Disclaimer: Harry Potter is property of JK Rowling. The Dresden Files are property of Jim Butcher. Original story concept and books 1 and 2 belong to SilentlyWatches. For the events of those books, see his story A Deal with a Devil.
Chapter 1: Prisoners, Perks, and Pellings
On a storm-blasted island in the middle of the North Sea that appeared on no maps and had brought more than a few ships to grief as a result, two men were examining the high security wing of the infamous prison, Azkaban. Normally the domain of only prisoners and the soul-sucking demons known as Dementors, the Wardens would examine the whole prison at every fortnightly shift change by law.
"Nasty bit of business, that," one of the men said as they approached the area nicknamed Black Section. "Two teachers killed, and one of them an experienced dark creature hunter."
"Yeah, Smith's all torn up about it. You know he was sweet on Sinistra? Never got the chance to tell her," Sis relief agreed, peering in at a ragged, hangdog looking man with a matted mess of oddly familiar black curls who was simply lying there staring at the ceiling.
"What… happened?" He asked, slowly, turning his head to look at the Wardens.
"Basilisk at Hogwarts," The second told him with a shrug. "There's talk of shutting down the school. Few of the students were badly hurt… some even died."
The black-haired man flopped back to stare at the ceiling and waited for the guards to move on.
"Harry…" He whispered to himself, and closed his eyes against the tears.
Nearly a thousand miles away, Harry Potter sat up, eyes flying open to stare into the darkness. His heart was beating rapidly, and fear flooded his senses for a moment until he gathered himself enough to look around. The pale moonlight shone in through the open window, revealing a plainly decorated room with a desk and chair opposite the foot of his bed. A zippered pouch sat on the desk, along with a notebook and several small items of jewellery. The lace curtains billowed slightly in the southern French air as he remembered where he was.
After the traumatic end to his second year at Hogwarts' School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry Potter had fled England to spend some time recovering from the ordeal. For the past few weeks, he had been staying in the guest room at his Veela friend Aimee's home in Toulon.
"What… the hell was that?" He whispered in English. A moment later, his closest friend and companion – for a long time, his only friend and companion – appeared opposite him on the bed. Appearing as a blonde girl a year older than him with brilliant green eyes, the guardian angel Lash sat cross-legged in an elegant nightgown.
"It was a dream," she told him seriously. "And yet… it was more than that."
"It felt too real," He nodded. "Like I was standing right there…"
"I wonder," Lash mused, tapping her chin thoughtfully, before hopping off the bed to go stand by the window, subtly shifting to her adult form as she mentally slipped into teacher mode. "It's possible. There is a magical art called oneiromancy. It would not be the first time I've encountered such a talent."
"Oneiromancy?" Harry asked, mostly to prompt her. The dream was already fading from his mind as they usually did.
"The art of divination via dreams. For the most part it's as shallow as any other. Most purported dream-readers are simply analysts with a penchant for the dramatic. Those with the gift for actual prophetic or far-seeing dreams are as rare as any other kind of Seer."
"And you think I have this talent?" he asked. "I should have taken divination after all."
"It is a possibility. I will teach you how to meditate and call the visions up, but it will not be a swift process. Done incorrectly and you will call up the memory of watching the vision instead of the vision itself, and with the reconstructive nature of human memory…"
"It will lose accuracy," Harry nodded in understanding. They'd had that talk several times. With the exception of unique individuals like the school librarian Madam Pince, and non-human entities such as Lash, humans rarely truly remembered events in detail, but instead recalled the general gist of events and filled in the details using imagination. This, among other reasons, was why eye witness testimonies were no longer admissible in mortal courts.
"Go back to sleep," Lash told him. "I will view the vision and attempt to interpret it while you do so. Whoever this man is, if he were not important, you would not be having visions of him."
"Right," Harry sighed, and lay back. He was asleep again in a shockingly short amount of time.
Amy Pelling was quite an ordinary girl. Fifteen years old, she had grey eyes and a playful smile. She lived on Ynys Enlli with her parents, who had a farm on the island and spoke mostly Welsh at home. She went to church every Sunday, went to school in Botwnnog every week day, spent time with her friends in Pwllheli and was very proud of her knee-length curtain of blonde hair. Ever since the start of the summer holidays, however, things had started to get a little weird, especially on the island. She'd heard strange noises at night, and once even been convinced she'd seen a woman flying on a broomstick on the mainland side. Now here she was, staring at the dead end at the back of a cave in the hill, one of the chickens in a cage and a knife in her other hand… and no idea how she'd gotten here in the middle of the night with no shoes on.
Amy Pelling ran for home as fast as she could, mentally composing a list of boys on the island she could claim to be seeing. There was no way she was admitting to her parents that she'd nearly been faerie led after decrying their superstitions so many times.
One afternoon at the end of June, Harry let a contented smile cross his face as he sat back on the sun lounger. Spending the summer in Toulon had definitely been the best plan he'd come up with since January, and it was definitely summer this far south.
"Your plan?" Lash asked, arching one eyebrow. The blonde was impossibly balancing on the balcony railing, stretched out in a strapless red bikini and sunglasses, of all things.
"Well, I did say I needed to find somewhere to relax," he murmured in reply, tipping his lemonade to her in acknowledgement. It had been a month since the disastrous evacuation of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry and the end of his second year, and he had spent most of that time talking to Aimée and her mother.
Mostly her mother, at Lash's suggestion. Lisette had been helpful in coming to terms with the results of the final battle, and he was finally starting to accept that he really had done everything he could to protect the people of the castle. It helped far more than Dumbledore's assurances that he should not blame himself for failing to protect anyone when it was not his responsibility to do so in the first place.
"Albus Dumbledore is an old soldier," Lash reminded him. "He has fought so that children do not have to, and watched those assurances fall by the wayside as attrition ground down the reserve of adults until he had no choice but to send children to fight anyway. Lisette, however, knows you are a warrior at heart. She has seen you risk your life for those you barely know. While many sins may perhaps be laid at Dumbledore's feet, you cannot blame him for a blind spot such as this, Harry."
"I don't," He shook his head. "I don't know what he was thinking last year, but I do think he was trying his best. Nobody could have predicted what happened if even you didn't see it coming," He gave her a wary smile.
"While I am knowledgeable, Harry, I am not omniscient. There were too many factors pointing towards a single perpetrator for even me to untangle that web," Lash reminded him gently. He could tell that the compliment had pleased her, however. Their relationship was much more stable than it had been after the revelation of her origins… and perhaps more mature.
"Harry," Aimée's high, sweet voice drew his attention to where the adolescent Veela was standing by the door to the rest of the house. "Maman says that it's safe to go down to the beach now, if you were still wanting to go swimming."
"Ah, yeah," He smiled back, and swallowed his drink. He had been looking forward to swimming since the idea had been raised two days ago, but with the fact he'd never swum in the sea before, she'd decided that they couldn't go without supervision.
Swimming was always a dicey proposition, especially for young Veela who had not yet perfected their control over their Allure. Even with the private beach attached to the colony, there was always the chance of some muggle or ignorant wizard wandering past the boundary or being swept up while sailing past, even ignoring the chance of rips dragging unsuspecting swimmers miles out to sea.
The beach itself was beautiful, even if Harry were able to drag his eyes away from the strangely magnetic pull of the small crowd of adult and teenage Veela playing on the beach.
"Ah. It seems you have finally noticed girls," Lash commented dryly. That was enough to break the mesmerised hold the sheer amount of attractive femininity had over his developing libido as he gave her a narrow-eyed glare. Her bikini had been augmented with a wide, floppy white hat and a towel slung over one arm.
Aimée ran ahead towards the water's edge, Lisette following at a more sedate pace. Harry grinned and ran after them, some hitherto unknown instinct driving him to race his young friend to the water's edge and prove his athletic ability… which turned out to be not quite enough to overtake the speedy Veela, who had a lot more practice running on sand than he did.
"Something to rectify," Lash noted as Harry skidded, foot going out from under him as he tried to stop and dumping him on his bottom in the surf. A beat later, all four of them started laughing. Lisette offered him a hand up, then he turned back to her daughter to make a joke about it only for the words to die in his treat as she started to gather her sundress up… he felt his face heat as he finally started to process that they would swim naked. He'd known it. He'd even come down here without a swimsuit in the knowledge that it would be expected. It was simply normal here.
His mouth went dry as his friend lifted her dress up, only to pause when she realised he was staring. She started to blush as well, and as if by mutual agreement, they both turned their backs on each other to pretend it had never happened.
"Oh, the British and their prudishness," Lisette sighed, her voice thick with laughter.
"Oh, the trials of adolescence," Lash counter-quipped, even though Lisette couldn't hear her. She earned herself another dirty look from Harry regardless. Fortunately, he was saved from further embarrassment by a bell going off in the back of his head that made him freeze up.
"Harry? What is wrong?" Lisette asked, no longer laughing. Aimée responded to the tone of alarm in her voice as if summoned, moving to within easy reach of her mother.
"It's alright. Someone is trying to get into my workshop," Harry replied. "Quite ardently. I had, uh…" he glanced at Aimée, and blushed again. "I should, uh, probably go and check it out."
"Yes, it's fine. We understand. Perhaps next time, you will get to swim with us," Lisette said, relaxing.
"Right," He nodded back, and closed his eyes for a moment, running his thumb across the ring focus he wore. "See you soon. Darbas."
"I don't care, you have no right to make such decisions. Sally-Anne will not be going to another of your death trap magical institutions. We will home school her, and that is that," Sally-Anne drifted back into awareness of the world as her mother's impassioned diatribe came to an end. It had been like this for months since she had seen those eyes through the Friar, frozen in a moment of medication-driven insomnia, she had remained mostly aware of the world despite her petrifaction, drifting in and out of mental flights of fancy. She didn't think anyone knew. From what she had heard, the adults all expected her to be completely unaware of the world beyond the supposedly unseeing glossiness of her petrified eyes.
"I see. I'm sorry to hear that," The ministry man's voice did sound genuinely remorseful, which terrified her. It meant he was going to… "Stupefy. Obliviate," He added, a moment later. "Madam Comile, if you would hold off on the mandrake draught until her magic has been bound, we can at least spare her that pain."
"If only I could," The Healer replied. "The stasis effect of the petrification means we can't do anything to her until it's been removed. It's only a mercy that the mind is put to sleep by the effect. The few incidents of people who have been petrified while under the effects of pepper-up or something similar have ended in tragedy. Wizards have been driven mad by the isolation and fear."
"Ah," The ministry man who had claimed to be a caseworker from the Division for Magical Education sighed regretfully. "What a mess. You know, I usually only have to do this once every three or four years, but the last two years, first with the Granger girl and then four or five others over the last year? It's a bad time to be parent to a muggleborn. Well, best get it over with suppose."
The Healer must have agreed, for a moment later she was leaning over Sally-Anne to apply the Mandrake to her dry lips. Feeling returned, sweeping through her as the potion infiltrated her body, restoring her to life from the inside out. When the others had been woken earlier that morning, they had been groggy. Confused.
There was a snapping sound, and Sally-Anne felt something give way inside her. Her wand. They had snapped her wand. Helplessly, the restorative not having restored her motor control yet, she felt the man from the DME lift her left hand and begin scratching away at the skin with a specialised cutting curse. The pain was incredible as he etched the ogham script through the skin and down into the bone. Sally-Anne screamed.
"Hush. Hush, it will all be over soon, and then you'll never have to think about scary magic and horrible monsters again," The Healer pinned her shoulders down to stop her bucking the man off. "Oscar, something's not right. She's not disoriented, her eyes are-"
Sally-Anne knew what her eyes were. Focused. She bought her legs up, getting one foot in under the DME man's shoulder, and shoved him away. Flailing with her right hand, she desperately drew her magic. They might have snapped her wand and partially sealed her, but it was still there, still hers, and she had had months of nothing to do but make plans and listen to her friends when they visited.
"I'm sorry, too," She whispered, and pushed as her hand came into contact with the Healer's chest, blasting her across the room as magic followed motion and intent. Sally-Anne swung herself out of the bed. Her parents lay where they had slumped in the uncomfortable looking visitor's chairs, but Sally-Anne knew it was too late for them. The man had already wiped their memories. Maybe just of magic. Maybe of her. She was magical after all. Had been all her life. Erasing her entirely would be close enough for government work, considering how detailed the work would have to be to remove every instance of accidental magic from her childhood.
Sally-Anne ran past them. Even though she'd been in bed for months, the same stasis that had prevented her eyes from drying out had prevented her muscles from atrophy, and she had been practicing running since her encounter with the slavers.
Running helped her think, and right now there was only one place she could think to run.