The Spider and the Fly
WARNING: This story is for mature audiences only. It contains representations of sexual acts and situations.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, etc., etc.
Harry literally kicked rocks from the sidewalk as he approached the park. It had long ago been vandalized into a useless eyesore by his cousin and the other neighborhood kids. There was nothing to do there, but he had nowhere better to be.
His 16th birthday had come and gone, yet he had not been removed from his prison. The planned party for him had been postponed due to an emergency of some kind, and he had been forced to remain with his muggle relatives. Not a single birthday present had arrived for him.
He was feeling more than a little sorry for himself as he spent another afternoon wallowing in guilt over his godfather's death. His mood alternated between despair and seething rage at himself, Dumbledore, Lestrange, and Snape. He had been kept in the dark for too long, and it had led to the death of someone very important to him.
He was almost to the park when he became aware of a shadow approaching from behind. A shiny black limousine slowly pulled alongside him, hugging the curb. He stiffened, unsure if he was in danger, and watched as the driver's window descended.
A huge man in a black suit with a driver's cap gestured at him.
"Pardon me, young man, but I'm afraid I am lost. I'm looking for Wysteria Way. Do you happen to know where that is?"
He took in the shiny splendor of the limousine and the appearance of the driver. Both looked very out of place in Little Whinging.
"I've never heard of Wysteria Way, sir. There's a Wysteria Walk back the way you came."
The man frowned and looked at a map in his hands.
"I'm quite certain my instructions were to find an address on Wysteria Way. Could you perchance help me with this map, lad?"
He cautiously walked closer, ready to draw his wand. The driver held a muggle street map out of the window. Harry leaned down to get a better look at it, and the man suddenly blew some sort of powder into his face. It flew into his eyes and nose, and he fell to the ground unconscious.
He fought the urge to panic as he slowly returned to consciousness. He remembered a limousine, a driver, a map, and then…nothing.
He could tell he was inside a moving vehicle. His brain worked furiously as he kept his eyes closed and tried to understand what was happening. He hoped to overhear something, to gain some hint about his situation. He could only tell that his wand was no longer secured to his arm, and that did not reassure him.
"I know you're awake, Mr. Potter. I administered the antidote myself," an amused female voice said from his left.
He tensed and opened his eyes. He was indeed in the back of the limousine. There was a divider up between him and the driver who had interrupted his walk. The back section was spacious, with black leather seats, darkly tinted windows, and, apparently, another person.
He glanced to his left.
Several feet away a woman was reclining against the seat. She was watching him with open curiosity.
He observed her warily, trying to determine how much danger he was in. She was beautiful, stunningly so. She had dark bronze skin and looked to be of mixed ancestry, part African and part something else, perhaps Egyptian or Asian. She had high cheekbones and the most mesmerizing green eyes he had ever seen. They seemed to demand his attention.
There was a haughty air about her, but she didn't look like any Death Eater he had encountered. She was wearing a shimmering silver dress that hugged her body, providing a tantalizing contrast to her dark skin. Her hair was long and black, flowing down the nape of her neck, but also lifted behind her in a complex braid. A necklace full of glittering diamonds completed her ensemble.
She smirked faintly as she watched him take in her appearance. It did not calm his nerves. There was something sinister about her eyes.
"Relax, Mr. Potter. You are safe," she said, her accent unfamiliar. It sounded only vaguely British to his ears.
"Who are you?"
"My name is Phaedra Zabini. You have heard of me perhaps?"
Harry frowned. "I know of a Blaise Zabini at…school."
"Blaise is my son."
He felt a sudden surge of dread as he remembered a long-forgotten tale about Blaise Zabini's mother. Seven marriages. Seven dead husbands. A black widow. He knew almost nothing about Blaise himself, except that he was a quiet Slytherin rarely seen in the presence of Malfoy.
"I, erm, it's a pleasure to meet you, ma'am."
"Thank you, Mr. Potter. The pleasure is mine. I apologize for the circumstances of your arrival but I assure you that I intend you no harm."
He nodded, gaining some confidence from the fact that he did not appear to be in immediate danger.
"What was that…stuff your driver blew in my face?"
"A very expensive combination of ingredients, with powdered asphodel as a catalyst. Quite illegal, but so very useful."
His sense of danger ratcheted up again. "Would you mind returning my wand?"
She smiled. "I assure you that your wand is safe with me. You shouldn't be performing magic out of school anyway, you know."
He didn't like that answer, but there was little he could do about it. "Is there something I can help you with?"
Her smiled widened, revealing pearly white teeth that gleamed in the dim light. "As a matter of fact there is, Harry—may I call you Harry?"
"There's no need to be so formal. Please, call me Phaedra."
"Very well…Phaedra. What can I do for you?"
"It would be more accurate to say that there is something we can do for each other. I wish for us to exchange favors."
"What sort of favors?"
She smiled again. "We'll come to that in a moment. We should get to know each other first, don't you think?"
"If you so say, ma'am," he said cautiously.
He had no idea whether she was associated with the Death Eaters. She claimed to mean him no harm, but he wasn't very trusting lately, and for good reason. Just looking at her made him nervous. She was so beautiful he couldn't keep his eyes to himself, and she was looking at him so intently that he found it disturbing.
"Please…Phaedra," she reminded him politely. "'Ma'am' makes me feel old and matronly. Do I strike you as matronly?"
He gave her a strained smile. "Not at all, Phaedra."
"There. That wasn't so difficult, was it?"
He watched as her eyes roved slowly over his entire body, taking in his unruly hair, his eyes, his thin frame, and his ill-fitting, raggedy clothes.
"I am curious about you, Harry," she said casually. "Many people are curious about The-Boy-Who-Lived these days."
Her eyes rose to his scar and she stared at it with interest. "Such a fascinating moniker, 'The-Boy-Who-Lived.' So many layers of meaning. You are the most famous teenager in our world, and yet…"
"And yet you live in a muggle neighborhood that might be politely described as humble. You live with muggles who are vulgar at best. I am interested to know why a distinguished celebrity lives in a place with the unspeakably awful name of 'Little Whinging.'"
He shifted uncomfortably. "My aunt is my closest living relative. I was sent to her after my parents died."
She raised a delicate eyebrow. "And why do they choose to reside in such a place?"
"It's…what my uncle can afford, I guess. He's a drill salesman."
"A drill salesman," she repeated, sounding simultaneously amused and appalled.
"Er, yes ma'am."
"Phaedra," she repeated firmly.
"Sorry. Phaedra." His instincts were screaming at him that he did not want to irritate this woman.
She regarded him for a long moment. He struggled not to squirm under her attention. There was something about her piercing green eyes that made him want to stare deeply into them and never look away.
"The Potters were never a noble family, nor a very wealthy one. But they certainly weren't paupers. Did your parents leave you nothing?"
Her question lingered in the air as he considered his response. "With all due respect, Phaedra, I don't understand why that's any of your business."
She smiled that dazzling smile again, and he couldn't help but stare at its perfection. He wondered idly if she had some veela ancestry in her.
"I make it my business to know such things."
He took a deep breath, willing himself to relax. "How did you find me?"
"I do not understand the question. Are you in hiding?"
"Er, not exactly, but I'm supposed to be protected here."
"Ah," she said. "You are protected, I suppose, from the most ignorant of purebloods. But I am not an ignorant person."
He had no doubt whatsoever about that. But he was supposed to be protected from everyone during the summer, ignorant or not. His confusion registered on his face.
"I have resources in both worlds, Harry. Many resources. It was extraordinarily easy to find your address through muggle school records, hospital records, your family's tax records…need I go on?"
He shook his head. An unsettling feeling was rising in his gut again.
"So you are attempting to hide in plain sight?" she continued. "That does not seem wise, given the nature of your enemies."
"I'm told that I'm safe from them here."
She shrugged elegantly. "And you are, after a fashion. There are wards extending 200 yards around your home in every direction. Quite a variety of them, including some that I don't recognize. But you weren't near your home this afternoon, were you?"
She smiled again, the glint of her teeth unnerving him. "No, indeed. Your security is frightfully negligent for someone so important."
"I'm…supposed to have bodyguards following me." He wondered if one of his minders was lying dead or unconscious in a ditch somewhere.
"Is that so?"
He nodded slowly, unable to get a read on her.
"I can assure you there are no other wizards or witches within ten miles of here. I did take the liberty of removing a couple tracking charms from your person, however."
"It's a good thing I'm in no danger then."
"May I ask where my wand is?"
"As I said, it is quite safe. You shan't be needing it."
He did not bother to ask for its return. She had already incapacitated him once, and he had no doubt she could do so again, never mind what her hulking driver was capable of.
She appraised his clothing again. "Is there a reason that your relations dress you in rags that do not fit you?"
"They're hand-me-downs from my cousin," he said flatly.
"And why do you not purchase your own clothes?"
Harry chose not to answer, growing irritated with her personal questions.
"If you need spending money, I know of a very easy way for you to acquire some," she said pleasantly.
"You may not be aware of it," she said with a grin, "but Italy has the finest brothels in the world. There is quite a trade in polyjuice there. One can even purchase hairs of famous muggles for the right price."
"What does that have to do with me?"
"You're not quite so renowned there—more of a curiosity, really—but even so…I could probably get 1000 galleons for a single hair of yours."
He winced, feeling a little sick at the thought of what someone else might do in his body.
She laughed softly at his expression. "If you were to gift me an entire lock? Well, you do the math. Why not allow some stranger to have a little fun with your body if you get paid handsomely in return? I'm certain that it beats mowing your uncle's lawn for free."
He looked away. He couldn't tell if she was serious or just teasing him. Either way, she knew entirely too much about his life.
There was an extended silence that felt uncomfortable to him. He glanced at her. She had tilted her head and was watching his face with amusement. It was almost a fond look, had it not been for her eyes.
"Forgive my rudeness, Harry. I can't help being curious about such a contradictory specimen as yourself."
He gave her the faintest of nods, wondering when she would get to the point of this bizarre charade. He looked out the darkened windows. They were no longer in Little Whinging, though the passing landmarks did seem familiar.
"You have not asked me any questions about myself," she said, drawing his attention back to her. "Are you not curious?"
He sighed internally. Without his wand, he had no choice but to play along with her little game. "What would you like me to ask?"
"That's not really for me to decide, is it? Perhaps you are curious why someone who is clearly not Italian goes by the name 'Zabini?'"
"I had wondered."
She smiled, and now it looked truly sinister. Somehow it enhanced rather than marred her unnatural beauty.
"It was a gift from my late husband, my first late husband. It was the most valuable gift he gave me; more so, in fact, than his gold and jewels. The name came with a beautiful villa and a certain amount of influence in southern Europe. It also provided my son with a proper pedigree."
"Indeed it is."
When he asked no more questions of her, she smiled coyly at him. "Tell me, Harry. Do you think I'm a beautiful woman?"
"Very much so."
"Thank you. I hear it often, but it's always nice to hear it from a young man of your stature. When you have money and beauty, the only thing worth living for is pleasure. Compliments are a small pleasure, but a pleasure nonetheless."
He was still confused, but he was working under the assumption that this woman was cultured, intelligent, and very, very dangerous. He didn't know what she wanted with him, but he also didn't want to know what it would be like to have her as an enemy.
She stared at him again, as if he were an inscrutable painting in a museum. "You are not at all what I expected, Harry Potter."
"What did you expect?"
"I could only rely on my son's reports and newspaper articles, both of which are biased. But I expected you to be somewhat arrogant, perhaps even disdainful. I am told that you flout all the rules and don't deign to speak with anyone outside your inner circle. Is that true?"
"No, it's not."
"I can see that. You seem rather shy to me, in fact. And yet you are rumored to be quite the bold fighter. A remarkable contrast."
He shrugged. "I fight back when someone threatens me, and I don't like being gawked at by people I don't know."
"Well said. Many famous people feel as you do. They are often misunderstood by casual observers."
"I only trust a few people at Hogwarts," he replied, feeling more bewildered by the second with the shifting conversation.
"I don't blame you. I would do much the same in your situation. When one is important, it is difficult to know whom one can trust."
He nodded his agreement.
"What do you think of my son?" she asked curiously. "I understand you share a few classes together."
"I…don't really know Blaise. He seems nice enough though."
"Nice," she repeated, amused. "Clearly you have never spoken to my son."
"Er, Slytherins and Gryffindors don't really mix."
"Understandable. The houses are traditionally antagonistic. Their rivalry was equally vicious in my day."
"So you attended Hogwarts too?"
"You sound surprised."
"Your accent is…different."
He didn't bother asking which House she was in. It certainly wasn't Hufflepuff.
"I have lived in Italy and France for many years now. Blaise was quite put out that he would not be allowed to attend Beauxbatons."
"I wanted him to get a proper Slytherin education. One must learn a certain skill set in order to survive there. It will serve him well when he is older."
Harry didn't want to think about what that skill set contained. She smiled at his reaction.
He looked away, again growing uncomfortable with her penetrating gaze. "May I ask why I am here now?"
"I have already told you. I seek a favor from you, or, rather, I seek to exchange a favor for a favor."
His brow furrowed. He didn't have any idea what she meant. She had already had ample opportunity to harm him. She could have killed him, in fact. Instead she was chatting with him in the back of a limousine about favors.
She watched him closely, letting the silence drag again. He felt forced to look at her.
"I wish for us to spend the afternoon together, Harry Potter," she finally said, a gentle smirk playing on her lips.
"Why not? There are all sorts of things we could do together."
"The sorts of things that men and women do together when they are alone."
His heart skipped a beat. Surely she couldn't mean…
She smiled as the incredulous look on his face was slowly replaced by a blush. "You are such an open book, Harry. I find it quite endearing."
She scooted closer to him in the seat. His face was nearly scarlet now, his brain not quite able to believe what he had just heard.
She didn't stop until she was reclining a mere foot away from him. She turned her body to face him, an elbow reclining on the back of the seat. She tucked her knees beneath her, and he noticed that she was barefoot. The faint scent of her perfume reached him. He glanced at the diamonds studding her slender neck, but found it difficult to make eye contact.
"You're talking about sex?" he breathed, his voice sounding astonished even to his own ears.
"I am talking about an afternoon spent in pleasurable pursuits," she replied. "Are you not attracted to me?"
He glanced at her nearly glowing green eyes, feeling like a fly trapped in a spider's web.
"You are very attractive."
"I'm quite aware of it. As I said, I am willing to perform a favor for you in exchange for your time."
His heart began to race. "What favor?" he found himself asking.
"I gather there is not much that you need, or at least not much that I could provide that you could not get elsewhere."
"Okay," he stated, confused.
"I could offer you something you do seem to need, however."
She reached toward him and brushed a single finger gently down his cheek. He tried not to flinch.
"A measure of independence," she said silkily. "You'll find that a little money makes everything in life easier."
"You…you want to pay me for sex?" he blurted out, feeling as if he had fallen into a surreal dream.
She frowned reprovingly at him. "There's no need to be crass, Harry. Every relationship is a kind of transaction, after all. Do you think me a common whore?"
That was indeed the thought that had crossed his mind, but he dare not voice it. "N-no, not at all."
She smiled. From this distance it seemed almost beatific, lighting up her face in a way that belied the context of their conversation. She caressed his cheek again, and this time he did flinch.
"Good. I would be quite insulted if you thought me a whore. I think you'll find that it is the recipient of the gift who is the whore, not the one providing the gift. But perhaps we are all merely whores in different ways."
He didn't respond, unsure whether she had just called him a whore.
"We need not think in such vulgar terms, Harry. They are not for people like us. We are simply friends exchanging favors. I think you'll find that I'm very generous with my friends."
'And not my enemies' was left unsaid.
"But why me? Why do you want me to be your friend?"
She leaned in closer. Her eyes stared directly into his, and he found himself mesmerized by her gaze. She had a presence unlike anyone else he had encountered. Even Fleur Delacour paled in comparison.
She exhaled in delight, as if she knew his thoughts and was immensely pleased.
"I am a connoisseur of men, Harry," she whispered, her face inches from his. "All sorts of men. Rich men, powerful men, famous men, attractive men. Some are like the finest cabernet, meant to be savored slowly. Others are like a shot of firewhiskey, meant to be swallowed in one gulp. They each have their own unique flavor. I am curious about yours."
He tried to control his racing heart. "You want to…collect me?"
She hummed and leaned back, much to his relief.
"Not precisely. I'm not going to put you on display in my home. I wish to collect an experience from you. Something I can savor, perhaps in a pensieve. Do you know what a pensieve is?"
"Then you know that it allows you to repeat an experience as much as you wish. Well, after a fashion. What is life but a collection of experiences?"
"So you want to experience sex with me, because I'm famous."
"I would not put it precisely that way," she said with a hint of warning. "I am merely a woman who is accustomed to getting what she wants."
She raised an eyebrow, as if daring him to contradict her.
Harry shivered at the look in her eyes. He suddenly understood what it was like for a small animal to be stalked by a much larger predator. He had an overwhelming desire to stay perfectly still.
She smiled her infernal, beautiful smile again. She had him confined without a wand, and he didn't know what to do. There was an absurdly gorgeous woman seducing him, and yet he felt more vulnerable than he ever had in his life.
He had no bodyguards, no emergency portkey, and didn't know how to apparate. A surge of resentment for the incompetence of the Order welled up within him. The only option available was Dobby, and that was a bad idea for many reasons. Phaedra had claimed he was safe, but she might change her mind if he called for help. She also might kill Dobby the moment he appeared. He wasn't even certain the elf could pop into a moving vehicle.
He glanced away from her, taking in the details of his surroundings, and tried to quell his rising panic. He needed to think, and that was very difficult to do while she was watching him.
She gently grabbed his chin and directed his gaze to hers. "Do you feel I am taking advantage of you? Forcing you rather than seducing you?"
He didn't want to answer.
"One forces one's enemies to do things against their will. Am I your enemy?"
"I certainly hope not," he replied sincerely, and she laughed.
"If I wanted to force you, Harry, or to break your will, we would not be having this conversation. Do you know what I would do instead?"
"What?" he asked, his heart threatening to beat out of his chest.
She inclined her head and smiled serenely. "I would kidnap your little muggleborn friend and hold her hostage. Hermione Granger, I believe it is? Her parents are dentists."
She held up a hand, silencing him.
"It would be absurdly easy to harm her, you know. Isn't it odd that there are no wards on her house? None whatsoever. We found her address in a phone book. One might think you didn't truly care for the poor girl."
"Have you hurt her?"
"What makes you think that? I was merely telling you how easy it would be to do so."
Harry stared into her entrancing green eyes. Everything she said had a disconcerting, ambiguous edge to it. Even if she hadn't hurt Hermione, she was clearly saying that she could do so anytime she wished. If that wasn't an implied threat, he didn't know what was.
She smiled with unconcealed delight as she examined his expression.
He felt an urge to fling himself on top of her and strangle her with his bare hands. To crush her delicate, beautiful neck and wipe that smile from her face.
Her smile only grew wider.
"If you do anything to Hermione…"
"You'll do what?"
He just stared at her, his mind racing and his body demanding action.
"I can almost smell your rage, Harry Potter. It's quite impressive."
"Go fuck yourself," he declared, before he could stop himself.
She laughed. "I'd much prefer to fuck you."
He was amazed at her brazenness. It felt odd hearing such crude language coming from such a beautiful face.
Phaedra continued watching him, pleased with the fury in his eyes. "Would you die for her? Trade your life for hers?"
"Do you have her?"
"That is not the question. The question is whether you would die for her. For instance, if I were to release her in exchange for handing you over to the Dark Lord, would that be acceptable to you?"
"You said I was in no danger."
"Maybe I was lying. Maybe I like to play with my food before I eat it."
He glared at her in utmost loathing. "Yes, I would die for her."
"That would be a shameful waste, wouldn't it? And what if I decided I wanted to keep her instead?"
Unnoticed by him, the windows in the back of the limousine were starting to rattle. She seemed unconcerned, leaning closer to him and nearly whispering.
"Tell me, Harry, what would you do to me if I hurt Hermione Granger? What would you do if I had already locked her in a dungeon with my most pitiless men? What if they were using her body right now, while she desperately called out your name to help her?"
Harry went still. He didn't answer for a moment, his green eyes boring intently into hers. On one level he knew she was manipulating his mood for her own pleasure. On another he knew that she was truly dangerous, capable of anything. He felt adrift in a sea of rage and confusion. His only anchor at the moment was defiance.
"I would kill you," he said lowly.
She grinned. "Would you now? And how would you do it? You seem to have misplaced your wand."
His face hardened. His gaze grew as piercing as hers. "If you hurt Hermione, I will strangle you with my bare fucking hands."
Phaedra's eyes dilated with pleasure.
A/N: There you go. Hope you enjoyed the first chapter. I'm anticipating about five. What do you think of Phaedra so far?
Thanks to VotN for his feedback.