Red liquid trembled in the bottom of the frosted glass, little ripples bouncing back off the sides as the trio of blonde witches slammed shot glasses down onto the bar and cheered.
‘Another three Dragon’s Kisses, please,’ the tallest called to the wizard behind the bar, brushing beads of condensation off her dark green dress. ‘We’re celebrating the downfall of the House of Greengrass.’
‘Three?’ The barman held up his thumb and two fingers, smiling into his neat short silver beard and lining up three more glasses. ‘Very well.’
Tiny dragons soared somewhere in the frosted glass, spinning ’round and ’round until the entire bar spun and Harry’s stomach churned.
He tugged his eyes away from the dragons and watched the orange flames dance above each glass as the barman poured. The bar settled and with it, his stomach.
‘That makes nine sickles.’ The barman tucked the bottle under the bar and slid all three shots across the smooth wood with the side of his hand.
The tallest caught his eye over the flames. ‘Do one more.’ She winked. ‘That way I can say I’ve bought our hero a drink.’
The other two witches turned to stare past her.
‘Thanks,’ Harry replied, eyeing the flickering fire in front of the witch. ‘I’ve always wanted to kiss a dragon. Since fourth year.’
She laughed. ‘Not quite as good as kissing a pretty witch—’
‘Is that why you stole a dragon from Gringotts?’ the shortest witch asked.
Harry snorted. ‘No, that was more desperation.’
‘What a curious coincidence.’ The barman slid a fourth Dragon’s Kiss over. ‘Harry Potter, in my bar on Al Kuholik Alley, drinking like a fish. Who would have expected that?’
‘Do fish drink?’ Harry frowned at the flames and poked his finger into them, blinking at the gentle heat as they danced on his skin. ‘Or do they just, you know, swim about and stuff?’
‘A fair point. I have never checked if fish drawing water through their gills truly counts as drinking. You definitely drink though. That is not Schnaps, but it is still going to get you there quicker than many other drinks.’
‘It’s a very recent development,’ he said. ‘I don’t come here and drink much. In fact, I’ve never been here before.’ Harry peered around at the waving pictures on the walls. ‘Actually, I have no idea how I got here… Which I would be upset about, but I’ve drunk like ten of these red snap drinks.’
‘Four,’ the barman said. ‘And it is grenadine. Schnaps is very different.’
‘I still don’t know how I got here, though,’ Harry replied. ‘Also, can I have an eleventh?’
‘Fifth. And yes, for two sickles.’ The barman laughed a quiet, soft laugh. ‘Nobody ever knows how they got here, Harry. This place is fun like that.’ He pointed at the three witches listening beside him at the bar. ‘They were all plodding the same path toward marrying boys their mother chose, but then whatshisface died because of you and so they started drinking to celebrate how everything’s changed.’
‘Yeah…’ the other blonde squinted across the bar. ‘But how did we get here?’
‘One of you must have said well, what now,’ the barman replied, ‘while holding your wand and thinking about drinking.’
‘Daphne,’ the two shorter blondes chorused.
‘Did I?’ Daphne shrugged and beamed. ‘I guess we’re here now and this place has way better drinks than my parents’ cupboard.’
‘And me?’ Harry asked.
‘You were sulking in that ruin you call a house,’ the barman said, straightening the burgundy waistcoat beneath his jacket.
‘I wasn’t sulking.’ Harry raised his finger. ‘I was…’
‘Sulking about a girl. Thinking about drinking. And you said the words.’ The barman wiped a few spots of water off the bar with a small cloth. ‘Otherwise you would not be here.’
‘Who even are you?’ Daphne asked. ‘And how do you know?’
‘I own this little establishment on Al Kuholik Alley. And I cast the magic, so I know how it works. Well, what now was all I was thinking when I escaped my previous place of residence.’
‘There’s no such place as Al Kuholik Alley,’ the shortest blonde said.
One of the others rolled her eyes. ‘Gemma… we’re standing inside it. Are you literally blind?”
‘She’s just blonde, not blind, Lisa.’ Daphne giggled. ‘There actually isn’t, though. Not on Diagon Alley or Knockturn Alley or in Hogsmeade or anywhere I’ve been in Britain.’
‘You’re blonde,’ Gemma muttered.
‘Al Kuholik Alley is in its own place,’ the barman said. ‘I created it. And everything else here. When I was younger, I used to make drinks for my friends in Durmstrang. It was a fun way to invent new magic.’
‘How did you know what we were doing, though?’ Harry asked.
The barman laughed. ‘How do I know about them being free to choose things for themselves and you and Ginny being on a break?’
‘I have been here the whole time they were talking and drinking,’ he said. ‘And you have been mumbling about Ginny under your breath since the second drink.’
‘Oh.’ Harry flushed. ‘I thought it might be magic.’ He emptied the last of the sweet red drink in front of him and eyed the burning Dragon’s Kiss. ‘Does this keep burning after I’ve swallowed it?’
‘No,’ Daphne said. ‘It just tingles on the way down.’
Lisa tittered and pushed her glasses up her nose with a finger. ‘Let’s drink them before the flames go out.’
They raised theirs with a cheer and Harry grabbed his, swallowing a fierce wash of hot chilli and blinking back tears as his tongue burnt.
Daphne giggled as he shuddered. ‘You’re worse than Gemma.’
‘I wasn’t expecting the chilli.’
‘It’s a Dragon’s kiss, of course it’s hot,’ she said.
Lisa snickered. ‘If you want a less hot kiss, you’ll have to buy Daphne a drink.’
‘She’s had too many of those, she’ll just taste like chilli,’ Gemma said, grinning.
‘Okay. One. I don’t just kiss random boys.’ Daphne patted her pockets. ‘But I am out of sickles, so I wouldn’t say no to a free drink. Two. Can you imagine my parents’ faces if they woke up and found I’d brought Harry Potter back to ours? Astoria would explode.’
‘Three. You’re single. He’s — wait you’re single, right?’
‘Does it matter?’ Gemma smirked. ‘It’s not like you’re getting married.’
They burst into giggles.
Harry poked his empty glass back across the bar and shot the barman a hopeful look.
‘Ah yes, number five.’
‘Eleven,’ Harry muttered.
‘If it was eleven you would be on the floor.’ The barman poured crimson grenadine and fruit juice into a silver mixer covered in runes, cleaning Harry’s glass with a flick of his wand. ‘There is the equivalent of two of those Dragon’s Kiss shots in one of these and I am pretty sure this is the first time you have done much drinking.’
‘I was busy with other stuff.’
‘Is that why you’re single?’ Lisa asked.
‘No, I’m single because… because it made sense to be,’ Harry replied. ‘Ginny was all like, you need to do this, you have to be like this, and you should treat me like a queen—’
‘You should,’ Daphne said.
‘I did.‘ He glowered at her. ‘But it was all Ginny wants this and that and I was just giving and giving and I got tired of it so we’re on a break.’
‘What did she say?’ Gemma asked.
The barman poured the red drink into Harry’s glass and slid it across.
‘She was mad,’ Harry replied, taking a gulp of his drink. ‘Like, really mad. Talked for like an hour so fast I couldn’t get a word in and then decided that actually what was happening was she was taking a break from me and went off. Which, you know, whatever, same thing.’
‘Harry Potter, hero of magical Britain, can’t keep a girlfriend.’ Lisa snickered into her hand. ‘Would you like a new one?’
‘Someone who actually cares about me.’ He frowned. ‘You know what the weird thing is, I’d kind of want to go out with Hermione. Not actual Hermione, that’d be weird, but someone like her who’s not her.’
‘You want to date Hermione Granger?’ Daphne wrinkled her nose. ‘Isn’t she really annoying?’
‘Sometimes, but it’s kind of endearing.’ He shrugged. ‘But not her her, just a girl who’s kind of like her. She would give back, you know. Not just take and take and take. Ginny never does anything for me, she’s so… so wrapped up in her own head and what she wants.’
‘And this is only the fifth,’ the barman said. ‘Who knows what he’ll be like after the eleventh.’
‘You shut up,’ Harry said, glaring at the barman. ‘I don’t even know your name.’
‘Yes, you do. You just haven’t realised it’s me.’ The barman shook his head. ‘I’m just the barman now.’
Harry squinted at his neat, three-piece suit, short beard and cropped silver hair. ‘As long as you’re not Voldemort.’
‘You do have a nose, so it seems unlikely. Also, he killed himself because he didn’t understand love, so that makes it less likely too.’
The barman laughed.
‘Wait, what?’ Gemma stared. ‘Voldemort died for love?’
Harry spluttered into his drink. ‘No, he died because he didn’t understand it. He couldn’t comprehend how you could feel it, so he didn’t know how magic based on it really works and ended up killing himself with his own spell. There was some complicated stuff with a special wand and stuff, but that was the gist of it.’
‘One should be careful of special wands,’ the barman murmured. ‘And love. They are not always what they seem to be.’
‘I know,’ Harry said, drinking more of the sweet grenadine. ‘I’m on a break, aren’t I?’
Lisa rolled her eyes. ‘You might have mentioned it, yeah.’
Daphne elbowed her in the hip. ‘Don’t be a bitch. We weren’t keen on the slowly pressuring us into marrying boys our parents liked for their own reasons. Same thing.’
‘It’s not,’ Lisa said. ‘He chose her.’
‘Yes, but she still didn’t really care about him.’
‘She does,’ Harry said. ‘She does care. She’s just… I don’t know how to say it nicely, she doesn’t think about me much.’
‘Sounds like Astoria.’ Daphne tossed her hair over her shoulder. ‘She was upset Voldemort died because it meant Draco might not be able to marry her and stay really rich.’
‘Wow.’ Harry drowned a lick of hot anger in grenadine. ‘That’s just… wow.’
‘I know, right?’ She pursed her lips. ‘She’s the most entitled selfish little brat. Expects the whole world to circle around her.’
Gemma patted Daphne on the shoulder. ‘You’re out now though, sis. You can do what you want.’
‘Finish school, find a cute boy, maybe quite a few cute boys, and then get my own place.’ She eyed the line of bottles on the bar. ‘Maybe we could get a place to rent, that’d be cool.’
‘Yeah…’ Lisa grinned. ‘We could have house parties.’
‘And a pool,’ Gemma said.
‘We should do it.’ Daphne wrapped her arms around their shoulders. ‘Let’s do it, we—’
They vanished with a loud pop.
‘And off they go,’ the barman said. ‘On to the next great adventure in their lives.’
‘Where did they end up?’
‘It does not matter,’ he replied. ‘They know where they want to go, that is the important thing.’
‘What?’ Harry finished his drink, the room spinning. ‘That makes no sense.’
‘Maybe you should have drunk slower.’ The barman flicked his wand at the line of shot glasses, sending them floating down under the bar. ‘This place is magic. When the right words and feelings are there, my patrons arrive, and when they know what comes next, my part is done and off they go.’
‘I’m still here,’ Harry said.
‘Yes, well, you seem rather hopeless.’
His stomach growled. ‘Do you do food?’
‘Cooking is something I have never been any good at,’ the barman admitted. ‘That is one reason why I did the drinks when I was younger. My friend’s brother usually cooked and then there were always house elves after that.’
‘You should do food.’ Harry’s stomach gnawed at itself. ‘I would eat just about anything right now.’
‘I could probably manage a sandwich for a few sickles.’
‘It is supply and demand.’ The barman conjured a gleaming silver plate and a knife. ‘You dearly want food so you will pay what I demand.’
‘You must make a fortune.’
‘I used to gift the drinks to people,’ the barman said, summoning thick dark bread, a handful of leaves of lettuce and a small ham. ‘I do not do this to earn a living.’
‘What do you do it for?’ Harry breathed in the faint tang of fruit-glazed ham and his mouth watered. ‘Fun?’
‘To help people who are lost to find something for themselves.’ The barman swiped butter across two slices and laid down a thick slice of ham. ‘Once upon a time, I tried to give people something I believed in, thinking it was the best thing to do. I was wrong. You have to find your own path. I am happier here, quietly helping people, than I was before, though I shall miss my old friends.’ He swept the sandwich together with a flick of his wand and sent it floating over the bar. ‘That sandwich is free.’
‘Are the drinks free now too?’
‘No.’ The barman smiled, his light blue eyes crinkling. ‘I always charge because nobody quite trusts free drinks in an unfamiliar bar. They look for the trick, the trap, and if they’re doing that, the magic of this place won’t work.’
Harry took a huge bite of his sandwich, chewed twice and gulped it down. ‘What happens if you don’t find something? How do you leave?’
‘There is a door,’ the barman pointed along the bar to the wooden door. ‘It will take you somewhere else.’
‘That sounds suspicious.’ Harry took another bite of his sandwich and stifled a moan. ‘I think grenadine makes me hungry.’
‘It seems like it does.’ The barman waved a hand at the pictures on the walls. ‘I have had a lot of people in here over the years. Albus Dumbledore liked to come here from time to time. I try to get a picture of everyone, if that is acceptable to you?’
‘Sure.’ Harry lowered his sandwich and brushed crumbs off his face. ‘How do—’
A bright flash stabbed at his eyes.
‘Wunderbar,’ the barman said, hanging the photo up between the cupboards.
Beneath Harry’s frame, Daphne, Lisa and Gemma smiled and waved at him.
Harry wolfed down his sandwich, gobbling up all the crumbs. ‘What happens when I try to leave through that door?’
‘I do not exactly know,’ the barman said. ‘I have never tried it. I suppose you have to appear somewhere, and people do come back, so it can’t be anywhere that bad.’
‘I’m going to try it.’ Harry snorted. ‘Maybe this is my next great adventure.’ He pushed at the door.
It remained still.
Harry shoved harder, straining with both arms. ‘I think it’s locked.’
‘Try pulling,’ the barman said, cleaning away the sandwich plate.
‘Oh.’ Harry flushed and tugged it open a few inches. ‘Right. Bye then.’
‘Good luck, Harry.’ The barman paused, the silver knife gleaming in his hand. ‘Danke, for helping Albus so bravely.’
‘I didn’t do much,’ Harry mumbled. ‘I just had to die.’
‘And come back,’ the barman murmured. ‘Dying for a greater good is easy. Living for one is harder than we imagine.’ He set the knife down with a faint smile. ‘Hold tight on to the handle when you open the door, it’ll throw you somewhere that might help you find something.’
Harry grabbed it. ‘I hate magical travel,’ he muttered, pulling the door wide open.
An empty abyss gaped before his eyes, all the dark of the night sky with none of the stars; it stretched on and on, he felt it go, fading off into the distance like the last light of day dwindling into dusk.
Cold grey concrete bit into his knees as he stumbled and fell onto chewing gum-marked slabs. Dull, grey office blocks rose up over two empty benches toward the dusk sky from the short cul-de-sac.
‘Ah yes,’ he muttered, pushing himself to his feet. ‘My next great adventure—’ he squinted through the large glass window, ‘—is some kind of insurance work. That does seem an exciting prospect.’
Better than drills. Harry waved to his reflection, brushing gravel out of the small graze on the heel of his palm. Where the hell actually am I, though? He peered around, breathing out the lingering heat of the Dragon’s Kiss into a faint, cool breeze.
A fat pigeon snoozed on the window ledge over his head and damp, drooping cardboard stuck from the pair of bins in the corner of the alley.
It’s too quiet for a city. Weirdly quiet. I should be able to hear traffic.
The hairs prickled on the back of Harry’s neck as he watched the reflection of the bins out of the corner of his eye, his heart starting to pound.
‘This is stupid.’ He folded his arms. ‘If there are dementors in those bins, you can just come out and we’ll get it over with.’
The pigeon slept on.
‘There’s nothing behind the bins, Harry. You’re being an idiot.’ He took a deep breath of cool air and held it, clearing his head.
A dark blur flickered in the corner of his eye and the world burst into darkness in a flash of white sparks.
A dull pain throbbed in the back of Harry’s skull, stabbing through deep tiredness; it bit through the ache like spells tearing through thick snow.
‘You are awake,’ a quiet, soft-accented voice said. ‘How are you feeling?’
A cold shock flashed through his veins and Harry’s eyes snapped open into gentle gloom.
Thin cracks ran through the ceiling, snaking up the cream-hued wall past the thick, black curtains from thin, fraying blue carpet to a battered lopsided light fitting and its dim, flickering bulb.
He rolled over, pushing the thin pink duvet down from his neck with stiff, aching fingers.
A dark-haired girl in a baggy red hoodie and knee-length white skirt gave him a small wave from the doorway. ‘Hola, señor. I am Eleña.’
‘You’re French?’ The ice faded from his veins and Harry reached up toward the stinging throb above his right ear, sweeping his eyes across the room for his wand.
‘No.’ Eleña leapt forward and caught his hand. ‘Do not touch. It needs to heal.’
‘It hurts,’ he said, fighting the growing weight of his eyelids. ‘And I’m really tired.’
‘You were on the ground bleeding.’ She drew the pink duvet back up to his chin and patted it down around his neck. ‘I bandaged your head and took you back with me in case you were a muggle, but you lost a lot of blood.’
Harry grappled with his tiredness, forcing his eyes open. ‘Your English is really good. My French friend still struggles with some words.’
‘I am Spanish,’ Eleña said, winding one dark curl of hair around her finger. ‘Not French.’
‘Oh. Sorry,’ he muttered, wincing from the pounding in his skull. ‘Can I pretend it’s this headache that’s to blame?’
An impish grin and a small pair of dimples flashed across her face. ‘You may.’ She drew the chair across next to the bed with one hand and lifted a steaming bowl. ‘I made you soup, to help you recover. You need to have something before you sleep again.’
Harry sniffed the steam, breathing in a soft, rich scent. ‘It smells like… rice?’
‘Brown rice and liver and spinach,’ Eleña murmured. ‘I did not have too much to work with.’
‘Spinach is good for you.’ He clawed through the fog of fatigue and the throb in his temple to a distant flash of Petunia making salad. ‘It has iron in it, or something, right?’
‘It was what I had on hand.’ She set the bowl down. ‘I am going to help you sit up.’
Harry shook his head. ‘I can manage.’ He pushed against the bed, but his arms shook and a deep ache bit into his muscles. He slumped back onto the pillow. ‘Or not. That’s a bit embarrassing.’
‘You will be okay in a short while.’ Eleña slipped her hands under his arms and lifted him up against the headrest, propping the cushion up under his back. ‘For now, I will look after you. It is no trouble.’
‘Are you sure?’ A little heat crept into his cheeks. ‘You can just ditch me at St Mungo’s if you want.’
Although all the papers would hear about it and write long excited articles about my impending death again.
‘It is fine,’ she said, her soft Spanish accent soothing the throb in his head. ‘Let me help you with the soup.’
Harry smiled. ‘I suppose I could be fed soup by many worse people.’
Eleña dipped the spoon and lifted it to his lips. ‘It is not too hot, but I have made nicer soup with other things.’
‘Beggars can’t be choosers.’ He slurped the soup off the spoon and shrugged at the rich, salty taste. ‘That’s fine. It’s not at all bad.’
The small dimples appeared up on Eleña’s face as she glanced down into the soup. ‘I am glad you do not hate it.’ She fed him another spoonful, brushing a stray drop from the corner of his mouth with the edge of her thumb. ‘I used to do this for my little sister when she was ill.’
‘I don’t have any sisters,’ he said. ‘I always kind of wanted one. An older sister, I think.’
Eleña’s dimples brightened and she swept her dark curls back over her shoulders. Harry admired the laughing, smiling faces of the golden suns dangling from her ears.
‘My sister bought them for me,’ Eleña said, lifting the spoon to his lips. ‘I like the sun.’
‘They’re really nice.’
And magical. Harry slurped up more soup, enjoying the gentle warmth filling his stomach.
‘What’s your name?’ She scooped a dark green spinach leaf up with the spoon.
He blinked. ‘Harry Potter.’
She must not get out much in the magical world. That or I’m not as well known in Spain as I am in Britain and France.
‘May I call you Harry?’ Eleña asked.
‘I think if you’re feeding me soup we’re probably on a first name basis,’ he said, offering her a tired smile.
The impish grin flashed across her face and her brown eyes shone. ‘Then you must call me Eleña—’ she drew her name out, caressed it with her tongue until it sang in his ears and his heart fluttered ‘—I would like that.’
‘Elena,’ he tried, accepting another mouthful of soup. ‘Eleña?’
‘Closer.’ She flashed him her dimples, dabbing soup from his chin with a gentle hand. ‘You will get the hang of it. And I will get better at looking after you so you are not always covered in soup.’
‘It is good soup,’ Harry said, flushing as she leant closer to offer him another spoonful. ‘A shame to waste any of it.’
‘I like to cook.’ A distant gleam rose in her rich brown eyes and her lips parted with a quiet sigh. ‘I have been trying to learn when I can.’
‘I can kind of cook,’ he said. ‘Not fancy cook. But I won’t starve.’
‘There are times when I’m so hungry I’ll just eat the first thing I see.’ She lifted a brimming spoonful of soup to his lips. ‘But it’s more than just eating things to me.’
Harry swallowed another mouthful of rich, salty broth, letting the warmth suffuse him. ‘Fancy cooking then.’
‘You will need potions to recover quickly, Harry,’ Eleña murmured, resting the spoon in the empty bowl. ‘I can go get them, but I cannot afford…’
‘Oh.’ Harry offered her a smile. ‘No that’s fine. I had money on me and I can pay you back if whoever hit me stole it.’
‘Hit you?’ Little wrinkles creased her forehead and her slim, dark eyebrows curved into a shallow vee. ‘Did you see them?’
‘Just a blur.’ He flushed. ‘I’d had quite a bit of grenadine to drink at a really weird bar and got ditched in that alley.’ Harry snorted. ‘I think its magic may have tried to send me to the next great adventure a little differently than I expected.’
‘The next great adventure?’
‘Like, the next big thing in life.’
Eleña hummed. ‘I like that. It sounds like there will always be more.’ She leant close, her dark brown eyes sweeping over his face. ‘How are you feeling now? Any better?’
Harry breathed in a wash of brown rice and a faint sweet musk. ‘Warmer.’ He patted his stomach with an aching, twinging arm. ‘Slightly sloshy after all that liquid.’
‘I know the feeling,’ she murmured, her accent caressing the words and leaving them lingering in Harry’s ears like the last notes of some soft song. ‘You should rest. Get your strength back. I will find some potions to help while you sleep.’
A gentle weight fell upon his eyelids. ‘I am pretty tired.’
‘Sleep.’ Eleña eased him back down onto the bed, smoothing the covers out and tucking them in under his chin. ‘Sleep, Harry.’ She pressed a warm hand to his forehead, brushing his hair away from his eyes. ‘You are safe with me. I will look after you.’
He blinked awake into a low, soft gloom, stretching his toes into the warm duvet. The heavy ache hung in his arms and legs, biting to the bone in short, sharp twinges. A faint sour scent reached his nose as he pushed back the duvet to brush the crust from his eyes.
How long was I asleep? Harry twisted his back and groaned as a dull pain stabbed through his sore, stiff neck. Feels like it must’ve been a while.
A quiet knock echoed from the door. ‘Harry?’ Eleña’s quiet Spanish accent brought a faint smile to his lips. ‘I have potions. And soup. May I come in?’
‘Of course.’ He took a deep breath and dragged himself up on shaking arms, tugging the pillow into the small of his back and ignoring the twinge of pain through his neck.
The door knob twisted and Eleña slipped in, the front pocket of her dark red hoodie bulging with bottles and a steaming bowl of soup resting in the crook of her elbow.
Harry breathed in the gentle smell of rice. ‘Same soup?’
‘You said you liked it,’ Eleña murmured, setting the bowl down on the side table. ‘You are feeling a little stronger, Harry?’
‘I can now drag myself around the bed,’ he said. ‘Maybe even get up or feed myself soup.’ A little heat rose on his cheeks. ‘I should probably have a shower or a bath or something, I’m pretty sure I smell.’
She flashed him a dimpled grin. ‘A little bit, yes.’
Harry flushed. ‘Sorry.’
‘I do not mind.’ Eleña pulled the chair across to the edge of the bed and pulled out a handful of glass bottles. ‘I bought blood replenishers. I wasn’t really sure what you would need, but you did lose quite a lot of blood so I thought they were a good idea.’
Harry laughed. ‘That’s probably a bit much blood replenisher. You’re meant to take about a large gulp.’ He squinted at the bottles. ‘This is about a hundred gulps. But it’s not like it goes off, so I’ll just hang onto it in case I get magically ditched in an alley and mugged again at some point.’
She swept her dark curls back over her shoulders, shaking the little laughing gold suns dangling from her ears free and twisting her hair into a loose knot. ‘Soup?’
He reached for the bowl with aching trembling fingers.
‘Let me,’ Eleña said, picking the bowl up from the table and producing a spoon from her hoodie pocket. ‘You still look like you need to rest.’
‘Are you sure you don’t mind?’ Harry flushed. ‘I can probably do it myself, just really slowly.’
Ginny would hate having to do this for me.
‘The soup will get cold if you do it slowly.’ She flashed him an impish grin, all white teeth, dimples and bright brown eyes. ‘And I like looking after you.’
He squirmed, curling his toes into the duvet. ‘Okay.’
Eleña dipped the spoon into the soup and raised it to his lips. ‘Say ah,’ she murmured, the word sang in his ears, lingering like fading music and melting into a soft fluttering in his stomach.
‘Ah,’ he whispered, cheeks burning.
A strange little gleam sprang up in Eleña’s brown eyes and she slipped the spoon through his lips. Harry swallowed a mouthful of warm, rich broth, a pleasant little shiver sweeping down his spine.
‘Good?’ she asked. ‘I added a few more things.’
‘It’s good.’ He nodded. ‘Very good.’
‘I am glad.’ Eleña lifted another spoonful to his mouth. ‘I think it is helping. With the potions, you should be feeling better soon.’
The heat of the soup pooled in Harry’s belly, soaking through him and easing the tired ache in his arms and legs. ‘I think I could probably manage getting up after this.’
She smiled. ‘Bathroom?’
He flushed and stared into the soup, watching her chase spinach leaves and small pieces of chopped liver around the edge of the bowl.
‘I will help you there.’ Eleña glanced over her shoulder. ‘It is just along the landing from this room.’ She fed him another mouthful of soup. ‘Potions first, though.’
Harry sighed. ‘They never taste good.’
‘Now?’ She set the bowl down. ‘So the soup takes the taste away?’
‘Please.’ He offered her a grin. ‘I remember this one tasting strongly like aniseed.’
Eleña plucked the top off with her finger and thumb. ‘I think you should have a couple of gulps,’ she said, shifting her grip to the bottom of the bottle and lifting it to his lips. ‘Just in case.’
Harry let the cool sharp burn of aniseed fill his mouth and wrinkled his nose, swallowing two gulps. More flooded in and he spluttered down a third.
‘Sorry,’ Eleña murmured, lowering the bottle and dabbing his lips dry. ‘Too much.’
He screwed his face up. ‘Any amount of aniseed is too much.’
Her soft chuckle sent butterflies swirling through his stomach. ‘More soup?’
Eleña scooped up another piece of spinach and raised it to his mouth. He let the warm, rich salty taste wash the aniseed away.
‘Better?’ she asked.
‘Much better.’ He took a deep breath and stretched, the dull fog of fatigue creeping back. ‘I’m feeling quite a bit less tired. I can probably make it back home in a short while.’
‘The potions are meant to work fast,’ Eleña said, feeding him more spoonfuls of soup one by one until the bowl was empty. ‘Would you like to use the bathroom first?’
‘If you don’t mind.’ Harry poked at the bandages covering the side of his head and his neck. ‘I’d rather nobody saw me all wrapped up in bandages and I think I probably really do smell.’ He slid a hand under the duvet to his pocket. ‘Do you know where my wand is?’
‘I have it,’ she murmured, pulling back the sleeve of her hoodie to show the smooth brown holly of Harry’s wand. ‘I didn’t want to just leave it lying around. It seemed… wrong.’
‘Of course.’ Eleña pulled it out of her sleeve and set it down on the side table. ‘There.’ She leant forward, her hair tumbling across his shoulder. ‘Let me try and get these bandages off for you.’ Eleña’s deft fingers pulled at them and they came away, unravelling down the side of his head and covering his eyes. ‘Oops.’
‘At least they’re off,’ Harry said, reaching up to press his fingertips against the small lump on the side of his head. ‘Still got a bump. I must’ve been hit pretty hard.’
‘You are looking a lot better now.’ She rose from her chair and straightened her white skirt, balling the bandages in her hand. ‘Bathroom?’
Harry pushed back the duvet and rolled to the edge, swinging his legs out until his bare feet brushed the thin blue carpet.
Eleña wrapped an arm around his waist. ‘Ready?’
He pushed himself up on shaking arms and wobbled toward the door, her warm arm pulling his weight back onto her each time his steps wavered. A faint scent of oranges and a soft dark musk reached his nose through the sour tang of his sweat as her laughing gold sun earrings brushed his shoulder.
Eleña reached out and pulled it open wider, revealing a narrow blue-carpeted lining and light blue papered walls marked by pale squares. ‘We’re going right.’
‘What happened to the pictures?’ Harry asked as he hobbled past the squares toward a white door at the end of the hall.
‘I took them down,’ she replied.
‘Something like that,’ she murmured, twisting the handle of the bathroom door open and pushing it open. ‘There, are you okay from here?’
Harry flushed. ‘I hope so, or it’s going to get really embarrassing for me.’
Eleña shot him an impish grin. ‘But exciting for me.’
His stomach fluttered, tangling itself into a taut excited thrum of little wings over her dimples and bright brown eyes. ‘I don’t think I’m that exciting,’ he said. ‘Ginny doesn’t seem to think so.’
‘Your girlfriend? Wife?’ Eleña’s pale soft lips parted with a faint sigh.
‘We’re on a break, but girlfriend, yeah.’ Harry shrugged. ‘I was bitching about her in that bar just before I ended up getting smacked over the head in that alley you found me in.’
I wonder if she’s missed me?
‘I didn’t get an owl for you or anything,’ Eleña murmured. ‘Sorry.’
He let that sink in, let the faint little pang fade away beneath his ribs. ‘I’m not all that surprised. She’s… not amazing at thinking about other people all the time, probably been wrapped up in whatever she’s doing.’ Harry rested one hand on the sink and stumbled into the bathroom. ‘But you probably don’t want to hear about all that.’
Eleña cocked her head at him. ‘Maybe the next great adventure isn’t with her.’ Her accent caressed the words, leaving them singing in his ears and lifting his heart.
Harry’s gaze drifted to her dimples and the soft curve of her smile, his heart pounding like a hammer against his ribs. ‘Maybe…’
She stepped back out of the doorway.
He flushed. ‘Thank you. I’ll grab a quick shower and then hopefully I won’t be lying around taking up your space.’
Eleña smiled at him as he eased the door shut.
Idiot. Harry swore under his breath and glowered at himself in the mirror above the sink. Saying maybe like that. Like she’s going to be interested. She probably has a boyfriend already. He wrestled his t-shirt over his head and dropped it on the floor beside the window, wobbling around as he tried to tug his foot out of his jeans. It’s not like she’s struggle to get one.
The bathroom lurched sideways and he smacked into the side of the bath. Pain lanced through his ribs and a faint twinge stabbed at his neck.
‘Ow,’ Harry muttered, staring up at the ceiling from his back. ‘That went well.’
‘Are you okay?’ Eleña knocked on the door.
‘I think so,’ he said. ‘Took a small tumble.’
The door creaked open.
Harry squirmed around on the floor until he found himself staring at Eleña’s bare legs. ‘Hi.’
She laughed, a soft, sweet chuckle, and crouched down. The bright flash of her grin and little dimples set his heart fluttering beneath his ribs.
‘You look kind of tasty, even on the floor,’ Eleña murmured.
I’m in just my underwear. Heat rushed to Harry’s cheeks. Right.
‘I hope you don’t tell your boyfriend about this,’ he said. ‘Or I’m going to get hit over the head again.’
Her impish grin broadened. ‘I do not have one. I left everyone behind in Spain.’
Harry grabbed the side of the bath and dragged himself up into a sitting position, tugging at his jeans.
Eleña reached out and eased them free, folding them into a neat square and placing them on the ground beside his t-shirt. ‘Up you come,’ she murmured, lifting him to his feet. ‘There you go.’ Her arm wrapped around his waist, sending little shivers down his spine. ‘Let me help you into the bath so you do not end up back down there.’
He rested a hand on the sink and took a deep breath to still his hammering heart.
His flushed, red-cheeked face stared back at an empty bathroom.
What? Harry blinked and glanced between Eleña’s dimpled grin and the empty mirror. Oh fuck.
‘Ah,’ she murmured. ‘I forgot about the mirror.’
Harry swallowed. ‘So…’ He eyed the door and his lone reflection in the window. ‘What now?’
Eleña’s arm slipped up to his neck, tugging a pair of small, skin-coloured plasters off his skin and flicking them into the sink. ‘Well, we do not need those anymore I do not think.’
He stared at the two small, purple bruises surrounding the little circular holes in his skin. ‘That does explain the blood loss, I suppose.’
‘I am sorry,’ she murmured. ‘I was just so hungry. And then you appeared where I was trying to hide away from magical folk to avoid attacking them. I could not help myself.’
A small twist of pity tugged at Harry’s heart. ‘I’m not going to press charges when they come find you for setting off the vampire trace, you only made a small snack of me,’ he said. ‘No harm done in the long run, really. You were a pretty good host.’
‘Thank you, but…’ Eleña gave him a small smile. ‘I do not have the trace.’
‘You’re unregistered…’ His heart sank. ‘You snuck into Britain from Spain the muggle way… I take it I’m not going anywhere just yet?’
‘They will send me home,’ she whispered. ‘Or find out who I am and what I did.’
‘Please tell me you’re not some dark vampire lady who’s eaten hundreds of muggles or something?’ Harry sighed. ‘I kind of liked you.’
‘We do not feed on muggles much,’ Eleña said. ‘The blood curse is to crave. To need to experience more and more but never be satisfied.’ She gestured at the mirror with her free hand. ‘My beauty will stun anyone—’ her hand rested over his heart ‘—quickening their hearts with just a smile, but I cannot see it, not ever. Not in reflections, or photos, or memories, and nor can anyone else see it unless they are looking at me myself.’
Harry frowned. ‘Why can’t we see it?’
‘So the true memory of my beauty will always fade and there is no way I can ever take any lasting satisfaction in it.’ Eleña reached out and pressed her trembling fingertips against the glass. ‘I have not been a vampire for very long, but the one who changed me, she is old. She told me much.’
‘Why can’t go you go back to Spain then?’ he asked.
‘I could not resist,’ she whispered. ‘My little sister. I was looking after her. She is so cute. So shy. So sweet. So trusting. So innocent. So… so alive. I – I just had to.’ A shiver swept through her. ‘She is very young. Much too young to be turned. My sire stopped me, but my family knows what I am now. The Spanish aurors know my attempted crime. I can not go back or they will lock me up forever or destroy me. And my sire has disowned me…’
‘But if you aren’t registered, how are you feeding?’ Harry asked. ‘You can’t easily find a consensual partner without being registered or get free blood…’
Eleña’s hand fell from the mirror. ‘I was not. Until I found you. I was so hungry. I would have killed you in the haze, but the alcohol in your blood made me sick.’
‘So you can’t go back. And you can’t register, because they might send you back to Spain.’ He swallowed. ‘What now, Eleña?’
She reached past him and bent the iron window handle into the stone wall, tugging at it a few times. ‘I am not sure.’ Eleña cupped his cheek, her fingertips tracing down his cheek over his jaw to the two small marks on his neck. ‘I know what I want to do, but…’ A wild little light welled up in her brown eyes and her lips trembled. ‘You should shower, Harry.’ Her arm slipped to the waistband of his underwear.
He caught her fingers. ‘That bit I can manage myself, I promise.’
‘I am sorry.’ Eleña drew back her chest rising and falling and her cheeks flushed and pink. ‘Say my name if you need my help to get back to your room. I will hear.’ Her fingers curled into her hoodie. ‘I had better leave you. You do look tasty.’
Her words sung in his ears, melting into a soft hot little thrill in his veins. A small shudder swept through Harry and his gaze slipped to the soft curve of her mouth.
Eleña bit her lip and stepped back out, pulling the door shut.
Harry opened his eyes into a dim lit bedroom. White plaster stretched from the sliding door in the wall to the wardrobe built into the wall.
‘You are awake,’ Eleña murmured from over his shoulder.
The bed shifted.
His pulse quickened, little cold jolts of adrenaline rippling through him.
‘It is okay.’ She pressed a warm hand to his forehead. ‘You are safe. I moved us in the night to a different, nicer place. I do not like to thrall muggles for too long, it is not fair to ruin their lives and now I am keeping you with me, I wanted the place to be better.’
Harry rolled over beneath the thick white duvet. ‘Keeping me with you?’ His heart fluttered. ‘Eleña?’
Eleña lay atop the cream covers, her dark hair spilling out of the loose hood of her deep red hoodie and her bare feet sticking off the end of the bed. ‘I do not wish to hurt you. I was going to let you go. But Harry…’
‘Do you still have my wand?’ he asked.
‘It is in my sleeve,’ Eleña murmured. ‘I have not used it. Vampires do not do well with wands, our curse makes our magic unpredictable and powerful. The conduit is often destroyed.’
‘I quite like my wand.’
‘I will not harm it.’ She rolled over. ‘Or you.’
The laughing little gold sun hung from her left ear across her smooth cheek beneath a tumble of dark curls, giggling away. A wild, fierce glint of hunger shone in her brown eyes and hovered in the shadow of her dimples.
Harry swallowed. ‘How long has it been?’
‘Too long,’ Eleña murmured. ‘But it is not too hard to resist right now. I can smell you, imagine your warmth, your taste, but I do not need it.’
‘Yet.’ She shifted a little closer across the covers and pressed her warm fingers to his forehead. ‘Are you feeling well, Harry? Hungry?’
He flushed. ‘I am feeling better, but not all that hungry.’ Harry’s gaze slipped to the white teeth between her soft lips. ‘The idea of being hungry kind of has me on edge right now.’
‘Ah.’ Eleña tracked his gaze, brushing her fingers over her mouth. ‘I am sorry.’
‘It’s not really your fault. It must be hard when you’re new to it, right?’
‘I am not sure I could even describe it you,’ she whispered. ‘The craving is so strong. The desire, the thrill, the rush, it’s so good.’
Harry shivered. ‘Should we talk about it? Isn’t that going to make it worse for you?’
She hummed. ‘I do not want you to think worse of me than is fair, Harry.’ The wild little glimmer in her brown eyes softened. ‘I want you to understand.’
‘Okay.’ He turned onto his side. ‘Tell me then. Just… try not to get too bitey.’ Harry tore his gaze away from her lips as his heart squirmed.
Eleña flashed him an impish grin, a little colour rising in her cheeks. ‘It’s life we crave, Harry. In all and any form it may take. Blood and magic are life. Magical blood better sates the craving, feeding on it, drinking in all that life, making it mine…’ A little shiver swept through her and the pink dusting on her cheeks darkened. ‘It is… thrilling.’
Harry swallowed hard. ‘Thrilling. Right.’
‘Over time, the curse changes all vampires, their desire for life consumes them, but I’m still very young,’ she murmured. ‘I just want to… to feel it. Like—’ her lips trembled ‘—like wanting to be able to taste the sweetness of sugar on my tongue.’
‘So the person who owned the place we were at before…?’ he asked.
‘Is fine,’ Eleña said. ‘He was a muggle. I just asked nicely and he let me stay there. He was thralled, but muggle blood alone does not sate the need for long, even for a young vampire like me. It is too easy.’
‘Does he know anything about the magical world?’
‘No.’ She shook her head. ‘My magic is more subtle—’ the word sang on the tip of her tongue, tugging at Harry’s heartstrings. ‘See?’
‘Oh.’ Harry blinked. ‘You made me sleep.’
‘You needed to rest.’ Eleña cupped his cheek. ‘You had lost a lot of blood.’
His fingers crept to his neck.
‘Sorry,’ she whispered. ‘I tried not to, but I was so hungry.’
‘If I am missing too long it will be noticed,’ Harry said. ‘I am… fairly well known.’
‘So I cannot keep you.’ The gleam in her eyes darkened. ‘But I cannot let you go either, Harry. You could go right to the aurors…’
‘I can help you get registered,’ he said. ‘Under a different name, if need be. There are a lot of people in the Ministry who’d do me a favour if I ask. And then you’d be able to get blood, either from their centres or from consensual partners registered with the Ministry.’
Eleña shifted on the covers, her thumb drifting across his cheek to the corner of his mouth. ‘Partners,’ she murmured, the wild gleam in her brown eyes brightening and her breathing quickening.
A strange little shiver swept through Harry, a taut of excitement clenched in the pit of his stomach, tangling with the fluttering thrill of her lips on his skin.
‘I need to visit the bathroom,’ she said, squeezing her eyes shut and taking a long deep breath. ‘There is no way out of the apartment for you, Harry, but within it you may go where you please.’
That soft thrill traced through his veins. ‘I kind of want to ask about vampires.’ The words tumbled from his lips. ‘After?’
Eleña blushed, the tips of her ears turning pink. ‘Come with me. We can speak through the door while I’m in the bathroom.’ She slipped a bare leg over him and sat up, straddling his stomach with flushed cheeks and a wild, dark gleam in her brown eyes.
Harry breathed in the faint scent of oranges and her soft musk as she stared down at him, her lips parting with a soft sigh. Heat trickled south as his heart began to pound.
Good thing she’s above the duvet. Harry squirmed as her warm weight pressed down on his stomach. Is she going to…
Eleña’s hands came down either side of his head. ‘You look very tasty, Harry,’ she murmured, the tip of her tongue caressing the point of her left canine as it lengthened. ‘I…’ She took a gulp of air and clamped her eyes shut. ‘I need to go to the bathroom.’ Eleña swung herself off him and sprang from the bed onto the floor in a dark blur, sweeping from the room.
Harry slumped back into the pillow, his heart hammering against his ribs. The gleam in Eleña’s brown eyes and the soft warmth and weight of her atop him set the thrill fluttering through his veins, twisting the little prickle of fear at the flash of her fangs into a hitch of breath and a wordless stab of desire.
Don’t think about it. He threw the duvet back, wincing from the flood of cool air and scrambled from the bed.
A neat stack of his clothes rested on the floor beside the bed.
Harry dragged them on and drifted out. ‘Eleña?’
‘In here.’ Her muffled voice came through the white door opposite the bedroom. ‘Just… ask whatever you want to.’ Clothing rustled and dropped to the floor. ‘I want to hear your voice.’
‘What’s true? About vampires, I mean.’ Harry leant against the wall. ‘Is the stuff about garlic and holy water and crosses and sunlight all true?’
Her soft chuckle sent his heart fluttering. ‘Sunlight is true.’
‘It does… not kill… me.’ Eleña’s voice trembled, her words and breath catching in her mouth. ‘But it…’ A quiet gasp came through the door. ‘It burns…’
‘The sun is… a source—’ her breathing hitched ‘—of life… and we are… cursed to… feel no… satisfaction… from it.’ Eleña let out a low moan. ‘I cannot feel… its warm… it burns me. You have… more questions?’
‘Sorry.’ Harry chewed the inside of his cheek. ‘If you want to shower, I can ask later.’
Eleña’s heavy breathing filled the bathroom beyond the white door. ‘I am not showering, Harry…’
Then what… oh. Heat rushed to his cheeks and trickled south, pooling in his belly at the thought of her slim fingers slipping beneath her white skirt. Right.
‘Keep talking,’ she whispered. ‘I want to hear your voice.’
Harry gulped. ‘What about…’ He hunted for something to ask, clawing through the flashes of Eleña’s flushed cheeks and wild brown eyes. ‘What about the seduction thing? Can you do that?’
‘Yes.’ She laughed. ‘It is not easy. I struggled with you even when you were tired and ill, my magic is just a little nudge, it is not the Imperius Curse.’
‘Why? Is it the life thing?’
Eleña let out a soft little moan. ‘Oh yes.’
Harry’s face burnt. ‘How?’
‘Seduction is sex,’ she murmured right through the door, sending his heart hammering. ‘Sex is creating life.’
Something thudded against the door and the doorknob rattled.
‘Can you not…?’
‘No,’ Eleña moaned. ‘I cannot… create life… only… crave it.’ Soft hunger suffused her words, tugging at Harry’s heart and his hand drifted to the door.
‘Oh…’ Harry tried to swallow the swirling heat. ‘So it’s not just blood…’
‘No.’ Her ragged breathing against the door set his blood aflame. ‘No-oh.’ Eleña released a long, soft moan and the door shook.
Did she just…
The door swept open, stinging his fingers.
Eleña’s brown eyes burnt with need beneath mussed dark curls and the long, sharp curve of her canines gleamed behind her soft, pink lips. ‘I am hungry, Harry,’ she murmured, slipping a step toward him, her white t-shirt stretched tight across the swell of her chest and the shadow of her stiff nipples; its hem hovered around her bare thighs. ‘I looked after you—’ her words rang in his ears and sang in his blood, melting into the fluttering thrill like a swirl of dark chocolate into a warm pan ‘—it’s only fair you look after me too.’
Harry’s gaze strayed to the crumpled skirt and hoodie on the floor behind her. ‘You really need it?’
‘I do,’ Eleña whispered, taking another step toward him. ‘I want it so much.’
‘What happens if you don’t feed?’ His hands strayed to the warm curve of her waist, grazing her skin as they hovered over her hips. ‘Do you die?’
‘I sleep.’ She nuzzled his chest, her breath hot through his shirt. ‘An endless dream of life until something destroys me or I am fed blood. With nobody to look after me, it will be my end.’
‘If I say yes, you can’t drain me dry.’ Harry’s voice shook, his breath snagging on the swirl of butterflies in his belly as he wrapped his hands around her waist and drew her against him. ‘I don’t want to be all ill for days again.’
‘I will take care of you.’ Eleña’s lips grazed his collarbone, drifting up to the arch of his throat. ‘I promise.’ Her stiff nipples brushed against his chest and the smooth, hot points of her fangs pressed into his skin. ‘And you can take care of what I need.’
Harry’s heart pounded, his blood burning. ‘Do it,’ he whispered.
A sharp pain lanced through his neck, tearing a soft gasp from his lips. Warm wetness trickled down his skin, soaking across his chest and shoulder. Eleña let out a little moan, pressing herself into him until he stiffened against her stomach; the hot tip of her tongue slid up his throat, tracing burning lines over his skin.
‘Yes,’ she murmured into his jaw. ‘So good.’
Harry’s head span, fogging with a strange lightness, and dark spots swirled before his eyes. ‘Eleña,’ he muttered. ‘Eleña…’
‘It is okay.’ Her hot tongue pressed to the faint, stinging pain in his neck, easing its twinges as the soft dark rose up to swallow him. ‘I will look after you.’
Gentle warmth soaked into him, swelling into a soft orange glow against his eyelids. Harry blinked awake into the sunlight. A bright beam of it spilt in through the parted, heavy curtains.
‘You are awake.’ Eleña sat cross-legged in the shadows at the foot of the bed, watching him with gentle dark eyes. ‘How do you feel?’ She uncurled and slid up the bed to press the back of her hand to his forehead and cup his cheek. ‘You are warm. Do you feel tired? Weak? Can I do anything?’
Harry stretched. A faint fatigue lingered deep in his limbs. ‘A little.’
‘Only a little.’ Eleña swept her dark curls back over her shoulders and cocked her head, sending the laughing smiling gold suns swaying beneath her earlobes. ‘Good. I tried not to drink too much.’ A little heat rose in her brown eyes. ‘How was it? For you?’
The heat of her against him stirred his blood and quickened his heart. ‘It wasn’t so bad.’
She flashed him her dimpled, impish grin. ‘I can hear your heart beating faster, Harry.’
He flushed. ‘I might’ve enjoyed some parts of it.’
Eleña hummed, running her hands through his hair, the soft gleam in her eyes sending little flutters through Harry’s heart.
He admired her pale skin gleaming in the sun. ‘Does it hurt?’
‘Hurt?’ She held her fingers up into the sun. ‘Not quite. It burns, like when you lie on your arm for too long. It grows worse over time, though. I will not stay in it for too long if I do not have to.’
‘You can close the curtains,’ he said. ‘I don’t mind.’
Eleña threw a bare leg across his waist, leaning over him on her knees. ‘I will come and lie on this side,’ she murmured, rolling over him and wrapping her arms around him. ‘There.’
‘You’re big-spooning me.’ Harry smiled into the covers. ‘You’re a very sweet vampire, Eleña. I was expecting more evilness and biting.’
Her breath tickled the back of his neck, sending a pleasant little shiver down his spine. ‘I do not want to hurt anyone, it is just… hard to resist the need sometimes.’
‘How often do you… need?’ he asked.
If it’s not that often. Temptation fluttered in the pit of his stomach. It doesn’t hurt much. And this… this is very nice. A pleasant little shiver swept through him. She’s always looking after me.
‘Every other day,’ Eleña whispered, tracing her fingertips across his shoulder and down his arm. ‘My sire said that is best. I do not need loads to sate the craving, it is more the act of drinking in life than the amount I actually drink.’
‘But when you first…?’
‘If I leave it too long, the need becomes very strong.’ She wriggled under the covers, wrapping her arms around him and hooking her legs through his. ‘I could only think about taking all the life from you and – and just… soaking in it like a warm bath.’
A little shudder rippled through him.
‘I will not do that to you again,’ Eleña said. ‘I promise.’
‘I did feel pretty awful after.’ Harry’s heart began to pick up as she drew small circles over his stomach with her fingertips. ‘This morning probably makes up for it, though.’
Her breath washed warm against his neck. ‘You like this?’
‘I do.’ His cheeks turned hot and a little shiver whispered through him. ‘Quite a lot. It’s just… nice to have someone focused on me. Nobody ever really is, you know.’
‘I am very focused on you right now,’ Eleña murmured. ‘You smell good.’
‘Ginny never—’ A cold jolt of adrenaline tore through him. ‘What’s the day?’
‘Saturday,’ she said. ‘What is wrong, Harry?’
‘I promised I would meet Ginny tomorrow, in the morning.’ His stomach fluttered as her fingers traced soft shapes around his belly button. ‘To talk about our break. She knows I wouldn’t just not turn up…’
‘You want me to give you back your wand and let you go.’
‘I’ll come back,’ he promised.
‘Will you?’ Eleña’s whisper slipped into his ears, lingering like warm wine tingling on his tongue. ‘Truly?’
‘Yes.’ Harry swallowed hard. ‘I… don’t mind this. I can get you registered. And until then…’ He stole a deep breath, mustering his courage. ‘You could stay with me? At my home?’
‘You’d invite me in?’ Her smile brushed the back of his neck.
‘Is that a thing?’
Eleña’s laughter washed warm against his skin. ‘No.’
‘But yeah, if you wanted to…?’
‘I do.’ She slipped her hand under his t-shirt, resting the flat of her palm against his abdomen. ‘Life is not meant to be spent alone, to enjoy its heights it must be shared. All vampires crave company…’
‘But the curse?’
‘Company is never quite enough,’ Eleña murmured, her hand sliding down across his stomach until her fingertips brushed the hem of his underwear. ‘We always crave more. And more. And more...’
His breath caught, heat traced through his veins, coiling beneath her hand as he stiffened against the cotton boxers. ‘That doesn’t sound so bad…’
Eleña’s thumb slipped under the waistband and along its line, brushing against his tip.
Harry held his breath, his heart pounding, as she trailed one finger along his length and back up. Her hand slipped through the fly, the soft skin of her palm cool against his hot hardness as she drew him out.
‘I said I would look after you.’ Eleña’s fingers curled around his length and he twitched in her grasp. ‘I promise I will take care of you.’ Her slow strokes spurred the fire hotter, pulling it down into a tight hot knot in his belly. ‘You smell good.’
‘I do?’ His breath hitched as her hand quickened and little sparks of bliss rippled through him.
She hummed, nuzzling her face into his neck; her stiff nipples brushing his back. ‘Good enough to eat…’
‘Do you want to?’ Harry whispered, biting his lip as the knot coiled tighter; its heat fogged his thoughts as she stroked him faster and faster, coaxing his heart into hammering. ‘I don’t mind if you do.’
Eleña released a soft little sigh, her other hand slipping up to cup his cheek and bending his head back onto her shoulder. ‘Are you sure?’ Her lips brushed his neck. ‘I want to look after you too, Harry.’
‘I think so—’ a little hiss tore through his lips as her thumb drew light circles over his tip sending small shocks of pleasure washing through him‘—I’m finding it hard to focus right now, but it only hurt a little before.’
‘Are you close?’ Her warm mouth closed on his neck, two hard hot points pressing into his throat.
‘Very,’ he gasped as she tightened her grip and slowed her strokes, sliding her hand along his length from base to tip. ‘Eleña—’ he bit back a groan ‘—Eleña, I—’
‘Let go, Harry.’ Eleña’s soft Spanish accent sang in his ears, sending shivers down his spine and melting into the tight twist of fire in his belly. ‘Let go.’
Harry burst in a flash of bliss, spending his heat into her hand in ragged breaths and fierce spurts as her fangs bit through his skin with a sharp, sweet stab of pain, sending his head spinning into a dizzying whirl as she drank; her hot tongue lapped the warm trickles off his neck as her fingers teased his sensitive tip beneath the covers.
Her lips left his neck. ‘Did I take good care of you too?’ Eleña’s hand cupped his softening length, her fingers hot and sticky against his skin. ‘Was it good?’
He flushed. ‘Yes.’
‘Even with the bite?’ she murmured.
‘Yes.’ Harry’s cheeks burnt and his heart fluttered. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever…’ Crude words hung on his tongue, fading away in inadequacy. ‘Climaxed like that before.’
Ginny always wants me to do things for her and then cum as fast as I can.
‘Good,’ Eleña whispered, pressing her hot tongue against the stinging, twinging pain in his throat until it eased. ‘I promise I will keep taking good care of you.’ She pressed herself into his back, her fingers tracing light lines up and down his length. ‘The very best I can.’
Harry tilted his glass to and fro, watching the water rippled back and forth. She’s late. He glanced across the small café and the couples talking in low voices over their small tables at the clock. Very late now.
Half-familiar faces flicked to him in the corner of his, turning away when he looked back.
‘Boy-Who-Lived-Stood-Up-in-Café,’ Harry muttered. ‘Turn to page three for more juicy details. To read about the upcoming apocalypse and next election, turn to page four.’
He took another sip of water and studied the birds floating in the enchanted ceiling over his head. Really, Ginny. Over an hour? A little frown crept onto his face and little irritation flared in his chest. This whole thing was your idea.
‘Harry!’ A tall blonde drifted away from her two friends toward his table, a sparkle of mischief in her blue eyes. ‘You seem a bit more sober.’
‘I am.’ Harry frowned, clawing through the haze of the last few days to the three girls he’d met at Al Kuholik Alley. ‘How are you… doing?’
‘Daphne. Daphne Greengrass.’ She laughed and stole Ginny’s seat, crossing her knees. ‘But nice try.’
‘Sorry. Total blank for some reason.’
‘I think that reason was grenadine and something else,’ Daphne said, her blue eyes sweeping over him. ‘This isn’t a place many people come by themselves… want to come join the three of us?’
‘I’m waiting for Ginny, I’m afraid.’ A little heat crept to his cheeks. ‘But you probably heard enough about that before.’
She snickered. ‘You may have mentioned her once or twice.’ Daphne leant forward and pressed her lips to his cheek. ‘She’s just coming in now and she looks a bit upset that I’ve kissed you. After you’re done with her, you can still come join us…’
Harry snorted. ‘Thanks for that, then.’ He glanced at her friends. ‘I’ve got to nip into the Ministry after this, but—’ the words snagged on Eleña’s impish grin and little dimples ‘—maybe another time?’
‘Buy me a drink next time and I’ll give you a proper kiss.’ She winked and stood up, tugging the waist of her jeans up to cover a sliver of blue lace. ‘You remember my favourite drink, Harry?’
‘The one with all the chilli.’ Harry screwed up his face. ‘Dragon’s kiss?’
‘That’s the one.’ Daphne drifted back toward her friends with a little wave.
Ginny stomped over, her red hair flying. ‘Who was that?’
Harry spared the clock a long, pointed look.
She turned pink. ‘It’s not that long, I was caught up in stuff.’ She thudded into her seat. ‘And who was that, Harry?’
‘Daphne Greengrass.’ He cast a look after her and flushed as she winked back at him. ‘Met her in a bar a few days ago.’
‘You were in a bar. With her?’
‘And two of her friends,’ Harry said, smothering a smile at the flash of fire in Ginny’s brown eyes. ‘What’ve you been up to?’
She folded her arms on the table. ‘Just been doing my own thing, you know.’ Ginny chewed her lip. ‘You look good. I was kind of expecting you to be all broody and mopey.’
‘It’s been an interesting week.’
‘So I saw…’
Blood rushed to his face. ‘Well.’ Harry shrugged. ‘You wanted to take a break, so…’
‘Right. The break,’ she muttered. ‘I don’t really just want to go back to doing the same old things we were doing every day, Harry.’
A soft pang knifed through his ribs. ‘So you’d rather the break was a permanent thing.’ The little twist of pain faded into the memory of Eleña’s warm arms wrapped around him. ‘I think you’re right.’
Ginny blinked. ‘You… er… you do?’
‘Yeah. I do.’ He took a sip of water. ‘I never really felt like you were all that focused on me, Ginny. Just… on what you wanted us to do.’
‘Oh,’ she whispered. ‘I… huh… I kind of thought I’d have to explain to you loads.’
Harry shrugged. ‘Not really. I think you’re right.’ He caught Daphne’s eye over Ginny’s shoulder and smiled.
Ginny’s cheeks reddened as she stumbled out her chair and followed his line of sight. ‘Right. I have… things to do. So…’
‘Bye, Ginny.’ He stood up and wrapped her in a loose hug. ‘I’ll see you about.’
‘Yeah. See you about.’ Harry gave Daphne a wave and rolled his eyes as her friends burst into giggles. ‘I need to pop into the Ministry actually.’
Should I go back? He touched his fingertips to his neck. She could kill me? Or drive me mad doing this with her. Harry’s heart fluttered at the thought of Eleña’s soft lips and hot tongue on his throat. I said I would. He pictured Eleña’s bedroom and apparated.
She sprang off the bed into a low crouch, eyes narrowed and fists raised.
‘Only me,’ Harry said, holding his hands up. ‘I surrender.’
‘Harry.’ Eleña shot him her impish grin and relaxed, flopping back onto the bed, her skirt billowing up around her thighs. ‘You came back.’
‘I said I would.’ His heartbeat quickened as she stretched, arching her back with a low hum and stretching her dark red hoodie tight across her chest; a soft heat whispered through his veins, trickling south. ‘Ginny didn’t want a long conversation.’
‘Are the two of you together again?’ Eleña murmured.
‘No.’ Harry shook his head. ‘We’re done, I think.’
‘Ah…’ She reached down past the end of the bed and lifted up a glass bottle of red liquid. ‘I bought you a gift.’
‘It looks a lot like blood.’
Her soft chuckle sent a little shiver rippling through him. ‘It is grenadine, you said you liked it.’
‘Oh, I was drinking it at the bar, but that was actually the first time.’ Harry admired the bottle. ‘It was nice, though I don’t even know what it’s made from.’
Eleña stared into the red liquid with a soft gleam of hunger in her eyes. ‘Pomegranates,’ she whispered. ‘It is very sweet.’
‘Like you.’ Harry flushed. ‘I mean… no, it’s too late, I said it. You’re sweet. I think you’re sweet. You look after me and nobody ever really does that except Molly Weasley. Which is a terrible comparison. Oh why am I still talking?’ He clamped his mouth shut.
Eleña turned pink and tucked the bottle through the front pocket of her hoodie. ‘It felt… fair, that I give you something to drink.’
Harry chuckled. ‘Thank you, Eleña.’ He checked the small clock on the bedside table. ‘I was going to take you to the Ministry to register if you wanted?’
‘Well…’ Harry studied his hands. ‘I was mostly going to lie. About pretty much everything. A lot.’ He shot her grin. ‘So… you should pick a name.’
‘That you’re not worried about being recognised?’
‘Oh.’ He blinked. ‘That’s not your original name.’
‘No.’ She flashed him her dimples. ‘Or. Well. It is, but it is my middle name. I was Isabella before.’
‘Isabella…’ Harry drew the name out on the tip of his tongue, trying out the taste. ‘For some reason that name feels like it fits.’
She swept her dark curls over her shoulders and slid across the bed toward him. ‘I am Eleña now. I am used to you calling me Eleña. I like it.’
‘You’ll need a second name.’
‘Garcia is the most common muggle name in Spain.’
He screwed up his face. ‘You’re not common.’
‘It does not work?’ She cocked her head, little lines wrinkling her forehead as the laughing golden suns swung beneath her earlobes.
‘It does.’ Harry flushed and held out his hand. ‘I just… don’t think it fits you.’
‘Do I need more?’
‘You can make that up when we get there,’ he said, laughing. ‘We’ll tell them that I ran into you in London and brought you in to get registered. Muggle-turned-vampire. Spanish.’
Eleña nodded. ‘And then…?’ A little pink rose on her cheeks and the tips of her ears. ‘You will take me home?’
‘If you want?’
‘I want,’ she murmured, a wild little glimmer flashing in her brown eyes.
Harry swallowed. ‘Let’s get this out of the way, then.’ He held out his hand. ‘Ready?’
Eleña took his hand, slipping her slim fingers through his and holding tight. ‘Ready.’
He apparated them both into the Ministry atrium and strode toward the elevator. ‘Department of Internal Affairs…’ Harry jabbed the button for floor six. ‘Vampire registry and regulation.’
She pressed herself against his side, shrinking behind his shoulder as faces turned to stare from the hall of floo fireplaces. ‘Why are they all looking?’
‘You’re with me,’ Harry whispered as the lift door rumbled shut and they descended with a quiet whir. ‘And you’re very pretty, too, so they are probably making assumptions.’
Pink blossomed across her cheeks. ‘You do not mind being seen with me in public?’
He wrinkled his nose. ‘We’ll worry about that when we get to it. I’m sure someone will write or say something but usually you can just ignore it.’
The lift rumbled to a halt and dinged.
‘Here we go,’ Harry said. ‘Let me talk for a bit. Just in case I have to bat my eyelashes at someone.’
Eleña nodded, wrapping his hand in both of hers. ‘I know you will look after me.’
His heart fluttered. ‘Of course.’
Harry meandered his way through the offices and knocked on the engraved nameplate at the end of the hall. E Bathyree.
‘Come in,’ a soft voice called.
He twisted the handle and eased it open.
A young, green-eyed woman sat on the far side of a broad mahogany desk, twirling a red-feathered quill in her hands. ‘Harry Potter…’ She leant her head to one side, spilling her red curls over her shoulder. ‘How can I help you and your friend, Mr Potter?’
‘Eleña needs to register.’ He stepped in, leading her after him.
‘Call me Elizabeth,’ she replied, setting her quill down. ‘This is… irregular.’
‘I don’t know much about the process, I’m afraid.’ Harry offered her a rueful grin. ‘I bumped into her in London and thought I’d try and help her out before anything bad happened.’
Elizabeth dug through her drawers and pulled out a thick stack of papers bound by silver clasp. ‘It’s a lengthy process, registration. We require a full history and for some that can be… a lot of writing.’
‘Right.’ Harry chuckled. ‘Eleña is very young, fortunately, so hopefully we don’t have to spend long on that.’
‘I see…’ Elizabeth ripped the top two pages off and pushed the rest of the stack aside. ‘Let’s start with a name, my dear?’
‘Eleña Garcia,’ Eleña said, peeking out from beneath her dark red hoodie. ‘I am Spanish. Or I was. Before I was turned.’
Eleña shook her head. ‘I was in London and it was dark and…’
‘I see.’ The corner of Elizabeth’s mouth twitched. ‘I’ve done a lot of these in the last century or so, my dear. Would you like me to fill in the rest with something… conveniently plausible?’
Harry flushed. ‘Er…’ He exchanged a quick look with Eleña. ‘That’s probably a good idea.’
Elizabeth smiled. ‘I thought so. I still need your actual age.’
‘Twenty,’ Eleña murmured. ‘Or nearly one if you mean…’
‘No ties to Spain…? New or old?’
Eleña shook her head. ‘I have nobody.’
‘You need to register an address with us if you don’t want to be traced there,’ Elizabeth said. ‘Otherwise, the trace will monitor you at all times…’
‘Ah.’ Eleña threw Harry a soft look. ‘I do not have anywhere…’
He squeezed her hand. ‘The Meadow—’
‘I know your address, Mr Potter,’ Elizabeth replied, picking her quill up. ‘Eleña Garcia. Twenty and one.’ The nib scratched across the parchment. ‘If the address changes, just let us know and we will update the trace.’ She lifted a small red vial from her desk and gave it a shake. ‘This is the trace, Eleña. Drink it and you’re all registered. You may drink from anyone who consents in private. There are laws about public displays given our nature…’
Eleña dropped Harry’s hand and took the vial. ‘Does it do anything?’
‘It tingles.’ Elizabeth stacked the top two pages together. ‘But that’s it. You do have to come back every year to take it, or the enchantment wears off.’
‘Okay.’ Eleña pulled the stopper out and took a deep breath. ‘Vamos, Eleña,’ she whispered, swallowing it in one gulp and shuddering.
‘All done?’ Harry asked, chewing the inside of his cheek as Eleña squirmed.
‘All done,’ Elizabeth said. ‘The best of luck, Mr Potter…’
Harry flushed. ‘Thanks.’ He reached out his hand to Eleña. ‘Can we apparate from within here?’
Elizabeth nodded. ‘You can. Give Eleña a couple of moments, the enchantment of the trace can feel a little strange as it settles and apparating while that’s happening might be quite unpleasant.’
He held out his arm. ‘Whenever you’re ready, Eleña.’
She put the vial down on the edge of the desk and poked the stopper back in with one finger. ‘It is weird. I feel strange.’ Eleña took hold of his arm. ‘But we can go.’
Harry apparated them back into his hall. ‘It’s a bit… empty,’ he said, tugging off his shoes and dropping them by the door. ‘I got left it by someone who died after Voldemort was defeated.’
He blinked. ‘It doesn’t matter. Basically, I’ve not really decorated or done anything with it. Didn’t feel much like it. So… sorry?’
‘It is okay.’ Eleña glanced around at the pale blue walls and the hardwood floor. ‘I have stayed in worse.’
‘Do you have any stuff you want to get from anywhere?’
She shook her head, her dark curls swaying across her face. ‘I do not own anything.’ Eleña patted the bulging pocket of her hoodie. ‘Just this.’
Harry shrugged and put one foot on the stairs. ‘Well, I guess you can pick a room…?’
‘Okay.’ She bounded up the stair with an impish grin, peeking into the rooms. ‘Which one is you?’
Harry pointed at the end one. ‘That one. It’s closest to the bathroom, saves me getting cold in the morning.’
Eleña hummed, peering through the ajar door at the red duvet heaped on his bed. ‘I will be your neighbour.’ She pointed into the next room. ‘I do not mind much, really. I do not sleep.’
‘Not like I used to,’ she murmured. ‘No dreams. I just… lie there, half-aware, and time passes.’
‘Well, there’s a huge stack of crossword books downstairs if you want something to do at night.’ Harry laughed. ‘I’m not all that keen on them.’
Eleña’s soft chuckle left his heart fluttering. ‘Do you want?’ She pulled the bottle of grenadine out. ‘We could?’
‘I have no idea what we should drink it with,’ Harry admitted. ‘I think there’s some firewhiskey somewhere? Plus some other dusty bottles I’ve not looked too hard at.’ He squeezed past her and led her downstairs to the small kitchen, huffing dust off the bottles lining the side beneath the cupboards. ‘Whiskey first?’
She cocked her head. ‘We can try it.’
Harry grabbed two glasses from the cupboard above his head and poured a finger of whiskey into both. Eleña twisted the top off the grenadine and poured a splash into both.
‘Cheers,’ he said, handing her the glass.
She flashed her dimples at him as she clinked glasses and he took a sip.
Harry grimaced. ‘That is horrible.’
Eleña wrinkled her nose and poured it into the sink. ‘Try a different bottle?’
‘Anything would be better than that,’ he muttered, emptying his glass down the plughole. ‘What other bottles do I have?’
‘Vodka?’ She cocked her head from side to side, skipping back and forth along the line of bottles. ‘Tequila? I don’t think wine is a good idea.’
‘Do you like tequila?’ Harry asked.
‘Yes.’ Eleña grabbed the bottle and sloshed half a glass into each of theirs. ‘Oops…’ she grinned and topped it up with swirling red grenadine. ‘Might be strong.’
Harry took a sip, the sweet pomegranate flooded his tongue, fading into the sharp tang of tequila. ‘It’s not bad, I could probably find a proper recipe if I have to.’
She took a long drink and let out a soft sigh. ‘So… are there any rules?’
‘Rules?’ He stared into her rich brown eyes.
‘About staying here with you?’
‘Oh.’ Harry frowned. ‘Er… Not really? You’re not traced here, so just… be you?’ He stared down into the red liquid in his glass, swirling it in little circles as niggling sense of unease settled in the pit of his stomach. ‘And if you need to drink, you can bring people back here, just, like, give me some warning so I’m not in the way.’
Eleña hummed. ‘Are you okay?’
He plastered a smile across his face. ‘I’m fine.’
‘Will you tell me what you’re thinking?’ Her soft accent sang in his ears, shivering through him.
‘Will you want to bring others back to do what we’ve done?’ The words tumbled from his lips. Harry scowled, dropping into a chair. ‘You used your magic on me.’
Eleña slipped around the table, resting her hands on his shoulders. ‘Only a little. You lied to me. I have seen you smile. That is not your smile. You are not happy.’
He ignored the little shiver as her thumbs massaged his back. ‘You didn’t answer my question, Eleña.’
‘I crave,’ she murmured. ‘If I have to bring others back, I will. I cannot resist…’
‘What if you didn’t need others?’ Harry whispered. ‘I can look after you…’
Eleña’s breath caught; her hands stilled on his shoulders. ‘You want to look after me, Harry?’
‘Is that bad?’
‘No,’ she breathed, wrapping her arms around him. ‘No. I want you to look after me.’ Eleña’s grenadine-scented breath washed against his cheek. ‘And I like looking after you. Seeing you be so alive.’
A hot little flutter shivered through him and his heart quickened. ‘Whenever you… need, I’ll take care of you.’
‘And you don’t mind…?’ Her fingers slid under his t-shirt. ‘You’re warm. And you smell good.’ Eleña nestled her face into his neck, trailing her hands down his sides to his hips. ‘And your heart is going so fast.’
‘I’m happy looking after you.’ Harry swallowed as her fingertips reached the waist of his jeans. ‘As long as it’s only me looking after you.’
‘And only me looking after you,’ Eleña said. ‘No Ginny.’
‘It’s just you.’ Harry smiled. ‘You can check the other rooms if you want to make sure.’
Her laughter tickled the back of his neck. ‘No, I can only smell you—’ Eleña tugged open the button of his jeans, drawing light hot lines down his hardening length as his heart began to hammer and heat pooled in his belly‘—it’s just the two of us here.’
‘Just us.’ Harry bit his lip, taut excitement trembled in his tummy as her warm fingers dipped through the fly of his underwear and drew him out. ‘Are you—’
Eleña traced her thumb across his tip and his breath hitched. ‘You liked this,’ she murmured, giving him long, slow strokes. ‘Did you not?’
Little jolts of bliss shot through Harry. ‘Yes,’ his whisper turned husky as her lips grazed the side of his neck. ‘But I want to look after you, too, Eleña.’
She pulled the chair back and swung her leg over him, leaning back on the edge of the table; the hem of her skirt hung between her smooth tanned knees. Harry’s hands slipped to her bare legs, sliding up, pushing the soft white material past her thighs and cupping her butt. Her hand quickened on him, tearing a quiet gasp from his lips.
Harry’s eyes dropped to the blue and white striped cotton between her legs, curling his fingertips over their waistband and glancing up. A wild wanton gleam burnt in Eleña’s brown eyes and she lifted her hips. He pulled her underwear down, slipping them over her thighs to her knees.
‘Touch me,’ she whispered, taking his hand in hers and sliding it up the inside of her thigh.
Harry’s fingertips brushed the slick, wet heat between her legs. ‘Touch you here?’
Eleña’s breath caught, her eyes bright and wild above her flushed, pink cheeks, and she parted her knees. ‘Yes.’ Her voice trembled as he drew little circles across her with the edge of his thumb, sliding the forefinger of his other hand along her soft, wet warmth. ‘But more.’
He eased one finger into Eleña and she bit her lip, pushing her hips into his hand and quickening her pace on him, sending little flashes of rapture rippling through him. The heat coiled tight in the base of Harry’s stomach.
Eleña ran the tip of tongue over her teeth, arching her back as he slipped a second finger into her tight heat, her lips quivering. ‘Come—’ a soft gasp tore from her lips as he curled his fingers within her ‘—come closer.’ She clutched at his shoulder with her free hand, dragging the chair forward across the floor to crush her mouth against his lips, tangling her tongue with his as she clenched on his fingers with a soft moan, her legs shaking and jerking.
The sweet taste of grenadine lingered as Eleña’s mouth trailed across his jaw.
‘I want more…’ Her warm hand dropped from him and she pulled her hoodie off, tossing it off the table’s edge. ‘I want to taste. To drink.’ Eleña’s hand cupped his face, her fingertips trailing across his lips. ‘You look so alive.’
Harry slipped his fingers out of her. ‘You can drink if you want,’ he whispered, baring his neck to her and wrestling with the tight coil of fire blazing in his belly. ‘I was… really close though.’
Eleña pushed the chair back across the floor with one foot, wrapping her warm fingers around his length and giving him long slow strokes. ‘I want to look after you—’ she bit at her lip ‘—but I need…’ Eleña took his hand, slipping his fingers into her mouth and pressing her teeth down on his knuckles. ‘Urgh, no,’ she moaned, pulling them out. ‘I can taste me.’
Harry laughed. ‘It’s okay. If you need to bite, you can bite.’ Jolts of bliss tore through him, bubbling in his belly. ‘I won’t last very long now anyway.’
She dropped to her knees, pressing little kisses to his tip as her hand moved up and down him in a blur. ‘I want to see your life…’ Fierce hunger gleamed in Eleña’s brown eyes as she touched the tip of her tongue to him. ‘All the life you’re giving to me.’ Her hot mouth closed over him, her fingers falling away as her red lips slid down his length; Eleña’s hand drifted to between her thighs, her breath coming in warm gasps and moans against him.
‘Fuck,’ Harry swore as she took him to the hilt, twitching in her mouth as the fire clenched tight in his stomach and his head span. His hands dropped to her breasts, cupping them through her white t-shirt, her dark nipples stiff against his palms. ‘Eleña…’
She drew back, pulling her t-shirt over her head in one smooth motion and dropping it to the floor. ‘Let me have it,’ Eleña whispered as he stared at the swell of her breasts, her bare nipples brushing his knees as she leant forward. ‘I want to have it.’ The hunger burnt in her eyes, deep and dark and heavy with desire. ‘I need to taste it.’ Eleña’s warm lips slipped down him and a groan tore from his throat.
Rapturous heat swirled in his stomach as she bobbed her head, the hot tip of her tongue tracing lines up and down his length as she went faster and faster, her brown eyes ablaze with wild hunger.
‘Eleña…’ His breath hitched and he tangled his fingers in her dark curls. ‘Eleña…’
Eleña hummed, moving her mouth faster as he burst in a dizzying flash of swirling black spots and a whirling lightheadedness.
A warm weight slipped into his lap, slick and hot against his softening length and Eleña’s orange-scented soft musk filled his nose as she slid her arms around his neck.
Harry took a deep breath to still his pounding heart. ‘Do you want to…?’
Eleña nuzzled into his neck with an impish little grin and a flash of dimples, nipping at his skin with teeth. ‘I am sated,’ she murmured, breathing him in. ‘You already gave me your life to drink.’
He laughed and pulled her close, pressing a light kiss to her neck. ‘If I’d known it worked like that, I’d have tried to get myself attacked by a pretty vampire in an alleyway a lot sooner.’
Her soft chuckle tickled his skin. ‘It depends how I am feeling.’ She snuggled into his embrace. ‘But I will want more. Always more.’ A shadow of that fierce hot hunger flickered through her eyes. ‘Of your life. Of every sweet little detail and exquisite sensation.’
‘I’m a little light-headed after that and so I might not be thinking straight—’ Harry kissed her upturned lips ‘—but I think they’re all yours, Eleña. I’ve never felt so good with anyone before.’
An owl tapped its beak on the window, hunched against the stiff breeze buffeting the glass and ruffling its feathers.
Harry tugged the window open a fraction and pulled the letter from its talons. ‘Who’s writing to me?’ He frowned at the familiar handwriting on the envelope. ‘Ginny?’
Eleña’s soft steps padded down the stairs and she drifted into the kitchen, her white t-shirt fluttering around her thighs. ‘Ginny?’
‘You heard that from upstairs?’
She flashed him a dimpled grin. ‘My senses are very good, Harry.’
He ripped the letter open. ‘Well, let’s see what she says.’
Eleña circled the table to wrap her warm arms around him from behind, burying her face in the back of his neck. ‘You smell good.’
A pleasant little shiver swept through him as her embrace tightened. ‘Ginny wants to come over and talk.’ Harry frowned. ‘She sounds very… nervous? It’s not like her to ask…’
‘Are you going to say yes?’ Eleña asked, her fingers wandering along his collarbone.
‘I don’t think so,’ he replied. ‘I think she was just taken back I didn’t disagree and now she’s not sure what she wants. We’d just go back to the same old thing. Ginny will just get wrapped up in her own bubble again and I’ll miss…’
‘Me?’ Eleña murmured.
‘Yes,’ Harry mumbled. ‘You. And this.’
‘She can give you things I cannot,’ Eleña whispered. ‘She won’t need. She won’t want more. And one day—’ a soft hunger crept into her tone ‘—she can give you children.’
Harry chewed the inside of his cheek. ‘Is it really give? It’s not like she’s wrapping them up for Christmas and that’s it.’
Her soft chuckle set his heart fluttering. ‘You know what I mean, Harry. I will look after you, I promise. But I will want more and more and more. We will enjoy every sweet moment together, but…’
‘I probably would like to have children one day,’ Harry said. ‘Not right now, though. I feel too young. And I have a godson I should really visit, so it’s not like I can’t get my paternal fix there…’
‘You don’t like the idea of Ginny with your baby in her?’ Eleña’s words sung in his ears, soaking through his skin like warm summer sunshine and melting into a hot little pool at his heart. ‘Or me?‘
A fierce thrill fluttered in his stomach, balling into a swirl of trembling delicate wings.
Harry swallowed hard. ‘Are you… hungry?’
She hummed, her lips hot against the back of his neck. ‘Can you imagine it? The two of us creating life together. A little baby born from the two of us together…’
‘I can.’ He twisted around and found Eleña staring up at him, her brown eyes full of soft hungry shadows and cheeks flushed and pink beneath her dark curls. ‘But…’
One of her hands dropped from his back to rest against her flat stomach. ‘I cannot.’ The need in her eyes darkened. ‘But I want.’
Harry kissed her upturned lips. ‘Well, I have done the magically impossible before.’ He drew back, the sweet pomegranate taste of grenadine still lingering on her lips. ‘And it’s entirely possible I’m not thinking with my head right now, but what’s the harm in trying?’
Her breath caught. ‘You’ll try?’ Eleña slid close, her fingers trailing down his chest and along his arm to the letter. ‘With me?‘
Harry crumpled it up and tossed it over his shoulder. ‘I’m not trying with Ginny. All our kids would probably look like my mum. It’d be weird.’ He chuckled. ‘He says, kissing the vampire in his kitchen before she bites him.’
‘Now,’ Eleña breathed. ‘I want you to try now.’
His hands drifted to her hips, his eyes dipping to the curve of her stomach between them as heat pooled in his belly, trickling through his veins and turning each breath burning hot. ‘Now?’
‘Now.’ She turned him around and stepped back, rising onto her tiptoes as she slid back onto the table. ‘I need—’ Eleña’s soft Spanish accent drew the word out, caressing it with her tongue, leaving it lingering in his ears sweet and hot as her grenadine laced kisses ‘—and you promised to look after me.’
Harry let her pull him forward between her knees as she parted her thighs. ‘I did promise,’ he murmured between the fervent hungry kisses Eleña caught him with, running his hands along her legs and brushing her white skirt up around her waist.
The soft shadow of hunger in her deep brown eyes burst into blazing need. ‘Give it to me,’ she whispered, tugging his jeans open. ‘Give it all to me.’
Harry kissed her hard as she drew him out, tugging her blue and white striped underwear aside. ‘Do you know for certain it won’t work?’
Eleña’s breath caught as he eased into her, sinking into her tight heat as slow as he could manage. ‘No… nor for certain.’
‘Then maybe it will…’ He rolled his hips against her, tearing a little gasp from her lips as her underwear rubbed their skin. ‘Maybe today…’
Her red lips trembled. ‘More. More.’ Eleña caught her lip between her teeth and pushed herself forward all the way onto him.
Harry pulled back and eased himself deep again, drawing her lips back to his as her fingers curled into his back. She moaned against his mouth and he quickened his pace, thrusting deep, the liquid heat pooling in his stomach tightened, trembling, sending little jolts of bliss tearing through him.
‘I need,’ she whispered, her hands sliding into his hair and her legs wrapping about his waist. ‘I need. Please. Por favore.’ Eleña’s mouth left his, trailing kisses along his jaw as he moved in her, fighting the tight knot of swirling heat. ‘Are you close?’ Two warm hard little points dug into his neck. ‘Tell me when I can.’ The tip of her hot tongue traced little lines across his skin as her legs shook and her soft gasps tickled his throat. ‘Give it to me, Harry. Now. I need. I need. I cannot—’
A little flash of pain bit into his neck and he burst, his head spinning, caught between a dizzying whirl of ragged, breathless bliss and the soft burn in his throat, spurting in wild jerks as he spent himself in Eleña in a helpless flood of ecstasy, dark spots dancing before his eyes.
‘Fuck,’ he whispered as the kitchen drifted back into focus.
Eleña’s hot tongue traced the warm trickles up the side of his neck, her fingers digging deep into his back as she shook and trembled on him with low moans and quiet gasps.
‘That was…’ Harry hunted for words. ‘Was…’
‘More,’ she murmured in his ear, pressing tender kisses to his cheek. ‘I want. I need. More.‘ Her words tugged at him, singing in his blood, melting deep into his tummy and curling into little flames as he hardened in her. ‘Give me more, Harry.’ Eleña pulled her white t-shirt over her head and tossed it to the floor; she drew his hands to her bare breasts as her warm mouth returned to his neck with a sharp stab of pain. ‘Give me more. Por favor. I promise I will take care of you again after.’