Disclaimer: If I had written Harry Potter, more Slytherins aside from Draco would have gotten screen-time beyond a throwaway line. Once again, I prove myself an asshole by being so late. This time, however, work and Dragon Age take up the brunt blame, but mostly work I swear!
Summary: Dennis gets clever, The Minister gets worried, Harry gets wet, Hermione gets uncomfortable, the Narcotics Detail get late hours, Draco gets questioned.
The King of Limbs
"That's not our tribe."
- Capt. Luca Rossi
XI: The Motherfucker with the Hood
October 29, 2002
12:07 PM GMT
Harry Potter's Residence
221A Sir Thomas Street, Liverpool, UK
"Goddamnit. Where is that pillock!?" Daphne growled, pounding on the door once more. Dean, who stood directly next to her, looked amused, which did not help the brunette's mercurial temper at all. "Stop grinning! Where the hell could he be?"
Seamus was the one who answered that question. "Daphne, what do people on holliers do?"
Before the Anti-Terrorist Auror could respond, Dennis added his own two cents with a smug look. "Oh, I don't know... go on vacation?"
All three chuckled at the expense of the brunette. "I called Hermione," said Dean. "Since Ron refuses to graduate to the twenty-first century and get his own mobile, calling Hermione up is the easiest way to find out where Harry is. Apparently, he just up and decided to go to Bruges."
For a second, Seamus thought he saw Daphne smile, but as quick as she did, it was gone.
The Anti-Terrorist Auror returned with a blank look. "Where?"
Seamus shrugged. "How the fuck should we know?"
"It's in Belgium," Dennis replied, earning strange looks from all present.
"So, we're out of luck, then," Daphne sighed.
"Not exactly," Dean replied, proving to be a fount of knowledge today, "Harry doesn't ever go completely off the grid. We give this info to Rodgers, and then we can have her pass it on to command in London. I'm sure DCS Stark can get this to Harry, or, at the very least, get the DoDMLE give us the right to take these guys in."
Daphne looked between all of her companions. "So... what the fuck are we doing on Potter's doorstep, then?"
"Well, you came rushing over here," Seamus replied, shrugging, which was quickly becoming a habit of his. "Harry does have his own life, as hard as that may be to believe. As chummy as you two are, he isn't here at your beck and call."
"Sod off," the brunette snarled, before turning back to Dean. "So, we ought to head back to the NIM, right?"
"That would be the plan," drawled Blaise, who leaned on the red brick of Harry's house, at the foot of the doorstep.
Daphne nodded absently as they all made for a safe place to Apparate back to headquarters. She needed another look at those weapons.
11:50 AM GMT
Port of Naples, Naples, Italy
"Are you suggesting that crates migrate?"
"They could have been carried. Besides, they're not crossing land-borders, so they're not migrating."
"By whom!? This thing is at least three-hundred kilos!"
"You realize we can do magic, right?"
Such was the conversation between Harry Potter and Samantha Mason as they went below deck when the striking brunette had tripped over a crate that she swore had not been there five minutes earlier. Harry merely played her fancy and engaged in this topic of conversation for a few scant moments before Mason picked herself up and strolled to what was presumably her quarters.
Once inside, she shut the door with a smile. "I assume you're here to find out my daughter's name for that oaf of a sea captain, am I right?"
Harry shrugged. "He is a bit of a sketch, isn't he?"
"'A bit' is an understatement if I've ever heard one," the woman chuckled. "I don't think it's exactly good etiquette to hire out sellswords—er, sellaxes—to cut down their crewmen, am I right?"
She eyed the tomahawk resting in the belt loop of Harry's coat dubiously. Harry laughed, looking down at the blade:
"Don't worry, I'm not going to chop you up," he replied.
The elder woman arched an eyebrow. "How reassuring."
"Better deal than most get," Harry said with a careless wave of the hand. Mason nodded and folded her arms, looking at the Auror contemplatively. Suddenly, she bent low and looked up, as if trying to peer underneath Harry's hood:
"Well, if we are going to talk terms of getting my daughter's name out of me," she gave Harry a dazzling grin, "I'd like to at least be able to see your face, Mister James."
Harry nodded slowly. "I can do that."
He complied and lowered his hood, revealing his glamoured brown hair and gray eyes. Mason smirked:
"My, my, since when have axe-murderers been so... fit?" She asked, slinking his way.
Harry arched an eyebrow. "I'm one-of-a-kind."
"That," she sidled up to his chest, poking him in the sternum, "is no lie."
Harry waited for the finger to leave his chest, but it did not. Instead, her finger turned into her palm, which slowly made circles around his chest, slipping ever-so-stealthily beneath his coat. She smiled that dazzling smile again:
"You've been staying with the crewmen, have you not, Mister James?" She asked demurely. "Then you have not had a chance to take a proper bath, have you?"
"No," Harry replied, "no I haven't."
"Well that is a very fortunate coincidence, Mister James," her tone was breathy, "as it appears I have a bath, a very big one." she pointed in the general direction of a smaller room within her quarters, one that did house a bath. Though to call it big would be a huge overstatement. "Whatever shall I do in there all alone?"
"Bathe?" Harry deadpanned, being purposely skittish. Why was she suddenly trying to seduce him? "as normal humans do?"
Miss Mason, however, was undaunted. "Ah, I think have an idea! My bath is far too large for one person, so I daresay I should open it for two! Now, what do you think two people could get up to in a bath of that size?"
"Nothing tawdry, I hope?"
"Do you want that name or not?"
"I wouldn't be opposed."
Samantha's grin was predatory as she grasped Harry's arm and dragged him toward the bath.
11:57 AM GMT
Ottery St. Catchpole, UK
Hermione still stared at the clock, not entirely sure as to what she should do. Harry's hand had been on "Mortal Peril" for no less than fifteen minutes. The way she saw it, Harry was either oblivious to the coming danger or was already in some sort of protracted scuffle. Either way, Hermione felt her heart yammering in her chest, the thump thump of it beating against her ribcage growing harder and faster every second. She was quite sure that if this went on much longer, she would die of cardiac arrest.
Though, she mused, somewhat cynically, if I die, Harry will be right there with me won't he? The blasted fool.
Suddenly the clock hand shifted back to 'Travelling'. Either Harry was the luckiest person alive and just walked in and out of mortal danger, or he had just taken care of whatever trouble it was that had met him. A few minutes passed, and Hermione still found herself staring at the clock so as to make sure Harry didn't return to 'Mortal Peril'. A tall form lumbered over to Hermione, obscuring her vision of the clock. Looking up to see who had so rudely interrupted her, Hermione took in the form of her boyfriend:
"Hey," he said.
Hermione tried very hard to conceal her annoyance. "Hey."
"Saw you staring real hard at the clock," he grinned easily, "afraid Harry's gonna bite it on vacation?"
Hermione merely gave her boyfriend a wry smile. You don't know the half of it, she thought.
"Well," Ron drew out the word, "I doubt Harry's going to be in very much danger, in fact, I think his vacation's going to be plenty fruitful, especially if he brought blondie along."
Hermione quirked an eyebrow. "Blondie?"
"Apparently Harry's newest squeeze," Ron remarked with a chuckle. "I swear, that man goes through women faster than I do food. Ginny, then that Helene character, Greengrass—come on, you know the two have got the hots for each other—and get this: a couple days ago, Ginny and I are going to grab and we pass Nelson's Column only to find who else but Harry there. He can't see us, but we can sure see him when this woman, this blonde woman who looks like she came straight out of a Norse myth, comes literally out of nowhere and proceeds to suck face with Harry."
"Really," Hermione drawled, belying the fact that she actually felt really sick, "just some blonde."
"Yeah. And they looked really into each other. Good on him, yeah? Harry hasn't been doing so hot these past few months, it's nice to see him somewhat happy. Even if it isn't Ginny. I'll bet he owes some of that to you."
"M-me?" Hermione stuttered; what was Ron implying?
"You know, you and Teddy. I think he likes having the little blighter around, almost like having a son, someone to really watch out for and protect."
Ron paused thoughtfully. This was a moment Hermione knew all too well; whenever Ron would get that twinkle in his eye and pause mid-sentence, he was almost guaranteed to say something profound—a rarity, Hermione knew:
"An orphan, like him. Maybe Teddy's Harry's way of making up for his own childhood, by giving someone who reminds him of himself a chance at a good life. That, and he's always had a soft spot in his heart for broken things."
Hermione did her best to look scandalized but ended up softly chuckling with the redhead:
"I shouldn't be laughing at that," she remarked, relieved that Ron did not suspect her motives for spending so much time with Harry.
"Well, what a shame, because you are."
"Well, at least we're all enjoying ourselves. Harry probably the most of all, if Blondie has anyth—" Ron stopped suddenly, his eyes widening in horror. Hermione shot him a quizzical glance:
"What? What's wrong?"
"He's been... those women..." He trailed off. "He's shagged those women."
Hermione's quizzical look turned into a rapier one. "I don't think so, Ron. At least not Daphne. And don't talk about that, it's tawdry!"
"But he has..." Ron's head jerked up, horror dawning upon his face. "I'm gonna kill him. I'm gonna kill him!"
The brunette stared in response. The redhead whirled around:
"You don't see what's going on?" exclaimed Ron, who then turned to the kitchen door, and haltingly called: "Ginny?"
"Yes?" Came his little sister's musical tone from within the other room.
"I have a few questions for you," he stood and scampered out of the room, leaving a smiling Hermione behind. "Can you come out to the sitting room for a moment?"
"Sure," replied Ginny, completely unaware of what she was getting into.
12:21 PM GMT
Five Miles from the Coast of Naples
Harry stumbled onto the upper deck of the Imperator, smiling dazedly. Samantha walked out into the sunlight from behind him and gave the Auror in question a wink. He coughed graciously in response and readjusted his hood.
"Fair's fair, Mister James," Mason smirked. "You did what I wanted, so I'll give you what you want."
"Just like that?" Harry asked. "No extra hoops to jump through; people to kill; weapons to smuggle across borders?"
The woman merely gave him a bemused look in response. "What a terribly exciting life you must lead."
"Oh, the best," replied Harry with a disarming grin.
"Now, you want the name?" She asked the still-grinning MI-7 agent, who nodded vigorously. The brunette leaned over and whispered it into Harry's ear, and the name that tumbled out of her mouth wiped the smile right off Harry's face.
12:33 PM GMT
Elian Fel Restaurant
Draco looked around the restaurant aimlessly, partially wondering why he was even there. All these wizards and witches, most of them the upper crust of society—mostly Quidditch players and douchebags, he surmised—did not have a clue of what was coming for them. All these people had been through a war only four years earlier, and it seemed society had forgotten all about.
Voldemort, one man with a band of lunatics (Draco himself included, at one point), brought Magical Britain to its knees. How much worse could it be should an entire nation rise up to fight? The world was shifting beneath their feet, and here they sat, dining on caviar and bouillabaisse without a care in the world.
Draco had seen some terrifying things before: The Battle of Hogwarts, Istanbul, Chernobyl. He would never be so careless as to forget those things. The state of things were fragile, they had always been fragile, perhaps because people were so good at forgetting war and suffering, but if the men at the Ministry were not careful, Britain could have another war on its hands.
And then there were all these wild cards in the picture, Philosophe, some sort of Anti-American group that seemed to be quite adept at distancing the Brits and Americans. If there were more attacks directed at American interests, Britain might lose its strongest ally. Furthermore, he now had to worry about the Ministry itself: because of Ron Weasley.
The redhead had come bursting into Draco's personal space approximately a week earlier with news he had heard from Harry about the Lovegood Murder. Apparently he had been researching a Ministry Project dating back to the Grindelwald era, hoping to utilize necromancy in the war against the apostate wizard. It apparently did not work too well, so the Ministry enacted a scorched earth policy and destroyed the facility during the Battle of London.
Now, however, Weasley was suggesting the facility had been reopened and something about the facility caused the Lovegood patriarch to be murdered. He had done his research, looking as far as his DCI position had clearance and then some and found a facility in Mareville called Neptune Valley, but beyond that, everything was classified at the highest levels of clearance.
What Draco had found, was a veritable Black Site for government programs. It could have been nothing, but given the history of the place, the blond was not optimistic.
"So, Draco," Astoria cooed, snapping her fiancé out of his daze, "Daph tells me you have a story."
"Do I now?" Draco queried, looking bemused.
His fiancée nodded vigorously. "Apparently it's about your trip to Turkey with one Harry Potter."
"And why do you want to know about that?" Sometimes Draco wondered if Astoria was a natural legilimens
"Because it interests me?" She questioned demurely.
Draco scoffed. "Because he interests Daphne, and thereby he interests you."
Astoria raised an eyebrow. "Something like that."
"It's not a terribly interesting story," Draco responded, "and I'm sure you already know some parts of it, considering how much we had to work with your department in those days."
"Only a little," was the brunette's reply. Draco let out a long-suffering sigh and turned to his fiancée and began his tale.
12:36 PM GMT
Seven Miles from the Coast of Naples
"Freya," said Harry seriously, moments after he barged into the Captain's quarters.
"Who-wha'?" The Captain's eyes narrowed, confused.
"Fre-ya," Harry replied, exasperated, "your daughter's name is Freya. A first year muggleborn with that kind name will not be hard to find."
Rossi's eyes widened. "How the bloody hell 'd'you that? I've been trying for the better half of a decade and hadn't gotten so much as a peep from the little tart!"
"Perhaps you weren't persuasive enough," Harry shrugged, "now give me my information before I have to hurt you."
"'haps not," the Captain acknowledged the statement gruffly, stroking his beard with particular ferocity. Harry's hands went to his own facial hair, scratching his stubbled cheek reflexively. "You'll get your stuff soon enough. There's still a lot of sea to cover."
Harry nodded curtly. "You'd better not be fucking with me."
Rossi raised his hands up in defense. "You've given me something infinitely more important than anything I could ever give to you. I won't doublecross you for performing a miracle. I swear! There's yet a lot of water however, and these documents are very sensitive. Best keep it in the Captain's quarters for the moment."
"If you say so," replied Harry in a somewhat dubious manner. "I will see you later tonight."
Offices of the Old Irish Metre
Office of DSI Barnum
Dean was content to let Daphne lead on this one. He had seen DSI Barnum once before about a month earlier, and he would happily go the rest of his life without speaking to the man again. Currently, he sat in said DSI's office with Daphne and Blaise Zabini as they made a dual-pronged attempt to convince the Minister of Magic (who sat beside the gruff senior Auror) that it was in the best interest of the realm to raid the Towers.
He had to admit, they were doing a damned good job of it; even Barnum looked impressed. Dean doubted even Harry and Ron could have run this show like Greengrass and Zabini, which was all the more amazing, because Greengrass and Zabini hated each other. He still was not sure why, and Dean had the good sense not to inquire into it.
A grinning Dennis sat to his right and a bored Seamus to his left, all three Narcotics Aurors wedged into the corner. Dean sighed to himself, he was clearly a persona non grata in this conversation, so it was best to shut up unless addressed.
Daphne was saying something about how they had enough implicate both the dealers from bottom to the top-level, including Damian Shankly, who they could stick with having bought illegal weaponry as well. If they caught D'Arcy, it would be an even bigger victory, because the Anti-Terrorism Unit would get one of their top targets, and the Narcotics Unit would get their dealers to arrest.
Before the pretty brunette could run her mouth too much, she was interrupted by a polite cough from the Minister:
"DI Greengrass," he began, his deep basso voice reverberating through the small office, "am I to understand that we have a possible terrorist under our noses with a cache of illegal weaponry?"
"Yes," Daphne nodded, her eyes alight. Dean was mildly surprised, he had never seen the woman so excited.
The Minister coughed again. "You said DCI Potter had been going over Mr. Damian Shankly's Gringott's invoices prior to his vacation, am I correct?"
Daphne nodded again.
"And he found some anomalies?"
"Yes, sir," Blaise said sagely, "there were several large payments made out to someone in Bulgaria."
And then, something happened. For just the slightest second, the Minister looked positively alarmed. Just as quick as it happened, it was gone, however, and Dean was sure he was the only one who caught it until Seamus and Dennis exchanged looks with him. They had seen it to. When Dean brought his eyes back up to the Minister, the dark-skinned man was smiling placidly, though it seemed to be a little limp to Dean.
The Minister spoke. "You'll have your clearance, DI Greengrass. Assemble a strike team of six Aurors from our Soldier Unit and brief them for tonight. You will go in thirty minutes past midnight."
With that last order, The Minister lurched out of his seat and towards the door, his gait seemingly unhurried, Dean noted, but his posture strangely rigid.
Kingsley easily flooed from William Granath's Office on the Homicide floor after giving Ronald Weasley a distracted hello and merely waving at Granath. The DSI gave a snort and waved back, used to cursory greetings from Shacklebolt ever since he ascended to Minister of Magic. With a swirl of green flames and a shout of his destination, Kingsley found himself in the spacious office paneled in mahogany with leather couches and seats. A large table stood proudly in the center of the room, with a middle-aged woman with silver hair sitting behind it, bent over a couple of files.
"I wasn't expecting you, Minister," she said, not looking up from her work.
"Mrs. Lynch," Kingsley coughed by way of greeting. "I trust you've been well."
"As well as one can be when trying to avert a wizarding world war."
The Minister chuckled grimly. "So you sent Potter to Bulgaria?"
He spoke freely, knowing Lynch always kept her office meticulously warded. The witch stopped writing and looked up before settling back into her chair with a searching look.
"Yes, I do believe I have," she replied at length.
Kingsley nodded. "Well, he's certainly been a marble spinning around the edges of this bowl hasn't he?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, Potter's detail in the Aurors may have just found our buyer."
That got Lynch interested.
6:30 PM GMT
The Circus Headquarters
Stella. Stella Gerrard.
It was not a name that particularly befitted her. Not like her real name, at least. Her true name rolled off the tongue, perfect in cadence, perfect in symbolizing who she was. Stella Gerrard, on the other hand, was clunky and awkward, not a name she liked at all. But, the face she had constructed went with the name well. Sure, she was not Stella Gerrard, nor could she ever be, but the raven-haired, brown-eyed avatar she'd created for herself could.
Such were the thoughts of the The Circus Agent as she marched through the lobby of Headquarters, intent on reaching the elevators. She gave a cursory greeting to Exeter as she passed by, the plain woman giving Agent Gerrard a surprisingly pretty smile.
Underneath her hood, Gerrard gave the receptionist a curt nod, maintaining an air of professionalism that she lacked in everyday life when in her 'true persona'.
"Control, Agent Gerrard is here to see you," Exeter said.
There was a pause of about five seconds before Control's gruff voice came back with a: "Send her up."
Exeter then nodded at Gerrard, indicating the elevators at the edge of the lobby that she had taken up to see Control so many times before. She walked across the goblin glass floor, boots clicking across the ground no different than a pair of heels would have. She calmly punched the button and heard the distant but silent whirring of the lift slowly descending toward the ground floor.
A moment later, the doors opened and Gerrard stepped inside.
The ride up the elevator was silent, and Gerrard remained facing forward until the lift doors opened, and she was greeted with that spectacular golden globe sculpture suspended, seemingly, in mid-air. The Agent did not dwell for long on the little red dots popping up all over the map and instead continued down the corridor to the large double-doors that housed Control's office.
"Enter," came a voice from inside.
Gerrard complied, softly opening the door and moving toward a seat that Control was pointing at:
"So," Gerrard began, "I've uncovered some disturbing evidence."
Control peered at her from beneath his hood. "And what might that evidence be?"
"You told me Potter was on a mission to Bulgaria—"
"—Which I told you in good confidence, Gerrard. Do not give me reason to not trust you."
"You don't have to worry about that, sir," Gerrard snorted. "There are rumblings from the New Irish Metre that a cache of illegal weapons have been found in the drug tenements Potter's been investigating for his Auror team. Along with having a suspected terrorist in their ranks, we think they're a front for Philosophe. Judge had granted permission for a raid. A strike team will be converging on their safehouse at half-past midnight."
"Oh, just rumblings?" His tone was amused.
Gerrard crossed her arms. "Yes. Rumblings. And Potter recently found numerous payments made to a source in Bulgaria."
"Yes, that the Bulgarian arms dealer Potter's looking for is the recipient of the money sent out of Damian Shankly's account. This means that if we trace the money through the back-channels, we can give Potter a better lead than MI-7 did."
"Hm. Risky, and possibly coincidental, though not likely, but it's worth a shot," Control agreed, placing his elbows on his large oaken desk, lacing his fingers together and resting his chin on them. "The news was shocking, wasn't it?"
"Necromancy? I damn near passed out when I first heard about it, had to go back to my parents just to sort it out. If that's what our government was doing, you and Potter are getting in deep—"
"—Oh we have much bigger problems than something that happened fifty years ago. Something happened in Mareville around twenty years ago. Something that killed off the magical creatures and people living inside the city."
"I thought it was a testing facility."
Control grimaced. "I'm not sure what it is anymore. Some say it was a city, others a research facility, and even others saying it was a city for Unspeakables working at the research facility."
"So," Gerrard began thoughtfully, leaning forward, "is that why you've got the Boy Wonder sucking up to MI-7?"
"Boy Wonder?" The hooded man questioned, a faint trace of amusement in his tone, "I thought you two were getting to like each other."
"He isn't altogether hateful."
Control shook his head, a smile playing at his lips. "Get back to me when you've got something."
Control opened a drawer and withdrew a seeming normal pen. As he handed it to Gerrard, he explained: "Portkey. It'll take you back to your hotel room."
"Perfect," the raven-haired agent said, before taking it into her hands. Gerrard felt the familiar tug at her navel and the world spun around her until she was back in her hotel room. Moving quickly, Gerrard stripped out of her combat robes and settled for something more casual: a pair of black jeans, a tee-shirt, and comfortable shoes before she threw on a wool peacoat and stepped in front of the mirror.
Her hair lengthened and lightened in shade to a dark brown. Her eyes, once a dull, plain brown became a lively and yet ice-cold blue. The soft features of Stella Gerrard contorted into her normal angular features, as if she were an exceptionally beautiful granite statue.
With a careless toss of her hair, she sped out of her room and down the elevator. She passed the lobby where the kind young porter gave her a goofy hello, no doubt besotted with her. She pushed the revolving doors open; the biting northerly wind slapped at her cheeks.
And then she stepped out into the night.
9:00 PM GMT
100 miles from Varna
Harry walked out onto the deck, nodding at Donald Cairn, who was once again watching the foremast. The other man flashed him a toothy grin, and Harry was struck by how genial the man looked. A slight stab of guilt pierced his stomach when Harry thought of how close he had been to murdering the man in cold blood. He probably would have done it without regrets, either.
But, it would not do to dwell over that now, especially considering Cairn was still alive. So, Harry went over to the sailor and initiated a polite conversation with him. It was short, sweet, and to the point. The point being, Cairn was still gushing over Krum's Bulgarian National Team. Another sailor who had been working the deck looked somewhat preoccupied and kept looking at the hole that led below deck, as if he had forgotten something. Harry remembered that the sailor had been following Miss Mason and him around before their little fling in the privy.
"Waiting on someone, mate?" Harry questioned, a quiet sense of unease filling him up. Even Cairn noticed his watch-partner tense:
"Yeah, what's the matter, Tim?"
The young man looked up, alarmed. "N... no, sir. Just a little chilly is all." He ran a hand through straw-blond hair to provide an air of nonchalance. It did not fool Harry. But he did not do anything about it.
"I see. Carry on, then," Harry replied, before turning back to Cairn and finishing his conversation with the man, before he plodded toward the Captain's quarters and was greeted with a screaming match between the Captain and his First Mate.
Rossi was red-faced. "So, you meet this man and five minutes after you do, you decide to shag him!?"
Mason was also livid, though her anger seemed to stem out of a sense of righteousness. "And who are you to decide who I can fuck!? I don't see a wedding ring on my finger!"
"That's not the point! The point is that I've been after you eleven years for th—" His tirade presently stopped when Harry entered the room. Mason also quieted down, and turned to look at the out-of-place MI-7 agent:
It was rather similar to a surprise birthday party for Harry, only that everyone present was angry at him rather than happy for him. He could almost picture a sad clown in the corner. So, being Harry Potter, instead of taking the moment seriously, he cracked a joke:
"The way you two go on! People will talk."
Which, in hindsight, was a terrible decision.
Rossi rounded on him, looking for all the world like a furious bull about to charge. "Look you fucking piece of shite! You think you're James-fucking-Bond!? You think can just go around shagging any fucking twat you see!?"
"Twat?" Mason roared, toppling over several knick-knacks on Rossi's table as she torpedoed to her feet. "You self-righteous, sanctimonious excuse for a bum-boy loving c—"
"Enough!" Harry yelled. "Both of you are thirty-fucking-five years old; act your age!"
Mason calmed somewhat, but apparently couldn't help but throw in one last jab: "Yes, our age: Past the age of consent!" Harry shot her a rapier glance in response. The same glare that Rossi was giving him.
"Look at you, the Great Pacifier," he shot snidely, "doing more negotiating with your cock than your mouth, yeah?"
"To be fair," Harry shrugged, "there was a decent amount of mouth involved."
Miss Mason grinned; Captain Rossi turned a most exquisite shade of puce.
"But never mind that," the MI-7 hopeful continued, "I got your name, didn't I? I have a friend who works for the Aurors. And I know some people who work at The Daily Prophet. Your little girl is safe and sound at Hogwarts under the name Freya Thompson. You can go and tell her you're her deadbeat daddy later. For now stop whingeing, and cheer the fuck up."
"Why you—! She's my—"
"—I'm your what?" Mason questioned dangerously.
"I don't think you have any right to criticize me over cuckolding anyone, do you? Or did you forget one Mister Donald Cairn?" Harry grinned savagely. The Captain stood down, but still looked mutinous. "Oh good, you're done. Now give me my papers, and I'll be on my way."
The Captain walked to his desk, wrenched a drawer open, and pulled out a manila file. With a few fluid steps, he handed the file to Harry, who accepted it with a graceful, albeit sarcastic, bow.
"Now, Miss Mason," Harry started, remembering the man on the deck with Cairn, "have your men been acting strangely lately?"
Mason shook her head, confused. "Strangely how?"
A loud crack outside the outside the door startled all three of them. A crack that sounded rather suspiciously like a gunshot.
"Oh, I dunno," Harry shrugged nonchalantly, "like, shooting each other, strangely?"
Mason did not look amused. That look, however, only lasted a moment until another loud crack busted the door's lock and it swung open, revealing five men armed with muskets and their wands. The spring-loaded dagger and tomahawk were immediately in Harry's hands and wands were in both of his companions.
"That was a pretty door!" Harry called out, mock-offended, "why destroy it? You could have sold it, at the very least!"
"Hands above your heads," the leader of them (coincidentally, the man Harry had seen with Cairn a few minutes earlier) said, smiling lazily, as if he was merely toying with them. "Wouldn't want this to get ugly."
"No, no, we wouldn't want that indeed, would we, gents?" Rossi gave a brief attempt at pacifying the motley crew. "And what exactly is this... display?"
The leader's lip curled. "Are you being daft? We're takin' yer ship from you."
"Come on, let's be realistic. This is a government frigate!"
"Stop this foolishness—" Mason began, but Harry was already gone.
The quick apparition had stunned the coterie, and in that time, the leader went down, his throat slashed. A pitiful gurgle came up from the previously smug man as the crimson liquid stained the fine oak floor. The momentary stun shook off and the other four tried aim their muskets at Harry but he was far too close to manage a half-decent shot.
Calling on magic to coat his body in an intense white haze, a trick learned from his friends at The Circus, Harry barreled forward into the group, the resulting discharge of pure magic blasted the would-be attackers back. One was felled by a powerful wandless reductor to the face, only bloody chunks remaining of it. Whirling around, Harry flicked his wrist and felt the familiar wood of his wand in his hand as well.
He pointed at one of the man who was starting to recover from the earlier charge and roared "Stupefy!", catching the would be rebel in the chest. By this time, the last two had stood up, one aiming a musket at him, the other a wand. One was standing mid-deck, the other, by a railing.
Thus, Harry made use of his flash apparition talent and transported himself to the wand-carrying rebel by the railings. Dispensing with all pretense of wand-fighting, Harry gave the man a swift roundhouse kick with just enough force to topple him over the railing. The satisfying sound of a splash registered a few seconds later, along with the crack of gunfire, and a scream from Miss Mason.
This was followed by a stinging pain in Harry's arm. He looked down to see a nasty-looking cut on his right triceps area, gifted from a musket ball that had just grazed his arm. The shooter, gritted his teeth and went for his wand but was struck down by a jet of red light before Harry could even react. The MI-7 agent turned to see Rossi holding his wand, and blowing at the tip as if it were the smoking end of a revolver.
"Nice work," Harry complimented.
"Thank you," Rossi smiled.
Mason, however, looked a little bit frightened. "Congratulate each other later. Twelve o'clock!"
Another man stood near the bow of the ship, a musket aimed straight at Rossi. He looked terrified, but nevertheless cocked the safety. Time slowed down. The man's finger touched the trigger. Rossi flinched, but did not move. Just as he was about to fire, Harry noticed something shadowy materialize behind the shooter and heard a metallic twang as something smacked against his head. The would-be shooter slumped to the ground unceremoniously, revealing a grinning Donald Cairn behind him, holding up one of the recently liberated muskets.
"Oi, hell of a party we've got up here!" He called out blithely.
"Oh, the best!" Rossi yelled back, apparently forgetting his previous wish to kill the man.
In the wake of their revelry, only Harry was the one to notice another unit of hastily armed musketeers emerging from below deck. "Hate to break it to you fellows, but I think it's best we abandon ship!"
"Abandon ship!?" Rossi looked as though he had eaten something foul.
Mason shrugged. "I'm with Mr. James on this one. Perhaps if you'd treated your crew a bit better—"
"—Perhaps if you didn't fuck everything that moved—" was Rossi's hot retort.
"—Children please!" Harry shouted, though his voice was drowned out by another round of a musket firing. His eyes caught Cairn taking a shot to the leg and stumble somewhat. "I get it: Rossi, you're a womanizing bastard and you'd probably would make a horrible father; Mason, you're a painted shrew and it really actually is kind of gross that you're that easy. Now jump!"
Harry made his way across the deck, unholstering the magicked flintlock that had been gifted to him by the Headmaster and aiming it at the mutinous crew. He squeezed the trigger, an unholy crack emerged from the barrel, and suddenly, one of the attackers was down. The sudden shock of one of their men being killed from the gunfire stunned them for a few short seconds, but it was enough to take Cairn by the arm and turn toward the ledge to see Rossi and Mason diving off. He inspected Cairn's wound quickly and found that it the shot had lodged itself inside the leg; that would have to be taken care of once they got to Varna.
Moving as fast as he could with the injured sailor, Harry leaped off the edge of the boat and into the water and immediately set out to making sure the files Rossi had given him were unharmed by the water. Another crack and bullet sailing past his ear prompted Harry to seek out Mason and Rossi, who were a few meters away from Cairn and himself.
"Have you been to Varna before?" He shouted above the waves at Rossi. Another bullet sailed into the water, this time accompanied by a sickly yellow curse.
"Any designated apparition points?"
"I know of one," Mason replied, with a smile, in place of Rossi.
"Get us there!" Harry all but shouted, taking the groaning Cairn's hand and Mason's, whilst she linked up with Rossi and he with Cairn once more. The second between when Mason closed her eyes and apparition took far too long in Harry's opinion, but sure enough, that familiar discomfort of being squeezed through a tube four sizes too small crept up on Harry, pulling them up towards the sky and onward.
And then, they were gone.
10:30 PM GMT
(2 Hours to Irola Tower Raid)
NIM Narcotics Office
Birkenhead, Liverpool, UK
"Look alive Creevey, we're on in two," Seamus lightly slapped the back of the dozing MLE agent's head.
Dennis looked confused, blinked a couple of times, and then focused on the Irishman. "We're going in with them?"
"Have to, it's policy. And we all have the same training, whatever SO13 like to say to make themselves feel bigger," Seamus shrugged.
"I take offense to that," Daphne said from somewhere in the corner, "after all, I am SO13."
"Well, I'd say you're in no danger of worrying about your prick, then. In fact, I'd bet you sickles to galleons it's bigger than rest of Anti-Terrorism combined." the Irishman joked. Daphne narrowed her eyes but made no response otherwise.
Instead, she opted to get serious. "Hope we get the right guy. No offense, but a couple of drug dealers aren't really worth a schilling compared to Nicholas D'Arcy. Apparently they'd been after him even before we came on the job."
"I may be acting the maggot here, but I'd say your fancy French terrorist is worth about as much as a hurley to a kerry man as us," Seamus replied with a smile.
"How could you miss him?" Dennis suddenly broke in, and both the brunette and the Irishman exchanged confused looks at the blond's seeming non-sequitur. "D'Arcy, I mean. It's not like his wardrobe is really varied: just look for the motherfucker in the hood."
Seamus laughed. "Dennis, my boy, it's late October in the bloody Midlands. Who isn't a motherfucker in a hood right now?"
Outside the Asparuhov Magical Quarter
Harry adjusted his hood. He looked around anxiously, realizing he might look strange to any passing muggle with all of his weapons and three bedraggled sailors following behind him.
"Bloody hell, James," Mason grit out, breathing heavily. "Not all of us are warhorses; we need a break. Cairn can barely even walk!" As if on cue, the injured Cairn groaned and stumbled, saved from faceplanting into the ground by Rossi.
Harry turned back and looked at the woman as if she had grown a second head. "We're on the middle of a bridge, see any good camping spots around here? Maybe one where we won't be hit by a car?"
Mason glared but shut up nonetheless, something Harry was eternally grateful for. He continued walking forward as the Asparuhov Quarter suddenly shimmered in the distance and revealed the Magical Quarter.
Several minutes and a lot of complaining later, the motley crew had made it to an inn on Kursk Street that Harry had been told to go to when he got in contact with his MI-7 handlers to help with Cairn's leg. He believed it was the old woman that had given him the mission to begin with. She told him to wait at the inn until the next morning when an en route KGB Agent and a Bulgarian Official would come to see him. Until then, he needed to find another ship and crew, and that was that.
The odd trio gathered at a table with several pints as the proprietor (a healer set up by MI-7) set about fixing up the injured sailor.
"I need your help," Harry started.
"Well we can't stick around for this," Rossi was saying, "we're sailors, not killers. That's not our tribe."
Mason nodded "Much as I hate to, I can't help but agree. You killed two men like it was nothing, Mr. James. I can't honestly say I could do the same."
"And I wouldn't ask you to involve yourself directly, but I do need a ship," Harry replied. "Stay around the docks, and find yourself a crew and ship. We can provide money for either. Just, head to bed for tonight, we'll talk more tomorrow."
The two nodded, and vacated their seats, leaving Harry alone to his thoughts and plans.
After checking up on the injured Cairn to find out he would make a full recovery, Harry left the building in attempt to acquaint himself with his new surroundings.
A/N: This chapter was surprisingly difficult to write. Every time I felt I was just about to get into a groove, I sort of lost it. The chapter was originally supposed to be 10-12,000 words. That obviously didn't happen, so expect a somewhat longer chapter next time around.
No excuses, I'm sorry.
The Lovegood murder is starting to attract some real attention from the Aurors.
SO13: Special Operations 13, Britain's Anti-Terrorism Units
The thing I can best compare Harry's charge attack would be a Biotic Charge in Mass Effect Series if you play Vanguard.
I think I made it pretty obvious who Stella is, but if you don't know, that's good. Maybe I'm better at suspense than I thought, though I highly doubt it.
Lynch is the woman who was talking to Harry with Stark last chapter.
Rossi and Mason are a sort of quasi-parody of Ron and Hermione if their worst attributes were expanded and played upon.
Next chapter we'll see the raid on the towers, Ron and Tracey get closer to the truth in the Lovegood Case, and Harry learns about the state of affairs in Bulgaria and tries to weed out a group of freedom fighters.