There’s always a hitch. Luckily, in this world, he’s got nine more lives to count on.
Hermione breathed raggedly, her voice in hiccups. “H-Harry?”
“‘M alright,” the boy slurred, struggling to get to his feet. “Ah!” he gasped, and fell back to the ground. “Bloody – my leg hurts like hell!”
“Don’t move it!” she said urgently, forcing herself to move from the corner; she scrambled forward, pushing the rubble out of her way as she reached her friend. “Hold on,” she frantically whispered, moving to his side and giving him a once-over. She flinched as her eyes locked onto the awkward way his left leg was bent. When she looked back at his face, his eyes were closed. “Speak to me, Harry,” she muttered brokenly, her voice raw. She reached for his wand arm and wrapped it around her shoulders. “Please.”
“I’s sorry,” he slurred again. “Gettin’ you in this. M’ fault.”
“It’s not your fault, Harry. You know that.” She lifted him slowly, making sure he could lean on her. “I’ve got you. Let’s get you to the Hospital Wing.”
The battered, broken child didn’t seem to hear her. “How could you say it’s no’ m’ fault?” He was angry, now, and she wasn’t sure if he was angry at himself or the entire situation. “You don’t deserve this. None of it.”
She hooked her arm behind his back. “Harry – look.” She waited patiently until Harry lifted his weary head to look at the giant carcass before them, the beast’s headless body still. “This is not your fault. It is this – this thing’s fault! Not yours! Don’t blame yourself for this.”
“You… you almost died tonight, ‘Mione. You almost died because you followed me into this.” He looked over to her, seeing her teary face. “I… I can’t – ”
She leaned over and gave a quick, gentle kiss on his lips. “Shut up, Harry,” she whispered. “You talk too much.”
Harry was silent as his best friend led him out of girl’s bathroom, stumbling slightly. They were halfway down the corridor when he spoke again. “I’m still sorry.”
Hermione gave a weak chuckle. “I’m not kissing you again. Not until you’re checked out by Madame Pomfrey.”
“Worth a shot.” He was silent for a moment. “How the hell did a troll get into the school?”
The brunette bookworm shrugged helplessly. “Maybe Nymphadora didn’t catch Wormtail?”
Harry shook his head. “I checked the map this morning – she has him. He’s still in rat form, too.”
“I’ll meet with her,” Hermione told him, leaving no room for argument. “Tomorrow. We’ll take Pettigrew and Owl him to Madame Bones.”
“Not safe enough,” Harry grunted, lifting his damaged leg high and holding more firmly onto Hermione, in favor of hopping at a more rapid pace. “And not trustworthy enough. The school owl will eat him. I’d need to transfigure a cage.”
“I’ll do it, and don’t argue.”
Harry chuckled weakly. “Fine. We still need to figure out who did this.”
“I don’t think Dumbledore would’ve done it,” she wondered, pacing to keep up with Harry’s stride. “We’ll have to ask Snape about it – he might know something.”
“Hope this meeting goes better than the last.”
Hermione noticed that his grunts were getting steadily louder. “Harry? How’s the pain?”
He shook his head. “It hurts, but it’s starting to fade.”
She went still. That wasn’t a good thing.
Quicker than a flash, Harry was hoisted into her arms bridal style, earning a yip from the Boy-Who-Lived, and she paced faster down the corridors. “Hermione!”
“I’m not letting you lose a leg for me, Potter!” She growled, her eyes staring straight forward. Faster than she thought her small, slim legs could carry her, the bookworm rushed towards the moving stairway. “Emergency!” She yelled loudly, and the staircase quickly lined up for her, leading to a more-or-less direct path to the floor she wanted.
She made a mental note to read Hogwarts: A History more.
Harry was silent for a few seconds, helplessly hanging onto the girl’s neck. “I’d lose a lot more for you,” he whispered, his eyes closing.
Hermione could practically feel him start to lose his strength, and shook him roughly as she hopped up the stairs. “Come on, Harry! Stay with me! I need you to be awake!” She had seen him fall nine feet from the troll’s back to the tiled floor, head-first, and without missing a beat, summon a knife and jump on the beast’s back once more. It was imperative that he stay conscious, or he might suffer a concussion, and she didn’t know what cure there was for that, or if Wizards even knew what those were at this point.
Plus… she didn’t know what to do. She felt as much fear now as she had facing a troll about to club her into oblivion.
Harry was jolted awake by the brunette’s shaking. “I don’t think you’re supposed to do this to someone injured.” It came out as a protest, but his voice was weak, and his breath shortened as he spoke.
More tears streamed from her eyes as she made it to the top of the staircase, and without stopping, turned left. “Please, Harry. Stay with me.” Her voice was just as soft. She didn’t think it would be fair to scream at him again as long as he listened.
“I’m not gonna die, Hermione,” he said forcefully, and her eyes lowered to his pale skin for a moment, dubious.
She couldn’t understand why, but she could feel Harry’s life draining away in her arms – the danger was over, but the impending doom that had surrounded them, for some reason, stayed.
Harry had, at the most, a concussion, a cut on his cheek from a broken marble sink, and a disfigured leg that could probably be fixed with a bit of skelegrow.
But, for some reason, Hermione had the overwhelming feeling that if she didn’t get him to the Hospital Wing right now, he would die.
She shook her head, slowing down minutely, her left leg beginning to cramp. This was ridiculous. She didn’t even know what to tell Madame Pomfrey when she got there. ‘Madame Pomfrey, please help us! We were attacked by a troll! Yes, we know we were supposed to be in our dorms, but Harry had to come get me! How the hell was I supposed to know that the name Eugene belonged to a troll? It was a dot on a map to me! I was just trying to get to Quirrell, before he went into the Slytherin’s dorms. I just wanted to ask him about a man he seems to be… close to. I don’t judge, it’s just… it’s complicated.’
She’d rather avoid the entire conversation. She didn’t want to reveal the map, or any of the answers to questions that may come with it.
Working with Harry was a chore – she had known that since she followed him to Azkaban and helped him break out Sirius. He had protested the idea every step of the way, of course.
And when he finally woke up, he would never hear the end of how honored she felt being by his side.
Her eyebrows furrowed – where did that slip come from? When he woke up? – and she looked down.
Harry hung limply in her arms, his jaw hanging lethargically, his hands slowly sliding off her shoulders. She could only see the whites of his wide-open eyes.
The rain pounded heavy on the streets of Park Row, spattering loudly around the three occupants of the empty roadway. A clear dome protected them from the downpour, as they looked out onto the horizon of Gotham.
But they weren’t really paying attention to the admittedly beautiful scene. No, they were more distracted by the story regaled by the currently brown-haired, silver-eyed teen.
“Wow,” Harleen whispered, her eyes wide. “You fought and beat an eight foot tallbeast with a club when you were eleven?!”
“And you decapitated it,” Pamela noted with no small amount of surprise, her voice shaky. Now she had known why Hermione was so hesitant to tell them the story – she was thankful Harry had spared the details of the actual battle.
The Boy-Who-Lived nodded with no hint of pride in his eyes. “I’ve never killed anyone before that. I mean, I’ve held guns…” he scoffed mirthlessly. “I’ve madeguns. Whenever I was in trouble on my own, I’ve fired the gun, and my force-shield charm went behind it. I’ve never had to use a bullet. But when that Troll went for Hermione…” his eyes went unfocused, before he quickly shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. Hermione hunted down Snape, one of our professors, and explained what was going on. With his help, she obliviated – the memory-erasing spell I told you about – the school nurse and took me to his chambers instead. He was really the best person we could’ve gone to either way – he brews the potions that the nurse, Madame Pomfrey uses. Hermione didn’t trust her, and we had every right to trust Snape.”
“Why?” Harleen interrupted, absently smoothing down her skirt as the rain poured heavy around them. “Was he friends with your parents or something?”
Harry shook his head. “No, but he owed a debt to my dad. But now you know why I think Harley’s idea could work. That night, Hermione got half of my soul. We don’t know how that ritual took place, but it happened – after it did, she could link to me in ways we’re still figuring out. Her cramp in her leg disappeared when I fell unconscious and couldn’t feel my own broken leg. We had soul-bonded – half, anyway. It would be a bit down the road for Hermione to complete the ritual. And I had two different souls in my body. Why didn’t the veil touch those? Why specifically go for the small, tainted soul? I doubt someone with more than one soul has gone through the veil – actually, it’s safe to say that I’m the only one with three. Is Hermione right? Did we really just stick together, and make a whole soul? I barely know how I feel and what Hermione feels anymore – it’s one in the same, except I usually feel it in my scar. We’ll have to test that more, now that the Horcrux is gone.” He pointed to his currently unmarked forehead, to the place where his scar was, once again, hidden.
“Nym,” he looked back at the mirror, and the girl now sported a mousy brown colored hair, to reflect the tone of the conversation. “I have to take a gamble here. If two people went through the veil at the same time, you think it might trick the arch into thinking it was looking at two souls, and pick one?”
“I… don’t think that would work, Harry,” she said slowly. “Maybe I’m giving it more credit, but maybe the actual souls have to go through at the same time?”
“Where is the soul?” Harley asked speculatively. “Your heart? Your feet? Liver? Brain? It’d make sense for the brain – what with it having access to thoughts, and pain receptors, and feelings. Could be on the spine for all we know – somewhere on the nervous system.” Her eyes raked over Harry’s forehead. “Your creativity, intuition, and insight comes from the right side of your brain. Any hallucinations? Visions?”
Harry blinked. “Err… yeah, actually. I could see through Voldemort’s eyes, sometimes.”
“Oh – you told me that. Must’ve slipped.” She crossed her arms and put her chin against her chest, thinking furiously.
Harry was in slight awe, looking at the small, care-free girl’s brilliant mind go to work. “It must be in the right side of his brain as well. His soul’s got to be there!” She looked up at the young Metamorphmagus. “So if you sent two at the same time, head-first…”
The young auror looked back to the still Yaxley, unmoving on the ground. “If it doesn’t work, we can capture more Death Eaters, I guess… wouldn’t mind tossing in Umbridge. Nosy bitch walked down this hallway twice. Third time’s the charm.” She sent a spell at the body, and the steel chain wrapped in unicorn hair uncoiled from the Death Eater. Another spell, and he was banished again into the glassy, smoky archway. “Though, that leaves the question of what happened to the body, and why you didn’t see it.”
Harry shrugged. “Can’t answer that until someone makes it to the other side and can tell us. Better get some Veritaserum ready.”
“Already got some left,” the auror grinned, her bubbly persona returning, her hope renewed. “Daphne’s idea. We’ve been interrogating some Death Eaters while we had them – It’s how Bellatrix admitted that Luna’s guess about her hidden Horcrux was right.” Tonks’s hands went to her sides, and she pouted at something off to the side of the mirror’s view. “We haven’t had the chance to do the Carrows, yet… and we don’t have enough for two.”
Harry frowned. “They’re pretty high ranking, last I checked. They might know something useful.” He sighed. There was always a hitch. Dark Marks protect Legilimency, so that wasn’t an option.
“Tonks?” Harry inquired. “Check their arms for the Dark Mark.”
She looked somewhat confused at the request – they knew, after all, that the two were Death Eaters – but she did it anyway. She walked off to the side, out of Harry’s view, and his hearing picked up some shuffling.
Seconds later, the metamorph’s boots signaled her approaching as she walked back into frame, and the confusion on her heart-shaped face doubled. “Err… Harry, is there something you’re not telling me?”
“I take it that it’s fading then?” Harry wondered, his grin widening.
“Fading?” The metamorph shook her head. “No, mate. It’s green. The whole bloody tattoo is green! The veins sticking out around it… it’s colored green as well! It’s really weird!”
Ivy could see, by the look on Harry’s face, that he wasn’t expecting that news. “I suppose his tattoos have never done that before, then?” she wondered, recalling what Harley was telling her when she finally awoke about the Dark Mark.
Harry pinched the bridge of his nose. “I don’t know what the hell…” He looked up. “When Voldemort was defeated the last time, the Mark was faded. Usually, the more powerful he is, the darker it gets. It’s never acted like a bloody mood ring before.”
“So he could be alive?” Harley wondered, her eyes alight with curiosity. It wasn’t particularly good news, but she wanted to see this Dark Lord.
The brunet gave a heavy sigh. “I don’t know,” he admitted. “But this fucking veil is really grating me.”
The former redhead hummed softly. “Eddie would consider this a wetdream.”
“Eddie?” Harry and Harley asked at the same time, setting their eyes on the currently ebony teen.
“Eddie,” she repeated, “you’ve met him, Harls. He’s the one that gave you that questionnaire the day we met. He prides himself on his riddles, and quick wit. We got along well enough at Blackgate – insulted my intelligence on occasion, but he messed with the others equally. He knew he was the smartest in the room.”
“Is he at Blackgate?” Harry wondered, half-curious. He wasn’t too keen on telling everyone his origin story, but it wasn’t like telling anyone could have any negative effects on his own world.
She shook her head. “Last I heard, he broke out months ago. He developed the security for the damn place, so I guess he knows the weak spots. He used to work for the police department,” she answered their unanswered question. “Cybercrime division. It’s really the only reason I would trust him, after what you did to the police.” Her violet eyes went to Harry. “Not saying that you should. He’s an information junkie – always looking for blackmail material and gossip to exploit. Just a thought for if we really needed the help. He helped me break out, so giving him a brain-teaser like this should keep him turgid for a few days, at least.”
Harleen giggled loudly, while Harry nodded. “I’ll think about it if nothing works. If there’s anything magic taught me, is that everything’s a riddle. I wouldn’t be surprised if the veil is one giant ruddy puzzle.”
“Never finished that questionnaire,” Harleen whispered to herself. “I should get back to it sometime. Think I still got it around somewhere.” She noticed the three looking at her with amusement. “What?”
Harry smiled mischievously. “Harley… you want to have fun today?”
“Depends on the fun.” She licked her lips. “You suggesting we go back to the house after just getting some fresh air?”
Ivy shook her head. “Can we please try some sort of interaction instead? I’ve opened the windows to air the house out – we have plenty of time to stink it back up.”
“I’ve been told that I’ve got a rather pleasant scent,” Harry huffed, and Harleen giggled.
“One day,” Ivy pleaded half-heartedly. “Just one day without trying to rip each others’ clothes off. I’d rather we actually get the chance to have breakfast again.”
“Chocolate syrup and whipped cream doesn’t sound like a balanced breakfast to you?” the ponytailed blonde asked innocently, her eyes roaming her two lovers. “If not, I can think of a place to stick the sausage.”
“I blame you for this,” Ivy smiled, looking over to Harry.
Tonks spoke up from the mirror. “Considering it’s about three in the morning, and we finally got Hermione asleep, how about we pick this up later? Gives me time to talk to Fleur.”
Harry nodded. “Alright, Tonks. Be safe… and… if Sirius… I mean… If something happened to him – ”
“Honestly, Harry?” she interrupted softly, her frown marring her features. “I considered it. I thought about it the moment he went through. I considered it the moment you both went through. I’ve learned to never count you out – you always find a way to make it through, breaking the rules of magic and physics along the way. We both know there’s only one way to check if he’s truly gone, and I’m willing to bet you haven’t tried it. I’m betting you don’t want to, either. Hell, I won’t want you to.”
Harry was quiet for a couple of beats. “Maybe,” he admitted. The two girls beside him had distracted him since he had arrived from really thinking of a solution, and quite wonderfully so, but he knew that there was a way to check – if he lost all hope for getting back. “If he is, then we still have the stone. I don’t know if it would work without a body, though.”
Tonks shrugged. “Essentially, we won’t need a body. As long as the soul existssomewhere, that’s what we need. We can transfigure a body.”
Harry swallowed roughly. “Alright. That’s what we’ll do. If he’s dead.”
Both girls chose not to speak at the entirely somber conversation, their mood deflated.
Then Harley’s mind finally caught up with the words she just heard.
“Hold on!” She looked at the mirror, her blue eyes wide. “You can bring back people from the dead?”
The pink-haired auror gave a weak grin. “It worked on a friend we know – Myrtle. And Pandora, Luna’s mum. We haven’t really done it to anyone else, though.”
“Try it,” Harry started. “Use it on Ron. Bastard needs to be taught a lesson.”
“If we tried it and it doesn’t work,” Tonks muttered hesitantly, “then it would point too many fingers to us at this point. He’s been rather… mistreated, you could say, by most of the girls at Hogwarts. Apparently, someone overheard Ron’s comments. I suspect Hermione told you what he said, then?”
Harry nodded, his scowl expressing his anger quite adequately. “I’m not letting him get away with those comments. Tell Fred and George to test every single product they have on him. Especially the untested ones.”
“You doubt the temerity of the twins, Harry,” the punk girl smiled. “They’ve been setting up traps all night. You have no idea how many hallways I’ve avoided to get here. They’re triggered to Ron, but I’d rather be safe.”
The Boy-Who-Lived felt solace, once again. “Good. So – problem solved on the veil front?”
“Other than Dumbledore and Umbridge, we should be – ” She snapped her fingers. “Umbridge! I’ll use her for the veil and try to bring her back! We don’t really have ties back to us – everyone hates her!”
“Or Dumbledore,” Harry shrugged, and Tonks looked at him in surprise. “You know – if it comes up. Should solve a lot of problems – especially if Voldemort’s gone for now. Could bring him back later rather than sooner, really.”
She grinned deviously. “You want me to try to take down Dumbledore ‘if it comes up?’ I knew there was a reason I keep you guys close.”
“You couldn’t live without us, Tonks,” he said cheekily. “You’d probably be Head Auror without us around but hey – one less Dark Lord to take down, right?”
She childishly stuck her tongue out. “Thanks for taking out the challenge, mate. Makes it real boring from there on out.”
Harry scoffed. “I wouldn’t say that…”
A piggish laughter, deep and boisterous, rang through the black car. “The Burning Man! I like it!” He slammed down the morning paper on the seat next to him. “Looks like the two dykes have picked themselves up a pimp!”
Candace, sitting on the opposite side, glanced at the photo and licked her lips. “Hell of a sugar-daddy, though. I wouldn’t mind a taste.”
He grimaced. “What? I’m not good ‘nough for ya?”
The dark-skinned girl peered down her rectangle glasses. “Good enough implies that you’re better than decent, honey.”
His beady eyes stared at her for a good, long moment.
Then, without warning, he laughed loudly, and she winced at the nasal sound. “Well said, Candy!” He paused, and eyed her up and down, and she crossed her legs in response. “How would you know what you ‘aven’t tried?”
It was her turn to grimace. “Tracey won’t shut up. Good or bad, she’s got to keep me informed.”
He grinned. “Yeah. She’s got a gob on her, doesn’t she?” A wistful look appeared in his eyes. “Got its uses, certainly…”
“Oi! I can ‘ear you!” the blonde driver complained from the front, turning back for a short moment. “This gob can also bite yer ‘ead off!” She turned back to the road, checking her cap in the mirror before focusing on the two individuals behind it. “And I’m talkin’ about the one growin’ hair, not losin’ it!”
Candy made retching sounds while Oswald frowned. “That’s not funny.”
She stuck out her tongue at the mirror, and focused on the road. “Wha’ can I say? I’ve got a gob on me.”
Candace tapped her crossed legs and smoothed down her skirt as she looked over to the schedule at her side. “You have a new shipment of ammunition coming in today. Usually takes a week to unload, but you might be able to move more than a usual shipment today, what with the distraction the Femmes made last night. The pigs will be busy dealing with that.”
Cobblepot nodded. He knew there was a reason he kept her around – her secretarial skills were the only perks she put on the table when he hired her, and despite his efforts, she didn’t change her resume. It was difficult to find ladies with a mind like hers that could turn to a life of crime, so he didn’t really have much of a choice hiring her. And she was easy on the eyes – that helped. “A’ight, then. Send three trucks. Make ‘em take different routes, in case.” He seemed to remember something. “and put a few zeroes on the next check to our lovely clients, will ya dear? I’m running out of cigars.”
She nodded, making a note on her clipboard. “Anything else, hun?”
The short, stout man glanced at the paper again as he absently reached over to pick up his top hat, recognizing the car’s turn into his establishment – the Iceberg Lounge. “Yeah. Water the plants this mornin’. I wanna make a good impression.”
She paused. “They’re coming by, sir? They’re not on the schedule this week.”
His monocle glimmered in the nondescript automobile as he grinned toothily. “We’ll just have to make ‘em an offer they can’t refuse, won’ we?”
“Did we find them yet? I’ll kill that bitch! Doesn’t she know who she’s messing with?!”
Jim groaned from his desk. It seemed that Howard, despite all odds, had suffered no concussion. “Officer Branden – I see you’ve recovered.”
The SWAT leader in his trademark cap turned to him and sneered. “Gordon – the hell are you doin’ here? Thought you’d have found those punks by now. It’s been a whole night. Gotham’s Golden Boy’s got a reputation to uphold.”
Jim went back to wiping his glasses clean. “I went home, to my wife and kid. If anyone’s reputation needs protecting, Howard, it’s you. That mallet to the face is the headline photo.”
He sputtered. “What? Where the hell did they get a picture?! Did you send it to them?”
He shook his head. “Unfortunately, no. I didn’t have a good angle. But the people behind you did.”
He was silent for a good long moment – then he stomped away. Gordon assumed he was going to look for the nearest newspaper. He didn’t have to look far; it was on every desk in every cubicle. It would be a matter of time before he figured out that the perfect angle to see him get clobbered like that had to have come from his own division.
He slid the paper back under his book and leaned back.
He briefly wondered how Branden would respond to the pseudo-meeting he had today – The one-sided conversation he had with their mutual enemy in his car.
He opened the drawer and eyed the circular speaker / receiver with no small amount of dubiousness. This was probably a bad idea. He could get fired for this, or imprisoned. But the ‘anonymous’ voicemail left on the thing promised that it was untraceable, and would become a useless piece of junk in twenty-four hours.
If it wasn’t, he’d take a hammer to it and refocus his efforts on the damned Batman again.
The voice in the speaker had a point. Not even the police could take on this threat alone, and if they didn’t want any federals pitching their tent in Gotham, then they would have to work together. Just this once.
“Alright. I hope you’re listening, because I’m only going to say it once.” Plausible deniability – if no one heard him rambling, then the conversation never happened. He looked at the police report in his lap, pointedly ignoring the picture of the woman with red and green hair grinning sheepishly, hiding a mallet behind her back as she posed for the camera, several decimated cars behind her.
He leafed through the file. “Here’s what we know. Harley Quinn, real name unknown, approximately aged twenty-two to twenty-five…”
Fifteen-year-old Harleen Quinzel yawned. Loudly.
No one took offense. The theater was empty. She, Harry, and Pamela were the only ones there, sitting together, in the middle seat, middle row – the best way to watch a movie.
Or this one, at least. The movie was obviously made when they were just looking into the magical marvel that was color. It was far too bright and blurry to sit up front.
Though the plot was probably good – she remembered her parents liking this movie, especially this actor, Carl something – she found herself disinterested.
She looked over to her left, past Harry, to Pammy, who looked just as bored. Honestly, she didn’t know why this movie was playing – it was a mom-and-pop theater, but they had to have rights to something younger than her, right?
She yawned again.
Harry looked over to her. “You’re the one that chose this place,” he whispered, chuckling.
She would’ve giggled at the thought that he was respecting the rules of the theatre in an empty room. “It’s thundering outside,” she defended herself, her voice just as soft. “Where else could we have gone? I’d rather not get wet, and we’d have to be to fit in with everyone else. Gotham usually shuts down on thunderstorms. This is all we got.”
Harry shrugged. The nice old couple who owned the shop next door to the theatre set up the reel, and happily so when given several gold bits, courtesy of his mokeskin pouch, one of his few obvious links to the magical world. Gold was worth far more than wizards suspected, and shaved, broken galleons, with no description or hint to their previous value, made them rather priceless to any other currency. “We probably could’ve just gone to a café. I could have summoned an umbrella.”
She shrugged helplessly. “Didn’t consider that.”
Ivy quirked her lips upwards. “I think she just wanted to take us to a nice, quiet, dark place.”
She stared at her lover innocently, her square-rimmed glassed accentuating her wide sky-blue eyes. “Why would I wanna do that? I just want a nice, quiet peaceful time with my two bestest friends.” She turned back to the movie. “Besides, I’d never give it up on the first date. Mama didn’t raise no fool.”
They both chuckled at the irony of that sentence. “Second date, actually,” Harry pointed out.
“Oh,” she squeaked, mentally chastising herself for almost forgetting their outing last night. “Well…” she pondered, eyeing him up and down. “I guess some over-the-clothes stuff is alright.”
Pamela twirled her curly, luscious hair in her finger as she glanced away from the screen once more. “I knew you couldn’t last…”
“In my defense,” the blonde said quickly, putting up her index finger to emphasize her words, “…I knew I couldn’t last either.”
Harry wrapped his arm around Harley’s shoulders and pulled her close. “You know what? I think I’ll let you keep me.”
She giggled cutely. “I’ll allow you to think that.”
Pam shook her head, amused, and turned back to the film. She squeaked in surprise as Harry’s other arm wrapped around her. “I only let Harley because you let me,” he grinned roguishly.
Her lips pressed against Harry’s cheek. “Of all the men I’ve ever met,” she whispered sensually, “keeping you was the… easiest.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” he murmured, kissing the side of her head.
She grabbed his chin and guided his lips to hers. “I meant it as one,” she whispered, licking her own lips, before kissing him.
Harley fanned herself at the sight. “Intermission time,” she said hurriedly, and no one argued with that.
The three popped out of the Monarch theatre, and out of the sight of the unblinking eyes upon them.
“I never read that pamphlet.”
“Huh?” Hermione asked eloquently, looking through her new favorite book. The amount of things she discovered about the school were fascinating. She made a note to tell Harry about the more useful details, like the idea that every founder left a piece of themselves behind with a hidden room / private study. Just the idea of a large room of books collected by Rowena Ravenclaw tantalized her to no end.
“That pamphlet,” Harry muttered again. “I never read it.” He shrugged weakly. “Just assumed that’s what it said. I mainly wanted you to leave so I could get out unnoticed. I couldn’t have an adult looking into who I am.”
Her mind’s eye showed a vivid recollection of her first conversation with the boy in front of her. “Harry – I already knew that. I tried looking for one after you left. We didn’t have an informational material of any kind at that library.”
“Oh.” He laid there, staring at her blankly. “Thanks for not hating me.”
She smiled softly. “Who says I didn’t hate you? You’re the bane of my existence, Harry. I’ve been waiting until this very moment to take you down when you least expect it.”
Harry closed his eyes. “Make it quick, then.”
“My pleasure,” a voice sounded behind them, and they both jumped. “If only that was a command,” the thin, pale man intoned silkily, looking down at them over his hooked nose. “Ah, to dream again… I highly doubt it was, so I suppose I still find myself a peon to the Boy-Who-Lived.”
The small boy smiled weakly. “Good to see you too, Snape.”
He frowned at the lack of respect, but otherwise ignored it. “A troll, Mister Potter? You skipped the feast so you could go fight a troll? If there was ever a banner for Gryffindor…”
Harry sighed. He was going to go against his word on giving Severus free speech one day; he just knew it. “No, Snivellus. Hermione went to meet Tonks to pick up Wormtail. I was preoccupied dealing with the most annoying boy in the world. He seemed quite gleeful at the thought that I lost my parents ten years ago today. Remind me to kill his parents when I’m feeling better.”
Snape raised an eyebrow. “An eye for an eye, Potter? I suppose it’s always worked before…”
Harry’s fingers twitched. At the very least, he would one day make sure he couldn’t speak in sarcasm. “Enough, Snape. How am I?”
He started without further encouragement. “You don’t have a concussion, and you seem as normal as you could be.”
Hermione seemed pleased, and hugged Harry gratefully. “You’re alright,” she whispered, her lips pressed against his cheek. Harry wrapped his hand tightly around her back, and the two shivered at the touch they felt.
Their eyes opened, and Hermione jumped back.
“W-what was that?” Hermione gasped fearfully. Harry sat up, glaring at Snape, who held his hands up placatingly. He looked back to Hermione, who seemed to be trembling, lost in her own world. “Hermione?”
“I see v-visions,” she whispered frightfully, visibly shaking, and sweat broke out on her forehead. “Harry, help me,” she whimpered. She looked around frantically. “Where am I? I’ve never – ” Her head whipped around to a dark corner in the chamber. “Who are you? What – Ah!”
Harry scrambled out of bed as he saw his friends head whip back.
Harry dodged the spell, and without thinking, sent his own stunning spell back. Severus wordlessly dropped to the floor. He ran to Hermione’s side, and his magic pulsed in his fingers as he grabbed both her arms. “Hermione!”
“Help me,” she whimpered again, not really looking at him. “It’s dark. I can’t see anything.” Without warning, she started struggling to escape his grip, and Harry squeezed her to himself as she thrashed around.
She screamed something, and Harry, with a thought, stunned her in his arms. She fell limp against him.
Harry collapsed to the floor, his rear hitting the green carpet, holding Hermione close. He looked over to his professor, meters away from him, lying on his side as he was blown back from the spell.
He looked back to Hermione, then to the professor, and it clicked for him. Snape was trying to knock Harry out so he wouldn’t get to Hermione, because she began getting the… visions, or whatever she had, when they touched.
He looked down to Hermione’s peaceful face. He brushed the sweat from her brow, and kissed her forehead.
He spent the rest of the night, rocking back and forth, cradling her head in his lap. When Severus finally awoke, that was the sight that greeted him. With Harry’s command – or rather, plea – he forewent carrying her to the transfigured medical bed, and cast the appropriate charms on her right there, with Hermione’s head in his lap.
He couldn’t find anything; absolutely nothing. She seemed to be perfectly normal, mentally.
Harry was about to fall asleep, when she whispered something unintelligible.
Well, mostly unintelligible. He was able to hear the tail-end of the statement.
Severus paused and looked away from the image projections his wand gave him. “What? Who is Dudley?”
“My cousin,” Harry said, confused. “I’ve never told her his name. She knew about the Dursleys, but I never told her Dudley’s name. His name was never in the search report for me.”
Snape was silent. “The troll; is he dead?”
Harry nodded. “What does that have to do with anything?”
Severus sighed heavily, and for the first time in his life, he felt something akin to sympathy for a Potter. “Everything. She has developed a knack for Legilimency. Suddenly, she seems to be at your level of proficiency. Her mental barriers before were menial, at best. Now, her shields are impenetrable for even the Dark Lord. And she knows something that you’ve never told her.” He allowed the boy a moment to absorb the information, before moving over to his desk and picked up a small black book with empty, well-worn pages.
The book crashed on the floor in front of Harry, and he looked up in surprise at the frowning professor, who now stood in front of him. “Tell me, Potter,” he said silkily. “You seem to know many things – things you aren’t supposed to know, things that even I have yet to find out. What do you know about Horcruxes?”
“I’d lose a lot more for you,” she whispered brokenly. “I’m not gonna d-die, Hermione….”
“WHAT? You’re telling me this whole time – this whole fucking time we’ve been talking – he’s been listening to us and – where the hell is my bazooka?!”
Harry and Ivy winced at her tone. “He wasn’t there the entire time,” the buxom raven-haired teen weakly defended. “I don’t know how long he was there, but I noticed about the time Harry closed the connection.”
Harry rubbed the back of his head shyly. “Yeah… sure, let’s go with that.”
They both stared at him, and he stepped back in response. “What do you know?”
He looked over into Pamela’s violet eyes. “He was there. He was always there. In the alleyway, behind the theatre. He didn’t notice us there until we went to find the couple who let us in.”
“You sound so sure about this,” Harley noted, narrowing her eyes. Combined with her square spectacles, Harry felt a chill up his spine at the intimidating sight. “You’re telling me you knew exactly where he was and didn’t kill him when you had the chance?”
Harry shook his head. “No. We can use him.”
She tilted her head, her glare still in full effect. “How the hell are we gonna use that guy? He’s a freakin’ enigma!”
Pamela sat down on the sofa and let out a heavy sigh. “Alright. I guess we’re gonna do this now.” She looked up to the now raven-haired teen. “If I’m close, tell me.”
Harley looked confused. “Tell you wha- OH! His identity!” She looked embarrassed. “Slipped my mind for a sec. Lots of information I’ve had to go through recently – very busy.”
Harry directed her to the seat, and she sheepishly followed. “Alright, ladies,” he smiled, “What’s your guesses?”
“It’s Harvey Dent,” Ivy said instantly, conviction in her voice. “It’s gotta be. No one is that obsessed with catching criminals as that guy. Plus I get a creepy vibe from him.”
But Harley hmmed negatively. “I don’t think so. I don’t think it can be someone who actually has legal power like that, yet go to such lengths to capture them. I think it’s someone who would rather not take any legal route to see justice served. I don’t think he – if it even is a he – has any faith in the justice system we have, and he only delivers thugs to the cops because he doesn’t want to be seen like a criminal, or even a cop, himself.” She grinned at Ivy’s expression. “Public school libraries, Right? They give too much info for our own good.”
Harry pressed his finger to the side of his nose and winked.
Harley pumped her fists in the air in victory as Pamela glowered. “So now we’re playing charades?”
Harry refrained from mentioning that he had never played that game – or any fun party game that families do, really – but he didn’t want to bring them down. “I don’t know how that might work. I don’t think I can act out his life in front of you.”
“Ooh!” Harley clapped her hands happily, her grin wide, “We could play Twenty Questions!”
The game was familiar to him. He searched his mind for the name, and he found a memory – Hermione and her parents playing the game after returning from Hogwarts for the very first time. She was feeling absolutely miserable at the time, and as Harry found out later, it was not because of the actual game itself. “Alright. Pammy. You’re first.”
It wasn’t lost on her that it was the first time he had called her by that name, and she smiled a little at how natural it sounded coming from his lips. “Fine, then. Was he born in Gotham?”
“Ooh, good question!” Harleen praised, and Harry nodded the affirmative. “Harleen?”
She chose her words carefully. “Does he have a certain position of power, where he probably could make a difference if he wanted to?”
It was Ivy’s turn. “Is he rich?”
Harry nodded again, grinning.
Harley sat back, and leaned against the arm of the couch. “Is he really that muscle-y? Or is it all padding?”
Harry considered her words. “He has single-digit percentage body fat, and looks quite intimidating, but yeah, there’s padding and armor in that suit. To answer your question, he doesn’t look like a body-builder at first glance, but you’d notice if he flexes.”
“Alright,” Pam nodded. “Narrows down the list considerably. Rich, but in shape.” She looked down at her crossed arms, and glanced back up at Harry. “Could you turn me back? I feel a little out of my skin right now.”
Harry nodded, and when she looked back down, her skin was green again. She knew she shouldn’t be surprised by now, but she couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe.
Harley took the distraction to steal a question. “Is he a hermit?”
Harry paused before he answered. “You see him on television, occasionally. He’s a public figure. You’d never see him outside of his obligations.”
“She asked two, I get two,” Pam argued, and the bespectacled girl giggled.
“You only get twenty either way,” Harry pointed out. “You’ve got fourteen more.”
“Hold on… hey!” Harley shouted. “We only asked five!”
Pamela recounted in her head. “Oh, you didn’t dare…”
Harry grinned evilly. “You probably shouldn’t be asking questions in a game about questions unless it’s relating to the topic. You asked, and I answered by turning you back to normal.”
Harley folded her arms while the now-green vixen pouted cutely. “Dick.”
Harry laughed out loud at the unexpected response by the redhead. “Maybe,” he admitted, “though that would make for an interesting prize…”
Harleen adjusted her glasses. “Shit just got real.”
Pamela ignored her in favor of asking another question. “Have I seen him on the news recently?”
Harry shrugged. “I wouldn’t know that.” He didn’t even think they had a television. He certainly hadn’t seen one.
She blushed. “Oh… sorry, forgot. If I turned it on right now, would he be?”
Harry pondered to himself. “Late-night, usually. But he wouldn’t be a regular.”
Harley snapped her fingers. “Does he go to Social Functions?”
“Yup,” he confirmed, falling back into a freshly conjured chair that went into focus right as his butt hit the seat. He smiled at the girls’ reaction. “You have no idea how many times I’ve fallen on my arse to get that trick right.”
Ivy scooted uncomfortably on her suddenly hard seat. “Could you – ” she started, before she stopped herself. “Never mind. I’ll ask after, or you’ll cheat again.”
The green-eyed boy grinned, and she felt herself sink further into the cushion. She sighed in happiness as magic itself weaved beneath her curvaceous form.
Harry sat back as the two settled into the couch, seemingly forgetting about the game. That is, until Harleen’s head shot up. “Oh! I almost forgot about his freaky tech! Does he buy it from somewhere in Gotham?”
Harry shook his head. “He doesn’t buy it. You’re close, though.”
Ivy could see the twinkle in his eye as he said those words, and had the overwhelming feeling that he just dropped a huge clue. Or Harley did. “He doesn’t buy it…” she heard her girlfriend mutter to herself. “So how the hell am I close…?”
“Maybe he doesn’t buy his tech, because he already owns it?” Ivy wondered.
“He owns it?” Harley repeated questionably. “Like he has a high tech hardware store or something?”
Pam shrugged. “He’s rich. Maybe he’s the CEO of some giant technology conglomerate.”
“Oh!” she snapped her head up to Harry “It’s Roman Sionis! It has to be!”
Harry tilted his head a little, his face impassive. “Why would you think him?”
“He fits every description,” she argued. “Born here, rich as all hell – he owns a bank, for God’s sake – at social functions, you never see him in public, he owns a freakin’ Steel Mill, and,” she cleared her throat. “Being a psychiatrist, I know that the Batman is clearly a victim of either criminal abuse or a deep-seated childhood trauma that somehow involves bats.”
“Childhood trauma?” Pam wondered. “And Sionis suffered from that, I guess?”
She nodded. “I read somewhere that his parents died in a fire; he’s gotta be it. No one should be that socially balanced without a closet bulging with skeletons. He always looks like he has something to hide.” She turned to Harry with a triumphant smile. “Right?”
He tapped his fingers against the arm of his chair nodding along with her points. “You’re right on most points, actually. Hell, every point except one. Sorry to say that he’s not Batman.”
Her face visibly fell. “Wait, but…” she scrunched her eyebrows together. “How did you know who Roman Sionis is?”
“Batman looked it up and researched him extensively. Sionis has an identity, but it isn’t Batman.”
“There’s more of them,” Ivy fretted, looking weary. “I’m sick of dealing with masked crusaders.”
Harry did nothing but grin. Harley got the message. “Oh! You didn’t say anything about him being a good guy, did you?” She narrowed her eyes. “You know, we’re not playing Twenty Questions: Gotham Edition. We can’t guess every masked citizen in the stupid city, because, sadly, we’re going to be here a while.”
“Oh, alright, then. Would’ve gotten bonus points for guessing, though. He’s the Black Mask.”
“No fucking way!” Harley yelled, sitting up straighter. “That guy? The Black Mask? The guy that has homeless shelters named after him, owns the biggest drug-smuggling business in Gotham?”
Ivy looked just as unconvinced. “I met him once. When I was all-human. He seemed nice enough. He didn’t leer at me, at least. There was a short time where Sionis was interested in buying the biochemical wing of WayneTech Industries. In hindsight, he could have been interested in improving his drugs with biochemical and such. Maybe he wanted to invent a new strain that he could sell exclusively, or lace his regular drugs with an addictive chemical?”
“Didn’t he and Wayne have a falling out?” Harley wondered. “Like, a decade ago?”
“Five years ago,” Ivy corrected her gently, “And Roman, at that point, was buying all of his companies back that Wayne had bought from him, like Janis cosmetics. Within about two years, Sionis went from bankrupt to a multi-millionaire.”
Harry nodded. “Yup. With the hope that he might get rid of his life of crime if he had a legitimate business to run again, Wayne gave him his old company for a marked down price. You probably would’ve ended up working for Sionis had he been more subtle about using that company for a front.”
“More subtle?” Harleen questioned. “What? People knew? This is the first time I’m hearing about it! Seems like the only one who had any idea about it was…”
Ivy blinked. “Bruce Wayne.”
Harry wordlessly pressed his finger against the side of his nose. “We’ve got a winner.”
It was a general summation of everything the two girls felt at the moment. The idea of the richest aristocrat in Gotham, the playboy, the seemingly bored heir of the most recognized name in Gotham’s history was… that guy.
Harleen’s head hurt – not because of the startling revelation – she was young, but even she knew of the Wayne family’s impact on their society today – but the fact that neither she nor Ivy said anything just now.
She was getting really fucking tired of people spying in on her conversations.
The room kept silent, almost unsure of where the mysterious voice was. It was most decidedly a woman’s voice, and somewhat familiar….
“Selina?” Ivy wondered, looking around curiously. “Where the hell are you?”
Harry’s eyes lost focus for a moment, before he looked up towards the skylight in the ceiling. “No point of sneaking away now. I can see you.”
They heard a whispered curse. “I guess you really are the real deal,” the voice lowly murmured, before a shadow peeked into the open skylight. “Give me a break, alright? I just found out that I flirted with Bruce Wayne like, a week ago.”
Harleen rolled her eyes. “Is there a reason you decided to not announce yourself? Did you think we would stop playing a guessing game because you showed up?”
She shrugged. “Call it a defense mechanism. Information is valuable. And that may be the most priceless thing in the world I could steal.”
She slowly leaned forward, and fell down into the room. Harry blinked in surprise, seeing her absolutely calm face as she fell at least twenty feet, but more importantly, the absolutely salacious uniform she wore as she flew gracefully, even sneaking in a roll before she landed nimbly on her feet, her motion stopping in a crouch.
Her yellow eyes sparked with mischief as she laid her eyes upon the trio, rising from the ground. “Girls,” the curvy woman nodded, resting her hands on her hips. She eyed Harry with heavy curiosity, her ruby red lips fixed in a permanent, cocky smirk. “Warlock.”
Harry raised his eyebrow at the sensual tone. “Kitten,” he replied, spying the ears on her skintight jumpsuit, and focusing on her cat-eye irises. “Quite an entrance,” he remarked. “Trying to impress?”
She scoffed, and smirked. “Make one good appearance, and you think you’re the hottest thing in Gotham.”
“I was on fire for a good moment there,” he countered, crossing his arms.
“Hold on,” Harleen interrupted. “Were you really planning on stealing from us?” She looked almost upset at the thought.
The woman known as Selina seemed to ponder to herself, but faltered a little to the cuteness that was Harleen Quinzel being upset at anyone. “No, sweetie. It was only a joke. But,” her eyes fluttered to Poison Ivy, “I would hope that you would’ve eventually told me. After all, I apparently lost a free room.”
Pamela rolled her eyes. “Boarding is still open. We still have a free room available, should you agree to the terms.”
Harley looked uncertain, before she shrugged it off. “Eh, doesn’t matter. I got the roomie I wanted out of this.”
A black, buckled boot stepped forward, and the blonde felt herself sinking further into the cushions. “Oh, you don’t like little ol’ me?”
“I’m more afraid of the metal-looking whip at your waist.” She giggled nervously. “Not sure if you’re looking at me like you wanna make me lick faster or assigning me a slave name.”
That got a genuine smile out of the masked woman. “We’ll work on safe words, dear.”
“First of the terms are: hands off of Harley,” Pamela droned, and Harry got the distinct impression that it wasn’t the first time she said that to her.
“You said nothing about flirting,” she purred – literally purred – and her eyes roamed over Harry’s form once more, and he felt akin to a ball of yarn. She suddenly narrowed her eyes, and glanced back to Ivy. “What about him?”
The green-skinned beauty leaned back against the arm of her chair, stroking her chin not unlike a 1920’s villain stroking their pencil mustache. “A tease like you? Talk about pussy-whipped…”
But she was already shaking her head. “Oh please, Ivy. I wouldn’t be askingpermission. What I want to know is how come he and Harley have each other’s scent slathered all over each other?”
Harleen’s nose wrinkled, before she lifted her arms and sniffed. “I showered just this morning!”
Harry snickered. “Yeah; with me. I don’t even remember us using soap.”
Pamela laughed at Selina’s expression. “He’s not a tenant, here, Selina. He’s a partner.”
She pouted. “And I can’t be? I thought you guys were looking for someone to work with?”
Ivy grimaced. “We were. And we found him instead to work with. And he became our… partner.”
The leather-clad seductress looked confused, and Harley poked her lover in the side. With a meaningful look, Ivy relented. “Okay, okay, I get it. I shouldn’t be afraid to say it. I’ve just never had one before. He’s our boyfriend.”
The cat-like girl blinked owlishly at the two. “Really? You’re both hooking up with him?” She blinked some more. “So that shitty Ménage à Terror name they’re coming up with? It’s legit?”
Ivy tilted her head. “What do you guys think?” she asked the room.
Harley’s tongue ran across her lips. “They could do better. They called me a clown when I first got on the scene. Me; a freaking clown! Could you see that? I don’t even have face paint! Not a big red nose! Nothin’!”
Selina still looked perturbed. “Seriously? What kind of magical dick made you guys turn?”
Harry snorted as Harley and Ivy gave each other knowing glances. “It has its properties.” He held a leather-like skullcap in his hand, and inspected it closely. “I could use something like this for my new costume. Mind if I borrow it?”
“Borrow…?” her delicately maintained eyebrows furrowed, before her eyes widened. She grasped at her bare, flawless face, and ran her fingers through her short-cropped ebony hair frantically. “How the fuck did you – ?”
“Magic,” he said simply. “How’s that for information you can steal?” He turned the face of the mask towards her. “That wasn’t a parlour trick yesterday. If I had an inkling of encouragement to, I could steal the clothes off your body.”
She eyed him delicately. She wasn’t sure if he was telling the truth, but she wasn’t going to take any chances. “I’ll be good; I promise. Scout’s honor!”
The Boy-Who-Lived smiled disarmingly. “Good kitty.”
She frowned. “I’m pretty sure I’m older than you.”
He eyed her form appreciatively. “Not by much.”
Her cheeks colored at his frankness – usually, she was the forward one. “Alright, well, asking you about your boy toy is not why I’m here.” She turned back to Harley. “Did you get the gem?”
Harley nodded, pushing her glasses up her nose. “Yup. It’s in the kitchen. I don’t think I moved it since I stole it, actually. Been a bit distracted.”
“Gem?” Ivy wondered, moving her red hair behind her ears. “You mean the heist two nights ago?”
She nodded. “Yup. Selina gave me the code. Got me in and out pretty quickly. Of course,” she tilted her head to her other green-eyed lover, “you saw what happened when the heist didn’t go exactly as planned.”
“And why couldn’t you steal it when you got the code?” Pamela wondered, curious.
The ebony-haired beauty shrugged. “I was busy. Had some eyes on me that I’d rather keep away from the jewelry shop, and I found out it was just sold in auction. I didn’t know who bought it, and I didn’t know when they’d get it. She volunteered, alright?”
Harley allowed herself to push out of the couch and stretch her legs. “Damn, that’s comfy,” she sighed. “So, how’s my babies?”
“Yeah, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that…” Selina started slowly. “They’re scaring my cats. They won’t come near me, now. I don’t like it.”
“I could talk to them,” Harley tried to compromise. “You wouldn’t be able to move in if they couldn’t get along; that’s why we tried this. They need to learn how to make friends. You were supposed to teach them how.”
“Yeah, I thought I could do that.” she muttered, and she almost sounded disappointed in herself. “I’ve never domesticated a fucking tiger, though.”
“They’re not all tigers; at least one of them should be trained by now! And you dress like a cat dominatrix! You should be the perfect teacher!”
“She has a point,” Pamela agreed. “You are basically calling yourself the Cat Queen.”
“I’m a wildcat who domesticates humans, Ivy,” she simpered, glaring at them both.
“I’m beginning to see a trend, here,” Harry muttered, sitting back in his seat. “I’m starting to believe that all humans hate each other.”
“Nah,” she disagreed, moving to sit in his lap. “Just us crazy ones.”
Selina ignored them. “Cats just tend to like me. I can’t promise they’d all like each other.” She looked back at Harley. “Weren’t you supposed to be getting my gem?”
“You’re the thief,” she countered. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you already took the damn thing.”
She shrugged. “Fair point.” She slid her gloved fingers into her ample cleavage, held only by the silver zipper that kept her suit together, her smirk firmly in place. “I was actually on my way out when you guys showed up… you had the windows open, so I let myself in….”
The smirk somewhat faded seconds later, as she awkwardly kept fishing through the deep pocket between her breasts, three sets of eyes on her. “Where the hell…?”
Harry, successfully amused by her confusion, reached behind his girlfriend’s ear, and pulled a quarter-sized jade rock from between his fingers. “Didn’t even need magic for that one.”
The black-haired woman covered her pale chest, suddenly feeling violated. “Hey!”
The Boy-Who-Lived wordlessly tossed the gem towards her, and she fumbled before she caught it. “I was referring to the behind-the-ear trick. It was boring those first few years before Hermione. I had to learn a few tricks of a few trades.” He nodded towards the stranger. “Like how to distract enemies to getting what you want.”
She looked indignant as she pocketed the gem in her actual pocket, not willing to give them another show. “Whatever. I can see I’m not welcome here.”
“Someone’s had sour milk this morning,” Harley muttered, leaning back against Harry’s chest. “Relax, Selina. We’re just messin’ with ya. Harry, this is Selina Kyle, Gotham’s resident Cat Burglar.”
She crossed her arms, unintentionally lifting her ample bosom. “Fucking Vicki Vale couldn’t even try with my name.”
“Selina,” Harley patiently interrupted. “This is Harry Potter, otherwise known as the Warlock, and wizard extraordinaire.”
“Charmed,” Harry said brightly, and Pamela laughed unexpectedly at the pun.
“Uhuh,” the ebony-haired girl said sourly. “I’d say it was nice to meet you, but you just saw how it went.” She turned to Harley. “So, do you want your cats back or what? I think they’ve been away from their mother long enough.”
She looked towards Ivy, who tilted her head, as if to say she didn’t care either way about the manner. Then she turned to Harry. “So, how do you feel about a few giant beasts roaming the halls at night?”
Harry shrugged. “Nothing I’m not used to. As long as none of them go for my bits.”
“They don’t actually bite your junk off,” she said exasperatedly. “Maybe, if they’re curious, they’ll take a whiff. Ivy woke up that way, and she’s had a vendetta against Bubbles ever since. But they’re not particularly violent to the male anatomy. I’d never risk that on you. It – you – mean too much to me.” She smiled impishly at her Freudian slip, but Harry knew she was joking.
“Juliet and Bubbles?” Harry re-clarified.
“And Twilight,” she added. “Cutest little pets you ever saw.”
Selina snorted. “A fully-grown tiger, a lion, and a fucking snow leopard aren’t little, Harley. So, are you taking them off my hands?”
Harley looked up at the skylight, and saw the cloudy weather. “It looks like it might rain again, soon. Wanna take the express?”
Ivy stretched her long, smooth legs before standing up from the couch. “Other than bombing Wayne manor, I wasn’t planning on doing anything today.”
Harry set the light blonde on her feet before he stood up. “I also have to check with Tonks again in about an hour. And, of course, I have to talk Pam into not killing Wayne yet.”
“I look forward to your argument,” she said dryly, moving over to hold Harry’s hand. She reached out with her other arm and grabbed Selina’s whip at her side. “Huh. It really is metal.”
“Because it’s a weapon,” Selina muttered, rolling her eyes. “I’d be some kind of freak if I was trying to take down enemies with actual leather whips.” She glanced around. “Can someone tell me why we’re holding hands like a Kumbaya?”
“Popping over to your apartment,” Harleen said happily; she might have been getting addicted to the rush she got when being squeezed in a tube, much like flying.
“Oh.” She was silent for a moment. “Are we bursting into flames to do that?”
Harry blinked. “You want to?”
“No need to shout.” He closed his eyes and concentrated on a picture. “Harleen, are there snow leopards in the zoo?”
“Uh-uh,” she shook her head. “I took their only cub. They’ve never replaced them after they got endangered.”
“So is it a safe bet that you’ve got the only one in Gotham?”
“Yup yup. I’m unique like that.”
Selina gave her a look. Before she could say anything, Harley spoke without opening her eyes, “Not a peep, cat lady.” The black leather-clad thief’s mouth audibly snapped shut.
Pamela Isley looked over to her newest lover, and saw him trying to hide a ghost of a smirk on his lips. “You’re loving this, aren’t you Harry?”
He squeezed both of their hands. “Far from hating it.”
“It gets worse.”
“Counting on it.” With a thought of a black-spotted jungle-cat – something he was very familiar with – he popped out of existence, taking the group with him.
Omake by Rihaan:
A thin wooden cane struck the floor with gusto, and sparks emitted from the steel tip at the bottom.
“Riddle me this,” the holder announced impatiently, leaning against the cane with the curved handle with both hands, propping himself up as he stared into space, his teeth bright and gleaming. “What tries to evolve, to adapt with the environment, yet also tries to stay the same?” He grinned mischievously, his eyes twinkling.
“Oh, don’t worry. I’ll wait.”