The Vampire Prince
Chapter 1: The Vampire Covens
Any transition serious enough to alter your definition of self will require not just small adjustments in your way of living and thinking but a full-on metamorphosis.
Harry Potter pressed himself flat against the wall, thanking the gods for his seeker built reflexes, as his cousin threw the door open and ran inside in typical rampaging hippogriff fashion. Harry had slipped out the door before it had fully hit the opposite wall, knowing that his Aunt and Uncle wouldn't, or couldn't, accuse him of slamming the door on his way out. He started on the now familiar route to the park, appreciating the way the setting sun lengthened the shadows and played with the colors on the houses of Privet Drive. In normal daylight these houses were typical of any suburbia, starkly similar in addition to their unnerving tidiness, but the setting sun transformed them into a normal array of colors, utterly transforming them from the uniform shapes that they had been. Everyone on Privet Drive loved normal, he thought ruefully, and if there was one thing that Harry Potter was not it was normal.
Harry was a seventeen-year-old wizard, orphaned at age one when a Dark Wizard had killed his parents. It was because of that night he had been transformed from normal to abnormal, even among the abnormal wizarding world. He felt eyes watching him and did his best to ignore him, knowing that these eyes belonged to his "watchers", the group of people who deemed it their responsibility to baby-sit him and protect him in the eventuality of an attack. Harry Potter was a wanted man, wanted by that same Dark Wizard who had killed his parents because he had lived through an unsurvivable and unblockable curse and he continued to escape unscathed on an annual basis since he turned eleven. But now Harry had his own wanted list and Voldemort took the top spot.
Voldemort's murders had taken even more people from his life than just his parents, his godfather Sirius Black had been killed in a duel against one of Voldemort's Death Eaters year before last and Harry was sure many more would follow.
He sat down gingerly on the only swing that has survived intact after years of mistreatment from his cousin and his gang and stared out over the grass absentmindedly. He noticed the rustle of leaves that said that his minders, although invisible, had resorted to hiding in the bushes, and did his best to ignore it as he let his thoughts wander. However, the hair on the back of his neck prickling pulled him from his thoughts rather quickly after that, and he turned his head quickly to see, with a sinking sense of dread now settling in the pit of his stomach, a group of black-robed white-masked wizards striding boldly down the street towards him. Death Eaters.
He stood quickly, spinning to face his enemy while drawing his wand from his back pocket and whispering a loud warning to his guard. As he did so the memory of Mad-Eye Moody telling him not to keep his wand in his back pocket so that he didn't blow his buttocks off nearly made him laugh, but he was quickly sobered by the loud curse from the bushes, cut off so suddenly that Harry suspected they had had a hand clapped over their mouth, and then silence. The group of Death Eaters had reached the edge of the sandbox.
"Come with us, Potter, and we promise not to hurt you," a female voice that Harry recognized as belonging to Bellatrix Lestrange, the escaped convict who had killed Sirius. Ironically, Bellatrix was also Sirius' cousin.
"Somehow I highly doubt that, Bella," Harry said boldly, staring directly at the robed figure he knew to be her. "If you don't hurt me now you certainly will later."
Bellatrix reeled back like she had been struck. "You dare to insult my honor?" she shrieked.
"It's nothing that hasn't been done before," Harry replied, shocking himself with his audacity.
"You are lucky that my master ordered you alive, Potter," she spat. "Others have lost their lives for less."
Another black-robed figure stepped forward and put a restraining hand on her arm.
"Lucius suggests that we knock some sense into you," she called after a moment of whispered conference. "I can't help but agree. I've found that nothing loosens a person's resolve better than a dose of the Cruciatus Curse."
Harry was willing to bet everything he owned that she had found that out through personal experience although he didn't have the time to say so. Bellatrix's wand had come up, the words had fallen from her lips easily, and the jet of red light was working its way towards him with agonizing slowness. Unable to do anything to stop it, he closed his eyes and let the spell hit him, bracing himself for the horrible pain that would follow.
He wasn't disappointed as, seconds later, he was forced to his knees by the horrible pain that ran like fire through his veins, contracting his muscles painfully, and attempting to contort his frame into a different shape. It was all he could do to keep from screaming and to keep from hitting the ground fully, letting the curse do with his limbs as it willed. After what felt like an eternity, it was lifted, and Harry found himself kneeling, panting like he's just run a marathon.
"How was that, baby Potter?" Bellatrix asked in a baby voice, the same that she had used when tormenting him at the Department of Mysteries, the same day she had killed Sirius. The anger from that memory was enough fuel to help him to his feet, his wand back in his hand. "Now don't go doing anything stupid, baby Potter. Bad children are punished, and I'd hate to have to punish you. Be a good boy and drop your wand," she ordered. Harry allowed himself a brief glance towards the bushes where he had last seen his watchers, but of course they were either not there or still hidden. He briefly wondered if they were allowed to just sit by and watch as he got tortured until he gave up his wand. He couldn't hope to fight all of these Death Eaters by himself, and if they weren't going to help him out then he would either have to give it up or die trying not to. Fat help the lot in the bushes were.
"Keep your wand, kid," said someone at the back of the Death Eater ranks. As a unit, Bellatrix and Lucius turned, wands raised threateningly, to deal with the dissenter. They found a bunch of puzzled Death Eaters.
"Who said that?" Malfoy demanded. There was a brief pause, and then the Death Eaters were all thrown violently to the floor, causing an odd wave from the back of the group to the front, until it was just Malfoy and Lestrange standing, along with another man who was wearing red instead of Death Eater black. It didn't even look as if he had moved, but the Death Eaters out cold on the ground spoke differently.
"Who are you?" Bellatrix shrieked.
"Not a friend," the man replied calmly, tugging once on his jacket, where a crest was embroidered. She must have recognized it, because she recoiled. Lucius, however, remained confused. "You'll want to be letting the kid go," the man drawled casually.
"Not a chance," Malfoy spat, brandishing his wand and starting a spell. He barely managed to utter the first syllable before he was on his knees, his arm being bent upwards at an impossible angle with what seemed like very little effort on the part of the newcomer, who had moved so fast that Harry hadn't seen how he had managed to get the wand that had been in Lucius' now-open palm to where it now laid.
"Let him go," Bellatrix ordered angrily, but she made no move to help her fellow Death Eater aside from that.
"I don't think so," the man said. Bellatrix's wand arm spasmed, as if she had decided to curse the man but then thought better of it. "Good girl," he said with an infuriatingly calm smile. Bellatrix spat at him, but he just laughed. "Oh we're going to have so much fun," he said happily. "Get him out of here," he ordered to an empty space near Harry.
Harry was momentarily confused, but then another man was in the previously empty space and was moving towards him. Harry noticed that he was wearing the same outfit as the other man, but didn't have much time to examine the insignia on the jacket because the man was reaching for him.
"Hey!" Harry said, evading the man's grasp. The man gave an exasperated sigh.
"I'm a friend, now let me get you out of here," he said, holding out a hand invitingly.
"Who are you?" Harry wanted to know cautiously.
"I told you, friends. I work for someone who has been wanting to meet you," he said. Harry's mistrust of the man grew. "You'll be returned here after you two have talked if you want to, don't worry," he coaxed. Harry couldn't see the catch in the offer, and Bellatrix looked as if she didn't have the balls to do anything to prevent him from leaving, although the man hadn't touched her yet, concentrated as he was on making Lucius bend to keep from having his shoulder dislocated.
Harry put his hand in the man's extended hand, having only the time to notice that he had firmly calloused hands before he was being pulled closer to the man. Instantly, Harry dug in his heels, but with one more tug and what seemed like fairly little effort he had been pulled the two steps that were between him and the stranger so that he was no flush with the man's side, and then he was caught up in the squeezing feeling of side-along apparation.
Unable to help it, possibly due to the fact that he had been hit by the Cruciatus Curse not too long ago, just as the squeezing feeling became nearly unbearable, the point where Harry knew that they would be appearing wherever the man was taking him within seconds, the world went black. He arrived in a good-sized room, the stone walls covered with red and black tapestries bearing the same symbol that was on the jackets, out cold.
Harry awoke to strange voices, talking in hushed, concerned whispers and concluded that he must be in the hospital wing, once again. That is, until he heard what they were saying.
"Will he be called before the queen?"
"I would say he probably will," a second voice replied. "Loads of good that will do him. He couldn't even survive getting here."
"She must have sent after him for a reason; this boy must be important to her." The second person made a disbelieving noise. "From what I hear," the first voice said, "he was doing pretty well against the Death Eaters."
Harry thought that this was exaggerating things a bit.
Apparently, so did the second person. "Most Death eaters are idiots who can barely curse the broad side of a barn let alone a skinny kid like this one."
"Bellatrix Lestrange was leading them. I hear he was hit with one of her Cruciatus Curses, too."
"Then maybe he's up for it," the second said, a bit dubiously, probably wondering, as Harry was, how the first judged doing 'fairly well' in a fight. Most would not consider getting hit with an Unforgivable doing 'fairly well'.
"Is he up yet?" a third voice asked in a commanding tone.
"Yes sir," came the reply. "Listening in on our conversation and everything."
"Good," said the third, "Open your eyes and be quick about it," he commanded Harry. "You've an audience with the queen."
Harry opened his heavy eyelids and blinked the world back into focus. He looked up to see the first man from the park standing over him, holding his glasses out to him, and smiling slightly. Harry grabbed his glasses and shoved them on his face, taking the man's proffered hand and, with some help, was soon on his feet. He felt the burning need to ask where he was, and whom he was going to meet, since he was quite sure that the man wasn't talking about the Queen of England, and if he hadn't been so sure, the décor would have helped to convince him. However, he held his tongue, with effort, remembering how effortlessly the man had put a stop to the Death Eaters. Instead he settled for watching his surroundings closely as he was slowly escorted through enough twisting passages filled with red and black tapestries, and the occasional liveried guard. He quickly lost his sense of direction and was trying to figure out just where he was, or in what direction they were walking when they reached a set of doors with guards dressed in red and black livery blocking entrance. The man made a small hand motion and, with a prompt salute, the guards threw the doors open.
It was a throne room, a red carpet set over the flagstones that led straight to the base of the throne, raised on a small dais. Flickering torches, set into ornate wall sconces, that cast an eerie light over the largely red and gray room, lit the room. The queen, if that was who she was, and she most certainly wasn't the Queen of England, was seated on the throne, resplendent in a blood red gown with ruby accessories. Her long and curly brunette locks were caught up in an elegantly crafted silver diadem. She seemed not to have noticed their entrance; she was still laughing at something the man kneeling near the base of the dais had just said. A man standing behind the throne leaned over to whisper in her ear, presumably to alert her to their presence. She took only one glance their way, a hard and piercing look that seemed to go straight through Harry, before turning back to her companion. He stood, saluted, and left the room with a respectful 'my queen'.
Harry and his escort had stopped before the throne, the escort kneeling to the woman on the throne, hitting the back of Harry's knees to make him do the same, but the woman seemed to take no more notice of them.
"Narit," she said, obviously a summons.
"Yes, my queen?" the man besides Harry asked.
"Find Carald and remind him that I want him to call a strategy meeting together sometime in the next few days. I believe that we will have much to discuss."
"Yes my queen." Narit bowed and started to stand.
"I want you to sit in on it as well, Narit," she informed him.
"Thank you, my queen," he said promptly and left the room, leaving Harry kneeling all by himself before the throne.
"I hope that you aren't kneeling for my sake, Mr. Potter," she said eventually, a smile playing around her lips that would have told someone who knew her better that she knew perfectly well why he was kneeling. Harry got up slowly, taking his time in standing and withholding any reply, using the time to get a good look at the surroundings. "I'm sure you have many questions, like where you are, who I am, how we knew where to find you, and how we know where you are. I'll start with location. I can't quite tell you specifics, but you're in a secure location in a rural part of England. As to who you are, well, you're quite distinctive and I don't think many people in our world don't know who you are. It took some searching to find you, but I'm very powerful and I have people in a lot of places, so it wasn't as difficult as you might think. And lastly, my name is Celdere, and I am Queen of the Vampires." Harry's face must have only registered shock and horror at the fact that he was in a den of vampires because she gave an exasperated sigh and said, "They did not tell you." It wasn't a question.
She looked at him steadily for a moment, as if waiting for him to run from her, but Harry, who wanted to run screaming almost as badly as he needed to breathe, quelled the impulse on the grounds of idiocy and forced himself to meet her gaze. Celdere game him a smile, though what emotion was behind it Harry couldn't tell. He was starting to curse everyone he could think of for throwing first Death Eaters and then vampires at him in the same day.
"I have a proposition for you Mr. Potter," Celdere began, with little preamble. "It is well known among the vampires, if not the rest of the world, that you are destined to save the world from the destruction the Voldemort would bring to it. I fear that the only way to do that is to kill him," she said with a tight smile that bared her canines, which were more pointed than a normal human's but not enlarged. Harry swallowed hard. "I don't know what they teach you in school these days but, contrary to popular belief, vampires are not evil creatures by nature. We do, of course, have our fair share of evildoers amongst us, but the same can be said for any race. However, in the coven crimes are punished swiftly and harshly, but that doesn't always dissuade people from breaking rules. As with anything, if they think the benefit is worth more than the cost, they will do whatever it is and screw the consequences. With Voldemort spreading his ideas of purity around, many vampires are flocking to his side and supporting him, and I will not have that happen," she said sharply, and Harry could see that the issue made her upset, as she claimed. "His quest for purity among humans appeals to our sense of pride," she admitted, in a way that suggested that she wasn't pleased to have this be true. "Most vampires consider themselves better than the human race, and consider our turning to be nothing more than an upgrade to a better model. By joining with Voldemort, they help out a little bit to have him do a third of the work. Not only do I not agree with their logic, but also as a leader I refuse to allow my nation to be split in two.
"As it stands, I'm perfectly willing to continue to resist Voldemort and gain control of the Resistance on my own, but I see an easier way to accomplish a unity of sorts. It is my belief that by clearly and unequivocally aligning the vampires with the light side that I can convince a portion of the Resistance back onto my side of things. The rest I will deal with on my own. However, I also know that those who would be switching their allegiances back, would only do so if led by a vampire, and none of you on the light side are. Even if one of you were, I'm not sure they would settle for a pawn. I want the King, and that King has to be a vampire. That King is you.
"What I would like to propose a truce between you and I that would bind all vampires. In exchange for letting me turn you, I am willing to offer you and the rest of Dumbledore's group any resources, weapons or manpower that you might need in the fight against Voldemort. In addition, I will take it upon myself to provide you a more complete education in the art of combat and vampire politics and diplomacy. In order for this to work as I want it to work, it has to be you, and you have to become a Prince, which means it will be me who turns you. I haven't turned a mortal in over 2,000 years and even in the several millennia before that I did not turn mortals lightly. You would become the heir to my throne, and you would have input on the actions of my military and diplomats. I also realize that I can ask nothing more of you than your efforts, and your mortality."
Harry was vaguely aware that his mouth was hanging open and promptly shut it, the sharp click of his teeth hitting each other echoing in the quiet room. He was getting the feeling that Celdere hadn't consulted her advisors about this based on the shocked looks on their faces although none of them seemed truly opposed to the idea. But his friends might be another matter entirely.
He was sure that Ron would hate him for this and that he would only find it another reason to be jealous of him. Hermione on the other hand might think it was okay as long as she hadn't read anything bad about vampires. They would both understand that he needed to do this, that he needed to defeat Voldemort whatever the cost. If they didn't then they weren't true friends.
He realized that he was thinking as if he was going to agree, and before he could question his motives, he realized that he had. He had to try. Anything to get an edge over Voldemort, or he wouldn't last a few seconds.
"I'll do it," he said, looking Celdere in the eye. She nodded at him with an unreadable look on her face.
"Morgan, summon the necessary people for the rite," she commanded. A woman stepped from the shadows in response to the words, gave a bow and left.
"Err… just what kind of rite will this be?" he asked nervously, not having thought that far ahead yet.
"I will nearly drain you of your blood and then offer you mine, making you a vampire. Once you recover I will start the ceremony to give you the right to take my throne should I abdicate or die. Then we will start your training."
"Okay," Harry said, not thrilled with the concept of getting the blood drained out of him. He wasn't sure how he had thought he would get turned into a vampire, but it had been a lot less gruesome in his head.
"If you will follow me into the ritual room we can get started now." She stood and swept from the room, with the rest of the court waiting respectfully for him to follow her before coming up close on his heels as Celdere led them through more winding passages (this place seemed to be full of them) until the reached plain wooden doors that swung open to reveal a circular room with stone bleachers ser up around the perimeter, reminding Harry of the courtroom he had seen in Dumbledore's pensive, and been tried in his 5th year, in the Ministry of Magic. It was completely devoid of any color and decorations but Harry guessed it would soon be full of red. That thought made him see the wisdom of the lack of decoration.
He walked into the center of the room and looked around awkwardly as the rest of the court formed a circle around them, forgoing the bleachers.
"What do I do?" he asked as Celdere took her place in front of him.
"Wrist," she said, holding out her hand expectantly. Harry gave her his hand hesitantly only to have it wrenched closer to her mouth. She opened her mouth, Harry was shocked to see her canines enlarging visibly, and bit into his arm with no warning or preamble and started drawing blood out of his veins, while the vampires around him look on with interested, yet apathetic, looks. He felt himself stagger from the sudden loss of blood, only to hit the floor moments later, something that didn't seem to bother Celdere, who only followed him to the ground gracefully without letting his collapse distract her. Just when he was about to faint he dimly saw her thrust her own wrist, bleeding profusely, in front of his mouth. Harry realized, his thoughts coming sluggishly and in a way that made them seem oddly disconnected from reality, that she must have cut it open herself before an overwhelming bloodlust came over him and he started feeding from her wrist, feeling himself gain strength with every mouthful of blood that he took in. He was so removed from himself that he couldn't even feel disgust and horror over his actions.
At some point Celdere wrestled her wrist from his grasp, an action that he greatly protested, and stood. Harry's last image was of her standing majestically over him, ignoring the blood dripping from her wrist, before Harry's world went black for the second time that day.
He came awake with a groan to find a vampire standing over him, and a headache large enough to make him wish he hadn't even opened his eyes.
"How do you feel?" the vampire asked with a tinge of concern.
"Like I got hit by a truck," Harry answered truthfully. He took in his surroundings. They hadn't moved him from where he fell although someone had taken the time to put a cushioning charm on the stone floor. His wrist had dried blood on it still but the puncture wounds seemed to be completely healed. He assumed that the same went for Celdere's wrist although the amount of blood that she had lost before she closed it up was amazing, coating the floor liberally and giving the room a spooky atmosphere.
"Here," the man said, handing a goblet filled to the brim with a dark liquid, "drink this."
Harry did as he was told, lifting the cup to his lips only to catch a whiff of blood. He paused.
"Go on," the man urged. "You'll like it once you taste it anyway. It's laced with a strengthening potion so I would drink it before you have to undergo the next ritual, you'll need your strength for that." Harry quickly gulped the blood down, feeling the strengthening potion work instantly, and trying not to think about what exactly it was he was doing.
"What will they do for that?" he asked.
"Well, there's some blood sharing involved. Basically you take some of Celdere's and then give some to pretty much everyone else there. There's a right of initiation that I can't tell you about, it won't kill you but you won't really like the idea either. Then you get the tribe tattoos, which you needed to get anyway. You get a mark that says that you're Celdere's childe, another that says you belong to this branch of the coven, and another one that says you are a vampire prince. Then you don the robes of state, look at yourself in the mirror so that you get to see what a god awful mess you are, probably so that you get used to the idea that being a vampire prince isn't easy, and then everyone recognizes you as a prince of the realm. Training starts tomorrow."
"Training in what?"
"The works," the man said with a shrug. "A bit of diplomacy, a bit of magic, a bit of weapons, a bit of potions, a bit of fitness, a bit of hunting and tracking, a bit about languages, and a bit about hiding yourself and your activities. Probably there'll be a bit of stuff on wards as well."
"I need to learn all that in one summer?"
"Pretty much. They have some enhancement potions for you to take, those should help, and your new vampiric hours means that you have more time to spend awake and training, the new physical attributes means that you shouldn't have to work as hard to master fitness and your instincts are sharper now so most of it should come more naturally."
Despite his reassurances, Harry wasn't so thrilled about the new training schedule. Celdere chose that moment to come sweeping back into the chambers with an even fuller retinue than before. Harry stood nervously and went, as directed, to a place in the center of the room while the others shuffled in around them to take seats on the bleachers, taking seats that seemed to be based on some sort of ranking.
"Undress," Celdere prompted, sounding a like she was in a bit of a hurry. Harry's mind had ceased to work at that point and he couldn't quite bring himself to care much about it.
"Wha-wha-what?" he stuttered, alternately blushing and blanching. Celdere just raised a perfectly sculpted eyebrow at him and, with a lot of fumbling, and some more blushing, he stood before the others. Harry could feel the heat spreading from his face down his neck at a rapid pace and started desperately wishing for the whole thing to be over soon.
The man from before was at his shoulder and Harry avoided his eye even though he was grateful for something to occupy his mind other than the fact that he was starkers in a room full of strangers.
"First they'll bleed you," the man was saying, "and then they'll ink you. They cut runes into you that stand for things like wisdom, justice, strength, all that jazz, then they give you the tattoos. No big, just relax."
Harry refrained from laughing out loud as the tension built but decided against it when Celdere pulled out a wicked looking knife and held it out to one of the newcomers, who rose from their seat to take the knife from her with a bow, and instantly moved towards Harry. The first few slices hurt a lot, and Harry wasn't sure if Bellatrix's Cruciatus Curse was better or worse than this pain, because they were so different. He was so wrapped up in this line of wonderings that it took him a while to notice that the cuts weren't hurting anymore, even if they were bleeding enough to fill the Hogwarts Lake, and he was able to look, as though detached from his own body, out at the room without feeling anything near embarrassment as the runes were cut into his skin. The tattoos were done the old fashioned way, without a modern tattoo gun but instead with a stick with prongs set closely together, but the ink was magically shifting colors as it tried to latch onto his magical pattern. It seemed like no time had passed at all, and yet contrastingly an eternity later when someone took a robe and draped it over his shoulders.
"I would like to introduce you to Harry Potter, Prince of the Vampires," Celdere said, prompting a loud cheer and several bows.
Slowly but surely the crowd disappeared, leaving only Celdere and Harry in the room.
"I hope that I can take the liberty of calling you Harry, now that you are officially my childe and heir." He nodded stiffly. "Harry," she continued, "this is Morgan VanPraet." A woman stepped from the shadows and bowed to him, her expression unreadable as a curtain of raven hair hid her face. Harry recognized her as the same person whom Celdere had sent to gather people for his turning ceremony. "She is to be everything to you, your assistant, your friend, and your teacher in every area. I hope that she will serve you well." She turned to Morgan. "I give you my heir, make him good," she said with a smile at the woman, who bowed, before sweeping out of the room and leaving Harry and Morgan alone.
Harry took the moment of silence to study the other woman. She was slightly taller than he was, pale and thin but obviously strong. She carried herself with the cat-like grace associated with warriors and Harry could see the knife that hung from her waist. She gave him a tight smile.
"I'm Morgan," she said, re-introducing herself with a bow.
"You don't have to bow," Harry interjected quickly, not liking the idea of having her treat him like he was special, although he figured that, now, he was.
"It's Vampire protocol, my prince," she said stiffly.
"Well, I'm new here but you don't have to do stuff like that," he said, the servility getting on his nerves.
"My prince," she started in a lecturing tone, "My job is to teach you Vampire customs and the best way for me to do so is to follow them to the letter myself."
"I'm not any better than you," Harry said angrily. "In fact, I'm worse than you are. You're teaching me, you shouldn't have to report to me at the same time. I'll make a deal with you," he said after a moment of tense silence. "We'll keep it casual when there isn't anybody else around. You can call me titles and stuff for show only; otherwise you call me Harry. When you teach me you are in charge and I'm just a student. Got it?"
She sighed. "Alright, Harry," she said, trying the word out on her tongue and obviously not liking it.
"Good," he said, satisfied with her response. "What do we get started on first?"