So, I've never seen this crossover before. I must be crazy to be starting another fic, but hey, it happens sometimes that you can't help yourself.
This is a crossover between Harry Potter and the Amber series by Roger Zelazney. I've never seen it done before, and wanted to give it a whirl. Having read that, though, won't be a necessity for understanding this fic.
To Sleepwalk through Shadow
I thought it would hurt more. I suppose the branches must have slowed my fall.
With a low groan I rolled over on to my back, my gaze directed skyward in search of my pursuers. But the forest was dark, there was little moonlight to speak of, and I could not see them.
All I could do was hope that they couldn't see me either.
I struggled to my feet, testing my legs to ensure that they could still bear my weight. I breathed a sigh of relief as I took a slow, halting step forward. My relief turned quickly to despair when, as I stood, I spotted what remained of my broom, my Firebolt. It lay on the ground, snapped cleanly in two despite the protective charms that had adorned it. It really had been a tremendous fall, I was lucky to be alive.
But I couldn't stay still. I had to move. It would only be a matter of time until they spotted me – the forest was dense, but I knew that if they flew over at just the right angle they would see me, and I couldn't take that chance. I couldn't take three of them, not in this state. I could only hope that somehow I would come across something familiar, or perhaps that Dumbledore or Tonks or somebody would find me. They were all there; they'd have to notice I was missing. They'd come looking. I tried not to admit to myself that they'd have no idea where to start the search.
I took a second step forward and my left leg nearly buckled. I looked and saw a tear in my jeans; blood was clearly running down my calf. It was strange – for all that I could see the wound seemed deep, and yet I could barely feel it. I was barely more than numb.
Resolved, though, I pushed myself onwards step by step. Not that I knew where I was going. While I'd been flying, away from Hogsmeade and over the forest, I'd been much more considered with simply evading the three death eaters pursuing me – direction had come second. And when I'd fallen, when I'd been struck, any sense of direction I'd maintained had deserted me entirely. The air was brisk and a chill swept through my bones with every gust of wind that rattled the leaves of the great sycamore trees. I could only hope that the clouds that threatened overhead wouldn't empty themselves upon the earth. I could only deal with so much.
As I continued walking through the waning hours of the night, images from the Death Eater's attack on Hogsmeade flickered through my head. It'd been chaos. That was the only term for it. Nobody had seen them coming, the Hogsmeade weekend had been waning for the students – ironically I'd been talking with Ron and Hermione that very morning about how quiet things had been lately. I'd been uneasy.
I was right to be.
In the end, I had to flee. In something that called back memories of my fourth year in the Tournament, I'd summoned my broom and prayed I'd survive long enough to retrieve it. I'd been separated from the rest of the students, even Ron and Hermione, through what I was starting to believe had actually been a planned situation. It was me they were after.
It was always me.
But once I'd gotten a hold, once I'd kicked off, there weren't many of them who could keep up with me. In clear skies and in a good frame of mind nobody could have caught me. But I was distracted – I'd seen bodies littering the streets of Hogsmeade, and I couldn't catch my bearings. The weather was harsh, which didn't help the situation in the slightest.
The only saving grace I can spot is that I didn't lose my wand in the fall.
And as I thought that the clouds opened up above me with a thundering crash and cold, harsh rain began to pound mercilessly on my shoulders. I continued to stumble forward, merely hoping more than anything else that I'd find some sense of direction, some place that might give me a hint of how to go home.
I wasn't sure what to do, though, even if I made it that far. Death Eaters could still be in the vicinity. It was dangerous, and I didn't want to consider what might occur if I were caught in this state. I wouldn't even be able to mount a token resistance against a fighter like Lestrange.
But stopping wasn't an option. Turning around wasn't an option. I tried to keep a few spells on the tip of my tongue, one in particular stood out to me, a handwritten scrawl of a spell – Sectumsempra – for enemies. I could feel it ready on my lips, not knowing the brunt, but the prince had yet to let me down. And there were enemies out there. I had to be ready.
Cold, though. With the rain sliding down my skin, bangs plastered to my forehead, I could barely see where I was going. Each step wore me down a little bit more.
I couldn't say how long I walked. In truth, I have no idea.
It felt like days, though. Probably not so long as that, but in my state the passage of time didn't mean much to me. The spindly roots of the grand and aging trees continued to brush up against my feet, and the going was rough. My gait was stumbling at best, the blood from my leg continued to flow, I began to feel more than a little woozy.
God, I'd never felt so exhausted, never felt so helpless. Lost in the woods – what a ridiculous way for the Boy-Who-Lived to go out. Not even in a struggle with wild magical creatures, just a boy who succumbed to the natural elements, to the cold and the wind and the rain.
I just wished, I just hoped… I needed more than anything for the rain to stop, for the sun… for the morning to be… for there to be something I could grasp on to.
To my right were several shrubs surrounding a giant tree that dwarfed those around it… around the next turn to my left was a small slab, the pitter patter of rain falling on the shiny surface felt almost soothing. I could feel, as I took several more steps, that the rain which had once been falling heavily had been reduced to a light spatter.
Several more shuffling, stumbling steps forward… the rain stopped all together. Another step, I almost tripped, but regained my balance. My left leg was throbbing and I couldn't feel my fingers, but I had to move, had to keep going, had no other choice.
I felt faint.
Faint was an understatement.
I turned on to what appeared to be a path which had started several meters to my right before drifting closer and closer… rough sand strewn through the dense fog filling the spaces between the trees… I managed up a burst of speed, feeling a moment of fire in my gut – in front of me a clearing loomed, maybe a quarter kilometer, I could see it and the trees were beginning to spread apart.
I looked to my side… high ground loomed above me, a cliff growing out of the ground almost as if from nothing. It began to dry… the clouds lightened and the falling rain slowed to a stop…
A falling star above me, and the moon came out in full… bright almost like the sun, but pure white.
The clearing, and then it passed… more woods, but different somehow, the trees shorter and more squat, fewer of them… somehow far more ancient, I thought, I noticed leaves far wider and flatter than any I'd seen in the vicinity of the grounds.
I had no idea where I was.
And more changes. A riversmell around me, as if a trickling brook was running beside me. The sandy path widened through the wood… a howling about me, what could have been a wolf – or a werewolf – I heard it behind me, from far away, growing more and more distant with my steps.
My head, though, kept pounding. The gradual change of my surroundings was mirrored by a growing headache, the one pain I hadn't been feeling up until that point.
The trees faded away… the widening path leading out onto what seemed a flat plain… high blades of grass, dandelions blowing in the glow of the moon, whips of wind flitting about my shoulders, I pulled my cloak tight around my shoulders. It was still incredibly cold, but I couldn't help feel a bit of comfort. An odd thought about Petunia and prize winning lawns flickered through my head before disappearing into the void from which it came. A bit of comfort, still.
That comfort was short lived, though. The howling returned, in numbers this time more than three – and nearer too. I quickened my limping gait. I didn't know what was happening around me, where I was – it seemed things were changing more quickly than they should, but I didn't want to wait to ponder the question.
Howling again. Again, behind me and now to my right. Surrounding me? I worried, my wand grasped tightly between my fingers.
I walked for what felt like ten minutes more, before my leg finally gave in and I tumbled hard to the tall grass. I rolled with the fall and found myself on my back, breathing quick, shallow breaths, trying to catch up. Where the hell was I?
A moment passed in quiet. The clouds had passed entirely. Stars shone brightly, night was in the thick of things, and I wondered what I would do next. What would I do next?
The question was answered for me. Howling, right in my ear, I swiveled on my side my wand flashing up as what appeared to be a large, somewhat deformed and pure white relative of a wolf leapt towards me, teeth bared.
I aimed my wand but had no time; the wolf-like thing was already upon me. I put up my hands instinctively and ended up rolling with the beast's momentum, the jaws of the thing were huge and I couldn't help but notice the wolf's eyes, blood red and chilling. The momentum faded and it was on top of me, ready to strike. My wand had clattered to the side and lay useless. I didn't have any options.
At least it wasn't the wind that would kill me, I thought morbidly. A chuckle almost managed to escape my throat as I braced myself for death.
It didn't come.
There was a sharp twang from the side and the wolf-thing's weight fell limp upon my body, expelling the breath from my chest and lungs. I pushed and tried to roll. The thing was heavy, at least twice my own weight. I managed, finally to slip out from under it and came roughly to my knees.
My veins were throbbing, my head pounding. I'd been so near death… I looked up to my savior – he stood maybe twenty paces away, a tall but lithely built man sporting a thick but neatly trimmed beard, his stature projected something almost regal. His face, though, seemed young with flashing eyes, he couldn't have been much older than twenty-five. The main thing I noticed, though, was the ornate but clearly deadly bow that he held taut in his hands, a second arrow knocked and pointed towards the beast.
A moment passed before the man sighed and pulled the arrow from the string, content that the beast was quite dead. And then he spoke in a rich but pleasing baritone,
"Don't usually see them act so brazenly. Are you hurt?"
I could only nod before the strain of the evening fell heavily on my shoulders, my knees could no longer hold me and I collapsed to the ground, not even managing a response before the fog overtook my mind and I knew no more.
The sheets were crisp. That was the first thing I noticed when I woke.
The second thing I noticed was that I was not alone. Lying on my side I could see the girl when I opened my eyes, a bit blurry without my glasses, but there she was. She looked at me with wide, chocolate brown eyes. Her hair was dark, almost black, and her face was sweet and young, rounded. She couldn't have been much older than me.
The third thing I noticed was that I was completely and utterly naked underneath the sheets that covered me. Before I had the chance to comment on this the girl was already speaking.
"You're awake! Are you okay?"
I nodded slightly. "I guess. Uh, slightly awkward question, what happened to my clothes?"
The girl blushed lightly. "When you got here you were cold, your clothes were wet. Didn't have any other options. Don't worry thought, I mean, what I mean is that I wasn't the one…"
She trailed off and I couldn't help but chuckle at the expression on her face, despite everything.
"Don't worry," I said, "It's okay. Where am I?"
She looked at me oddly. "You don't know?"
I could only shake my head.
She shrugged. "The place is called Lorraine. I've lived here for years. Where are you from that you don't know where you are now?"
I almost didn't know how to respond. "London, I suppose. Or thereabouts. I was… wandering, didn't really mean to end up here."
She looked at me quizzically. "Huh. Never heard of it. What happened to you, by the way? You said wandering."
Again, I didn't know how to respond. Was she a muggle? Also, I'd never heard of Lorraine, nothing about this place was familiar. I tried to be safe, and nodded.
"Yeah, wandering. I was trying to figure a few things out, ended up lost and caught in the storm that came through last night. Really cold, just got lucky I ended up here."
It was then that I fully remembered how I'd wound up where I was. The man who'd slain the wolf-thing, he must have saved me.
"How'd I end up here, by the way? I mean in this house, with a girl I don't know staring at me when I wake?"
She smiled lightly. "Well, Martin, of course."
I raised an eyebrow. "Martin?"
"The guy who saved me from the wolf?"
"He didn't say anything about that," she shrugged, "but it sounds like something he'd do."
I sighed and sat up in the bed, careful to keep the sheets wrapped tightly around my waist. "But who is he? Like, why was he out in the middle of the night with a giant bow in the first place?"
"You do that a lot." I noted.
She grinned and shrugged again before standing smoothly from the white armchair in which she had been perched. "You seem hungry. Want some breakfast?"
"What time is it?" I asked.
"It's almost noon. You've been asleep for more than a day! I know I'd be starving. I'll be right back."
"Wait," I said, stopping her near the door, "what's your name?"
She smiled at me for real this time. "Dara. After my mother. And yours?"
I smiled in return. "Harry. Harry Potter."
She nodded, no sign of recognition as she swept out of the room, leaving the door just slightly ajar behind her.
I fell back on to the soft white mattress and ran a hand through my hair. It felt like I'd been hit by a train and amemory charm at the same time. This place, Lorraine, didn't sound like anywhere I'd ever heard of. No idea if they're muggles or wizards, no clue where my clothes…
And then it hit me. My wand. What had happened to my wand? I'd lost it against the wolf-thing, all I could hope for was that Martin had picked it up. Or at the very least, that he'd be willing to bring me back to that spot so I could search for it. I clenched and released my hands, I was truly anxious.
How could I have slept for over a day? Everyone would be looking for me; they'll think I've been captured by Voldemort or even killed! But how could I reach them? I had no real options. And my leg still felt sore, although as I moved it around I could tell that it had certainly been tended to.
The truth was that, at that moment, the only thing that really appealed to me was the thought sinking back down into the soft down pillows and falling back into a deep restful sleep.
But I couldn't do that. I spied my glasses on the nightstand beside the bed and swiftly put them back on, glad to see the small but homey room come clearly into focus. I would have stood, having made the decision that I had to take some action, even if I didn't know what, but without clothes I didn't really have that option.
"Hey, could you bring me my clothes on the way back?" I shouted out so that Dara could hopefully hear me. I was startled when her head poked back in to the room.
"Oh, you don't want to walk around naked? I suppose not. Sure, I'll grab them for you. We had them washed and everything."
I smiled as she popped away, and began to ponder just what my action would be. This man, Martin – he'd saved me, and he might have seen me stumble out of the wood. There'd been something… regal about him. Maybe he could help. In any case, the man was the only lead he had besides Dara, who didn't seem to have any familiarity with London and hadn't even recognized him. Harry usually wouldn't complain, but now it would be reassuring.
Just where exactly was he that they'd never heard of London?
Dara came back in to the room, a bundle of clothing held in her arms. She dumped them on Harry's lap and smiled before walking out again, speaking as she went.
"I'll give you some privacy to change, you can eat at the table like a proper person after you get dressed."
I had to admit, as I dressed, that the prospect of food did appeal to me. But when I checked my pockets and no wand could be found, all thoughts of food fled from my mind.
I strode out of the room and into the adjacent room, which happened to contain a table with two plates of eggs and bacon set out. Dara was in the midst of pouring glasses water for her and me. She looked up at me and gestured for me to sit at the table. I walked gingerly to the chair and sat. She took her place opposite me around the square table.
"By any chance was there anything else with me when I was… deposited here?"
Dara shook her head. "Sorry, just the clothes. Was there something you were looking for? Did you lose something?"
I nodded, but tried to shrug it off. "It isn't a big deal, don't worry." I said mostly to sooth myself.
Dara nodded and began to eat.
I looked at the plate, which did truly look appetizing, but couldn't focus. Finally, I looked up at her.
"I didn't thank you for taking me in."
Her brown eyes caught mine. "Don't worry about it. I'm glad to help."
"Really, though, I truly appreciate it. You helped save my life. I have to be greatful."
She shook her head. "I didn't do all that, just gave you a place to stay. Martin would be the one to thank."
I nodded. "Where is he?"
Dara cocked her head to the side. "I really don't know. He doesn't live here, or even in the area. He just stops by every now and again. Lorraine was a meaningful place for his uncle, and so he likes to come by. I've also known him for many years, I think he likes to check on me. Never seems to think that I can take care of myself."
I smiled at that. "Can you?"
The girl shot me a glare and I laughed. "Is there any way I can get in contact with him? I'd really like to thank him, also ask him a question or two."
Dara shook her head. "Nothing that I can think of. He might be out hunting, but I wouldn't advise you to go out on your own just yet. You really did a number on your leg. Just wait, maybe he'll come back soon. He's probably still in the area, after all."
I frowned. With my luck I'd never find him.
"Thanks anyway," I sighed as I turned to the plate in front of me and began to dig in.
After the meal, Dara had retired to her room for a moment. She said she had a letter to write, and had left me to explore a bit.
The house itself was rather large, although a bit sparse. The room I'd been sleeping in was clearly the smallest of the lot, there were three other bedrooms along with a dining room, living room, a study and a library. I found myself wandering into the Library after a perfunctory look about the place. At least in the library there might be books or something that could give me a hint as to my surroundings, some sort of local history perhaps.
After several minutes of searching I'd pulled down a book that seemed to be a history of some sort of war, but I could only flip through casually. My mind was elsewhere. As I went to reshelve the book I spotted a pack of cards up on one of the shelves nearby. The case was glass, almost reflective, and there seemed to be far too few to constitute a typical full deck.
Out of curiosity, I took the cards and sat down at the desk that stood in the center of the room. I gingerly removed the case, so as not to damage it, and began sifting through the cards.
And, for sure, they were no ordinary cards. They all bore much more in the way of strength and weight, but the major distinction was that they had no numbers; they were not playing cards at all. Instead they seemed portraits of men and women, all strong seeming and adorned in ornate regalia.
The first portrait was of a man, tall and broad shouldered, with a fine goatee and piercing blue eyes. He was clearly a man of power. I sifted to the next card and saw a man, read haired and wiry, with a sort of longing about him – he was certainly smaller than the previous man, although he bore some resemblance.
And then there was the third card. I nearly dropped the deck upon spying it. There, in front of me, was a picture of the man Dara called Martin. I was sure of it. His beard, his eyes, even the way he carried himself was all the same. I closed my eyes and focused on the man in my mind, trying to picture his resemblance to the previous men, when suddenly the card grew cold in my hand. Again, I almost let go, but managed to keep hold of the card in the face of the odd phenomenon.
And then, a voice came almost through the card in Martin's strong baritone,
"Who is it?"
This time I dropped the card.