Chapter 2: Ordered Chaos

Number twelve, Grimmauld Place was a depressing house. Everything about it, from the snake-motif of the doorknobs to the house-elf heads on the walls, conspired to suck the happiness out of everyone who entered it. Sirius Black, the owner of the house, swore that the house itself was a gigantic dementor.

It wasn't only the house that was depressing Sirius Black, however. Most of it was the crushing feeling of failure. Almost eighteen years ago, he had willingly given his godson to Hagrid, intent on dealing with the traitorous rat, Peter Pettigrew. His revenge hadn't worked out as planned, and he had ended up in Azkaban. Earlier in the year, Peter Pettigrew had been captured and interrogated, and the awful truth had come to light. Among the crimes that Peter had confessed to, and perhaps the most heinous of them, were the crimes that Sirius Black had already been convicted of.

Sirius had been immediately released from Azkaban, only to hear that his godson had died shortly after Dumbledore had left him at the Dursley home. Sirius grieved for his godson, but went to work for the Order of the Phoenix, even allowing them to use his family manor for their Headquarters. Albus Dumbledore was very grateful for the assistance.

The years in prison, coupled with the apparent death of his godson, had changed Sirius Black. Gone was the happy jokester, always ready to laugh at pranks and jokes. In his place was a bitter, sarcastic, and very angry man. In their dispositions, Sirius Black and Severus Snape were almost identical.

One thing hadn't changed about Sirius Black, however. He hated Severus Snape with a passion. The only thing that had changed about their relationship was that Sirius no longer had any tolerance for the potions master. Any sarcastic words from Snape were immediately met with painful spells. The years in prison hadn't made Sirius any weaker, and he was still the better duelist of the two. After a few remarks, Severus had learned not to talk to the man. Shortly thereafter, Dumbledore had decided that it would be easier if Snape gave his reports in private.

Severus hated to admit it, but he needed Black to hear the news more than anyone else.

"Ah, Severus." Albus Dumbledore greeted the man in his private study. "I'm pleased to see that you made it through your meeting unscathed." The old man poured him a cup of tea. "Milk and sugar?"

"No thank you, Headmaster." Snape replied. He really needed to get this meeting together. In order to accomplish his mission, he needed the rest of the Order to hear the news at the same time. "I have some….Disturbing news. The dark lord has notified me of one of his greatest secrets, and we must decide, as a group, what to do. I have been told to keep this information to myself, but the entire Order must be made aware of it. The information is of such importance, that I believe that I should tell the Order personally."

Albus considered the odd request. Severus had never asked to speak to the Order. He seemed to enjoy having almost nothing to do with them. "Severus, if I may ask, what sort of news is too important to allow me to address the Order for you?"

"I can only say one thing, Headmaster." Snape had to throw the old man a bone, just to make sure that his position was clear. "Harry Potter isn't as dead as we all thought."

The change in Dumbledore's posture was immediate. Relief and worry warred for dominance in his eyes, and he leaned forward in his seat. "Do you mean to say that Harry is alive? Do you have any specific information, Severus? Where has the dark lord been keeping him? Is he being tortured?"

"The dark lord does not have him at the moment, headmaster, but he does know where he is. That is all I can say for now. The rest will have to wait for the Order meeting. I will explain everything I have learned then."

Dumbledore was clearly not happy about that, but there was nothing to be done. Snape was a master occlumens, and even Dumbledore's strongest spells couldn't break his shields. "Very well, Severus. I shall call the meeting immediately. If Harry is alive, he needs protection, and since Voldemort is now aware of Harry's health, we must move quickly."

Snape was glad that the man was allowing him to address the Order. He hated every single one of the Order members, and despised being in the same room with them, but the delay in giving his report was very welcome.

After all, he needed to figure out what to tell them.

Telling them about Potter's predicament was more dangerous than Snape was comfortable with. Only three months earlier, a young Gryffindor girl had joined the Order. Hermione Granger was her name, and she had trained to be part of the slayers guild. She killed vampires for a living, and consequently knew more about the Vampire Nation than any other wizard in Britain. Selling the story to her would be much more difficult than the rest.

It was only two hours later that many disgruntled wizards were seated in the dining hall of Grimmauld place. Some of them had been engaged in other activities, and a most of them had been asleep. None of them were happy to be there.

Sirius Black was most certainly not happy about the meeting. Albus had told him that Severus wanted to speak. Sirius didn't want anything to do with the man, but the way the old man's eyes had twinkled had convinced him that he had to attend. Anything that made the old man THAT happy had to be good news, and good news was something everyone needed.

When the last of the stragglers had entered the room, Albus Dumbledore swept in, Severus Snape following him. "Good evening, my friends." Albus said. A few people groaned. It was well after midnight. "I have called you here because we have an emergency." Many people blanched. Someone important had been killed. "Severus has asked to deliver this news personally. Severus?"

Snape took the floor. "Earlier this evening, the dark lord visited the ruling body of the Vampire Nation." Several people gasped in horror, but Snape noticed that Hermione had stifled a laugh. "He also approached the Shadow Stalkers." At that, most people looked confused, but Hermione lost the smile, a look of growing horror coloring her face. "His plan was to have the Shadow Stalkers assassinate the fourteen department heads of the Ministry."

"That would be extremely expensive." Hermione interrupted. "I doubt he would have the funds to pay them what they would ask for a job that size."

"What are you on about, Hermione?" Charlie Weasley asked. Of all the Order members, he was one of the few who didn't seem afraid of the girl. "What are these 'Shadow Stalkers,' and why is this important?"

"If you ever meet one, you'll understand why it's important. Of course, understanding how dangerous they are is the LAST thing you will do." Hermione snapped. "They're assassins; the most talented assassins in the entire magical world. None of their contracts have ever escaped them. They're killers, all of them." Hermione turned back to Snape. "They're also mercenaries. A job like Voldemort wanted them for would cost several million galleons. I doubt even liquidating ALL of his assets would give him the money needed."

"Entirely correct Miss Granger," Snape said, "and also entirely irrelevant. The leader of the Shadow Stalkers was unable to meet the dark lord immediately, so the dark lord enjoyed himself by torturing the vampire's servant. When Blitz Moonshadow arrived, he was extremely offended that the dark lord would presume to torture someone else's servants. Apparently, the two had a small argument, and Voldemort was chased from the property by a pair of vampire guards." That was a lie, but Snape doubted anyone would go searching for the boy if a pair of Nundu were known to be prowling around.

"So what?" Sirius yelled. "Who here thinks that a group of assassins NOT joining Voldemort is a bad thing?" Sirius had enough. "What makes this news so god-damned important?"

"The boy that was being tortured makes this news important." Snape said. "After his meeting, the dark lord informed us that the servant that he had tortured was Harry Potter."

Sirius' anger popped like a balloon, leaving nothing but stunned disbelief. In truth, Sirius looked something like a goldfish. "What?"

Let it never be said that Snape didn't know how to tell a lie. "According to the dark lord, the vampires took Potter from his home the night that they killed his family. Potter has been trained as a servant to the Shadow Stalkers his entire life."

"That explains why Harry was able to be taken from his home." Albus said. It made much more sense, now that he had the information. "If a vampire could bite Petunia, then that vampire could overcome the wards I placed."

Sirius didn't care about any of Dumbledore's explanations; he only wanted to know one thing. "When are we leaving?"

"Leaving?" Hermione drawled. "And just where do you think you're going?"

"To rescue Harry, of course!" Sirius snapped. "He's my godson; my responsibility. I have to save him!"

Hermione laughed coldly; a musical, icy sound. "Relax your hackles, dog-man. If Harry is with the Shadow Stalkers, you will not rescue him by force."

Dumbledore came to Sirius' aid. "We have to try, Miss Granger. If Voldemort knows where Harry is, it's only a matter of time before he attempts to kill him."

"That's perfectly alright with me, Dumbledore." Hermione said. "Let him try. If the Shadow Stalkers really have Potter, they will kill anyone who means him harm. If Voldemort tries, then this little war of ours will be over. Anyone who goes to Shadow Keep with the intent to harm its occupants will not leave there alive."

"Miss Granger," Albus explained, "for reasons which must remain secret, I believe that only Harry Potter has the necessary power to destroy Voldemort completely. If he's been trained as a servant, then he will not have the skills he needs, even if he has the power. We need him here, so we can train him."

"You NEED to relax, old man." Hermione spat. "If Potter is at Shadow Keep, you need to stop and think before you send some sort of 'rescue mission.' If you don't, you can send as many people as you like. They will all die in what I'm sure would be called a 'heroic attempt.' If you're lucky, the vampires will let one or two survive, as a warning to the rest. They will NOT give their servant up without a fight."

Hermione smirked suddenly. "And even if you do manage to kill one or two, the entire Stalker guild will turn on you. Can you fight an army that you can't see? Nobody knows how many Shadow Stalkers there are. No one has ever seen more than two at a time. They would wipe this group of yours out within a week. The only way to get Potter away from them is to either steal him, or strike a bargain with his master."

"We can just kill ALL them all!" Sirius shouted, pounding his fist on the table. "I don't care how many there are! I want my godson back!"

"Have you ever fought a Shadow Stalker, mutt?" Hermione was not a fan of Sirius. In fact, she hated him. "Even easier, since I already know that you haven't, have you ever fought a real Vampire?"

Sirius had never even seen a real vampire, but he wasn't going to tell Hermione that. "How do you know I haven't fought a Shadow Stalker?"

"You're alive."

"Maybe I killed it." Sirius defended.

"Not possible." Hermione said. "I kill Vampires for a living, and I'm telling you that even I'M not nearly good enough to fight even the weakest Shadow Stalker. If Potter is in Shadow Keep, He's surrounded by the strongest of them. You wouldn't last more than a few seconds."

"How would we go about stealing him, Miss Granger?" Albus asked. He didn't know much about vampires, and even less about hunting them. That was why the Granger girl was so useful to him. "If these Vampires are as dangerous as you say, then I would much rather not antagonize them more than necessary. I do not believe that Harry's master would just give him up, so stealing him would be the best course of action."

Hermione went into lecture mode. "I would recommend sending as few people as possible, and making sure that they aren't regular wizards. Vampires are sensitive to the smell of human blood; they have a harder time detecting animagi and non-humans, since they can't use them for food." Hermione tapped her chin. "If you have any sun-stones, I'd send them along. They won't kill a vampire, but vampires are uncomfortable in their presence. A few stones, and the Vampires might not want to approach."

"Anything else, Granger?" Sirius growled. He was ready to storm the Keep already.

"Do not take silver into their Keep. The Vampires have detectors everywhere, and they will interpret the presence of silver as a threat. I would also recommend that you leave your wands here."

"What? Why?"

"So you don't get the urge to use them." Hermione smirked.

"They will need to take their wands, Miss Granger." Albus said. "If things do not go according to plan, they may need to defend themselves."

"Alright, it's their funeral. Just remember, there are not many spells that can seriously harm a vampire." Hermione shrugged.

"I would also like you to accompany them." Albus said.

"No." Hermione said. "Absolutely not. I've met a Shadow Stalker before. I barely escaped with my life." Hermione pulled up her shirt, revealing the long, jagged scar across her belly. "I'm not going to put myself in that situation again. You can send whoever else you want, but I'm not going."

"Please, Miss Granger, I must ask you to go with them." Albus said. "Harry is the most important asset we've ever needed, and the mission stands a much better chance of succeeding if you are there to supervise."

Hermione was not a nice person on the surface, thanks to her slayer training, but she was a kind-hearted soul. "Alright, I will lead this little raid of yours, Dumbledore, on one condition. The mutt has to stay here."

"No way!" Sirius shouted. "Harry's my godson! I'm going with you, and that's final!"

"Unfortunately, Miss Granger, Sirius is the only Animagus that we can send; Minerva is not a fighter." Albus apologized. "If it's truly better to send animagi than wizards, then Sirius needs to go with you."

"Fine." Hermione spat. "Sirius, if you're going with me, you'll do as I say. Is that clear? If you try to do anything more than defend yourself, I'm going to Portkey out, and leave you there by yourself. Your anger is not worth my life. Do you understand me?"

Sirius nodded. Like it or not, Hermione knew much more about Vampires than he did, and she seemed genuinely scared of this particular mission.

"Alright, Dumbledore," Hermione huffed, "you've got two adventurers, but you need to give me at least two more. I need a few for backup in case things get touchy."

"Remus, Nymphadora, will you accompany Miss Granger?"


"No problems here."

"Bad idea, sending the werewolf, Dumbledore." Hermione said. "Vampires don't get along with werewolves very well. I honestly don't know what they would do to him if they found him in their Keep, but it wouldn't be humane."

"Well, I'm not too worried, Hermione." Remus said. "They can't touch silver either, so they can't use it on me."

"I think it's a mistake, Lupin. They have special knives that can kill you just as quickly as silver, but I won't stop you from going." Hermione said. "Alright; all of you get some sleep. I don't care what you do; take a potion, knock yourself over the head with a mallet, whatever. But you need to sleep; we leave in eight hours."

"We need to leave now!" Sirius yelled.

Hermione shot him a glacial stare. "YOU may want to walk into a vampire enclave in the middle of the night, when they are almost certainly awake, but I would rather wait until they go to sleep. Vampires are NOCTURNAL, you idiot!"

Sirius flinched at her tone. But as he replied, some of his old humor returned for the first time in four years. "Well, maybe we should do it your way, then."

"That's it?" Sirius asked. The group was standing outside the dark structure of Shadow Keep. Sirius wasn't impressed. "It's so small!"

Hermione smirked. The wizards were denser than she'd thought. "That's it. Shadow Keep is very small for a fortress. Remember, though, that vampires are nocturnal. Think about it; why build your home in the sunlight? My guess is that there are several levels of underground rooms." Just to mess with the wizards a little, she added "It's probably the same size as, if not larger than, Hogwarts."

"So, oh mighty slayer," Sirius sneered, "How are we going to get in? I don't see any windows or hidden doors."

"There aren't any, so you can stop looking. The only way in, or out, is the front door." Hermione said.

"There must be some way in that doesn't include suicide, Hermione." Tonks said. "It's a castle. What fun is a castle without a secret passage?"

"It's not a castle; it's a keep. It's designed to be the last defense. If you have to fall back to your keep, there's no escape; the defense has to be perfect. Secret passages would only be security risks." Hermione said. Despite her quirks, Hermione liked the spirited woman.

"Well, that sucks." Tonks said, making a face.

"It's alright." Hermione said. "There aren't any guards on the door. With the proper key, I could just open them and walk inside."

"No guards?" Sirius asked suspiciously. "How do you know?"

Hermione smirked. "Don't be stupid, Sirius. I'm a hunter." Hermione pulled her sleeve up, and pointed to her watch. The face was flickering slightly, but it was very dim. "My vampire detector would be going haywire if I there were anything on the other side of these doors."

Sirius was ready to break in. "If there aren't any guards, then why not just…" Sirius pulled his wand.

"No!" Hermione moved faster than Sirius would have thought possible, and twisted the wand right out of his hand. "I told you! No Magic!"

"What's the big deal, Hermione?" Remus asked. He's never seen Hermione act so panicked before.

"I've heard rumors about this place." Hermione said, keeping her voice low. "Some of the slayers say that inside this keep lives a monster; a truly terrible thing that feeds exclusively on magical things. If you cast any spells, you'll draw its attention, and I would really rather avoid that."

"Then how are we going to get inside?" Tonks asked.

Hermione produced a small case from her pocket. "We'll have to do it the old fashioned way, I guess." Inside her little plastic case was a set of lock picks. "If the rumors are true, the locks can't be enchanted, or the monster would eat them."

Hermione was actually quite a good locksmith, it seemed. It only took her a few seconds to unlock the door. The door was well maintained and opened silently. The foursome of adventurers stepped cautiously through the door.

The entrance hall was very nice, but very dark. As Lupin stepped through the door, the last of the four to cross the threshold, the door slammed shut silently. Sirius immediately tried to get the door to open back up, but it didn't want to budge.

"Sirius, get away from the door." Hermione said. She wanted to make sure he didn't try to bang on it or make a whole lot of noise. Vampires had very good ears.

"We need the door open, so we can escape with Harry!"

"I know that, and keep your voice down, moron." Hermione snapped. "We just entered a VAMPIRE enclave, and the sun is up. The door is obviously going to shut again. It's going to allow entry, but not exit. We'll blast it open on our way out, when we can use magic. Right now, let's find Potter. I want to get the hell out of this place as soon as possible."

"Right," Remus said, "let's get Harry and get out. This place gives me the creeps."

"Well, it looks like the only door is that one." Tonks pointed to the large doors at the other end of the entrance hall. The foursome approached the door. It swung open easily, and they made their way inside.

The room they entered was obviously the Great Hall. Although there weren't any lights, it was apparent that the room was massive. Hermione took the lead, glancing at her vampire detector. The flicker was brighter, there were vampires close by.

The group made it to middle of the hall before it happened. Hermione's vampire detector went nuts, buzzing and flashing. "Sun Stones!" Hermione yelled.

Each of the adventurers pulled a sun stone from their pockets. The light illuminated the faces and outlines of four vampires, who flinched and backed up. "Back off!" Sirius yelled.

The lights came up in the room. Hermione squinted momentarily, and noticed something that she'd hoped never to see again.

"Hermione," the red-headed vampires purred, "Kel'thaza. Shin'wha?"

Hermione gulped visibly, and clutched at her belly unconsciously. "A-Anara…" She whispered. "She..Shek'thet."

Anara looked at her strangely. "Shek'thet? Wan qui'ell Shek'thetnan."

Sirius was very confused. "What language is that?"

Anara looked surprised. "Hermione, nek'shen?"

Hermione shook her head. "We'ne nek'shen."

"I'd hoped you learned your lesson." Anara sighed. "It's been nearly a year. What made you decide to change your mind?"

"I…I haven't" Hermione gulped. This was not going the way she's wanted it to. "They're wizards…they're looking for a boy."

"Ah, I see." Anara smiled. "And what boy are you looking for? As I said, this is not the best place to look for a boyfriend, Hermione, although you do look sweet enough to eat."

"Look here!" Sirius yelled, losing his patience. "We're here for my godson! Give me back my Harry!"

"Harry?" Anara said. "I don't know of any Harry. Are you sure that he's here?"

Hermione wanted to make sure this didn't get ugly. Anara was more than a match for all of them. The four other vampires surrounding them weren't going to be easy either. "A man came here last night, Anara. His name was Voldemort."

"I know of what you speak, Hermione. What about him?"

"He told his followers that he tortured a servant." Hermione said, trying to stay calm. "He said that the servant was Harry Potter."

Anara's face lit up with recognition, and her eyes turned back to their original green. "I know he tortured Master Moonshadow's valet, but his name isn't Harry."

Sirius was gaping at the vampiress in awe, looking at eyes that he hadn't seen in eighteen years. "Moony…are those?"

Remus was just as stunned. "They cant be, Padfoot. Lily wasn't…."

Hermione was remembering the last time she'd hunted vampires. After killing a weak clan-less vampire, she'd stumbled across Anara. Thinking that she was just another clan-less one, Hermione had wasted no time in attacking the woman. Hermione had been quickly disarmed, and found herself at the mercy of the powerful assassin.

Anara had explained, in detail, just how stupid Hermione had been to attack a Shadow Stalker, the vampire equivalent of the slayers guild. After procuring Hermione's promise that she would never hunt against clan-affiliated vampires again, Anara had given Hermione a particularly painful gift. Anara had sliced her own hand with a long dagger, and then dragged the blade straight across Hermione's belly. The vampire nation called this ritual the Jit'kira, the 'Blood Promise.'

It took several weeks for the wound to heal, and Hermione wasn't allowed to heal it with magic. When the wound finally closed, Hermione found she could both speak and understand 'Kirash,' the magical language spoken only by those who had vampire blood running through their veins. Hermione was confused for a few days, until she figured out that it was truly a gift for her, since she could now ask each vampire, in its own language, what clan they belonged to. Anara had told her that she could continue to slay vampires, but was forbidden to hunt any vampires under the protection of a clan.

Still, the powerful vampire had spooked her, and she hadn't hunted any vampires since that night. Now, the first time she walked back into the strange world, she met the very vampire that had scared her out of it.

"Please, Anara, let me explain this." Hermione pleaded. "We're not hunting, I swear! Harry Potter is important to the magical world, and to these two men personally. They were told that he died eighteen years ago, but were told last night that he was still alive. This man here is Harry's godfather. He just needs to know that Harry's alive."

"I am not familiar with any of our servants who carries that name, Hermione." Anara said. "Please describe this 'Harry Potter' for me."

Sirius snapped out of staring at Anara's eyes, which looked just like Lily Potter's. "Black messy hair, bright green eyes, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of six feet tall, and a lightning-bolt shaped scar on his forehead. He'd be nineteen."

Anara looked very interested, now. "I am sorry." Anara's voice was extremely amused. "I don't have any servants here that fit that description."

"Anara, please tell us." Hermione pleaded. "I know that tone of voice. My headmaster at school always used it too. You know something about him, don't you?"

Anara laughed. "You are very perceptive, Hermione. I had forgotten how smart you were." Anara's smile was truly genuine, and she seemed to be enjoying the conversation. "You just described my son."

"Your SON?" Sirius choked.

"Yes." Anara smiled again, the loving smile that only parents could master. "I found him eighteen years ago, in the home of some terrible muggles. I took him from them before they could abuse the boy further, and had the muggles killed."

"You stole my Godson!" Sirius yelled, whipping out his wand. "Give him back, right now!"

"My SON is none of your concern, little puppy." Anara's smile was decidedly unpleasant, and Sirius was slightly alarmed at the dog reference. "And that little stick is going to get you killed, if you're not careful."

"Sirius! Put the wand away!" Hermione whispered harshly. "Anara, he doesn't mean it, really! He's just distraught!"

"Kle'vash, Hermione." Anara switched back to her native language. "Jek'chan, ot scop'torba."

"What was that, Hermione?" Remus asked quietly. "It didn't sound good."

"Anara wants us to leave. Immediately." Hermione said. "Or, she'll have us killed."

"Bring it on, bitch!" Sirius shouted. "I'll take this castle apart with my bare hands if I have to, but I'm not leaving without my Godson!"

Anara's eyes turned red, "Very well. Just remember that you asked for this, and I gave you the chance to leave." The four other vampires drew their long knives. "Erik, Voleros, scak'scorta. James, Matthew, Shek'theta."

There was a flurry of motion from the vampires, and suddenly all four of the wizards were fighting for their lives. Sirius and Remus had their hands full with James and Matthew, while Tonks and Hermione were trying to survive the onslaught of Erik and Voleros. The vampires were so fast that none of the wizards' spells could hit them, although Hermione was doing alright with her own long knife. Finally, the vampires had the wizards almost defeated, and Hermione pulled her wand.

"Don't make me do this, Anara!" She shouted. "I do not wish to break my promise, but I will if I have to!"

"It's too late for threats, Hermione." Anara said calmly. "You had the chance to leave peacefully."

"SOLUS!" Hermione shouted, pointing her wand up to the sky. The solar flare spell was the only sunlight spell strong enough to seriously injure a vampire. It was the slayer equivalent of the Cruciatus curse. The five vampires all fell to the floor, writhing in agony.

"Te'ray'ine-sha Obfusca." A voice said from a doorway. Five stone pillars sprung up from the ground, casting dark shadows across the vampires, and shielding them from Hermione's painful spell.

"Master Moonshadow…" Anara said. "You don't need to be here, master. They're just wizards. We can handle them."

"Anara, I had to come up here. I've never felt the pull of so much magic before." The man in question stepped into the room, and Hermione gasped.

Blitz Moonshadow was a name that she had heard before. He was the leader of the shadow stalkers, and supposedly the strongest assassin that the guild had ever produced. The fact that he was completely ignoring her most powerful sun spell was even scarier. Of course, the scariest thing about the newcomer was the fact that he'd just cast a spell. Vampires, although powerful magical creatures, could not cast spells.

Blitz was wearing a mask, but his mouth was lifted in an easy smile. His eyes were dead black, nothing but pools of nothingness. Hermione had never seen a vampire with eyes like that before. In her experience, vampires had irises that turned red when they hunted, but she'd never seen a vampire that could turn the entire eye black.

"End your spell, witch." Blitz ordered. Hermione shook her head. "If you do not end it, I fear I will have to end it for you."

Sirius threw himself at the vampire, hoping the bright light was going to slow it down. A quick and easy maneuver, and Sirius was sent flying across the room. Blitz pulled two knives from his belt, and threw one at Remus. It caught his cloak, just below the armpit, and pushed him against the wall. He tried to pull it out, but he had been stapled to the wall quite neatly.

Blitz jumped into the air just as Tonks cast a spell at him. A quick flip and roll put Blitz right in front of the Auror, and a quick sweep of the legs brought her to the ground, where his fist knocked her out cold. As Blitz stood up, he was within arm's reach of Hermione. The second blade was resting against her throat. "End the spell."

Sirius tried to take advantage of the fact that Blitz had turned his back, and tried to tackle the vampire from behind. Blitz shifted his weight, pulled another knife, and tossed it to the left side of his body. Quickly swapping which hand was holding the knife to Hermione's throat, Blitz snagged the thrown knife with his left hand, and suddenly Sirius was barreling towards the deadly tip of a long knife. He tried to stop, and almost succeeded. As he finally came to rest, he found the tip of Blitz's knife pressing dangerously against the roof of his open mouth.

"One little twist of my body and both of you die." Blitz said. "End the spell."

Hermione had no choice in the matter. She canceled the spell.

"Erik, nik'hesh." Erik stopped his preparations. He was getting ready to cut Remus' throat. "The three wizards may leave. Show them to the door. This one," Blitz's voice was interested in Hermione, "this one stays here."

Sirius and Remus tried to argue and resist, but were physically restrained and carried out of the Keep. Tonks was moved, still out cold, by one of the other vampires. Hermione gulped carefully. The blade against her throat relaxed slightly. "Master Moonshadow…" She whispered. "Please don't kill me…"

"Kill you?" Blitz seemed confused. "What's your name, girl?"

"Hermione Granger," she said.

"Well, Miss Granger, if I had wanted to kill you, I probably wouldn't have taken the time to force you to end your spell." Blitz laughed slightly. "After all, the spell would have ended automatically when you died."

It was very difficult to argue with that logic.

Harry sniffed the air around Hermione. "Anara, isa-scorta nek'shen?"

Anara smiled. Her son was quite good at reading people from the way their magic smelled. "Weta-nek'shen." Hermione, despite the blade to her throat, blushed with embarrassment.

Blitz's surprised eyes turned back to her, and she noticed that the man's eyes were very green, instead of the black that they had been. "The hunter with no teeth?" He sheathed his knife. "Then, what are you doing here, Miss Granger?"

"They're looking for you, Blitz." Anara giggled. Hermione jumped slightly.

"Is this about that Potter thing?" Blitz asked. "I asked the twins about him. They said that he died, like eighteen years ago."

"Blitz, he's not dead. "Anara said. "I found you at his house eighteen years ago, and kept you for myself. I had the muggles, the ones that were supposed to watch over you, killed."

"So, you're telling me that I'M Harry Potter?" Blitz asked. "That doesn't make sense, mom. I'm a vampire, not a wizard."

"The wizard-lord of Hogwarts had you placed with muggles for some sort of odd blood protection." Anara said. "Do you remember how I told you that your mark was special?" Blitz nodded. "The mark, which identifies you as a lightning-child, should not have appeared for another forty or fifty years, my son. When you were attacked, it manifested early, and very violently. The wizard-lord saw it on your forehead, and thought it was some sort of residue scar from the killing curse. He was trying to protect you, I guess."

"But, if that's the case, why would he leave me with muggles?" Blitz asked. The information was confusing him. "How would I eat? I would have died!"

"Dumbledore didn't understand what you were, Blitz." Anara explained.

"Excuse me?" Hermione joined the conversation. "I don't understand any of this. Voldemort said that Harry Potter was not a vampire."

"Miss Granger, let me say this first, ok?" Hermione nodded. "My name is Blitz Moonshadow. I am the leader of the Shadow Stakers, and I do not answer to Harry Potter, ok? You may call me Master Moonshadow, or Blitz."

"Blitz is a lightning-child, Hermione." Anara said. "I know that you've at least heard of them, right?"

"But…But, they're just a legend!" Hermione exclaimed.

"No, they're just very, very rare." Anara said. "I'm sure you've heard the rumors about this place? Lightning-children are vampires that live on magic, Hermione."

"Is that why you won't let me leave?" Hermione asked. "You want a snack?"

Blitz giggled. "No, no, no! You don't understand at all. I live on magic, but I can eat spells, not just core energy. The twins take care of all the magic I need to sustain my health. You're here simply because I wanted to make sure that the wizards with you would learn a lesson about underestimating vampires. I'll let you go in a couple of days, after they have a chance to think about how stupid they were."

"You were the only one of the four that successfully defended yourself against the vampire that I had attack you, so it could only have been you that we kept. Now, the wizards know that they can't match us force-on-force." Anara said. "Even so, you should know that the vampires were holding back quite a bit. Blitz doesn't like killing in his keep, so their orders were to disarm and restrain you only. Erik was angry that you had landed a few of your punches, and was going to take it out on the werewolf."

"Erik is a fine assassin, but he's quite hot-headed." Blitz said.

"Blitz, it's late." Anara scolded. "You can play with your new friend this evening. Time for bed, my son."

Blitz was very young for a vampire, and being the leader of the Shadow Stalkers apparently didn't protect Blitz from the mothering that Anara was bestowing on him. "But...Oh, alright mom." He turned to Hermione. "I've got an extra room in the twins' area. Other vampires aren't allowed there. Kira and Katusha will show you the way. Kira! Take Miss Granger to the twins, ok? Katusha! Follow her, and make sure that Miss Granger doesn't get lost." Hermione almost screamed when the two Nundu ambled easily into the room. "This is Kira, and this little sweetheart is Katusha. They're my sisters. I want to speak to you, Miss Granger, but my mother wants me to head for bed. I will come to see you this evening."

Hermione followed the Nundu for a minute and then turned around to try and escape, but found herself facing the other one. She had no choice but to follow the giant cat. She reached a door a short time later, and the enormous feline indicated that she should open it. Walking into the room, Hermione received the second biggest shock of her life.

"Hermione! What are you doing here?"

"Parvati? Padma?"

A/N: Another chapter done! This story is getting good now! Send me a review!