Disclaimer: none of the characters are mine, but belong to their respective owners.
The woods of Albany are dark and overgrown with vines and other crawlers. It is hostile to mortals to put it lightly. Only rarely do heroes appear here due to trouble or necessity. Or a Fae sends them here to deliver a message.
The smoky wraith that floated between the trees was neither a hero or a Fae or a mortal. Rather, it had just emerged from one of the entrances to the underworld, similar to the one used centuries ago by Dante to start his journey of “Divine Comedy”.
Slowly, the wraith-like spirit of the Dark Lord floated through the trees, almost aimlessly, when it encountered one of the forest’s denizens – a fiery-red vixen, a rather ordinary looking vixen, not counting its size.
Abruptly, the remains of the Dark Lord stopped: he has found what he sought.
* * *Six months later
Petunia Dursley was a normal woman, married to a normal man and raising their normal boy in their normal house located on Private Drive. A really, really normal couple that had nothing to do with weirdness whatsoever.
Sadly, someone forgot to deliver this info to the weirdness, and the Dursleys had to deal with it in the person of their neighbour, Ms. Figg. The old maid slash cat lady was disturbing simply by the virtue of being a cat lady who had no life and appeared to spend most of her time staring at them through her windows in a rather stalker-like fashion.
Aware that since the old bat was staying in her yard and not bothering them physically, Vernon decided that the only way to protect his family’s privacy would be to raise their fence and that is what he did.
Immediately Ms. Figg launched a complaint that Vernon’s construction was bothering her mental and physical health. Vernon, who had expected something like this to happen as soon as fence alterations started, launched a counterattack, claiming that he was fully within his rights and he and his wife found a new, higher fence aesthetically pleasing on top of it.
...The case would go to the civil court in less than two weeks from now, Petunia thought, as she exited the house to put the garbage into the waste bin (Vernon should have done it before leaving for work, but he forgot), and then she saw the vixen.
The vixen was red, fiery red with black and green eyes. And it was big, as big as an African lioness if not a lion. And it was staring at Petunia in a fashion that made Mrs. Dursley believe that the animal freak was not particularly interested in garbage scraps either.
“Where is Harry Potter?” the vixen barked in a heavily accented, but clearly understandable English.
Petunia made a small sound and slammed the door close. The next moment the animal slammed into the door – and the blood wards of Dumbledore, cast upon the house in order to protect Harry Potter and his relatives against all sorts of magical attacks, were turned on.
The giant animal was flung across the street, clearly stunned – but it clearly recovered.
“Where is Harry Potter?” the vixen barked again, definitely intent on storming the Dursleys’ domain as if it was the Reichstag and the vixen itself was the Soviet army, when one of Ms. Figg’s cats jumped from Ms. Figg’s yard and yowled loudly.
The vixen stopped and listened to the cat’s yowls, as if it could understand the other animal. ...Evidentially it actually could, since it stopped charging the Dursleys’, and instead fled down the street.
...For the rest of the day Petunia just sat there with a moist towel on her head, muttering how the damn freaks just would not leave her life alone.
* * *
“...And that is the gist of it, Aoife,” Mrs. Creevy was telling the other woman as Colin and Harry played in Harry’s playpen. “Arabella Figg may be a hair’s-width away from being a talking corpse, and Petunia Dursley is not just as ugly as a horse, but just as smart, but a giant fox? Not exactly something that they could invent either together or separately, eh?”
“Absolutely,” Aoife agreed, not quite lying through her teeth: though usually she had nothing against a visit by Mrs. Creevy, the idea of a giant fox rang too true for her taste – and she would rather not confront one with a human around.A skinwalker?
Aoife was busy thinking even as the human continued to talk. No, they are into wolves or coyotes, not foxes. Kitsune? No again, they are much too intelligent for something so crude. Crud. What was the other fox-Fay group? The one that was sired by Bacchus? One that I could never remember correctly...
There was a pop and into Aoife’s house walked none other but professor Snape. Aoife’s “Not you, not now!” was almost, but not quite, overshadowed by Mrs. Creevy’s equally unfriendly “And who are you?”
“And a good day to you too, madame,” the potions master said curtly, before facing Aoife. “And to you too, madame.”
“You’re here regarding Harry,” Aoife said matter-of-factly, trying to figure out the best way of dealing with him to prevent both Dumbledore and Alexandra from turning onto her next.
“Yes,” professor Snape nodded in agreement. “Dumbledore’s blood wards on Private Drive are still functioning and recently took quite a hit. There are also rumours about giant foxes floating around. You wouldn’t know anything about it, Ms. Aoife?”
“Hmm,” Aoife not quite replied. “Ellen, you and your husband have travelled around the world, have you ever been in the Balkans?”
“Yeah, we have, and no, we haven’t been to the Balkans,” Mrs. Creevy shrugged, curiously. “Why do you ask and what connection do the Balkans have to you and giant foxes?”
“Good question,” nodded Severus Snape and turned to Aoife. “Well?”
Instead of replying, Aoife, whose rather sharp nose caught a whiff of the acrid smell of a Fae, opened the door. A young woman – barely out of her teens – was standing there. Built rather boyishly, she was dressed in little more than a hooded cloak made out of fox fur and skin. “So, who are you?”
“That’s your name or your ID?” Aoife seemed to become visibly bulkier by the minute, as she used her Chi supply to prepare for a fight.
“Give me Harry Potter!” the other Fae, apparently, considered the preliminaries over, and so did Aoife, as the succubus took off her blouse, and dug her heels in.
Unlike an incubus, a succubus’s body does not bulge with muscle (unless her victim finds it sexy, of course), it’s chi that gives this group of Fae their strength. Of course, fresh air and exercise are important too, but it’s chi that matters foremost.
The other Fae’s preparation for a fight was much more colourful. Her hood slid over the face, transforming the woman’s head into the snarling muzzle of a giant fox. The fox fur cape became real fur, and a fiery brush sprouted from its bush. Sadly, while in case of the rest of the fox ‘fiery’ was more of a descriptive epithet, her tail was actually made of fire, not unlike a giant torch.
“Yalomishte,” Aoife muttered under her breath, as she finally remembered the name of the Bal-kanese race of fox-Fae. “Why couldn’t it be a huldra instead?”
The next moment the giant fiery fox charged the succubus, intent on bowling her over. The European fox-Fae are notoriously powerful and fast, it usually took a demigod hero to bring one down.
Aoife used to battle demigod heroes, especially after the Fae wars were over and they ended up largely out of work. Consequently, when Alepo had literally bowled into her, Aoife was able to remain upright and did her best to push the other Fae off her.
As her claws dug in, the yalomishte tried to bite Aoife’s face off as well, but this time the succubus bit first: her chi-powered jaws clamped upon the giant vixen’s lower jaw and held fast.
The succubae are not known by their strength – because it could make them appear less seductive. Nevertheless, when powered by chi, they can be pretty strong – but Aoife did not have to be this time as a cloud of strange foam enveloped her and the other Fae. The foam felt very distasteful to Aoife, but to Alepo it felt worse, as the fox-Fae broke off the fight and tried to flee from the scene – only to run into a newcomer, whose ruddy brown skin and turquoise eyes promptly reminded Aoife of the fog giant she had a confrontation with when this whole situation had began.
“Oh dear,” Aoife muttered, not overly happy at this development: the newcomer grabbed the fleeing fox-Fae by her collar and was effortlessly preventing her from fleeing.
“What she said,” Mrs. Creevy nodded sagely, even as she put the now-empty fire extinguisher down. (Aoife bought one in case of an emergency and tonight there was definitely an emer-gency.) “Who’re you people?”
“Fae,” Aoife said curtly, “except for professor Snape. He’s human, just a wizard.”
“Really?” Ellen Creevy gave the wizard a thoughtful look. “Met a wizard-priest once, in Tibet. Are you like him?”
Severus just grunted noncommittally. During the Dark Lord’s quest for immortality he had encountered oriental wizard-priests and would rather not talk about it, as he admitted to his interlocutrix.
“Severus, you fool!” Aoife told him in an almost fond tone of voice. “She’s not a witch! Isn’t that against your rules or something?”
Snape twitched: right now, Aoife almost reminded him of Dumbledore, and that was not a good sign at all. “I don’t suppose that you would agree to an oath of silence?”
“Don’t see why not,” Mrs. Creevy agreed surprisingly easy. “That’s what that oriental fellow asked of me too.”
“I wonder why-“
“Ahem!” the Fae newcomer said loudly. “Who is this?” he shook the fox-Fae for emphasis.
“Alepo,” Aoife shrugged, as Snape and Mrs. Creevy hammered out a deal of their own. “She came after Harry Potter.”
“Did she now?” the turquoise eyes glared intensively at the struggling Fae. A yalomishte is strong and fast, but her captor had the strength of earth itself behind him, and his prisoner had no chance of escaping – not right now, anyways. “Fascinating. She and Mistress Alexandra will have a lot to talk about, then!”
With these words the two Fae disappeared in a cloud of acidic smoke.
“What’ll happen to her now?” Snape inquired, respectfully.
“Mmm... Your enforcers use a number of magical curses and potions to extort the truth from your subjects – the Fae methods are much more physical,” Aoife said, as she thought just what kind of tortures the fox-Fae will be subjected to, and if she would be likely to attend. Probably not, since Alexandra still did not like her. “Sorry that you had to see that, Ellen.”
“Don’t mention it,” the other woman said in such a practical tone that Aoife’s hackles almost rose slightly. “Now, since one of you is a wizard and the other’s a faerie woman, can you help this mere mortal? I believe I’m pregnant again.”
Severus Snape, who was curiously examining the now empty fire extinguisher, twitched and looked like he would apparate if he could. Aoife just sighed and got up. Between Mrs. Creevy, her son, the wizards and the Unseelie court, her life was anything but boring.
And then family member came to visit.TBC