It's on a busy street where they meet. Not for the first time, no, but for the first time after a very, very long time. The old man in his wheelchair and the boy who stares at the people coming and going, he sees them – they do not see him. He doesn't want to be seen, but the old, old man – he sees the boy, and goes to his side.
"I had a friend once." The old man begins, looking at the crowd of people, as indifferent to them as to the tide.
"Most of us do." The boy agrees, looking to the old man but once. He shies from him, but looks to the people.
"Oh, but this friend, he was – something else, magnificent, lovely really, and oh, so loyal it still makes my bones ache. We two, well, we were much the same. We were meant to be. He had dreams of Empires, oh, not of how people could be, or are – but how it all should be. He followed his dream and Rome was built in a day. People now a day say, oh, no, that can't be. Who can make a city in a day? Impossible! Just as imposable as all that supposed rubbish as the making of the whole wide Earth in a week. That's what they say now." The old man's eyes flashed with a red gleam as the sunlight and shadow shifted.
"Bunch of idiot monkeys." He sniffed, not hateful, no – disdainful. The boy saw the people coming and going, and counted upon them meaning something, being worth something, saving. The old man saw those people as less than the things they were meant to be.
"What does it matter now? Rome is a ruin. What they have now, what they've built for now, is it not better? The old is old and mostly forgotten for a reason, your friend knew that." The boy tilted his head toward the sunlight, soaking it in, as if he'd been somewhere dark and small for a very long time.
"No, I fear you are wrong. My friend built Rome, and Rome is all around us, it echoes in all this, it's still all Rome, you see? Oh, they may not know it, but I do, I've seen it, it's kept me going, hoping. My friend, you see, he went away one day – and I figured out how, of course, and why by following his dreams. He didn't want to be what he was anymore, what I was, so he made a gift of himself with these three clever brothers. He took himself apart so he could be born and die, by their blood. Oh, it wouldn't be forever, I figure he always knew that much. Someday, someone of that blood would put him back together again, a bit of a puzzle as to whom, but I know now." The old man smiled in a way that was almost as sick as it was secretive.
"I never meant to hide from who I was, Azrael…" The boy with his green eyes looked to meet the red eyed old man who now wept.
"Only what,Samael, only what… I understand, my dear, I do. I don't blame you. Do you know, they call us messengers, angels, devils, and demons, so many words that mean different things, good, bad, great, fallen, evil – it makes me miss the old Tower of Babel, though, we aren't meant to be mortal, to live in broken bodies, or to be born mortal with mortal blood…it….does great things to us…and to them, terrible at times – but great.." The old man wiped his eyes, and tipped his head to the sky.
The boy sat very still with his black ring by which dead souls sought to speak, with his wand of Elder wood who kept the bearer immortal by right of might and blood; with his cloak of silver light like the moon, which could hide anyone from anything, but not from themselves. All three had been lost, and the boy had found them all, had gathered them all up, he had made himself whole. He was the boy who lived, and lived as ages and eons went by, as old as the old man was, and both their bodies lied. Souls, they say, are immortal, and maybe that's so, but the boy and old man are bound by mortal bodies, and bodies die – but they two go on, heedless of mortality, but not it's meaning, in humanity.
Yet the damage had been done to the world, and there were ghosts, vampires, werewolves and more now wandering and wondering. As lost as the boy had been once. Yet he was here, and he was no more a boy than the old man was a mortal man.
"All along I've been looking for you." The old man admitted, taking in the sight of the boy as if he was joy, and bliss, and the blessing of an oasis in the driest desert.
"I know." The boy agreed, nodding simply.
"Master of Death, what ever will we two do?" The old man asked, smiling in a way that became a sneer, a leer, more sinister than any oncoming storm – there was no shelter for any poor soul caught up in his wild ways. He meant for the entire world to live and die in fear of him. To suffer as he had suffered. Alone.
"I will give you a purpose, Azazel; they have named you thus, the opposer, the adversary, the accuser, the Stranger, Satan. So shall you be to me. I have ears and eyes to see. I may have parted myself into trinity, but you made what I was, what I wanted to be into a mockery." The boy hissed, and they two were now all alone upon the street and sidewalk.
It amused Azazel, that these modern mortals claimed now that never had there been any immortality, nor any great Powers like God, oh no, where was the proof? – and this was why they would not see, would never, could never see - they fled from any hint of it. When they heeded they were mocked for mad.
"As you wish, Samael…. I will be your Devil, your demon. Yet once I was your lover, too. So it is only proper you know, my dear, I had a daughter by the daughter of one of you precious Peverell blooded boys. Hollow blooded, just like what's in that boy's body. I think you'll love her." The old man laughed as the green eyed boy vanished in the blink of an eye. He would try to fix it, the old man knew. It was what Samael did, and in the while – it would give Azazel time.
Time he needed to rise; to whisper…to be, or not to be.
Adam sees to it that Matt's body is found, put to rest, buried in the church yard that Adam lives across the street of. Adam can watch over Matt's grave that way – and he doesn't think that's too creepy. Well, at least neither Matt nor Christa says that they think it is…outright, to Adam's face. Yet.
As Mr. Roe goes through the door meant for the dead, he's simply deemed missing – but when Mr. Swan tells the staff that he thinks Mr. Roe is connected to the formerly missing Matt and shows them proof by evidence he didn't gather. If only Adam and Christa know the truth of that, well, that's okay.
If anyone notices that Mr. Swan shies from the new boy Adam, that Brandy Mulligan says not a word to or about Christa – or that Danny Curtis now keeps his mouth shut and doesn't bully anyone... Well, no one does anything about it. That's school though, there are a lot of students to keep eyes upon- and the administration and its staff seem to realize it. They do their best, but are all too often a part of the problem so far as the students are concerned.
It's what they do about it that makes Adam worry – it's this, this buddy system. In homeroom, everyone is paired up, it doesn't matter if they knew each other well, are friends, or aren't – everyone gets a buddy, and no one has to like it, but they have to learn to live with it.
"Bummer that!" Matt mumbles, standing between Adam's seat and Christa; they've taken the back table for all the good it does. His slight grin shows he's glad he didn't live to have to take an active part in this…buddy system. Mr. Roe had been their homeroom teacher, so they are the first class to hear about this new plot to make their lives interesting. There's a knock on the door, once, twice, thrice, and when Mr. Smith answers, he leads in a new boy, like a lamb being led to the slaughter.
His hair is black, a wild and willful mess, and he clearly doesn't give a damn. His eyes catch sight of Matt and stare. They are green eyes Adam sees almost too pretty to be boy's eyes, what with his lashes and…lips.
Matt inhales, wide eyed, standing still as if he does the boy might look away. Matt was never noticed much in life; and in his death, as a ghost, well, it's been even less. There are in fact only two people who can see Matt, and he's standing right between them – and now, this new boy.
"What…he…who, he can see me! Adam, Christa! He can see me!" Christa inhales in sharp surprise, licking her lips. Adam wonders what she senses about this boy, because he's not like anything Adam has ever…sensed. He's not a werewolf, not a vampire. The new boy may be staring at Matt – but Adam is staring at him for all the wrong reasons. He's supposed to be normal here, to try to fit in, to find friends.
He has Christa, and he has Matt, a werewolf and a ghost. Not exactly the normal kind of fitting in he'd hoped for. But it's the best Adam's been able to do in three months. Matt may wonder why Adam doesn't like-love Christa like Matt did before he died, even after kissing her enough times to memorize the soft warmth of her lips, the slight edges of her teeth. It's because Adam reacts in one of two ways with girls, they are food, and it's better to have your food like-love you willingly than not – or they aren't. Christa isn't anything to him, but perhaps a friend; on her better days, when she doesn't want to kill him.
"This is Harry Potter." Mr. Smith says, proudly, smiling at them all as if they should stand up and give a welcoming cheer. Danny Curtis only rolls his eyes. Adam tries to think of it as progress.
"Right, well Harry, why don't you take a seat next to Adam, he'll be your buddy while at school." Mr. Smith pats Harry on the shoulder, pointing to the only other empty seat in the room - by Adam.
"Buddy..?" Harry asks, his tone dry with obvious dislike at the word, frowning as he takes his gaze from Matt. Matt promptly vanishes from sight, a little rude, but Matt had always been the shy sort. Adam sort of slumps down, cringing at Harry's apparent disapproval – Christa gives him a strange, worried look. Adam can't explain it, but Harry makes him…nervous, excited, and wary all at once.
"Yes, due some recent unfortunate events at this school, we've taken new precaution measures to ensure the safety of the students. You'll meet with Adam in homeroom, and at least once between your classes to check up on each other." Mr. Smith explained, expecting Harry to walk away once it had been explained to him, he only frowned.
"Don't you take class attendance? Aren't the CTTV cameras working?" Harry asks quickly, as if testing Mr. Smith.
"Yes, of course, but there is always room for improvements to be made…" With that answer Mr. Smith made it clear the subject was dismissed, as was Harry. Harry's green eyes narrowed poisonously, but he goes to take his seat by Adam. He says nothing to Adam, and Adam does not dare speak to him when he has not been spoken to. There was something ominous about him, as if there was something there that Adam couldn't see, something more, something greater than he was.
Adam did study him, not quite caring if it was obvious and could be called staring. Harry wore a coat that hung to mid-thigh, a dark red that was like blood, and gold buttons and zippers. There were two leather cuffs not attached to the coat that hung like bracelets about his wrists. It reminded Adam of a brace, and with the stiffness Harry held his left arm, he was sure it was either in a brace or concealing something. He keeps a leather pack by his side, and fiddles with the gold ring on a silver chain around his neck.
Harry's green eyes caught his.
"What…what are you?" Adam isn't sure if he mouths the words without sound, or if he says them. They make Harry smile in something very like satisfaction. Harry doesn't answer, isn't going to answer, not because Harry doesn't know what he is – he isn't in denial like Christa had been, but because he answers by not answering. If Adam can't figure out what's sitting right in front of him, he isn't worthy of knowing. Isn't worth knowing...
Adam's eyes flash black and Harry only fiddles with the ring about his neck with a stone as black as Adam's eyes. Adam feels weak and afraid, and full of the need to find out answers and prove himself.
Christa is partnered with Brandy Mulligan, and curses under her breath the rest of the day. There is no talking to her about Adam's "little crush" and while Adam has to keep Harry in sight (the buddy system, he tells himself, even if he knows he'd do it anyway without it) Matt is nowhere to be found near Adam – or Harry.
That night Adam calls the home of two werewolves, a ghost, and a vampire. It isn't his home. It could have been, once.
In books, it's the usual claim that werewolves are pack-people, but they aren't, not really, but vampires are. So Adam knows why the vampire wants to keep his home clear of Adam, a rival to his little home and family. George and Nina and Anne are Mitchell's in a way that Adam can't tell them about- can't explain, but knows by gut instinct. Adam wants that for himself, sure, who doesn't…but he won't take them away from Mitchell, whose older, who can protect them in ways that Adam can't.
Adam is forty-six years old in the body of a boy. Mitchell has lived his years, had made his way in the world. Adam has always been a sheltered boy, protected by his parents, his mom and dad giving him everything he needed. The blood, their blood, because he was blood of their blood – their giving cost them their lives in the end, and a part of Adam hates that he did that.
So he calls George, because who else is he going to call, really? George is like his dad was, dependable, strong, and blindingly smart when he cares to show it. Adam stays otherwise away from George, somewhat because of how Mitchell had sneered at him, protective and possessive.
"Hey, my main man George!" Adam greets in sing-song. He hears a huff of amused breath. Adam doesn't ask about how turning into a werewolf this past full moon went, it's something a bit too close to personal – and rude.
"Adam. How is school coming along?" George asks, pausing at Adam's name in a way that tells him that he is not alone. Adam only hopes it's not Mitchell on the other side with him. Mitchell hadn't been pleased when Adam had asked about how to deal with werewolves on the full moon.
"Fine, fine, Christa's being wicked, but she's normally that way. I think all she-werewolves are a bit…intense. How's Nina?" Adam tests the waters, seeing how George reacts.
"She's fine, Adam. What's this about?" George knows Adam well by now, he isn't the type to call unless he needs something. It's not that Adam doesn't want to talk to them, or needs them; it's that what he wants and needs isn't good for them. He isn't going to fight Mitchell for what he's found with George and Nina, and Annie, because even if he won some place there, he'd lose.
"A new boy showed up in school today. He isn't a werewolf, he smells too fantastic, but he's got that wild and willfully looks... He's no vampire either, oh, he's got power, and pretty green eyes, but I don't know what he is….he saw Matt, my friendly ghost." Adam licks his lips at George's sudden and stunned silence.
There is a murmur of Mitchell's voice.
"Adam." Mitchell speaks to him, and that's rare enough, but Adam is listening.
"Keep away from him; he might be only a hunter…" Adam makes a questioning sound, but Mitchell goes on without much of a pause. "Or he might be more, have you seen something like a wand? There are very few beings that can see ghosts, in the entire world, they are related to one another, you see? But one of them is rarer yet than the likes of us werewolves and vampires. They deem werewolves only sick, you understand? They see vampires as simply freaks of nature, but the Old Ones, they…they say we were made by the likes of them – a mistake in a potion, like the elixir of life, or a deal with Death. Vampires were their experiment, you understand?" Mitchell is very, very serious, and sounds worried for Adam – which isn't like Mitchell at all.
"Them, them who…?" Adam also wants to know what "hunters" are, but one thing at a time.
"Wizards – and…and witches – I'm being serious, if that new boy is one, if there is a sign of magic or wand-waving or strange Latin-like words, you run, you hear? Wizards and witches keep the system going, with the doors of death, and everything, they are the wardens of the secret, keeping everything from spilling out. Be very careful." Mitchell hisses the last word, and Adam thinks his eyes might be black.
"Yeah…yeah, I hear, but…what…what's a hunter?" Adam had looked out the window to distract himself, and what he sees is the graveyard he lives by. Admittedly not the most prime of real state, but the rent is cheap, and he's got the self satisfaction of looking out at it and knowing that if he keeps his head down, he'll never end up with a gravestone of his own. Out in that graveyard is the chapel of St. Hilda's School for Girls –its night, and should be empty. There's a woman out there, waiting by the chapel, framed by the light coming from the open door. Adam frowns at the strange sight taking place just outside his own yard.
"A hunter usually is just a normal person, with a vendetta of revenge in mind with usually werewolves or vampires. They hunt them down and kill them, but if this boy can see a ghost, he's no mere hunter." The last thing Adam is listening to is Mitchell, because out there in that graveyard Harry's just appeared, out of no where. The woman spots him as soon as Adam does, and bows; not some flimsy half waist bending, no, she gets onto her hands and knees and her head touches the ground and she doesn't look up. It's like she doesn't dare, and Harry, Harry looks so sad.
"I, uh, got to go. Catch you later, bye!" Adam is out the door and he isn't sure if he hung up on Mitchell or not. He walks quickly with his gaze fixed, hunching his shoulders and hurrying to a path that wanders near them in the graveyard; he peers beyond bush and climbing ivy, and watches. He strains to hear the conversation, what Harry says or what's going on. He's not fool enough to run right out into the open, he sticks to the shadows – which, while at night, isn't as easy with street lamps.
"Please, get up Yvonne Bradshaw. I am not what you think I am." Harry kneels down beside her, touching her shoulder and something like sympathy. His eyes blaze green, and Adam realizes that his eyes, inhuman and powerfully mesmerizing had been the first thing Yvonne Bradshaw had seen of Harry.
"You, your like him, my father, beautiful my mother said – and cruel. She…she was extraordinarily vivid in her recall of him, even when she could recall little else, she remembered him. I thought it mostly an impossible fantasy…I never met my father, but I always had my suspicions to what he was. You've made it vividly clear that however uncanny and implausible, it's true…my father, he was like you, not human, but…but what you are." Harry's eyes catch hers, and there is something in him that's like her. Adam holds breath he doesn't need, and wonders if this woman's father stands before her in the body of a school boy.
"I am still getting used to all that I am and once was, Ms Bradshaw. What we do have in common is your mother's blood. It's mine as well." Harry tugs her hand to urge her to stand with him; she's taller standing than he is.
"What your father did…I can understand it, though I do not like it. I'm not wholly what I was, I was born human enough, but our blood carries a, well, a ancient being, a intelligence of what some might claim to be angelic nature or demonic. It's not human, but it had been waiting in us all, watching, there were keys made by three brothers that when brought together by one of our blood, awakens that being in them, unlocks the door, and lets the two become one. That's what happened to me. It's like I'm me, but there's a mirror in me that shows someone else entirely. Do you understand?" Harry's lips twist into something like a grimace. He doesn't like how he explains what he is, but he can do no better nor worse than this.
"Not by half, but enough to know you need help. Is something the matter?" Harry looks at his hand, frowning at where his skin touched hers.
"I'm sorry, Ms Bradshaw…so sorry. You weren't untouched by your father's blood. You are what some would call a succubus. How is your love life?" Harry clenches his fist, as if crushing something; he wipes his hands on his pants as if to be rid of the dirt there. Only there wasn't any dirt to be seen anywhere on his person.
"Excuse me? Are all your kind so bold?" She fidgets and tucks hair behind her ear. She is as suddenly as shy as a school girl, blushing in the dark.
"Yes, some are blunter. Right now your father intends to kill as many as he can. Please, answer me now." Harry looks at his hand, the one with the gold ring and black stone, and what he sees there seems to satisfy him.
"I have had many admirers who have courted me, sir; but that is all they seemed to want of my affections." Her cheeks are pink, Adam sees in the dark, flushed with strange blood.
"Why ever would my father kill….?" Yvonne's eyes catch and hold Harry's pleading for an answer.
"He and I, well, you must understand, on this world, there are only the two of us. He has always had a disdain for mortals, short lived and easily corruptible. It became all that he could see - that belief. I saw…great and terrible potential and I wanted to be a part of it, not merely a witness, or a watcher. So I became a part of this bloodline, our bloodline, I am never alone – for I am within us all, a part of humanity… your father –he hates what I did almost as much as what he was made to become. So he would see the score settled between us by killing all those he can and ensuring I would become as alone as he had been all along. I'm sorry; you are what you are, and you can not help but be it. You are succubus. I fear that you were born simply to hurt me." Harry doesn't look away when he says it, and Yvonne swallows down sickening bile.
"So be it! I pray, sir… that I live to help you more than to hurt." Yvonne looks down upon her two hands, as if seeing on them, herself for what and who she is, what she truly looks like, for the first time.
"What Azrael intended is not how I see my ends, Ms. Bradshaw. Tell me, what are you doing in a graveyard at night?" Harry looks around, as if noticing their surroundings for the first time.
"I'm the Headmistress of St. Hilda's School for Girls. This graveyard is where our chapel stands; I was patrolling the grounds as I sometimes do." Yvonne Bradshaw straightens with a small smile, proud of her job and its duties.
"Hot ma'am." Adam thinks, or thinks he thinks, when he realizes he's said it aloud, because Yvonne and Harry are staring right at where he is. Yvonne's eyes are narrowed and her lips a thin line.
"Hullo, Adam." Harry greets him, and by the way he says it, Adam can't tell how he feels about seeing him. It's nerve-wracking to say the least.
"Harry! A Lovely evening, isn't it? Lovely lady, too…." In Adam's experience it's not a bad idea at all to compliment a woman, but she sniffs, as if she smells something rotten.
"Who is this, Harry?" Ms. Bradshaw demands, sneering down at Adam – he thinks he might as well have told a snake it's shed lovely skin for all the trouble that he's saved himself from.
"What would be more accurate, a vampire, it is odd when one goes to school, so I thought it best to keep a eye upon him while he is at it. Whatever it is, I haven't muddled it out. There's a werewolf girl and a ghost about too, but Adam here is my assigned buddy, taking to his duties perhaps a tad too intrusively." If Adam had blood to spare, he's cheeks would be flushing dark enough to see tonight. As it is, he doesn't dare meet Harry's eyes.
"I'd say!" Ms. Bradshaw tsks, and pats Harry's shoulder before she turns to go back to where she came from. Adam recalls that she's a succubus, and wonders if Harry is going to lust after her. He doesn't know how he feels about it, somewhere between enraged and hurt. Neither does he know why he'd feel that way, not yet. Not when he has no reason to do so.
"I'll leave him to you, Harry. Do come to see me anytime you wish, it was a pleasure." Yvonne Bradshaw says over her shoulder, not seeing that Harry looks back at her, and that Adam is glaring.
"Ms. Bradshaw, do not fear to touch male flesh. Unless you will it so, they will not now desire your bed." Yvonne stops, bows her head, and if Adam was not a vampire he would not hear her whisper, bless you.
Harry turns to look at Adam, smiling as if he's heard her.
"How are you going to stop him, her father?" Harry doesn't ask how long Adam has been spying, he simply shrugs, and that's no kind of proper answer at all. Adam wonders if Harry will answer him, if he sees Adam as worth answering in anything. They aren't equals, Adam isn't foolish enough to think that – he's a vampire and Harry is…something else. Something Adam doesn't know what to make of. Yet.
Harry looks up at the heavens. Adam can't help but look up, the stars, planets, constellations, the bright moon, it's one of the few things in his life he's never tired of seeing.
"How many do you see?" Harry asks, so softly that Adam isn't sure he's heard him.
"I...I don't know, I've never counted, no one can, I think." Adam's answer is soft, hesitant, because if anyone ever has known, it's Harry, he's sure of it.
"Once, mortals saw the seven planets, and thought each sphere had a heaven all its own, one atop another. Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. You've never wondered why there are seven days in a week called after them, even under the Old English gods and goddesses? Monday for the Moon, Tuesday for Tyr a war god much like Mars, Wednesday for Wodan, one might think Odin should be Jupiter, but no, he's too much like Mercury for the Romans to think him much like Jove. Thursday like Thor, the thundered, that one more like their Jupiter. Friday, for Frigg or Freyja, once they may have been one goddess, like Venus. Saturday for Saturn, Sunday for the Sun. So what do you think I will do?" Adam has always wondered what it meant, that saying about being in seventh heaven, where it came from.
He could have seen it for himself in the night sky each night, only he had never looked up long enough to put all the pieces together. Science had theorized now that there were different dimensions of space and time, were seven heavens than so farfetched? Adam wondered how much "modern day" knowledge was not "a new discovery" at all, but only so very old it had been forgotten and put aside as purely religious fantasy.
"Azazel has been upon Earth so long he forgets the heavens. Like you, like so many others of Earth. So I will remind him." Adam didn't doubt that Harry could do that, Adam had never had certain faith in anything or anyone, but he believed in Harry.
When Adam would have turned to look at him, he found Harry was no where to be seen.
Yet he was not gone, for Adam could never forget him.