Touched by Night's Veil
Chapter 1 – Just a shadow
"Boy! Get down here this instant!", came Vernon's voice from downstairs. Harry sighed. He had learned to distinguish between normal-angry and furious Vernon. And right know, he was just out to annoy Harry. He carefully stepped down the stairs.
"Yes, uncle?", he asked. "Petunia tells me you've actually been doing your chores like a nice little freak." Harry ground his teeth. That f-word was nearly as loathsome as the m-word that Malfoy was so very fond of. "Seeing as you've been doing so well, you can repaint the fence in the back garden, starting tomorrow."
Oh good riddance, that will take weeks!, Harry thought. But what was the alternative? The blood wards should still be strong enough in the back garden, and at least he could get some fresh air.
"But uncle, that will keep me occupied for the rest of the summer!", he overemphasized, putting on his best "shocked" face.
"Serves you right, and if you're not finished by the end of your vacation, you will keep working next summer!" Vernon stormed off, seemingly satisfied enough by his evil ways. Harry rolled his eyes. His uncle never had been the quickest broom in the shed.
Happily, he marched up the stairs into his room. The nearly rotting cot lay neglected in the near corner. He made his way over to it and stripped to his boxers, his usual nightwear. The cheap and equally old blanket was wrapped around him within seconds. Sleep had never come to Harry easily in Hogwarts, but in Privet Drive, the manual labour tired him out completely, his family's animosity even helpful in this regard. Sleep took him within minutes.
She ran through the night, avoiding all street lamps, instead keeping to the flat garage roofs of the surrounding houses. She jumped from one to the other, landing softly as feather, not disturbing a single shingle.
Not that one...no, those neither...While most of the residents of Privet Drive were well-fed and healthy, most had chosen to spend their evening with a good bottle of wine or, some of the older ones, the odd bottle of gin. She smacked her lips. Willow was normally not picky, but the tang of alcohol would put anyone right off a good pint of human blood.
So she had to make due with whoever was not smashed off their face on this peaceful Tuesday. Very peaceful neighbourhood...well who wouldn't be at this amount of spirit, she reckoned. But it seemed like the excursion to this cul-de-sac would have to end fruitlessly. No. 6...empty. Probably out drinking. No. 4...oh come on, these ones too? She could smell three humans, but on everyone also the bitter aroma of alcohol.
She sniffed the fresh evening breeze. What's this...whale? That can't be right...probably just a rotund one, then. Some of her clan would occasionally enjoy a gulp of the more rounded, full-bodied aroma of an obese human, but there had been rumours that the vampires would have to pay for that luxury with an overdose of cholesterol. And if you're immortal, getting stuck with that is not a good idea.
She was running out of ideas. But wait! She breathed in again. The faintest smell... She rounded the corner to the back yard, all the while following the subtle smell of a sober human, even if masked by the stench of moth-balls and sweat. Coming to rest below a first story window, she paused... She could get up there, but probably not without waking somebody in the house.
Looking around, she discovered a strong Sessile Oak, the branches of which hung over nearly to the side of the house. Perfect. Let's have a quick look at the dinner.... Smoothly like a night cat, she climbed the tree in three smooth jumps, finally settling on the branch closest to the window. She could definitely smell a human there...weak, but there.
Why was this smell coming from a derelict storage space. Must be a fluke...She was starting to turn away when she spotted movement beneath a blanket. A body was twisting and turning in its sleep. With a sharp jerk, the sheet came off the young boy, for now Willow could see him in his fullest, and he sat upright on his cot. Startled and afraid to be noticed, she quickly took a leap back into the crown of the tree, cowering down in the leaves' shadow.
Harry woke up with a start, sweaty from this night's nightmares. The brains, the prophecies, and worst of all...the Veil...when will they ever stop coming? Harry dejectedly stood up. It was no use trying to get back to sleep after one of them, he had discovered after a few days. Might as well get some fresh air in here, he thought, stepping to the small window at the far end of the room.
Opening it, he welcomed the cold rush of the breeze. He leaned on the window sill to enjoy the quiet of night. His eyes barely adjusted to the darkness, he could barely make out shades outside...and this one was definitely moving.
Seeker instincts showing themselves again, Harry could make out a shadow of ...a person, maybe? No, too small, and too unmoving. Everybody has to breathe some time, even if you're trying not to be noticed. "Hello there...did the Order send you? I didn't know I needed a minder even when sleeping.", he asked into the dark spot.
Receiving no answer to the affirmative, he tried a different approach. "Or are you trying to hide there? You're not doing a very good job...have you come to kidnap me? Or save me from this hell hole? It'd be appreciated all the same, you know...". The shadow gave a jerk, but reacted no further. "Well then...we'll leave it at 'just a shadow' then, shall we?"
The shadow moved in a way that Harry interpreted as a nod. It then dropped to the floor and made off into the darkness. Maybe, the shadow can get me out of here one day..., Harry fantasised. Until then, he would have to try to sleep again. He closed the window and lay down on top of the still sweat-stained sheet. This would have to do. He closed his eyes and was whisked away into another restless round of all the same, yet again.
Wow...just...wow. When Willow had sniffed out the weak scent of him, she had no idea he would turn out to be a boy of what, fifteen? Sixteen? No way could he belong to the whales she had smelt in that very house...in fact, his scent had gotten more and more tempting as he had got closer to her.
She was nearly overwhelmed by the intense but delicate flavours she could smell on the wind...Her mouth had actually begun to drool significantly at the scent, making a very undignified sight of the seventeen year old. She would have immediately pounced him, given half a chance, but somehow, another part of her was enjoying a very different kind of feeling.
Seeing this boy without a shirt, toned from labour, had diminished her blood lust in favour of more carnal desires. It had taken a great amount of restraint to stay semi-hidden in the tree, and not make her way over to the waiting and honestly delicious-looking prey. But the words he said had startled her...what Order? Was he under protection from the church?
That would spell a great deal of trouble...while crucifixes weren't deadly, being surrounded by them clearly was not something any vampire would look forward to. But then, why would he look forward to being kidnapped, as he put it? Questions were on the forefront of her mind, her hunger near forgotten. Hunting would have to wait...this boy had peaked her interest in many colourful ways. She vowed to come back the next day.
To herself, she admitted that it might have to do with his shirtlessness and toned chest, but obviously, the mystery surrounding the boy was enough to keep her coming back for more.
A/N: I plan to continue this into some kind of length, though for the moment, this story will only cover the summer before Harry's sixth year.