We are the Monsters, the thing you fear in the Night, we are the
Dark Ones. We snatch your life away between one breath and the next.
No remorse, no glee, no empathy, no wickedness. We are the embodiment
of Death. We are the Vampires.
They were on the hunt again. Running from shadow to shadow at superhuman speeds. Jumping over fences and cars. First a vampire, then a bat gliding through the night, then again a vampire.
As I run, I see glimpses of the twelve other vampires around me. Our entire coven out on a hunt. My sire is leading the party, an Ancient One. His blood runs through my veins, and I cannot refuse his commands without risking execution. So I follow.
We are hunting a boy on the orders of a Dark Lord. The Dark Lord Voldemort is at the moment just a shade of his former self, but he will return in time. I don't care about that. I care about the boy we are going to kill on his behalf. I want to protect the boy. It will probably kill me, at least my sire will. Disobedience to one's sire is the ultimate offence.
'Why give up eternity for just one boy?' you might ask. He may live to a hundred and twenty, I can live for millennia.
We are all monsters, the things that inspire horror movies. We all drink blood for sustenance, and a few of us need to kill to survive. Two hundred and sixty four days since the last kill, the last lifeblood entered my veins. But I don't kill children. That is too high a price to stay alive, or dead, or whatever.
Running through the muggle neighbourhood (yes we use the wizards' terms), we see as well as in daylight. We see the heat from the houses, the cars and all the living muggles and pets around us. We prefer to hunt at night when we see clearly and the humans are blind. Also, the sun makes us weaker and slower, and gives a bad itch and sometimes a rash.
They say the killing curse won't even kill us, there's not enough soul left to destroy. I don't know. I don't care. I remember I did once, before I was turned, when I was a muggle studying neurobiology. I wanted to cure Alzheimer’s, so studying the mind was the first step on my big plan. Now I try to avoid killing muggles, I mean people. At least not too many. At least not those who are good. Definitely not kids.
And this Harry Potter kid, he's rumoured to be good. Killing a Dark Lord and surviving a killing curse is no mean feat. I have no idea why the wizards call him "good" because of that, but I trust their judgement for now. Perhaps I should consider myself a wizard now too. Last year, after my bloodlust was completely under control, Sire started teaching me magic. Before I was turned, I was a Squib, but it turns out I can do magic now. My Sire and I are Ancient Ones, who can expend the energy of the blood we drink to do magic. Ancient Ones are a very rare kind of vampire.
I could almost feel the anticipation in the air as we approached our destination. It was a quaint little neighbourhood, with white houses; the typical "family with two kids and a dog"-house with white picket fences and well kept gardens. A huge red sphere dominated the neighbourhood, a blood-ward of some kind. I wonder if wizards can see the ward? On the street sign I could clearly see "Privet Drive".
"OK, listen up everyone," my Sire whispered. Everyone immediately halted and gathered around him, including me. "This is a powerful blood ward, but nothing against two Ancient Ones and eleven Master Vampires. The trick is to attack the ward at the same time. Gather your power and just step through the sphere. The ward's power will be evenly distributed to attack us, and it will only be painful, not debilitating. Then the ward will be spent." A minuscule not from everyone confirmed that they had understood.
We spread out around the perimeter in a half circle. Then we slowly stalked towards the ward. I guess the Master Vampires can also see the ward. They were all adjusting correctly. We were going to hit the ward at exactly the same time. Should I keep back? No it will not make a difference, no ward can defend from this. We are power.
As one, we gathered the unnatural power granted by our blood, strengthened our skin to be as hard as steel, and as magic resistant as dragon-hide, and we stepped through the ward. After one heartbeat the ward rippled, and I saw a pillar of fire where the Master nearest to me stood. Crap, was my last thought before...
And another heartbeat. The smouldering remains of the vampire closest to me were witness to his permanent departure from this world.Huh, that didn't even hurt. I quickly ran around the perimeter to check on the other vampires. Twelve piles of ash. Sire? He was dead, the need I had to follow him was suddenly gone. I'm free? After more than a millennia of blood and power, my Sire is brought down by a ward and a miscalculation?
Light were coming on in the windows of the Number Four Privet Drive. I was not concerned as the mild notice-me-not charm around me would make me invisible to muggles, especially in the dark. What? How? I thought back to my lessons in magic.
A blood ward is made by a sacrifice of blood, or something more. It can only be used on family, but it is incredibly strong. It is almost always intent based. The more you wish to harm the recipient of the protection, the more you will be affected.
But still, I wondered a blood ward strong enough to defeat an Ancient One and ten Master Vampires, how much blood must that have taken? This is interesting. Interesting enough to care. But what about my Sire, will I miss him? And I felt a tingle of remembrance, a feeling I could not really place. It must have been from my muggle days. I felt like I should miss him, he was after all family, he had guided me through the first ten years of undeath. And then I smiled. No one who died here would be missed. Perhaps Voldemort will think of it as inconvenient. I had never met Voldemort myself, but my Sire had talked about him a few times, and he didn't seem the type to miss someone.
The next week I watched the neighbourhood of Privet Drive.
From my spying I learned about the Dursleys, and the Mad Catwoman who was always snooping around. I learned about the extreme gossiping in the neighbourhood. And through the gossiping I learned of Harry Potter.
"You mean the delinquent?" A voice said from inside number 3.
"Yes, he was at the school nurse today"
"He managed to fall down the stairs and injure himself yesterday"
"Again? Hmm, if the Dursleys were not so upstanding people I would suspect them of...nevermind"
"The Delinquent's name is Harry Potter, I saw it in his school file"
"How did you get access to his school file?"
"It's need to know. All in the interest of public education." I could hear the broad smile in the tone
"He looks so thin, and I think he is retarded."
"He doesn't say much in school either. His half-brother is a bit rough with him, but it's the way brothers are, I guess."
There is a lot of time in a vampire's week, you don't sleep, and I don't really need to hunt more than twice a year. I was thinking about going back home. There were lots of valuable items there, and some order was needed in the British vampire world. However, none would have access to that place, except for me. Not anymore. It's nice.
An alley near Privet Drive.
I was sitting in the corner behind a dumpster, enjoying the feel of my last snack. One hour before, I came to "deliver mail" to Number Twenty-Five. She asked me in. No matter how unnecessary it is, I do appreciate the gesture. And we should keep the legends alive after all. I really like the one about garlic, it used to make me laugh, until I tried with too much garlic and got a rash. For the lady at Number Twenty-Five all that was needed was a bit of enthralment, a minute of staring into her eyes and she led me to the bathroom. She even cleaned up afterwards. The blood is still rushing through my veins, giving a feeling of euphoria. I'm told it is the only feeling that you can feel after a millennia.
Harry was running full tilt down the street, turned the corner nearest to me, and suddenly he slipped around the dumpster, hiding right besides where I sat. He was almost on top of me, standing behind the dumpster, his heart beating fast from the run.
"Hi there" I whispered. I think I wanted to scare him, I'm not sure. I expected him to jump away and scream, and was very surprised when he just stood stock still and let out a minuscule whimper. His head whipped around to look for an exit, but the only way out was past the three boys standing in the middle of the street looking around, they had arrived right after him and were probably looking for him. Twenty heartbeats passed. He didn't look at me when he whispered "Hi back. Who are you?" I was surprised. It is a strange feeling, a short breath in – even though I don't need to breathe – and a widening of my eyes. I cocked my head to the right and answered, still in a whisper "I'm the Monster in the Night". It sounds good; perhaps I should change my name. "I'm Freak" was the response. What?
Did he just call himself Freak? "Is that your real name?" I quizzed. He looked up at me and answered solemnly, "I have another name also, Harry. Harry Potter." I smiled back at him with my evil smile, showing long sharp teeth "I'm Raven" He doesn't even look scared? What's wrong with this one? Or is there something in my teeth? If there's anything, it should be blood, not something embarrassing. Although, it's not like I have looked in a mirror the last week.
Silence stretched, and it was like a small world in itself, the Monster and the Freak looking at each other, oblivious to the rest of reality.
The Freak started, "Are you real?"
"Well, I think so" Maybe I died by the ward a week ago, and this is just a figment of somebody else's imagination? No, that would be too weird.
"What are you?"
"Come with me and I'll explain." I stood up and walked back towards the wall, while Harry looked nervous. Somehow, he seemed to be more nervous of being noticed by the other boys than by following a Monster deep into an alley. "Revelio" I muttered with my hand on the wall. A door appeared. I opened it and gestured for Harry to go inside, he was staring at the door-that-used-to-be-a-wall looking awestruck.
Taking care not to touch him, I lead him up to the attic. The attic was above a clothes shop for muggles, and had been my refuge the past week. We sat down on the hard floor in the dusty attic without uttering a word.
"Here we can talk" I nodded to him. As Harry did not say anything for three heartbeats, I continued
"Why is your name Freak?"
"My aunt Petunia, uncle Vernon, and Dudley call me Freak. The teachers call me Harry. It is because of my Freakishness. I make things happen."
Doesn't he know he's a wizard?
"Like this?" I said and pointed my wand at a cobweb and muttered "levitate". My wand was darkwood with a dragon heartstring, a gift from my Sire. Who is dead now. I had to remind myself every day of his demise – he had been a constant presence for the last ten years.
Harry watched transfixed as the cobweb wrapped itself in a round ball and floated around the room, ending up between us. I then started bouncing it like a tennis-ball on the floor. On each bounce it lost some of it's integrity, until it disintegrated completely.
"Like that?" I prodded him.
"That makes you a Wizard, as you have magic. Only those without magic, we call them muggles, think this is Freakishness."
"Oh." Harry said, contemplating this. He doesn't really believe in it yet. I must find some way to convince him later.
"Why are you a Monster, Raven?"
"I am a Vampire. I drink blood to survive. I have hurt many people."
"Will you hurt me?"
"No, I have learned control. So now, I hurt only bad people. I am a Monster, but I am not Evil. A Monster is something you're made, Evil is something you choose." And there is my philosophy in one sentence. I mentally added.
"It is difficult, though, as I must find someone deserving to be killed every year. If I don't, I go berserk from bloodlust."
"My parents were killed by themselves" Harry volunteered. Kid cannot stay on topic.
"They died in a car crash because my dad was drunk", he continued
"What?" I interrupted. "No. Who told you that?"
"That's completely wrong. Your parents died in a war, protecting you. They are heroes. Together they defeated the big Evil bastard Voldemort." I felt something rise within me, I was irritated. While I wondered what had irritated me, I studied Harry's expressions. I could almost see the thoughts written on his face as he considered what I had said. From joy, to sadness, to joy again, and then sadness.
"More importantly" I continued, "I am not an ordinary vampire, of which there are three kinds. You have the Pure Vampire who is your everyday powerful blood-drinking vampire." I ticked one finger as he listened. "And then you have the Master Vampires, who are older and more powerful, almost impossible to kill. On the bottom of the hierarchy you have the Vampire Spawn, who are just fledgelings, new and not so potent vampires. They are the ones we must prevent breaking the Statue of Secrecy that your world loves so much. If vampires become common knowledge, your International-Wizarding-Something-Organization will try to wipe us out again. On the very top of the hierarchy you have the Ancient Ones. The ones not even Master Vampires will disobey. I am the youngest Ancient One ever, with only ten years of undeath. Normally it takes hundreds of years of undeath combined with an Ancient One as Sire for a vampire to become Anicent, but my Sire did some fancy Dark Sacrifice Ritual to make me be born as an Ancient One. And me being a Squib helped."
Harry was listening intently, but I could see confusion whenever I used words not familiar to muggles. So I explained about Squibs, Wizards and Muggles, how Squibs had some magic, but not enough to be a Wizard. And then I explained about Dark Magic: "Dark Magic is magic with Negative Intent, like the killing curse, you have to really hate, like the torture curse, you really have to enjoy the suffering, like the Imperius curse, you really have to revel in the power of absolute domination of another's free will. And of course, Rituals where you sacrifice someone else is a Dark Ritual. Your Magical Government has some other things they also call Dark, but that's just bullshit."
I could see Harry wanting to ask something throughout the whole explanation, but he was polite enough to hold back. After I stopped I had to wait for twenty heartbeats before he dared to speak. That's a bit too polite.
"Do you know anything about my mother and father?" Always, people want to talk about themselves! I guess I should indulge him. And I told him what I had read in books. I remembered surprisingly much. But then, James Potter and the Potter family were important figures in the modern wizard history books.
"I have to go now," Harry suddenly said. He hesitated a moment before saying, "Can I come back here?" in a small voice. I smiled my predatory smile at him "If the Freak wants to visit the Monster, he just needs to knock the door in the alley. Even if the door looks like a wall. Before you go, there is one thing" I was so stupid, I should have asked this first. "Will you keep my secrets? If they know about me they will come for me. I am a Monster after all" Excellent explanation to a child of a complicated issue, I though to myself satisfied. "I swear that I will keep your secrets," Harry said gravely and a small flash of light could be seen. He had unconsciously signed it with his magic.
Over the next two weeks, we met every day for a short while, whenever Harry could get away. I bought some books on wizarding culture from Diagon Alley, and we read. We found out how his godfather Sirius Black had betrayed his parents to Voldemort and killed Peter Pettigrew. We learned Lily was a muggleborn. And we even found a picture of James and Lily that I cut out from the book and gave to him. In the picture they were holding hands and walking by a large lake, with a castle in the background.
On a sunday morning Harry came by a lot earlier than usual and had the whole day off. He was smiling when he entered the attic; it was the first smile I had seen from him. "I think it's time we visited Godric's Hollow," I said.
Godric's Hollow in December.
We left the Knight Bus wearing muggle disguises, getting off near the Church in Godric's Hollow. Snow was lining the pavement in a thin sheet. The walkway was grey cobblestones all the way up to the stone church. I motioned for Harry to follow and started walking down the walkway towards one of the most famous residences in the wizarding world, leaving the graveyard for later.
We came upon a statue in stone, with a strong muggle notice-me-not charm, depicting the three Potters; Lily, James and Harry. Behind it stood the remains of a cottage with one wall completely blown out. We could most of the bedroom on the second floor.
Harry stared at it for a while, then walked around to see it from different angles.
"Do you remember anything?"
"I remember, but I thought it was a dream. I remember a dog, I remember my parents faces, I remember them smiling. I remember I was warm and happy. The world was beautiful, but I thought it was a dream, you know?"
"What more do you remember?"
"They were so proud. I, I think, I..."
"Yes?" I prodded.
"I think they loved me." Harry mumbled in a whisper, looking up at me with uncertainty. I was glad my hearing was superhuman, so I heard him clearly. I looked him straight in the eyes and said with full certainty,
"I know they loved you. They loved you above anything, even themselves." Ops, I may have put a bit of compulsion in that look. Harry quivered, and started shaking, his entire world-view collapsing. I slowly held out my hands to grab his. "Let it out" I said. And Harry James Potter cried over his parents for the first time.
I don't know how long we stood there. Well, honestly, it was five hundred and twenty seven heartbeats, but you know what I mean. Harry held on to my hands to keep himself upright. A lady walked by, but she did not intervene in our strange moment, and Harry never even noticed her.
After the tears had dried out, Harry started shivering, so I cast a warming charm on him. One of the few charms I know, good for pretending to be human. He looked up to the house in remorse. "You will find new people to love you," I promised. "It will take time, but you are a Good wizard, so you will find someone in the end." He nodded distractedly.
"What are you thinking about" I enquired.
"I want to make them proud." Harry answered
"I think I know how."
"How?" he looked at me with his piercing green eyes, the last hope of a drowning man shining through them.
"By being Good and being Powerful" I said in my usual straight-forward way. I considered those things to be the only values worth striving for, at that time.
"But I am weak" Harry said, dismayed.
"No, you are strong. You endure the Dursleys, that takes real strength. And one day when you grow up, you can leave the Dursleys behind and make your own way in the world. One day you will learn magic and go to Hogwarts"
"Can I leave now?"
"The Dursleys? No, you need your protection. While at the Dursleys you are protected from Evil with a very powerful ward."
"But can I begin to learn magic?"
"Hmm, yes you can learn some, but you need to keep it a secret. If you want, I can bring some books for you to read when you visit my attic."
"I would like that" he smiled through his tears.
We walked by the graveyard, and put two roses on the graves. There was not much energy left in him at that point. I was puzzled by the inscription "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." Not defeated or conquered, but destroyed? And does it mean that it shall be destroyed in the end, or that it shall never be destroyed? Probably a meaningless citation from some ancient text.
Raven and Harry established a routine the following weeks, every weekend Harry visited for ten hours each day. When Petunia asked where he went, it was "the park" or "the library", and the Dursleys never cared, as long as he did his chores first. Dudley had to spend his feelings of superiority and his anger on other kids, or make up for it with Harry in the weekdays.
The Monster and the Freak practiced magic together. Harry borrowed Raven's wand and tried to do the simplest spells. It was slow progress, so they started reading through the different books Raven had brought.
Harry was sitting with "Fundamentals of Potionmaking" while I was searching through "The Standard Book of Spells grade 2" to see if I knew all the useful spells, when I noticed he was staring at me while pretending to read his book.
"Yes?" I prodded
"You don't breathe, do you?"
"And when I touched your hands after seeing my parents' house, they were cold."
"Yes." I said while holding my left hand out to him. Harry touched it carefully.
"It's still cold. Are you cold"
"No, I don't feel the cold"
"Why are you cold?" I sensed this was the crux of his questions. It has taken him five weeks to get to this point where he can ask me a burning question. I wonder how the Dursleys reward inquisitiveness? Can I picture them revelling in the questions of a kid?
"I'm dead," I answered slowly.
"You don't seem dead. Apart from the coldness and the only-breathe-when-you-speak thing. Dead things don't move, do they?"
"Well, I guess I'm not strictly dead. I'm in between. As far as I know, there is even a bit of soul left in me. But I do not age, and I can survive wounds that would be fatal to humans."
"Because you are a vampire." Harry concluded, his courage fading.
I tried to continue reading, but he was still staring at me.
"Yes," I prodded again. After another long pause, he finally spoke "Do you hug?". A concept, a memory stuck me. The feeling of warmth, content, of connection, of something else? What is this strange memory. I remembered how my mother looked before I left for the university in Britain. What are those memories? I tried to hold on to them as they slipped away.
"Yes, I know how to hug." I stated, wondering where he was going with this strange question.
"I saw someone at school hugging, they looked happy. Can we try?"
As an answer to his question I stood up and held my arms out. Harry followed suit and we tried a strange hug. When I was going to release him, and sit down, after the typical three heartbeats, he held on. Well, it's not like I have somewhere to be, I though. And I just stood there. After three hundred and sixty seven heartbeats, he let go.
"It worked" Harry said smiling, "I feel better now."
From then on, I started greeting him and saying goodbye with a hug. Humans are strange creatures.
Vampire Haven, early January.
The first monday I finally went back home, in need of more galleons to spend on books. I took the knights bus to a small village called Ottery St. Catchpole. I then walked out into the forest, away from habitation. Then I ran, using my vampire speed. I would have overtaken a cheetah, if there were any around, that is.
After half an hour I reached a nondescript cave opening, and walked in. The cave was pitch black, both magical and normal darkness covered everything. Any light brought in to this place would be immediately extinguished. I navigated from memory, found the stone with a hand carved into it. I cut my palm and activated the stone with my blood and the password. "Black Phoenix."
A hole opened in the ground beneath me and I fell fifty yards down, the opening closing after me. I landed on a metal floor, and I was home. The shock of landing ruptured a few muscles which quickly regenerated. A soft blue glow emanated from the stone walls around me, lighting up a big chamber. Eighteen steel doors were visible from where I stood. There is no wood in this place, as that is anathema to Vampires. A wooden stake in the heart is one of the few things that can kill us. Beheading and immolation in white-hot fire will also do the trick. But I have heard that those work with most creatures. When I think about it, a wooden stake penetrating your heart may also be deadly for humans.
I found I was able to enter all the rooms, including my sire's. Each of us had a stash of gold and valuables, and my sire had a vault in Gringotts. I retrieved the vault key from my sire's room. I also retrieved his magical cloak and dragonskin outfit. It was meant for warfare, but I decided to wear it instead of stashing it away.
Finally I went into my own room and picked up my bottomless bag, which included all of my most treasured possessions. The bottomless bag was an insanely expensive wizarding item. It could contain an almost limitless number of items, and was charmed to be waterproof, thief-proof; it even had blood and password protected compartments. I had to check that it was still there, "Before the Darkness" I said while bleeding my thumb, and I retrieved my photo album. The album was the only thing left of my past, filled with pictures of my parents and me when I was little. I thumbed through the pages for the thousandth time, trying to dredge up the memories as much as I could. Every year it was like the people in the pictures became less "me" and "us", and more "those people". What I would give to have one day in this picture! Would I give eternity? No. I would not. But I do not know why. Why is an eternity of what I have better than a day of sun and happiness?
Gringotts in January.
Gringotts stood tall and proud. I had walked through Diagon Alley completely covered in my cloak, with a smaller robed figure by my side. The small figure inadvertently stopped to stare at the different storefronts with whispered oohs and aahs. Even though I had showed him a multitude of moving pictures to prepare him for this expedition.
The Goblin Guards at the entrance just stared at me. And when we entered the Bank proper, all the tellers stopped what they were doing for a moment, before they continued on. I easily caught the Goblins staring at me once in a while, all the time performing their work without hesitation. We didn't have to stand around for long before the chief teller came over to us and asked "what?".
"Private Conference" I said. There are some good things about being a creature rated 'extremely dangerous – do not annoy'. For Goblins, short and to the point sentences was considered the most polite conversation. Small talk about the weather was a veiled death threat, saying essentially "your time is so worthless, you should be dead".
After being led through the corridors of Gringotts and into a richly furnished room, with a grand table in the middle, we met our Goblin caretaker. It was an old goblin sitting at the end of the table, with two severe looking goblins on either side.
"Good day Master Ancient One, and Master Harry Potter, I am Stonesword, Assistant of Ragnok what can I do for you?" Gringotts had evidently no trouble identifying us. I took of my and Harry's outer cloaks and laid them aside. I knew that Ragnok was the leader of all British Goblins, so we were talking with someone important.
"I wish to inherit the account of master Asfaloth of the First, Mr Potter wishes to retrieve personal belongings from his family. We appreciate if all business today is kept strictly secret. We have no need to go down into the vaults themselves."
A quick blood ritual was performed to verify that I was to inherit from Asfaloth, and I withdrew a thousand galleons, and deposited some gems I had found at the haven.
"We can, unfortunately, not access the Potter Family Vault 687 as the Will has not been Read. For expenses he may withdraw from his Educational Vault." The Goblin, Stonesword, said gravely.
"Well, can we have the will read?" I countered.
"The will was sealed by Dumbledore, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot"
"So, this means we have to get it unsealed before you can read it?" I asked.
"Well, technically, the version belonging to the Ministry is sealed. But, most families give us a copy, as we are known for being more neutral than your Politicians."
"So what will happen if we read it here in Gringotts?"
"Only the Heir can hear it, and we have to inform the Ministry that a will has been read. We do not have to inform them which will is read." the Goblin's smile showed a row of sharp teeth.
I only had to think about it for a second before I said, "Let him read it".
I was patient as I waited for the Goblins to come back with Harry. It was easy to be patient in my state of living, but it often led to thinking.Why do I still help the boy? Why don't I just leave him and go back to my life? Because nonaction is as bad as action. I am the only one who looks out for him, the saviour of the wizarding world. I have to find someone else to take my place first. Then I can leave him. I decided to look for someone respectable that would be his support, the next time I had nothing to do.
When Harry came back he was trailing a clearly uncomfortable Goblin. The goblin was, probably, a champion and a war-veteran, as he had gained a very prestigious title, but he had been reduced to a clearly insecure creature looking for help. The cause of his anxiety was evident as Harry was crying himself a river. I gathered him in a hug, and hold him while he wept, to Stoneswords great relief. The irony of the world. A crying human in a room full of fairytale monsters, of which the Goblins can empathise but do nothing, and the Vampire has little emotion but knows what is needed.
After struggling to regain his composure, Harry whispered "They said. They said to never leave me there. Mum, Dad, never at the Dursleys. They said I should go to Sirius or to the Longbottoms, or to the Bones, but never to the Dursleys. They didn't betray me."
The eight year old was no more help that day, and I conferred with the Goblins on what possessions to bring home with us. After some reflection, I decided to take out Lily and James' schoolbooks, wands, a mobile potions laboratory belonging to Lily, and the Family Ring belonging to James Potter. The Goblins said something about Harry being the very Last Potter, and therefore emancipated to hold the title of Head of House Potter according to Goblin inheritance laws. I did not think much about this at the time.
Britain, in February.
The weeks passed as they had before. Every weekend we practiced magic together in the attic. Harry had his own wands and did not need to use mine anymore, his father's wand worked best for simple spells, and his mother's was best for those with more fancy wand-waving. I tried to track down the Longbottoms and the Bones. It turned out that both families had barely survived the war, and that both families had a kid Harry's age. Only the fact that Amelia Bones was the head of DMLE (Department for Magical Law Enforcement) made me contact her first. Her position of power would help protect Harry a lot better than the position the Longbottom Matriarch was in, I reasoned.
Contacting Madam Bones, however, turned out to be no simple deal. Through using my hypnotic gaze on a few clerks in the Ministry I learned about Amelia Bones' typical day. She was always surrounded by at least two top level aurors, except when she was in her well warded Family Mansion. I considered offering her information about Voldemort in an attempt to draw her out, but with the amount of assassination attempts she had faced over the years, I doubted that she would fall for it. Finally I had a brilliant idea.
Britain, early March.
After a short ride on the crazy-bus we arrived in a small village near the border to Scotland. I had told Harry that we would go somewhere new just for fun and eat a proper meal. By now, he understood that to mean that he would eat and I would not. Both of us could clearly see the grand mansion we passed right before we came to the restaurant. "Who lives there?" he wondered out loud.
The transformation from the quiet boy at Privet drive to the shy but curious boy whenever we went somewhere else was significant. "I don't know who," I lied. "But it must be a witch or a wizard as there are notice-me-not charms keeping muggles away." That much was true at least. It was a nice day for an outing, the day was incredibly warm for being March. I was wearing a heavy robe that got us a few snickers from those curious enough to ignore the weak charm covering us. Still the sun was painful, but the skin on my hands was only a light shade of red.
The restaurant was a quaint old cosy place, made mostly of stone, while surrounded by buildings made of wood; perfect for my intentions. I helped Harry order food and sat to watch him eat. "I forgot something, I'll be right back" I said. After receiving a nod, I quickly exited the building. I activated the chameleon magic of my cloak to stay hidden, and went to the end of the block.
Whispering "Ignos persist ignata" I flicked my wand in a jagged half-circle towards the wooden building at the end of the block, starting a small magical flame. I then quickly walked back to the restaurant where Harry was eating; "The Well-Smoked Fish" This place is going to feel its name today, I smiled to myself.
When I said down, Harry looked at me questioningly. "I bought a small thing for later" Truth was, I had already bought my excuse-item and had it in my pocket. A snow-globe with a castle in it.
When Harry finished his meal, I cast a privacy charm around us and called forth a book from my bottomless bag and handed it to Harry. He opened it at the bookmark and continued reading about one of his favourite subjects, potions. Well, having his mother's notes in the book does nothing to dampen his interest. Sometimes we talked at these occasions, but mostly we sat reading, pretending that we were each part of a normal family, without Monsters or Freaks, only a little bit of magic.
The fire was growing.
The Bones Manor, at the same time.
"I want Ice cream" Susan protested. "It's too hot in here"
"In March? Eat your dinner, and I'll go buy some ice cream" her Aunt Amelia answered
"Why can't I come with?"
"You know why. You tell me."
"You're paranoid, that's why. Can't Kingsley come with us?" Susan pleaded.
"He's got other things to do today. But let's see if Hannah wants to come over later"
"Yes" Susan exclaimed, finished her dinner, and smiled prettily "Ice cream. Pleeeease."
Amelia smiled a kind smile, reserved for family and close friends. Susan was one of the few that saw something more than the strict, square jawed, seriousness of Lady Bones. Maybe she would be able to take some time off the coming summer, and mellow out? Probably not.
While walking down the street with ice-cream in hand, Amelia's instincts suddenly screamed at her. Before the box of ice-cream hit the ground she was surrounded by a multi-layered protego, standing in a ready stance and looking at a... fire? Sprinting towards the fire after applying a notice-me-not, she saw the muggles evacuating the block slowly. The fire was already consuming half a building, and she could sense magic emanating from it. Trap or accident? That was the pertinent question.
While looking around carefully and casting a few detection spells, she made sure the muggles evacuated properly. When a homenum revelio showed that the house was empty, she went to the next in the block. Seven houses later she came upon the Well-Smoked Fish.
Everyone had evacuated from the restaurant except two people sitting by themselves in the back. It was easy to see why they had been ignored, due to the strong privacy and muggle repelling charm around them. If not for her, they would probably sit there reading, undisturbed until the entire house was on fire. Feeling entirely unthreatened by the situation, and knowing that the fire would take some time before reaching this building, she entered the privacy bubble and sat down.
The young boy jumped in fright when Amelia sat down, while the young man looked away from her. Pointing her wand at them under the table, just in case, Amelia said "Hi there, I'm Amelia, and this house is on fire, how are you?" The boy looked at her with his clear green eyes. He was about Susan's age, had black messy hair, and a lightning-bolt scar on his... WHAT?
Amelia was normally good at controlling her reactions, few things fazed her, but meeting the Boy Who Lived at a random restaurant was way outside of her expectations. A smile ghosted over the man's face as he turned his head towards her and she got her second extreme shock today.
The eyes were covered by a weak glamour that Amelia had no problems seeing through, and what she saw was pitch black eyes surrounded by a thin iris of red. What was a Vampire doing in the presence of Harry Potter?
So far the plan is working wonderfully, I thought, as Madam Bones sat down. A slow moving magical fire was sure to bring some attention. When she looked into my eyes and almost gave a yelp, I knew she knew what I was. This will be interesting. As long as she does not to something rash. Like trying to kill me.
"I'm Raven, and this is Harry. On fire you say?" I said, before turning to Harry
"What do you think about some dessert at the bakery?"
Madame Bones had clearly not recovered enough from her state of shock, so I continued
"Do you want to join us, madam?" and reached out a hand in greeting.
Finally, I think her pureblood training kicked in, and she recovered enough to pretend that everything was normal.
"I am Amelia Bones, Head of the Bones Family, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement."
"Good for you," I said, "I'm still Raven, and this is still Harry".
I stood up and put on my heavy cloak, and she asked "Isn't that a bit warm today?", clearly trying to make me invent an explanation and get on the defensive.
"As you probably figured out by now, I'm a Vampire, and not so fond of sunlight." She just raised one eyebrow in a questioning manner, to which I responded by grabbing Harrys hand and leading the way out.
When we passed the fire, on our way, a moment of indecision crossed Mme Bones' face before she continued on. Perhaps she thinks she has bigger fish to fry than finding out how the fire started?
"Do you live up in the big Mansion?" Harry asked
"Yes, I do." Amelia answered, and then, clearly to hold the conversation going, continued,
"Where do you live, Harry?"
"I live with my aunt and uncle."
"Do you like it there?"
"No. But sometimes, Raven takes me away on adventures, and I like that."
"Ah, any interesting adventures? She asked while throwing me a glance. I let my facial expression be completely indifferent, while my intellect was rejoicing in the beautiful way the plan came together. Step 1, arouse interest without alerting the Aurors, Complete.
"Well, we go to eat the most wonderful food. I don't even have to cook. And I get as much as I want," the boy-away-from-Privet-Drive told with enthusiasm. I could see Amelia's mind whirring with the consequences of that statement.
"How exiting! Do you go to any scary adventures?" she asked with a light tone, but unable to hide her genuine interest from me, as I watched the byplay.
"Yes. In January. Godric's Hollow. It was hard to see it again after reading the stories." At the end Harry was just whispering and looking a bit sad, starting to withdraw into himself.
"So where do you know Raven from?"
"We met one day, behind a dumpster. You wouldn't understand, you're too old."
At that point I had no idea what was going on in his mind, but as we had come to the bakery, I said "Here we are."
After entering the store, I gave Harry some money and said "Can you be good and get your own dessert? Please stay inside until we come back. We'll be right here, having a grown-up chat." Harry nodded and went inside the Bakery, while I gestured for Amelia to follow me.
"Will you be so kind as to put up some charms?" I said when we reached a nice spot at the corner of the building. I hadn't shown her my wand, but she must had surmised I had one after seeing our previous privacy bubble. I didn't want her to see what I could do, or to startle her by waving a wand around. After the privacy charms had been done, I tried to continue, but she beat me to it.
"Who are you, and what are you doing with the Boy Who Lived?" the Head of DMLE demanded.
"I'm looking after him, since the day his protections wiped out my entire coven of Vampires, including my sire. That means, in your terms that I owe him something akin to a Life Debt for freeing me from my Master's influence." At the mention of a ‘Life Debt’ she seemed somewhat relieved. Not at all like a life debt, but who cares.
"Wiped out an entire coven? So Dumbledore has left him well protected?"
"From Death Eaters and Vampires, yes. From emotional pain, from distrust and loathing by his family, no. Do you know what they told him about his parents? I quote 'they were good for nothing drunks who got themselves killed in a car accident'."
"That's horrible! They were great heroes.“ She looked at me as if I would protest, before she continued. “About what he said, does he have to make his own food?"
"You picked up on that? No, he has to make everyone’s food. And then he barely gets to eat the leftovers. Why do you think I take him out to eat?"
"This is unacceptable, Dumbledore must be told." Amelia growled.
"How do you know that he is unaware of this?" I asked.
"What do you mean?"
"There are two likely scenarios, one in which Dumbledore is an ignorant fool, and all we need to do is tell him of the situation. The other is, Dumbledore knows, but think this will make Harry more susceptible to his cause and easier to manipulate. But you know him better than I do, is he normally sloppy and ignorant, or controlling and manipulative?"
"I refuse to believe he would do something like this." Amelia said.
"Clearly you don't, if your last statement is anything to go by."
That caused the Bones Patriarch to stop and think carefully.
"Whatever you are thinking, Madam, please be careful about changing the status quo. Harry enjoys great protection because of his living arrangements. I am able to help him understand that his parents were good people and really loved him.”
“I will think about this,” she answered, and it was clear that she would do more than just think. Let’s hope she can be discreet.
“There is only one thing I need help with."
"And what would that be?" she asked while staring at nothing, thinking hard.
"Harry needs friends. Do you know any kids his age whose family is entirely trustful and able to keep this secret?"
"Hmm... as a matter of fact, I do"
And the trap is sprung. Plan Successfully Completed.
It took a few hurried minutes more to conclude the discussion, and to agree when to meet again; in a less obvious place than on a street corner under privacy charms. She even agreed to tell no one, as there was too many who trusted Dumbledore with all their secrets.
By the time I returned to the shop, Harry had eaten his cake and bought a new one. As we traveled back to Privet Drive I thought to myself, It is about time I went back to the Vampire World, and claimed leadership of the few vampires left in Britain.