Monday, July 11, 2011

"Harry Potter and the Children of the Night" - Part One

In celebration of the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, I’m debuting a brand-new Harry Potter story throughout this week, one that pits our favorite Hogwarts characters against the creatures of Twilight.  Presented in four parts, one chapter will go up every day, Monday thru Thursday. 

Today, we start with Chapter One.  Read Harry Potter and the Children of the Night – Part One after the jump…

Harry Potter and the Children of the Night
By Jonathan R. Lack
Based on Characters Created by J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer

Chapter One:
Boredom at the Ministry

Harry Potter was a highly unusual man in many ways.  For one thing, he had taken an impressive job at the Ministry of Magic as a licensed Auror at age 17, despite never completing his seventh year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  For another, he was promoted to head of the Auror Office in just a few short years, and at 22, was the youngest department head in the Ministry’s history.  Though Harry happened to be the most famous Wizard of his age, he had not stopped working tirelessly against dark magic in the five years since he vanquished the dark lord Voldemort, and this, more than anything else, made him an unusual man indeed.
            It was early in morning, and Harry had arrived to his office at the Ministry hastily, anxious to see if any Owls had arrived with fresh news or assignments during the weekend.  He was a bit crestfallen to find his inbox empty, his desk as uncluttered as it had been three days ago.  Things had been quiet at the Auror office for the past month – it was as if Harry and his team had, for the time being at least, locked up all the darkest witches and wizards in Azkaban prison, and there was nobody left to fight.  Harry had become restless waiting for a fresh mission to take on and, as he had spent too much time doing in the past few weeks, began occupying himself by lazily performing target practice on the filing cabinets. 
            He leaned back in his chair, waved his wand nonchalantly, and the cabinets opened.  Focusing a little more, he said “Flipendo,” and a forceful, concentrated burst from the end of his wand pushed the cabinets closed.  Harry had discovered the spell skimming through an old book earlier that month, another sign of his perpetual boredom – reading for fun was suitable for Hermione Granger, one of Harry’s best friends, but Harry himself simply didn’t have the willpower.  So he’d moved on to waving obscure spells at his cabinet.  Harry sighed sadly.  He had no idea whether or not that spell would ever come in handy, but it was a pleasantly nifty trick.
            “Cursing the cabinets again, are we?” said a voice from the doorway.  Harry turned to see his other best friend and Auror partner, Ron Weasley, entering the office.  “Blimey, still no news?” Ron continued.  He was just as restless as Harry.
            “None,” Harry replied.  “At least, not any Auror news…” Harry did have something he wanted to tell Ron, something that would hopefully overshadow the boredom of the day.
            Ron ignored him for the moment.  “Let’s take the day off, Harry,” he began.  “We don’t need to be here.  Everything’s quiet, the recruits are doing just fine on their own…what do you say to a drink at the Leaky Cauldron?”
            “Ron, I’ve only been in charge for a few months,” Harry replied.  “How do you think it would look if I went off drinking with my best mate at eight in the morning?”
            “It might look like you give a damn about your best mate,” Ron shot back.  He sat down at his desk and folded his arms, looking cross.
Harry felt a twinge of regret – Ron was being unfair, but he had a point.  They hadn’t hung out apart from work in a long time, but it wasn’t Ron’s fault for lack of trying.  He and Harry had been roommates in a flat on Diagon Alley for years, but six months ago, just after Harry’s big promotion, Harry had moved out to live with Ron’s sister, Ginny.  Things couldn’t have been going better between Harry and Ginny, but between her and his commitments to the Auror Office, Harry found it increasingly difficult to find time for Ron outside of work.
But still…Ron was being surprisingly harsh this morning.  Why should Ron feel lonely, Harry thought, when he has Hermione?  Ron was often cross when he and Hermione had gotten into an argument – there was really no winning against Hermione, after all – but he never took it out on Harry.  Could it be….no, they couldn’t have split....but Harry had to ask…
“Ron, did you and Hermione…”
“No, no,” Ron replied hastily.  “Just another fight.  She wants to move in, now that you’re gone, and I dunno…I mean, I love Hermione, I do, but…”
Harry sometimes had trouble reading Ron.  He’d pined after Hermione for so long, even before he recognized it, and now here he was, still unsure of what he wanted.  Harry wished, even more desperately than before, that they would get a new mission to distract themselves.
“Anyway, Ron, I can’t take today off,” Harry said, changing the subject.  “I’m going to Ireland on Wednesday.”
Ron perked up at this unexpected news.  “Ireland?” he said incredulously.  “What do you need to do in Ireland?”
“The Harpies are playing the Kenmare Kestrels, and I’m going to see Ginny,” Harry explained.
Ron didn’t buy this explanation, at least not completely.  Ginny had been playing Seeker for the Holyhead Harpies for three seasons now, and though Harry loved attending her games, Ron knew his sister wasn’t needy enough that she’d make Harry go out to Ireland for a minor mid-season match in the middle of the week. 
“Blimey, you must be bored,” Ron muttered.  “Suit yourself; we can always hang out together, if you’d like.  The Leaky Cauldron is closer than Ireland, mind you.”
“Ron, that’s not it,” Harry said, standing up.  “I’m not just going to watch one of Ginny’s games.  It’s a little more important than that.”  He gave Ron a telling look.
Ron seemed confused for a moment before coming around.  “You’re not…now?  Really?”
Harry nodded.  “I am.  I’m proposing to Ginny tomorrow after the match.  I talked to your mum and dad over the weekend, but you’re my best mate.  I want your blessing too.”
Ron sat in stunned silence for a few moments, then stood up slowly, the slightest trace of a smile on his face.  “Bloody hell…” he finally muttered.  “Have you told Hermione?”
“Told me what?” asked a voice from the doorway.  Harry and Ron wheeled about to see Hermione walking towards them, a large stack of books and papers clutched in her arms. 
            “Hey Hermione,” Ron murmured guiltily.  She stared icily at him, and Ron opened his mouth to say something.  He couldn’t quite find the words, and so he simply stared back.  Hermione continued to glare, and Harry watched their awkward staring contest with a bemused desire to go hide behind his desk until it was over. 
            Finally, he had an idea.  Leaning in between his friends, he looked at Hermione and said, very matter-of-factly, “I’m prosing to Ginny on Wednesday, Hermione.”
            Hermione gasped in astonishment and dropped all the books she was carrying to give Harry a massive hug.  The books hit the ground with a deafening thud, such was their weight, and one of the larger ones fell on Ron’s foot.  While Ron hopped around on one leg in pain, muttering a string of increasingly vulgar expletives, Hermione squealed with excitement.
            “Ooh, Harry, that’s wonderful news!” she said with a bright smile, letting him go.  “She’s in Ireland right now, isn’t she?”
            “On her way,” Harry nodded happily.  It felt good to be sharing this with his friends, even as one of them continued swearing in the background.  “I’m travelling there Wednesday, and I’m popping the question after the match.” 
            Hermione beamed at him.  “Do you have a ring picked out yet?”
            Harry shook his head.  “I’ve looked around, but I haven’t found the right one.  I might go looking again after work tonight, if you want to come along.”
            “I’d love to, but you’re going to have to postpone shopping,” she said, her smile subsiding.  Harry, confused, raised an eyebrow quizzically. 
            Before Hermione could explain, Ron walked over holding the book that had hit him.  Harry recognized the large, red tome – he’d seen it before. 
            “Why were you carrying this around Hermione?” Ron asked with a touch of resentment as he started thumbing through it.  “It looks like one of our old school books.”
            “It is,” she began.  “Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them, by Newt Scamander.  It should be very useful today.”
            “Wait, Hermione, is this actually your copy from first year?” Harry asked with astonishment.  The pages were covered with Hermione’s distinctive, flowing handwriting.
            She nodded enthusiastically.  “Can you believe it’s still in such good condition?  I also found my Standard Book of Spells, Grade One, and One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi.  So many good memories!”
            Ron and Harry just stared at her, flabbergasted.  “Hermione,” Ron began, “do you mean to tell us that you’ve kept all your old school books?”
            “Of course,” she said emphatically, as though it hardly needed saying.  Harry and Ron exchanged furtive glances – they, along with a few of their Gryffindor friends, had created a bonfire with all their schoolbooks on the edge of the lake a few days after Voldemort was defeated.  It was one of their fonder memories.
            “Anyway, what’s the book for?” asked Harry.
            “Well, I think I might have a job for you,” she answered with a smile.  Harry immediately perked up, and Ron looked happier than he had in weeks.
            “Hermione, I love you,” he said sincerely, and embraced her tightly. 
            “Wow, things really have been slow around here,” Hermione said as Ron let her go.  “C’mon, help me pick up all these books.”
            Harry and Ron bent down to sort through the pile on the floor; there weren’t just books, but newspapers, charts, and pieces of parchment with handwritten notes.  It looked as if Hermione had been busy working on a case of her own.  She had recently taken a job in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, meaning that she worked in the same department as Harry and Ron.  But she wasn’t a member of the Auror Office, where cases were brought only if they involved serious dark magic.  Hermione worked to find lesser criminals, but these jobs also required quite a bit more detective work, which made her the perfect person for the job.  If she was coming to Harry and Ron with a case, that meant that she had uncovered something quite sinister indeed; the thought of another challenging mission, after weeks of waiting, got Harry excited.
            They all gathered around Harry’s desk, and Hermione began laying out and arranging the books and papers.  “About a month ago, a story about disappearances in the muggle news caught my eye.  It didn’t seem like anything too out of the ordinary – muggles go missing all the time without it involving wizards.  But a few days later, there was a follow-up on this story – some of the bodies were found, not just dead, but mutilated.  All the blood had been drained from their bodies.”
            That got Harry and Ron’s attention.  They both sat up straighter.  “All of it?” Harry asked incredulously.  Hermione nodded. 
            “That could just be a muggle murder, though,” Ron said. “My dad was telling me about a kind of muggle criminal he’d heard about once…cereal box killers, or something like that.  Follow people around and murder them brutally.”
            “Serial killers, Ron,” Hermione corrected. “With an ‘S.’ That was actually my first reaction as well, until I saw this.”
            From her stack of papers, Hermione removed a small stack of photographs.  “These are pictures of the victims from the muggle news.  Look at their necks.”
            Harry and Ron leaned in closer to look at the first picture.  The victims were incredibly pale, their bloodless bodies looking as though they were made of wax.  “That’s disgusting,” Ron said with a grimace.
            “The neck, Ron, the neck,” Hermione prompted.
            Harry saw it.  Bite-marks, large and gaping, covered the victim’s neck; it looked like large, long fangs had penetrated the person’s flesh.  Hermione flipped through the pictures – every victim had the same waxy, pale appearance, and identical bite-marks around the throat. 
            “Vampires,” Harry said quietly, shocked. 
            Hermione nodded.  “It looks like vampires, anyway, but there’s another bit of evidence that complicates things.”
            She pulled out another set of pictures and articles.  “Over the years, hundreds of animals have been found dead in the area, similarly drained of blood and covered in these bite-marks.”  She showed them some of the pictures.
            “So vampires are drinking animal blood, what’s weird about that?” Ron asked.  “Blood is blood, right?”
            “No, Ron, it isn’t,” she corrected.  “I’ve read all about them, and vampires can only drink the blood of humans.  Otherwise, they can’t survive.  If they could have lived off of animal blood all this time, then they never would have been a danger to humans.”
            “Could we be dealing with separate creatures?” Harry pondered, though he was sure Hermione already had this covered.  Her pile of books also included Fangs and Fatality, Beasts with a Bite, An Appraisal of Vampiric Encounters in Europe and North America, 1897 to 1980, and, for some reason, Gilderoy Lockheart’s Voyages with Vampires.    
            “I already thought of that too,” Hermione assured him.  “I scoured Fantastic Beasts and The Monster Book of Monsters, but there aren’t any other creatures that would fit these murders.”
            “So it’s a vampire killing the humans, and a monster no one has ever discovered killing the animals,” Ron suggested.  “Seems like a bit of a coincidence, though.”
            “Exactly,” Hermione nodded.  “It can’t just be a coincidence – the killings are too similar.  According to the reports, the human victims were all murdered at night, which makes sense – vampires can’t go out in the sunlight.  But the animal murders happened during the day.”
            “So it is two animals,” Harry said, starting to get confused.
            “No!” Hermione replied, exasperated.  “Oh, come on, it’s so obvious!  Whatever these creatures are, vampires or something else, they need to feed on a consistent basis.  The animal murders never overlapped with the human ones – clearly, the killer stalks human prey at night and animals during the day.  It’s the same creature, and it’s not in any of the books.  It’s something new.”
            “Then we’ll have to find it,” said Harry decisively.  “But this still doesn’t sound like a job for the Auror Office, Hermione.  Why didn’t you bring it to the Magical Creatures department?”
            “I did bring it to them, but I couldn’t prove this is really a vampire,” she said.  “They didn’t want the case unless I could prove which creature they were dealing with.”
            “Those lazy sods,” Ron grimaced.
            “Oh well, more work for us,” Harry said cheerfully.  “This should be interesting – where are we going, Hermione?”
            “Pretty far,” she replied.  “Somewhere we’ve never been before – America.”
            “America?” Harry and Ron said in unison.  Harry had been imagining these murders on the outskirts of London, not across the Ocean. 
            “Don’t the Americans have their own magical government?” Ron asked.  “They may have already started investigating.”
            “They do have a magical government, but they hardly ever get anything done because of political squabbling,” Hermione explained.  “And they’re completely broke – I called their criminal offices, and it sounds like they cut the funding down to two or three detectives and one Auror.  They insisted these murders were done by a muggle serial killer and hung up on me.”
            “Ouch,” said Ron.  “And I thought our Ministry was dysfunctional sometimes…”
            “So I guess it’s just the three of us, then,” Harry stood up and tucked his wand in his robe.  “We’ll have to be back by Wednesday morning, Hermione, but I think we can manage these creatures, whatever they are.”
            Hermione and Ron stood up too.  “Well, I’m wicked bored, I say we leave right away,” Ron said enthusiastically.
Hermione nodded.  “But we’re going to need supplies first.  If we are dealing with vampires, we need garlic, stakes…all sorts of things we can’t find in the Ministry.  We’ll need to be creative.”
“Creative?” Ron pondered.  “I think I know just the place.  What do you say we take a trip to Diagon Alley and say hello to Fred and George?”


            Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes was the busiest shop on Diagon Alley, having long since eclipsed Twilfitt & Tatting’s, Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, and even Quality Quidditch Supplies as the number one hang-out for children and adults alike.  Not only could other joke shops not compete – Gambol and Japes had been driven out of business years ago – but stores in general had trouble presenting themselves as attractively as the Weasley’s joke shop.  They’d even opened a wildly successful second branch in Hogsmeade, run by their best friend Lee Jordan.  Wheezes truly had something for everybody; after all, Puking Pastilles weren’t just useful for schoolchildren wishing to dodge class, but for Ministry employees desperately wishing to skive off a long, boring staff meeting. 
            When Harry, Ron, and Hermione arrived, it was still early in the morning, yet the place was as crowded as ever.  It took them a good ten minutes to find George, dressed in his striking magenta robes and arguing with a customer over a smart-answer quill.
            “I wrote my final essay with this quill for the end of term last week, and I got everything wrong!” the customer, a young, pimple-faced boy complained.  “What are you playing at?”
            “It doesn’t work if you’re using it to cheat, thickhead,” George admonished.  “How many teachers do you think we’d have in here complaining if we sold quills that gave you all the answers?  I haven’t been a student for eight years, and McGonagall would still find a way to give me detention.”
            “Look, I just want my money back,” said the boy.
            “Go read a book,” George waved him away.  “Learning can be fun – you could even buy a pair of our ‘Study-Enhancing Glasses,’ triple your reading speed without any effort.”  The boy wasn’t convinced.  George looked over his shoulder, leaned over, and passed the boy a small paper order form from inside his robe.  “Or you could fill this out and give me ten galleons, you’ll have a real cheating quill delivered to your house.  But you have to keep it discreet.”
            Hermione cleared her throat and folded her arms crossly.  George looked up to see the three of them standing there, and promptly tore the sheet of paper he was holding into tiny bits.
            “Just kidding!” he exclaimed jovially, patting the boy on the shoulder.  “No cheating quills here, kid.  Go buy the glasses – two galleons – and learn to study!”
            The boy stomped off in frustration, and George turned to Hermione.  “Hey there, Hermione,” he said with a smile.  She still looked cross.  “So,” George continued, “what brings three fine Ministry officials such as yourselves to our humble joke shop?”
            “You really have cheating quills, George?” said Ron, amazed.  “Would they help me fill out Ministry reports?”
            “They might,” George replied.  “Ten galleons, if you want to try one out.”
            “You cheapskate,” Ron shot back. 
Hermione glared at him as well.  “I should report the both of you.”
            “No, Hermione, we’re not here to report anyone, and Ron, we’re not buying quills,” said Harry coolly.  “George, we’re looking for some special items for a mission.”
            “Really?” George replied, interested.  “Well, we’ve got plenty to choose from, but I’m doubting you three are looking for shield cloaks; the ministry is pretty well-stocked on those.”
            “Where’s Fred, by the way?” asked Ron.
            “Oh, I’m sure he’s floating around here somewhere,” said George nonchalantly. 
            Suddenly, Harry felt a cold sensation cover his body, as though he were standing under an icy shower.  He jumped in alarm, and looked up to see that the ghost of Fred Weasley had just passed through him, chuckling hysterically and floating to a halt right next to George.
            “Gotcha Harry,” beamed Fred.  “I love that trick.”
            Fred had returned to the world of the living as a ghost just a few months after being killed at the Battle of Hogwarts.  George, who had been depressed beyond reproach, was overjoyed to see his twin brother again, and together, they reopened the joke shop and made it more successful than ever before.  It also turned out that there were all new dimensions of pranking that Fred and George hadn’t been able to achieve when both of them were alive; now that Fred was a ghost, there were no limits to their practical jokes – one of their favorite tricks was the one they’d just pulled on Harry.
            “Hey Fred,” said Ron with a grin.  “Where were you?”
            “Over at our Hogsmeade branch,” he explained.  “It’s not too busy over the summer, but Lee spotted someone shoplifting, and nothing puts the fear of God into kids like having a ghost haunt them all the way back to their house.  The kid came crying back to the shop, begging for forgiveness.”
            “Did you forgive him?” asked Harry.
            “Course not.  I fined him five galleons while Lee replaced the chocolates in his bag with Nosebleed Nougat.  That’ll teach the brat to steal.”  He and George attempted to give each other a high-five, but Fred’s hand just passed through George’s, who shivered and stuffed his hand in his robe to warm it up. 
            “But how did you get to Hogsmeade and back so fast?” inquired Hermione.  “I didn’t think ghosts could apparate.”
            “No, our way is even better!” Fred exclaimed jovially.  “Incorporeal travel is the best, Hermione – all the speed of apparition without that squeezing feeling.  Smooth and light.”
            “So, tell us what we can do for you,” said George.  “You said you needed supplies for a mission?”
            “Yeah,” began Hermione.  “What do you two know about killing vampires?”
            Fred and George perked up at the odd request.  “Have you got a fanged menace heckling you at the office?” George asked.
            “No, but there is a fanged menace hunting people out in America,” Harry explained.  “Hermione discovered the case.  We’re not sure what it is, but the signs point to vampire.”
            “Let’s see then…” pondered Fred, bobbing up and down in mid-air.  “You’ll need garlic, some stakes…”
            “Hawthorn branches can wear them down,” added George.
            “Muggles like to use wooden crosses and holy water…”
            “You can always use a sword or an axe to cut off their heads, and you may want to practice the Incendio spell for fire.”
            “And if all else fails, you could always feed them something from our Skiving Snackboxes.”
            This was better than Harry had hoped for.  “Give us whatever you’ve got,” he said enthusiastically.
            “Right this way!” Fred gestured, and promptly floated through a wall. 
            “I hate it when he does that,” said George, and he led Harry, Ron, and Hermione the back way around to a dark, strange room.  There were black curtains everywhere, fake ghosts hung from the ceiling, and there were shelves stacked high with spinning, whirring orbs – advertised as “Ghost Repellant: Guaranteed to remove any hauntings from your house” – glowing, shadowy crystal balls – “Communicate with the dead through the beyond (only twelve galleons!)” – and an assortment of darkly colored candies – “Ghost Gumdrops and Specter Sugars: Makes you levitate like a ghost or become temporarily transparent!”  The room was lit by a soft, ambient red glow, and sure enough, there were cloves of garlic, wooden stakes, and other vampiric supplies in the corner.
            “Fred, does any of this stuff actually work?” asked Ron as he examined the ‘Specter Sugars.’ 
            “Of course it works!” said Fred, indignant.  “How dare you suggest we’d color some candies black, slap impressive names on them, and sell them for twelve sickles a piece just to capitalize on the fact that one of the managers is a ghost!”
            “Hmm…” murmured Hermione, looking at the ‘Ghost Repellant’ orbs.  She turned one on discreetly, and stared at Fred.  Nothing happened.
            “Do you get a lot of business back here?” asked Harry, genuinely curious.
            “It’s not our busiest section, but there’s a demand for the occult,” George replied.  “Particularly third-year students taking Divination – they all seem to want a crystal ball.”
            “Now, let’s see if we can find what you three are looking for,” said Fred as he glided over to the garlic table.  George followed him, and began filling a bag with cloves of garlic, wooden stakes, a couple of hawthorn branches, a cross, and finally, three vials of ‘holy water’ that Harry was sure had simply come from the tap. 
            “There you go,” said George, handing it to Harry.  “It should help, but be on your guard.  Vampires can be nasty even at their weakest.”
            “Anything else?” asked Fred as they walked back to the main floor of the shop.
            “We’ll take a couple of decoy detonators and some Peruvian darkness powder,” Harry replied.  “Never know when those will come in handy.”
            George added it all to the bag Harry was holding, but as Harry headed for the register, George put out a hand to stop him.
            “We’ve said it before Harry – you don’t pay here,” George insisted.  “It’s free.”
            “Oh, come off it George, I helped you two out ages ago,” Harry replied.  “It’s been nearly ten years.”
            “Doesn’t matter,” George continued. 
            “And if you won’t shut up about it, then we’ll just say this stuff is our way of saying thanks for killing Voldemort,” added Fred. 
            Harry opened his mouth to speak again, but Ron put a hand on his shoulder.  “Leave it, mate.  Just be happy about it – they never give me free stuff.”
            “I promise you Ron, if you ever kill a Dark Lord, we’ll give you all the Ton-Tongue Toffee you can eat,” beamed Fred.
            “There is one thing you can do in return,” remarked George.  “Keep quiet about that ‘cheating quill’ thing…”
            Hermione glared at him.
            “Not that we sell cheating quills,” Fred quickly added.  “We just don’t want…um…hurtful rumors out there.”
            With their supplies gathered, Harry, Ron, and Hermione left the shop feeling more confident, and began walking down Diagon Alley.  Harry was pleased to see Ron and Hermione holding hands – for the moment, at least, Hermione’s indignation over Fred and George making a profit on cheating Hogwarts students had overshadowed her feud with Ron. 
First, they stopped at Ron’s flat, and quickly changed out of their Wizard’s robes into casual muggle attire.  They also grabbed Ron’s owl, Pigwidgeon, in case they needed to send a letter on their journey.  Pigwidgeon was starting to get old, but the prospect of travelling still made him obnoxiously eager, and Ron had a tough time getting him into his cage.
After this, they continued on down the street, looking for a good spot to disapparate.  Once they’d found one, they all joined hands, allowing Hermione to lead the apparition.
            “Where exactly in America are we going, Hermione?” asked Ron.
            “Washington,” she replied.  “It’s on their west coast.  A little town called Forks.”

To Be Continued…
Tomorrow, in Chapter 2: The Children of the Night

This is an unofficial, fan-made work of fiction.  Harry Potter and all related characters are owned by Scholastic Inc., Bloomsbury Publishing Plc., Warner Bros Pictures, and J.K. Rowling.  Twilight and all related characters are owned by Little, Brown and Company, Hatchette Book Group, and Stephenie Meyer.  Please support the official releases.  

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely brilliant, Jonathan. You have as masterful grasp of the world of Potter.

    By the way, Fred coming back as a ghost... incredible!