Stranger In A Strange Land
Universe/Series: Temeraire / Harry Potter
Relationship: Harry Potter/Prince Yongxing
Characters: Harry Potter, Prince Yongxing, Lung Tien Lien
Word count: 4,300
Warnings: Crossover, Alternate Universe - Dragons, Alternate Universe - Napoleonic Wars, Time Travel, Pre-Slash
Timeline: HPDH (pre Epilogue), Pre-Canon for Temeraire
Author's Note: All Chinese comes from Google Translate so any errors are because of that.
Summery: After unexpectedly dying, Harry finds himself in a past very different from the history books he learned from.
The Forbidden City, China
When he first laid eyes on the foreigner he was startled by his beauty. The young man's skin was paler and smoother than the finest porcelain, his hair a black deeper than the night sky's, and his eyes a more luminous shade of green than the finest of emeralds. It must have been that which kept him from demanding the foreigner's death upon finding out that he had been found in the Royal gardens. It was surely not the fact that some part of him trembled in fear at the sight of the stranger. It could not be that some part of him was too afraid to name what he sensed rolling off the stranger. And it most certainly wasn't the guards baldly stating he had been dead when they found him.
He would never admit to being afraid of a foreigner. He was a member of the Imperial House of China, the greatest nation in the world. So he pushed aside the tingling at the back of his neck, and ignored the words of the palace guards. No man could simply wake from the dead as they claimed this boy, this foreign had done.
"Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì," he demanded. The young man blinked slowly, those strangely hypnotic eyes meeting his. "Wǒ yāoqiú nǐ de míngzì!"
The young man shook his head and looked to the guard with a confused look on his face, as if he expected the guard to be understandable. Growing more frustrated, he grabbed the foreigner's chin and forced him to look away from the guard. He stared at the foreigner for a long moment, searching for signs that he might be addled in the head like an egg shaken too hard. The green eyes held far too much intelligence as they gazed back at him, so the man was either mute or incapable of speaking their language.
"Kě tā bù shuōhuà," he asked the guard.
"Tā kěyǐ. Dàn tā zhǐ huì shuō yīngwén de shétou," replied the guard.
"Hěn hǎo." Rubbing his thumb over the foreigner's jaw, he marveled anew at the smooth, pleasant feel. It was as fine as any of the Emperor's courtesan's own skin. "Ránhòu ràng wǒ fānyì."
Then guard nodded, bowed low, and spun on his heel to do as he had been commanded. He would be back soon enough, thought he Prince did not worry. There were other guards in the room and outside the doors. They would not leave him unprotected from this strange man who had somehow breached their defenses to gain access to the palace.
"Nǐ zhēnshi gè qíguài de wèntí." He relaxed his hold on the man's, letting his fingers trace over his lips. "Wǒ gāi zěnme bàn ya?"
The young man shivered beneath his touch, his tongue darting out to trace his lips as the Prince's fingers moved away from his face. The Prince smiled, watching the pale skin turn pink. "Nǐ bǐ rènhé wǒ dìdì de jìnǚ gèng piàoliang. Nǐ de yǎnjīng sìhū bǎ tā suǒyǒu de zhūbǎo xiūkuì."
Though it was obvious the man did not understand his words, he seemed not to have trouble understanding tone, something that pleased the Prince. Turning away from the stranger he walked back to his desk where all his writing instruments were, and where a single cup of tea was still steaming. He would need to let his brother know that a foreigner was found on the grounds, but he wondered what would be done with the young man. Prior to having seen him, he would have simply suggested he be put to death for trespassing, or given to the Muslims for breaking the Great Qing Code.
"Yěxǔ wǒ yīnggāi ràng nǐ wèi wǒ jiātíng zhōng de yīyuán, rúguǒ nǐ bùnéng zhèngmíng shì yīgè cìkè huò jiàndié."
The young man continued to watch him until the guard return with an old scribe, his back bent with age. The scribe bowed deeply to the prince before turning to cast his gaze over the foreigner, understanding flickering in his gaze as he looked back at the prince.
"Lǎowài bù shuōhuà. Nǐ yào fānyì gěi tā," ordered the prince.
The scribe gave a quick reply of acceptance and understanding of his orders before turning to face the foreigner.
"Wǒ shì wángzǐ yǒngxìng, wángzǐ de dì yī jí hé gēgē dào jiāqìng huángdì. Nǐ huì huídá wǒ de wèntí."
"He says to you foreigner, 'I am Prince Yongxing, Prince of the first rank and brother to the Jiaqing Emperor. You will answer my questions.' Do you understand?"
The scribe turned back to the prince and replied for the foreigner. "Tā míngbái, wǒ de wángzǐ."
"Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì?"
"The prince wants to know your name."
The foreigner looked at the prince, licking his lips. "My name is Harry Potter."
"Tā shuō tā de míngzì jiào Hālì Bōtè," he told the prince.
"Hālì bōtè," murmured the prince. He carefully folded up the paper he had been writing on, placing his seal in the wax before handing it to one of the guards with orders to deliver it to the Emperor. "Nǐ zhī bù zhīdào nǐ zài nǎlǐ?"
"Do you know where you are?"
"No. I have no idea where I am."
"Tā shuō, tā bù zhīdào," the scribe told the prince, slight disbelief evident in his voice. After all who could not know they had entered into the Forbidden City.
"Wǒ bù zhīdào, wǒ xiāngxìn nǐ, Hālì Bōtè," replied the prince as he moved closer to Harry, his long graceful finger sliding through the foreigner dark hair. He would not admit his was surprised by how smooth and soft the hair was when it looked much like a birds nest. "Nǐ fànle zuì dào wángshì de lǐyóu. Nǐ fāxiàn zài zǐjìnchéng de huāyuán. Huāyuán de yìsi yángé de dìwáng jiātíng hé hòugōng."
"The prince says he does not believe you, foreigner. He says you have trespassed onto royal grounds. You were found in the gardens of the Forbidden City. Gardens meant strictly for the Emperors family and harem."
"But I don't know how I got here!" The scribe arched an eyebrow, watching the boy closely for any falsehood. "I am very sorry for trespassing but I really don't know how I got here. The last place I remember being was at my country estate in England."
The scribed hummed lightly, the coil of tension in his old, withered body relaxing just a bit at the obvious signs of truth in the boys words. He did not have the demeanor of a liar or a thief. Though the scribe supposed he could be a well versed manipulator here to kill the prince or the Emperor. Not that that would secure his people any greater trade agreements or power in the region. "Tā dàoqiàn, bìng chóngshēn, tā bù zhīdào tā shì rúhé lái dào zhèlǐ," he told the prince. "Tā shuō, tā bù jìdé tā shì zěnme lái dào zhèlǐ de, yīnwèi tā shì qùnián zài yīngguó zìjǐ de zhuāngyuán."
The prince looked at the foreigner, Harry, thoughtfully. There was not much more time before the Emperor's personal guard came for the young man. When that happened he would lose any chance to keep the boy. "Tā de yíchǎn? Tā shì huángshì jiāzú de yīyuán?"
"The prince wishes to know if you are of your countries royal family."
Harry blinked, glancing at the prince who was now trailing his fingers over Harry's robes. "Distantly, I think. Through my father's family, but I don't know for sure as most of the documentation was destroyed during the war and my mother's family wouldn't have told me if they knew."
The scribe looked at Harry, cautiously thinking over what he had said. "Your mother's family was not nobility?"
"No. They were middle class, as all the purebloods loved to remind me."
"He married below his station. Did your grandparents reject their union?"
"From what I have been told by my grandparents friends they heartily approved the union. My mother was considered to be the brightest woman of their age, and perhaps one of the most beautiful."
The scribe hmmm' for a moment, his shrewd gaze narrowing thoughtfully. "Your mother's family was not pleased by the match?"
"My mother's parents were I am told, though they died before I was born so I cannot be certain. I know her sister hated it. After my parents death I was sent to live with her as the only family left on my father's side were suspected of having murdered my parents. My aunt ensured that I knew nothing good of my parents until I was sent off to attend their school."
"She was jealous of your mother for marrying above her station?"
"As far as I can tell, yes."
"Tíngzhǐ zhè yīdiǎn, bìng gàosù wǒ tā de dá'àn," the prince snapped.
"Wǒ dàoqiàn, wǒ de wángzǐ. Tā shuō, tā shì tōngguò tā fùqīn de xuètǒng yuǎnqīn wángshì. Zài zhànzhēng qíjiān, tā de fùmǔ bèi shāhài, tā bèi sòng dào shēnghuó yǔ tā mǔqīn de mèimei, shuí shì guìzú bùshì. Cóng tā dehuà tīng qǐlái hǎoxiàng tāmen bù kěn jiào tā de zérèn tā, gàosù tā, zhǐ zàiyú kǎolǜ dào tā de fùmǔ, yǐjí duì tā de rènhé yīgè háizi de fāngshì qǔxiāo cè bólín fēn shìyí." The scribe gave the young foreigner a sad look from the corner of his eye as he relaid the boys tale to his prince.
The prince hummed softly, so softly it was barely loud enough to be a whisper, and looked the young man over. He was tall, perhaps 6 feet at most, his body was lean from what the prince could tell through the layers of clothes. His clothes seemed to be made of fine materials, though they were sadly unadorned. A tendency of being raised among the poor perchance? His clothes were rumpled and the knees and elbows appeared to be scuffed and held dirt and grass stains. There even appeared to be a few spots that might have been old bloodstains on the shirt underneath his robe. And his hair was an unsuitable mess topping it all off.
Tā huì gàosù wǒ tā shì rúhé lái dào zhèlǐ."
"The prince wishes to know how you came to be here."
"I don't know. Really, I don't."
"Child," the old man coaxed. "You must have some memory prior to waking up in the hands of the guards?"
"I..." Harry pressed the heels of his palms to his eyes trying to remember. He could remember flashes of colored light all around him, spellfire. He remembered walking into the Forbidden Forest. "I was in the Forbidden Forest...Death Eaters, the Death Eaters had gathered there with Lord Voldemort." A trembling breath passed through his clenched teeth. He could remember the cold, hissing voice of the Dark Lord mocking him, his wand raising up...vicious green light streaming towards him. "I died."
"He killed me, just like he killed my parents." A gasping breath shuddered in his chest. "He told me I had a choice. Move foreword to be win my family, or return to the battlefield where the living were waiting."
"Yes. They needed me. He would have killed them all if I had not returned." Harry licked his lips, his hands falling away from his eyes, which were shinny and damp with unspilled tears. "I killed him. The battle was over but we must have missed one. Everyone was celebrating, the wounded were tended, and I could finally rest. I left" The house looked as it had when they had been attacked by Nigini, it was beautiful and welcoming, but there was a heavy grief that seemed to linger over the empty, abandoned building. The path leading away from the house to the town cemetery was empty as well. He could clearly remember the feel of the damp grass on his knees as he kneeled before his parents graves, conjuring some lilies to set before the headstones."...I went back to my parents house, to where their graves are nearby. I went to their graves to place flowers and tell them it was over. I remember a lot of pain in my back and then...then I woke up here."
"Yǒu zhǔ hā lìhé fúdìmó zhī jiān de zhàndòu. Qítā zhǔ móushāle tā de nánhái de jiārén, bìng jìhuà shā sǐ tā de péngyǒu hé méngyǒu de xiūxí. Wǒ de wángzǐ, nánhái jiānxìn tā shì bèi zhège lǐngzhǔ, ránhòu jiù bù lǐ bù cǎi, zhǐshì bèi móushā hòu, zhàndòu jiéshù de qítā lǐngzhǔ de méngyǒu zhī yī."
"Tā sǐle," the prince asked skeptically.
"Suǒyǐ tā shuō, wǒ de wángzǐ. Tā shuō, tā dào wǎnnián, bìng gàosù tā kěyǐ jìxù cúnzài huò tuìhuò. Tā xuǎnzé huíguī, yǐ bǎohù tā de rénmín."
"Rúguǒ wǒmen bǎ tā zhì sǐ? Nándào tā yǐwéi tā huì huílái ma?"
"The prince wishes to know if you would come back from the dead if you were killed again."
The foreigner froze, his body going still and silent. A hardness the prince had not expected was moving across the man's face, making the more welcoming expression turn glacial. His right arm twitched and a polished wooden wand dropped out of his sleeve and into his palm. His arm was raised before any of the guards could react, the slim piece of wood pointed at the prince. "More dangerous men and creatures than he have tried to kill me."
"Do not be so foolish, boy. You are in the Forbidden City, surrounded by royal guards who could certainly bring you to your knees."
"I have no intention of dying today, and I would rather not hurt anyone. But I will if they force me too."
The guard behind the young man darted forward, intending to bash the pommel of his sword into the foreigner's head. Harry sensing the movement behind him spun about, wand swinging toward the charging guard as swiftly as a cobra strikes.
"Stupefy," he shouted.
The prince and the scribe jumped back in shock as a jet of bright red light shot out of the wooden wand, striking the approaching guard in the chest. The guard's body froze, limbs jerking to his sides so that he fell off balance, crashing into the floor face first with a loud crunch.
"I don't want to hurt anyone! I'm not your enemy. I don't even know how I got here and I just want to go home!"
"Nǐ shì yīgè wūshī," the prince said, sounding mildly impressed as he looked at the guard still laying frozen on the ground.
"What did he say," the foreigner asked in a voice that was straining to hold back the impression of panic.
"He said you are a sorcerer."
"Wizard actually. I use a wand. Sorcerers use a staff."
"Tā shuō thathe shì yīgè xiàngdǎo, tā yòng yī gēn mózhàng, ér bùshì yīgè gōngzuò rényuán."
Before the prince, the guards, or Harry could respond, there came a gust of wind blowing in from outside the doors. A moment later the ground shuddered as if something heavily had landed on it. Harry's eyes were darting around the room, trying to decide where the greatest threat was coming from, but as his eyes caught sight of the large white face peering in through the doorway he froze as if he had been struck by his own spell.
"That is the prince's companion, Lung Tien Lien. Be impressed foreigner. You are the first outsider to lay eyes on a Celestial Dragon of the royal family."
"She's beautiful," he whispered in awe. She was as pale as fresh snow, so pale she practically glowed in the sunlight streaming in around her. Without thinking too hard about it, Harry lowered his wand arm, his stance seeming to flow back into the loose relaxed state it had been in when he was first brought before the prince.
"She is a curse. The prince would be the Emperor now if he had not chosen to be bound to a creature the color of death."
Harry looked at the scribe who was refusing to look directly at the white dragon. "All dragons, like all predators, are a representative of Death. But none are a curse. White is the color of purity in the west. Our women wear it on their wedding day as a sign of their virginity."
"Then what do you wear for mourning?"
"Black. Black which as dark as the night, dark as the grave, and the hole in our hearts left behind when our loved ones die."
The scribe gave Harry a long thoughtful look, daring only briefly to look at the white dragon that was still watching curiously even as the prince spoke soothingly to her.
Several Hours Later
Harry had been left in the company of the dragon, Lung Tien Lien, and several of the same guards who had taken him to the prince. The prince and the scribe had left hours ago to speak with the Emperor to debrief him on what Harry had told them. Harry only hoped things worked out favorably for him and that he didn't have more people trying to kill him. He had already been killed twice in the last 48 hours. That was more than enough for him, even if he was supposed to be the Master of Death. He didn't know if that meant he would keep coming back from the dead, or if it meant something else. He supposed he should be thankful he still had the Elder Wand on hand, along with all his other belongings, which were still in his shrunken trunk that was hanging from a silver chain around his neck. At least if they let him live he would have access to all his things, and a large amount of books he had been storing for Hermione as well.
"Prince Yongxing told me you are wizard," asked the dragon in flawless English.
Harry blinked as he looked at the dragon lounging in the grass below the porch he was sitting on. "I am."
"I do not believe you," she said in a haughty tone. "Magic is not real."
A spark of irritation began to burn in chest gut, moving up towards his chest. "Then where do you think dragons came from, if not from Magic?"
"We exist as humans exist. The Gods made us."
Harry glared at the dragon as the little spark surged into a flame. Hating the way she spoke of magic, in a manner similar to how the Dursley's always had. Harry let the Elder Wand drop out of his sleeve again, and using a spell he had been learning on his own since 4th year, Harry transfigured and charm the stone in the sand garden behind Lung Tien Lien, into a perfect miniature replica of the Ukrainian Ironbelly he had escaped from Gringotts on the back of. Like the tiny dragon he had drawn from the sack during the Triwizard Tournament, the Ironbelly moved, breathed fire and snarled at Lung Tien Lien.
She jumped to her feet, body spinning around to face the smaller, horse sized dragon, that had once been a decorative bolder. It was white like her, but had chains digging into its neck showing the pink of its muscles and blood. "What is that?"
"That is an Ironbelly. Well, a small, very small Ironbelly, considering a full sized one is capable of carrying off a ship without issue."
She looked between the dragon and Harry, shock still obvious in her eyes, though she was trying very hard to hide it. "It is alive?"
"Not as you are. It is still a bolder. I just changed it to look and act like a dragon. It doesn't have a soul."
"Could you give it a soul," She asked in amazement as she leaned closer to the Ironbelly, which reared back flapping its wings and breathing fire into the air.
Harry was going to say 'no,' but something held him back. There was something on the edge of his awareness that was saying 'Yes!' Licking his lips he looked back at the animated sculpture he had created. Did he want to tell her the truth and risk making her and the guards fearful? Or would it be better to lie and say no, risking that they would learn the truth and kill him for it? Deciding that the truth might be a better option, or at least a partial truth, he answered. "I believe I could, though I have not tried to do so before."
"I would like to see if you could. Give this one life, but make it bigger as you said it should be."
"Uh," Harry looked around the courtyard at all the nervous guards who were still staring at the dragon sculpture, which had calmed and was now lounging in the sand garden at the far end of the garden, smoke rising up every now and then from it's nostrils. "I do not know if this garden would be big enough to fit all of us and a full grown Ironbelly."
"Then we shall move to the main courtyard." Snapping something in Chinese at the guards, Lung Tien Lien rose again and gracefully made her way out of the garden.
The guards moved towards Harry, making motions for him to bring the Ironbelly along with him as they directed him to follow Lung Tien Lien. Sighing slightly in irritation, Harry cast Mobilicorpus at the dragon, lifting it from the ground to move above the guards' heads until it was in front of Harry so that he could safely direct it along the path Lung Tien Lien was leading him. The guards watched in shocked silence as Harry and the floating rock-turned-dragon followed after the prince's companion.
The path she led them on took nearly twelve minutes to complete and caused them to pass by many other people, guards, scribes and other members of the Imperial Court. All of them stopped to watch in awe as a dark haired foreigner led a floating dragon along behind The Cursed One.
When they finally stopped in the middle of a massive courtyard, Harry could still see hundreds of people surrounding them, waiting to see what was going to happen. Feeling more than a little nervous he lowered the Ironbelly to the ground and turned to look at the white dragon. "Are you sure you want me to do this?"
"Yes. You shall prove your worth by bringing to life a real Ironbelly for me to see."
Harry nodded. "Okay then."
Taking a deep breath Harry began casting spell after spell, some of which he was sure he had never read in any book before. The small, white, scared Ironbelly began to grown larger and larger, it white scales turning to a metallic silver-gray, the chains falling off and crumbling to dust, scars healing over as if they had never been there. Around him the crowd was gasping and commenting in amazement, their voices creating a wave of susurrus noise around him. The once small dragon was now a massive form before him, its head rising up on a long neck to look around it, and Harry could feel that it wasn't done yet. It was larger than a Boeing 777, larger than any dragon he had ever laid eyes on before and for a moment Harry worried that the ground would crack under it's weight, but that voice whispering at his back reminded him that despite it's massive bulk the dragon was much lighter than one would believe. Otherwise it would never know they joy of flight.
The dragon blinked it's large red eyes as Harry whispered out the last spells in a language he didn't know that he knew, a language he somehow understood had never been uttered by a mortal before. A violent shudder moved through the dragon making his wings and tail twitch and thrash, it groaned out a gust of billowing black smoke as Harry felt the fire in his gut and the fire in the dragons flicker and dance in time to each other, pulsing like great burning heartbeats. With a final word a shower of violet and emerald sparks danced over the Ironbelly's body and those red eyes were suddenly alight with intelligence.
"Mother," the newborn Ironbelly asked Harry. "Father?"
"Father, I guess," answered Harry.
"Astounding," whispered Lung Tien Lien.
The Ironbelly blinked slowly as it, he, looked her over. With another sighing breath of smoke, it turned to look back at Harry. "Where am I, Father?"
You are in the country of China."
"Is this home?"
Harry thought it over, looking at where the crowd had parted to reveal Prince Yongxing and another man dressed in elaborate golden robes. "I suppose it is. For now."
"Oh, very well." The Ironbelly relaxed, laying back down on the ground, folding it's wings carefully at it's sides, it's long tail curling about it's side to rest by the dragons front talons. "Might I have a name, Father?"
Harry wasn't sure what to call the dragon; he had never had to name anything after all. So he stared, a little worried he might do it wrong, but trying to take in everything about the dragon, to find anything that might inspire a name. "How about Bodhi, it means awakening or enlightenment in Sanskrit?"
"Bodhi," the dragon murmured in a pleased voice. "That is a good name, Father."
"Xiǎolóng De Fùqīn," whispered Lung Tien Lien in true amazement, and around him the crowd began to pick up her words, whispering and then chanting them.
"Oh boy," Harry groaned under his breath as the people around him dropped to their news, kowtowing. Only the Prince and the man Harry was sure was the Jiaqing Emperor, remained standing.