Harry Potter and the Runecraeft of the Norns

Chapter 1: Welcome to New York

"So, this is New York City," Luna remarked as the Hermetic mage, the dragon-in-girl's-form and the artist exited John F. Kennedy International Airport, shielding her eyes from the sun with one hand held up like a visor as her eyes scanned the bustling throngs of people and vehicles just outside the arrivals terminal. "Where are we going?"

"We need a safe house," replied the shadowrunner, tightening the strap of his haversack; with the late June sun beating down from the clear sky, he was dressed in just a white T-shirt, dark cargo pants, matching combat boots, wraparound mirrorshades and a ballcap pulled down to hide the top of his face in shadows, giving him a look more befitting a native than a tourist.

Nearby, Liv tugged on the lapels of the black leather coat she was wearing, adjusting the way it fell atop her forest green tank top, untucked over her bootcut jeans, though it did little to hide the holster bag on the right side of her hip – secured to her leg by a strap around her thigh – that her belt looped through. She too had a pair of mirrorshades, though hers were aviator style and hanging from the neck of her shirt.

In her tie-dye cardigan, plaid-printed pastel pink pleated miniskirt, rainbow cuffed knee socks, floral-printed high-top trainers and floppy, broad-brimmed straw-style sunhat, Luna's look did not quite fit with the two dressed to blend in as she walked between them; even the ivory chiffon blouse she wore was eye-catching with its cascading ruffles down the front, and the heart-shaped sunglasses she wore atop her hat completed her eclectic wardrobe with its shiny pink lenses.

"So, what's the plan?" asked the dragon.

"There's a couple plays we could make, but they all need a lot of cash to make them work," Harry said. "We can't exchange a few million pounds for dollars without raising suspicion, so money's going to need to be locally sourced."

"We could always knock over a bank," Liv offered.

"Let's save that as a last option," said the boy.

"Why?" asked the blonde.

"Too many moving parts," the shadowrunner explained. "We need the money by tomorrow, even though end of day today would be preferable, which would mean we wouldn't have enough time for proper legwork; a bank's going to have security guards, alarms, vaults, things like that, not to mention patrons we'd have to get control of, assuming none of them try to play hero."

"All right, then. Options?" asked the Norwegian Ridgeback.

"Best bet? Something illegal, preferably associated with narcotics trafficking, so everyone on location would be guilty by association and we don't end up with civvies as collateral damage, plus narcotics means two sources of income in cash and product.

"Barring that, a clubhouse for any sort of criminal organization. Target-rich environment with minimal civilians, probably a good chunk of liquid cash and contraband on hand, and we'd be doing the badges a service."

"How much do we actually need?" Luna asked.

"I was reading real estate listings on the flight," Harry said. "Minimum we'll need for our needs is two million, so we'll probably want ten to fifteen in dirty money that we can sell on the black market for fifty cents on the dollar, and that's not counting any grease money and flash cash we'll need to make connects with the right people that'll get us to the black market."

"That's going to take some work, then," said Liv. "Any ideas where to start?"

"Well, Jason asked me to make a drop for him, so I'll do that after we check into our hotel.

"But first, we need to get some satellite phones."


Inserting the key into the lock box, the shadowrunner turned it until he felt the latch release, then pulled the door open, swiftly slipping the thick, sealed envelope into the locker before shutting and locking it as a familiar brunette banged the vending machine for stamps with a closed fist.

"Bloody machine ate my money!"

Palming the key, Harry casually yawned and stretched, using the motion to survey the lobby; it was the middle of the afternoon, and the postal office was momentarily empty except for the postal clerk—a near-middle-aged woman with a square jaw and black hair pulled back in a bun—who frowned disapprovingly as the brunette stormed out the door.

Giving the postal worker a two-finger salute, the ferryman let himself out of the storefront and slipped into the crush of pedestrians, going a half-block with the flow of the crowd before ducking his head slightly as he stooped over and pretended to rub his features with his hands; quickly, he released the magic from his face, flesh shifting back to their original form as he dismissed the alter self he had cast earlier to create an anonymous face that was not his own, then smoothly shucked off his jacket into his haversack, changing his appearance almost entirely in the space of a few short steps.

"Slick move, Bear," remarked a voice to the boy's right, and Harry turned his head slightly to spot the brunette who had been banging on the vending machine gracefully falling into step behind him, her blonde sister holding her hand.

"Thanks for the diversion," the shadowrunner said, raising his right fist, and the dragon bumped the back of her closed hand against his.

"What's that?" Liv asked, grabbing the physical adept by the arm and pointing as she suddenly stopped, her attention drawn to the open area, teeming with the movement of young men, they were passing by. "What are they doing?"

"I think they're playing basketball," observed the boy.

"I want to check it out," declared the Norwegian Ridgeback. "It looks fun."

Harry checked his watch, taking a moment to consider what was left to do for the day, then came to a decision.

"All right, let's give it a go," said the ferryman, and the trio diverted off the sidewalk into the park, taking a seat on the upper part of the bleachers to watch the game being played.

As the game ended and the men filtered off the court, replaced by new players, Harry called out, "Hey, who's got next?"

All heads turned towards the sound of the boy's voice, followed by a few chuckles.

"What makes you think you can hang with us, kid?" called back one of the players on the court, a muscular young man with a shaved head, dressed in a muscle shirt and baggy shorts.

"I don't know, what makes you think you can hang with me?" the physical adept asked back, standing up and pulling a folded banknote out of his pocket. "I've got a hundred dollars here that says you don't stand a chance."

"Oh!"s and "You gonna let him talk to you like that?" echoed through the crowd of young adults, egging on the man who had called out the boy.

"I'll take your money," the man called back. "C'mon."

"Watch my stuff?" Harry asked as he took off his haversack, and his daughters nodded.

Adding a swagger to his stride, the physical adept quickly descended the bleachers in his T-shirt, cargo pants and combat boots, ballcap turned backwards, catching the ball as it was thrown to him.

"So, what are the rules here?" asked the boy, as the others cleared off the half court.

"Ones and twos, first to eleven, winner's ball. You can go first."

"All right, then," said the physical adept, as he threw a two-handed chest pass to the man with the shaved head. "Check."

Receiving the ball back, he held it for a long moment before suddenly darting forward, putting leather to blacktop as he blew by the man on defense faster than he could react as the spectators erupted with cries of surprise and admiration, taking the ball to the hoop and laying it in without leaving his feet.

"That's one," said the boy, holding up a single solitary finger as his opponent tossed the ball back to him and then took up a defensive stance.

It did him little good, though, as the physical adept blew by him again, just a half-step too fast for the muscle-shirted man to catch up with, driving to the rim and scoring with another finger roll.

"Two," Harry said, as the man with the shaved head moved in close to guard him tightly.

Suddenly, the ferryman jerked forward and to the right, pushing the ball forward as if to drop it to the ground, and the man responded immediately, trying to get a jump on defending the drive into the lane, but the boy quickly pulled back, gaining separation between himself and the defender, rising up off the blacktop and lancing the ball at the hoop in a high arc from behind the yellow-painted arc.

The ball dropped through the net without so much as touching the rim.

"That's four."

Catching the checked pass, the physical adept raised the ball up as if to shoot, and the man immediately leapt at him, hand raised up; immediately, the boy was dashing by him, easily laying the ball through the rim.

"Five. C'mon, I thought you'd be a challenge," taunted the boy, sauntering back to the top of the court and receiving the ball. "I'm not even breaking a sweat over here."

Seeing his opponent's brow furrow visibly in frustration, Harry put leather to asphalt, slashing towards the hoop, but not without slowing his start just enough for the man in the muscle shirt to keep pace. Driving into the lane, he suddenly stopped short on a dime, rising up off the ground as his defender tried to turn around in time to get back to the boy.

Completely out of position, the man gave up trying to contest the jump shot and instead shoved the boy with both hands, knocking him off balance in midair just before his right arm sent the ball arcing towards the hoop.

"And one," said the boy calmly from the ground as leather dropped through nylon.

Picking himself up off the ground, he easily caught the ball that was thrown at his face in anger with one hand. "Look, why don't you get one of your friends to help you, and I'll ask one of my friends to join; at least that way, it might actually be a challenge. Hell, I'll even let you pick which of my friends play."

"Ty," said the man with the shaved head, looking at another man, a younger fellow with a lean, muscular build; the man being called nodded, stepping onto the half court and cracking his knuckles in a manner he thought might be intimidating.

Looking over towards the bleachers, the man in the muscle shirt considered the two girls who had arrived with the boy, eyes going from the athletic brunette who looked positively eager to play to the slender, eccentrically-dressed girl next to her who seemed completely indifferent to the proceedings.

"You can have the blonde," said the man Harry had been playing against.

"Dia, you want to play?" called the physical adept.

"I thought you'd never ask," Luna answered, taking off her multi-colored cardigan and messenger bag, handing them to the pouting Norwegian Ridgeback before descending the bleachers onto the blacktop below.

"You know the rules?" the shadowrunner asked.

"Leoshi explained them after Liv asked her to," answered the artistic adept, stretching her arms across her body before quickly squatting down and standing back up, then rolling her shoulders forward and backwards in a quick warm-up. "Leelee would be better at this, but I'm ready."

With that, the beskirted girl jogged onto the basketball court, anemically coming to a stop only a few steps after entering the play area.

"Check," called the boy, tossing the ball to the newcomer, who passed the ball back carelessly.

There was a moment of stillness, as the summer breeze blew through the air. Then, the physical adept tossed the ball at the hoop in a high, arcing lob.

"Rebound!" shouted muscular young man, turning in the direction the leather ball had flown.

The blonde was soaring high up in the air, both hands on the ball as she guided it directly into the hoop, the spectators erupting into cries of admiration and surprise even as the muscle-shirted man tried to block her attack on the basket.

"Damn! Baby girl's got hops!" shouted one of the youths at the sidelines.

"Hey! That's our stuff!"

Spinning towards the bleachers, the shadowrunner saw somebody just a little shorter than himself running away in a dead sprint, one of the trio's bags slung over a shoulder, a smoldering malachite ember in their torso.

"Get back here!" Liv shouted, as she dismounted the bleachers after the runner, and the Hermetic Mage took off after her, giving chase to the thief, leaving the blonde with the ball as it was passed to her by the lean young man.

With Astral energy infused in his body, the physical adept could easily have caught the bag-snatcher much like the dragon-in-girl's-form could, but doing so would involve doing something superhuman and thereby blowing their cover. Thus, they were forced to pursue the thief while blending in with their surroundings, gaining more ground on the straightaways than they lost every time the bag-snatcher turned a corner.

The dragon and the shadowrunner were only a few steps behind the thief when they turned into an alleyway; as the Norwegian Ridgeback leapt to tackle the thief, the green ember in their core brightened and expanded, and instead of getting the bag-snatcher, Liv caught nothing as the runner vanished in a puff of green fire and grey smoke, leaving behind the scent of root killer.

Quickly scanning the immediate area, the Hermetic mage looked up and saw the green ember moving along the roofline two stories up.

"Let's cut them off," said the boy, jerking his thumb in upwards, and Liv tossed him the haversack in her possession before she grabbed him by the shoulder and they vanished in a puff of flames and smoke.

Instantly, they reappeared on the roof in front the bag-snatcher in a conflagration of soot; then, the Norwegian Ridgeback disappeared in another instant inferno and appeared at the other side, trapping the thief between the two.

"That's my bag!" growled the dragon, stalking closer to the thief, who looked back and forth between the two who had been giving chase.

"Don't come any closer!" they shouted, suddenly pulling a knife out of their pocket, knees shaking almost imperceptibly. "I'll cut you!"

Without hesitating, the shadowrunner drew his Beretta from his bag, leveling the business end of it at the bag-snatcher. "You're not really in the position to negotiate," he told them.

"Shit! Don't shoot!" they said, dropping the knife and the bag, a moment before they collapsed to the roof, legs splayed out in front of them. "I swear, I didn't know."

"Didn't know what?" asked the Hermetic mage, as the dragon slowly approached the thief before taking back her bag.

"I didn't know you had a gun," clarified the thief. "If I did, I wouldn't have picked you."

"Why did you even pick us?"" asked the dragon, as she slung the rucksack over her shoulder before slowly backing away to check on its contents. "You had to guess it wouldn't go well."

"With your accents, I thought you might be tourists," said the thief, before her stomach gurgled audibly and her shoulders slumped in defeat. "And I'm really hungry. I haven't really had a proper meal since Saturday."

"That's two days ago," Harry remarked, expression suddenly worried. "Why haven't you eaten?"

"I didn't have the chance to…," said the thief.

"Isn't your family feeding you?"

"I'm a runaway…"

"You know what, let's head back; we'll get Dia, then you can tell us the story over lunch."

"Really? I just tried to steal from you."

"My aunt and uncle used to lock me in a cupboard with no food for days on end; nobody should have to go hungry like that."


"Nice one, Bunny!"

Dia flashed a brilliant smile and a thumbs up in the wake of cutting through the mass of bodies arranged on the blacktop court to leap up and catch the leather ball, effortlessly flipping it through the hoop.

Seeing the returning dragon and shadowrunner, the blonde shouted, "Somebody sub in for me!" before jogging off the court; as she did so, another youth ran onto the court, joining the on-going three-on-three game.

"Bunny?" asked the physical adept, cocking his head to the side quizzically as the girl came within talking distance.

"Baby girl's got hops," Luna said, echoing the sentiment somebody had called out earlier. Looking the newcomer over, she asked, "This them?"

"Yeah, that's them."

"Hey, I've got a name!" the thief protested. "It's Rome."

"It's nice to meet you," said the blonde, shaking their hand cheerfully. "I'm Bunny, she's May, and that's Lash."

"You hungry?" asked the shadowrunner, and Bunny nodded. Turning to the thief, he asked, "Know any good places around here Rome?"

"There's a pizza place down the block I've heard is really good, but I've never been able to afford it," said the thief after a moment. "It's kind of expensive though."

"I've got that covered," said the blonde, pulling a rolled-up banknote from where she had tucked it behind her ear and unfurling it, revealing the face of a pudgy, balding man with long hair.

"What was the score?" asked the physical adept, instantly understanding what had happened.

"Eleven-nil," Luna answered with a sweet smile and a thumbs up. "You didn't really think they could hold a candle, did you?"

"I would have been rather disappointed if they could. I'm just surprised they didn't try to start some drek with you."

"They tried, but I talked them out of it. Who'd want to hurt me?" asked the blonde, smiling sweetly.

"That's my girl. Let's go get some food."


As the thief gawked open-mouthed at the dragon-in-girl's-form folding an extra-large meat lover's pizza in half like a taco before taking several huge bites out of it, Harry finally got a good look at the newcomer who held the slice in their hand like they were about to take a bite.

With a mess of short curly hair atop their head and a light smattering of freckles on their androgynous face, especially across the tawny skin of their nose and cheeks, Rome had on a baggy T-shirt, torn blue jeans and dirty white trainers, a well-worn backpack nearly bursting from the insides resting on the floor against their leg.

"So, when did you leave home?" asked the shadowrunner, after the thief had finally taken their first bite of pizza and swallowed it down, though by that time, the Norwegian Ridgeback was through her first pizza and folding a second one—this one topped with mushrooms, peppers, olives and two different cheeses—in half.

"It was the middle of June… so about a year ago?" Rome answered, continuing to watch in awe as Liv wolfed down the vegetarian pizza and moved onto a third.

"Why aren't you with your family anymore?" Luna inquired, taking a sip from a highball glass of iced tea through a straw before grimacing and sticking out her tongue. "Bleh… This tastes gross. Too much sugar, and it's not even good tea."

As soon as the glass touched the table, the dragon-in-girl's-form had picked it up and downed it with one long pull, then went right back to the pizza in her hands.

"Dad started drinking when mom died, and he was just so angry all the time," explained the runaway wistfully. "He was angry at me, angry at his job, angry at the doctors… He was just mad at the world for taking mom away from him, and he would drink so much there wouldn't be any food in the house.

"I just couldn't stand it anymore, so I ran away."

"If you've been out here for a year, how have you been getting by?"

"I had a little bit of money when I started, but it ran out really fast, and after that I started stealing, a little bit at first when I was hungry just so I'd have something to eat, but then I realized winter was coming, and I started stealing more because I hadn't thought ahead enough to packed warm clothes, so I needed to get some, and then it was to save enough money so I could have a warm place to stay when it snowed. Before I knew it, I was approached by Mister Rogers, who wanted me to steal some things for him, and he'd pay me in cash, so I started doing work for him.

"Last Friday, I brings him this thing he hired me to get him like I usually do after I steal something he hires me to, except this time, he double crosses me, pulls a gun on me and everything. If it weren't for my superpower, I don't think I'd have gotten out of there alive, but I didn't get paid, and I've been laying low ever since because he's got a bounty out on me."

"What exactly does he hire you to steal?" asked the shadowrunner, after he and the dragon shared a look.

"Sometimes something at some antique shop, sometimes something out of an art gallery… this one time, he had me steal some comic book from a comic book store down in the Bronx."

"Art gallery?" Luna asked, interest piqued.

"Just a small painting here or there," the thief elaborated. "It's not like I can walk around with an entire canvas without drawing suspicion."

"What can you tell us about Mister Rogers' neighborhood?" Harry asked, pulling a pen and a legal pad out of his haversack.

"I don't think I've ever watched it, but I've heard it's really good for children," answered Rome earnestly.

"What?" asked the shadowrunner, confused.

"Mister Rogers' Neighborhood? The TV show on PBS?"

"Mister Rogers has a TV show?"

"You've never heard of it?"

"And he pays you to steal things for him?"

"That's a different Mister Rogers."

"What's his neighborhood like? Can you draw us a map?"


"Like you, we sometimes work in acquisitions."

Author's Notes: And I'm back for round three.

Just like Prizoner of Azkaban saw a genre shift from children's to young adult, Runecraeft of the Norns will see changes as well, as I start exploring more genres within the framework of the series, with an emphasis on the urban fantasy elements that I've been setting up in the previous books.

Fair warning: Runecraeft of the Norns spends more time away from Hogwarts than at Hogwarts. Not only does the details of the plot not fit with this version of the story (though the overall story arc is maintained), it's a huge chance for me to establish more of the world outside of Magical England. Furthermore, I tend to pick and choose when it comes to details that aren't originally in the books, so word of god doesn't really mean much here.

Leoshi... what can I say about her, except she's really fine but she doesn't know me even though I see her all the time?

Basketball was a way to showcase the difference in physical abilities between normal people and adepts without having to resort to violence; even though I previously described Luna as an "artistic adept", she's still an adept, which means an overall improvement of her physical abilities, even if it's namely through eye-hand coordination for accurate rendition of her mind's eye onto whatever medium she's using.

As I've always maintained there's really nothing special about the individual things Harry does; it's how he puts it all together that makes him what he is, and Rome would be an example of somebody who experienced bouts of accidental magic, then made it work for them in a way similar to Harry did, albeit in a less controlled manner.

The initial encounter with Rome mirrors the initial encounter with Patience: both chose their targets at random (as opposed to picking Harry specifically because of his name and reputation in the way Dobby did), so it's much easier to let slide on a pragmatic level; it's not unlike mercenaries who fought on opposite sides of a war later fighting on the same side of another war. As always, Harry sympathizes with victims, having been one himself. While he might not be emotional about it, it's still there.

Unlike previous books, where I've been able to finish a chapter every week or two, progress on Runecraeft of the Norns has been slow due to just how much research I've needed to do—for example, in this chapter, the price of real estate in New York City during 1993)—along with the length of chapters; while previously, chapters ran around 10 pages, Runecraeft is routinely seeing chapters break 15 pages. Combined with the increase in pressure at work requiring additional time to de-stress afterwards—despite a banner year with record profits of $132.5 billion, Kroger, the company voted the worst low-paying job by employees a few years running, has opted to cut the hours of boots-on-the-ground workers across the board rather than increase them, requiring in-store employees do even more than before—I've needed a lot more time to complete chapters; to compensate for this, until I complete the writing of the book, Runecraeft will be releasing a new chapter on the morning of the first Friday of each month at Eastern Time, instead of every Friday in the manner its predecessors were.

As the pandemic remains ongoing, please take care to remain safe.

Many thanks to my still long-suffering editor Romantically Distant for their work editing and proofing this story, and would like to thank the newest addition to my editing team, pmansell, for their assistance as well. I'd also like to thank you for reading this, as you probably have many entertainment options available to you, so I appreciate you taking your time to read this.