you woke the lion up
23rd September 1997
He's barely into the forest, nose working efficiently in an attempt to pick up the scent of his prey, when the wave of absolute desperation and desolation hits him.
It almost cuts his legs out from under him, the sudden shock of such emotion, and Jasper has to catch himself on a nearby tree in order to avoid landing face first in the dirt. The moss covered bark cracks beneath his grip, a perfect imprint of his hand now immortalized within the trunk until nature wears it away.
He cringes slightly, but forcing himself to remain thankful that he has not uprooted the tree altogether. This forest has proven a rather fine hunting ground so far, and he has no desire to leave it anytime soon.
He inhales, long and slow, brain whirling to identify all the scents that register. Deer, fox, badger, and human.
Jasper freezes as the final one registers, not daring to breathe once again. The air does not burn his lungs with desire for release, nor does his body scream in fury at being locked in place so completely. It has been this way for as long as he can remember now, his days in the Confederate Army nothing more than a blurry vision in comparison to the crisp memories of his time as a vampire.
He can feel every single cell within his body all but vibrating with energy, ready to track down the human and feed, to ease the burning within the back of his throat.
But he refuses, he will not, not when he has been doing so well since he began this. Ever since he had last met up with Peter and Charlotte, ever since they told him of the coven in Alaska they had run into that fed solely from animals, he knew that was the lifestyle for him.
He had just underestimated how difficult it is.
As such, he has retreated to Europe, slowly making his way through the countries as he comes to grips with this more humane lifestyle. It has been three years since he began this diet, and it has been one hundred and seventy four days since his last slip up.
He will not allow that number to begin again at zero.
Jasper takes off in the opposite direction, following his nose and allowing it to lead him to the badger instead.
He has finished off his third deer, feeling uncomfortably full and with only the tiniest craving for human blood, when he finally feels comfortable approaching the source of the emotions.
Feet soundless upon the crisp autumn leaves, Jasper makes his way through the undergrowth, the vegetation parting before him. Already the animals are well away, no doubt able to sense his presence, no matter how he has taken the time to wash the fresh blood from his clothes in the nearby stream.
He is not quite following his nose, instead attempting to locate the swelling of emotion, allowing the strength of the current to pull him along towards the source. The despair is paramount, though a thick longing sits almost hidden within its depths, along with a pained bitterness and a sense of heady determination. All strong emotions, all enough to allow him to navigate the woods and know with certainty that he is going in the right direction.
Wind rustles through the autumn leaves, bringing down a wave of leaves in a variety of shades, from marigold to mahogany.
It leaves Jasper wondering how the English run their All Hallows Eve; perhaps it will be better than the festivities he say in Germany. The colours remind him of the United States though, and he recalls the fever that continuously grips his country during the month of October.
Halloween is always a great joy to witness, and there had been some years in which Jasper had ensured he was well fed the day before in order to walk around at night without fear. Many a time people had complemented him on his 'costume', marvelling on how red he had managed to make his eyes. They asked what cosmetics he wore, but the Texan brushed them off, proclaiming to not wish to divulge his secrets.
Yes, Halloween is certainly a pleasant holiday period, and it is soon to be upon him again.
Pausing in his tracks, Jasper kneels down, inspecting the leaves just before his feet, the leaves that border the very edge of the grove he now finds himself upon the outskirts of. They're disturbed, displaced from where they originally fell, exposing dry earth beneath them with damp soil resting beneath their forms. It had rained recently, within the past three or so hours, only just stopping before he left for his hunt.
Adjusting the straps of his backpack slightly, Jasper cocks his head to a side once again as he considers the distribution of leaves, the way they have shifted from their previous position.
It doesn't make any sense.
It is as if someone has taken a step into this patch of leaves, then turned on heel, returning the way they'd come. Only, there's no more evidence of a journey; in fact, come to think of it, it seems exceptionally hard to focus upon where he pictures the neck step would be.
Frowning, Jasper rubs forcibly at his eyes, quite unsure of himself. His brain and instincts are telling him there is more to this than what he sees, no matter how much his eyes protest it is a simple open and close case. That perhaps a bird just scattered the leaves. But no, it wouldn't do so like this.
Taking into consideration that his sixth sense is informing him the source of his well of despair should be right before him, should be well within the clearing, certainly it is not coming from further into the trees.
Something is wrong here.
Fingers working over the damp leaves that set the forest floor alive with colour, Jasper freezing in place when a heartbeat suddenly thunders into existence. Right above him.
His head snaps up, tawny eyes with only the slightest hint of red meeting brilliant green and the end of a wooden stick.
They stare for a moment, the lady taking him in, even as Jasper captures every detail of the negative emotions' source now that she has presented herself. Of course, he finishes his observations long before she does, though that does not mean he is any less thorough for it.
Hair a riot of curls in a sunset red, eyes summer green and skin a tanned peach. Salt lingers in the air from the tears that rappel down her cheeks, the aroma of her blood fresh and crisp as her heart pounds within the cavity of her ribcage. Features set in a fierce expression, the stick of holly wood held in her hands and regarded as her greatest weapon in this confrontation.
The sight of it has him recalling tales Maria once told him, back during his early days as a 'mature vampire', old enough, mature enough to no longer be classified as a newborn. She had spoken in quiet whispers of the 'witches and wizards', of beings of magic that, with enough preparation, could take down even the most cautious vampire. But caught by surprise, they were useless. He remembers Maria spoke of 'wards', traps they could set to neutralize as vampire.
As Jasper is quite sure he can move, he's rather certain this woman was not expecting him, nor is she out here to hunt vampires. A simple twitch of his finger confirms this.
Confusion zings through his bones though, because he recalls how Maria spoke of them, as if they were extinct. She had heard of them from her creator, who had heard of them from his creator, but there had been no evidence of the 'magicals' since the time of the witch-hunts. Not to the point Maria had felt threatened by the idea of them.
Still, she had passed the tales on to Jasper, and it is because of that he can identify just what the woman before him is.
He remains still, quite sure that he can outmanoeuvre her if necessary, but unwilling to test her reflexes, just in case. After all, he has little information of 'wizards and witches'.
"Wha- you're not a Death Eater," she says this slowly, eyes focused on his bare forearms, the tee-shirt exposing the pale skin and the lacework of bite marks that cover them.
Jasper forces himself to blink, slowly and as humanly as possible, the woman watching the motion and the tense muscles of her shoulders are slowly relaxing.
Wrong, she shouldn't let her guard down, that will get her killed. Just because his eyes do not burn red, it does not mean he isn't a threat. He has torn vampires apart, it would take him much less effort to end her, to drain her dry.
Jasper grimaces, pushing the thought away and forcing himself to focus.
"I'm quite unsure just what a 'Death Eater' is, Ma'am."
That startles her. The manners that is. Society is changing, in a constantly state of instability, and apparently one of things to be dying a swift death is chivalry. Perhaps soon only vampires will have the time to play polite, and then it could be officially classed as dead.
"You're- I mean- Right," she coughs, face flushing as he smiles up at her.
He knows what she thinks, remembers the first time he met Maria and saw her unnatural beauty, he knows that she's quite startled by the attractiveness of his smile. Coupled with his polite speech and she seems rather unsure how to react.
"Sorry, are you a vampire?"
At this he does pause, moving slowly to straighten up out of his crouch and suddenly aware of just how much of a height difference there is between the two of them. Perhaps nearly a foot in total, give or take an inch or two.
"I am, Ma'am."
"Right, the er- the eyes threw me off a bit."
Whatever her problems are, there's clearly bad enough for her to leap at such a potentially dangerous distraction and Jasper something that is close to concern bubbling up in his stomach.
"I began a 'vegetarian' diet, only drinking from animals, three years ago, and it reflects in my eyes," he explains, watching the woman relax even more, though the holly stick does not lower from where it points at his chest, "I haven't cheated in near two-hundred days and I would quite like to keep improving that record."
Lips twitch up in a sad smile, one hand coming up to tug at the heavy locket that rests just between her breasts.
"Ah, I'm Hariel Potter," she offers, holding out her free hand in greeting, teeth nervously chewing at her lower lip though quite conscious not to break skin.
Emotions swirl, it's not difficult to conclude that she's looking for a distraction. There's also a sharp relief that came just after she said her name, almost as if she'd expected him to recognise it, but it rings no bells within his mind.
"It's a pleasure. Jasper Whitlock, Ma'am."
He presses a kiss to the back of her knuckles, refusing to inhale once again until the comely blush has vacated her face.
"What brings a vampire to the woods then?"
"Lunch brought me, Ma'am, you have my word that I am quite full with animal blood right now," Jasper drawls, and finally she relaxes completely, lowering her 'wand' but not before giving it a gentle wave, the holly tip circling in the air.
In that second everything becomes clear.
The sole patch of leaves that had been disturbed becomes a trail, leading up to a cosy little tent that is pitched central within the clearing.
That is all Jasper needs to begin believing in magic.
"And yourself? How did you end up in this forest, Ma'am?"
He can feel her longing for company, can feel the slight hope that he will not just turn around and leave She does not wish to be alone, yet she is. Where are her parents? The laws of the land have long since changed, she still looks young enough to not warrant being out on her own.
"I was camping, with my best friends. But they got tired of it."
"They left you? On your own?"
It's clear she's struggling for the right words to properly explain the situation, but Jasper already feels quite uncomfortable knowing that she is out here alone. Knowing that he isn't the only vampire in the world, and that she is quite lucky to have come across him, instead of another who would not be unwilling to take advantage of the situation.
And her emotions; she's so very unstable, it reminds him of the suicidal men he had once tried feeding on, back before he had switched to criminals. She's desperate and lonely enough to willingly invite what she knows is a vampire into her previously protected quarters, and if that does not showcase exactly what is wrong with this situation, then nothing else will.
"I am quite uncomfortable with the thought of you being out here on your own, Ma'am. Do you not have somewhere safer?" He trails off as bitter humour surges from her, and Jasper has to allow his own worry and concern to begin radiating from him in order to batter it back.
"I'm on the run, this is the safest place," she must see something in his eyes, for certainly he is not humane enough yet to be able to freely express his emotions upon his face, "there's a killer after me."
And if that doesn't raise all of his hackles, than Jasper is not sure quite what will.
"Just give me a name, Ma'am."
She laughs, absurdity tinting the sound, as if she does not believe he can do such a thing.
"You can't have been in the magical world for a while, Mr Whitlock. Come sit down and let me tell you a story."
24th September 1997
Standing guard over Hariel Lily Potter's temporary camp site as she sleeps is no hardship.
His mind is already spinning with all that he has learnt within the past twelve hours.
It is perhaps silly, to feel such a connection to the woman as he does right now, yet Miss Potter is quite like him in one surface of her life. They had both wishes to fight, to defend their people and would proudly do so. But they have also been singled out, given no other choice but to fight or face death.
For him, he freely chose to fight with the Confederate Army, Maria's Coven forcing him to continue a fight he had not signed up for and instead keep pushing forwards in order to continue living.
Miss Potter, she would always stand against the man who killed her parents, but even if she did not wish to the choice would have been taken from her, given that so many are pushing for her to end this madman she is famed for 'vanquishing' as a baby.
The monumental pressure she is under, clearly now without any aid; Jasper cannot find it in his heart to walk away, nor would he even if he could scrap such a desire up. Leaving Miss Potter on her lonesome is not something he could have resting on his conscious as he continues on with his life.
When Miss Potter breaches her tent flaps, Jasper acknowledges this by climbing to his feet, offering her a pleasant smile as she startles at his presence.
"Have you really been out here all night?" She asks, disbelief lacing her tone even as something warm curls from her form.
"Yes, Ma'am, I did not feel comfortable knowing you were alone and in a vulnerable state."
"I'd have invited you in, if I'd known you were going to stay, Whitlock."
Jasper smiles ever so slightly, allowing Miss Potter to close the distance between them. Not that he would have accepted such a thing; that tent is perhaps a two man sleeper, to have fit both Miss Potter and two of her friends- well, they must be very close friends indeed.
She stops before him and Jasper tries to recall just how long it has been since he has been so close to a pair of eyes that do not burn crimson. They are a fascinating opposite, vivid viridian without even a dash of hazel freckles within. Jasper is quite sure he has never seen eyes that shade before.
"Are-" she cuts herself off, frowning something fierce and looking away into the forest. She hasn't seen anything though, Jasper would have heard someone approaching, would have smelt their scent, would have felt their emotions.
No, she is just looking away because she's somewhat embarrassed by what she wishes to ask him. He makes a note of the little human mannerism; if he is going to become a successful vegetarian vampire, he will need to exhibit such human behaviour when he feels in control enough to walk among a crowd.
"What are you planning on doing now?" Miss Potter finally asks, and though she clearly isn't as comfortable as she'd like to be, as makes a concise effort to meet his gaze. And for that she has to be given points.
"I'm afraid I do not feel comfortable leaving you alone right now, Ma'am. There is obviously a fair amount of danger within these woods." He is of course referring to himself, and by her smile, Miss Potter realises that.
"Well I won't say no to the company. But you have to go inside the tent too."
Jasper does not point out that his kind do not sleep, instead offering her an agreeable nod of his head because it seems this is one of those things that Miss Potter will not be budged on. He recalls enough of his ways and manners to know one does not ignore a request from a lady.
When he actually walks into the tent, he soon finds out the reason behind her odd request.
Magic is certainly a very incredible thing, Jasper thinks, slowly making his way over to the couch in order to seat himself upon it.
There are a handful of other single plush chairs, in varying shades of creamy pink and soft greens, matching up with the patchwork rug they rest upon. Three stairs at the very back of the impossibly large tent lead to a basic dining table within the centre, the right hand room acting as a master bedroom and with a bathroom on the left. Given the slashes of comforting cloth that hang from a multitude of surfaces, the little picture frames that have the occupants waving back out at him, the whole tent is far more homely than it has the right to be.
The sound of the tent flap behind him draws his attention and Jasper turns on heel before he can take a seat.
Miss Potter stands there, a little amused smile on her face and wand tapping against her leg.
"Welcome to my safe-house," she drily says, gesturing to the tent as a whole before making her way over to the quasi living-room. It smells unfortunately of cats, but it is a background scent, overtaken by Miss Potter's own delightful aroma, along with what he assumes belongs to her two friends. Before they left a hunted woman alone.
Jasper waits until the redhead takes a seat before sitting down himself, removing his backpack and placing it upon the ground by his booted feet.
Dressed in a simple pair of worn jeans and an equally well-used red jumper, his new companion looks to be any other teen out camping.
Certainly not someone dangerous, certainly not someone who deserves to be hunted down like an animal.
It is in this moment the Jasper knows his new lifestyle is for the best; hunting down humans for a source of food would bring him uncomfortably close to the devil of a man that hunts the young woman before him. That he can acknowledge that proves just how far he has come.
"Why did you stay?"
He can hear what she will not voice, the question of why he feels the need to remain. She assumes it is not what he has already stated.
"I was raised to protect women, Ma'am. You have a killer after you, and if there's anything I am good at, I am afraid that is fighting."
"If you stay with me, they won't hesitate to try killing you."
It is a repeat of what he already knows, and while a part of him wishes to regurgitate his previous answer, he just cannot do so. There is humour in this situation, but it is not something he wishes to sprout. Not when Miss Potter is so very serious about this.
The ever so slow wizards will not be able to catch him, but they are most certainly a threat to her.
"When I was human, I joined the army to make a difference. Since my turning, I have been without that ability. If remaining means I can save some lives, I would be honoured to aid you until you have other options."
"Well, as I'm short on friends right now, I'll need all the help I can get. Though please don't stick around out of duty if you find something else to do."
She scratches lightly at the back of her neck, a small smile blooming onto her lips as she looks away.
It is in a somewhat awkward atmosphere that he finds himself, Miss Potter steadily preparing her lunch from a rather unappetising can of food.
He lets the slight tension remain, quite unwilling to begin influencing it with his gift. Leaving the caution to permit the air seems necessary when he considers it, though should it become any heavier he will smooth it down.
"So why are you in England, Mr American Vampire?" Miss Potter asks, sitting herself down and throwing him a package of sorts.
Jasper snatches it from the air in a flash of vampiric speed, taking note of Miss Potter's blatant flinch at the sudden movement. Her eyes barely manage to track it, but that in itself is a surprise, to be able to notice the movement instead of the end product.
Reading the label of the packaging, Jasper raising an eyebrow, flicking his eyes back up to look at the redhead across from him. She's sipping at the spoonful of soup, steam curling up from the bowl that rests upon the coffee table.
"I ordered a lot of chocolate before this, and it was cheaper to get the package deal than just by the bars on their own, so I ended up with a lot of those," she gestures to the packet of 'blood-pops' Jasper holds in his hand, "I guess you'll enjoy them more than me, Whitlock."
Opening the packaging, he finds several lollipops, and were it not for the distinctive aroma, he'd believe them all strawberry. But resting one upon his tongue, the familiar sizzle of predator's blood flavours his mouth. Certainly they are not enough to live off of, but to momentarily settle the burning in his throat, they work fantastically.
"Thank you, Ma'am."
It is not just his thirst they soothe though, Miss Potter seems far more comfortable eating before him while he is also sating his own needs.
The silence is far more amiable now, accompanied by the sound of the redhead sipping at her spoon and the near silent clatter whenever he rolls the stick in his mouth and sends the lolly clattering against his teeth. The vampire venom is making quick work of it, but far slower than it would burn through anything else; clearly these have been created with vampiric traits in mind.
"I came to Europe in hopes a fresh environment would allow for an easier transition to the 'vegetarian diet'."
Miss Potter cracks a grin at that, placing her spoon down within the empty bowl. She cradled her chin within one hand, elbow resting upon her knee to better support her head as her free hand drums a muffled beat upon the denim that covers her thigh. Her stare is blatant, though not as weighty as it could be. Curious even.
He wonders what she sees when she looks upon him, well aware that the generic vampire beauty has not skipped him in the least. No, he's more curious on if she can see the crescents that decorate the vast majority of his skin, spiralling in a thick netting across his forearms and around his neck.
"Why try the vegetarian diet if humans are easier and more satisfying?" She finally asks, and there's no judgement in her eyes, just curiosity, a wonderment over why he is attempting such a thing.
"Some vampires, as I assume you are aware, Ma'am, wake from their turning with a gift. I am an empath, I can feel the emotions of all those around me, as well as influence them. Feeding from humans, I can feel their fear and despair."
"It was too much," she finishes, face soft and he can feel her sadness as she says it. Her hands reach to the heavy locket she sports around her neck, fingers stroking over the snake shaped crest. Her eyes are half-lidded, dark bruising resting beneath in a clear indicator to sleepless nights.
While no sound passes from the innards of the tent to the outside world, Jasper can tell her slumber is restless from the condition the bedsheets have been left in, all twisted and shoved to the very bottom of the mattress. The military training that still persists in his bones has his fingers twitching, the urge to straighten them into pristine neatness rising.
"I'd rather you get to know me, before you throw your lot in with me."
"That sounds fine, Ma'am."
"Well, we need to move the tent to a different location first. So I suppose this'll be your first lesson on magical travel, Whitlock."
Apperation is a terribly unpleasant experience, no matter how incredibly efficient. Just because he is a vampire, it does not remove him from the squeezing sensation, of pressure applied on every inch of his skin.
Regardless, he still lands perfectly fine on his feet and with enough sense about him to capture Miss Potter's arm before she can go stumbling to the floor.
It is only a gentle hold on her elbow, but she flinches regardless, clearly unused to physical contact. What is the term that has recently been penned? Ah, post traumatic stress disorder, is it? No, that's being too presumptuous.
In the very least, it is a bout of healthily instilled paranoia.
"Thanks," she murmurs quietly, inspecting the open moors she has brought them to.
Jasper offers her a dip of his head, ensuring her footing is solid before he releases the careful hold he has upon her arm.
The moors are quite a sight, even with the sun hiding behind a thick layer of cloud, a tentative promise of storms in the near future. In the wind, the long grass moves like near-cresting waves, splashing up against the rocks that protrude occasionally across the landscape. Sheep move lazily along the land, though they make a very conscious effort to not approach in his direction, their semi-panicked bleats echoing across the open plain.
"If you want to begin creating your protections, then I can set up the tent?"
"Yeah, that'd be great, Whitlock."
Miss Potter offers him a tried smile, but she nevertheless gets to work.
The tent is up in mere seconds, thanks to vampiric speed, leaving Jasper ample time to sit back and watch as the witch performs her magic. Every swipe of the wand, Jasper is treated to a dazzling show of magic, watching the energy sprout from the tip and bloom into existence. Each whispering shimmer creates a dome around the tent, extending perhaps fifteen feet out from each corner of the canvas. The magic comes in a variety of colours, the only bridging factor appearing to be that they all come with an overlaying pearly sheen, not quite glittering but certainly emitting some form of gentle glow.
He doesn't even realize he's staring until Miss Potter raises a brow, having stored her wand away somewhere and pulled her riot of wild curls up into an exceptionally messy bun.
"Last chance to back out," she warns, and it is not a playful tease. She is in fact quite serious, worried even for what should happen to him were he to remain.
How very strange.
He has admitted to being a monster genetically programmed to feed upon her, to drain her body completely of blood, and yet she wishes for his company.
Oh, she will not actively seek it, no, but she hopes. Unwilling to push her presence upon him, just silently praying that he will chose to remain; she needs him but will not even dare to ask him to stay.
The complete opposite of Maria.
He cannot possibly say no.
"It'll take a lot more than that to get rid of me, Ma'am."
And she smiles.
How long has it been, Jasper thinks, since a woman smiled at him like that? Perhaps not ever during his time as a vampire. Charlotte tries, but she is still caught up over the fact Jasper would have had no problems severing her head from her shoulders. It is all in the past now, but the fact still remains.
Maria, Maria never smiled pleasantly at him. Oh, she might have smiled, it is after all a gesture used to express an ease with someone's presence, but it was never to express such happiness. Possessiveness over how effective he was? Yes. Something sultry and territorial? That too.
But never just because he had chosen to grace her with his presence.
Not like how Miss Hariel Potter looks at him now, as if he is not a vampire war veteran, not as if he is the key to all her ambitions, but as if he is simply the company she oh so desperately needs.
"Thanks, Whitlock. Now come on, I like to know a little more about a friend than just their name."
3rd October 1997
"Seven of Hearts."
Jasper flicks his eyes up to look at Potter, who smiles toothily back, daring him to call out her bluff.
It has been near two weeks since they met, two weeks since Jasper decided to stick beside Hariel Potter to ensure her safety. Just until she is no longer on her own. Now though, now he stays because he has found a friend.
"Liar," Jasper says slowly, lips forming the word carefully, though with the way her eyes light up he instantly knows he's made a mistake.
Indeed when the card is flipped over atop the pile, it exposes seven red hearts, all neatly aligned and with a begrudging smile Jasper accepts the pile into his hand.
"I believe it's my question?"
"Ask away, Darlin'."
Getting to know one another had been awkward, right up until Potter had stumbled across the idea of a card game. Now, for every time one of them trips up during their plays, the other gets to ask a question. And since, things have been flowing much more smoothly.
"Boxers or briefs?"
At that Jasper does bark out a laugh, genuinely surprised and amused.
"I'm joking. How old were you when you were turned?"
Potter nods, lips twitching up in a smile of her own before she places another of her cards upon the table, the three of diamonds face up.
Gathering up the vast array of fours he now holds in his exceptionally larger hand of cards, Jasper flicks all four of them down, fully informing the woman that he has presented four fours. She does not disagree with him.
Her own hand is face down upon the desk, fingers more occupied with peeling the orange she has been rolling back and forth for the past ten minutes. The citrus scent is somewhat nauseating, but he imagines it smells far better to his current company. The flesh splits beneath her short fingernails, sticky juice spilling out over the plam of her hand and Potter scowls in irritation. She still plucks up the ruined segment and presses it past her lips, sucking it into her mouth with only the slightest flash of pink tongue to follow it. After all in her current situation, she can afford no waste.
It is in fact something of a treat to have oranges at all; Jasper had skilfully moved through the muggle world to purchase her some supplies, but his funds are not infinite.
As such, Potter has taken to summoning animals to the campsite for him. While it ruins the thrill of the chase, it does mean that she can keep the carcass when he is done with it, that she can have the meat to live off of.
"Eight of spades."
"No chance, I've got all the eights," Jasper admits, watching Potter roll her eyes as she drags the small pile across the tabletop towards her, barely missing the slight puddle of orange juice as she does so.
As the redhead goes about reordering her hand, Jasper carefully considers what his next question will be.
He has already learnt her age -seventeen- when her birthday is -31st July- and an assortment of other mismatched facts. She favours treacle tart, her favourite colour is green -for her mother's eyes- she likes to sing but her skill at formal dancing is almost nonexistent.
"Why do you keep fighting this Dark Lord? Why not just run away, as it seems this country has done very little for you before?"
Potter's face goes curiously blank. She taps one segment of orange against the flesh of her bottom lip, deliberating.
Given he has all the time in the world, Jasper is more than content to sit and wait while her brain whirls, carefully wording her answer.
"Because I had the potential to become him," Potter finally says at last, "and if I don't want to become like that, the surest way is to oppose him."
It is only when she finishes speaking that Potter pops the orange segment into her mouth, chewing quietly as Jasper accepts the answer and places another card atop the table.
The cycle continues.
5th October 1997
They quickly learn there is some form of enchantment upon the enemy's name, for not long after Potter first voices it, agents of the enemy fraction arrive.
It is also the first time that Jasper kills in front of his new companion, all but one of their would be assailants falling by his hands. Certainly they are nothing compared to the newborns he has faced. They are unprepared for his assault, without the talent to save themselves from such a shock.
It's easy, easy enough that Jasper can take into consideration his desire to not tempt himself, and thus while they all die from broken necks, their fallen bodies spill no blood.
They need to get information from someone though, which is why he leaves one alive. Albeit, Jasper does take the time to crush the bones in his hands, ensuring that there will be no wand waving from this wizard.
The man they capture is scrawny, hair matted to his forehead with now absent sweat, the perspiration having dried up in the face of his fear. Eyes, bloodshot and a watery grey, flicker back and forth between Potter and Jasper, as if trying to decide which of them is better to begin pleading to.
Jasper knocks him unconscious with one controlled blow.
Two hours and sixteen apperation jumps across the country later, they have a new base set up on the western coast of England, secure a place as they can mange for an interrogation.
Potter's eyes are framed by dark smudges, a visual representation of the constant shuffle of sheets, the constant creak of bedsprings he can always hear from inside the tent at night. He refuses to remain inside out of respect for the lady's privacy, instead spending his time reading outside with the moon to light his pages. One of the many qualities of vampiric sight means reading beneath the moonlight is no strain at all. The tired but firm set of her mouth is indication enough that Potter will not remain out of this though.
Jasper drops the man into one of the wooden chairs pulled from the dining room of the tent, a quick wave of Potter's wand securing the man in bounds that would take supernatural strength to break.
There is a question in Potter's eyes, but it isn't until the words are voiced that Jasper realises it is not for their unconscious enemy, but instead for him.
"Does animal blood make you weaker?"
Jasper does not even get a chance to reply, it must show in his face, for Potter nods to herself and then retreats off to the bathroom.
It is only a minute later that she returns, a silver flask clasped in her hand but the lid nowhere near right enough to disguise the delightful aroma that wafts off of it.
"Where did you get that?" Jasper asks and his voice is hoarse, the back of his throat far too dry for this. Had he been this thirsty before they were attacked?
"I've been storing my own blood; I go right back to normal after a blood replenisher so I've been taking a litre or so a day. Just in case we end up somewhere where you can't hunt. But if this is easier for you..." She trails off, delicately shrugging her shoulder and red curls tumble with the motion.
Ever since that first day, Potter has been wearing a scent disgusting charm, completely erasing temptation every time Jasper inhales. Alongside that, her heartbeat is hidden and all there is to possibly draw his attention is the visuals. As long as he does not look too closely upon her, his companion does not even register as prey.
That stands, thankful, when he drains the flask dry, quite unable to help himself. But this does not cost human life, this is blood freely given with a regard to military advantages that Jasper can appreciate. He is stronger with human blood flowing through his system, and Potter has taken that into consideration. If he is to remain by her side, then she sees to it he is in top condition while doing so.
There has to be something about magical blood too, Jasper hasn't felt anywhere close to this strong since he was a newborn. The taste is refined, a richness that has him satisfied instantly and when he finishes off that last drop it becomes apparent he's not in desperate need for more. Pleasantly full even.
When his eyes meet Potter's a startled gasp escapes her lips, flicking her gaze to the right and away from him. Something like fear zings through her for a moment, followed by embarrassment.
There's also a flattering amount of attraction.
Even though she's human, Jasper can admit she is rather pleasing on the eye herself.
"I didn't realise your eyes would go red so fast," she whispers, tone soft even as she turns on heel to inspect their prisoner.
"Is that a problem, Ma'am?"
A stretch of quiet, and then, "No. Not really, Whitlock."
Whatever else they could have possibly said, before Jasper can continue the thread of conversation, is halted as their unconscious friend finally awakens.
He takes one look between them, one look at Potter's face, which has become steadily more and more world-weary over the days he's spent with her, and one look at Jasper's. The red eyes seem to register first and the coward decides he fancies his chances with Potter over him. He must remember just how easily Jasper had gone about dispatching his colleagues.
Perhaps he also believes that just because she is a woman, that Potter is weak. Jasper has not made that assumption again, not since Maria.
Potter's dainty hand slaps him hard around the face, the sharp crack ringing through the tent. Jasper catches her wrist as the man whimpers in pain.
"Easy there, Darlin'. We need his jaw to work for information."
The man whimpers but Jasper pays him no attention, instead catching Potter's eyes. She holds his gaze for a moment, face still showcasing her anger, temper still short.
Every day he is here her temper seems to grow shorter and for the first time, Jasper reaches out with his gift and begins to sooth her rough edges.
Instantly he knows something is wrong, can feel a secondary influence that is twisting Potter's frustration, taking the rather understandable annoyance and twisting it into something darker, something far more malicious.
Instead of gently calming his companion down, Jasper finds himself doing battle for the right to influence Potter's emotions. It is only because of his own gift that he can locate the source, and in an instant he rips the clunky locket from her neck.
Potter barely has time to cry out in surprise before he has plucked her up and dashed to the master bedroom, where their prisoner will not overhear them.
"This necklace is influencing your emotions," he plainly states; the evidence is obvious to him. He who can see how Potter's eyes suddenly look so much brighter now, how the almost defeated curve of her shoulders has started to straighten out.
"It's not do-" she cuts off, red brows furrowing and lips moulding into a stern pout as she thinks.
Jasper waits, well aware of how emotional manipulation needs to be pointed out. After all, very few ever realise that is just what he is doing, and even those few have only ever clicked on if he was being particularly heavy handed with his gift.
"Vampire venom," Potter suddenly breaths and there's a look of excitement that has never quite been there before, a surge of powerful positive emotion that he has yet to otherwise witness on her face.
"Yes, Remus said vampire venom can destroy almost anything, is that true?"
When Jasper gives a low almost questioning nod of his head, Potter beams, snatching up the necklace and brandishing it before his face.
"You might be able to destroy the Horcrux in this!"
In the face of a cracked locket, Jasper finds himself with a far more optimistic Potter now more than ready to tag team with him against their captured foe.
They find out there is a form of enchantment on the enemy's name, for only those who rebel against him dare to use that term of address, that when spoken aloud will bring the enemy's forces upon them. As a tactic it's certainly effective, that much Jasper can appreciate. So for now, Potter has taken to calling her foe 'Riddle'.
Part of Jasper wishes to take advantage of the obvious flaw in the enemy's enchantment; to have Potter keep using the name and then allow Jasper to dispatch whomever responds to the call. It would certainly be an effective manner with which to whittle down the opposing forces. But he can already tell that Potter does not yet have the stomach for it. He'll suggest it later on, when the hardships of war have set in a bit more.
Though Potter has mind enough to silence their prisoner once they have squeezed him for all the information she can manage. A spell to erase every last memory of a person is a dangerous thing indeed, though Potter hesitates only a moment before using it.
Sitting within the tent, Jasper having just returned from a run to drop the mindless 'Death Eater' off some fifty miles away, the two of them sit and stare at the ruined locket.
"Well," Potter breathes, burning determination in her eyes, "onto the next one."
31st October 1997
They have had very little luck on the Horcrux front.
Jasper is still not entirely sure just what they are, only that they are important to the enemy and thus must be destroyed. He attempts to think logically on where he would hide something of supreme importance, but given Potter's description of 'Riddle', that's not exactly useful when trying to recreate the enemy's thought process. Jasper is not mad, nor has he ever been, and thus struggles to even find a place to begin.
Halloween is upon them now, and the two of them are in disguise, taking a night off. An attempt to come back at the problem with a clear head in the morning.
Potter has dressed herself as the stereotypical witch, pointed hat, flowing robe and cauldron in hand. The only thing that spoils her outfit is the face she wears, it remains too pretty to truly be considered 'witchy'.
Presenting himself as 'Count Dracula', Jasper has seen little change other than his current clothing, though he has bothered to smooth out his honeyed curls into a more severe slicked-back style. Potter had laughed when she first saw him, so this night has brought joy to both of them so far. Halloween reminds him of home, perhaps in a handful of years he will be confident enough in himself to return.
In the mirror his eyes glow, a reflection of the human blood he has ingested. Potter remains insistent on donating her own blood to him, on making sure he is in the best condition possible.
It is, nice. Having someone who cares like that. Unselfishly, that is.
Maria only wanted him around for how well he could keep the newborns under control, and Charlotte only put up with his presence during their travels because he is the strongest fighter out of the three of them. Oh, there might be genuine affection between them now, although not quite the friendship he shares with Peter. But that is only from spending so much time together.
"Ready to go?" Potter asks, adjusting the tilt of her hat, one raised eyebrow almost hidden beneath the dark brim. Her green eyes run over his form, assessing what she sees, before reaching out with red stained fingers. The scent is strange and when he searches for it, Jasper spots the red food dye bottle on the kitchen worktop. She's painting a trail of red around the corners of his mouth, following the slight curves of his jaw to do so.
Jasper remains unnaturally still, well aware that this is the most intimate contact he has ever had since Maria. Potter's fingers, while rougher than a vampire's, are warm as they mark up his face, her own features a mask of concentration.
She flicks her fingers once or twice at his neck, the red droplets splashing up against the column of skin messily.
"Blood done," she muses, a little smile on her lips.
They are still standing close together, enough that Jasper could wrap his forearm around Potter's shoulders without having to step forwards. It's easy to see the veins beneath Potter's skin, especially with the thin layering that covers her eyes. Each individual eyelash, some clumped together with water from her recent shower.
Without the distraction of her blood, Jasper notes she still smells reasonably pleasant, that she smells warm. It's nice.
"We should probably head out," Potter whispers, tone quiet, as if she too does not wish to interrupt this moment.
She's been studying him too, her emotions in some form of overhaul, settling like still water. He cannot quite read the depths of them, not without serious effort that he actually doesn't want to make right now. Her breath is hot against him, even through the fabric of his shirt.
"Allow me, Darlin'."
Drawing a handkerchief from his pocket, Jasper very carefully takes Potter's hands, making sure to project his movements, wiping the red stain free of her fingers.
Potter's silent as he does so, eyes contemplative even as she nervously shuffles from foot to foot.
"Right. Outside," she murmurs in something of a daze.
One of her hands catches his, stubborn red dye still crusted around the nail of her forefinger, skin so startlingly warm against his.
9th November 1997
"I want to go see my parents."
Looking up from his book -children's tales for wizards and witches- at the admittance, Jasper raises an eyebrow in question as Potter sinks slightly more into her chair.
"No one's ever taken me to their grave, and I don't know if I'll get a chance otherwise," she quietly explains and well, how can Jasper do anything other than accompany her now?
Looking down upon the page he has just finished reading, Jasper runs his fingers over the inked symbol that rests in the margins, wondering why Potter would deface the book with such an odd symbol.
Godric's Hallow turns out the be a cosy little hamlet that Potter informs him to be occupied by both the magical and the muggle. It is a quaint place, the kind that Jasper expects to be seven shades of charming were it covered in snow, a place that belongs on the face of Christmas cards.
Potter stands beside him, a knitted hat jammed onto her head, the vast majority of red curls stuffed beneath the dark green fabric. With cheeks turning rosy in the face of the new winter wind, she looks incredibly appealing. Her eyes, such a bright green that they capture his attention constantly, swivel around the area, taking in the sight of her parents resting place.
The thought grounds Jasper, reminds him that this isn't just another moment where Potter is walking along, attempting to understand her enemy, attempting to unravel his secrets. This is a precious moment for his companion, the first time she will be granted the ability to visit the grave of her parents. Maybe even the last time, should she be unable to prevail in the face of her would-be murderer.
Running a hand through his half-curls, Jasper takes a step closer to Potter and offers her his arm. She stares for a moment, hands pale from where they peek out beneath coat sleeves. Regardless, after that sole moment of hesitation, fingers wrap themselves around the crook of his elbow, grip light and hesitant.
It is not yet cold enough for human eyes to witness it, but Jasper's advanced eyesight catches the way her breath visibly rolls in the air, little clouds that form with every exhale.
Lips ever so slightly pursed, Potter is silent as she walks beside him, the crunch of their boots upon the hard earth their only companion.
The graveyard is not hard to find, and Jasper pushes open the heavy iron-wrought gate with ease. The church is as quaint as the village it sits within, though he wonders if it were the church or the famous wizard for which the hamlet is named after that came first.
The concept of Christ and Christendom seems false given the certainty of magic, of witches and wizards that they had once sought to burn at the stake. Perhaps it is sacrilege for them to be here, for a witch and a vampire to tread upon what could be considered holy ground. But regardless, the bodies of two magicals rest here, the very two they are here to see. So it cannot be completely blasphemy, surely?
Potter stops before a grave, her trembling so very evident to his senses, her hold upon his arm tightening with tremors echoing through the contact.
His eyes, almost glowing red from the blood he consumed the previous evening, scan across the simple tombstone, absorbing the major details. James and Lily Potter. Both had departed from this world on the 31st of October, 1981, leaving Hariel Potter as their only heir.
'The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death'. An odd quote indeed.
"Can I have a few minutes?" Potter asks, eyes never once leaving the slab of stone before them.
"Of course, Darlin'. I'll remain on guard." 'So you can let yours down' goes unsaid, but Potter nods her head in gratitude anyway.
Slowly sliding his arm free, Jasper's fingers brush against Potter's for a moment, catching on the scar that rests upon her knuckles, tracing the words for a fraction of a second.
Something fierce lights up in Jasper's gut.
"I won't be long." It sounds like a promise, a reassurance even though Jasper tries his best to not take it as such.
With Peter and Charlotte, it always seemed as if he were intruding upon them, as if they allowed him to travel alongside them out of misplaced obligation. Is it so wrong of him to wish for a companion of his own?
And Potter, she doesn't seem averse to his companion. It is a different thing though, to travel with someone under set circumstances, as opposed to giving up your life to accompany another. Hariel Potter has a world, and Jasper has only become a small part of it. True he seems prominent right now, a central point.
But he has no promises that it will remain so.
Potter is not a vampire, she is human, a magical one at that. Change is guaranteed for her kind, unlike he, who remains still and perpetual. Perhaps though, he can hope that Potter will keep him in some respects. Even just having another amiable companion to touch base with once in a while would be nice.
Even if Potter continues to grow, continues to age, she is open to the idea of friendship with him, that much is clear.
"Hi Mum, Dad."
Jasper tries not to listen, but upon a day when few people in this little village see the need to go outside, and with his vampiric senses, there is no way to avoid it.
He can block some words out, focus on the rustling of branches a few streets over as pigeons hop about between the bracken, but he cannot help but to tune in when his name is mentioned.
"-I think you'd like Whitlock, Mum. He's nice, for a vampire. I know I probably gave Dad a heavenly coronary when you saw I was in the company of a vampire. But, he's been good to me. Wouldn't leave me alone and vulnerable. A real gentleman. I'm pretty sure Padfoot's foaming at the mouth up there. But he's looking after me. I'll see this through to the end. And then- I don't know. Maybe I'll travel for a bit. Find a nice guy. Not like the toe-rag you settled for, Mum." She laughs, humour evident in the voice thick with unshed tears.
In little more than a whisper, Potter murmurs, "I'll try to come back again when this is all over."
Focusing upon the gravestone he has stopped before, Jasper does his very best to pretend he was not listening in.
Only to find himself staring at the very symbol that he had seen not an hour ago, upon the pages of a children's book.
11th November 1997
What a strange name for a bank. But if Jasper were to hide anything of value, it would certainly be in a place that claims to be impossible to rob. Given that no successful heist of the bank has ever happened, it seems a safe bet for a potential 'Horcrux location'.
Potter seems to think so too, given the way she is all but vibrating in excitement.
Finally, after a month of constant changes in location, after three run ins with the 'Snatchers' whom work for the enemy fraction, they appear to be getting somewhere. Jasper has killed more humans these past few weeks than he did at all the previous year. But, that was to feed upon, this is war, fighting an oppressing force that will kill an untold amount should they succeed.
This is the kind of thing Jasper can stand for, that he finds himself proud to stand against.
Even if it appears to be just he and Hariel Potter against the world right now.
"We will have to research," Jasper states, manner controlled as Potter bounces to her feet and makes her way to the fridge.
The silver flask that is as good as his now sails through the air, Jasper snatching it up a mere moment later. The scent is familiar, the taste like ambrosia upon his tongue. Now that he has tasted magical blood, Jasper is almost fearful at the idea of having to resort to animal blood when this is all over. Only, a part of him is not sure if it ever will be.
For all the time he has spent with Potter so far, she has made no conversation as to her plans when this is all over.
Looking upon the girl now, Jasper takes a moment to just observe. Not her appearance, which he has by now committed to memory.
Instead, he focuses on her demeanour.
So very comfortable with his presence, Potter has no problem sliding back onto the sofa they share. After a moment of hesitant, her hips twist, so that her back rests agains the arm and her feet rest mere inches from his thigh, legs half-drawn up.
It does not take him much thought to take a careful hold of her ankles, guiding her feet into his lap, so that her legs stretch out across the sofa. His fingers slowly dig into her soles, skin smelling of vanilla soap from her recent bath. Her form is tense at first, slowly relaxing into his movements though, a flash of confusion across her face.
"Whitlock?" Uncertainty crests over Potter's features and Jasper stills his fingers, allowing his cold hands to rest atop his lap as his companion waits for him to speak.
"What are you going to do after the war, Darlin'?"
"I don't know," and he has his answer, given in such an insecure, anxious voice.
Legs draw back and instead Potter shuffles forwards, though it takes a moment for Jasper to realise she is seeking physical comfort from him.
Tentatively, he loops an arm around Potter's back as she settles beside him, threading his fingers through her's when they come seeking whatever strength he is willing to share.
"I want to get away, to not be the Girl-Who-Lived. To just be Harry." Like a secret, a wish willed upon a star and never spoken aloud for fear of the promise breaking.
And all Jasper can recall is how he had ran from Mexico the second he knew freedom was out there. How he had never looked back, despite the discomfort of it being not quite right. Because it had been entirely wrong in Mexico.
Perhaps it isn't perfect, what he has going now. But it is a step in the right direction, it is better than where he was before. Right here, right now, that kind of assurance, that kind of promise is what Potter is looking for.
"It might not be much of a way of like, Darlin', but I'd be happy to have a companion if you want to travel and find yourself."
Desperately hopeful eyes find his, seem to fin the reassurance they are looking for, because thin arms wrap around his waist and squeeze, a head burying in the crook of his shoulder.
"I'd like that, to get away when it's all done with."
It is only just that he manages to bite his tongue, to prevent himself from saying he would like the company too.
Because he will not pressure the vulnerable lady in his arms.
They take five minutes to gather themselves, to gather their messy emotions, and then with Potter's cloak of invisibility, they head for the bank.
Life has been busy, and I haven't had much time to really sit at my computer and just write recently. I live in hope things will settle down into a pattern soon enough though.
This is to be a twoshot, the vast majority of this chapter was wrote on an iPod during car journeys and lunch breaks, so please be kind?