Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. All rights reserved.
Edward shook his umbrella again, and cascades of rain pounded to the ground. An evening out in London was never a good idea. It wasn't as though he hated rain; rain gave wonderful cloud cover. It was more that the rain never stopped in London. Never. As such, his fun trip to the car dealership had turned into a water-logged nightmare. The dealership had closed early, due to the rain; he couldn't find a cab back, due to the rain; and he was stuck walking at a normal pace through the ancient streets, in the rain. Because, despite the sheet of water that continued to relentlessly pound away at the ancient cobblestone, humans were out and about. Apparently, if you waited for the rain to let up in London, you'd never get anything done.
Alice had demanded that he venture out with her into the downpour. Jasper had managed to convince her that it wasn't such a good idea for him to go, and Rosalie had refused to get wet. Initially, she had tempted him with the trip to the car dealership. Once that was out of the question, she revealed her true desire of shopping. Being the dutiful brother, Edward had followed her into the garment district for as long as he could stand. Now he was wandering the streets, killing time until she returned, as she had disdainfully dismissed him when he'd started to show boredom.
He couldn't tell if the rain was getting to him, or if being around so many humans for this stretch of time was affecting him, but the voices on the street were growing unusually loud in his brain. It was almost as if they were screaming, and it took every ounce of willpower not to cringe as he passed a few of them.
It was fairly early in the evening, about nine o'clock, and it appeared that some game had just let out. Crowds were wandering the streets, their festive team colors matching their Wellies and boots. At one point, he swore some of the boots were changing colors. He watched in awe as they morphed from blue to black to gold. Before he could wrap his mind around it, the fans were on their merry, drunken way.
"The catch was amazing! Pure genius!"
"What did I tell you, eh? You'll be coming to more games now?"
"You bet your arse! Not a bad looking team, either!"
"Too bad most of them are taken."
"Never stopped me before!"
Edward rolled his eyes and quickly passed the drunken fools. So it was a women's team? Interesting, he had never seen so many people attend any women's sporting event, but perhaps things had changed over time.
"You mark my words, that Weasley girl is someone to watch."
"She was someone to watch even back in school."
"Guess she got better with age."
"Or had a special tutor."
They snickered to each other and Edward pushed past them, trying to find an alley or an empty lot, anything that would make a quick escape from the growing crowd. As he moved further down the street, it seemed as though the buildings were on top of each other. They were squeezed in so tightly, he doubted that the amount of people coming in and out of them was physically possible. To make matters worse, the buzzing in his brain continued to grow. He thought about putting his sunglasses on to hide the flinches, but that would be even more conspicuous. Not that it mattered; everyone on the street seemed to ignore him and would not stop talking about this game.
"When she dove off the broom to catch the snitch, brilliant!"
He attempted to focus on what the fans were saying, but his mind was bombarded with the same type of pictures over and over again: a giant field, even larger stadium seating, and two teams of humans on brooms, flying around in the air. A flash of panic came over him, and he focused in on the crowd, starting to gauge the bigger, pulsating, unfamiliar picture around him.
All right, he thought to himself, that was not normal. Nothing about this is normal. He took a closer look at the growing mass of people. All the clothing seemed the tiniest bit off. It could pass as current trends, if you didn't look too closely. But he and his family had to blend in century after century, and it was quite easy to spot someone who wasn't quite with the times. This entire crowd practically begged to be pointed out, but none of them seemed to care.
I need a butterbeer.
I don't care what the Ministry says; I'll wear my badges if I want!
Not like there are any Muggles around to see us anyway, what's the big deal?
Feeling his mind start to go slowly numb due to the incredible amount of noise, Edward grabbed the slick corner of a wall and flung himself into an alley. His umbrella dropped to the floor, and he let the rain wash over his head, trying to clear his mind. It didn't help at all. He abandoned the umbrella and took off down the dark alleyway. He popped out on the other side, and the noise had stopped. With a wave of relief, he leaned against the wall and let the rain continue to pour down over him.
The nerve of him! The absolute nerve.
At first the noise was faint in his head, still far away. He looked up warily through the rain and saw no one on the street. It was all but abandoned.
Like anyone ever stopped him from having fun at school? Or afterwards! Like he doesn't go out all the time with Ron? Is it my fault his face is still plastered all over the place? No, maybe he's just jealous I'm starting to have a little fun myself!
Edward clenched his fists and attempted to block out the voice. It only grew in intensity. Suddenly, he lost all control over his mind and was assaulted with a blurry image of a tall, black-haired boy, his hand pushing away a mug of some liquid. In his head, Edward watched as the boy moved some red hair off of a shoulder, and then leaned close to whisper, 'Maybe not tonight, love,' and then the splash of the mug as it tipped over. Apparently, the girl had stormed out of the bar.
Why does he always have to be like that? I'm not twelve years old!
The fuming voice exploded in his head. He wrapped his hands around his ears to drown out the sound, but it was deafening. He had never had something like this happen before.
I swear if he comes after me, this time I'm going to kick him. No, he's too fast for that. I'm going to slap him. Yeah, he wouldn't expect a slap. He deserves it anyway. She fired around the corner and Edward turned to stone in front of her. Something was quite off. Very, very off. At the same time he thought it, her voice shot off in his head,
What is that?
He watched her square off against him, blinking through the rain. She took a deep breath, her pulse started to flutter, and her mind erupted in thought again.
There's no way. It can't be. I thought they were concentrated in...I hope he's not thirsty.
Despite the pounding at the back of his skull, he could feel his mouth drop open in shock. Who was this girl? What could she possibly know? How could she possibly know?
What was it again...garlic? Wasn't there some spell? Oh no, his mouth opened. Are there teeth?
Her pulse quickened to a thready beat, and she took two stumbling steps back, her boots slipping in the rain. She never let her eyes move from his face. Her sopping red hair was soaking into her uniform. He noticed it was the blue, black, and gold from the flashing boots. Embossed on the front of her jersey, in sparkling gold, was 'Weasley,' and underneath it, 'Seeker'. He saw her hand twitch at her side, and a piece of wood was suddenly shaking in her fingers.
Don't panic. Don't panic. Probably nothing.
Excruciatingly slow, he started to raise his hands, palms out. That did not seem to pacify her.
He's moving too slow. Right? Something is very wrong here.
He continued to raise his hands, very, very slowly. She wasn't normal either. By the way she was holding the stick in her hand, it seemed like a weapon. Her mind was buzzing with something he had never heard before. It was a strange mix of Latin and Greek, mixed with English. She was going over some list in her head. Then her mind abruptly turned to one thought,
Harry. Oh, Merlin, where is he? Of all the days for us to fight.
He couldn't help the twitch of surprise at the mention of the fictional wizard. Then someone else joined the fray, and the pain bouncing around inside this human's head was palpable. Edward felt him before he even heard his mind. It wasn't just worry that overtook his thoughts; it was the pain of hurting her, the pain of losing her, the pain of loving her. As well as something much deeper, much darker, some kind of grief that prevailed in his thoughts always. It would seem impossible for a human to feel that amount of pain all at once and not give up to insanity, but then again, he was starting to suspect that these were not humans. Edward's eyes rolled to the back of his head at the mix of the two of them together.
Why can't she just...oh no.
As the human turned the corner, Edward managed to open his eyes. He should have known; here was the tall boy with black hair. He had a striking scar across his forehead, and bright green eyes that bore into Edward's. In rapid succession, the green-eyed boy's mind filtered through what felt like decades of pain. A dark closet of some sorts, blank, lifeless faces, devastation of buildings, a frightening man with red, snake-like eyes, and a lingering image of a bright green spark nearly missing the Weasley girl. It was that lingering thought that brought about a wave of protective anger that, despite being cripplingly painful, Edward couldn't help but sympathize with. Within a breath, the redheaded girl was behind the boy, and his own stick was jetting out toward Edward.
Just one year, thought the boy wearily, one year of peace is all I ask.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, cried the girl.
"All right, Ginny?" he whispered out through the rain. His free hand was hanging slightly out from his body in a protective way.
Now would be the time to say something, Edward strategized. He was about to open his mouth, when to his astonishment, the end of the boy's stick started to glow and spark a bit. Blue sparks.
"Identify yourself. Why are you out of your designated area?"
Edward was too stunned to speak. He decided to wait it out and listen through the pain to the boy's thoughts.
What would a vampire be doing this far south?
He doesn't look quite right, came the girl's thoughts next, now calm and rational.
"Identify yourself, or I will be forced to restrain you," he ordered. The sparks on the end of his stick started to buzz quite ominously.
"Cullen, Edward Cullen." He tried to keep his voice as calm as possible.
"We have no record of you in this area. This is not within the designated agreement."
"My family and I are just passing through."
Family? Both their minds shot off, and he winced at the effect. He felt his tender brain start to pulse with a headache; he didn't know how much more he could take.
"We pose no threat. We do not feed on humans." He continued to hold his hands, palms out, in front of him.
Like I haven't heard that one before, the boy darkly responded to himself.
"Harry," the redhead whispered, very close to the boy's ear. "Look at his eyes. That's not normal."
She's right, but it still doesn't mean he's not a threat. He's lying. He'll kill us both. The boy's thoughts turned incredibly darker. Well, he'll try. His stick shot off a blue spark that made the wet pavement smoke with heat.
"I meant no harm," Edward said. He couldn't help it; the humans' thoughts, well, possible humans' thoughts were so loud in his mind, it was almost like they had been shouted through a megaphone millimeters away from his ears. He was barely able to keep himself in the upright position, and not grab his skull in pain. "I am going to move to your left, and then I am going to walk down the street."
Should I let him go? We don't want another interspecies mess on our hands. We just finally made agreements with the centaurs. He doesn't have the tell-tale signs. And those eyes.
Just let him pass, Harry. Let him pass and let's go home. Please. Please. Please.
"I'm moving to your left now." He ignored their conversation. The boy moved the girl in tandem with his movements. Never letting his hands drop, the blue sparks still jetting and cracking at the tip of his stick. Everyone involved was now dripping with rainwater from their coats and pants. He kept his front to them and started to walk backward down the slippery cobblestone.
Should I take her with me to tell Kingsley, or drop her first at home? His fist clenched around the still sparking twig as he mulled over the decision.
The Burrow. He seemed to have decided. Edward was still backing up down the cobblestone when, with a loud POP, they disappeared. He let his eyes search up and down the flooding street, but they were nowhere to be found. Alice trotted up by his side, a bright red umbrella shielding her from the downpour.
"We're leaving." He added, in a low voice, "Not everyone here is human."
"Oh, you noticed, too?"
He pulled his jacket closer to his body, uneasy. Not like it would help any; he couldn't feel the cold, and his clothes were ruined from all the rain. He tried to shake the lingering flashes of thought from the couple, but his mind still pulsed with pain. Never, in his near hundred years of existence, had he come across that much pain in one seemingly human body. Jasper would've had a run for his money.
"You don't even want to know what those sticks could do." Alice giggled.
"I hate London," he grumbled. Alice started laughing into the empty street.