Lamia: Shocking Albus
by Valerie Vancollie
valeriev84 (at) hotmail (dot) com
Note: This story was written before Half-Blood Prince came out. This is my favorite short story that I've written for this fandom to date.
Summary: A member of Albus' staff proves that even the renown Headmaster of Hogwarts can be caught completely off guard when they choose to reveal an important and shocking secret to him.
Disclaimer: I do not own Albus Dumbledore or any other of the Harry Potter characters, items or situations. I only lay claim to the original aspects of the fic.
Oh how he had anticipated this moment. Savoured the very thought of it's occurrence.
He'd spent countless hours torturing himself with the mere thought of it. Planning it meticulously over and over again and then holding off on carrying it through. Waiting, anticipating. For days, weeks, months, years. Only one with infinite patience could desire such a moment and deny it to himself for as long as he had. But his patience was boundless, honed by centuries of learning and restraint.
It was the skill of his kind.
The tool of the perfect predator. It's master weapon that could bring down any prey.
With patience and planning he could achieve anything he wanted. Get everything he desired. And it allowed him to savour it all instead of gouging his hunger and ending the moment all too quickly. No, events such as this one were meant to be savoured like a fine wine; slowly and delicately.
If he wanted a quick release he wouldn't waste a perfectly good vintage that had been carefully aged. He'd get a cheap beer or whiskey that he wouldn't lament having squandered later when he had regained his senses. Not that he often lost them anymore. No, he had learned the importance of always remaining in control long ago and rarely lost it nowadays. It was infinitely more amusing to see others lose it.
Which was why he was enjoying his current situation so much. Not only was he watching someone off-balance, the sherbet lemons hitting the desk and the floor and scattering in every possible direction attesting to that, but it was someone who, like himself, almost never lost control. But there he was, the great Albus Dumbledore, mouth gaping like a stranded fish gasping for water, as the tin so recently full of the Headmaster's favourite candy tumbled to the floor after the yellow sweets as the old wizard released it in shock.
Oh how he'd been looking forward to this!
The look of absolute shock written across Dumbledore's face was more than worth all the time he had waited, teasing himself with the thought of actually seeing it. Whoever had said that anticipation was half the fun couldn't have been more correct. Not that most people had the patience to discover this truth. Instead they rushed to gratify themselves, never learning to hold back for even a second and realize that if they took only a little at a time that they'd be able to enjoy it for longer. Very few had learned the art of patience and, ironically, it tended to be the Dark wizards who did manage to achieve it.
"Y... you're serious?" Albus finally managed to whisper as he attempted to compose himself but failed miserably.
"Yes," he replied curtly, watching as the Headmaster's eyes returned to their normal size. He hadn't realized that they could get so wide.
He snorted to himself at the thought, drawing a weary look from the wizard across from him. All in all the reaction was exactly what he had expected it to be. But then, his experience with humans, wizard and Muggle alike, was such that it could hardly be anything but. Except... except there was less fear than he had thought there would be. Most people were terrified of his kind and would be either running away, screaming, at the admission he'd just made or they'd be standing mute in paralyzed terror. Not that he had anticipated either reaction from the great Albus Dumbledore, defeater of the Dark Lord Grindelwald and the only wizard feared by his successor, Lord Voldemort. However he had thought there'd be more of it than what he could smell.
The old coot must be even more mad than he'd assumed. Or more self confident in his own abilities or his belief that he could be trusted. He was tempted to bare his fangs at this last thought. He was by no means 'safe,' as many a dead witch, wizard, or Muggle could attest to.
"Wha... what is... I mean... Would I be correct in assuming that you have not been using your original name?" Albus finally asked.
"Yes," he responded, smiling at the frustration he sensed from the wizard when he didn't continue. The fact that his otherwise unmoving facial expression unnerved the Headmaster only amused him more.
"Then what is your birth name?"
"Erasmus," Albus repeated, trying the name out. "A distinguished name. A popular one with the purebloods two centuries ago, I believe. Which brings me to the obvious question; what age are you?"
"What do you think me to be?" he returned, eyes narrowing as he studied the human.
"No, I don't think that's quite the right word for it."
"Then what is?"
"Ancient, I believe, would best describe my age."
"Ah, I see," Dumbledore replied, clearly disturbed at the thought. "And ancient would be what? Well, we do view time differently," he continued at the raised eyebrow.
"A good number of centuries," was the carefully planned reply.
"Oh," the wizard said, shaken once more.
Another surge of dark humour shot through him as he watched the Headmaster pick up his tea cup and saucer in an age-old effort to hide his slightly trembling hands. He supposed that he must have set some sort of record in the past fifteen minutes. He was sure that no one had managed to get the famous wizard so off-balance since he had started fighting Grindelwald.
And he wasn't even done yet.
"Well over a millennia," he declared just as Albus took a sip of his tea.
Dumbledore choked and his hand jerked, spilling tea onto his lap as he attempted to put the cup back onto the saucer and set the two items on his desk as he coughed. Meanwhile the vampire's lips curled up at the corners once more as he rested his elbows on the arms of his chair and calmly brought his fingertips together before him.
Humans were so predictable, and he loved toying with them. Even if he wasn't seriously manipulating them anymore. Though that was highly amusing too. He squashed the thought as the former Transfigurations professor collected himself, resolutely ignoring the steaming hot liquid spilled on his lap. It was one of the things he liked about the wizard, he was more controlled and collected than most of his species. It made interacting with him more entertaining as he sought to needle the man and elicit a response from him. It was also always interesting to see how much he could get away with.
"Just how much over a millennia?" Albus questioned as he finally spelled away the spilled tea.
"Now that would be telling."
Now that he no longer had to go out of his way to act human, he sat stock still, as if carved from marble, observing Dumbledore as he thought this over. He could almost see the wheels turning as the man took in all of this information and compared it to what he knew about his past and tried to integrate the two. A task that he knew to be very difficult as his acting skills had long since been perfected by necessity. Those of his kind that couldn't vanish into the woodwork often didn't last more than several decades, a century or two, three if they were lucky, as they were hunted down and destroyed.
"From the complete lack of anaemic students and staff, I'm assuming that you have found an alternative to human blood?"
There it was, the inevitable question. The most delicate and uncertain part of this interview. But he was not worried, he'd long since perfected his answers. And it wasn't like he was in any danger if his responses didn't satisfy the Headmaster, defeater of Grindelwald and greatest wizard alive or not, he was no match for a vampire of his strength and power. Too much knowledge had been lost.
"No, I still require a regular supply of human blood."
And there it was, the fear that he had been anticipating earlier. How he loved the smell of it, even if he knew that most of it was not for Dumbledore's own life but rather for the safety of the children under his protection.
"How?" Albus whispered urgently as he peered over his half-moon glasses at the preternaturally unmoving creature sitting before his desk and wondering if he even stood a chance of reaching his wand if it became necessary or if he'd be defeated before he even moved a hand.
"A sanguis dator."
"A blood giver?"
"That's the closest translation you can get," he agreed. "Basically it's someone who willingly lets a vampire drink their blood."
"And what do they get out of this arrangement?" Dumbledore asked softly, intrigued despite himself.
"Protection, increased health, a longer life... pleasure."
"Pleasure?" Albus repeated uncertainly.
"Oh yes, it can be quite pleasing for the donor if the vampire wants it to be," he stated. "Even more so than sex. And when the two are combined..."
Dumbledore's eyes had taken on a slightly glazed expression. "That would be why the victims don't fight when taken?"
"No, when hunting, most vampires won't take the time to ensure that the prey receives any pleasure from the drinking. A sort of hypnosis is used instead."
"Ah," was the faint reply.
The dark humour was back again in full force. He knew the Headmaster was no stranger to Dark Creatures but the shear amount of information that had been lost over the millennia made it so that most greatly underestimated the powers and abilities of the true vampyre. The fact that most of his own kind had forgotten their gifts as well only increased the delusion about the threat posed by those who remembered all and had attained their full potential.
"So this donor provides you with all the blood that you require?"
"Would you drink from a student or member of the staff if the need arouse?"
"No, you have my word."
And this was the crucial moment. Would his word still be enough for the Headmaster? Before tonight there would have been no question of it. His honour had been proven and his trust earned. But that was before the truth had been exposed. Yet the Gryffindor had accepted a werewolf into his student body and, later, as a member of his staff. Would he welcome, no retain, a vampire?
He believed Dumbledore would. If he hadn't thought so, he would never have revealed his true nature at the present. He would have waited longer until he felt the urge to move on again. As he locked his gaze with the steady blue one of the man across from him, he allowed part of his disguise to drop so that his eyes took on the iridescent quality that was the trademark of the undead.
To his credit, the Headmaster didn't budge, a sudden blinking was the only indication that he was startled. But it was enough and he smiled, deliberately revealing his elongated fangs which caused a wave of uneasiness to overcome the old wizard. On an impulse, he dropped the rest of his guise and allowed the human he considered a friend to see his true form.
"I see that rumours of a vampire's beauty have not been exaggerated," Albus stated as he gazed at the being before him whose flawless alabaster skin seemed to glow with a dark light. Gone was the colouring it once held, along with all the other flaws in his physical appearance. Instead his hair was an inky black that shone in the light and his teeth were the whitest Dumbledore had ever seen, and the straightest. He could see why most found the nosferatu irresistible. And his professor wasn't even trying. "Have you ever taken anyone by force?"
"Yes," no hesitation though he wasn't sure which meaning was intended. Not that it mattered as the answer was the same regardless.
This response, he knew, would not only work against him, but for him too. Honesty was always the best option when dealing with the Headmaster. And Albus was no fool, he knew what he stood to gain by keeping him on his staff. The additional protection the children would receive if he was present at the castle was unparalleled. While his true identity would remain hidden from the senses of the students and staff, many Dark Creatures would still be able to sense his presence and most were not willing to confront a vampire, especially not one of his age and power. And, Dark Creatures aside, he would be a powerful ally in the fight against Voldemort for even the Dark Lord would hesitate before taking on a master vampire, let alone one with wizard powers.
He could tip the balance of the war and Albus Dumbledore knew it. The question came down to whether or not he trusted him to not harm the children for no matter the potential gains, the Headmaster would not risk the lives and health of the students to ensure his aid. There would be no preying upon a single child or adult.
Instead of replying, he simply lifted an eyebrow.
The Headmaster's face clouded as he realized that he wasn't going to get an answer. "Don't know or don't care to tell?"
"Don't know. A millennia is a long time and time alters people, whether they are alive or not."
"Hmm," the human was clearly disturbed but trying not to show it as he processed this new information. "What made you change your ways?"
"I'm not sure," he admitted. "As time passes and one gets older one see things differently. A vampire that cannot change is doomed to be destroyed, either by the society he can no longer blend into or by his own hand when he reaches the point that immortality overwhelms him."
"Does that happen often? That one of your kind takes his own life?"
"Occasionally. Most no longer become old enough to reach that point."
"I see. Speaking of which... Erasmus, is what we know of the undead wrong or have you found a way to stand the sunlight?"
"Yes to both. There is much about the vampyre that has been lost, among which is the fact that the greater our age, the more powerful we become. There is a point at which the sun loses its ability to burn us with its mere caress. For the young, however, there are a few potions and spells that will allow them to temporarily walk in the light."
"How was this information lost?" Albus inquired as he cast a warming charm on his tea and then drank some.
"Time. And the belief that humans had managed to wipe out most of the nosferatu."
"Humanity's fatal weakness," was the reply.
"Yes, I suppose it is," Albus agreed. "I suppose you know all about our weaknesses and strengths."
"More so than any human," the statement clearly unnerved Dumbledore, as it did every human he'd ever told. Unlike the others, though, the Headmaster didn't attempt to argue. He had always liked the man, ever since the first time he had encountered him. He was more insightful than most, utterly mad and insanely optimistic, but strangely bearable. He could have a decent conversation with him, though he supposed that they tended to be more debates than anything else as their opinions often clashed.
"Yes, I suppose you would."
"We could discuss them sometime if you would like."
"That would be insightful," Dumbledore replied. "How often must you feed?"
"That depends on what I do. When I attend Death Eater meetings, I need more blood than if I am simply teaching."
"I assume you apparate to your sanguis dator?"
"Very well then. As long as you promise not to harm any of the students and faculty, you may continue on here," Albus declared, then paused before adding, "Or guests, as long as they are here for legitimate purposes."
"For legitimate purposes?" he repeated, a slow smile gracing his lips.
"Yes. If they should attempt to attack and harm one of those under your care, well, then I doubt I could fault you for protecting them."
"I see," he said. It was at moments like this that he knew why he liked the old man despite his general sunny disposition. "You have my word."
"I'm glad that we understand each other then."
"Indeed. Then there is just one more thing," Erasmus stated as he reapplied his disguise. "It would be best if you do not use my given name."
"Habit should prevent me from doing so."
"Very well. Goodnight, Albus," he stated as he gracefully and soundlessly got to his feet.
"Goodnight, Severus," was the reply as the vampire swooped from the room, smiling in anticipation as he already sensed the excitement and accelerated heartbeat of a student out past curfew.
∙ Latin translations:
lamia a witch, vampire
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