A prominent spire speared the partly cloudy sky over Hogwarts, the dark blue night void of light and dotted with stars. Silhouettes stirred on the uppermost level of the Astronomy Tower and voices trailed on the howl of distant wind. Arthur, Penelle, Olmeir and the rest of the astronomy class followed the instruction of Professor Sinistra as she worked with the planetary model at the center of the room. She waved her wand and the collection polished rings and glass spheres spun and orbited a central fixture. The model arranged to form the same images located on the star chart.
"This is the last constellation to be written into you current star chart," Professor Sinistra said to the apparent approval of the class. "There will be others; there are many stars in the sky," she added and the mild cheers were replaced by groaning and discontent.
Arthur carefully copied the image onto his chart as Professor Sinistra began to quiz the class.
"What is the name of this cluster?" she asked.
Arthur raised his hand as did others but in the end Olmeir was called.
"Eridanus," he said.
"Correct." Sinistra nodded. "What is the only named stat within this cluster."
"Achernar," Arthur blurted.
Sinistra gave him a look. "Correct."
Arthur cringed and went to drawing the stars and labeling them. He just wanted to get his 'perfect marks' for this class and answering a question seemed like a good place to start, especially in the absence of a written test. After the initial introduction of the constellation Sinistra gave the names of the other stars which were just alphanumeric codes based on different scientific magnitudes and designations. Afterward she elaborated about the history of the constellation.
"This cluster was listed by Ptolemy in th century," she began. "For homework write down the other fourty-seven constellations of Ptolemy's list."
Soon afterward students began to file out with their assignment for next class. Arthur rolled up his updated chart and put it into his bag then quickly jogged over to Penelle and Olmeir before they left.
"Arthur," Olmeir greeted.
"Hey, could I talk to both of you?"
"Sure, about what?" Penelle asked. Olmeir raised brow.
Arthur began to say something but Sinistra interupted.
"Arthur, a word," she uttered.
"I'll be right back," Arthur said to his friends before going over to Sinistra. "Yes, Professor?"
"I mentioned in class that Ptolemy made a list of fourty-eight constellations..." Sinistra was nearly a silhouette in the dark. "Do you know why?"
"I guess it has something to do with our agreement?"
"It does," she said. "Each cluster of Ptolemy's list has a stellar anomaly that can be replicated by magic. In the case of Eridanus, it holds a supervoid."
Arthur tilted his head. "What is a supervoid?"
"A supervoid is the dark that gathers just beyond a great light." Sinistra held out her hand and an orb of blackness formed, surrounded by shards of lights. "At any gathering of darkness, use the light of stars to displace evil."
"You want me to do this?" Arthur pointed to himself. "How?"
"Sidralis Lautima," she said.
"Sidralis Lautima..." he repeated.
"The light of stars."
Arthur bowed to Sinistra. "Thank you, Professor."
"You earned it.." Professor Sinistra said with a gesture. She walked out to the balcony of the tower and Arthur jogged over to his friends.
"What did you want to tell us?" Penelle asked as Arthur returned.
"The vampire is my father," Arthur revealed.
Olmeir blinked. "That changes things."
"I have a cure for him to be human again..." Arthur's thought trailed off.
Olmeir folded his arms. "However?"
"I have to give it to him soon or he will come after me," Arthur said.
Penelle looked at Arthur. "But he wouldn't hurt anyone right?"
"I don't know." Arthur shrugged. "He is still a vampire after all."
"You want us to go with you," Olmeir groaned.
"Yes," Arthur said. "Last time we met he had a dozen Inferi at his side."
A chorus of ghostly wailing could be heard coming from the ground below. "I regret to interrupt," Professor Sinistra said while walking over to them urgently. "You three should return to your common rooms immediately."
"What for, Professor?" Arthur asked.
"There is an incident at the front gate," Sinistra said while pointing toward the stairs. "Quickly, get inside!"
Arthur stepped back from her. He wanted to get a look over the edge of the tower to see what Sinistra saw but there was no time. She was kicking them out. Arthur and company walked down the stairs of the astronomy tower at a speedy pace until reaching the main halls of the castle. At the base of the stairwell Arthur made a quick left and ran down what seemed to be the wrong hallway.
Penelle gave him a look "Arthur, our common room is this way."
"I know," he said as he continued down the wrong hall and looked out the window, curious about what exactly was at the front gate.
Olmeir walked over to the window as well. "I doubt whatever is out there is any concern of yours."
"Actually, Olmeir, this happens to concern me very much," Arthur said upon getting a good look at the horde of Inferi approaching the castle. At the center of them stood the vampire from the cave. Olmeir drew away from the window and adjusted his glasses then looked at Arthur.
Penelle joined the boys at the window. "I guess he couldn't wait any longer?" she reasoned.
"I never thought you would be so interesting, Arthur," Sipher said as she appeared on the other end of the hall.
Arthur turned to look at her. "What are you talking about?"
"Either you find trouble or trouble finds you," she purred. "You should have been a Slytherin."
"I'm not like you, Sipher. I'm not going to revel in this situation for a cheap thrill." Arthur pointed at her. "I'm going to fix it."
"Really?" Sipher placed a hand on her hip. "How do you intend to do that?"
"I have a plan," Arthur said while starting down the hall. "You stay out of my way."
Arthur walked past Sipher down the hall followed by Olmeir and Penelle. He was headed for a different set of stairs when he heard Sipher muttered something. He ducked and a streak of green magic flew over his head as Olmeir spun and drew his wand.
"Out for blood, I see," Olmeir said to Sipher.
Sipher smirked. "Living dangerously cannot be half-done."
Arthur stood and turned just in time to see Olmeir fire a spell and Sipher defend herself. She fired back as a shadow crawled onto a nearby window. The glass shattered and an Inferi tumbled in through the opening.
"Not good," Arthur commented uselessly.
"Arthur, come on!" Penelle screamed as another Inferi came in through the window and began hobbling toward them. The pair ran down several stairs to reach the first floor of the castle where the Inferi were only more frequent. Arthur looked to see the double doors of the castle wide open. Broken glass and debris littered the floor along with downed Inferi and pools of their blood.
Arthur pushed through zombies until reaching the main entrance. After a brief moment within the warmth of the castle, Arthur returned outside to the dark chill of night. Professor McGonagall stood facing the Inferi alongside two animated suits of armor.
"I have to go out there," Arthur said to Penelle.
She nodded. "I'll make sure nothing sneaks up on you."
Arthur looked at her for a long moment before running off to join the professor. He walked up to the side of her and saw another dozen or so gray-skinned humanoids and of course the vampire that led them.
"Professor McGonagall, I-"
"Students should not be here," she said while casting a spell at the zombies. "Get back!"
"Professor!" Arthur insisted and the remaining Inferi charged toward them.
She shot him a searing glare. "This is not a discussion!"
"That's my father!" he screamed.
One of the armored suits fell to the Inferi attack.
"Go inside!" McGonagall shouted. A zombie grabbed her arm
Arthur pointed his wand at the stars. "Sidralis Lautima!"
A column of white-gold light fell upon him from the night sky and swept outward from his position like a beacon. The stellar light lit the surrounding area to a blinding degree and the horrid Inferi became ash in its wake. Afterward the void of midnight returned and Arthur blinked his eyes to adjust. The air was now thick with smoke and the smell of burned flesh. Through the haze Arthur peered to see that the vampire had gone unharmed. It stood on the stone walkway motionless as if it were made of stone as well. Arthur took a step forward.
"Stop, Arthur," McGonagall ordered. "That is a vampire."
"I know," Arthur said, strangely calm. "I'm going to cure him."
He walked slowly through the field of smoldering ashes to where the vampire was standing and looked the dark being in its hellish red eyes. Arthur exhaled. His hands trembled but his heart was steady.
"I have what you want," he said.
The vampire grinned. "Good."
The blood hunter then became smoke himself to vanish and reappear behind Arthur. Arthur felt a kick to the back of his leg and fell forward. In that same second he heard the professor fire a spell. Arthur rolled away from the vampire then stood to see him block the spell with seemingly his bare hand. The vampire's hands trained on McGonagall and began to glow red but Arthur interrupted with a blasting curse.
A force wave exploded and sent the vampire flying to the ground and Arthur ran to close the distance as the vampire turned over and stretched out a hand. Arthur whipped his wand angrily at the vampire, firing several waves of raw magic without distinct intent or purpose beyond basic damage. The first of these blasts colided with an invisible shield that eventually shattered into semi-visible fragments upon Arthur's continued assault. Professor McGonagall only looked on as the vampire, now defenseless, fell back on the stone entryway.
"You have some explaining to do, Vaerum," she said as Arthur kneeled beside the fallen vampire and opened his bag.
Arthur paused to look at the being. "I know..." he said.
He drew the first potion for the cure from his bag, removed the cork, and poured the mixture, containing his own blood, into the vampire's mouth. The Flitterbloom gave this potion a volatile nature meaning the results would be immediate. Sure enough the vampire began to writhe and convulse in under a minute. It squirmed and vomited blood and Arthur grimaced.
Now that he finally had a clear and up close look at the vampire there was no doubt that this was his father. This fact only made it more difficult to force-feed him potions until he was human again. And yet it had to be done. Arthur held his father down as the red glow faded from his eyes and fiigured it was time for the second potion. Again he poured the potion into his father's mouth then waited for the reaction.
Professor McGonagall stood over his shoulder. "Do you know what you're doing?" she asked after several minutes.
Arthur swallowed, looking down at his father. "Kinda."
Gradually the vampire began to change. His skin returned to its normal, medium complexion, the fangs shrunk back into regular teeth and the red glow of his eyes was replaced with a shimmering glint of life.
Reginald Vaerum looked at his son. "Arthur..."
"Father!" Arthur squealed. He looked up at the professor. "It worked."
"Good, now you may come with me to the Headmaster's office," she said before turning on her heels to enter the castle.
Reginald sat up and wiped blood on his sleeve. "So much blood..." he coughed while looking down at himself. "So much death..."
"You were a vampire," Arthur said while helping his father get up. "Mother mentioned a Death Eater?"
His father was still dazed by the transformation but Arthur could see a spark of spark on his face. "Your mother, where is she?"
"At home I assume," Arthur replied while leading his father into the castle. "She wrote to me when you were away."
Reginald turned away. "I have to see her."
"We have to see the Headmaster first!" Arthur said, grabbing his father's arm.
Reginald stopped and looked at his son. "Very well."
Arthur lead his father in the direction Professor McGonagall had gone. He walked through the double doors of the main entrance and up a flight of stairs. Penelle was gone from the point she said she would defend, Arthur hoped nothing bad happened to her while he was dealing with his father. Arthur and Reginald caught up to Professor McGonagall and followed her through the castle to the Headmaster's office. She stopped just outside and gestured into the room.
"This way," she guided, a stern look fixed on Arthur.
Arthur walked into the office followed by his father and the professor. Inside he saw Penelle, Olmeir, Sipher, Professor Sinistra, and Headmaster Dumbledore gathered in the room as well.
Arthur smiled awkwardly at them but only Penelle smiled back.
Professor McGonagall walked over to Dumbledore's side and whispered in his ear. A moment later she looked at Arthur as Dumbledore stood from his desk.
"There is much to discuss in the aftermath of this night," he began. "First, let's begin with you Mister Vaerum."
"My deepest apologies for the danger I brought to your school," Reginald groaned. "I have not been myself for the last few days." He looked down at his son and then back to the Headmaster. "I was cursed by a Death Eater, a curse that gave me a thirst for blood and the power to enthrall people to my command."
"Sanguis Abrivae," Sinistra offered.
Reginald nodded. "I left my home for the safety of my wife and traveled to the cave where I asked my son to find me."
McGonagall huffed. "So instead of endangering your wife you lured your son into a cave in the Forbidden Forest?"
"Yes, Arthur was in danger of me as well but I had to try something," Reginald admitted. "My power to control minds proved useful in contacting him." He shook his head. "I seem to have received some of the Death Eater's knowledge during the curse, that's the only way I can imagine would give me knowledge of a cure."
Professor Sinistra looked at Arthur. "It's disturbing you wouldn't bring this to your professors, Arthur."
"I didn't want to get in trouble," Arthur said with his gaze to the floor.
"Well you've certainly done that," Dumbledore said. "You are suspended, for how long is to be determined."
"That's not fair!" Penelle cried.
Arthur looked at and then Olmeir. "What about my friends?"
"How considerate," Olmeir droned.
"Your friends will not be punished although perhaps they should be," Dumbledore continued. "Sipher, however, this is your third strike. You are expelled."
The Slytherin rolled her eyes. "Wasn't learning anything here anyway."
"Come with me, young lady," said Professor McGonagall. Arthur watched her and Sipher exit the office.
"Professor Sinistra," Dumbledore called. "I assume you are responsible for Arthur's knowing of Sidralis Lautima?"
She nodded. "I am, however his usage of the spell was questionable at best."
"I agree." Dumbledore turned attention to Arthur's father. "Mister Vaerum, that is all. Your son is not to return until the suspension is lifted."
Reginald looked down at his son then exited the office, a solemn look on his face.
Arthur followed his father but turned to look his friends. "Until next time?"
"Until next time," Olmeir repeated.
"Arthur!" Penelle ran to hug Arthur. "They're sending you away."
"I know." He pulled away gently to make eye contact. "But I'm coming back, okay?"
"Yeah..." Penelle wiped away a tear. "See you soon."
"Yeah." Arthur smiled, hoping that she would do the same.
"Let's go see your mother."
At his father's words and one last wave to his friends, Arthur finally left the office. He walked beside his father and together they left the school, crossed the bridge and walked some more until reaching the train station. After a brief wait they boarded the train and departed for the countryside.
On the train Arthur was silent. He stole glances at his father on occasion. There had been time to wash his somewhat but Reginald still wore the dark, bloody clothing of a vampire. Outside of a few strange looks not much was made of it which Arthur was thankful for but found strange nonetheless. After a while Arthur looked ahead to see their destination.
"I should thank you, Arthur," Reginald said once the train stopped. "I am fortunate to have such a capable son."
"I didn't know it was you at first," Arthur said, standing to exit. "I just didn't want anyone to get hurt."
Arthur and his father left the train and started walking away from the city, heading for the rural area where they lived.
"I'm sorry for everything I did under the curse," his father sighed. "How did you learn it was me?"
"Mother wrote to me," Arthur said as they walked.
Reginald looked Arthur. "What did she tell you?"
"She said you got her out of some trouble?" Arthur hesitated. "Also my uncles tried to find you..."
"I drained several people in the forest, Arthur..." Reginald didn't dare finish that thought and considering everything that happened up to this point, Arthur knew why. If his father drained his own brothers then they would have become Inferi and followed his father in the attack on the castle. Arthur used Sidralis Lautima to destroy all of the Inferi. It was an unpleasant likelihood that Arthur and his father had worked together to kill several of their relatives.
Reginald stopped once within several yards of their house. "It cannot be undone," he stated.
Arthur looked to see his safe and inviting home marred by streaks of blackness where he assumed fire had taken parts of the house. He looked up at his father and his father walked to the door and knocked. Arthur was standing beside his dad when Evelyn opened the door.
"Reginald!" she breathed before kissing him urgently. Afterward she saw Arthur and hugged him. "Oh, Arthur!"
Arthur felt his mother's hand on his back, bringing him in as she returned attention to her husband.
"I thought I'd never see you again," she whispered. "Why did you leave?"
"I couldn't risk hurting you..." Reginald said. "...and I wouldn't be here without Arthur's help."
Evelyn looked down at Arthur. "School is still in session..." she said. "What are you doing here?"
"He was suspended," Reginald revealed.
Arthur looked at his mother. "Curing father led to breaking a few rules."
"I can imagine," Evelyn said. "What matters is you're both safe."
Reginald followed Evelyn into their home and Arthur entered the house as well, closing the door behind him.
His father stopped short. "What ever became of your sister?"
Evelyn's face became plain. "She was killed by the Death Eater."
"I thought..." Reginald began. Arthur's parents exchanged a look and Arthur was left to imagine the worst.
"Let's not dwell on it, dear," his mother said before turning to her son. "Come, Arthur; I'm so proud of you."
"Thanks, mom," Arthur said, walking with his mother to the kitchen. "I couldn't have done it without my friends."