Okay, I really shouldn't be writing this now but I have fallen in love with this series! So very, very much.
I only found it by accident as well. You can thank the colour of the covers for that – they just stood out so much against the black that is dominating the book market at the moment.
Besides – you know it's gonna be a keeper when you're not even halfway through the first book and already you've got three different ideas for fanfiction!
Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling and The Legend of Eli Monpress belongs to Rachel Aaron (reeeeead iiiiiiit…)
Warning: (very light) Slash. And violent trees.
The small clearing was bathed in moonlight. A small breeze ruffled the leaves of the trees encircling the edges causing them to rustle and, to the unwary, sound almost alive.
Harry stood in the middle of the open space, his face turned upwards, letting the light bathe him. He smiled softly when the breeze brushed past him and playfully tugged on the ends of his hair.
When he had first found himself in this world he had thought it to be worst thing that could have possibly ever happen. To be ripped so suddenly from his friends and family and thrust into a place where the only similarity seemed to be the language.
(Though, to be fair, he had gone through all that once before when he was eleven and survived.)
He had survived here too. It was just his luck that he had stumbled upon the master thief Eli Monpress and his band of…well…companions? Friends? Family?
Harry's smile grew into a grin as the breeze returned, wanting to play. Air spirits were always so much fun and, contrary to the norm, they seemed to be attracted to him rather than repulsed.
He summoned his magic and let it out, brushing alongside the spirit. Faintly he heard the spirit shriek in delight (obviously a young one) and whip around him, causing his coat to billow out impressively behind him.
The sound of someone clearing their throat had him opening his eyes.
The spirit, sensing that perhaps it wasn't wanted right now, disappeared off into the tree line, disturbing the leaves once more, but not before it gave one last fond tug of Harry's hair.
Harry stared after it for a moment, smiling softly, before he turned his attention to the man in front of him.
Josef was tall. Taller than anyone Harry had met, bar Hagrid, and Harry always found himself relaxing whenever he was near. It was impossible for him to feel anything but protected whenever he was close.
The moonlight had turned his cropped sandy hair a dark silver shot through with white. He was dressed plainly in a white linen shirt and dark brown breeches.
What was surprising was the fact that he was completely unarmed. Well, apart from the six foot long sword Heart of War. He had never seen the master swordsman look so naked. Vulnerable.
Though vulnerable was probably not the word others would use.
Harry watched curiously as Josef reflexively tighten and relax his grip on his most valued weapon. Josef had just taken his fifth circuit of the clearing and the surrounding forest to check for spies or enemies.
As he was standing in front of him and not off in the shadows, Harry assumed it meant that they were completely alone.
Well, not completely. He had no doubt that Eli had managed to charm his and Nico's way into being hidden so that they could spy on whatever this was.
Josef cleared his throat again and Harry almost smiled at the almost-nerves that he was portraying.
"Harry…" Josef trailed off and stared helplessly at him for a moment before his gaze dropped to the hand clenching around the hilt of his sword.
Harry tilted his head, content with giving the warrior time to gather himself.
After a moment Josef gritted his teeth and raised his head, straightening his spine so that he gained an extra few inches. His jaw was tense but his eyes burned with determination.
"Yes?" Harry asked.
"You…I…" Josef took a deep breath and steeled himself, "I've not known you for such a long time. Not compared to others. But for some reason that doesn't seem to have mattered."
Harry frowned slightly in confusion and opened his mouth but Josef cut him off.
"At first," here Josef pressed his lips together for a moment, "at first I wasn't sure about having you along. I thought that you would somehow break our group up, that you were either Court or League spy. But Eli insisted so I went along with it."
He glanced at Harry, took in the slightly hurt expression and took a step closer to him. "I don't think I've ever misjudged someone so badly." He murmured softly. So softly that Harry almost had to strain to hear it.
Josef's hand reached forward towards Harry's face but stalled at the last moment, hovering millimetres from his cheek. "I don't think I've ever been so glad." He whispered.
"Josef?" Harry asked, inwardly cursing the small tremor and hoping Josef hadn't heard.
The smile that broke across Josef's face told him he had. Harry's breath caught in his throat.
"Harry…" Josef closed the last scant distance and cupped his cheek, stepping closer. "Harry," he breathed, "what I'm trying to say is that you've stolen my heart."
"Oi!" A faint whisper came from the trees to Harry's right, completely breaking the moment, "I thought I was supposed to be the thief!"
Josef scowled in the direction of the voice, his hand dropping to his side. "Dammit, Eli." He growled under his breath.
There was a moment of stillness then one of the trees bent over slightly and whipped a branch down into the bushes by its roots.
"Ow!" Eli's voice was loud in the now-silence. There was a faint murmuring then his voice again, "What do you mean I'm ruining the moment? I don't ruin anything-" the branch snapped downwards again, "OW! Okay, fine! I'll be quiet!"
Silence settled in the clearing once again and Harry turned back to Josef with a small grin on his face.
Josef was glaring at the direction Eli's voice had come from. He turned back to Harry with a sigh and an apology in his eyes.
"You were saying?" Harry asked softly.
Instead of replying Josef dropped down on one knee.
Harry's eyes widened, "W-what…?" he asked rather shakily.
"Harry." Josef stared at him, his gaze serious. "I can't promise that I won't die." He closed his eyes for a moment, then, in a movement too fast for Harry to properly catch, he swung his sword around until one hand was gripping the hilt and the other clenched around the dull blade.
Blood trickled over his knuckles.
"But I promise that every breath in my lungs, every beat of my heart and every swing of my sword are yours."
He opened his fists until Heart of War was lying balanced on his open palms, held up as an offering to Harry.
"If you'll have me."
Harry let out the shaky breath he was holding. Josef didn't move as Harry stared at him, stunned.
After a moment's pause, Harry cautiously reached out and brushed his fingertips and magic over the battered and scarred blade. His eyes flickered closed as Heart of War overwhelmed his senses. Carnage, death, echoing screams and blood so thick that he could taste it whenever he breathed in. But with that the strength and solidarity of a mountain; a savage beauty and unwavering loyalty.
And underneath it all; Love.
After what seemed like hours, but could only have been moments, Harry opened his eyes and locked gazes with Josef before he dropped his gaze to the floor.
Without speaking he dragged his fingers up the pitted blade, shuddering slightly as Heart of War sang in his soul. When he reached the hilt he lifted his touch from the sword only to wrap Josef's hand back around the pommel.
Josef tensed and rose. His expression shadowed. His knuckles white with the strength of his hold. "I see."
"I," Harry quietly interrupted him, "would rather Heart of War was in the hands of someone capable to lift it."
Josef blinked in surprise. "What…? Does…?"
Harry raised his gaze and gave him a small smile, stepping closer until his forehead was pressed against Josef's chest, his arms wrapped around his waist.
Josef grinned savagely up at the moon for a moment. Then, ignoring the "Finally!" coming from the trees, he dragged Harry's chin up and pressed a hard kiss to his lips.