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Chapter 3 : Fantasy, Reality
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"Are you going out again, Harry?"
Harry picked up his wand and stuck it in his robe pocket, just as Eve came out of her bedroom. The sky was darkening, but towards the west, it was still a bit pale.
"Yes. I won't stay long, though. Don't worry." He replied, turning to her. He went out for walks almost every night, right after he woke up. Everyday, he would find something that would give him enough reason to come back the next day. Far out in the woods, there were many ancient stone circles, covered in carvings, many of which were faded beyond recognition, though some of them could still clearly be defined as runes.
The Delacroix's home sat at the end of a lane, with the forest in their very backyard. Harry glanced once over his shoulder at the lake, its shores crowded with occupants, before he disappeared among the trees.
He had left Hedwig at number twelve, so Ron and Hermione could send him letters without needing an adress. According to her last letters, Hermione was a little peeved at how much Ron had gone on about the night when he followed them.
Harry chucked to himself. 'Finally, she is getting a taste of her own medicine.' He thought
The ground was soggy, after yesterday's rainstorm, and a bit of water was still trickling lazily from the trees. The sounds of the dripping rainwater filled the entire forest, and insects and distant birds added to the melody, creating an eerie song.
Everything was green and lush as Harry moved among the trees. The feeling in the sticky, humid air was incredibly peaceful and calming. The smell of the air around him was clean, fresh and moist. All the pollen and mold had been washed away from the air, and he breathed deeply.
Harry had never experienced anything like this before. Summer after summer, he would be cooped up in the Dursley's museum-like house: everything was imaculately clean, and nothing was to be touched. He could remember those long summer days, and those rare moments when he wasn't breaking his back doing all their demanding chores, when he would sit in the front window, gazing over the perfect street and the perfect lawns, as the lazy summer passed by without him.
Trapped within the comfortable, yet uncomfortable air conditioned house, looking through the pane glass windows at the breezy day had been the only promise of summer. He would imagine he was out there playing with friends - if ever he had any. He would close his eyes and pretend that the cool air blowing from the vent onto his neck was the restless summer wind, billowing through his hair.
The sun...oh, the sun...how he really missed it, deep down...
He had always loved how the sun shined down upon him in the backyard as he painted the fence, or tended the gardens. It warmed and comforted him, always. It was a distant memory now, truely enjoying the warmth and beauty of the sun. The moon was all he had now. It was like a sad reflection of what the sun had to offer. The moon provided no warmth, and a decent amount of light, but the sun was amazing...
Harry turned his head, back toward the west, where the last light of twilight was shining in a brilliant gold rim on the horizon, through the trees.
He walked for at least twenty minutes, deeper and deeper into the woods, stopping momentarily to examine the ancient rocks and their magnificent carvings. The land started to climb steeply, and he climbed right along with it, leaning forward to make the trek easier. When he finally got to the ridge, his eyes widened and he gasped as his breath was taken away.
Several meters from where he was standing, at the bottom of the hill he had just succeeded in climbing, there was a bustling creek. But that was hardly what had shocked him so greatly. On the other side of the small river, where the land was completely flat, was the most spectacular display of wildflowers he had ever seen. Many of the buds where closed at this hour, but the brilliant shapes and colors where astonishing. There were tiny, white daisys, intermingled with round, fluffy, purple things. Tall stalks of blue and purple blue bells had shot up everywhere.
The ground was completely covered with a thick layer of green unbrush, and then the many flowers, but several rocks and stones could been seen, sticking out among the grass, and many trees dotted the area as well.
Still staring at the glorious scape before him, he carefully made his way down to the edge of the creek. The water level was up, after the rain, and it washed happily over the smooth stones at the bottom.
Harry took a seat on a fallen log, and stared into the clear water. It was a creek that drained from the lake. Various types of tiny fish darted back and forth in silver whisps along the bottom. He pulled up his left sleeve and stuck his hand into the flowing water. It was crisp and cold, but all too wonderful as well. He closed his finger around a stone, and pulled it up to examine. Over the time that it had been there, the creek had smoothed it down until it was perfectly round, like all the others around it.
Harry sat there for almost an hour, just looking around and taking in the sights, smells, sounds and feeling of everything he had been missing his entire life. The pollen from the flowers was fighting with the damp air to take over again. The insects and the streaming and dripping water, and the chirping of birds created a beautiful melody, like the intermingling of harps and flutes and violins in a full orchestra.
He was gone from the world. Suddenly, there was no such thing was Voldemort, or death eaters, or dementors or anything. His parents had never died and Sirius wasn't gone. He had never gone to the Dursley's and he wasn't famous for defying death. He had never been impalled through the chest and Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs were still a tight group of loving friends.
All there that there was was here, in this very meadow of trees and greenery, and this stream. It was all he needed right now.
As much as it pained him, he knew Eve would worry if he stayed away too long, and he had already been gone for at least an hour and a half, if not more. With one final glance over the place, with the intentions of coming back soon, he picked himself up off the log and headed back up the slope.
He reached the ridge, and casted one last look towards the sound of the bubbling stream, before he began to decend to steep slope. He trotted down the hill happily recalling to mind the sights and sounds of the valley beyond the ridge.
Suddenly, as his right foot connected with the ground, it sank considerably into the earth, up to the middle of his shin.
"What the-" He struggled and pulled for a few moments, until he freed himself, but right where his leg had been, there was now a distinct hole, leading down into the earth, which was clearly hollow in this very spot.
Carefully, he dug away at the earth around the hole, his face screwed up in his curiosity of what could lie under the earth. Hardly anyone knew of this area, so it was rather strange.
He took out his wand and stepped back a little from the hole in the ground.
"Bombarda" He cried, swishing his wand. The ground blew away in bits of dirt and mud, and there was now a large enough space to pass through.
Slowly and cautiously, Harry slipped into the dark space, seeing everything clearly. The first impression Harry got was that it was some type of cave, that had erroded there under the earth after thousands of years, but after closer inspection, Harry noticed that the underground room was slightly square, as if it had been built by hand, but its construction ruined over time. The place was completely empty, and the dirt walls and floors were steaked with cracks and crevices where the water had washed away the earth.
Muddy water dripped from over head as Harry crossed the space, looking over every inch of it. As he came to the far wall, something caugh his eye. Something was sticking out of the ground, partially burried, near the corner. It looked as if it used to be completely covered by earth, but the water leaking around it had revealed it.
Harry crouched down next to it, and brushed his fingers over it slightly. He pulled away the dirt around it in muddy clumps, and pulled it out of the ground.
It appeared to be nothing more than a very old book. The cover was made from parchment stretched over a thin piece of wood, and the paper inside, completely covered in mud and filth, was some type of old parchment as well.
"Scourgify" Harry muttered, pointing his wand at the first page. It was cleaned off greatly, and the writting could now be seen. Actually, there were no words at all there on the page, just strange drawings and markings, of what looked like some type of runes.
He cleared off some more pages with his wand, only to find the same thing as on the first page. Randomly, a word or two would be scribbled in the margins, but mostly the pages were crammed with nothing but drawings with a heavy, black chalk, it looked like. It made absolutely no sense to him.
He studied them a bit more, reading as much as he could. He flipped open to a page toward the front, and read to himself-
"My name is Aundrew Faust. The year in which I am beginning this journal is 1191. I am a vampire, living in a small settlement of immortals near Springhurst Lake.
"I want to find out if it was really true, if what they said had happened, really did take place. So this is why I am starting this - to record my findings of how the first vampire was really created."
'The first vampire?' Harry thought. After thinking it over for a while, it clicked in his brain - never once in all his classes at Hogwarts had they ever talked about the creation of the vampire. Was it a mystery? Was it not known? This was all very intriguing, and Harry flipped through a few more pages, curious for more.
They say it was a curse - a very terrible curse, meant for torture and suffering. They say there was an evil man - wizard, no doubt - who did it. Placed a curse upon someone, and that was how it began. Other than this, no one yet knows of anything else about our creation. Hopefully, young though I am, I could maybe find something to help.
Vampirism had been intended as a curse? But once he did think about it, it made sense: they weren't allowed near the light or heat, both of which could kill them. They were souless. If that wasn't a curse, Harry didn't know what was. Perhaps it really was originally intended as a curse; but now there were thousands of vampires...how had they all come about?
And what was Springhurst Lake? Was this Aundrew referring to the lake at the Undying Wash? To his knowledge, it was the only lake in the area, so it must have been.
The journal was very old indeed. It had clearly been labled 1191, and towards the very end, it was labeled 1193 - it had been kept for three years, 800 years ago.
Harry tried to get a better perspective of what the journal contained, but all the entires were like a completely different language to him. He didn't understand any of the drawings or the runes.
'Perhaps I should have taken Ancient Runes last year.' He thought. Well, it was too late to start new classes now, anyway.
Giving the journal one last look through, he carefully stuck it in his pocket, hoping to sift through it later.
'Maybe I'll show it to Nicholai...or...perhaps not...' He thought. He decided to keep what he had found to himself, lest it be taken away from him. He wanted to look through it more, still.
He walked back to the lake with his hand lightly resting on the square shape of the book in his pocket.
"Nicholai...how was the Undying Wash settled?" Harry asked plainly, later in the evening when the three of them were in the sitting room, chatting.
"Settled? Hmm...its been a very long time. I could tell you a rough version, but later, if you want the real story, you should probably go ask someone who has been around much longer than I have." Nicholai began.
He himself was only about thirty four, which was extremely young for a vampire, considering they never died, until they were either murdered or killed by the sunlight. It was a sad life indeed, being a vampire. Dying of a natural death was out of the question.
"I am thinking that it was settled somewhere between eight hundred and nine hundred years ago. Of course then, its founders had no intention of it becoming like it has. When they began living here, it was just a small group of vampires, trying to find seclusion from wizards. Eventually, other immortal creatures started turning up, but the vampires accepted them with open arms. They all suffered the ridicule and prejudice of the wizards, so they stuck together around this lake, like family"
Nicholai stretched his arms over his head, and yawned slightly before continuing. Eve, already knowing most this, sat comfortably on a chair next to Harry, who listened and soaked in every word of his story.
"Was it ever called Springhurst Lake?" Harry asked. Nicholai looked at him strangely for a moment, as if remembering.
"Yes...I believe it was called that at one point, when the first of the vampires got here. How did you know that?"
Harry fiddled absentmindedly with his fingers, keeping his hands away from his pocket where the book rested still.
"Oh...I was at the athenaeum earlier, looking through some of the older books. I thought it was really facinating." Harry lied quickly. He had never even been to the athenaeum before, but it was its own floor in the main building on the lake, which was similar to a library. It contained dozens of books and tomes, most of which were illegal or banned by the Ministry
of Magic, which listed everything you could possibly want to know about immortals and their lives and cultures.
"Really? Excellent, Harry, its good to see that you are so interested." Nicholai said cheerfully as Eve rolled her eyes a little.
"Oh, Tell him about Blayley's Bloodybath." Eve said suddenly, with a note of urgency mixed with anger in her voice.
"Ah yes...the focal point of all anger against the wizards." Nicholai said, looking downward and collecting his thoughts before beginning the tale. Harry sat, eagerly awaiting the story.
"Around the time when Springhurst Lake was settled, there was a small town nearby, occupied only by wizards, called Blayley.
It was settled after Springhurst was, and the wizards didn't know they were living only a few kilometers away from vampires until after it was too late to move again." Nicholai flexed and examined his pale, skinny fingers.
"Well, no one knows exactly for sure why, but they lost their minds one day and stormed the Lake, killing almost everyone who lived there - seemingly for no reason, although no one is sure. Those who escaped only lived long enough after that to throw down a few sketchy notes about what actually happened, so no one really knows why it did or what happened afterwards. All we know now is that dozens of immortals were murdered that day, including children - young children at that."
He dug his nails into the arm of his chair in his frustration, but his face remained calm and collected.
'Was this person - Aundrew, or whatever his name was...maybe he was around during that time...' Harry thought.
"But of course...things are different now." Nicholai said in a lighter tone standing up and moving toward the window. "What with everything that happened last year...conditions are starting to improve...and in your case, Harry," He said turning around, "No one even notices the wizard in you, as long as you are a vampire as well.
"Its really quite rare, though, a vampire being a wizard. Mostly, vampires are just born - but every once in a while, a special case like you will pop up." He said with a smile.
Well that was all Harry needed to hear - he was very much already a special case, to anyone who knew him, and that was almost everyone.
"Well...I was looking through some of the books there in the athenaeum, and I noticed...I noticed there wasn't a lot on the creation of the first vampire." Harry said, as both Nicholai and Eve looked at him as if he had grown another head. "Is there any information on that anywhere? I mean...I've looked a lot, and I can't really seem to find anything..." He finished weakly.
"Oh, goodness, of course not...you won't find anything on that now would you. No one really has the slightest idea how it happened at all..." Nicholai said, sitting down again, his face twisted in thought and confusion. He paused for a moment.
"...The only thing anyone knows about that - it happened hundreds, probably thousands of years ago..." He said, "Long ago, there was a myth that it had something to do with two wizards, but not many people know about that, though. If most people thought that the first vampire was actually a wizard, it would be terrible, not to mention everyone would be extremely insulted...
"But what some say - and this is just a myth, mind you - is that two wizards, one who delt with light, and the other with dark, were terrible enemies...they say that the dark wizard did something to the other...some type of curse...a terrible curse, they think...used to rid the light wizard of his soul...and perhaps that was how it all began...
"Theres also the legend of the Slavic people," Eve added. "You know, from Romania and Bulgaria - way over in Eastern Europe. They believe the first vampire was a prince named Vlad Tepes in the 1400s. Most people don't believe in that one though becuase they say it was too late."
The 1400s...that definitely would have been too late. The journal was dated 1191, and it clearly stated that the first one was created many years before. That myth could definitely be crossed of the list.
"Hmmm...lets see..." Nicholai said, his head resting on his hand. "...There is the legend of Lilith and Cain. Its quite extensive, really, and not very many believe in that one either. It appeared in legend because it clearly defines the amnosity between so-called vampires and religious things...basically, most stories that you see that have a definite grudge between humans and religious entities are going to be considered as possibilities..."
None of the examples they had given him seemed remotedly connected to the things listed and draw in the journal at all.
Perhaps there was no record of the real happening at all. The journal seemed to Harry as nothing but a load of drawings and strange diagrams, and it didn't seem relevant to the creation of vampires at all.
"But no one knows, Harry, not at all...if you want to know how it happened, you aren't going to learn anything more than myths and rumors..." Nicholai said sadly.
Harry spent the rest of the night looking through the journal in his room, until sunrise.
Page after endless page of circle diagrams, runes, pointless, vague notes, and even two music staffs. He was a bit taken aback at first as he saw a rune that looked exactly like his scar, but that could only be coincidence. He was pretty sure it looked like his scar - he wasn't exactly positive because he hadn't seen his scar in a year. Although he had stared at his scar for hours on end when he was younger, wondering what it was really from, long enough to burn its exact shape into his mind, and in his minds eye, it was a pretty close match. But it all still seemed completely irrelevant.
'But there has to be a point to all this...' Harry thought, frustrated. 'Why would he go to all the trouble to write all this down if it was pointless?'
He could only imagine how Hermione would take in the information the journal posessed. Countless trips to the library, and book after book would be her method to crack this strange code.
He quickly became tired of leafing through the endless pages filled with nonsense and tucked the book under the mattress of his four-poster bed in his room, quickly, just as he was starting to feel drowsy. The sun came up sharply a matter of moments later and Harry was out quicker than if he had been hit in the head by a bludger.
June came rolling to a close and Harry never even gave the journal a second thought. He did visit the athenaeum the next night, after he found the journal, but he never found one bit of information that seemed remotely similar to anything in it, so he simply gave up on it, declaring it nothing more than rubbish that some kid wrote down in a little game of his.
Voldemort had gotten fairly quiet inside his mind, and he could never be thankful enough for that. Whenever he slept, that chilling voice would always be there, haunting him from dawn till dusk, when he could do nothing about it. As of late, his mind had become peaceful again, which was an excellent thing, because Harry had to concentrate on his apparation lessons with Remus. He had to get better at it, and quickly, for his test was in a little less than a month. He was getting better, though, and Remus praised his progress.
"You're coming along excellent, Harry...I'm sure you will be ready by the time your birthday comes along." Said Remus from the threshold of the house, just as Harry stumbled over from the edge of the lake where he had apparated to. The burning in his chest was beginning to act up again.
"You seem distracted." Remus pointed out as the two meandered over to a pair of chairs in the front sitting room. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine." He answered raspily, trying to turn his cough into a simple clearing of his throat. Remus wasn't buying it though, especially when he started to cough violently. He stood up and placed his hand on Harry's shoulder, steadying him.
"Have you been to see Elereldin about that cough, lately?" He questioned. Harry shook his head, rubbing his chest where his lungs were burning. He could sense that he was about to cough up blood again, but he couldn't in front of Remus, he just couldn't.
He stood up quickly and trotted over to the washroom, pulling a handkerchief from one of the cabinets. Sure enough, he began to cough up blood as his chest and throat burned more fiercely than ever.
Remus rushed over from his spot in the sitting room, and patted Harry gently on the pack.
"You need to see someone Ha- are you coughing up blood?" He asked seriously, cutting himself off. He turned Harry around and clearly saw the now bloodstained handkerchief. Harry tried to pull away, but Remus caught him by the arm.
"Why didn't you say anything, Harry?" He demanded, "You could still be severly injured! You need to see someone, right now."
"I didn't want anyone to worry!" Harry retorted truthfully after containing himself.
"Didn't want anyone to worry?" He repeated, exasperatedly, "Harry, you're still very unwell! You are going to have to let people worry about you, especially when you are like this! Coughing up blood is serious - your lungs are obviously still damaged." He said, conjuring a pen and parchment and quickly scribbling something down.
"What are you doing?" Harry asked softly, the sting still very much within his lungs.
"You and I are going to see Dumbledore, right now." Remus said, placing the note on one of the chairs.
Harry opened his mouth to retort, but he quickly judged against it, knowing he would not win against Remus when he was so determined to make sure Harry was alright.
He stood there, gasping a little, and watched as Remus fixed a portkey, all the while muttering under his breath. "...
coughing up blood and everything...how do you keep something like that from others..."
"Come on then, Harry." Remus said sternly, holding out the empty bottle that he had turned into a portkey. Harry trudged over to Remus, with his head down, guiltily, and took it with him.
The two landed a little less than gracefully in the nearly empty front sitting room of number twelve, Grimmauld Place. They announced themselves sufficiently enough with the clatter of Harry's sword and the bottle falling to the floor. Remus pulled Harry gently up from the floor.
"Alright?" He asked, obviously now very cautious of Harry in general, as if anything rough might increase the damage to his lungs. Harry nodded and pulled himself up the rest of the way.
Only then did the two of them notice Professor Snape sitting in a chair with the Daily Prophet in his hands, peering over at them as if mere strangers had just fell into his own living room.
"Evening Severus..." Remus said awkwardly, dusting himself off. "Is Dumbledore in?"
Snape's eyes moved back and forth suspiciously between Harry, rubbing his throat and Remus, looking more stressful than normal, but he nodded.
"Down in the kitchen." He said, before returning his eyes to the paper in front of him.
"Right..." Said Remus, turning toward the staircase, "Come on then, Harry."
Harry gave one last glance at Professor Snape before turning and following Remus down into the basement kitchen. Dumbledore was there, sipping a cup of tea along with Kingsley shacklebolt and Tonks. The three of them looked to the new arrivals in surprise and confusion.
"Well, to what do we owe the honor, Remus?" Said Dumbledore, placing his cup back on his saucer. Remus walked further into the kitchen and Harry followed, somewhat shamefully after him.
"Harry here," Remus started sternly, nodding his head over his shoulder, "Has been keeping something rather important from all of us..."
He twisted around, took Harry by the arm and pulled him up next to him, just as he started choking on the air within his throat again.
"He's still sick, Albus...he's been coughing up blood, even, and he never told anyone." Remus said. Dumbledore stood up slowly and moved around to them, facing Harry.
"Is this true, Harry?" He asked, after Harry had quieted. He nodded his head shamefully.
This is exactly what he didn't want to happen. He didn't want people to be pawing all over him just because he had a bad cough. The reason he never let anyone know he was unwell was because he was so used to keeping it all to himself.
So, for the rest of the night, Harry sat, unmoving, in the kitchen of number twelve, while the 'grown ups' bustled around, making healing potions for him to drink.
They were absolutely disgusting, but a little while later, the searing in his chest and lungs died down, and his natural, cool disposition took over again. Professor Snape seemed a little annoyed, but making potions was clearly one of his favorite things to do, no matter who it was for.
He grudingly accepted all four of them, one after the other, under the scrutinating, but caring eyes of Remus. He had to admit, they did make him feel loads better, and it no longer feeled as if there was a torch through his chest.
"I still think he should see a healer...I'm not criticizing Madame Pomfrey or Severus, here, but you can never be too careful." Remus added. Harry wouldn't stay quiet anymore.
"No, Remus!" He shouted out, as their eyes turned on him, "...I mean...I can't just waltz into St. Mungos like this, or something...it could cause a riot..." He stuttered.
"Quite right..." Dumbledore agreed, much to Harry's relief. At this point, he just wanted to go home. "We can't hope to bring him there yet, but I am sure I could find a healer who is willing to see him in private."
Well, it was better than nothing. At least he wouldn't have to actually go anywhere where he would be under hateful eyes. And the Magyars Potion was certainly out of the question. There was no hidding it anymore - everyone already knew what he was.
And it wasn't as if it mattered or not, because it was clear that no regular mortal could survive being impalled like he had, and there was no hidding that from a healer.
Within two days time, Dumbledore had found a healer who had agreed to come and look Harry over, despite what he was. Hermione, Eve and Mrs Weasley were especially angered that Harry had told anyone he was still unwell, but like usual, they got over being angry as the concern for his well-being took over. The healer was a bit apprehensive at first, but after looking at the condition of Harry's lungs, he was astounded that they hadn't called sooner.
"His left lung is ruptured, greatly." He began, digging through his bag as everyone watched on in anticipation. "There is evidence of attempted magical repair, but they did little good.
"Clearly, you have been through something, rather - er - serious, Mr Potter? In this magnitude of injury, I can only guess, but I will be able to get you all patched up."
He left the room for a few moments, with his bag in hand, but when he returned, he had a steaming goblet in his hand. It wasn't steaming from warmth, but rather from coldness. The potion within the goblet was as cold as dry ice, but Harry drank it thankfully, as it passed through his fanged teeth and soothed the burning pain in his throat and lungs. The affects were almost immediate.
"You should be all well now, Mr Potter," The healer said standing up and adressing Harry, even though he had never asked his name, "No more...getting skewed through the chest, now..." He said, looking down at Harry thankfully, like a concerned parent.
"Right...thanks..." Harry replied.
The healer left, after having a few silent words with Dumbledore, who thanked him. After receiving a bit more repremanding from Remus, Mrs Weasley and Hermione (Ron watched her exasperatedly from a chair by the window), he, and the three other vampires cautiously headed back to their homes, all the way eyeing Harry as if he might drop dead out of the sky.
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