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Chapter 5 : Be Careful
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Aidan had unknowingly given him valuable information about the girl who'd been staring at him in the Great Hall; Roxanne Weasley. If what Aidan said was true, and he had no reason to lie, then Roxanne was the perfect person to go to for information about Hogwarts' students. She seemed much too independent, too self-confident, to be used, even using his powers. It wasn't hard to compel a person, especially for old and strong vampires, but his gut told him he shouldn't use it on Roxanne. He knew about the Weasley family and who they were related to, knew their history, he'd even witnessed some of it. Roxanne had friends, family, he couldn't take the chance of his compulsion being noticed, his lies being known, because he'd used the wrong girl.
But Roxanne could help him find another, someone who wouldn't ask him difficult questions.
That would be step two: talk to Roxanne Weasley. Step one, to get someone he could use on his side, was almost complete. Aidan was perfect and he would come to Tristan willingly, probably to ask questions about how he'd known the boy was a werewolf, maybe even to demand the answers. He seemed like the demanding type, a leader, even if no one had given him the chance to show it. But they were questions Tristan could easily answer, so he wasn't worried about Aidan's personality.
Tristan didn't over think step two, just what he wanted to do. The last time he'd gone through a plan in detail, he'd almost being killed beecause something that shouldn't have gone wrong did so. No, just knowing the end result, what he had to do, was enough. He'd get to Roxanne eventually and he'd get what he wanted and this time he'd make it up as he went along, make talking to her seem natural.
Until then, he'd go to class and have lunch, he'd be... Normal.
But not until after he'd fed. As soon as he heard footsteps, smelt fresh human blood come closer, he knew he had to leave. Tristan moved from his place on the couch and left the common room with inhuman speed.
He was long gone by the time the other Slytherins were down.
Tristan remembered the way to the kitchens easily, even after centuries away the castle was still the same. As was the way into the kitchens. He remembered sneaking in with his friends as a child to have dessert on the morning of his twelve birthday because he hadn't been able to go home that Christmas. He remembered his whole time here at Hogwarts, right up till the day he and his friend had been murdered.
Shaking his head of his memories, Tristan opened the portrait door and stepped inside. The house elves who saw him shied away, having sensed what he was the moment he'd come days before. They stayed away from the fridge he now occupied, but an agreement between him and the elves made sure that no one else knew about him or his supplies. They didn't seem to be as fond of the current Headmaster as they had been with the previous two.
He pulled open the fridge door and grabbed a blood bag, he ripped open the top and drank from it, draining every drop; he'd need it, he knew. Once it was all gone, Tristan disposed of the bag and left. He knew it wouldn't be enough in the long run, bagged blood wasn't as good as fresh blood, from the vein, but it would be enough to get him through the day. He already felt a little better by the time he got to the Great Hall; the pull within him, telling him to feed, was still there, but it wasn't as strong as it had been in the common room.
He found Aidan easily; he was sat in the same place he'd been last night and he was alone. His friend was at the Gryffindor table with the rest of her house, but every few moments they made eye contact, along with a smile or a nod. It broke when she saw Tristan and he knew he'd have her attention now, so he sat in front of Aidan rather than beside him, keeping his back to Roxanne Weasley.
"Good morning," Tristan said to him pleasantly.
Aidan eyed him suspiciously and he looked like he was pissed; Tristan wonder if his anger was because he knew about Aidan or because he walked away without explaining himself. Tristan guessed it was the second one. Aidan's lycanthropy was no secret; unless he was angry because he didn't know how Tristan could know so quickly, he doubted it would be the first one. And that scenario tied in with the second reason, so he kept that as his final answer.
"Good morning," Aidan finally answered, then added casually, "You were long gone when I woke up."
"I'm an early bird," Tristan shrugged. "With it being my first real day here, I wanted to make sure I have everything ready."
"Okay," Aidan said after a moment. They ate in silence for a while, until after the Transfiguration teacher handed them their class schedules. Another werewolf, Tristan noted. He wondered if Aidan knew, or if anyone at the school knew. Since Mr. Douglas was a school governor and was 'pro-wolf', Tristan was sure he'd have no problems with allowing a wolf to become a teacher, but there was a difference between allowing a man's son to learn and allowing a man to teach. He had no idea what the others would have said. And given the Headmaster's prejudice, the teacher probably would have wanted it unknown.
But was Aidan strong enough to sense it? That was what Tristan wanted to know.
Just how strong was he? And was he strong enough?
"About last night," Aidan started; if he knew about the professor, he didn't show it. Tristan nodded and waited for him to continue, getting the feeling he knew what he was about to ask. Only he didn't ask that; Aidan opened his mouth like he was going to, only to close it quickly, swallow and start again. He bottled it. "Did you really come here to hide from a girl you were sleeping with?"
Tristan smiled, surprising himself when he realized it was genuine. He would have laughed, but he had a mouth full of scrambled eggs and didn't want it going everywhere. Finding the question strangely funny, Tristan shook his head. "No," he answered. "I don't want to see her anymore, she can be intense, but she's not why I'm here. I wanted to go to school, so here I am."
For the first time in a long time, Tristan felt something close to guilt for the fact that he was keeping things from someone who could be a real friend. He'd kept secrets without care many times in his life, even when he was human, but this felt different, like when he kept his secret from Gareth and Chris and Dan. Aidan reminded him of Gareth and that seemed to make it worse.
But he shook it off; he had to keep quiet. Tristan reminded himself that it wasn't a complete lie; there was a girl he'd rather not see for the exact reasons he told Aidan and he did come to Hogwarts because he wanted to, because he wanted the stone. It didn't make Tristan feel any better about it, though.
He wished Aidan didn't remind him so much of his old friend, so he didn't have to care.
"Are you okay?" Aidan asked, his suspicion now turning to concern.
"Fine," Tristan said with an assured nod. He finished his breakfast quickly. "Just a little nervous about starting an actual school day. I'll be fine. I've got Potions now, so I'm going to go."
"Wait." Tristan stopped cautiously. "I've got Potions, too. Let me just say good bye to Roxy."
He hesitated before nodding and waited for Aidan to come back. His sudden moment of guilt was nothing and would soon disappear. Aidan wasn't Gareth; it would be alright. He could carry out his task, there'd be no baggage, no loose ends.
No real friendships.
"How did you know about me?"
Aidan finally asked and Tristan couldn't help the involuntary smile that followed. He turned to face his new potential ally and let him see the smile. He got an eye-roll in return, but he didn't care. These were the questions he was happy to answer and he wouldn't begrudge Aidan that. Tristan turned to make sure the professor was far enough away to not hear and copied Aidan's position; arms folded over the desk, back slouched, chin resting on his hands.
"First things first, I'm not a werewolf," Tristan whispered, loud enough to only be heard by Aidan. "But I've met more than one, even have a friend. You'd like her. I've seen her before and after a full moon, I know what it's like."
Aidan accepted his answer. Tristan was glad because it was true, and he smiled, too. "So, what's she like?" It was Tristan's turn to roll hie eyes. "Oh, come on. I'm pretty much alone here. Well, except Professor Burns," he whispered the name, "and he's not the type to join a pack. I hide out in the Shrieking Shack, he runs in the Forbidden Forest."
"So, you do know about him," Tristan murmured, glad to know that Aidan was indeed strong enough to sense other werwolves. Even if he wasn't strong enough to sense other creatures, such as vampires.
"I could smell him the moment I stepped into the Great Hall for the Sorting," Aidan replied. "I was a child when I was bitten, six; I'm very good."
The look on Aidan's face was clear; he knew there was something about him. Tristan's only hope was that Aidan had obviously never met a vampire and therefore couldn't make out what he was. There was also an understanding there, shown in his eyes, and he dared to believe he really could trust the boy by his side.
I guess I'll find out.
It was another thing Aidan didn't ask; what Tristan was hiding about himself. The professor came closer to their table then and their conversation was over. They barely paid any attention to her describe the potion she wanted them to make in their next lesson. Whatever it was, they'd have to find out later.
Their afternoon class was Defense Against the Dark Arts, with Roxanne and her cousin, James Potter. They walked together after lunch and Tristan was both surprised and grateful that Aidan said nothing about his suspicions of him. He needed an ally not an enemy, a way in not a problem pushing him out. He needed someone to trust and not someone who feared him.
He'd found that person in Aidan, Tristan was sure.
He walked an inch or so behind the others, watching them and listening to their conversation. Roxanne Weasley may be Aidan's best friend, but James Potter had no problem talking to him and vice versa. He had friends in the Potter/Weasley family, if no where else. Tristan found himself glad about that.
"So, Tristan, is it?" He nodded to James. "What was it like before you came here? Were you home schooled?"
"Sort of." When they waited for an answer, Tristan knew he'd have to give them a proper answer. He remembered his planned story and told them. It was mostly true, only pushed together to make it sound like he had grown up when they had, gotten older. "I taught myself. I'm an orphan, I bounced from place to place. No real home address meant no Hogwarts letter. But where there's a will, there's a way, as they say."
"What about the Ministry?" Aidan asked.
Tristan shrugged; he hadn't had to worry about them in centuries. But he kept up with their laws. "Like I said, no address to send warning letters, I didn't go to school so they couldn't expel me. I kept moving, so they couldn't find me if they had looked and I doubt they did, considering coming here will be the first time I have records for them to check."
"So, you're a Muggleborn?" Roxanne asked next, speaking to him for the first time.
"I have no idea," Tristan lied. "I don't remember my parents."
Another lie. Tristan remembered everything about his family, right up to the end.
"I just think that if they had any record on me, they'd have found me by now. Don't you?" He watched them nod. "Anyway, the trace is gone now, so it doesn't matter. And we don't need to repeat any of this to anyone else."
"Why did you decide to come to Hogwarts now?"
Roxanne stepped back to walk by his side, Tristan noticed. "NEWTs are an important part of your education. I didn't want to miss out. So, I drove to the school and spoke to the Headmaster. He brought the governors in because of my 'unique situation', but they eventually agreed that I could come."
Tristan thought back to the day he'd come to Hogwarts. He'd compelled Digby to let him in, but he'd needed the governors because he'd go in the school's records. He hadn't needed to compel Douglas, though. His story had been enough to sway the sympathetic man and the other governors had agreed with him after only a little compulsion, which he was glad for. Too much could have ruined things if they'd looked back. Tristan was silently grateful to Douglas for his 'compassion towards a fellow orphan'.
Humans get stranger and stranger every generation.
"They never would have kicked you out, even if your name wasn't already down to be here," Roxanne said with an assured nod, seemingly believing his story about his letter not finding him.
James pushed open the door to Defense and stepped through, the others following. Tristan followed them to what seemed to be their usual seats and after a quick word between the best friends, Aidan sat at the desk in front of the cousins with Tristan, while Roxanne sat beside James in the usually empty seat.
"Why do they feel they have to teach us this?" James moaned loud enough for the two in front to hear. "Louis said it was the most boring part of this subject."
Roxanne scoffed and they turned in time to see her shake her head at James. "No, he said it would be more interesting if there weren't so little information. And even then, he liked it. You know he's obsessed."
"Obsessed with what?" Tristan asked, genuinely curious.
"Vampires," James said, his eyes still shining with excitement when he mentioned them. Then he sighed. "But people know so little about them, apart from myths and legends, that it's a really small part of this years curriculum. That's why they teach it first. Some people say they're the most secretive and dangerous creatures in our world and it's mostly the screts that make them so dangerous."
"Which why we have to learn about it, even if it is only small," Roxanne added. "Although, James has a point. If there's not much to teach us, why learn it at all? It probably won't do us any good if we met one."
Tristan grinned, wondering how much he could say in this lesson and how much he could pass off as his own studying. It wouldn't hurt to teach the students a thing or two about vampires while he was here. Roxanne was right after all; what if they met one?
The teacher came to stand at the front and announced the class. "I guess we'll see," he murmured before turning around.
The teacher only taught the basics and even they earned him an eye-roll from Tristan. He understood that humans generally didn't know much, vampires were known but practically outlawed in society, most kept what they were a secret. barel anything was known about vampires, not even weaknesses or how to kill them. They had been this way for centuries, since before he was turned. But what humans did know was pitiful; a human would never stand a chance against a vampire.
"Something you'd like to say, Mr. -"
"Chase," Tristan finished helpfully, sitting up straight. "I'm just worried about how you expect someone to fend off a vampire if they were to ever meet one. All you know is that they need blood to survive and that they're strong. If you were ever to meet one, you'd be dead before they touched you. But that's only if you're unlucky enough to find a bad one; they're not all monsters. Just like humans aren't all saints."
"You taught yourself, right?" the professor asked condescendingly. "You taught yourself about vampires?"
"No," Tristan answered, knowing now that he couldn't give an answer to how he knew about vampires without suspicion falling on him. If an educated professor didn't know, how could a teenager? So, he went to plan B and wiped the satisfied smirk off the teacher's face. "I know one."
"You know a vampire?" Roxanne asked, interest and curiosity piqued now.
Aidan gave him a look that said 'you asked for it' and shook his head. "He taught me some things, just in case."
"Care to enlighten us?" the professor asked tightly.
"And take the lesson away from you?" Tristan shook his head. "I just wanted to know how you planned to teach us about a species you know nothing about. Now I know."
He said nothing more; maybe he liked the three close to him enough to teach them something about his species and what was out there in the real world, but it wouldn't do to give potential enemies that knowledge, that power. Fear could drive even the nicest of people to do stupid things, like hunt a vampire. They'd done so before. The most famous one in his world was before his time; he wondered if they had ever learnt about it in History, or if they would this year.
I'd love to hear that one, he thought with a smile.
The professor went back to the lesson, but the look he was given told him it wasn't over and people around him were whispering; the whole school would know about his humiliation by dinner that evening. It took a good few minutes before the professor had the class in order and had them copy what few notes they had on vampires to revise over for a test next lesson. There was silence between Tristan and Aidan, but murmurs around the class and he could hear them all. But it was just noise unless he focused on a specific conversation. And the most interesting one was the one behind him - Roxanne and James'.
Tristan glanced at Aidan. He thought that he could probably hear them; they weren't that far away, even if they were whispering, and a werewolf's senses were better than a human's, even though not as good as a vampire's. But Aidan was focused completely on his work.
Tristan turned back to his notes, listening intently to the cousins' conversation.
"What do you think of Tristan?" Roxanne asked carefully.
"I like him," James answered. "He's cool, he's smart and he knows about things that are out there. How many of us, at this age, can say we're prepared for what's out there and mean it? He knows a vampire, Roxy! I saw your face; you think that's cool, too. Don't tell Louis, though. Tristan wouldn't want Louis trying to be his new best friend; he'd probably end up setting the vampire on him."
James laughed at his little joke, but Roxanne didn't. "You really believe he taught himself? That he could be as good as he is and not have a teacher?"
"It's not that hard if you think about it," James sighed. "He could have gotren the books from Diagon Alley or any other shop across the country; Diagon is not actually the only place we have. And he has a wand, so, yeah, he could learn. And I'll go back to the vampire friend; he may have been taught other things besides vampires themselves. Don't you like him?"
"I don't know," Roxanne answered. "He interests me, but I have this feeling. There's something about him and I will figure it out."
"Here we go again," James muttered. "Does something have to be wrong with everyone you meet? Do you always have to figure things out?"
Roxanne's answer was immediate. "Yes."
They ended their conversation and Tristan dropped his quill, frowning. This was not good, he didn't need someone snooping in his life. And he'd found the nosiest person in the school. Not only that, but he needed her to know about the others.
Aidan pushed a spare bit of parchment into his hand.
He had heard them. So, he had a nosy witch dedicating her life to figuring him out on one side and a werewolf who knew something about him, but hadn't realized what yet, maybe, on the other.
The only thing keeping him going was the knowledge that getting what he wanted by the end would be worth it.
Be careful? Understatement.
A/N: I hope you enjoy this new chapter. Please let me know what you think. :)
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