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Chapter 8 : Knowing Friends
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He huffed impatiently when the door finally opened and his only other friend stepped out of the shadows. "Riley, hi." Riley removed his sunglasses and stepped inside, making his way into the living room. "Come on in."
Zack followed Riley into the room and switched the television off on the boy on the couch. "Hey," he exclaimed. "I was watching that!"
"Where are the other two?"
"Sophia's asleep and Dimitri's gone into town. I don't know why, before you ask," he answered, glaring.
"Go out, Theo, wake Sophia and go out," he told the boy. Theo tried to protest, but he was cut off. "Now, Theodore. Please."
Theo glanced between the two men standing in front of him, his weary looking foster father and the severely troubled houseguest, and he got the message. "Sure," he said quietly, standing up, and he did everthing he was told quickly.
The moment they knew they were gone, the man opened his mouth to talk, but Riley covered his hand over his mouth. "About a month ago, there was a boy in the Weasley family who was missing during a full moon. What was his name?"
Ah. Zack knew now exactly why Riley was in his house. "You got my file then." Riley nodded, but narrowed his eyes until the man answered his question. "Hugo Weasley."
"Shit." Riley paced the floor of the living room, his hand making a path up and down his jaw line. "Was he bitten?" Zack nodded slowly. "Vampire attacks, werewolf attacks, people disappearing, being turned and now this boy; it's starting, Zack. And the wolves got to him first. Once the vampires find out it's going to get bloody, they're going to fight for him."
"I know that, but -"
"But? What the hell do you propose we do? Protect him ourselves?" Riley asked incredulously.
"Why not?" Zack protested. "It's better than leaving him. What they want to do might very well kill him! I'm not saying we have to tell him everything and stay with him twenty-four seven; he couldn't handle that type of news at such a young age. I just think we should be on our guard and if we hear anything, we pass on the information to someone the boy seems to trust with his life. That way he's prepared if anything should happen while they're together."
Riley raised an eye-brow. "And who is this person?"
"Dimitri," Zack answered without hesitation. "He's been feeling sort of responsible since it happened; he was there. He killed the werewolf, but it still bit the boy. Now he's been helping him through it; he was with him for the full moon five days ago."
"Dimitri? That might work." Riley finally dropped his hand from his face and stopped pacing the floor. He pointed at Zack. "The last time we spoke you told me you were making sure your family stayed out of it, but you seem okay with your son helping a wolf. Why? Does he know?"
"No, he doesn’t know everything, he wanted to stay out of it, and he doesn't know I know what he’s been doing. He tried to hide it from me, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out what he's up to. So I'm actually a little insulted that he thought he could, but points for effort and all," Zack said, chuckling. When Riley didn't respond, he rolled his eyes; the man sucked the fun out of everything. He almost laughed at the choice of words. "What was I meant to do, Riley? His mind was made up; I couldn't exactly stop him. Besides, he's not involved with the others, just Hugo. If I thought he was, even for a second, we'd be gone by now."
His words eased Riley's mind; he'd known Zack longer than anyone did, had seen the world with him until a few years ago. He knew what his family meant to Zack. On a normal day, Zack kept to himself and away from the human population. Their laws, their life, meant nothing to him and, as long as they kept out of his way, he didn't feed on people. They kept to themselves. But once his family were involved, his friend was ruthless and deadly, he was old and strong and more dangerous than any other vampire Riley had met. He was only willing to help Hugo because of Dimitri's involvement.
The mere thought of what Zack could do gave Riley chills.
"Dimitri wants to keep him safe, the boy trusts him," Riley muttered to himself, making sure he understood everything. "As long as he's out of the way, kept away from both groups, it'll all be fine and Ted doesn't need to worry."
"Ted?" Zack asked, his eye-brow raised; though he didn't sound completely surprised. "Ted is the reason for you being here?"
"He's my friend," Riley growled, teeth bared. "It's his wife's cousin in this mess, his family, and I'll make sure this is handled just like I do for you and your family. Because it's my job."
Zack scoffed, but otherwise kept a straight face; he found no humor in his thoughts, the next words he told his friend. "Helping with this won't change anything. He'll never feel the same way."
He was pushed to the wall before he knew what was actually happening, Riley pressing his arm into his neck and cutting off his vocal cords. Zack tried to push him away to no avail. "Be careful, Zackary; the simple fact that I am older than you goes to show how much stronger and just how dangerous I can be. He is my friend and I will help him just as I will help you. But make no mistake, I can still hurt you."
Riley lessened the pressure to Zack's neck, slightly disheartened by the fact that, as always, the vampire's expression was still passive and unafraid. "We've been friends for centuries, Riley, you're like a brother to me, and I don't won't this to hurt you in the end. I won't stand for it and I would kill him and you would still consider him a friend and hate me for it."
"Leave him alone and we won't have a problem then," he muttered. "None of it matters. All that matters is why his name is mentioned, too. Do you know why?"
Zack shook his head slowly and watched Riley move back, seemingly more confused than ever. He rubbed at his neck, watching the man mutter scenarios to himself, trying to come up with plausible ways as to why Lupin was a part of the vampire-werewolf mess with Hugo Weasley. From his groan, he had no idea. "I told them I was coming to talk to you," Riley said quietly, hesitant of Zack's reaction, and his expression was murderous. "I had to," Riley said, defending himself. "Ted asked if I was able to speak to you, it's not like I could say no."
"Yes, you could."
"I said I thought you either wouldn't know or wouldn't tell me, but that I'd try," he continued, running his hand across his jaw line again. "I didn't lie when I said I couldn't remember everything, but I did know you'd tell me what you knew and I have no intention of going to them with the information. Yet. Besides, I was coming to talk to you anyway."
Nodding his head, Riley walked out of the room; he'd asked his questions and got some of his answers, he felt no more reason to stay. He'd listen for other news, he was sure he'd hear something eventually. "If I hear anything about Ted, you'll be the first to know I swear."
Riley didn't turn around, acknowledge Zack's words or say good bye, he put his sunglasses back on and stepped out into the streets. But they both knew they still had each other's backs, so to speak, and Riley walked back to the Ministry with the smallest of smiles on his face. It was when he was almost there, that he felt it.
He was being followed.
Hugo screwed the parchment up in his hand and buried his face in his pillow. He'd gone to the headmaster's office after his last lesson of the day to pick up a letter which Teddy had left through floo. He knew the moment he'd been told it was from Teddy what it was about and what his friend would want to say to him, it wasn't like he could keep it quiet for long; his family talked.
Teddy was going to be at Hogsmeade on Saturday and it would be in the boy's best interest to meet him; the polite way of saying he had no choice. Groaning into his pillow, Hugo imagined how the day would play out in his mind and he didn't like any of them. He had one more chance, just one, to tell everyone or Teddy would do it for him.
He didn't want that.
But Teddy had put this in the letter; Hugo knew what the conversation would inevitably be about, so why did he have to go on Saturday?
Only one way to find out.
At the knock on the dormitory's door, Hugo stuffed the balled up letter under his pillow and sat up quickly. "Come in."
The door opened slightly and Lily popped her head inside. "All clear?"
"It's just me," Hugo replied.
Nodding, Lily entered the room properly, shut the door behind her and sat on the edge of her cousin's bed, crossing her legs. "So, what did Digby want?"
"I got a letter from Ted, he'll be in Hogsmeade on Saturday and wants me to see him," Hugo told her honestly. He'd lied enough already, he wasn't going to keep something this small from her; it's not like she knew why.
"It's probably to hear about your nightmares," Lily deduced and Hugo nodded, knowing she was probably half right; it's all anyone could seem to talk about around him. "Mum said they were not as bad now."
Hugo concluded that they were better, inwardly hoping she would try to worm her way into his life as she always did, and make up an excuse about wanting to see Ted so she could sit in on their conversation on Saturday. With her there, Ted would most likely drop the subject for another day and Hugo would have more time to figure out what to say. He'd never speak of it in front of Lily unless he knew for sure the girl knew, so he'd look to Hugo for confirmation. He'd probably be confused as to why she didn't know for a second before understanding how hard it was for him to tell anyone if Lily didn't know. That might help him.
But Lily did no such thing. "I'll let you and Ted to talk on Saturday, I'll hang out with Skander and Cam and they can listen to me moan about how weird it is not to have Rose and Al here anymore."
"Lucky them," Hugo muttered, falling back into his pillow. He could vividly imagine how that would go; Cam would hang on to her every word, she was Lily's biggest fan, but Skander Dolohov was Hugo's friend, surprisingly enough, and he had no patience for the youngest Potter. He only put up with Lily because of Hugo, despite Dolohov's instance that Hugo was nothing special and he could walk away at any time; he never did.
Hugo expected Skander would just walk away as Hugo had 'taught' him to do, most likely threatening her beforehand, either with words or his wand; Hugo could never guess that part. Skander wasn't the most predictable person in the world.
More than once, Hugo thought about confiding in Skander; his extended family still had connections to the Dark Arts and his friend may be able to help in some way with finding out why he and Ted were being targeted. It was Skander people went to for information and items otherwise banned from the school - he supplied the school graduation party.
But then he'd feel guilty for not telling Lily first, like he usually always did. So, no, he decided against telling the Slytherin about his bite or Dimitri or even leaving everything else out and just saying what he'd 'heard' about him being targeted.
Even so, he was slightly nervous about finally talking to Skander; the boy had been avoiding him since they got to school last night, giving him that familiar knowing look he'd seen his friend give others, and he only went out of his way to avoid people and had that look when he knew something about them.
The last time Skander had avoided Hugo was before his birthday in March; he'd found out the Gryffindor's suspicions that he might gay and hadn’t known what to say. That had lasted two lessons, only because they hadn't shared the second lesson. This had been almost twenty four hours; Skander Dolohov knew something big.
Hugo was terrified.
"Are you okay, Hugo?" Lily asked, worried.
Hugo realized he'd been silent for too long. "I'm fine," he said quietly, tearing his eyes away from the ceiling to glance down to his cousin. "Just a little tired."
Nodding in understanding, Lily rose from her place at his bed. "Get some rest, cuz. I'll wake you for dinner and everything will be fine in the morning, I promise."
Hugo thanked her and they said their good bye’s, but he didn't sleep.
When did my life get so messed up?
A/N: See you next Monday for the next chapter, where we meet new characters and werewolf plans... :)
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