AN: So...I've actually had the second half of this written for about six months...yeah, I'm that evil. I really just didn't want to bother with retyping the parts of OotP that had to be retyped, so I've been slacking off on it. But hey, I got inspired, so you can have the chapter now.
Disclaimer: The first half of this is almost straight out of the book. I've changed enough that it is important to read it again, but it will be very, very similar to JKR's original work. I don't own it.
Warning: As of posting this, I have not edited this. There will most likely be typos. Be patient with me; I'll fix them in the next couple days.
Also, pay attention to wording. Wording is extremely important in a few places. It lets me do things later on...
A Modern Myth
Chapter IV: Restrictions and Rituals
Harry looked around nervously as he and Hermione stepped off the train; they had to help supervise the rest of the students making their way off the train. He glanced around nervously for Malfoy and Cedric, since the two would also be helping, but it seemed they were going to leave him alone. He wasn't sorry about Malfoy, but he would have liked to talk with Cedric again.
"First years over here, please! All first years, gather around me!"
Harry turned, startled, at Professor McGonagall's crisp voice. Sure enough, the lantern usually held by Hagrid was now waving about at a more reasonable height.
"Where's Hagrid?" Hermione murmured beside him.
"Maybe he's sick?" he said, distractedly glancing back at Professor McGonagall. A large group of first years had gathered around her. Harry hoped it was all of them. "C'mon, let's go grab a carriage before Malfoy decides to ambush me."
Ron, Ginny, Neville, and Luna were waiting for them by the carriages. Harry glanced at them, glanced back around for Malfoy, and did a double take.
The carriages no longer pulled themselves. Two horses were hitched to the front of each carriage—well, if one could call them horses. They were unlike any horses he had ever seen. They were distinctly reptilian and skeletal at once, with huge, leathery wings and staring, white eyes. The one closest to him turned it head to look at him, but otherwise, they seemed like grotesque statues. He took a couple cautious steps toward it; the horse snorted and stamped one of its feet.
"What is it?" he wondered aloud. He reached a hand out to pet the horse's nose. It snorted again and jerked its head away.
"What is what?" Ron asked, bewildered.
"The weird horse things pulling the carriages."
"What are you talking about?" Hermione asked. "The carriages are pulling themselves, like always."
Harry frowned and reached out again. This time, the horse let him touch its nose for a moment before jerking away. It certainly felt real.
"You're not mad or anything," said a soft voice behind him. Luna stepped around him and reached out the pet the horse's bare neck. It didn't seem to mind her. "I can see them too. They've always pulled the carriages. Don't worry. You're just as sane as I am."
She smiled at him and walked away to climb into the carriage. Not feeling very assured, Harry followed her.
"So, what do you think's up with Hagrid?" Ron asked as they started moving. Harry could not help but notice that the carriage did not seem to move as smoothly anymore.
"Well, it was McGonagall and not that Grubbly-Plank woman," Ginny said thoughtfully, "so he must still be here. Maybe he's sick."
"I hope he get's better soon," Luna said, though she seemed to barely be paying attention. "He's not a very good teacher, but he's very nice to animals."
"He's a perfectly fine teacher!" Ron snapped.
Luna only shrugged and turned her attention on the scenery outside the window.
Harry looked outside too once they passed through the gates to the school grounds to see if there were any lights on in Hagrid's cottage. The grounds were pitch dark. Harry almost sighed in disappointment.
The carriages slowed to a stop in front of the stone steps leading to the tall front doors. Harry got out of their carriage first, looking around nervously for Malfoy. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Malfoy's tell-tale blond hair already halfway up the steps to the castle. At least he wouldn't have to worry about the Veela for now.
He glanced back at the dragonish horses leading their carriage. Luna had said they had always been there, but if that was true, why could he suddenly see them and Ron and Hermione could not?
"Hey, are you coming or what?"
Harry turned to see his friends gathered at the bottom of the staircase, waiting for them. He hurried to catch up and join the crowd mounting the steps to the castle.
The four long House tables in the Great Hall were almost full once they got there, since there were among the last to enter. Luna drifted away from them at the Slytherin table, heading for the end where Kiran Erebos was sitting. Ginny left to sit with a few of her fourth year friends once they reached the Gryffindor table. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville found seats near one end of the table—the opposite end than where Malfoy was sitting at the Slytherin table so Harry could keep an eye on him.
"He's not there," Ron said next to him.
Harry turn to look at the staff table where Ron had be looking, but he only needed to glance at it to see what was wrong. Hargid wasn't there, and he was a little hard to miss.
"Maybe he isn't back from his mission yet," Hermione suggested quietly so no one around them would hear.
"Maybe..." Harry scanned down the line of teachers to the very end, where Hagrid usually sat. In his seat was a woman he had never seen before, smiling and chatting with Professor Sinistra next to her. She was not very remarkable, with auburn hair just the shade to be dull and a smattering a freckles across her nose, and Harry would never have noticed her if he hadn't been looking to see if anyone had taken Hagrid's place. Harry couldn't shake the feeling that there was something about her, though.
"Is that her?" Hermione asked, pointing at the middle of the staff table. "The woman from your hearing?"
Harry's eyes looked to where she was pointing. Sitting next to Dumbledore, opposite Professor McGonagall's seat, was the squat woman who reminded him of a pink toad. He wasn't surprised to see her. Fudge had called upon an old and nearly-forgotten law that said he could hire a new teacher if the Headmaster was having trouble filling a position. Though they had never heard the name of the person Fudge had hired, Harry had been betting it would be her, so Fudge could keep an eye on him and Dumbledore.
"That's her," Harry said. "Umbridge. She was one of the one's who didn't believe Sudi's testimony."
Hermione glanced back at the staff table again, frowning in thought. Harry opened his mouth to ask what she was thinking, but just then the doors from the entrance hall opened and a long line of terrified first-years filed in., led by Professor McGonagall. She walked up to the front of the hall and set down a three-legged stool and the Sorting Hat.
The sound in the Great Hall faded away. The first years lined up in front of the staff table, facing the hat. Most of them were staring at it in terror. Harry thought back to how he'd felt standing up there; he wondered if these first years had heard any of the same rumours he had about how they would be sorted.
The rip near the hat's brim opened wide like a mouth, and the Sorting Hat burst into song.
And Harry's head suddenly felt like it would burst open with pain. He hissed and clutched at his scar, only vaguely hearing the words of the Sorting hat or the frantic whispers of his friends. The pain only got worse as the moments passed, and a churning feeling in his stomach appeared. The pain got so bad, he was afraid he was going to pass out.
'Harry, snap out of it. Do not allow him to draw you in. You are stronger than that.'
Harry jerked as the pain and the foreign feeling suddenly disappeared. He glanced around; the Sorting had already started, though most of the first-years were still up front. No one but his friends, Malfoy, and Cedric seemed to have noticed anything had been wrong with him either, so unless one of them had telepathy, he couldn't place who the voice had belonged to.
"Harry, are you alright?"
Harry nodded, feeling uncomfortable with Hermione so close to him.
"I'm fine now." Harry sat up, rubbing at his scar. It still felt a little sore, but it was no more than he lived with half the time anyway.
"Was it You-Know-Who? He's not here, is he?" Ron looked up at the doors to the entrance hall nervously, as though he thought Voldemort would blast through them any second.
"I don't think he's here..." Harry frowned as he thought about what else he'd been feeling besides pain. "He was...really angry. Someone failed him, but this was a really big failure. His plans have been set back months."
Ron and Hermione stared at him in surprise. He didn't blame them; he was surprised himself. The words had seemed to just come to him, as through a stranger were whispering in his ear.
"How do you know that? Did you have a vision?" Hermione asked.
Harry shook his head. "Dumbledore said last year that I can tell when Voldemort's close or feeling angry. I guess it was just particularly bad this time."
"Dumbledore should probably know about this one, too, Harry," Hermione said.
Harry glanced up at the staff table. Dumbledore was watching the last first-years get sorted with genuine interest. If Harry didn't know better, he would have bet that Dumbledore hadn't even noticed what had happened.
"He probably already knows. But I'll tell him anyway," he added so Hermione would quit glaring at him.
The last first-year, "Zeller, Rose," was sorted into Hufflepuff. Professor McGonagall picked up the hat and stool and took them away as Dumbledore rose to his feet.
"To our newcomers—welcome!" Dumbledore said, arms stretched wide. "To our old hands—welcome back! There is a time for speechmaking, but this is not it. Tuck in!"
Dumbledore sat down to an outbreak of applause and hesitant laughter, though neither lasted long when food appeared on all the tables. Harry sighed and watched the rest of his House filling their plates with a bit of longing. He felt sorry for making fun of Nearly Headless Nick now that he was in a similar position.
Hermione turned to him, probably to ask him why he wasn't eating, before she seemed to realize that was a bad question to ask. "That's right, you can't eat anymore, can you?"
Harry shook his head. "Hamal said I could probably have really rare meats and black pudding if I wanted to feel nauseous, but other than that, no."
"Hey, don't feel too bad about it; Haemon can't eat either," Ron said, waving his fork vaguely at the Slytherin table. Harry looked over; one of the boys sitting next to Kiran did look rather bored and Harry could tell there was nothing on his plate. Harry wondered if he even came to meals during the rest of the year.
"Well, it gives you more time to do homework," Hermione said brightly.
Harry rolled his eyes; of course she would think that. "Great, more homework and no treacle tart. That's exactly what I wanted."
Hermione frowned, but before she could scold him, Professor McGonagall walked up behind them.
"Potter, Professor Dumbledore would like to see you in his office once the feast is over," she said. Her eyes glanced briefly at Ron and Hermione before she added, "Weasley and Granger are welcome to come as well."
Professor McGonagall gave him a slightly pitying look before she left, heading, not back up to the staff table, but to the Hufflepuff table to speak with Cedric.
He turned back to find Ron and Hermione giving him no-so-covet hopeful looks. He sighed; might as well spare them. "Yes, you guys can come."
Finally, when it seemed all the students had finished eating and the noise level of the Great Hall was starting to rise, Dumbledore stood up and gestured for silence.
Harry turned out for most of the speech, since it was information they already knew (and sometimes ignored, like staying out of the Forbidden Forest). He started listening again when Dumbledore mentioned something about changes in the staff.
"...I am very pleased to introduce Professor Loretta Roselyn, who will be taking Care of Magical Creatures lessons—"
The students clapped as the auburn-haired witch on the end stood briefly. She sat down again quickly, nervous and unsure of herself. Harry had no idea why she seemed so familiar; he was positive he had never seen her before.
"—as well as Professor Delores Umbridge, our new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher."
The students applauded again, though it was less enthusiastic this time. Harry didn't blame them; Umbridge looked far less friendly than Roselyn.
Dumbledore continued. "Tryouts for the house Quidditch teams will take place—"
He broke off, glancing over at Umbridge. It took a moment for Harry to understand why. Umridge was so short that she was almost the same height standing as sitting down, so it wasn't immediately obvious that she had yet to sit again after her introduction. She cleared her throat with a soft, "Hem, hem," and looked pointedly up at Dumbledore.
Dumbledore only looked surprised for a moment before he sat down and turned his attention on her completely. The other professors were not so fast in hiding their shock. Even Roselyn seemed aghast that a fellow new staff was being so disrespectful. Harry felt a wave of hate and fear come from somewhere, but no one else seemed to have noticed it.
"Thank you, Headmaster, for those kind words of welcome," Umbridge said, giving him the faintest bow.
She gave another little throat-clearing cough and continued, "Well, it is lovely to be back at Hogwarts! And to see such happy little faces looking back up at me! I am very much looking forward to getting to know you all, and I'm sure we'll be very good friends!"
Harry glanced around. He wasn't sure where Umbridge was looking, but it certainly wasn't at the same group of students he was. Not one student was smiling; in fact, most looked horrified to be addressed in such a childish way.
Professor Umbridge cleared her throat again, but when she continued, the childish edge had been taken out of her voice. This time, her tone was almost business-like—still trying to be friendly, but by someone who believed she knew best.
"The Ministry of Magic has always considered it our duty to ensure the younger generation of witches and wizards is able to have a formal, well-rounded education. The rare gifts with which you were born must be moulded and nurtured lest they result in nothing. The ancient skills and traditions unique to the Wizarding world must be passed down through the generations to keep our society strong. The magical and academic knowledge amassed by our ancestors must be guarded, replenished, polished, and wielded by those who have been called to the noble profession of teaching, whether in this school or others."
Here she paused and offered a little bow to the rest of the staff, none of whom so much as blinked back. Professor McGonagall in particular was watching her with hawk-like intensity, and Roselyn's eyebrows were narrowed in thought as she listened.
Umbrige cleared her throat for a fourth time. "Every headmaster or headmistress of Hogwarts has brought something unique to the traditions of this historic school. That is how it should be, for without progress there will be stagnation and decay. Then again, progress for progress's sake must be discouraged, for it often brings with it ideas that are harmful to our world. A balance, then, between old and new, between permanence and change, between tradition and innovation, between lenience and intolerance, is required..."
Harry felt his attention slipping, though something compelled him to keep listening. Maybe it was that a bit of what she said made sense enough to disgust him. Or maybe it was that every time she said something new, she looked between him and Haemon.
"...because some changes will be for the better, whereas others will come, in time, to be recognized as errors in judgement. Meanwhile, some old sentiments will be retained, and rightly so, whereas others, old-fashioned and outworn, must be abandoned. Let us move forward, then into a new era of effectiveness and accountability, intent on preserving what ought to be preserved, perfecting what needs perfecting, and pinching off practices that ought to be prohibited."
She sat down. Dumbledore started clapping. The staff joined in, though most of them only for a moment. A few of the students joined in, but most were so startled by the end of the speech that they didn't have the chance to start before Dumbledore stood up again.
"Thank you very much, Professor Umbridge; that was most illuminating," he said, nodding to her. "Now, as I was saying, Quidditch tryouts will be held..."
"Yes, that certainly was illuminating," Hermione muttered, eyes fixed on Umbridge.
"You're not saying you enjoyed it?" Ron said, horrified. Harry had felt him tune out almost as soon as Umbridge had started speaking.
"I said illuminating, not enjoyable," Hermione said. She turned her gaze onto Harry. "Were you listening?"
"To some of it, yeah," Harry said, thinking back to what he had actually understood of her speech. "It sounded like the Ministry's totally against any sort of progress."
Hermione nodded. "I wouldn't say all progress. That way she worded it...it seemed more like they're against progress in thought and attitude."
Harry nodded, looking around the Great Hall. Cedric's brow was creased and angry, much as he tried to be listening to the rest of Dumbledore's announcements. Malfoy actually looked similar, and he glanced over while Harry was watching him. Harry quickly looked away up the table; Haemon and Erebos were whispering urgently to each other, and Haemon's form was tense and shaking with anger. A glance at the head table showed that Roselyn was equally upset.
Suddenly, students started standing up and making a great deal on noise; Dumbledore must have just dismissed them. Hermione shoot out of her seat, looking flustered.
"Harry, we have to show the first years where to go!"
"Yeah, I know." Harry stood and followed Hermione as she started down the table, calling for the first years.
A group of new students gathered between the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff tables. Most of them looked terrified; Harry didn't have to guess long at why. Their eyes glanced at him enough for him to know.
Hermione finished counting them to make sure they were all there and turned to Harry. "Shall we go?"
Harry nodded, eager to get rid of the first years as quickly as possible. He, Ron, and Hermione gestured for the first years to follow and led them out of the hall.
Once the first years had been led safely to the common room and placed in the charge of the other prefects, Harry, Ron, and Hermione turned around and headed back towards Dumbledore's office. Professor McGonagall was waiting for them in front of the stone gargoyle, which was already opening by the time they reached her. She gestured for them to go ahead and they stepped forward onto the moving staircase.
Now that they were actually here, Harry's stomach was shifting unpleasantly in his gut. He was sure the last time he had felt so nervous was right before his first Quidditch game. He had no idea what to expect. He didn't even know if he should be nervous or if he was just being paranoid. He actually had no idea what the meeting was for; that was probably what unnerved him the most.
Professor McGonagall stepped in front of them and rapped on the door when they reached the top. After a couple moments, she opened the door and stepped inside. Harry exchanged a nervous look with Ron and followed her.
To his surprise, Professor McGonagall and Dumbledore were not the only ones in the room. In fact, quite a few chair were set up before Dumbledore's large desk, and most were filled. Professor McGonagall walked over to join the other Heads of House next to Dumbledore's desk. Next to them sat Cedric and Dominique, the head Boy and Girl; Erebos, the Slytherin prefect; and the boy Ron had told him was Angelo Haemon. Between the students and the teachers sat Professor Roselyn.
And from the group radiated the feeling of non-humans. Harry couldn't tell who among them were pure human and who were not, but he was sure at least half of them were not. He briefly wondered if Dumbledore had brought together all his potential mates before he remembered Malfoy, who wasn't there.
"Good evening, Harry, Ronald, Hermione. Please sit down."
They quickly took the last three chairs. Cedric flashed Harry a brief smile that he couldn't help but return. Then he looked back up at Dumbledore, who was regarding his calmly behind his glasses.
"I trust you had a pleasant trip, Harry?"
Harry wanted to mention the horses. Surely Dumbledore would know something about them and could explain why he could see them and his friends couldn't. But when he opened his mouth to ask, all that came out was, "It was great, thank you, sir."
It felt like someone had taken over and spoken for him. Ron and Hermione looked a little confused, since they both knew the trip hadn't been "great." But then he looked to his left and saw that Cedric was smiling and he suddenly understood. His vampire self didn't want him looking crazy in Cedric's or any of the other potential mate's eyes, and saying that he could see thing no one else could would be a good way of going about that.
Dumbledore smiled, his eyes twinkling in a way that showed he knew what was going on, but he, too, said nothing about it. "Very good." He paused and swept his eyes over all of them. "Now, I have called you all here to see if we can't make your stay at Hogwarts this year a little easier."
Harry wondered suddenly if the people gathered were his donors. He shuddered at the thought of biting into Snape's neck.
"We will, of course, need to do something about donors," Dumbledore said, speaking his mind. "With only Mr Haemon here, we were never overly pressed to find a few. I do not believe this year should be very difficult—"
"I have already spoken with a few people," Haemon interrupted. Though he knew the boy was another vampire, Harry still had to force himself not to react to his voice. It was difficult; Haemon's voice seemed like it would be hard to ignore normally.
"I do not think I will have a problem this year, except, perhaps, from the Weasley matron," Haemon continued, throwing a slight smirk at Ron.
Ron scowled at him. "If you do anything to them—"
"They know what they are getting into, Weasley," Haemon said softly. "Your brothers have been my best friends since first year. So have you," he added, almost impatiently, to Erebos when the blond glared at him.
Ron opened his mouth again, but shut it when Dumbledore raised a hand.
"Thank you, Mr Weasley. As I was saying, this year it may not be difficult for Mr Haemon to find donors, as he had needed them for the past six years. I know there are a few people who have been waiting until they were old enough to help him."
Ron's expression darkened. Harry had a feeling the twins were two of those people. He wondered, with slight disgust, why anyone would wait for something like that.
"However, there are only a select number allowed to volunteer," Dumbledore continued, "and usually only half of them consider it. Obviously, we don't want either you two or the student involved to get sick. Nor can we force anyone to be a donor."
"Professor Snape made a potion for me so I won't need blood this week," Harry said, hoping like mad that would be enough. "Couldn't I just keep taking that?"
"It's not that easy, Harry," said Professor Roselyn with a faint smile. It was easier not to react this time because of his surprise; Dumbledore hired another part-human?
He also wondered why she would have any idea about all this. "Why not, Professor?"
"Please, Harry, call me Loretta. I don't wish for us to be strangers. As for your question: you're young enough that you should be Feeding everyday. The blood potions will reduce that need to about once a week, but you'll get extremely sick if you go much longer than that. It is also extremely easy to get addicted to them; that is why Hamal and Sudi have been feeding together lately. Sudi is getting over an addiction, so Hamal has been making sure he doesn't relapse."
Shock couldn't touch how Harry felt after hearing all that. He was numb, staring at her.
"How do you know that?"
She smiled and her eyes flashed red, rooting him even more to his seat. "Hamal is a dear friend of mine. Not as dear as his sister, but still, we are very close."
Getting over his shock, Harry frowned slightly. Grateful though he was that there was another vampire of his kind here, he couldn't help but wonder why.
"Are you here to keep an eye on me?" he asked suspiciously, ignoring Hermione's scandalized looks that he would talk to a teacher that way.
Loretta laughed and shook her head. "No, no. I'm here to help you. Hamal doesn't need spies to keep tabs on you."
Harry wasn't sure he liked the sound of that. From Ron's expression, the red-head didn't like it either.
"I am a dyad, like you," Loretta said, surprising him again. "Minkah wished to be here, but he is almost as well known as your Sire, so that would have been a bad idea. I am here to help you instead."
Harry honestly couldn't say how he felt about that. He was grateful to have someone to talk to when he need help, but he was also a little annoyed that they assumed he would need that help.
"I will not need to Feed as frequently this year," Haemon said softly, "and I already know who I will ask to be donors. Perhaps anyone else who volunteers could be for Harry?"
"I'll consider it," Dumbledore said. His eyes shifted back to Harry. "We are also here to discuss what restrictions must be placed on you for the rest of your time at Hogwarts."
Harry sighed and sank down in his seat. He'd known this was coming, but he didn't look forward to hearing any of it. The restrictions would probably include things like not going out at night and no flying or Quidditch. The thought made bile rise up in his throat.
Then a hand touched his shoulder and he relaxed. He glanced over to see Cedric smiling warmly at him. He couldn't help but smile back in relief.
"I know how important it is for vampires, especially your kind, to be awake and able to wander at night," Dumbledore started. "It is one reason I made you a prefect. I will allow you to wander the halls after curfew. All I ask in return is that you assist Mr Filch while you wander."
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Haemon tense, but he was to thrilled to wonder about it.
"I won't be punished for being out of bed?"
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. "No, you will not. That does not mean you are allowed in forbidden areas, however. Those rules still apply. And I will revoke the privilege if you slip too much in your schoolwork. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir. Thank you."
"Both Mr Haemon and Mr Erebos are allowed out after curfew as well," Dumbledore said, nodding to the blond and the other vampire, "so you'll have some company, perhaps."
Erebos snorted softly. They all looked at him. He raised an eyebrow and said mildly, "I think Angelo and I have better things to do at night than wander the halls."
Haemon rolled his eyes, though the smile on his face turned prideful and clearly pleased that Erebos thought that way. Harry was sure he did not want to know the details.
Dumbledore only seemed more amused, though he quickly turned serious again. "Obviously, you will not be allowed to Feed on anyone who is not one of your donors or, as a dyad, a potential mate. This is not only for other students' protection but yours as well."
Harry nodded. Cedric and Dominique had explained that earlier.
"Also, Harry, I must ask you—"
Dumbledore suddenly paused and looked expectantly up at the door. A moment later, there was a soft knock on it.
"Come in," Dumbledore said.
The door opened to reveal Professor Umbridge in all her pink glory. She looked both insulted and politely confused as she took in the scene.
"Good evening, Delores," Dumbledore said mildly. "What can I do for you?"
"I am sorry to intrude, Dumbledore, but was sure the Minister informed you that I am to be included in all matters concerning this boy?" she said, gesturing to Harry. Her tone was so sickly sweet that Harry wondered if she'd ever gotten cavities from speaking.
"Ah, so he did. I must have forgotten. Please, take a seat."
"Thank you, Headmaster."
But as Umbridge conjured a chair and deliberately sat between Loretta and Professor McGonagall, Harry saw Dumbledore and McGonagall exchange a look that clearly said they had hope to leave her out. No doubt her presence would make things even more difficult.
"It is it really wise to have so many other students here, Dumbledore?" Umbridge asked as soon as she was settled.
"They each have a reason for being here; I see no reason to leave any one of them out," Dumbledore said pleasantly.
"I see. Very well, Headmaster, continue. Forgive me for interrupting."
Dumbledore nodded to her, then turned his attention back on Harry, continuing as though he had never been interrupted.
"Since we are holding you to the same standards as Mr Haemon, I must ask you not to use any wandless magic you may know while you are here. Also, though you may be able to Apparate within the school, I must ask you to refrain from doing so. Yes, even if you are late to Potions," he added when Harry glanced at Snape. "It would be unfair to the other students, especially Mr Haemon."
Harry nodded again; he wasn't terribly surprised by that restriction.
Umbridge gave a little, "Hem, hem." Harry saw Haemon and Loretta tense and glance at her suspiciously.
"Forgive me, Headmaster," she said with a sweet smile, "but I think that if you wish to be fair, Mr Potter should be taken off the Gryffindor Quidditch team."
Harry stared at her in horror. That was exactly what he was afraid of. After all, being a vampire supposedly gave him faster reflexes and better eyesight, although he wasn't sure he'd experienced either one yet.
Dumbledore smiled. "I see no reason to take Harry off the Quidditch team, unless he is bested in tryout, which I think unlikely."
Umbridge looked outraged. "But Headmaster—"
Dumbledore raised a hand to silence her. "It has come to my attention that there are a number of student with magical creature blood attending Hogwarts, some of whom are also on their House Quidditch teams. I see no reason to allow none of them to play. In fact, I am going to allow every part-human to participate in Quidditch is he so desires."
"Are you serious, Headmaster?" Haemon asked. Harry clenched hiss fists to help suppress his reaction to Haemon's voice when it was so excited.
"I am very serious, Mr Haemon, though I'm not sure mr Malfoy would appreciate you taking over his position."
Haemon smiled. "I do not wish to be a Seeker. Thank you, Headmaster."
Snape nodded in agreement, a feral grin threatening to form on his face. Harry had no doubt Snape would force the other Slytherins into accepting Haemon and maybe Erebos onto the team.
"Headmaster, I must protest," Umbridge said furiously. "What about the other students on the teams? The Ravenclaw team? It is not fair to them."
Dumbledore raised an eyebrow. "I assure you, Delores, there is a part-human already on the Ravenclaw team. I see no reason to force any student to resign. It may not be fair to the other students, but it is not fair to these students either."
Umbridge looked unconvinced and livid, but she seemed to sense that Dumbledore wasn't going to tolerate much more so she stayed quiet. However, she threw a furious glance at Haemon and Erebos. Harry wondered if she had something against part-humans more than the average wizard.
"Also, I believe it would be a good idea if you met with both Mr Haemon and Professor Roselyn at least once every couple weeks. They will be able to help you, both in your quest for a mate and in dealing with being a vampire, much the same way the Kafeles would if they were allow on school grounds."
Harry frowned at him; he'd thought the reason they couldn't be with him was that parents would protest it, not that they weren't allowed. "Why aren't they allowed?"
Umbridge got to it before Dumbledore could open his mouth. "Hamal Kafele and Minkah Astennu are two of the most notorious criminals in the wizarding world. They have been since before we were in the least bit organized as a society. The Ministry cannot permit such criminals to come near the children of this castle."
"Oh, you did a marvellous job of that during the summer," Harry retorted. He bristled at the woman calling his Sire a criminal. Sure, Hamal had probably killed a lot of people, but he was a vampire.
Umbridge stared at him a moment, as though trying to decided whether he had actually just said that. "I will not be spoken to that way," she whispered. "Deten—"
"That will not be necessary, Delores," Dumbledore interrupted. "It is only the natural response when one's Sire has been insulted."
Umbridge didn't say anything, but it was clear that if Harry so much as breathed loudly in her presence, he would get a detention.
"We will meet again in the Hospital Wing on Friday so we can arrange a Feeding schedule with you and Mr Haemon," Dumbledore said as though nothing had happened.
Dumbledore smiled and stood, prompting the rest of them to stand as well. Only Umbridge remained seated.
"Now, we all have classes tomorrow. Let's all get a good night's sleep. Severus, if you would stay a moment."
Snape nodded and stepped closer to the desk while the other teachers started filing out. Harry waited for the other students to leave before leaving himself, but it didn't do any good. Dumbledore was determined to wait for everyone to leave before he started talking with Snape.
"Don't worry, Harry, I'm sure you'll get a chance to tell him tomorrow," Hermione said when he caught up with them.
Harry stared at her for a moment before he realized what she was talking about. She thought he hadn't stayed behind to tell Dumbledore about the incident at dinner. He'd actually completely forgotten about it.
"Yeah, I'll tell him tomorrow," he agreed, though he wasn't about to do anything of the sort.
"Hey, think we're invited to come on Friday too?" Ron asked as they stepped onto the staircase.
"You want to come?"
Ron shrugged and flushed brightly. "Well, you know, I don't really like vampires. I can't help it; that's the way I grew up. But you're my best mate, so I have to support you."
Harry was shocked. He felt a little ashamed; he'd assumed Ron had only come with them tonight because he didn't want to be left out.
"Thanks, Ron," Harry said. It seemed inadequate, but he didn't know what else to say.
They reached the bottom of the stairs to find Haemon and Erebos waiting for them. Immediately, Ron scowled at them, and Harry knew that was where his goodwill toward vampires ran out. He doubted anything would get rid out Ron and Haemon's animosity toward each other.
"May I speak with you, Harry?" Haemon asked, ignoring Ron. "Your friends are more than welcome to stay and make sure I do not do anything to harm you."
Ron scowled and clenched his fists. "You'd better not do anything."
Erebos sneered at him. "I'd love to see what you'd do about it."
"Sure," Harry said, responding to Haemon's question before Ron could do anything. "What do you want to talk about?"
Haemon gave him a breathtaking smile. Harry's breath caught and he suddenly felt very nervous. He wondered whether Haemon had this effect on other people too.
"I am sure you know by know that both Kiran and I are Potentials," Haemon said, making Kiran scowl and look away.
"I'd guessed, yeah," Harry said, only feeling more nervous. Was he going to have to deal with more Slytherins than Malfoy? He wasn't sure Malfoy would have a chance against these two.
"However, I have found the person I want to spend my life with," Haemon continued. "We have not bonded yet, so we can both feel you and you, us, but I think we may in a few years."
Kiran nodded behind him, still scowling, though now it was at Ron.
Haemon pulled a dagger out of his robes and laid the blade against the palm of his hand. "I, Angelo Eros Haemon, Halfling vampire of the Tarxien tribe, do so renounce my claim on the bonding of Harry James Potter, newly-Turned dyad of the Nephilim tribe. I recognize that in doing so, I shall never again have such a claim and accept it willingly. May my blood turn to fire in my veins should I try to clam him when it is not my right."
He pressed the dagger into his palm. Blood welled out of the cut. He tipped his hand so a few drops would fall, but they ignited and burnt up before they touched the ground. Haemon nodded and waved his other hand over the cut; it healed, leaving only a thin white scar behind.
Harry stared at him, only barely noticing that Haemon did not seem quite as attractive anymore and his opinion did not seem to matter nearly as much. He was shocked the other vampire would make a vow like that, one that he didn't doubt would be hard to keep. Clearly, Haemon loved his own mate, whom Harry was starting to suspect was Erebos, very much.
Not only that, but Haemon had used wandless magic outside Dumbledore's office only minutes after being reminded he wasn't allowed to use it.
Haemon noticed him glance at his hand and shrugged. "It is difficult for me to get used to a wand again after the summer. The Headmaster know this. I have a short period of leniency from him."
He tucked the dagger back inside his robes and smiled at Harry again. It still made his breath catch, but he had a feeling Heamon had that effort on everyone.
"I look forward to our meetings, Harry," Haemon said. "I hope that you will teach me as much as I will teach you."
"Um, yeah, me too. Thanks, Haemon."
"Please call me Angelo. Like Loretta, I wish there to be little distance between us."
Erebos sent a glare at Haemon's back, and Harry flushed a bit, but he knew that if Angelo meant it that way, he would die. So Harry smiled and nodded. "Alright, Angelo."
Erebos stepped forward then and pulled a silver knife out of his own robes. Harry wasn't surprised when the blond pressed the dagger against his palm.
"I, Kiran Azriel Erebos, being full-blooded of the Race of Highest Light and Order, do so relinquish my claim on Harry James Potter, newly-Turned dyad of the Nephilim. I understand that by doing so, I shall never again have such a claim and accept it willingly. May my blood turn to stone in my veins should I attempt to take back this vow."
He pressed the tip of his knife into his palm, but only enough to allow a single drop of blood out. This one did not transform as Angelo's had; the drop merely vanished before it hit the ground.
Harry wasn't sure what to say. He was grateful that he had two less people to worry about, but saying "thank you" seemed odd in this case.
"Now you say 'I accept these vows'," Erebos said, finally getting impatient with his silence.
"I-I accept these vows," Harry repeated hesitantly.
Erebos rolled his eyes and turned away. "Damn Vampire can't even teach customs right..."
Harry bristled at the insult, tensing further when Angelo said, "That is why Loretta is here, so she can teach him some of that."
"Hamal's a fine teacher!" Harry exclaimed, pulling out his wand. "I'd like to see you do better! We only had a month, after all!"
Erebos eyed him with distain for a moment. He waved his hand. Harry's wand leapt from his hand and he flew back against the wall, pinned there.
Ron and Hermione moved to help him, but they met an invisible wall before they hardly took two steps. Harry glanced at Angelo; the vampire looked concerned but not at all close to helping.
Erebos stalked over to him, the silver knife gleaming in his hand. The blond stopped so close to him they were practically touching. The knife pressed against his throat, hard enough to sting but not draw blood.
"I will insult your Sire and his pathetic mate whenever I wish, Potter," Erebos hissed. "I would kill them both if I had the opportunity, and you as well. We have no reason to ever speak again, nor come near one another, nor even look at each other. I suggest you keep it that way if you want to live."
"Kiran..." Angelo murmured. Both of them looked at him. He didn't make a move to interfere, but he looked as though he would love to. Harry started getting a cold feeling in his gut; why didn't Angelo do something with he wanted to so badly? Did Erebos threaten him like this too? He wouldn't doubt it; the blond seemed to hate vampires.
"Please," Angelo said. "You know what it took for me to make that vow. Don't make me take it back."
The word only seemed to incense Erebos further, but the knife left Harry's throat and the spell pinning him to the wall fell away.
"So what happens when you get on the Quidditch team?" Harry asked as Erebos walked away.
"I won't be a Beater or a Seeker," Erebos said, "so we will have no reason to interact."
Erebos grabbed Angelo's wrist as he passed by and dragged the vampire along with him. Angelo made no move to break free or resist. Rather, he followed like a lost puppy, glancing back once as if to make sure Harry was okay.
Ron and Hermione rushed over to him; Erebos must have taken the shield down.
"Are you okay, Harry?" Ron asked, frantically checking his neck. Harry reached up to check it himself; the knife had scratched him, but it wasn't bleeding.
"I'm fine," Harry said. His eyes were fixed on the two Slytherins as they turned and disappeared around a corner.
"Don't worry about him. He doesn't have the guts to go through with any of his threats," Ron said, following Harry's line of sight. "Let's go to bed; I'm beat."
Harry nodded and they started walking back to Gryffindor Tower, but he didn't believe Ron's assurances. He had no doubt that Erebos could and would go through with his threats if given the opportunity. Harry just wished he could find out what Erebos had been threatening Angelo with; maybe he could get Angelo out of his grasp.