Hi guys ! Here is the first chapter of a cross-over between Harry Potter and Neverwhere after a long long time without writing anything. English is not my native language, so if there is any mistake (and I guess there will be a lot), feel free to tell me, I will correct it as soon as I can :) Also, I didn't read Neverwhere in english, so a lot of translation may be incorrect concerning the names and places. I don't need to precise that Mr. Neil Gaiman and Ms. J. owns respectively Neverwhere and Harry Potter universes.
Chapter 1 : The theft
Richard let out a pained sigh as his eyes fell on the black-grouse. The Marquis had a lot of explaining to do. But all these explanations would have to wait until he succeeded to lose his pursuers. Richard bolted out the street, one of the two assassins swearing loudly as he disappeared into the darkness of an alley and passed through a door that wasn't there a few moments ago.
« - HE isn't going to be happy, said the clown as the damned dog of the Lady Door disappeared.
- Won't HE ? Answered his companion moodily.
- Well, I mean, we lost the bird AND the thief, HE really isn't going to be...
- Silence you fool ! Of course HE isn't going to be pleased !, the sheperdess hissed. »
This was a dire situation. The Great Sheperd would never forgive her for this loss. She felt like crying or hitting the cursed henchman of that bitch with something, something preferably very sharp and lethal. Smoothing her blue dress and readujusting carefully her long braided blond hair to calm her nerves, she began to plan her counter-attack. It was impossible to confess her failure to her lord. If he didn't kill her at the very minute the confession left her lips, it would be to throw her to the mercy of his sheeps. She shivered. Now, she really wanted to throw up.
Nevertheless, she had to come up with a plan. Thinking about the situation, she arrived to two conclusions. The first one was that the black-grouse was probably hidden in the very depths of late Lord Portico's ancestral manor, which couldn't be entered by anyone and especially not by the loyal servant of the Great Sheperd that she was. The second conclusion was that to get her very pretty hands on the bird she needed to capture the Lady Door's pawn or Carabas, who she suspected was behind this scheme. After that, she could always negociate with her Ladyship.
Carabas, she remembered, was a slippery character, full of himself, and very, oh so very dangerous... Even her master despised him and her master didn't despise anyone. Some people merely annoyed him, but they didn't stay alive long enough for HIM to hate them. So that left the pawn. She needed to lure him outside the manor, and for that, to find out more about him...Fortunately for her, she knew who could give her some information.
« - Harty !, she exclaimed, her voice full of authority, we need to find where the grouse was taken and quickly, we have to...
So it was taken away, an amused voice echoed around her. »
The Sheperdess felt the blood drain from her lovely face. The clown cowered behind her, simpering, his eyes wide and full of fear. Slowly, she knelt in the dust, staining her woollen stockings. She thought, just for a fleeting moment, that she had never had what it took to be a sheperdess, always so prim and proper, hating the dirt, the dust... Nevertheless, she was one, and thus, rose her head to meet familiar smiling eyes.
« -My Lord... »
Richard sat near Door on the long couch of the living room. The young woman was absently petting the chicken he had just brought back while reading the report sent by the Marquis a moment ago. Richard had no doubt on the subject of the report. Ingress. Door's little sister, kidnapped some months ago by Islington and jailed in an unknown and probably terrifying place. It was because of her that Door looked so tired, these times, her gaze always blank and empty, reminiscing of times now gone, destroyed by the ambitions of a fallen angel. It was also because of her that Richard had accepted to steal the black-grouse in Sheperd's Bush Market, accepted to risk his life on the Marquis' demand to bring back some damned chicken which would help them to find the missing child. Door discarded the report and lowered her head.
« - So, Mr. Black, she said, it has come to my attention that you know your way in some particular areas of London above. »
Richard looked at her, perplexed.
« - Door, who is Mr...
A lot comes to your attention, doesn't it, my lady ?, clucked the grouse, Surely the fact that the Great Sheperd will be most displeased when he learns of my kidnapping also came to your attention ? Not that I complain to be free from his...market, but I didn't let your dog abduct me to kowtow to another master. »
The word « master » was spit with almost as much scorn as the word « dog », Richard noticed. Door continued to stroke the bird.
« - I have no wish to enslave you Mr. Black, I only wish for your help to find someone very dear to me, my sister who may be in danger and...
- The lady Ingress ?, questionned Mr. Black, who dare harm Lord Portico's daughter? What is your father doing, my lady? »
- My father is dead, Mr. Black, answered the young woman, sucessfully keeping her sorrow at bay after a long year of mourning, and his murderer hid my sister in London above. »
Richard and the black-grouse had a similar reaction of atonishment, as similar as a human and chicken reaction of extreme surprise can be. Indeed, it was very unusual for people from London below to have any contact with London above. However, the young man pondered, Croup and Vandemar had come to London Above to hunt Door, so it was no surprise that, on Islington's orders, they would confine Ingress there. And it would be more difficult for Door to look for her sister in London above.
« - An associate of mine informed me that after their crime, my family's murderers contacted someone from a small community of London Above, a community composed of people who call themselves « wizards » and « witches », and who indeed wield some « magic » power. These people can see us, can talk to us, they are different from the usual above-grounders..., Door explained patiently. And you come from this community, Mr. Black.
- My lady..., the now-troubled black bird said, I left my kind many years ago to become an undergrounder. Many things have changed, from what I understand from my few fellow people who get lost here, and I am not sure I can be of a great help to you...
- But you know their customs, you can help me, the young woman insisted, I know the general location, or at least I suspect, where my sister is. However, the wizards, as different from the common above-grounders as they are, can't know of us, it would create too much problems. Furthermore, I can't afford to inform the people who still imprison her that we are still looking for her by doing a mistake. I beg you, Mr. Black... »
Great men are often torn by vital choices. So are great chickens. Mr. Black had never thought he would one day come back to the wizarding word. Too much mistakes still haunted him, and, becoming forever part of this world, while being his punishment, had also lightened his conscience. He didn't dare look at the Lady Door's eyes.
« - My lady, he breathed, I can help you, but only...in this state. I can't go back to what I was, even if it was my intention.
- Of course, Door replied, a soft smile gracing her face, and for that I am grateful and I promise you my protection from the Sheperd. »
Richard, still surprised by the earlier revelations, decided to join the conversation.
« -Hum... Door, how exactly are we supposed to pass off as wizards ? You can do some...magic stuff, I guess, but that's not my case.
- You are right on that, muggle, you can't pass off as a wizard, not even in your dreams, scoffed the black-grouse, and it is impudent of you to think that you are coming with us. Someone as...normal as you will destroy any plan we will conceive.
- Mr. Black, surely Richard could be a wizard with very weak powers, or even a « muggle », which I assume is a magicless above-grounder, the young lady objected.
- He could be, but the specific people we will mix with loath his kind. Rumors have arisen, that these people are gaining power. If you want him to stay alive, you will force him to stay here.»
And that was what broke Door's reluctance. Richard knew it. She hadn't forgiven herself for dragging him down, for making him face Vandemar and Croup, for trapping him here, even the second time when it had been his choice. For her, he was still the distraught Richard Mayhews, lost and hopeful to go back to his normal life, who was here because she had destroyed his life. Who was here for the second time under the illusion that he belonged here more than he did in London Above, illusion that would lead him to his death one day. Undergrounders had very short lives after all.
Richard wished that she would understand that if he had come back, it was not because his adventure had destroyed any semblance of normality he had, destroyed his relationships with almost everyone he used to know, even if it was partly true, but because he wanted to be here.
« - Richard, I have to agree with Mr. Black, it could be dangerous, and there is a lot of work to do here anyways, so..., Door said slowly.
- I understand. I mean, surely you need someone here in the headquarters to help you from London Below, and to so some...stuff, the young man said promptly.
- Richard ? , Door encquired, suspicious, Are you...
- I am serious Door. I don't want you to lose the trail of your sister jailers because of me, because people will recognize I have no magic... You suffered enough... »
Had she not been so distressed, after a long year of searching for Ingress, Lord Portico's daughter would have detected the lie, would have ensured that Richard stayed safe. Nevertheless, Door was tired, weary, and she pushed back her suspicions, on the belief that, even if he wanted, Richard couldn't get out of the house without her permission. As for Mr. Black, even being the great man that he was, his prejudices pushed his thoughts away from the muggle in front of him.
She gave Richard a small smile and squeezed his hand while murmuring a soft « thanks ». They then talked about the magical community, Richard listening with attention to the conversation. After an hour of debating, Door and Mr. Black decided to leave and go ask the Marquis for some information and material for their imminent departure. Richard let them go and gave Door his support after she hugged him tightly and briely by giving her a wan smile. Eventually, the door closed and he was alone in the manor. Now, he had to act.
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