11. Interlude: The Memory
Maeby hiked through the endless rocky woods for hours, not really caring where her legs led her, only caring that she was distancing herself. From what, she didn't care to identify. To where, she couldn't fathom.
Just as dusk settled across the forest, Maeby had scaled to its apex, and she stood, looking down at the breathtaking view below her. The mountain's side was a fairly steep cliff of rock and sand, and beyond the cliff Maeby saw the endless blue of the ocean. Off in the horizon, the sun was setting, throwing the sky into a montage of pinks and oranges.
Her face, however, did not betray the look of someone enjoying this work of nature. Her eyes had lost their focus, and for seconds all she could do was stare at that never-ending expanse.
There was a time when she and Harry would explore these woods together. They would hike through, silently, their trek rarely interrupted by anything but the call of birds or rustling of leaves under their feet. Occasionally, Harry would grab her hand tightly and guide her atop a particularly large rock. It was a time of relaxation for the two, away from all the adults, even Sirius Black. They could forget about their problems and just... breathe
A mountainous cliff ended abruptly at the Atlantic. Rough, churning sea water crashed against its side. Maeby closed her eyes and filled her nostrils with that salty air, savoring the loud, resonating sound of the water's throes. She opened them slowly, and when she noticed how dark it was becoming, she searched for a place to stay the night.
Inside a part of the cliff, there was a small pocket that could possibly be a cave. Feeling a thrill at the adventure, Maeby searched for the easiest way down. There was a more slanted part of the cliff that she thought wouldn't be too hard to manage.
She scaled down the cliff, but when she reached the cove, her grip slipped. Her heart lurched as she started falling, scraping her body against the rough, extruding edges of the cliff. When she collapsed on the lip of the cove, she heard the sickening crunch of a bone breaking before she felt the ripping agony tear through her ankle.
Pain-filled sobs could barely be heard against the monstrous crash of waves. Tears ran aimless pathways down the girl's cheek. Many moments passed before Maeby could gain the sense of mind to glance into the cove.
It was, in fact, a cave, and empty at that. She crawled in, wincing at the sharp twinge in her ankle when she jarred it. The sounds of stones skittering as she brushed them aside echoed, but the waves were now dull whispers.
She placed her satchel to the side before she glanced at the memory. Not tonight, she thought. Not tonight.
She awoke early the next morning, but the cave was still dark. She stood with surprising grace and froze when she made it outdoors.
"What the...?" she trailed off, glancing down at her supposedly injured ankle and then paling at the implications of the miraculous healing. She was turning back into a real vampire.
She hadn't taken a potion yesterday. She had told the headmaster that she was going to go through with it -- that she was going to give up the experimental potions and become a real vampire, but only now were the implications becoming clear. If she was starting to heal herself, then she would need blood soon also. She was well and truly turning into Dark creature; one that, in reality, she’d had in her for the past year.
She scaled down the cliff to the calmer, low tide water, purposely trying to return to her clumsy ways, but falling into an uncharacteristic grace instead.
A small pool of tide water reflected the morning sun, and she knelt beside it, glaring angrily at the girl staring back at her. She didn't have freckles anymore.
She shut her eyes and pulled the vial from her pocket. She wanted to stop now, to go home. But she couldn't, not without seeing that memory. This was who she was. The grace wasn't uncharacteristic; it was a part of her as much as anything else was a part of her. She would view this memory that was also a part of her -- she wasn't herself without it. Afterwards, she would consider returning home. She wasn't completely deluded into thinking that she could survive out in the wild by herself.
With a sort of tremulous care, Maeby popped the cork of the vial, and stared down at the smoky purple substance. She brought the vial to her lips, and poured the cold purple jell into her mouth. She gasped when the memories hit her. And then she cried.
It was Saturday evening. A younger Maeby was staring, with dead eyes, out at the forest from her large bay window. Her lips were pulled into a tight line, and the tips of her fingers were absently pushing against the cool glass. Her trunk stood beside the door, ready for her departure to Hogwarts the following morning. She was pondering the disappearance of one Harry Potter, the boy who used to be her only friend.
Harry had always been against the curve, nasty even. He didn't like other people, and he made a point of ignoring or insulting them. It wasn't easy to make other friends when your best friend was Harry Potter. But Maeby had never minded that part of their friendship. Harry had something special about him, even with his pathological desire to make people hate him. For all his strangeness, he was witty, cynical, and, well, protective. Maeby could always depend on him to be there when she was threatened (usually by other classmates who didn't like her choice of friends). He even found her when she was upset. She turned away from the window and stared at her trunk. How could she go to Hogwarts this year without him? How could she go to Hogwarts, knowing that people like Neville Longbottom would be there touting Harry's alleged trip to the dark side?
And then, there was the fact that she'd be a target this year. She knew it was unavoidable. She wasn't attractive, and she had a scowling expression that tended to throw people off. Sure, if she took time to perfect her social side, she could make a few friends, perhaps, but that wasn't the issue. When Harry was there, she'd always been protected from annoying classmates who hung out in cliques and bullied girls like her. But now (not only was she unattractive and clumsy), she was the Ravenclaw friend of a Harry Potter, the Death Eater
. Life at Hogwarts in the coming year would be hell.
Had she been less distracted, she might have noticed the crowd of vampires trouping out of the woods and shifting into her main parlor. She heard something crash downstairs and her head swiveled to the door in surprise. Her father wasn't supposed to be home until late. He had gone out with old Quidditch friends of his and had promised to bring Maeby dinner. She crossed the room, and opened her door carefully. She wore old black Hogwarts robes from the year before, the Ravenclaw crest emblazoned across the front.
"Hello?" she called down the hallway. She heard the gentle patter of footsteps on the floor below her. Heart pounding, she grabbed her wand from the bedside table, and then rushed out of her room, carefully examining the hallway. She stalked towards the stairs, heart beating in fear. This seemed like a stupid thing to do -- going downstairs to meet whoever was in her house, but she felt an odd lilt of excitement that made her think, well, what if it's Harry?
He had visited her a few months before, hadn’t he?
Plus, there was the wards her father created kept Death Eaters from coming into the house without an invitation (yeah, right, like they'd invite a Death Eater into their house). She went down the stairs quietly, eyes swiveling across the empty entrance hall. Her wand was drawn, ready to cast a spell at a moment’s notice.
When she reached the bottom of the stairs, she turned in shock to meet a large group of men hiding in an alcove under the stairs.
"Reducto!" she yelled, watching with sick fascination as the light hit the slower men who couldn't move fast enough, plastering them to the wall behind the alcove. She didn't have time to think if they were alive. The others, with inhumane speed, dodged the spell. She gasped when a few of their hoods fell away, revealing a horrifying blend of reddish eyes and sharp, carnivorous teeth.
"What are you?" she demanded shakily, though her Ravenclaw mind was sifting through the possibilities until finally she realized just what they were. She took a step backwards. "You're -- you're vampires
?" The last word came out in a sort of gasp. "Vampires on your Turning Night." She gulped. They didn't seem to be attacking her, so she gazed at them, eyes roaming over them until she found the one that was undoubtedly their leader. He had dark red eyes that must have made him centuries old. She was well and truly powerless against them.
Just then, the leader stepped back, the rest of the coven going with him, except for a single teenager, with messy black hair. His pain-filled red-green eyes met Maeby's shocked visage.
"No -- no, Harry! You're a ... you're a vampire. Oh Merlin -- fuck.
Harry… it’s horrible, but if that’s why you left, know that they won’t hurt you for it… Just come home, and Dumbledore will help you with it. He's not going to hate you for it. Just come home.
He didn't answer her, though his lips were pulled taught across his sharp teeth in a sort of frantic insanity.
"Harry? Harry!" she screamed when he kept stepping towards her, his steps so stiff that it was as if he had no knee joint, as if a puppeteer were controlling him from above.
"What are you --" she gasped when Harry finally came in contact with her, his clammy hands pushing her up against the wall by her shoulders. "Let me go!" When he didn't release her from his iron grip, she attempted to wiggle away. "Let me go, you bastard! I'll never forgive you for this! Let me the fuck go!"
He didn't, though his mouth neared her ear. "I am so
sorry," he said tremulously, before his fangs latched onto Maeby's neck. She was gone...
Thirteen-year-old Maeby awoke to the smell of antiseptics. I'm alive
, she registered as she lifted her head to meet the concerned gaze of the headmaster. "What happened?" she asked hoarsely. Though, what she really wanted to ask was how am I alive?
She remembered pain, rip-roaring pain, and the feeling of her life ebbing away... She remembered falling limp, boneless to the floor, then more bites, then ripping, tearing, then pain...
"I was hoping you could tell me. Sirius returned home late yesterday evening to find your body severely damaged with bite wounds from several different vampires."
Maeby turned her head the other way, watching Sirius Black asleep in the chair beside her.
"He has been here all night. He's very worried."
"Does he know?" Maeby asked.
"He does not know that you are a vampire," the headmaster replied.
"It...It was Harry."
Dumbledore sat down slowly with a tired sigh.
He looked over at her.
"Did you know he was a vampire?" Her voice was tremulous.
"Why didn't you... tell me?" she choked out. She was still in shock that her best friend had just tried to eat her.
Dumbledore didn't reply to that.
"I wish this never happened," Mabel Black said.
Dumbledore withdrew an orange vial from his pocket. "I can take away the memory, Miss Black."
She stared at the vial. "And I won't remember any of it?"
"None of it."
Maeby sobbed choked cries of anger and hurt. "How could he?" she muttered over and over again. "How could he!"
Sirius awoke, and he stared down at his distressed daughter in fear. "What happened?"
"She was attacked by vampires," the headmaster told him.
"By Harry!" she cried out in grief. Headmaster Dumbledore winced.
"What?" roared Sirius in horror and anger. Emotions stirred behind his deep black irises, and he stormed towards the door.
"Do not do anything you will later regret," the headmaster told him softly.
Sirius turned back to him, eyes aflame. "I've spent the last eleven years doing nothing I'd later regret! And, Merlin, I trusted
that fucker! I left the wards open to him -- I can't believe I trusted -- I will kill him.
"Save it for when it counts," the headmaster pleaded.
"I should never have trusted him! He let them in! He must've!"
"Save it, Sirius."
His angry eyes met the sobbing form of his daughter. "No!" he choked out in horror. "And now she's ... one of them. She’s the very same creature that killed her own mother!"
Maeby looked up in shock. "I'm -- I'm not, am I? Am I? My… mother?"
The headmaster did not reply.
"You are a vampire, Miss Black, though Professor Snape is already searching for some way to temper it. "
"But my mother? I thought it was Death Eaters!"
Sirius tore his gaze from Maeby and scowled at the floor. Dumbledore sighed. "Yes, she too encountered vampires at the Black Estate. Though, it wasn't a Turning Night when she was attacked, so she passed. After your father categorically refused to join him, Voldemort directed a Death Eater to lead vampires to your home. You and Sirius were away at the time."
"And the same coven attacked me?" she asked hoarsely, in shock.
"No, I believe it was a different one. James Potter and Frank Longbottom defeated the small coven that killed your mother. It is entirely possible that the coven that did attack you was vying for Voldemort's attention. They perhaps sought to prove themselves by finishing what another vampire coven failed to complete. This is a very worrying proposition, since I am sure Voldemort would look kindly to gaining allies in vampires. I will have to be sure that I contact an old friend of mine to learn more..." the headmaster trailed off, seemingly just realizing he was speaking aloud.
The three were silent for several moments, and Maeby could practically hear the frantic beats of her heart as she came to an especially heavy realization.
"I'm a vampire," she said quietly. "I don't have any more magic." Dumbledore ducked hid head in acquiescence. "That means I cannot go to Hogwarts."
"You will find, Mabel, that much of your world remains -- much of what matters the most. Though, it is true that you are no longer a Hogwarts student, you will always be welcome here. My office is open to you."
The small teenager glanced at her father's disgusted, horror filled visage before she looked back at the headmaster, brokenly. "I can forget it all?"
"Yes, Mabel. I advise it -- no teenager should be forced to carry such a heavy burden."
"I'd like to forget any of this ever happened."
The headmaster nodded sagely. "But someday we'll give you back the memory."
"No. I don't want this to ever be real."
"It will always be real, Miss Black. You may retain your innocence for longer though, without the memory."
Maeby nodded. "Then give me the potion."
The headmaster sighed. He handed her the orange vial. "Of all the inventions Professor Snape has revealed to me, it is perhaps the most ingenious. Drink it, and then recall the memory of last night and of today."
Maeby placed the vial to her lips, and then drunk the concoction. Purple memories streamed from her forehead into the same vial. They liquefied into a gooey substance she would consume two years later.
Wow. I think this is my fastest update ever. Sorry about the shortness of this chapter. It's really just an interlude for Maeby's sake. I am now updating regularly. Please leave a review if you are reading this! I'd love to hear from you. :-)