A/N I did not expect to have time to finish this story before the end of the month but Mother Nature intervened. I have been sitting here in Virginia with 14" of snow covering the roads. The roads are now clear and the story is finished.




CHAPTER FOUR: ENEMIES TOGETHER

"Do you have it?" a voice asked out of the mist.

Harry and Hermione stepped into the clearing, and he unwrapped his invisibility cloak from around the urn. "It was easier than I thought," Harry admitted. "They didn't even try to look for it once they found it missing."

"That is because they decided to follow you instead," the vampire said, forming out of the smoky air.

"Is that bad?" Hermione asked.

"They will not be able to stop us. Do you know what you must do?"

"I think so. Harry said that blood was needed from someone willing, but he wasn't sure of how much."

"All of it," the vampire said with a toothsome smile. "And your dear Harry will help you end your life."

"That can't be true," Harry said quickly.

"It must be true," the vampire hissed. "If she lives then she will be in control. I will not tolerate that. You must kill her. You promised to restore Him."

"NO," Harry yelled. "There must be another way."

"I don't mind," Hermione said, and the vampire laughed.

"I do," Harry said with sudden softness. "I love you, and I . . . I thought you loved me." He turned to the vampire. "Did you do this?"

"You did, foolish boy. You wanted her and you made her want you. She will do anything for you, even give her life so that your father will be resurrected." She smiled kindly. "If it is too difficult for you then I will be the one to spill her blood upon the ashes."

"I won't let you," Harry said stepping between the vampire and Hermione. "I swore upon my honor that I would let nothing harm her."

"Foolish boy, and now a foolish promise. The blood must be given willingly, and I will not let that person live. I will not have Him controlled by another."

Harry fell to his knees as though hit. "I've failed Him, then," he cried.

The vampire lifted the boy to his feet. "You made that vow because of love," she admonished. "Now you are trapped by it, as I am by mine."

"Your vow."

"To share His duty to protect you." The vampire paused, as though to control her feelings. "I hated you for living. I hated the wizards who used me as bait. I hated the vampires for turning me into one of them instead of killing me outright. And I loved the one who saved me from sinking to their level. He gave me purpose. He gave me life in death."

"I'm sorry," Harry said. "I didn't think about . . . I didn't want to think about the reality. I was living my own dream."

"There is another way."

"Another way?!"

"Harry, you could use your blood. You would die, but you would be reborn. And you would have a family." The vampire smiled to herself as she saw how the words affected the boy.

"I'll do it," Harry said with vehemence. "Let me know the time."

"Soon, child. Soon. When the sun is as far from the full moon as it can be, you must shed your blood."

Hermione looked quizzically at the vampire, then at Harry. "No," she said suddenly.

"No?" Harry asked. "No to what?"

"Harry, don't do this. It's what she wants."

"Be quiet, girl," The vampire threatened.

"You can't hurt me," Hermione said with conviction. "You made an oath and you are bound by it, until Harry dies."

"What?" Harry said suddenly.

"Damn you, girl," the vampire screamed. She lunged at Hermione but was stopped not so much by Harry's intervention but by the power of the oath she had sworn.

"You can't harm her," Harry yelled. "We're engaged. You would be hurting my family."

"And you would trap me for another generation," the vampire shouted back in frustration. "Already I am half free from my bonds and only you stand in the way."

"You don't want my father raised," Harry said with sudden understanding.

"She is a hate filled creature," Hermione said from behind him. "Look at her. Whatever virtue she brought with her is gone now. Only her oath keeps her from being a true killer. That is what she wants you to become. It isn't only the blood." Hermione looked at the vampire. "There is more to it than the time and the place, isn't there? You need to recite a charm."

"Which I will never do. I swore to protect the boy, not my master."

"I thought he was your lover," Harry said sadly.

"Once he was. But he refused to change while I could not stay the same. Love became control and control became hate. And while you live, I am not free."

"Free to kill wantonly," Hermione added, matching her anger.

*

"There is dark magic at work," Professor Snape said as he waved his wand about. "I fear we have company. You know who I mean, Albus."

"I'm not surprised," Dumbledore admitted. "Voldemort would want to enlist the help of such dark creatures as these."

"I don't think he's going to ask for their help," Severus replied. "He hinted long ago that he knew how to control vampires, although he never said how."

"Control?" Ron asked in a small voice.

"I believe that is the word, Mr. Weasley," Professor McGonagall said as she put a reassuring hand on the boy's shoulder.

"We can stop them. Right?"

"Only if we find them," Albus said with a hint of despair. "I cannot find the source of the spell. Thus, I cannot cancel it."

"This changes things," McGonagall said. "Perhaps Mister Weasley should be sent back to the school."

"You are right, Minerva. With Voldemort present, we dare not risk unnecessarily the life of any student."

"But Sir," Ron protested.

"There is no argument in this, young man," Albus told him. "This is too dangerous for you to be involved needlessly."

When Ron reluctantly left, Albus turned his mind again to the spell which kept him from finding the vampire and the two students with it. "This spell keeps me from sensing anything." he said, mostly to himself.

"It doesn't stop smells," Sirius Black said as he appeared from behind a tree. "After all, that's how I found you."

"And your timing is perfect," Albus admitted. "Can you smell them clearly."

"I can smell Harry clear as a bell. You would have missed him but you aren't that far away. We'll be there in a few minutes, but you should know that Harry has company. A lot of company."

"What a surprise," Severus Snape said coldly.

"I'm sorry you don't like my help," Sirius snapped back.

"Well, the fact that you are helping is a change of pace," Severus said with a grim smile.

"May we continue this argument later?" McGonagall asked. She was greeted by two frowns with a chuckle added by the Headmaster.

Sirius Black changed his frown to a grin, then transformed into a large black dog, and led the way through the trees.

*

A disturbance behind them caught the attention of the three. Harry expected to see Dumbledore but was surprised to see another familiar figure instead. Voldemort stood at the edge of the clearing, a charmed pendant in his hand.

"We meet again, Mister Potter. This is a momentous occasion. Congratulations on your engagement although I fear it will be short-lived."

"What are you doing here?" Harry hissed.

"The same thing you are doing. I heard about your problem and I came to help. I know how to resurrect your . . . did you call him father?"

"Ara?" Harry whispered to the vampire, "Can you do anything?"

"She can't, Harry," Hermione said. "Look around you."

Harry looked around the clearing and saw a dozen Death Eaters, each holding a charm similar to the one in Voldemort's hand. He looked at the vampire who was frozen in place writhing with pain.

"I've trapped her," Voldemort gloated. "I came prepared, Harry. I made sure she did not notice our approach. It was difficult, I assure you. Also, I had to hide your trail from your dear professors. That was much easier. Now, I will destroy her, and resurrect her along with the other vampire in that urn the dear girl is holding."

Harry's face turned to horror as he realized what Voldemort was saying. He would bring back two powerful vampires, and they would be under his control. He looked at Ara but she could do nothing. She did mouth one word to him, and he nodded. At that moment, a curse hit him and he could not move. He heard the curse called again and realized that Hermione was hit as well.

*

Ron Weasley had almost reached the edge of the Dark Forest when he spotted Remus Lupin. Ron knew it was him because he knew of no other wolves in the area. Ignoring his instructions he followed the wolf back into the forest. The wolf glanced at him, then nodded. He would not stand in Ron's way to help his friends.

*

Sirius led the way through the trees at a brisk walk, making sure not to lose his friends in the forest. As he came close to the clearing he could hear Voldemort calling out two binding spells.

As he watched, Voldemort and several of his followers called out in unison the same curse, and the vampire became consumed in fire and flame. Sirius heard Albus telling the others to follow his lead when Harry surprised everyone by breaking free of his curse.

Harry grabbed his wand before he could be stopped and cast his own curse. The mass of flame that once was a vampire exploded, and ashes scattered in every direction. Voldemort raised his wand at Harry and began to call out a new spell but others were already on the move. Ron Weasley shouted out "Expelliremus," while Remus, refusing to be left behind, kicked off with his paws and jumped at great speed, sending Voldemort sprawling.

Bedlam reigned among the Death Eaters as they found unwelcome company in the form of four professors and a student shouting curses and spells, while a large dog and a wolf threatened them. As quickly as they appeared, they scattered, leaving a handful of their comrades behind. Even Voldemort, holding an injured hand, apparated from the scene.

*

Only minutes had passed between Voldemort's arrival and his departure, yet the entire world had changed for Harry. Ara, the vampire he had falsely trusted, was dead beyond recall because to his quick action. He consoled himself with the thought that it had been her last request. She had finally been released from her bonds.

"May she rest in peace," Harry whispered to himself. He then pointed his wand at Hermione and called out, "Finite Incantatum." He helped her set down the urn she had been holding the entire time and reluctantly embraced her when she folded herself into him.

"I still love you," Harry told her.

"I'm fine now, Harry," Hermione said. "I think you put an end to what you did when you removed the curse from me."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry, you didn't hurt me."

As they let each other go, Dumbledore walked up to them. "That was very impressive, Harry. How did you manage to break the curse?"

"I should apologize, Sir," Harry told him. "I've been a fool."

"No, Harry. You were only trying to help someone you loved."

"I failed Him, Professor. The time is almost here, and I don't know the ritual."

The headmaster looked at the young man in front of him, and paused in thought. He came to a decision, and called over to Madame Pomfrey who was checking on the captured Death Eaters.

"Poppy, do you know a good restorative spell?"

"Albus, You can't be serious?" she asked in shock.

"That would be extremely unwise," Severus Snape told him. "Even if it did work."

"I agree," Sirius said. "We are talking about a powerful vampire."

"We're talking about my father," Harry said loudly, but with a sad tone in his voice.

"He's not your father," Sirius told him.

"He gave me my life. What does that make him?"

"Harry's right," Ron said from behind them. "Think about it. If Harry dies, he won't stay dead. He'll need somebody."

Sirius Black and Severus Snape both started to shout, but Professor McGonagall held up her hand. "Mister Weasley is right and you know it. You are also forgetting something. Whoever restores this vampire will control him. I believe that is something Albus has already thought of."

"Thank you, Minerva. And thank you, Ron, for remaining true to your friend despite my instructions."

"Albus," Poppy said, "I do know one spell that requires a potion with it. It might be the most appropriate choice."

"It's time," Harry said then. "I can feel the sun and the moon."

*

Madam Pomfrey frowned as Albus carefully poured the ashes on the bare ground. As everyone silently watched, she recited the restoration spell while he cut his wrist and let his blood flow. Quickly, the ashes began to smoke and become a mist. The mist took shape and the ancient vampire stood before them. He smiled at Harry then turned to Dumbledore.

"What is your wish, my master?" He said calmly

"To be friends," Albus said with equal calmness.

The vampire expressed surprise. "Friendship?"

"I'm not very good at being a master. I've always preferred being a mentor. I would like to ask a few questions, though."

"To be sure you made the right decision," the vampire said, smiling slightly. "I am still bound by my oath, and I have once before refused to be released from it. What other answers will you demand of me?"

"I would know why," Albus said. "All other vampires are mindless killers, using their intellect only to pursue their prey. Why are you different?"

"I am not different," The vampire said with amusement. "I am a killer, do not forget that, Albus Dumbledore. It is only that I had a purpose in my life which carried over into death. I have become a selective killer, and I will kill again before this night is ended."

His manner of speech gave almost everyone present a chilling feeling. Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore were the two exceptions. Both knew they had nothing to fear.

Ron Weasley was one of the first to recover. He noticed how Hermione had instinctively hugged Harry when she felt the effect of the vampire's words. Although Hermione had been under a spell, she obviously had feelings for him. As the vampire answered the headmaster's questions about his origins, Ron was suddenly struck by a thought.

"Excuse me," he interrupted. "Could I ask you a question?"

"You are the friend of my son," the vampire said. "What would you like to know?"

"You were very close to Harry's dad. I was curious what your name is."

Ron grinned as the vampire began to laugh.

***

"You risk your children carelessly," He said to the proud young man.

"I thought he should meet all of his 'uncles'."

"He has his mothers eyes, but I suppose you have been told that often enough."

"As much as I love his mother, I will never tire of hearing it."

He looked at the young babe in his arm, and handed him back to his father. "I fear he grows cold in my arms. Keep him warm, James. I will help you keep him safe."

"I will," James said warmly. "And Lily said to tell you that we named him after a very close friend."


FINIS