"Under all speech that is good for anything there lies a silence that is better. Silence is deep as Eternity; speech is as shallow as Time."
In the dead of night, the little town of Cobham was asleep. Torrents of cold rain beat a steady tattoo on metal rooftops, and the creaking of the buildings was lost amidst the din of the storm. Puddles coalesced into shallow streams, gushing down neglected and dirty streets. The few trees along the street groaned as harsh winds tore relentlessly at their branches and rustled their leaves, and their inky silhouettes swayed where they stood, dancing to the sinister tune that constituted the storm. Churning grey clouds obscured stars which might otherwise have illuminated the darkness, and the dark was indeed so profound that no average person would find themselves capable of distinguishing their hand in front of their face.
Such was the nature of the night when Anastasia Peverell materialized within the shadow of an especially large maple tree. In her pale arms was clutched a child, young and swaddled in a soft green blanket. Too fast for a human, she darted across the street and through the wrought iron gate to a decrepit, somber looking building. A sign on the gate proclaimed the structure to be Bennett's Orphanage, and it was here that the woman began to cry, shining tears leaking from her glowing green eyes.
It was here that her child would live, now. This drab, wretched place of sorrow and gloom. The thought of her baby's future sent a fresh wave of tears rolling down Ana's cheeks, and she didn't even attempt to wipe them away as they mixed with the rain on her skin and in her auburn hair.
For as she drew her drew her wand and cast a water-repellent charm on her son's blanket, she knew she would not be returning. Even as she tucked a bit of parchment bearing his name into the folds of the soft cloth, her husband was fighting off the Dark Lord Grindelwald. He had given her time, she knew, but not much. 'Run, Ana! Take Hadrian and leave! I'll hold him off!' her husband's voice rang out in her mind. And she had. Because in spite of all they'd done to hide, the aliases they'd been using for nearly a century, they had been hunted down at last.
By the Dark Lord Grindelwald, no less! After all this time, it was he that would spell their downfall. He had, no doubt, heard rumours of Ana's pregnancy, and with her husband and her being what they were, he had wanted the child. Of course he had. For though the Dark Lord knew not their true names, he knew their nature. And so he had hunted them down, demanding that they swear their allegiance and their son's.
But as wise as the Peverells were, Ana and Cassius were still parents. And they would sooner die than subject their precious son to a life of servitude.
Now, they would do just that.
Ana knelt, Hadrian clasped tight in her arms, and pressed a kiss to his forehead. Her son looked up at her with eyes so like her own, and she mourned the fact that he would never know her, that she would never know him.
"I love you, Hadrian. Mummy loves you, daddy loves you," she choked back a sob. Drawing in a shuddering breath, she continued on. She didn't have much time.
"Be strong, my son." she breathed, "Be strong, be Dark, be great." even as she said it, she knew that he would be. He would be greater than any that came before him, and perhaps any to come after.
With trembling hands, she placed him gently on the dusty doorstep. Taking one last look at her infant son, so beautiful and so innocent, she stepped into the deep, tenebrous shadows of the orphanage. She would return to her husband, and together they would face the Dark Lord. They were Peverells after all, and would most definitely not go quietly.
Mrs. Miller was the sole warden of the small Bennett's Orphanage in the outskirts of London. From the street outside, the building looked to be nearly falling apart. Bennet's was an old, somewhat dilapidated establishment with too many windows and not enough blankets, a small dwelling with no grounds to be had save for the small plot of land which accommodated a bomb shelter out back. Mrs. Miller worked as hard as her seventy-four year old knees would let her to keep the operation in working order. She repaired what damages she could, and attempted to ensure that the home didn't fall into a further state of disrepair, but as the years wore on, the building went to rack and ruin. Of course, the children residing in Bennett's didn't help that matter much, what with their constant clambering up and down the rickety stairs and crashing into the worn walls.
In her younger years, Mrs. Miller had loved children. Unable to bear her own progeny, she had dedicated her life to the looking after of the orphans of Bennett's. She had been thirty-three then, and had since come to the bitter realisation that perhaps raising children was best left to the young and able, though she would never dream of voicing the thought aloud. Now, in her old age, Mrs. Miller was tired. Her joints ached, her vision was blurry, and in the winter, her bones never seemed to warm entirely. But Mrs. Miller was nothing if not determined, and with scant funding from the government (due to the impending war, no doubt) and no one else to help her, she would raise Bennet's orphans well if it was the last thing she did.
Notwithstanding her senescence, Mrs. Miller was exceedingly dedicated to caring for her wards. She had no favourites, and treated them all equally; even the delinquents among her orphans weren't judged under Mrs. Miller's roof. After all, many of the children had formerly lived on their own on the streets, and thus a bit of disorderly conduct was to be expected. Besides, goodness lived inside every child, Mrs. Miller liked to think.
Why, just last month she had received a new charge, Cristina Peterson. Cristina had been delivered to Bennett's by a local constable, caught red-handed stealing apples from a market. A darling little girl she had turned out to be, though Mrs. Miller was always careful to watch her handbag when Cristina was in her office.
Robbie Holloway came from an even more questionable past than Cristina; after spending two years at Bennett's, he had been adopted (at the age of eight) by a nice couple only to return a week and a half later when the family's home went up in flames under mysterious circumstances. Six years later, Robbie was still at Bennett's, where he would no doubt remain until he came of age. Teenagers were seldom adopted.
Mrs. Miller saw many interesting children pass through her walls. Some stayed only days, while others had been domiciled in the orphanage since infancy. With a fond smile, Mrs. Miller remembered the first child she had raised herself. When she had first started at the orphanage, she had been an assistant to the one of the original owners, the dowager Mrs. Bennett. Mrs. Bennett's late husband had passed away only a year previously, leaving the old woman alone with the orphans. Around the turn of the century, shortly after Mrs. Miller had come to Bennett's, a little girl had been brought to the orphanage by a government worker. Four months old, little Lizzie was the only child of a deceased couple with no known relations. That was when Mrs. Miller had first became a mother. She had raised the girl as her own, and when the time came when little Lizzie was adopted, the matron had cried herself to sleep for nearly a month.
Now, so many years later, Mrs. Miller wasn't nearly as attached to her orphans. She cared for them, yes, but she didn't mother them. Even when they were as young as Lizzie had been, Mrs. Miller looked after them as was necessary but not enough to think of them as her own. Such was the case with the boy who had arrived at the orphanage just six years ago. A mere infant at the time, the child was left on the doorstep during the night of All Hallows Eve with no more possessions than the green blanket he was wrapped in and a strange bracelet about his left wrist, and no more explanation than a note relaying his name.
Hadrian Peverell. Such a grand name for such a small child, though judging by the quality of the blanket in which he had been swaddled and the bit of jewellery he'd been adorned with, he must have come from a family of great wealth. In those years, when times were tough and money was scarce, she had attempted to relieve the child of his bracelet, but try as she might, it wouldn't budge.
As he'd grown older, it had quickly become apparent that the Peverell boy wasn't like the other children. While the others would run about the orphanage and play with what few toys they possessed, he would sit quietly in his room (number fourteen), reading. Other children laughed and smiled and threw tantrums and screamed, but the Peverell boy was calm and composed, and as quiet as a mouse, innocuous if not for his eerie gaze.
Even his looks were distinctive; he was a lithe, elegant child, and moved with an eerie grace incongruous with children his age. His wavy hair was so black that it sometimes looked almost blue, and his skin as pale as his tresses were dark. The most startling detail of his aspect, however, was his eyes. It was his eyes more than anything else that made Mrs. Miller wary of him. Eyes so green they seemed to glow, eyes whose verdant irises bespoke thoughts and secrets his silence withheld. For years, Mrs. Miller had wondered whether the Peverell lad might be mute, or if perhaps he was not right in the head. Her doubts regarding his ability to speak had been put to rest on one afternoon outing when he was four years old, only to be replaced with an entirely different set of worries.
With the cramped atmosphere of the orphanage, Mrs. Miller thought it prudent to see that the children received fresh air from time to time, and the neighbourhood park proved as good a place as any in the warmer and the colder months alike. The elderly warden preferred to sit on a low green park bench on the edge of the park while the orphaned children went about their playing, observing and watching for any trouble amongst her charges. It was from that very same vantage point that Mrs. Miller saw a group of five lads approach the quiet form of Hadrian Peverell over near the swings one summer afternoon two years ago.
"Oi, Peverell!," called John Barnett. John was a tall, spindly, brown haired youth three years Peverell's senior. He and his friends enjoyed taunting the green-eyed boy, though (or perhaps because) he never retaliated. More than once, the Peverell child had been afforded broken limbs and bruises from their antics, yet still he never spoke.
Peverell had been reading a book (as he was wont to do, even at the tender age of four), sitting cross-legged under one of the few scraggly maple trees which the park boasted. Hearing his name, the child lowered the thick tome in which his nose had hitherto been buried, and looked up at his tormentors.
His face was the picture of insouciance, blank as he assessed the situation, though he inclined his head slightly in acknowledgement.
"What've yeh got there?" John questioned mockingly. Peverell looked pointedly at his book, raising an eyebrow.
"That ain't no children's book, is it?" queried another of the boys, Ernest, as he tilted his head in an attempt to see the title. "He can't read that, then, can he? He's got'a be pretendin'. No normal kid could read it," he continued, looking at his friends for confirmation.
"Well, he ain't no normal kid, now, is he?" remarked a third child. Peverell's face remained impassive.
"He's a freak!"declared the fourth, eliciting a round of laughter from the older boys.
"Is that why yer parents left yeh, then? Because yer a freak?" jeered another, stepping closer to the seated child and giving him a rough kick. At this, Peverell's expression darkened, yet still he remained silent.
"I bet it is," agreed John, "Not even 'is own mum wanted 'im," the boys guffawed at that, even as the Peverell child deposited his book on the ground and stood up to his full (though still markedly shorter than older boys) height.
"Does it make yeh sad, Peverell, that even yer own parents couldn't stand yer freakiness?" taunted Ernest, while Peverell clenched his fists.
"Look, Ern! I think yeh struck a nerve!" John sniggered at that.
Then, so softly that Mrs. Miller questioned whether she had even heard I at all, came a reply.
"Don't push me." murmured the boy with the emerald eyes, his voice soft from disuse, but smooth and lilting nonetheless.
The older boys seemed shocked into silence, so astounded were they by the previously unheard voice of their victim. Had they glanced over to the bench where Mrs. Miller was sitting, they would've born witness to a similar gobsmacked expression upon her usually stern countenance.
"Did he just...?"
"I think he did."
They continued to stare at the smaller boy until finally, John spoke up.
"What're yeh gonna do to us, then, freak?" at this, the other boys seemed fall easily back into their familiar routine of harassment.
"Are yeh gonna try an' scare us away with your freakiness, like you did yer mummy and daddy?" Ernest laughed, hitting Peverell's shoulder.
"Sure worked well on 'em, didn't it? Abandoned yeh at a filthy little orphanage, they did." added John, shoving Peverell back into the tree.
Suddenly, John was the one pushed up against the tree, his arm twisted behind his back and held imobile by Peverell. The motion had occurred so instantaneously that Mrs. Miller had missed it entirely, and judging from John's disbelieving expression, so had he.
"I said," Peverell stood on his toes to whisper into John's ear, "don't push me." and as if to emphasise his previous statement, a sickening crack resounded throughout the park.
Were it not for John's shriek of pain, Mrs. Miller would never have guessed that Peverell had been the cause of the 'crack', and as it was, she had a difficult time believing it herself even as John rushed to her, wailing about a broken arm. It was impossible, she told herself. No four year old could break an arm with only his bare hands. In the confusion, Peverell had disappeared, and was not missed until later, when he was seen climbing the stairs to his room, book in hand.
That evening, after John's arm was on its way to mending and the orphans were fed, Mrs. Miller warily ventured up to room fourteen, the Peverell boy's room, belt in hand and intent upon punishing him for his act of violence.
As she pushed open the door, the matron immediately noted the immaculate state of his small living quarters. His single pair of shoes sat by his wardrobe, exactly perpendicular to the wall, and blankets were neatly folded at the foot of his cot. Nothing was out of place at all. It was then that Mrs. Miller realised that she had never been in his room before. When he had grown old enough for his own room, she had never had a reason to check on him; Peverell was self-sufficient.
The boy in question sat on his bed with his legs crossed and the book from earlier in his lap. He gazed at her with his unsettling green eyes, and suddenly she felt inadequate, like he had evaluated her and found her wanting. Berating herself for such foolish thoughts, Mrs. Miller steeled herself and spoke to him.
"I know what you did to John Barnett, Hadrian." she started. His name tasted wrong in her mouth. He was Peverell to her. He had always been Peverell. "That wasn't very nice of you, young man, and I am afraid I will have to give you a beating for it." she stated firmly in spite of her anxiousness, and it was true: she was afraid.
"With all due respect, Madame," his began, his velvety voice low and his speech patterns all wrong for a four year old, "I'm sure that your bones are more brittle than John Barnett's." with that, he smirked, and his eyes lit up as if in amusement. Her blood ran cold. It was true, she knew, and if this child, no, this freak could break the arm of a boy nearly twice his age as if he were snapping a twig, what else could he do?
"I would imagine that they are," she replied in a whisper, and with that she quit his room.
Since that day, Hadrian Peverell had been untouchable. The orphans were nearly as afraid of the Peverell boy as the warden was, and his every action went unquestioned. He sat out in the rain sometimes, for hours even, and would return inside positively drenched in ice-cold water, yet no one spoke a word. On one occasion multiple children swore the had seen him conversing with a snake in the park, but no one dared ask after the event.
He had been adopted multiple times during his stay at Bennett's, of course, for how could he not be? He appeared on the surface to be everything a couple looking to adopt would want a child to be: polite, charming, beautiful, and practically radiating charisma, but (despite Mrs. Miller's prayers) none of the adoptions stuck. Peverell was always returned to the orphanage a few days later with the couple tight-lipped and refusing to speak of the boy.
And so it was that life at the orphanage carried on (more cautiously when in the vicinity of room fourteen) and the old warden continued to cook, clean, and take the children on outings. The park remained as much a constant in the lives of the inhabitants of Bennett's Orphanage as watered-down soup and moth-eaten blankets, and the hope that someday Hadrian Peverell would disappear.
Mrs. Miller didn't judge her orphans. No, the delinquents were free to come and go, the misfits and the desperate ones too. The warden welcomed them all with open arms, and looked after them as best she could. All but one. No, Peverell didn't need her welcoming or her looking after; he just needed her to refrain from asking questions. And that's what she did for her orphans: she did what they needed her to do.
So one blustery autumn afternoon when Peverell was six years old, Mrs. Miller took her orphans on an outing to the park. She observed them playing from her favourite low, green bench. She saw when little Cristina won a game of hide-and-seek, and she noticed when Ernest had an argument with John, and beyond the fence that divided the park from the street beyond, she observed a strange looking woman leading the Peverell boy away down an alley across the way. And Mrs. Miller did what the Peverell boy needed her to do: she refrained from asking questions.
Perfect, she thought as she strolled casually along the small, yet bustling street. Enough people that I don't stand out. Because this was exactly the sort of environment she preferred for hunting, especially when her victims were muggles. Their eyes slid over her cascading, silver-blonde hair and scarlet robes easily, aided in their oblivious nature by the use of a simple 'notice-me-not' charm. No matter her desire to blend in, she would not lower herself to the use of hideous muggle attire.
Carina Valavicius observed her potential targets with calculating golden eyes, seeking an individual who's disappearance would not be dearly missed. Who shall be lunch today? she wondered as she noticed a group of children playing in a nearby park. Children were always a favourite of Carina's, their blood nearly as clean as that of wizards. Alas, it appeared that today she would have to settle for an adult, as the children were all within the confines of a fence, and under the watchful eyes of some old woman seated across the park.
Then, Carina's gaze fell on a small, beautiful boy who was seated just outside the fence. The child appeared to be young, probably five of six, and yet he was pouring over a thick volume clutched in his small fingers. So the child was intelligent, then. I suppose the usual method won't work on him, the vampire mused as she fiddled with the muggle sweets concealed within a pocket in her robes. No, I'll have to take him by force.
So lost in her scheming was she that even her heightened senses failed to detect the child's sudden movement. Abruptly, the child was standing immediately in front of her, appraising her with luminous emerald eyes, picking her apart despite the 'notice-me-not'.
"Who are you?" he asked, "You aren't like the others. You feel different."
It was then that Carina realised that this boy feltdifferent too. Most definitely not a muggle child, she reflected. Now that she saw his face, his eyes, his power, it was obvious that the child came from old blood. But even as she tentatively reached out with her magic, feeling his respond with too much vigour for any mudblood, she doubted that theory. His magic was too strong, too dark for even a pureblood. Then, the thought occurred to her that he might be born. She glanced at his left wrist. There, shocking despite her suspicions, was a silver band, unique, yet easily recognisable as one of a born vampire. But who was he?
Born vampires were extremely rare, only coming along every few centuries. This was due to the fact that a born vampire was needed to beget children at all, and even then, there was no rush. After all, when you live forever, why hurry?
But born vampires were known. All vampires made it a priority to know of the existence of born vampires. They were, after all, important. Born vampires were more powerful than turned vampires, inheriting their parent's vampiric powers as well as their own. As a born herself, Carina Valavicius had access to sources that would alert her immediately upon the birth on one of her kind.
But who is this child with the glowing green eyes? And more importantly, where are his parents?
"I am Carina Valavicius." she stated, hoping for a reaction. None came. Even among wizards, her name was known, yet this child seemed unperturbed. "Who are you, child, and where are your parents?" she voiced her thoughts.
He seemed to appraise her before answering, "I am Hadrian Peverell, and my parents are dead, I think."
Peverell? The child was a Peverell? The Peverells were dead, yes, but they had had a son? The implications of such a possibility were astronomical. The Peverells were an old pureblood line, the first turned centuries before wizarding Britain was even established, and the first born Peverell born around the time of the Founders.
It was that vampire, Cassius Peverell, that would be this child's father, but (though old even for a vampire) the father wasn't what would make this Peverell child so special. No, the fact that would make this child more remarkable than even any born vampire could hope to be was the fact that his mother was Anastasia de Thaneto. While not more noteworthy than the average born vampire in and of herself, Anastasia's union with Cassius Peverell was the first union of two born vampires in history. That union would make this boy, this Hadrian Peverell, the first child of two born vampires ever to exist.
Carina hadn't known the Peverell couple well, but she had known of them. Anastasia and Cassius Peverell had been a stunning couple, both attractive even by the standards of vampires, and powerful in their own rights. Seeing them together, an apparently young man and woman of twenty or twenty-five, one would never have guessed that they had been together centuries.
Their deaths, by the hand of the rising Dark Lord Grindelwald, had been an insult to vampires of all sorts. With as few born vampires as there were, the murder of even one would have been disgraceful. But they had dug their own grave. Refusing to support the Dark Lord so blatantly, it was only a matter of time before stakes were plunged through their hearts, ending the Peverell line.
But it hadn't ended, had it? They had had a son. This child, who's magic was darker than any she had seen before, even before his Turning. Once he was bitten, and his vampiric magic was unleashed, he would most likely be as powerful as an adult born. And when he came to magical maturity and reached his Inheritance, he would be more powerful than anyone could imagine.
"Excuse me, madam, but are you alright?" the object of her thoughts startled Carina back into reality.
"Yes, I am alright, Hadrian. May I call you Hadrian?" she queried in return. He pursed his lips, and his brows furrowed in deliberation. The childlike expression was so endearing that Carina's lips twitched up into a smile.
"You may. And I shall call you Carina." he declared, and Carina couldn't help but laugh. She liked this child. Before, she had never thought of having her own children, but as she spoke with this bold little vampire, she wondered what motherhood would be like.
"Well then, Hadrian, would you like to come live with me, to be my son?" the silver-haired vampire smiled, and Hadrian's eyes widened in an incredulous expression.
"What? I don't know you. You don't know me. Why in the world would you want to adopt me? You know nothing about me!"
"On the contrary, Hadrian. I know more about you than even you know." his expression morphed into one of doubt, and Carina continued, "I know that you are different from the other children; you are smarter, less...childish. I know that you are stronger than them, faster, that you can make things happen that you can't explain." and then, judging by the wary looks the children sent his way and the fact that he was sitting by himself, Carina fathomed a guess, "I know that they fear you, Hadrian, and rightly so." At this, his eyebrows shot up and he moved slightly away from her.
"How do you know? Who are you?" he questioned her, a slightly panicked look in his eyes.
"I already told you, Hadrian. I am Carina Valavicius, and I am like you. I too am smarter, stronger, faster than the others." she leaned close to him, and spoke in a whisper, "I too am powerful." and with that, she knew she had him. He was curious, and would want answers.
And Carina knew that now, when she offered to adopt him, he would say yes, if only to sate his curiosity. That was how people worked, and after centuries of living as she did, she knew how to manipulate them. If her plans worked, Hadrian would too. How fortuitous was their meeting! She would Turn him, raise him, teach him the art influence and politics. She would hide him from Grindelwald, perhaps from the rest of the vampires as well, for if his true nature was known, he would be forced into the middle of the upcoming war.
"So, child, what do you say? Will you come with me, Hadrian?" unspoken was the promise of answers and explanation. She extended a hand in his direction.
He looked at her with a dubious countenance, but cautiously placed his smaller hand in hers.
And with that, Carina guided him down a shady alleyway adjoining the street. Pulling him close, she stepped into a particularly dark shadow and disappeared.