Cross my heart,
and hope to die,
stick a needle in my eye.
Wait a moment,
I spoke a lie,
I never really,
wanted to die.
But if I may,
and if I might,
my heart is open,
Though my lips are sealed,
and a promise is true,
I won't break my word,
my word to you.
Jasper watched the new female with detached curiosity, quietly fascinated by this unexpected oddity. It was the sixth day, and the recruit was still transitioning at the bottom of the ditch. It had been several years since anything unforeseen occurred, and the first time anything unexplainable happened. This mystery had even drawn his sire Maria, who had come by in the last couple of days to check on the situation.
Normally it was Maria who stayed with the transitioning newborns. Her duty was to track down potentials for their army and change them -- a task Jasper and his lack of control wasn’t able to do. As the leader of the coven Maria preferred to demonstrate and explain herself to every newly awakened newborn she created, claiming it prevented misunderstandings down the line. In the beginning the newborns were always confused, and a quick explanation of the situation and what they could expect of their future made them more compliant. Of course; she was right, and Jasper had seen it demonstrated too many times to doubt her methods.
They were her investments, and Maria made sure they were up to standard as swiftly as possible. Once she was done explaining how they were to think, she handed them to Jasper to show them how to behave. That was their agreement:
Maria was their beginning, and Jasper their end.
But this time was different. Maria had dropped off the black haired woman nearly a week before. She had already been in transition, and like usual Maria had disposed of the female in the “ditch”. There was no use keeping watch over the newborn the first couple of days of the burn. They only screamed and writhed in agony, and either they survived or they didn’t. Unless one liked listening to the constant wailing and screaming there was no need to hang around.
The area was far enough away from any human settlements, yet close enough to travel between the newborn camp and the ditch to check up on their progress.
Maria was understanding to Jasper’s plight. With his gift as an empath Jasper was affected by their burn, and so she usually dealt with the newborns during their transformation to spare him unnecessary pain. All Jasper had to do was check in from time to time, and with his farsighted eyes he didn’t need to come into proximity to keep track.
All their well established habits went straight out the window this time though. Because on the third day Maria had returned to the ditch to await the newborn’s awakening and go through the normal procedure, but the transformation wasn’t done.
The woman continued screaming.
Jasper had come by on the fourth day, confused by the delay and worried the newborn might have attacked and injured his sire. His fears were unfounded though.
“She’s still burning.” Maria explained, and Jasper could feel the waft of both frustration and a hint of intrigue from her being.
“I didn’t think they burned for more than three days.” Jasper replied, even if he already knew it wasn’t a hard rule. There were a few hours difference from newborn to newborn. Some a little less than three days, others a bit more - but no one had burned for so long the three day rule no longer applied. This woman was well into her fourth day, and judging by her physical changes she was only halfway.
“Neither did I.” Maria admitted, her voice holding a tinge of humour. “It’s different. She’s different. I was searching for a strong male like the others, but when I came across this one I knew there was something about her, but I didn’t think it would show like this.” Maria tapped her foot and watched the woman curiously. “How are the newborns?”
“No casualties, but only because I calmed down base two. They’re restless and cooped up, and keep starting fights whenever I leave. Peter is getting frustrated with them. The other base is better, since the newborns there seem to get along better. I’m considering moving the newest soldier, Manuel, over to base one. He ain’t getting along with the others, and without me there it’s only a matter of time before we lose some of the newborns to infighting.”
“I want them all alive, Jasper. We’re at a solid, manageable number. All with good ages too.”
“I agree, but though we have the number, a couple of newborns in base two lacks focus.”
“You can manage them.” Maria replied dismissively. “You always do.”
A smug pride radiated from Maria, and Jasper soaked in it. He appreciated Maria’s confidence in his capabilities and how she favoured him above all others. Her belief in him meant more than Jasper could express. Their lives were hard, and she was the only light in a sea of negativity. He would never be able to repay her for that.
“But why is this one taking so long?” Asked Jasper, addressing the problem at hand. Normally Maria would be finished with the transitioning newborn by now, and Jasper could start the initiation training where he demonstrated to their newest soldier what was and wasn’t acceptable.
“I can not begin to guess.” Maria replied, finally turning away from the woman with another wave of frustration. “I’ve considered simply setting her aflame and find someone else. Listening to her wailing is tiring, but then again; I’ve never seen this before. Perhaps it means something. I’d hate to destroy her before I know for sure.”
“You believe the prolonged burn means she’ll be different?”
Maria shook her head. “We can only speculate. But she’ll need supervision, as I no longer have any idea when she might awake. If she survives this, the last thing we want is for her to awaken with no one here and then wander off in the wrong direction.” Maria looked at him and projected a new wave of annoyance and agitation, punctuated with a hopeful enquiry at the end.
He knew what she was hinting at, and Jasper didn’t want to disappoint. Maria was always the one to deal with the transitioning newborns, and she rarely asked for his assistance. How could he deny her the few times she did? It wasn’t unreasonable for her to want a break. This case was unique too, and it was only fair he did his share of the work.
“You must be weary from the screaming. I’ll keep watch.” He agreed before Maria had even worded the question. He knew her too well.
Maria beamed, her emotions warm and affectionate, and Jasper returned it. “Oh, thank you, Jasper. I know how you hate this part. I’m going to hunt and then see how the others are faring, but I’ll be back to check up on the situation.”
“Of course, Maria.” Jasper replied.
That was two days ago.
Maria had relieved him the day before, allowing Jasper a break from the bombarding despair from the transforming newborn, and had stayed for one and a half day before he came back.
He absolutely hated it. Jasper didn’t feel the burn, not exactly, but so close the emotional havoc was overwhelming and unavoidable.
Over the years he had gotten better at blocking out the fluctuating emotions, and he kept his distance when it became too much. Though this one was proving one of a kind, and breaking all previous records when it came to transitioning.
Jasper glanced down at the female again, his head cocked to the side. He vaguely wondered if she would outlast the change. His three days of burning had been more than enough, but this female had been in hell for the last six days and still didn’t show signs of stopping. The only upside to the exhausting job was the fact this female would often respond to the pain with anger. A somewhat refreshing change. Jasper preferred fury to despair any day.
“Still screaming, eh?”
It would seem that Peter had succumbed to his curiosity at last.
Jasper didn’t care about any of the newborns, yet even he could understand the slight pang of sympathy wafting from Peter. None of them joked about the burn, and his attempt had been less than half hearted at best.
“Yes.” Jasper replied calmly.
“Unbelievable.” Peter murmured, shaking his head. “Reckon there’ll be anythin’ left of her mind? After burnin’ for so long?”
The question was valid, and one Jasper had already considered and discussed with Maria. “We’ll have to wait and see.”
Peter came forwards cautiously, his eyes roaming over the female with intrigue. “Strange dress.” His second in command noted.
Peter was not wrong. It looked like a dark grey robe, and Jasper had never seen a human woman wear such an attire before -- not that it mattered. It would get destroyed within the first week of her awakening.
“Any idea when it’ll be over?” Peter pondered, crossing his arms over his chest. “I’ve got it in hand back at the base, but it’s still louder without you to calm or cow them into submission.”
The longer this took, the more Maria was willing (and even eager) to wait it out. Jasper wasn’t so sure though. The newborn had held out a very long time, but it wouldn’t surprise him if she died of the agony. Either way, for his own sake he hoped the female would finished up soon.
“Though it is a slow process, you can see she is altered. Her skin has hardened, her features has changed.” Jasper tilted his head and looked at her more critically. Her black hair had previously been a frizzy mess in a loose bun, but now resembled proper curls instead, her face was more symmetrical, turning beautiful, and… A few hours ago there had still been a curious lightning bolt scar on her brow, but it had at last faded.
“Even if it is slowly her body is definitely transforming.” It was the most he could conclude from the clues they had at hand.
“I don’t envy her.” Peter grimaced with another shake of his head.
Jasper didn’t reply, but then Peter didn’t really expect him to.
At thirteen Holly Potter had been warned about the dangers of disrupting time. It was a subject which seldom came up in daily life, yet the few times it did the words preached by one of her closest friends came back with a stark clarity despite how it’d been a near decade since Holly heard them aloud.
‘Awful things happen to wizards who meddle with time, Holly.’
Hermione’s warning was one of those phrases Holly never forgot. They might have stuck better than other reminders because of the events that followed, or perhaps it was because it was one of the few solid life advice's Hermione had miraculously managed to drill into Holly’s thick scull.
Her bookish friend frequently lamented Holly and Ron’s habit of letting “important” information fly over their heads no matter how many times Hermione lectured them, but it wasn’t completely accurate. Holly had taken note of most of Hermione’s advises over the years; she just didn’t always bother to act on it.
Not that Holly dared admit that aloud. If she ever caught onto Holly’s habit of wilfully ignoring her common sense, Hermione would no doubt throw her arms in the air, exclaim she was “giving up”, and storm off in a righteous huff. Probably on her way to the library.
But the advise on time travel was one Holly had never even dreamed of ignoring. Because terrible things truly did happen to those who meddled with time.
(Willingly or unwillingly alike.)
Holly had been on an auror assignment as a junior officer. There were evidences that one of her old schoolmates, Theodore Nott, had a few objects he really shouldn’t, and doing something less than recommended with them. He was in the middle of developing time travel devises, and to everyone’s horrified surprise; some of his experiments were actually on the right track.
But of course; the one who ended up paying for it had to be Holly.
It was Halloween, and true to the never failing curse of that unholy day the visit to the Nott estate had gone spectacularly wrong. It resulted in a fight, an attempted capture and escape, before Holly was thrown into what could only be described as the wizarding version of a crazy scientist lab.
Disoriented and hurting Holly had landed hard on her back on the middle of the workbench, which held strange substances and scary equipments beeping and steaming. The next she registered had been flashes of light, darkness and quite a bit of nausea. When Holly came back to herself it was in a completely different place and time.
Not that Holly had understood that at first. She’d been too busy spewing and getting reacquainted with the fish and chips she ate for lunch. No, the understanding had come in sudden bursts between long stretches of bullheaded denial.
The easiest to accept was the unwilling time travel. The outdated cars, the buildings, culture and dress code were simply impossible to overlook, and soon Holly had to accept she was no longer in October 2001, but in July 1901.
The more horrifying revelation for the young witch was how this world was not the one Holly originated from. Because though Holly could get on board with time travel (she had already done that before and knew it was doable) -- dimension hopping was a lot scarier.
As the days went by Holly had gradually realized that this dimension was utterly muggle. She had searched, but places such as Hogwarts, Diagon Alley and the ministry were gone without a trace. The magical community didn’t seem to exist here at all.
Her desperate search for magic had sent her apparating around the world in a mad chase for signs of wizarding communities. In a matter of days Holly had been to New York, Paris, Brasil, the Amazon Rainforest and Minami Iwo Jima, all of which had magical schools or settlements, all of them now inexplicably gone.
In a last attempt to find anything Holly had travelled to the outskirts of Chihuahua in Mexico. A couple of weeks before the accident Holly had visited the area with Ron and Ginny to watch the preparations taking place for the 2002 Quidditch World cup. It was a little under a year away and the stadium was being built and spelled in a magically hidden section of the area.
It was an impulsive visit driven by despair and loneliness, and Not surprisingly; it had been a complete failure too. After hours of searching in the middle of nowhere Holly had ended up walking dazed into a much smaller settlement which she kept recalling as larger city. Holly had been so out of it she didn’t register the blatant staring either. Earlier in the week she had still held onto enough of her wits and caution to keep a notice-me-not charm active at all times. But the spell had long since faded as the devastating truth of her situation settled on her shoulders, causingHolly to draw a lot of attention.
Just the fact she dared stroll around in wizarding attire earned her scrutiny. Grey auror robes weren’t in fashion during the 1900’s, and though some might mistake it for a dress, (at least if they squinted and refrained from looking twice,) she was sure the lost expression and aimless stumbling didn’t help either.
At the time Holly hadn’t given a bloody damn what they thought. It had been hard enough to muster up the willpower to think about anything else but her crushing grief and fear.
Yet hindsight is twenty/twenty, and Holly would later wish she had cared a little bit more. Because that very evening would be the one where she met her murderer.
Even if she had been in any state to defend herself, Holly wasn’t sure she would have been able to. Because she was proven wrong in one assumption the night of her death. This new world was not without magic; irrevocably proven when in a whirl of colour she was assaulted by a creature faster than her eyes could track, stronger than Hagrid could dream to be and as hard as marble.
The creature had grabbed and dragged her from a quiet street at the edge of the city, before something penetrated her neck.
The one holding her was humanoid, but hard and cold like a statue. Holly’s sight was obscured by dark hair, and the pain in her neck was from the being biting into it to drink her blood.
She could literally feel the liquid being sucked out of her and hear the creature swallow it down eagerly. Like some… like a…
Her first instinct was to flee, because this creature was much stronger than her schoolbooks claimed they should be. The second was to quench the pain. To stop it by any means possible, though preferably by blowing the vampire to pieces.
When the vampire had its fill of her, it let her go. An action which should have stopped the pain; not increased it.
A burning was spreading from where the vampire bit her. Like licking flames following a trail of gasoline. Except the gasoline was her blood, setting her whole body aflame from the inside out. The heat intensified and trembling, whimpering and terrifiedHolly attempted to crawl away, but though free of its grip the vampire hadn’t left.
Shaking violently Holly reached out for the wand she had dropped during the initial struggle, but she was blocked. Instead Holly watched in gut wrenching disbelief as a foot stepped on the wooden stick, breaking her wand in two.
Her wand was her lifeline, her escape plan – snapped in two by the heel of a foot.
Uncaring, the vampire picked her up like she weighed nothing. Her glasses had slipped off her face, so even as Holly screamed and kicked out with her feet, trying to struggle against her attacker and somehow release herself from this new type of agony, she had opened her eyes to see a blurry shape in front of her.
The vampire had been close enough for Holly’s pitiful eyesight, and she made out dark silky curls, olive skin and glowing red eyes peering back at her from a lovely yet menacing face.
For a mad second Holly was convinced she was faced with some kind of alternate female Voldemort, but they held no resemblance outside the eyes, and the thought gave way for pain too soon to hold onto.
Holly was no stranger to pain, in fact she was intimately familiar with it. And though Holly had at several instances experienced a greater pain -- like when she was briefly possessed by Tom, and nothing could really compare to the cruciatus curse after all -- she had never been in such an amount of agony for so long a time.
Everything hurt so badly, boiling from within and rapidly growing well past delirious. Her eyes closed of their own volition as the world ignited. She didn’t even take the time to question why there was wind in her hair or how the vampire could carry her so easily.
The agony was too much, and Holly’s fury at her attacker made her scream and lose track of what happened around her. The truth was that Holly didn’t understand why she was in pain – what the cause of this misery was – and tried everything within her limited capabilities to stop the agony. She wrapped her hands around herself, curling into a fetus position while chanting counter curses. When that didn’t make a difference she attempted to claw at herself in hopes of digging out the flames from her veins. Holly screamed, scratched, pulled, kicked, punched, writhed and rolled – but nothing worked.
There was no reason to keep it in – to stay quiet. Holly wanted to be heard. Hoped and prayed someone would know what had happened so they could come rescue her. For once Holly needed someone else to be the saviour, and if that was beyond them, then at least they had to put her out of her misery.
It was the length of time that truly horrified her, and Holly wasn’t even granted relief through sweet oblivion. Pain had always been passing, but this was different in its insistent, enduring and torturous reluctance to leave. Holly was terrified she would burn forever.
Desperate for any sort of respite Holly had watched the transit of time; counting days, hours, minutes and seconds simply to have something – anything – to distract her. It was not before the seventh moon made way for another dawn that the burning pain came to a halt.
Holly’s eyes snapped open, leaving her staring straight into the face of a scarred, blonde man with eyes the colour of blood.