Inter Sol Solis et Luna
Chapter Six: Enter the Slayer
No matter how dire the times, no matter that the whole world of magic and wizardry had caught in an endless loop of despondency, no matter that they were all actually waiting for impending doom led by the tyranny of the Dark Lord, Hogwarts was still an isle amongst the merciless waves of adversity that continued to crash down upon their society. Despite what one would have thought, Hogwarts was once again the house of almost two hundred students for the better part of a year. A little less than last one, but it was remarkable that most of them had returned, especially after the security breach before summer. Then again, Hogwarts had been confirmed to be even more safe than the ministry as of lately. Though still going about its usual routine –school, quiddich, exams- Hogwarts had gained a second function, that of a fortress to guard the new generation of young wizards and witches.
The impressive forms of aurors where found patrolling every floor, and guarding each entrance were another. That was the most the ministry could spare. The magical wards had been multiplied by three in strength –no insect would even be lucky enough to come through undetected. The fortifications stretched its powerful walls all the way to Hogsmeade, even if visits this year were improbable.
Draco Malfoy found himself leaning heavily on a fist, elbow balanced on the table, staring into nothingness. Next to him was Blaise, on his other side Pansy, each of them consuming their dinner in relative silence. The atmosphere was sullen, and more than one student was crying softly. Relatives lost, friends murdered, homes burned down, or just plain scared. Terrified because somewhere out there he was waiting, and because this year there was one presence absent from the Welcome Feast. A presence that, while being the center of spite and ridicule more than once, had always meant there was still hope.
The Chosen One.
The Child of the Prophecy.
Bloody friggin' Harry Potter.
Draco snorted softly; if they only knew, the poor bastards. His eyes traveled the distance to the staff table; Headmaster Dumbledore was helping himself to great spoonfuls jelly. The old wizard had not said much as of yet, waiting until after the feast to give his proper speech. Probably to let ruddy Potter make a Grand Entrance.
Merlin, Draco was pissed.
He had to wait for the bloody old fool to give his speech, announce something he'd been aware of all summer and act surprised. Which was torture because he couldn't even complain to his friends, let alone verbally abuse the sodding Gryffindor.
The Order of the Phoenix had come up with a whole cover-up story to explain the fact that Potter was still there. They'd even gone as far as give him his magical signature again –fake, of course, because dead people couldn't be tracked. It was a combination of the very faintly lingering magical residue on personal items of Potter, including his Firebolt, his wand, spectacles and even his owl, Hedwig. If some nosy wizard or witch on the ministry was suspicious enough to try and decode the new signature, the Order was going to have to do a lot of explaining.
But, of course, Draco was not supposed to know that, or at least act like he didn't. Draco thought that the Order was taking a big risk counting on the fact that nobody besides them (and the Malfoys) knew of what had happened on the twenty-fourth of June, nor his very close and personal involvement in the matter. That was relying heavily on the fact that there were supposedly no Death Eater spies amongst the students, or teachers for that matter. Aurors had examined each and every one of them, even going through their personal belongings: to great embarrassment of many. No dark marks had been found – bar Severus Snape, but students had not witnessed that of course, nor any dark artifacts or any other kind of suspicious dark activity.
Still, the risk was great, and the stakes delicate. Especially considering that there were students like Blaise Zabini and Pansy Parkinson who were not likely to be fooled easily. Draco wondered how long it would take before the kneazle was out of the bag. Though he very much wanted the proverbial dung to hit the fan and cover Potter in it, he prayed that for once he would 'stay out of trouble', however unlikely. Because this time, if the dung were to hit the fan, Draco would be sharing the spray. Not only that, but his father would be receiving the biggest splatter.
If it came out that there was a magical creature, more powerful than the average wizard, of the species of lamia and able to walk in daylight… Draco didn't know what then, and he did not want to find out.
"I do hope that's a new teacher of ours," said Pansy, causing Draco to snap out of his train of doom scenarios, "He sure is a looker." She was holding up a spoon between her thumb and index finger, squinting at her distorted reflection and patting at her bob of hair, turning her head this way and that.
"I reckon he's our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher," Blaise responded to that, slicing off a neat morsel of his apple pie with his fork.
Draco looked in the directing Pansy kept throwing sideway glances; they were sitting at the very start of the table, close to where the staff sat. There, lounging next to Severus Snape was a tall, black-haired man. He was broad-shouldered, swathed in a long, dark cape and with piercing eyes that were of indeterminable color, and –Draco found- suffered from a dangerous-level of Lockhart-ness.
He had seen the man before and was informed that he was, indeed their new DADA-teacher. What Draco did know for very sure was that the only reason the man was here was because Mad-eye Moody had insisted on the 'appropriate measurements should Potter get out of hand'. Because Le Cavaliér was a renowned Slayer. A Vampire Slayer.
The pompous man was, evidentially, not aware that Potter was one. He was merely under the impression that he was such a venerated persona in the wizarding society, that he was granting the poor students a great honor.
"So, indulge me, Draco darling, how was your vacation? I hardly heard anything from you." Pansy asked airily, putting her spoon down and looking at her blonde friend enquiringly, "Or should I think you were trying to avoid me?"
"How typically female, of you, Pansy," Draco said smugly, and added with a girlish falsetto, "Why didn't you write me, or visit me, are you ignoring me? You better not be ignoring me because I so totally owled you one day and-"
Pansy cuffed him against the back of his head, sending blonde locks disarray, "I was just being concerned, or is that against Slytherin law?"
Looking up thoughtfully from his plate, Blaise mused, "I should think it is, Pansy. I guess that's minus one on the Slytherin-scale. Again. First the muggle movies, now mushy emotions…" he tsk-ed, shaking his head remorsefully.
Draco nodded, face gone morbidly serious, "The Hat should have sorted you into Hufflepuff, you disgrace us all."
Pansy bristled, face going stony. Never insult a Slytherin of Hufflepuff-ish tendencies. It was like poking a dozing dragon with a stick –very dangerous and very stupid.
"Aw, Panse," the Seeker sniggered, before she could explode on him, throwing an arm around her and giving her a sound kiss on the cheek, "You know I love you, despite your deep, dark secret."
"You'd better," she simpered with a brow that was furrowed in annoyance, contradicting the smile that tugged at the corner of her mouth, "If I'm going down I'm taking you two with me."
"Hear, hear!" Blaise said, and the three of them raised their glasses of pumpkin juice and toasted on that. Just as they connected with a clear clink, Dumbledore rose up, and simultaneous with the smooth movement the already subdued talk died away entirely.
"Welcome back again, for another year of magical education!" his voice boomed into the silence, spreading his arms widely.
"There we go again." Blaise muttered under his breath, "I wonder how long he's going to harp about Potter this time," he raised an eyebrow, somehow managing to convey curiosity and boredom at the same time.
Draco kept his face carefully neutral as he gave a shrug.
"There isn't much to say now that the Chosen One has bitten the dust," Pansy commented absently.
Draco took a great gulp from his pumpkin juice, as if trying to drown that memory that Potter bit the dust while saving his life.
"…Our caretaker, Mr. Filch lets us know that there are several penalties on any joke item purchased at Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, and that any such objects will be confiscated upon detection.
Traditionally, Quiddich trails are due the second week of our academic year, and those who wish to partake should give in their names to their Heads of House.
Then, I am very pleased to tell you that bravely taking the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts is Mr. Cavaliér. We welcome him as the newest member of our staff."
"Cavaliér?" Draco heard a fourth-year Ravenclaw gasp.
The name ran as a shiver through the student body, as people wondered whether it was the Cavaliér.
"Cavaliér…" Blaise echoed, brushing a knuckle against his full lips, "Isn't he a Slayer?"
"He's got an award for Special Services to the Ministry of Magic." Theodore Nott supplied in his ever monotone voice.
Dumbledore coughed into his fist, trying to regain the attention, which had temporarily evaporated in a whir whispered conversation.
Le Cavaliér had rose like a great dark shadow, doing his best to look enigmatic and dangerously attractive, while at the same time trying to look modest. And somehow he managed to pull it off, too, if the adoration that beamed out of the eyes of most young witches was anything to go by.
Blaise shot Draco a wry look, giving a barely perceptible jerk of his chin at Pansy, who was sporting a fawning look on her face as she gazed up at him.
The Slytherin rolled his slate-gray eyes and the two of them grinned knowingly at one other. This was going to be the Lockhart-crush all over again.
When their new DADA professor seated himself after an acknowledging bow of his head, artfully letting his dark hair shield his right eye in a mysterious fashion, the chattering started to scatter and after a few seconds silence hovered like a tangible something in the Hall again.
The stillness transformed into a nervous one, as the look on Dumbledore's face had gone uncharacteristically serious.
Here it comes, Draco thought, and for some reason his heart seemed to have re-arranged itself near his throat.
"Last time we sat together like this, a horrible knowledge was being mourned. On the twenty-fourth of June, Harry Potter disappeared. We wept by his empty coffin. Lord Voldemort seemed to have finally succeeded in what he had failed to do for five times previously –ensure that Harry Potter posed no more threat to him. His followers have doubled in numbers, and we feel his shadow looming over us. Many of you have lost someone this summer; many more have had to leave their homes."
He paused, and his blue eyes swept over the students. Pale faces stared up at him in shocked apprehension. The silence was absolute.
"That is why," Dumbledore continued, and even in his voice there seemed to be a catch, "Over the duration of the summer, a team of aurors and the Order of the Phoenix have gone great lengths to try and put a stop to the madness. With great joy-"
Suddenly there were several shocked intakes of breath and more than one student grabbed for support.
A door behind the staff table had opened soundless, an auror with bright pink hair stepped quietly into the Great Hall, followed by a much taller, lean frame.
"-that we have located a hide-out of Voldemort and that Harry Potter, was, in fact, still alive and a had been prisoner-" The rest of his sentence was simply drained away as the whole Great Hall erupted into staggering sounds of gasps and small wails, harsh, disbelieving whispers and cries of wonder.
In front of them all, standing not quite in the center and looking very much reluctant to be there was Harry Potter.
Draco found that he had no trouble with looking as though he was shocked, for some reason, despite being there the whole time, he found himself grabbing at the edge of the table as some nameless feeling surged almost violently to the surface.
Pansy had both her hands clapped over her mouth, and her dark eyes were wide. Blaise had a hand on Draco's shoulder and was clutching it so tightly that there would be a bruise in the morning. Draco did not register any of it. His eyes seemed to be glued to the Gryffindor standing there, his breath knocked from his body.
It seemed that the whole of the young people and a more than half off the staff had lost all ability of speech.
"Uhm," Harry started to mumble softly, but it was as of he had physically slapped every single one of them in the face.
"Hi." He concluded sheepishly and glanced up through his dark fringe.
Draco let out a shallow gasp, because when those eyes swept upward, unearthly fire was burning within. As the son of a DayWalker, Draco knew what to look for and to him it seemed as if the iris glowed with inner light that came right from the core of Harry Potter's being. It was four times the intensity he could deduct in his father's, and at that moment, Draco realized that he had every right to be scared.
"Harry?" a soft gasp escaped a delicate cherub mouth. Cho was standing ram-rod straight, her dark Asian eyes frozen. Her bottom lip quivered. Then, as if guided by a gust of wind she broke into a run that brought her straight to the Gryffindor. And all but flung her body in his arms.
With that, the whole mass of students seemed to rise as one and move forwards. Draco watched as the young man was nearly drowned by a press of youngsters in all states, laughing, crying, everything.
"SILENCE!" Dumbledore's voice thundered. "Everybody return to your seats at once. NOW!" the last was uttered with the sharpness of a whiplash.
Hesitatingly, the fellow-peers receded, flowing back to their respective place, all the while their eyes fastened on Harry. Cho had to be led away, and even then she kept reaching for him.
The Gryffindor had a look on his face like deer caught in the headlights of a muggle car. His face had gone pale, his lips redder, eyes brighter. Inhumanly bright.
Only Draco noticed and was droning in his head 'don't go all vampire, don't go all vampire, don't go-'.
"It is a great honor that I can tell you that Mr. Potter has once again come through at incredible odds. During his time in captivity he was submitted to all kinds of horrible acts that will leave both a physical and emotional mark. I implore you, please, to give Mr. Potter the time and space he needs. I know that all of you are very eager to greet him, but his ordeal while in Voldemort's clutches was a terrible one. They all but definitively erased his presence on the earth, locking him away with dark magic so powerful even is magical life-force was undetectable. Had it not been for the effort of a remarkable Auror, Mr. Walker, we might have never retraced Mr. Potter."
The ancient wizard halted, and looked gravely at his students, "So I ask of you to conduct yourself with the utmost respect this young man deserves and grant him the peace he badly needs in order to secure his complete recovery. Miss. Granger, Mr. and Miss Weasley were already informed of this and I ask of you to leave it to them to look after Mr. Potter." There was such authority in his voice that most students spontaneously nodded hastily.
Harry, looking somewhat unfocused, was inching his way towards the Gryffindor table, and Dumbledore let him go. Every pair of eyes in the Hall followed his every move faultlessly. Hermione and Ron stood as one, letting him sit between them. Several other Gryffindors opened their mouth to fire questions, but Ginny's glare was such a heated one that they relented, instead choosing to continue to stare avidly at the savior-of-the-wizarding-world that was unexpectedly restored to them.
"Furthermore I would like to draw your attention to the fact that certain security measurements might restrict you in-"
Draco lost interest as his mind caught at the mentioned Auror which had been said to rescue Potter's life. He did hope the bloody man had his act together, because he was soon going to have to deal with not only very persistent students, but the whole media.
He had zoned away in introspection that he nearly leaped out of his skin when Pansy shook his shoulder, "The first years, Draco…"
Oh, right. The two miserable scarecrows as newest addition to the house of Slytherin. Draco arched a brow, "Surely you can handle the both of them, Pansy, I'm quite sure the poor sods are in too great a state of shock to try and ambush you."
With that said Draco pushed himself to his feet and slid through the throng of people. Most were not really moving anywhere in the near future, there was too much of recent excitement that needed serious gossiping and speculating about. He was through the magnificent arc of the doors before anybody had noticed, and moving down a hallway that was not exactly leading to the dungeons with sure feet.
He needed to get out of here.
Of course, there had to be a point when he was alone with his housemates and could just not say anything. This moment came the very first evening already, when Ron was in the bathroom and Harry had rather not be left behind in his dorm with the other, but if he started following Ron along even when his friends going to take a piss, it might leave a wrong impression.
He wasn't really jittery because he was afraid of them, but more afraid of looking at them and seeing possible blood-donors. Somehow, it wasn't as bad around Ron, Hermione or even Ginny, though all of them had a grand magical capacity. He wanted to be close by them, but it seemed that his friendship with them ran so deep that even his feeding instinct could flood it. There were moments when he though of blood and veins and other things he didn't want to relate to his friends, but he could suppress them.
A tense silence dominated the common room, and though they all tried not to stare at each other, it wasn't really working. Harry didn't know what to say, and he tried to change into his nightclothes as fast as possible with his back turned towards them.
He froze, clutching his sweater against him to hide the odd little knobbed ridges on his lower abdomen. Talk about bad timing. When he turned around, Neville was peering at him owlishly from under light brown hair.
"If there is anything I can do for you, just tell me. I-"
Dean interrupted "We."
Smiling, Neville gave a nod, "We're your friends."
Harry found that he'd been holding his breath, "Thanks. I'm just…"
"Don't worry about it, mate." Seamus said, "It's just so you know."
Harry nodded again, "Thanks." He repeated and the smile came easy to his face.
"That's so sweet." Said Ron from the doorway, grinning.
Having tugged his nightshirt over his head in a flash, Harry threw in one fluid motion a pillow at him, "Wanker."
The others sniggered and continued their evening ritual. Ron padded over and dumped himself on Harry's bed "So," he began, but his voice was had a certain shiver to it, "what do you think of the new DADA teacher?"
Harry frowned, "Smarmy kind of guy with a stick up his arse, if you ask me."
"Yeah, he does have certain… Lockheart-ness to him, doesn't he. Should've seen Lavender and Parvati swoon at him." Seamus agreed, from where he was already lying under the sheets.
"That's what all the blokes are saying." Dean said, frowning, "He better be good and not start preaching about all his wild adventures and how many successful vampire kills he's got. Sixty-three of them."
Harry felt himself go cold.
"You seem to know a lot about him, Dean… been studying?" Ron said with a grin, giving a lighter twist to the conversation.
Dean didn't flush as nicely with his dark skin, but his scandalized face said enough. "Still not as worse as you back in forth year with Krum though." He adopted a high-pitched voice and batted his eyelashes, "Have you seen Krummy do his Wronski-feint, makes his hair flutter fabulously in the wind-"
Promptly, Harry's pillow was yanked from under him as Ron grabbed it before throwing himself at Dean and pummeling him with it. Soon enough there was a burst of feathers as the seams gave and both young men howled in laughter.
Meanwhile Harry replaced his pillow with Ron's as soon as he saw it be reduced to a slug. At least some things never changed, he though to himself as he snuggled into his bed comfortably.
He was floating. Suspended in a great nothingness, that seemed to go on and on forever and no matter where he turned or went, he was alone. And as he searched, a terrible, terrible darkness settled over him. He was going blind and the last thing he was going to see was this nothing. So he curled up, drawing his knees to his chest and hoping that it would go away. Then he felt something behind him, and the next thing he knew arms wrapped around his chest and he had the sensation of being pulled out of water he hadn't known he was drowning in. Gasping, he drew air into his lungs and he wanted to turn to look at the other, when the hand shifted over his left bicep. Thunder clapped in his head as his heart began to beat.
With a loud thud, Harry landed on the floor, tangled in his sheets.
Light hit his face, and he groaned, shielding his eyes.
"You alright buddy?" someone asked.
Eyes snapped open and his hands flew to his mouth to cover with might be seen. Clutching at his face, looking frenzied, Harry stared into Dean's worried face; who crouched besides him.
"You had a bad dream or something?" Dean asked, tilting his head.
Harry tried to control his breathing and he lowered his hands. His fangs weren't there. "Dream?" he asked his voice coarse with sleep. He couldn't really recall anything, though he felt the eerie absence of a frantic heartbeat to go along with his erratic breathing more pronounced.
He realized he was on the floor, "What…" he mumbled and then remembered his friend, "I'm okay, just a sore ass now."
Dean grinned, flashing his pearly whites, and the worry on his face melted away, "Good to hear, don't scare us like that."
It was only then that he realized that three other worried faced blinked down at him.
"Sorry 'bout that. What time is it?" he asked as he came unsteadily to his feet.
"We might as well get dressed now; it's about time for breakfast anyway." Seamus said in his Irish brogue.
Harry, feeling that he stank after sweating profusely with what his nightmare, dragged himself to the shower. He struggled out of his jammies, hopping around ungracefully in the progress and stepped under the shower. The water seemed determined to remain way too frigid for his taste and he got out as fast as he could, teeth clattering.
As he stood at the sink, scrubbing vigorously at his teeth with a brush, he got a good look at himself for the first time after that faithful morning when he'd had been found by Lucius. It was odd, because now his face was reflected on the upper part of the mirror, and not just poking above the edge. He really had grown a big deal. The most unnerving thing that he now realized that the mutation had really had been to make him a better predator. He'd always been scrawny, a gathering of bones with skin stretched over it. Now he seemed to have filled out and it was as if he blinked at someone else's body.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door, "Harry, mate you alright?"
"I'm fine, I'm fine, j-just wait a moment." Again he jumped around on one leg as he struggled into a pair of slacks he had to borrow from Ron. Most of his own clothes just didn't fit him anymore.
"Harry, are you decent?" that was most definitely Hermione's voice. Why did the stairs allow the girls up in their dorms, but not visa-versa? Bloody unfair.
"Yeah, but just wa-" he spluttered.
"Coming in!" Ron gave one last warning, and waited no more than a few seconds before he swung the door open.
Harry cursed colorfully, "Can't you two just wait a moment?" he squeaked, grabbing between the pile of clothes in hope to encounter a shirt.
"You were up there for a long time, be thought you-" Hermione muttered, looking at the tiles and flushing.
He must have been gaping longer than he thought at his mirror-image, but he was embarrassed none the less, "What, that I hung myself from the shower-knob?" He growled.
"We're just worried about you," Ron retorted calmly, "And this is some really nasty shit you've gone and gotten on your shoulders, and we know you're reckless…"
"What did you expect me to do reckless in the bloody shower?" Harry said with a disbelieving snort, "Stabbed myself in the eye with a toothbrush?"
Ron gave a reluctant grin, "SO maybe we over-reacted, but what with this vampire business we don't know what to expect and-"
"What's that on your stomach?" Hermione suddenly said in a small voice.
"Umh…" he mumbled, he still hadn't quite told them about his… ability to impregnate anything walking on two legs, even if it had bollocks or not.
"Never mind," Hermione said quickly, and she looked as scarlet as the rest from her tie.
Harry was confused, this was not the first time she'd seen him without a shirt, and they'd spend their summer swimming in a nearby lake when they were at The Burrow. And there had even been a time when Ron had seen it fit to yank down his swimming trunks once, when he stood on the pier, in full view of some of his friends.
"What?" he said, looking down at himself and fervently hoping his body had not sprouted another something to add to his anatomy. He even ran his fingers through his hair, as if expecting to have horns or something.
"W-well, you look-" Hermione bit her lip and was staring so hard at the floor her eyes might just plop out.
"He looks what?" Ron demanded, and for some reason he sounded angry, "Like what you see, do you?"
"Oh, don't give me that." Hermione had seemed to have gathered herself enough to stamp her little foot at him, "Don't tell me you're as blind as well you're thick-headed. He looks like… well, a man." She gestured at Harry.
"A man, is he? What do reckon I am, then? A bloody bird?" Ron's ears had gone red.
Harry was so thoroughly confused that he was getting worked up. For some reason this was going down-hill and he had no idea why.
"Well, you're acting like one!" Hermione told him coolly, "You don't have to be ja-" she snapped her mouth shut.
Ron's nostrils flared, "Jealous, am I? Of Harry? You're daft."
"H-hey-" Harry protested weakly.
"Then stop being such a prat!" Hermione snapped.
"You're making such a big deal of it!" Ron roared into her face, spraying her with spittle, "I'm going down for breakfast, before my appetite is spoiled with you ogling our best friend!" And with that he stomped off.
Hermione huffed and crossed her arms moodily.
Still flabbergasted, Harry wondered what just transpired, "What was that all about?" he asked, trying to make himself sound as harmless as possible, not wanting to have her round on him too.
Looking up, Hermione managed a weak smile, "Oh, Harry. You're too dense for you own good."
Somehow she managed to find his clean shirt in the mess Harry had created in his haste to find the bloody thing in the first place. Gratefully, he pulled it on, and began buttoning it up.
Hermione sat down wearily on the wooden chair in the corner, "You just look like you've aged a few years. You're don't really look like…a boy anymore."
Automatically, Harry looked at the mirror and felt at his face, it was him, and still different. But it was not such a shocking difference to have caused that row just now.
"Not just your face… your body. You've grown up, not just now, because when you were in the hospital wing I thought your face was… more mature. But your chest and…" she trailed off, blushing again.
Harry found the situation decidedly awkward, and didn't know what to say at all. Some part of him realized that he was not going to appear as a sixteen-year old brat for the rest of his life. That was a tremendous relief, because though he wasn't a child anymore, he neither had been an adult when he was turned. It seemed that half-mutating had had a positive side after all.
Hermione was smiling at him now, "Oh, don't give that look, Potter. It's not like I just I'm planning on fawning all over you now. But honestly, you've sure gone from small and innocent to tall and …manly."
"I'm not having this conversation with you," Harry babbled, struggling with his tie, "And I don't think it's funny at all." he added, mortified, as Hermione broke out in uproarious laughter.
Frown still etched firmly upon his forehead, Harry let himself be guided out of the bathroom, throwing the discarded nightclothes on the bed and grabbing his books, which he had all jammed into his pack so wouldn't have to make another trip to the dormitories after they'd received their timetables.
Almost automatically, as if trying to fold in upon himself, Harry walked as hunched as possible. He felt about as awkward as he looked. It had had to come far that he wished it was only because of some event like in the previous years. Like when they thought he was the Heir of Slytherin, or back in forth year, when he was the fake champion… How little those things seemed now.
Of course, even when he nearly succeeded in retracing his head into his shoulders, heads continued to turn as he passed by. He tried to reach that part within him that was supposed to be responsible for 'the Charm', as Seth had referred to it. He didn't know whether he was influencing people with it or not, but it would be safer to try and not do anything supernatural however passive and invisible it might be.
As they entered the Great Hall, the excided chattering died away as if someone had pulled a plug and all the voices went swirling down the drain. If possible Harry made himself even smaller than before. Did they really have to stare like that?
For the first time he found himself wishing for the calm atmosphere at the manor. Though everybody was more than happy to have him back, he still felt threatened. At least back in Wiltshire, Lucius… Harry pushed the thought back where it belonged; in the deepest, darkest recesses of his mind. He felt bad enough without thinking about his Sire. But the pain, in his head, and chest and… No. He didn't need Lucius. There wasn't anything his friends couldn't give him that Lucius could, Harry told himself. He was better off without him.
Hermione picked a spot at their table, which, Harry noted, was as far away from Ron as possible. Nevertheless, when she looked at him, there was a smile.
"Oh c'mon now, Harry. Don't skulk like that." She admonished him quietly.
"But everybody's staring!" he hissed back, coming to the realization that now he stuck head and shoulders above the student body and hiding wasn't so easy as it used to be.
"I think it has more to do with that barely twelve hours ago everybody thought you had been dead and buried for almost two months." Hermione pointed out with painstaking logic.
Harry gave a non-comitial grunt and accepted the timetable McGonagall pushed into his hands, the witch giving a grim nod, Harry returned. He scanned the paper, while popping a few grapes in his mouth that had been on the fruit scale. Everything continued in the more or less in same fashion as last year; still the same classes at the appropriate level he needed to become an Auror. Which meant potions with Malfoy.
As he glanced up from his timetable, he saw Draco mimicking the movement in uncanny precision. He bore his eyes purposefully into Harry's, as if trying to say something. Harry arched an eyebrow. Eyes still locked, Draco nodded his head slightly at the exit, a movement you could only catch when looking for it. Then the Slytherin rose, said something to his friends that had them all burst out in laughter and walked out of the Hall.
After a moment's hesitation, Harry hissed at Hermione, "Wait for at Transfiguration, I'll be right back." And not giving her a chance to demand what was going on; he strode out after his nemesis.
He was in such a hurry to try and catch up with him that he hadn't seen the young man standing perfectly still just outside the doors. Harry smacked bodily into him, felt a stab of glee that he almost as tall as him when their foreheads connected, and then toppled backwards and landed painfully on his ass.
"Bloody hell Potter!" Draco snarled, rubbing at his forehead, "You literally are as thick as a brick, aren't you."
Harry glared back at him from his position on the floor, quite besides himself because he felt the urge to do something crazy. Something not unfamiliar to him, but this was different. His spectacles, now with window glass for lenses, had slipped off and where lying in his lap.
There was a tense silence. Draco went even paler than he usually was.
"Stop it!" he said in a strangled sort of voice.
"Stop what?" Harry asked, but already half-expecting the answer.
Draco had his wand out and poked it at his face, "Doing your…thing on me. The Charm."
Still, hearing it from Malfoy's mouth was enough for him to squeak, "How do you know about it?"
"My father has had another DayWalker Liber besides you, remember, and when he came into… well whatever it is that happens to you, I don't want to know, because it's absolutely disgu-"
"Malfoy!" Harry interrupted
"Right, anyway, it felt the same and you better cut it out." He finished a desperate edge to his voice.
"At least you're not doing that creepy glazed-eyes thing." Harry muttered stumbling to his feet.
"I'll give you glazed-eyes, you bloody prat!" Draco growled, but lowered his wand nonetheless.
Harry blinked. "That sounded so wrong, given the context of the conversation."
Draco clenched and unclenched his fists in rapid succession, "Look, Gryffindor-boy, I am entirely not in the mood to exchange pleasantries with you. You somehow seem unable to realize that this situation can blow up right in our faces if you just as much as open your stupid gob at the wrong time!"
At that he pivoted on his heel and strode down the stairs, moving towards courtyard.
Glowering at the retreating figure of his nemesis, he waited until Malfoy rounded the corner of the Hallway, and then gave in to the -childish, yes- but satisfying impulse to stick his tongue out at him. Having done that, he followed in the other's footsteps, turning towards the courtyard and nearly slamming into the other's prone figure for a second time.
"Malfoy, can't you-"
"Mister Potter!" a voice boomed, the one you associated with the suave, handsome rogue in the older generation of movies.
Harry peered over Malfoy's shoulder, who, he noted, had gone rigid as if petrified. Promptly he found himself following the Slytherin's example, freezing completely.
Handsome, dark, mysterious. Le Cavaliér smiled wildly at him, baring perfect white teeth. "It's good to finally meet another V.I.W. (Very Important Wizard) face to face, especially after your amazing comeback. Tough nut to crack, aren't you sonny?"
Harry stared at him. At his side, Malfoy mouthed 'sonny' with a vague hint of disgust and glanced at the Gryffindor.
The new teacher stuck his hand out at Harry, while giving a practiced shake of his head to make the black bangs of hair to fall over his eye.
Harry stared at the hand.
Le Cavaliér's grin smile wilted around the edges.
Staring, in fact, was not nearly adequate enough to describe the utter look off contempt and badly concealed fury that had taken over Harry's face. Even without the instinct of his vampire-self he would have experienced an utter dislike for the man. But the gut-instinct that somehow felt that this twit went around staking vampires was violent enough to leave Harry nearly breathless with rage.
"Whoa, look at the time! Nice to have met you sir." Draco exclaimed overly loud in the stark silence, giving the still suspended hand a half-hearted shake. "Forgive my fellow peer, Sir, but he isn't quite..." He smiled disarmingly, "himself today." he turned to his companion "Let's go Potter," he hissed, grabbing the back of his collar and dragging him along.
They were out off the hallway and walking into the courtyard when Harry managed "He killed, he killed, he-"
"Exactly and he's going to stake you, too, if you keep up the good work. Bloody hell, Potter, you've been... what? Walking around not even a day here and you nearly manage to get yourself into trouble? What would you've done if I hadn't been standing there? Eaten him? Flashed your pretty little fangs at him?" his face wasn't even an inch from Harry's. "Well?"
Harry blinked at him, leaning backwards for as far as he could without toppling over. To be perfectly honest, he wasn't paying much attention to what the other was saying. Fascinated, he found that he couldn't look away from the other's face. Of course, now that Draco expected an answer he didn't have one. "You've got blue eyes." he said, surprised.
"And stop using your vibes on me!" Draco roared in response.
"Now, now, Draco, don't work yourself up so badly. You'll pop a cardinal artery." a man's voice interjected.
Leaning against a tree stood a broad-shouldered, brown haired man. He was watching them with an unreadable expression. The name-tag on his Auror's uniform said 'Walker'.
Upon seeing him, something inside Harry flared, joyous, hopeful.
Draco didn't seem very surprised to see the stranger, "Finally!" he pushed the Gryffindor towards the man, "You talk to him. I'm leaving!" and he did exactly that; striding away with his back ram-rod straight.
As if someone had shoved a broomstick up his arse, Harry thought to himself, and cringed at the mental image that his over-eager brain provided. Perish the thought. He turned to the Auror. Something took over in him and the otherwise rather suspicious part towards unfamiliar people in his brain became a little fuzzy.
"Hello Mr. Potter." the man said.
Harry smiled up at him. Even with his recent grow-spurt, the man was taller than him. He felt himself relaxing, and the word 'safe' sprang to mind. For some reason he wanted to walk over and rub himself against the Auror, like some kind of big cat. He came closer.
Mr. Walker gave a very small smile. That made Harry feel happy. "How are you feeling?"
"Good." he said, and was taken aback at how much he meant that.
He was looking intently at Harry now, standing almost perfectly still as the other approached two more steps until they were in touching distance.
As if on its own accord, Harry watched his hand lift away from his side, so it made contact with Walker's. "Why do I want to touch you?" he asked, as it finally struck him as unusual that he would go around pawing complete strangers.
"Honestly, Harry," Walker said, mustering a smile that was not a smile and not a smirk, "It's flattering that even you can't tell. A compliment to my powers."
It was about then that Harry gasped and lurched backward with the manner of someone who was either very drunk or had just been walloped over the head with a two-ton package labeled 'Sudden Realization'. He clutched his hand as if it had been about to be chopped of by a chimaera.
"A little slow today, aren't we Liber?" Lucius drawled.
Harry could only glare.
"You seemed much happier to see me just a moment ago. Why the sudden change of heart?" he put a hand to his chest and an almost sincere look of hurt pouted his lips.
"You tricked me!"
The act melted away like snow, the altered face serious. "Nothing has changed."
Having no intention to deal with 'this' right now, Harry clenched his jaw with a typical stubborn set and remained silent. 'This' being how wonderful the initial reaction towards his Sire had been without any restraint. How it was supposed to be.
Lucius sighed, "You can hardly expect me to walk around without any sort of disguise, can you now, Harry? So no need to be angry with me for that."
Angry suited Harry just fine. "What are you doing here?" he demanded; resisting the urge to wrap his arms around himself.
"You're such a stubborn-" Lucius didn't finish it, but he looked truly annoyed.
Harry watched how he gathered himself with a certain sense of satisfaction, because it seemed to ask a great deal of control to do so. Fine. Any day he could yank Lucius' chain was a good one. The morning was looking up again.
The Daywalker looked less than pleased, but answered Harry's question. "First off all, you can't expect to be allowed to do your own thing here, Liber, because without me you would go crazed before the end of the month and slaughter your little friends. No matter how much you believe you don't need me, and no matter how hard you tried not to, it would happen." He was clearly smug to be able to rub this under Harry's nose; who was just and loyal to a fault.
Scowling, Harry stared hard at a spot somewhere to Lucius' right; not wanting to show that at some level he'd been aware of this. It would mean agreeing that he had know that he had needed him, that in a way he had already needed him, and he would rather chew his own tongue off than admit that. He settled for his most foulest look instead, one which relied perfectly what he thought about the former Death Eater.
Something moved behind the brown eyes, quickly there and gone. He continued, "Secondly, I wanted to inform you that the Elder has returned and has been alerted of your impending visit."
"Seth told me what I needed to know." Harry said scathingly.
Right then it seemed as if Lucius inflated, growing taller and more menacing than anything Harry had ever had the displeasure of facing. "You will show the proper respect! You should be honored to meet the Elder, my Sire, and you will act like it!"
Harry would have returned 'or what' if Lucius hadn't been emanating a full blast of true power to whop him over the head with. It was a cold, tangible sort of power, as if a colony of sharp legged insects were marching over his skin. And at the moment he wasn't even doing anything with it, just leaking pure magical energy all over the place. Harry was suitably impressed and refrained from giving any cheek.
"There you are, Harry!"
Nearly besides himself with paranoia, Harry felt his hand going for his wand, as he whirled around. Ron's hands came up in a warding motion, and he went rather pale.
But the obvious relief upon seeing his best friend must have shown on Harry's face, and the both of them relaxed. Harry's hand dropped away.
"Who's is this?" Ron whispered out of the corner of his mouth.
"Mister Walker." he answered, lavishing great emphasizes on the word.
Of course, it went entirely over Ron's head. "Hello Sir." he said politely, with the proper dash of admiration at seeing the Auror uniform. Oblivious to the obvious, as always.
Lucius gave the redhead the most wide and wicked smile Harry had ever seen in his life.
Resisting the urge to slap his forehead, Harry began leading Ron away. "Let's go mate, we're late for Transfiguration." They were almost of the courtyard when Harry reluctantly turned around again, "You'll let me know..?" he trailed off.
"Of course, Mr. Potter." Lucius answered with his new voice, one that sounded entirely too nice for a Dark Wizard, "I'll know exactly where to find you."
Inwardly, Harry groaned, and nudged Ron into the hallway.
Great. Just great.
There we go, a brand new sparkling chapter for you guys, right in time for Halloween!
This chapter has not been beta-ed. I just felt I had to submit something before Halloween. And just because it has been such a long, looong, looooooong time. (a year? surely not!). Anyway, if any of you feel compelled to point out every other spelling/grammar mistake I've made in this chapter, DON'T. I know, okay? English is not my mother-language. I'll get a beta on this story someday. (If you don't mind waiting a loooong, looooong time between my bouts of writing, hey you're up for the job!)
I am quite pleased with this chapter, if you aren't, too bad, but I just can't imagine how I should have handled this differently.
And as you all know... REVIEW! no review, me not happy, no more story. (Aha! Resorting to blackmail! And proud of it, too!)
...No, seriously. Review.