Warnings: Mild slash, Spoilers for all seven books, though only consistent with the first five.
English is not my first language and so corrections are very welcome as is all other reasonable feedback, reviews etc.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Chapter 1: Curiosity
Harry was sitting on a creaky wooden bench in the park. June was coming to a close and it was nearing midnight. He was feeling quite numb, he often did. Lately. Sirius, the only one he had been able to call family, was dead and he was to blame. Oh Harry knew the blame couldn't be solely laid on his doorstep but he wasn't blameless either. Sirius was dead, Harry was alone now and he felt numb.
The park around him was deserted, or so he thought until a deep and smooth voice from behind him said: "The Boy-Who-Lived, they call you. Haven't done much of living though, have you? Surviving yes, but not living." The stranger sat down next to him but Harry did nothing to acknowledge him. When he was in this numb state of mind he cared very little for his own safety. Potential dangers didn't even register in his mind.
"I prefer Harry", Harry muttered staring in to the distance.
"Harry", the man said tasting the name and then introduced himself: "I am Sanguini."
"A pleasure", was Harry's automatic response.
"Indeed", Sanguini chuckled, "What are you doing here this late at night, Harry?"
"Sitting. Thinking. Not thinking." Harry answered and slowly turned his eyes to the man next to him. The man was tall and dressed in a dark gray suit that looked slightly old-fashioned. His skin was pale, paler than pale. Almost white. And flawless except for the dark shadows under his eyes. His hair was silky black, brushed back and tied at the base of his neck with a silvery silk ribbon, and his eyes were the palest gray and reminded Harry of the moon. All in all the man looked like a handsome aristocrat with health problems. Harry's instincts were whispering to him and he knew the man wasn't human. Vampire, he figured. "What brings you to Little Whinging, Mister Sanguini?"
"Curiosity. And just Sanguini is fine."
"Yes. I get terribly curious about the strangest things and I learned long ago it is much easier and more pleasurable to simply seek to satisfy my curiosity instead of trying to deny it", Sanguini explained with a friendly smile, "And this time I found myself wondering about the rumored Chosen One."
"The press comes up with the silliest titles, doesn't it?" Harry commented dryly.
"Yes, it definitely does", Sanguini agreed.
"What can I do to help you sate your curiosity, Sanguini?" Harry asked and smiled a little.
"You're offering me, a stranger, help on such an insignificant quest?" The man asked sounding quite surprised. "Shouldn't you be a little more reserved about what kind of people you interact with? You never know what kind of a monster someone might be..."
"You don't seem like a monster to me. A vampire maybe, but not currently a danger to me."
This rendered the man silent for a moment. Not many people recognized a vampire that quickly and when they did, they didn't sit around chatting with one. They ran, screamed and shot hexes at them. Harry paid close attention to the man's reaction and came to the conclusion that his guess had indeed been correct. "You are the first vampire I have ever met", Harry said breaking the silence, "You seem more human than the DADA books implied. Then again, the picture the books paint of werewolves isn't very accurate either."
"You are a rare breed, Harry. Not many are able to avoid the prejudice your kind tends to cherish", Sanguini said and smiled widely. He hadn't been expecting much when he decided he just had to meet this so-called Chosen One. He hadn't been expecting to actually find entertaining conversation.
"It gets hard to trust what other people say about others when one has been through as much slander as I. One minute I'm the Savior of the Wizarding World and the next I'm the Heir of Slytherin and the dishonest and arrogant future dark lord." Harry explained with a shrug and then asked: "So what can I do for you?"
Sanguini hummed a little and eventually answered: "Would it be too much to ask for your friendship? I find myself utterly fascinated, you see."
"Friendship? You want to be my friend?" Harry asked sounding amused and he was.
"Yes. I want to get to know you better, converse with you."
"Sure, why not. You seem like a nice enough guy", Harry agreed and asked: "What would you like to talk about?"
"You're living with muggle relatives?"
"Yes, how did you know?"
"Sensitive nose. One of the benefits of being a vampire."
"Cool", Harry commented and then explained: "Yeah, I live with my mother's sister and her husband and son. They're very 'normal' people and proud of it. Not very accepting of anything abnormal."
"Like magic", Harry confirmed. "To them I'm just another freak."
"And that's why they starve you?" Sanguini asked softly.
Harry tensed and looked a little alarmed at that but then relaxed, "People don't usually notice."
"Humans, both magical and muggle, can be very dense and unobservant. My kind tends to see a lot more and a lot deeper", the man explained and then asked: "Do they hurt you?"
"Not so much anymore. They mostly ignore me now. My cousin Dudley used to beat me up when we were younger. Mostly my punishments are just locking me into my room, or cupboard when I was younger, giving more chores to do and withholding food. Nothing too horrible."
"Sounds horrible enough to me. That's child abuse", Sanguini pointed out.
"I won't be forced to stay here for much longer. I'll be taken to stay with a friend's family soon."
"Why are you here to begin with?"
"Dumbledore says I have to stay at the Dursleys' because of the blood wards. Safest place for me, he says", Harry said with a sigh.
"Hard to believe the Great Albus Dumbledore couldn't ward some other place well enough", Sanguini pointed out, his tone making his opinion of Dumbledore quite clear. Sanguini had always found Dumbledore dishonest, manipulative and full of himself. As he saw it, Dumbledore had the ego of a god and was treated as one by the majority of the magical folk.
"True, but there's not much I can do about it."
"I've heard countless stories about your adventures at Hogwarts", Sanguini said changing the subject, "Would you mind telling me about them? A teacher possessed by Voldemort hunting the Philosopher's stone, the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, the Triwizard tournament..?"
"Sure", Harry agreed and began telling about his past five wild years at Hogwarts. Sanguini was a very good listener. He held eye contact when Harry's eyes sought his and slipped in comments and questions without interrupting Harry's tales. He was beyond fascinated and a little horrified. What was Dumbledore thinking letting children face such dangers? There was no doubt in his mind that the Headmaster knew the happenings of his school well enough to prevent such disasters but he had done nothing. It was almost as if he had led Harry into dangerous situations on purpose...
When Harry finished his summary of his school history and yawned for the umpteenth time he said: "Perhaps I should drag myself back to the Dursleys' and the bed waiting for me."
"You do seem rather tired", Sanguini said with a warmer smile than one might expect from a vampire.
"Says the guy with panda eyes", Harry chuckled.
"The shadows under my eyes aren't due to lack of sleep", Sanguini explained, "Vampires begin to look tired and unhealthy when they're hungry. I'll look better after I've fed."
"Do you kill when you..?" Harry asked uncertain whether it was a question he should be asking or not. It wasn't exactly a polite kind of question.
"Not very often. We vampires usually drink small amounts at a time leaving our prey alive and we wipe their memories afterwards. Leaving bodies in our trail would attract too much attention and would force us to constantly move around", Sanguini patiently explained. He rather liked the fact that Harry was willing to ask instead of making assumptions.
"Okay", Harry smiled and rose, "I better get going. I'll be in Little Whinging until Friday so if you have the time, we could meet here some night before then..?"
"Tomorrow?" the vampire suggested as he too got up.
"Tomorrow", Harry agreed, "Good night."
"Good night, Harry", Sanguini replied and when Harry walked away he added: "Sleep well", and that night Harry slept better than he had since his godfather died.
O O O
The two of them ended up meeting all three nights before Friday and they talked. Mostly about Harry's life, though Sanguini shared some of his experiences when they were relevant to the subject. Most of the time Harry didn't much think about Sanguini's vampiric nature, so human as he seemed. On their fourth meeting, and their last while Harry was still in Little Whinging that summer, Harry said: "You don't look too good. You should have fed before coming here. I wouldn't have minded waiting a little longer."
"I'll be just fine", Sanguini assured, "You needn't worry. I should have at least a day more before the bloodlust hits."
"You look awful, though. It's almost painful just looking at you", Harry cringed. He had never been able to look at the suffering of others without feeling bad himself. Sanguini was looking whiter than usual, if that was even possible, his cheeks looked sunken and the shadows under his eyes were darker than ever.
"Are you offering?" Sanguini joked. Magical people were very possessive of their blood and were hardly ever willing to donate it for any cause. It was no wonder when you thought about all the damage one could cause with blood magic.
Harry looked at the vampire expressionlessly for a moment and then offered him his wrist saying: "Go ahead."
Sanguini was beyond surprised and made no move to take up on the offer. "Are you sure?" he asked when it became clear Harry wasn't joking. He needed the verbal confirmation, this seemed too good to be true.
"Yes", Harry answered and he was. He knew blood was something that shouldn't be given to anyone without a good reason, the ritual used to resurrect Voldemort was still fresh in his mind. Providing sustenance for a vampire who was his friend was a good reason in his mind.
Slowly, hesitantly Sanguini took hold of the hand offered to him and lifted the wrist to his lips. His eyes drifted closed as he flicked his tongue over the pulse point and then in a flash he sunk his elongated fangs into the smooth flesh.
Harry's breath hitched a little but the pain wasn't near as bad as he had expected. The pain lasted no longer than a second and then all he felt was warmth and tingling spreading from the bite up his arm and to the rest of his body. It was surprisingly pleasurable and he couldn't help but be fascinated by the sight of the vampire sucking at his wrist with a look of bliss on his face. Not a drop was wasted and soon the vampire was done. A few licks and the two round wounds closed without scarring.
Sanguini licked the last drops of blood from his lips. He looked a lot better now. The shadows under his eyes were gone and his skin was almost glowing with vitality. His eyes looked like melted silver in sunlight. "Delicious", Sanguini said with a very pleased smile, "Absolutely delicious. I am most grateful."
"You're welcome", Harry smiled back, "You look much better."
"It's been a while since the last time I had the pleasure of drinking magical blood and muggle blood can do only so much for us", Sanguini explained, "Blood from a wizard as powerful as you will sustain me for a few of weeks while muggle blood would force me to seek another meal in a day or two. On top of that, magical blood allows me to cast normal magic instead of only the vampiric kind."
"There's such a huge difference between magical and non-magical blood?"
"There's such huge difference between your blood and that of a muggle", Sanguini corrected, "The blood of an average witch or wizard would sustain me for a week or so."
"But I'm not – " Harry began to protest.
"But you are", Sanguini interrupted his voice soft but certain, "In terms of magical power you are way above your average wizard. I haven't had the pleasure of tasting power like yours in over a century. Judging by feel alone I would say you are around the same power level as your Headmaster."
"There is no way – "
"What you lack is knowledge, motivation and self-confidence."
"I think you're overestimating me a little", Harry protested.
"I don't think I am", Sanguini shook his head sadly. It was truly a shame how Harry's upbringing was clearly hampering him from achieving his potential. "Think on it."
"Sure", Harry muttered, "I would be happy to let you drink from me in the future when convenient." Sanguini smiled his thanks at that and they both well silent.
Eventually Sanguini asked: "You're leaving tomorrow?"
"Yeah. Dumbledore's taking me to the Burrow." Harry sighed. He had been waiting for the day eagerly but now that it was around the corner and he had Sanguini for company... "I don't know when I'll be able to meet you again."
"Perhaps we could converse via owl post?" the vampire suggested. He would miss the young man's company, that was for sure. It wasn't often he found humans that didn't bore him after the first five minutes. "If we're careful about what we write. There's a high chance someone goes through your post before it reaches you. Dumbledore, the Ministry, the Dark Lord... I'm sure they all are interested in what you write and to whom. I would have to use one of my fake identities."
"Sure", Harry agreed smiling brightly, "I'd love to." He was sad to lose the vampire's company. Even though the vampire had originally sought him out due to the whole Boy-Who-Lived business, Sanguini never treated him like he was special and famous. With Sanguini he could be just Harry, he could be normal and talk about normal things and feel like everything he said was heard as he said it, without the words going through some special this-is-what-the-famous-Harry-Potter-must-have-meant -filter. Even Ron and Hermione some times misunderstood what he meant because of his hero status. It was tiring.
"It's getting late. You should go to bed", Sanguini pointed out.
"You're right", Harry rose up from the bench he had began thinking of as theirs and Sanguini followed.
Sanguini's hand slowly cupped Harry's cheek and his thumb trailed along the cheekbone, "Good night, Harry", he said softly.
The gentle touch amazed Harry a little. The hand on his cheek was warm, due to his blood no doubt. He wasn't used to people touching him like that but it felt good and Harry's eyes fluttered a little. "Good night, Sanguini", he forced the words out of his mouth. Speaking was suddenly difficult for some reason. The hand dropped and with a last smile goodbye Harry turned and walked away.