Beyond Grave Peril
By Random Shinobi
Summary: Even when stranded in a strange world, Harry continues to make waves. Friends are scarce, but there is no shortage of those who would like to see him drown in the swell of his own making. And what are the true motives of the beautiful Summer Lady? [HP/Dresden Files crossover. Not Deathly Hallows compliant. Starts before Grave Peril.]
Rating: R (M)
Disclaimer: If you recognise it, then it might well belong to Ms. Rowling or Mr. Butcher. I only claim my OCs and plot.
Special thanks to snuggle the muggle for her help.
Chapter One: Fade to White
A dark-clad figure stood in the middle of a lavishly decorated room his right arm outstretched and a wand clutched tightly in the gloved hand. Wisps of dark smoke curled upwards from the wand tip alongside an occasional bright spark, glowing with the same terror-inducing shade of green as the dreaded curse it had spat out mere seconds previously.
Lord Voldemort's lifeless body was sprawled on the shiny parquet not two yards from the black-robed wizard. The Dark Lord's bald head touched the edge of the thick, rust-coloured carpet that was mostly hidden under a huge wooden table in the centre of the large room. The apartment itself was done mainly in rich colours of dark red and the deepest black.
The bright flash of sickly green light had died out seconds ago, but the invisible wind continued to howl while threads of oily darkness rose up from the Dark Lord's corpse, forming into a vaguely humanoid shape. Cruel, red eyes shone like hot coals amidst the cloud of inky shadows and the spectre's mere presence seemed to draw all warmth and light out of the large room, cloaking it in cold twilight. "This doesn't end here, Potter!" screeched the apparition piercingly, each high-pitched word loaded with seething anger and impotent fury. "I will make you regret this!"
With those hate-filled words the shadowy spectre was gone and its almost Dementor-like presence vanished. The room temperature quickly returned back to normal and the magical lights, which had been flickering, shone brightly again.
Seventeen-year-old Harry Potter lowered his still-smoking wand. The echo of the softly spoken lethal words 'Avada Kedavra' seemed to linger still, and he felt inexplicably tainted. It was as if he was drowning in sin, like his hands were slick with invisible blood that couldn't be washed away no matter how hard he tried. The worst thing was the sheer, undeniable pleasure he had felt using the Killing Curse. Harry closed his eyes for a moment, fighting the urge to cast the Unforgivable again just to feel the invigorating surge of sweet, if tainted, power rushing through his veins. He was slipping, the young wizard knew. Too many times, he had let the Dark Arts consume part of himself to destroy his opponents... And this time there was no 'glorious' battle to serve as an excuse, no honourable wizard-versus-wizard duel, just an old-fashioned sneak-attack.
Of course, the murderous bastard wasn't truly dead and this war was far from being over. Instead, Voldemort's thrice-damned Horcruxes guaranteed that his mangled soul would not depart from this world before they were all destroyed, which they unfortunately were not, despite the Order's best efforts. Scratching the back of his head and mussing his black, already unruly hair, Harry decided that at least Voldemort was now a bit deader than just a few moments ago. It had to be an improvement.
Somewhere during this stupid war, the Dark Lord had finally done the sensible thing and sunk one of his soul-fragments into the bottom of an ocean in an unplottable and indestructible box. There was no way of ever finding that particular Horcrux – Harry doubted that Voldemort himself could find it if he suddenly needed to get his hands on it again. Moreover, if rumours were to be believed Bellatrix had made a Horcrux, too, supposedly using Neville's death to fuel the foul magic. The young wizard suddenly had a highly disturbing mental image where dozens of semi-immortal Dark sorcerers kept running amok across the countryside and reviving the ones that got offed almost as soon as their bodies went stiff.
This morning, just a few hours ago, Harry had woken after a rough night. Nightmares were becoming all too common lately; restful sleep had become a rare treat since Voldemort took over the Ministry. He had stared absently at the white ceiling where an intricate web of small cracks could be seen and wondered how he could find the remaining Horcruxes before the Dark Lord defeated the last bastions of resistance, when he suddenly had another vision. And not just any vision – he had seen Voldemort telling his base's location to one of his new Death Eater recruits.
After pondering his options for a short while, Harry had decided to do something both very drastic and very dangerous. Without notifying Ron, Hermione, Ginny or anyone else for that matter, he had tracked down the newly initiated Death Eater he had seen in the vision, Eddie Carmichael, and then promptly cut off the traitor's left arm freshly decorated with the fancy, soul-tainting, magical tattoo. The once Ravenclaw wizard hadn't put up much fight, and after the almost pathetically-brief duel Harry had Obliviated him, kicked the idiot into the nearest fireplace and then flooed him to St. Mungo's. Now 'armed' with the Dark Mark and having been 'told' the Death Eater base's location by the Dark Lord himself, he had Apparated into the manor with neither the multitude of lethal wards nor the obscure Fidelius Charm stopping him.
Harry drew his mind back to the present moment and the corpse of his apparently immortal enemy at his feet. He was wondering what to do next when the large, oaken door behind him opened with a loud creak that sent shivers down his spine and somebody stepped into the room. "My Lord–" the man started and Harry reacted in an instant, acting purely on instinct fine-honed by the war, where he was the enemy's number one target. He spun around, a brilliant jet of scarlet light leaving his wand tip in a split-second and hitting straight between the rather surprised Death Eater's eyes.
The man's head exploded into red and grey splatter, the shower of warm and sticky goo staining everything around, including Harry's white mask and the black over-robe he had gotten just for this occasion. Well, actually they were Carmichael's and the young wizard didn't care too much as he had no plans of wearing those garments ever again. Harry had no doubt that when the Dark Lord eventually regained a body – hopefully a process that would take a very long time – the security measures would be tightened so that he couldn't manage this little trick again. Harry shrugged and ripped his gaze from the new, lifeless corpse carpeting the floor. At least he could laugh his ass off now...
Suddenly booming alarms went off all around the large manor, shaking the intricate silver instruments scattered on the large, chestnut-coloured, wooden table that dominated the richly furnished room and the large collection of crystal wineglasses on dark wooden shelves, and made Harry's ears ring. The briefest moment later, there was a distinct flash of spiritual coldness that signified an anti-Apparation ward powering up. And from the surprisingly oppressive feeling of the ward, he knew that it was a very strong one; there was no way he could burst through the magical barrier. Even attempting it would mean risking a severe, and possibly even lethal, splinching.
"Bloody hell!" exclaimed Harry as he lowered his wand. He had to admit, though, that it was somewhat amusing that while the Dark Lord's wards didn't react to a freaking Unforgivable, an ordinary Blasting Curse was enough to set them off. Someone certainly had his priorities wrong...
Harry sighed dejectedly and refocused back to the matter at hand; a single flick of his holly wand and a softly spoken 'Incendio' sent a tongue of searing fire coiling around Voldemort's disfigured corpse. Destroying the snake-like body was a simple precaution on his part to ensure that the Dark Lord could not simply re-posses it, assuming that was even possible. The revolting stench of burning flesh filled the air, nearly causing Harry to throw up and making him wish he could just use a Bubble-Head Charm. It was a real pity that the spell somewhat obscured vision and severely muddled sounds, making it more than just unsuitable for combat.
Deciding it would not be a very good idea to be here when the cavalry arrived, Harry stepped over the headless body sprawled on the bloodstained floor, being careful not to step in the pool of crimson left from the beheading, and walked out of the Dark Lord's lavish sitting room into an oddly Spartan corridor.
Harry could hear a series of loud footsteps coming closer to his location and so he quickly regarded his surroundings, searching for something that could give him advantage in the upcoming fight. He found nothing except for a yard-wide chalk circle drawn on the floor not far from him. The few runes he recognised led him to believe it was some kind of Transportation Circle. It did not look like it was activated but he decided to avoid it nevertheless. It most certainly wasn't benign – probably an unfinished trap designed to teleport unwanted visitors into the heart of an active volcano or something along those lines. The corridor, poorly lit by a score of expensive, everburning torches attached high on the windowless walls, stretched away towards a sharp corner about seven yards from him.
The running footsteps become even louder and Harry kept fingering the grip of his goblin-brought shortsword hidden under his pitch-black over-robe in nervous anticipation, before drawing the magnificent blade from its plain scabbard with a nearly inaudible hiss of metal sliding against wood. Harry's heart raced, his breathing was unnecessarily sharp and he felt an unpleasant, churning feeling in his stomach. There would be more killing, more blood and gore...
A large group of Death Eaters came in a rush: a confused flood of guttural shouting voices and dark robes, attracted by the alarm that had rung through the whole manor. Harry crouched low and raised his wand to shoulder level, before slashing it horizontally, Dark magic singing in his blood. The many ruthless battles he had participated in over the last few months had taught him the utmost importance of the first strike. Harry was well aware that his spell repertoire was very limited compared to many and that he lacked any talent for combat Transfiguration, warding, and other highly complicated magic that the likes of Dumbledore and Voldemort seemed to throw around effortlessly. But on the other hand, he also knew what he did have – speed and raw power – and more importantly, he knew how to use them to a deadly effect.
The first two Death Eaters went down in a storm of grasping limbs and severed body parts, blocking the hallway for a second and almost tripping those behind them, after a deadly arc of purple fire briefly illuminated the corridor and hurled boiled blood and small bits of partially scorched flesh across the walls and floor. Their agonized screams, while only lasting for less than a second, were terrible.
Not a long time ago, Harry might have even felt sorry for them but now he just felt numb and slightly nauseated. He got no joy from killing, but he had to do so over and over again; it was either him or them. He may not have liked it but a war necessitated a different set of morals; and if anything, Harry was a survivor. He had survived Voldemort as a small baby, he had survived ten long years with Dursleys and he had even survived six years of magical schooling, thwarting at least one assassination attempt each year. And he intended to survive this damned war, too. About a year ago, after Hogwarts' fall, Harry had come to a realisation that refusing to kill would only increase the total number of casualties and likely eventually lead to Voldemort's victory. Since then, Harry had had plenty of practice surviving...and killing.
The remaining Death Eaters speedily sent a barrage of low-to-mid-level Dark curses and hexes at Harry, who gracefully dropped onto the floor, letting the phosphorescent light blossoms zoom over him. The lethal spells hammered against the walls all around him, detonating with loud bangs and filling the air with grey stone dust and fiery sparks of magic. Quickly rolling over the dirty floor he avoided a streak of scarlet light that, instead of tearing a walnut-sized hole onto the young sorcerer's body, ripped up a few floorboards with a thunderous boom, showering the dimly-lit corridor with burning shrapnel.
Harry was already back on his feet, a lightning-fast swing of his silver blade deftly batting a brilliant ray of hazel light towards the ceiling. A jab of his holly wand accompanied by a muttered incantation sent a blazing bolt of green fire capering through his eyesight, an amorphous strand of purple and blue left hanging nebulously in its wake. Harry wasn't an expert swordsman by any stretch of imagination, but he certainly was becoming adept at deflecting incoming spells with his sword, or rather Gryffindor's sword.
The one unlucky enough to be the recipient of the high-end Combustion Curse apparently didn't know of the spell's potent shield-breaking capabilities; the idiot tried to block it with a purple barrier instead of simply dodging it. Harry watched in morbid fascination, unable tear his gaze away as the deadly curse tore through the barely average Contego shield, shattering it like a fragile piece of coloured glass, and instantly torched the Dark wizard. The man went down in a blinding flash of neon-green fire, nothing but black bones and a cloud of grey ash hitting the floor a second later. The Death Eater died so fast he didn't have even time to scream which was something Harry considered a blessing.
The air, superheated by Harry's spell, expanded with a great force. The blast of searing air billowed his robes and almost made him reel backwards, filling the dark hallway with thick clouds of suffocating smoke and a terrible burning stench. Harry made it a point to not breathe through his nose, doing otherwise would probably cause him to instantly empty his stomach to the floor. He fluidly sidestepped the vibrant-yellow beam of a Flesh-Ripping Curse sent by the nearest Death Eater only to step directly into the path of a Lung-Collapsing Curse cast by another white-masked magician. The pulsating bolt of blue light slammed into his stomach with the force of a sledgehammer, blasting the wind out of him and sending him staggering a few steps backwards.
A burning pain surged through his chest and he suddenly found it almost impossible to breathe, the coppery tang of blood filling his mouth. Still, despite all this, he managed to non-verbally bring up a silvery shield to deflect two roaring curses back to their respective casters before the spells would have ripped him apart in an explosion of boiled blood. As two of the three remaining Death Eaters were forced to deal with their own rebounding curses, Harry swung his left arm, sending his goblin-silver sword spinning through the air, the large rubies embedded on its hilt glittering in the torchlight. The heavily enchanted blade went straight through the Death Eaters' shields like they hadn't even been there and a split second later it cut a white-masked head cleanly off the woman's shoulders.
Bright-red blood fountained freely from the torn arteries, staining everything around the decapitated witch with scarlet and the severed head arched through the air, the female Death Eater's long, ash blonde hair fanning behind. The headless corpse crumpled silently into a black heap on the floor and the head hit the parquet a second later, rolling a few feet on the bloodstained floorboards before stopping so that her face was facing Harry. Her lifeless eyes seemed to be staring at him accusingly through the skull-like mask's eyeholes.
The silver sword glanced a wall with a high-pitched screech and chipped of a few pieces of grey stone, before rebounding and clattering loudly to the parquet behind the Death Eaters, leaving large cuts on the dark floorboards. The brunette witch standing next to the victim of decapitation almost panicked as she was suddenly coated in hot blood. She was still wiping the sticky, red liquid from her terror-filled eyes and loudly muttering 'Oh God... Oh, merciful God' when an amethyst Defodio slammed directly into her upper chest and violently interrupted the repetitive speech. The Gouging Charm tore a hole larger than Harry's fist through her thorax and showered the hallway behind her with crimson. Easily overpowering the earlier sulphuric smell, the sickening stench of blood quickly saturated the air.
Now as both witches were down, there was just one enemy left, but unfortunately, he seemed to be the most competent of the bunch. To make things worse, Harry was quickly slowing down, his vision clouding with an alarming rate due the lack of oxygen. The pain was severe and he felt like he could collapse at any moment now, his legs becoming wobblier with every passing moment. Somehow he got the impression that this was going to be his last fight, but nevertheless he absolutely refused to give up. If he had survived against the odds up to this point, he could survive this too...
Then the remaining Death Eater hissed something that Harry couldn't quite hear while slashing his wand vertically, the action unleashing a long-tailed jet of azure fire at the young wizard with a weird crackling-hiss. And Harry, having no time to bring up a good enough shield, simply sidestepped the high-powered spell. This turned out to be a very bad decision when the white-masked man's wand made the tiniest of flicks, causing the fiery filament to explode with a tremendous force just as it was passing Harry.
A large part of the hallway was briefly enveloped in swirling blue flames and an ear-splitting boom echoed through the shadowed corridors of Riddle Manor. Harry was promptly hurled against the hard, stonewall with a bone-shattering force and only the handful of protective spells he had cast on himself before coming here kept him from being immolated or ripped apart by the powerful, magical explosion. After the painful crash, he crumbled to the floor like a rag-doll. His dark clothes and hair were smouldering a little and the white, porcelain mask he wore was now blackened and covered in an intricate web of hairline fractures.
Harry was in great pain and a few agonized hisses and grunts escaped his bloodied lips as he lay on the scorched floor. He was badly burned and the sharp waves of pain told him that he had broken his wand arm slamming shoulder first against the wall. His lungs hurt worse than ever and he saw everything in duplicate. He closed his eyes, trying to refocus and clear his vision. It was very hard, especially because he was quickly running out of oxygen. Harry was slowly 'drowning' like a fish on a dry land.
A few wasted seconds later, he reopened his emerald eyes and lifted his head from the bloodstained floor only to hazily see the Death Eater standing victoriously a few feet in front of him, a wand levelled at his face, a continuous stream of angry red sparks escaping the wand tip. Harry experienced a brief moment of focal lucidity, his pupils dilating in dread and cold sweat running down his back as his gaze fixated on the offending wand, and if he had any breath left he would have cursed profoundly. In the Muggle way, mind you – not magically.
The Death Eater's gloved hand reached up and his white mask came off, revealing grey eyes and an aristocratic face Harry instantly recognised: Lucius bloody Malfoy. A second later, the discarded, skull-like mask shattered against the blackened floorboards with a loud crack, scattering tiny porcelain shards into a wide area. This time the Dark wizard did not wear his customary sneer, nor did he look like he had crap under his nose; instead his face was a mask of pure hatred. His mouth was almost foaming, disgusting amounts of spittle flying with every laboured exhale, and Harry couldn't help but notice the fat tears falling unrestrained on Malfoy's cheeks. He looked more than a little mad and the reason for it was revealed to Harry as soon as the man spoke.
"You pathetic half-blood filth just killed my wife and son," snarled Malfoy through his clenched, sparklingly white teeth, hatred oozing from every barely understandable word. "The Dark Lord's orders be damned, I will kill you myself! Avada Ke-"
The man's words were cut off by a bloody sword tip protruding out of his chest, crimson slowly trickling from the wound and running downwards the blade. The Death Eater looked at the silver brand and the red dripping from its tip in a stunned silence for a few seconds before falling to the floor in a heap, the collapsing body missing Harry by a few inches.
The warm blood oozing from the hole on the man's chest pooled on the floor and the expanding threads of crimson soon reached Harry's prone form, quickly soaking through his dark robes. He spat a few drops of blood off his mouth and slowly rolled so that he was lying on his back, completely dismissing the fact that the action led him into another puddle of sticky blood. His wand slipped from his broken fingers, rolling a few inches on the bloodstained floor before stopping.
While he was trying to gasp for breath, his eyes locked onto the corpse right next to him. The bigoted bastard most certainly hadn't expected a simple Summoning Charm. Harry snorted amusedly, and then coughed painfully as the motion hurt like hell. Luckily, he knew the charm inside out and could cast it both silently and without any wand movements... Even his broken arm that had been sandwiched between the floor and his chest hadn't stopped him.
The world kept spinning around him, seemingly gaining more momentum with every passing second, and his ears were still ringing from the explosion. His lungs felt like they were on fire, his skin was one big first and second degree burn, and almost every bone in his wand arm was shattered, every movement causing jolts of piercing pain. Harry's feeble Occlumency skills could not do much more than to slightly dim the all-encompassing agony that threatened to engulf him in its black abyss. Once again, the young wizard cursed the fact that Snape couldn't even teach a fish to swim... Honestly, if it were not for Hermione, he wouldn't be able to do even the little Occlumency he could now.
Harry lifted his wand shakily from the scorched floor with his still working left hand. Fighting the dizzying waves of pain, he pointed the wooden stick at his chest. His hand trembled almost violently and his desperate attempts to vocalise the incantation failed miserably, producing only pained coughs and a few faint, unintelligible 'words.' In the shape he was now, he just couldn't scrape up enough concentration to do it silently. His strength was rapidly running out and a cold numbness was seeping deep into his body.
The spell he was trying to cast was called the Blood Refreshing Charm. Originally designed for diving, the charm eliminated the need to breathe by oxidizing blood and removing the produced carbon dioxide, making it an excellent spell for the situation he was in. If he could just get it to work, he might even survive to fight another day. The pain was fading, but it wasn't exactly a good thing as it was replaced by even more dangerous drowsiness. His eyelids seemed to weigh at least a ton...
Harry blinked confusedly as a soft, red glow filled the ravaged corridor, accompanied by the distinct smell of brimstone and weird sizzling sounds. He turned his head slightly and what he saw was far from reassuring – the runes that he had seen earlier were now burning brightly all around him, a steady flow of grey smoke rising from the arcane symbols. A fresh wave of panic rose within him. He was lying in an unknown, activating runic circle! He had to get away and fast...
But it was already too late. Before he had moved an inch, the chalk circle flared up, enveloping the hallway in its blinding radiance. Wild torrents of burning magic roared through Harry's veins and his sight become even more blurry, dots of colour swimming all over his vision in a mad pattern. His senses were assaulted with myriad of impressions: the sharp scent of ozone tickling his nose, warm hands fluttering all over his skin and banishing the dreadful cold that had been invading his body, and an acidic taste of vinegar on his tongue.
The foreign power rushing wildly through his body and soul drew the last vestiges of his strength with it and Harry could only lie on the floor, helplessly waiting his life come to an end. He would have thought that in a situation like this he could be calm and accepting, but he wasn't. Panic, frustration, anger and despair were all that Harry felt, and he would have shouted his defiance had he been able to. The heat quickly rose to painful heights and he screamed soundlessly as he felt his body ignite.
He could vaguely hear a high-pitched scream before his world went white.