1st November 2010, London
He was just nursing his first double espresso after barely three hours of sleep when he felt his phone buzzing and noticed the caller ID. “Sir,” he greeted respectfully.
“DCI Potter,” the smooth, calm baritone of Assistant Chief Constable Gawain Robards greeted him. “Your presence has been requested at the Headquarters immediately. Meet Chief Superintendent Shacklebolt. We’ve placed the incident room on the seventh floor so you should find him there.”
“Yes, sir,” he picked up a pencil and jotted it down on the edge of his newspaper.
“And Potter, this is going to require your particular expertise,” Robards said simply but without actually naming the purpose.
“I understand sir. I will be there within the hour,” he agreed and waited for the click of the ended call before putting his Blackberry down.
Detective Chief Inspector Harry Potter of the London Metropolitan Police were his full credentials. To anyone he had worked with, he was known as the ‘odd-case detective’. Whenever there was something not quite right, something that even vaguely wafted of supernatural or in any way outside of the normal parameters, he was called in. He didn’t know why he knew these things - when to avoid stake outs during certain night, that he should avoid the perps in cloaks and take cover from their powers. There was a world, a parallel universe that ran along his reality, where some of the legends and darker tales he learned as a child were true.
Of course it wasn’t something he would share with his colleagues and friends. He didn’t fancy being sectioned or losing his job when there seemed to be no one else in his vicinity who understood. Or maybe he was crazy? How do you explain your senses screaming at you that a place doesn’t feel right to his instincts? He toed a fine line between investigating homicides and uncovering a world that he didn’t fully understand.
He grabbed a quick shower, slipped into his black slacks and jumper, and pulled on his shoulder gun holder, checking his Glock was secure. Once upon a time, having a firearm felt comfortable and secure. Knowing that it helped little with any of the supernatural cases he dealt with didn’t fill him with confidence anymore, but at least he had it as backup. He threw on a blazer fitted to better conceal his weapon and pocketed his ID and phone before making his way down to his Golf to try and beat the traffic. It was only just past five o’clock so it shouldn’t take him long.
The New Scotland Yard building stood imposing as ever as he approached, lit up in the darkness of the early morning and delayed winter sunrise. He made his way to the seventh floor and found the incident room being set up with boards, break out tables and computers for desktop research.
“Took you long enough Potter!” he got a friendly welcome from Cho Chang, fellow DCI who spent most of her training time in New York where she picked up a few of the local colloquialisms and an appetite for contact sports.
“Cho,” he shook her hand and looked around. “Do you know where I’ll be?” he asked.
She pointed at the small office tucked into the corner. “He’s chosen you as his Deputy SIO, so it’s all yours,” she pointed out.
He was surprised by the revelation but headed for Shacklebolt’s office for the initial meeting.
“Ah, DCI Potter,” he was greeted by a deep basso as he came in, closing the door quietly and shaking hands with a man easily a foot taller than he was at 5’8”. “I hear much about you.”
“Likewise, sir,” he acknowledged the legend before him. The first black Chief Super in the history of the Met, well liked and respected, with an exemplary track record and excellent skills in managing serial murders and terrorism.
“I hear from Robards that you have developed skills for a certain type of cases during your time with our American colleagues,” he pointed out as he handed Harry a folder.
The training transfer to the States had been helpful. Harry had loved the different places he was trained at but his most favourite had been Louisiana and New Orleans. There, the strange was part of the normal. He really felt as if he knew what he was investigating and it was a silent rule that some cases had elements that they could not explain so they were simply recorded as unresolved with the knowledge that they were not to be interfered with. He did interfere though and saw ritualistic practices including voodoo and other sorts of ‘magic’ that he couldn’t describe without sounding insane. And yet the cases were solved, and he learnt that not everything could be explained in this world. When his time was up, the Head of their Criminal Investigations Division was asking him to stay, and a part of him really wanted to. But his heart was back in Britain, and London was where he belonged so he declined and returned to his home country, knowing that if this parallel world existed in the States, he would do his utmost to solve the strange cases here.
“Yes, sir. Louisiana in particular was very educational,” he acknowledged as he opened the folder and began looking at the photographs. Two males, both tall, slim athletic brunets. He looked at the facial structure and raised a brow. Twins, not identical but fraternal maybe? And a female, a short voluptuous redhead with freckles that stood out across her cheeks and chest against the deathly pallor. They were all nude, arranged in a triangle, with sigils across their chest. “Is that blood writing?” he asked.
“Some blood and one of the symbols is in red wax,” Shacklebolt explained.
“Runes, sigils, and this circle - has it been analysed?” he indicated the powdery circle around the bodies.
“Not yet, waiting on results.”
“It’s likely ash and salt, used by some pagan and cult practitioners to secure ritual spaces and create a magical barrier,” he explained. “Saw something similar in Lafayette,” he added as he flipped through the rest of the photographs.
Shacklebolt observed him carefully as Harry closed the folder and offered it back to him. He shook his head and motioned for him to keep it. “I choose you to be my Deputy, but I would like your recommendation for another Deputy for process,” he suggested.
“DCI Chang,” Harry said without hesitation, seeing the surprise in Shacklebolt’s expression. It still wasn’t very common for male detectives to request working with a female colleague, he knew that. Some boys’ clubs stayed that way despite outward appearances. “We trained together and both did time oversees. Our skills are complimentary, and her understanding of the female psyche and experience interviewing female offenders is unparalleled in this department at present. She’s also excellent in terms of process, her record keeping is second to none - she has photographic memory,” he explained. Cho was still in the closet as far as her workplace was concerned but her instincts and ability to connect with female victims and perpetrators alike was awe-inspiring, earning her the respect of her colleagues. And of course she remembered details unlike any other he knew.
Shacklebolt nodded. “Very well. Please send her in as you leave.”
“Thank you, sir. Do you know if the coroner is at the scene? I would like to view it before the bodies are moved.”
“Yes, Professor McGonnagal has been assigned as Coroner and called to say she will be there in half an hour. We’ve just started processing some of the scene outside the house before she comes in and assesses the bodies. You should be able to catch her there.”
“Yes sir, thank you,” he nodded and headed off, waving Cho down to go in before he picked up his blazer and headed back out into the drizzle.
3rd November 2010
He unlocked the door on his small townhouse in Lewisham, his shoulder smarting from the beating he received at his regular boxing club. Christ, he knew better than to challenge Goyle when his head wasn’t in it, but he swore it was the only way to get him a moment of peace during troubling cases such as these. Running and boxing were the only things keeping him sane these days as it was. Well, and that little tryst on Halloween but he shook his head to rid himself of the memory of the leather-clad goddess that stepped into his life for two hours and disappeared just as mysteriously.
He toed off his shoes, set his kit bag down and made sure the door was locked up before setting the keys in the small dish on the hallway cabinet. He caught a sight of himself in the small oval mirror and sighed, touching his tender cheek. That will smart. His hair was an unruly mess of raven curls, cut short on the sides and back and left falling into his forehead messily on top. His eyes were usually so bright and vivid, green as a pair of emeralds, but looked dull in the yellow light of the hall, weighed by the knowledge that he had three dead bodies in the morgue and no relevant leads. He checked his cheekbone over but it didn’t feel like a fracture so he resolved himself to an ice pack.
God, this case was a fucking mess. He reached for the files spread out over his kitchen table, hoping the break in staring at his notes helped clear his head. Three days and they had very little.
No prints other than the victims’, no sign of force, no sign of any coercion whatsoever. The triangle could have several potential meanings, anything from three stages of life in paganism to medieval mathematical arrangement that was so often woven into the occult. There was so little blood on the crime scene, a few runes and sigils delicately drawn in blood with a small finger or a brush perhaps, and one red wax pentagram on each body.
The most interesting part was the fact that the bodies were nearly drained of all blood and there was only two small incisions on the neck, and in the woman’s case on the femoral artery. The office was jokingly calling them the vampire cult. Harry wasn’t sure what to think.
Voodoo, the occult, magic, that he had seen with his own eyes and knew to exist. Vampires though? Could it be? Was it possible that they’ve been walking the same earth together for centuries without knowing?
Then again, perhaps they did know. The vampire and werewolf tales had to have began somewhere. Folk tales? Wild imagination? Or actual sighting and oral tales that became distorted throughout the centuries? Who knew. He wasn’t going to joke about it though. They settled on Operation Ruby to represent the blood element of the case, and Kingsley stepped up before the cameras to provide a very vague statement regarding the murders to the press so they had breathing room to investigate without someone trying to stick their nose in.
The truth was, no one saw anything, and the victims didn’t seem to have known each other before that evening. His hunch about the men being fraternal twins appeared to be correct, but none of their friends or parents had any idea how they came to be together in London as one lived in Coventry and the other in Reading. The female victim was a Gender Studies student from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and was supposed to join friends at a Halloween party on the night of the murder. There was no evidence connecting the woman to either of the twins, and the last known communication between the two men was from months ago. They had absolutely nothing.
He felt his phone vibrating and picked it up. “Potter,” he announced himself.
“We have the full report from the coroner, including tox. Nothing coercive, all victims were present of their own free will. Not even a hint of drugs as you would usually expect to stumble across at a sex party. The problem is, it wasn’t one,” she paused and the sound of shuffling paper could be heard over the line.
“Wait, what do you mean? As in, none of them have had intercourse of any kind before they died?” he asked just to clarify.
“Correct. No sex, no rape,” Cho confirmed. “The summary is that the bodies were somehow drained of blood, which caused hypovolemic shock and eventually organ failure.”
“So what you’re telling me is that these people who have had no communication with each other decided to come to this place, strip naked for no sexual reason whatsoever and then had their blood drained under suspicious circumstance which led to organ failure. Then they were arranged into the position we found them in, and some of the blood that was somehow syphoned from them has been used to draw runes and sigils over their bodies in an ash-salt circle,” he summarised with a deep frown.
“In a nutshell,” Cho closed the file on her desk. “I even checked the stomach contents summary to give us a snapshot of what they ate, if they met at a restaurant or something, but nothing suspicious. No alcohol either. Look, I’m going home to get some sleep. Let’s look at it in the morning?”
“I’ll meet you there at seven. Coffee or strong tea?” he asked.
“I have a feeling I’ll need a cappuccino with an extra shot tomorrow morning,” she admitted.
“Sure, I’ll get the coffee and breakfast, and we’ll review everything to finalise sequence and timeline,” he agreed.
As he ended the call and headed up to get some rest, but had a feeling his night wouldn’t be as restful as he had hoped. For the past two night two nights, the same recurring dream seems to haunt his every resting moment…
He really didn’t know why he agreed to come to the blasted Halloween party but he knew the answer was simple really - he cherished the few close friends that he still had in the world too much. So when his sixth form friends Ron and Seamus called with an invite to the party, he could only agree to come. They’d rented a VIP area in one of the posher clubs in Chelsea and invited a bunch of friends to join them for the Spooky Night of Horrors theme night.
Harry was many things, and somewhat socially awkward in his private life was one of them. He knew he looked good, or what was considered attractive with his olive skin, firm body and bright eyes, and he had the occasional dalliance to release some of the tension in his life. But he so rarely dated and the club scene was not for him most of the time. So he gave all the boys a quick one armed hug, picked up his pint and headed to find a free seat in the small crowded area.
And that was when he saw her amongst the sea of brazen costumes that left little to the imagination. Sitting alone at a small table in the corner was another caliber of woman altogether. Her shapely legs were covered in tight black trousers, and her corset top was modest, the cups full and hinting at the gentle curves underneath without appearing cheap. Her hair fell around her shoulders in wild curls, some in tight ringlets, others looser and refusing the natural laws of gravity. She looked pale as moonlight in the flickering lights of the club, but it was her captivating whiskey eyes that had him walking over without his limbs registering the order from his brain.
“Well, hello there,” she looked at him curiously as he stopped at her table, her lips quirking into a small amused smile as he stood there for a moment like a pillock.
He realised he was embarrassing himself and cleared his throat a bit awkwardly. “Hi, sorry to come over but I was looking for a seat and yours is the only table that isn’t crowded,” he explained. “Mind if I-“ he motioned at the seat beside her.
She shuffled a little on the bench and patted the space beside her in invitation. “By all means. Though I’m not sure who I have the honour of meeting tonight,” she looked over his simple outfit of black slacks and shirt that was his standard go to. His only costume piece was the black mask over his eyes.
He took the offered seat and set his pint down, realising he stuck out a bit in the crowd of costumes in his simple outfit. “I decided to forego the moustache but tonight, you may call me Zorro, vigilante and avenger of murder,” he explained, wondering if it was just too cheesy.
Her eyes, so vivid and beautiful sparked with amusement at his words. “Well then, I shall have to be on my guard for I am who you are hunting tonight,” she mused.
“Are you proclaiming yourself to be a murderer?” he allowed himself to take in her appearance once more.
She nodded and took a sip of the amber liquid in her glass that he could only assume was whiskey. “Well, of a sort,” she smiled, her teeth sparkling white and…was that fangs?
“Ah, are you a vampire?” he asked.
“Yes, I find that on Halloween, one can be anything they want without repercussions,” she mused more to herself than him, a wistful smile gracing her petite features. “Well, other than that,” she pointed out a half-naked man with paint on his face a feathered headpiece. “That is just racism as far as I’m concerned…”
Harry found himself smiling in response. There was something about her that instantly drew him in but he wasn’t quite sure what to do with himself. “Harry,” he offered.
She paused and studied his angular features as she took a sip of her drink. “Hermione,” she finally offered.
He refilled her drink, they spoke a little bit more before just after midnight she leaned in to kiss his cheek, momentarily filling his senses with the scent of witch hazel and jasmine, and disappeared into the crowd, not to be seen for the rest of the night.
He could still smell the delicate scent of her perfume when he woke up the following morning, wondering if this dream would ever end, and secretly perhaps if he would ever see her again.
8th November 2010
He arrived home exhausted after another long fruitless day. Exactly seven days from the initial triangle, they found another one. Another three bodies, the same M.O., lack of blood, and more questions than they had answers for. Shacklebolt was looking to him for answers and while he could identify the elements, he had no plausible explanation for the missing blood. His kitchen was littered with any book and article he could find on references around blood letting and syphoning and vampirism, including medical literature and good old Bram Stoker alike. The words that floated around the office ranged from vague occultism to clinical terms such as the Renfield syndrome and Porphyria, all attempts to try and rationalise all the strange elements that seemed to be present. Secretly though, Harry wasn’t sure what he was dealing with and the uncertainty was wearing on him. He needed food, and he needed to switch off or he would be driven mad by this whole thing.
The kitchen was shrouded in darkness, only a pair of luminescent eyes greeted him upon arrival. He watched Merlin the tabby cat for his neighbour occasionally and they were both used to each other well by now.
“Hello little one, ready for dinner?” he asked, surprised he hadn’t come out to greet him in the hall. But then he felt it, the prickle of a sharp gaze and the fine hairs on his neck raising. In a flash he had the light on and his weapon aimed as he faced the threat.
“That’s a dangerous question, detective,” she said softly, her words and presence filling the small space.
He couldn’t believe his eyes. There she was, the woman from the Halloween party. But how did she-
“Your lock is a bit old. Took a bit of jiggling but really I would have expected a detective to be a bit better protected,” she mused.
“What are you doing in my home?” he asked clearly and calmly, the threat making his pulse race despite his calm façade.
“Perhaps we can do introductions properly this time, the club wasn’t exactly the place for it. Now, would you please put the gun down and take a seat? Your adrenaline smells delicious and I haven’t eaten in a few days,” she said casually, sipping the Irish whiskey she had poured herself from his cabinet. “I promise I mean you no harm,” she added, her expression earnest.
He stood still for a moment, waiting for his heartbeat to slow down. He leaned against the kitchen cabinets behind him to keep some space between them, weapon still aimed. She looked almost just as he remembered her from the blasted Halloween party last week, unruly curls and captivating eyes. She wore the same trousers as the night he met her, with tall black boots and a soft burgundy leather jacket that hid little of the swell of curves beneath.
“Well, detective, cat got your tongue?” she teased, crossing her legs comfortably.
Harry took a deep breath. “Again, why are you in my home?” he asked, unrelenting.
She sighed, as if disappointed with his actions. “Very well, if we must do it this way. I thought you could use some help, though your file does mention you have training in this type of cases. I was glad to know you were picked to investigate the Samhain murders.”
“How do you know about the murders and where did you access my file?” he asked, voice firm as steel as he tried to run a risk assessment on the situation in his head, unable to really gage what the hell was going on. The one thing he did trust though were his instincts and they were screaming ‘predator’ with flashing red lights.
That was all it took for her to be standing in front of him and have him disarmed, his Glock sitting atop the table and his shirt in her hold. “Did you know, D.I. Potter, that it takes men more than five additional seconds to perceive a woman as a threat?” she practically purred, their faces a breath apart.
Witch hazel and jasmine were making his head swim but he tried to remain focused on the situation at hand, realising instantly that it didn’t matter who but rather what this woman was. “What do you want from me?” he asked softly, unflinching but careful in his approach.
She leaned in just a fraction more and appeared to take a deep breath, her gaze turning curious. “I smell no fear on you. Are you not afraid for your life, DCI Potter?” she asked.
“Should I be?” he asked just as calmly.
Her chuckle was melodic as she pulled away and returned to the table. “I don’t think so, I find you amusing and it is quite a feat to amuse someone who has lived for centuries. Perhaps it’s something to add to your resume - ‘Able to amuse vampires’,” she tittered.
“You’re a vampire?! An actual vampire?” he asked, the reality of this personification of a myth standing before him nearly too much to accept.
“I told you that when we met,” she pointed out with an amused chuckle.
“We met at a Halloween costume party! You could have been a princess for all I knew!” he pointed out a bit more animatedly, feeling his heart rate rising.
She could clearly sense the spike in his adrenaline again, as she took his hand and guided him to sit down at the table. “Here, this should help,” she slid her glass across the table.
He downed the amber liquid all in one, relishing the burn as it travelled down his throat. They were real. Not just magic, not just all the occult rituals. Creatures. Vampires. The thought was fascinating in a shocking kind of way, his mind struggling to really take it in.
“And for your reference,” she sat back down across from him. “I wasn’t a princess but I was married to a Jarl many years ago. Before we sailed to York…” she mused, a flitter of memory distracting her for a moment before her sharp gaze returned to him.
“You were Viking? A Shield-maiden?” he asked curiously.
Her smile was appreciative this time. “Yes, I was. Though instead of the gates of Valhalla upon my mortal death, I only caught a glimpse of Gjallarbrú which I will have to cross once I meet my immortal death,” she looked sorrowed for a moment before shaking it off. “But that is a tale for another time. I read your file, you witnessed so much of our world but I can see you were quite curious about my kind in particular,” she motioned at the literature on his table.
“Are there many of you?” he asked, finally finding his voice again. “Vampires? Other creatures?”
She nodded. “Not as many as once upon a time but there are still established clans across all continents and in many countries. As for other creatures, perhaps you should be careful around the full moon nights, and I wouldn’t recommend sharing a bed with a woman who moves like sin itself,” she offered in a roundabout way. Werewolves, Succubi and Dark Fey were not relevant right now though. She was here for one purpose only. “But those are also details for another time. This,” she pointed at the books and journals beside her elbow, “will not help you catch the one responsible for the Samhain murders.”
“And you will?” he asked and got up to get another tumbler and the bottle to top them up.
“My-my, perhaps you are in the correct line of work with how observant you are, detective,” she drawled sarcastically. “I can assure you I am not here just for your pretty green eyes.”
Harry shrugged. “I don’t even know if Hermione is your real name, not to mention what motive you could possibly have for telling me about your kind or helping me with these murders,” he pointed out.
“Ah, touché,” she grinned and he expected to see the fangs he glimpsed on that Halloween party but all he got was a row of perfect pearly whites. “Hermione will do for now. As for my motive to help you, let’s just say the man responsible needs to be brought down for many a reason,” she said vaguely but something flashed in her gaze, something dark and cold that made him shudder.
“I know it’s some sort of ritual by the runes, sigils and ash salt. But the rest, I have no idea. How are they getting these victims there? Why are they placed this way? And why did they kill another three just yesterday?” he asked the questions that have been frustrating him the most.
She raised a hand and began counting out the answers on her fingers. “Some of us are gifted and can use mind control to enthral weak-minded humans. They are placed in a triangle because the triangle, or the Delta as Greeks believed, represented the doorway to higher wisdom. Created through blood and death, the doorway is stronger than if drawn in other means. One created on this particular Samhain is very powerful as Venus is in Retrograde once again. They killed another three and will crated two more triangles until twelve human lives are claimed and the Thirteenth body ascends its form,” she answered all of his questions in order.
Harry took all the information in, reaching for his notepad and making a few notes. “A witch from the French quarter, Ayana Deveraux, once told me that numbers matter. Three, seven, thirteen, and they matter especially when it comes to sacrifice and ritual magic. What does this..Thirteenth body ascend to? Who is the Thirteenth?” he asked.
“You were trusted by a Deveraux?” she looked impressed. “You really have fallen down the rabbit hole, haven’t you, Alice?” she teased before returning to the topic at hand. “The Thirteenth is the head of the London clan and the British vampire royalty. Like all men granted the fruit of power, he wants to own the whole orchard,” her lips pressed together in displeasure. “He would ascend to the ultimate form. Not just immortal against time, but truly immortal and eternal. We may be impervious to time, forever frozen in this form, but though we are difficult to kill, it is not impossible. He does not care about being caught, because once he completes this ritual, he will be invincible,” she explained.
Harry looked at the calendar by his fridge and did the mental math. “So if he kills every week, he will complete the 12 deaths on the 21st November. That’s a-“
“Full moon,” she nodded. “He will harness the blood of those victims and complete the ritual on the 28th, the night when the moon is in the Last Quarter. According to the ritual scrolls, he will go into a magical slumber until the New Moon rises and with it he ascends.”
“On the 5th of December,” Harry made a note of the dates. “I can try to spin this in a way that would allow me to mobilise the team and try to catch him this Sunday. I just need to know where, and how to restrain him.”
“Don’t,” she said sharply. “Aim to kill. He needs to be stopped. Restraining him will do you no good, his abilities to control the humans around him would only put everyone at risk.”
Harry didn’t like to shoot to kill but if all of this was true, which he didn’t doubt it for a moment, he would have no choice. “Well, I think we established your speed and special skills, but I am yet to find out how to kill one of your kind,” he pointed out. If she suggested he take a wooden stake with him, he would never live it down.
“We can be stopped with these bullets of yours, but you must aim for the head and be sure to kill the brain. And the body must be incinerated,” she stressed. “Otherwise it could be revived with magic, if the right price was paid.”
Harry took in the instructions but didn’t note them down. This would be for him alone to do. “Where will the next murders take place?” he asked.
She shook her head. “I don’t know. I will need to find out and let you know.”
“How will I get in touch with you?” he asked, wanting something tangible before she disappeared again.
She took the pencil from his hand and scribbled down her phone number with a small symbol beside it. He looked at it closely, recognising the rune Hagalaz, the rune of hailstorm, of radical change and surrender to new opportunities. Huh, fitting. When he looked up to ask her about it, the chair across from him was empty. Damn.
He was startled by knocking on his door, and when he opens it found Cho, looking tired and holding a case of Cobra. “This case is driving me mad. I’m tired and I have beer, can I come in?” she asked.
As he waved her inside, he wondered whether everything he hear from his mysterious guest tonight was to be believed. But something inside him, an instinct or whatever judgement compass that he knew intrinsically to be correct, told him that he should believe every word.
11th November 2010
He was getting nervous. It was Thursday already and he had heard nothing from the Shield-maiden. He knew Hermione was not her real name, and he preferred to refer to what she told him was true about her. His dreams now shifted from the night of the Halloween party to visions of the petite woman in leather, armour and wolf fur, her brilliant eyes painted with charcoal and curls coiling around her shoulders as she raised her sword and wooden shield in preparation to fight.
She was a magnificent sight.
“Potter,” Cho’s knuckles rapped against the door of his office, interrupting his thoughts.
“Hmm?” he asked, closing the file before him.
“You need to get some sleep, you look like shite,” she pointed out in the straight forward way of hers.
“By all means, don’t hold back,” he drawled and got up, pulling his blazer up over his shoulders, and reached for his scarf to shield against the cold wind now settling in. Soon it would be time to bring out the winter coat for sure.
“My therapist says I really should hold back but he knows fuck-all about a childhood with a Chinese mother,” she shrugged.
He sighed and rubbed his face tiredly. “Right, I’m getting some food and then heading home. Want to come with? I was thinking Gianni’s.”
She however shook her head. “Luna’s picking me up,” she said simply, knowing he would get the memo. No calls tonight, it was a date night.
“Gotcha. See you tomorrow,” he nodded and headed out into nighttime London.
It didn’t take him long to get home, the sensation of being observed prickling his sense most of the way. He locked up and took a moment to listen and get a feel for his surroundings but didn’t think anyone was here with him.
How wrong he was.
Once again he was greeted by the sight of the Shield-maiden sitting at his table with a glass of his whiskey, looking amused as if she sensed his frustration at not being able to pinpoint her. “No need to pout, detective.”
He took off his blazer and flicked the kettle on, leaning back against the cupboards as he stretched his back tiredly and crossed his arms over his chest. “You know, sometimes I think you only come here for my whiskey but then I realised it’s probably cheap compared to what you’re used to. So the only other reason could be that you have more information to share?” he asked, hoping to get the location and work it into a plausible story about a confidential source to prep his unit for.
“Straight to business, are we? What a shame,” she sighed and pulled out a folded piece of what looked like expensive cream writing paper with an address and time - 11.53pm.
“This is the exact time?” he asked.
She nodded. “If you want to catch them, you need to catch them in the act. Otherwise Riddle will disappear into thin air again,” she frowned.
“Riddle?” he asked curiously.
She nodded. “Thomas Riddle is what he goes by these days. He has always used some form of the name over the centuries - Tuomas, Tomino, Thomas, Tom…but most of all he is known amongst the clans by his moniker - Voldemort.”
“Voldemort? Sounds….French?” he guessed.
She nodded. “Yes, it means ‘flight of death’,” she rolled her eyes at the pretentious phrasing. “Forgive me, I’ve never had much patience with nobility from the Middle Ages. Their manners leave much to be desired.” She looked pensive again and he wondered how many lives she had lived over the years.
“This…Voldemort person, is there any kind of human record on him?” he asked.
“Yes, but running his name in the database will trigger alarm bells. Best keep his name to yourself and only find him in your system after the deed is done to identify the body. He has an electronic passport, that means in this modern days that his finger print is on your database,” she reassured him.
He observed her for a moment longer, trying to figure out what she was gaining from snitching on her own side. “I’ve been wondering about your motive, why you’re telling me all this, what you stand to gain.”
“Oh?” she finished her drink and in the blink of an eye stood before him with nary a breath between them. To his credit, he didn’t jump this time. “And such a wonderfully curious mind you have, kriger,” she whispered and he felt a fleeting brush of her lips across his cheek, the scent of jasmine filling his nose before she was once again gone and this time he felt he was truly alone.
He looked down at the address on the paper and began making notes on a fresh page of his notebook to take to Shacklebolt in the morning in preparation for the apprehension.
14th November 2010
He checked his gear one final time and looked across at Cho who was re-strapping her bulletproof vest. Who would have thought that a quiet part of Croydon would be their next location. So far it has been a block of flats in Haringey and a townhouse in Harrow. Davidson Road didn’t look like a place for this type of crime. Then again, they have witnessed a black Mercedes pull up ahead, only to deposit three men and then leave to drive around the block a few times. To anyone watching the CCTV in the area, it would simply look like the driver was lost in the labyrinth of streets that London was known for. From his vantage point in the nondescript plumber van, Harry knew better.
He checked his watch.
Additional units were being stationed around the area and they were getting ready to go in.
He was still surprised at how easy it had been to sell the story of an anonymous witness source sending him information. He suggested it might be some sort of local group using occult practices to terrorise London’s population ahead of Christmas, and suggested it may be a weekly pattern that they would have to interrupt. Thankfully the pathologist’s report agreed that time of death was anytime between 11.00pm and 12.00am so the window fit. Shacklebolt was cautiously optimistic about the progress and Harry could see genuine curiosity as he explained the significance of the Samhain ritual and brought out the lunar chart and explained the phases of the moon had been used by many occultist groups over the centuries. He knew it was niche knowledge but if he was to be the odd-case detective, he would always look for logical ways to explain what he knew intrinsically to be supernatural and beyond their understanding. And despite the vagueness at some points, the operational team seemed to take his notes on board and they agreed to station themselves with armed police and let Cho and Harry go in first.
The house was an unassuming two-bedroom terrace, and they managed to stake the place out over Saturday to agree the best point of entry.
“Ready?” Cho asked.
He checked his watch again.
He nodded and they opened the back door of the van quietly, sneaking out behind a row of cars to the back of the house. Mrs Marianne Figg was an elderly lady who never unlocked her back door but frequently took the key out and hung it up on the wall beside the doorway. The lock was old and easily broken into with enough skill.
Harry crouched down at the edge of the wall, carefully looking around the corner to make sure they haven’t been spotted, and kept a look out while Cho took out her lock picks out and gently jiggled the lock until it gave way with a quiet click. She tapped his shoulder and they kept low as they slowly moved into the house. They were assaulted by the smell of boiled cabbage and cat urine as they made their way closer to the partially closed door to the living room. Hopefully the smell would mask their own scent, or so Harry hoped.
As agreed, a car alarm was set off as a distraction outside the house by one of their colleagues and they heard footsteps approaching the door. Voices could be heard murmuring phrases in foreign tongue as they slowly advanced, getting into agreed position.
The man stepped through the door, gun in hand as he spotted them waiting. He barely managed to raise his weapon before Cho had the first shot fired.
Harry was already stepping into the room and had it assessed in seconds, ignoring the naked bodies on the floor and instead aiming and firing immediately at one of the two men left in the room. But as he fell to the ground, Harry noticed he was holding a semi-automatic and only shielding the true perpetrator.
The final man rose to his feet and turned to look at him. Tall, with features carved of marble with high cheekbones and eyes so dark they could have been the nether depths of hell. He held a ritual knife and what looked like an ornate golden chalice. His gaze promised death and vengeance. Voldemort.
Cho rushed into the room with her weapon raised and Voldemort focused on her, nothing but a blur as he appeared in front of her, her gasp of pain echoing in the room.
Harry didn’t hesitate.
The first bullet hit the vampire’s temple, making him reel and turn towards him but Harry fired twice more, straight in the forehead and then through the chin, watching the blood and skull fragments splatter the nearby wall. Only once the man lay on the floor did her realise Cho was
clutching her belly protectively, hands covered in blood.
“Officer down! Ambulance!” Harry shouted, the siren of police cars and the first medical responders mingling with the continued car alarm outside as he rushed to support his colleague.
“Bastard got me under the edge of the vest,” Cho hissed, pulling on the straps of her vest and getting it out of the way for the approaching paramedics.
Harry pressed the material back over it to keep pressure on it. “He won’t get anyone else. Good job, Chang. You apprehended a suspect and bled in the process. I smell a promotion,” he teased, trying to distract her from the pain and the amount of blood she was losing.
“Fuck off, you tosser,” she gasped, clutching his wrist tightly, her hold slippery with blood. “We both know…you’re the real Boy-Wonder,” she teased back, gasping as the pain hit more sharply. “Call…Luna..for me,” she requested, pushing his hand to her pocket where she had her beaten up Nokia.
“Will do. Just as soon as we get you to the hospital,” he promised, and squeezed her hand once more before he got out of the way of the paramedics who immediately began assessing her wounds.
Kingsley was waiting for him outside, overseeing the armed team debrief, cordon set up and ensuring the place was secured for them to set up Crime Scene processing. He caught Harry’s eyes and motioned for the ambulance, a clear order to head in with Cho and get a medical check up while he was there as well. From there on it was all a blur. Washing off the blood and sitting in the waiting room with a petite blonde folded in the chair beside him, picking on the skin around her thumb nervously while they waited for Cho to come out of surgery…..signing statements and handing in his Glock for procedure….being driven home by one of the units….dreams of dark eyes, a bloody grin, and the sirens outside the windows…. the scent of jasmine lulling him back to sleep as he switched off his morning alarm…
4th December 2010
“You better show your face, Potter. Or I’ll drag you here myself.”
He chuckled at the threats, aware that Cho was still very much recovering. She was a bit touch and go in surgery but they managed to stabilise her well. But he was quite certain she wouldn’t be dragging him anywhere anytime soon. “As if I would ever miss your annual Christmas bash. How else would I get my hands on Luna’s gingerbreads?” he lifted his shoulder to hold the phone to his ear as he tried to unlock his front door with a hand full of shopping bags as well. It took a couple of tries but he finally managed to get in. “Someone refuses to share with me otherwise,” he added pointedly.
“Awww diddums, shall I get the tiny violin?” her pleased tone belying the grin with which she replied.
“Scrooge,” he snickered as he set the bags down in the hall and kicked off his shoes. “Listen, I’ll let you go now. Say hi to Luna for me?”
“Will do. Speak soon, Boy-Wonder!” she snickered and hung up on him.
He shook his head fondly and headed for the kitchen to make himself a cup of tea after the afternoon spent shopping for the few friends he liked to treat around this time of the year. Just as he pulled a cup down from the shelf, the fine hairs on the back of his neck raised, only as they ever did in her presence. Could it be? He hadn’t seen her since before they took down Voldemort, and the one time he tried to call the number she left, it went unanswered. He had begun to wonder whether he dreamt it all and she would never visit him again.
“Fancy a cuppa for a change or come back to raid my whiskey again?” he asked conversationally, as if it was the perfectly polite thing to do to appear in one’s kitchen unannounced after missing for weeks.
“Neither is particularly my choice of drink,” she replied, much closer than he expected her to be.
When he turned around, she was barely half a step away, looking just as stunning as he remembered her with her wild hair and piercing gaze. This time, she looked like a Jarl herself, with a long dress and purest white fur atop her shoulders, hair plaited elegantly atop her head with a small crown fitted against the arrangement. And then he understood.
“Does your clan refer to you as their Queen now?” he asked, wanting to know whether this is all it was for. Yes, they stopped a power-hungry serial murderer. But what has he been replaced with?
She smiled, pleased that he understood. “Yes. As you have your Queen, so do we. That’s why I’m here actually,” she added softly.
He raised a curious brow. “Surely the Queen has all she needs and plenty of others to get her anything else. What could a lowly detective do for you?”
“Well, I have been told that a Queen needs a consort to rule with, but I’ve been to Elizabeth’s court and though she had her faults and vices, she also ruled successfully without one,” she mused, taking half a step closer and reaching up to caress his cheek, her touch soft and delicate across his warm skin. “And yet despite how many times I’ve been disappointed by men in my long life, I find the thought of eternity perhaps a bit more bearable with someone worthy by my side.”
“You can’t mean me. I have nothing to offer you, and I am not a vampire,” he pointed out incredulously.
“That can be remedied,” she smiled, her fangs showing just for a moment before they were hidden behind her rosy lips once more as their bodies pressed closer still. “You have the spirit of the warriors of old inside you, I can see your soul is an old one…” she whispered, her piercing whiskey gaze captivating his own. “But the choice is yours, I will not take your life on a whim.”
He wanted to say yes. From the moment they met, Harry knew this woman was meant to be in his life. But his mind rebelled. She is a vampire, a creature of the night, part of the world he barely knew, scraping the surface with no knowledge of what life as a creature himself would entail.
“I’m sorry…” he said softly and shook his head.
Disappointment twisted her smile slightly before she took a deliberate step away. “Very well. But know this,” she set Voldemort’s ritual scrolls and an ornate wooden box on the table, her petite hand caressing the lid delicately, “this is not the last time we see each other. When you are ready, you will know what to do. Until then,” she moved so fast he barely registered it, her lips soft against his cheek a final time before he was once again alone.
He exhaled shakily and rubbed his face in disbelief, wondering whether that had really happened. And yet, the scroll and wooden box sat on his table and he could still smell the scent of jasmine which he was sure will haunt him for the rest of eternity.
Curiosity won out in the end and he sat down at the table, looking over the scroll and its hidden knowledge. By all means this should be part of the case evidence, but knowing what power it held, he didn’t feel it secure to hand it in. No one person should hold this kind of power or they would be all doomed. All it took was a strike of a match and he watched the parchment burn, leaving behind only ashes as Voldemort’s body did last week after being incinerated. It was done, and he would now have to live with the knowledge that there was so much he yet did not know, and that Halloween would never be the same again after meeting HER.
All thought of tea were forgotten as he returned to the table and the wooden box, gently pushing the lid open. Inside lay what may appear at first glance to be junk but he recognised the shape instantly - the metal top of an axe, and what could only be an arm ring. He didn’t know why, but the sudden feelings of both longing and belonging swelled within him at the sight.
He thought his dreams would forever be full of the Shield-maiden, but that night he dreamt of the battlefield, the blood, and of the Gods watching over him through the eyes of ravens. And when he awoke, he knew his old name. His true name.
Miles away in the backseat of a luxurious car, Queen Hermione Granger of the British vampire clan smiled in anticipation. She knew it won’t be long now until DCI Potter learned of his past, as her Harald, so she can once again be his Hilda. By next Samhain, they will begin the rule of their world. Together.