Returning the following day meant Harry was returning to a glass house filled with noise. The sun shone brightly amongst clear sky though the air still chilled if you stood outside. The vampires weren't at school today not with their skin condition. Harry snarled silently. He hadn't wanted all of them to be present when he returned. Seeing them all happily enjoying their lives was the last on his to-do list. Yet he still entered the home.
Noise lessened as he entered. Even so, Carlisle hurried towards him, taking his time as if he were human once again yet moving too smoothly to be anything but a vampire. Harry envied the fluid motion he couldn't mimic.
"Harleigh, welcome home…" Carlisle greeted warmly.
"Hello Carlisle." Harry returned.
The slight hesitation within his voice caused the vampire to flinch. Moments later it was pushed aside as Carlisle swept Harry's bag from his shoulder and moved to take it upstairs, eager to move past their awkward greeting. Harry could tell the others were tense within the house so he followed after Carlisle not desiring for any small talk.
The room he was led into appeared quite spacious. A simple double bed took up most of the room with a wall of empty bookshelves though they could have been used to display items from his past as well. Walls painted in a rich cream helped to keep this empty room alive. Carlisle shifted nervously as he placed Harry's tiny backpack on the bed. Moments passed as each assessed the situations. Eventually Carlisle spoke up.
"I know this is probably not what you were expecting however this room has never been used till now and I hope it will help you accumulate within the house. There is more than enough room for you here. Food isn't difficult either since Esme can cook if you would prefer to eat in. She does often for Bella."
Harry sighed, waving a hand to cast a silencing spell around the room. This conversation wasn't about to be pleasant and he didn't desire for those pesky vampires downstairs to hear what was being spoken.
"What are you planning Carlisle? You know this can't end well." Harry informed.
"This is my house and it is filled to the brim with my family. You are always included amongst my family Harleigh." Carlisle explained, resting his hands on Harry's shoulders.
Harry shook his head in disbelief. Carlisle wanted to welcome him home and yet everyone downstairs was firmly against his presence within their home. It wouldn't work. Not to mention, Harry didn't believe he was one of the family. There was simply too much bad blood between them for anything positive to remain.
"Carlisle, no one but you desires me here. They don't know me and you've done nothing to aid their transition. They know nothing about me and I know nothing about them. I'm betting they didn't even know who I was until you called me here. That is not something you can fix overnight." Harry spat.
He was tired. Over the years Carlisle had only made this meeting more strained as he continued to add to his family and leave Harry behind. The bitterness welling up within Harry hadn't diminished in the slightest because of this and yet Carlisle was pushing for them to finally become one.
"This should have occurred long ago, Carlisle." Harry continued. "Yet your reluctance and desperation to keep me safe has only hindered that effort. I know I'm not a vampire. I don't have hardened skin or the urge to devour blood but I'm more than capable of protecting myself, now more than ever. Your sole reason for keeping me away has long ceased to be a problem. You didn't want me amongst them and now their unwillingness to accept me is something you will have to live with."
Carlisle looked like he desired to continue this debate however this talk had been a long time in coming and wasn't likely to be concluded in one sitting. So many instances of lies and deceit pushed its way to the surface and it couldn't even begin to unfold in half an hour. Eventually he pulled himself back.
"They will accept you, Harleigh. No one who has met you has remained hateful of you for long."
Harry didn't bother to tell Carlisle that had changed in the past hundred years. Hate always paired with envy especially when one was as aged and powerful as he. There was no escaping it.
"I'll let you settle but don't forget, even if I allowed our contact to fall apart due to nerves, I never ceased worrying over you."
With that Carlisle disappeared through the ward and moved downstairs.
Harry beat his anger down. Even now Carlisle still acted as if nothing was wrong. Certainly things were shaky but nothing so dastardly that it couldn't be fixed eventually. After all this time Carlisle hadn't changed. He was still the same man Harry remembered from his youth and that in itself was disappointing.
Family, Harry believed, should change a person. They needed to be there for support and to protect them should things go wrong. Carlisle however wasn't truly doing anything of the sort. Certainly he was present during their lives but he wasn't teaching them anything meaningful. He wasn't there for support, or at least not in the way a father should be. This family was nothing but a group of childlike vampires playing at family.
Harry collapsed on crisp sheets of deep green. Perhaps he should rethink aiding them. This certainly wasn't what he wanted out of this meeting at all. Yet there would be no escaping it now. He would need this family to at least tolerate him if they were going to destroy a Newborn Arm. Harry sighed. He wished he was back in London.
It was a day later Harry was told he would be meeting with the Shifters. After attempting to settle in, Harry had decided simply that hiding within his room wouldn't be any type of solution. Eventually Carlisle would drag him down the stairs and force him to sit amongst the family. He would do this on his own terms.
He'd taken a book and moved into the lounge room. The family were all out in the backyard though what they were doing Harry couldn't even begin to comprehend. It sounded as if they were simply roughhousing but for a vampire that included considerably more destruction. Harry had been content to sit and read.
It was only later when Harry had looked up that he'd realized everyone had moved into the lounge room. Carlisle was out it seemed and so was Edward. Jasper and Emmet were playing a game whilst Rosalie flipped through a magazine and Alice played with her hair. The colours of what appeared to be racing game were vibrant and so obviously fake but Harry couldn't help but stare mesmerized.
"Have you ever played a video game before?"
The question was simple enough and a very easy point to bridge the awkwardness between them. So Harry replied to Emmett's question.
"I haven't had the pleasure, no."
"Didn't Carlisle ever teach you to play with games and such?"
His book snapped shut along with his temper.
"Carlisle was too busy playing with you." Was Harry's reply before he'd left the room.
The air between them had shifted since then. None of the four children had spoken to either of their parents about what had occurred and yet they still thought on it constantly. So it was with unease amongst the group that they prepared to leave for their meeting that day.
Yet before they could even consider moving Carlisle had them stop. The vampire snarled well before Harry heard the car moving up the driveway. The blond man blurred in movement before ceasing before Harry, shielding him from the front door. A frown creased Harry's brow.
"Carlisle, what is it?" Harry questioned.
If danger was moving toward them, he would like to have been prepared. The others in the room were of differing opinions with whatever was occurring. Rosalie scowled openly whilst Jasper and Emmett stood without any care. Esme and Alice were openly pleased. Yet Carlisle's response was the only that mattered to Harry. He didn't like what was moving towards them.
The door swung open to reveal Edward and a human that could be none other than Isabella Swan. The entire room burst into motion. Esme and Alice openly greeted the girl whilst everyone else remained where they stood. Only Harry's arm ceased Carlisle from openly lunging at the human.
Harry watched Carlisle. The man was tense and ill at ease with Isabella in the room with them. He knew it was merely because Harry was present otherwise the man would tolerate her and accept what Edward brought into the room. Carlisle had always been protective to the point of foolishness on occasion. This time however Harry couldn't help but agree. This girl was nothing but trouble.
"Edward mentioned you were meeting with the Pack today and said it would be alright if I came." Bella said, shifting as she sensed the rooms' reluctance.
Carlisle's displeasure rolled off him so heavily Jasper couldn't control his own displeasure. Harry knew it wouldn't be safe for her if she remained in his presence for much longer. Carlisle would lunge at her. In fact Harry was quite concerned that Carlisle would do something foolish if Harry released his arm. However Harry was awfully tempted to see what would happen. Isabella Swan hadn't ceased staring at him since she'd first walked in. Her open curiosity was plain for all to see and it unsettled Harry and Carlisle both.
Harry's eyes roved over her. She was plain. Not to say she wasn't attractive in some way but she didn't have anything unique about her appearance. Brown hair, brown eyes, and pale skin didn't really appeal to Harry at all. The only temptation for Edward should have been her blood and her mind. Their eyes connected.
Harry fell through memories as easily as wadding through ankle-deep water. So much for the barrier keeping Edward out, Harry thought scathingly. If he could easily enter then so could Edward he simply didn't know how. Edward was simply untrained which could prove detrimental later in life.
"… I want to be his forever…"
"… who is this stranger? Is he the one who is going to be aiding Edward in protecting me? He doesn't look like much…"
"… Rosalie always glares. I want her to like me. Eventually she will have to like me…"
Harry blinked, severing their connection. Bella hadn't even felt a thing. She stood blinking doe eyes at him. Harry sneered. How pathetic. Her desires were all he needed to hear. Anything else in her head was simply unnecessary. Even then, listening in on that much was a chore. Harry's opinion of her dropped significantly.
"Carlisle, we shouldn't be late to a meeting you requested." Harry spoke.
No one else had truly said anything til then all waiting for Harry's reaction to Bella. Edward, Esme, and Alice all appeared very disappointed at Harry's dismissal. Rosalie on the other hand couldn't contain her glee. Obviously Bella was not an acquired taste. Luckily for Harry he had at least one person who wouldn't argue with what he spoke when it turned negatively on Bella otherwise their living situation could have become rather ugly over the next few weeks.
Together they all moved out into the front yard preparing to leave when Bella hopped onto Edward's back. Harry turned to Carlisle in horror.
"You're not going to make me do that are you?"
Carlisle smiled for the first time that night remembering back to how they first travelled after his turning.
"Why?" he questioned.
"It looks degrading."
Rosalie covered a laugh with a cough at Harry's remark.
"No, Harleigh you don't have to travel on my back." Carlisle affirmed. "However you are going to need to keep up."
Harry nodded; thankful he didn't have to be carried like a backpack. Picking through Carlisle's mind Harry located the area they were going to be meeting and apparated, Carlisle's growl fading in seconds.
Arriving well before any of the vampires Harry had plenty of time to look around the clearing. This was at the border between the Pack's land and the open land meant for the Cullen's. The area didn't look like much at all. However he wasn't a wolf or a vampire so he couldn't sense the land barrier. Perhaps once Carlisle arrived he would then but until then he remained close the three line.
On the opposite side he could see the wolves appearing though they didn't move any closer either. Both sides weighed each other. Then Carlisle arrived with his family close behind in respect. Harry merely arched a brow as Bella was placed on her feet, hair in tangles.
"I thank you for agreeing to meet with us once again." Carlisle opened.
The pack growled which Harry took to mean something unflattering if Edward's flinch was anything to do by. Carlisle however motioned for Harry to move closer for an introduction.
"Harleigh, may I introduce you to the Shifter Pack from the Reservation. Their leader is Sam."
Harry watched them as they took in his form with the other vampires surrounding him. They could tell merely by a glance that he wasn't a vampire, that he still held a beating heart. Yet they could also tell he wasn't something human. This uncertainty over what he was gave them pause.
"They aren't very talkative." Harry spoke.
"The pack doesn't like strangers." Bella defended.
Harry merely raised an eyebrow. If they didn't like strangers then how had she been welcomed by the pack? She was such an airhead. How did anyone take her seriously? Walking forward he made certain to not step over the boundary line.
"My name is Harleigh Jamieson Potter. I'm not a vampire as you can obviously tell yet I'm not human either. If anything I have more in common with you than with vampires. I appear human yet something else lurks beneath." Harry introduced. "Simply put, I'm a witch."
Bella started at that which Harry ignored. It was the pack he was truly interested in. After a few moments the leader, Sam, disappeared into the shrubs only to return human and half dressed. Given his attire, Harry felt slightly over dressed in his dark slacks and dress shirt. However he didn't own any other clothes thanks to an unforgiving man who despised poor attire.
"How do you know Cullen?"
Harry found it curious the man still growled even as a human.
"My past is not something we should be discussing."
Sam disagreed. "It would help us trust you further."
"I don't seek your trust, only your cooperation." Harry shot back.
The trees swayed as the wind picked up. Harry grew tired of this. He wasn't here to prove himself and yet that was what these wolves desired from him today. It wasn't going to happen.
"Let's clear the air here." Harry continued "I'm not here to gain your trust. I'm here because Carlisle requested my aid. I care not whether you live through this or not. I care not whether Carlisle's little family live through this or not. I am here for Carlisle and Carlisle alone so if you get it in your head I will need you, I don't. I'm meeting you out of courtesy, nothing more."
One of the wolves darted away and returned as a human. Hearing a whimpered name, Harry knew this one to be Jacob. There was a connection between the mortal girl and the shifter that Edward seemed to ignore. Now it appeared as if he was to be dealing with a love triangle as well as a Newborn Army. Didn't these creatures know of anything better to do but start wars over mortal girls?
"What about Bella?" Jacob snarled.
It appeared as if they didn't know any better… These creatures were truly fighting over a girl. Harry could have wept. This wasn't what he'd been asked to do.
"I'm not here for her protection. I'm here to aid Carlisle in the destruction of a Newborn Army."
This displeased both Jacob and Edward who immediately began arguing over who would protect Bella since Harry wasn't feeling inclined to do so. Harry felt empathy for Rosalie if this happened every time someone opposed the wonderful Bella. Truly this could make one go insane.
"There is really no need for this, Sam." Carlisle spoke.
"Jacob, be quiet." Sam growled, eyes flashing.
Eventually the shifter stepped back but didn't transform again.
"Harleigh is present here only to aid us with the army. I didn't call him here to deal with any problems between Isabella, Edward, or Jacob. Their problems are for them to sort out in their own time." Carlisle explained.
Sam nodded, agreeing with what was spoken. No one wanted to be caught in amongst that love spat. It was bad enough the pack had to listen to Jacob's thoughts on the matter when he shifted.
"What can Harleigh do to help us if he isn't a vampire or a shifter? What does a witch do?" Sam questioned.
Carlisle motioned for Harry to step forward however he wasn't about to reveal any of his secrets to these shifters at least not whilst Bella was around. He didn't trust her. The last thing he was going to do was have her fawn over his power. No Edward could have that one.
"My abilities aren't that of a normal witch." Harry explained. "My origins have created somewhat of a different reaction within me than in others of my kind. I am only a few years younger than Carlisle and for a witch that is impossible. A bond between the two of us caused this, as such, we share several characteristic traits. Carlisle doesn't feel the urge to drink human blood because I don't like blood. I can't die as easily because killing Carlisle is nearly impossible. Add to that my abilities as a witch and I'm fairly capable."
Harry despised giving away this information. But as his words sunk into the thoughts of those gathered he noticed they recognized power when they were shown it. The shifters would be sceptical till they viewed what he would be capable of however Bella wouldn't be there to witness it.
"What bond would Harleigh be speaking of Carlisle?" Sam questioned.
Carlisle stiffened and growled. Speaking of the bond was certain to get Carlisle in a state. He truly hated what his father had done to them especially to Harleigh but he couldn't do anything about that. What he had done, abandoning Harleigh when uncertainty struck, certainly hadn't been the best of decisions either but he would be fixing that. The bond wouldn't be mentioned again.
"The bond doesn't affect anyone but Harleigh and I. It would be highly unlikely for someone to accidently create the same effect. You don't need to know more than that." Carlisle hissed back.
Of course an argument then broke out. The Cullen's desired to know what bond kept Harleigh and Carlisle leashed as did the Shifter Pack and yet neither truly had any care for what they might bring to light because of it. Their story wasn't something pleasant at all though eventually Carlisle would tell the other Cullen's.
"Immortal-one, a Red-eyes draws near."
Harry glanced down as the two sides continued to argue. They weren't moving forward with what they needed to speak of so Harry had moved away from them to get some space. At his feet a green snake slithered before him. The scales glistened with dew. The red-eyes, the snake mentioned concerned Harry. Red-eyes could after all only mean one thing.
"Thank-you for informing me, don't get caught in the crossfire."
"Of course, Immortal-one, take care."
The snake swiftly slithered away, disappearing between the tree line. Harry glanced up at the silence now surrounding the area. Both the Cullen's and the Pack were watching Harry in shock. Obviously none of them had ever seen someone speak to a snake before. What a pity… Harry turned towards the north.
"We're about to have company."
No one had been to see him in days. In that time, Harleigh had no come to terms with the fact his life was tied to that of Carlisle Cullen. There was not a moment he was pleased with his situation but he had accepted it. Until he could get his hands on those books he would remain bound to Carlisle.
Harleigh squirmed. The books on witchcraft weren't something he particularly desired to look at. His entire life, he'd been instructed to reject anything about witches. His parents had been accepting of people who studied witchcraft but never partook of the rituals and spells. If anything when Harleigh's grandfather died and left all his books and potions to them, they'd been secreted away in boxes no one spoke of. Certainly this action didn't speak of acceptance.
This ingrained rejection of witches would have to be overcome however if Harleigh was to find a way of breaking this bond. Chains rubbed against already tender skin. Maliciously, Harleigh hoped Carlisle was in as much discomfort as he. Perhaps then Cullen's father would permit him to wonder around the basement and secretly read the books surrounding him.
The door snapped open as if reading his thoughts permitting someone to walk down the stairs. Due to the light pouring in from above Harleigh didn't recognize Carlisle until he was before him. The door had been shut at one point but Harleigh didn't register it. All he could focus on was the one before him.
Carlisle shifted nervously before him but didn't say a word. Harleigh took Carlisle's position and didn't speak. This wouldn't be a time for his pathetic pleading. His family was dead and all he had left in this world of them were the books in this basement and a connection to a man as a reminder of their deeds.
"Harleigh, I… is there anything I can get you?" Carlisle whispered.
The man before him was terrified. However Carlisle wasn't terrified of him. Whatever it was the bond between them hummed with it making Harleigh just as antsy.
"What is wrong Carlisle?" Harleigh questioned.
Surprise flitted across Carlisle's face. Yet the man took a glance towards the door before he stepped forward and wrapped his arms around the teen.
"Carlisle, what are you doing?"
"I'm sorry," Carlisle pleaded stepping back, "I needed someone to speak with and I didn't know who else to turn to."
Bitterness filled Harleigh. Of course he would be a last resort. The terrifying witch couldn't be anything but a last resort to a normal human like Carlisle or his father. Why would he expect any different?
"No, it's not like that," Carlisle spoke upon seeing Harleigh's face twist with bitterness.
"Then what is it?"
Carlisle swallowed but pulled a key out of his pocket. Harleigh recognized it immediately. It was the key to his chains. His freedom was held by the very person he was bound to. He frowned in question.
"My father, I learnt that my father won't allow you to leave. He plans to keep you locked up here as some sort of experiment. He's been looking at whips and knives and I worry he's going to attempt harm to you. That is also why no one has brought you any food. He believes you can sustain on the food I eat."
Harleigh blinked. Food hadn't even crossed his mind during his stay after the ritual. Yet now that he thought on it he hadn't been hungry at all. His entire body hadn't desired anything in his stay down here afterwards. What else had changed? What else had this ritual done to him that he couldn't even tell?
"What are you planning to do with the key?" Harleigh questioned slowly.
Carlisle couldn't risk sending him away. If the bond had a distance set to it they might not even be able to move a certain distance away before Harleigh and Carlisle felt the pull to move back together. Even then they would need to test out the limits. Acting on this bond without knowing what it did wasn't something either could risk at this time.
"Carlisle, what are you doing with the witch?"
Harleigh watched Carlisle as he turned, hiding the key within one of his pockets. The Cullen Patriarch stood at the basement door. Harleigh wasn't an idiot. He knew finding his son here wouldn't be good for either of them should the key be spotted.
"I was curious as to what might happen should any harm come to him, father."
Harleigh could nearly have applauded Carlisle on his quick thinking however he kept his face emotionless. Cullen's father eagerly moved forward before stopping at the bottom of the stairs.
"Well what were your findings?"
"Every time he comes to harm I heal him. Every time I am harmed he heals me though we both feel the others pain." Harleigh whispered the answer which Carlisle repeated.
The answer wasn't far from what Harleigh knew to be true. Yet it would work in their favour for now. The elder Cullen sneered yet nodded.
"Very well, come your mother wants you upstairs. It is time for lunch."
Carlisle nodded watching as the figure of his father left before turning towards Harleigh.
"Is what you spoke the truth?" Carlisle questioned.
"You witnessed the occurrence during the ritual. Any damage done to either of us occurs on the other though it heals swiftly."
Carlisle's hand twitched in remembrance. The wound had healed on both of them so swiftly it hadn't been anything other than witchcraft. No one could deny they were connected.
"Why did you tell him that?"
The question from Carlisle didn't faze Harleigh. He knew, though bound, Carlisle didn't trust him.
"I merely granted you some time. He won't harm me now that he knows you will also come to harm but that won't mean he will cease. Eventually he will desire to test our resistance to each other and when that time comes you will be in as much danger as I."
Carlisle straightened. His desire for life something Harleigh envied.
"What do I have to do then?"
Harleigh released a pitiful laugh.
"I don't know Carlisle. I'm merely the witch chained to your basement floor. I can't do anything."
And we have another chapter. Enjoy.