Harry Potter and the Ties of Blood
Chapter One: Meetings
Despite the fact that it was mid-summer, the night was dark and stormy, and the stars and moon completely obliterated by the low-hanging black storm clouds, making what would have been a reasonably well-lit night, since the moon was slowly waxing towards being full, a dark and fearful one.
The streets were almost completely deserted – most of the residence had long since gone to bed, the children grumbling about the wet, the adults remarking optimistically that at least it wasn't a drought like it had been the year before. Gardens that had a year before been brown with neglect and want for water were now flourishing, bright flowers of all colours bloomed and the grass was emerald green and glowing with health. In the garages, cars gleamed with newly applied polish and frequent washing, and the stifling heat of the year before was a scarcely recalled memory.
A light sprinkle of rain was misting the night air, and the tarmac on the road glittered like crystals in the warm yellow glow cast by the streetlights. Soon the rain would get heavier, the sprinkle almost a warning, telling anything that might be out still to get under cover and shelter from the deluge to come.
But those who were still out at this late hour saw no need to heed the warning.
A single young man walked down the empty streets, the misty rain covering him in a wealth of minute droplets, each of them glowing with all the colours of the rainbow as the street lamps shed their light upon him. He didn't notice the effect; however, his haunted green eyes were focused intently upon the tops of his sneakers, which were falling apart on his feet.
He walked with his shoulders hunched and his head down, messy black hair falling into his eyes, though he made no move to push it away. He just didn't care. He was wearing a t-shirt that had been Dudley's once, hanging around his too-thin figure, the fabric so thin that it mostly stuck to his skin, even though the rain was still very light. His jeans were the same, ripped in a couple of places, and belted around the waist so that they didn't fall down.
He didn't shiver, even though it was reasonably cool, and the rain made it even cooler. He didn't even seem to notice the temperature. All his thoughts were directed inward, there was no room for consideration of the physical world. Every night for the past two weeks since he had returned from Hogwarts, Harry had been out on the streets, wandering aimlessly around, because he needed to get out from Privet Drive and the Dursley's.
More so than any other year, Harry hated being forced to return to this place; Privet Drive seemed so alien to him. Always he had felt that it was, in some obscure way, right for him to come back here each year, even though every time he did he longed to be elsewhere. This year, however, even that obscure sense of belonging was gone, as if it had never been.
His heart ached with a peculiar sense of loss. He had always taken it for granted that he could come here. He knew that his relatives hated him, and he hated them in equal measure, but now that it was gone, he realised that he missed the feeling that he had a place here. That he had a place anywhere, for that matter.
That loss, however, was only minimal, a small grief added to greater heartache. His godfather was gone. Sirius Black, the only man who Harry felt he could have regarded as his true family was dead. And now Harry really was alone. Green eyes filled with tears, but they did not fall, somehow Harry managed to hold them in check, as he had every night since he had returned here.
His heart felt empty, the place where Sirius had once been was a gaping hole, and all of Harry's positive emotions seemed to be completely nonexistent. He tried to lock his memories and emotions away, but every time he thought that he had succeeded, they slipped around whatever he was using to block them, extending tendrils of pain through his mind and heart.
As well as grief, there was anger. He didn't belong here, so why was he still here? Because no one would let him leave. Every message that he had sent to the Order had been requesting that he be allowed to leave Privet Drive, and every time he received the same reply: It's not safe for you to be anywhere else.
Harry sighed heavily. He wasn't sure where he wanted to be, anyway. While he didn't belong here, he didn't know where he did. He didn't want to stay with the Weasley's; watching them, with their close family relationship would have been like twisting a knife in his gut. Besides, Ron didn't understand, couldn't understand, what Harry was going through. Ron had always had someone there for him; he was unable to process the thought that there could be a time when there wasn't anyone for you.
And that was what Harry was going through. He'd thought that there was no one, had pretty much accepted that, but then Sirius had appeared, and suddenly there had been someone … and now that someone was gone, leaving Harry alone again. But it was worse now, because he knew what it was like to have someone.
He would not return to Grimmauld Place. To be in the place that had been Sirius's prison would have been worse than being with the Weasley's. Nor could he go to Hermione – she didn't understand him either. She seemed as incapable as Ron at comprehending what Harry was feeling. But she was worse, because she tried to understand, tried to talk to him about it, and Harry didn't want to talk, at least not unless it was with someone who had lost, as he had lost. And he didn't know anyone like that.
Remus. Sirius's best friend, the only one of the Marauders still alive, someone that Harry might have been able to talk to … but Remus had shut out the world, retreating deep into himself to grieve, and there was no place in the werewolf's sorrow for anyone else, not even Harry. He had been given leave from the Order, and had returned to his home, backing out of the war until such a time as he was ready to attend to it again – although that time would be a long way off, by all reports.
And so Harry was left right back where he had started. He wished that school would start again. Then, at least, he would have something to take his mind off things. Ron and Hermione would be there, but whenever he needed to escape from them, it would be easy enough to slip away and be alone.
The two weeks that the holidays had so far lasted for had seemed like an eternity. The Dursley's tried to be nice to him, but they were too used to treating him like dirt, and he was too upset to respond with anything other than a sullen silence. Aunt Petunia called him down for meal times, but on those occasions that he left his only remaining sanctuary he played with his food and ate little. They let him off his chores, so he locked himself in his room and didn't come out. They bought him a new bedspread, a warmer one, because the summer was colder than usual, which he had accepted without words.
Dudley offered to let Harry play his computer, once, but Harry turned the offer down. Uncle Vernon called him whenever the news started, but Harry didn't want to hear about the latest suspicious disappearances. He didn't need to be reminded of the war that had torn the only parental figure he had left away from him.
And at night, he wandered the streets, alone with his thoughts and the foul weather. The Dursley's didn't know of his late night wanders. Each morning, just before dawn, he returned, had a shower and went to his room, which was where they found him every morning. He didn't leave the house until they'd gone to sleep. He gave them no reason to suggest that he was doing anything suspicious.
He knew that the Order didn't like his night time wanders, because they weren't safe, but he refused to give them up, and eventually they had stopped asking him to. But they had good reason to fear for his safety – they were in troubled times now, and one never knew where Voldemort would next strike.
It was Harry, after all, who Voldemort most wanted dead, but at the same time, it was Harry who he was afraid to directly attack – Voldemort didn't know the Prophecy, he was sure that if he tried to kill Harry again, then the spell would backfire as it had fifteen years ago, and send Voldemort back to his half-life. But just because he wouldn't kill Harry didn't make the boy safe. If Voldemort could capture Harry, then the boy could be no danger to him.
But Harry didn't care. He would not be imprisoned in a house he hated, as his godfather had been, driven mad by being forced to stay somewhere that he hated. He would not let that happen to him. He wouldn't let it happen. He could let himself be taken by the madness that had eventually taken Sirius; the need to escape that was so great that one would take death over being imprisoned.
He did not hear the soft scuff of a foot against the path as a figure stepped out in front of him, didn't see the man who suddenly stood before him, just continued walking, placing one foot in front of the other, a monotonous movement that required no thought, leaving his mind free for other contemplations.
He did, however, notice when a cold, slimy voice spoke a soft incantation and ropes appeared from midair to bind him, ankles and wrists, and a gag appeared magically, keeping him from crying out in shock. Somehow he managed to stay on his feet, and he looked up, his damp hair still falling in his eyes, obscuring his glasses, making it hard to see the person in from him.
It was male, Harry could tell from the voice, but it was impossible to tell from the appearance of the figure before him. Tall, wearing a fairly shapeless black robe and a silver mask covering his face, one hand still raised, clutching a wand. A triumphant gleam shining through the eye sockets.
Rodolfus Lestrange smirked beneath his mask. So, this was the oh-so-famous Harry Potter, the one who had someone managed to survive confrontations with the Dark Lord time and again and had, through what could only be luck, managed to thwart several of the Lord's plans to return to life. The other Death Eaters spoke of the boy in hushed voices, when they spoke of him at all, in case the Lord took exception to them speaking of his enemy. They were wary of him, convinced that he was more powerful than he was.
The boy was supposed to be cunning, always somehow managing to escape the traps of the Death Eaters, even those the Dark Lord himself set, but now Rodolfus realised that there was no cunning about him, it was only luck, the right things happening at the right time, in the boy's favour.
He looked into the eyes of his Lord's greatest foe, and was surprised that he did not find fear looking back at him. The boy looked up at him, messy hair falling in front of his eyes and obscuring his vision, but in his eyes there was not fear, or hopelessness.
There was a look of haunted grief, of anger, and a certain trace of disgust about him. As if Rodolfus was somehow lesser than this mere child, whom he had subdued so easily.
That possible inclination made him feel anger; he was a Death Eater! One of those chosen to serve the Dark Lord, one the chosen few who would be given power beyond their dreams when the Dark Lord triumphed over this puny society. But the anger was somehow dimmed, not as strong as it might once have been. Rodolfus was aware of that difference in his emotions, and he knew its cause: Azkaban. The constant company of Dementors had worn away his emotions until such a time as he was unable to summon much more than irritation, when once unrivalled rage would flow through his veins.
And it was all Potter's fault. Had the stupid child not somehow managed to be luckier than any other man on the planet and survive the Dark Lord, Rodolfus would have never been sent to Azkaban, in fact, he would probably be sitting in a seat of power at Lord Voldemort's right hand, while all around them wizards and Muggles alike cowered in their own fear.
"Well, Potter," he murmured, "You weren't so hard to capture has I had been led to believe … didn't you know that wandering the streets at night all alone isn't a good idea for children?" He and his wife Bellatrix were greatly alike, he was no longer sure whether he had rubbed off on her, or whether she had rubbed off on him. They just were, these days, and he could not remember ever being any different. That was just how things were.
The expression on Potter's face didn't change, which made him angry – it always made him angry when they acted as like he had said nothing, or what he said didn't scare them at all, or get to them in any way. "You might have had the others running around in circles, but it seems that your luck has deserted you now. The Master will reward me greatly for this service to him, and on the first night of the hunt too … it is I who will bring him his heart's desire, not any of his other servants. He knows my loyalty, but I will prove it over again by delivering you to his fortress."
He was watching the boy's face still, and even the knowledge that he was being taken to the Master didn't seem to faze him. His face remained the same, that same disgust as he looked upon the Death Eater before him, and that made Rodolfus even angrier – how dare this puny child assume that he was somehow higher than one of the Dark Lord's own Inner Circle, one of those who would lead the Wizarding world in its purification?
"But we don't have to go straight to him, no … in fact, he would be disappointed if I didn't take the chance to familiarise you with some of his favourite games. My Lord doesn't like it when his guests don't know all the rules, and it will be a pleasure to teach them to you."
Somehow Harry did not feel afraid, even though he knew what sort of 'games' the Death Eater was talking about – all of the Dark Lord's games seemed to revolve around torture, pain, and the inevitable death. He did not think he knew this Death Eater, but then, that was unsurprising, considering that they were his enemies. There must be many that he had never had the misfortune of meeting in person.
The Death Eater raised his wand, and began to speak, "Cru-" but he was never given the opportunity to finish, because a third being, also out on this foul night, leapt from his hiding place in a nearby tree, one powerful leap allowing him to clear the branches, and the fence, and land lightly and with hardly a sound, behind the Death Eater.
Rodolfus Lestrange never had the time to turn and see what this interruption was, as two hands shot up, one coming beneath in chin, the other on his forehead, and, with a single upward and backward jerk, snapped his neck, killing him instantly. Had he been able to speak, or make any sound at all, Harry would have gasped in relief and thankfulness … but his night was not yet at an end.
The man behind the Death Eater was by some means still holding the dead weight of the body upright. Without looking at Harry, he bared his teeth, and Harry watched with a morbid fascination as his rescuer's canines lengthened, and he pulled the cloak away from the Death Eaters neck, biting down delicately.
His rescuer was a vampire.
He wasn't even sure that the thing was his rescuer anymore, maybe it had just seen the opportunity for a meal and taken it … or maybe it had seen the opportunity for two meals. He couldn't move, couldn't budge the restraints that the Death Eater had placed on him. He had tried that, when they first seized him, but he tried again while the vampire fed, to no avail.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the vampire released the body of the Death Eater, which crumpled to the ground, and looked straight at Harry. If he had been able to make a sound, Harry would have cried out in shock, for the vampire's eyes, like a cat's, were reflective, and they shone in the light of the street lamps.
Canines shortened, looking once more like normal teeth, and the vampire stepped over the dead body, now drained of blood, striding stepped gracefully towards Harry. He moved with flawless elegance, and Harry took in his appearance, a slim body, but a strong one, the vampire looked to be only in his twenties. His eyes, when they weren't reflecting the light, were a silvery blue, and his lips curved in an almost gentle smile.
Harry's eyes explored the vampires face, young, completely unblemished. Long black hair fell messily around his face, which was thin and all too familiar. Rather than going for his neck, the vampire reached behind Harry's head, and Harry was sure that his neck was about to be snapped just like that of the Death Eater before him.
The vampire, however, seemed to have other ideas, and instead of killing Harry where he stood, he undid the gag and let it fall to the ground at their feet. For a moment, they stood staring into one another eyes, while Harry's mind screamed at him to do something – but the vampire had only given Harry back the ability to make sounds, his wrists and ankles were still bound.
But something about the vampire made Harry feel not afraid, but rather intrigued … the familiarity of the face bugged him, and, because if his suspicions were true, he needed to know, and if they weren't, well, he was no worse off than he had been before. So he spoke, a single, confused syllable that hung in the air between them.
This chapter was last edited on Saturday the 7th of January 2006.