Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter either. It belongs to its creator J.K. Rowling and probably Warner Bros. too. I'm not too sure about that. This piece of literature is simply the work of a humble fan. I also credit Jim Butcher for various themes, subjects, or references that I may use.

Author Notes: This is a Harry Potter crossover with the Dresden Files the book series. All my knowledge of the Dresden Files comes from the books. I've never seen the TV series. For the timeline that will be stated later. Thanks to the folks at DLP for help with editing.

Awaken Sleeper.
Chapter Twenty Six: LeFay
by: Water Mage

The random people in the bar scrambled for the exit. Harry put his hand on Aurora's wrist ready to apparate them out. He wasn't too keen on sticking around ground zero. Dresden was a friend but his temper was infamous. It was that same temper that ignited the vampire wizard war.

Dresden was shaking with rage and so was the bar. Dust fell from the ceiling and the tables were knocked over in the force of his uncontrolled magic. Margaret faced her son with a pained look on her pale face. She reached out her hand and dropped in an aborted gesture of need or comfort maybe. Hell was in Dresden's eyes and the scowl on his face was beyond murderous. The gathered energy started to crackle through the air overloading the bar's disruption defenses.

He was going to bring the building down on top of them.

A low, gruff voice came from behind the bar. "Dresden."

It was said with quiet warning and Dresden didn't look at the bartender but he heard him all the same. The room slowly ceased shaking but the air was still thick with sizzling energy as Dresden held them with a dark stare. Harry found himself tensing up prepared for the worst. In that moment Dresden wasn't just dangerous he was terrifying.

"Explain," he snarled.

Dresden's voice was unrecognizable with its rage. Margaret stepped out in front of the couple putting them to her back and faced her son. It was the first time seeing the man he had become. He scowled watching her with narrowed eyes.

"Who are you?" asked Dresden.

"Um, uh, hi," Margaret said, nerves making her fumble a bit. She let out a deep breath and then smiled, quietly, honestly, and she said with the barest hint of pride. "I'm your mother."

The blood drained from Dresden's face and he stared at her. The smiled wilted from her face. She shut her eyes when tears welled up. Margaret pressed the heel of her hand against her eyes giving her head a little shake.

"Sorry, I'm awful at this," she admitted with a husky tone, lowering her eyes. "Stars, I wish Malcolm was here."

"What?" Dresden asked, hoarsely.

Margaret looked up at him. "Your father—"

The man growled swiping his hand through the air, quieting her. "Stop." He trained his eyes on the pair behind her. "I don't know what kind of game this is but I'm not laughing."

Aurora looked at him without emotion. "No games, wizard."

"Call me crazy but I don't believe you."

"Why would I deceive you?"

Even Harry gave her a disbelieving look at her sincere question. He shook his head. "Wasn't long ago you were trying to incinerate us."

She gave him an opaque look. "I have been alive for a very long time. If I wanted you dead you would be dead."

Harry was taken aback for a moment, and then his frown returned twice as heavy. "So what do you call slinging lethal faerie magic at us at the Stone Table?"

"Target practice."

Elaine let out a strangled sound and Harry glared at the woman when she turned her head, wiping her mouth with her hand and throttling a sudden smile. Dresden didn't even blink. He was still watching Margaret with an unreadable but no less dark stare. Margaret didn't hide from his open scrutiny.

Harry glanced around the empty bar and then at the bartender who didn't make himself scarce like the rest of the customers when Dresden let loose his fury. In fact, he still stood in his same position and was watching the entire proceedings with an unreadable expression.

"Reckon," Harry began, taking his stare off the bald man. "We should take this someplace else."

Elaine nodded. "Might be a good idea."

"No," Dresden growled. "No one goes anywhere."

The command made his mother falter. Margaret regarded him wondrously, a surprised smile crossing her face. "You have my temper."

"You're laying it on pretty thick," said Dresden.

Margaret sighed. "You're definitely my kid."

Elaine put a hand on Dresden's elbow. "Hear them out."

Dresden rounded on her. "This is ridiculous, Elaine! My mother is dead."

"Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden!"

She didn't pitch her voice to invoke his true Name, but it was his name all the same. Every supernatural being in the world knows that names have power. And knowing a person or entity's name could form a magical link, a sort of conduit, a way to home in on them. A mortal's Name can change over time due to how perception of themselves change, so knowing isn't good enough, you have to know exactly how to say the name. And Margaret Dresden said her son's name in the universal way that all mothers did when their child was misbehaving.

Dresden's shoulders stiffened. Something in his face seemed to close a little, guarded, wary. "Who are you?"

"Child," Margaret murmured, stepping forward. "Look into my eyes."

It wasn't fear but there was a slight hesitation before he lifted his chin to stare almost defiantly into her eyes. Harry had never seen a soulgaze before. It was shorter than he thought, and that was probably due to not drowning in the heart of another's being. They stared at each other in silence, eyes widening, silent tears beginning to fall, when they broke away with a gasp, blinking.

Crying, Margaret laid her palm against his cheek. "You've been so strong."

Dresden trembled and made to take an aborted step back. His head was hung low, his face hidden. "This isn't possible. You can't be here. This is a trick—this. It just. Can't."

"Oh, Harry," said Margaret, gently touching her fingertips to his chin.

It was something in her tone that rang of pride and warmth and so much love. There was a little hitch in Dresden's breathing and it felt like forever, but it was seconds, before he looked up, his eyes wet and his expression wondrous like—well, like he was seeing the sunrise for the very first time, like his whole life led up to this, a breathing miracle right before his eyes.

"It's really you?" His voice was rough. "Mom?"

She nodded letting out a chocked out sob. "Yeah, baby. It's me."

Margaret lowered her hand from his chin and stepped back, tearfully beaming at him, and suddenly long arms enveloped her, pulling her back and pressing her tight against his chest. Dresden hugged her and didn't seem like was going to let go anytime soon.

It was quiet for a long time. And the silence was good.

It was a beautiful moment but that's what it was. A moment. It was quiet as mother and son pulled back to take in one another and those watching let them have their reunion. Margaret cupped his face with both hands and wiped his cheeks with her thumbs.

At last, and reluctantly, she let Dresden go. "Let me look at you," she said, studying him and her eyes found traces of her own features across his face. "You've come into your birthright. Excellent."

Dresden nodded, tugging at the amulet from around his neck. Light gathered there, and from the silver white luminescence the pentacle shone like captured starlight.

"Took up the family business," he said, dispelling the wizard light.

She ran a finger across the amulet. Her amulet. "We have so much to talk about."

At her glance for a place to sit, Harry waved his wand, muttering, "Reparo."

Legs reattached themselves to chairs and tables flipped back upright. The damage from Dresden's anger was fixed like new. They took the display of magic in stride. Harry's wizardry was old news to all of them. Well, except for Margaret who blew out her breath.

"Must be nice," she muttered, taking the seat Dresden pulled out for her.

It was bloody adorable the way Dresden was fawning over her. He hadn't so much as taken a single step from her side. Dresden kept a hand on his mother's shoulder like the physical touch was confirming she wasn't made up. She was real. No one could blame the bloke. Harry in particular. He had been in his shoes. He knew what it was like to gain a resurrected parent.

The table was big and round and made of solid wood. The five of them sat around it without being cramped. Margaret waved a hand to the bartender.

"Yo, Mac. Long time. Be a dear and pour a girl a glass of Chardonnay."

The slight widening of Dresden's eyes was all the surprise the dazed wizard showed to Margaret and Mac previously knowing one another. Dresden cleared his throat and put in his own order. "We're definitely going to need a round of beer when you get a chance."

"Amen," Elaine chimed in. She pulled a piece of chalk from her handbag lying on the table. "I'll close the circle."

"Good idea," remarked Margaret, discreetly pointing at Elaine walking around the table and then she gave Dresden a thumb up of approval. He blinked and hesitantly returned it.

Harry's lips twitched at his embarrassment. Elaine finished the circle, then touched a finger to it and whispered a word. She released a tiny bit of power into the circle. The circle closed in a swift, soundless pressure, raising a thin barrier around them that was almost impenetrable to magical forces. It was a neat little bit of wizardry that prevented spying by magic. It also had the added benefit of magic-saturating the air within the circle with enough juice to fry any nearby listening devices.

"So… Mom," said Dresden, slowly. "Jeez, that feels weird to say." He looked awkward. "I saw a little bit in the soulgaze. I still don't understand. How are you here? I mean alive."

"How many dealings have you had with your godmother? The Leanansidhe."

"Far too many. She's always trying…" He trailed off, staring at her with dawning comprehension. His voice came out hard. "What did she do?"

Margaret leaned forward. "Screwed me over."

"You made a deal?"

"One with a loophole that she exploited."

Harry's attention was divided between present conversation and the bartender moving behind the counter. He stared pensively across the room at the bald man. It was brief but Harry caught the flash of surprise on Mac's face earlier. Every so often while he worked Mac's gaze found him again and there was a curiosity there that made Harry wonder. Harry reached over with one hand and touched Aurora's wrist right where it was perched delicately on her lap.

The bartender's an interesting fellow, Harry spoke through their connection that sizzled to life in entwined wizardry and summer fire.

Aurora didn't show any outward sign of their mental conversation and yet her reply sounded like a warm voice spoken right next to his ear. How so?

Something isn't quite right. He's reacting oddly. Harry frowned, contemplating it. He keeps watching me.

A sudden smile touched Aurora's lips. Watcher indeed.

You know something I don't, Harry thought, turning to her with an arched brow.

The sphinx like smile he received in return made him roll his eyes. He really hated when she went all super secret Unspeakable agent. Harry returned his stare to the bartender. Whether it was that plucky Gryffindor earnestness or something else, but Harry always hated being kept in the dark. It reminded him too much of his schoolboy years. If he could see paths and probabilities, if he could cheat fate then maybe…

It was instinct more than anything that made him reach for that well of power the Gatekeeper called Janus' legacy. It came easier than he anticipated. He didn't so much as reach for it as it leapt up at his mental call.

As soon it rushed into him Harry realized it had been present all along, hovering there at the edge of awareness. Harry looked at the bartender with new eyes, with the power of the promised hero. The threads of fate flared around Mac like nothing Harry had ever seen.

It was tears in rain and shattered empires. Darkness and eternal.

It crushed him and freed him; a towering tsunami that fell over his being and through him. Harry's mind flowed in a thousand directions all at once. His soul was carried into the sky to a great cloud-strewn city of crystal and metallic stone floating on a lone land mass like something out of child's fairytale. The architecture was a seamless blend of alien and ancient. A bridge stretched from the floating city and into the clouds and stars beyond just off the shoulder of Orion. It was smoke and starlight given form and it glittered strangely in the light with all manner of colors like a rainbow.

A lone sentry stood guard upon the glittering bridge eternal in his watch. He was a behemoth of a man garbed in white-enameled plate. The guardian turned suddenly and all seeing gray eyes, shadowed by his horned helmet, focused on Harry with a quiet intensity flickering with the fires of All Sight.

The guardian cut his hand through the air and said in a deep baritone, "No."

The searing sensation of a hand covering Harry's eyes made eternity go black and sent fate unraveling as he was pushed through the lonely void. The vision shattered and the interior of the bar snapped into place with a sudden sharpness that left him breathless.

Aurora was the only one who noticed her husband's queasy expression. The others at the table were still engrossed in the tale Margaret wove. Slim fingers wrapped around Harry's wrist and he didn't realize he gripped their fingers together until Aurora gave their joined hands a little squeeze.

What did you see? Aurora's voice echoed in his head.

Harry frowned and thought I don't know exactly. It was a city. It was ancient and forever. It's…guardian. He saw me.

And the Watcher sees you now. He can see the fluttering of a butterfly's wings a thousand worlds away.

He frowned. What is he? What was that city?

You saw a glimpse of what once was and what can never again be.

Aurora cocked her head and observed him, and her eyes became sharp as they only did when presented with a difficult puzzle and Harry felt dissected beneath them. He remembered how coveted this power of maneuvering fate really was. It's the supreme ability of being in many places at once, echoed around in his head, and Harry frowned because where did that even come from?

He heard a sigh somewhere near his shoulder but when he turned his head there was only a shadow falling over the table. Mac carried their drinks on a little circular tray and handed them off with accompanied murmurs of thanks from the table.

Margaret took a sip and moaned appreciatively, "This is ambrosia. Thank you."

Mac grunted and Harry got the impression he didn't talk much. When he sat down Harry's beer something went into Mac's eyes or pooled out when he regarded the wizard with an unwavering stare. Harry felt like he was standing on the edge of a cliff and below him was a swirling whirlpool into oblivion. When Mac did speak it was in a low voice that spoke of great labors untold, of burdens lost to the river of time and was cutting as a blade forged in dragon fire, "Do not look there again. Ever."

"Peace," said Aurora and the bartender slowly took his eyes off Harry. "He didn't know looking past the Freeze was taboo. It's been many years since the Way to Twilight."

"I'm out," Mac said with a gruff tone that carried a quiet finality to it.

He stalked off behind the bar and made himself busy cleaning the glasses without another look in their direction. Dresden stared after Mac with an incredulous expression. He turned that expression on Harry and said, "Hell's bells, this entire day is Loony Tunes. Out from what? What in the hell is going on and since when does Mac even talk?"

"Oh, don't exaggerate," Margaret said, swatting his arm. "Much. He doesn't talk much. He's shy."

Elaine snorted. "A shy bartender? Not with that glare."

"I wouldn't mind some answers," Dresden stated firmly, circling right back to the point.

"Information doesn't come without a price." Aurora leaned frowned a bit in her chair. "Are you interested in striking a bargain, wizard?"

Harry sighed. "You're so predictable."

"You're not making a deal with my kid," Margaret declared, sipping at her wine glass. She looked particularly unamused by Aurora's coy smile. "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. The Final Night, Death in Glory, Ragnarok. The more poetic phrase that sticks around is the Way to Twilight. The gods lost their rule and their seats of power were sealed off in the Nevernever. Whole realms locked away. Even their time streams. Nothing gets in or out. It's called the Freeze."

Elaine frowned at Aurora. "I didn't know this."

"Me either," Harry tacked on.

Aurora appeared terribly bored. "The wars of immortals are not something for mortals to gossip over."

Harry pointed at Margaret. "Then why does she know?"

"I was traveling the Ways of the Nevernever a hundred years before I even brought my son into the world," she replied, regarding him with a raised eyebrow. "I made it my business to know."

Dresden cleared his throat. "So places like Asgard, Olympus, Penglai, Buyan… They've all been timelocked?"

Elaine snorted. "Timelocked? Really."

"Hey," he said, tapping at the table. "It fits doesn't it? And anyway this sounds impossible. Sealing off a location from local space, okay, sure. It's a stretch but nothing is totally unreachable. But to block access from the time stream as well is nuts. The power to support the matrix of a spell that complex—"

"So complex it would sheer your mind," Aurora smoothly cut him off. In a calm voice that carried hidden weight she said, "You have no concept of the emperors that dream beneath the lake, the song the trees sang at dawn, or even what lingers on the farside of the Seven Towers waiting to devour you talking apes whole. Trust me, wizard. You haven't even begun to see what the world truly is."

Dresden turned to Harry. "Is she always like this?"

Harry shrugged. "More or less."

"You're a lucky guy."

Aurora looked between them. "Did you believe that I left the table?"

"Oh, dear," Margaret patted her hand, giving her a look of sympathy that Harry saw right through.

"Having a soul is frustrating," Aurora mused aloud. "I once would've retaliated against such jokes at my expanse but I find patience where there was once vengeance."

Harry beamed. "Reckon you're getting the hang of it."

Dresden snorted. "It's like the fae version of Pinocchio."

"Progress is progress," said Elaine, raising her glass in Aurora's direction.

"I thought we gathered here to plot the murder of my father."

"Well that effectively killed the mood," Elaine muttered, tipping back the pint.

Margaret cleared her throat. She didn't even look the slightest bit put off. She had confiscated Dresden's plate and was cutting up his steak with a concentrated effort. Harry grinned slyly at Dresden waiting for her to feed it to him like she was making up for his lost baby years. By the embarrassed look he wore Dresden was resigned to it too. His shoulders slumped with relief when Margaret speared a piece of meat and instead lifted it to her own mouth chewing with a look of bliss.

"We can't talk about that here," Margaret said, between chews. She swallowed and sighed happily. "This is the best meal I've ever had by the way."

Dresden was gazing at her like she hung the moon. It was adorable. "It's all yours. I don't mind. Really."

"That's so sweet of you."

Harry noted that she already was halfway done. "So did we come just for the reunion if we can't talk shop here?"

"Please talk about the reunion with my son with appropriate amounts of excitement and wonder that it deserves."

Dresden looked at Harry's put upon expression with a smug smirk. Elaine had to hide her smile behind her glass. Harry was close to jinxing them both. Aurora let out a sigh.

"I would really like it if we could get on topic. The number of people to kill is daunting. Starting soon would be preferable."

Dresden looked sidelong at Harry. "Progress, right."

"I was rooting for you," Harry muttered under his breath.

"Well, princess," Margaret began and Aurora cleared her throat making the wizard pause, and Margaret continued, "Sorry, Queen. I have a more secure location in mind to get down to business."

"You're full of plans for someone who was just sprung from prison," said Harry.

"I've had years to plot. I have contingency plans for contingency plans."

Aurora's smile was too pleased. "That's why I went to such measures to see you freed."

Harry winked. "You're a real saint."

"Son of a bitch," Elaine swore, staring at him. Her wide eyes darted between him and Aurora in disbelief. "This is a joke."

Harry didn't like the vulpine smile that slowly curled her lips. He knew where this was going and he didn't like it one bit.

Green eyes narrowed in her direction.

Her smile widened.

Dresden looked back and forth between them. "What's the gag here? I'm not following."

"Let me think of a good 80's movie reference that fits. Have you ever seen Romancing the Stone?"

Elaine was such a lovely woman. It was a pity Harry was going to have her killed. "Elaine," he said warningly.

Margaret chewed her food staring between them with open glee. Harry made a note of her pettiness. She was getting a lot of mileage out of those sly looks of hers. It was bordering on ridiculous.

"I'm still lost on the joke here," Dresden tacked on, staring expectantly at Elaine. She was still grinning at Harry.

Aurora sighed. "I find you two unbelievably exhausting at times."

"I want you to enchant three items for me," said Elaine, promptly.

Blackmail to keep her silence. It was low and petty, and so very like her. Harry met her twinkling eyes with a flat stare. "One."




"Fine. I'm only doing this because I'm ready to move this show along and you're acting like a dog with a bone."

She let out a laugh, shaking her head a little. "You're one to talk about having a bone."

Dresden made a face. "I'm uncomfortable."

Margaret snapped her fingers at them. "You're creeping my kid out, and also I'm losing interest. Let's wrap it up."

"Finally," Aurora murmured, standing up.

Harry pointedly refused to meet anyone's gaze as they made their way out of the bar. He could feel Mac's eyes like lasers on the back of his neck. Elaine gave him a smirk and tucked her arm through the crook of Dresden's as they walked ahead. With her strapless evening dress and Dresden's off the rack suit they looked like adult chaperons at a prom. He didn't feel the least bit bad for interrupting their date.

Harry kept a bit of distance between himself and Aurora. He really had to get this under control. If Elaine could see the affection for what it was then it was only a matter of time until the cat was out of the bag. He didn't know if he was ready for all of that. He would feel like the biggest idiot if he put himself out there and it blew up in his face. Merlin preserve him, he was a mess when it came to feelings and romance. Now wasn't the time to rock the boat.

It was a full moon tonight. If the streetlights weren't on the moonlight would've provided enough illumination to see by. They looked like a weird bunch. Harry was dapper in his navy bespoke suit, Aurora in her beautiful designer dress, the high school prom couple, and Margaret in her vintage 70's outfit. Aunt Petunia would call them a gaggle of miscreants on sight. They idled by the curb and Harry laughed in Dresden's face when he tried to offer them a ride in his battered Volkswagen.

"It was a joke. You didn't have to laugh that hard," he said, scowling

Harry wiped at the tears in his eyes. "Sorry, mate. It's just," he burst out laughing again. "Well, look at it."

"I think it's a great car," Margaret said, giving her son a warm smile. Dresden perked up.

"Mama's boy," Harry whispered so only Dresden heard him. The wizard gave him a shark like smile looking absolutely proud of himself.

Aurora looked down the empty street and smiled. "There we are."

A car turned the corner. It was one of those huge SUV's that looked like it could double as a bus. It was all black with tinted windows. It pulled up to the curb, stopped, and all four doors opened on their own. It was empty inside.

Aurora raised a slim eyebrow. "Invisible sprites." She gestured at the car. "Margaret would you care to drive us to the secure location you spoke of."

She cocked her head. "I haven't driven a car since 1971."

Dresden cleared his throat. "I think I'll take the wheel then.

His mother patted his arm before getting into the passenger side. "Thanks, dear. I'll give you directions."

The rest of them climbed into the back of the massive vehicle. Margaret rattled off an address and she and Dresden went back and forth for a bit on the fastest way to get there. They compromised when Aurora made a disgruntled noise settling on taking the highway north.

"I can't stop looking at you," said Margaret, staring at Dresden. "You look so much like your father. I see a lot of me too."

"Around the eyes and jaw," Dresden mused, pulling onto the entrance ramp of the expressway.

Her smile was small but it glowed. "I want to know everything about you. How you grew up, about your job, if you like your job? Are you happy?"

"You know," said Dresden, his tone casually light. There was something deceptively calm about it. "Dad hardly ever talked about you. He did his best, but he never really recovered from losing you. Sometimes he would just shutdown. It was kind of hard for a kid to deal with, you know? I used to think he died of a broken heart. Every time anyone ever mentions you it's like they're talking about some combo of Sarah Conner and the Wicked Witch of the West."

Margaret looked out the window, city lights reflected in her eyes. "I'm sorry I wasn't there for you. I left you with an awful burden." Her shoulders slumped. "There's a lot of atoning I have to do, but I'm going to do right by you."

"I'm happy."


"You asked if I was happy," Dresden explained, giving her a real smile this time. His fingers loose on the steering wheel now. "If you asked that ten years ago, or even a few months ago the answer would've been no. Today I can honestly say I am."

Harry caught Elaine discreetly wiping a tear from her eye. Aurora cleared her throat. Harry gave her a look, waiting for it.

"Happiness is all parents should want for their children," she paused, and Harry mentally sighed. "Harry and I wish the same for our future offspring."

And there she goes.

Margaret turned around in her seat. "Oh, are you expecting?"

"She wishes," Harry deadpanned.

"It really is inevitable. Your reluctance will not change fate," replied Aurora, calmly.

"This sounds sketchy," muttered Dresden.

Harry sighed. "Welcome to my life."

Aurora looked at him with those deep green eyes. "I will have your baby. Make your peace with this sooner or later."

"So uncomfortable," said Dresden. He met Harry's eyes in the rearview mirror. "You better get those baby names picked out."

Harry almost turned his hair blue out of spite. "Don't you take her side."

"What's wrong with having an heir?"

Aurora looked at Dresden with approval. "I like you."

"Can we please move the topic away from the heir to the super empire you've got planned out," Harry pleaded, wondering if he was trapped in some weird nightmare.

"He's sensitive," Aurora said for all of them listening.

They collectively let out a long knowing oh and turned away still grinning like morons. Harry was going to get them back for this. He didn't know when or how but his vengeance was going to be swift and without mercy. He grimaced. He was starting to sound like quite the little Slytherin lately. He blamed Aurora.

"We're almost there," said Margaret, looking around the street they turned on to.

They were in the warehouse district. Not the gentrified part that was newly renovated and trendy, but the older area where homeless people lingered on building stoops and barely dressed women smoked on corners. Margaret watched the decrepit buildings pass by with a sad frown.

"This used to be so different," she said, softly. "That used to be the YMCA right there. They once had an outdoor swing dance fest right around the corner. I begged your dad to go with me even though he hated dancing. Two left feet that man had."

She laughed a little to herself looking a bit lost in memories. Dresden shook his head, quietly admitting, "I never knew that."

"Stars and stones, I could write a book on Malcolm. He was..." Margaret trailed off. A smile couldn't help but whisper along her lips. "Just a really amazing guy."

Aurora nodded. "He did have the best jokes."

"What?" Dresden asked, snapping his head around to the backseat.

The vehicle swerved and Elaine yelled out, "Watch the road!"

Dresden stared at Aurora, shocked. "How did you know my father?"

"We're here!" said Margaret, suddenly.

The car stopped and Margaret hopped right out without answering her son's question. Aurora shrugged at Dresden innocently. The warehouse they were parked in front of looked like it hadn't seen people in decades. The paint was faded and the words above the doors were unrecognizable. The street was deserted and eerily quiet.

"Hey, what's that?" asked Harry, watching the dazzling ruby light glowing between Margaret's cupped hands. They gathered around to peer closer. "Is that a fairy?"

In the bright nimbus of light was a tiny figure. She looked like a little Barbie doll with lilac hair and fluttering gossamer wings. It had been quick before but Harry recognized the dewdrop fairy. When they were hauling ass away from the island on the White Council's boat the fairy had been in the room with Margaret, shooting past Harry when he entered.

"Message delivered, Mistress," said the fairy, dutifully. Harry almost expected her to salute.

"Thank you, Thistle. You're wonderful." Margaret bit her lip worriedly. "Do you know if he's coming?"

"He's here," said a voice, followed by the sound of a pistol cocking. "Mind telling why you're wearing that face?"

Thistle shot off like a fallen star as a man stepped from the shadows with a pistol in both hands trained on the assembled group. He had long dark hair and was built like an athlete that stepped out GQ magazine in his fitted slacks and blazer. Harry moved his hand toward his wand and the barrel pointed at him without missing a beat. Grey eyes stared at Margaret coldly.

"Thomas!" said Dresden, shocked. "Hell's bells, what are you doing?"

Margaret hadn't moved a muscle. She was staring at Thomas, well not like he was holding them at gunpoint, it was more like he was the best thing she's ever seen. Tears gathered in her eyes as she brought her hands up to her mouth.

"You know this guy," asked Harry.

Dresden scowled, fingers twitching for his staff still in the car. "Vampire. White Court. Thought he was sort of an ally." He narrowed his eyes at the guns. "Apparently not."

Thomas laughed mirthlessly. "As soon as you can tell me what you're doing with the impostor we can have us a nice civil chat. I'm still your friend. That hasn't changed."

"Could have fooled me," muttered Elaine.

Aurora sighed, looking up at the stars. "I'm bored."

"Not everybody is immortal," Harry said through gritted teeth.

"Hi, Thomas," said Margaret, tentatively. Her voice broke a little then, "It's me."

"Mom—" Dresden began.

Thomas interrupted him. "Empty night, you really believe this impostor! You think she's—" He made a frustrated noise. He didn't look angry. Just cold. His expression was empty and that was frightening most of all.

"Why do you even care?" demanded Dresden, furious.

Margaret looked at him with tears falling and said softly, "Oh, honey." She looked back at Thomas. "You never told him?"

Thomas pressed his lips together, his grey eyes getting eerily lighter. "Prove who you say you are."

"A soulgaze—"

"And leave myself defenseless, I think not," Thomas cut her off. "I don't care to hear long speeches or whatever web you're about to weave. You get one word. Just one to prove who you are. Go ahead. Tick tock."

Thoroughly at the end of her patience, Aurora broke her stargazing and stared at Thomas. With a glare his guns glowed red hot as if they were dipped in a forge. He dropped them with a hiss of pain. In that moment time seemed to slow down. The glow in the vampire's eyes took on a supernatural silvery shine as his features paled, growing more predatory. Dresden and Elaine's palms were filled with crackling power even as Harry's wand whipped out with spellfire burning at its tip.


Margaret's voice boomed through the night like a thunder crack. Thomas' face transformed into a look of utter shock, and his features slackened with unabashed wonder. There was a few seconds when everyone stood there suspended in silence. Margaret took a step forward and her expression was something close to fondness.

"That… name…" Thomas stuttered out. "No one's called me that since—"

There was a blur of movement and Thomas was hugging her and spinning her around. Dresden shouted but Elaine grabbed his arm to stop him from stalking forward. Margaret was laughing. Her smile was like the brightest sunrise. It was absolutely beautiful.

Thomas gently sat her down like she was so very precious. "You're back and I don't even care how's this possible."

Margaret placed her hands tenderly against his cheeks. "I've missed you so much." She peered closer at his face and he ducked his head bashful, when she said, "You've fought your demon. I always knew you could do it." She glanced at Dresden, standing there and two seconds away from blowing up. "All this time you've been looking out for him. Why haven't you told him?"

Dresden took a step forward and lifted his chin. He looked fed up. "Told me what?"

"Before I met your father and had you… I was with someone else," said Margaret, her voice an avalanche of emotion that was hard to pin down. "Thomas is your brother."

Dresden's face was unmoving, but it betrayed a thousand emotions. There was a distinct cross of bafflement and disbelief that was most prominent. Dresden's lips moved but no sound came out. That was a first. Thomas grinned widely at his brother's shock.

"Older by five years."

"Oh," Dresden finally said, still not blinking. Hesitant acceptance came in the softening of his face, as he said again, "Oh."

It didn't look like Dresden was moving anytime soon so Margaret and Thomas walked over to him. Harry dragged Aurora away feeling oddly intrusive at witnessing the scene. He didn't bother removing Elaine. She looked thoroughly enthralled with the drama.

Aurora looked up at the stars again, frowning. "We're running out time."

Harry looked at her. "Is that why you've been so edgy today?"

"My father is very insane, violent, and rash," she explained. Her head turned and when she looked at him it was with complete seriousness. "His opening move is coming if it hasn't already happened."

"Are you afraid?"

"I would be a fool not to be."

Harry touched one of her fingers, just barely, and thought to her, We're going to annihilate him.

"You know the sweetest things to say to a girl."

He shrugged. "Just to you."

"Harry Potter you are so obsessed with me."

It was said teasingly, but Harry couldn't stop his neck from flushing. Seeing the reaction Aurora beamed a smile so warm and radiant it knocked the air out of him. In moments like these he was reminded of her ability to be so effortlessly gorgeous and affectionate. How much was it typical Sidhe nature, or genuine emotions that she felt right to the core like he did? It was a question that kept eating at him.

He looked over to see Thomas pull Dresden into a back breaking hug. It made Harry miss Aiden so suddenly that he was forced to look away. The Gatekeeper's prediction about Aiden still lingered at the back of his mind, and he would be damned before anything ill happened to his baby brother.

"That's it, then," Elaine said, walking over to them. "I think it's all good now."

Harry shook his head. "A long lost vampire half-brother. This is like a BBC drama."

"Like Eastenders," said Aurora, brightly.

Elaine and Harry stared at her.

"One big happy family," said Thomas, happily. He was damn near skipping as he joined them near the warehouse's front doors. "Sorry about pointing the guns at you. Thomas Raith. It's a pleasure."

Dresden followed him, wearing a smile he couldn't quite tamp down. "We're practically the Brady Bunch."

Elaine squinted at him. "I'm not sure you're remembering that show right."

Margaret joined them, beaming. She clapped her hands together with too much enthusiasm. "Let's get to it." She walked to the doors, and then looked over her shoulder at them. "Look at me being gung-ho and take charge. I feel like Annie Oakley."

Dresden laughed so hard he almost choked.

"This whole place used to be a nightclub before they got foreclosed on," she said, fiddling with the chains wrapped around the door handles. "It was booming here in the 60's. You wouldn't believe the people that came through here. Ah, there we go."

The chain fell to the ground with a rattle of noise. Dresden blinked. "You didn't have to use magic."

Margaret gave him a look. "This ain't my first rodeo, sweetheart."

Thomas elbowed him lightly in the ribs. "Mom's a badass."

"Thanks, Tommy," she turned, winking at him.

She pushed the doors open and they stepped through. The air was stale and it was dark. The first thing a wizard does when they're in the dark is call light. It was comical as almost simultaneously every wizard present summoned forth light to show the way.

"Who's going to pay for my cornea transplant?" Dresden groaned, blinking quickly.

"How about mine?" Harry snapped, wiping at his eyes.

Elaine rolled her eyes. "Babies."

Margaret chuckled while looking around. A lot of the tables were overturned and the dance floor had cracks running along it. A disco ball leaned against a pillar. She eyed the empty bar with a wistful eye and started striding that way.

"Is this really the time for a drink?" questioned Harry.

Thomas perked up. "I could go for bourbon."

Harry side eyed him. "Definitely brothers, alright."

They followed Margaret down a hallway next to the bar. There was a door marked storage and she waved them in with an impatient motion. Harry offered to keep his Lumos spell active while the others dispelled their wizardlight. It was a little too bright in close quarters.

"This is one of my greatest secrets," Margaret said, turning to face them. "I've never brought another person here. Thomas did you bring your amulet?"

"Of course," he said, pulling it out of his shirt.

She smiled widely. "Excellent. Let me see yours, too, honey."

Dresden followed his brother in handing her his amulet. Harry noted they were identical. Margaret frowned a little at the center of Dresden's amulet like she was expecting to see something there, but she made no comment about it. She lifted both of the amulets and placed them on top of each other. She twisted them and there was a click as they fitted together into one piece.

She faced the wall and Harry noticed there was an indentation there. Margaret placed the amulet, well now it was a key, into the groove and it fit perfectly. There were notches carved into the wall going around the place where the amulet fit looking like dials of a clock. Margaret twisted the key around left, right, then left again in a specific combination. There was a low sound of tumblers unlocking and the wall opened inward like a door.

"My mom is Batman," Dresden muttered. He smiled stupidly big. "Awesome."

Margaret handed them back their amulets. "Not quite Batman, but I'll take the compliment." She led them down a set of stairs. "This place took four years to build. It's warded against every big bad that's ever existed."

Aurora hummed under her breath. "Impressive."

Elaine nodded. "I'll say."

"I've explored a lot of the world, including the Nevernever, and I've collected a lot of artifacts in those years. They're all stored here," said Margaret, letting a sigh when they reached the bottom. She took a breath and whispered, "Flameré."

The room exploded with candlelight fixed to chandeliers illuminating the surprisingly massive room. They stood on a balcony surrounding a circular room filled with bookcases brimming with books. There were a couple of wooden tables and plush couches interspersed throughout the room. Another hallway led off into parts unknown.

"Chamber of Secrets, part two," whispered Harry, impressed.

Margaret smiled around the room like she had finally come home. "Welcome to the Vault."

They walked down the stairs into the main space. It was a mixture of a war-room and library, which centered around a table with an illuminated map of the world, and the numerous book shelves was arranged around it. Harry glanced around at the weapons on display, each one arranged on a plinth and encased by secure glass, arranged sort of like an art gallery.

Dresden stopped at the map, staring at it pensively. "Is this what I think it is?"

"Bingo. All the world's ley lines," Margaret murmured, slowly looking it over. "The different colored nodes represent whatever kind of energy is most prominent in the line." She tapped finger over a white dot near the coast of Scotland. "Edinburgh. White Council headquarters. The convergence of ley lines here is one of the largest on the planet. All that raw power goes into the ward protecting the place. Nothing short of a god could hope to break through those defenses."

Harry pointed to the dark purple lines crisscrossing over Lake Michigan. At their convergence was a bright red node on an island he had been to just over twenty four hours ago. "I recognize that place."

"Hellcrown," Margaret said, quietly. "Very dangerous, very malevolent. That island isn't the place to go for a picnic. Its ley line is some of the darkest energy I've ever come across."

Harry shared a look with Aurora. "Hellcrown," he said, feeling out the name. "Fitting. What was that spirit guardian that almost obliterated us?"

Margaret shrugged. "A security system."

Dresden cleared his throat. "I've never seen this place on any map before. What's so important out there?"

"A tomb, a prison," Aurora replied before Margaret could.

"Which one is it?" asked Dresden, frowning at her. "A tomb or a prison."

Aurora's smile was a slow curving tilt of her lips. "Yes."

"Seriously," Dresden snorted. "That's how you're playing it?"


Harry chuckled, patting him on the shoulder. "Don't even bother trying, mate. This is my everyday life."

It was tempting to explore more of the supernatural bunker, but Aurora gave him a very displeased frown when he moved to wander off. He rolled his eyes. Someone was ready to get down to business. Aurora walked over to one of the bigger tables, while staring at Harry, and he sighed walking over to sit next to her.

"Alright, let's not drag this out," said Harry, rapping his fingers against the tabletop. "Let's get down to it."

"Finally," Aurora muttered, for the second time today.

Margaret sat at the end of the table. All eyes were on her. She spread her hands out on the table. "Long story, or short?"

"Short," said Aurora, promptly.

"Thirty years ago, I was a part of a group that planned to overthrow the major supernatural powers in the world. We wanted to take over by any means necessary."

It was dead silent.

"Like the White Council?" Elaine asked, breaking the stillness.

"Along with the vampire and faerie courts, the Venatori and others." Margaret shook her head, her expression rueful. "I was young, swept away by the ideals of rebellion, and it all seemed so exciting. A new world where the supernatural and mortal world could coexist. It was terribly naïve." She nodded her head at Aurora. "Your father was one of the leaders before his coup failed and Titania imprisoned him."

Dresden's voice was low and quiet when he asked, "What changed your mind?"

"This goes deep, you have to understand. They have agents in every organization you can think of. I signed up for a revolution. What they really want is Armageddon. I jumped ship once I realized Outsiders and Old Ones were on the fucking member list."

Aurora knotted her hands together, leaning in intently. "I'm more interested in the people, places we can strike, and weaknesses."

Margaret frowned. "Weaknesses?" She looked at all of them. Whatever she found on their faces made her confused. "You mean you don't know?"

"Know what?" asked Dresden.

"You," Margaret stressed. "You are their biggest weakness. You're a knight of revolution, a starborn."

Dresden blinked, genuinely perplexed. "What now?"

Aurora turned to him, eyes gleaming. "Can he hurt them?"

"Hurt who?" Dresden gripped, waving his hands. He was starting to look annoyed. "Hello? Kind of out of the loop here."

Margaret stared at him for a moment and then said, softly, "Outsiders."

Harry must have heard wrong. There was no bloody way that was possible. He and Aurora had been dragged to the Outside, the desolate lands beyond the Outer Gates. Even thinking about it sent a chill down his spine. The Outsider they faced had been ridiculously powerful. It swatted them down without mercy, and brought Harry once again face to face with death. If Aurora hadn't saved his life he wouldn't even be here. Merlin, it took Titania herself to kill that walking nightmare, Margaret was saying Dresden could actually do what Harry and Aurora combined couldn't.

"Well, this is a twist," Thomas muttered, glancing at his brother's stunned face.

"You can hurt them," Margaret said, staring into her son's eyes. "And in this bunker are the tools you'll need to kill them."