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Chapter 17 : Fear and Loathing
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The one in charge stayed somewhere else, probably some kind of fancy hotel if Nicholas had to guess, while the second in command would come and visit, make sure the underlings knew what they had to do. That was mostly the reason for the mess - so many newborn vampires at once could not be controlled, not even with ones with a few years on them to help. They were killing each other more often than they were killing innocents and the number of innocents they were killing - as well as turning - was building up at an almost alarming rate. At least until a few weeks ago; the numbers were still high in total, but with less bodies found, Nicholas knew they had managed to turn some while probably keeping others as a blood source.
Nicholas had wanted to check on them the moment he'd heard, but between trying to locate them again and sorting out his own people, as well as Erik's, he hadn't been able to himself. Archer and Cassandra has done a good job of finding them, though it honestly wasn't that hard once you knew what to look for, and their reports gave him enough information to not need to drop his plans, but he hadn't been able to leave it for very long. They had to stop everything; no more hunting, no more missing people and dead bodies.
It was getting out of hand. Though, he supposed, this was war. He was yet to see one that wasn't bloody and terrifying.
With a sad sigh, Nicholas jumped off of the roof and waited for the vampires to notice him. It didn't take very long, seconds at most thanks to their heightened senses and newfound ability to sense and differentiate the supernatural from the natural.
"Where is he?" Nicholas demanded softly, knowing that they knew exactly who he wanted. These children were just the muscle; he wanted the mouth who spoke for the brain even they hadn't met.
None spoke, some hissed and growled and showed their fangs, but they mostly just stared. Until slowly, one by one, their heads turned and they watched their charge stroll across the dock as though he was casually meeting a friend. He stopped in front of Nicholas, and though the man knew not to take appearances for granted, even he had to stop and take in what he was seeing.
It was the first time Nicholas had been given the chance to meet the leader's second in command and he was surprised to see a boy, no older than seventeen he was sure. His blond hair was styled to fit the century they were in, as was his clothes, but he still seemed to carry himself like a kid from a good family in an old time. He'd been a vampire for a long time, Nicholas knew because of his eyes - they were hard and cold, not wanting to let anyone in and show vulnerability or trust. He'd seen too much; it came with working for such a bitch. He'd probably been promised something.
"Well, well. Nicholas Vega," he murmured, almost appreciatively. He could be flirting, with the way his eyes surveyed every inch of his front. "The big, bad royal. You're far from home."
"Are you?" Nicholas asked, hoping to figure out something about him, something he could use, by getting him to talk.
"Just over the channel, baby."
The boy being from France set off warning bells in the front of his mind, bells that didn't make sense and were forced to the back. Being called 'baby', however, made Nicholas think that the kid was very self-confident, maybe so much he'd slip up - Nicholas put the thought away for later, he could only wait for that to happen.
"What do you want?" he asked, getting straight to the point.
Nicholas contemplated asking questions about him, his name and age and how he'd been turned, things that Archer could use to find out who the kid was and how he could be used against the kid's boss, but he didn't feel good about using someone in such a way no matter what the reason was for. Besides, the kid was probably smart enough to know exactly why he was asking and evade his questions just to taunt him; he had to be smart if he was put in charge of the newborns. He was chosen for a reason, whatever he was promised was just the incentive to get the work done. So, Nicholas stayed away from questions and followed the boy's example, getting straight to the point.
"I want you to stop taking, turning and killing innocent people," Nicholas told him, a warning clear in his tone. He may not like using or hurting people, but he was more than willing to do so, especially when they were the bad guys. "This isn't a human war. They don't need to be involved."
"They're collateral damage; human or creature, wizard or Muggle, they're going to get hurt. Some may even die." The boy shrugged, completely uncaring about the situation, and Nicholas had to wonder just how much he'd been damaged or if he'd simply glamored his emotions. "Why avoid the inevitable?"
Nicholas didn't give him an answer to the question, knowing it was pointless no matter what he said. The kid was never going to listen. "I want your word that you'll stop. This is between us. If you want numbers, control the people you already have."
The kid seemed to give it serious thought, judging from the amount if time he took to think and the look in his eyes; only the smug grin kept Nicholas from truly believing it.
"If you try to play me, I will kill you," Nicholas threatened, hoping it would encourage the boy to make the right decision. "Whatever your years, they are nothing on my five thousand, boy, and no one will be able to put the pieces back together."
"Sebastian," he replied with a lazy smirk. "My name is Sebastian, not boy. And fine, I give you my word - no more missing people, no more dead bodies."
With a nod, Nicholas refused to shake Sebastian's hand, he turned and made his way back home; he'd had enough for one night.
"But Nick," Sebastian called, the nickname causing the man in question to face him and glare; only his friends could call him that. "You can't stop her."
It was Nicholas' turn to smirk, even if it was only to make it look like he was confidant. "Watch me."
The last person to go missing was the day after New Year and for two weeks after, Aurors worked around the clock to try and find her while watching out for the next attack. But none came. The longer nothing came, the more tense Harry grew, fearing that something bigger was going to happen. It was seriously doing a number on his nerves; he didn't know if he could handle this, which terrified him more than what was actually happening if he really thought about it - he had never considered running away before.
Harry dropped his head in his hands and prayed that he'd get though this.
A soft tapping came from outside, a louder, angrier bang following, and Harry wasn't sure his muffled 'come in' was loud enough, but it didn't force him to look back up. Not until the door of his office opened and a hand squeezed his shoulder affectionately.
"Harry?" Teddy said gently. "Are you okay?"
Slowly, he sat up, dropped his hands onto the edge of his desk and leaned back. "Yeah," he lied, not wanting to worry his godson any more than he already was. "I'm just stressed over what's happening. It's been so quiet and that it's starting to scare me."
"I know, it's scaring us, too," Teddy replied. Riley scoffed, forcing Ted to amend his previous statement. "It's scaring me, it's annoying Riley."
Normally, their conflicting words would have Harry rolling his eyes and smiling a little. Now, he could only stare blankly. "Did you get in touch with your sources, Riley?"
Still leaning against the wall by the door and refusing to come closer and sit in a chair with Ted, Riley nodded once and folded his arms across his chest.
"Zack is keeping out of this as much as he possibly can, but he did say that both sides are looking for the same thing," he said. Harry could tell that information was missing, he just couldn't tell if this Zack person had kept it from Riley or if Riley was keeping it from him. He hoped it was the former; they were on the same side, weren't they? "Nate promised to keep an ear out and find as much information as he could. I haven't spoken to him since, so I should know something soon."
"We hope," Ted added. "Have you talked to Hugo?"
Harry shook his head, confused by the sudden change in subject. "Not since the New Year party. Ron and Hermione said he kept going out before he went back to school; Ron has no idea what's going on, but Hermione thinks he's seeing someone. Dating. Why?"
Ted shrugged. "I haven't seen him in a while, I was wondering about his nightmares."
"Oh, they stopped a little while back apparently," Harry assured him. "He's fine now."
"Good," Ted said, frowning a little. "He's seeing someone?"
Harry didn't miss Riley's scoff, but chose to ignore it; the man had a sound or a negative word about everything, he was probably showing that he had no interest in his nephew's love life, and neither did Harry if he was being honest, but knowing that Riley didn't want to know made him want to say something. Just to piss him off, like he was always pissing everyone else off.
"Yeah, but no one knows who the guy is, just that Hugo obviously seems to like him," Harry told him with a shrug. "I think he might be a Muggle, because Hermione mentioned that Hugo seemed to dislike the idea of going back to school the closer the date got."
Harry glanced Riley's way to see his reaction and was more confused than ever when he seemed to be smirking. He opened his mouth to ask if Riley knew who it was, the idea of him knowing not being the craziest given everything else that was happening, when another knock on the door stopped him and a young woman surveyed the room. She stopped at Riley.
"Your boss said you would be here," was all she said, handing Riley a letter then leaving.
He opened it quickly and scanned the contents; whatever it said, it didn't seem like good news, according to Riley's dark look.
"It's a letter from Nate," he said. "He doesn't know much about the vampires, only that they're no longer taking people off the streets. Whatever they're planning, they've moved onto the next part of it. Maybe they've found what they're looking for."
"And the werewolves?" Harry asked, though he really wanted to ask Ted why his thoughts had grown as dark as Riley's. Where they keeping something from him?
"His source is trying to get into the good graces of the pack's second in command; their leader is away and he's sure the second is visiting him, but he can't follow, so he doesn't know what's going on exactly. Nate also thinks they're stepping up their game and going after what they all want."
"And what do they want?" Ted asked.
Riley hesitated. "A boy."
Harry's breath caught in his throat. He had every reason to dread the quiet; this was going to be a blood bath.
A week after school had started, the sixth years who were or would turn seventeen before the beginning of April were allowed to train with an instructor from the Ministry to take their Apparition test. As his birthday was March thirty-first, Hugo was barely eligible to train with some of his year. He had come, but only because Lily insisted that they talk about her seventeenth birthday party, even though it wasn't until the end of February - she had been planning it for months, from the moment she'd checked the calendar, had realized her birthday was on a weekend and her father had assured her that he'd ask Digby about people leaving for said weekend to have one or having it in Hogsmeade. Because Cam's birthday was after April, therefore making her ineligible to take her test yet, and Skander didn't care at all, Hugo was the one who had to listen to her, in her opinion.
Hugo sat on the floor, leant against the wall and answered her occasional questions in between the instructor's words about 'the three Ds'. She was also quiet during the first ten minutes of practice; it would have only been five, but the instructor chose that moment to come over, so she went back to practicing.
"Mr. Weasley, will you be joining this session?" the old man asked, slightly irritated that he wasn't participating.
"No, Sir, I will not be," he answered shortly, refusing to say any more.
"Don't worry, Leroy, Mr. Weasley has my permission to be here," Professor Burns added from behind him. Hugo rolled his eyes, but said nothing; he had a feeling the professor wasn't finished. "Besides, you should be lucky he isn't learning to take an Apparition test; given how easily his mind tends to wander, you'll find him in pieces in minutes."
"Thank you, Sir," Hugo mocked with a salute. Burns returned it with a grin before tapping the instructor on the shoulder and leading him away.
"How are you his favorite? He's an ass to everyone else," Lily says with a grimace. She acted like she was annoyed that she was treated the same as everyone else for no reason, but Hugo knew that because Digby was a suck up to the rich, the famous and other wizards of high social standing, Lily was secretly glad that Burns didn't see her merely as 'Harry Potter's daughter', even if he saw her as an annoying brat.
"Because I am an ass right back, dear cousin," Hugo replied. "Now what's the theme again?"
Lily's face transformed completely when conversation went back to her and her birthday party; she ignored Skander scoff by her side and launched into her idea.
"French Renaissance," she exclaimed boldly, her arms outstretched for what Hugo could only describe as dramatic effect. "Which means there will be costumes, Hugo, and you must wear one. I'm sure Aunt Hermione can find the music."
Hugo nodded along, pretending that he was listening while he and Skander shared a look - his friend's in annoyance, his in amusement; already he was wondering how Dimitri would take the news. In the few days they'd spent together, Dimitri had told him a bit about his life as a human; he was born in 1622, a few years after the Renaissance period had ended, but his parents had lived during it, as had the parents of one of his wealthy friends. He'd know how Lily's party should be.
"Lily, how would you feel about me maybe bringing someone?" he asked hesitantly, an idea starting to form in his mind. One he didn't know Dimitri would agree to and already knew Skander wouldn't like.
It got her attention immediately and she stared at him with wide eyes. "Like a date? Like a male date?" she asked, her smile getting bigger with each nod he answered her with. "You've never brought a date before! Yes! Bring him!"
Hugo jumped back in surprise, hitting his back and head against the wall painfully, and in one of his rare moments, Skander watched her with genuine amusement.
"You seem way too excited about this," Skander laughed.
"He's never brought a date to see family," she whispered to him, even though Hugo could still hear her. "That's what this would be!"
Hugo held up his hands to stop her. "Hey, I don't even know if Dimitri will say yes."
"His name is Dimitri," Lily gushed and Hugo groaned, berating himself for his slip-up. He hadn't meant to tell her that unless he said yes; he still didn't want people to know about him last time they talked.
Lily put her hand on her heart and sighed dreamily. "He sounds so nice and romantic. It's a Russian name, right? Is he Russian, too?" she asked, pointed at Skander.
"He's from France," Hugo corrected. "But he moved to England years ago."
It was technically the truth.
"I really hope he comes," she said happily. Hugo wasn't surprised by her reaction once he thought about it; everyone wanted to know about his life because he was the most private.
Thankfully, boyfriend wasn't as bad a secret as werewolf.
They shut up when the instructor got too close again and Hugo went back to watching the crowds; some were getting better, some were terrible. He was glad he wasn't even trying; he'd rather floo or drive. His wandering gaze stopped at Professor Burns, who was frowning when a knock sounded on the door. The frown only deepened when a small boy, a first or second year at most, handed him a letter and pointed at Hugo.
"We're not your delivery boys, Weasley," he muttered and dropped the letter on his lap.
Hugo waited until the man left, and with the instructor still nearby, he knew that Lily and Skander couldn't try and read over his shoulder. He opened it quickly, recognized the writing as Dimitri's instantly.
Hugo, a friend has some information about what's going on with each side. He's already told Riley and Ted about it, but they don't know that I asked him, too. If we want to talk to him before they do, we should go now. Come to the gates.
Go now? Come to the gates? Does he mean what I think he means?
"What is it, Hugo?"
He turned to his friends and shook his head, promising that it was nothing, and stood up.
"Burns, I'm gonna go!" he called out, already walking away.
"I told you you'd get bored," he got in reply.
He told his friends he'd see them later, knew that since Albus still had that Marauders Map and would never care to check it, they wouldn't think that he wasn't in school even if they went looking and couldn't find him. There were many places to go before they could even begin to entertain the notion that he had left the castle.
He didn't think they'd look for him, though.
The walk to the school's gate was short, partly because the training was only in the Great Hall and partly because he jogged most of the way, and he found Dimitri waiting on the other side. It was a Saturday and the gates were open because kids were in Hogsmeade, but the wards were still activated and he didn't come in. Usually Dimitri got into the school through the forbidden forest, therefore not needing to come through wards. He'd never come to the gates before.
"We're really going to leave?" he asked in disbelief. His boyfriend was in full support of staying in school, where he was considered safe.
Dimitri nodded with a smile. "Only if you want to."
"No one knows I'm gone, not even Skander because people were around and I couldn't risk it, and the curfew is ten, but because of all the attacks, we have to be back inside before dark."
Dimitri checked his watch and smiled; it was only eleven and they only wanted to talk to the friend. Judging from Dimitri's smile, the friend wasn't that far away.
"That's why I told him to meet us here; we'll be back before dark, they'll never know," he promised. Dimitri walked backwards, leading Hugo away from gates, and stopped just inside of the trees. "Nate is waiting in the city nearby; he let me borrow his bike."
Behind him, Hugo could see a large, black motorcycle leaning against a tree. Dimitri pulled it close to him, and then straddled the seat and waited. It was a sight Hugo had never thought he'd see, never even considered, but now he wished he had; it would have prepared him for the reaction his body had to seeing his vampire boyfriend looking cool and hot on the bike without meaning to.
"All you're missing now is a tattoo or two," he joked.
Dimitri put on a pair of sunglasses and smirked. "I'd make a joke about having one, but you've already seen me naked. Now come on." He held up another pair of glasses. "To keep things from flying into your eyes. It hurts, especially twigs."
Smiling and grinning and loving that, even though the boy was a vampire and he was a werewolf and both sides were after him, this felt normal, like something two people dating would do, and Hugo latched onto it with everything he had. He took the glasses, thanked Dimitri and climbed onto the back of the bike, his arms wrapped tightly around the boy's waist.
"You know how to ride this?"
Dimitri scoffed. "Of course I do. How much trouble will you get in if they did out you left the school?"
Hugo patted the hem of Dimitri's favorite leather jacket and leant his chin on his shoulder to whisper in his ear. "Don't worry about that, baby. No one will be surprised, not when I've done it many times."
Dimitri laughed, one that was amused and full of excitement and was rare given their situation. Hugo couldn't help but ask what was so amusing.
"I promised Zack I'd stay away from bad boys, you're a terrible influence."
"Says the vampire kidnapping me."
Agreeing that they were both as bad as each other, Dimitri started the engine and drove away from Hogwarts; they had answers to get.
The ride took over an hour and small talk wasn't easy on a motorcycle, but Hugo didn't care; with any luck, the meeting would give them answers Hugo desperately needed to know to try and stop the people coming after him. In his head, he told himself it was also because he liked being able to hold Dimitri, but he didn't dare voice that out loud; he was not a mushy, romantic sap like Cam and Lily, he said what he thought was necessary and he kept everything else buried until the time came to tell them.
Like what you are.
"Where almost there!" Dimitri yelled over the harsh wind, which bit into their skin and made Hugo a near shivering mess. He couldn't feel his hands anymore. He was grateful when the bike finally stopped.
Hugo looked up at the small, brick building with a mixture of trepidation and surprise; he feared what he might find out, he wouldn't lie, but he doubted he would get the answers in a place like this. It looked abandoned, with peeling paint on the one door he could see and boarded up windows.
"Are you sure this is the place?" he asked, his unease apparent in his tone.
"Looks can be deceiving, Hugo."
Dimitri pushed the door open and let Hugo pass, making sure it was shut behind them. The first thing Hugo sensed was the vampires, all sharing a similar scent to the one beside him and yet having their own distinct smell to separate them. And they weren't the only ones in the building; there were a few werewolves and even a human or two. They shared a look, Hugo's a silent want for answers and Dimitri's a push forward.
They moved along the hall, into a dimly lit room filled with equipment, training mats and a little kitchen in the back. It looked like a small gym, but what they needed training for, Hugo didn't want to ask - he hoped they weren't mixed up in whatever was going on, too. Not when they were too close to Hogwarts.
Dimitri nudged Hugo in the arm and pointed to the young man in the middle of the room, sparring with a girl who could have been older than him. After watching them for a few moments, it was easier to tell that he was a vampire and she was human; he moved so fast that sometimes he looked like he could be Apparating, and he did so with a sort of grace Hugo would give to a dancer. She was good, able to keep up with his instructions, but was obviously slower.
"That's Nate," Dimitri murmured into his ear. "He's a lot older than he looks, trust me."
"Older than you?"
Dimitri nodded, pulling a coin out of his pocket and flipping it into the air before catching it. "He's got thousands of years on me. He's one of the oldest vampires in the world."
Not waiting for a reply, though Hugo didn't know what to say to that anyway, Dimitri turned his body to the side and threw the coin at Nate's feet. The force with which it was thrown and the element of surprise had Nate tripping over himself and falling onto his back. Laughter erupted all around the room, but Nate's gaze landed on them almost immediately. Dimitri turned to look behind them, as though he was looking for whoever did it.
It made Hugo want to laugh and frown and wonder just how close the two were; he pushed down the jealousy stirring inside him.
"Not funny, Dimka," he growled, getting up and making his way over. Hugo heard Dimitri mutter about not wanting to be called that and he knew Nate heard, but the man chose to ignore it.
"Well, well," Nate grinned, turning to Hugo. "The famous young wolf; I've heard so much about you, Hugo Weasley."
Hugo smirked, joining in the joke, even though he knew the vampire in front of him was probably referring to his condition and the reason for it. "Excellent."
"What do you know?" Dimitri cut in. "What couldn't you put in the letter?"
"You know that they're looking for you, right? Both the vampires and the werewolves want you," Nate said, waiting for Hugo to nod before continuing. "The family member of yours; Lupin. I don't know what they want with him, he seems to be for something different, just for the wolves. But you, you're special. You're... necessary to them both. I don't know why they want to do what they're planning, and as long as you keep away from them, it won't matter."
"What are they planning on doing to me?" Hugo asked, his breath catching in his throat as he tried to get the words out.
"They both want to turn you," Nate whispered, so low that they doubted any other vampire or werewolf could hear. "The werewolves already have, the vampires are still trying."
"That's not possible," Dimitri murmured, his voice dangerously low.
Hugo agreed with him. "I'm already a werewolf. I can't be both and I can't change species."
"Right, the vampire bite will most likely kill you," Nate replied with a shrug. "If they want you dead, there are easier ways. They must be trying to do something with this, but like I said, I don't know why. They could just be trying to kill you, its very creative and is confusing the humans. But that is a big secret; the vampires involved aren't talking about it and my werewolf source can't get to his second. He was a little naughty, he's still being punished. I didn't want to put it in a letter because 'they're going to kill your boyfriend' sounded a little too harsh."
"They won't touch him," Dimitri snarled, a possessive, yet surprisingly gentle, hand covering Hugo's.
"I don't doubt your ability to try and save him, Dimitri," Nate assured softly. "But you need to be careful. Both of you. To lose the son of two war heroes and the nephew of another would only make this worse. They're targeting you for a reason and to go after a Weasley only makes me think power is involved; the Ministry might not be able to cope as well as they should if their Head Auror is grieving and angry. They'll be easy to pick off."
Hugo froze, unwilling to comprehend what was being said to him; being targeted was one thing, being targeted to hurt his family and take down the Ministry was an entirely different matter. Anger coursed through his blood, making it boil. His heart pounded in his chest. He thought he might break something or someone. More than that, he wanted to.
"Calm down, Hugo," Dimitri breathed in his ear, wrapping his arms around him. "Your eyes are yellow. You need to calm down."
"I am calm," he growled. "I will kill them with a fucking smile on my face."
"One more thing; there are very few vampires and werewolves in the world who don't know what they want to do to you, let alone in London," Nate said. Dimitri glared. "Yes, that is me implying that Zackary and Riley probably know and have kept it from you."
"I'll make the bastards pay for that. Come on, Hugo," he said just as the woman came up and asked if Nate was coming back.
"Shouldn't you be in school, Hugo Weasley?" she asked with a grin. The distraction helped him to think and he nodded faintly. "Don't worry, I'll keep your secrets from him."
Nate smiled, this one nicer than his smirk. "That's Imogen; she knows you're a werewolf because her husband is one; she recognizes the signs. She won't tell your headmaster, Digby, about that or that you're out of school?"
Hugo was surprised. "She knows Digby?"
Nate started walking backwards toward the training mats. "She's his daughter."
A/N: Dimka is a nickname for Dimitri in Russia. Why he has a Russian nickname will come later. I hope you enjoy this chapter. Please let me know what you think. :)
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