"Come to bed," Nathaniel said quietly.
Reaching up she stroked his silken hair and slowly turned until she could see his face. Lavender eyes regarded her with more knowledge than should have been in one as young as Nathaniel, and it helped a little. He would always be there for her and it comforted her. Giving him a chaste kiss, no more than a light brush of lips, she broke the embrace and moved up the bed.
Tonight they should find out what they needed to know and if there were any developments during the day Dolph would notify her. Now it was time to sleep and try and forget.
End of Chapter 2
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