A/N: Of Snakes and Hellfire

CHAPTER 1

Harry shook himself and accepted the hand, asking, "That wouldn't be Michael the Archangel, would it?"

"It would." Michael nodded, released his hand, and strode out of the barrier and into the Muggle world. Harry grabbed his trunk and shouldered his book bag quickly, dashing through the crowds on the other side to catch up to the surprisingly fast-moving redhead. He stopped to catch his breath when they arrived at the waiting area for the train they would be taking to wherever Michael lived.

"So…how do you know the Polskis?" Michael sat down next to him on the peeling wood of the bench, cracked his knuckles, and mumbled, "Where to start, where to start…"

"The beginning would be nice." Harry joked, laughing when Michael nudged his shoulder with his.

"Well, I met Bronislav during one of the Gatherings, when he was still new, and then two months after that I was sent to handle an uprising in Hell and accidentally attacked Vlad instead of the fiend next to him."

"Why was Vladimir in Hell?" Michael squirmed while remaining silent, so Harry added, "I already know he's a Vampire."

"Oh! Really? Well then, he was down there getting examined for any flaws in his system or something because his hunger waves were kind of abnormal." When Harry looked horrified, he finished, "Its fine now! Heh, no worries there about him ripping your throat out."

"That didn't exactly help."

"S'not my fault you're delicate."

"I am not delicate!" Harry sputtered, glaring at him. Michael smirked and poked his nose.

"I say you are, and I outrank you by several thousand levels of power. So there."

Harry internally groaned when it hit him that he was going to spending his entire summer with this guy.

--

Skipping despite the weird looks she was getting for it, Luna made her way down the paths to the Polski's house in the countryside. It looked a little worse for wear than it had last time, and she wondered if this area had had some bad thunderstorms or something since she had last been here to account for the paint barely staying on and the entire structure just generally looking like it was about to fall over.

She knew that she hadn't told Harry she was coming over, but she wanted to surprise him and the wards had still let her in even though it had been over a year since she was last here, so she was going to assume that it was okay for her to be there until further notice. ascending the steps carefully, sticking to the sides and clinging to the railing, she rapped gently on the screen door's frame.

All was silent and then she heard loud scuffling and some muffled yelps and half-cries. Her mind was just supplying lecherous mental images (hey, it was practically her job to be a pervert) when the door was opened a few inches and someone peered at her through the crack. She couldn't see who it was because of the screen door's very dirty state. It looked like it had been singed with a flamethrower or something. "Hi! I'm Harry's friend Luna. Is Harry home?" She gave an innocent little girl's smile and folded her hands in front of herself.

"Oh. Oh! Miss Lovegood, of course I remember you now…um, no, Harry is not here and won't be for the entire summer. He's staying with a friend of ours while we remodel the house." He carefully eased his body closer as he spoke, keeping the door almost completely closed behind him. It took her a moment to recall his name, but then remembered that he was Vladimir, the older brother. She still caught a glimpse of the plaster ceiling shedding powder onto the mangled carpets through the space he couldn't conceal. They were certainly being enthusiastic while destroying the old sections, she could tell, and considered asking him which crew he had hired since they were moving kind of fast with the heavy stuff like ceilings. He had maneuvered himself between the doors now, opening the screen partially when his hips got wedged somehow. She glanced at them and resisted the urge to ogle when she saw that they were quite a bit wider than normal for men in his slender physical condition. She had a weakness for wide hips on anyone. "But please don't tell Harry any of this, if you meet up with him, since it's supposed to be a surprise. We were trying to get it done before his birthday, but haven't even gotten close to that." He laughed and rubbed the back of his head while she giggled.

"Don't worry, your secret is safe with me." She made the Muggle sign of 'crossing her heart and hoping to die', and then asked, "Can you tell me where he is staying or would the person he is with not appreciate me showing up?"

"I know he usually doesn't like strangers, but I can't see anybody minding a sweet girl like you, so just let me go in and get the address for you, okay? Do you want some tea as well? Because I can make some while I'm in and just bring it out if you want it…"

She thought about it. The long walk had made her thirsty, and she still had to walk all the way out the wards before she could portkey home, so she nodded and moved to make herself comfortable on the raffia lawn furniture arranged haphazardly on the porch when he gestured graciously to it. Pulling her notebook out of her magically-enlarged purse, she took notes on the food she was going to be preparing this week and did a mental supplies check to see if she was running low on any cleaning fluids. She had planned almost all of it and remembered that she was nearly out of the potion she used to clean bathrooms, jotting things down as they occurred to her, when Vladimir returned with two glasses of iced tea. He handed one to her and seated himself in the chair across from her, promptly falling through the seat and landing on the floor with a loud 'ow!'

While restraining her laughter, she got up and helped him to his feet, asking if he was alright. He nodded but made no move to attempt to seat himself on the chairs again, folding his legs Indian-style instead and remaining on the floor. Not wanting to loom over him, she sat on the floor too, tucking her legs under her with her skirt fanning out over them. It was too hot today to wear restrictive trousers.

"So, what style is the house going to be in when you're done changing stuff?" She sipped her tea, smiling when she realized that it was hibiscus-flavored, which was one of her favorite teas from childhood.

"Well, I think we were just trying to replace the carpeting and a lot of the ceiling and wall material, since we have a mold problem and very little insulation, which means that it is freezing in the winter and way too hot in the summer. I just hope it looks okay when we're done." He dug into his front pocket and handed her a folded piece of note paper. "Here's the address for where he's staying. My only advice about visiting times is don't go before 8 in the morning. Michael isn't a morning person; as a matter of fact, he's downright evil before he gets his coffee, and I wouldn't wish facing him unwarned on anyone."

"Okay, I'll definitely keep that in mind." She finished her tea off and stood, brushing off her skirt. "I hope you guys have fun with the remodeling and thanks for the tea!"

"No problem. It was my pleasure." He stood and walked with her until the path ended and the wards began, bowing just before she activated her portkey.

--

She turned from side to side, smoothing her hand over her still-flat stomach. She knew that if she was showing a bump or any sign of swelling in her stomach just yet, something was wrong, but she kind of wished she could see some evidence that there really was a little person growing inside of her. The more she thought about producing another being, hopefully human, the more fascinated and excited she became.

She still hadn't told Asmodeus yet, and had been avoiding him lately because she knew that any second she could lose her cool and just spill it all out into his lap, which would probably overwhelm him. The parenting books she had been reading said that women become mothers when they conceive, and men become fathers when they hold their child. That was quite a gap of time in between for him to freak out and leave her, and the very thought of that, even though she kind of wanted to keep her child to herself, was frightening. She hadn't had a proper boyfriend in a very long time, and her last relationship hadn't ended well. If having this child meant separating from the Demon, she would like it to be a cordial process.

She was bitter enough as it was, and she had spent her whole childhood and then some with an extremely bitter woman known as her mother, so she was determined not to do the same to her own child. She would be a positive angel to the child.

--

"Any new information?"

"On who?"

"The Dark Lord wannabe, of course. Who else could I be talking about?"

"No need to get snippy with me, mister." The elderly werewolf sniffed, tucking her many shawls around herself primly. "And no, we have no updates other than he seem to realize that he is being watched. Opinions are split as to whether this is good or bad."

"Hm." Gellert rubbed his chin thoughtfully, nodding his thanks to the old lady at the information desk and heading upstairs to his office. Several Muggles had dropped dead in what had obviously been a magical attack in a Muggle suburb, and one of them had insulted the Dark Lord a few weeks previously, while the others were his companions. He wasn't sure if there was a connection yet.

He arrived in his office, still not paying complete attention to his surroundings, and made to sit in his chair. Something hissed loudly when he was inches from sinking into it though, and he jumped, whirling and pointing his razor-sharp 'letter opener' at the intruder. It was a long black snake curled around his chair and blending with the quality black leather well. Its head was lined up with the seat, and had it not warned him he would have sunk right onto its fangs.

"Um…" Now what was he going to do with the reptile?!

--

End chapter 1

Whoo! First chapter down, god knows how many more to go!

Review, please, so as usual I can make sure that my regulars have found this.