A/N: Here's the second chapter for you guys. I'm thrilled by the amount of reviews I got for the first chapter. I always like to aim for 20 per chapter, although more is fantastic, and I haven't been disappointed. This chapter, like the first, pretty much delves into choice and temptation. There's quite a bit of referencing to religion in here, so people with strict religious beliefs who don't like that sort of thing, you have been warned.
A few people have asked if Harry Dresden himself will be in the story. I regret to inform you that he will not feature a prominent role and the most you will here of him is some vague referencing and mentions. The crossover is more about the Knights of the Cross and the Fallen, so expect to see Michael, Nicodemus and the like.
For those who are interested in HP/DF crossovers and like Harry Dresden, I suggest that you check out nuhuh's story, "Demon's Feign, Merlin's Pain". That story definitely has potential and it's off to a great start.
The stars were just beginning to twinkle as the sun slowly set over England, casting beautiful hues of soft-red and golden light over those who took the time to admire the view, and darkness was approaching. But to the residents and visitors to Privet Drive, located in Little Whinging, Surrey, it seemed as if it was still as bright as it had been at midday. However, this could have be attributed to the large blankets of dark smoke rising into the air and the massive blazing inferno that was currently tearing through Number Four. Neighbour's watched from their houses as dozens of firemen fought the flames with their hoses, pumping out hundreds of gallons of water as they desperately and unsuccessfully tried to quell the fire. But the fire continued to rage, angry yellow and red flames jutting from the windows and roof as if they were alive. The overpowering smell of sulphur reeked through the air, irritating the eyes and noses of the neighbours and the few unmasked firemen.
This was the scene that greeted Albus Dumbledore as he briskly strode from Mrs Figgs house, his blue eyes alert and serious as he quickly observed the situation. His purple coloured, yellow-stared robe flapped in the wind as he crinkled his nose up, the wind bringing the smell of sulphur to his attention. For a moment, he just stood, tall and unmoving as his mind whirled with possible scenarios, before his eyes flickered over the struggling fire-fighters and the blazing inferno and he seemingly made a decision. He quickly moved forward, his robes twirling as he brushed past a family of four watching the flames silently, who strangely took no notice of the odd man and his odder clothing.
Albus Dumbledore continued to walk forward, approaching the blazing house as he moved past the fire-engines and fire-fighters, the latter taking no notice of him as if he wasn't even there. His long, crooked nose sniffed the air the smell of sulphur became stronger and stronger, and he knew that this was no coincidence. He paused near the edge of the curb and reached into his robes, pulling out a long, slender wand. As he did this, he cocked his head as the conversation of two black-faced, sweaty firemen reached his ears.
"This fire should have gone down by now," One of them said tiredly, while his partner chugged down a bottle of water. "But it just keeps growing and growing. It's not right, man!"
The other man lowered his bottle and swallowed, and his eyes darted around as he leaned in closer to his friend. "Can't you smell it? That's sulphur in the air, mate."
His partner looked at him, incomprehension showing on his face, and the fireman sighed impatiently.
"Sulphur, also known as brimstone," He said in annoyance. "Fire and brimstone, eternal punishment, torment and anguish, hell, does this ring any bells?"
"Don't be stupid," The other fireman snorted, but doubt flickered over his face as he gazed at the blazing house and sniffed the air. "You're saying that, what? Satan did this?"
"I don't know mate," The other fireman said tiredly. "All I know is that the people in that house are dead, and I bet you twenty-pounds that they died painfully."
Albus had heard enough as he moved away and approached the house. A flick of his wand and a muttered incantation turned the sensation of searing heat into one of pleasant coolness. He then levelled his wand at the house and performed a lazy swish, not even bothering to mutter the incantation. The tip of the wand glowed pale blue, a shimmering cone of magic blasting forward and striking the flames. However, the shimmering pale-blue cone of magic flared up in a dark light, the smell of sulphur becoming even more pronounced as Dumbledore gripped his wand tighter, his light-blue eyes narrowing as he poured magic into his spell. The dark light flickered and pulsed as the soft-blue glow flared up in response, and the dark flare receded. Dumbledore continued pushing back the dark magic that had intercepted his spell, his expression grim and determined, and after a few more seconds, the dark light dissipated and the flames immediately died down, allowing the fire-fighters to push forward.
As soon as the spell was over, Albus stood tall again; his face pale as he breathed in huge gulps of air. That fire hadn't been of the normal type, no, there had been very powerful dark magic behind it, dark magic that Albus had never heard of before. This was no accident, this was murder. He stared at the blazing house, in which the fires were quickly dying down as the last of their dark origin faded away, and shook his head slowly. Who had done this, and more importantly, was Harry Potter still inside?
At the same time, several blocks away, Harry Potter had staggered past the brightly lit houses and into an empty block of land. The only sound Harry could hear was the sound of his own thumping heartbeat, the splat of his shoes as he stepped in large puddles of muddy water and the noise of the grass rustling in the cool breeze, a breeze that was especially chilly for Harry, who shivered in his wet, blood-splattered clothes. His Sight was off and in the back corner of his mind, Harry knew that he could now turn it off and on at will, but the majority of his mind was focussed on the events that had passed no less than half-an-hour ago. He knew that he should feel shocked; he knew that he should feel sad or angry at himself. But his mind was completely numb, his eyes wide-open and glazed over as he staggered over a dead tree root and settled down on a sawn-off tree trunk. He had murdered somebody, hell; he had murdered three people, and his own family. True, he had never liked them and the feelings had been mutual, but he was a killer, and what was worse, he had liked it.
Smell of blood…so powerful, so overwhelming….Aunt Petunia cowering before him…her face is terrified, pleading, begging and tears of fright down her cheeks…powerful bestial roar…ashen wings of bones, sharp and spiked edges flying forward...blood, so much blood…and it was wonderful, better than anything he had ever experienced…
Harry shuddered and instantly cast his mind away from his memories. The taste of warm blood lingered on his tongue and he squeezed his eyes shut, a tear rolling from his eyes and down his cheek. He hated the fact that he liked it, liked the feeling of taking another's life, of ripping them apart with strength that he hadn't even known he had possessed, of tasting their blood…
"Do not go down this road, beloved," a beautiful voice said softly and Harry opened his eyes, bloodshot emerald orbs that swivelled around to centre of Meciel. The Fallen angel approached him from beyond the empty plot, looking prim, proper and totally unconcerned as her face reflected her serenity. Although her long, dark hair softly swayed in the breeze, no mud or water soiled her beautiful silver and white dress and she shone with an inner light that radiated from her very being, highlighting her beauty.
"Did…" Harry started, his voice especially rough for a seven year old, and stopped, swallowing as Meciel approached him. He licked his lips and tried again. "Did you know that would happen?"
Meciel tilted her head, regarding his with composed silver orbs as she answered. "I suspected something of the nature would occur," she said quietly.
It was then Harry focussed his full attention on her, anger blossoming in the pit of his stomach. Meciel seemed immune to his glare, which was especially intimidating coming from one literally soaked in the blood of his victims, and came to stand beside him, her eyes drifting upwards towards the stars.
"If you…if you suspected, why did you let me…" Harry started and stopped, his voice quavering. Another tear pooled down his cheek as the severity, the wrongness of what he had just done hit him again and he gave a childish groan of anguish and buried his face in his hands, sobbing quietly.
"Do not mourn, beloved, for they deserved what they received," Meciel said quietly and placed a warm, comforting hand on Harry's shoulder. "Besides, do not tell me that you did not enjoy taking your revenge and did not enjoy finally standing up for yourself against those bullies."
Blood still filled the air, a substance more tantalising and delicious than he had ever known…the broken and mangled body of Aunt Petunia stared at him with glassy eyes from the ground…bony wings flapped restlessly as he walked forward, clawed feet scraping the ground…anger, rage and intense pleasure filled him…this time Dudley stares at him, a pathetic child weeping for his life…vaguely human hands, covered in scales, seize the boy, long fingers wrapping around the neck…claws dig into the skin as a searing heat flares through his veins…Dudley screams in agony as fire juts from his eyes, nostrils, ears and open wailing mouth as he is burnt alive by the fires of hell……
Harry sniffled into his hands and looked up, meeting the silver orbs of Meciel with his haunted eyes as accusation quickly spread over his face, tinged with anger and disgust.
"What did you do?" He whispered softly, his throat raw from his crying and his face splotchy and red. "What did you make me do?"
"I did nothing, beloved," Meciel said softly, her hand moving down to his back and making soothing motions. "What happened was your doing, and you're doing alone."
"I killed them," Harry said numbly. "I murdered them. The police will come after me, they'll catch me! They'll throw me in jail! I'm going to jail!"
"There is no mortal jail that could possible hope to contain you," Meciel said softly. "You are safe from them and I will continue to protect you."
Harry nodded slowly, his head still bowed, and fiddled with his hands as he sat. A few moments later, he spoke again and this time, the hysteria was out of his voice.
"You wanted them dead, didn't you?" Harry asked softly.
Meciel regarded him solemnly.
"Yes," she answered truthfully.
"They were more useful to you dead than alive. You need a fresh start, to remove the shackles of your past and banish your demons," Meciel answered, her melodious voice quiet. "No pun intended, beloved."
"There must have been other ways, something that didn't involve…this," Harry said, his voice rising as he spat out the last word in disgust.
"This was the easiest," Meciel said and a faint smile touched her lips as she finished. "And it was the most satisfying."
Harry stared at her in shock and betrayal, his eyes widening as he staggered off the tree trunk, his mouth open. "I don't believe you when you say you did nothing. Even if I could have, I wouldn't have done that before I met you. You made me do this, you tricked me into it!" He said loudly, anger rising in his voice. He could feel something burning inside of him. It was rough and hot, but not uncomfortable. With a shock, Harry realised that it was the same feeling he had gotten when he picked up the coin and he looked down at his right hand, where he still clasped the small piece of silver.
"I should throw you away and never see you again," Harry muttered softly. "I should bury you and never come back here."
"Then what would you do?" Meciel asked softly, regarding Harry with what seemed like sympathy and compassion. "You no longer have a home. You have no friends. You have no family, not after what you did to them tonight. Where can you go to, an orphanage? You do remember what your Uncle told you about those. Will you live on the streets, scrounging for food for the rest of your life, begging for scraps so that you can live one more pitiful day?"
Harry didn't say anything and stood unmoving as the illusion of Meciel approached him, laying a hand on his shoulder. Instantly, warmth flooded through his body at her touch and he sighed despite himself.
"I said I would protect you, beloved, and I will," Meciel continued, her voice warm with affection. "But only if you let me. I will help you to the best of my ability. I will make you strong. But only if you let me."
Harry shuddered as he closed his eyes, gritting his teeth in anger as he fought against the warmth in his heart.
"No," He mumbled softly. "Go away."
"Beloved…" Meciel started but Harry took a step backward and the warmth suddenly vanished, leaving a cold ache in the pit of his chest. His eyes were right with anger and grief as he swatted an arm at the Fallen woman, his breathing rapid and harsh.
"Go away now," Harry cried out angrily, his voice rising in the noiseless plot. "Or…Or I'll throw your coin away forever!"
Meciel eyed him carefully, her face smoothing over and her silver eyes meeting Harry's emerald. After a few tense moments, she bowed her head in subservience.
"Very well, beloved," She said softly. "I will depart and leave you to your thoughts. Know that I am in your mind and all you have to do is call me and I shall come."
"I won't," Harry spat out with childish anger as the illusion broke away in front of him, vanishing instantly, and once again, he was all alone. Sighing, he wrapped his hands around himself and walked back to the footpath. He had no idea where he was going, but he knew he couldn't stay there. So the small form of the blood-soaked boy slowly left the place he had known his entire life. The entire world awaited him and whether he wanted to or not, he had to go and meet it.
Two Days Later
Albus Dumbledore didn't let his tiredness show as he walked through the Ministry of Magic, nodding jovially to the various witches and wizards going home that called out his name in greeting, a small smile on his face. The security guard straightened up at the sight of him and waved him through instantly and Albus bowed his head in thanks as he briskly walked up to one of the elevators and hopped in, pressing a button. As the doors closed with a loud, clanking noise and the elevator sped upwards, Albus let his smile disappear and the twinkle left his eyes. The situation had only worsened over the past two days and Albus was, mildly put, very tired.
A few minutes later, he strode into the office of the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge. The portly man looked up from his desk and managed a tight smile as Albus closed the door behind him, flicking his wand several times as he secured the room against eavesdroppers. The instant he was done, he turned back to Fudge and took a seat, his expression grave.
"What have you learnt?" Fudge asked wearily, rubbing his eyes and shaking his head as he tried to dispel his tiredness.
"Both Muggle investigators and our own Auror forces have found no trace of Harry Potter's body inside the house," Albus answered seriously, his blue eyes solemn. "This leaves me to believe that Harry Potter was not inside the house when it was burnt down."
"And you're certain that this was an attack?" Fudge continued his questioning.
Albus nodded, his long beard quivering. "I am certain, Cornelius," He answered gravely. "Although I cannot determine what spells were used, I know beyond any doubt that dark magic caused that fire. I also know that the bodies of the Dursley family showed obvious signs of trauma and violence before the fire. This was a premeditated attack on Harry Potter, and it appears to have been successful."
"The Aurors have had no luck with their tracking spells," Fudge said heavily. "I've ordered the search to be widened to include all of England, but without a registered wand, I don't think we'll find anything. Can you do anything with you devices?"
Albus shook his head. "Alas, I have tried and failed, yet Harry is being shielded by a spell or spells I have never seen the likes of before. I can state with certainty that Harry remains alive. However, beyond that, I know nothing more of his condition or location. Something powerful is hiding him."
"Who could be doing this, Albus?" Fudge asked, worry in his voice as he leaned forward, resting his chin on his hands. "Is it Death Eater's? Surely it isn't You-Know-Who! I still don't buy into your notion that he isn't dead."
"It is highly unlikely that Lord Voldemort is in any condition to pull of magic as advanced as this," Albus replied softly. "And while the culprits may be Death Eaters, I do not believe they are involved. All I can determine is that whatever is hiding him from us is far more powerful and ancient than either of us could possibly imagine."
"What could this thing be?" Fudge asked with a touch of fear in his voice. "And does it mean Potter harm?"
"I do not know in either case," Albus admitted. The two men sat together in silence, each pondering their own thoughts. Finally, Fudge spoke up, weariness evident in his voice.
"What do we do now?"
And to that, Albus had no answer.
At the same time, not too far away from the Ministry of Magic itself, a young and dirty boy dressed in ripped and ratty clothing sprinted down a dark street. Behind him, a balding man dressed in cheap suit chased after him, his eyes gleaming with perverse enjoyment and insanity as he panted much like a dog, lasciviously licking his greasy lips with expectation.
"C'mon little boy, let me show you how the big boys have fun!" He cried out loudly, not even bothering to lower his voice in the second-rate suburban street he was in.
Harry didn't look back at the man that was chasing and just kept running, his heart pounding in his chest as he sought to escape the freak that was after him. Adrenaline pumped through his veins and his muscles were on fire as he rounded a corner and continued sprinting down the next street. His eyes landed on a large oak tree, partially hidden in the shadows and he made his way to it, hoping desperately that he could hide behind it before the man came after him. As he ran to the tree, he felt a small and decidedly feminine presence in his mind, Meciel, and growled in anger and exhaustion.
"Go away!" He shouted angrily as he reached the tree and ducked behind it, crouching in the shadows. The presence obediently retreated from his mind as Harry gasped in huge gulps of air, fear coursing into him as he hid from the insane man. Harry felt a twinge of revulsion and shuddered as he recalled some of the other things the man had been saying on the three minute chase.
"I will never go away, little boy, not until I've had my taste of you!" The other man shouted from the other street, manic laughter bubbling in his voice. "Never!"
Harry couldn't help himself and rolled his eyes, mentally scoffing at the insane man, and pulled himself deeper into the tree's shadow, pressing himself up against the rough bark as he heard the loud, slapping footsteps of the man enter the street. He crouched there with baited breath and waited as the footsteps paused, readying himself to jump up and run again.
Suddenly Harry heard a loud curse and the sound of retreating footsteps. A second later, a car cruised by, its light illuminating the street and Harry took the chance to poke his head out from behind the tree. As the car went past, Harry looked for the man and smiled in relief when he couldn't see him. His smile faded as he felt the searing power of the Fallen flowing through him and with a startled jerk, released the power instantly. The power faded at once but the faint smell of sulphur continued to fill his nostrils as he stood up and turned around, wincing at his sore muscles.
However, his aches and pain quickly became a secondary concern as Harry stared at the closest building with wide eyes. In front of him stood a small, battered but homely church made of white-painted timber. Paint was peeling at the walls and Harry could see that it was missing a few tiles, but it emanated a certain holiness that Harry instinctively shied away from. Deep in his mind, Meciel, for lack of a better word, moved restlessly at the sight.
Harry's eyes swivelled downwards as he noticed movement. From a side door, an aging man with white hair and a kind face hobbled out of the church, clutching a white rubbish bag. Dressed in priestly robes, the man deposited the bag in the garbage bin and straightened up, his eyes unconsciously scanning up and down the street. His eyes met Harry's and for a second, they stared at each other, the man showing faint surprise.
"You look cold, child, and hungry," He called out in a wavering voice. "Come in, come in, and I'll get you something hot to eat."
Harry licked his lips, clearly tempted at the notion at his first proper hot meal in two days. The closest thing he had had was a few leftover chips he had taken from a public bin the other night. As he made to move forward, Meciel's presence abruptly appeared and her voice appeared in his head, worried and cautious.
'Do not enter, beloved. By picking up my coin, you have changed. You are not entirely human anymore and there are objects in there that may harm you!'
Harry hesitated in his step, a worried frown appearing on his face as he regarded the church with more caution, his eyes narrowed carefully. He could feel the weight of the coin in his pocket as he tried to weigh his options.
"I mean you no harm, child," The priest called out again, and the kindness and warmth was obvious in his voice. "Everybody is welcome in God's house."
'Stay your ground, lest you are harmed!'
Harry frowned but made his decision and nodded decisively. As he moved forward, closer to the Church, he spoke to Meciel in his mind.
"You can't tell me what to do anymore, so just shut up!"
He winced when he felt her anger, ancient and powerful, but she complied with his wishes and retreated back into his mind as Harry approached the priest, who smiled encouragingly and led him past the main entrance and towards a side door. He gestured for Harry to enter and the green-eyed boy hesitated, before taking a deep breath and stepping into the small building.
The first things he noticed were the warm wooden walls, made of a beautiful light-shaded wood. His eyes took in his surroundings, noting the scratched and battered pews, the tiny crucifixes stapled up on the walls and the chipped statue of some saint in the corner. A small altar stood up on a raised platform and Harry, in his new status, could feel what most humans could not, the feelings of benevolence and holiness that literally radiated from the altar. He almost flinched as they struck him with full force, sending an odd and decidedly unpleasant sensation throughout his body. He was squirming and fidgeting on his feet as the priest led him away from the congregation area and into a small living area, away from the holy power and the unpleasant sensations. The priest gestured for Harry to sit down at the small table and Harry pulled out a chair, sinking into it with a small sigh as he finally rested his aching legs.
"So child, what is your name?" The priest asked kindly as he watched Harry shift in the couch, his eyes radiating his sympathy for the small child in front of him. The boys face was covered in dirt and grime and his clothes were little better, stained in some kind of dark liquid that had completely ruined them. The boy's bright-green eyes reflected a gloom that the priest had only seen on some of the more bitter souls in the world.
"Harry," Harry answered quietly, after a few seconds of silence.
"Well Harry, you really shouldn't be outside on such a cold night," the priest said warmly. "You must be very cold. Let me go get you something hot to warm your bones. Afterwards, you are welcome to stay the night if you choose to do so."
With another compassionate smile, the priest shuffled out of the room and a few seconds later, Harry could hear the clangs and crashes of pans and saucepans. As he sat in the small living room, resting his tired body on the extremely comfortable couch, Meciel made herself known as she created an illusion of herself in the room, eyeing Harry with a serious look on her face.
"Beloved, you must be careful here," She said softly and quietly. "The Church is not safe for you. They have agents that hunt our kind down and destroy them. They are not to be trusted, especially once they discover your true nature."
"The Church knows about you?" Harry asked in surprise, although he kept his voice low as he quickly glanced at the kitchen door. But the priest was still busy and had just started humming a song, one Harry recognised as a bible hymn.
"Most of them do not," Meciel answered softly, her silver eyes serious. "However, there is one organisation made up of three Knights chosen by the Arch-Angels themselves. These are the men you must be afraid of. They wield powerful swords, each crafted over the three nails that nailed Jesus Christ to the cross. These swords can cut through our most powerful enchantments and magic's with ease. Beware the Knights of the Cross, beware the Fists of God, for they would destroy you if they had the chance!"
"You could be lying, trying to make me leave here. God is your enemy," Harry accused softly, narrowing his eyes at Meciel, who shook her head, her long hair sweeping through the air and sparkling in the light.
"I cannot lie to you, beloved," Meciel said, smiling slightly as she took a seat next to Harry, sitting close enough that he could feel the warmth radiating from her being as she continued talking. "I, like most immortal beings, are bound by the rules of the Old World. These rules compel us to keep our bargains and keep us from uttering falsehoods. Mortals, of course, are exempt from these rules, including you."
Harry was silent for a second, before he turned to Meciel, a puzzled look on his young face. "You said "our kind". Does that mean there are others…others like me? Maybe they can help me."
Meciel lost her smile as panic flashed through her face. "No beloved, you must not!" She said quickly and firmly. At Harry's inquisitive look, she continued, her voice never wavering. "You are correct, beloved, there are others like yourself. Twenty-nine of them, to be exact, although I am unsure of how many coins the Knights of the Cross have captured and locked away. They are the Order of the Blackened Denarius, the Black Knights, and they are more dangerous than the Church could ever hope to be. They hate me, beloved. They were responsible for the death of my last host, the one whose screams you heard when you first encountered me. Seek no aid from them, beloved. Stay in the Church if you wish, but if you value your life, avoid the Black Denarians at all costs!"
Harry could only stare at Meciel in surprise, his brain trying to process all the information he had just learnt. It was at this moment the priest came back from the kitchen, a small smile on his face and a hot bowl of soup on a tray in his hands, and Harry attention was quickly and easily diverted as he stared at the soup bowl with a hungry expression on his face. The priest placed it down in front of Harry and gave the boy a spoon, before he sat back, unknowingly walking through the illusion of Meciel and sitting himself down in a ratty armchair, watching Harry as he devoured his soup.
Harry was in paradise as the warm soup trickled down his throat, warming every part of his body. He slurped the soup down, only pausing to tear at a slice of bread on the tray, dip it into the soup and place it in his mouth. Meciel watched him, a slight expression of exasperation on her face at how easily his attention had been diverted from the more serious matters, and her illusion vanished from Harry's vision, although her presence remained at the forefront of his mind.
"So child, do you have a family?" The priest asked from his seat.
Harry continued eating his soup without pause but shook his head.
The priest frowned. "Do you have a home?"
Harry shook his head again, still intent on his food.
"Friends?" The priest tried again.
Harry shook his head one last time before he picked up the bowl and brought it to his lips, throwing his head back and gulping down the warm substance with relish.
"It's a sad world when a child is deprived of those three things," The priest mused, shaking his aged head sadly. "Still, as long as you know that God loves you, you will never be alone."
"God hates me," Harry mumbled through the last of his bread, which he was stuffing into his mouth as fast as he could, tearing into it in an animalistic fashion. "And I hate him."
The priest sighed, shaking his head. "That's not true, child," he said kindly. "God loves you and He always will. That is His nature."
Harry stared at the priest blankly as he swallowed the last of the food, clearly not believing what the old man was saying.
"It's sad to see a boy so young lose his faith and twice in the span of a few days," The priest mused softly. "I saw a boy who had similar feelings to you not two days ago, standing soaked and muddy outside a school as he threw away the symbol of his faith. I went over to help him, but he had already gone by the time I had gotten there."
To Harry's surprise and shock, the priest pulled out a small golden-coloured crucifix and placed it on the table, regarding it sadly. Harry's blood went cold as he regarded the symbol he had discarded just before he had met Meciel and his face went pale. The priest opened his mouth to say something else, but the phone suddenly rang, and the priest stood up from his chair.
"Just remember that God is the Eternal Shepherd and will always welcome back His Flock," The priest said quietly, before he left the room to answer the phone, leaving Harry to stare at his old crucifix in shock.
Harry knew that there was no way that this could be a coincidence. Transfixed, Harry got off the couch and dropped his knees, shuffling to the other end of the table, his eyes staring unblinkingly at the crucifix. Was this God's way of giving him, what, A second chance? Was this a way to repent for what he had done, for what he had become?
'Do you see now, beloved? Do you see His true nature? He cares not of your pains, of your sufferings, of your thoughts and ideals, He only cares that you worship Him no longer.' Meciel hissed softly in his head, bitterness twisting her voice into something ugly. 'That is how He is, that is all He cares about, obedience.'
Harry wasn't quite sure if Meciel was still talking about him anymore, but he still hesitated as he slowly raised his hand, which poised over the crucifix.
'Don't take it, beloved,' Meciel warned quickly. 'It is harmful to us.'
Harry ignored her words and, after taking a deep breath, lowered his hand and picked it up, or tried to pick it up, at least. The moment his skin came into contact with the crude metal, a burning pain shot up Harry's palm and he gave a small cry of pain, jerking his hand back as he stared at the crucifix with disbelief. It had burned him! It had hurt him as if he were some kind of vampire or monster! He may have done something really horrible but didn't the priests always say that God was always merciful? He stared at his hand, where a few wisps of smoke floated into the air, which Harry tracked with his eyes. This was how the priest found Harry, on his knees and staring at the roof. A small smile came over his face as he incorrectly assumed that the poor child was praying and he softly cleared his throat.
Harry started in surprise, his head whirling around as he jumped to his feet, his cheeks flaming up. He stared at the priest with a touch of fear as he fidgeted under the old man's gaze. How much had he seen? Was the priest going to call those Knights of the Cross and get them to kill him? The priest, however, didn't seem to notice Harry's guilty manner.
"I apologise for interrupting you," he said quietly. "But I must leave and give old Mrs Bowden her last rites. Please, feel free to stay here and rest for the night. All are welcome in God's house."
"I might stay," Harry said quietly, not meeting the eyes of the priest. "I might not."
"That is your decision," The priest said just as quietly and picked up a thick coat that had been draped across the back of his chair. As he put it on, Harry spoke again.
"How do you know I won't…I don't know, rob you or something?" He asked in genuine puzzlement. "Why should you trust me?"
The priest frowned, as if the answer to Harry's question was obvious. "Why should I distrust you, child, when you have done naught to me? We are all God's children, child, and I extend to you the courtesy as I would treat any of my brothers and sisters."
Harry didn't say anything as the man gave one last smile and left. A few moments later, he heard the sound of an engine turning on as a car left the driveway, the noise fading as it left the church. Harry glanced around at his surroundings and frowned, hesitation on his face. Inside his mind, he could feel Meciel waiting for his choice, content to be patient. After a deep breath and a longing glance at the couch and something more comfortable than a brick wall, Harry started walking for the door. However, the glint of the crucifix lying on the table caught his eye and he hesitated. Eyeing a tissue box, Harry plucked out a tissue and approached the crucifix. Bracing himself for pain, he quickly but gently lifted the small object from the table and wrapped it around the tissue. He stared at the small bundle, indecision on his face, before stuffing it in his left pocket, the pocket without the coin, and leaving the room.
Outside, Harry shivered as the cool breeze penetrated his flimsy and shabby clothing, but he tried to ignore the cold as he picked a direction away from the church and started walking. In his head, Meciel stirred.
'What will you do now, Beloved?' She asked softly and kindly.
Harry didn't answer her as he crossed the road, his small footsteps making a loud noise in the silent night. The clouds above him rumbled softly, threatening rain, but Harry didn't seem to care as he kept walking. Finally, a minute later, he answered her out loud.
"You've changed me, Meciel, I can feel it."" He said softly and without emotion. Meciel was silent. "And I like it. I like the feeling of power in me, I like being strong. But…"
'I will teach you, beloved, I will show you how to become powerful. I will care for you, nourish you, and most importantly of all, I will love you. All you must do is embrace me. You've done it once before, do it again and let me help you.'
"You betrayed me," Harry whispered, and the words of full of bitterness a seven-year-old shouldn't have been able to manage.
'No, I gave you what you wanted and you were simply unprepared. That does not have to happen again, beloved.'
"You were in control that night, not me," Harry said angrily, his voice rising in the night. "You used me. You made me do what you wanted and don't say I'm wrong, because you know I'm right."
Meciel was silent as Harry turned a corner, but he stopped short and his eyes widened as the balding man who had been chasing him before appeared before him. The man blinked at Harry's sudden appearance and a savage grin curved his lips as he advanced, his eyes roaming over Harry's body.
"Hello little one," He whispered menacingly. "I knew you'd be back."
'Do you wish to dispose of him, or shall we do what you usually do and run?'
Harry swallowed and his eyes wide as he took a step backwards from the advancing man. His legs were tired, his muscles ached, he was cold and he was scared. He was sick of being scared, sick of running away from the bullies that only tried to hurt him. He stuck both hands in his pockets, his left hand on the tissue-wrapped cloth and his right hand hovering above the coin, indecision roaring through his veins. Whatever item he chose, he knew that it would change his entire life. After brief moments of hesitation, he pulled both items out of his pockets, glanced at them for a brief second, closed his eyes and made his choice.
Something metal clinked to the ground as the man advanced, his hands outstretched as he prepared to grab Harry. Harry, who had had his head bowed, glanced up and met the man's eyes, his face calm and resolved. Suddenly a single sharp, ashen wing of bone burst from Harry's back, much like the skeletal wing of a bird, and shot forward. The man screamed in pain as it tore into his stomach, ripping through flesh, muscle and tendon with ease. The man gasped, gurgling madly as blood pooled at his mouth, his face set on stunned incomprehension. Harry let the dark power flow through his body and let his face transform into a cold smile. With a rough tug, Harry jerked his wing upwards, ripping up the man's chest. Dark blood poured down the bone as the man feebly struggled, some last vestige of life still left in him, before Harry, using the wing like an arm, swung the man around and slammed him into the nearest fence. Wood cracked and splintered as Harry hurled the man off his wing, sending him crumpling to the ground in a spray of crimson blood.
Breathing deeply, Harry stared at the mangled corpse and gently brought his wing in behind his back. Blood dripped from it as a slightly glowing illusion of Meciel appeared with a beautiful smile on her face. She opened her mouth to say something but Harry beat her to it, his face cold and his eyes burning with determination.
"You will teach me everything you know about magic and power," Harry said coldly. "You will help me become powerful and strong."
"If that is your command, beloved, then it shall be so," Meciel said quietly and subserviently with a slight bow of her head.
"And Meciel?" Harry added as he started walking away from the body. "I will never let you use me again. You will never manipulate me and control me like you do that first night. I'm in control and I'll always be in control."
Meciel hesitated and allowed a small smile to cross her face. "As you command, beloved," She murmured.
Together, boy and demon walked away, united and strong. Harry Potter had made his choice.
Neither of them noticed a small twinkle of light behind them as the crucifix reflected the nearby streetlight, glittering in the night sky as the blood from the torn and mangled corpse slowly began to envelop it.