Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: CIA :: 01 :: Predatory

01 • Predatory

Harry had a distinct predatory air about him as he approached. Voldemort lifted an arm and pressed his index finger to his beloved’s chest, causing him to stop. “Now, love, before you pounce on me we do need to talk.” Harry pouted, full bore; Voldemort’s knees went a bit wobbly, but he gamely persevered and pushed his reasoning as opposed to pushing his mate down onto the nearest convenient surface and buggering him senseless.

“Harry,” he said warningly, “as much as I would love to give you exactly what you want, there are some things we need to take into consideration first.”

Harry crossed his arms over his chest and scowled. “Such as?”

“Such as the fact that those books held as much fiction as fact, Harry. If we are to consider the option of children, I would prefer, as should you, to learn a lot more about what to expect, preferably from the horse’s mouth, as it were.”

His mate blinked slowly and nodded, then slumped onto the sofa. “All right, I can’t argue that point. What do you suggest?”

Voldemort took his usual chair and poured himself a glass of wine before saying, “We are due for a holiday. I see no reason why we cannot combine pleasure with research in this instance. If we can track down a proliferation of incubi it is likely we could find some answers and reassurance. And, now that you have completed your plans for vengeance, I see no reason why we can’t take that holiday. I could leave Lucius and the lieutenants in charge for that duration.”

“We’re certainly not going to find any around here.”

“No, we won’t. France might be a start, though.” Harry looked quite uncomfortable for a moment, prompting Voldemort to add, “I have been to many places in many countries over the years. I’m sure I could find locales to delight you.”

Harry looked up and arched a brow. “You will be wearing a disguise.”

“Of course, my sweet.”

It took a bit of time, some threats—the usual sort of thing—and they were ready to go off on their holiday, secure in the knowledge that the British wizarding population was going to be quite busy bleating like sheep missing their shepherds for a while.

On arrival they dropped off their things in a home that Voldemort owned and headed off to the nearest magical community to check in with the tourist bureau. And right there in a glossy pamphlet complete with pictures was a listing of several villages populated by incubi and succubi.

Harry blinked a few times at him and said, “Well, that was easier than expected.”

“The French do have rather a different view on magical creatures, my sweet. Shall we go visit one, then? It is hours yet until evening so we have plenty of time today.”

And so they did, picking a village from the list that was relatively near by, and setting out directly. He knew from the information contained in the pamphlet that there were wards around these communities, but Harry could enter without issue, and he as a bonded mate to an incubus would likewise be accepted without any special tricks.

They had not gotten very far past the wards when a peculiar noise sounded out over the village. Within seconds the streets had been cleared of all people, children at play having been unceremoniously snatched up and hauled off into any of the houses that lined the streets. Voldemort then noticed that his beloved was standing protectively in front of him, wand and knife at the ready, his entire body tensed against threat.

When nothing happened for thirty seconds or so his mate relaxed and sheathed his weapons, then turned to look at him with a slightly sheepish and uncertain smile. “Tom, what just happened?”

“I’m not quite sure, love, but I get the distinct impression that the villagers perceived a threat to their welfare and acted accordingly. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lynch mob was forming nearby.” He looked around for a few moments, then said, “Why don’t we go sit at that fountain? Perhaps some of the braver locals will come out to tell us what’s going on.”

“Or I could transform and go snooping.”

Voldemort shook his head slowly and reached out to take his mate’s hand, then began leading him to the fountain. “Not unless we must,” he said as he took a seat, glancing briefly into the water and taking note of the fish that swam in eternal circles.

“I just think it’s strange,” Harry said. “I suppose it could be coincidence, but if not, why us? What about us would make them afraid?”

Voldemort shrugged, then heaved a sigh as his mate noticed the fish and his face lit up with a mischievous smile. “Harry, leave the fish alone.”

“But I might be able to actually eat as a cat,” Harry protested, staring at them intently.

“Perhaps, but logic suggests that if that is true, you would have to remain a cat for as long as it took for the food to be digested and wastes expelled, which would leave you a very hungry cat in the meantime.”

Harry looked at him long enough to pout, then said, “Okay, then I’ll just play with them while we wait.” With that he promptly transformed into a cat and began swishing a paw in the water as his tail flicked around wildly.

Voldemort heaved another sigh and rolled his eyes. The sound of a door opening had him looking over sharply to see an elderly woman wielding a broom marching toward them.

“Scat,” she yelled, waving the broom around threateningly. “You leave those poor fish alone! I said—” She went abruptly silent on getting a good look at Voldemort, shrieked, then turned and fled back into the house, slamming the door behind her.

Harry turned on the lip of the fountain and started unblinkingly at the house, then transformed back into his disguised self, a somewhat perplexed look on his face. “Tom? There’s something about you that makes these people really nervous. Do you think it’s possible that—” He stopped and blinked as he noticed a group of men approaching them, all of them looking quite belligerent.

“Oh look, a welcoming committee,” Voldemort said dryly.

When the men got close enough to speak without having to resort to shouting, one of them said, “Why are you here? We’ve done nothing to bring your attention down on us!”

Voldemort exchanged a look with Harry. “I think you might be right, love. I think they can see through glamours.”

“If that’s true, they’re awfully brave coming out to confront us,” Harry replied, eyeing the men curiously. “And I get the feeling that old woman never got a good look at you when we first arrived.”

“What are you doing here?” the man repeated, all puffed up with anger and fear combined.

“I am an incubus,” Harry said evenly.

“We’re aware of that,” the man said, not changing his stance.

“This is my bonded,” Harry continued.

The men all eyed Voldemort with fear, but nodded. “We’re also aware of that,” the man said.

Harry sighed softly and said, “I would really like to bear his children, but we’re not sure what to expect, or if my ignorance could place me in any danger by doing so. Given that, we decided to visit those who should know. After all, I expect that you have probably grown up with correct information, rather than those pathetic excuses for books allowed to the general public.

“We’re not here to cause any trouble. All we want is information. Once we have that we’ll be on our merry way back to our home, though I suppose since this is the first holiday I’ve ever had in my life, we might do a spot of traveling first.”

The spokesman blinked and shook his head as though to clear it. “How can you not know?”

Harry shrugged carelessly. “I’m sure you know that incubi have all fled the United Kingdom due to the laws, and as far as I know, I am the only one there, though not by choice.”

The spokesman gave a halfhearted sneer and jerked his chin at Voldemort. “Why him? You’re probably kept like some exotic pet.”

Harry arched a brow and stood up, snorted, then morphed into his guise as Lord Thanatos. “I am no pet.”

The group hastily stepped back, leaving their spokesman standing alone.

“And,” Harry said, summoning his scythe, “if you continue to insult us, I might get testy.”

“My sweet, please put away your toy,” Voldemort murmured.

“No,” Harry retorted. “I will not stand here and let these people insult you. We came in peace, and they’re being nasty. Maybe I just will eat their damn fish.”

Voldemort let out a snort of laughter and ran one long-fingered hand over his scalp as he dropped his obviously useless glamour. “We are dark lords, love, and they have every reason to be suspicious of that.” Then he looked at the older female approaching out of Harry’s line of sight. “I would be pleased if you would move to a place where we can all see each other comfortably. I do not wish for my mate to accidentally behead you as a perceived threat.”

“I know she’s there,” Harry said quietly.

The woman chuckled and shook her head. “Stand down,” she said to the men. “They are sincere, despite who they are.”

It wasn’t until she came to a stop near the men and they relaxed their stance that Harry vanished his weapon and sat back down next to his lover.

“My name is Rialis,” she said. “Welcome to our village. It is not every day that we are visited by men of legend, but we will do what we can to assist you with your questions.”

Harry frowned.

“If you would care to follow,” she continued, “we can go to the meeting hall. I, for one, am very curious to know how an incubus can also be an animagus. That should be impossible.”

It was a very wary group that made its way to said meeting hall. Once everyone had settled into place Rialis smiled at them and then asked Voldemort, “Would you like something to drink?”

“Wine, red, if you have it. Otherwise water is fine.”

She nodded and glanced at one of the men, then looked back as he scurried off toward one wall. “Are you willing to explain the impossible?”

Voldemort placed a comforting hand on his mate’s leg and squeezed gently.

Harry glanced at him, took a deep breath, then looked back at Rialis. “Up until the summer of 1998 I was just a normal wizard who had managed the animagus transformation. I assume that is why I can still transform at will.”

She tilted her head to the side, her brow furrowed in mild confusion.

“I was also a wizard with a family history of having the potential to be an incubus. Someone managed to figure out how to cause a transformation into a full incubus, and forced that on me. It wasn’t until just recently that I was able to escape, and also found someone to bond to, not that I understood what I was doing, or even what I was.

“So, I have very little in the way of actual knowledge when it comes to our species. The books we were able to obtain seem to contain as much fallacy as fact, and we are both loathe to trust in them any more than we must.”

Rialis seemed almost horrified.

“And now, I would really like to start a family, but my mate is concerned that it might have an adverse effect on my health because of the circumstances. There isn’t anyone qualified in the UK, or that we’d trust, to. . . .”

“Do you know how this was accomplished?”

“My transformation?” Harry asked, and when she nodded said, “Yes. We were able to recover the research notes.”

“Destroy them, please.”

Harry glanced at Voldemort, who said, “Why?”

She looked at Harry for a moment before saying, “If I’m hearing you correctly, one person has already been forced and placed in captivity due to this research. How many others are there in the United Kingdom who might be affected should this knowledge get out? How many others could be enslaved to another’s will, another’s sick desires?

“Any children you might have, young man, could be treated in the same manner. Do you really wish for that to be possible? Yes, I understand that if one person could successfully research this and make it a reality, another could as well, and as much as I abhor the idea of the destruction of knowledge, this is one case in which I would welcome it.”

Harry gazed at his lover, brow furrowed and his mouth tight. After a tense silence he sighed and said softly, “Tom?”

“Unless you can give me a good reason otherwise, my sweet, I would have to agree with the lady. We should destroy that part of the research, for selfish reasons at the very least. I should not care to father children on you only to find out later on that some upstart did to one of them what was done to you.” He picked up the glass of wine that had quietly appeared and had a sip, eyeing his beloved steadily. “Besides, I would kill anyone who tried.”

One of the men sneered and said, “Like that would be a problem. We have kept up with news from across the channel.”

Harry sat up very straight and glowered; seconds later several of the men shrank back and started to curl in on themselves.

“Rein in it, love,” Voldemort said quietly, and was pleased when his mate complied.

“You will not insult my mate,” Harry said firmly.

“Jean-Claude, hush. This is not a political discussion,” Rialis said with equal firmness.

“I give you fair warning,” Voldemort said casually, “that provoking my mate’s temper is not a wise thing. And if you push too far, I might find myself hard pressed to attempt to make him see reason.”

Jean-Claude sneered again, weakly, but held his tongue.

“No offense, madame,” Harry said a bit tightly, “but I’m beginning to think we made a mistake in coming here. What is to stop any of these men from contacting one of the papers with an interesting bit of gossip?”

Rialis gave him a gentle smile. “I am matriarch here. They will not defy my will.”

Voldemort tapped Harry’s thigh, then nodded when his mate looked at him.

“It is obvious that neither of you knew that here glamours are ineffective to our eyes, else you might not have taken the risk.”

Voldemort nodded his agreement to her. “But as we are here. . . .”

Rialis nodded. “We have medics. I would suggest that one of ours complete a thorough examination of—” She looked at Harry.

“Justus,” Harry said after a moment.

“All right. A thorough examination would reveal if the transformation was complete and if there are any irregularities which would prevent or complicate a pregnancy. Assuming that everything checks out, we could have an in-depth discussion of what you could expect and what you should be aware of.”

She frowned slightly, then said, “I must wonder at just how complete your bonding is.”

“I don’t understand,” Harry said softly. “But, my—I was told at one point that I had fully transformed, and that was when someone saw my wings and eyes. Later on, I realized that I can also feed on more indirect pleasure.”

She smiled at him broadly. “A full transformation, indeed. That is very good news. That being the case, it is quite likely that you will be able to successfully bear children.”

Voldemort thought that was excellent news, though he would wait for a more precise diagnosis, and judging by his mate’s expression, Harry thought so as well. And then Harry softly questioned, “A matriarchy?”

Rialis shook her head. “Not at all. Generally speaking, there is one of each, matriarch and patriarch, but their governance in a settlement is not strictly defined by gender. Meaning, a matriarch has dominion over all child-bearers, which would include someone like you, if you lived here. A patriarch would have dominion over the rest.”

“And I’m not a part of any . . . settlement.”

“Very true,” she said agreeably.

“What about human bond mates?”

Voldemort sipped wine for a good half hour as Harry and Rialis quietly conversed, idly watching the menfolk shift restlessly. They were probably bored out of their skulls, but they could suffer for all he cared. His beloved was finally getting answers from someone who gave every indication of being reliable and even trustworthy, so if Harry wanted to talk to the woman for a week straight that was perfectly all right with him.

He was wondering just how far her power went when he heard Harry reopen the topic of privacy, and so made more of a show of paying attention, despite the fact that he had heard every word thus far.

“Because, Justus, instinct requires that one obey one’s matriarch or patriarch. They will not defy me. You are your own council due to your circumstances, though that would change should you choose to live among your own kind. Somehow, I don’t see that happening.” She shot him a wry smile.

Harry chuckled softly and nodded. “Er, no. I am rather a busy person with quite a lot of responsibilities.”

“And how do you plan to balance those demands with the gestation of offspring, and raising them?” she inquired.

Voldemort watched as Harry glanced over at him and blinked. “The lady has a point.”

His mate gnawed on his lower lip briefly, then said, “We’ll figure something out. After all, I have managed to practically train people to act for me, so. . . . In any case, I suppose it makes more sense to begin with to find out whether or not we can have children, right? If not, there’s no sense worrying about fitting that in among other responsibilities.”

Rialis nodded. “In that case, if you would like we can repair to the infirmary. Or, if you would prefer to depart and return tomorrow after you’ve rested, that would also be fine.”

Harry looked at him questioningly. “Assuming that my mate is inclined, I am also. We can visit the infirmary now,” Voldemort said. “The less of a burden we place on your village the better, and having your people in a state of nerves for too long may be detrimental overall.”

Rialis flashed him a smile and nodded. “Shall we, then?”

*

As it turned out everything seemed to be fine insofar as Harry’s ability to carry children went, and Rialis conjectured that it would do no harm to make the attempt. In fact, she pointed out that incubi and succubi had bred with other species in the past, and Voldemort was at least part human. Voldemort thought it was quite diplomatic of her to leave off any speculation as to his exact genetic makeup.

Harry, who seemed to be trying to repress a happy smile, asked, “And what if I do become pregnant? What should we be expecting?”

She patted his mate’s hand in a motherly gesture and said, “That depends. You can attempt to go it alone, or you can accept help. I am willing to see if one of my mediwizards and their bonded would either accompany you two, or make visits as necessary should the need arise.”

Voldemort watched as one of those mediwizards distracted his mate with a series of answers and questions, so he gently pulled Rialis a bit away in order to speak with her more privately, all while being able to keep Harry in view.

“He has already tried to induce me to mate,” Voldemort said, “and did not appear to realize what he was doing. Is this normal?”

She smiled at him and nodded. “Instinct is a powerful thing, and all creatures have the drive to reproduce. Your mate obviously felt it was safe, or near enough to, and thus allowed instinct to take over. I take it you were able to talk him out of it?”

“Yes. It was not quite the right time in my opinion, nor his once he regained his senses. And how likely is it that we would need a couple standing by? I would need to make special arrangements so that they would not be confined to our property like prisoners in that event. Granted, the fewer people who realize the truth the better, but I know it would pain him for those lending a helping hand—and indeed, those he would classify as innocents—to be treated in a fashion as to even suggest such a state.”

“If this were not the first time I doubt this issue would even come up, but since it is, I would honestly advise that you accept help. I can see that you are quite enamored of your mate and would prefer to keep him in the best of health. Having a knowledgeable couple on hand would do a great deal to ease things both medical and emotional.”

“And yet, the only possible safe place for them would be our property, which means placing them in the thick of a fight nor theirs, plus potentially exposing them to a great number of people they might be better off not meeting,” Voldemort said with almost a sigh. Then he aimed a penetrating look at her. “And how is it that you can be so sure of our purpose and intent?”

Rialis smiled brightly at him, almost laughing. “I can see auras, and while both yours are quite blackened by your own actions, that does not and cannot hide what it is I need to see. It is one of the reasons I am matriarch of this village. I am quite certain that you would treat help with every courtesy and return them to us in good health, mind and body.”

Voldemort felt like growling. “You, my lady, are inordinately cheerful.”

And then she did laugh, causing Harry to look over with an adorably puzzled expression. “Is everything all right?” he asked.

Voldemort could not stop the almost fatuous smile that spread across his face at his mate’s confusion. “We’re fine,” he said and moved closer, then asked, “Which would you prefer? Help as necessary, or there for the duration?”

Harry glanced at the man he had been speaking with for a second, then back to his mate. “The duration, if that’s possible. I don’t want anything to go wrong, and. . . .”

Voldemort looked back at Rialis, who said, “Then I shall query the staff here to see if anyone wishes to volunteer.”

The man who had been conversing with Harry straightened up at that point. “I would not mind.”

Rialis gave him a searching look, then said, “And your bond mate?”

“So long as you assured him it was all right, I don’t see why he would say no.”

“Then as I believe we are done here for the moment, you should perhaps go ask. And if he agrees, bring him to my house.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he said, bowed slightly, then hastened off.

“Shall we, gentlemen?” she said.

*

They were not long settled in when the young man arrived with another in tow, at which Rialis looked over with a smile. “Armand you have already met. With him is his bond mate Marius. And you, Marius, no doubt recognize Dark Lord Voldemort, and with him Dark Lord Thanatos.”

Marius seemed a bit off balance at seeing a cheerfully smiling Harry, but after looking to his matriarch for reassurance he bowed slightly and said, “It is a pleasure to meet you both.”

Voldemort inclined his head in greeting, but said nothing.

“Hello, Marius,” Harry said. “If you’re anything like what Armand has mentioned, I’m sure we’ll get on fine.” Then he paused, looked at each man, then said, “Say, does this mean I’ll get to cook for more than just one for a while?”

Voldemort chuckled as Armand brightened up considerably, then changed the subject. “I am willing to create a set of blood-bonded portkeys, one to bring either or both of you here to your choice of place within the village, and one to bring you to a secure location on our property. That way, should you wish to take the occasional weekend here that would not be at issue.

“We certainly have a spacious home and room to house you both, and my mate is an excellent cook in my opinion. However, as I have pointed out to your matriarch, we are who we are, and bringing you in may mean that you are at risk of meeting people you would rather not meet. That can be remedied by never leaving the house, but you might find that stifling or confining.”

The two men exchanged a look, then Armand said tentatively, “There is the option to dissolve the agreement should we find the conditions to be too . . . stifling?”

Voldemort nodded. “Also, we happen to be on holiday, something neither of us has seen in quite some time. You will have a period of several weeks in which to come to a final decision on this matter.”

They talked for a while longer, and then Rialis offered them hospitality for the night, which Harry was eager to accept. Voldemort got the impression that his mate wished to spend more time speaking with the two men and was happy enough to acquiesce. The matriarch put them up for the night in her own home and did not say one word about the warding that mysteriously sprung up two seconds after she bade them goodnight.

The next morning he was treated to breakfast, and was nearly done when the signal piece he was wearing vibrated to catch his attention. Harry gave him a curious look as Voldemort fetched it out and glanced at it, then sighed; Lucius was alerting him to something of interest in the papers.

“Do you by chance,” he asked Rialis, “happen to have the paper handy?”

“I have the French version, certainly, but the Daily Prophet takes longer to arrive,” she said as she rose and headed toward a counter, coming back within seconds with one to place before him.

Voldemort glanced down and began to skim the articles, then spotted it. Obviously, French reporters wasted no time in bringing back interesting news from across the channel given a title of: Harry Potter—Incubus?

Harry scooted over to see for himself, then went quite tense.