DISCLAIMER: Harry Potter and all other characters and locations belong to J. K. Rowling.
Chapter One - A Not So Simple Task
Harold James Potter lay draped upon a narrow ledge, his eyes closed as if in slumber. The warmth from the frothing liquid boiling beneath him had lulled him into a conscious doze, only the odd twitch of a wing showing he was still awake. His hair was the colour of a moonless night, setting off skin tanned by the fires of hell. Upon the back of his left hand was a tattoo, a simple black circle with no other adornment or markings.
The raven-haired male was a demon. A rather minor demon in the eyes of the underworld. However, once he was given a task and sent forth, his place within the demon hierarchy rose. Harry went from being a nuisance to a harbinger. His very presence upon the mortal plane was enough to send even the strongest demon fleeing for the safety of home. Which was exactly what Hades had intended when he'd created the peculiar breed of demon.
A demon born and bred to hunt other demons without remorse or pause. Retrievers they had been deemed, for that was their purpose. When a demon failed to return from the surface within the allotted time, a Retriever would be sent to retrieve them. They would hunt without resting, using highly developed olfactory senses to sniff out the dark magic that wrapped itself around every demon. The Retrievers place within the depths of hell was shifty, their turncoat ways earning them a bad reputation and many enemies.
Which was exactly why Harry was currently occupying a narrow piece of rock in the middle of an empty cave. He had come to realize over the sixteen years of his existence that making friends was a pain in the ass, a pain that he certainly didn't need. Thus decided, the raven-haired demon preferred to be left alone, leaving the comfort of his lair only when called.
An approaching buzz had him shifting on his dangerous perch, arms stretching out slowly. He made no other move when the noise grew louder, waiting patiently to be addressed. "You're Harry Potter?" The pixie sized demon asked, its dragonfly like wings humming loudly to keep it afloat.
Opening one emerald eye slowly, the raven-haired demon considered the question. Tipping his head slightly, he gave a brief nod. "I am."
At his response, the hovering demon unrolled the scroll he held and cleared his throat with a sharp hack. "Harry Potter, Retriever, is summoned to the throne room, immediately." With a proud smile, the fiery pixie glanced at the much larger demon sprawled lazily before him and arched an eyebrow.
"Or?" Harry asked, pushing himself up on his elbows to better observe the messenger. A devilish smile crossed his face as he opened his heavily scaled wings, fluttering them softly before snapping them closed with a crack. The sudden wind sent the little demon tumbling backwards through the air, arms and legs flailing as he fought to regain his balance.
"Or?" Repeated the fiery demon, confusion covering his narrow face as he managed to right himself. Brow drawing down, he lifted the paper he held and silently reread the message before shaking his head. "There is no 'or'."
"Or what? What will happen if I don't answer the summons?" Asked the emerald-eyed demon.
Mouth hanging open in shock, the messenger demon shook its head. "It's just not done, Retriever. When one is called, they go." Still shaking its head, the hovering demon rolled up the scroll and set it aflame.
Harry lay silent, watching the red flames lick over the parchment that had held his summons. In seconds, all that remained within the fiery demon's blackened claws were ashes. With once last glare at him, the small demon took off, leaving him in peace to contemplate the message.
A summons to the Royal Throne room was never a good thing. It generally meant you'd either screwed up or the boss had something for you to do. Since he'd been on his best demonic behaviour for the last three months, it meant it was the later of the two. Curling a lip at the thought of having to complete another inane task, he rolled over and stared into the darkness that broiled above him.
Harry Potter, to me at once. A voice hissed through his mind, jolting him into a sitting position. He clutched the narrow pinnacle he perched upon, unfurling his wings in a vain attempt to keep from toppling off. Growling unhappily, he rose fluidly and stepped away from the rock, dropping toward the ocean of lava that churned against the rocky cliffs.
A tip of his wings had him gliding smoothly through the air, eyes on the shadowed tunnel that would take him into the massive throne room. He reached the area in front of the cave without incident, landing quietly upon the warm rock that led into the devil's den. Shooting a longing glance over his shoulder, he folded his dark wings and stepped into shadows that readily consumed him.
Within the bowels of hell, there was only darkness and the orange glow cast by the veins of lava flowing through the narrow channels carved into the stone. No true light could penetrate the deep shadows or brighten the darkest of marble corridors. It was with the senses of cats and bats that the demons navigated the numerous and never ending tunnels that stretched through the earth. Winding their way past treacherous abyss' and creatures even darker then they, the demons who called Hell home knew the dark paths like they knew the rules they existed by.
Gliding his sharp fingernails along the black wall running to his right, Harry pondered the reason for the summons. Unless someone had discovered his involvement in the disappearance of one of the lesser demons, he was pretty sure it was business. Though, if it was the first, he could probably claim it as morbid curiosity: he'd really wanted to know if that bottomless pit was really bottomless. Since his test subject had yet to reappear, he would assume that someone had failed to return on time, breaking the cardinal rule by which demons traveled to the mortal plane.
Harry was, by birth, a Retriever. A demon sent forth to locate and capture other demons who'd overstayed their welcome among the humans. It was a dirty and dangerous job, one that never failed to annoy him. How hard was it to keep track of time? Apparently it was exceedingly difficult.
Snorting at the incompetence of his kind, he swept into the throne room and stalked gracefully forward. He kept his gaze locked upon the dark marble beneath his feet, ears tuned to the sounds echoing around the cavernous room. When he reached the center of the massive lair, he dropped to his knees and lowered his forehead to the floor, pressing close to the warm stone. "What would you have of me, my Lord?"
"Don't even try it, Retriever. You dared to think you could defy me." Hades snarled from his throne. Hissing in anger, the god slammed his palm down on the arm of the sleek bone chair he lounged in. The sound reverberated through the room, causing the shadows clinging to the walls to shift eagerly. "I won't accept disobedience from you, Harold James Potter."
"I apologize, my Lord. I shall make sure it does not happen again." The raven-haired demon stated to the floor, pulling his wings tight to his back. He rolled his eyes up when Hades failed to respond, searching through the darkness to see what or whom had drawn the god's attention from him. The sight of another Retriever whispering to the pale god had him groaning and banging his head against the hard floor.
"Stop that at once, little Retriever. I have a job for you, a very important job I want taken care of immediately." Hades hissed, rising and prowling down the dais his throne was set upon. "A member of my dark court has decided to take a little vacation. This vacation has gone on too long; it is time for him to come home. I have made two attempts to summon him back and sent three of your brethren out to locate him. All have failed."
Breathing out slowly, Harry ground his forehead into the floor and squeezed his eyes shut. "What would you have of me, my Lord?" He asked again.
"You are to retrieve him." Hades instructed calmly, circling the demon kneeling on the floor. His dark robes slithered behind him as he paced, the cloth hissing softly. "You will leave at once."
"Yes, my lord." Harry said, lifting his head and meeting the burning orbs of the god who controlled him. Nodding his head in understanding, he rose smoothly and opened his wings before sweeping a quick bow to the higher demons lazing in the darkness along the walls. "I will see it done."
"Excellent. I need not explain the rules that govern your actions for you already know them. Be quick, and if you must, kill anything that gets in your way. Bring him back, Harold James Potter, and you shall be well rewarded." The god murmured in promise as he raised a long fingered hand. He set his cool palm on the raven-haired demon's forehead and pushed with his magic, sending him spiraling through space and toward his destination.
Harry let out an oomph as he slammed into the hard ground, the soft blanket of snow he landed in swallowing him. Groaning at the pain radiating through his back, he sat up carefully and rolled his shoulders. The absence of his wings was noticed immediately, their comforting weight gone from his back. Bemoaning his loss, he lifted his eyes and peered up at the moon.
As the cold winter air began to drop the temperature of his body, he glanced down at his golden skin and rumbled angrily. Just like Hades, to drop him somewhere in the middle of winter without proper clothing. At that thought, his gaze shot to his wrist, searching for the silver bracelet that contained his tools. A relived huff escaped him as he adjusted the metal, fingers trailing over the charms and vials hanging off the band.
The first appeared to be a black dog, its body sleek with a long whip like tail. Eyes of ruby shone ethereally, glowing as no gem should glow. Hanging beside the canine figure was a vial containing a blue liquid. Within the miniature bottle, the liquid swirled and sloshed of its own accord. A second vial swung next to the first, the potion inside a vibrant green. Shining in deadly warning, a tiny sword of iron swung back and forth, the tip of its blade tainted red. A little key crafted of gold rubbed against the sword, a piece of black obsidian set along the narrow teeth. The last charm was of a raven, its dark wings spread as if in flight. Harry could draw upon any of the charms at will, utilizing the creatures and potions to aid him in his hunt.
Swinging his head around, he searched the darkness before rising cautiously. In the distance a castle glowed, its many windows brightened by candlelight. He curled a lip at the light that radiated from the building, his shoulders hunching in fear and distaste. It seemed this was where the last Retriever had ended its hunt, a touch of its dark aura lingering in the air. Sighing, he stared at the twinkling castle and decided he had no other choice but to proceed.
Bending at the waist, he trailed his fingers through the snow and focused his power. When he lifted his hand, a long white cloak crafted of snow revealed itself, dangling from the tips of his sharp fingernails. He slipped the garment on quickly before settling the deep cowl over his head. Snorting loudly to clear his nose, he broke into a quick lope. His long strides ate up the ground, demon stamina and speed making the miles between himself and castle melt away.
The dragon sentinels roared threateningly as he passed by them, leaping gracefully over the locked gate without slowing. His pace slowed as he strode toward the sprawling castle. His ears seeking out the faintest of noises, his nostrils flaring as he took in the lingering scents surrounding the stone structure. Flowing down the path toward the door, he neither hesitated nor paused, completely sure of his abilities and power.
Harry stood before a large pair of doors, shifting restlessly as he inhaled deeply. Smells bombarded his delicate nose, forcing him to breath through his mouth in search of relief. Magic tasting sweetly of candy wafted on the air currents, the castle itself reeking of chocolate and vanilla. Snorting softly, he glanced at the green vial and shook his head. The liquid within had paled considerably, changing to a soft spring green.
"What led you here, brother?" He whispered quietly into the night. Shaking his head at the foolishness of the question, he lifted a hand and knocked upon the door. Through the thick wood he heard the reverberating thump echo down the empty corridor beyond the portal. Turning away from the door, he peered out into the darkness, sniffing in an attempt to discern exactly which Retriever had been here before him. The muffled shuffle of footsteps had him spinning around and tucking his hands under the folds of the icy cloak, hiding the tattoo and wristband as the door was tugged open.
Peering out at him, an older man frowned before dragging the heavy doors open further and gesturing Harry inside. "Lost, are you?" The man snapped, leaning his shoulder into the doors so they would close.
"Not exactly." Harry replied, tipping his head and breathing deeply. Faint traces of magic clung to the man but were considerably faded. This man may once have wielded power but it was no longer with him. "I'd like to speak with the individual in charge." He stated calmly, drawing his aura closer to his body. Magic danced around him, confusing senses that were already being overworked. Somewhere within the castle people spoke, their words reaching Harry's ears as if he were standing beside them.
Muttering under his breath, the man hobbled away from Harry. "This way." He barked over his shoulder, indicating the raven-haired boy follow him.
Silently Harry trailed after the man, narrowing his eyes against the bright lights. The murmuring of voices grew louder, as did the gentle pressure of magic. So much power within one area was startling, tensing his muscles as they drew closer to the mortals who lived here. Flexing his fingers, he curled his lip and skirted a particularly large patch of light. Around his shoulders the snowy cloak shifted, the cool cloth brushing against his naked body. Internally cursing Hades, he stepped into the doorway the man had turned into and froze.
"Damn," he snarled as hundreds of eyes lifted to peer at him in interest. Young mortals sat upon wooden benches, all of them wearing robes that were almost identical in colour. Raising his gaze, he looked to where the limping man had gone and headed forward, ignoring the whispers that rose up in his wake.
He halted before the raised dais the limping man had loped gracelessly around, ears picking up the hissed whispers passing between the men. Smoothing his fingers over the blue vial in an attempt to soothe himself, he felt magic swell around him, reaching out and brushing against his aura. His powers flared in response, swiftly rebutting the seeking magic. Tipping his head, Harry considered the magic user sitting before him, pondering the chance that all of the castle's power belonged to this man. Sniffing delicately, he scrunched his nose up and pushed the thought away. The magic dancing around the room was young, untested and unharnessed.
"Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, young man. I am Headmaster Albus Dumbledore and you are . . ." The old wizard asked, reaching up and straightening his glasses as he leaned forward.
Retriever. Demon. Death. Destruction. Harbinger. A demon never gave their true name to anyone. To have a demon's name was to have the ability to summon it at will and command it to do your business. Tipping his head, he glanced over his shoulder at the crowd of witches and wizards and groaned. "You may call me 'Harry'." He answered finally, clamping his jaw down as the whispers from behind him grew louder. Simple, straightforward, and not enough to call him from Hell with.
A shifting further down the dais drew his gaze, bringing his eyes to a man with shoulder length black hair. Opening his mouth slightly, Harry inhaled subtly, sorting through the various scents and tastes. The sugary taste of magic filled his lungs, soured only by the light wisps of dark magic wafting through the room. Widening his emerald eyes, he stared at the tall dark-haired wizard and stretched out his aura.
"Excellent, what can we do for you, Harry?" Dumbledore asked, puzzled by the look of intense concentration the younger wizard wore. For it was obvious he was a wizard, the air around him fairly crackled with magic and power.
Distracted, Harry extended his magic further, brushing it lightly against the dark-haired wizard's aura. "I seek," he said slowly, staring at the dark purple magic marred with streaks of black hovering around the older man. "Knowledge."
"Then you've come to the right place." Albus Dumbledore chortled, clasping his hands before him. His beard trailed over the table, the length of gray hair dripping with gravy from the plate sitting before him.
"Albus, his name isn't on the list." The woman sitting next to the headmaster whispered, unnerved by the blazing emeralds that focused on her suddenly.
"Now, Minerva, there's always room for one more." Albus replied, his bright blue eyes locked on the raven-haired wizard. Standing slowly, he pushed his chair back and walked around and the table. "Come with me, my boy, and we'll get you sorted out."
Harry inhaled once more before turning and following the path the old wizard had taken. The greasy haired man was not the one he sought, however dark magic clung to his aura. The type of dark magic that came from being in the presence of one rogue demon. Pulling his aura back around his body, he ran his fingers over the silver band he wore and stepped into the shadowed stairwell Albus Dumbledore had vanished up. The hunt was on.
A/N: Well, it's not my usual cup of tea but I suppose I'll see where it leads me. Thanks for reading.