Standing at the entrance of the Maze, Harry looked back at the stands surrounding the Quidditch Pitch, wanting to wave to the Weasleys. Almost immediately though, his eyes were pulled to the right, and he found himself staring in the most captivating eyes he had ever seen. They were pale green, and they belonged to a child that was at most seven years old. He was so distracted by him that he almost missed Bagman's whistle, signalling the beginning of the Third Task. Startled, he ran into the maze, completely forgetting those mesmerizing eyes.
A hooded form moved quickly between the houses of Privet Drive, pausing only momentarily at the edge of Number Four. The lamplight illuminated the figure's feminine form as it climbed the wall and quickly snuck inside a second floor window. Silently looking around, the woman noticed the caged owl staring curiously at her and the worn and sparse furniture in the little room, before concentrating on the sleeping child. Padding closer, she noticed that the boy was having a nightmare and he was whimpering and trembling in his sleep. Leaning over him, she brushed her hand over his face, trying to comfort him. A horrified gasp escaped her lips when she saw the child's forehead: Black Magic was swirling around a scar marring his pretty face, containing inside something even more sinister. Unfortunately, the boy chose that moment to groggily open his eyes, and the woman quickly hid away her surprise and disgust.
"Who are you?" the boy asked, still only half awake.
"They call me Cassandra, child," she answered softly, "come, pack your things, you're coming with me."
"Where to? And did Dumbledore send you?", the child asked, but started packing his things all the same.
The woman only hummed noncommittally in answer, while unlocking the snowy owl's cage and releasing her outside the window. After a few minutes, Harry broke the silence again, "My trunk with my school things is downstairs locked in the cupboard."
The woman moved to lead the way out of the room, but stopped in front of the door: "The door is locked from the outside…", she said, looking at the boy in surprise, "how do you get out?"
"My Aunt locked it. She lets me out whenever she remembers or when there are chores to do. …wait how did you get in?"
"Through the window…" the woman whispered, a horrified expression on her face. Shaking her head to clear it, she turned around again, opening the door with a burst of magic, not noticing the flabbergasted expression on the child's face at the nonchalant display of wandless magic. Repeating the process on the cupboard door, and retrieving the boy's trunk, she quickly lead the way outside, and down the street.
Finally outside the Blood Wards surrounding Number Four, she held out her hand, and apparated both of them to the other side of Britain.
Stumbling a bit, Harry tried to catch his breath after his first apparition, and decided that he absolutely loathed wizarding travel methods. Looking around, he noticed that they had landed in the middle of a forest, though a few houses could be seen not far from there. Staring at the sleeping village in the forest, it reminded Harry of Robin Hood, a story he had loved when he was a child. It really looked like a peaceful place, and Cassandra's presence at his side relaxed him even more. He had no idea why she had such a calming effect on him, and why he just knew that he could trust her. It was a novel experience for Harry, who usually was very suspicious of people and never trusted those he didn't know well. After all, it had taken him almost two years to completely trust Ron and Hermione. After Ron had abandoned him after his name had come out of the Goblet, he had felt more betrayed then ever before, and even though he had said that he had forgiven him, Harry knew that he would never trust Ron completely again.
After giving the kid a smile, Cassandra started striding towards the houses, lowering her hood. Harry observed her in the moonlight: she looked to be in her early twenties, with blond hair in a messy ponytail and a plain face. Her only striking feature were her pale blue eyes: Harry couldn't really say why, but there was something captivating about them, and a certain maturity which you wouldn't expect in someone so young.
They had arrived in the village, and Harry looked around: all the houses were made of wood, and looked little more than cabins. The only one which stuck out was a brick two story house situated in what looked like the central square, and it was one of the few which still had lights coming from inside, despite the late hour. Cassandra opened the door and gestured to leave his trunk in the entry hall, before leading Harry to the kitchen, where a man and a child where waiting for them.
Harry gasped: the child was the one he had seen at the Triwizard Tournament! The only reason he recognized him were the pale green eyes, similar to Cassandra's, which were now staring intently at his scar. Now that he was closer, Harry noticed that the boy was blond, and he looked like the type of child who made elderly ladies stop in the street to coddle and praise him, he was so beautiful.
"Who's this?", the man asked. He was very tall and muscular, and had long dark brown hair, flowing over his shoulders, but it was his amber eyes that immediately caught Harry's attention: those were a werewolf's eyes. He had already seen eyes like his, every time that Remus Lupin got really angry or excited.
"Oh Merlin! I actually forgot! I didn't even ask your name! I'm so sorry dear, but I was really in a hurry to get out of there, you know?", Cassandra rambled, looking at him with guilt filled eyes.
"Er… my name is Harry Potter."
Cassandra smiled obliviously at him, while the child snorted, and the man just sat there with a horrified expression.
"Well, Harry, it's a pleasure to meet you! This is going to be your new home from now on, unless you wish to stay somewhere else that is, but you'll always be welcomed here anyways… still, maybe it's best if we explain the situation tomorrow morning, when we'll be more awake an-"
"What! Are you insane!", the man suddenly yelled, stirring from his shock, "Do you want to get me killed? What the hell were you thinking? Harry Bloody Potter?!", the werewolf raged, his eyes even brighter than before.
"Wh-what? I-I don't…"
"Mother," the child's voice interrupted the man's tirade, "Harry Potter is the Boy-Who-Lived. You know, the kid they have been slandering in that Daily Prophet rag the last few weeks? Voldemort's enemy?"
"Oh… oh!" Cassandra's eyes grew round in comprehension, and she gazed thoughtfully at him. A few minutes passed in silence, Harry fidgeting nervously, and the werewolf trying to regain his temper.
"Cassy," the man suddenly declared, "give him to me. I'll bring him to the Dark Lord."
"Don't be ridiculous Fenrir!" the child protested, "he's a Potential! There is no way that we're setting him up to die! And what for? That idiotic wizard with delusions of grandeur that you love to grovel for?" the man growled, and looked about to attack the kid, when Cassandra interfered, a furious expression on her face:
The woman's chilly answer was enough to put an immediate end to the discussion, and the werewolf left the kitchen cursing, and slamming the front door so hard the whole house shook. Heaving a sigh, Cassandra put a gentle hand on Harry's shoulder, and steered him upstairs, levitating his trunk behind them. They entered a room all decked in green, with a bed, dresser, desk and private bathroom attached, which Cassandra told Harry was going to be his own personal room from now on. Harry almost didn't hear her explain that they ate breakfast in the kitchen, and apologize for Fenrir's horrible manners. The moment that she stepped out of the room, wishing him a good night, he collapsed on the bed, and immediately fell asleep, without even taking off his shoes.
Harry woke with the sun streaming on his face. He blinked groggily, looking around the room, and trying to remember when he had painted his room green. His memories from last night suddenly came back to him, and he immediately shot up from the bed, panicked: he had blindly followed a complete stranger to who knows where! In the middle of the night, with Voldemort hell-bent on killing him! Oh he was so screwed! It was the most idiotic thing he had ever done! And he had done quite a few stupid things in his life!
Sighing heavily, and trying to control his panic, he wandered down the stairs, his wand firmly in hand. He was debating whether he should try making a run for it or not, when Cassandra called his name from the kitchen. Reluctantly, he entered the room, where she greeted him with a peck on the cheek, somehow making his panic lessen with such a simple gesture, and told him to sit down next to Joshua. Seeing as the green-eyed child was the only one there, Harry resolved that was his name, and sat down. Cassandra soon served them bacon and eggs, and poured him some apple juice.
"Do you know you have a Horcrux in your forehead?", Joshua suddenly asked, gazing curiously at him.
"A Horcrux. Using a Black Magic ritual and a human sacrifice, a wizard can split a part of their soul and store it somewhere else, in order to achieve immortality. Someone stored a piece of their soul in your forehead." The child stated matter-of-factly, and muttered something that sounded suspiciously like 'I bet my villa in Spain that it was Voldemort' under his breath.
"Oh, so that's what it is?" Cassandra inquired, "I was wondering about it… I noticed the Black Magic of course, but I really couldn't understand what it contained."
Noticing Harry's pallor and completely horror-struck expression, she gently asked him, "Didn't you know, dear? Haven't you ever been to a Healer before?"
"Y-yes, in Hogwart's hospital wing…"
"And the mediwitch never told you anything? She didn't even try to remove it?"
Frantically shaking his head, Harry clasped his hands together under the table, trying to stop their shaking, and didn't notice the grim look that passed between the two blonds.
"Well!" Cassandra suddenly exclaimed, startling Harry out of his horrified thoughts and his feelings of profound betrayal, "that's not a problem! I can remove it for you. What do you think? We could do the ritual today, as soon as you finish breakfast."
"R-really? You could? T-thank you Ma'am!"
Cassandra just smiled gently at him, and told him off for not calling her 'Cassy', and hurried quickly out to prepare the ritual circle.
"What's a ritual circle?" Harry asked perplexed the moment she was out the room.
"Cassandra is a Ritual Master. She specializes in healing rituals and blood magic. A ritual circle is the space surrounded by runes and geometrical patterns inside of which you will have to stand during a ritual."
"Oh, I see… You know a lot."
Joshua laughed and told Harry, "Of course I do! I'm not a child, I just look like one. I'm actually 45 years old, but since I was turned when I was five, I grow up at a much slower rate than humans. Cassy teases me by saying that my subconscious likes to be a kid, that's why I grow up so slowly."
"Yeah, I'm a Bloodsinger. Didn't you notice the eyes and the teeth?" he asked, showing off his canines. Surprised, Harry wondered how he hadn't noticed them before: they were more like fangs than teeth, curved and almost double the length of the other teeth. Feeling very ignorant, Harry flushed and asked:
"Uhm… what's a Bloodsinger?"
Chuckling, Joshua replied, "Don't worry, we're quite rare. You grew up in a Muggle household, right? It's usually purebloods who remember the stories from the Old Days, you know, the time the muggles call the Middle Ages. We were much more diffused then, now we're almost on the brink of extinction. Here, I'll give you a book to read."
Running out of the room, Joshua came back a few minutes later with a thick tome labelled Magical Humanoid Beings and opened it to the section on Bloodsingers, before handing it to Harry.
Harry soon became engrossed in the description of this species he had never heard of before:
Bloodsingers are commonly identified as the evolution of the Vampires (see pg. 246). Like Vampires, they can be identified by they long curved canines, and their pale mesmerizing eyes, but unlike them they are not usually subjected to uncontrollable bloodlust. In fact, Bloodsingers very rarely feed on blood, only if they get close to a human who has a very enticing aroma, which is subjective to each individual. Indeed, in normal circumstances, these beings eat like normal humans and sleep an average of 5-6 hours a night.
The only way for a Bloodsinger to be created is by turning a Potential. Turning consists in biting a Potential and releasing venom in blood stream. It causes mild weariness for about 24 hours, while the body adapts to the changes.
A Potential is a human being that has the capability of becoming a Bloodsinger, and can be identified easily by a fully developed Bloodsinger by the 'Pull'. This is a phenomenon that creates strong protective urges in the Bloodsinger towards the Potential, and feelings of trust in the Potential towards the Bloodsinger. Potentials can be Wizardfolk or Muggles, though it is rumoured that there have been a few Veela and Merfolk, but there is no concrete evidence of such cases. It is not quite know how Potentials manifest, because it has occurred more than once that a child born from two Bloodsingers was in fact only a normal wizard, and not a Potential as would be expected.
Bloodsingers have much longer lifespans than Muggles or Wizards, as their body normally ages about 1-2 years every 50 years. This of course means that Potentials that are turned very young live much longer than those turned when they are elderly. Also, the Potentials who used to be Muggles before their turning have shorter lifespans than Wizardfolk and, the bigger an individual's magical power, the longer their natural life.
Species abilities: all Bloodsingers see magic. Most can easily distinguish between Light, Dark and Black Magic, but their real speciality are Blood Magics, of which they have a natural understanding and ability, even those that used to be Muggles: it is one of the few instances in which non-magical beings can learn to wield magic. For these reasons, the best Ward Masters and spell inventors throughout history have in fact been Bloodsingers, especially in the Aztec civilisation.
Bloodsingers share a very close bond, that has frequently been defined as 'a natural alliance', with Werewolves (see pg. 123), especially Natural-born Werewolves. In fact, both are characterized by their complete control over their senses the majority of the time, which is lost to bloodlust or madness only in the case of very intense emotions or extraordinary prey. Another similarity between these two species is that both are dismissive of Vampires: Werewolves like hunting Vampires for sport during the full moon, whereas Bloodsingers consider Vampires similarly to the way Wizardfolk consider House-elves (see pg. 354).
Sadly, Bloodsingers are nowadays very rare. This is a direct consequence of the thirty year long Great Blood War in the early 1600s, which wiped out the majority of the Bloodsingers and Potentials worldwide.
"Harry! I'm ready! Come outside, dear!"
Harry was startled from his reading by the sound of Cassandra's voice, and hurried outside. A crowd was already gathered, and Harry immediately noticed that there, right in front of the house and in the middle of the street, Cassy had drawn a big red circle, contained in an black octagon, with what looked suspiciously like a muggle felt-tipped pen. Between the two figures were written a multitude of green and yellow Runes, all in different sizes, and in no order that Harry could figure out. Inside the circle were Harry's trunk and backpack, both of which he hadn't yet unpacked. Motioning him forward, and making him stand in the middle of the circle, Cassandra quickly explained:
"This is a high level modified purification ritual. I made it so it will completely eliminate all outside unwanted interferences. It is your subconscious which will direct the spell, and that's why I put your trunks in here too: any spell that has been applied to your things without your consent will be removed, and the same goes for your body. Moreover, since it's originally a Light purification ritual, it will eliminate all traces of Dark and Black Magics from inside the circle. I already used a spell on your trunks, to check if you have any Dark artefacts inside which may be ruined, but you don't have any, so… you don't mind do you? I hadn't meant to invade your privacy, but I get carried away when I'm setting up a ritual." She finished with a sheepish smile.
"Oh no, its all right… will you be able to tell which spells have been removed by the ritual afterwards?"
"Yes, since I'm the Enhancer, the one who powers the ritual, I'll be able to tell. Of course, I could miss a few if there are many, especially if it's a spell I'm unfamiliar with, but I usually catch the majority."
Nodding, Harry watched her carefully step outside the octagon, and kneel on the ground. A hush fell on the crowd -which Harry noticed consisted mostly, if not completely, of Werewolves- who was watching the ritual from a safe distance, and Harry began having even worse doubts than when he had woken up. After all, he was inside a ritual circle, made by a virtual stranger that he somehow trusted more than he had ever trusted anyone in his whole life, and the last (and only) ritual that he had ever witnessed had resulted in the rebirth of his worst enemy. Before his doubts could develop in a full-blown panic attack, Cassandra began murmuring in another language, though she spoke too lowly for Harry to distinguish which. The circle began to glow red, with the Runes and the octagon soon following, and Harry was traversed by a pleasant tingle, concentrated especially on his scar. The tingle though soon morphed in a painful burn on his scar and a blinding headache behind his eyes. Whimpering, Harry fell to his knees, holding his head. Just when the edges of his vision were starting to grow dark and he was about to pass out from the throbbing in his brain and forehead, the pain disappeared. Panting, he collapsed to the ground, completely exhausted. He was manoeuvred to lie on his back, his head resting on someone's lap, their fingers gently carding through his hair. Harry didn't know how long he stayed there, catching his breath and trying to make the nausea pass, but when he finally opened his eyes, he noticed it was Cassandra's lap on which he was resting. She was distracted, listening to Joshua, who was waving a wand towards Harry, and muttering angrily what looked like medical diagnostic spells, both their expressions grim. Still a bit out of it, and not understanding half the terms the child-adult was sprouting, Harry used the time to observe Cassy closely. Now that he knew what to look for, it was quite easy to recognize her as a Bloodsinger: she had pale skin, not marred by imperfections like normal humans, pale eyes that were slightly different from normal, though Harry couldn't really pinpoint what the difference was, and whenever she opened her mouth, her long canines where visible to all.
"You're a Bloodsinger." Harry found himself stating without really meaning to.
Startled, Cassandra looked down at the child in her lap, and answered: "Yes, I am. And you're a Potential, my dear. Come, let's go discuss what happened inside, in front of a cup of tea."
Stumbling slightly, Harry managed to stand, and shuffled inside, collapsing on the couch in the sitting room. Joshua curled on an armchair, a thunderous expression on his face, and Cassandra came back a few minutes later, settling on the couch next to him. Looking at Joshua and seeing that he had no intention of speaking, Cassandra began:
"There were quite a few spells on your belongings. The simplest ones to remove where a tracking charm on your trunk, one on your bag, and one on an item inside your trunk. And of course, the Ministry Trace on your wand is also gone."
"W-what? Really? I can do magic during the summer now?"
"Yes, of course. The Trace is set during the wand construction, so once it's removed, you can't put it back."
"Wow, I didn't know that. Wait, what if someone who is of age breaks their wand and has to buy another?"
"The Trace works with magical maturity. So, if a child is using their parent's wand during the holidays, it can still be tracked by the Ministry. Anyway, this is not really important. What is important is that the ritual should have not hurt you that much. Yes, I was expecting some pain with the removal of the Horcrux, but I wasn't counting on Mind Magic. You see, Harry dear, you had a Memory Charm and a couple Compulsions Charms on you. That's why it hurt you so much."
Horrified, Harry looked at Cassandra, hoping it was a joke, but seeing her serious expression, and Joshua glaring at the fireplace in stony silence, he realized that they were actually telling the truth. Swallowing past the lump in his throat, Harry asked, "Can you tell me what they were for?"
"No, I'm sorry, I can't. Though you will probably dream the memory that had been Obliviated from your conscious in the next few days. As for the Compulsions, the most that I can tell you is that they had the same magical signature as the Memory Charm. So, if you find out who Obliviated you, you will also find who put those two Compulsions on you."
Not very reassured, Harry only nodded numbly. Sensing the child's distress, Cassy put a hand around his shoulders, and tugged him into her side. After a few minutes of leaning onto her, Harry finally relaxed in her hold.
"What am I going to do now?" he whispered, his voice breaking on the last word.
Breaking the silence, Joshua answered, "Nothing. You're going to sign a document that gives Mother the authority to speak to your solicitor as your temporary guardian, and then you'll let us adults take care of everything."
Harry almost broke out in hysterical laughter when he heard the tiny seven-year-old refer to himself as an adult, but managed to keep silent. He didn't manage to stop the tears from finally falling though, and was soon sobbing desperately on Cassandra's shoulder. He had no idea how long he cried on her shoulder, and when he finally had no more tears to cry, the last thing he thought before falling asleep, listening to her gentle murmurs, and feeling her fingers card gently through his hair, was that this was probably what people felt when they had a mother.