Theme: search
Pairing: Harry/Cho Chang
Rating: T
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.
Warning(s): AU, Modern&Magical. Harry and Cho didn't know each other before this.
A/N: Sorry for the long wait, but I'm back on track now. The DMHG one-shot is removed and this will be only Harry/? pairings. As for this one-shot, I'm aware that a lot of you might not like Cho Chang, I myself am not overly fond of her, but give it a chance, it might be worth it.
Summary: She was his assignment, his duty, his work, and she wasn't all that different from all the other rich kids he had to protect in the past, he knew all that, and still, Harry fell in love with her, Cho Chang, the granddaughter of the Chinese ambassador.

Behind porcelain masks

Blasting curses were not fun when he wasn't using them, Harry concluded once he ended on the other side of the room, dust and debris making the air taste stale and ashy. Especially in cases when they separated him from his recent object of fascination.

He was planning on fixing that problem as soon as possible and not only because it was his job as a Protector.

Hyperion 'Harry' James Potter was barely twenty-two when his love life changed, for better or worse the dark-haired ex-Auror Trainee still wasn't sure. Ever since he was seventeen and he had graduated from Hogwarts he tried to work many things, from Auror to hit wizard and bounty hunter to curse-breaker. Becoming a Protector, a form of magical bodyguard, was not something he had envisioned himself as, but nonetheless that's what he was working and was known best for.

It had started as a fluke, really. He had been offered a job to guard the spoiled niece of a rich pureblood fanatic and punish anyone, who was send after the kid. It was different from his thrilling and danger filled previous occupations, but the payment was nice and Harry decided to take the proposal to pass time until he decided on his next serious job. As it turned out it wasn't as easy as he thought and Harry had to utilize all the skills he had accumulated over the years to get the kid away from his abductors and then to proceed and make them sorry for ever thinking of using the little girl in a demon summoning ritual. His knowledge as an ex-Auror Trainee helped him get around the legal matters and find loopholes in the wizarding law that enabled him to administer any form of punishment as long as it wasn't death. The respect he had earned for the little time he was a bounty hunter provided him with the information network he needed and his skills as curse-breaker proved to be more than resourceful once he decided on his course of action. In the end, he was few thousand galleons richer, with new permanent job occupation and the wicked satisfaction of knowing that he could do what the Aurors didn't let him – protect people with all necessary means and actually make sure the people that were after them would never bother them again. The fact that he had refused to bow to the wishes of the kid and actually made her cry few times from sheer frustration with him and made her see reason and not to believe blindly in the pureblood propaganda her uncle spewed out on a daily basis was a well deserved bonus.

So, at the tender age of twenty-one, the time for a change his mother would joke, Harry started working as a full-time Protector. Surprisingly or not, he enjoyed his work and the opportunity it presented to test his body and magic limits, and to broaden his spells and curse repertoire. He had been extraordinary at Defense in school and it was still one of his strongest points, along with his lightning quick reflexes and rational thinking, which was best under pressure. And besides, he took great pleasure in taking all those rich people, most often kids, down a peg or two. That would teach them not to look down on ordinary people, not that Harry was any close to being ordinary.

A year later, after seven successful cases, Harry signed a contract with the Chinese ambassador to guard his granddaughter from the political threats some of the old Chinese families were presenting. It was supposed to be like any of his previous assignments – guard the spoiled kid, make fun of it from time to time when it deserved so, get the job done, receive the money and leave. But it wasn't.

Cho Chang was like an expensive china doll. Long, straight and silky black hair, pale, but healthy, porcelain skin, bottomless expressive black eyes, with long eyelashes that every girl would be jealous of and seemingly effortless grace – she was the epitome of breathtaking beauty. She was also arrogant and she often demanded things of him but she was never cruel or pigheaded without a valid reason. And she had spirit too, she was independent and confident and she hated his guts the moment she laid her eyes on him. They had this strange love-hate relationship that over the weeks slowly evolved into something else. Something resembling friendship with hints of more to come.

And Harry found himself falling desperately in love with her, Cho Chang, his assignment.

Four months in his job Harry faced one of biggest challenges he had met so far – keeping his feelings a secret, guarding the emotions in his eyes and barely restraining his body from reacting to her close proximity. Living in one house with her, being privy to the person behind the mask, staying in the shadows, following her every move was both a blessing and a curse. It was torture like no other to have her so close, yet, so far away from his reach.

He had seen how other men, young and old, would look at her with lusty gazes and dirty intentions, and he hated them for it, how she would lift her head high and would pass them by as if they were the scum on her shoes, Harry privately disagreed – they were much less than that, how she would shudder in private, hugging her arms around herself, feeling violated and defiled, how broken and vulnerable she would look in those few minutes until she was ready to face them again.

It was in those few minutes when Harry would force his body still for fear that he might find the masked under courage stupidity to rush forward and engulf her in his embrace. To ease her fears, to whisper sweet nothings in her ear, to promise her retribution, to brush the hair away from her face, to kiss her and feel her melting against him, to brand his smell, his magic on her, to protect her, to possess her, to have her. The intensity of his feelings scared even him but he had always been like that – he either loved with no limits or hated until the end of the world. But he couldn't do any of the things he wanted to so he had to restrict himself to protecting charms and tracking amulets, willing his magic to respond to the slightest fluctuating in hers, to always be aware of her whereabouts and to never leave her side. It was not enough, it never was, but it had to do.

And as Harry ducked another Slashing curse headed his way he vowed once they made it out of this mess alive to find the most magically secured ritual ever created and to bond them together, screw what anyone would say and to hell with her objections, he would show her the advantages of that.

He rolled out of the way of a border-line Grey and potentially dangerous Illuminating spell that would have left him permanently blind and cast a Stunner right back. One quick look around the now demolished dining room didn't bring anything useful – half the room was missing, what was left of the furniture was nothing but wood sticks, bended metal and broken glass, and he was pretty much surrounded by five short white clad assassins that from the few displayed fancy moves had the taste for martial arts and exploding or poisonous small throwing knives, more often than not both, and one clearly important old Chinese man, that was most probably directing the whole attack. And Cho was missing.

His Stunner missed, deflected by the knife of one of the mercenaries; they were bloody fast. At least they had no wands, Harry thought, as he casted a quick Protego and a reflecting charm to ward off the two knives headed his way. The next second the knives exploded and the force of the blast forced him few steps back where he was met by the high-kick of one of the assassins.

The red lining on the end of the loose trousers the assassin was wearing gave Harry a warning a split second before the kick connected with his skull. The sickening crunch that was supposed to follow that ending blow never happened as the partial wandless shield the green-eyed Protector had managed to cast absorbed most of the blow. What the spell hadn't managed, Harry felt, as his ears were ringing and he had to shake off the black dots from his vision.

Now Harry understood why they had no need for wands – one precise hit like that on a vital body part of his and he was a goner, magic or no magic. Somewhere in the back of his mind a bell rang as Cho's magic suddenly turned into a whirlwind of activity and Harry breathed easier as the tight grip on his heart loosened. She was fighting, which meant she was alive and as well as she could be. He had to get to her side as soon as possible, and as he faced his attackers once again, Auror tactics and spells flooding his mind, he knew he only stood chance as long as they couldn't lay a direct hit on him.

It was time to see who was faster.

Harry moved back, avoiding a series of fast jabs, and headed away from the wall, back in the center of the room where he had the most space to maneuver around. He was hoping that the attack guarantee wouldn't dare cast spells when his people where so close to Harry for fear of hitting them. And well, if he had to qualms about that, then Harry was pretty much screwed. The hirelings were blots of white around him, sharp knives and deadly hits, vicious dancers ready to take him down the first opportunity they could get. Every move of theirs would raise a wall of dust, making it hard to see and predict their next attack. Flash of white and Harry evaded an elbow meant to hit his right kidney and an upper-cut to crush his jaw. He couldn't beat them in the open, that much was clear to Harry, and there was nothing left he could use as a shield or a barricade.

Unless he could create it.

Creating was a branch of Transfiguration that usually would take several decades to master and even then the creation was not always accurate. But Harry didn't need to transform pure magic into materials, as Creators did, he had them all lying around him. A fast flick of his wand and the wood pieces came together to form three unsymmetrical diamond-shaped objects; sharp looking glass and metal parts were sticking outwards creating a solid structured shields. Another slash of his wand and a rather simple moving charm and Harry had them spinning around him, his very own mobile fortress. He wasted no time in sending a Burning hex towards one of the mercenaries, followed by Incarcerous. The hex was side stepped but the fast coming ropes managed to catch the leg of the attacker and he tripped rather ungracefully.

One knife struck the shield behind him, the metal of the weapon embed so deep into the wood that the point of the knife was visible from the inside. A buzz from Harry's holy wand and the shield responded by sending back one of the glass shards. The unexpected retaliation caught the victim in the left shoulder. Another two knives hit his shields, but the return attacks missed their targets. A fast right hook broke the line of his shields and suddenly Harry found himself facing one of the assassins, surrounded by his own shaky defenses.

"Sectumsempra." The assassin spin out of the way and the curse blasted apart one of his shields, shattering the wood completely and sending splinters in every direction. One caught Harry right under his right eye and small trickle of blood made its way down his grime covered face.

A white clad leg cut under his left one and the Hogwarts ex-student found himself on his back once again. His wand hand was caught under the left knee of the attacker and Harry could only dodge the oncoming knife that was aimed for his head. The knife sliced few strands of his black hair, sparks coming out when the metal hit the stone floor. Harry rolled them over, put his knee rather harshly on the other man's private parts and forced his wand down his throat when the victim protested against the move.

"Stupefy." The body went limp and the Protector used the second to swipe away the blood from the shallow cut on his face and look over at the rest of the group.

One couldn't utilize his left shoulder, the whole front of his white robe covered in blood from where the glass had hit him. The other two had few scratches from the flying wood chops, while the last one had stayed back, guarding the important looking Chinese man.

A second shield was taken down as an exploding knife hit it.

"Serpensortia." Snakes made great conversationalists, really. Garden snakes were actually the best gossipers but as Harry looked at the three lithe cobalt blue snakes, the magical cousins to the Indigo Eastern Rat Snake, gossip was the last thing on his mind. "Get the wounded one and then help me with the rest."

Parseltongue was such a handy gift.

Hyperion didn't even wait for a hissed confirmation before launching another attack. He hurled his last shield at the assassins making them shield their heads and move back; he had no more use for it and it served as a great cover for the three lunging snakes. The blood on the clothes of the wounded mercenary was like a red flag to a bull for the snakes' senses. One of them met an unfortunate demise by a flying knife but the other two greedily sank their poison coated fangs in the man's leg and torso. The man collapsed and convulsed as the poison made its way to his heart and brain rendering him dead in under a minute.

By that time Harry had decimated the other two with the clever use of a tripping jinx, summoned stone and fire; two purring lions were gladly consuming every last inch of their targets. He was done playing. Banishing the fire creatures after throwing them a fond look, lion was the Gryffindor mascot after all, he turned to face the last two standing people in the otherwise destroyed room. The Chinese elder didn't seem happy at all with the situation. The Protector watched him closely, his body tense and awaiting every move of the enemy before him. Only his constant unwavering observation allowed him to see the minuscule movement of the old man's left hand as he summoned the assassin closer to him and activated the hidden Portkey. The snakes hurtled towards their target but missed as the two men disappeared in a vortex. Fortunately, Harry's tracking spell didn't.

With a quick glance around the room, making sure that there was nothing left to attack him, Harry send a quick pulse of magic in every direction. In less than a second he had the information and the destination he needed. Cho was two rooms to his left fighting two assassins and judging by the constant stream of exchanged pulses on his radar those two were wizards. Wasting no more time Harry blasted the wall on the left and sidestepping the debris he crossed the kitchen in hurry, angry hisses following his every step. He paused at the door leading to the room Cho was fighting in, hand twitching with his indecision, before he steeled his resolve and told himself that the raven haired beauty will not be distracted by his sudden appearance as he hoped the two wizards would be. Mind made up, he pulled the door open and took a split second to assess the situation before putting up a Protego, and effectively deflected the Petrificus Totalus headed his way.

Cho was hiding between two pillars to his right, trading spells and curses with one of the wizards while the other one was creeping towards her unnoticed. Well at least until Harry had appeared thus effectively surprising them both giving Cho the chance to hit the wizard closest to her with the leg-locker curse, leaving him to the mercy of Harry's snakes, not that they had any. The wizard in front of Harry grew angry and with vindictive smile uttered the incantation for the Fiendfyre a moment before the retaliating bone-shattering curse from the green-eyed man hit him dead on. Harry dove to the left and the nearly black stream of fire missed him but it hit the frame of the door and it started consuming everything in reach, twisted wicked shapes spreading to other surfaces with an alarming speed.

Delicate milky white hands were helping him get up and Harry took his first real look of Cho since the start of the attack nearly half an hour ago. Her clothes were rumpled and dirty, she had few scratches along her forearms and dried blood along the right side of her face where she had apparently hit her head close to her temple, and her hair was a tangled dusty mess, shorter than before, uneven with burned ends. He lifted his left hand and brushed gently the sticky hair close to her wound making her wince in the process and pulled her head closer to his until he could rest his forehead against hers. It felt as if he could breathe properly for the first time since the attack had split them up and cold fear had gripped his heart. She was hurt but she was alive and breathing. That was the important part.

Unwilling to let her go out of his half-embrace he spoke against her lips, every little casual brush of their lips sending pleasant warm through his whole body, "Are you ok?"

"Yes, I am," her black eyes hungrily drank him in as she looked for any serious injuries she should take care of, "now." The last part was whispered as she clutched him closer and tucked her head under his chin.

Shivers wreaked her small form and Harry was aware of the wetness on his shoulder. His hands encircled her shaking body and pulled her even closer as she burrowed deeper in his arms seeking reassurance and protection that Harry was glad to provide. Kissing the top of her head he vanished the snakes and Apparated them out of the slowly falling apart mansion and into the spacious back garden. From here they could observe as the orange-black flames of the Fiendfyre slowly but surely began to consume the mansion and awaited the inevitable appearance of the Aurors, who were late again, what a surprise. Muttering about useless people and incompetent fools Harry raised his wand towards the sky and summoned a storm. If they were lucky and the fire spell wasn't that strong, the rain stood a chance of putting the blazing inferno out. Black clouds formed; flash and a thunder later and heavy rain hit the earth. They were drenched in seconds.

Having taken care of that, Harry turned his attention back to the precious person in his arms. "Hey," he brushed his hand through her hair and gently pulled until he could see her teary gaze, "you're safe now. I'm here. It's okay. You're safe." Gently brushing the tears from her cheeks, he bestowed a sweet kiss on her forehead and on her cute button nose, one on each eye and finally one on her waiting lips.

Tasting her at last was like heaven. She was dark chocolate and orange all together, with a pinch of something like vanilla. So uniquely her. He kept it short and sweet not wanting to push her but as he pulled away she dove right back in, desperate lips seeking his as a shy tongue came out to play. Harry barely restrained his pleasure filled groan as he kissed her back with passion and love that nearly overwhelmed him. The battle of sleek tongues set his blood on fire and her willing surrender filled him with smug gratification. The need to breathe forced them to separate but hating the idea of letting her go even an inch, Harry prepped her face and neck with little kisses, teasingly denying her another kiss until she grew annoyed at him and she tugged his head back up to kiss her again. His woman was demanding and feisty and he loved it all. Nipping her lower lip he kissed her until her legs couldn't hold her and she trusted him to support her. Pulling back once more he couldn't stop the smug smile from forming at the look of dazed pleasure on her face.

Seeing that, she tugged on his hair in punishment. "You know," Cho started and Hyperion thought that she didn't sound as breathless as he wanted her to, "this isn't how I imagined out first kiss."

Harry kissed her again and again and again until he was satisfied with the state of her red lips, her flushed face and heaving chest. "You imagined this?" his brow went up once he registered her previous statement.

"Prat. It wasn't hard to guess your intentions with that intense staring you did. Though I'm guilty of staring as well." And as if to prove her point she pecked him on the lips and laid her head on his shoulder again. Harry chuckled and tightened his hands around her.

The man behind the attack had gotten away, but Harry had his tracker on him so he wasn't that worried. And as the distant sounds of Apparation reached their ears and the rain slowed down to a drizzle, Harry blessed his luck for having found his perfect match, hidden under so many masks.

The fighting scenes took a while until they didn't seem as awkward, but even if they did, well the ending should take care of that ;D

Your thoughts?