Chapter 6: The End of the Beginning
Some people are born great.
For example, the child prophesized to kill the greatest Dark Lord of his time.
Some people have greatness thrust upon them.
Like a child hunted by a man obsessed with immortality.
Some achieve greatness.
This is the end of the very beginning of the same child's story.
He was the Boy-Who-Lived. Harry couldn't get the thought out of his head as he sat in his chair, ignoring the whispers of hushed conversation and the clinking of cutlery. He was eating his food mechanically, not even tasting the delicious fare which had been made for the guests of the Vampire Lord.
Harry's mind kept flashing back to the strange magic that Vesper had weaved with her lyre, and the images he had seen.
He was a hero, a legend, in the Wizarding World. Him, Harry Potter, a vagrant who had been living in a cupboard under the stairs only a few months back.
He wondered how he would react when he finally met more Wizards, remembering faint impressions from the spell.
A mass of people, faceless in the darkness of the night, cheering his name to the heavens. Flashes of light from the fireworks beating back the shadows, tears of joy and cries of laughter, celebrations of victory...
He marvelled again at the magic Vesper could do; he had never performed anything like it with his wand.
A magic beyond all that we can do with wands, Albus Dumbledore had explained.
Albus Dumbledore. The name still resonated within Harry even as he watched the man sitting opposite to him at the table. He was dressed in the most wizard-y clothes Harry had ever seen, and seemed to exude an aura of magic wherever he went.
Harry's bright green eyes met Dumbledore's blue ones, and for a second, Harry had the strangest sensation. It was almost like the old man was seeing right through him.
That's impossible, his mind told him, but it sounded strangely unconvincing even to him. He wondered what Dumbledore would see in him –
His question was answered as the old man inclined his head and looked over the top of his half-moon glasses at Harry. His blue eyes seemed to twinkle with kindness as he gave Harry a small, kindly smile; the corners of his white, bushy moustache curling up.
Suddenly feeling inexplicably shy, Harry ducked his head and concentrated on his steak and potatoes instead.
Or rather, he tried to. Harry almost threw down his knife and fork in frustration as the vampire serving their table began nuzzling him again.
Next to him, Vesper hissed, her bad mood exacerbated by the attendant's behaviour. Every vampire Harry had come across – a grand total of four including Merlot's personal valet and attendant - seemed to be enamoured with Harry, something which he was beginning to find increasingly creepy. Vampires, according to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them were supposed to be merciless, bloodthirsty creatures of the night; they weren't supposed to be rubbing their cheeks against Harry's own and sniffing him every chance they got!
"Risa," Merlot commanded, his voice sharp, snapping the serving vampire back to consciousness. "Control yourself, please."
"Yes, my lord," the female nightwalker replied with a bow, before hurrying out of the room with a dreamy look on her face.
Merlot sighed, while Vesper continued to glower. She was making no secret of her dislike of Risa's weakness towards Harry; and on top of that, the little girl had been punished for playing her lyre without her parents' approval - she was currently on a 'time-out.' Harry had secretly been amused, even though he hadn't dared to show it; it seemed that humans and vampires had some things in common as well despite their vastly different lifestyles.
Harry still couldn't reconcile himself with the goblet of blood next to the dishes of the vampires, though. Lynd had caught his look and assured him that the blood had not been taken by force, but even so, seeing a creature actually drink blood was a new experience for Harry.
"It seems Mr. Potter has an unusual effect on your kind," Dumbledore commented, his voice tinged with amusement as well as an underlying curiosity.
"He does," Lynd agreed, her eyes taking on a faraway look. "He carries a scent so utterly alien, and so enticing at the same time that we cannot help but be drawn to it."
Merlot nodded his head in agreement. "It is like a memory of a dream," he said, his voice almost reverent, "or of a dream of a dream."
Dumbledore merely nodded and took another bite of his food, even though his thoughts were running at a furious pace.
What scent can a child carry that even the vampires cannot resist? The Headmaster of Hogwarts wondered, wishing he could use Legilimency on that child to sate his burning curiosity.
But of course he wouldn't do that, he told himself. For one, Harry was a child and could be irreparably hurt by the touch of Mind Magic; and besides, Dumbledore had always followed the law when it came to the arcane Mind Arts. Contrary to popular belief, his famous 'See-Through Vision' wasn't a form of Legilimency, but just a form of magic that all wise old people have.
Harry, for his part, merely tried to hide his blush and sink into his chair so that he would remain unnoticed. It was downright embarrassing to have someone talk about him like that when he was sitting right next to them at the table.
Lynd must have caught his mannerisms, because she straightened hurriedly and issued a quick apology. "I'm sorry, my child," the vampire said politely, "I got carried away for a moment there."
"It's alright," Harry replied just as quickly, "I don't mind."
To be honest, he did mind, but he wasn't about to say that to the people – creatures – who'd saved his life and given him shelter.
"A polite young man, I see!" Dumbledore commented jovially, a grandfatherly grin on his face. "Your mother would have been proud, my boy."
Harry's breath caught in his throat, and he snapped his head up so fast that he almost hurt his neck.
Was it coincidence, or did Dumbledore know somehow? Had the old man somehow figured out that he was trying to make sense of the series of images and impressions Vesper had shown him with her lyre, trying to get a clear picture of his parents?
He had been able to remember messy black hair like his and a pair of shining eyes behind round glasses like his; flowing red hair and almond green eyes which he'd inherited. He remembered impressions of great courage, love, friendship...
"Y – you knew my parents?" Harry croaked, almost unbelievingly.
"Of course," Dumbledore said, rummaging in his pockets. He had shrewdly foreseen this eventuality when he met Harry and had prepared accordingly for it. "If I may?" he glanced at his hosts, and Merlot nodded his agreement. He wanted to see the couple who had given birth to the hero of the generation as well.
Dumbledore rummaged inside his cloak, before pulling out a worn photograph. Lynd raised her eyebrow at the fact that he had a picture of Lily and James Potter so handy, but didn't comment on it.
"Here you go," he told the green-eyed wizard kindly, handing the photograph across the table. Harry, his eyes wide and hands trembling, reached out to take it; too caught up in his emotions to be suspicious of Dumbledore.
Harry took the photograph face down, as if he was almost afraid to see his parents immediately.
Taking a silent but deep breath, he turned it over.
For a second, he forgot how to breathe. There they were, dancing to an invisible tune amidst the swirling leaves. His mother's hair was a dark shade of red, while his father's hazel eyes were shining behind his lenses.
"She's beautiful," Vesper whispered, leaning over to get a good look. Both Lynd and Merlot, the latter who'd actually left his seat to see the picture, nodded quietly in agreement.
Harry ruined the moment by asking, "What were their names?"
The temperature in the room dropped drastically, but Harry was too caught up in his wonder to notice.
"Their names?" Even Dumbledore was mildly surprised by the question. "Lily and James Potter, of course. Surely you knew that, Harry?"
Harry's only reply was silence as he jerked his head down to quietly study the photograph. The tips of his ears were becoming visibly red, though.
"You didn't know?" Dumbledore asked, unable to hide the shock that flitted across his face. "Surely Vernon and Petunia told you about them?"
Then it clicked. The look of wonder on Harry's face at the photograph; the boy hadn't even realized that the photograph was moving, so mesmerized he was by the sight of his parents. It was almost like...
"Is that the first time you're seeing them?" Vesper asked, suddenly displaying insight beyond her years.
Very slowly, almost painfully aware of the eyes of everyone in the room upon him, Harry nodded his head.
Silence descended on the room until it was almost tangible in the air. Dumbledore resisted the urge to sigh and cradle his head in his hands. He'd thought that Harry would be amazed by seeing a magical photograph of his parents, but he hadn't thought that this would be the first time Harry would actually see his parents altogether.
Crack! The silence in the room was shattered by the sound of shattering wood. Harry jumped in his seat and turned around to find that Lynd had snapped off the head of the chair's back.
The sharp sound seemed to dull the vampire matriarch's anger somewhat, bringing her back to her senses. "I – I'm sorry," she said somewhat lamely. "I lost control for a second there..."
"Quite understandable," Dumbledore muttered, feeling every long year of his life at that moment. "Quite understandable," he repeated again, his voice faint.
Harry chanced a glance upwards at the old Headmaster, and was surprised to see how defeated he appeared – it didn't fit with his image at all. He watched as Dumbledore slowly straightened his back and regained the brightness in his eyes, a new sort of resolve filling the room.
With a jolt, Harry realized that something was really filling up the room. He couldn't really place it, but it seemed to be cloying the air around him until he could fairly breathe it in with every gulp of air he took.
It's coming from Dumbledore, the young wizard realized. The old man seemed to be exuding an aura of some kind, something which both terrified and elated Harry at the same time.
"It seems," Dumbledore said, his voice firm and deliberate, "that I need to have a talk with your relatives at once."
The pressure in the room was building up ever so slightly with every passing second; Harry suddenly felt that Dumbledore was far, far angrier than he was letting on. Was it something he'd said?
He opened his mouth to speak, but whatever he had been about to say was lost forever as the magic in the room reached a crescendo. Harry's heart suddenly seemed to swell and beat its way out of his ribcage as warmth suffused the room –
And suddenly Dumbledore caught fire. The man's frame was suddenly covered with a towering pillar of flame, which seemed to be giving out waves of warmth.
Warmth, Harry's mind detachedly noted, warmth, not heat.
And then panic set in and he fell of his chair with a yell.
But Dumbledore was already gone, reduced to nothing. There wasn't even any sign of ashes on his seat.
Harry ran around the table to the old man's chair; the seat was still warm to touch.
"What happened?" he asked, suddenly afraid.
Laughter floated into his field of hearing, and he was surprised to look up and see Merlot and Lynd laughing at the horrified expression on his face. For a second, he was indignant and wanted to protest that Dumbledore had just been reduced to nothing before their very eyes, before it struck him that he was obviously missing something.
"Phoenixes," Merlot explained, making Harry's eyes widen in wonder. "Or phoenix, to be precise; the only one in our world. It's Dumbledore's favourite method of travel."
Harry was dumbstruck for a second, taking in this new piece of information.
Dumbledore...travelled by fire?
His anger and fear forgotten, he turned to the vampires in the room. "Can I learn to do that as well?" he asked eagerly.
The vampires only laughed harder, but Harry had found something to strive towards.
What makes a man great?
Some say it is the will to succeed, the burning desire to become greater than one's peers.
Others believe that it is the thirst for acknowledgment, to be known as the best to ever exist.
Very few people believe that every man is born great, and that greatness lies within them, waiting to be realized.
"This is it, Sirius," Bellatrix whispered, her dark eyes shining. "This is your chance, to shed your old life and truly make something of your life again."
Sirius gave no reply, staring solemnly at the vial of mud-like liquid in his hand and the lock of blond hair in his hand. Lucius sat quietly against the bars of his cell, humming A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love absently.
His entire life would change if he took that potion, he realized. Nothing would ever be the same again.
"Hurry up," Narcissa urged, though her grey eyes were gleaming as well. She backed into the darkness as Sirius added the hair to the Polyjuice, which bubbled before turning a steel grey colour.
"How dull," the Malfoy matriarch muttered blithely, her eyes still on Sirius as he stared intently at the potion, his face a mask.
"But it won't be soon," Bellatrix whispered, "not when you finally have dear cousin Sirius within your grasp."
Narcissa's only indication of emotion was the faint dusting of pink that graced her cheek, her expression remained set in stone otherwise.
"I don't know what you're talking about," she hissed, so quietly that Sirius wouldn't hear her speak.
"Oh don't I?" Bellatrix challenged, her voice low and sharp, "All Blacks are either insane or incestuous, Narcissa, and a combination of both more often than not. Don't hide your heritage from your dear old sister, of all people."
"Control your tongue!" Narcissa hissed, trying and failing to hide her visible blush now, "or you might find yourself remaining inside your cell till the end of days!"
"You'd like that, wouldn't you?" Bellatrix crooned, undeterred. "You and cousin Siri, locked up in your house all alone, with nobody but each other for company..."
"I have a son," Narcissa began to reply stiffly, but she stopped short as Sirius seemed to finally come to a decision.
Taking a deep breath, the dark haired man downed the vial of Polyjuice in one go, grimacing as he was assaulted by the cabbage-like taste.
They watched in fascination as his features bubbled and twisted, until a heaving, retching Lucius Malfoy was lying on all fours on the floor of the cell.
The real Lucius turned and stared at the impostor for a few moments before he turned back and continued humming.
"Well," Bellatrix said, "it worked. Now, for my transformation."
Five minutes later, Bellatrix was in Sirius' cell disguised as the Animagus, Lucius was in Bellatrix's cell disguised as her, and Sirius was standing next to Narcissa in the form of Lucius.
"That's done," Narcissa commented briskly as she vanished the keys with a flick of her wand. "Bella, remember to hide and take the Polyjuice every hour; I'll be sending more of it as soon as I can."
Bellatrix nodded, lost in the caressing of her wand which Narcissa had retrieved for her. The shrunk box of potion was safely ensconced in her dress, and she was now familiarizing herself again with the walnut stick.
"And now," the blonde said, licking her lips, "something I will enjoy." And without warning, she drew her wand and hissed the incantation for the Cutting Hex.
Lucius fell back in a spray of blood, painting the walls of Bellatrix's cell a macabre red. Bellatrix watched gleefully, revelling in Death as always, as Lucius gurgled and struggled, clutching his neck, before he grew still.
Narcissa screamed loudly, startling Sirius who was fidgeting nervously with the hem of his robe.
"What did you do that for?" he asked, massaging his chest.
"Play along," was Narcissa's terse reply, as the sound of heavy footsteps echoed through the chamber and the guards came rushing in.
"What happened?" one of them asked, and Narcissa fell into the role of the terrified woman immediately.
"Oh, it was so horrible!" she gasped, her eyes shining. "I was talking to her, and she leapt at me without warning – I didn't mean to, I swear – but she looked so dangerous, I reacted without acting –"
She was rambling masterfully, but the guards managed to piece together what had happened.
"You killed her?" one of them, a new man on duty, asked.
Narcissa gave an extremely convincing wail, clutching her breast – which was heaving impressively and drawing the eye of several of the men. "I – I didn't mean to," she said, "She was my sister!" she wailed again, and Sirius, who had been watching the whole act with a sort of dumbfounded look on his face, finally caught up with her.
"I, err, think that this should be settled discreetly," he said, before grimacing ever so slightly. He sounded weak and unsure – Lucius would probably suffer from an aneurysm if he ever heard himself speak like that. Drawing himself up and remembering the lessons from his childhood, he did his best to fake an imperial voice. "I'm sure we can come to an understanding," he said smoothly.
Bellatrix in the guise of Sirius watched the proceedings, impressed by her cousin's adaptability – no doubt born from the juvenile pranks he would play in his childhood. Of course, his act lasted only until Narcissa decided to throw a wrench in their act.
"Lucius, darling," she said, turning on him and giving him an impressive view down the front of her dress, "kiss me! Take away some of this pain I feel!"
Narcissa was always one for overacting when it finally came down to it, Bellatrix thought distastefully as Sirius almost choked on his own spit, but she was always a crafty little witch.
Most walks have a purpose. A beginning. And an end.
All walks end in death. But that is the end of the end.
Some walks end in failure. Some end in success.
Some walks end with freedom.
And some with greatness.
The story of the walk, though, is what makes it a walk to remember.
Harry lay in bed, enjoying the feeling of the soft mattress underneath him. His bag lay neatly packed in one corner of the room, and his favourite wand was on the table next to the bed.
He crossed his arms behind his head and stared up blankly at the ceiling, thinking about everything that had happened over the past couple of days. He was still having a hard time wrapping his head around some of it – he snorted for a second, thinking about how he had once doubted the existence of something so simple as magic.
Lost in thought, he was forced out of his thoughts when the bedsprings creaked and he felt a weight shift onto the bed next to him. He jerked away in surprise, before he recognized the faint outline of the intruder.
"Vesper!" he exclaimed, surprised and relieved in equal measures. "What are you doing here?" He hadn't even heard her open the door and enter.
She held up something in reply, and he recognized the lyre in her hand.
"What are you doing?" he asked again, "your parents told you not to play that again!"
Vesper was silent for a moment, before she asked, 'Don't you want to know the rest of your story?" she asked, her voice hushed.
Harry almost agreed without thinking, remembering the incredible rush her magic had produced, before he replayed what she'd just said in her head.
"Y-you can show me my future?" he asked, his green eyes widening behind his glasses.
"No," she said, and his face fell. "There are too many possibilities in your future. I can only show you some of them –"
"Your parents will get mad," Harry whispered, hoping they wouldn't be overheard by anybody outside.
"I want to do it," she replied, a bit of stubbornness colouring her tone.
"Are you sure?" his resolve was slipping. "I couldn't do it," he said, thinking back to how Merlot and Lynd had helped him. "That wouldn't be right."
Vesper looked crestfallen for a second, before she smiled slyly. Before Harry could protest, she began playing her lyre.
Immediately, Harry was besieged by the series of pictures and feelings. He swore the walls of the room melted away, until he was standing in a vast nothingness.
And then, like a movie, his life began to play out before him. Or lives, to be precise.
He had lived with the Dursleys all his life up to his time in college, always the social outcast.
He rejected that immediately, knowing that that was not his life. More images flowed in, all a series of sounds and vibrations and feelings and emotions, of pictures and films. He rejected them as they came, for none of them fitted his life.
He was eleven and being rescued from a lone hut in the middle of nowhere by a giant of a man. He was waking up in a hospital, being told that he had been suffering from delusions all his life. He had been abducted by a fat, rat-like man who had taken him to a large manor on a hill.
And then it came.
He was seven and running away from the Dursleys, aided by a snake and a cat. He latched onto it immediately, and more images began to play.
He was dancing on a rooftop, learning his first spell, hiding under the window of a school. He was taking shelter from the rain in his tent, he was running from a werewolf, he was meeting Dumbledore, Vesper was playing –
Like ripples caused by a stone falling into water, the music changed tune, becoming unpredictable and wild.
He was being taken down a lift, to a building with a large fountain and milling wizards. He was living in a castle, learning magic and flying in the wind. He was meeting a blond man who wasn't really a blond man, but someone who'd known and loved him long ago.
He was walking through a deep dark forest, open plains. He was sailing over vast oceans and swimming across small lakes. He was flying in giant planes – and he was free.
And then he saw more. Adventure, mysteries, power, destruction, magic. His future had so many possibilities! A ship caught in a storm. A cave leading to the depths of the earth. A tiny, blood red stone. A giant snake with terrible eyes. A devil with ten heads. A pale snake-like man with crimson eyes. A ring. A wand. The snake-man again. Singing women. Women eating lotuses. An island filled with pigs. An island with a lone inhabitant. The pale man, wand raised – power -
Without warning, the spell ceased, and he was suddenly back in his room. Tears were pouring down his cheeks at the loss of the beautiful magic, and Vesper reached over and wrapped her thin arms around him.
Already, the images were fading, like sand through his fingers, like water through a sieve.
"What's happening?" he asked, panicking irrationally at the fading sensations. "Why can't I remember what I just saw?"
"You do," Vesper murmured, "just not in your mind."
"What good does that do then?" Harry asked, frustrated at her roundabout answer.
Her only reply was a soft snore, and he looked down to see that Vesper was fast asleep and had nearly climbed into his lap.
The magic must have tired her out, Harry realized, suddenly understanding why she had stopped playing without warning. He felt guilty for not thinking about how using her magic would have affected her.
He sat back against the wall, feeling as though all his drowsiness had been swept away. There was a sense of rightness in his heart, a burning desire. He needed to get out of the castle, out in the open.
He had never felt surer about anything. It was his life, his calling.
He threw a long glance at Vesper, before he climbed out of bed and gripped his wand. Shoving it into his pocket, he went over to the other corner of the room and hoisted his backpack onto his shoulders.
A smile crept onto his face before he could help it, as the old anticipation filled him again. He needed to find his way out, and he needed to do it fast.
His gaze fell on Vesper again, and he couldn't help the guilt that rushed up within him.
"She'll understand," a deep voice interrupted his musings, and he jumped in horror. Merlot was leaning casually against the doorframe, looking down at him solemnly.
"I – I didn't mean to –" Why was it that he would be apprehended by someone every time he tried to escape?
"I understand," Merlot said gently. "I knew the moment that I set my eyes upon you that you were meant for something more than normal wizards can hope to achieve."
Harry frowned at his words, echoes of his time at the Dursleys coming to his mind. Was he cursed to be different from the rest, whichever world he was in?
"He didn't mean it in the way you're thinking," a softer voice added, and he saw Lynd lounging at the window, looking at him with a small smile on her face.
"How did you get there?" Harry whispered furiously; he was sure that the windowsill had been empty moments ago. He blinked. Lynd was suddenly standing next to him, and her grin suddenly looked a lot more menacing – Harry backed away almost unconsciously. The air around him seemed to solidify and choke him, and he was sure he saw frost creeping up the glass of the panes.
"We are Kings and Queens of the night," Lynd said with a genuine smile, and the spell was broken. "It is when we are strongest."
Harry only nodded, not knowing what else to say. "Will you allow me to leave?" he asked quietly, knowing that this moment would shape his future.
The two vampires looked at him long and hard. "And why should we do that for you?" Merlot asked, a slightly imperious tone to his voice.
Harry mumbled something incoherently, speaking up louder when Lynd made an inquisitive noise. "I – I just want to travel the world. I can't explain it, but I know that it's – it's where my destiny lies."
Destiny. It was the first time he had really said the word out loud, and it seemed to send a thrill down his spine. There was something about the word that was just right to him.
"Great words for one such young as you," Merlot challenged, "why should we let a child free to roam as he pleases?"
Harry bristled, even though he had posed the same argument months ago. "I'm not a child," he said through gritted teeth, and the two of them seemed almost disappointed by his stereotypical reply. Uncaring, Harry drew his wand and waved it. Sparks flew from the end and the dust flew up around him, driven by invisible zephyrs.
"I am a wizard."
The vampires fixed him with long, inscrutable stares, before their face broke out into smiles. "Very well," Merlot finally said, "we shall aid you on your quest."
Harry started; he hadn't expected them to agree so quickly.
"And what about Dumbledore?" he asked, eyeing the two of them nervously.
"What about him?" Lynd replied, a mischievous glint to her eyes. "He holds no power over us, and he will be terribly saddened to learn that you managed to escape the castle when the rest of us were busy with our own duties. After all, there is a secret passage that leads outside our castle right at the end of this corridor behind the bust of Alucard the Third."
"Er, right," Harry said. Lynd dropped to her knees before him, putting her slender hands on his shoulder.
"We are putting our faith in you, Harry Potter," she said, a strange gravity in her voice. "We believe that you are meant for greatness. Do not let us down."
Merlot threw something in his direction, he caught it without even batting an eyelash. Ignoring the raised eyebrows at his reflexes, he examined it.
It was a dagger; a short blade with an intricate dragon carved on the hilt. He shifted it in his hand, watching the play of silver ripples along the surface.
"It is a Portkey," Merlot said, "it will take you far away from here, away from the eyes of British wizards."
Harry's breath caught in his throat. To leave the country – it seemed too momentous a decision.
"You don't have to use it now," Merlot said reassuringly. But when you are ready, you will find the activating password engraved on the hilt.
Harry squinted through the moonlight to find the words.
"Carpe Diem," he read aloud, "what does that mean?"
"Seize the day," Lynd replied concisely, making him nod again.
"Where will it take me?" he asked, still marvelling at the tool in his hand.
"On an adventure," was Merlot's simple reply.
The sound of music reached Harry's ears for the second time that night. It was a haunting, heart-wrenching melody.
He looked behind him to see Lynd playing the lyre, her long fingers moving expertly over the strings.
"She does not possess our daughter's gift," Merlot said in a quiet voice. "But she is talented in her own right."
"What is she playing?" Harry whispered. Merlot was correct; the music didn't put him in a trance like Vesper's did, but at the same time it made him think of snow covered mountains and vast open fields, of goodbyes and new beginnings.
"A song of farewell," Merlot whispered, as Lynd hit a particularly beautiful patch of notes, making Harry's eyes well up. He wasn't sure he would be able to leave at all if the feeling persisted.
"Go," Merlot said, a sense of finality falling upon them. Harry nodded and swallowed thickly, before shoving the dagger in his backpack and moving out of the room.
He stopped at the door, illuminated by the moonbeam from the corridor. A strange sensation was rising within him, fed by the magical tune of the lyre. His wand in his hand grew warmer, until he could almost hear strains of faint music playing alongside Lynd's melody. It was almost as if his blood was singing. If anyone would have seen him at that moment, they would have been able to see the faintest outline of a triangle tattoo on his cheek.
Finally, when it felt like his heart could no longer take it, he waved his wand and let the passion flow, incanting his favourite spell.
A measure of peace descended on him, a feeling that he had managed to repay some of the beautiful memories Lynd had gifted him.
Not even looking back to see what he had accomplished, he squared his back and walked down the corridor.
Secret passages and then freedom beckoned.
Strains of the magical melody faded away into the night as a tiny ball of light floated into the room. The two vampires watched, their hearts in their throat as it bobbed in the air almost indecisively.
There was something different about this magic – fuelled by Lynd's own, it had transcended into something...greater. The light floated around the room, almost like it was searching for something.
It stopped at the window for a few moments, and rotated about like a little moon, almost like it was confused. It examined the tiny lantern, but floated away after a moment's introspection.
Driven by some strange instinct, Lynd reached for the fine chain around her neck. At the end of it lay a clear diamond, Merlot's Union gift to her. She held it aloft in the air.
Before their unbelieving eyes, the light zoomed into the gem, making it thrash widely in thin air for a moment before it calmed. It fell through the air like the pendulum of a clock, until it came to rest against Lynd's breast.
The vampire gasped, her eyes filling with tears as the smell of crushed pines and warm sunlight and something else she instinctively recognized but couldn't place filled her nose. Warmth filled her chest as she gazed down at the necklace, which was now glowing like a tiny star against pale skin.
"Magic," Merlot whispered, finding no greater word to describe it. "Magic," he whispered again, his eyes wide and his voice quavering.
Lynd let her aura free, drawing in the darkness around her and wearing it like a cloak around her frame.
A tiny spark of light persisted within the darkness, like a lone star in the vast night sky.
A tiny, crystal-like drop of water left Lynd's eye and fell next to the pendant.
Highly misunderstood creatures, Vampires are.
They're not really creatures of the night. They're just unable to reach for the light.
Two Months Later
The winter was cold and harsh this year. Harry lay curled up in his tent, reading Fantastic Beasts for what seemed the umpteenth time.
He'd had some close shaves with the wizards in the past few months, though it had decreased recently with the sudden increase in cold.
He shivered slightly, pulling his second shirt closer over his first and recasting the Heating Charm on himself. He was really starting to hate the weather.
"It's not really that bad," Harry jumped, and turned around to find his trusty old companion, the dark haired girl.
He sighed, making her look almost amused. "What is it this time?" he asked almost wearily.
"Whatever do you mean?" He wasn't imagining it, she was definitely grinning.
"I'm generally in for a bad time whenever you appear," Harry explained, before a thought struck him. "Are you my fairy godmother?" he asked, his eyes widening. It wouldn't really come as a surprise after everything he'd seen so far.
"What's a fairy godmother?" she asked, perplexed. "Does it have anything to do with a heart?"
Harry felt the beginnings of an oncoming headache.
Standing up, he began packing his things, throwing his stuff haphazardly into his backpack.
"What is it?" the girl asked innocently, handing him a couple of his socks after examining them thoroughly.
He paused, noticing for the first time that her feet were completely bare. Why had he never noticed that before? "Do you want socks?" he asked, feeling bad for the girl, whoever she was. "You can keep that one, I'm already wearing two pairs of mine."
She threw him a strangely indecipherable look that made him shift uncomfortably. When she began to lean forward, he backed away quickly, raising his hands.
"Hey, hey, you don't have to kiss me every time I offer to do something nice for you," he said, waving his hands like a windmill. "Saying thanks is fine."
"All right then," she said with a giggle as she pulled on the socks eagerly. The yellow clashed horribly with her dark clothes, but she didn't seem to mind in the slightest. "Thank you."
"Don't mention it," Harry muttered as he finished packing his things and moved on to disassembling his tent.
"What are you doing?" the girl asked curiously.
"Doing something I've been thinking about for a long time," Harry said, holding up the dagger Merlot had gifted him. "And also getting away from here before some sort of disaster strikes."
The Muggle prison escapee heading through the snow-covered forest felt a strange sensation travel down his spine before he shrugged it off, trudging through the snow and hoping that he would come across an unsuspecting victim soon.
Done with his packing, Harry turned around to face the girl. "Well, this is goodbye for now," he said. "I'm leaving for a while, so I don't think you'll be seeing much of me."
"Oh, I'll be seeing you around," the girl said lightly, filling him with a strange sense of foreboding.
Wanting to shrug off the feeling; and also feeling rather anticlimactic about what he had imagined to be his grand departure from Britain, Harry grasped the dagger tightly in his hands and muttered, 'Carpe Diem.'
And suddenly, he was being pulled through the air while simultaneously spinning like a top. As the world around him accelerated to a vortex of blue, Harry decided that he really needed to find a way of wizard travel he didn't hate.
He landed heavily on his back, the smell of grass drifting up his nose. He sat up and looked around. He was in a forest, sitting in the shade of trees so large that only thin beams of sunlight were able to penetrate their leaves and fall on the forest floor.
He sat there for some time, simply taking in the world around him and trying to get over the excitement that he was in a whole new country. Fear rose in him as well, but he crushed it mercilessly as he sought out the familiar warmth of his wand in his pocket.
After another long stretch of inactivity, he got up and dusted himself off. Then he reached up and pulled his backpack over his shoulders. And he began to move.
And so began a long walk to greatness.
The sound of clapping reached their ears as the shadows lifted to reveal an aged man in startling blue clothes.
"Dumbledore!" Lynd gasped, the novelty of her new acquisition fading for a moment."How?"
"I have my ways, my dear," the old man replied, and his voice carried no hint of anger in it. "That was most impressive magic that young Mr. Potter performed; you should definitely keep that pendant close to heart."
"You were here all along?" Merlot asked, his eyes wide. "You let Harry leave?"
"I did," the Headmaster said with a small grin, "it would be criminal not to."
"But the Ministry's looking for him –"
"To put him into a home of their own selection; possibly one of Fudge's advisors – maybe even the Minister's house himself."
Lynd couldn't hide a shudder at that thought.
"But do not fear, my friends," Dumbledore said, and a small tongue of flame appeared around his index finger. "I have my ways of keeping my eyes on him."
"But how do you know that it was the right thing to do, letting him leave?" Merlot asked, voicing the question that had been plaguing him.
Dumbledore reached inside his pocket, quenching the flame in his hand. His fingers tightened around a hilt of Elder wood, revelling in the familiar sensation of his wand.
"Let's just say," Dumbledore said, "I had a gut feeling about him."
The adults paused their conversation as Vesper shifted in her bed, muttering slightly in her sleep.
The young vampire dreamt as she slept, of the several futures she had seen while she had been playing.
A little smile crept onto her face as she dreamt of the future where she was together with a dark-haired man with green eyes and a crooked grin.
End of Part One
Author's Note: Well, this chapter came out longer than usual. As you can see, this is the end of the first arc of the story, and also part one of it. I'm sorry for the delay, but real life gets in the way, and I also took my time with my favourite story to write.
When we meet him next, Harry will be older, and ready to embark on his first true adventure. This, of course, will happen after quite some time, because I'm laying off the writing thanks to the pressure of my final year. This story will never be dead, though, because I plan to make it my best work. I will be back. And the updates will hopefully come hard and fast then.
Oh, the last lines aren't foreshadowing for a pairing. Just saying. Anything can happen. And I don't think Sirius will be paired with Narcissa, either. That's just some comic relief, I guess.
Because there will be a long gap between this and the next update, I'll drop a few hints. Harry won't be attending Hogwarts yet. Yes, the canon adventures will all play out, but in wildly different settings; hopefully reminiscent of the old Greek myths which so fascinate me. Yes, the story will be heavily influenced by mythology in some cases, ranging from Greek to even Indian.
Look at JKR's own story for example. Orpheus played a lyre and descended into the depths of the underworld past Cerberus. Harry and his friends took advantage of a harp to sneak past Fluffy into the depths of an underground passage. The parallels are fantastic; it's the little things like them which drove me to write this story.
Until next time, in the hopes that you all stay well.