A/N: Ownership stuff. Not mine.
Harry Potter awoke slowly, a peculiar mixture of wet and warm. And sore. He had one absolute stonker of a headache.
He was no stranger to headaches.
This one rated eye-watering throb with extra hypodermic needles. Not exactly a Voldemort-level headache but still pretty respectable in its own right. If he was to make a judgement he'd put it just a little below Nundu-breath induced encephalitis.
At the moment he couldn't remember exactly what he'd done to deserve this headache. There was generally a good reason for these things. Usually that reason was 'continuing to be alive', but given how universally accepted it was as a reason for giving Harry headaches he'd come to accept it as a fact of life.
Over the last few years Harry had found many new and exciting ways of getting headaches. His long honed familiarity with personal injury informed him that this wasn't one of those times. This time it was almost certainly a blunt instrument of some kind.
He tried to remember what exactly he'd been doing.
He remembered Lara, so that was a good start.
Slowly the trials of the past few hours floated back into his consciousness. He couldn't restrain the mental grimace at his performance.
He'd been taken down by a bunch of muggles. Harry had a healthy respect for muggles and their capabilities, but he knew that any halfway sensible wizard should be able to beat off any number of muggles with ease.
And had he really been so obvious with his magic? He groaned softly. He could have transfigured some wolves or something to be a distraction, instead he jumped in head-first and started shouting curses. Hell, even animating the trees to attack the Russians would have been a better option.
He'd lost his cool a bit, he knew. He really didn't respond well to that big guy getting physical with Lara. He'd acted like some fresh-out-of-Hogwarts rookie. He should have thought it through more from the start, at least he'd made the right decision surrendering at the beginning. There was no way he'd be able to protect Lara and Whitman with that many weapons around them and by giving up without a fight they weren't bound. It had been much easier to get the drop on them when neither of them had been tied up.
Given what he could remember he was rather surprised to be alive to have a headache. He was alive, and strangely comfortable. He didn't think the Russians looked like the kind of people to keep their prisoners warm. Even if he was being soaked. He now realised that it was rain he could feel, heavy rain.
He cracked his eyes open and was greeted with the welcome sight of an uninjured Lara trying to stoke a camp-fire back into life. It was still dark, though Harry was unsure if that was because it was still night or due to the heavy storm clouds roiling overhead.
"Well that went well," he croaked as he gingerly pushed himself into a sitting position.
She spun around and Harry could see that her face was puffy and her eyes red from crying. "Harry!" she cried happily, "thank God you're alive!" She jumped over to him and gave him a gentle and careful hug. She pulled back and looked him over. "How's your head?"
Harry chuckled and shrugged non-committally. "I've felt better," he said, "I've also felt much worse. I'll survive."
A broad smile spread across Lara's features and she sniffled a bit. "I was so worried," she explained. "When I saw you get hit I was so sure that was it."
He nodded and put his hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry I worried you." he said softly before smiling. "But wizards are pretty hard to kill."
Before she could ask the question that was obviously on the tip of her tongue, 'How?', the radio on her hip crackled into life.
#Crakshsh# "-anyone receiving this? Lara, are you there?" The voice was strong, but strained.
Lara instantly went for the radio, fumbling a bit in her haste. "Roth! Yes, I'm here. What-"
"Stop, Lara. Listen," interjected Roth's voice. Harry could hear the man's laboured breathing in the background. "I'm not doing so well here Lara. Where are you? Are you in the abandoned village?"
Lara nodded as she spoke. "We're near the village, there were men. They tried to-"
One again, Roth's voice cut across Lara as she spoke. "I'm sorry Lara, but I need your help." Harry could hear the man's voice getting noticeably weaker. "I've taken an injury. I'm on the mountainside above the village. Can you get here?"
Harry watched as Lara clutched the radio close and spoke rapidly. "I, Roth, I don't know. I don't know." Harry reached out and squeezed her shoulder supportively. Lara looked up at him and he nodded to her. "We can."
"I'm sorry Lara." Roth's voice came back. "I know you can do this." His voice was now very weak. "You're your father's daughter Lara." There was a clatter on the line and the signal went dead.
"Roth? Roth! Roth, are you there!" she shouted into the device.
Harry squeezed her shoulder again before speaking. "Come on Lara, he'll be OK. We need to get going now though."
She nodded and surged to her feet despite her obvious exhaustion. "Yes, of course. You're right." She immediately started walking quickly towards the huge fortified gate shrine they had already passed once that night.
As Harry followed he suddenly became aware that he didn't have his wand on him.
That was a concern. No, that was an absolute nightmare.
It was obvious to him now that this amazing and fascinating island was also home to more than one murderous psychopath. He'd been treating it as a camping holiday really. Oh sure, he'd known that he had to keep an eye out. He'd let his vigilance slip. Lara had been good company and interesting conversation, he'd allowed himself to forget just how it was that they'd met.
Well he wouldn't forget again. Once he found his wand he vowed that some Russians would be learning the meaning of fear.
He just needed his wand back. Hopefully he'd be able to find it at the place he'd been knocked out.
Working together they were able to open the gate again with little difficulty. This time, though, they didn't have enough time to wedge it open before they moved through. If this went tits-up then they'd have no way out. Harry did not intend for it to go tits-up.
The scene that greeted him on the other side of the gate was an unpleasant one. In a heap near the bottom of the stairs were two bodies, both being picked over by a small conspiracy of ravens. Harry was no stranger to death, but it was usually a bit tidier than this. He looked at Lara questioningly.
She wouldn't meet his eyes. Instead she alternated between staring at the bodies and at the ground. She whispered something Harry couldn't hear.
Harry finally noticed the pistol that Lara was now carrying and connected the dots in his mind.
"Never feel guilty about saving your own life Lara." She looked up, surprise painted across her features. "It was them or us, I'm just grateful you were with me."
"But I killed them. I just..." She didn't seem to know what to say. "I needed them out of the way. So I killed them. I didn't even try anything else."
Harry waited until she finally looked him in the eyes and smiled. "Do you think I'm going to castigate you? For saving my life?" he asked and shook his head. "You did what you felt you had to. No-one can do anything more."
"I'm just sorry I wasn't able to protect you from this." He looked away sadly.
"What do you mean?" she asked in some confusion.
He looked back up at her, a grim look in his eyes. "I'm no innocent Lara. It was a long time ago, but it never really leaves you." His eyes unfocused and he stared into space. "No matter how far you run."
Lara looked shocked at his admission, but the fact that she didn't immediately run was a hopeful beginning. "You?" she started. "You've killed people?"
Harry nodded shortly. "I have. It was me or them, but that doesn't change the facts." He moved closer to Lara and held both her shoulders while he looked into her weary brown eyes. "Never forget what it feels like Lara. This feeling, the guilt. It's what reminds me that I'm still human. It's what makes you, me, different from them."
She held his gaze for a long moment before nodding subtly. He released her shoulders and they both moved past the bodies up the long and winding steps.
They soon returned to the area where Harry had been knocked unconscious. Now that he was nearby, Harry knew he could use his extremely limited wandless capabilities to retrieve the wand. Hopefully it was still here, if one of the thugs had taken it Harry had no idea what he'd do.
He focused on the wand and willed it to return to his hand. Being able to summon your own wand was an important skill for any combat wizard. It had been years since Harry had needed to do it. Years since he'd been in any kind of real fight.
Harry sighed in relief when the nearly foot-long piece of wood that represented a part of the core of Harry's very being flew from the undergrowth and slapped into his hand. The wand was warm in his fingers, as if it was welcoming him back. It was a good feeling.
"If you could just magic it back to you, why did we have to come back here again?" asked Lara wryly.
Harry turned his wand over in his hands, inspecting it for any injury, any scratch out of place. As he did so he answered. "Magic does have some limitations Lara. To summon something you need to either know where it is or be pretty close-by," he explained. "A wand is a bit different, it's easier to summon thanks to the link between wand and wizard, but I still couldn't have reached it from the camp."
Lara accepted this new tidbit of information on the limitations of magic without much fanfare. Harry supposed she didn't really have much option but to take his word for it.
They quickly moved passed the fallen bodies of their fellow captives. The thugs didn't take kindly to attempted escape, it would seem. Most of the captives had been rounded up and shot in the back of the head. Neither Harry nor Lara wanted to look too closely. It was unlikely that they'd had an easy end. Both knew there was nothing that could be done for them now, and Roth needed them to hurry.
They moved through the village as quietly as they could manage, their movements muffled and silenced completely by the now torrential rain. Lara's focus on getting to Roth meant that she cast barely a glance at the treasure trove of historical artifacts surely held within the staggeringly well preserved village.
The village was built right onto the side of the mountain and eventually they reached a cliff face. Above them the village continued into the dark and turgid clouds. Through the storm Harry could hear shouting and then, as he watched, a bright orange light bloomed in the dank gloom of the mountainside. They'd set the village alight.
In moments the glow of the fire spread across much of the face above them and glowing motes of ash started to drift around them. The heavy rain continued unabated and Harry couldn't help but wonder how the fire had caught so easily in the heavy rainstorm.
"What, what have they done?" exclaimed Lara. "This village is centuries old and they've just set it alight like it was nothing!"
Harry thought there was a more pressing concern. "Never mind that, we need to get up there before the whole mountainside goes up. I don't think Roth had that much time."
Lara's breath hitched and Harry could almost hear her self-recriminations. "Shit. I'm so… Roth, we need to get to him. Can you climb?"
Harry just shot her a flat look.
"Right. Wizard," she said after a moment. "Can you fly?"
Harry felt that question was worth another similar look but restrained himself. "Not without assistance. But I can make the climb a lot easier."
He pulled his wand out with a flourish and quickly transfigured one of the many vines already covering the cliff into a solid-looking ladder. He had done some rock-climbing in the past, but in the conditions he really wasn't all that enthusiastic about it.
Lara shook her head and smiled. "That'll work I suppose."
Harry opted to climb first, it was obvious that the thugs were still somewhere nearby and he didn't want Lara endangered. He wasn't totally sure, but he was fairly confident that even a gunshot wound would be pretty survivable. Not that he planned to get shot.
The top of the cliff was clear and he gestured for Lara to climb up and join him. The village up here was much the same as the area they'd already moved through. Old traditional style Japanese buildings that were old yet almost perfectly preserved. Up here, though, many of them were burning furiously.
As he looked around Harry occasionally caught a glimpse of silhouettes moving across the brightly flickering conflagrations. He looked back at Lara and caught her eye.
"Don't even think about it," she said resolutely. "We're in this together. I'm coming with you."
His mouth snapped shut. He knew that tone of voice all too well.
"Ok," he allowed. "I think the best way through is probably the burning buildings. We won't run into any of those Russians that way."
She blinked, either not expecting his easy acceptance, or brought up short by the idea of walking through burning buildings being the easy way. He wasn't sure.
"Magic, I assume?" she asked him with a half-smile.
He grinned back. "Of course! Flame Freezing Charm," he explained as he cast the charm on both of them. "Walking through fire takes some getting used to but it's actually a little ticklish."
He cast another spell, Homenum Revelio, to ensure the coast was clear before quickly leading Lara into one of the larger burning buildings. His plan was simple. If we could keep a towering inferno between them and the thugs they should be able to get clear without ever being revealed.
Not for the first time he cursed the fact that his concealment spells didn't work here. Disillusionment and a Silencing Charm could have avoided so much trouble.
His plan worked even better than hoped. They barely caught a glimpse of the small army that was scouring the burning village. Lara was even able to save a few items that she felt simply couldn't be left to burn with the rest. Harry didn't quite understand their importance, but Lara was more than happy to fill him in on the details as they moved closer to the upper valley.
Eventually, though, they had to leave the safety of the flaming buildings. Before them was another sheer cliff though for some reason it was guarded by two of the heavily armed Russians.
"Perhaps there's another way up? I can't imagine the locals climb up all these cliffs all the time," he whispered to Lara.
She shook her head. "Actually the locals probably used cliff paths, I saw the remains of one further down the mountain," she explained quietly. "I think they're impassable now, it looks like there another man at the top of the cliff. Perhaps a retractable ladder?"
Harry peered up into the gloom at the top of the cliff. If there was another man up there he couldn't see him. But he trusted Lara in this; her eyesight was uncannily good and his was uncannily bad.
"Ok, so we need to get up there then?" he asked.
She nodded. "It's the fastest way to Roth."
Harry immediately started formulating a plan. Ideally he wanted to avoid killing the two men. Not because he felt they deserved to live, after what had happened before he'd been knocked out he knew he would shed no tears over their deaths. No, he simply wanted to protect Lara from more death.
He gestured for Lara to stay hidden and started to creep forward slowly. The problem with magic was it was almost singularly ill suited to stealth. Oh sure there were silencing charms and disillusionment charms and other similar spells. When you actually reached your target, however, you were reduced to using balls of brightly coloured light to incapacitate your opponents. Fortunately he was not entirely without options.
Petrificus Totalus was quiet, barely visible and, as a school-yard spell, extremely easy to pull off quickly and silently.
The two men went rigid almost simultaneously as Harry jabbed his wand at them. Both fell silently to the ground.
As Harry turned to beckon Lara to follow it all went wrong. A voice shouted from above, the man Lara had seen and he heard Lara shout a warning. Immediately a pale shield shimmered into existence around Harry, just in time to turn aside a torrent of bullets fired from on high.
Harry cursed the man's obviously good vision. He'd felt it unlikely that the man would be able to see what was going on at the base of the cliff and he'd been even more confident that the man would probably be looking elsewhere anyway. Wrong again, he cursed himself.
He sighted up towards the cliff-top, trying to catch sight of the man. It wasn't that far, he should be able to see him easily. Obviously the man was well camouflaged. What he could see, however, was the flashes of flame as the gun the man carried snarled and spat.
Before he could do anything, though, he heard a thunk from behind and the gunfire abruptly ceased. Moments later the body of a man well from the cliff-top with a sickening crunch, the fletching of an arrow visible protruding from his neck. The fall had not been at all kind, limbs were splayed in all directions and very obviously broken. It was an unpleasant sight.
He turned to Lara and found her staring at the body, bow arm still extended. He moved over to comfort her quickly, placing his body in her line of sight as she stared at the mangled corpse her actions had produced. The important thing was to keep the guilt from taking over.
"You did right, Lara." he said with conviction. "Looks like you saved me again." He chuckled. Not exactly true, but it would serve to lighten the mood. He surreptitiously waved his wand at the body, transfiguring it into an unremarkable stone. He hoped that getting the immediate evidence out of her sight would help.
She seemed to come to herself and look up at him. He could see the guilt brimming in her dark brown eyes, but deeper than that he could see the resolve. She was strong.
She breathed out. "I know," she said, her voice slowly gaining strength. "It's just… seeing the results like that is a bit of a stark reminder."
"We'll get through this Lara. Together." He briefly squeezed her tightly in his arms and released her.
She straightened up, rubbing her eyes to clear them. "We need to find a way up." She looked about for some route. "Roth's up there."
Harry surveyed the cliff for the simplest way up, it was covered in vines and other growths. That would probably be the best plan. He gestured in the air with his wand silently and a few of the vines swiftly changed shape into a simple rope ladder.
Lara nodded at him and, after a quick test of the load-bearing capabilities of Harry's newest construction, began the long climb to the cliff-top.
For safety, Harry waited at the bottom of the cliff, watching Lara's swaying form as she quickly clambered her way up the rather difficult ladder. He was frustrated with his continued inability to keep the poor girl away from the unpleasant business of survival, but he was constantly being impressed by her strength and moral fortitude. Maybe, just maybe, she didn't need such careful protection. He suspected that she was probably too stubborn to die.
A bit like him really.
Her voice called down from high above. "OK, Harry! I'm up. It looks clear and the ladder held fine."
He smiled. "Did you expect anything less!" He called. "On my way up now."
When Harry reached the top of the cliff he found that they were still in the village, though fortunately this part was not burning. A quick revelio spell confirmed that they were alone up here.
"Yep, it's clear. Looks like we're alone up here. I suppose we keep following the path up?" he asked.
Lara nodded her agreement. "It can't be much further to reach Roth. We need to hurry," she said sounding worried. "He didn't sound good on the radio."
They both moved on and up. Harry could see the interest in Lara's eyes at the almost completely undamaged historical Japanese buildings. Harry tried to keep her talking about them, having her obsess over Roth would help no-one. A bit of a distraction wouldn't hurt. Despite this they both climbed quickly.
Soon they reached another cliff, this one much less overgrown. From the bottom they could see a shaft that seemed to cut into the mountain high up on the face. If they wanted to continue up, then that was the only way forward.
This time Harry conjured a long rope which he sent snaking up to the high cave to wrap around one of the support columns he could just make out. Once in position he then transfigured it into another rope ladder. He figured keeping it simple was for the best. If it worked before it would work again.
Once again Lara went first as the lighter of the two and Harry followed quickly after. As Harry began his climb he heard Lara's shout of alarm.
"Oh God, Harry! It's Roth! Hurry!"
He heard her run off into the mountainside and tried to climb quicker. He reached the top a minute later and looked around.
It was barely a cave, it seemed that the mountainside above the village was an almost knife-edge thin ridge with another valley on the far side. A small tunnel had been cut through to the next valley and Harry could see more buildings on the far side.
As he exited the short tunnel the scene that met his eyes was not a happy one.
Lara was fussing and panicking over the body of a man, Harry assumed he was Roth.
"Don't you dare die you northern bastard!" she babbled furiously.
At the man's feet was a very large wolf, dead. Most importantly, though, the man's legs looked like they'd been caught in a blender.
Harry rushed over to the body. Lara looked up at him, tears in her eyes.
"Please, Harry, save him," she pleaded. "He's still alive, please."
The man was indeed still alive, though quite how he'd managed that Harry had no idea he must have lost a lot of blood. Harry knew he couldn't help the blood already lost, but he could do something about the continued bleeding. He set to work.
"Lara, in my backpack there's a first aid kit," he directed, "See if you can find some antibiotics while I clean this up. And pass me some bandages."
The legs were a mess, one was still bleeding, though heavy clotting had slowed the flow significantly. The wolf must have taken literal bites out of the man as chunks of flesh were missing. These injuries were far beyond Harry's ability to heal without potions, but he could make sure the man survived.
First he cleaned up the wounds and stymied the bleeding, wasn't sure what the effects would be if he tried to use flesh-knitting charms on his legs so he contented himself with some antibiotic ointment, charming the bandages sterile and wrapping both legs firmly. Normal healing would have to do for now.
The only other potential issue he could think of was potential dehydration. Harry wished he knew the spell for intravenous fluid injection but it was very rarely used, potions were far more reliable. They'd just have to hope that the man came round, they could give him a drink then.
He looked to Lara who was staring at her mentor with wide unblinking eyes. "He'll be OK Lara. Don't worry."
Her eyes shifted to Harry for a moment and shone with gratitude. No words needed to be said.
"I'll set up some protections here and get a fire going, we can take it in turns to watch him," he suggested. "I'll go first, you try and get some rest. I had my nap earlier. I'll be fine."
Lara looked for a moment like she was going to object, but Harry could see that she was utterly bone-weary. She nodded tiredly in acceptance. "OK, I'll try," she sighed. She held Harry's gaze for a long moment. "Thanks Harry. Just… Thanks."
Harry nodded to her and set about his tasks.
A/N: And that's all I have to say about that. On an unrelated note have I mentioned how much I hate quick-time events?
I actually wrote this some time ago and it's been sitting about waiting for me to get off my arse and write the next chapter (I was trying to stay at least one chapter ahead of what I was posting to give me plenty of time for corrections etc) but the Harry-Roth-Lara argument took me ages to work out.
I figure I'll address some of the points raised in reviews:
1) Harry's a bit of a moron. Yes. He is a bit. He's kinda the wizarding version of a student on a year-out. Obviously he's a bit more competent than that and he has a ton of experience but it's been some years since he had to deal with really unpleasant situations. Skills like that can go stale.
2) Why didn't Harry summon his stuff. Couple of potential reasons. The first is that the Summoning Charm is meant to assume you know where the item you're summoning is. 'Somewhere in the sea' isn't quite precise enough. (Molly's use to get prank items off the twins is much more targeted). The second is simply that some of the items weren't in his survival kit. He was on a magic carpet, not his broom and he's not carrying his entire life with him. His broom actually got destroyed during the Dragon incident. He has a new one but he now keeps it safely away from hijinks. His cloak is much too valuable to bring on an expedition like this, especially when disillusionment should work just as well. The fact that it doesn't is a point of note for Harry.
3) Why does Harry get beaten up. Ok so this ties into 1). But there's something else. Lara Croft in Tomb Raider is a punching bag. To retain some of the spirit of the game I gave Harry a bit of a punching. I have no intention for him to make such a stupid mistake again though I'm afraid he may still get caught flat footed. After all Yamatai has some weird shit going on.
I should also apologise for the fact that updates wont be coming thick and fast for this. It is not, however, abandoned.