So, long time no sexual harassment, eh? This was posted on Patronus Charm a while ago, so I thought it's about time I posted it on , even if my beloved beta Tinn decided to not beta, because apparently her life is more important than my fiction. The nerve of some people. Hmph.
As Harry began to wake up he became aware of a soft rustling sound in the room. He blearily opened up his eyes and blinked a few times. He could barely make out anything in the room; outside the window the sky was still dark and overcast.
He heard the rustling sound again; warily he turned his head and glanced towards the source. He caught the silhouette of something. It took him a few moments to recognize the shape. Harry suddenly felt alert as a rush of adrenaline went through his body. He slowly reached for his wand which was lying upon the dresser beside his bed only to freeze as the figure stopped moving. He dropped his head back down onto his pillow and ever so slowly continued to reach towards his wand.
He suddenly felt like cursing the overly large bed that he had previously been ecstatic to call 'his own'. It would have been so much easier if it was the small single bed that the Dursleys had given him. Instead he found himself overstretching to reach his wand without alerting the intruder in his room.
Whatever attempts he would have made to reach his wand suddenly fell through as the bed shifted. Harry tried to keep himself from tensing and his breath steady even as the he could feel the persons breath flow over his face. Harry braced himself and without a single sign lunged towards his wand.
A soft hand wrapped around his arm and pinned it against the bed, and a second found its way to his opposite shoulder. Instantly a struggle began and Harry soon found that the person a top of him was much stronger then he would have guessed; he struggled to no avail, until suddenly the person's arms gave way. With a vicious jerk Harry rolled his assailant over and straddled them, bringing his fist up.
A pair of arms wrapped around his neck and pulled him down without warning. A pair of lips mashed against his and latched on without a second thought. Harry's fist was forgotten as he recognized the pair of lips assaulting him. Despite himself Harry found himself kissing back, and after a few moments managed pull away.
"Lara what the hell?!" Harry demanded as he pressed his hands against the woman's shoulders and held her at arm's length.
"What?" Harry heard Lara's nonchalant voice. "Why'd you stop?" she asked airily, slowly sliding her hands down off from behind Harry's neck and onto his shoulders. Harry glared down at the shadowed figure beneath him and reached over to the dresser.
As soon as he brought the wand into his grip a gentle light flared to life at the tip bathing the immediate area in a soft white glow. Below Harry Lara's disappointed look became prominent, along with the tussled mess that her hair had become during the impromptu wrestling match. Lara raised an eyebrow in challenge and shifted her hips beneath Harry, drawing Harry's attention to the less than modest position he had her in. An amused smile broke out on the woman's face as Harry promptly shifted his hips off of hers.
"What the hell were you doing Lara?" Harry managed to ask in a semi-calm tone as he stared down at the expression of mock innocence upon the Raith's face.
Lara gave a light shrug of her shoulders and glanced away from Harry's eyes. "I was just making sure you got the set of books I wanted you to," she answered casually before glancing back to Harry and smiling in a pleased way. "Though, this is much better then what I had in mind," she added on.
Harry gave an aggravated sigh and leaned backwards off of Lara and sat down as Lara withdrew her legs from under him. Lara crossed her legs and sat up properly. "I see that you did do as I requested," she ackowledged calmly.
The black haired wizard gave a light nod before reaching up and rubbing his eyes. "What time is it?" he asked as he lowered his wand to his side.
"Quarter to five," Lara offered as she folded her hands in her lap.
Harry took a moment to nod. "And it couldn't wait for a few hours?" he asked, and after a moment yawned. He absently noted that Lara was wearing the same outfit she had a week prior when she and Inari had taken him on a 'quick' tour of the grounds.
"Though," she began to say coolly, "I can't seem to find something, I was looking through your bags and all I could find were books." She titled her head to the side, smiling in a bemused fashion. "Are one of them mine?"
Harry stared at Lara in disbelief.. "You ransacked my room at this ungodly hour… to find your present?"
Lara gave a serious nod. "And I can't find it" she stated calmly before frowning. "It causes me to wonder if you did as I requested and brought me a gift from your shopping trip." Lara's eyes took on a cool, almost metallic glint.
Harry grinned. "And if I forgot to?"
Lara's frown deepened, before it slowly curved up into a coy smile. She idly reached forwards and touched upon Harry's cheek, before idly trailing it down across his neck and resting it upon his throat. "I will be… disappointed." She admitted.
Harry felt a shudder run through him as a familiar magically induced feeling struck him. It was little more than a trickle in his chest but it brought a brief flush of cold as a vivid memory came to the front of his mind.
"And I will be forced to amend some of my promises to account for this... breach of trust between you and I." Lara smiled pleasantly as she spoke and dropped her finger from Harry's throat.
"It's in your room," Harry managed to say in a small voice as the feelings which had been elicited suddenly faded away. Harry had found himself subconsciously leaning forwards, and without a care for decorum jerked himself backwards away from Lara.
"It's in your god damn room," he repeated a little louder as he stared at Lara warily. He had managed to almost completely forget what both she and Inari actually were over the time he had spent with them, and what dangers they posed. A shudder ran through him even as Lara gifted him with a happy smile.
"Was that so hard?" Lara teased lightly as she slowly slid her legs off of Harry's bed, she paused for a moment and turned back to Harry. "Though I did not notice anything in my bedroom when I checked it, would you tell me where you hid it?" she inquired lightly.
"I hid it under a charm," Harry explained stubbornly keeping his eyes away from Lara. "It's on the balcony, you should be able to see it now you know where it is."
"Really?" Lara asked with a small air of interest as she stood up and idly smoothed out the negligee she wore. "Would you escort me to my room Harry, and perhaps explain this.. spell would it be? To me and tell me what took you so long to return?" Lara's tone left little room for arguing as she walked towards the door and glanced backwards over her shoulder at Harry.
"If you'd like," Harry stated calmly, despite his bodies protests he stood up from his bed and slowly walked around to the door side. His wand felt warm in his hand, he absently extinguished the light at the tip as Lara opened the door and flooded the room with the dull light of the low yielding lights littering the corridors.
The two mismatched pair walked silently through the hallways, Harry slightly behind Lara. The silence was only broken by the fall of their feet touching the ground. Harry found himself on edge. So much so that his wand was still clutched in his hand, the wooden grain of the magical item served to relax him slightly with its reassurance of protection.
"What's wrong Harry?" Lara asked softly as she slowed down and touched lightly upon Harry's shoulder.
"Nothing," Harry denied calmly
Lara smiled reassuringly before she dropped her hand from Harry's shoulder and snaked it around his arm. "I wasn't serious about before," she offered soothingly she rested her head upon Harry's shoulder.
Harry resisted the urge to yank his arm free and put distance between them. He felt Lara's lips switch lightly.
"What happened between you and Inari in the library last night?" Lara asked curiously. "One moment you were cleaning up the horrid mess she had the servants make, and then you were sitting in front of each other…" Lara trailed off in amusement.
"I was just testing something." Harry mumbled derisively, briefly wondering how Lara knew.
Lara suddenly stopped walking, forcing Harry to stop as well. She turned to him and looked him directly in the eye, her normally cool gaze tinted with a serious glint. "When you say testing, you don't mean your... magic, do you?" she asked calmly, though the grip she had on his arm had tightened slightly.
Harry shrugged his shoulders.
"Not anything she would notice."
Lara continued to stare him directly in the eye. It was slowly beginning to unnerve him. Finally after what seemed like minutes her gaze softened and she smiled again. "Alright." She said softly before beginning to walk again.
"What about what Thomas sent you to do?" She asked with disinterest. "Is that what caused you to come home so late?"
"He asked me to deliver a letter for him, and I ended up helping him clean up some fungus that was bothering a friend." Harry offered the half-truth coolly. He turned his head and glanced across at Lara's face. "Are you having someone spy on me or something?"
"I am," Lara agreed with an amused twinkle in her eye. "I can't have my pet project getting in trouble can I?" she teased.
Though Harry felt offended at being called a 'pet project', he couldn't help but smile back.
"Before, you mentioned something," Lara began to ask with interest, "About a charm that you hid my present with?"
"A Notice-me-not," Harry explained as they stepped out of the corridor and into the open area of the stairwells.
"It stops people from taking notice of what it's cast on?" Lara mused out loud, before glancing at Harry for confirmation, which she received moments later. "That sounds like it could be very useful."
"It is," Harry agreed absently.
For the rest of the way they didn't talk much, though, Lara of her own volition explained what she had been doing for the day. Though Harry didn't feel like listening to the details for her upcoming film he kept himself silent, before a brief memory was recalled from the previous morning.
"Inari said you were getting her a job there?"
Lara for a split second actually looked surprised.
"As a stage hand yes." She tilted her head to the side, "She told you about that?"
Harry nodded with a slight grin.
"Imagine that," Lara murmured to herself before gifting Harry with a smile.
She detached herself from Harry as they came within sight of her bedroom door. She walked on ahead and summarily unlocked a door with a key that somehow found its way to her hand, Harry found himself briefly wondering where she had hidden it. He didn't have too much time to ponder the thought as the door opened and a light breath flooded the hallway.
"Do you ever get sick of that?" Harry asked as he followed Lara into the dimly lit room.
His question went unanswered as Lara made a beeline towards her dresser where the mirror laid, a clash with the other items surrounding it.
Lara picked it up and held it up to inspect, she did so silently ever so slightly turning the mirror around and allowing the meager light of the door to catch on the surface. "This is... quite an antique of a mirror," Lara murmured slowly. "A nice design," she added as an afterthought.
Lara glanced back to Harry for the first time since entering the room. "What does it do?" she asked before turning her attention back to the handheld foeglass and tracing her fingertips over the detail of the frame.
"It's called a Foe glass," Harry explained. "It shows you your enemies, the clearer they are the closer they are to you." Harry grinned to himself. "To paraphrase a Professor I had 'I don't need to worry about them until I can see the whites of their eyes."
Lara stared at Harry silently for a few moments, as she had become accustomed to since she had woken him up, before an amused sigh escaped her lips and she carefully placed the Foe Glass back down on her dresser. "You really have the strangest idea of what to get a girl for a present," Lara remarked as she turned fully towards Harry and placed her hands on her hips.
"The thought was nice, I suppose, it might even be handy." Lara walked forwards to Harry as she spoke. "But what good, is a Mirror if I can't see myself in it?" She asked with a taunt in her voice.
Harry shrugged his shoulders. "I saw it and thought of you?" He offered lamely.
Lara continued to smile bemusedly. "Yes, that is all good and well, but you didn't answer my question."
Lara reached up and prodded Harry on the chest lightly. "Curious thing, I saw quite a few people on the mirrors surface, curiously enough I could not find you on it." Lara's lips were quirked up in a pleased smile.
"Take it as you want," Harry offered back before he turned away from Lara, just able to hide the amusement he felt from his face before he turned away.
Harry felt a pair of arms ensnare themselves around his waist and soon after the rest of Lara press itself against his back. "Thank you for the gift," Lara murmured into the back of his neck.
"You told me to get you one," Harry pointed out mildly.
"Yes, I did, didn't I?" Lara murmured to herself before letting go and stepping back. "Go back to bed, Harry."
"Plan to," Harry answered right back as he walked out of the room.
"You'd better," Lara called back.
No more sound came from Lara's room as Harry walked away besides the soft click of the door closing.
As Harry walked back to his room his thoughts inevitably turned to the rest of his purchases. A part of him was itching to read some of the books he had picked out for himself, some of them promised to be worth reading '1001 Things you can't do with a smile' was particularly interesting.
Inevitably Harry's mind turned to the purple bag in his room and the satchels of lollies that were inside it, and the young Raith that would no doubt demand her share. Harry quickly decided that the best course of action would be to give Inari hers before she pulled a leaf out of Lara's book and decided to raid his room.
The moment Harry reached his bedroom he pushed the door open and flicked on the lightswitch.
Instantly the room was bathed in a bright light and Harry had to blink a few times before his eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness compared to the hallways. Harry picked up the purple bag beside his bed and quickly began to rummage through it searching for a specific satchel. Harry picked out a few choice Muggle lollies and soon enough had a small pile on the bed.
Harry dumped the books he had also purchased the day before out of the brown paper wrapping and a second later tapped his wand against it and watched it quickly fold into a small carton. Harry grabbed a handful of the lollies and dumped them inside of the container, and repeated until it was full and only a few were left on the bed.
Harry popped the breath freshened into his mouth and chewed a few times. A small cough escaped him as the small blue ball suddenly melted and slipped down his throat. A few seconds later the sensation vanished and the strong taste of blueberries rose up from the back of his throat.
Harry stared down the small package of sweets he had made warily. If the rest of the 'Muggle Style' were anywhere near as 'normal' as the refresher it might be a problem. Harry hesitated for a second before shrugging the caution away.
Harry flipped the top of the carton closed, put the pile of books back into a bag and shifted the slipped his wand into his pocket and walked out of his room, flipping the light switch and closing the door behind him. It couldn't have been more than an hour since Lara interrupted his sleep. He could drop the package in Inari's room and be gone before she got up, Harry reasoned. It took Harry a few moments to recall the direction of Inari's room, half due to sleep and half due to the limited amount of times he had been there.
Harry took to wandering in the general direction of the way he knew it to be. As always Harry's eyes inevitably turned to the paintings and sculptures that litters the hallways. Harry wasn't entirely sure but he could have sworn he recognized some of the paintings, and it wasn't in a directional sense. He was fairly sure that some he had seen in the magazines that had been stacked on the Dursleys coffee table for when polite company was over.
Harry hesitated a moment, his eyes lingering on a particularly well done painting of a half naked woman before continuing on. After a few dozen wrong doors Harry finally found the one he was looking for. Harry rapped his knuckle against the doorframe a few times and waited. Harry didn't wait long, he didn't expect Inari to be awake, or for the noise to wake her. Harry placed the brown box on the ground in front of the door and turned away. After a few steps Harry stopped and looked back to the package. A frown appeared on his face for a moment before he stepped back and put it in a better position.
Nodding to himself Harry turned away and began to walk back the way he had come, carefully taking note of the paintings along the way back.
After a while of meandering through the hallways Harry found himself whistling a tune, which most likely was out of tune, but with no one to point it out he continued whistling, his eyes flicking past painting by painting.
Certain hallways were constantly lit by the warm glow of ever lit lights. Alternatively some corridors and rooms were lit by natural light, or the artificial ones depending on what time it was. It was getting to the point where the sun was beginning to rise into morning glory and the lights inside the house, on those rooms, corridors and staircases were beginning to slowly fade to darkness, allowing the natural sunlight to slowly filter in and light the room by itself.
Harry found himself traversing one such hallway when on the right side a door clicked and swung inwards and open. It took Harry a moment to acknowledge where he was before a familiar grey eyed and black haired six foot figured stuck his head out from inside the room. His shirt was undone and his feet lacked shoes. Thankfully he retained his pants.
It took them a second or so to make eye contact with harry, and not a moment later a bright hundred watt smile flooded the room with reflections of white.
"Harry!" Thomas greeted with a relieved. "Just the man I wanted to see. Would you mind keeping Justine Company while I go get her something for her fever?"
Harry stared at Thomas for a moment, stunned. Before answering, "Yeah, I guess." He said awkwardly as he stopped in front of Thomas' door.
Thomas peeked his head back in for a moment before stepping out fully past Harry and nudging him towards the entrance. "Don't mind her if she spouts something weird," Thomas said under his breath to Harry before nodding to him and leaving the way Harry had come.
Harry glanced after Thomas before turning back to the door and after a moment of hesitation stepped inside.
A dim glow lit Thomas' room. The normally white paint had been shaded a dull orange hue. Clothes laid strewn across the floor, the bed and the furniture that lined the walls. A black sock laid here, a white one there and a white dress draped over a chair. If Harry was not mistaken, there was a red thong by the side of the bed. He hoped was Justine's.
The bed itself was amiss under a mass of doonas and sheets, most of which were forming a sort of cocoon around the centre of the bed.
"Morning Harry," a quiet, soft, gentle and weak voice whispered from under the pile of covers on the bed. Justine's head was just above the line of the covers. Her eyes were red and puffy, and her hair mussed from sleep.
"Hey," Harry greeted quietly as he stepped up to the side of the bed, and after a moment of looking around for a seat, he decided to remain standing.
Justine went to giggle, but was cut off by a wince. She smiled up at Harry and shifted an arm out from under the covers to pat the side of the bed. "Sit down, I won't bite." She promised.
Harry smiled amused, before sitting down at the edge of the bed.
Justine frowned and reached over to Harry, grasping him by the arm and pulling him closer to her.
Harry let out a small laugh and allowed the woman to do so. His laughter trailed off as his eyes caught a glimpse of the soft curve of Justine's breast. He averted his eyes quickly with a look of embarrassment upon his face and uttered an apology.
Justine laughed again, giving Harry unabashed look. She nudged him. "Grow up," she chided before, with a devilish look, she rolled over and hooked an arm around his waist, pulling him closer. Attempting to at the very least, Harry remained steadfast in his position despite the insistence on her part.
"Please?" she pleaded softly.
Harry felt his resolve crumbling even as she continued to tug on his waist. He moved closer to Justine and allowed her to wrap her arms around his waist. Her head nuzzled against his hip for a moment before resting. A sigh of content escaped her lips.
"It's so cold without Thomas." Justine said after a few minutes of awkward silence. "You're a good substitute," she informed Harry through a murmur.
"Thanks," Harry said awkwardly after a moment.
"Put your arm around me."
"Wrap your arm around me and keep me warm." Justine said quietly.
Harry shifted an arm and hugged it around Justine.
A whisper of 'thank you' met his ears, and Harry could not help but smile ever so lightly. "No worries," he said. "It's a sick person's obligation to be selfish."
Justine shook against Harry as a light laugh rocked her body. Her grip on harry tightened ever so slightly, and as her body stopped shaking it loosened. "What time is it?" she asked, turned her head to look up at Harry.
"Around five," Harry answered after a few seconds.
"You should still be asleep." She said in an accusing tone.
"Lara woke me up."
"Oh," Justine trailed off into silence. "You can sleep here," she offered before hesitating and continuing. "Until Thomas gets back, then you have to go."
Harry almost snorted; he managed to nod instead.
The rise and fall of the sheets began to slow down, and Justine's grip on him slowly loosened. Eventually he heard the soft whine of breathing through a blocked nose. A glance down at Justine saw a peaceful expression marred only by occasional flashes of discomfort.
Once Harry was sure that Justine was asleep, he began to disentangle himself from her arms. Just as Harry was about to slide off of the bed Justine's arms wrapped around him again and pulled him closer with strength he hadn't seen her demonstrate while she had been awake.
The act caused Harry to over balance and he only just managed to stop from falling on top of Justine. His hand had fallen perilously close to her when he had reached out to steady himself. A grimace found it's way onto Harry's face and he slowly began to repeat the process. This time, instead of simply allowing her arms to trailed off him as he slipped off of the large bed he tucked them into the mass of sheets. His eyes caught a flash of pale smooth skin as he did so, he pointedly managed to avoid prolonged stares as he continued in his effort to slip off of the bed.
"She's pretty to look at, isn't she?" a deep, familiar voice said from the doorway.
Harry startled and snapped his head around to the door, jumping off the bed at the same time.
Thomas' thousand-watt grin met Harry's look of surprise.
"I'm sure she wouldn't mind letting you see more," Thomas offered. At Harry's disturbed look, he waved his hand and laughed it off. "I'm kidding, unless you're interested that is."
"I'm not," Harry informed Thomas stiffly.
Thomas acknowledged the reply with a pleasant smile. "That's one of the reasons I offered." He went on to explain. "I wouldn't have made the offer if I had thought that you'd accept."
"What's the point of offering then?"
Harry didn't say anything as he walked past Thomas.
A firm hand gripped Harry by the shoulder as he went to pass. "Actually, I have something to ask of you, if you don't mind."
"And If I do?" Harry asked coolly as he turned back to Thomas.
"I'd prefer you listen at any rate."
Harry frowned. "Go on."
Thomas smiled briefly. "There is a party tonight that I'm supposed to go to. Justine isn't well, so I was wondering if you'd like to come." At Harry's perplexed look he continued quickly. "Nothing serious, just a party, wine, women, food. My father is a bit busy and has decided at the last minute that I am going in his place."
"And that means what?" Harry asked slowly.
Thomas smiled unabashed. "Red Court, I had a hand in killing the host a few years back."
Harry grimaced. "And there's the catch." He muttered, "Can't you just take a rain check?"
Thomas actually laughed. "If I wanted an even bigger bullseye painted on my back, of course I could."
"Why should I go?" Harry asked quietly.
Thomas regraded Harry for a moment in silence. Harry could see the gears turn in his head. And then, it stopped and Thomas smiled weakly. "I'm not asking you as Thomas Raith, I'm asking you as one person to another."
Harry stared Thomas in the eye for a minute in complete silence. "They're the bat ones right?"
Thomas nodded slowly.
Harry sighed. "Watch out for Saliva and don't make batman jokes, right?"
The Raith scion let out a chuckle of amusement, but quickly fell silent as sounds of discomfort stirred from behind Harry.
Thomas once again smiled genuinely. "Thank you," he said. "I really do appreciate this."
"You can thank me after the place gets burned down," Harry joked.
"They'll probably expect that this time," Thomas replied mildly.
Harry nodded before letting out a yawn and waving Thomas off. "Going back to bed, wake me when you need me."
Thomas' pearly whites flashed in gratitude. "Don't worry, I won't come get you until we have to leave for New York." He pauses for a moment and considered Harry, his eyes briefly raking down his body. "You don't have anything against white suits, do you?" He quickly dismissed the ensuing reply. "Never mind, it'll have to do. I'm sure Lara has had you stripped and measured for a suit by now at any rate."
Harry stared at Thomas.
An apologetic grin met his stare.
Harry shook his head and turned away from the dark haired Incubus. "Good Bye, Thomas."
"I'll see you later, Harry."
Harry's body was on autopilot as he walked back to his room. His feet knew the way back, even if his body was on automatic for the moment.
He ran across a few servants as he walked, men, women, most diligently going about their tasks. Some had a faraway look in their eye, a wistful glint or an absent spark. It was not too difficult to come to understand what had happened to them. Coming to terms with it however, was another matter altogether.
One such man was standing in front of a painting of a woman in a white dress. He was dusting the painting down. From the worn look of the spot he was dusting, he had been at it for a while, which was odd, considering he had not seen the man on the way with Lara. Harry made it a point to give the man a wide berth as he passed him.
Aside from the servants, the trek back to his quarters was largely uneventful. There had been a slight hope present with harry that he would come across Beatrice, but he did not.
The room was exactly as he had left it, the door was slightly ajar, and the inside was bathed in a weak glow from the slithers of light that managed to peak in through the blinds. Harry slipped side, and flicked on the lights. He briefly glanced around before flicking the light-switch back off and walking forwards. His brief glimpse of the illuminated room allowed him to manoeuvre himself to the bed.
Harry collapsed on his bed with little regard for his clothes and rolled over onto his back. He let out a long-winded breath and shut his eyes. As an afterthought, he took his glasses off and set them beside him on the bed. It did not take long for Harry to begin to drift off to sleep.
Neither did it take long for the door to creep open again with a low creaking sound. Harry could not bring himself to open his eyes to see who it was. It definitely was not a servant. They would have knocked.
All of a sudden, Harry's thoughts abruptly halted as the sudden sound of quick movement broke his thought and caused him to open his eyes. An impact against his chest and sides caused Harry to gasp as the air in his lungs escaped him. The attempt had foiled as soon as it began, as a pair of lips clumsily mashed against his and a pair of hands deftly gripped him by the shirt.
Stunned Harry found himself unable to think for a few precious moments, which his assailant used to explore his mouth with a tongue, a tongue that tasted like... strawberries'.
Harry's mind quickly rebooted and he reached up and grasped the person by the shoulders. He hadn't needed to. A moment later without his help his lips found themselves free and the weight on his chest shifted onto his lower body as they sat up.
Harry found himself staring up into the bright and bubbly face of Inari, who met his gaze with a dimpled smile. "Good morning, Harry," Inari greeted happily. Her tongue poked out and ran over her lips quickly, her smile widened.
Harry was not entirely sure what the appropriate response was for the situation. Had it been Lara he would not have had a problem looking. Lara seemed to expect it. Inari was not the same as Lara, not yet, and he hoped she never would be.
But as it was the late teen was sitting on top of him, clad in an almost translucent silk camisole of white silk, and skin type shorts of the same material. Harry purposely averted his eyes from his charges body and focused on her eyes. That seemed to be what she had been waiting for, as soon as they made eye contact she started talking.
"You were the one who got me the lollies right-In the brown box outside my door. I almost missed them but I'm so glad I didn't! I've only tried one but it was so delicious, but you know that already, don't you? It's called a Strawberry Kiss, the wrapper said to eat it, wait a few seconds and then kiss someone, so I came as fast as I could!" She paused for a moment and considered Harry for a moment. "You don't mind, do you? Because I really couldn't kiss anyone else, I mean it'd be wrong to kiss Lara, or Thomas, or Justine, you know? And kissing the servants would just be weird, so that just left you. I don't mean like you're the last person I'd kiss, I like you a lot!" she finished quickly, before leaning down and kissing Harry on the cheek quickly.
"I..." Harry began to say, "What?" He blinked in confusion before shaking his head. "You're welcome, for the sweet's that is."
Inari nodded happily. "I knew it was you. No one else would have gotten me them because they're bad for the teeth." She grinned, showing off her pearly whites.
Harry rolled his tongue around in his mouth. "You and Lara really are sisters," he said after a moment, without thinking.
Inari blinked her long dark lashes and tilted her head to the side. "What do you mean?" she asked with an unsure smile. A look of mortification slowly began to appear on Inari's face. "You mean her and you already-?"
Mortification soon turned to annoyance and indignation. "Why'd you let me kiss you if you and Lara are already-" she cut herself off angrily and glared down at Harry and thumped her fist on his chest.
Harry took the chance to defend himself. "It's not like you really let me have a say in it," Harry protested. He winced as Inari's fist thumped against his ribs again. "Stop that!" Harry's hands darted forwards and caught Inari's arms by the wrist. "You jumped on me the second you got in the room, didn't you?" Harry pointed out calmly, holding Inari's wrists tight as she struggled.
Inari stopped struggling and glowered at Harry. "Don't be so logical, you robot.
"And Lara and I haven't done anything," Harry said slowly. "What I mean was that she jumped me the same way you did an hour ago, looking for her gift." At this Inari's look became sullen. Harry let go off Inari's wrists, to his relief the young woman did not resume playing his ribs like a xylophone.
Inari set her hands on her legs, aside Harry and pouted. "Now I look stupid, why couldn't you have just said that from the start?"
"Because you didn't give me a chance to explain?" Harry asked slowly.
A yelp escaped him as Inari thumped his chest one last time. "Robot."
Inari cracked a smile and shrugged her shoulders, flicking her hair off her face. Mercury eyes stared down at Harry, with a calculating look he had yet to see in them. "If you could have stopped me from kissing you, would you?" she asked innocently, or as innocently as she could with such a look in her eyes.
Harry blinked. "What?"
A coy smile appeared on Inari's lips and she dug her knees into Harry's sides, causing him to give off a short laugh. "Quit it," he protested.
"What kind of question is that?" Harry said defensively.
"It's a question from a young maiden's heart!" Inari answered triumphantly, folding her arms across her chest.
Harry stopped himself from immediately replying and looked into Inari's face. Beyond the bravado, beyond the exaggerated actions, he could see something. Call it insecurity, a weakness of character. It existed in Inari. To constantly be comparing herself to her family and constantly finding herself lacking.
Inari was by no means an ugly girl. She was pretty, far more pretty than any of the girls back at Hogwarts had been. Such was the effort of the Raith family. All the Raith were physically attractive. How could Harry reassure her? That one day, if her father had his way he would be just as unearthly in beauty as her sister Lara, if not more so?
It was insightful beyond what Harry had seen.
"I wouldn't stop you," Harry said quietly and firmly, as he met Inari's gaze. "I enjoyed it, very much."
At Harry's words, Inari coloured and averted her gaze. "Jeez, don't be so serious," she protested and leaned forwards, wrapping her arms around Harry's neck and hugging herself to him.
Harry considered pointing out that the position she had placed herself in, over him, was suggestive, but managed to hold back. He took the easy route out, and brought his arms up and around the slightly smaller girl, hugging her loosely.
Harry watched impassively as the crowd mingled in front of him. Beside him Thomas was idly eyeing a group of red-dressed women congregating by one of the larger buffet tables. A look of disdain was burned into his eyes. Harry took a moment to glance around. More than half of the people attending were wearing red, over a quarter were wearing black, and the rest were wearing a variety of outfits ranging from suits to ball gowns to t shirt and shorts.
Harry stared at the old man wearing the later and held back a grimace at sickly amount of skin hanging off his bones. He forced himself to look away, at much more pleasing sights, like the group of women that Thomas had been eyeing before. He caught the eye of a sunny haired member of the group and received a demure smile and a flutter of eyelashes.
"Good thing you didn't go with the red tie," Thomas murmured under his breath. "The people tagged with red are the red courts thralls; they're basically walking, talking food for the Red Court." He paused for a moment, taking a quick glance around. "The people wearing red are Red Court, pretty obvious. You know the saying 'Even the pretty rose has thorns'? In this case even the most normal looking one of them is still a vampire."
"Whatever you do, don't let them kiss you, don't eat anything or drink anything," a ghost of a memory passed over his face, "The last party I was invited to they put their saliva into the wine under pretense of recreational drugging, almost killed a friend of mine."
Thomas breathed out through his nose and smiled. "If you'll excuse me Harry, I have to mingle." He gestured towards a lone black dressed woman sitting alone at a table off to the side.
Harry watched with mild annoyance as Thomas caught the woman's attention and moments later a smile graced her lips. Harry glanced back to the group of women standing by the buffet table and immediately caught the sunny haired woman's eye again. This time her brow rose slightly and she turned towards him with an open smile. The women around her seemed to pay little mind as one of their number walked off. One of them took a glance towards Harry before dismissing him straight away.
She was dressed in what amounted to a silk sheet draped over her body with a delicate thread of black lace tapering the edges, the material hung from her body in a way that didn't skimp on the skin. On second thoughts it wasn't really a sheet and more like a pillowcase, Harry mused.
"I couldn't help but noticing," the sunny haired woman said with the same smile as she approached Harry, a wine glass filled with a light pink liquid was cradled in her left hand loosely.
"Sorry about that, I'm not really used to this kind of thing," Harry smiled weakly as he made a small gesture towards the rest of the party.
"I know what you mean, I don't particularly like this kind of setting myself," the woman confessed as she stepped closer, "I prefer more personal settings," she reached out and touched Harry on the arm, her smile widening slightly.
"I'm Harry," Harry introduced himself with a strained smile. The woman was a few inches shorter than him and craned her head up to meet his eyes. A peculiar gleam shone in her black eyes. It probably didn't escape his notice that her cleavage was on display, it was probably the reason why she had chosen to move so close.
"Not Dresden of course?" the woman teased absently as she slowly leaned away. She held her left hand out to the left and pushed her drink upon a waiter without a second glance. She gestured to herself with a self gratified smile. "Marion," she introduced herself.
"Nice to meet you, Marion."
"The pleasure is all mine," Marion continued to smile pleasantly before frowning. "I'm afraid that I do not recall a Harry on the guest list, are you one of the extras?"
"You could say that I suppose," Harry said slowly. "I'm more of a plus one." He pointed over to Thomas, who was busily enjoying himself upon the woman he had chosen to mingle with. "He's the guy I'm here with."
A look of pleasant surprise registered on Marion's face . "Are you and he?" she stared up into Harry's face with an alien expression on her face.
"No we-. " He was cut off as Marion reached up and held a single finger to his lips.
"It has always been a fantasy of mine.. to turn a gay man straight," she licked her lips sensuously.
"I can do everything, and anything to you," she whispered as she leaned closer, "Even things you see in porn."
Harry stared into Marion's eyes in surprise only to almost jump away as the whites of her eyes peeled away into a reflective black.
"I'm not gay," Harry shouted a bit louder then necessary, drawing a few looks from the people closest.
She blinked and the whites of her eyes returned with a, what Harry could now identify as a curious stare. "Is that so?"
Harry nodded sharply.
"That is unfortunate," she said more to herself than Harry before smiling again. "It matter not, a small detail, do you not agree?"
"It's a bit early," Harry pointed out calmly as he stared into Marion's eyes. "I'm supposed to mingle a bit more." The words felt foreign on his tongue.
Marion blinked in faux innocence, "Perhaps later on in this evening?
"If neither of us have anything better to do," Harry agreed, leaving out that having the bones in his arms removed and re-grown would be considered a better thing to do.
"I will be off then," Marion lifted her hand up between them with an expectant stare.
Harry stared at it for a few moments before catching on. He reached for Marion's hand and held it up as he leaned down to it. Her hand was cool to touch, he briefly brushed his lips over the top of her hand before stiffening as the soft dainty skin rippled under his lips. Harry managed to stop himself from jerking his head back and slowly straightened up.
Marion had a coy smile upon her lips as she inclined her head and turned back to the group of women who she had been talking with moments before.
Harry turned away, but not before glancing back to Marion one more time warily. She hadn't spared him a second glance; Harry felt a mix of relief and annoyance.
A quick glance across the room found Harry with the knowledge that Thomas had gotten onto even better terms with the woman he had picked out. A nagging feeling rose up in the back of Harrys' mind. He quickly put it aside and looked away.
The more Harry looked around the more he realized that everyone bar a few of the servants were gathered in groups from two to five. A few groups of five had mingled to become a group of ten. Harry was quickly beginning to feel out of place. Another glance to Thomas had him assure himself that out of place was better than being beside Thomas for the moment.
As Harry's eyes continued to wander he began to notice small things. Like the way that the people dressed in black had unfocused eyes and how they kept glancing towards the red-dressed with a beguiling expression.
The centre of attention was a woman.
She, like most of the other attendants was beautiful, inhumanely so along with a certain aristocrat air about her. Her hair was dark, dark enough to make Harry wonder if it were just black but under the light from the chandeliers a faint trace of colour was visible, it was tied back into a bun and a single curl of hair fell down the side of her face, her skin was light, almost pale. From where he was Harry couldn't catch a glimpse of her face.
Like half of the other guests she was adorned with red, her dress began a cut high above indecency and flowed down to a one sided veil that ended at her ankle, the back of it ended at her mid back leaving a healthy amount of skin exposed-the same shade as her arms.
'The host,' Harry assumed as he turned his gaze away.
Eventually Harry's eyes fell upon a man of indeterminate age. He was dressed in a charcoal black suit, easily distinguishable from the rest of the blacksuits. The man's eyes were an odd shade of green, deep and intense. His hair was a pepper and salt mix of black and dark grey. He held a cigarette between his lips, he blew a puff of smoke from the corner of his mouth but no one seemed to mind, the closest people to him were at least two meters away. He had a bored expression on his face.
After a few moments of pensive consideration Harry began to walk towards the man. The closer he got the easier it was for Harry to notice an irrefutable fact.
The cigarette wasn't lit.
Harry's step didn't falter as he continued walking towards the man, though it did as the man turned his head towards Harry and locked gazes with him. To his credit the falter didn't show beyond taking a bit longer on a step.
Harry smiled a brittle smile and raised his hand in a greeting wave.
"Hi, I'm Harry," Harry introduced himself as he stopped in front of the salt and pepper haired man.
The man inclined his head very slightly. "Greetings twig holder," a low rumble of a voice came from his throat. The man stilled himself for a moment before he exhaled a puff of smoke. "That's better," he remarked, his voice sounding a fair bit clearer.
"You're smoking," Harry remarked casually ignoring the alarm that blared in his mind
The man's lips peeled back in disdain, "Quite," he said tritely.
"No, I mean you're smoking." Harry repeated nodding his head at the man's cigarette.
The disdain shifted into a look of vague amusement. "Perceptive," the man acknowledged. "What is one of your kind doing outside your holes?"
"Pardon?" Harry said calmly.
"That is what your kind does it not, hideaway in secreted shadows?" The man's eyes bored into Harry.
"I suppose so," Harry admitted, "I was under the impression that you people were mostly in the dark about us."
"Do not take idle assumptions, do not conceive that I am the same as you mortals," the man's tone hadn't changed at all despite his words.
"Or what," Harry began sarcastically, "You'll complain to everyone else here about them not being as good as you?"
"I will scorch you from existence," the man answered coolly.
"Hail Lord Ferrovax, Sovereign of Blood and Fire." a cool and oddly inviting voice spoke from behind Harry. He held himself from looking back as the man in front of him inclined his head.
"Sidhe," the man, 'Ferrovax' greeted without visible interest.
A woman stepped up beside Harry. She had deep dark green hair, the colour of emeralds. Her face had a sweet angelic sort of girl-next-door look. She wore an elegant shawl of green silk over a fitting dress of the same material. Her perfume was heady, a scent reminiscent of the mist hovering over a still lake. Like the Great lake. A wave of nostalgia hit Harry, though it quickly evaporated as the woman turned to Harry and smiled.
Feline slits adorned her eyes.
Harry stared for a few moments before he caught himself and looked back at the man in front of him. Without meaning to Harry's gaze kept floating back to the woman, a subtle and simple urge to keep looking at her stayed with him. With some difficulty Harry managed to keep himself from making a fool out of himself and stayed silent.
"The Lady of Winter sends her well wishes and greetings," the woman continued to speak.
"You represent the Winter Lady?" Ferrovax asked with just about as much interest.
Harry tuned out the conversation as a recollection hit him.
That was a familiar word.
Lara said May was probably a Sidhe.
Harry took a moment to glance at the woman again.
May hadn't looked anything like her, or smelt anything like her for the matter nor had she had the intoxicating presence about her.
The woman turned back to Harry, she was speaking but Harry couldn't make out the words off her lips, her pale pink lips, that looked so kissable-The woman touched Harry on the arm and a jolt of electricity jumped through him, shocking him out of his stupor.
"Pardon?" Harry said with an apologetic look. His breathing was a bit quicker than it had been moments before.
She smiled. Her teeth were the colour of freshly steamed broccoli. "I inquired to who you were," the woman explained.
"Harry," Harry introduced himself with an embarrassed smile after a few moments.
"A pleasure to meet you Harry," she murmured extending her hand to Harry.
Harry took her hand. It was cool to touch. He hesitated a moment before bringing it to his lips and placing a kiss on the back of her hand. His lips lingered a bit longer than necessary on the cool smooth skin before parting.
"A proper gentlemen in a room full of inelegant beasts," she praised as she dropped her hand to her side. "Jen," she introduced herself.
"That's a nice name, is it short for anything?" Harry asked conversationally.
"What could it be short for?" Jen asked with an amused smile.
"Jenifer, Jenny… Jenna," Harry trailed off lamely.
"Jenny, I like that." She smiled her green-toothed smile.
Jen paused and turned to Ferrovax, "My apologies for ignoring you, Lord Ferrovax," she murmured in a demure fashion.
"Lord?" Harry blurted out, "I didn't know they had those in America." He glanced at Ferrovax with a peculiar look.
"Lord Ferrovax is such a being that commends a title of such respect," Jenny explained with a wistful smile.
"Such a being," Harry echoed, "What are you?" Harry directed his question at Ferrovax, swallowing his hesitation and the inkling of worry that had began to creep up his spine.
Jenny remained silent.
Ferrovax stared impassively into Harry's face, his eyes flickering out of time with the solid light in the room. Something began pushing at the back of Harry's eyes. He began to lose focus, and just as he was about to look away the world around him warped. It only occurred for a split second, and he couldn't have been sure it had actually happened. A single great eye. Huge, staring at him. The size of his entire body. An eye socket, scaled skin, heat, burning.
Harry grimaced and a hand flung up to his head, clutching his eyes.
"Different enough to see but not enough to bare the sight," Ferrovax spoke softly, his voice carrying on idle air. Harry didn't look up. "What did you see?" Ferrovax asked with what Harry assumed amount to wide eyed interest.
"What was that?" Harry demanded to know as he ripped his hand away from his head.
"A fraction of my true nature," Ferrovax explained tactfully.
"What is your true nature?" Harry forced himself to ask.
"You're a dragon," Harry interrupted slowly, his brow furrowed. "But that can't be right, I've seen dragons before you-"
"Degenerate Offspring, the result of bestiality," Ferrovax stated in disdain, "nothing more than the diminutive echoes of majesty so much grander."
"Ego much?" Harry muttered under his breath, he didn't really feel into it.
Ferrovax's cool gaze burned down into Harry with a cold indifference.
"Nice to meet you," Harry said through gritted teeth, "I think I'll go and get a drink if you don't mind."
The man-dragon, whatever the hell he was said nothing as Harry turned away. Out of the corner of his eye Harry saw Jenny staring at him with a blank, alien look on her face. A look that disturbed him, though, it still paled in comparison to that eye.
It took Harry a few moments to find Thomas, he was still in the same spot with the woman.
"Thomas," Harry greeted as he sat down opposite Thomas and the dark haired woman, he reached up and ran his knuckle over his forehead, wiping off a small trickle of sweat.
"Harry," Thomas smiled, "Meet…" he trailed off before smiling charmingly at the woman beside him and touching her on the arm. She shuddered and Harry got a good look at her eyes; they were glazed over in a high. "What was your name?"
"Kathleen," she murmured breathily, leaning into Thomas.
"Meet Kathleen," Thomas finished.
"Nice to meet you," Harry gave a brittle smile. "What would Justine say?" he remarked calmly, "She looks a bit like her, doesn't she?"
"Justine doesn't need to find out," Thomas replied before picking up an untouched drink off of the table and holding it out to Harry, "The food and drink aren't tainted," he gestured to Kathleen with the drink, "She was nice enough to taste test for me."
"Justine probably deserves to know about how her boyfriend decided to fuck the first thing that came along," Harry remarked coldly, ignoring the drink.
Thomas regarded Harry through calculating, grey eyes. "She is not my girlfriend," Thomas spoke calmly, keeping his voice steady, "She is food to me that's all."
"For being just food you sure seem to spend a lot of time around her," Harry said sarcastically.
"I like my food fresh," Thomas offered coolly.
Harry's nose crinkled in disgust.
"Look at it this way," Thomas went on to say, "You like Justine right?"
Harry nodded slowly, "She's a nice person... if a bit… odd."
"Would you prefer I feed on her?"
"Of course not," Harry said without hesitation.
"Then why not her?" he gestured to the woman next to him who perked up to attention.
Harry stared Thomas in the eye for a few seconds in silence before he shrugged his shoulders. "Whatever, not my business," he said as he after a moment of consideration took the drink from Thomas and sagged back against the seat.
Thomas smiled at the woman at his side and caressed her jaw bone. "You wouldn't happen to have a friend for my friend here would you?" He asked charmingly.
'Kathleen' shook her head and laid her hand on the Raith scion's thigh. "Just me, I'm afraid." She did sound afraid, like she was terrified to disappoint Thomas.
It was at this point that Harry purposely zoned out and ignored the two. As far as he was concerned, he had done his good deed for the day, and then some.
Thomas had not finished speaking, apparently. "In a few minutes, the hostess will call for attention and present the guests with gifts." He grimaced. "Nothing should happen if we're lucky. The Guests will go to the podium, accept a gift, and it'll be over."
As if qued the main lights in the ballroom dimmed and a spotlight cut through the lowly lit atmosphere and illuminated a stage at the back of the room. From where Thomas had chosen to sit, they had a good view. In the middle of the spotlight a woman stood.
Pale skin that looked to be as smooth as butter, high cheekbones and rose hued cheeks. A small nose, a pretty, pink mouth, the features came together to form a devastatingly beautiful package. Though, it wasn't just the look, no Lara had shown him that allure took more than that.
Many of the people around him were attractive; sure, some had looks in spades. However, they wore their looks like a shirt. The woman on the stage, she wore her beauty well. Dark locks of hair were pulled back into a bun and a single curl of hair framed her face to the right, passing just beside her eye.
She wore a black gown that looked to be a few decades out of fashion, that or it had come from France. Still, she wore it exceeding well. A blinding light suddenly struck Harry's eyes. It took all his will power to resist reacting towards it. The alarm quickly died down as he determined that Thomas had been the focus of the spotlight.
At some point the host had started talking, Harry had missed the exact moment when. It was probably before the spotlights had been activated.
"... so please, dear friends join me in welcoming our honoured guests in celebration of our moment of triumph."
She paused for applause.
"The Red Court would now like to take this opportunity to present our guests with gifts at this time," she said. "so that they may know how well we hold their good will in regard. So please, Miss Jen, would you please step forward and honour us by accepting a token of goodwill, on behalf of the Red King."
A spotlight shifted amongst the crowd, the sea of people and vampires parted, and a figure casually walked forwards. If the host having called her name had not been enough, the green hair and shimmering dress would have been more than enough to pick her out.
Harry watched as Jen ascended to the stage and casually threw a glance behind her. Green cat-like eyes met Harry's for a moment, before they turned away.
Jenny smiled at the vampire at the centre of the stage and inclined her head.
Black eyes shimmered and sparkled. "Though we stand at war's end, The Red Court wishes to extend friendship as we had on the eve of the current hostilities." A man in a black suit walked forwards from the back of the stage holding a velvet red cushion. Harry couldn't make out what sat upon it, but whatever it was apparently was enough to cause the Sidhe pause.
"Please accept this gift on behalf of the Winter Lady."
Jenny inclined her head and smiled sweetly. "A most precious gift," she murmured, "One which can be reciprocated with the gift of word." The green-toothed Sidhe moved closer to the host and leaned her head closer to the vampires ear. Neither of the two moved for seconds. Eventually Jenny leaned back and once again showed off her pearly greens.
The Sidhe waved her hand over the cushion that the servant held and whatever was on it disappeared.
A low applause rumbled through the auditorium as Jenny left the stage. Once again her eyes swept the crowds, and once again Feline slits made contact with Harry's gaze. Harry averted his gaze back to the stage, but not before, he caught sight of a pleased look from the Sidhe.
It made him feel uncomfortable, the woman's stare. It had not when he had first met her, and as far as he was aware, know had changed.
"Mister Ferro, honoured guest, and dutiful ally. Would you please approach and received your gift."
A second spotlight amongst the crowd shifted, and along with it Mister Ferro-Ferrovax walked forwards. The berth that the Vampires had given Jenny was one thing, Ferrovax they seemed to avoid like a plague. Whether it was out of an unhealthy amount of respect, or a healthy amount of fear, Harry could not be sure. Considering what he was, it was probably not that surprising that it would be the later.
The deceptively Mortal looking figured met the stage just as two people appeared from the back of the stage. Between them, they held a chest. If asked, Harry would have said it was half the size of the trunk he had used at Hogwarts. Nevertheless, it was still impressive. Mostly due to the gold surface, and precious jewels that were encrusted onto its surface.
The chest sparkled radiantly under the lights of the ballroom. It took Harry a moment to draw his eyes away from the sizable proportions of precious metals and gemstones. Just as he was able to something occurred to draw his gaze back, again. Ferrovax unclasped the top of the chest and lifted it open. Harry felt his lips part in surprise. A veritable mound of silver and gold spilled out into view.
"Impressive," he heard Thomas murmur beside him. Harry could not bring himself to agree. It was decidedly harder, with his mouth refusing to work the way it should have.
Harry's ability to focus on something other than shiny golden coins was returned as 'Mister Ferro' shut the lid of the golden chest. A pleased look had situated itself on the immortal's visage.
"A worthy offering that speaks of conviction."
The Vampiress inclined her head with a pleased expression.
Ferrovax left the stage soon after, the chest had mysteriously vanished the moment his eyes had left it, much in the same manner that Jenny's had. The low rumble of appaulse subsided as the unnamed vampire spoke again. "Brothers among the court, we of court welcome our cousin of the White court, with open arms." A slow derisive smile appeared on the woman's lips as Thomas' name escaped them. It looked like she had sucked on something sour, the way the distaste showed.
Harry saw Thomas move from beside him, he glanced to Thomas as the incubus rose to his feet and caught sight of a charming smile, that was all but fake. "Keep an eye out for me, would you Harry?" Harry heard the words but did not see Thomas's lips move. Besides Thomas Kathleen was lounging against her seat, her dress' cleavage showing and light perspiration beading on her forehead. She had an absent satisfied expression.
Harry stared for a few moments before his eyes flickering towards Thomas as he made his way towards the stage. Unlike the other two guests Thomas wasn't afforded much room to move. It was an obvious insult. Though, according to what Thomas had explained about his father, and him being invited, it made a little sense.
As Thomas approached the stage Harry slipped his hand into his pocket and allowed his fingers to trace the grain of his wand. A shiver ran through his body and Harry stiffened as he felt a lukewarm breath blow against the back of his neck. Harry turned around, his fingers stiffening and preparing to draw.
"I couldn't help but notice how your attention has continued to rest upon my shoulders."
Harry stared into green feline eyes and a shiver based on something completely different ran through his body. "Jenny," Harry greeted after a moment.
The Sidhe smiled beautifully and Harry had the sudden urge to see what else he could do to earn the smile again. A fraction of an instance later Harry caught himself and focused his mind. The effect lessened but it remained portent. Jenny's smile widened slightly, becoming more unnatural. "Impressive," she murmured, her voice soft and pleasant on the ears.
A feeling akin to having been dumped in ice cold water settled over Harry, causing his muscles to stiffen and a sudden awareness to come over him. Harry looked at jenny again and found a less predatory, and more soothing smile upon her lips again. "My apologies for imposing a glamour on you," she said demurely. "It is a rather ingrained habit." She held her hand out to Harry.
Harry stared at the hand suspiciously. He took pointed know that she had held out her right hand, when earlier she had done the same with her left. A chilled smile appeared on Harry's lips. He reached forwards with his left hand and lightly clasped the Sidhe's cool silky smooth hand. He shook it once and let go.
Jenny's smile became still.
"Nice try," Harry offered with a smile, that didn't quite reach his eyes.
"Whatever could you mean?" The innocent tone that Jenny employed sat at odds with her smile.
Harry gritted his teeth together, and his eyes flickered to the stage. Thomas was standing in front of the host with a small box in his hands. He wore a friendly smile upon his face, and if Harry had not known better he would not have guessed it was fake. Thomas was a really good actor, Harry decided.
A hand touched upon Harry's shoulder, drawing his attention back to the Green-haired girl beside him.
"Again, I apologize for being unseemly towards you, Mr Harry." Jenny's tone of voice seemed to radiate concern. Her smile once again seemed genuine, if not wistful. "I noticed that your hand was clasped around something in your pocket and my curiosity got the better of me." Her smile became inviting, familiar. "I do hope I haven't put you off."
Jenny reached for Harry's free hand and held it reverently between her fingers. She brought it up to her lips. Cool moist lips pressed against the skin on the back of Harry's hand. They remained there for a few moments before parting. A cool breath of air blew forth from Jenny's lips and touched upon the skin where she had laid the kiss. A soft hint of frost appeared upon the skin, leaving behind a gentle marking.
Harry stared at the back of his hand dubiously before tensing as Jenny began to gently caress his hand with her finger tips, slowly, almost feather-like in touch; She smiled sweetly causing Harry's blood to change direction. "It would pleased me greatly to leave you with a better first impression." She leaned forwards ever so slightly showing off just a hint more of cleavage.
Dry course lips parted subconsciously and Harry had to take a moment again to focus his thoughts. His eyes kept flickering down past Jenny's neckline involuntarily.
Harry shifted in his seat, his pants suddenly uncomfortable.
Across from him Jenny continued to smile, her eyes sparkling in anticipation.
Harry licked his lips and met the green feline eyes across from him. He smiled.
"If you'd like to make it up to me, you could start by telling me about the Sidhe."
Jenny's smile didn't falter. She shifted her hips in her seat. "I can think of much better ways to... acquaint ourselves, can't you?" she purred out, her voice thick with lust.
Harry closed his eyes and withdrew his hand from Jenny's. His hand came free easily, and Jenny placed her hands upon her lap and straightened up, causing the cleavage she had been presenting to disappear.
Her smile lost it's beauty and became more alien. "If that is what you wish then I, of course, will oblige thee."
Harry was certain that the room also had gotten colder.
On the bright side, his pants were becoming more comfortable.
"What do you wish to know of the Sidhe?"
Harry considered Jenny in silence before a question slowly began to form. "What do I need to know about the Sidhe?"
Jenny's lips became pursed.
"There are two main court's of the Sidhe. Summer, and Winter." Jenny began her explanation smoothly. "I am of Winter." She smiled prettily again. "Some would consider Winter to be harsh and cruel, but in Winter there are many lessons to learn, it is what I believe."
A look of unpleasantness marred Jenny's good looks for a moment.
"The Summer Sidhe are... deplorable creatures. They hide their true natures behind warm smiles and fake empathy." She sneered. "Mortal's would consider them to be the friendlier, but they are all the more insidious for their ways." She paused, and considered Harry.
"There are also the Wyldfae, undisciplined rejects that are incapable of civilized manners." Contempt became apparent in the pretty fae's voice.
"The court's are lead by two Queens; The Queen of Winter, and the Queen of Summer."
"What are their names?" Harry inquired.
Jenny shook her head. "Do not call or invoke their names, Harry, to do so is to call their gaze upon you, such a thing can only end unwell for any being." She bit her bottom lip and a look of debate passed over her. "Under the Queen's there are the two Lady's."
Jenny gestured to herself. "I serve the Winter Lady, Maeve."
"What is she like?"
Jenny smiled apologetically. "I cannot answer that question, for I hold an obligation to the Winter Lady."
"You can't, or you won't?" Harry inquired.
Jenny insisted. "I can't."
"What about the.. Lady of Summer?"
"The Summer Lady," Jenny corrected politely, before crinkling her nose. "The Summer Lady, is a changeling named Lily, who took on the mantle two cycles ago."
Jenny's smile widened ever so slightly. "A changeling is the result of coupling between a Sidhe and a Mortal." Her eyes glittered. "Once they reach maturity they must choose between remaining mortal, or taking upon themselves the mantle of their forbearer."
She pursued her lips. "But we are getting off course, You asked what knowledge of the Sidhe that you needed to know, did you not?" She smiled coyly. "Any extra will cost you," she purred sensuously.
A feeling of suspicious overcame Harry.
"What do you mean?"
Jenny smile dimmed ever so slightly.
"A custom of the Sidhe is equal trade, an eye for an eye, some would say? Along with that is the concept of Bargains, something desired traded for something of value, yes?" A small pink tongue moistened pert red lips. "We Sidhe afford Bargains to mortals, for equal exchange." Her lips parted for a moment. "An example would be, if you wished for a night of passion." She trailed her hands down her front before settling them on her lap. "I would, perhaps request your Issue?"
Harry's brow furrowed in confusion. "My issue?"
She laughed and smiled sweetly. "Your child."
Harry stared at Jenny, his face blank. "My child," he echoed incredulously. "Are you insane?"
Jenny's smile devolved into a blank expression. "It is fair trade, is it not? That is what laying with another being if for, is it not? It is but a simple conclusion to the price asked." She smiled again, causing a shiver to travel down Harry's spine. "But of course, you are not to ask for such a thing, are you, Harry?" His name fell from her lips in a heated whisper.
Harry glanced back up to the stage, where Thomas was finally parting ways with Duchess. "And for information?" Harry asked coolly as his gaze swapped back to Jenny.
"My price, for the information which I offer you should have already been paid." Jenny's lips quirked. "You have forgiven my earlier actions, haven't you?"
A chill swept through Harry's body.
"I have," Harry answered slowly, unsurely. The chill withered way leaving no traces that, it had even occurred.
A satisfied look formed on Jenny's face.
"I you wish to know anything else," she trailed off and smiled at Harry. "Call my name as I tell it to you." She leaned in close and a hauntingly lyrical sound flowed into Harry's ears. "It is a name I will know if it is uttered from your lips," Jenny informed Harry. "Speak it and I will know of you and will come to you if it is within my power, but do not call upon this Sidhe without payment," she warned, before her lips quirked. "I would be devastated if something were to happen to you, Harry."
With not a word more, Jenny turned away and left Harry at the table. Harry stared after her, as the crowd parted and flowed around the green-haired Sidhe.
A soft, almost whisper quiet round of applause heralded the end of Thomas's time on the stage.
A murmured of discontent rose from Harry's left pulling his attention. The Justine look-alike stirred from her delirious state. "Where is the guy?" she murmured hazily. "Where is-"
"Thomas will be back in a moment," Harry interrupted.
The woman gave Harry a blank look before smiling gratefully and resting her head back against the seat.
A few moments later Thomas dropped down across from Harry, with a charming smile still affixed to his face. "I'm glad that's over," Thomas informed Harry, as he reached across the table and collected a goblet of amber liquid. "Now we just have to wait for the first people to start to leave and then we can get the hell out of dodge."
Aside from the spotlight shining down on the centre stage, there were no other lights. Never the less the she-vampire continued to smile and after a pertinent moment of silence she spoke, her gaze cast out among the crowd.
"And finally, we have a new friend, one who has recently proven themself worthy of holding court with our White Court Brothers. The Ally of my Ally is my friend. Please come up and allow me to present you with a gift, Thomas Raith's Plus One."
"What the hell, Thomas," Harry whispered angrily under his breath as he stared up at the stage, making eye contact with the hostess.
Beside him Thomas shrugged his shoulders. "No Idea, but if you don't go up there they'll get offended."
Harry glared sideways at Thomas.
As Harry stood up the crowd between the table he sat at, and the stage parted leaving a clear path towards the stage, at the end of which pearlescent dark eyes stared at Harry, with a warm inviting smile sitting just underneath. As Harry rose eyes all around him followed in wonder.
Harry stepped forwards and kept his gaze focused on the stage. As he walked forwards he caught, out of the corner of his eye a flash of green hair. He pointed resisted the urge to look and kept his eyes straight with a static smile set upon his face.
The sound of his footsteps echoed in the dim and quiet ballroom. It was eerie. Harry steeled his nerves as he stopped in front of the smiling vampire, returning the gesture with a smile all of his own.
"I do apologize for not greeting you earlier, Mr Plus One." The host apologized smoothly with an apologetic look. "I was unaware that Mr Raith would not be accompanied by his kine."
Harry smiled as well as he could. "It's quite alright," he replied smoothly. "I only got the invitation a few hours ago."
The black haired vampire tilted her head to the side. "Truly? How.. uncouth, of Mr Raith to not do so earlier." She gestured to behind her with a sharp motion of her hand. "But it is fortuitous that you are here." She paused . "I do hope you are not offended by the lack of value this gift holds, I am aware I have only had a few moments to prepare."
A single servant approached from the back of the stage. In their hands they held a nondescript leather bound box, a hairs breadth longer than their forearm, three-quarters as wide, and half as deep. The Red Court Vampire accepted the gift and held it towards Harry.
She smiled a saccharine smile.
"Mr Plus One, Please accept this meagre gift as a token of respect and friendship from The Red Court." Her teeth glistened in the spotlight. "Know that should you ever reconsider your position with our Brother's and Sister's of the White, we shall welcome you with open arms."
She smiled in askance. "For anyone who can so easily cast down the White Council's dogs are readily welcome in the Court."
Harry managed to refrain from giving anything away with his body language. At least, he had tried not to. The vampire's questioning smile became pleased and Harry had the strongest feeling that he had given away something.
The lid of the chest opened without sound.
At first, Harry wasn't sure at what he was looking at.
On a bed of fine white material laid a monstrous gun of immaculate mirror-finish metal. Fine engravings of cloth less women danced upon the surface in a tangle of limbs and hair. The closer they moved towards the barrel the larger they became. The final engraving at the end of the barrel was a woman's face, eyes closed, lips parted ever so slightly, kidding the end.
Harry stared at it stupefied, his lips parted.
The host took this as a sign to explain.
"My gift, to you is this Desert Eagle, a weapon originally crafted by Bernard C. White." Pale pink lips quirked. "This gun was one of the original prototypes," she said slowly, enunciating her words. "It has been plated with white gold, and the bullets are made of the same alloy." A sparkle of amusement perpetuated itself in her eyes. "They are, unfortunately, just for show." A sparkling laugh rose from the woman's lips.
"It is..." Harry began to say, words momentarily eluding him. "A wonderful gift," he finished, smiling at the vampire in front of him. "Thank you, for giving it to me."
The host beamed in pleasure. The lid snapped closed and the vampires held the box out to Harry.
Harry held out his arms and accepted it. He almost dropped it as the weight settled on him.
His arms almost sagged under it, but he managed to maintain hold and give the appearance of ease. He shifted it under his left arm and held his right hand out to the vampiress.
Opaque Black eyes stared at Harry's hand curiously, before a smile registered upon her lips and she clasped Harry's hand, giving it a dainty squeeze. "The Red Court looks forward to working with you, Mr Plus One." Her voice was teasing, yet formal.
Harry smiled and inclined his head to Duchess, before turning away and stepping off the stage.
And just as everyone's attention had been drawn to the podium it was as quickly washed away back to the floor.
Harry's eyes scanned the floor for traces of Thomas, where they had been sitting, he caught a glimpse of white and was reassured of the Raith's presence. He shifted the box under his left arm and began to walk towards the table, the crowd parted in front of him, as it had before and allowed him to reach Thomas and his 'dinner-date' easily. Harry dropped the box onto the table in front of him and let out a light breath.
"It's pretty Heavy," Harry explained at Thomas's look, only to get an amused one in kind. As Harry slid into his seat, his eyes scanned the crowd again, and made contact momentarily with the back of Jenny's head. His gaze remained fixed on her for a few moments longer than necessary, but was quickly broken as the Green-haired fae turned towards him.
Conversely Ferrovax 'Mr Ferro' was nowhere to be seen. If Harry had to take a guess, he would say that he had left the moment he had received the gift from Duchess. A stab of pain registered in the forefront of Harry's mind as a flash of the Dragon's true appearance registered in his mind. Across from him Thomas chuckled and absently caressed Kathleen's cheek.
The red-marked woman had once again lost consciousness and was leaning against Thomas as a support.
"Remember," Thomas said to Harry, "The moment people start leaving, we're out of here." He grimaced. "If we're lucky we can get back to the Chicago before morning breaks." Thomas lightly set Kathleen's head back against the chair behind her and stood up from his chair.
He smiled at Harry. "Time to mingle, again."
If Harry hadn't already known that Thomas didn't want to be at the party he would never have guessed that the Raith scion wasn't entirely enthusiastic about 'mingling'.
Harry turned his gaze back to the brown-leather bound box in front of him. He reached towards it and trailed his fingers over the leather. The course material felt unusually cool under his fingertips. It felt awkward to receive such a thing and not give anything in return. However, it seemed that thought had not occurred to anyone. However, Jenny had given something to the host in return. Even if, according to her, it was in the nature of the Sidhe to do so.
Harry let out a breath of air. The fact that they had known about him had caused him some discomfort, though he had managed to hide the extent of it well enough. Harry slid his hands into the pockets of his suit and paused as his fingers touched upon a velvety smooth material.
He had forgotten that he had brought a bag of the lollies from Wonka's with him. Harry withdrew the small bag from his pocket and began to shift through the sweets inside, a meticulous process when the inside was bigger than the outside. Harry's fingers stilled as a Blood pop found its way into his fingers.
According to Thomas the Red Court actually drank blood. A smile quirked at Harry's lips and he wondered if the vampire hostess had a sweet tooth. He withdrew a single bloodpop and snapped the cover of the satchel closed, he jammed it back inside his pocket and stood up from the table.
Harry glanced back down at the tabletop, where the heavy leather box still sat. He glanced around the room. It was doubtful that anyone would take it, Harry decided and he turned away from the table, and began to look around the floor for the Dark-haired vampire hostess.
He caught sight of her near the stage, conversing with a set of people, all of which wore red, other vampires, Harry mused to himself. He approached casually, rolling the lollipop between his fingers.
"Excuse me," Harry politely tried to get the attention of the dark haired vampire.
The target of Harry's intentions paused in the middle of her conversation and turned towards Harry. As recognision flared in her eyes her lips widened in an almost-too-wide smile. "Mr Plus One," the female vampire greeted. "I was just about to seek you out."
Harry smiled in return and nodded. "I wanted to thank you for the gift, and give you something in return." Obsidian eyebrows rose at the declaration. "It isn't anything much, but I thought you might enjoy it." Harry held up the lollipop to the vampiress.
Beside and behind the host the vampires snickered.
The woman's gaze lingered on the offered candy for a few moments, before she inclined her head and plucked it from Harry's fingers. Harry felt a small rush of heat to his cheeks at the derision and immediately regretted his actions.
Small fingers made quick work of the wrapping on the lollipop. A second later the candy disappeared behind pale lips. The woman began to smile sweetly, but suddenly stopped and the muscles controlling her face went slack.
Shoulders stiffened, and a shudder ran through the woman's body, causing her flesh to ripple. A few moments passed in silence, the vampires and guests alike stared, some in surprise, some with curiosity, and others with blank expressions. Slowly the host lifted her hand and drew the lollipop from between her lips. A soft squishy pop sounded as it left them, leaving behind a smudge of crimson. A small pink tongue, a washed with red darted out over her lips and swept the trail off.
"This is blood." She stated quietly, her gaze fixated on Harry's eyes.
Said eyes blossomed into glossy pulsating black from within their pupils.
Harry held back a grimace. "Could you not do that, please?" Harry asked politely, his lips straining to maintain a pleasant disposition.
Again a tongue trailed out over lips, this time moistening them in vermillion.
Harry gestured to his face. "The eye thing."
"Of course, my apologies." She blinked and her eyes returned to normal. The Red Court vampire rolled the lollipop stick between her fingertips. "Is this your blood?" she asked quietly.
"No," Harry answered after a second.
"Whose is it then?"
Harry shrugged his shoulders. "I dunno."
A faint smile formed upon the vampire's lips. "I see, thank you for this... treat. Mr..." she trailed off and tilted her head to the side. "May I ask of you your name? I still do not know it." Her smile became bigger, taunting. "Of course I could continue to refer to you as Mr Plus One."
"Harry," Harry introduced himself.
"Surname?" the question came innocently enough.
Harry met the woman's gaze warily.
A tinkling laugh fell from her lips.
"You worry needlessly," the hostess assured Harry, "There are no wizards here, and those who are present would not hold council with the freakish kine."
Harry had the strangest urge to point out that he was a wizard, albeit not the kind she had been speaking of, but managed to refrain from doing so.
White teeth were presented.
"Duchess St. Clair," the Red Court Vampire counter introduced herself, extending her hand to Harry.
Harry reached for the dainty hand, and as his palm touched upon Duchess' she clasped his hand, turned it over, and brought it up to her lips. Harry stared in mild alarm as he felt a moist touch upon his knuckles. A moment later Duchess released Harry's hand.
Harry turned it over and stared at it.
Upon his knuckle, a bloody pair of lips had been imprinted.
"It's from the lollipop," Duchess explained coolly as she observed Harry's demeanor.
She brought the lollipop up to her lips and licked it. Harry felt a shiver run down his back as a bloody trail appeared on the vampire's tongue.
He had seen a blood pop eaten before, sure.
Ron had had one in the third year, and he had made a huge show about spitting blood on the snow at Hogsmead. The major difference was that Ron, unlike Duchess did not have a cute mouth. Nor did his teeth elongate in the presence of blood.
"It has been a pleasure to meet you, Harry." Duchess spoke slowly, before glancing down at the lollipop she held in hand. "Perhaps we can meet again, to discuss these?" She rolled the lollipop between her fingers again.
Harry glanced towards Thomas.
Thomas was staring at the exchange with a perturbed look.
Duchess followed Harry's gaze to Thomas and a small frown formed upon her lips. "Would it be easier if I scheduled a meeting with Lord Raith?"
Harry turned back to Duchess with a look of confusion in his eyes. "What?"
"You are in his employment, are you not?" she asked blandly. "If you are incapable of agreement, I will arrange the details with your," her smile became strained, "Employer."
"That wouldn't do much good." Harry informed the Vampire. "I'm not that kind of worker." He eased away from Duchess, onto his heels.
"Why else would you be here, if you were not?" The dark haired vampire asked in a sardonic manner.
"Because Thomas asked me to come," Harry stated calmly, locking gazes with the woman in front of him.
Duchess made a thoughtful noise and nodded her head. She absently took another lick of the bloodpop. "My apologies," she said smoothly, "I did not mean to offend you, nor put you on guard." Her cheeks colored lightly, very lightly. "I'm afraid my curiosity got the better of me."
The apology sounded fake, but never let it be said that Harry wasn't anything, if not diplomatic. "It's fine," Harry said with a smile worthy of Thomas.
Duchess reacted by giving a warm, inviting smile. "Would you be willing to talk over dinner, perhaps?" Her eyes glittered with an unknown quantity.
"I'm afraid I can't," Harry said with a sympathetic tone. "After the party I will be heading back to Chicago."
"To return to your job," Duchess asked innocently.
"Duty calls," Harry agreed, watching Duchess for a reaction.
"Really?" She teased, "How admirable of you." The Red Court Vampire took a step closer to harry and laid a free hand on his upper arm. "My offer, to you is still open," she informed him. "I assure you we take very good care of our assets."
Harry continued to smile, though his muscles were beginning to ache. "Thank you for the offer, If I ever find myself with nowhere to go I will gladly accept." Harry's internal monologue placed the statement at a 6.5 on the bullshit scale.
"I'm beginning to get a bit light headed, so if you don't mind I'm going to go out for a bit of fresh air."
Duchess nodded acceptingly. "Perhaps once you're refreshed we can continue this delightful conversation?" She offered, her smile warm and inviting again.
Harry's eyes glittered in amusement. Despite the situation he was beginning to enjoy talking. The wizard slipped his hand into his pocket and with skill unbefitting his fingers managed to locate another bloodpop within the satchel.
"I'd like that, but if I can't," he held the second lollipop out to Duchess. "Here is compensation,"
The dark haired vampire smiled happily and plucked it from Harry's fingers.
"I graciously accept," she paused for a moment thoughtfully. "If you'd like you may go to the roof, to take your breath of fresh air," she teased. "It's quite the view.
From what Harry remembered the hotel from over fifty stories high. When they had arrived the lights of the city were beginning to flicker on in the dusk. The view at nighttime, above the sea of lights would be magnificent.
"I'd enjoy that, thank you," Harry said honestly with a grateful smile, one which was returned by Duchess.
The dark haired vampire glanced over her shoulder, searching for something. A moment later she turned back and pointed over her shoulder, towards an elevator at the back of the ball room. "Take that elevator to the top level, the penthouse; from there you should be able to get onto the rooftop."
"Thank you," Harry said as he stepped around Duchess.
A cool hand touched upon Harry's arm, causing him to stop. He looked back at Duchess.
"It was nice to meet you, Harry Potter," The Vampiress said with a kind look.
"You too, Duchess St. Claire," Harry offered back as he stepped around the group of vampires and made his way to the elevator, aware that Duchess' dark eyes were fixated on the back of his head.
Harry stopped in front of the elevator and thumbed the button beside the steel grate. It took a few moments but the doors opened up with a faint ding revealing an extravagantly decorated interior of red material and polished wood frames. Harry rapped his knuckle against the PH button at the list of buttons on the inside wall as he entered. The doors slid closed silently and the elevator began to move.
Harry's pocket vibrated, and a moment later an irritating jingle began to blare out from within his pants. Harry startled, but quickly drew the phone out of his pants pocket, he fumbled with the small device before finding the right button, and pressing it.
"Hello?" Harry asked, holding the mobile up to his ear.
"Guess who!"an overly perky voice teased from the other end of the call.
Harry's pocket vibrated. A moment later it rang. Harry drew out the phone in his pocket and for a few seconds fumbled before finding the right button and pressing it.
"Hello?" Harry asked, holding the mobile up to his ear.
"Guess who?" a perky voice teased on the other end of the call.
"Inari," Harry answered without hesitation.
"You're no fun," Inari complained. "So," her demeanour instantly shifted. "How's the party going?"
"It's fine," Harry answered easily.
"Come on Harry," Inari whined, "I need to live vicariously through you!"
Harry could not help but snicker slightly.
"Hey don't laugh!" Harry could hear the pout through her voice, "There is nothing to do without you here and-" Inari stopped talking and went silent for a few moments. "Lara says hi," Inari suddenly said; once again back on the phone. "As I was saying there's not-"
Harry ignored Inari's complaints for a moment and glanced to the floor number. There were still a few floors to go. The Elevator pulled to a stop on the 45th floor and the doors opened. A man in a red lined suit stepped into the elevator and hit the 48th button. He straightened his tie and kept his gaze focused on the door.
"-king that when you get back we can go out shopping, you know? You can show me where you bought the lollies," she said brightly, completely unaware that Harry had not been paying attention.
"Sorry, what?" Harry asked Inari, "Wasn't paying attention."
"I said, I want to go to the lollishop you bought the lollies at," Inari repeated sourly.
"Maybe one day," Harry murmured absently. It was a possibility, though Harry would rather it never come to it. There was only one reason that Inari would have to see his world.
"I'll hold you to that," Inari said in a sing-along voice.
"Hold me to what?" Harry teased. "I said maybe."
Harry heard a noise of movement and then-
"Lara! Harry's being mean to me!" Inari shouted though Harry heard it slightly dampened.
The elevator stopped ascending and dinged. The doors of the elevator opened and the man stepped out paying Harry no heed. A moment later they closed shut and the elevator began to rise again.
"Don't be mean to Inari," a more mature, more sensual voice spoke through the phone.
"Lara?" Harry hazarded a guess.
"Your deductive skills are quite astute," the Succubus teased, "How are you enjoying the party?" She stressed the sarcasm on enjoying.
Harry grinned slightly.
"Oh you know, standing around doing nothing, I'm going to the top of the building for some fresh air right now." He explained as he watched the floor meter rise to 49th.
"You left Thomas alone again?" Interest tinged Lara's voice.
"I'm not here as his bodyguard," Harry pointed out exasperatedly, "And I didn't feel like sticking around and watching him feel up girls."
"That doesn't sound like his usual behaviour," Lara mused idly. "Has he been on edge?"
Harry blinked and took a moment to think back. "No not really, he just seems a bit put out."
"Do the girl's look like dear Justine?"
Harry frowned. "One did," he answered hesitantly.
Harry could hear a soft sigh from the other end of the phoneline.
"His sentimentality will be the death of him one of these days."
"What do you mean?"
"Do not concern yourself with that, Harry."
"Wait a mom-" Lara began to say away from the phone before the noise of struggle briefly and Inari's voice replaced Lara's. "Hi again."
"That wasn't very nice," Harry commented dryly, though his lips were quirked.
The doors gave a ding sound and slowly grinded open revealing a wide hallway. The ground was covered in a layer of pristine carpet that looked like it had been freshly laid. Harry hesitated for a moment before stepping out of the elevator; it almost seemed like a crime to dirty it. A soft pleasant smell tainted the air, sweet yet, somehow managed to not be invasive.
The sheer extravagance of the furnishings was not lost on Harry.
Paintings of landscapes and portraits adorned the walls every few meters, placed sparingly, yet they seemed to cover the cream walls with an amazing sense of decor. Harry's gaze swept the hallway for a sign of the pent house. There were no overt signs. Most of the rooms were adorned with a gold number ranging from zero to nine.
"So," Inari said, catching Harry's attention again. "What are you doing now?"
"I'm trying to find a way onto the roof," Harry answered absently as he continued to take note of the door numbers. The closer Harry got to the south end of the hallway the stronger the sweet scent became. Like too much perfume.
Harry turned a corner and spied a guard at the end of the hallway. He smiled and approached the stalwart uniform.
"Give me a second, Inari," Harry said into the phone before he dropped his hand from his ear to his side. "Hi," Harry greeted. "I'm looking for the penthouse? Duchess St. Claire told me I could get to the roof from it."
The guard turned to Harry and frowned. "The Penthouse is currently occupied," he said stiffly. "Please return at a later time if you wish to use it."
Harry frowned. "Is there another way to get onto the roof without going through the Penthouse?"
The guard shook his head before hesitating for a moment. "There is a secondary exit to the roof from room zero." The red covered figure informed Harry. "Though it may also be occupied."
Harry smiled and nodded to the guard. "Thanks," he turned away and brought the phone back up to his ear.
"You still there?"
"Gosh, you took forever!" Inari complained immediately.
"Sorry Princess," Harry teased lightly."
The sweet scent lessened the further away from the Guard he was. Green eyes scanned the golden numbers that adorned the front of the doors. The count ran backwards, and eventually, as Harry passed the elevator he came to zero. Harry knocked on the door twice and waited.
"Why don't you rent a movie or something?" Harry suggested. "They're pretty cheap aren't they?"
"Don't you know the first law of physics?" Inari asked exasperatedly, "Anything fun costs at least a hundred dollars." Harry could almost see Inari holding her face in hand.
The door in front of him remained closed, and no signs of life came from beyond the door.
"That doesn't make any sense." Harry said after a moment.
"It's Physics," Inari insisted again.
Harry chortled and after a quick glance around, he withdrew his wand from his suit's pocket and nonverbally cast Alohamora on the door's lock. A quiet click was the only indication that the spell worked. He gripped the door handle, with his wand between it and his hand and opened the door.
"I'm pretty sure that's not right," Harry disagreed as he pushed the door open and entered the room.
The sickly sweet stench of rotten fruit assaulted Harry's olfactory system causing his nose to crinkle in disgust. Harry never the less continued to walk into the hotel room.
Harry's walk grinded to a halt and his muscles tensed as his eyes registered the sight in front of him.
Bulbous black eyes stared back unblinkingly. Black-flabby skinned bat-like creatures littered the floor space. Twisted horrific faces that were made of pure nightmare-fuel faced him. Their stomaches looked bloated and between their arms and flanks, slimy membranes stretched reflecting light in an obscene manner. Some had breasts that hung from their chests out of too-small red dresses. Others were bursting at the seams of tuxedos.
Clutched in each of the creature's claws were partially, fully, or naked men and women, some writhing in pleasure, others unmoving. More lay discarded between them, lying on the floor, pale and still.
Harry stared at the bodies strewn beneath the Vampires.
Moments passed and neither He nor they moved, the only motions were from the still living bodies that the creatures held.
Harry swallowed and spoke calmly. "Inari, I'll have to call you back." Inari's cry of outrage fell on deaf ears as Harry ended the call. He calmly slid the phone back into his pocket, unblinking, unwavering. His fingers curled around his wand, tightening their grip.
A whining hiss rose from the Red Court Vampire's throats as they turned to face Harry, curiosity blossoming in eyes that held insatiable hunger. Bodies dropped to the floor, and gaping maws parted. Blood dripped from fangs.
"You... are the Mistress' guest are you not?" One of the creatures stepped forwards and tilted it's head to the side. "You should not be here, honoured one." A long prehensile tongue slithered out over its mouth.
The vampire shuddered drawing the wing membranes close to its body. Black slime covered skin turned into pale, smooth flesh that spread over the vampire's dark skin like a growth of fungus. Flabby stomach tightened and flattened into smooth muscles chest. In seconds, a man was standing where there had once been a beast.
The man shifted his clothes into position and smiled, it did not flatter him. "I do apologize for this inappropriate scene, Mr...?" he trailed off in question.
Blank unfeeling began to give way to anger. Harry gritted his teeth together, but managed to restrain himself from action.
"I am Mr Plus One," Harry answered, recomposing himself. He gestured to the still bodies on the floor. "Are they dead?"
The man glanced around him and his smile wintered. "They have been fed upon in excess, yes." He tilted his head to the side. "They are kine, it is not offensive to you, is it?"
"It is," Harry coldly. The vampire's lips curled back in contempt, but he never the less inclined his head. "Then we of course will endeavour to make you more comfortable." He paused and suddenly his too-wide mouth showed off too many teeth.
He motioned his hand, and from the back of the room and the sea of black bodies parted and a lithe female form was pushed forwards, she was latin, and her hair was black and silky, almost as dark as the slick black skin of the vampires. She stumbled and almost fell to her knees, but a strong hand gripped her by the forearm and held her up. She had an empty look in her eye, and her neck was dyed red with a splattering of blood. "Allow us to make amends," the flesh-masked vampire insisted.
Harry opened his mouth to decline, but as he did he caught a flash of sudden movement out of the corner of his eye. Harry flicked his want towards the source and a flash of yellow light erupted from the tip.
One of the vampire's was frozen in mid leap, it's fangs beared and it's clawed hands outstretched towards Harry.
"Do not attack him!" the man shouted, but his voice was lost amidst a series of snarls and another raspy female voice shouted from a corner of the room. "He's a wizard, get him!"
Nightmarish bodies flung themselves towards Harry with reckless abandon, claws displayed and fangs bared.
Harry swung his arm in an arc and shouted. "Lumos Solem!" A candescence of light erupted into being filling the room with a blinding array of orange light. Through the illumination Harry could hear hisses of pain and rage as the light of the sun washed over the vampires. The deluge of light maintained for a few seconds before it faded away. Harry wasted no time in turning about face and running for the door.
As he turned away, he could see the forms of the vampires withering on the ground with patches of flesh sizzling and blackened like charcoal. Harry didn't waste time to ponder the effect the spell had. He passed the door and slammed it shut behind him. Screeches sounded from beyond the door.
Harry ran towards the elevator and slammed his hand against the button repeatedly. He furrowed his brow and looked back at the door he had escaped from. An epiphany took hold in his mind and he waved his hand at the door. A translucent sheet of vermillion rose from the ground and sealed the door shut. None too soon, a second later the door snapped and buckled against its hinges and the hardwood frame cracked.
Again, and again the door was wracked with shudders and more fractured appeared on it, the door, a moment later was ripped clean off of its hinges and thrown back into the dark room.. The horrible faces of the Red Court clamoured in its place, claws scratching against an impassable barrier. The creatures screeched again.
A resounding screech followed from the opposite end of the corridor, following by a scream of agony. From the south end of the hallway monstrous black forms appeared from beyond the corner, piling into the free space and rushing towards Harry.
The green eyed wizard slashed his wand towards the oncoming horde and snarled. "Sectumsempra!" The first wave of creatures howled in pain as large gashes appeared on their stomachs and began bleeding profusely, they clutched at their stomachs trying to hold in the blood, but to no avail.
Harry's eyes widened and he repeated the spell, and the gestures, tearing into scores of the vampires at a time. Behind him the elevator dinged, and the doors slid open. Harry wasted no time in stepping into the elevator and slamming his fingers on first floor's button.
The moment his line of sight to room zero was broken the barrier that held the vampires back shattered and more of the bat-like creatures poured into the hallway.
As the doors slid closed skeletal black hands appeared, clutching the door and attempting to pull it open.
White light snapped out through the crack of the elevator doors and the hands were wrenched away as the bodies they were attached to were flung violently back against the wall opposite the Elevator door.
Harry stepped back away from the elevator door as sounds of screeches and the sound of claws scratching against metal echoed through into the elevator shaft. He continued back until his back pressed against the wall. The black haired wizard exhaled sharply as he attempted to calm his racing heart down.
The elevator shuddered and rocked as something impacted on the roof. A second later, the manhole on was torn off of the roof and the dark shaft was revealed, illuminated by few and far in-between diodes of light. A sunny blonde head of hair appeared in the opening with familiar blue eyes.
"Marion?" Harry blurted out in disbelief.
A smile appeared on the woman's face.
"Don't mind me," Marion purred, her hands gripping the panel with both of her hands. "Just dropping in for a bite to drink." Her face erupted into a black monstrosity with a screech.
"Effundio!" Harry stabbed his wand at the vampire's face.
The creature was flung upwards into the air as the spell influenced it. In the dim light of the white washout Harry caught sight of blade bodies crawling down the shaft walls, beady too-big eyes gleamed in the darkness.
Harry's heart thudded rapidly against his ribcage as he gripped his wand.
"Lumos Solem!" Harry repeated his earlier spell and held his wand up to the grate. Sunlight erupted from the tip and streamed out of the hatch. Shrieks of pain echoed through the dark space as the light tore through some of the vampire's hides, and as the light faded the shudder of bodies, dropping on the roof of the elevator rocked it. The cables attached to the elevator creaked under the stress.
"Incendio Flamen!" Harry pushed his will into form.
The form of a monolithic cone of flames.
Fire tore forth into existence from the tip of Harry's wand, the sheer force of which had him almost fall from his feet. The flames funnelled up and out of the elevator into the dim shaft full of vampires. What the screams of pain had been before had nothing on the sudden wails of agony that began to flood the elevator as the vampires were ignored by the spell. Tongues of flames licking the top of the elevator leaving black scorch marks.
The spell remained active for seconds, and as the heat and screams began to die down Harry lowered his wand. The flames dispersed and Harry found himself staring up at the ceiling of the elevator, and into the dark shaft. Whatever life had been above him, Harry was fairly sure had been snuffed out by the flame., along with the lights that had decorated the sides.
That didn't mean there was no source of light above, no.
The main elevator cable burned a bright orange, Harry could see the edges of it dribble small patches of molten metal. The flames he had conjured had superheated the woven metal cable up to an insane temperature.
Harry noticed for the first time since he had cast the spell.
The Elevator had stopped moving.
A low rasping sound filled the elevator from above, slow, deep and breathless.
"You're a freak," a dry choking voice gasped out. "You're one of them." It snarled weakly.
Harry couldn't see anything even if the assistance of the orange glow of the cord.
"Die with me, White Wizard," the voice managed to splutter out in a chilling sing-along voice.
The elevator shuddered and the cable above began to snap, dropping the elevator an inch in a sudden movement. Harry gritted his teeth and ignored the raspy laughter above as he drew in his will and focused on the elevator cabin itself.
"Ares-" Harry began to chant, only to cut off as the bottom of his stomach, and the elevator began to drop. Harry stumbled, and a second later his feet separated from the floor. His eyes became wide and he began to panic. "Aresto Momento!" Harry shouted out , slashing his wand at the bottom of the elevator. The effort amounted to very little as the cabin continued to plummet, gaining speed.
The sides of the elevator began to screech as they scraped against the elevator shaft. Harry shut his eyes tight and tried to focus on ballroom. His attention kept slipping as the feeling in his stomach, the lack of gravity and the falling sensation kept breaking his concentration.
Suddenly, without warning Harry 's feet met the bottom of the elevator again, for a fraction of a second before they slipped out from under him and he fell to the floor. An intense pressure began to bundle on top of Harry and he closed his eyes, and wrapped his arms around himself to protect himself. Somewhere he knew, inside that, it was a useless gesture, and the moment he hit the ground he'd be less than a bloody puddle, but he didn't care.
A thunderous roar burst through the air as the elevator collided at terminal velocity with the ground floor. The walls of the cabin buckled and the roof crumpled as the force of two tons of steel and wood accommodated gravity and kinetic force.
He couldn't feel anything.
He couldn't feel the crushing force of the kinetic energy ripping out of his body and transferring into the ground. Or the crushing pain as the cabin collapsed on top of him and crushed his body with steel and timber. He couldn't feel his fractions bone.
All he could feel was the perspiration on his brow, and the breath leaving his lips in short panicked inhalations.
Harry cracked his eyes open. A pale, translucent cocoon of amber energy surrounded him, like a membrane of fluid. It shimmer deceptively against a mesh of bent steel and splintered wood.
Harry flinched as a sudden impact jolted him from his shock.
Black bodies fell from above, splattering in bloodied splashed as they met with the wreckage of the elevator beneath them. The smell of freshly spilled blood, and rotten fruit assaulted Harry's senses and the protective barrier that surrounded him fell. A cascade of red and black blood drenched him as it dripped through the shattered roof of the cabin. Harry almost gagged and wiped the slush off of his face and squinted. His vision was marred by thrashed iron, and gore but he could make out a light a meter above.
Harry stelled his nerves and pulled himself to his feet, using a bent girter. He felt his wand in his hand, still whole and intact. He flicks it at his face and muttered a cleaning charm and almost cried in sheer relief as the stench and muck that assaulted his senses abated briefly.
Harry inhaled, and exhaled repeatedly until his breathing was once again steady. He looked up, at the source of light. The doors to the elevator on the bottom floor had been busted open, but not far enough for Harry to get through. He flicked his wand at the slit of light above the wreckage and cast an Alohamora at it. The doors fizzled and sparkled, and after a moment they began to draw open in jerky motions. Whether it was from the spell, or from the impact of the elevator that had almost blown them off, Harry did not know.
Sterile light flooded the womb of the shaft and stung Harry's eyes shortly before his eyes adjusted. He could make out a section of indents below it, in the wall, just long and deep enough for footholds. Harry moved over the wreckage, ignoring the squelching sounds as he stepped on the charred carcasses of the fallen vampires.
As Harry pulled himself up and out of the elevator shaft, he saw a dirty white hallway before him, it was deserted, but there was evidence of people only just having left. A trolley, which had been covered with food, was slowly wheeling away of its own accord, with pieces of food dropping off, leaving a trail behind it.
For a moment, Harry considered just disapparating straight away, and heading back to Chicago, as he had done two nights prior. He decided against it, soon enough. At the very least he had to collect Thomas before leaving. Harry doubted he'd get a well reception if he left Thomas to deal with the aftermath.
Although, considering what Thomas had said, Lord Raith might just give him a bonus to his 'salary' if he offed the Raith scion. It wasn't a tough decision in the end, Harry had no love for the bastard, and saving his son would be well enough. Harry looked around the off-white corridor and spied a set of signs off to the side. One of which depicted a man walking up a staircase.
Harry let out a breath of air and made towards the direction that the sign pointed at. The entrance was covered by an emergency door. It didn't seem to have any alarms, nor did it seem to be locked, so Harry passed by it, and as he did he heard a commotion behind himself, people running, shouting. He really didn't care for it. Harry slid his wand into his suit's pocket as he reached the lobby.
The crash of the elevator had drawn a lot of attention, the lobby was scattered with people. Some, who looked like they had been at the party, some wearing red. Harry made it a point to avoid them. It was a bit of a chore, considering he was still splattered in black and red gore. Out of the corner of his eye, Harry spied the woman that Thomas had been attached to for the most part. Kathleen, or some such.
Harry scanned the crowds for sight of Thomas, but did not manage to locate him. Out of the corner of his eye he caught sight of an unwanted figure and he was sure he had caught her attention as well. Just as well, a second later he managed to find Thomas amongst the sea of red and black.
He tried, as much as he could, to go unnoticed as he approached the white-clad incubus. It was futile, and soon enough he abandoned all attempts at blending in. He noticed, as he got closer, that under arm Thomas held the leather bound chest that Duchess had given him.
He was close enough to catch Thomas' attention when a light hand touched upon his shoulder, and stopped him from advancing.
"Are you alright?"
Harry stilled, his shoulders tensed, and slowly turned to face the origin of the voice.
Duchess St. Claire's eyes smoldered as they took in the blood covered tuxedo hugging his skin like a lover's kiss. Her slightly parted lips and frown seemed to show her internal battle between wanting to take him to the floor then and there to feed or question him where he had become so arousingly bloody on his trip to the roof.
"I am, the elevator, however, is not." Harry managed to say, after a few seconds, his voice cool and collected. It echoed through the lobby, turning heads towards him. Harry tuened away from the female vampire and made towards Thomas again. By this point Thomas had taken notice of harry and had moved towards him.
"What the hell happened to you?" Thomas asked in bewilderment as he took in Harry's appearance.
Harry gave Thomas a forced smile. "Accident."
"Please, wait, Harry." Again a hand touched upon Harry's elbow briefly before drawing back.
Again, Harry turned back to Duchess he smiled at her, his smile more forced and reached over to Thomas and clutched his arm.
"A pleasure meeting you Duchess, and sorry for the mess," Harry offered, even to his own ears, it sounded insincere.
Harry focused his will upon both himself and Thomas, and pictured Raith Château in mind, and a second later the world around him shifted. The sensation of being force-fed through an intravenous catheter pressed against Harry, and his passenger. The trip began almost smoothly but quickly degraded, and almost as soon it was over and a rush of air smothered Harry.
A second later the bottom of his stomach dropped out and he panicked.
A second after that and he yelped as he was dunked into a body of frigid, cold water. His body temperature suddenly plummeted and the air in his lungs left quickly. Harry swam to the surface as fast as he could, his suit slowly his progress and weighing him down. He broke the surface with a gasp, and cold air filtered through into his lungs.
"Empty Night," he heard Thomas groan from beside him, and a second later felt a splash of water against his face. "What the hell was that?" The Incubus demanded to know. A second later Harry felt something grip him by the back of his collar, and he found himself being pulled away. In seconds Harry fund himself with solid mass pressed against his back. He clutched at it and pulled himself up.
He reached up and rubbed his hand over his face, wiping the water away. He briefly noted that his glasses were missing before he squinted and looked behind himself. The lowlight pool at the back of the chateau filled his vision.
Harry hoisted himself out of the pool, with a bit of difficulty. He looked around for Thomas, but failed to find him. A second later, the pool's surface broke again and Thomas emerged from the depths, a black box under held under an arm.
Thomas lifted it up and pushed it onto solid ground before he heaved himself up and out of the water. Harry realized, after a moment that it was the leather bound box that Duchess had gifted him. A wry grin formed on his features.
"You teleported us?" Thomas asked dubiously, before cracking a grin. "Your aims a bit off, you know?"
Harry snorted, blowing out some water that hung off his nose. "It gets imprecise at long ranges." Harry explained as he brought a hand up to his head and ran it through his hair. "You're my bad luck charm," Harry informed Thomas.
"What happened back there?"
Thomas shook his head, sending water spraying around, before he mimicked Harry and ran his fingers through his dark locks. To Harry's annoyance as he did his hair fell back into proper form.
"Bunch of the bats attacked me," Harry muttered before glancing down at his suit, and then into the pool.
There was a murky dark cloud of blood in the pool that was slowly bleeding out and diluting into the water.
"They attacked me, and I accidentally melted the elevator cable." He paused, and it took him a moment to swallow his pride. "While I was in it."
Thomas's eyebrows rose in surprise.
"That's what the crash was? How are you in one piece?" he asked dubiously.
Harry shook his head in disbelief. "I have no idea."
He brought a hand up to his vision and watched as a trace of translucent energy swirled over his fingers, before disappearing beneath his skin.
"I still don't know what this is," he muttered under his breath, but not low enough for the Raith's hearing to pick up.
"What was is?" Thomas asked quietly as he watched Harry's hand.
"The Power he Knew Not?" Harry offered with a disparaging smile.
Near the mansion Harry could see shadows moving.
"Looks like the Calvaries' here," Harry noted dryly.
Thomas let out a rich laugh and nodded, before picking up the leather-bound chest and handing it off to Harry.
"Don't forget the parting gift," the dark haired Raith joked, and a second later Harry found himself chuckling.