Chapter: 5 of 35 - Arrangements
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 5 Arrangements
"The council will have to be made aware of him," Jean-Claude said the moment they were once again in the office they had co-opted.
Dolph was still questioning Harry, but Anita had known that Jean-Claude wished to speak privately, so the three preternatural representatives had taken their leave. Anita had agreed to come back and pick up Harry later in the day.
"You have to be kidding," was her instant response.
She may not like his friend very much, but Anita felt for the kid and handing him over to ancient vampires was not her idea of a good thing to do.
"Anita," Jean-Claude said very slowly and clearly, meaning he was deadly serious, "whatever that child has become is more powerful than I care to consider. He is no more than a day old and yet I looked into the eyes of a Master vampire and an alpha lycanthrope."
That had not been what Anita was expecting to hear. So far Jean-Claude had been playing the calm, in control Master of the city, but she could tell now that this was really bothering him. That he had managed to keep it all from her until now meant he had been doing so very deliberately.
"You're not planning on trying to eliminate him are you, Jean-Claude?" she asked suspiciously.
It would not be unlike the Master of the city to remove a potential problem before it arose. Vampire politics tended to be fast and brutal, and although Jean-Claude played to the niceties of civilised society he could be completely ruthless when he had to be.
"That is a last resort, ma petite," the vampire said without attempting to hide his reasoning, "which I will only take if there is no other solution."
"You're missing part of the point," Micah entered the conversation smoothly, "he's a wizard and so is his friend."
Jean-Claude did not look impressed with that observation, but Antia thought she knew what her Nimir-Raj was getting at.
"He incapacitated you with a couple of words," Micah pointed out bluntly, "and from what I've heard I'd say he comes from a whole group of people just like him."
"He is just a boy," Jean-Claude replied; "what is one boy in the scheme of things?"
Now it was Micah who didn't look impressed.
"It doesn't sound as if Harry is average in any way," the wereleopard said. "If he goes missing, people will notice, in a very big way."
Micah had a point, but Anita was not comfortable with the whole idea that they may have to destroy Harry in the first place. There was something about the kid that spoke to her, a kinship she felt when she looked into his eyes that had nothing to do with the preternatural at all.
"Enough," she said before two of the men in her life could go at it. "Okay, so the council has to be told, but there will be no talk of killing Harry, are we understood? If nothing else, he is the only witness we have to a very hookey crime and his friend is not about to just vanish either. First thing we need to do is figure out what the hell they did to him and why they wanted his blood. Then we might stand a hope in hell of figuring out what happened to him."
They all looked at each other for a while, but eventually Jean-Claude nodded. Anita had seen the kid as an immediate threat, but the way her lover was reacting she was beginning to see that Harry Potter could be in the long term category. If Jean-Claude was willing to tell the Vampire Council anything about this rather than sitting on it as long as possible, then there was real danger here.
"He didn't shift normally, either," Micah broke the uneasy silence and brought Anita's attention back from her vampire lover. "There was residue when his beast broke free, but he seemed to absorb it back into himself."
"I observed that also," Jean-Claude agreed, back to his usual, calm mask.
"And that means?" Anita asked; she was reaching the about to yell at someone stage.
This whole situation made her very uncomfortable, and she was trying to deal with it on too many levels. Being uncomfortable made her touchy and when she was touchy she tended to yell. The fact that it was full moon in under a day was not helping because her beast was in the lycanthrope equivalent of PMS. Micah shrugged at her apologetically.
"I believe, ma petite," Jean-Claude said in his best diplomatic voice, "that all we may be sure of at this point is that it means our Harry will not stain the carpet when he chooses to embrace his beast."
"Fine!" Anita threw her hands in the air. "Well I have to call Richard and explain that the pard is not going to be at the lupanar after all. What a fun conversation that's going to be. Then I have to explain to the pard that we're going to have one extra tonight. And finally I think I'm going to get Nathaniel to make chocolate chip cookies before I kill someone."
Micah and Jean-Claude wisely chose not to argue with her.
Draco was looking at Harry with one of his appraising, 'I might be about to wrap you up in cotton wool' type expressions. Harry felt a lot more comfortable now he finally had some of his own clothes, but that did not mean he was in a great mood.
"How do you do it?" his friend finally asked.
"Do what?" Harry replied and tried to feign innocence.
"Draw trouble to you like the most powerful summoning charm?" Draco said with a shake of his head.
"It's a skill," Harry returned without trying to hide the bitterness in his voice.
The Slytherin stood there with his hands on his hips for a moment longer and then he sighed, coming to sit beside Harry on the bed.
"At least you're in one piece and still you," Draco said with genuine feeling, "although what Weasley and Granger will do to me the moment they find out you're now a wereleopard is anyone's guess."
"It's not your fault," Harry said immediately, and he meant it, this was no more Draco's doing for sending him here than it was his for being kidnapped. "I'll adjust, I always do. I'm just having trouble figuring out how things work here. Muggles and magical people seem to mix as if it's perfectly normal. I thought wizards and Muggles never mixed anywhere."
"Father only ever mixed in exclusively Wizarding circles when we visited here," Draco admitted thoughtfully, "I assumed it was just like Britain as well."
"You live and learn I suppose," was Harry's take on the whole thing.
There was something else bothering him as well.
"Do you think Remus should be able to shift," the word sounded strange to him, but it never hurt to pick up the vernacular, "at will? I've never heard of werewolf packs before, none of the books even mention them."
"Maybe it's something to do with the pack structure that gives them more control," Draco suggested, although his expression said he was no clearer than Harry on the matter. "Werewolves have been persecuted in Europe for so long that they've become solitary and they hide. Maybe they've lost something along the way."
"Should I contact Remus," Harry asked, not sure if it would be a good idea, "tell him what we've found?"
Draco laughed at that.
"I think we'll worry about you first," the Slytherin said and rolled his eyes, "and then when we have you sorted out, we'll think about your werewolf."
The fact that Remus and Draco were close friends as well did not seem to be a factor in the Slytherin's reasoning. It was that thought that made Harry's chest feel suddenly tight and for a moment he felt as if he might cry, but he had had years of conquering such impulses. Draco must have dropped everything to come and dig him out of trouble and it meant a lot to him.
"Thank you for coming," he said; his voice far quieter than he would have liked.
There was a moment's silence and he didn't dare look up at his friend. Slytherin's did not do emotional scenes very well and Harry hoped he had not embarrassed Draco with his outburst.
"Well," Draco said, his voice far more playful than Harry had expected, "I couldn't leave you to our American cousins now could I. Without me here to keep you in line you'd probably have brought about the end of their civilisation as they know it."
Now he looked up and there was a grin on his companion's face, but Harry could also see that his thanks had been accepted by the look in Draco's eyes. They were both English men; emotional discussion was neither of their strong points, although Draco knew how to exploit it when necessary, but Harry knew his point had been made. Harry gave Draco a smile for his effort.
"So what's it like?" Draco asked. "Shifting that is."
"Hurts like hell, but feels oddly good at the same time," Harry replied without having to think about it. "I don't think I've ever felt quite so free."
There was something about the beast inside him that was incredibly liberating.
"It didn't look particularly pleasant," was Draco's opinion on the matter.
"That's probably the whole splitting skin and shifting bone thing," Harry replied and aimed for light-hearted.
No lycanthrope would ever say shifting didn't hurt, he was sure, but it was the kind of pain that was bearable because of where it took you. The leopard was still him, but with a very different outlook on life, and with a start he realised that as the cat he did not have the burden of being Harry Potter. In fact life looked very much simpler as a cat from all angles. Even though he had still been him, everything had felt that much more straightforward, as his embarrassment on finding himself naked in a hallway had shown. It had never occurred to him to worry about that before he shifted back.
"So is being a leopard like being an Animagus?" Draco sounded curious.
Harry gave some thought to that one.
"Not exactly," he said eventually, when he thought he had an idea of what he wanted to say. "You know when you're in animal form that you feel some of the animal instincts, but it's like they belong to something else and they're not really you?"
"When I'm a cat," he continued, "the instincts are all mine; I am a cat, I just have the human me in there as well. I can still feel the leopard inside me now."
His friend was looking at him thoughtfully.
"You like being a cat," Draco said after a few moments and there was no question in his voice.
That made Harry think; he had had little over two hours to come to terms with what had happened in the hallway and he hadn't had much chance to understand what he really believed.
"It scares the hell out of me," he admitted slowly and the looked at Draco, "but yes, I think I do like it. I've never felt anything like it before."
"Good," Draco said in a very resolute manner, "at least there's one plus point to this situation. So how do you feel about the vampire part?"
Harry didn't have to think about that one.
"That just scares me," he said with complete honesty.
When Anita entered the room and gave Harry a smile it was the first time he had had a chance to look at her without something else dragging his attention away. There were no drugs in his system, he was not under the influence of his beast and there was not a major conversation going on about his future, so he took the opportunity to really see her for the first time.
She was short, something he hadn't really noticed before because of her presence, and her long black hair seemed to be trying to get away from the loose ponytail she had it in. Her clothes were practical, but showed off her assets, of which Harry was not completely unaware. All in all she was attractive, but there was something about her which set off danger signals in Harry's brain. For example her smile was not the most reassuring smile in the world, but he could tell that at least she was trying.
"Ready?" the woman asked.
"As I'll ever be," Harry replied and could not hide his nervousness.
Micah, the Nimir-Raj, if he remembered the term correctly, had been back once, around lunch time, to explain a little about the pard, but Harry was a little confused by it all. The lycanthrope seemed like a nice enough chap, but this whole wereleopard thing seemed to be quite complicated and it was a lot to take in. There was also something about Micah that called to the beast in Harry and he was not sure he liked the instincts Micah woke up.
Harry had been sorting through his things to put them all back in the right places in his bag and he moved to put the last item away.
"The bag," Anita sounded as if she felt silly asking speaking, "is there something funny about it?"
"Um, why?" he asked, trying to figure out what she was actually asking.
"Oh, maybe because it was at a crime scene, but St Louis' finest chose to just give it back," the woman replied and Harry had the feeling that she tended to speak her mind, "and the fact that I've made a mental note three times to ask you about it and only now that I'm looking at it have I actually remembered."
Harry didn't quite know what to say. He knew Anita was not a witch exactly, but she was definitely magical. At home people were either of the Wizarding world or of the Muggle world and things were not that simple over here.
"The whole bag has two charms on it," it was Draco who spoke and he still had the superior tone he had had earlier, "one encourages anyone touching it to give it back to the owner at the earliest opportunity, and the other prevents Muggles from thinking about it too hard."
The look the Slytherin and Anita exchanged was not friendly. Harry knew Draco was being defensive, because the Slytherin had taken on the role of protector for now, but he had thought the whole you are a Muggle and are beneath my contempt attitude had been buried with Draco's father. Old habits were obviously difficult to break entirely.
"Maybe we should go," Harry suggested, zipping up the bag and hoping that no one would do anything stupid.
Anita turned back to him and smiled, but it did not reach her eyes.
"The jeep's in the parking lot," she said and indicated the door.
They made it all the way into the car before the peace shattered.
"Where would you like me to drop you, Mr Malfoy?" Anita asked pleasantly as she reached to start the engine. "I'll bring Harry back in the morning."
"I'm going with you," Draco said in a very firm, almost artic tone and Anita took her fingers off the keys.
Harry had taken the front seat and Draco the back so Anita had to swivel in her seat to glare at him. It was an impressive glare; Harry had to give her that.
"You are not a lycanthrope, Mr Malfoy," she said, still sounding impressively rational even though Harry was pretty sure Draco was about to push her over the edge, "to be anywhere near the pard at full moon would be very dangerous."
"But I am a wizard, Miss Blake," Draco replied with about the same iron control in his voice, "I can deal with the situation."
It was a bit like watching two trains hurtling towards each other when there was no way to stop either of them. Part of Harry wanted to protect Draco, half wanted to protect Anita, so he just sat there.
"It's Ms Blake," Anita said the anger clear in her voice now, "and I will not let you disrupt the full moon for my people. Harry is a lycanthrope and he needs to be with his own kind for his first full moon. You will get in the way."
"If you think I'm letting Harry out of my sight you're insane," Draco responded and some of the fire Harry had been up close and personal with over the five and a half years they were feuding showed through. "So far he has been in your city three days and he has been kidnapped, infected with lycanthropy, partially made into a vampire and nearly sacrificed. Forgive me for thinking he is safer with me around."
The tension in the jeep was almost palpable and Harry felt his beast shifting as it sensed the anger. He definitely did not want to shift in the car, or do anything he would regret so he tried to find some control.
"I've seen your methods," Anita's voice was becoming much louder, "and there is no way I'm letting you within fifty feet of the pard."
"I don't need to be that close," Draco returned with venom, obviously, rationality had taken a step outside.
Harry's bid for control missed as he spotted a full scale war approaching, but he found cold instead of heat.
"Enough," he said and he could hear the power in his voice before he felt suddenly faint as vampire and sunlight met.
Hands reached to grab him as he pitched forward where he was turned in his seat and he had just enough brain power to conclude that it was more likely the crisis than the instruction that had stopped the fight.
"Harry, can you hear me?" he had closed his eyes in an attempt to prevent the world spinning, but he opened them again at the concern in Anita's voice.
"Vampire," he said with as much articulation as he could manage, "daytime, not good."
"Bloody stupid Gryffindor," was Draco's comment on the situation. "What made you think they would be a good combination?"
"I hate to agree, but your friend has a point," Anita did not look pleased.
That annoyed Harry; he was not about to take the blame for this.
"I didn't want to shift," he said, trying to hold on to his temper, "and you two were heating it up in here. I tried to control it and missed, okay?"
That caused a moment's guilt for both of his companions, but it did not last long as Anita looked at Draco and frowned.
"Yes, well he ..." the woman started to say.
"Anita," Harry did not want the fight to start again so he let her say nothing more, "Draco is an Animagus; he can turn into a tiger. We've both been with a werewolf friend on full moon to keep him company, he won't pose a threat and he won't cause a problem."
It had been a very long day and what with the full moon it was not about to end any time soon. Harry was nearing the end of his tether. Anita appeared somewhat abashed for a moment and then sat back in her seat again.
"Well why didn't he just say so," she said pointedly and started the engine. "Buckle up."
End of Chapter 5
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