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A Little Wicked

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CHAPTER I

STRANGERS

Edward Cullen toyed with his fork the hot dog that he bought, concentrating on that nasty-looking food - just as all human foods were, in his view - preferring to look at it than to pay attention to others around him. It was Monday, the beginning of another year as a Forks High School refectory was filled with the sounds of teenage students: laughter, lively voices, uninteresting conversations, uninteresting people.

Lifting his gaze to his siblings, he had seen Rosalie look at the tips of her long golden hair.

'Should I cut it? I've kept the same length for years...' her mind rambled through different types of haircuts.

Edward had quickly disconnected himself from his sister's mind, too bored to follow her reveries of vanity. He turned to Emmett who as watching on his smartphone videos of UFC fights, his mind focused on martial arts scams.

Turning to the left, he had seen Jasper groping around the table impatiently.

'Four hours to get out of here.  Four hours...'

Jasper hated having to attend high school, but unlike Edward who was more irritated by his perpetual state of boredom for of being in that place, Jasper was irritated by the crowding of humans, their pulsating hearts and hot blood running through their veins, tempting him on every second, even with almost fifty years since joining the Cullen's vegetarian diet. Alice stroked her mate's hand as her golden eyes rested on Edward's face.

'Ed ... Are you okay?' Her mind asked softly.

Edward was close to his siblings, but he was more intimate with Alice. They both had the habit of having secret conversations where he read her mind and she interpreted his subtle facial expressions learned over the decades.

He gently twisted his mouth and she understood with an empathic smile.

He felt tortured.

Over the course of nearly seventy years, he pretended to be a high school teenager so that he and his family could move to another place that hadn’t days fulfilled with the sunlight as was insignificant, to recommence that cycle. If it weren’t enough to be caught in this infinite loop, he still possessed the “gift” (or a curse) of telepathy, which basically made his brain act like a radio, catching the thoughts of everyone around him in a radius of almost 100 meters.

In addition to the mediocrity of the conversations, he still listened to the thoughts of these young people unwillingly.

"... Of course I like you Jess ... You are my girl" Mike Newton said looking at Jessica Stanley 'No, I don't like you that much, but I love our sex'

"... Oh Mike! - Jessica said hugging the neck of the boy"- 'HA!!! I hope Elle could hear that...'

"… Well, I accept to go on a date with you!" - 'For lack of something better, this is what I have left'

"... Wow, Carol, you look great…The California sun did good to you!" - 'Ugh, you look like a pumpkin with this horrible suntan'

"... Hey Thomas, you were brilliant last season, congratulations man!" - 'Does he notice me this year?'

"... Of course I'm ready for test!" - 'FUCK WE HAVE A TEST TODAY?!'

Edward dropped his fork, taking another deep breath to calm himself down, even though he knew this action was useless, as his lungs technically needed no air. This was one of the few human reflexes he'd kept since he'd turned into a vampire more than a hundred years ago.

'This is my private hell. So be it.' He shrugged, leaning back against the chair as he swept the school refectory with his eyes. 

In the far left corner, away from all tables, three teens sat while occasionally eating their snacks while being watched by the students around.

Edward unconsciously caught the conversation of others with his sensitive hearing.

"... Are they English?"

"Yeah... They were transferred from posh boarding school or something like that from UK..."

"I had class with the redhead.  His name is Ron... He seems to be a nice guy."

"I had class with that bulky-haired girl... But don’t ask me the name, because I forgot."

Edward looked back at the new students, who seemed disinterested. At the end was a girl with bulky brown hair but gracefully wavy, reserved gentle brown eyes. Beside her, a red-haired boy with blue eyes and freckle-faced face sipped his coke while whispering something Edward could not understand. Finally, there was a young boy with black hair, porcelain complexion and green eyes that looked bored.

"What happed Edward?" Alice asked, making him turn his attention to their table.

"We have new classmates." Edward said casually.

"Really?"

"Yes... Didn’t you see in vision?" Edward asked. Since the incident with Bella, the Cullens became more wary of interacting with humans, and any newcomer was previously seen by Alice in her visions, in order to avoid future problems.

"No... nothing." Alice shrugged as she rummaged through the refectory until she found the newcomers’ table.

"Nothing?" Rosalie asked incredulously.

"No..."

Edward said nothing, turning his attention to the table on the other side of the refectory. Carefully, he rummaged with his powers the thoughts of everyone in the place, until he could get to the table of the new students, but all he encountered was with a strange silence, as if his power had been bounced off. He tried again, and again he failed.

The redhead and the girl looked at Edward as if he'd been caught in the act. Their faces were serious.

Edward blinked in amazement.

That was impossible.

"Alice... Speak something mentally" He turned to his sister.

'What happened?' Her mental voice sounded in his head.

"Edward, what happened?" Jasper asked.

"I... I cannot hear what they think…" He whispered, but the four vampires heard perfectly turning their backs on the three new students. "I cannot hear..."

"What?" Rosalie exclaimed in alarm.

"I cannot hear…" He repeated for himself in shook.

"What do you mean you cannot hear bro?" Emmett asked frowning.

"I cannot. It's like they're isolated themselves in a vacuum... Not a word. No sound." Edward whispered.

"Try again... Concentrate." Rosalie demanded.

Edward once again directed his power toward the desired point, but once again he met the silence. Looking carefully, he saw that this time it was he who was watched by the seemingly younger boy, his green eyes staring at him intensely while his facial expression was stoic, jaw tightly contracted and rosy lips locked in a straight line.

He couldn't hear nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Watching the three get up (the redhead boy was the tallest of the three, nearly as tall as Edward, while the girl and the green-eyed boy were of low stature), the Cullens watched them walk through the refectory with a discreet speed.

"Nothing?"

"Nothing" Edward blinked his golden eyes, looking at his hands. "Weird..."

Alice looked at her brother and finally asked.

"What is weird, Ed?"

Edward lifted his head to look at his sister.

"For a brief moment, they seemed to know what I was trying to do..." Edward whispered.

"You think they're vampires?" Emmett asked.

"No... They have different eye colors... Human ones. And I could see the blood flowing in their faces." Edward answered.

"It must have been your impression..." Rosalie whispered.

"He couldn’t hear Bella's thoughts either." Jasper said.

"Yes, but one thing is to be only with one individual, another thing totally different is happening this with three." Rosalie said.

The alarm signal sounded in the refectory, indicating the time to return to the classroom.

"We'd better go to class... Later we'll talk about it." Edward got up from the table, being accompanied by the others to the exit, each separating and following the way to their respective classrooms.

Walking to his locker, Edward took his biology book - another useless accessory to his human farce - and walked into the classroom in the other building, despondent by the enormous boredom that awaited him.

.

.

.

Sitting by the window and alone - the students, unconsciously following the instincts of survival and also by intimidation, didn’t sit next to him - Edward stared at the raindrops that ran down the glass of the windows as he watched the trees with their branches covered with green and moist mosses. Although small, insignificant, Edward liked Forks, he liked to watch the green, dense landscape that surrounded them. There was something peaceful about the nature of this piece of Washington State.

"Very well, class, turn to page 394. Today we’ll study the kingdom of Plantae..." Professor Warren spoke until he was interrupted by a knock at the door. "Come in..."

The black-haired boy came into the room and handed the teacher a piece of paper.

"Sorry to interrupt you sir... I had a little problem with my locker" Edward heard him murmur softly, his modulated voice with a thick British accent.

"No needs to apologize. What’s your name?"

"Harry, sir, Harry Potter."

"Well Mr. Potter, do you want to introduce yourself to the class?"

"No sir."

"Then you can sit next to Mr. Cullen at the third table."

The boy, Harry, stared at Edward, who this time could visualize the young boy better. Harry Potter was small, no more than 5'5 ft and wore a turtleneck shirt in emerald green knitting that highlighted his eyes that also possessed an impressive green hue, being crowned by long dark lashes and thick dark eyebrows that contrasted with his ivory skin. Edward also saw a intriguing ray-shaped scar that was partially hidden by the boy's dark locks.

He was generally very handsome, with a freshness of youth and innocence in his features but also something that Edward wasn’t sure how to define, because his mind was completely protected. Instead the boy looked at him with an expression that seemed to be incredulity, discomfort, sadness or melancholy... Edward again tried to read the young man's mind, but nothing came of it.

As he advanced, Harry was pounding through the warm air of the room heater and Edward had a violent reaction just like he had with Bella last year, only much worse than he could imagine.

Unbelievable.

Impossible.

Hot air amplified the boy's scent, saturating the air with a delicious scent that vaguely resembled a warm caramel and others elements that Edward couldn’t define, more powerful and intoxicating than Bella's, which seemed insignificant in comparison with this. As he stared at the table, Edward felt every muscle in his body ache in an insane urge to press his teeth into the boy's small neck that sat beside him, draining every drop of blood from that body.

It had been decades since he'd taken human blood, and until then, except for Bella's, he'd never felt any desire for one in particular.

But this... This flirted dangerously with his self-control.

"Humn... Are you alright?" Edward heard the boy's voice beside him, soft and worried.

Edward just shook his head positively, looking forward, refusing to look at him.

His mind was already beginning to draw plans to attract the boy after class... It would be easy. Edward was utterly handsome, knew how to manipulate people with his charm. He could offer himself to show the surroundings to Harry... He could lead it without him realizing to the forest, where with a simple squeeze would break the boy’s neck in order to avoid possible screams and suck his entire blood... He could...

No...

No...

NO!!!

Edward thought of Carlisle, thought of Esme, thought of his siblings, and the safety of his family... He had brought too many problems for them last year. He couldn’t do that to them. No!

But he wanted so much... So much...

While wandering in the duality of his primitive desires and his consciousness, Harry silently passed a note to Edward who looked down at the table, contemplating the calligraphy.

It's not your fault. I'm sorry.

Before he could reason about the note, Edward had seen Harry pick up his bag, walking briskly to the teacher, asking him to withdraw because he was feeling sick. Harry looked once more at Edward, giving a soft smile with his lips before disappearing through the door carrying his wonderful scent with him.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER II

COMPLICATIONS

It had been just over a week since Edward had taken Biology with Harry. A week in which he locked himself indoors, refusing to talk to anyone and just leaving the house to hunt where he could cope his frustration as he ran and climbed the nearby rocky mountains and then returned to his room with his discs. His parents and siblings tried to talk to him, tried to find out the reason for his annoyance. Edward could tell if he even knew how to catalog his thoughts that most closely resembled a complex tangle of wires

Technically, the situation was simple: he couldn’t read Harry's mind and his friends one. Check. This had happened to Bella as well, but soon he had discovered that from time to time he might find a rift in her mind, just like a crack in a shield. His plausible theory for this was similar to comparing his power of telepathy with a radio and the different frequencies he could pick up. Maybe Bella, Harry, and their friends had a different mental frequency. It sounded ridiculous by these terms, but it was the closest theorizing to rationality he could find.

But this theory had a flaw: Harry and his friends had no holes in their shields. On the contrary, their minds had a thick wall that repelled his power, protecting their minds with absolute secrecy. Alice couldn’t get a vision of them, as if they simply didn’t exist within the field of future possibilities that constantly changed. And Edward also suspected that Jasper couldn’t influence their emotions just as he couldn’t interpret them.

To complete the not very promising picture, there was still the note Harry had given him before he left the classroom. Edward picked up the note, inspecting the six words written in a hurried but still beautiful calligraphy.

'It's not your faultI'm sorry.'

What could that mean?

A quick interpretation told that Harry didn’t blame Edward's strange behavior. That he was sorry for the situation, that is, he knew he was the culprit and not Edward. 

Simple.

Except for the fact that it also meant that Harry might know what Edward was, and that was scary, for a human hardly came up with the hypothesis that he and his family were in fact, vampires - even Bella took months to guess the truth. But if that note meant what it appeared to meang, then Harry knew what he was. But the question was, who was he? What were he and his friends doing in Forks? How did he know that Edward was a vampire? Does he really know that he's a vampire?

Edward looked at the window, watching the cool morning light begin to dawn.

He would go back to school and find out what those foreigners were hiding.

For his protection and for his family.

.

.

.

"Well well well, look who has decided to grace us with his presence." Rosalie scoffed, combing her golden hair as she looked at the reflection of her red convertible bodywork.

"Haha... Very funny" Edward countered sourly, unlocking the doors of his Volvo.

"We missed you little brother... We thought you had died inside your bedroom." Emmett joked "Oh wait, wait... We're all already dead!!!"

Alice laughed, her voice ringing like bells in the wind.

"I don’t know why I'm still hanging out with you all..." Edward rolled his eyes.

"Because we have been siblings for more than fifty years, Ed. Get over it." Jasper joked, stepping inside the car while Rosalie was starting the vehicle.

"See you at school Ed! Don’t be late." Alice said.

"Okay. I'll get there in a little while."

Edward watched his sibling's car pull away and stepped into his silver Volvo, breathing heavily as he started the engine.

On the way to Forks High School, enjoying the silence that his mind had to capture absolutely no external thinking, Edward could think of different ways to approach to those British. He first thought of approaching the bulky haired girl, using his supernatural charm to dazzle her and who knows how to get information, after all it was easier to enchant the females one. It was not a good thing to do, but it was a good possibility. He also thought of bringing up some subject with the redhead named Ron, for he seemed to be friendly, easy to develop subject... But what subject? This was easier when he could get some information straight from the source. But there was someone else...

Harry.

Well, Harry was more complicated.

For besides the vexatious situation he had in the last class, there was the fact that Edward didn't know if he could resist the urge to drink the teenager's blood. Last time it was Harry who escaped on his own initiative. He couldn't guarantee that the human could have survived for another five minutes in that situation. Edward nearly broke the wheel of the car with his hands at the thought of the possibility of being with him alone, a perfect territory for him to drink his blood...

No.

That wasn’t what he was going to school for.

It was to find information. It wasn’t to suck the blood of a British green-eyed twink.

Information and not blood.

Information!

.

.

.

By the time he got to school, students still parked their cars and a few others came on foot, and soon Edward's mind was bombarded with outside talk and thoughts of all the humans around, a cacophony of annoying sounds that made his mouth twist with disgust , truly regretting to have returned to this place. If he envied anything in humans at this time, it would be their ability to die or to kill themselves. If Edward was dead – like dead-dead, not dead-alive - he could have some peace.

Or maybe he would go directly to Hell.

But since he was already technically dead, then probably this was Hell.

Oh, what a lovely beggin of morning he already had.

Getting out of the car, Edward had spotted a shiny black Mustang approaching and parking relatively close to where his car was. From his window, Edward had seen the redheaded boy, Ron, get out of the driver's seat being followed by the bulky-haired girl, the two of them walking while hold their hands together. So they're dating, Edward thought, seeing them walking toward the school building and disappearing from their field of vision. Turning his eyes to the car, he had seen Harry come out of the back seat, carrying his backpack. Today Harry wore a peach-colored sweater that highlighted the rosy tintof his cheeks stained by the cold air. He looked beautiful in a cute way...

Edward nodded, checking once again if his bronze hair was well groomed into the rearview mirror and got out of the car, catching the thoughts of the girls and some boys around them.

'Edward looks so hot today...'

'Those Cullens really needs a little bit of sun light... They probably don’t even know what Vitamin D is'

'Hmmm... I wonder if his little friend is so white as the rest of his body...'

That particular thought would make Edward blush if he was still capable of it.

Entering the building, he walked toward the lockers taking his necessary books for the Tuesday schedule: English literature, Math, Chemistry, and Physics. Closing the locket, he had seen Harry do the same action a few feet away, totally focused on his action. Edward paused for a moment, holding his breath to keep him from being snatched by the boy's scent as it did in Biology class.

Harry closed the closet, his eyes resting on Edward with a puzzled facial expression as the vampire stood staring at him. Harry finally gave a soft smile and a slight nod, up the stairs leaving Edward free to breathe, his lungs filling again with air that still contained remnants of the sweetness of his alluring scent.

It was still as delicious as the first day, and he also felt a mysterious warmth spread from the center of his chest to the rest of his cold body. Edward closed his eyes in appreciation of the sensation, but opened them again to focus again on his obligations as student. It would be a long day and hopefully things would go well.

 

The first class was in English Literature, where even having read all the books mentioned several times, he still liked to attend, because literature alongside music was one of his greatest passions. While Professor MacClare, a seventy-year-old lady with white cotton-haired hair explaining what Jane Eyre's plot consisted of, Edward cannot help noticing that in the first row sat the bulky-haired British girl.

Edward had watched her, watching her carefully take notes on the subject uttered, occasionally whispering to a girl on her side and laughing softly at some random comment. From time to time she would answer aloud a question asked by the teacher, her words uttered with eloquence and intelligently modulated. Edward soon noticed that she was really clever by the way she articulated her words or by her relaxed posture when asked about anything.

Her name was Hermione Granger.

Hermione... Interesting and very unusual name for a girl so young that appeared to be sixteen, at the most seventeen years old. Edward knew that his name - as well his brothers and parents’ one - was something old fashioned, out of date, reminiscent of grandparents and old things.

But Hermione sounded almost ancestral.

At one point, as the classroom fell silent, copying what the teacher wrote on the chalkboard, Edward took the opportunity to see if he could hear Hermione's thoughts and carefully he guided her telepathy to focus on the girl, focusing as hard as he could do on his target, but failing miserably. But to his surprise and horror, Hermione suddenly turned her body back, looking at Edward in the same way she would look if he had kicked her chair. Hermione's brown eyes stared at Edward's and the vampire suddenly felt terribly embarrassed by the situation, but fighting to keep it from showing on his face.

Hermione looked at him with something that resembled curiosity, irritation and something vague, as if she were rambling about something. At last, the girl turned forward, gathering up her books and notebooks and leaving the room five seconds before the interval bell rang.

.

.

.

In the refectory, Edward bought for appearance a can of Coke and a sandwich and walked toward the usual table where he and his brothers sat. Looking around him he saw the students crowding, each table with their respective tribes as they would do in any generic teen movie, with the exception that his table was from the vegetarian vampires tribe. For a moment he laughed softly at how ridiculous that sounded ... If they were in a movie, it would be a horrible movie, a bad joke.

Alice sat down at the table with a warm smile.

"Eddy, how was your day?"

"Spectacular." He answered sarcastically." I'm thrilled to be here.

"Cheer up Ed... Every new day a chance to learn something new." Emmett scoffed while undid the little bread with his pale fingers.

"As if we didn’t know about all this..." Jasper said with a frown.

"I'm seriously thinking about entering a sabbatical decade..." Rosalie said. "You know... A break from all this, something that I didn’t do since the 90's... If I start High School over again, I think I'll go crazy for good."

"Your idea is a surprisingly brilliant Rose..." Edward murmured impressed by the idea.

"Excuse me, all my ideas are great." Rosalie scolded of offended way.

"There are divergences about it." Edward smirked.

"Don’t make me laugh, Edward Anthony Masen Cullen." Rosalie indignantly tossed her blonde hair back. "At least I didn’t bring the idea of getting involved with a human last year and gave us the biggest headache in the last three decades! And still it's me, who has stupid ideas. The nerve…"

Emmett whistled at the exchange of mood.

"Why are you such a bitch?" Edward frowned as the conversation was directed to the incident with Bella. Swan, who was still an open wound to him.

"It was you who started." Rosalie grunted.

"Guys, guys... Relax... Breathe..." Alice intervened, while Jasper soothed their moods.

Feeling quieter, Edward casually searched his gaze until he found the table of the Brits, where Hermione, Ron, and Harry were sitting, casually eating their snacks. At one point, Harry subtly turns towards him, catching him in the act.

Edward quickly turned back, staring at the table as he tried in vain to hide his shock.

"Edward, why are the Brits looking to us?" Jasper asked.

"I don’t know." He responded slightly nervously waiting for brief seconds. "Are they... Are they still looking to us?"

"Yes..." Emmett replied.

"Then stop looking at they!!!" Edward scolded his brothers.

"Edward, is there anything you want to tell us?" Alice asked cautiously.

"No… Why?"

"Because the black-haired Brit is walking to our table right now."

Edward almost broke the table with his fist.

Five seconds later, Harry approached the Cullens' table, making his siblings look dismayed at the boy.

"Can I?" He pointed to the empty chair.

"Hm, of course..." Alice replied politely.

Harry pulled the chair, sitting facing the Cullens. Edward could only hear the boy's heartbeat, indicating that he was calm, unlike him: his heart hadn’t beaten for more than a hundred years, but his body was shaking with nervousness.

With short breaths he noticed that Harry's scent was softer, less tempting to his thirst.

"So… I’d like to introduce myself first… My name is Harry." He said giving a soft smile to the vampires who just nodded, too dismayed by the human's attitude of approaching them so casually.

"Hello, Harry, my name is Alice... These are Edward, Rosalie, Emmett and Jasper." Alice said a little nervous but with kindness.

"Nice to meet you." Harry smiled politely.

"So... Harry... What brings you to our table?" Rosalie said smiling, forcing sympathy on that situation at least strange.

"Well... I'd like to talk with Edward." - Harry said looking at the bronze-haired vampire, causing his four siblings to violently turn their heads toward him, with inquiring glances.

Edward wanted to dig a hole and bury himself.

"Really? " Rosalie said, her words sounding like sharp blades.

"Yeah... Edward, I'd like to apologize for the last biology class... You know, because of my scent and everything. It wasn’t my intention to cause you discomfort or pain..." Harry said looking at him. "And it wasn’t your fault."

"I... I..."

"You don’t need to worry either. I've made sure that this situation doesn’t happen again to you... Or any of you guys." Harry said, offering a gentle smile to the other Cullens, who just stood still.

Seconds of silence passed and the boy stood up.

"Well, so I better go..." Harry nodded , turning his back to the table where his two other friends were, but then turning to look at him as if he remembered something important "Oh, and Edward?"

"Y-Yeah?"

"My friends and I would greatly appreciate if you were kind enough to stop trying to read our minds." Harry said in a soft voice, his emerald green eyes fixed on his. "It's annoying to us when you try to do that."

The vampire opened his mouth to say something, too embarrassed by what he had seen and heard, only being able to watch the boy walk back to his own table, while he returned to talk with his friends. When Edward was able to regain his self-control and returning to reality, he looked at his siblings, who continued to stare at him in silence and reproach, but their minds bombarding him with questions.

Rosalie picked up the phone, dialing quickly until answered.

"Hello, Carlisle? We have an emergency. Meeting at home, tonight, without fail." Rosalie said in a hoarse voice, as her eyes burned as she stared at Edward.

Edward shrugged.

"You have a LOT to explain to us, dear brother." Rosalie growled at him.

 

Boy, he was so fucked up.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER III

BAD OMEN

"Then let me see if I undestood..." Carlisle said rubbing his forehead as he sat down in his elegant leather armchair in the living room, worried about everything he'd just heard "Alice couldn’t predict the arrival of three new students just as Edward couldn’t read their minds…"

"Right." Alice nodded.

"And Edward in turn, felt the urge to drink the blood of one of them in particular, Henry..."

"Harry." Rosalie spat the boy's name as if it were venom in her mouth.

"...Harry, who happens to know that Edward is a telepath, just as he also knows that we’re vampires…"

"Well, technically he didn’t say in all letters that we were vampires..." Emmett said trying to appease the situation.

"But he implied that he knew." Rosalie corrected.

"Edward... Why didn’t you tell us?" Esme's soft voice sounded somewhat betrayed, as she stared at her youngest son, who was propped up in a column with his arms crossed.

Edward took a deep breath, preparing himself for another round of questions that began an hour ago when Carlisle came home after a shift at the hospital. He felt trapped by the whole situation and honestly had no words to describe how he felt from the moment Harry simply let out that he knew what they were, as if that were the most normal thing in the world. It was the embarrassment he felt toward his siblings and now also with his parents.

"I thought it was no big deal" Edward said. "That there would be no reason to boast."

"Edward, after that situation that happened to Isabella Swan, situations like this should rather be discussed in family." Carlisle chided mildly.

"Again, 'cause of your imprudence and selfishness, you exposed us." Rosalie complained. "Frankly, Edward…"

"Rose, he didn’t mean to..." Alice said.

"No, Alice... Can’t you see how serious is this?" Rosalie rose from the couch, articulating with her hands. "The situation is repeating itself... If we aren’t careful, soon Edward will restart to be a house invader and watch the boy sleep on his bed like a sociopath on the same way he did with that girl."

Edward opened his mouth to say something but abruptly closed. 

Rosalie's eyes widened and she backed away.

"Don’t you dare..." Rosalie growled.

"For the love of all that is sacred, just shut up!!!" Edward said, getting out of his position. "I haven’t any kind of interest on that boy."

"Then why did you hide this information from us?" Jasper asked.

"Because I knew that you would react like this, as if I were going to repeat the situation that happened to Bella..." Edward defended himself, running his hand through his bronze-colored hair. "I learned my lesson."

"In any case, we know they aren’t ordinary humans." Jasper said "I couldn’t read Harry’s emotions when he approached our table. He didn’t seem intimidated by our presence. He and his friends know about us."

"How?" Esme asked.

"That's the question... Maybe they already met other vampires?" Alice murmured thoughtfully.

"Vampires with our lifestyle? I doubt that. Here in America there are only us and the Denali clan." Carlisle said.

"But they came from England." Jasper recalled.

"Truth... But even if they knew other vampires like us, it wouldn't explain how they know how to block your abilities." Carlisle crossed his legs as his hand stroked his chin.

"This is even stranger." Emmett agreed.

"Maybe we should invite them to come here…" Esme suggested. "For a dinner."

"What?!" Rosalie said.

"It's a good idea..." Carlisle he said, his expression lighting up at the prospect of finding such exceptional humans.

"You have to be kidding..." Rosalie shook her head.

"Rose, maybe it's a good ideia... They know about us, but we don’t know anything about them. Who is with a disadvantage are us." Jasper said in a way that reminded them that one day he was once a soldier. "How do we'll know what we're dealing with if we walk away from them?"

Rosalie paused to think.

"I still think that might be risky." She gave in at last, seeing that there was no alternative.

"Baby, we're vampires... Whatever it is, we can cope with." Emmett said to his mate.

"I think that's a good idea. Frankly, I don’t believe they are a threat... Harry, who was the one who interacted with us, seemed to be a sweet boy." Alice said. "He made sure his scent didn’t bother Edward anymore."

Carlisle leaned toward Alice, his eyes widening with information.

"Wait a minute, you didn’t tell me this detail!" The family patriarch said.

"Yes... He made sure that he and his friends would take care not to provoke the same kind of incident he had with Edward." Alice replied.

Carlisle looked at Edward, his face filled with doubt.

"When I smelled him for the first time..." Edward said reluctantly "The smell of his blood was sweeter, exquisite and alluring one I'd ever felt."

"Like Bella?" Jasper asked curiously.

"No...  Better." Edward admitted in embarrassment. "Compared to his, Bella's blood just tickled my throat."

Jasper gasped in surprise.

"Honestly, I don’t know how I didn’t attack him in that classroom..." he continued, looking down at his feet. "If he hadn’t left, he would have drank his blood in front of everyone."

Esme put her hand in her still heart, feeling compassion for her son.

"It's not your fault, Edward." Esme whispered.

"Maybe, but... I couldn’t help but think about what happened to Bella. She would still be alive if it weren’t by me." Edward said softly. "It hurts me to think that I couldn't return her feelings to me in the way she expected..."

"Edward..." Esme approached the son in milliseconds "What happened was a terrible incident... You cannot blame yourself for this forever. You did what you could."

Edward didn’t answer.

Deep down he knew he was to blame.

"Anyway... As Harry approached our table today, I could feel that his scent was softer." Edward said looking at Carlisle . "It was still the same, but gentler... It still appealed to me, but it wasn’t strong enough to make me want to drink it."

Carlisle paused for a moment, perfectly still, just like a statue, something only vampires could do.

"This is weird. I've never heard of anything like this in all my years..." Carlisle he said at last.

They all stood, pensive about it. Edward can listen to each one's mind, but he chose to focus on himself, thinking of everything that happened.

"Then it's settled: Edward will invite Harry and his friends to come and visit our home." Carlisle said, slapping his knee and getting up from the chair.

"Me?!" Edward exclaimed.

"Yes... You’re the one who most had contact with the boy... It seems more appropriate, but if you want, you can ask with Alice..." Carlisle gave a peaceful smile.

Alice gave a discreet smile to her brother, who nodded.

"So, it’s better I go hunting... I'll be back before dawn." Jasper said, running deep into the woods.

"Edward... Honestly ... Why is it that you're the one who attracted this kind of situation?" Rosalie asked honestly to her brother, her voice without any trace of criticism or depreciation, just curiosity.

"Honestly Rose, I don’t know..." Edward shrugged, being equally honest. "I'm the last person who wanted to bring this kind of trouble to our family."

Rosalie nodded thoughtfully.

"I'm going to my bedroom. Good night everyone." Edward announced, climbing the stairs and entering his refuge.

He had a long day. 

And the next would be equally.

.

.

.

Hours later, when it was day, Edward changed his clothes and headed for the garage, where all his siblings were ready to go to school - the choice of the day was Emmett's grey jeep.

"Hey bro, do you want a ride to school?" Emmett asked.

"No... I'm driving my car myself." Edward replied. "I need to think..."

"You know..."

"Ed, what time are we going to invite Harry and his friends to come over here?" Alice asked.

Edward thought for a moment.

"At lunchtime. In the refectory. I think it's more appropriate..." He replied.

"Right."

Edward got into the car, starting the engine, driving his Volvo along the roads surrounded by vegetation. Again he wandered amid disjointed and random thoughts, as the a sparse rain started to fall and left the asphalt on that melancholy dark shade of gray or the dense forests that lined the way, which reminded him of the eyes of the British boy.

Upon reaching the city, the dashboard of his car issued the signal that he should refuel. Edward drove to the gas station, parked his car and went to the pump to refuel the vehicle. The sky with dense gray clouds announced that in a little while it would rain even more, making Edward thankful for bringing his trench coat.

"Edward?" A male voice called him.              

Edward turned and watched the man walk toward him. Charlie Swan has changed significantly over the past six months that he last saw him: he was thinner, a tired face evidenced by dark circles and wrinkles. The pain of the loss of his only daughter, Bella, could still be seen on his face. Edward suppressed a wave of remorse in his body and offered a soft smile.

"Sheriff Swan..." He nodded.

Charlie looked at him thoughtfully.

"How are you, sir?" Edward asked politely as he read the man's mind.

"I'm moving on." Charlie replied. 'Attempting at least'. "And you?"

The vampire paused for a moment, blinking at the man.

"Equally." He answered honestly.

"You know, Edward... Since Bella died, I didn’t had the opportunity to ask a apologize for the things I said to you at her funeral and burial…  It wasn’t your fault that she ran away to Phoenix..." Charlie muttered. "I... I was just looking for someone to blame... For not being a good father to her."

Edward could feel Charlie's sincerity and he felt the weight of the words that sank into his consciousness. 

He was feeling heavy. He knew he was guilty.

"No... There is nothing to forgive... I understand your pain." Edward said quietly, controlling his voice.

Charlie nodded, taking a sip of his coffee. A cop ran toward Charlie, his face pale and frightened.

"Chief... We got a call this morning, in the woods..."

"What happened?" Charlie asked, turning to face the deputy.

He looked at Edward, and the vampire realized that he had better leave. Edward finished filling the tank, but concentrating on the cops’ chatter and mind.

"We found a body in the forest." The policeman said in a low voice.

Charlie blinked.

"A new animal attack?"

"No..." The deputy replied. "Something worse..."

Edward soon caught the images the cop had seen and for a moment was disgusted, wishing he didn’t have the ability to read minds. A naked male body, with blade marks on the injured flesh, stretched out in the damp earth surrounded by candles already erased and melted, with the head, hands and feet severed.

"Okay, take me to the place." Charlie said worriedly, walking up to Edward who finished refueling the car and paid for the fuel. "Edward, it was good to see you... Send greetings to your father for me. Take care kiddo."

"Have a nice day sir…" Edward said, shrugging as he got into his car.

Driving to Forks High School, Edward got out of the car, carrying his backpack. The thin rain was already falling as lightning and thunder rumbled high through the dark gray sky, the icy wind carrying a strange electricity in the air, churning his spine, colder than ice.

A small part of Edward felt that this was foreboding of something he couldn’t tell for sure what it was, but one thing he was sure: it wasn’t good.

.

.

.

Upon entering Biology's classroom, Edward had seen that Harry was already seated in the chair next to his... Of course, they were laboratory partners, he had almost forgotten this detail. The vampire walked towards the teenager, who was still concentrating on a random reading, ignoring when he sat next to him by the window. Edward breathed cautiously, appreciating that Harry's scent still wonderfully soft. As he looked at the window, the rain had already fallen heavily.

"Hello" Edward murmured.

The vampire watched the boy raise his head and turn his face to look at him. Harry's green eyes studied him for a moment as his lips formed a discreet smile.

"Hello, Edward." He said softly, turning to the book. Edward found it interesting how Harry's accent sang his name, giving to it an air of ancient sophistication "Had a productive dawn?"

Edward blinked, not getting accustomed to the idea that the boy knew of his secret.

"Not much." He answered at last, opening his book. "I have the same routine for a while."

Harry sighed.

"I understand."

Edward took a deep breath, not wanting the conversation to die for the silence to reign, Harry's mind was still armored.

"And you? Did you have a good night?"

Harry paused for a moment, looking back at him, his face impenetrable, staring at him for a few seconds.

"Productive." Harry replied.

"Good..." The vampire said.

The boy looked forward, beginning to write down the teacher's notes in his notebook.

"Harry... Would you and your friends like to join me and my siblings at lunchtime?" Edward asked cautiously.

Harry continued to write, looking at the corner of his eyes at Edward, who just noticed the various shades of green in the boy's iris that formed that unique emerald shade.

"Why?"

Edward found himself trapped in Harry's eyes, if his thoughts were confused, clouded.

"I... Well, nothing special... We just thought maybe you wanted company..." Edward replied slowly, hoping his words would be consistent.

"Hmm..."

"If you want to."

Harry paused for a moment, running his hand through his dark, soft, rebellious hair, releasing the warm breaths of his scent.

"I'll go talk to Ron and Hermione. Okay?" He said giving Edward a warm smile, which was somewhat bewildered.

Edward stood for a moment still staring at him.

"Edward?" Harry repeated with a discreet smile on his rosy lips.

"Yes, of course..." The vampire replied, returning to his notes.

.

.

.

"So how was your class Ed?" Alice asked after her brother sat down. "Did you meet any of the Brits?"

"Yes. I had Biology with Harry. I asked him and his friends to join us here." Edward murmured.

"Do you think they will come?" Jasper asked.

"I don’t know. But I believe so." Edward answered honestly.

"Hmmm... I still don’t like it." Rosalie crossed her arms.

"Rose, we've already talked about this..." Alice said to her sister.

"Yes, but still..." Rosalie frowned.

"Everything will be alright." Emmett said, holding the hand of his mate in comfort signal.

"Here they come." Jasper jerked his chin in one direction, making all the Cullens look ahead.

Walking with their trays, Harry and his friends approached the Cullen’s table, drawing some curious glances from other students. Hermione looked curiously at them as the redhead with some mistrust.

"Can we join?" Harry asked.

"Of course, have a seat, please." Alice said, raising her hands to the three vacant seats in front of them.

"Thank you." He replied, sitting down, being followed by his friends.

"Hello… My name is Hermione." The girl said with a friendly smile. Edward had noticed that her hair was smoother and softer than the day before "This is Ron, my boyfriend."

"Hello…" Ron replied, his voice was deep, but his accent softened the word.

"Hi. My name is Alice... This is Jasper, Edward, Rosalie and Emmett." Alice smiled at the three of them.

"It's good to finally meet you." Hermione replied and finally looking at Edward. "Oh, you were the one trying to read our minds…"

Edward swallowed hard at the question.

"Yes... I apologize... For the attempted invasion..." Edward said.

"It’s alright." Hermione shrugged.

"So... Why did you invite us?" Ron said putting his hands on the black leather jacket he wore.

"Well, we had to tell our father, Carlisle, about the incident we had... And we came to the consensus that it would be good to have a frank dialogue. They asked us to invite you to dinner at our house today." Edward said.

Ron narrowed his eyes.

"Dinner?"

"Yes." Alice smiled, showing her dimples.

Ron looked at Hermione and Harry.

"Well... It’s alright, only if we aren’t the main dish..." Ron smirked.

Silence fell on the vampires at the redhead's black humor. Emmett broke the silence, laughing loudly, catching the attention of the people around him. The other vampires, including Edward, laughed softly as well.

"Okay, this joke was really good." The muscular vampire said.

"Ron has a unique sense of humor..." Harry said softly.

"But quite rightly so." Ron said taking a sip of his coffee. "Where do you live?"

"Following the northwest road, 15km out of the city." Jasper said.

Ron narrowed his eyes.

"Dinner at your house... Which happens to be surrounded by forests... With no one around..." Ron said, narrowing his eyes his blue eyes to the vampires.

"You don’t have to worry... We won't harm you… Now if you guys are afraid of us..." Emmett replied mockingly as Rosalie smiled softly wickedly.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione looked at each other and laughed.

"Oh no, no... We're not afraid of you... Actually, it's you guys who should be afraid of us." Ron smiled at the five vampires, but his eyes were serious.

His siblings didn’t seem to take the words seriously, but for a fleeting moment, Edward believed the redhead.

But that was impossible.

Right?

"Do you guys need a ride home? Alice or Edward can pick you up at your house." Jasper replied, trying to cut off the tense mood that settled on the table and ease the mood for something lighter.

"No, it's okay... We know how to locomote in this city..." Harry said looking around the table, noticing that there were several teens whispering and looking at them. "I think we made a good source for rumors, didn’t we?"

"Enough for a week." Edward replied lightly.

"Oh, the pleasures of living in a small town." Hermione said, eating her red berries.

"What time should we be at your residence, Edward?" Harry turned to the vampire.

"Whenever it suits you best." He replied.

Harry thought for a moment.

"How about 7pm?"

"Perfect. I'll tell Esme." Edward said.

"Esme?"

"Our mother." Alice said.

The school bell sounded, announcing the time to return to the classrooms.

"Well, we'll see you later then." Hermione said getting up, followed by Harry and Ron.

"Yes."

"Thanks for the invitation to have lunch with you." Harry said politely.

"You're welcome." Alice smiled at the three of them, watching them walk to the exit.

Looking at his siblings, Edward realized that each one was processing the conversations they had with those humans, interpreting in different ways. Edward paused for a moment and said quietly.

"Do you want to hear something absurd?" Edward rambled. "For a short moment I believed what Ron said... That we should be afraid of them."

"Don’t be ridiculous Edward..." Rosalie said trying to sound confident.

"Do you want to hear something more absurd yet, Edward?" Jasper said, looking at his brother. 

"What?"

"I believed him."

Chapter Text

CHAPTER IV

SURPRISES...?!

"Alice, do not you think you're exaggerating?" Edward asked as he watched the tiny vampire dance through the living room while holding Baccarat's crystal  vases filled with red roses. The Cullen's living room was decorated with beautiful floral arrangements that brought a bit of color to the room where white and neutral tones prevailed.

"I’m not listening any word Eddy... God knows how we almost never get visitors. I can hardly ever show the good hostess and decorator that I am!" She stuck out her tongue at him, causing him to roll his eyes.

"Alice, where do I put this vase here?" Jasper asked to his mate.

"On top of Edward's piano! Esme, where did you put that silver tableware we bought in the 50's?" Alice asked the matriarch of the family who passed a feather duster on the crystal chandelier of the room that reflected even more the glow of the ceiling.

"Probably in the cabinet where my Chinese porcelains are stored… Rosalie, dear, could you fetch it for me and give it to your sister?"

Rosalie, who had been sitting on the couch reading an edition of Harper's Bazaar frowned in disapproval as she stood up and did as her mother instructed. 

'It's a height of absurd to make it a social event, frankly...' Edward heard Rosalie's mind grumble as she walked away from him and he felt compelled to agree. This was one of the bad sides to being a family of vampires: even when they went to school and their parents working out, the Cullens isolated themselves from the rest of society in the name of protecting their secrets, never having the opportunity to truly interact with someone.

Solitude was the order.

When Edward brought Bella to visit his home, he felt embarrassed to see his parents almost burning the kitchen while trying to do make what was supposed to be pasta or seeing Alice dragging the poor girl into her closet, as if she were a Barbie in natural size - of course, not counting Rosalie's absolute coldness and Emmett's embarrassing jokes. Edward knew this would happen to any boy by bringing his girlfriend home to meet his family, but adding the fact that they were solitary vampires made the situation even more tragicomic.

Now there they were here, tiding a house that was already tidy, arranged for the visit of three - supposedly - humans to dine (?) with them. Edward smiled as he pictured the scene where the three humans well mannered, eating in their porcelain dishes on one side of the table, while on the other side, he and his family drained the blood from some deer or mountain lion’s carcass. But his smile twisted in disbelief as Alice practically ordered a Buffet enough for ten people instead of three, but she soon cut his argument by saying she didn’t know what food they liked or whether they were allergic to some kind of food.

Things that only humans possessed.

"Edward, did you give the correct address to Harry? I’m afraid that they will lose themselves in trying to find our home..." Esme said softly as she descended the staircase as she finished dusting the chandelier. "I still think you should have insisted on offering a ride."

"Harry said they knew how to find the way by their own..." Edward shrugged. 

"If you say so…" Esme said.

"Edwaaarrrd, have you seen the clothes I selected for you?" Alice hummed as she resurfaced in the room, bringing scented candles. "I want you to use it!"

Edward grunted. Alice and her obsession with fashion...

"I don’t need it, if you chose it, I'm sure I'll hate it!" He countered sourly, climbing the stairs toward his bedroom before he went mad.

Family was a bit complicated.

As a human, Edward was the only child of his parents and always had an introverted personality, preferring quietness and silence rather than noise and multitudes, making him a sensitive kid from the people around him as well as their thoughts - something he would carry on his new life as a vampire and his telepathic ability. However, he now had a family of different types of people, with different types of personalities, different ways of thinking. There were times when the Cullen's house seemed to collapse and fall apart because of the arguments among the immortal teens, since from Alice's annoying craze to leave her tubes of marcara on Edward's bedroom or Emmett breaking the fragile joysticks of the XBox after a match against Jasper, accusing each other of cheating. 

It was a family of vampires, different from each other, there was always some sort of argument on whatever topic, but most of all, Edward loved them unconditionally and he would do anything for the well-being of these people. Except one thing:

Wear that hideous blue-floral print shirt that Alice had selected for him.

That was too much.

.

.

.

When it was 6:50pm, Edward came down the staircase of his house to find his family already in the living room. He wore a plain white social shirt, dark jeans and Italian leather shoes - a gift that Esme had given him last Christmas. Esme and Carlisle were sitting on the couch talking about the case in which the doctor had come to the hospital, both dressed in casual elegance. Alice was adjusting the cushions while Rosalie was tiding her hair in front of the mirror, Jasper and Emmett, in turn, talked about last night's baseball game.

Alice looked at him and frowned.

"Where's the shirt I picked for you?"

"I ripped and burned." Edward curled his mouth as he sat on the arm of the chair, watching Alice make a face as a child would have done when her wish was denied.

"Edward dear, play for me my favorite song on the piano." Esme smiled at him.

Edward nodded, unable to deny this request to Esme, addressing to the majestic black piano at the side of the staircase. Stretching his fingers - something unnecessary, but it was some kind of ritual to him for more than a hundred years - he opened the keyboard lid as his long, pale fingers trailed through the ivory and ebony keys of the musical instrument, filling the living room with a complex and relaxing melody.

One of the advantages of being a vampire is the amount of time he had to devote himself to whatever activity he set out to learn: he learned to play the piano when he was human, but today, more than a century later, he could consider himself a true virtuoso. He also learned to play other instruments such as cello, violin and guitar as well as discovering a passion for learning foreign languages such as Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Italian and recently he started to venture into the complex Mandarin. He also had passion for cars and archeology.

But it wasn’t just him who had different hobbies. 

Rosalie was fond of cars and motors, once entering a specialized course at MIT. Emmett loved any physical activity and always organized games and sports for the whole family to participate. Jasper, like Rosalie, loved motor vehicles, especially motorcycles. Esme, on the other hand, was a talented interior designer and when the family moves, always surprised everyone with her projects for their new home. Carlisle's passion, of course, was to save lives. 

Edward's thoughts as well as his music were interrupted by three soft knocks on the glass door, causing the Cullens to felt something similar to the fright (which they haven’t felt for decades), since none of them could heard the sound of a car approaching, much less the sound of footsteps. Alice's eyes widened, but she shook her head as she walked to the entrance hall of the mansion. 

"Good evening Alice, I hope we're not late." Edward heard Hermione's voice.

"No, you guys arrived punctually... But that's something common to the British people, isn’t it?" The vampire giggled.

"Hello Alice." Harry said.

"Hello!"  Ron murmured.

Edward got up from the piano seat and in a second was already beside his siblings to welcome their guests. He was nervous.

"Follow me!" Alice exclaimed.

Edward took a deep breath, already feeling Harry’s sweet and soft scent as well the much less scents appellative to him coming from Hermione and Ron.

Within seconds, the three visitors appeared at the entrance to the living room, along with Alice, the three wearing heavy woolen cloaks. Ron's a deep navy blue, Hermione's a vibrant shade of red, while Harry's emerald green that highlighted his eyes.

"Can I hang your cloaks? They’re beautiful, where did you guys bought it?" Alice asked genuinely interested.

"Sure, thank you..." Hermione smiled, unbuttoning the cloak and revealing her short-sleeved black dress. Harry and Ron took their cloaks off, revealing their casual outfits. Ron dressed in black while Harry wore light colors. "We bought them in London."

Carlisle and Esme approached the visitors, giving them warm smiles.

"Good Evening and welcome to our home... My name is Carlisle and this is my wife, Esme." The patriarch offered his hand to Harry who promptly took it, then Esme's. Edward carefully examined Harry's facial expression, seeing if he would recoil from the cold temperature of the vampire's stony skin but to his surprise Harry and his friends just smiled politely at their parents.

"Nice to meet you Mr. and Mrs. Cullen. My name is Harry Potter. These are my friends, Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley." Harry smiled, pointing at the two of them and then looking at the rest of the younger vampires. "Good evening everyone."

Edward nodded.

"Call us Esme and Carlisle, Harry... Please come in. Would you enjoy to take refreshment?" Esme suggested, directing the three of them to the couch.

"No, thank you, perhaps later..." Ron said, sitting comfortably on the couch, followed by Harry, who remained silent.

"Mrs. Cullen, I mean, Esme... We brought this to you." Hermione lifted a small box and handed it to Esme, who looked curiously. Edward could swear that the girl's hands were empty seconds before.

Esme opened the box and raised her eyebrows in surprise. Edward saw through her mind its content: a red berries pie.

"Oh dear, it's lovely, but I'm afraid..." Esme said softly, trying not to be unkind.

"Don't worry." Hermione smiled at her. "You can eat."

Esme and Carlisle blinked in shock as Alice took the box and looked at its contents.

"Your house is so beautiful... So bright and open…" Hermione smiled, looking around the room and the wall-windows.

"Thank you..." Esme smiled. 

"Were you expecting a Goth castle?" Emmett laughed, making everyone laugh.

"In a way... It's kind of unusual to think vampires live in such a place..." Harry smiled at the hosts. Edward shifted uneasily to notice that it had been the first time the boy had said the word 'vampire' when referring to them.

"I understand perfectly." Carlisle smiled at the boy.

"The piano is beautiful!" Harry looked at the instrument.

"Yes, it's Edward's, he's the family musician..." Esme asked. "Do you play?"

"A little..." Harry blushed slightly. "But I’m not so good... My hands are too small."

"You're being modest!" Hermione smiled proudly at her friend. "Harry is an excellent pianist..."

"Could you give us the honor to play for us?" Esme offered a smile to the boy.

"Oh no, I don’t think so, perhaps next time!" Harry giggled, shaking his head, causing some of the Cullens to smile discreetly.

A silence settled for a moment, no one knowing for sure what to say.

"So... Not wanting to be rude, but..." Ron asked looking at the vampires. "Why did you invite us tonight?"

Edward's lips tightened in a thin line at the objectivity of the redhead, who still held his gaze to them.

Rosalie, who had been standing in silence until now, had sat on the couch in front of the three strangers, crossing her legs with a look of derision on her face of sweeping beauty.

"Very well... We want to know who you are, what you are doing in Forks and how you know about us." Rosalie said, her voice coming out rough and a cold. 'And they will not leave here until they tell the truth' Edward heard her think

'Cordiality has just came down the drain…' Edward read Alice's mind as she frowned at her sister.

"Bloody Hell, I knew it! I told you two, didn’t I?!" Ron turned to Hermione and Harry, his voice tinged with concern and distrust. "We should obliviate them and get out of here soon as possible!"

'Obliviate? What is this?' Edward thought a little confused.

"Ron, this isn't necessary." Harry murmured calmly, looking at everyone and especially Edward.

"Besides, they're just trying to protect themselves..." Hermione said to her boyfriend, who closed his mouth at her logical points. "We would do the same thing, if anyone knew about us…"

"She's right..." Carlisle said quietly approaching the three of them. "We just want to understand the situation in which we’re dealing... How you should imagine, our secret is of enormous importance."

"Whenever someone starts to wonder about us, like the fact that we don't age, we move out of town to start all over again. This is usually four to five years. We've been here, in Forks, for a little over two years" Esme said softly. "We've never had such a problem, at least not recently..."

Esme looked at Edward, who only knew how to shrink in his spot.

"We totally can understand this particular situation." Harry smiled sympathetically to the woman. 

"Do you understand?" Rosalie asked mocking way.

Harry sighed and looked at the blonde beauty.

"Yes... We share the same experience." Harry murmured enigmatically, making Edward not understand the meaning of the words.

Did they move a lot too?

"How old are you?" Jasper asked, causing the green-eyed boy composing his posture in a more formal position. Ron and Hermione were silent, watching his friend and looking at the blonde vampire.

How old was Harry? What relevance did this have for the moment, when ...

And suddenly Edward held his breath and widened his eyes, finally understanding what Harry had implied in his earlier speech. 

Rosalie, Emmett and Alice apparently hadn't figured it out yet.

"I'm 17 years old." Harry muttered, his voice coming out in a contained way.

Jasper blinked at the young man.

"How long have you been 17?" The vampire's question reached the room, making a dead silence. Edward's other siblings looked shocked at the three visitors, finally understanding where Jasper wanted to go. Carlisle and Esme stood perfectly still, such as a statue.

Harry sighed, running his hand through his dark hair, a little nervous.

"55 years." Harry's voice sounded calm and made Edward's mind implode with their content.

It cannot be possible, it shouldn’t be possible.

This was simply impossible.

Edward frowned, his mind still trying to process what he heard, trying to convince himself that he had misunderstood.

"I don't believe you..." Rosalie shook her head. "You lie!"

"Your hearts beat... Your eyes have normal colors. You're not vampires." Emmett said looking to be something akin to shock.

"We NEVER said we were vampires." Hermione said cautiously.

Edward took a deep breath, feeling the scent of Harry confirming that he was still human.

"What you are?" Edward finally spoke that night, his question being addressed to Harry.

A moment of silence passed, what seemed seconds to be a little eternity.

"We're wizards." Harry said softly, folding his hands in his lap.

Edward blinked incredulously, almost certain that his ears really were in trouble. Before he could babble something, Emmett began to laugh uncontrollably, putting his hands on his belly, leaning his body against the back of the sofa.

Rosalie laughed equally deviously, tossing her blond hair back.

"Do you think we're idiots?" She grunted at last, glaring at the three young teens. "We want answers!!!"

Hermione raised her eyebrows in disdain, raising her hand toward the fireplace, but still maintaining eye contact with Rosalie. The girl's brown eyes, before gentle and friendly, assumed a ferocious, almost cruel expression.

"REDUCTO!" Hermione exclaimed irritated, causing the three crystal vases to explode violently in thousands of shards, spreading along the floor with the flowers.

All the vampires jumped back instinctively, startled by what they had just witnessed. Edward slowly turned his head to see the reaction of his brothers and sisters, see if they had seen the same thing as him. Emmett had his jaw contracted while Rosalie was completely in shock. Alice gasped in surprise and Jasper with a puzzled look. Carlisle was amazed and Esme was astonished.

Harry just sighed, raising his hand in a circular motion toward the shards.

"Reparo!"  Harry's voice sounded calm and Edward watched the shards regroup, sticking together until they reshaped the vases shapes, which were left without any cracking, like they were brand new.

"Wingardium Leviosa..." Ron muttered disinterestedly, causing the roses to float in the air above the Cullen's heads, whirling in a floral vortex until one by one refilled the vases which floated back to their original seats.

The silence reigned in the room once more, all the vampires haunted and sensed different sensations as they witnessed that proof that the three humans in the room were not common.

"How…" Edward tried to formulate something, but he couldn’t. Words had fled from his mind.

Hermione let out a breath, controlling her mood.

"As Harry was saying, we're wizards." She said tersely. "I'm a witch." 

"But certainly not the ones you imagine... Just like vampires don’t have aversion to garlic and cross or die with stakes on their chests." Ron said, putting his arm around Hermione as she held Harry's hand. 

"We're…" Harry gave a half smile. "Kind different..."

Carlisle blinked at the three teenagers.

"In my almost four hundred years I've never heard anything like this..." He said in a haunted voice.

"The Magic Community is reclusive and extremely secretive, much more than vampires’ one." Hermione said. "And more organized, too. We know how to keep the secret. That's why we know more about you than you do about us."

"So that's why I cannot read your mind... or Alice to have a vision of your arrival..." Edward could finally say something coherent.

"Yes..." Harry said, but turned to Alice. "Can you see the future?"

Alice opened her mouth and finally remembered how to use her voice.

"It isn’t like to see the concrete future... It is more like seeing the possibilities that can happen... The future is forever changeable." She said wide-eyed.

"Interesting... Certainly more effective than that old bat who is Trelawney..." Hermione said with a grimace.

"I beg your pardon?" Alice asked feeling lost.

"Our old professor of Divination." Harry replied.

"Professor?" Carlisle asked "Do your people have some kind of..."

"School? Oh yeah..." Hermione said proudly "Harry, Ron and I studied at Hogwarts, in Scotland. It’s there that witches and wizards from United Kingdom go, after..."

"After a certain age!" Harry interrupted his friend, who quickly fell silent. Edward realized that there were more secrets they wouldn’t reveal, at least that night.

"And there are more places like this around the world?" Esme asked curiously.

"Well, there are Beauxbatons in France, Durmstrang in Eastern Europe... Let me see..." Harry scratched his chin "Oh yes, Castelobruxo in Brazil..."

"And the United States?" Jasper asked interested.

Hermione seemed to think, judging whether she shared such information.

"Yes... There are two only in Massachusetts: Ilvermorny and Salem Witches' Institute, the last one only for females" The girl said counting on her fingers. "And one in Greendale, The Academy of Unseen Arts."

"Fascinating!!!" Carlisle said, falling into the armchair, his mind seething with doubts and questions.

"All witches and wizards know how to block their minds?" Edward asked.

"No... Only those who study the subtle art of Occlumency, which consist to be able to raise a mental shield to protect us from possible invaders..." Harry said. "Like you, for example."

Edward shifted uneasily.

"How did you know it was me?" Edward asked.

"Every time you tried to read our minds, we felt a stab in our mental shields..." Hermione said. "Like in English class. Your attack was stronger, because you focused specifically on me... If you had found me at least 30 years ago, you probably would have succeeded."

Edward nodded, remembering the scene in the classroom.

"So you're wizards and witch... and immortals..." Rosalie said, her eyes wide with astonishment.

Harry took a deep breath.

"Yes… Something like that."

"I have SO many questions to ask..." Carlisle said, rubbing his hands together.

"I'm sorry, but I think it's impossible." Harry said.

"Because…?" Jasper asked.

"Because certain secrets we cannot reveal…" Harry wondered.

"The right thing that we should do, was obliviate you guys and pretend that none of this happened!" Ron said with a frown.

"Obliviate?" Edward repeated.

"A forgetfulness' spell." Hermione explained.

"Bewitch us?" Rosalie said nervously "Would you really bewitch us?!"

Hermione looked at the vampire.

"And in the worst case, you'd try to kill us. So don’t act rashly as a victim." The witch snapped.

Rosalie closed her mouth.

'There's still time to try... I'll break the necks of the three of you in a second!' Edward heard his sister's mind growl.

"It is very impolite of you to think such things... We haven’t really done anything to you and your family." Harry said as he looked at Rosalie , but his face became rather somber. "Don’t make us change our minds."

Edward almost choked on the dry, while Harry looked at him again quietly. Is it possible that he...

"Yes Edward..." Harry turned to him "I am a telepath, or a better word, a legilimens... But I’m not like you. My ability is a bit more "rudimentary," so to speak ... I need to keep eye contact so I can access your mind."

Edward looked stunned at the boy. 

He wonder if he...

"Yes... I've read your mind, on a few occasions..." Harry whispered. Edward looked away and wanted to bury himself with such shame. He had always been accustomed to having such power, to always enter into the privacy of people, to know their secrets. 

But now the table turned and he was the victim. 

He felt naked, unprotected. 

Silence fell into the room until interrupted by Hermione.

"I think we can come to an agreement with you. We have no interest in divulging your secret, nothing will come out of our mouth..." She said.

"But we ask for the same in return." Harry finished.

"No, of course..." Carlisle said promptly. "No need to worry... But I only have one more question."

"It's all right..."

"How did you know we were vampires?" The doctor asked.

"Well..." Harry sighed. "I first suspected in the cafeteria when Edward tried to read our minds... I... I knew he, or rather, you guys weren’t normal human beings."

Edward inclined his head.

"I noticed how pale you were, how beautiful you were, and you didn’t eat in the cafeteria. We knew that vampires had red eyes, but when we saw that you had golden eyes, we realized that your blood diet didn’t consist of human blood." Harry explained.

"That’s right!!!" Carlisle said impressed. "So that means you, witches, already knew about vampires?"

"Yes... Your species is known by us for millennia" Hermione explained, her voice taking on the excitement of being able to speak about her knowledge. "There is even a legend among the community that the first vampire on earth existed because of a curse uttered by a wizard."

"Fascinating!" Carlisle said. 

"How did you have confirmation of what I am?" Edward asked.

"It was in Biology class..."

Edward felt embarrassed.

"You reacted violently to me, stopping breathing and moving away from me as much as you can. I thought it was best tome to leave the classroom, because my scent was causing you disgust." Harry added.

Alice's eyes widened.

"Disgust?! OH NO, he..." She said, but then fell silent as Edward deathly glared at her. 'Sorry!' Her mind said to him.

"Well, after that..." Harry said, smiling calmly. "I made a spell so my scent would lose its potency and not bother him or you."

"I think we all agree we're surprised" Esme said smiling, changing the subject. "Edward, why don’t you show the house to our guests, while Alice and I prepare the dining room?"

"Do you want help? To serve the table?" Hermione offered.

"Do you want?" Esme asked in delight.

"Of course, so I can explain about the pie." She said, pulling the redhead by the arm. "Come on Ron."

"But I wanted..."

"Come on Ronald!"

"Alright, alright…"

Harry looked uncertainly, watching his friends disappear along with Alice and Esme, looking back at Edward, who approached the human.

"Well... Come on... There isn’t much to show, to be honest." Edward said, looking down at the floor.

Harry took a deep breath walking alongside the vampire who led him through the mansion, until he stopped in a corner, staring at the wall with a curious look. Edward looked at the boy and understood his facial expression.

"I know... It’s ironic isn’t it?" Edward said grinning softly at the wooden cross.

"Too much!" Harry laughed softly. "Whose is it?"

"It belongs to Carlisle, or rather to Carlisle's father, a priest in seventeenth-century England. It is the only memory of his origin that he still possesses." Edward explained.

"Cool... I heard that it drives the vampires away..." Harry blinked his green eyes towards Edward, who, if he still had the capacity, would have blushed.

Edward took a deep breath, leading Harry to the nearby mural.

"And here we have the pride of the house." He pointed to the mural with the various colored accessories.

"Graduation hats?" Harry asked incredulously.

"Education is important!" Edward said sarcastically.

"Ugh… And I thought I was unhappy..." Harry replied.

"Do you and your friends have something similar to this?"

Harry shook his head.

"No... My friends and I burned ours out of such anger and boredom." He laughed.

"Perhaps I will adhere to a similar tradition then." Edward smiled, looking down at his feet as he felt Harry watching him.

"Edward?"

"Yeah?"

"You don’t need to look away from me... I will not read your mind..." Harry whispered. "I apologize for doing that."

"It's okay, it's just... I'm still getting used to the idea that someone can read my mind…"

Edward looked at the wizard, letting himself wander on Harry’s features, offering a friendly smile, but to his surprise only served to leave Harry with a serious and distant expression.

"It's all right?" He asked the small boy. 

Harry closed his eyes, taking a deep breath and smiling a little.

"Yes, of course... Everything is perfectly fine." The boy said, turning to look at Edward in a somewhat amused way. "I have a question..."

"Of course..."

"How bad did I smell to you? I mean, it must have been an abhorrent odor for you to have reacted like that..." Harry chuckled.

Edward blinked, preparing to answer Harry and say to him something like 'No, you smell actually good' or 'You smell like Heaven', but he was interrupted by Alice.

"Hey you two, dining room right now!" She smiled brightly, leading the two boys to where the rest were gathered.

.

.

.

Edward had wondered why he and his family were sitting at the dining room table with a plate and cutlery in front of him. It seemed completely foolish, as if they were actually dining with the humans... He watched as Esme served Harry, Hermione, and Ron with the food that Alice ordered, and wondered if they would have to eat that food.

"Edward, we'll eat the pie Hermione made a point of bringing..." Esme smiled at her son as she saw the confusion on his face.

"But..."

"Don’t worry."  Harry, who was sitting next to him, he said "This pie is special."

Edward winked skeptically at being served with a slice of the pie. He can smell the cherries, the strawberries, the smell of the roasted dough, the flour, the butter, the eggs... It looked - and was – a normal human food. He twisted his mouth, not wanting to eat it.

"Go on, try it." Harry encouraged like if he was a child.

Edward nodded, afraid that he would have to find a way to get rid of that inside his body later as it had when Emmett challenged him to eat a bit of pizza in the school cafeteria. With a suspicious look, he took the spoon to mouth, placing the food under his tongue. Chewing carefully, something amazing happened.

The food had liquefied in something that resembled blood, but he still tasted the sweet, juicy taste of the red fruits and the tart mass. Swallowing the liquid, he felt the eternal burning in his throat, something he had learned to ignore over the decades, to be relieved, as if it were a balm.

He widened his eyes at his brothers. 

One by one the Cullens were tasting the pie - Rosalie was the last, having tasted it reluctantly at Emmett's insistence - and they were delighted. Jasper, who has always had problems with his animal blood diet, was the first to finish and Edward could feel he had a pleasant sense of peace of mind.

"What is this pie made of?" Carlisle asked, inspecting the food.

"Basically of common ingredients, but with a small dose of a potion that emulates blood." Hermione said proudly. 

"IT'S FUCKING AWESOME!!!" Emmett said, chewing the food with ease.

Soon a friendly conversation began between the Cullens and the wizards, and even Rosalie and Ron became a bit more receptive to that interaction. When it was 8pm, the three wizards thanked them for the food and followed the vampires into the living room.

"Thanks for the food, it was delicious." Ron said with a smile on his face, making Edward realize he was the foody type of person.

 "No, thanks for the pie... I never thought anything like that could exist." Esme said with a smile.

"If I may, I can give you a flacon with that potion. So you can make any human food to satiate your thirst." Hermione smiled at the vampire 

"Oh, I really would like to have one!" Esme smiled brightly at the possibilities.

"Do you guys really have to go? It's so early..." Alice said to the three of them.

"Sadly yes. We have a... Commitment." Harry said looking at the window that showed the forest, then turned his gaze to Alice, who was somewhat saddened by the sudden departure of visitors.

"But we'll see you tomorrow at school, right?" Hermione assured her.

"I'm going to love it!!!" Alice exclaimed. "I'll get your cloaks."

"No, that's fine, you don’t have to." Hermione smiled, snapping her fingers.

Soon the three cloaks levitated through the house, landing gently on the shoulders of the three wizards.

"That's SO cool!" Emmett whispered to Edward, his eyes wide open.

"Then, that's it. Good night and thank you for everything." Harry said, turning his gaze to Edward.

"Edward, follow your friends to the door." Carlisle said.

 "No, it isn’t necessary. See you guys later!"

With a soft 'crack' sound the Cullens astonished realized that they were alone in the living room. The wizards had completely disappeared, as if they never had been there. 

"Wizards... I never thought I'd know anything so shocking!" Carlisle ran his hand in the blond hair.

"I say the same." Jasper said, putting his hands behind his back, his mind evaluating strategically about that meeting.

"At least we know they aren’t a threat to us… Everything will be fine again." Esme said, sitting down beside her husband.

Rosalie walked around the room, hugging herself and said at last.

"Will be? Will be, really?" Her voice was serious and low. "They're hiding things. I feel like we haven’t even seen the tip of the iceberg in relation to them... Something tells me to be careful."

Edward blinked as he saw the crystal vases that had been broken and magically redone and felt a shiver run through his body. This was one of the rare times when he agreed on something with Rosalie.

A part of his mind said to be careful, to move away.

But another part wanted to approach them, to know answers, to know them...

Especially Harry.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER V

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES!

After the guests had gone home, Edward retreated into his bedroom (without bed), because his mind was being overwhelmed by a torrent of his thoughts as well as the thoughts of his siblings and parents. As he closed the door, he rubbed his hands over his face and tried to sort out his thoughts with the information he had.

Harry, Ron and Hermione were wizards!

Wizards!

They were magical!!

He ate a magic pie!!!

Edward wanted to laugh at how absurd and impossible that was, but his rational part reminded him of everything his eyes witnessed (if someone told him, he would call the person a liar or an insane) and that within the field of absurdities and impossibilities, he and his family would also fall into this category. They’re vampires. Some of them had superpowers. They shine in the sunlight for cry out loud!!!

But wizards?!

In his mind, the word was associated with distinct images in which he cataloged for most of the 20th century and also general knowledge: he remembered the Wicked Witch of the West, her green skin and pointed hat in the movie The Wizard of Oz which he watched in 1939. He recalled the comedy series Bewitched of the 1960s and Samantha doing magic while wagging her nose. He recalled the comedy Hocus Pocus of the 90s. He recalled the classic iconography of witches: pointy hat, magic wand, black cats, flying on brooms under the full moon.

Harry and his friends had magic wands?

Did they fly on brooms?

Did they make potions in the cauldron?

Edward picked up his MacBook and began searching for keywords like 'witches', 'witchcraft', and 'magic' on different web pages by reading as much information as he could find. He read about witches throughout Western History, beginning with the Pre-Historic Age and the earliest civilizations where magic was religion and vice versa. He read about Hecat and Circe magic’s goddesses of Ancient Greece, Heka and Isis of Ancient Egypt, as well as some of the rituals of the two civilizations. He read about the perspective of the different religions still existing on the subject, from Christianity to Buddhism.

He read about the Witch Hunt in Europe between the 15th and 18th centuries as well as the Salem Witch trial - the latter making Edward remember that Hermione had mentioned that there was school for witches in this town, which led him to think of the sweet irony of that. Edward accessed blogs about the theme, as well as quickly read about Wicca, neo-pagan religion that revered nature, their gods and the use of magic.

Edward stopped his fingers on the MacBook’s touchpad as he entered a page of somber colors with the title written in red letters:

"WITCHES – AGENTS OF EVIL"

Edward blinked.

Rolling down the page, he began to read about the supposed relationship of witches and their involvement with Satan and other mythological beings associated with wickedness, evilness, perversity... Edward swallowed dry when he saw engravings of witches on their supposed sabbaths, dancing with demons, invoking the Devil and performing profane deeds.

Edward looked up, staring at the wall-window in which showed the firsts lights of morning. He thought if there was a possibility that the three Brits who visited them were, as the occultist page said, agents of evil. It couldn’t be... Or could be? No... It couldn’t be... Harry, just like Hermione and Ron, so far haven’t done anything against him and his family when they could. They didn’t demonstrate that they had such a character.

But Rosalie's words echoed in his head. They knew nothing about the three of them. They answered a few questions, but opened a huge range to others, who they preferred not to tell. They only gave to them half-truths.

Reading through to the end of the article, Edward read a phrase taken from Shakespeare's Macbeth, a book he hadn't read in years, but he knew by heart. The vampire paused for a moment, felt a sense of amazement at those words that now sound like a prophecy.

Something wicked this way comes!

.

.

.

A few hours later, Edward arrived at his Math class and to his surprise he saw that Harry was there, sitting alone at the desk on the back of the room, totally unrelated to what was happening around him. The vampire took a deep breath, seeing that he would again be Harry's partner in a class and walked toward him. Pulling out the chair to sit, Harry lifted his head with a genuine expression of astonishment.

"Morning." Edward said casually.

"Morning…" Harry replied, still astounded.

"You know... I don’t remember seeing you in previous Math classes." Edward said as he opened the notebook, being careful to resist the temptation to look into Harry's eyes and to have his mind read by him. Was him following he?

"Well, I've been in this class since my first day... And it's the first time I see you here..." Harry said softly in amusement. "Are you following me, Edward?"

Edward shifted slightly in his chair, noticing how his name sounded musical in Harry's voice. Then he realized that he had indeed missed the previous class because he was still running away from Harry and his scent.

"Yes, indeed..." He murmured.

Harry raised his eyebrow.

"So you're following me?" Harry whispered.

"N-no..." Edward stammered finally looking at the boy, who looked at him seriously "What I meant, is that I missed the last classes..."

Harry looked at him for a few moments and finally smiled.

"Oh yeah... I see…"

A moment of silence passed between them.

"I've been researching some things about you..." Edward said softly. "I mean, not about you and your friends specifically, but what you guys are…"

Harry rested his hand on his cheek looking at Edward out of the corner of his eye.

"...And?"

Edward let out a breath.

"I've found a few things... a lot of them... a mix of History, popular culture, superstitions and fantasies."

"Hmmm..." Harry said. "It isn't very accurate. Some things are true, others not that much…"

Edward nodded as he bit his lower lip, wondering whether or not to say what was going on in his head.

"You are dying to ask me questions right?" Harry whispered to the vampire.

"Are you reading my mind?" Edward asked rather worriedly.

"No... But it's in your face that you want to ask me things." Harry smiled as he lowered his head.

"Can I?" Edward whispered.

Harry sighed and finally smiled.

"Okay... But I have questions too".

"Oh... But I thought you already knew everything about us..." Edward murmured sincerely.

"Not much to be honest... So, you first." Harry said as he worked out a calculation.

Edward took a deep breath.

"Tell me one thing about witches, which is myth."

"Humm... Let me see... Oh yeah. We didn’t transform ourselves in a black cat." Harry whispered in amusement. "I mean, some can do that, but not specifically just cats."

"Oh..." Edward replied with surprise as he thought that only the Quileutes, the werewolves could turn themselves into animals.

"But on the other hand, we can get into the minds of animals and control them..."

"No way… Are you serious?" The vampire said.

"Yes. With wild animals it‘s more difficult. But with our familiars it becomes easier." Harry rubbed his nose.

"Familiars?"

"How I can say... They are spirits who assumes the form of animals in which we create a deep magical connection. We’re allies and protectors to one another." Harry explained. "Every wizard and witch needs a familiar to be their spiritual guide."

Edward nodded as he absorbed the information.

"What's your familiar?" The vampire asked.

'I thought it was my turn to ask..." Harry frowned with a smile. "But answering right now, it's a Snowy Owl. Her name is Hedwig."

The vampire smiled politely at the information and went on.

"Your turn."

"Well... What happens when you come into contact with the sunlight?" Harry asked.

"You don’t know?" Edward asked incredulously.

"The information is very contradictory, according to Hermione... Old texts that are very vague, with inaccurate translations..." Harry explained. "Do you burn or something like that?"

"Well... We... Sparkle." The vampire replied strangely ashamed.

Harry looked at him in disbelief.

"Sparkle?" He said at last, trying to contain his laughter.

Edward was definitely embarrassed.

"Yeah... We sparkle." Edward sighed. "It's because of our skin. When we’re transformed by the venom, the cells organize themselves in a structure similar to the carbons in a diamond and when the sunlight touches us..."

"...The light refracts in the cells in your skin making you to sparkle, like a diamond." Harry completed, his voice ringing in fascination.

"Yeah..." Edward replied.

"It's interesting to think that in the end, your species is more about of a biological species than of a supernatural creature." Harry said thoughtfully.

Edward blinked at the boy's consideration.

"I believe that if all mankind had known about the real existence of your species since the beginning of time and if your kind were integrated into society, probably you guys would be seen today as something natural… Like genetic variations." Harry said, pulling the lock of hair from his eyes.

"It's an interesting consideration... But sometimes ignorance is bliss." Edward said. "You, for example... There are reports of magic from the beginning of time, but your kind still live in secret."

Harry considered the other's words and nodded.

"Your turn to ask." Harry said at last.

"Continuing... Why do your kind live in secret?" Edward said, finishing his calculations and moving on to the next.

"It's a long story, sort of thing that goes back millennia, but making a basic summary of everything: until the time of the Roman Empire, the Magical Community lived in relative harmony with muggles, I mean, humans who don’t do magic... But with the rise of the Judeo-Christian religions, we had to 'retreat', so to speak..." Harry whispered.

"Persecution?" Edward asked.

"Yes... The thing started to get a little bad at first, but it took catastrophic proportions during the Middle Ages... Witch-hunt, have you heard?" Harry winked at Edward.

"So it was real? If you know what I mean…" The vampire looked at the wizard.

"Yes... and no. They managed to execute a considerable number of people who actually practiced magic, but they also killed many innocent people thanks to that rubbish joke in form of witch-hunt manual, Malleus Maleficarum." Harry said with a grimace. "It was the darkest period of our History."

"Carlisle's father..." Edward continued cautiously. "He was a puritan priest and a witch hunter."

Harry looked at him with a half-smile.

"And his son is now a vampire… Well, karma is a bitch." Harry said.

Edward couldn’t contain his giggle as he looked at the boy, causing Harry to blush and turn his face to his notebook.

 

"Mr. Cullen, is the subject between you and Mr. Potter more interesting than my class?"

Edward was caught by surprise by the Math’s professor, Mr. Pearlman, making everyone looks at him and Harry – this one continued to solve his exercise as if nothing was happening.

"No, sir. I was just asking Harry for guidelines." Edward said with a polite smile.

'Guidelines? You almost always have maximum scores... You and your siblings...' The professor's thoughts became acidic.

"Right. Continuing on the subject of trigonometry..." The man went to the painting.

Edward turned his attention to the thoughts of the humans around.

'...Strange... Edward never talks to anyone but his siblings.'

'...It seems the foreigner has been able to talk to the snobby Cullen, who thinks he's too good to talk to anyone here...'

'...Jess would love to know about it, if she wasn't so worried about Mike...'

Edward bowed his head, ignoring the flow of thoughts that seemed louder.

"It must be annoying..." Harry whispered softly, staring at his notebook.

"What?' Edward said imitating the gesture.

"You hearing everyone's thoughts, all time..." Harry replied.

"You have no idea." Edward answered bitterly, twisting his lips.

Edward's cell vibrated in the pocket of his jeans, which he instinctively picked up discreetly, since the only ones who knew his number were his family and so he thought it should be something important.

Reading the message, he saw that it was Alice making a request to him.

"Alice is inviting you and your friends to join us for lunch." Edward informed the boy after reading the message. "If you want to..."

"Hmm... Once again we'll be gossiping targets... Sounds fun." Harry smiled, causing the vampire to smile too and lower his head.

.

.

.

Edward impatiently shaken his feet under the table, as he watched the flow of students enter the cafeteria and group together at their respective tables. Looking to the left he saw Harry and his friends approaching their tables, each carrying his tray with his lunch. Slowly, the rest of the students turned their heads toward them and Edward could hear their reactions.

'I cannot believe the newbies are Cullen's friends!!!'

'These fuckin' snobs don’t mix with us for almost two years, but they got in touch with the Brits, only because they have a fuckin' nice car... Although Bella approached them...'

'What they talk about?'

"Good Morning." Hermione smiled as she was the first to sit, interrupting the flow of thoughts in which Edward was concentrating.

"Good Morning!" Alice smiled excitedly as Hermione sat next to her.

Ron and Harry smiled and nodded as they sat down.

"I apologize for my temper yesterday... You know, because of the vases and everything." Hermione said, putting a lock of her hair behind her ear.

"No, that's fine... These things happen... I mean, I've never seen with my eyes, but they happen." Alice giggled.

"I... I apologize... For my conduct yesterday." Rosalie said with a straight face, avoiding looking at Harry. But Edward could still read her sister's mind and see that she wasn’t being honest.

"I understand..." Hermione said equally neutral.

A moment of silence passed over the table, though the thoughts of the other vampires were clear to Edward.

'I wonder if it's possible to ask to them to bring that blood pie tomorrow' Emmett rambled on recalling the unique taste of food.

'Stay neutral... Don’t make any sarcastic comments... Stay neutral...' Rosalie recited the mantra in her head while nudging her salad.

'Silence isn’t good... If only I could influence their moods, maybe we could chat fluently...' Jasper frowned.

"You know, I didn’t even ask you guys..." Alice suddenly interrupted the silence. "Did you move her with your parents?"

Edward blinked. 

How had he not thought of that before?

Although Harry and his friends didn’t comment on and with all these events, he had forgotten this important detail.

"We're emancipated." Hermione smiled. "My parents and Ron's live in London. Harry's parents in Paris".

"And Forks was the best place to move, better than London or Paris?" Rosalie he asked carefully, hoping his voice was not tinged with sarcasm.

"Well..." Harry said, adjusting himself in his chair. "We’re here for a specific reason."

"Forgive me for my indiscretion, but what would it be?" Alice asked politely. "Maybe we can help..."

"I think not, but anyway... This year there will be a kind of eclipse called Blood Moon, an important cosmic event for us." Hermione said cautiously, making Ron's eyes widen in protest, but the girl ignored him. "Here in Washington state will be the region of the planet where will have a better conjunction of magical energies."

"Right here? As it rains, it's quite capable of your eclipse being covered by fuckin’ rain clouds." Emmett smiled mischievously.

"Ah, that's easy... We'll make sure it doesn’t rain." Harry said casually as he ate his apple.

Edward and the rest of the Cullen frowned at it, as if he had spoken of something banal.

"Okay..." Alice said sympathetically. "Oh, before I forget... Hermione, would you like to accompany me and Rosalie to Port Angeles? I'm urgently in need of shopping..."

Rosalie widened her golden eyes at her sister.

"Oh... Okay, of course... It’s even perfect because I can buy somethings that I need." Hermione said. "Harry and Ron never like to go out with me when I want to shopping."

"We have this in common... I'm the one next to Rosie who has some sense of style." Alice laughed. "But I think we should all be going out together one day... It would be cool."

"I hear there's a beach near here... La Push."  Ron said for the first time.

Edward scratched the back of his neck.

To invade the territory of the Quileutes was strictly out of the question.

"We cannot go there..." Edward replied quietly as he drew circles with his finger on the table.

"Why?" Harry asked curiously.

"Territorial reasons." Jasper replied with a tone that finished that topic.

"Too bad..." Harry said, changing the subject. "Speaking about beaches, I want to visit Los Angeles, you know... California, white sand, palm trees under the sun, blue water..."

"Well, we could go there next month..." Hermione smiled at her friend and turned to the Cullens. "What do you guys think?"

The vampires flashed a little bit of disbelief at the invitation.

"We cannot..." Alice smiled wistfully. "Because of the sun..."

Edward took a deep breath.

Anything that involved the sun and sunlight was already a reason for them to avoid. Vampires were, after all, creatures belonging to eternal darkness.

"What happens when you... You know..." Ron whispered as Hermione approached them.

"Their skin has diamond-like properties... They sparkle in the sunlight." Harry explained to Ron.

"Sparkle? Under the sunlight?" Ron blinked in astonishment as a silence settled on the table.

Ron laughed loudly, catching the attention of some students around him.

"Sorry, sorry... It's... It's funny... Vampires... Blood drinkers... Dark and goth creatures... They sparkle under the sun!!!" The redhead said with a laugh, his face turning red.

Emmett laughed a little, as did Jasper and Alice, but Rosalie gave him a look of contempt.

"Ronald, this is not funny!" Hermione said uncomfortably to her boyfriend who had stopped laughing.

"Okay... Sorry…" Ron raised his hands surrendering.

Harry sighed, casting an apologetic glance at the vampires.

"If you want..." Harry went on. "We can 'fix' your problem."

Edward, still a little embarrassed, turned his attention to Harry.

"Excuse me?" The vampire asked.

Hermione's eyes flashed suddenly with the opening of new possibilities.

"There are incantations to hide certain characteristics before the eyes of those around you." The witch explained excitedly. "It's extremely effective and simple. You just need some kind of accessory that you use daily and carry with you. Generally a ring or a necklace."

The vampires looked at each other suspiciously and leaned toward the table. 

Edward remained motionless.

"How would it work?" Jasper asked suspiciously.

"The object would create a temporary perfect illusion that would cover up any features you want to hide." Hermione continued. "For example, your skin wouldn’t sparkle in the sunlight, it might even appear to be less pale and you could blush under certain situations like a normal human does... It could even project a different color to your eyes."

Edward blinked at the witch in astonishment.

"This... Is that possible?!" He asked.

"Yes, yes... It's relatively simple." Harry replied.

Edward looked down thoughtfully.

How good it would be to be able to walk freely through the daylight without bothering to look like a freaking giant-walking-diamond.

"If you guys want, of course..." Harry whispered gently.

"No, thank you, I don’t think it will be necessary..." Rosalie replied smiling at the boy. 'We don’t want anything from you.'

"I'll want!" Alice said, taking off her necklace with a small coat of arms from the Cullen family and handing it to Hermione.

Rosalie's eyes widened, feeling betrayed.

"Alice?!"

"Rosie... I'm tired of rain, humidity... I want sun, I want heat... And the opportunity to wear a bikini!!!" Alice said giggling and turned to Jasper. "Jazz? Imagine... We... On a beach?!"

The blond vampire winked at his mate, his mind wondering if he should refuse or not... Years ago they'd stepped on a beach... He'd forgotten the feeling. He was still afraid of the three wizards and their proposal. Glancing at his mate who had a pleading look, Jasper decided. It was for Alice and for Alice he would do everything. He took out his bracelet and handed it to the witch, still feeling uncertain about it.

"Is it really effective?" He asked.

"Yes... 100%." Hermione nodded.

Emmett smiled as he started to take off his bracelet, but Rosalie's gaze stopped him instantly.

Edward felt uncertain as he watched the scene of his brothers handing over their belongings to Hermione.

Would that be possible?

Could they walk freely around?

For a moment, he saw that he would have nothing to lose. He would like to go to a beach. Would be nice. He finally took off his own bracelet and handed it timidly to the witch.

The possibility that he might walk in the sun let him deeply touched and moved, as if they’re operating for him a kind of miracle.

Their magic would operate a miracle.

 

"Beach?" Edward asked timidly to Harry.

"Beach." Harry confirmed smiling, causing the vampire to smile back.

A screen of crying echoed through the cafeteria causing everyone on the table to turn, as well the students around. Edward searched the cafeteria with his eyes and saw who screamed, watching tears of desperation drain along with the blurred makeup.

Jessica Stanley.

"What happened?" Jasper asked.

"I don’t know." Alice replied trying to look at the place.

"What the hell…" Rosalie grunted.

Edward tried to focus his physical and telepathic hearing to the locale, crossing a sea of voices that were more agitated than usual.

"M-M-Mi-ke..." Jessica stammered by crying. "Oh, Mike."

Mike? Mike Newton? Edward thought of the blond athlete , remembering that the boy apparently had disappeared a few days ago but everyone believed that Mike had just gone to visit his brother in Washington, as was usual or at least that's what Edward overheard of his months in Forks . What was wrong with Mike?

"Jess… I’m here…" Edward heard Angela Weber comforting the girl's back. "You have to be strong…"

Jessica cried even more desperately.

Edward decided to focus on the thoughts.

'...My God... I cannot believe...'

'Mike? Oh my God…'

'...I don’t know how anyone would be capable of something like this...'

'...I cannot believe it, I cannot... It must be a bad joke... Mike isn’t dead, no...'

'... It seems that they found him in the forest…'

The last thought made Edward feel his stomach twist - if this was possible - and soon he knew what the humans were talking about.

Mike Newton was dead.

Mike Newton was found in a forest.

The day before, when he had met Charlie Swan, he had seen the scene of a brutal crime in the mind of the deputy: the naked male body with cuts all over his skin... Hands, feets and head cut off... and candles. Melted candles under the forest floor.

Edward turned his face to the wizards, who watched the scene in the cafeteria with legitimate interest. His siblings talked/thought about something, but he was unable to pay attention. He was too shocked for that. And he remembered the article he had read in the morning about evil witches and wizards. He had remembered the warning.

Something wicked this way comes!

"Edward... Is everything okay?" Harry caught his attention, making the vampire glance briefly at the green-eyed boy with a worried look on his face. Edward lowered his eyes with his brow furrowed, forcing himself to respond to something that was coherent.

"Yes… It’s okay."

It wasn’t okay.

Something wicked, apparently, already came.

And was sitting with them.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER VI

HYPOCRISY

"Edward, do you also get chemistry in the last period?" Harry's voice took him out of his reverie as the boy followed him through the hallways of the school.

Edward blinked at Harry, who smiled at him politely but then frowned at the empty vampire's expression.

"Yes... I do." Edward replied.

"It's everything right?" The wizard asked, pausing for a moment and hugging his books against his chest.

Edward nodded, but his facial expression was rigid.

"Yeah, all perfectly well. I'm just absorbed."

Harry nodded, continuing to walk beside Edward toward the classroom, both in an awkward silence.

"It's likely that by tomorrow yours and Jasper's bracelet, as well as Alice's necklace, will be ready" Harry said softly. "The spell lasts up to twelve hours from the time you guys use them..."

Edward didn’t answer.

"But whenever you want, we can redo for you..." Harry continued as Edward opened the door so the younger boy could come in first.

"It isn’t necessary." Edward replied dryly, walking over to a desk with a vacant seat next to a student who reacted with surprise when Edward Cullen, always so reserved, sat next to him.

Edward watched Harry blink his eyes in surprise and a little hurt to himself, his grin dying slowly, as he tentatively headed for an empty desk in the back.

.

.

.

Tic... Tac... Tic... Tac...

The sound of the clock in Carlisle's office.

Ping... Ping... Ping...

The sound of drops of water falling from the kitchen faucet.

Clack... Clack... Clack...

The sound of Rosalie's high heels on the wooden floor.

These were some of the sounds that Edward, now lying on the leather sofa of his bedroom, could hear thanks to his extremely sharp hearing - a small part of his mind creating a sound pattern for everything he heard. He stared at the ceiling of his room, seeing with his sharp vision the micro particles of dust float in the air as he could see the sparkle created by the chandelier's crystals, his eyes breaking the light into eight colors - the eighth color couldn’t be captured neither by eyes or human equipment and Edward was never able to define what color it resembled.

He was thinking about what happened earlier, about the information he had read on the internet, the information he and Harry exchanged, about him and his family slowly becoming involved with the wizards, about Mike Newton's death, about the corpse in the forest...

Edward scratched his forehead as he remembered the mental image of the boy's corpse, the cruelty in which he had been executed and especially in the circumstances in which he was found, as if he had been some kind of sacrifice of some obscure ritual, which was the enough for him to be left with a cloud of mistrust about the three wizards.

He would have to talk to Carlisle eventually, see what he could do about it and what he...

Tic... Tac... Tic... Tac...

Ping... Ping... Ping...

Clack... Clack... Clack...

Edward growled irritably at the insistent sounds, tossing a pillow from his sofa into the bedroom door.

By breathing deeply, he can feel his throat horribly dry, burning for the only basic need he had: thirst for blood. Technically, thirst had never ceased completely, there was always a trace of it, just as a human would have to have an eternal sore throat, but for him it was much, much worse. When a vampire felt thirsty, the thirst for truth that made the eyes turn black, they had a sensation similar to having a red iron in her throat, in which the only possible relief would be to feel her being moistened with blood.

Rising from the sofa and opening the window-door on the wall of his room, he jumped into the forest, hurrying through the vegetation.

Stopping at a random and distant point, he closed his eyes, concentrating on the sounds he heard: the wind shaking the branches of the trees, the sound of small animals like rodents, the sound of the gurgling of the water of a nearby river and... There was... The sound of the heartbeat of a deer, a sound of beating muscle, pumping gallons of warm blood... Edward felt his throat tighten and the bitter venom filled his mouth as he ran toward the sound.

Vampires were the perfect predators.

The top of the food chain.

Their petrified bodies were virtually indestructible, the skin resistant to external damage and high impact unless exposed for a reasonable amount of time in the fire, since the poison and fluids in their bodies were flammable. His vision and hearing were equally superior, being able to locate by sound and smell someone from miles away without the slightest difficulty. His strength was also impressive, and he could easily destroy a war tank just like a child by ripping paper.

Edward had no difficulty in attacking the deer, making sure the animal did not have enough time for reaction (he hated the taste of blood after the animals released high dosages of hormones like adrenaline), pricking his teeth, sharp as blade on the animal's neck, cutting through the skin, muscle, and tendons, feeling the taste of hot blood run past his lips and down his throat.

Dropping the animal's carcass carefully, he wiped his mouth with his hands, removing the blood and the fur while he could feel the liquid gradually being absolved by his body, but still not being fully satiated.

Repeating the process, he hunted down a mountain lion (who managed to reduce the shirt he wore in patchwork) and another deer, feeling satisfied as well as his pain in his throat slowing.

Edward picked up his phone by clicking on the home button to see the hours causing the glow to illuminate himself. It was past sunset and darkness was beginning to fall on him. Turning off the screen, he momentarily analyzed the reflection of his face...

The face of a killer.

Besides the super strength, speed, vision and hearing, vampires were supernaturally attractive to humans in general, which in addition to being dazzled at their physical beauty they were also mesmerized by the smell emanating from their bodies... Bella had once mentioned how he and Alice smelled good, which made the vampire just frown when he realized that he was, after all, a biological machine to kill people, so made sense that he smelled good.

Edward suddenly lowered his phone, when he suddenly was assailed by a strange sensation, akin to a primitive instinct.

He felt he was being watched.

Concentrating his hearing, he could only hear his own breath (his nose felt nothing different from the usual) and the sound of tree branches swaying in the wind and owls beginning to sing... Other than that, just silence.

But the sensation persisted.

Looking sideways, he scanned all around, seeing nothing more than trees and vegetation as well as a thin mist that began to cover the ground. He was alone.

Crack!

The sound of a dry twig to be trampled rang out behind Edward, who turned quickly enough to see a dark, indefinite figure, like a black haze in the trees.

"What the fu..." The vampire whispered, frozen in that position, just like that strange figure, until he had decided to approach with a slow step but the action was enough for that thing to move with great speed and Edward did not have choice but to run after the figure that was advancing at a faster speed than his, always with a good distance of advantage.

Running as hard as he can, Edward stopped when he realized that whatever had been running away from him had already disappeared. He was once again alone. Looking around, he saw nothing but tall trees with mossy trunks, already being timidly illuminated by the pale light of the full moon among thin clouds.

Ready to turn around to run back home, he stopped when his audition caught a faint, almost imperceptible sound, but that was enough to let him know that he wasn’t the only one in that forest. Closing his eyes, he focused on that particular sound, which although remarkable, he couldn’t describe exactly what it was…

Guiding by hearing, he began to walk.

Edward made as little noise as possible with his feet as he moved, down a steep part of the forest. Step by step, the sound grew louder and clearer and he could understand that it was a human voice, a human voice that produced something with what seemed to be a dialect, but a dialect in which Edward had never heard (if it were even a dialect): it was rough, low and slow in the sound of the letter "s".

It sounded to his ears like something ancient, inhuman, and his intuition said that it was possibly evil.

He stopped twenty yards away from the place where the sound came from, when his sharp vision caught the light of candles that illuminated the small clearing among the tall trees, something that would be relatively normal, like for example, someone camping, if not for the candles to floating in the air. Edward lowered his eyes and saw that in the center of the clearing was a human figure who wore a black cloak, while his pale arms were extended in opposite directions. Edward walked a few steps to his right, hiding behind a tree and recognized who it was.

Harry.

Harry was in profile and Edward could partially see his face as the boy continued to speak and look down. Edward with his eyes to the ground and was somewhat horrified to see what was happening: on the floor was a drawing made of a white substance that stood out against the dark color of the earth. Edward was a layman in Occult knowledge but he was smart enough to know that it was some kind of seal. But that was the least of it, for what was on the seal was able to awaken in him a deep chill – serpents and snakes of different species and sizes curled into each other as they were circling around a barefoot Harry as if they’re participating in a macabre dance.

"Valak, give thy children to me!" Harry's voice was hoarse and gravelly and he slowly began to levitate from the ground, causing the snakes to hiss in response as if they’re understanding what the boy was saying.

The vampire swallowed the dry.

As he watched it, Edward nearly freaked out as a small black snake curled around his feet. Kicking his foot into the air, he saw the reptile crawl toward the clearing, just as a dozen other snakes were as well, as if they had been attending to a kind of call. Apparently they were. Edward saw that Harry was still levitating and slowly turned to the direction where the vampire was. Edward caught his breath at the thought that the wizard had seen him, but Harry didn't look at him, but at the little snake Edward had just kicked.

Deciding that was enough for him to testify, he decided to run away as fast as he could, concentrating solely on getting home as if he had entered an automatic mode as he ran through the vegetation.

For the first time in almost a century, Edward was scared.

.

.

.

Edward rubbed the dry blood and the dirt from his skin, just as he appreciated the wonderful warm-water sensation in his perpetually cold body - not that it caused some kind of muscle relaxation as it had in humans, but he still liked that. At the end of the shower, after drying himself with the towel, the vampire went to the closet disproportionately too large for one person (a work of Alice's), dressing himself with anything.

He needed to talk to Carlisle.

He was the only person who could help him to put his mind in place, to act with rationality. He didn't want to worry his siblings with his suspicions, much less tell what he had witnessed in the forest. That would be reason enough to create chaos.

Down the stairs, he headed for the family patriarch's office, a large room with several medical books, as well as rare oil paintings, acquisitions that Carlisle acquired over his three hundred years as a vampire and his close relationship with the Volturi. Sitting at the table, Carlisle smiled warmly at the sight of his youngest - and at the same time, the oldest - son standing at the door.

'Edward, is everything okay?' Carlisle's mind asked when he saw the teenager's worried face.

Edward approached the desk where the other vampire was, sitting on an empty chair and picking up a sheet of paper with a pen. In a house full of vampires with super audition, Edward didn’t take the risk to have a sound talk with Carlisle, preferring to communicate in a silent way. Writing quickly, he handed the sheet to Carlisle who frowned at the seriousness of what it meant.

No. I feel like there's something wrong with those wizards and witch.

Today we learn that Mike Newton was murdered and his body was found in a forest. Days ago I talked to Charlie Swan and I saw in the mind of the policeman that accompanied the state in which the corpse was found, at the time did not know that it was the Newton boy ... He seemed to have been the victim of a kind of satanic ritual or something similar. There were melted candles around his body... Marks of blades on the skin... He was mutilated.

Carlisle looked up at Edward.

'…And you suspect they killed him?'

Edward nodded, taking the sheet of paper and writing.

Today, when I went hunting, I saw some things in the forest ... I cannot specify what I saw, because I'm still trying to understand what I saw... But it was enough to make me even more alert.

They aren’t harmless.

What should we do?

Carlisle ran a hand through his blond hair as he stared at the paper. Edward frowned as he tried to focus on just that and not remember Harry and his snake ritual.

'Son, I honestly don’t know what to say but for the time being, I advise you to do nothing. What you have so far are suspicious and not concrete information... We cannot act hastily.' Carlisle's mental voice sounded wary.

"Then I must do nothing?" Edward whispered audibly enough that only the other vampire could hear.

'Yes. But that doesn’t mean we should not keep our eyes open... I don’t know if you’re aware, but there is a relative wave of disappearances around the city, just like in Port Angeles. The authorities left notices so we could contact them in case the gum of the wanted people showed up at the hospital.' Carlisle frowned.

Edward looked at him worriedly.

"How many people?"

'So far, almost 15.'

"But I don’t think it's still a reason to judge them." Carlisle finally spoke, placing a hand on Edward's shoulder. "For the time being, treat them cordially..."

"Okay..."

Carlisle smiled at him.

Edward got up from the chair and crumpled the paper and tossed it into the fireplace so no one would know about it. As he turned to Carlisle, Edward stared at the little statuette behind the blond vampire, the Rod of Asclepius, symbol of Medicine. Seeing the bronze serpent, Edward remembered Harry.

"Carlisle..."

"Yes?"

"Have you ever heard of something called 'Valak'?" Edward asked wary.

Carlisle narrowed his eyes and shook his head.

"No, why?"

Edward lowered his eyes.

"It's nothing... Have a good night."

"You too, son."

Edward stepped out of the room and sat down on the couch in the living room, which was momentarily empty. Picking up his cell phone, Edward opened a search site and typed “Valak”, for who knows how to get some kind of information.

In demonology, Valac (also spelled Ualac, Valak, Valax, Valu, or Valic) is known to give true answers about hidden treasures. He also reveals where snakes and serpents can be seen and handing them harmlessly to who conjured them.

Reading further, Edward discovered that Valac was one of the 72 demons described in the grimoire 'The Lesser Key of Solomon', in which served to invoke and compel the demons to obey those who conjured them, to serve their purposes.

Edward shivered.

.

.

.

Hours later, at Forks High School , Edward was surprised to see the three wizards walk up to them in the parking lot, making Alice smile honestly at Hermione, the two of them talking about any subject while Rosalie remained silent. Ron handed Emmett a paper bag, which had a piece of the blood pie, which left the muscular vampire extremely happy, the two talking about the football games that would happen next weekend.

"Morning, Edward..." Harry looked at the vampire cautiously.

Edward sketched a ghost of a smile and nodded.

"It's all right?" The wizard asked.

"Yeah… It's all right. Excuse me. I have to pick some books..." The vampire said as neutrally as possible, walking straight to the building with his backpack, making Alice look at him in a confused way.

Edward walked through the empty corridors, thanking them for the fact that they arrived a few minutes early which gave him some peace before having his mind again bombarded with thoughts. Unlocking his locker, the vampire took his book of Philosophy, as well as some pens and looked at his schedule to see what classes he would have throughout the day.

Suddenly the locker’s door slammed shut and he saw that Harry was in front of him, his face with an irritated expression.

"What the fuck is your problem?" Harry demanded.

Edward blinked, completely astonished.

"I beg your pardon…"

"I asked what your problem is. Besides being a snoop, are you deaf too?"

Edward frowned, his mouth twitching. So he had seen him in the woods.... A part on his mind was dismayed by it, but he shouldn't let it out in front of the wizard.

"I was NOT snooping." The vampire said approaching the small boy, who was looking upwards. "I was hunting."

"Oh, very convenient..." Harry rolled his eyes.

"I'm telling the truth. Whether you want to believe it or not, it's your problem." Edward replied, starting to walk, but Harry stopped him by placing his hand on the vampire's arm. "I had no intention of disturbing your little ritual."

The boy blinked at him.

"And what do you think you know about this, Edward? What are you thinking about me and my friends?" Harry said in a soft voice.

Edward licked his lips.

"I'm not thinking of anything… Or should I think?!" Edward replied wryly.

Harry blinked at the vampire.

"I’m thinking nothing about you or your kind." Edward replied with a hard politeness.

"You lie." Harry answered roughly. "Tell me the truth."

"Who do you think you are to say whether I lie or not?" Edward snarled, moving closer to Harry who didn’t seem to be intimidated by the height of the vampire, which made him look smaller.

"Bloody hell, what's YOUR problem?!" Harry said in frustration, putting his hand on the back of his neck as he stared at the hallway ceiling and then lowered his head. "Just SPEAK what's jammed in your throat and stop acting like a fucking little boy!"

Edward growled low.

"Oh, so do you want honesty? Okay, let's be honest." He said while he leaned against the lockers. "I believe you and your friends are hiding things from us, serious and evil things."

"Such as?" Harry whispered.

Edward didn’t answer, just arching his eyebrow.

"SUCH AS?!" Harry snarled to him.

Edward looked around, making sure they were alone.

"The Newton boy…" Edward replied.

Harry blinked in confusion.

"What?"

"Mike Newton. The boy who died." Edward approached him. "His body was found in a forest and in very suspicious and perhaps even similar circumstances for you."

Harry took a step back.

"Wait a minute, are you implying what exactly?" Harry articulated with his hands.

"I don’t know, tell me..." Edward replied.

"Wow wow, hold on…" Harry said. "Are you implying that my friends and I killed the mortal, is that it?"

Edward shrugged.

"Based on what?!" The wizard said.

"I saw through the mind of a deputy who was on the crime scene..." Edward replied coldly.

"AND?!"

"Candles, severed limbs, signs of torture... Isn’t it suspicious when you have three wizards in town?" Edward replied.

Harry gritted his teeth, tightening his jaw.

"And so my friends and I am suspects, is that it? Are we murderers?" Harry finally answered.

"You become suspicious when I see you invoking a demon in the middle of the forest... It's not something that gives me an idea of innocence." Edward replied angrily. "So yeah, I do presume that you have something to do with it!!!"

Edward barely had time to process what happened, just felt the impact of Harry's hand slap him on the face that sounded like a whip through the still empty corridor. Edward's eyes widened, his petrified face burning with aggression, something that it would be impossible for an ordinary human to do without hurting himself. Harry's green eyes stared at the vampire angrily.

"Now it's MY turn to speak, your blood-sucker... I didn’t judge your family, much less you for causing a girl's death last year..." Harry said, grabbing Edward's wrist that burned with the heat of the wizard's hands, as if he had been touched by a red-hot iron.

Edward's eyes widened at him.

"Bella, isn’t that her name? Pretty lass with doe's brown eyes, who died because of your kind?!" Harry continued, his voice with a cold cruelty "It's was a tragedy, but it's still connected with you. But isn’t that what vampires do? Kill? I imagine you must have a lot more blood on your hands than I do..."

Edward gasped, noting that the locker’s doors as well as the bulbs began to shake by an invisible force. Harry let go of his wrist as he stopped the objects around him from shaking.

"So don’t act like you're superior, because you are not in any way..." Harry snarled at him. "You're just a hypocrite!!!"

Edward lowered his head, trying to use his voice again.

"Did you kill him?" He whispered, seeing the skin of his wrist to regenerate by the burn caused by the wizard's hand.

Harry shook his head.

"No, and IF I had kill him, I wouldn’t be amateur enough to leave traces." Harry said coldly "But, truth to be told, I didn’t kill him."

The vampire nodded in shame.

"Show me what you saw."

"What…"

"Show me the memory you saw in the policeman’s mind!" Harry replied impatiently, looking at the vampire's eyes.

Edward replayed the memory as Harry saw through his mind.

Harry lowered his eyes with a frown.

"My friends and I didn’t do that." Harry finally said coolly. "Whoever they did to this kid, Mike, could be an attempt to do some ritual that failed. Or a common murder to attract the attention of everybody. Some killers take pleasure in seeing their 'works' causing terror in the media and population, it isn’t the first or the last time this happens."

Harry took a step back from the vampire.

"I’m a wizard, but it doesn’t mean that I’m the full incarnation of evil, just as you’re a vampire and not an irrational beast that kills everybody at your front." Harry murmured with a cold and sad voice, as he took a packet out of the pocket of his coat, tossing it into Edward's chest, which picked up instinctively. "Here's your bracelet and Jasper's, along with Alice's necklace. Enjoy them."

"Harry, I’m so…"

"And if you dare to falsely accuse me again, I will curse you for the rest of your fucking miserable existence!!!"

Before Edward could say anything, Harry grabbed the backpack lying on the ground and strode toward the exit of the school, leaving behind a terribly sorry vampire.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER VII

HONESTY

"You did what?!" Alice exclaimed incredulously as she looked at Edward, the two of them alone in the bleachers of the school gym.

Edward had sent a message to his sister asking her to meet him there, because she was the only person he trusted to tell about the discussion he had with Harry earlier that morning. Alice, who had been silent for the whole time, had only just opened her eyes and frowned, expressing herself scandalously at the end.

"Speak low!!!" Edward scolded, looking sideways making sure they were alone.

"Idiot!" Alice replied in a stern voice. 'I'll repeat it mentally for you to hear... IDIOT!'

"I understand, thank you..." The vampire rolled his eyes impatiently.

"Seriously Edward... How can you be so stupid as to make hasty judgments..." Alice folded her arms in indignation at what she had just heard.

"I know… I was wrong... But honestly, how would you react if you had seen what I saw in the woods?" Edward answered in a low voice.

"Did you ask him what it was about?" The girl raised her eyebrow. "Are you sure of what you saw or think you saw?

"No, but the website on the internet I read said..." Edward looked at his hands, noticing how ridiculous he sounded when he said it aloud.

"Frankly, Edward..." Alice growled. "Haven’t you ever heard that you cannot trust everything you read on the Internet? Why didn’t you just go there and ask him?"

"Ask how?" Edward frowned. “Hey Harry, how are you? So, yesterday I saw you in the woods, invoking snakes and apparently a demon too..."

"Not like this..." Alice continued reasonably. "But in a more cautious way. Asking in a respectful manner wouldn’t cause any of these problems."

"I know..." Edward whispered, feeling defeated.

Alice sighed.

"At least tell me you're going to apologize..." Alice touched his hand.

Edward turned his head to face her.

"Of course" he said honestly. "I'm sorry for what I did... It wasn’t fair to him."

The two were silent for a moment, the vampire occasionally picking up thoughts of his sister wandering about the topic of the wizards and what to do to ease the situation. Suddenly Alice began to laugh with her characteristic musical laughter, causing Edward to frown.

"What's it?"

"Did he really slap you in the face?" The vampire covered her mouth with her hand, trying to control herself.

Edward rolled his eyes.

"Yeah… I was so surprised that I barely had time to think of the pain... I didn’t think it was possible..." He said as he smoothed the hard surface of his marble face.

"Sorry to say that, but you kinda deserved it..." Alice shrugged.

"I think so... I acted like a jerk." He laughed a little as he lowered his head.

"Totally."

Edward continued to look down, a comfortable silence settled between the two vampires.

"Alice?"

The short-haired girl turned her attention to him.

"Yes?"

"Don’t you feel... Uneasy that you cannot know anything about them?" Edward said hesitantly. "Of not being able to see the future in which they’re present or to anticipate their actions?"

Alice inclined her head and thought about it, her mind replaying the memories from the first contact with the wizards and finally responding.

"At first, yes. Today, not much to be honest... I mean, sometimes it's good not to know... It makes our life less predictable." The vampire said. "And I feel they can be our friends."

"Really?"

"Yeah... I mean, I guess..." Alice said, looking at the transparent sack on which was her necklace that Edward had received from Harry. "They seem to understand us... You know… They're different from the rest of normal humans. They have to keep it a secret, like we do."

Edward looked at his hands.

"But you feel uncomfortable, don’t you?" Alice said as she turned her attention back to her brother. "Not knowing..."

The vampire blinked his eyes and finally nodded.

"It's strange..." Edward gestured with his hands. "I didn’t realize that I got used to knowing the thoughts and secrets of people, to always be one step ahead, to take advantage of being who I am, or rather, who we are..."

"And this makes you feel…?" Alice asked curiously.

Edward took a deep breath, cracking his long, pale fingers as he stared at the ceiling of the gym.

"Frustrated..." Edward frowned. "Much more than I was with Bella, because at the end of the day I knew I was the one who put her at risk. It was predictable in a way."

"…and?" Alice continued.

"It’s not the same with Harry." Edward said. "I don’t know how to interpret him, I don’t know anything about him, but he seems to know about me... This makes me feel..."

"Disoriented?"

"Yeah… Disoriented…" He whispered. "I don’t like the feeling of being at a disadvantage."

"...Because of Harry?" Alice asked casually, staring at him out of the corner of her eye as her mind hummed the alphabet.

"Yes..." Edward murmured without thinking, but he broke off abruptly, his eyes widening at his sister. "I mean, for all three of them, of course. All three are unknown to me."

"Oh yeah..." Alice said not so convinced.

"I am serious." Edward replied. "Don’t start fantasizing."

"I said nothing!" Alice raised her hands in redemption, rising from the bleachers and taking her purse. "But back to the subject of predictability, I think I need to tell you something..."

"Say what?"

"I cannot see your future any more clearly... It's as if everything was muddy, cloudy, imprecise... Well, at least for now." The girl said cautiously.

Edward twisted his mouth at that information.

"What does that mean?' He asked rising from his seat.

"Honestly, I don’t know how to say it, but..." Alice looked at him with a faint smile on her face, stepping back. "I have a hunch... I'll see you later Ed..."

"Hey, come back here!" Edward protested.

"Tell me later if Harry forgave you! I want details!!!" Alice said, walking with her back to her brother, as she waved at him without looking back.

Edward tried to read her mind, but all she heard in response was Alice mentally singing 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' causing him to grunt in frustration.

.

.

.

It had been a week since the discussion that Edward had with Harry in the hallways of school, and within that week Edward daily tried to apologize to the wizard, be it in the cafeteria or in the classroom as the two shared the table together. Edward apologized, but he got the same reaction from Harry as he would have if he had spoken to a wall - and he might have been more successful with a wall. When he and his friends sporadically sat down with the vampires in the cafeteria, Harry did not look at him.

The boy was master at ignoring him.

Harry acted as if the vampire just didn’t exist and Edward even cogitated that he had done some kind of spell to make it invisible in his eyes (was that possible?).

But still Edward kept trying until he got at least some kind of reaction from the other, until the wizard finally gave in and listened him. The vampire didn’t notice, but being forgiven by Harry was no longer a matter of guilt for doing something wrong, but something deeper, almost a matter of honor and he would not give up so easily.

And that was how Edward walked hesitantly to Biology class, meaning again as a child who had done something wrong and who should face the rebuke of the parents. In a way, he admitted that he acted as a child about the situation and as Alice had said, it could have been easily settled if he had been mature enough to have first asked Harry instead of jumping to unfounded conclusions. He frowned as he realized how ironic that he, a vampire more than 100 years old, the most chivalrous of his brothers, had acted with such lack of maturity.

Harry... No, the wizards confused him.

Edward paused for a moment looking at the small glass window of the classroom door, seeing Harry sitting by the empty seat of the vampire, concentrating on something. Taking a deep breath, Edward entered the room, walking to his seat.

Harry didn’t look at him.

"Good Morning." Edward said with a friendly smile, using the softer tone his voice could produce.

Edward just got quiet.

Harry was still writing something in his notebook while his other hand rested on his chin.

"Lately it's raining beyond normal, isn’t it?" Edward continued, but mentally he felt shame to others. 'Seriously? Rain? In Forks? Genius, Edward.' His mind sneered.

Harry took another pen as he turned the page of his notebook, his free fingers playing with a lock of his dark hair.

"Alice is very excited for the beach day with you guys... Excited beyond normal, in my opinion..." Edward smiled as he tried another approach.

Harry again gave him the silence.

"Harry..." Edward tried again.

The wizard finally dropped the pen, closing his eyes as he breathed deeply, turning his head to face the vampire with his green eyes burning in impatience and irritation.

"Bloody hell Cullen, don’t you understand the concept of being ignored?" Harry scowled at him.

Edward felt his shoulders tense at being called by his last name, remembering to relax and act naturally.

"We need to talk..." The vampire spoke softly.

"We don’t need to do anything at all." The wizard replied dryly.

"Harry, we need to talk..." Edward said approaching the boy. "You cannot ignore me for the rest of the year…"

Harry looked at him scornfully.

"I cannot? Of course I can!" He replied. "With a snap of my fingers I block you and your voice as if it never existed."

"Why are you being so insistent not to talk to me?" Edward asked.

"Why are you being so insistent about talking to me?" Harry said looking into his eyes.

"For the simple reason that I would like to receive your forgiveness for the disrespectful way in which I treated you." Edward said, his words gaining intonation as if he were still Edward Masen, the Chicago high-society teenager in the early 20th.

"What if I don’t want to forgive you?" Harry answered him with a hard tone.

"I'll keep insisting every day we see each other." Edward answered, completing at last. "Take as long as it takes..."

Harry looked at him in disbelief.

"You're unbelievable..." Harry shook his head, looking back at his notebook.

"I've been called many things over the decades, and unbelievable was one of them..." Edward continued with a polite smile.

"Prepotent and stubborn, too?" Harry replied.

"Too often I'll admit..." The vampire shrugged as he remembered his clashes with Alice and especially Rosalie, who also had a 'tenacious' personality. "Which only proves that I will not give up until you speak properly to me."

"Urgh..." Harry exclaimed. "I don’t want to and I will not talk to you!"

Edward smiled at the boy.

"But Harry, you're already talking to me..." Edward said in an innocent voice.

Harry blinked at him, his mouth half open for a few seconds.

"Unbelievable... You're unbelievable." Harry replied angrily, turning to the front, picking up the microscope and inserting a slide carefully.

Edward laughed softly, happy to have been able to develop a dialogue after so many days.

"Shut up!" The wizard cast an angry glance at him.

A silence passed between them, Edward watching intently the thin and light skin of the wizard’s face, watching the flow of blood irrigate the tiny veins that left his cheeks rosy as well as their green eyes that were concentrated over the microscope.

"Will not you let me look, too?" The vampire asked, pointing at the device with his chin. "We are laboratory partners, after all..."

Harry lifted his head, licking dry lips as he considered what he had heard.

"Prophase." He answered dryly as he slid the microscope to the vampire.

Edward raised his eyebrows, finding that for some reason he was amused to see Harry angry... There was something in the irritation that made the wizard's face even more vivid. The vampire shook his head, laughing softly as he stared at the lens.

"Is there something funny on the slide, Cullen?" Harry scolded.

"Nothing…" Edward said as he wrote down the result and passed the microscope gently to the boy next to him. "It's prophase."

Harry cracked his tongue in the roof of his mouth.

"Of course it's prophase..." The wizard shook his head as if that were the most obvious thing in the world.

"So... Does the rain remind you of England?" Edward asked, pointing his thumb to the window.

"Seriously you're going to use the weather as a subject?!" Harry narrowed his eyes.

"We can talk about how sorry I’m sorr..."

"Yes, I love the rain, it's wonderful." Harry cut off the vampire's speech.

Edward laughed softly.

"Harry, don’t you see we're on an impasse?" Edward said at last as the boy stared at the microscope.

"What impasse?" He asked, not turning his focus to him.

Edward breathed.

"I will not give up apologizing to you, even if you do not want to hear..." Edward replied. "The point is, you just have to listen and have the good heart to forgive me... Simple like that."

Harry stopped what he was doing and at last looked at him.

"What if I don’t have a good heart?" The boy asked, looking at him intensely.

Edward paused for a moment as he was stared at by those green eyes. The vampire reflected on those words, knowing there was a real possibility that he was right, that he didn’t have a good heart... But Edward soon disregarded, for he himself was a monster, a freak of nature that depended on the death of others beings to live. No matter what Harry did, even talking to snakes or invoking demons, Edward would still be a monster that didn’t even have soul.

"You have..." Edward whispered, lowering his golden eyes.

"Are you sure?!" Harry's voice was still hard.

"Yeah... If you hadn’t, you would have cursed me in that corridor..." Edward looked up at Harry, who just blushed and lowered his eyes.

"Anaphase.' Harry finally answered, his fingers playing with the pendant of the delicate gold chain he wore "And for your information, I can still curse you... Don’t think for a minute that you're safe."

Edward grinned at the wizard.

"I never thought that." The vampire replied, raising his hands in redemption.

Harry looked at him for a few seconds and then turned his attention to the notes.

"Do you want to check it or not?" The wizard replied, pointing to the microscope.

"No... No need... I trust you." Edward said wary, but he couldn’t help noticing how intense those words had come out.

"Humm…" Harry replied without looking at him.

A comfortable silence settled between them as they answered the question card that the teacher had passed. Edward occasionally looked at Harry and the wizard looked back at him, with something like irritation or another emotion in which Edward was unfamiliar with.

Edward never wanted so much to read someone else's mind for answers.

.

.

.

At break time, Edward was sitting at the table with his siblings, just as he saw Ron and Hermione entertained in a private conversation at their own table. Searching the cafeteria, Edward was looking for some sign of the dark-haired boy until he located him in the lunch session.

"Excuse me." Edward said to his siblings as he stood up from the table ignoring everyone's confused look except for Alice's and walking towards to Harry.

The young wizard was holding a cup in which he was gradually pouring the hot coffee and frothy milk, as well as picking up a cereal bar.

"Harry... Can we sit down at a table?" Edward said casually as he picked up an apple, pretending to be looking for some food as well.

Harry turned to him and rolled his eyes.

"You again... What a lovely surprise." Harry murmured sarcastic.

"Yeah, me again… We need to talk properly... We cannot afford this situation between us to be perpetual." Edward said quietly, approaching the wizard. "We're old enough to be grandparents of these kids around us, why don't we act like good grandpas and sit down for a chat?"

The seriousness that Harry tried to keep faded with the vampire's last comment, making him giggle.

"You don’t give up, do you, Cullen?" Harry said frowning.

"Edward..." The vampire corrected, putting his hands behind his back and walking alongside the boy below. "And no, I don’t give up easily."

"Okay, okay..." Harry sighed, holding the coffee and cereal bar. "Let's go to that table, on the corner."

Edward followed the wizard to an empty table, facing a window and relatively distant from the others. The vampire cannot help noticing that some students looked suspiciously at the two of them walking together, just as their siblings stared at him with curiosity and disbelief. Edward turned his attention to Harry.

"Allow me." The vampire said, pulling up the chair so the wizard could sit down.

Harry frowned in curiosity at him.

"It's habits that don’t fade away..." Edward explained with a shrug. 

Harry sat up and Edward sat down in front of him.

"So..." Harry said cautiously, sipping the hot coffee. "Start talking before I regret it..."

"Well, first of all, I'd like to say that I'm deeply sorry for everything I said to you and..." Edward broke off as he looked around to see his brothers staring at him, probably listening to everything they spoke.

Harry glanced toward the Cullens' table, turning to Edward and sighed.

"Muffliato." The boy waved his hands and Edward couldn’t help but contain an expression of surprise to see that the wizard had blocked all external sounds of the cafeteria, as if they were completely alone there. Even more amazed, he realized that he no longer heard anyone's mental voice, his mind remaining in complete peace with his own thoughts.

"Fantastic…" Edward said, looking at his siblings who stared at him in confusion. The spell probably worked the other way around.

"Proceed..."

Edward cleared his throat.

"Right... I was saying that I was, I mean, I am really sorry for what I said to you. The accusations, insinuations…" He continued. "Harry, I'm so sorry."

Harry looked at him for a moment.

"Help me understand why you came to such conclusions." Harry said calmly.

Edward drummed his fingers on the table.

"I talked to Alice a few days ago... I... I came to the conclusion that I was acting in the most 'humane' way." Edward answered honestly.

"Sorry, I don’t understand..." Harry shook his head, feeling confused.

"People in general tend to react in two ways when they face the stranger, the unknown." Edward said. "If they are afraid of it, they want to destroy it... Or if they become suspicious about it, they make pre-judgments…"

"And you opted for the second hypothesis." Harry finished.

"Yeah…" Edward admitted sheepishly. "I was accustomed to knowing about people and being assured that because I was… You know, a vampire, I would have no risk... But you... I mean, you guys are something completely different with what I've dealt with."

Harry propped his elbow on the table as his hand rested his chin.

"Go on."

Edward bit his lower lip.

"I don’t know what you're capable of... I've only had small glimpses so far, but I know it's something deep and... And even dark." The vampire said wary. "Like that ritual you did... In the woods."

Harry sipped his coffee, staring at the table as he heard the vampire's words.

"What do you want, Edward?" He answered and asked at last, looking at the bronze-haired boy.

"What were you doing, Harry? I mean... I searched the online, but now I want to hear from you..." Edward said shyly.

Harry took a deep breath.

"I was summoning serpents and snakes out of the forest so they would be my subordinates." Harry muttered. "Just as invoking Valak, the snake demon so they bowed to me, their new master."

"Invoking? Why?" Edward whispered.

"I'm a parselmouth." Harry explained calmly. "It is a skill in which a wizard is able to communicate with snakes..."

"Do all your people able talk to snakes?" The vampire asked curiously.

"No. It's a rare skill." The boy replied.

"Oh..." Edward frowned.

"And I summon them because I needed... How can I say...? Spies in the woods." The wizard continued.

"Why?"

Harry looked around and approached Edward.

"Hermione assures me it's nothing, but it's been a while since I've noticed certain 'bad omens' in this town." Harry said. "It may just be my impression... But my sixth sense says no."

Edward frowned.

"For example?"

"It's hard to explain... It's like static in the air or something." Harry sipped his coffee. "When you showed me your memories of that image of the Newton’s body, I was pretty sure the feeling was right. Something is wrong."

"Wait a minute... You told me it was the work of an ordinary killer, wanting to get attention!" Edward protested.

"No, I said it was a possibility." Harry corrected. "But there is also a possibility that a ritual was done."

"What kind of ritual?" Edward asked.

"A human sacrifice." Harry replied with a cold look. "For what exactly, I do not know, for it depends very much on the intent of the one who does."

Edward felt astonished.

"Do you suspect there are any wizards or witches around?" Edward asked.

Harry looked down, pondering the subject.

"Maybe... But it's not certain." Harry said at last, looking at the vampire. "Just as me and my friends are here because of the Blood Moon, it is likely that other witches might be there as well."

"Is that Blood Moon thing so important?"

"Yeah... It's something unique. It is the kind of event in which it ensures, if rituals are done in the right way, a powerful kind of magic." The wizard explained.

"Oh... I understand..." Edward replied.

"Yeah... Did I answer your question?" Harry asked.

"Yes, but didn’t answer the most important..."

"And what would be?"

"Will you forgive me?" The vampire asked in a soft voice.

Harry blinked at him and smiled discreetly at last.

"Okay... I forgive you."

"I’m happy to hear it..." Edward smiled at him.

"But listen me Edward Cullen, if you come to accuse me again of something unfounded, you can be sure that I’ll curse you for a entire century!" Harry said in a serious tone, causing Edward to laugh a little... And feel a little scared by his words.

A friendly silence settled between them, each focused on his own thoughts. Edward's were focused on the wonder of having his mind for himself, without hearing outside voices of random thoughts... The peace that silence gave him.

"I'm so sorry…" Harry said breaking the silence.

"For what?" Edward blinked in confusion.

The wizard sighed as his fingers ran through his dark hair... Edward slowly began to assimilate that this was a pattern of behavior in which Harry did when he felt uncomfortable with something.

"For having used Bella as an argument in our quarrel..." Harry said quietly, looking at the coffee cup as if it were something extremely interesting. "It wasn’t fair to talk about something I barely know about and that says only about you."

The vampire raised his eyebrows, somewhat surprised by what the wizard had said.

"I’m sorry." Harry said, raising his head to look at him.

Edward stared at the wizard with a frown.

"There's nothing to apologize for…" He replied, his voice rising hesitantly from the words. "In a way, you were right..."

"No... I wasn’t…" The boy shook his head.

"Yes... I'm to blame, you see..." Edward said, leaning toward Harry so he could speak up. "But I must ask... How do you know about this?"

"Still distrusting me?" Harry asked.

"No... It's just a curiosity of mine..." Edward explained calmly. "I don’t remember talking about Bella with you."

"Well..." Harry scratched the back of his neck. "Well, I saw her face in your mind a few times, like some loose thoughts... And that girl... Jessica, I think, mentioned that you had dated Bella last year… As well what happened to her…"

"Yeah… That’s right." Edward replied.

"If I may ask... What happened?" Harry looked at the vampire.

Edward laced his fingers together as he looked at his hand, wondering whether or not to talk about what had happened to Bella. It was still something of a hard thing to say without feeling bad.

"But it's okay if you don’t want to talk..." Harry said at last.

"No, no... It's just... Well, how can I say... It's complicated." Edward said, meditating on the memories.

"Does it hurt to talk about her?" The wizard asked softly.

"Kind of…" Edward answered, taking a deep breath as he vocalized his thoughts. "I met Bella at this school about a year ago. She was the daughter of Sheriff Charlie Swan and had just been transferred from Phoenix to Forks..."

The vampire paused for a moment, making Harry nod to him to continue.

"The first thing I noticed was that I couldn’t hear her thoughts."

"Couldn’t?" Harry blinked.

"Yes... It was as if her mind was out of tune with my telepathy, but over time I could hear one thing or another of her thoughts, like a radio picking up waves from different stations." Edward explained.

"Oh... She was probably a shield." Harry said thoughtfully.

"Sorry, what?" The vampire was confused.

"A shield. Certain Muggles, I mean, non-magical mortals, present certain peculiarities that in certain situations could develop fully into a skill..."

"I didn’t understand." Edward shook his head.

"You and Alice, for example..." Harry went on with his reasoning. "When she was a human, she probably already had some kind of sense to see the future, just as you must have been sensitive to the thoughts of the people around you." Harry explained, making Edward rather surprised by this theory, making sure Carlisle would love it. "What was Bella's personality like?"

Edward shrugged.

"She was shy, reserved... She didn’t like crowds and attention." Edward replied wistfully.

"Hmm... Probably she had this shield as a natural mechanism to protect her from others, to keep her thoughts private, but she had not yet reached 100% of the capacity." Harry pondered.

"Does that explain why I could read her mind sporadically?" The vampire asked.

"I think so." The wizard replied. "But continuing... She had moved to Forks and...?"

Edward nodded.

"I met her in Biology class. And it was surreal. The smell of her blood had been the most tempting smell that I ever felt... At least until that moment..." Edward said, looking at Harry and feeling his throat contract as he remembered the smell of his blood.

"Tempting?"

"In some rare occasions, a vampire finds a person whose blood is so much more tempting than the others... That causes such a violent thirst that it makes us feel an insane urge to drink it..." The vampire he whispered, still looking into Harry's green eyes. "I almost lose my control."

"Oh..." Harry replied blushing slightly. "And what happened?"

"I panicked over her... I tried to move away, but certain situations made us approach even more... I was stubborn too... I told her that we couldn’t be friends, but I was always surrounding her." Edward looked away. "She slowly began to wonder what I really was..."

"And she found out?" The wizard asked.

"Yeah..." Edward let out a breath. "In a matter of weeks, she had conjectured little things about me. The change of the color of my eyes, my pallor, my cold skin... She knew I was a vampire."

Harry's mouth fell open.

"And I suppose that wasn’t enough to her get away from you..." The dark-haired boy punctuated.

"No, it wasn’t... She was fascinated." Edward said bitterly. "And I was too, in a way…"

Edward was silent for a moment.

"You fell in love with her, didn’t you?" Harry whispered.

The vampire pondered the question, feeling his shoulders weigh.

"I..." His voice trailed off. "For most of the time I thought I was in love with her."

"But wasn’t?

Edward shook his head.

"No... I was delighted with the possibility... With the possibility of having someone for me." The vampire whispered truthfully, looking down as if confessing. "For a long time I was alone... I still am, actually... Always seeing everyone in my family with their mates, sharing together this existence of soulless monsters... Deep down, I wanted that for me too."

"Edward, you're not a monster." Harry said softly.

Edward rolled his eyes, his mouth twisted into mockery of himself.

"That's not a topic to be discussed, Harry. It is an accomplished fact." The vampire said. "Anyway, even though I didn’t feel the immediate love for her, I felt that eventually I could love her. Alice had told me it was a real possibility. Bella was good, she brought me peace... My family liked her, except for Rosalie..."

"What a surprise." Harry offered a smile, making Edward chuckle and sober up again.

"One day I invited Bella to a baseball game with my family..." Edward took a deep breath, continuing the narrative. "All was well until a trio of nomadic vampires who had been hunting for a few days, were attracted by the sound we made... Laurent, Victoria and James..."

"... They said they just wanted to play with us. But I read their minds and knew it wasn’t quite that... I managed for some time to keep Bella hide from their attention, but the wind denounced her by taking her scent to them. The reaction was instantaneous. The three of them wanted to drink her blood... Carlisle explained the situation, that she was my mate and they agreed to leave her alone. But I read in James's mind that he wouldn’t give up, for he had found a challenge worthy of his fixation as a hunter: drinking the blood of a human protected by an entire coven of vampires. Something dangerous and exciting for him."

"Quickly I and the rest of my family formulated a plan to get Bella out of Forks while we were protecting her father... The plan was to mislead Bella from their radar, make them lose track of her scent through clues with Rosalie scenting Bella's coat through the forest while she was safe in Phoenix with Alice and Jasper... The plan worked out for a moment were it not for the fact that the three were much more experienced hunters than we could suppose ... We underestimate them."

"They followed her to Phoenix, and I, along with the rest of my family, went to there too."

"At the hotel, in a moment of distraction, James was able to make contact with Bella, causing her to get out of sight of Alice and Jasper... I don’t know how, maybe he threatened her father's life... Whatever, Bella went to meet him. When we arrived and noticed her lacking, Alice had a vision of James, Victoria and Laurent torturing and killing her in a ballet studio she attended as a child. We ran towards the place..."

"We ran as fast as we could, but we were late... I was... Maddened with hatred... I fought with James and I got to shatter him, Alice ending him with fire... Emmett did the same with Laurent and before that we could do something, Victoria had already escaped..."

Edward had his golden eyes fixed on the table, his mind flooding with memories. Harry just stared at his hands with a vague expression.

"I tried to revive her, but it was too late... Her heart had stopped... She was dead..." Edward whispered. "I didn’t believe... I couldn’t believe she was dead. How could she? Hours before she was on my side, alive with a beating heart, but at that moment she was dead..."

"Edward... I'm so, so sorry..." Harry whispered.

"I was devastated, but her father... Charlie... God, I will never forget the look of the pain he had at the funeral and burial of his daughter..." Edward continued, his eyes returning to the wizard. "I had caused that. If his daughter was in that coffin, it was my fault. If I hadn’t been involved with her, if I hadn’t created the illusion of making her my mate, she could be here now, sitting at one of those tables. Alive."

Harry was silent.

"Bella died because of me." Edward repeated. "When you said those things to me in the corridor, you just told the truth."

Harry lowered his head, taking a deep breath.

"I didn’t mean to say…" Harry said. "What happened was a tragedy..."

"Harry..."

"No, Edward..." Harry lifted his head, looking at the vampire with sad green eyes. "I shouldn’t have called you a hypocrite, because in the end of matters, I’m one too... I'm also guilty of a great deal of tragedies as well…"

Harry took a deep breath, his fingers touching the small bird-shaped pendant of the chain he wore.

"I lost someone too…" Harry whispered.

The vampire remained silent.

"I loved him... So much..." Harry continued, staring into the void. "He loved me too... He looked at me as if I was the most important thing in the world... As if I was some kind of miracle he had expected..."

Edward looked at Harry, watching with concern the breach of vulnerability in which the wizard demonstrated while he was curious to know about who Harry spoke. Did Harry have a boyfriend? What happened to him? He died? Was he a wizard too? Questions surfaced in the vampire's mind.

"Do you miss him?" Edward asked at last with the utmost care and respect his voice could print.

He saw Harry lift his head toward him, his rosy lips touching the bird pendant as if he had laid a soft kiss on that piece of metal, his green eyes staring back at him with pain and a great sense of loss. For a fleeting moment, Edward thought he was the reason Harry was suffering such intensity that the boy's eyes had towards him...

"Sometimes..." Harry answered in a whisper, lowering his gaze to the table.

Edward nodded, aware that there was an ocean of depth in the boy's words, who was now gathering in his memories of his own past.

The vampire and the wizard shared minutes in silence, both dealing with their own thoughts of loss, pain, and guilt.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER VIII

THE SUN IS FOR EVERYBODY

"...so yeah, it's more or less this way how we play baseball." Emmett finished explaining to Ron that listened intently to the muscular vampire's words with a genuine expression of approval.

"Brilliant!" The redhead exclaimed, smiling. "Do you guys play how often?"

"Not as much as we'd like... We need to wait for storms with thunder." Emmett replied with a frown as a child would do.

"Why?" Hermione asked curiously as she drank earl grey in a thermal cup.

"It's because of the sound we make when we hit the ball with the club... It's too loud, so we need the sound of thunder, otherwise we'd attract the attention of some human around." Jasper said.

"That's why our Little Alice here is also our "weather girl", with a differential she's 100% reliable." Emmett laughed, making everyone at the table laugh, even Rosalie. "But anyway, it's worth waiting for, after all, baseball is the best sport in the world next to football."

Ron snorted.

"Nah dude... The best sport in the world is Quidditch!" Ron stated and looked at his friend who nodded with a slight smile. "Don't you agree, Harry?"

"Quiddi-what?" Edward asked.

"It's the wizards’ sport..." Harry explained with an enthusiastic glint in his eyes as he fingered the table as he would a keyboard. "Composed of two teams with seven players, four balls of different types, as well as four different positions for the players of each team..."

Emmett frowned.

"Man, this sounds confusing..."

"You guys would understand better if you watching us play one day... Explaining in words doesn't make much sense..." Ron nodded as he pondered.

"And you need a specific field?" Emmett asked.

"Yes... An oval field with three raised hoops at each end, which serve as the goal area similar to that of football." Harry explained.

"It doesn’t sound too difficult…" Jasper murmured.

Ron snorted again.

"You wouldn’t say that while balancing yourself on a high-speed broom more than 20 meters off the ground."

The vampires were silent, as if they had not heard right what the redhead said.

"You said broom?"  Jasper blinked his golden eyes in disbelief.

"Yes... This is how we play Quidditch." Ron said as he ate his bundle of chips.

"You... You fly on brooms?!" Rosalie exclaimed in astonishment.

"Yeah…" Harry replied quietly as he picked up Ron’s chips. "We're wizards... So... We flying on brooms."

Edward frowned matter-of-factly in which Harry uttered those words, as if he had just said that it was raining outside the school cafeteria.  

They fly on brooms.

That simple.

"I suppose this is a surprise to you folks…" Hermione said with a giggle.

"It's not something you hear every day…" Jasper answered timidly.

"Just like vampires that shine in the sunlight?" Harry whispered.

The Cullen laughed.

"Fair point..." Edward shook his head as he looked down.

"On that dinner night at our home, how did you disappear out of nowhere?" Alice asked. "I imagine you didn't come with your... You know... Your brooms…

"Well... We apparated. It's almost like a teleportation, so to speak..." Hermione replied. "There are several ways for a witch or a wizard to travel... By brooms, flu powder, apparition..."

"Oh... Everything becomes so easy with magic, isn’t it?" Alice blinked her eyes in fascination. "It must be marvelous to be a witch!"

"Well… About that…" Hermione replied glancing at her friends.

"How does someone become a witch or wizard?" Rosalie asked suddenly.

Hermione took a deep breath as she bit into the inside wall of her cheek.

"Well, it doesn’t become... It’s born this way. It's kind of like something genetic, I suppose..." Hermione said, gesturing with her hands. "It's a trait past among generations of people in magical families."

"So are your families entirely magical?" Jasper asked.

"Yeah... Potter, Granger, Weasley... We’re one of the oldest and most noble houses in Britain... Blimey, Harry, buy your own chips!!!" Ron replied as he barred Harry from getting his snack.

"Houses?" Edward asked. "Like royal families houses?"

Harry turned to the vampire.

"Yeah, it's almost the same logic... You know, in royal families, everyone is related to everyone. Basically, Ron and Mione are my cousins in some degree..." Harry replied while scratching his chin. "I think almost every wizard has a relative in common in the family tree..."

"So your people marry with your own kind?" Jasper asked.

"Yeah…It's encouraged to us to keep our blood pure..." Hermione explained as she combed her hair with her fingers.

"I'm sorry, but ... It’s almost sounds similar to the concept of 'racism', apartheid..." Edward said uncertainly as he looked at his hands.

Harry frowned.

"Unfortunately you're quite right. I will not lie in saying that in our world there are families in which they preach the complete separation of the two communities..." Harry said contemplative.

"Especially when it comes to that asshole called Malfoy." Ron said sourly.

"Ron!" Hermione protested.

"I'm sorry Mione, but I still don’t like the fact that you dated that albino ferret." Ron replied.

"That's decades ago. Literally. And I must remind you that it was your fault..." The witch replied indignantly to the redhead, but turned her gaze to the vampire at her side. "But continuing Edward, the reason for that is to protect our secret from the muggles."

"Muggles?" Emmett asked confused.                                       

"Non-magical humans... Mortals."  Hermione replied.

"This was about the same time that your community decided to live in total secrecy?" The bronze-haired vampire asked.

Hermione's eyes flashed with the knowledge Edward demonstrated, glancing quickly at Harry who nodded, implying that he had already talked to him about it before.

"That’s right." She replied cheerfully as the information gushed out of her mouth. "For centuries the secret was a not explicit rule, but it became law in 1692."

"And since then, you do not mix with the "muggles”? Jasper asked.

"We interact, but we don't mix..." Hermione explained cautiously. "Interact not to attract distrust and to be able to live in society, but we don't mix to not corrupt the secret. In a way, it's a very similar situation to yours.

The vampires nodded at the statement.  

Edward pondered, thinking how extraordinary it was to know that there were people who, like them, lived in circumstances similar to theirs, with the same dilemmas and difficulties. In a way, this realization was a little relieved, for they understood the situation of the wizards and of being understood by them.

"If you allow me, I have a question..." Rosalie addressed the three wizards cautiously. "You told us that... Well, you have been teenagers for 55 years, that is, you have been like this since the 60's... How?

Edward watched the witch and wizards become silent, one looking at the other in some kind of non-verbal communication, probably conjecturing some way of responding without letting too much information slips by. 

More secrets?

Hermione let out a breath and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear.

"Well... When you’re born with magic, you’re born with a... How can I say... With a normal biological clock for muggle standards." The witch explained, catching the attention of the vampires. "We grow like any normal child and go through adolescence when we’re given a choice."

"What choice?" Edward asked.

"When we're 17, we've been given the choice to give up magic and live like a muggle or we can accept our magic gifts..." Hermione went on. "If we accept, our biological clock slows down. Ron and I don’t age like normal humans, but we're not immortal as you guys are either. We are aging little by little... 100 years for us equals about 5 to 10 years of Muggle aging."

"This is amazing." Emmett said gaping.

"So, your family..." Jasper conjectured.

"Mom’s going to 523 on this year and Dad's already 536..." Ron said with a proud smile. "My older brother, Bill, is 282 years old."

"So you had a choice…" Rosalie whispered more to herself than to the wizards, while her beautiful face assumed a melancholic expression.

Edward looked at his sister as his mind was flooded with her thoughts.

'If only I could ... If only...'

Edward soon reviewed her old dreams that she kept in her mind like treasures: a human Rosalie, a little older and pregnant next to an equally human and older Emmett, who caressed her belly... The two taking their children to the first day of class... Rosalie preparing a birthday cake for her children... Family photos about their graduation, going to college, the marriage of each one, the first grandchildren, the first white hair...

Dreams she could never reach, being eternally trapped in that frozen, stony body that never progressed.

Always stagnated.

Edward took a deep breath as he tried not to be consumed by the melancholy that his sister's thoughts caused him, not that he was selfish or even insensitive, but it was for the reason that he himself had his share of sorrows to deal with, thank you very much.

"We should all have the right of choice..." Harry said with a soft expression on his face.

A silence settled on the table, each one turned in his own thoughts.

"You know, we do not discuss about our beach day in LA and it's on this next week..." Alice broke the silence, her voice sounding like golden bells. "How exactly are we going to program?"

The wizards smiled at the change of subject.

"We can travel through a portkey..." Hermione said, but quickly proceeded with an explanation as she saw the confused expressions of the vampires. "It's kind of a teleportation."

The Cullens nodded.

"Should we bring something?" Edward asked.

"You'd better take your swimsuits, of course, as well as a change of extra clothes in a backpack. Something basic." Hermione replied.

"Where we'll stay?" Jasper asked. "And we're back what time?"

"Harry's parents own a beach house in Malibu." Ron explained. "And we can go back at night, I think..."

"I thought you said you never went to California..." Edward asked Harry, remembering their past conversation.

"And I never went..." Harry explained. "I don’t think my parents went to there too, to be honest... They have some real estate investments in the Muggle world, but they rarely visit those places. 

"Oh, I see..." Edward replied.

It made sense.

Like Harry's parents, Carlisle had invested his money in real estate business as well as on the Stock Exchange where stock swings were watched by Alice's visions, which greatly benefited the Cullens, making them obscenely rich.

The sound of the alarm announced the end of the interval. With a brief nod of farewell, the three wizards rose from the table toward the exit, but Harry turned back to the table, an uncertain look on his face as he massaged the back of his neck.

"Hmm... Rosalie... The invitation to you is still standing..." Harry said with a gentle smile. "I know we started with a 'friction', but it would be lovely to have you with us... And you too, Emmett... It would be nice... Well, I'll be going... See you guys later…"

Rosalie just stood there with an uncertain expression, still absorbing the words of the boy while he was walking towards the exit. Emmett gave to her a happy smile like a mischievous child.

"Come on, babe... Beach... Sea and sun... You on a bikini destroying the self-esteem of the valley girls around, dead by jealous of you..." Emmett teased sweetly at his wife, who was starting to sketch a faint smile on her lips. Edward lowered his head as he smiled to himself, thinking how his brother with his playful manner always had the gift of bringing the softer, softer side of Rosalie.

Glancing at the rest of the vampires, she let out a breath.

"Well..." The blonde beauty straightened in her chair, trying to sound serious. "If there's so much insistence on that Potter boy's part, I'll go... For the sake of our family's security, of course…"

Edward rolled his eyes and the rest of the vampires smiled as they exchanged quick conspiratorial glances.

Rosalie would rather prefer shave her head than have to swallow her own pride..

-

.

-

"Alice, baby, I think Hermione said it was to take the basics..." Jasper frowned as he watched his wife close the zipper of a small Louis Vuitton brown bag.

"Jaz, this is the basic!" The tiny vampire smiled.

"It's beach... Not Paris Fashion Week." Edward sneered.

"It's beach, not a funeral!" Alice sourly retorted to her brother, who wore a black t-shirt and shorts on the same color.

Edward frowned.

It was Saturday morning, and the Cullens , with the exception of Esme and Carlisle, were preparing for their short trip to Malibu. Edward rolled his eyes to see that his siblings looked more like a stereotypical group of tourists visiting a sunny spot for the first time: sunglasses, straw hats, T-shirts and dresses with prints of tropical flowers in counterpoint with him wearing black clothes - black summer clothes… Or so the assistant seller had told him.

"Esme, Carlisle, are you sure you don’t want to go with us?" Rosalie asked as she tied her blond hair in a handy ponytail.

"Oh no darling... You young people deserve to have fun... And we also have our plans..." Esme smiled looking at Carlisle and bowing her head a little ashamed.

Edward would have flushed when he realized that his adoptive parents were very pleased to have the house only for themselves for a few hours.

"... But we want photos." Esme continued to point the finger at her children. "And all the details of how your day was."

Emmett smirked as he pointed to his smartphone just as Jasper lifted his last generation Canon that was on his neck.

Three knocks on the glass door announced that the wizards had arrived and once again caused a slight jolt between them. Alice quickly went to the door to greet them with a lush animation in her voice as she accompanied the new friends into the living room.

"Good Morning everyone!" Hermione greeted as she entered the room holding hands with Ron. She wore a pale yellow summer dress and sunglasses over her loose hair. 

Everyone in the room greeted her back.

Ron wore moss-green shorts with a rock band T-shirt with a backpack on. Edward saw for the first time that the redhead had a curious - and somewhat sinister - tattoo of a skull with a black snake that contrasted against the pale skin of his forearm.

"Hi..." Harry was the last one to appear along with Alice that hugged him by the waist. He wore a striped, navy-style shirt with white pants and in addition to his backpack, he also carried a closed colored parasol. "Is everyone ready?"

"More than ever bro!" Emmett clapped his hands and rubbed his palms in excitement.

"It would be good if you folks put on your bracelets and necklaces that we enchanted, because when we get there, we will be already in area with bright sunlight." Hermione stated.

"Where exactly are we going to be 'teleported'?" Rosalie asked as she took the small plastic bag containing the enchanted necklace, just as the rest of the vampires took their respective accessories.

"In my living room." Harry explained. "You can wear the bracelets and necklaces already. I must remember that you cannot take off, otherwise the spell breaks as well you should know that it’s temporary. In twelve hours the effect ceases."

"Like Cinderella with her magic pumpkin?" Emmett joked.

"Yeah, like that!" Harry laughed, shaking his head.

Edward nodded at the wizard's instructions, staring at the leather bracelet with the Cullen insignia and finally putting it on his wrist.  

Instantly an inexplicable sensation swept over his body, as if a wave of shivers and a pleasant sensation of heat radiated from the inside out. Blinking several times, he cannot believe it when his eyes saw his hands and arms turn less pale. Turning back, he stared at the mirror, seeing his white face as chalk gradually turn into a rosier, healthier hue, his cheeks and lips flushing as if there was a blood flow beneath his skin. Edward finally looked at his liquid gold iris, caused by the diet of animal blood to be tinged with a pale green hue, almost close to gray... This was the color of his eyes more than 100 years ago, just like the color of his biological mother's eyes.

Turning slowly, the vampire saw his siblings as never before could imagine them see: with a human appearance. No longer as supernatural creatures, no more like beautiful blood-drinking, petrified and pale aberrations. 

But as humans.

In each eye there was a long-lost self-identity: Emmett had light blue eyes while Jasper's had a grayish hue. Rosalie had a beautiful shade of blue-violet like Elizabeth Taylor's while Alice was a gentle brown.

"Incredible... Simply incredible..." Carlisle blinked with a half-smile of astonishment as he looked at his adopted children, standing up and approaching and inspecting the young vampires looking at each other in a mixture of euphoria, dazzle and excitement. "I don’t know what to say..."

In fact, none of them knew for sure what to say.

The experience was surreal.

Edward stared at Harry for a moment, unable to hold back a smile.

"I think it worked well..." Hermione said with satisfaction. "So, shall we?"

Harry, who had stared at Edward in a puzzled way, turned his attention to the present moment and threw the enclosed parasol into the middle of the large room, which instead of falling to the ground, floated vertically up and down gently.

"That's a portkey. It is an enchanted object that when touched transports us to a certain place." Hermione explained as she approached the parasol. "When you touch it, do not to let go until I tell you."

"And you're likely to feel a slight 'discomfort' on the first trip." Harry added.

Ron came over and held the parasol with one hand, followed by Hermione and Harry. One by one the vampires reached for the object, Jasper and Rosalie with a wary look as Alice and Emmett had a sheen of pure animation.

"Edward?" Harry called the boy "You're the last one..."

Edward nodded as he stood beside Harry. Looking once more at the parasol, he touched it.

 

The first thing he noticed was that they were spinning in a sort of vortex at an absurd speed, far beyond what they were already accustomed to, causing them all to utter exclamations of discomfort as they had the similar sensation of being in the eye of a hurricane as well as an unlikely nausea, which Edward did not know he could feel, but which he now knew.

The surrounding place also seemed to be distorted and reconfigured into a confusion of images and sounds.  

"LOOSE IT NOW!" Hermione exclaimed, letting go of her hand like Harry and Ron.

One by one the vampires dropped their hands and seemed to have flown away.  

Edward the last to let go and suddenly felt as if he had fallen to the ground as he had been spit through that portal. He just had time to process the crash sound as it fell, as well as an exclamation of discomfort coming from someone. His siblings went to random corners and random positions just like himself, with the only differential he had dropped on something soft.

Blinking rapidly, the vampire realized that he had fallen over Harry, their bodies uncomfortably united.

"Ouch..." Harry complained as his hands lightly touched Edward's arms in protest.

"Oh good Lord, forgive me Harry..." He panicked as he rose quickly and helped the wizard to rise from the floor, inspecting him with concern for injuries. Despite being a wizard, Harry was still human, with a small and fragile body structure compared to Edward's height and his skin with stone density "It was unintentional, I swear... Did you get hurt?"

Harry shook his head in negative as he made circular movements with his shoulders.

"No, that's okay... It happens. Portkey’s travels is awful, I never got used to it..." He said looking at Edward for a moment and looked away.

"Are you all right?" Hermione asked the Cullen that they were still straightening as they got up.

"If it were possible, I would vomit..." Rosalie said with a look of nausea.

"Both..." Alice agreed, using her hands to steer herself from dizziness.

"That was fucking amazing... I want to do it again!!!"  Emmett said, grinning from ear to ear.

Edward looked around and saw that they were in a large, light-colored, modern living room, huge windows and glass doors leading to a swimming pool as well as a white sandy beach and blue sea that shone in the sunlight, a picture discrepant with that of the moist forests of Forks, with its moss-covered trees.

Harry walked to the French glass doors, opening them and letting the wind fill the room and make the white curtains flutter. Edward closed his eyes and took a deep breath, feeling a plethora of smells: the smell of the warm sand, the green palm trees, the freshness and salinity of seawater, the smell of sunscreen, all of which made olfactory tissue what “summer” smelled to him.

"Welcome to Malibu!" Harry turned and smiled at the vampires.

"Alice, Rosalie, let’s go to change our clothes on the guest room?" Hermione called the girls who followed her with their purses up the stairs.

"If you want to change, there's a room right in that hallway, I think the second door on the left." Harry informed the boys.

Edward stood still, standing alone with Harry who was still staring out at the sunny landscape in front of him. Walking slowly toward him, the two were silent in appreciation of what they saw.

"I suppose it's not a program you do very often, isn’t?" Harry asked at last, turning to the taller boy.

The vampire grinned.

"It's been a while..." Edward replied putting his hands behind his back.

Actually a long time indeed.

The vampire remembered the islet in Brazil that Carlisle had bought for Esme as a gift in the late 1970s, having visited that paradisiac place only once. He liked the beach, but it wasn’t exactly an option to consider going when they shone in the sunlight like giant diamonds.

Looking at the beach he saw some humans practicing sports, sunbathing, laughing or dancing to a song that played in the background. At sea, surfers maneuvered the waves on their surfboards just as some yachts sailed peacefully on the horizon. The sound of female laughter echoed from behind and Edward turned, seeing Alice, Rosalie and Hermione coming down the stairs in their bikinis of different styles and colors, followed by their brothers and Ron in their shorts and shirtless.

Edward saw Harry, Ron, and Hermione walking in front of him, coming in contact with the sunlight while he and his siblings instinctively stood in the shade of the marquee.

"You have nothing to fear..." Hermione smiled as she put on her cat-eye sunglasses.

"The sun is for everybody!!!" Ron laughed, holding a ball.

Glancing uncertainly at his family, Edward took a deep breath as he took the first step into the sunlight, feeling the warmth and the light touch his body. Looking at his arms, he saw that the skin was still the same, with no sparkles.

He smiled.  

Edward walked slowly as he watched his siblings run toward the beach in laughter. Emmett suddenly held Rosalie by the waist, who laughed genuinely as the muscular vampire led them to the sea; Alice had held Jasper's hand, the two of them smiling as they felt the waves wet their feet and finally plunging together.

Turning back, Edward saw the wizards spread towels over the sand and arm the parasols near the palm trees and lying themselves beneath them. Hermione lying on her stomach as she read a book, Ron drinking his iced Coke as he put The Beach Boys to play on his stereo and Harry... Well, Harry in short shorts and sunglasses, spreading sunscreen on his face , neck, shoulders, arms and legs ...

Edward swallowed as he stifled certain thoughts and turned his face magically flushed with embarrassment upward, closing his eyes and feeling the heat bathe his face. He smiled to himself again.

Ron was right after all...

The sun was, at least for a few hours, for everybody.

.

-

.

Click!

The sound of Jasper's camera sounded once more as he photographed the group gathered in the pool area.  

"It's been a long time since I've had such fun..." Alice let out a breath as she fell on the couch beside Rosalie, looking at Hermione sitting in the armchair in front of her. "Thank you!!!"

"There's nothing to be thankful for..." The witch smiled in response, with Ron hugging her waist.

All of them were already dressed after enjoying a day at the beach with several dives at sea, jet-skis rides, volleyball and soccer games as well as just lazily lying on the sand enjoying the heat and light, all captured by the lenses from Jasper's camera in countless clicks. 

"We could do this endlessly and I would never refuse to repeat..." Emmett smiled as he hugged Rosalie's shoulders. "Did you have fun, babe?"

Rosalie turned her face blushing and kissed her husband’s chin in response.

At the small coffee table, there were miniature versions of the magic red fruit pie for vampires, as well as fast-food food for humans to eat. At one point, Ron leans over to get a hamburger, stretching out his arm and displaying the tattoo engraved on his skin.

"Sinister tattoo, bro…" Emmett jerked his chin.

Ron laughed.

"Does it mean something?" Jasper said as he took another group photo from a better angle.

"Well... Yes, it's from a 'society' that I participate in the magic community..." Ron said after chewing the food and sipping his beer.

"Society?" Emmett said.

"Yeah..." Ron replied cautiously, pointing his finger at the tattoo in which he magically began to move around the skin attracting the attention of the vampires. "The Skull is a symbol for mortality, and the Serpent is knowledge, both being one of the ideals we share. We call ourselves 'Death Eaters'... But I always thought it sounded like a bad punk band name from the 70s."

"Same." Hermione laughed.

"Are you a 'Death Eater' as well, Hermione?" Alice asked curiously. "You got a tattoo, too?"

The witch bit her bottom lip and smiled.

"Yes ... But I hid mine, because I don’t like to mark my body." The witch tossed her hair back.

"I always wanted a tattoo..." Emmett said with a scowl. "But it's impossible on our skin. Maybe, if you guys..."

"Do not even dare to ask to them a magic tattoo Emmett Cullen!!!" Rosalie slapped the vampire's hard chest, teasing the others into laughs.

The friendly atmosphere was set amid laughter, anecdotes and curious cases that had occurred between them, years ago. The sky was beginning to show the first signs of the sunset, while the beach emptied gradually. Edward rummaged around and noticed the dark haired wizard's absence, realizing that he had not been with them from the start.

"Where's Harry?" He asked as casually as possible as he nibbled his food.

Hermione looked around as if aware of his friend's absence.

"He must be on the beach." She said thoughtfully.

"Oh..."

"Sometimes he likes to be alone..." Ron said taking the bag with the food inside it "I'll take this to him..."

"Negative Ronald! I know very well that you are going to eat hidden!" Hermione took out the sack in the hands of her boyfriend who frowned in protest, making the vampires giggle with the scene.

"Slander!!!" Ron replied, sounding offended.

"I've known you for almost 70 years and I know very well what I'm talking about." Hermione replied, turning to the other boy. "Edward, could you take this to Harry?"

"Hm... Okay..." Edward said uncertainly as he took the bag. "I'm leaving."

Edward nodded at the group who talked again about something as he made his way up the stairs to the sandy beach. Looking around he didn’t need much time to locate the wizard sitting alone while facing the sea, watching the beginning of the sunset. Edward for a moment glanced back, thinking of giving Hermione some excuse because he didn’t want to bother the boy at his private moment, but he chose to move on. Moving closer, he saw that Harry was hugging his knees, his green eyes fixed on the movement of the waves as he smoked a cigarette and released the smoke slowly.

Edward cleared his throat, catching the wizard's attention.

"Don’t you know smoking isn’t exactly the healthiest thing to do?" The vampire murmured awkwardly.

Harry smiled wistfully as he stared at the cigarette in his fingers.

"I'm from the 60's, Edward... We breathed more tobacco and hairspray than air." Harry shrugged his shoulders with a faint smirk.

Edward laughed as he remembered those times.

"But I don’t smoke as often as I used to, but... I had to think, and that kind of helps..." Harry explained his voice, sounding the words calmly.

Edward lowered his eyes to the sack of food and handed it to the boy.

"Hermione told me to hand this over to you... Apparently, she doesn't trust Ron to do it..." Edward gave a crooked smile, drawing a laugh from Harry who reached out and took the package. "So I guess I better go... I don't want to bother you."

The vampire took a few steps back.

"Edward..." Harry said looking at him for a moment and then lowered his head. "If you want to stay..."

"I don’t want to disrupt..."

"No… It’s okay…" The wizard nodded sheepishly.

Taking a deep breath, Edward sat down beside him, burying his fingers in the cooling sand. The vampire watched the orange sun spread its luminous rays across the sea as the sky was dyed by warm colors, from orange to pink being punctuated by seagulls flying on the horizon.

The beauty of it was breathtaking.

"You know..." Edward said softly as he cut the silence. "Sunset and Twilight has always been the most melancholy hour for me…"

"Why?" Harry smoked his cigarette.

"Because it's basically a reminder that it's the safest hour for me and my family, the hour that we cannot fear to be discovered by someone... We are creatures of the night. The day doesn’t belong to us." Edward said, his grayish-green eyes watching the sea. 

Harry looked at him for a moment.

"I'm so sorry..." The wizard whispered. "I wish I had the power to make you guys walk under the sunlight forever…"

Edward turned to the boy, looking into his eyes and smiling.

"You've done it... Honestly for years I didn’t see everyone so happy like I saw today, even Rosalie." Edward smiled as his finger circled the sand.

"Was Rosalie happy?" Harry asked, bowing his head curiously.

"Yes! I know, because she didn’t think of any sarcastic commentary all day long. A record, I must say..." Edward said causing Harry to laugh in response. "It was very nice of you to invite her... You know..."

Harry sighed, shaking his head.

"It was nothing... The truth is that I hadn’t noticed until recently that she and I had some things in common..." Harry replied, his hand wandering over his bare leg. "I understand her."

"Oh..." Edward said in confusion.

"Just like her..." Harry explained, his voice sounding distant as his eyes drifted forward. "I didn’t really have a choice... Being a wizard wasn’t the life I wanted at first."

Edward lowered his eyes, realizing that just like him, Harry had read Rosalie's mind in the cafeteria.

"On the one hand I don’t regret anything." He shook his head in denial and paused. "But when you face the consequences of the decisions you make, you start to think about everything..."

"... About what your life could be?" Edward finished the boy's sentence.

Harry turned to Edward, looking at him with intensity.

"Yes... I begin to think of the life I could have had and that I cannot have..." Harry whispered.

Edward nodded.

"We all think about this as well, Harry." He answered in a bittersweet manner.  

They were silent for a moment, watching the landscape.

"Harry..." Edward went on. "If you allow me, I have a question..."

The wizard nodded at him to continue.

"When Hermione told to us about her aging being slowed down, she mentioned only Ron and her, but not you..." Edward said uncertainly. "Which leads me to suppose that for some unknown reason, you’re different. Am I right?"

Harry blinked, his mouth hanging open.

"You catch all the hidden information between the lines, don't you, Cullen?" Harry said in surprise, biting his lower lip.

"I'm quite observant..." Edward shrugged.

Harry ran a hand through his hair, resting his fingers on his forehead.

"I'm immortal." Harry said thoughtfully, his thumb caressing the curious lightning-scar, in which the vampire was mad to ask the origin, but he didn’t have the guts yet. "I will be forever like this.

The bronze-haired boy tilted his head, pondering the words.

"So welcome to the 'Forever 17!' club... I've been a member myself for a century." The vampire finally said giving the boy a crooked smile.

Harry tilted his head back and laughed.

Edward smiled more when he looked at him.

There was something truly beautiful in that scene, the way the soft wind made his dark hair blow and become even more messy, the way the sunlight reflected on his body, the beautiful pink tone that colored his cheeks as he laughed... When Harry opened his eyes and watched him back, Edward involuntarily stopped breathing as he stared at those emerald green eyes that glowed like crackling green fire, fueled by such deep emotion that it made the vampire feel his stomach twitch, not in an unpleasant way he felt when traveling through portkey.

In a different way he couldn’t name.

For a brief second Edward felt himself trapped by those eyes that stared at him as if he had known him long ago, as if he had looked deep into his soul - if he had any. The wind once again blew between them, causing the vampire's pompadour to fade and throw the locks in his eyes.

Edward almost jumped back as he felt the soft touch of the wizard's fingers comb his hair back, feeling an indescribable sensation caused by that intimate but innocent contact.

"Your eyes were green..." Harry whispered.

"They don’t compare with yours..." Edward was surprised and embarrassed to hear his own voice say that. He could feel a burning in his cheeks and knew that now it was he who was blushing.

Harry looked at him sweetly, with a warm, admired smile that was gradually dying and replaced by an empty, melancholy expression. A part of the vampire's mind protested, begging the wizard to smile at him that way again.

The black-haired boy lowered his face with a frown. 

"What are you thinking?" Edward begged softly.

Harry let out a breath, forcing himself to react.

"In... How Nature has a cruel way of finding my weakest spot..." Harry laughed bitterly at himself, shaking his head in denial.

Edward could smell the salty smell of tears beginning to form in Harry's eyes, but he closed it before the tear dropped, taking a deep breath to control himself. The vampire felt lost, not knowing what to do or respond to.

Silence settled between them again.

"Later, when we get back to Forks, I'll tell my friends a decision that will hurt them, just like other people..." Harry whispered, rubbing his forehead.

Edward blinked slowly at him.

"If you're going to hurt them, why are you going to take it? There has to be another way..." Edward murmured, not quite sure what to say by being totally blind as to what the boy meant. 

"It's the right thing to do." The wizard looked at him.

The vampire was silent.

"This is the greatest truth in the world, Edward..." Harry said, looking at the sun that was shooting its last rays that day. "Most often the right decisions are the hardest ones."

Edward frowned as his fingers caressed a small shell he had found in the sand, not knowing what to say for a moment.

"I have to thank you..." Edward said at last, changing the subject.

"For what?"

"For today... For everything." The vampire smiled humbly.

"It was nothing..." Harry snorted, shrugging his shoulders.

"It was a lot, believe me." Edward said. "Thanks to you, we're the vampires who went to Malibu!"

Harry laughed.

"That sounds like a very bad comedy movie!!!" The wizard continued laughing and Edward was genuinely happy to have put a smile on the boy's face. 

"HEY, YOU TWO!"

Harry and Edward turned and saw Jasper approach them.

"The rest of the guys are calling you, we made a bonfire to sing some songs..." Jasper smiled politely.

Edward stood up first, offering his hand to Harry, to help him rise from the sand.

The two began to walk and Jasper followed behind, smiling discreetly at the two in front of them.

Neither Edward nor Harry had noticed, but the two walked hand in hand.

.

-

.

The whole Cullen family was gathered in the living room the next night. Connected to the big television, which most resembled a movie screen, Jasper showed Carlisle and Esme as well as the rest of his siblings the photos he had taken the day before.  

Jasper had a great artistic sensitivity to photography, evidenced by the images that showed the sunlight filtered by the palms trees of Malibu, the impressive blue of the sea and the sky that mixed in the horizon, the surfers in their waves, the fashionistas poses of Alice showing off in her bikinis after having changed four times throughout the day for an infinite variety of images, Emmett flexing his muscles like a 50s bodybuilder next to Rosalie, blonde, gold and wonderfully beautiful on the beach, attracting glimpses of envy of the girls around her.

Vampires laughed as they saw more pictures of the games they had played on the beach with the wizards, they sharing food in the pool area, the bonfire they had made on the beach when Edward fingered the guitar and sang songs under the starry night.

"They were wonderful, Jaz..." Esme smiled at her blond son. "I never get tired to say how good your pictures are..."

"You've had a long and good day, apparently..." Carlisle smiled sweetly at his children, who still had light, calm features after that day of relaxation.

"Is it over, love?" Alice asked approaching her husband.

"No... There's one more left. Particularly my favorite." Jasper smiled conspiratorially way, by clicking the slide control and passing to the last photo, which bathed the living room with a golden and orange light.

Edward blinked in shock.

It was a picture of him and Harry sitting on the sand facing the sea, looking at each other, Harry smiling timidly as he rested his cheek on his shoulder and Edward looking back at him with a bright, dazzled smile. The vampire hadn’t realized until that moment that he had put his arm around Harry, but still not touching him, leaning towards him in an intimate way. The sun was between them, bathing them in the golden-orange light, making the photograph convey to everyone a sense of warmth and lightness.

When the presentation ended, everyone looked at him curiously, with conspiratorial smiles and minds full of insinuations.

"So, Edwaaard..." Alice blinked at him.

"No way!" Edward said straightening up, trying to be serious. "I'm serious... Do not even start!"

Walking up the stairs, he could still hear some comments on the subject. Edward tried to get angry with his family, tried to be embarrassed by the photo, tried to find any excuse, but he couldn’t. All he could do was smile at himself as his fingers slipped into the pocket of his coat and caressed the little shell he'd found on the beach when he was with Harry Potter.  

Chapter Text

CHAPTER IX

FASCINATION AND FEAR

...Seattle’s Police Department has yet to comment about the wave of citizen disappearances as well as the rising homicide rate in recent weeks in the capital. Some media vehicles speculate if the crimes are somehow connected , but the police public relations sector refuses to provide more information than the ones already given: that the crimes are being investigated and that nothing for the time being will be disclosed to not compromise the integrity of the investigation. We have to wait for the best and hope for everything to work out. Then, another selection of our most played songs -

Edward turned off the car radio as he drove to school, his brow furrowed in concern.

Since Carlisle had told him about the wave of disappearances/homicides in the region, he began tracking the news on the media to get more information. Technically, disappearances and homicides were common things to happen in metropolises like Seattle, but when you know the existence of supernatural creatures, you begin to realize that certain "disappearances" or "homicides" are actually traces left by actions of vampires who have a more "traditional" diet.

Not that he was sure that this was a vampire’s action, but he still suspected it.

The vampire community - in the absence of a better words to designate them - had as maximum law instituted by the Volturis to keep the secret: keep the secret of their existence from humans, avoid the maximum on getting attention, avoid leaving traces that could lead to them. Long before, they were a real threat to humans, but after the Law of Secrecy it took centuries for vampires to become simple characters of myth and folklore to humans as well as pop culture, such as gnomes, fairies or... Well, witches.

Edward laughed with himself.

For a moment he thought about what creatures he considered to be just a myth and was in fact just real and palpable as him. When he had the opportunity, he would ask to his magical friends about it.

Parking his silver Volvo in the students’ parking lot, Edward quickly spotted Emmett's jeep in which his siblings headed toward the school building, just as he had seen the wizard's black Mustang. Hermione was the first to descend along with Ron, both with a frowned faces followed by Harry, who appearing to be much more serene. Turning as he closed the car door, the wizard had spotted Edward and smiled slightly as he waved his hand to him. The vampire waved awkwardly at Harry and then lowered his head with an inexplicable sense of shyness.

Maybe because he remembered the photo that Jasper took and that served as a new source of speculation for his family, especially Esme and Alice, whom started fantasizing about things that were completely nonexistent and impossible.

Things like the possibility that he and Harry might in the future be a cou... Edward shrugged as if to get rid of those thoughts so inappropriate to the green-eyed boy.

Picking up his backpack and closing his pea coat, the vampire stepped out of the car as he crossed the parking lot under a thin rain of the leaden gray sky of Forks.

.

________

.

The first classes had passed with surprising agility, and the vampire was grateful that he had only a few hours to complete that day and be able to return home.

Walking to his locker to exchange the books, Edward casually watched the school hallway for a few students in that place, in low conversations of trivial matters, occasional laughter and uninteresting thoughts ... Looking ahead, he had seen Harry at his locker, picking up his books and stuffing his backpack brutally with a facial expression that resembled frustration and irritation; The vampire smiled discreetly at himself as he saw how lovely Harry looked when he was angry.. Lovely? It was not an adjective that Edward commonly used to describe other boys, but there was no other term better than this in describing the wizard at that moment.

Edward was unable to avoid a mental comparison of a kitten posing as a lion.

Lovely.

Watching the scene again, Edward debated inwardly whether or not to talk to Harry. His rationale part told him to leave him alone and respect his private moment, but his stubborn and curious part spoke louder and when realized, he was already leaning against the side of the wizard who when tilting the door of the locker, took a fright when he saw Edward standing with arms casually crossed against his chest.

"Hey…" Edward murmured, making his voice sound velvety.

"WHAT THE BLOODY HELL DO YOU WANT?!" Harry snarled as he slammed locker’s door, catching the attention of some students who were already leaving the hall.

The vampire frowned and looked down, terribly sorry for trying to interact with the other at that moment that was certainly not the most appropriate.

"I’m sorry, I didn’t want to bother you..." Edward replied shyly as he turned in the opposite direction and left the other alone.

"No, Edward, wait!!!" Harry called to him, causing the vampire to turn toward him.

Harry took a deep breath, tilting his head down as he placed both hands on his face. His shoulders rose and fell for breath as his racing heart gradually calmed down.

"I'm so sorry..." Harry finally whispered in a quieter voice, revealing his flushed face and brow furrowed. "I shouldn’t... I shouldn’t have yelled at you…"

Edward put his hands in his pockets, looking down.

"That's okay, it happens..."

"No... It's just... Urgh..." Harry lightly punched the locker and ran his hand through the mass of his dark hair "Hermione and Ron are driving me crazy with this treatment of completely ignoring me."

The vampire frowned.

"Since last week?" Edward shrugged.

It had been a few days when the two wizard seemed to have distanced themselves from Harry, giving him reproving looks.

"Yes!" Harry said indignantly as he zipped the backpack "They simply refuse to accept what I decided, as if I hadn't thought well before... Bloody idiots."

"Oh...

"Anyway, Edward, I'm sorry I yelled at you." Harry sighed.

"No problem... Do you... Hmm... Do you want me to escort you to your next class?" The vampire offered.

"No, I'm going to walk around... If I stay another minute at this school, I go crazy..." Harry murmured.

"Walk?" Edward blinked his eyes "But..."

"I need to be distracted... Walking or driving helps me, but I'll have to leave the car for the two of them to come home. Anyway, sorry again for my behavior… I wasn’t angry at you, you know..." Harry started to walk quickly.

Edward grabbed his own backpack, not even needing to use his supernatural speed to reach the smaller boy.

"Harry, wait... Do you… Do you want to go to my home?" Edward asked uncertainly.

"Hmm, excuse me?"

Edward bit his lower lip.

"Well... It's better than wandering aimlessly in the city at risk of getting rain..." He replied gently.

"I don't think it's proper for me to break into someone else's house."

"No, not to go alone... Go with me..." Edward stated as his voice grew low as he said the words. "There's no one there for now. My siblings are here, just like Carlisle's at the hospital and Esme's in Port Angeles."

"Oh... But... But what about your class?"

Edward put a hand on the back of his neck.

"Well, it's not like I'm going to lose something I haven’t seen yet…" Edward said honestly.

Harry stopped walking, looking at the vampire's face with an unintelligible expression. The vampire quickly looked away, aware that Harry could read his mind.

"I don’t know… I don’t think it’s a good idea…"

"Then at least let me leave you at your home." Edward insisted.

The dark-haired boy popped his tongue into the roof of his mouth and shrugged as he had been convinced.

"Well… Alright, let's go to your home... I'd better go there than mine." He nodded at last.

Edward smiled at his small victory as the two walked down the empty corridor in a comfortable silence. Across the parking lot, the rain had passed, but the wet, cold wind still blew through town, forcing Harry to button his red woolen coat up to his neck.

As he got into the car, Edward turned on the heater while Harry fastened his seat belt, frowning as the other boy did not do the same.

"It's not like I'm going to die or something like that." Edward shrugged.

"If you say so..." Harry concluded.

As he reached the road on the way home, Edward had stepped on the Volvo's accelerator, causing the engine to roar muffled as it turned into a silvery blur for any human eyes to see.

"You know Edward, we're both immortals, but that doesn’t mean I cannot suffer any kind of damage in an accident..." Harry said worriedly as he stared at the speed on the dashboard.

Edward laughed softly.

"Don't worry, we won't suffer an accident."

"What makes you so confident?!"

The vampire looked at the wizard with a smile.

"The speed perception of vampires is different from humans, Harry... We're at 190km/h and for you everything seems like a blur… For me it's like we're 20km/h."

"Oh..." Harry whispered.

"Calmer now?" Edward looked at Harry while took his hands off the wheel.

"Fuck, Cullen, look forward at least!!!" The wizard exclaimed with wide eyes full of terror.

"Language Harry!" The vampire scolded laughing as he still stared at him as if it was a challenge.

"This isn’t funny your bastard! Unlike you, I can still get hurt!!!" Harry said with a scowl.

"Harry, you don’t need to worry... I would never put you in a situation that could hurt you." Edward said in a spontaneous protective manner as he turned his face forward and put his hands back on the wheel.

Edward looked at him out of the corner of his eyes and saw that Harry was staring at him, his cheeks slightly flushed.

"Hmm..." The wizard murmured, looking ahead as he relaxed in the leather seat of the car.

The trip to the vampire house was quick and filled with a comfortable silence.

Edward was the first to get out of the car, quickly opening the car door to Harry, who only slightly frowned at the act, but thanked him with a subtle smile. Edward noticed that he never acted with such chivalry to the other guys, but when he was with Harry he couldn’t stop to act like this... It felt automatic to him.

The Cullen house was spacious, enlighten by large glass windows overlooking the forest, with light colors scheme, modern furniture and decorations of different styles, origins and periods, from Chinese coromandel screens to African tribal masks, almost all of which were accumulated acquisitions over the decades and could become a mess if it were not for of Esme’s decorative sensitivity.

"Your home is really beautiful... Especially during the day..." Harry said, looking around as he unbuttoned his red coat.

"Esme has a good eye for these things... Oh, allow me..." Edward said as he took the wizard's coat and smiled back. "This is the only place we can be ourselves."

"I know how it feels." Harry smiled politely, still looking around.

Edward was shy of their silence, not knowing how to act now that they were both at home.

Alone.

"Are you hungry? If you want, we can get something in the kitchen..."

"Oh... Do you guys have human food at home?!" Harry asked incredulously.

"Yeah... To maintain the appearances... You know, it would be strange if we never bought anything at the grocery store in this city..." Edward explained as he led Harry into the kitchen.

"And what do you do with the food after?"

"We don’t throw it away. Esme makes some dishes with them and we donate to charities in Port Angeles." The vampire smiled as he opened the refrigerator. "You can take whatever you want."

Harry frowned in amusement and picked up a red apple.

"Thank you." He replied with a bite.

The two boys walked into the living room, sitting on opposite sides of the sofa in awkward silence.

"So..." They both spoke at once and laughed uneasily.

"You first..." Harry nodded.

Edward smiled shyly.

"Do you want to talk about the situation with Ron and Hermione?"

Harry paused for a moment, seeming to be thinking about the subject as a crease of frustration was visible on his forehead.

"I just wanted them to understand me..." Harry whispered looking forward. "They've been my friends for over 70 years..."

"Hmm... And what exactly are you asking of them?" Edward said casually, trying not to show the immense curiosity he possessed.

Harry sighed.

"I cannot tell... It's complicated, it involves so much…" The wizard said wearily as he rubbed his face with his hands. "Honestly, I wanted to forget about it, at least for now."

Edward looked down, concentrating on the dust particles on the carpet in the room.

"Do you want a full tour of the house?" The vampire offered. "The last time you were here, you didn’t see much."

Harry smiled a little.

"Sounds good..."

Edward led him through Carlisle's office, showing some Italian works of art he had been gifted by the Volturis, in which Harry was particularly amazed to see an original Caravaggio and Rembrandt, as well as rare books in which the wizard was sure Hermione would love to read. Climbing up the stairs, he showed Alice and Jasper's bedroom which was relatively small compared to the monstrosity that was the girl’s closet, crammed with designer clothes and different types of shoes, many of them still in the shopping bag with the tag. Edward explained to Harry that Alice was responsible for the wardrobe of everyone in that house, acting almost always as a fashionable dictator.

They went into Rosalie and Emmett's bedroom, larger than the first one, in which had a huge king-size bed as well as an immense gold-framed mirror and smaller ones in some corners - Harry was impressed by the abundance of the object in that place, a clear signal of Rosalie's huge self-esteem.

Esme and Carlisle's bedroom was relatively simple, a full-size bed, a dressing table with a vase fulfilled with fresh roses, a divan positioned next to a bookcase packed with books. Everything looked simple and tasteful.

The last door to the hall was the bedroom of the last remaining member.

"This is my bedroom." Edward said casually and somewhat embarrassed as he opened the door revealing his secret hideaway. "Sorry for the mess... I don’t get frequent visitors..."

Harry laughed softly.

Edward's bedroom was the smallest of them, with a whole wall being a huge glass window overlooking the forest while the opposite wall was a bookcase crammed with CDs with a state-of-the-art sound system alongside with old-vinyl records. Harry could also see an old but well preserved wooden radio, probably from the 1940s in a corner of the room, as well as piano music sheet scattered around the desk and some on the floor, creating the impression of an organized mess.

A controlled chaos.

"No bed..." Harry said with a half-smile at the absence of the furniture.

"Well... It's not like I need to sleep, you know…" Edward replied with a shrug.

"But then why the rest of the rooms hav... Ohhhhhhhh... I understand..." Harry blushed as he laughed nervously and Edward would have flushed too if he could.

Edward watched Harry approach his bookshelf and CDs, his hands behind his back as he looked closely one by one. The vampire was squirming with curiosity to know what was going on in the wizard's mind.

"What are you thinking?" Edward whispered beside him.

"You get to know a person well when you see their bedroom... But I prefer to know their musical tastes." Harry said, smoothing the CDs covers with his index finger.

"Oh I see." Edward smiled. "Music is my passion-obsession."

Edward smiled as he put Clair de Lune, the soothing notes filling the ambient.

"Debussy is one of my favorites." Harry smiled at the sound system.

"I know..." He murmured thoughtlessly as he looked at the wizard.

Harry looked at him curiously.

"I mean, I... It's my favorite too... You know... Hmm... Debussy is really nice..." Edward stammered somewhat embarrassed. God, what was wrong with him?

Harry laughed as he looked down at his feet.

"So..." The younger boy went on. "What kind of music do you like?"

Edward breathed a sigh of relief at the change of subject.

"Well... Almost everything in fact... Classical, jazz of course, like Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald… I like rock, punk and alternative... I don’t like country." Edward began to ramble on his favorite subject. "I prefer indie rock than mainstream..."

"I say the same!" Harry said in surprise. "What are your favorite decades?"

"I like the 50's better than the 60's..." The vampire laughed as he saw Harry's expression betrayed by the statement. "It's not that I don’t like the 60's, but the 50's were better!"

"Seriously, Edward? I thought you had good taste..." Harry shrugged and continued in a tone of reverence. "We had The Zombies, The Ronettes, Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, all this only in the 60's!!!

Edward shrugged.

"You like it better because it was from your generation Harry..." He justified with a smile. "Were you a Beatlemaniac?"

"Of course!" Harry replied as if it were obvious. "I even wore glasses that looked like John Lennon's one…"

"That's what I thought." Edward laughed.

"Haha... Very funny." Harry narrowed his eyes in amusement. "Go on."

"I don’t like the '70s."

"Fair point." The boy nodded.

"The 80s music, opposed to the fashion, were tolerable."

Harry frowned.

"'Tolerable', bitch please... The fashion of that time was really crap, but 80's music were great..." Harry defended.

Edward laughed with the other's facial expression.

"So at dawn, do you stay in your no-bed-room, listening and composing music?" The boy asked.

"Yes, as well as drawing and read... This is my private place, where I can be alone... I mean, not completely alone, because I can still hear the thoughts of my family members, even unintentionally..." Edward replied.

"If you want, I can do a spell to make this room soundproof..." Harry looked around. "Just as the thoughts of those out of the room."

Edward's eyes widened.

"That would be wonderful... Not only for me, but for them as well."

"Abafiatto!" Harry said to quickly move his hand.

Edward waited for some change, but nothing happened.

"You'll only feel the difference when everyone's here." Harry explained at the other's confused facial expression.

"Oh..."

A silence settled between them being interrupted by the melodious notes of classical music.

"Edward?"

"Yes?"

"What is your history?" Harry asked, looking at him. "I don’t think we ever talked about it..."

"Oh... Well... There’s not much to say, particularly…"

"I doubt it." Harry insisted.

Edward looked at the wizard for a moment and gave in.

"Humm... Let me see... I was born on June 20, 1901 in Chicago as Edward Anthony Masen Jr..." Edward frowned as he recalled these long-buried facts in the depth of his mind, almost as if he had drawn a thick layer of dust and cobwebs over these memories. "My father, Edward, was a renowned lawyer, but a little distant of me because of his job and my mom, Elizabeth, was a lady of high society. We were very close, because I was their only child... It was she who taught me to play the piano... I can say that my childhood and adolescence were quiet. I remember that I dreamed of being a soldier at the time of the First World War and that I wanted to complete 18 as soon as possible, so that I could become a soldier even if the war was over before it... But obviously, I never completed 18 years…"

Edward smiled bitterly as he received a sympathetic look from Harry.

"What happened?"

"There was a pandemic of Spanish Flu. My father was the first to die. My mom and I contracted the disease next... I should have died just like her, but before this could happen, she had made Carlisle promise that he would save me by any means possible..." Edward rambled on with his vague memories "I think deep down she knew he wasn’t a common man… Or even human."

Harry nodded sympathetically.

"And he obviously turned you..."

"Yeah…"

"How was... You know... The transformation?"

Edward couldn’t contain a grimace on his face.

Even after more than a century since he had become a vampire, he could still remember that awful, miserable pain.

"It was horrible. It was an excruciating pain... It's like you being mutilated and burned alive, I wasn’t able even to scream or move a single finger..."

"And then?"

"After two days I woke up..." Edward murmured. "Carlisle explained to me what he was, or rather, what we were, as well his philosophy of surviving without the need of human blood. He welcomed me as his own son."

Harry smiled at him.

"I'm glad it worked" The wizard whispered. "How does it feel to be a vampire?"

Edward took a deep breath.

"You can hear things from miles away, as well as have a sharp sight... Your smell sense is also potent, you can pick up tiny odors from incredible distances... Our body is extremely strong and resistant against damage... We are fast. Very fast."

"And you sparkle in the sunlight."

"And we sparkle in the sun." The vampire gave a small smile and then became serious. "But that doesn’t change the fact that it all makes us monsters... Killers."

Harry looked down and sighed.

"Humans are also capable of committing monstrosities Edward, and they don’t even need of supernatural skills to do monstrous acts."

The two were silent for a few minutes, Harry staring at his hands as Edward stared into the forest, both lost in thought. A sudden thought seized the vampire.

"I have an idea!" Edward got up from the sofa, looking at the glass door leading to the forest. "Come on, I'll show you."

"Huh?"

"Come on!" The taller one insisted, watching the other rise reluctantly.

"You do not think I'm really going to jump off the second floor, do you?" Harry asked incredulously as he looked down.

"I take you there. Hold on my back."

"Hm, what?!"

"Come on Harry..." Edward insisted.

"No way... What if I fall?"

"I'll never let you fall! I’ll protect you."

Harry looked at him suspiciously and something made him flushed slightly, but relented.

Shyly he hugged behind Edward's shoulders, jumping on top of him as he wrapped his short legs around the hips of the taller boy. Edward had a short circuit as he felt Harry's hands lodge on his shoulder and chest as well as feel his chin near his neck. The vampire took a deep breath as his lungs filled with the sweet scent of the wizard's skin and blood that made his throat burn and his mind sink into pleasure.

"Where are we going?" Harry asked quietly, causing the vampire to almost moan in response.

"T-to a meadow at the top of a mountain, where the sun can pierce the clouds." Edward answered, stopping at the edge of the door. "Trust me?"

"Hmm... Should I be honest or I it’s better to give an educated answer?"

"That's what I thought." Edward laughed and jumped.

 

Harry let out a grunt of surprise as the vampire raced through the forest, occasionally jumping over twenty yards and advancing without ever colliding with any tree or rock. Edward was always the fastest in his family, including Jasper and Emmett, who always lost on their bets or when they played baseball.

Edward ran up the mountain, holding Harry's legs firmly, who was, in response, hugging him even more. The vampire stopped running when he reached his secret spot: a small meadow, perfectly circular covered by a rug of dark green grass, with countless wildflowers ranging from blue, lilac to pale pink.

"Harry, we're here."

Silence.

"Harry?" Edward asked, turning his eyes to the side to watch the boy.

Harry had hidden his face in the vampire's shoulder, his arms and legs locked as he gripped Edward's cold body, his heart racing at a rate that made the scent of blood stained by the smell of stress hormones and dread.

"Oh, you're in shock..." Edward whispered worriedly, taking care that his voice sounds caring. "Hey, Harry... Open your eyes... We're here..."

The wizard slowly let go of Edward, sitting on the lawn still with his eyes closed. Edward knelt in front of him, seeing the boy's face drained of any color, white as porcelain, like a ghost or better yet, white like him.

"I t-thin-k I’ll p-p-puke…" Harry whispered weakly.

"Sorry..." The vampire felt regretful.

"Gi-ve m-me a s-second..."

Edward patiently watched Harry inhale through his nose and exhale through his mouth as his heart rate slowly stabilized. The vampire watched the micro blood vessels beneath the wizard's pale skin begin to receive blood flow, causing them to gradually dye his cheeks in an almost appetizing way. Harry opened his eyes and saw that Edward was looking at him in apprehension.

"That was definitely an experience." Harry said with a half-smile.

"Next time, it’s better close your eyes..." Edward replied with a crooked smile.

"Next time?! Don’t be presumptuous!!! I’ll make sure you’ll pay me for this Cullen!!!" Harry laughed softly.

Harry looked sideways as he analyzed the place where they both had a smile on their lips.

"What place is this?"

"This is one of my favorite secret places…" Edward said looking away.

"Secret?"

"You're the first person I brought here…" He explained.

"Oh why?"

"Well... If you ever want to be alone to think..." The vampire muttered as he took the petals out of a flower. "I realized that, just like me, sometimes you like to be alone... You know... Like that day, on the beach..."

Harry looked at Edward as he tentatively bit his lower lip.

"Thank you." the younger one whispered "That means a lot to me."

The vampire smiled and then saw a ray of sunlight stream through the clouds and bathe a part of the clearing.

"And I brought you here because I wanted to show you something." Edward said, standing up and walking toward the light, opening his pea coat and exposing his skin on sunlight "You wanted to know what happens when the sunlight hits us... Well... That's it..."

Edward's skin began to cast beams of light and sparkles as if studded with tiny diamonds of infinite facets. Harry's eyes widened and Edward interpreted it as repulsion...

He would too.

"I know... It's the skin of a killer." Edward frowned as he looked down in embarrassment.

And he would have kept staring had it not been for Harry to start laughing. 

The vampire looked up and saw the wizard laughing wildly.

"What?!"

Harry continued to laugh.

"I'm sorry... I laugh when I get nervous..." The boy said as he tried to control himself. "It's because this isn’t exactly the thing that comes to my mind when you said about 'the skin of a killer'..."

Edward frowned as he watched the boy stand up and walk toward him.

"I'm glad that I'm amusing you." The vampire said dryly.

"Actually, I don’t think it's bad or grotesque... It's a fascinating effect to see... It's like..." Harry murmured in fascination as his own skin was softly lit by the reflection of Edward's glow. "It's like you're made of light or something like that..."

"Oh..." The vampire was somewhat embarrassed by the boy's words that seemed more like an admired praise than a joke or criticism.

"Hmm... Can... Hmm... Can I... Can I touch your skin?" The wizard asked.

The bronze-haired vampire smiled softly, rolling up the sleeves and moving his forearm toward the other. Harry brought his hand up to Edward’s pale, glistening wrist, his fingers caressing the surface of the cold, incredibly smooth and hard skin as if it were marble covered with satin, tracing a way along the lilac vein visible beneath that skin. Edward sighed as he saw Harry join their hands, making the vampire feel the warmth and softness of the wizard's palm as well as noticing how small Harry’s hand was in comparison his own, with delicate fingers and short nails. Edward held his breath as the wizard gently intertwined their fingers. The vampire felt dislocated, stunned and, to his complete surprise, comfortable and completely satisfied.

He felt the impulse to kiss softly Harry's hand... But what he would think about him doing that? Would Harry be disgusted by the touch of his cold lips? But why the hell he wanted to kiss the boy's hand for the first matter?

"What are you thinking?" Edward whispered after a few minutes.

Harry reacted in surprise, as if he had awakened from a reverie and separated his hand from Edward's, who internally became sad at the interruption of the contact.

"To be honest, I was daydreaming." Harry murmured looking at Edward, his face flushed. "Sorry…"

"There's nothing to be sorry for..."

Harry turned his back and walked back to where he was, sitting on the dark grass as he splashed a grass. Edward followed him and sat down next to him.

"I did something wrong?" Edward asked looking at him.

"No, no!" Harry denied it. "You didn’t do anything!"

"So why are you sad?"

The boy sighed.

"I'm not sad, I’m just... Melancholic, you know… About Hermione and Ron. That’s all…"

"Oh..." Edward wasn’t convinced.

The two were silent as a gentle wind swayed the branches of the trees as well as the flowers. Harry finally lay down on the grass, placing his hands on his belly while Edward did the same.

"Harry?"

"Yeah?"

"I told you about my story... Or at least part of it..." The vampire said, avoiding a grimace as he remembered that he had hidden the period in which he had fed on humans in the late 1920s.

"And?"

"And... Well... I wanted to hear yours." 'Desperately to be honest', Edward's mind completed.

"Oh... What do you want to know?"

"Whatever you want to tell me..." Edward lie down beside him, face turned toward him.

The boy seemed to ponder for a moment.

"Okay..." Harry said looking at the gray clouds in the sky. "My parents are James and Lily Potter. The two had known each other since they were teenagers but only got together in 1865... Initially they didn’t want to have children, because they wanted to reach their goals on their own work career, but after a time, especially after the end of World War II, they changed their mind... You know, England was destroyed, deaths and losses everywhere... Our Community also suffered greatly from the war... So my parents decided that it was a good time for them to start a family, to have a new beginning..."

Harry smiled softly.

"I was born on the night of July 31, 1947, coincidentally during a Blood Moon, in a small town in England called Godric's Hollow... I’m an only child to this day, even though I begged my parents to give me a brother or sister... But they told me that I was already perfect enough for them. As for my childhood, I think I can consider it as normal... I learned the basics of magic at home, because my father is a teacher of Occult Arts, while I attended a muggle school. When I turned 17 in 1964, I ... How can I say..."

Harry paused for a moment as his fingers played with the bird's pendant.

"I accepted my 'gift' as a wizard, if I can use that term... As I told you, it wasn’t what I wanted, but... It was necessary." The wizard paused for a moment, and then continued. "In the same year I went to Hogwarts together with Hermione and Ron and we left there in 1968. After that, not much happened to be honest... I moved to other countries, sometimes I went to school, again and again... Everything so boring, as you and your siblings should know..."

Edward was silent, knowing that the other had much more to tell, but did not want to force him.

Harry turned his face to Edward, his green eyes staring at him softly and calmly.

"I'm sorry I didn’t tell you everything, Ed... One day... One day, when I can, I'll tell you everything... Just not now."

The vampire smiled at the boy for the sweet and caring way his nickname sounded in that voice.

"Friends tell each other everything..." The wizard whispered. "I just need some time."

"Are we friends, Harry?" Edward whispered, somewhat moved by the idea.

The dark-haired boy blinked his eyes.

"I'd hate to think we're not..." His voice sounded fragile.

The bronze-haired vampire gave the boy a huge smile.

"So we are friends…" The vampire reaffirmed. "And… How is to be a wizard?"

Harry looked at him and wetted his lips.

"It’s to be powerful, but at the same time, being weak… It’s you being constantly flirting with the danger and darkness..."

"How much danger and darkness?" Edward asked.

"Well, what I can say is that good boys go to Heaven... Bad boys go to Hogwarts." Harry said with a dark twinkle on his eyes.

The two of them began to talk about their past, just as they knew each other more. Edward asked Harry what his parents and family were like, what his hometown was like or about the magic school he attended, as well as other additional details that he gladly spoke about. Gradually the vampire was constructing a mental mosaic with the little information he had about the mysterious wizard, who, even telling him about his life for him, still seemed to keep secrets behind his emerald green eyes.

At some point after yawning, Harry closed his eyes, his breathing soft and his heartbeats gradually slowing. He was falling asleep. Edward watched silently in that scene, for sleeping was for him one of the few human attributes in which he envied (the ability to dream was fascinating), but now he was grateful that he was not capable of it, for he could admire Harry's face without fear of policing himself.

He was lovely in every way.

Edward looked at that youthful pale face with a slightly rosy complexion... The beautiful and proportionate nose... The long, dark lashes, the eyebrows that stood out against the skin and just above them, the curious ray-shaped scar in which was partially covered by the dark hair... His cheeks flushed... His lips... Oh... The tender, soft-looking lips that were now smiling sweetly, probably dreaming of something, with a delicate dimple in the corner of his mouth… A smile full of secrets... Edward could receive from those lips the worst curse in the world and yet he would only contemplate their beauty.

He was still asleep, his breath calm and sweet, surrounded by flowers and face illuminated by the soft light of the sun.

It could be a thousand years and Edward would never forget it.

"Ed-ward, hmm ... What... What happened?" Harry whispered sleepily at one point, still with his eyes closed.

The vampire's eyes widened.

'I’m contemplating you'

"I... I was wondering about what it's like to sleep..." Edward lied. "And dreaming..."

Harry opened his eyes to him.

"Oh... you want to sleep too?"

Edward smiled wistfully.

"That wouldn’t be possible, I suppose..."

Harry closed his eyes again.

"Not if you listen to the song of...  The Song of Morpheus..." The wizard yawned. "Close your eyes... And focus only on my voice…"

Edward did as the boy said, but partially doubting it would work.

With closed eyes, he focused on Harry's voice and the rhythm of his heartbeats, which began to hum a melody he had never heard before, in an unknown tongue that sounded ancestral to his ears, which brought him the sense of peace and tranquility.

Gradually Edward began to feel his body get heavy, as if he were stuck in the grass by a powerful gravity... His limbs becoming lethargic, as if a cloud of torpor had touched him, thoughts increasingly out of order and confused... Harry's voice sounded distant, as if it were in another dimension...

For the first time in over a hundred years as a vampire, Edward Cullen had fallen asleep.

.

_____

.

The first thing Edward noticed as he slowly opened his eyes was that the sun was already setting and the meadow was bathed in a cold blue light from the full moon that was beginning to emerge.

The second thing - and this was definitely the most surprising and shocking - was that Harry was on top of him, his head and hand lodged on his cold chest, still asleep. Edward had noticed later that his arms were around the boy's waist, keeping his body close to his own. The vampire stood motionless, just feeling the Harry’s warmth warm him up as he felt the soft breath the other made.

Edward debated whether he should wake Harry or whether he should let him wake up naturally. Opting for the second alternative, Edward gave short breaths again, making sure that the sudden movement wasn’t to wake the other as he felt Harry's sweet scent invading him, causing his throat to contract and burn from thirst, but he'd discovered he was strong enough to ignore... It was easier. Approaching with care, he leaned his nose against the soft, rebellious dark hair of the other, intoxicated with the scent that came from it.

'Sublime...' was the only word his mind, still cushioned by sleep, was able to produce.

Edward wondered if Harry didn’t mind the hardness and coldness of his body, but apparently not, for he was completely comfortable with what made a part of his mind commemorate - but he did not know why.

Seeing that it was getting late, Edward brought his fingers up to Harry's face, gently pulling a lock of hair from his eyes.

"Harry... Wake up..."

The boy made a sound of discontent.

"Hmm... Hmm... More ... F-five minu-tes..." Harry flinched in the vampire's arms.

Edward laughed softly.

"Come on..." He whispered again, his voice muffled by the other's dark hair.

"Just... Five more... Minutes, C-ed!" The wizard complained.

'Ced? Who is Ced?'

Edward frowned as he pondered what he had heard.

Maybe he got it wrong.

Maybe Harry wanted to have said 'Ed' and not 'Ced'.

Harry finally groped Edward's chest, raising his head to look around. Turning his face up, he saw the vampire's golden eyes gazing at him warily. The wizard stared back to the other with his eyes full of sheer terror while he became cient what was going on , getting up off the vampire with a quick and awkward moviment.

"Oh shit... Edward... I'm sorry, I'm sorry..." The wizard he stammered nervously.

"No... It's okay..."

"No, it's not, it's not... Oh shit, shit, that couldn’t have happened..." Harry repeated, hiding his flushed face with both hands.

Edward stood up from the grass, walking up to the smaller boy and placing his hands on his shoulders.

"Hey... Hey, look at me... It's okay... Seriously... You didn’t do anything I didn’t do either..." He stated in his velvety voice.

Harry looked down, still flushed.

"I'm so ashamed..."

"I repeat, it's all right, Harry..." Edward smiled affectionately at him. "So... Ready for another race?"

Harry paled.

"OH NO!"

Edward laughed.

"Let's apparate... Hold my arm." Harry said, still embarrassed.

The vampire smiled and touched the wizard's arm, the two disappearing from the meadow.

________

When Edward realized, they were already in the living room of his house with his whole family together, surprisingly with Ron and Hermione.

"Harry!!!" Hermione grabbed his friend in a tight hug, hiding his face on the wizard's shoulder and then looking at him angrily, slapping his shoulders "HARRY JAMES POTTER, HOW YOU DARE TO DISAPPEAR AND MAKE ME WORRIED FOR HOURS!!!"

"Ouch, Mione..."          

Ron approached his friend, hugging him too, but looking much more relieved and calm.

"For the Mephistopheles' horns , Harry, don’t give us a fright like that!" Ron exclaimed, letting go of the other.

Edward raised his eyebrow at Ron’s strange exclamation.

"Where have you been?!" Hermione demanded looking at Harry and then at Edward with an inquiring look.

"Well, I... I was with Edward in a part of the forest... We were talking and we fell asleep..." Harry shrugged.

Hermione gave Edward an irritated look.

"One moment, did you sleep too, son?" Carlisle asked.

Edward shrugged in confirmation.

"Harry sang a magic song that made me sleep too."

Carlisle's golden eyes flashed and his brothers exchanged conspiratorial looks, especially Alice and Emmett.

'Ohhhh, slept together, huh?! Eddy, your little shameless!!!' The muscular vampire joked mentally as he looked at the telepath brother.

Edward growled to Emmett, who laughed in response.

"Why didn’t you tell us? We were worried!" Hermione continued to talk to his friend.

"Oh, as far as I can remember, you two were ignoring me for days until few hours ago." Harry countered bitterly.

The witch looked down in embarrassment, as well the redhead wizard.

"Harry, look... I'm sorry... It's just... You have to understand that what you ask of us..." Hermione sighed.

"My decision. Respect!" Harry scolded hard eyes.

Ron bit his lower lip and nodded, while Hermione sighed, glancing quickly at Edward and then at Harry.

"I'll try..." She whispered.

They were all silent for a brief minute.

"Well, since it's all right now and they're all here, why don’t we watch a movie, huh?" Alice jumped on their side.

Hermione sighed wearily.

"Unfortunately we cannot Alice... Tonight is full moon and the boys and I are celebrating a Sabbat." The witch explained.

"Sabbat?"  Edward frowned, remembering the macabre painting of Francisco Goya.

"It's... It's like going Sunday morning to church." Harry explained quickly.

"Oh..."

Violently the room window broke when something was thrown against it, scaring everyone there.

It took Edward three seconds to figure out what it was: a black bat, floundering on the ground with its skeletal wings and red eyes. He frowned in disbelief, for he had never seen a bat be able to break a reinforced glass window only by his flight. Looking up, he saw that the three wizards had gone pale as if they had seen something terrible.

"Mione, quick!!!" Ron exclaimed to the witch.

"ABSIT OMEN!!!" Hermione shouted, pointing both hands at the bat that had levitated and burned in red-scarlet flames until it was reduced to nothing.

The Cullens were frightened by this, for that was a serious thing for the three teenagers.

"What... What the hell was that?!" Rosalie asked in a low voice.

Harry stood for a moment and looked at the blonde.

"An omen of doom and destruction..." Harry whispered, making the vampires momentarily paralyzed in shock. "A curse."

"A curse?" Esme put her hand on her chest. "Someone cursed my home?"

"Or at least tried" Harry said lividly. "But thanks to Hermione, it could not succeed...

"Praise Satan!!!" Ron said breathlessly in relief. "That was close…"

All the vampires turned to the red-haired wizard with wide eyes as Hermione nudged his abdomen followed by a nervous laugh.

"Hm, excuse me, what did you say?!" Jasper said with wide golden eyes.

"Oh, Ron, you're a clown even at times like this..." Hermione laughed nervously, but her eyes were rigid for her boyfriend.

"Yeah... Black humor... You know..." Ron said with a giggle and looked down with a frown.

Edward ignored the topic.

"Harry, can you come here for a moment?" Edward turned to the smaller wizard, pulling him into a corner.

"Yes…"

"That was definitely the work of another wizard or witch, wasn’t it?" The vampire asked.

"Yes..." Harry shook his head, his face serious. "That's the confirmation of the signals I've received before, remember what I told you?"

Edward confirmed.

"After the Sabbat, I will 'communicate' with the forest serpents to see if they have any answers." Harry said. "Until then, I'm going to put protection spells in your house, so it won’t be attacked."

"Tell me what you find out later... Someone is trying to hurt my family." Edward grunted.

Harry nodded at last and walked over to the rest of the Cullens and their friends, who by now had already repaired the broken window glass.

"I will cast a protection spell with Mione and Ron to raise a shield in your home before we go." Harry looked at Carlisle and Esme. "Anyone who intend to invade your home with bad intentions will be violently repelled, just as if they try to beg for curses..."

"I would be eternally grateful..." Esme replied worriedly as her arm was caressed by a livid Carlisle.

Harry waved to his friends and the three of them walked out of the house while the Cullens looked at them in silence through the glass window.

Edward watched the three of them raise their arms up and begin reciting spells like a mystical mantra.

"Protego Maxima..."

"Fianto Duri..."

"Repello Inimigotum..."

"Salvio Hexia..."

The Cullens watched a thin, fluid translucent membrane, probably invisible to human eyes, down around the house, enveloping it like a huge shield. The three wizards finished performing their spells, giving to the vampires a quick wave of their farewells, disappearing shortly thereafter.

Edward looked at his parents and siblings, rummaging through their minds and realizing that everyone had a sense of anxiety, distrust, disbelief and fear.

"Edward... What... What could that mean? I didn't see anything like this coming…" Alice asked frightened her brother, making everyone look at him as if searching for a plausible answer for the last five minutes.

The vampire took a deep breath, staring at the protective membrane that billowed like a thin cloth and the dark forest, which before he supposed his species was the only real danger to hide in it, but now not so much.

"Something wicked this way comes." Edward recited the passage from Macbeth almost like a prophecy and everyone, including him, felt an awful shiver down the spine.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER X

A HAPPY FUTURE (?)

Edward was shaking his foot impatiently as he tried to concentrate for the fifth time on the paragraph of an archeology book he had randomly taken to distract himself, something that proved ineffective when his mind remained focused on that bat, or a better word, on that curse being casted against his family hours before.

The Cullens never before had encountered magical enemies, much less with a direct attack on that suit... The only time they had a "conflict" was in 1935, when they first moved in Forks and there were days of an eminent battle between his family and the Quileute tribe, but thanks to Carlisle and the Chief of the Tribe and Alpha, Ephraim Black, a territorial agreement had been signed between the two peoples, thus ensuring a peaceful coexistence - which at times still had friction - between werewolves and vampires.

But that was something different.

They’re being threatened by someone of unknown force, dangerous and with clear evil intentions. The questions were stuck in his mind: who and why.

Snorting with annoyance, he tossed the book on the floor and staring at the clock: it was 3am. Turning his gaze to the wall-windows of his room, he watched the thin, protective veil casted by wizards to undulate softly as if it were swayed by the wind. His own bedroom was also with additional protection, thanks to a spell that sealed the room of any outside sound including his family's thoughts, bringing Edward a huge relief in being able to focus on his own thoughts and enjoy the silence. He would be eternally grateful to Harry for this.

And speaking of Harry...

Edward smiled shyly as he remembered the afternoon that they had, from their conversations, laughter, the fact that he slept - a feeling so inexplicable that he still had no words to describe - and of course, woke up with the wizard in his arms... That last thought in particular caused him to wriggle involuntarily on the couch. Although obviously embarrassed by the situation, he cannot deny to himself that he didn’t regret it and the reason for it he couldn’t say, since lately things were confused and distorted when it came to the wizard.

He could still feel the boy’ scent impregnated on his shirt, taking the fabric to his nose and inhaling that sweet, fresh and charming aroma... But that didn’t come close to the smell of his dark and rebellious hair... Edward wondered if a day he would again have the privilege of feeling that...

Edward?”        

The vampire raised his head in a fraction of a second, seeing that the boy was in the middle of the bedroom and it took another two seconds to realize that Harry didn’t appear to be physically there, either by the absence of his scent or by the lack of the sounds of his heart beats. He was also seemed different, with a semitransparent form as if he was some sort of hologram.

"H-Harry?"

Sorry for the inconvenience in coming at this time...” The wizard's voice was different, reverberating as if he were in a cave.

"No ... No problem at all..." Edward replied approaching the boy. "It's not like I'm sleeping or anything.

Harry smiled briefly and looked serious.

How are the others?”

"They're still processing what happened." He frowned. "The idea that someone tried to curse us is..."

Scary?”

"Yeah, pretty much… Did you talk to the snakes? Did you find anything?” Edward murmured as part of his brain punctuated the strangeness of the idea of communicating with the reptiles.

Yes...” Harry said, his face taking on a serious look. “They told me two things.”

“What?”

First there are giant wolves in the woods. Can you tell if here in Forks there are shapeshifters?”

Edward inclined his head slightly with the unexpected topic.

"Oh... Well, there are some werewolves from the Quileute tribe. We have a territorial treaty with them since the 1930s, when we moved to Forks for the first time.”

“Werewolves? No, they're not werewolves, Edward. They’re shapeshifters…”  Harry explained, shaking his head.  “Some people with a particular gene of mystical origin who can metamorphose into a type of animal. They pass this trait on to their offspring as a genetic inheritance.”

Oh...”

They can transform at any time. Real werewolves only become the nights of full moon…”  Harry shrugged and added at the confused expression on the other.  “A friend of my parents is a werewolf.”

"Carlisle would love to know that information ..." The vampire smiled briefly. “What's the second information?”

There's a small group of vampires in the neighborhood... They were different from you guys, they looked more like wild animals. They had red eyes too.”

“Wild animals?”

Yes...”

Newborns... Would that be possible?” The bronze-haired boy whispered to himself.

What would that be?”

"They’re vampires who have just undergone transformation... They’re more uncontrolled and guided by the primitive instinct to quench thirst." Edward explained and frowning then.

Did you remind something?”

“That would explain what is happening in Seattle...” The vampire murmured. “Recently, I’ve been following news of a wave of disappearances and deaths that are occurring in the region...”

“But this happens everywhere, isn’t it? Deaths and disappearances always occur in places with a large population.”

"Yeah, but... It's too much of a coincidence when you have a bunch of vampires out of control by thirst in the region..." Edward frowned.

“Fair point.” Harry replied with a hand on his chin.

"How many vampires were hanging around here, more or less?"

“I'd say about fifteen or so.”

“Fifteen?!” Edward replied incredulously.

“Yes.”

The vampire frowned in concern. 'That's not good.'  

"Anyway, at least you know there are more vampires in the area."  Harry went on.

"Yes, but this doesn’t answer who tried to curse my family ..." Edward answered cautiously.

“I know... But we’ll continue to investigate ...”

Edward nodded for a moment as he saw Harry's semi-transparent figure.

"How are you here, but at the same time, aren’t?"

Harry smiled discreetly at him.

I'm on an astral projection.”

“An what?”

The wizard chuckled.

My physical body is in my bedroom, surrounded by candles, but my spirit is here.”

"Wasn’t it easier to text me?" Edward gave a crooked smile.

Oh, I'd forgotten about that ... Sometimes I really forget those tech gadgets.”  The boy explained with a shrug.

"I see..." The vampire rubbed the back of his neck in sheepish way, a small part of himself content for Harry to be there - even if not physically.

Be that as it may ...”   Harry said seriously. “I’ll still try to find out who has tried to curse you and your family. At least now I'm sure there's something wrong here …”

“Hmm.”         

“Edward?”

“Yeah?”

Harry seemed to think for a moment and said at last.

Haven’t you or your family seen anything strange in the woods in the last few days? Something out of the ordinary...”

"No... Nothing. No one mentioned anything to me and there wasn't anything abnormal in their thoughts...”

Edward paused for a moment, rummaging through the memories until he frowned.

“Although...”

"Although what?"

"Well... Do you remember when I caught you in your snake-inviting ritual?" Edward said cautiously.

Yes, I do...”

"I didn’t mention how I found you.”

I thought you were hunting...”   Harry said confusedly.

“I was. Until in a moment I saw a kind of... I don’t know how to explain ... It was like a kind of dark figure, almost like a haze embodied, as if watching me.” The bronze-haired vampire tried to explain. "When I approached, it moved at a high speed and I ran back. I ended up getting close to where you were.”

You did not tell me that Edward!” Harry scolded.

"To tell you the truth, I'd forgotten this detail until moments ago.”  Edward said with a crease in his forehead. "What did I see?"

Harry was silent.

“I have a slight suspicion of what it could be, but I'm not sure... Oh shit.” Harry broke off as he looked at the window with an expression of discomfort.

Edward looked in the direction the boy was staring but did not see anything unusual.

“What's it?”

“Psychopomps”

“What?” The vampire asked in confusion.

I don’t have time to explain. Tell your family what we found and tell me later what they said. I'll see you on school, okay?”

Before Edward could say anything, the figure of Harry faded like smoke in the air. Walking toward the door, he took a deep breath before leaving, his mind and senses bombarded with thoughts and sounds of the inhabitants of the house as he descended the stairs.

They’re all in the living room, Carlisle being the first to stare at him, his welcoming smile being replaced by a concerned expression.

"Edward, are you all right, son?"

The vampire looked at everyone and nodded.

“We need to talk...”

As Edward spoke, his family's facial expressions tightened.

The Cullens were obviously tense with the news that newborns were around, just as they were possibly - but very likely - responsible for the wave of attacks in Seattle and Port Angeles. Jasper, who had a long experience of battle with these creatures proven through the various scars on his body, was disturbed by the unpleasant news. If the situation was uncontrollable, it would most likely draw the attention of the Volturi and this was something the whole family wanted to avoid, meaning the Cullens would eventually have to solve that problem among themselves - of course, they still had the mysterious attack magic to be solved.

Great.

.

.

Four weeks passed.

And to everyone's surprise, nothing had happened.

No curse was casted against them, no sign of newborns nearby and there was even a relative drop in news of deaths and disappearances in Washington State. This relative tranquility was somewhat disturbing, for it implied that the enemy, whoever it was, wanted them to take guard down, to be unprepared.

Alice was struggling to see anything, but her seer power was filled with interference as if they knew how to take advantage of it. Jasper, along with Edward, Carlisle and Emmett, scoured the woods for any clue, a scent that could lead them to the location of the newborns but found nothing. The constant rains eventually made vanished the trace of any aroma, making them undetectable.

Harry and his friends continued to look for any evidence to know who was responsible for the curse but they’re unsuccessful except to know what exactly the curse would provoke if it succeed: According to Hermione, the curse would slowly cause their bodies to no longer absolve the blood nutrients obtained by the hunt, causing them to become weaker and more vulnerable.

In the meantime, vampires and wizards saw each other and kept in touch more often, establishing a cordial relationship that would become close to friendship. The students at Forks High School were amazed - and somewhat appalled - at seeing the British interacting so natural and spontaneously with the unattainable, weirdos, perfect, isolated as aliens as the Cullens were… Maybe the British were weirdos as well, who knows.

Ron approached Jasper and especially Emmett, creating a bond of instant camaraderie specially with the last one, being seen laughing at the dirty jokes that one told the other, commenting on their favorite sports and betting money on which baseball or basketball team would be the winner (Ron threatened Emmett with magic if he asked to his seer sister what the outcome of the game would be). Hermione seemed perfectly content to be able to interact with the Cullen girls, because according to her, there were things she wanted to talk that Ron and Harry could never understand... She, along with Alice and even Rosalie, were seen talking about subjects that went out of fashion to particular topics that would make Edward blush if it were possible.

Though gentle and friendly, Harry was probably the most reserved of the three: he talked little, preferring to give brief smiles and simple answers when someone talked to him. The wizard never revealed too much about himself and was distant from the others, with the exception of Edward, who seemed the only one, apart his friends, to be able to draw sincere smiles from the boy, as well as to develop flowing conversations with him.

Alice watched them with curiosity.

At first, she - like her other siblings - teased Edward with naive insinuations about the nature of his friendship with Harry, causing the vampire to be embarrassed, angry at everyone and finally went to his bedroom, growling in irritation, such which he would do if he were a human teenager. However, the idea that Edward and Harry really had chemistry began to solidifying in Alice's head, which had always been the closest to Edward and knew him better than anyone else.

But it was on a random Wednesday morning that those suspicions turned into certainty.

As Alice pleaded with Hermione to let her organize her birthday at the Cullen mansion - a 1950s cocktail party with tuxedo and period dresses - the tiny vampire had a sudden prediction.

Edward and Harry were in a meadow covered with wildflowers. Edward was hugging Harry by the waist, pressing their bodies against each other, while his hand gently caressed the wizard's face. The vampire smiled at the younger boy, his golden eyes filled with a deep emotion that bordered on adoration, a look in which Alice had never seen Edward give to anyone.

"I love you... So much ..." Edward said slowly the words and continuing in a warm voice. “Harry... My Harry…”

“I love you too!!!”  The boy whispered with an affectionate smile to the taller boy, hugging his shoulders as he stood on tiptoe. Edward leaned down, inhaling the scent of the wizard's neck, giving little kisses on his neck’ skin, rising to his flushed cheeks and taking his lips with a slow, romantic, passionate kiss.

Breaking out of the kiss, Edward lifted Harry off the ground, spinning him into the air, while the meadow that was filled with the human's warm laughter, a sound of spontaneous joy as of a little boy. Edward stopped slowly, still holding him protectively, smiling at him with love and affection, kissing him on the forehead, finally landing his chin on top of the dark hair of the human. Edward loved, or would love, Harry deeply and he was, or would be, equally reciprocated.

Alice gasped as she returned to the present, feeling dislocated, perplexed and amazed. She thanked the heavens that Edward and Harry were not with them now, for she would not be able to deal with her telepath brother at that very moment, when she was still processing what she saw.  

"Did you have a vision?" Rosalie asked her, catching the attention of everyone at the table.

“What happened, love?” Jasper touched his mate's hand, his face livid with concern.

"Is there going to be an attack?" Emmett asked leaning into her.

Before she could respond, Alice smiled and lowered her gaze as she realized that Harry and Edward were walking together toward their table. Forcing herself to react, she pushed the thoughts into the back of her mind, not wanting Edward to see them. This wasn’t the best the place for them to talk about it.

“What happened?” Edward asked as he watched the frowning brows of his brothers and friends as he helped Harry sit in a chair.

“Alice had a vision.” Jasper replied.

The humans looked at her anxiously.

"What did you see?" Edward asked worriedly as he sat down.

Alice looked up, giving her best reassuring smile to everyone around her.

“It was nothing... I... I just saw the result of the baseball game which Emmett and Ron bet... Do you guys wanna know who the winner is?”

 “DON’T TELL HIM ANYTHING!!!” Ron interrupted, cutting off Emmett's curiosity as he grunted in response to the redhead.

Everyone at the table laughed, except for Edward staring at his sister with an unconvinced expression. Alice shrugged as she began humming a random pop song in her mind as she returned to attention to Rosalie and Hermione and the witch's birthday party, restoring the light, friendly atmosphere of before.

Later she would talk to Edward.

.

.

.

Three soft knocks on the door caught Edward's eye and he frowned as he set aside his battered copy of Odyssey of Homer, bought by him in the 1940s. When he opened the door, he saw Alice with a soft smile on her lips and hands behind her back.

“Hi... Can I come in?”

Edward frowned, giving room for the girl to enter her room, watching her walk gracefully, looking around as if it was her first time in Edward's bedroom.

“Something happened?” The boy asked, tilting his head quizzically.

Alice waved her hands.

“No, no... Just ... I wanted to spend some time with you... Talk a little. We have not done that in a long time, have we?”

Edward narrowed his eyes.

“Okay...”

The tiny vampire smiled and sat down the chair next to her brother.

“Interesting...”

“What's interesting?”

"It's just ... I cannot hear any sound outside this room..."

Edward rubbed the back of his neck.

"Oh yeah... Harry casted on a silencing spell, so I could have privacy... My room is now proof of sound and also of thoughts from people outside there.”

Alice's eyes widened.

"Oh... That's... Perfect actually..." She replied, giving a low-key smile as she picked up casually an art book. "So… Harry was in your room?"

Edward frowned slightly.

"Yes, I gave him a tour of our home the day we dropped the class and that cursed bat was thrown into the living room window”. He replied.

"I understand..." Alice replied.

A silence settled between them and Edward again read the girl's mind, finding only wary thoughts, which was already strange, because Alice didn’t refrain what she thought, except when she wanted to talk about something.

"Okay, what exactly do you want?" Edward broke the silence, crossing his arms as he looked at his sister.

Alice shifted on the couch, looking ashamed.

“I want to ask you something...”

The bronze-haired boy raised his eyebrows.

"But I wanted you to answer me as honestly as you could, and swear this conversation will stay on this room.” Alice continued cautiously.

“What...”

"Do you, hmm... Do you like Harry?"

Edward stood as still as a statue.

An entire minute passed until he regained his self-control and could say something.

“Excuse me?”

Alice shrugged her shoulders with a shy smile.

"You know… Do you like him?"

Edward frowned, taking long seconds to process that question. Assuming a casual voice, he replied.

“Hm, yes... He's a nice guy, just like Ron... He's a good friend.”

Alice rolled her eyes.

“I don’t mean this kind of ‘like’... I mean if you like him... "She emphasized the last sentence.

The male vampire was shocked.

"Have you lost your mind?" Edward exclaimed at last with a horrified expression. “What... What...”

"C’mon Edward, just answer yes or no... Do you like him?"

Silence.

"What kind of joke is that?" He asked.

Alice sighed.

“I’m not kidding...”

"If you're not kidding, what made you think on this... On this delirious ideas?!”

The girl bit her lower lip.

"I observed you guys for some time... I see the way you behave when you are together... The way you react around him, it's almost like... It's almost like to observe the effect of gravity: if Harry moves, you also move... "Alice said quietly "If Harry's sitting somewhere, you unknowingly approach him... You're so considerate and gallant to him, that sometimes you resemble a Jane Austen's hero to me... And the way you look at him when he smiles to you..."

Edward opened his mouth to speak, but his words stuck in his throat.

"He's sweet, kind boy, he's very handsome, he dresses well, which counts A LOT to me ..." Alice gave a mocking smile but getting serious  "So it wouldn’t be a surprise for me if you're in love with him."

“I... Don’t... I don’t like him on this way... I’m not ... I'm not a homosexual, Alice!” Edward whispered as if it was a secret.

She frowned.

"Frankly Edward, you're almost 120 years old, a sexual orientation conflict at this point in the championship is a little dispensable, don’t you think?" Alice chided.

The boy was silent again.

"You guys would make a lovely couple... He would make you happy too."

“I don’t…”

"Last week I first had a vision of Harry... A vision of Harry with you..." She stepped closer, looking into Edward's eyes as she recalled the prediction scenes she'd had.

Edward watched the hypothetical scenes of that future as his face assumed an unintelligible expression.

“See?” Alice said.

"That’s... That's not possible.” Edward shook his head, turning his back to the girl.

“Of course it is!”

Silence.

“I think he likes you too...”   Alice said. “I'm a girl, I know these things...”

"Just like it was with Bella?" Edward answered bitterly.

Alice caught her breath, feeling guilty.

"I... I should’ve guessed she wasn’t your true mate, brother... I never had bad motivations about it, and you know how deeply sorry I’m for what happened…” she stepped forward, placing a small hand on the boy' shoulder. "I was just hoping you would find someone who would make you happy, just as I and the rest of our family is... Someone who would be with you forever."

"Oh, and you think Harry Potter is that person?" Edward grunted, grabbing his books off the floor and placing them on the shelf.

“It could be.”

Alice lowered her head and sighed.

"An only one thing matter for now is this question: do you like him?"

Edward froze.

"Don’t you feel anything when you're around him? When does he smile at you or when you two are together?”

“I don’t know.”

"Deep down you know... I know you know..." Alice said softly, standing in front of Edward. "Deep down you know you're falling in love with him, but you're just too stubborn and oblivious to admit it to yourself."

Edward closed his eyes.

"How could he love a monster like me?" The vampire whispered. "I have nothing to offer to him but constant danger ..."

“Edward...”

“No, Alice! Don’t you see?! My first thought when I met him was my desire to kill him! Kill him and drink his blood until the last drop!”

“That's already past...”

“Already past?! And if one day he accidentally cut himself off with the edge of a sheet of paper or get bruise and I get out of control?! How I could live with myself if I hurt my mate?!” Edward asked.

"I think he'd know how to defend himself ... He's not a normal human, is he?" Alice replied with a slight smile.

"No... He's not ..." Edward smiled softly, lowering his gaze.

Alice smiled, whispering then.

“Do you like him?”

“Even if I hypothetically like him... I don’t think he would reciprocate me in the same way..." Edward whispered "Hypothetically, of course..."

“Oh my goodness, men are SO blind!!!" Alice snorted, shaking her head. “Or rather, you’re fucking impossible!!!”

Edward laughed, causing Alice to look at him confusedly.

“What's it?!”

"Nothing..." He chuckled softly. "It's just... Someone already told me that.”

Finally Edward shrugged shyly, while his eyes were fixed on the cover of some book. Alice sighed at last, leaving on Edward's desk a small package she carried in the pocket of her coat. Touching the doorknob, he turned one last time to the brother who seemed to be in a contemplative state, probably processing the idea that he was in love with the wizard. 

Or at least she hoped it was, because her brother was too oblivious for his own good.

“Edward?”

The vampire looked at her.

“Yes?”

“If my vision is correct... Thing that I believe... He would love you, immensely, just as you would love him... But I think that you're already..."Alice said smiling, leaving Edward's room, leaving him alone.

Edward took a deep breath with his eyes closed, combing his hair with his fingers as he tried to get his thoughts in order. Opening his eyes, he stared at the little box Alice had left in his desk. Picking it carefully, he opened the package, revealing the photo Jasper had taken of him and Harry on the beach day. Edward caressed the photograph, and he could feel the ghost of the sensations he had at that moment: the sun's heat, the scent of sea and the scent of Harry, something that had been etched in his memory forever. At the bottom of the box, a final note written by Alice:

It may be the first of many.

It depends on you.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER XI

BEWITCHED

'Do you like Harry?'

Edward repeated the question to himself that Alice had asked him the previous day. But he could not come up with a definitive answer, as there was always internal questioning that led him to something like a philosophical debate. Emmett often said that Edward thought way beyond what was needed, never seeing how simple things were. He had to agree with his brother, but still, he couldn't change his way of being... It was stronger than him.

But now that the question popped, there was no way he could escape the obligation to get an answer and he should do it for the obvious reason alone: his family would more likely hinder him rather than help.

If he talked about it with Esme, she would be euphoric that he might have found a mate, giving him no room to think coherently. Carlisle was going to start a long speech about how wonderful it was to share immortality with someone, which would lead to the intense debate between them about their “state” of immortality.

For being an empath, Jasper would be the best choice because he understood feelings like no one else. However, he would look at everything from a similar angle to a military strategy, especially considering the unknown risks of Edward getting involved with a wizard.

Alice would roll her eyes impatiently, repeatedly showing him the prediction as if he were a stupid child who could learn nothing from what he had been told. Rosalie would laugh at his face and make a derogatory comment about him - as she always did, whatever the topic. And Emmett? Well, a fern would have more tact to talk about feelings than Emmett.

Edward sighed in defeat as he returned to the initial question.

Did he like Harry?

Yes, he did.

Very much, actually…

He liked his company, their conversations, their friendship… Edward liked that aura of mystery that Harry had: he was sweet and warm to the people around him, while paradoxically somewhat distant and even inaccessible. Harry was energetic and vivacious, as if there was a fire crackling behind his green eyes that seemed ready to defy someone and already knew he would win, or when he laughed at some dirty joke that Emmett and Ron were telling. But there were times when he contained himself in his own silence, stillness and secrets.

Harry was like volcano covered with snow.

And to his dismay, Edward realized how much it attracted him, how masochistic he became for liking someone who made him so… So thirsty! Thirsty for that sweet blood that smelled like lavender and caramel, thirsty for any crumbs of information the wizard decided to give, thirsty for his company, the smiles, the conversations, thirsty even for his silence.

And this thirst manifested itself as desires for physical contact.

It began long ago as innocent, unintended touches, evolving into more intimate physical contact like the day they were in the meadow and Edward showed what happens when sunlight touched him. If Edward closed his eyes, he could still feel the ghost of the warmth of the Harry's fingers touching his skin, just as he could feel the sensation of having Harry on him, his own arms around the wizard's waist, the scent of his hair, the heat of his body, the softness of his warm skin pressed against his own, cold and hard...

And with Alice's vision, everything got worse because memories and probabilities of a future were no longer enough.

Once again, he was thirsty.

And confused.

Confused because he had never felt something like this for anyone else. He didn't know, or rather, never felt the attraction or desire that one person had for another and for a long time he believed that he would never feel those things for someone.

Even in his human life, he was always totally disinterested in such matters, causing his mother to interfere whenever she could and even insisting that he court the daughter of a couple of bankers from Chicago - whom he had never met, as she was one of first to die by the first wave of Spanish Flu. After he became a vampire and after his rebellious phase in the 1920s, in 1933 Carlisle transformed Rosalie Hale - a Rochester beauty who had suffered a cruel act of violence that ended her human life- to make her as Edward’s mate, but the plan soon failed because he and Rosalie had totally different personalities, leading to nothing but a brother-sister relationship. There was Tanya, a blonde vampire who openly wanted him as her lover but Edward swiftly shied away, making it clear that there would be only one friendship between them.

When Bella Swan appeared, for a short while, he thought he might have found someone special to complete him, but... It wasn't and it all ended in a traumatizing way thanks to his vile nature as a vampire...

How could he feel something like love when he was what he was?

This thought led him to the perennial philosophical debate whether vampires were really capable of feeling human emotions, which he always suspected because they were no longer human, despite Carlisle and the rest of his family's insistence on assuring that yes, Edward-stubborn-ass, vampires, as well as humans, are capable of feeling joy, sadness, happiness, hate...

Vampires, even though technically dead, unchanging, and inhuman, can still feel and have attraction, desire, lust, and fascination for someone else... Vampires can love.

But there was a point Edward was considering now, something that had never crossed his mind.

Maybe...

Maybe he simply never had an affinity towards females...

Maybe all this time, he has tried to feel these emotions for women, unaware that they could never induce these same feelings in him.

Maybe all this time, the answer was in young men with porcelain complexions, emerald green eyes, dark hair, smaller than him...

Maybe... Maybe he was already in love with one right now.

And then the epiphany happened.

"Oh..." Edward whispered in amazement and shock, rubbing his forehead as his ochre-colored eyes were fixed to the living room carpet. "So that's what it's like to be in love..."

.

.

.

Over the following days, Edward found that ignorance was indeed a blessing.

The fact that he found out he was in love with Harry made him no longer know how to act when the two were together, because instead of serving as an impulse for him to take some initiative it only made him nervous, shy, without knowledge of what to say or what to do.

An example of this was a day when he, Harry and the rest of his siblings were in the school cafeteria and at one point when Harry chatted with Alice, Edward had watched the wizard closely, not noticing a small smile of affection forming on his lips while doing it.

Jasper's golden eyes widened at Edward, mentally calling his name as he stared at him incredulously.

The blond vampire, who had hitherto discreetly followed the emergence of certain emotions from Edward since the day on the beach, was shocked when he felt these emotions in a much more potent and clear way.

‘Edward... you... great balls of fire!’ Jasper's mental voice exclaimed.

Alice quietly watched her mate, placing her small hand on his forearm in a sign of comfort.

Jasper soon understood, concentrating on making Edward calm down, making the bronze-haired vampire whisper a thank-you in response, knowing that his secret would be safe.

It was not.

Not that Jasper had told someone, but it was enough for Emmett eavesdropping on the conversation of the seer and former Confederate Major to let the rest of the Cullen family know the news at the end of the day.

"Of course this would happen... I warned you!" Rosalie said to Edward sarcastically as she filed her nails. "It's typical of you... First get involved with a human girl with the charisma of a potato and now falls in love with a wizard... On the plus side, Harry is really cute. I can see why you’ve fallen in love with him and let me say that if I had known you had a thing for posh-accented British boys, I would have gotten one for you myself... Oh, don't make that face, Edward, I deep down I knew you were a 'friend of Dorothy'... Not of the colorful kind but more of the tragic kind, almost emo...”

Emmett rolled with laughter as Rosalie continued to mumble her distrust that dates back to the 1930s when Edward rejected her, as she says "... no straight guy would think twice in have me as a mate."

As for Esme and Carlisle, he didn't even want to remember their reactions, especially his adoptive mother who already made plans to supply the kitchen with human food as well as call Harry to come to their house more often, already imagining the relationship with her future son-in-law. And Carlisle obviously gave the speech about immortality and mates.

Seeing his secret and personal realization - which wasn't really that secret as everyone suspected what was happening - being treated so lightly by his family, made the 17/118 year-old vampire feel the greatest shame since he was human.

Gathering the last pieces of his dignity, Edward asked, in fact almost begged for everyone to behave naturally when they were with Harry and his friends, to avoid acting overly receptive in the almost freakish way that only the Cullens could act - like the day they decided to make pasta for Bella just because her name was Italian.

.

.

.

"Is it my impression or are you always alone?"

A familiar voice caught Edward's attention as he was distracted looking out the window. Turning around, he saw Harry with his usual soft smile only with a difference that now he was wearing round glasses, an accessory the vampire had never seen him wear.

It was a Tuesday, the first English Literature class.

"I'm not very popular ..." Edward replied with a casual smile. Harry chuckled low and sat beside him.

“I doubt it. Half the girls here would cut off their own hands so they could sit with you!”

Edward laughed, shaking his head as there was a bit of reason in that sentence.

"I hope you don't mind... I was going to sit with Mione, but she's already paired up." The dark-haired boy said while tipping his chin towards the school desk.

"No, of course... But I thought you didn't have this class."

"Indeed, but apparently they needed to fill some vacancies in this class and I had this time vacant..." Harry explained. "I knew Hermione took this class, but I had forgotten you were here too."

"I see..." Edward bowed his head, secretly happy about it and once again feeling butterflies in his stomach. Taking a deep breath, he changed the subject as he looked at the other. "You didn't lie when you said you wore John Lennon-like glasses... Why are you just wearing them now?"

Harry laughed, embarrassed.

"I was out of patience to put on my contact lenses..." The boy said, looking at his reflection in the window and frowning a bit. "I had forgotten how weird I look with glasses."

"I don't think so," Edward replied promptly. "They suit you..."

"Kind of you." Harry blushed softly.

A moment of silence settled between them as they watched the students settle into their respective places and the teacher wrote on the board the play to be analyzed in class, 'Romeo & Juliet'.

At one point, Harry laughed again, catching Edward's eye.

"What's up?" The vampire asked curiously.

Harry shook his head and looked at him.

“I was remembering the first class we had together. Biology, remember?”

"I remember." Edward said, embarrassed to remember that he had almost advanced on Harry.

"You reacted so violently towards me ... Today you don't even seem to be disgusted by my scent or anything." The wizard smiled shyly as he opened the copy of Shakespeare's play.

"Your scent never disgusted me, Harry." Edward answered softly as he looked at his hands "On the contrary…"

Harry blinked at him in confusion.

"But I thought ..."

"That day, I really acted with revulsion and disgust, but not because of you, but because of my monstrous nature, you see... I... I wanted to drink your blood," the vampire whispered.

"Drink my… Blood?" The wizard asked, dumbfounded.

Edward nodded slightly in confirmation.

"The scent of your blood is..." Edward closed his eyes and took a deep breath, letting the other's scent fill his unused lungs. "Alluring to me"

"Alluring?" Harry whispered "Like... Like Bella's?"

The older boy looked down at his hands, thanking the heavens that he was unable to blush.

"No... Much better... Sweeter, more exquisite... I never sensed anything like yours. It’s like my personal brand of heroin... If you hadn't left the class, I... I probably would have tried to kill you." The vampire confessed in a low voice.

Harry paled, slightly distancing himself reflexively.

"Please... No, don’t be afraid of me ... I'm under control now... I would never hurt you!" Edward whispered, embarrassed and horrified.

'Please do not turn away from me!' his mind pleaded, cursing himself for being an abomination that only served to bring death wherever he was. But he had his thoughts of self-deprecation cut off by Harry, who gently patted the vampire's hard, cold hand in comfort.

"It's okay... I was just surprised." Harry assured and finished with a laugh. "It's just not every day someone compares me to a drug or tells me that I smell like a snack!"

Edward laughed loudly, catching the attention of a few girls around who were delighted to see him, the most handsome boy in town - and the most withdrawn - laugh.

A comfortable silence settled between them as they listened as the teacher began to explain the historical background about Shakespeare's work.

"You know... I never liked 'Romeo & Juliet'." Edward said softly to Harry.

"Why…?"

“I never understood why there was so much glamorization around it… In the beginning, Romeo says he is in love with Rosaline, kills her cousin to prove his 'manhood' and out of nowhere he falls madly in love with Juliet and she just seems to act driven by hormones of adolescence.” The vampire answered. "It's a story about two inconsequential beings"

Harry frowned.

"I think that's the point..." The boy replied in a dreamy voice, supporting his chin with his hand. “Apart from political issues, what we see is the inconsequence of love. Such a sincere and pure love, but at the same time so violent...”

“These violent delights have violent ends… And in their triumph die, like fire and powder…” Edward recited an excerpt from the play with a soft smile.

"Which as they kiss consumes..." They both said at the same time and laughed.

The vampire turned his full attention to the younger boy.

"They were born in the wrong place, under the wrong circumstances ..." Harry whispered with a faraway look, his fingers caressing his gold necklace. "They loved each other and made promises because they knew they could only count on themselves as the world was against them... But contrary to what others think, I don't think it ends tragically."

"No?" Edward asked curiously. "They died. What was the point of all this love after all? What good was the promise they made? It's pure folly.”

Harry looked at Edward.

“It is tragedy for the family of the two, who needed the death of their children to bring about reconciliation, but at the same time it was a happy ending for Juliet and Romeo. If they both lived, they would never have had peace in their lives,” Harry answered. "In death they found peace."

"Don't you think the suicide part is overkill?" Edward asked.

Harry sighed, looking forward again.

“Maybe… I don't know… When someone you love dies in a tragic way, it's like… It's like ripping out a vital part of you, leaving you with only emptiness in your chest. You feel so much pain… You can't think… You can't breathe…” The wizard whispered as he stared at nothing. “But what comes after that is what varies from person to person: some can survive with this emptiness. Others, like Juliet, cannot stand suffering and find in death the cure for pain... And others...”

Harry was silent for a moment.

"What do the others do?" Edward asked.

“Others feel the hate. A hate so great and destructive that it acts like an atomic bomb, razing everything and everyone ahead of it... And even themselves in the process.” The wizard responded bitterly.

Edward didn't know what to say, just watched Harry go on with a sigh.

"But in the end, I'm just like you."

"In what sense...?"

"’Romeo & Juliet’... I don't like it either," Harry shrugged.

"Which books do you like?" Edward asked curiously.

“In general? I love suspense and horror, like Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft, of course. From classics works, I appreciate 'Divine Comedy’… The description of Dante's Hell is... Picturesque.” Harry laughed as he continued to shake his pen.

"'Divine Comedy' is one of my favorites too..." Edward replied with a smile. "I really like the idea that Dante's love for Beatrice guided him from Hell to Paradise."

"Oh..." Harry raised his eyebrows with a smile. "You're definitely a romantic, Cullen”

Before Edward could answer, the teacher caught their attention.

“Mr. Cullen and Mr. Potter, could you tell me if your subject is more interesting than my class, because if it is, we'll be happy to hear.”

“Sorry, ma’am. I was just exchanged opinions about Shakespeare with Harry” Edward said innocently.

"Great. Since they are so excited about Shakespeare, why don't they both recite a passage to start reading with the rest of the room? ”

Edward smiled politely but mentally snorted in irritation. He would still hate school - even though he had nice company by his side.

"If I profane with my unworthiest hand this holy shrine, the gentle fine is this..." Edward randomly recited by heart Romeo's speech, his voice giving a velvety texture to the words. “My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready to stand smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss”

The wizard frowned when he saw that the teacher was looking at him, encouraging him to continue.

"Your turn, Mr. Potter"

Harry let out a breath, realizing there was no escape.

"Good pilgrim… You do wrong too much, what mannerly devotion shows in this..." Harry's British accent gave Juliet's lines an intonation of extreme elegance and authenticity, as if he was in the Old Vic Theater instead of an American classroom.

Harry broke off for a moment as if remembering something and the vampire watched the blood flow concentrated on the human's cheeks.

"…For saints have hands that pilgrims 'hands of touch and palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss" Harry finished his line.

'Oh' Edward frowned as he realized that this was the 'Romeo & Juliet' kiss scene. They both fell silent.

"Have not saints lips and holy palmers too?" Edward asked after long seconds.

"Ay, pilgrim..." Harry replied with a nod of his head, his voice breaking for a second “Lips that they must use in prayer...”

"O, then, dear saint, let lips of what hands of... They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair..." Edward could not resist the temptation to look into the wizard's face meeting warm, wary green eyes, crowned with long dark lashes.

"Saints do not move, though grant for prayers' sake" Harry licked his lips, causing the vampire to swallow dryly followed by a wide smile, causing some girls who watched them to sigh in response.

Unconsciously, Edward tilted his head toward the other boy, able to feel the vibration of his heartbeat as well as the waves of heat emanating from his body.

"Then move not, while my prayer's effect I take ..." Edward whispered, his eyes fixed on Harry's lips. "Thus from my lips, by yours... My sin... Is purged"

Gold met green, both of them facing what could be milliseconds or hours. A small part of Edward's mind wondered if Harry was reading his thoughts. It didn't matter.

Harry could read it if he wanted to.

Edward wondered if it was okay for him to lift his fingers to the wizard's face, to feel the texture of his soft, warm skin, to take his thumb to those parted pink lips.

"Well ... That was ... It was really great boys ... Congratulations ..." Professor MacClare broke the silence of the room that caused Edward to swallow the dryness in his throat once more when having eye contact with Harry interrupted.

The vampire genuinely forgot where they were and that there were people around him and Harry.

People who sported different facial expressions and varied thoughts.

The old teacher was slightly flushed and frowning. ‘Intense...’ was the word she repeated in her head.

‘Is it my imagination or did they almost kiss? Not that I minded, on the contrary...’ A brown-haired girl looked at them with lust. Edward would have blushed if he could, when he heard her thoughts. The sexual awakening of this generation of young people sometimes scared him.

‘I didn't understand anything they said... By the way, does anyone understand anything?’ Another girl scratched her head.

‘Is Edward gay? Why is every hot guy liking dicks lately?! What a waste...’ Another one with curly hair pursed her mouth in disgust, just like some of the boys.

He analyzed them all, face by face, their thoughts invading his head, but stopped when he reached Hermione. The girl was looking at him with a disapproving expression, her dark brown eyes with veiled fury and the corners of her mouth twisted.

A part of Edward's mind asked if she too was prejudiced or something, but soon he dismissed that... Something in him said that there was another reason.

Edward bowed his head sheepishly as the class proceeded with further reading of the 'Romeo & Juliet' passages, as well as punctual explanations from the teacher.

From time to time he would peek at Harry out of the corner of his eye, seeing the boy with his head bowed and his gaze fixed on the table.

‘What is he thinking?’

This question was what he repeated most often when he was with the wizard, his curiosity to know more slowly eroding his sanity.

When the period bell sounded, Harry was the first to leave, grabbing his pack and marching quickly out of the room, causing the vampire to just blink in a confused and somewhat disappointed way.

Slowly picking up his own material, Edward started to walk to the door, but was stopped by Hermione's hand on his chest, her eyes still sporting a hard gaze.

“One moment, Cullen.”

Edward frowned.

"Hermione?"

“We need to talk. Follow me."

"Oh... Hm... Right." He responded by walking beside her to the corner of a relatively empty corridor, her back to him.

Hermione stared at the ceiling, taking a deep breath until at last she turned and faced the bronze-haired vampire. 

Her gaze was intimidating, glacial.

"Stop whatever you're doing."

Edward blinked in confusion.

“I’m sorry, I don't...”

“Harry! I'm talking about Harry... Stay away from him.” the witch replied.

Edward clenched his jaw.

"I ..."

“You really think that I don't know what you are doing? Where do you want to go with this?!” Hermione crossed her arms, her face with a stern look. “What are you planning anyway?”

He was silent, shocked by the direct way she spoke.

“Don’t matter. Stay away from him or I swear on Lilith's name that I'll...” Hermione broke off, breathing through her mouth. “Just stay away from him!!! This is a warning that I'll give you only once.”

"I... I can't." Edward finally said, choosing the words calmly as he placed his two hands behind his back in a formal way. "I don't have strength to stay away from him anymore... And I don't want to."

"What?!"

Edward bit his lower lip.

"I... I am falling in love with him." He murmured, surprised by the naturalness and softness that those words came out.

“Falling in love?!”

"Yes..." Edward repeated simply.

Hermione widened her eyes, stepping back.

"Oh no... No, no, no... This can't be happen... No way...”

"I see you don't approve ... Do you have something against homosexual people, Miss Granger?" Edward asked in a more formal way to mask the growing irritation inside his chest.

"NO!!!" Hermione exclaimed, shaking her head and hands and taking a deep breath to calm down. “Hell, no… I… I don't have any problem with same sex couples… I don't have those rubbish conceptions. Nor does my community.”

"So, what's the problem then?" Edward asked urgently.

Hermione stood with an unreadable expression.

“Oh… I see…” Edward took a step back. “Is it because I'm a vampire? Because I'm a blood-drinking monster? If so, know that I already know it very well. And I know it would be too much of me to think that Harry would look with interest at a vile creature like me. ”

She closed her eyes as she shook her head in denial.

"No, no, I mean, partly I think… or rather, I don't know... I just worry about him, okay?" Hermione muttered, lowering her eyes. "Harry is like a brother to me, I love him very much and I don't want to see him hurt."

Edward cocked his head to the side.

"I have no intention of hurting him. On the contrary..." Edward said truthfully.

"But you hurt him already..." Hermione whispered, frowning then.

The vampire frowned.

"What?"

“No… Nothing. Forget what I said” The witch replied quickly, closing her eyes and sighing, seeming to think of something.

Edward paused for a moment, thinking about what she had said.

Did he hurt Harry? In what sense?

He would have to find out in order to avoid.

Hermione opened her eyes and looked calmer.

"If what you say is true..."

"It's the most resolute truth." Edward answered.

"Edward, I'm asking you because this is really serious... Are you sure about your... Your feelings?"

He paused a bit, looking to the ground for a moment.

“Yes. I am sure.” He replied.

“And what makes you so sure about that?”

Edward sighed.

“I’ve never… I’ve never felt these feelings for anyone. I… I like him. A lot. Not like a friend… I mean, I feel greatly privileged to be his friend, but it’s not enough… I want more…I…” Edward bit his lower lip and continued. “I want him.”

Hermione gasped and took a deep breath.

"Nine Hells, I hope I don't regret this, but… I will support you."

Edward raised his eyebrows, taken aback by her.

"I don’t understand..."

"Well..." Hermione said with her hand on the back of her neck. "Let's say I have particular reasons to believe that maybe, I repeat, maybe it's even good that you guys could have a thing…”

“Uh, really?!" The vampire replied incredulously.

"Honestly, I’m not sure about it yet,” she replied. “But in actual circumstances, it’s an option to consider.”

A moment of silence passed between them.

“Thank you” Edward said humbly.

“Don’t thank me…” Hermione answered dryly.

Edward nodded. It was clear to him that she cared a lot about her friend and he would do the same thing for any of his siblings.

"Do you... Hm... Do you think he might like... Me?" Edward asked sheepishly.

Hermione looked at him for a moment, biting her lip.

“It's not up to me to give you an answer, Edward.” She stopped for a moment and then continued. “I’m sorry.”

“No, you’re right… That’s okay...” He whispered.

“I must go, and we’ll talk later about this… But remember… I’m watching you!” She said with a serious tone before walk away.

.

.

.

Edward sighed as he finished tying the butterfly-tie, looking at the mirror and seeing himself flawless in a midnight-blue tuxedo.

Hermione's birthday had come with a party hosted by Alice: a sort of fifties-style cocktail party, full of alcoholic drinks mixed with a potion which she made them ingestible for them. Alice had decorated every corner of the house with pink candles and flowers. She had even moved part of the living room furniture to get a makeshift dance floor and ordered everyone to dress in character for "theme cohesion" - which to Edward figured was just a lame excuse for Rosalie and her to wear their designer dresses again. The brat...

Downstairs he could already hear the soft jazz playing as his perfectly dressed family waited for their guests to arrive. Alice, who wore a green dress with full skirts, leaped toward him with a bright smile.

Not bad, Ed...’ She thought as she looked him up and down. ‘Harry will be impressed!’ 

The vampire rolled his eyes and stuffed his hands in his pockets, feeling anxious to see Harry again - even though he had seen him hours earlier at school… What a needy creature he had become.

They waited in the living room, each talking to their respective spouses while Edward remained alone, staring out the window overlooking the forest that was lit by a faint bluish light from the evening sky dotted with stars.

It had been almost a week since finding out he was in love with Harry, and during those days he had done nothing but act - or at least try to act - naturally with the wizard. Even with his family's support and relative approval from Hermione, he was more insecure than ever. If he told Harry, what would happen?

What if Harry said he didn't think of Edward the same way? What if he decided to get away from him because of that? Edward didn't want to lose a friendship that was already so precious to him.

If only he knew what was going through the wizard's head, if only there was a breach in his mental shield so that he could read it for a minute instead of experiencing this psychological torture... Edward soon understood why Human teenagers act like fools when in love and asked  forgiveness for every time he made some derogatory comment about them over his hundred years as vampire.

As Harry had told him before, karma was a bitch.

The knock on the door warned that their guests had arrived, making them all walk to the front door to greet them. Edward stood away from everyone, leaning against a wall as he watched them.

"Haaaaappy Birthday, Hermione!" Alice hugged the girl as she opened the door and walked away looking at her. Hermione wore a mauve-pink silk dress with a pearl necklace and discreet makeup with her hair pulled up in a bun. “Uhhh… I LOVE your dress!!!"

“Thank you.” The witch smiled shyly as she looked at Alice, Rosalie and Esme. “You're all so beautiful.”

“All Alice's work!!! Happy Birthday, dear” Esme said with a hug, followed by Rosalie, who was dazzling in a gray Dior embroidered with faux-pearls and glass beads. "I’d say the same about you... In fact, all of you! How elegant and beautiful you are..."

Esme smiled in a motherly fashion at Ron and Harry.

Edward looked at the latter with admiration, lowering his eyes with a smile. He was beautiful, of course, in his perfect-cut tuxedo, bow tie and formerly unruly hair, now properly groomed in a formal manner. And with his glasses… Edward loved seeing him with them.

Harry looked at Edward with a polite smile and a slight flush on his cheeks, and then cleared his throat as if giving himself courage to answer.

"It's kind of you, Esme... But I guess that doesn't apply to me." Harry replied with a nervous laugh as he greeted Carlisle and her with a wave of his hand. “When tall and good-looking blokes, like you, wear tuxedos, you all look like male models. When I wear one, I look like a teddy bear with a bow tie"

Everyone laughed, except Edward.

"That’s not true!!!" He suddenly interrupted, his inner monster enraged by everyone who as laughing at Harry, even if Harry was laughing at himself. "You look…"

'Beautiful, the most beautiful and adorable of all' Edward thought out of pleasure, but quickly recovered to see the gaze of everyone towards him, as well as the expectant thoughts of his family.

"Effervescent!" Edward said the first word that came to mind “You look effervescent...”

Harry blinked in genuine confusion and frowned.

"Thank you... I suppose..." The boy answered him uncertainly. “You look ‘effervescent’ too…"

Alice, Rosalie, Emmett and even Jasper looked at Edward with displeasure.

'Effervescent?! Really? That was the worst attempt at a compliment I have ever heard in my life... That's the real reason why you’re always single!' Rosalie rolled her eyes.

'Dude, I'll have to give you some tips on pick-up lines... You're a disaster.' Emmett mentally told him with a mischievous smile. 

"Why don't we go to the living room?" Alice suggested cheerfully as Jasper made everyone's moods more relaxed.

"Let’s go guys, ‘cause the night will be effervescent!!!" Emmett laughed as he looked at Edward who discreetly punched his stomach.

 

In fact the early evening was effervescent like the champagne bubbles served along with wine, whiskey and brandy that filled the glasses magically. Ron had brought several bottles of his favorite drink, butterbeer, apparently a traditional drink from their hometown, Godric's Hollow. Edward looked suspiciously at the mug served to him, smelling butter and brown sugar and when he tasted it, the flavors exploded in his mouth. It was absurdly delicious, sweet for sure, but well balanced... It tasted similar to the feeling of being safe at home. When he finished taking his mug he was incredulous to see that Emmett was already on his third.

They sang happy birthday to Hermione for her seventy-third birthday as well as handed their gifts to her - even though the witch had insisted they not buy her anything. Alice, of course, completely ignored the recommendation. Hermione smiled as she was hugged by Harry and blushed heavily when Ron kissed her passionately.

Over time, the room was filled with lively conversations, anecdotes, laughter and relaxation, leaving everyone, at least for a few hours, free from any concern for supernatural attacks. Edward was anxious to be able to talk to Harry, but soon saw that it was virtually impossible given that they were surrounded by so many people.

The vampire laughed to himself as he remembered an excerpt from 'The Great Gatsby' in which one character said that he loved big parties because they were intimate, since at small parties there was no privacy. Now he understood very well what that meant.

"Harry?" Alice called the wizard at one point.

The boy, who was talking to Esme about his parents, turned to her.

"Yes?"

"I still haven't forgotten that you promised to show us your musical skills on the piano ..." The little vampire smirked as she sipped her martini.

Edward didn't like that smile.

She was planning something, he could feel it.

"Well remembered! It would be lovely to see you playing, dear.” Esme smiled warmly, oblivious to her adopted daughter's malevolent intentions.

"Oh... Well, I haven't played for a while, but I'll make an effort... What do you want me to play?" Harry asked shyly.

"Great! You and Edward take turns playing together and the rest of us will choose the songs we'll all sing. Sound good?"

Edward narrowed his eyes at his sister who sported a false expression of innocence on her face.

'What is it?' Her mind asked.

"That's fine with me..." Harry said as he dropped the brandy glass he was holding so that it floated to a nearby tray. The boy looked awkward as he sat on the stool of the elegant musical instrument.

"Great!!! Ed? ”Alice turned to him. 

Edward gave her his best I-know-what-you're-trying-to-do look and got a mocking smile in return. The vampire approached the piano, standing next to Harry, who smiled at him in a friendly manner.

"Which song will be first?" The wizard asked as he snapped his fingers.

As his friends and family requested the songs to be played by them, Edward soon learned that Harry played the piano exceptionally well.

He was fascinated to see the wizard's hands strumming over the ebony and ivory keys, sliding over them with ease as he was surprised to hear Harry sing, for he had a sweet and beautiful voice. When it was Edward's turn to play, at times, when his mind wandered, he would fumble on certain notes and keys - which was immediately noted by his family, since he never missed a musical note when he played. All the Cullens sang songs of different styles, especially ballads and jazz, always ending with applause from everyone.

"I think that's enough for tonight" Harry said laughing as he fumbled with the final notes of 'Dream a Little Dream of Me'.

"Oh nooo... Can I ask one more Harry?" Alice clasped both hands in pity. "Pleeeease?"

"Alice!!!" Edward narrowed his eyes, propped up on the piano. “Don't embarrass the guests!”

The little vampire ignored him.

“Just one song!!! I promise we will all dance later...”

Harry sighed.

"Okay... Should I play or sing?"

"Play... Edward will sing for us"

"Who says I will?" The vampire asked.

"I'm saying."

Harry laughed softly.

"But continuing what I was saying, how about Ella Fitzgerald?"

Esme's eyes sparkled.

"Oh Edward... Please... You know how I love Ella!" The matriarch asked with a sweet smile.

"Hm... Well... Okay, if you guys insist…" Edward said feeling defeated "Which song?"

“Easy… 'Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered'” Alice replied with a wide smile.

"You're not serious... Can't be...." Edward said dryly.

“Why? It's my favorite! Now shut up and sing to your favorite sister!” She giggled, making Rosalie laugh along with Emmett. Hermione looked suspicious at the vampires and then her face brightened with realization while Ron didn't understand what was so funny.

Harry, totally oblivious, began to strum the notes of the song, making everyone silent. Edward kept his jaw clenched, making plans for revenge on Alice.

"Edward?" Harry caught his eye, causing Edward to turn to see him.

"I'm sorry..." He replied to the boy. “Let's start again”

“Alright”

Harry restarted playing while Edward took a deep breath to concentrate.

“Couldn't sleep and wouldn't sleep…” Edward filled the living-room with his velvety and slightly husky voice “…When love came and told me, I shouldn't sleep… Bewitched, bothered and bewildered, am I…

Suddenly Edward stopped singing, realizing how Machiavellian Alice was: he was practically declaring his feelings in front of everyone and worse, in front of Harry, who was naturally oblivious to the situation.

Harry continued to play the song, worried that the bronze-haired boy was standing like a statue.

“Lost my heart… But what of it?” Harry sang shyly “…He is cold I agree…”

“Quite literally!!!” Emmett whispered to Rosalie and Alice, who covered their mouths to not laugh loudly. Esme told the three of them to hush while Carlisle smiled proudly and Jasper rolled his eyes.

Edward decided to ignore his family.

'Traitors ... All of them!' His mind growled, but stopped when Harry continued to sing.

“He can laugh, but I love it… Although the laugh's on meee ...”

He was unable to contain a smile as he looked at Harry who blushed and laughed softly. Edward continued to sing, this time paying attention only to the pianist who played for him.

“I've sinned a looot, I'm mean a looot… But I'm like sweet seventeen a looot… Bewitched, bothered and bewildeered… Am I!!!”

Edward moved closer to Harry, both of them singing together, their voices matching the piano notes with relative perfection.

“I'll sing to hiiim, each spring to hiiim… And long, for the day when I'll cling to hiiim…”

Harry abruptly stopped singing, looking down with a red face. Edward went on alone, unable to contain his dreamy smile as he stared at the boy in front of him.

“Bewitched… Bothered and Bewildered... Am I…”

He finished singing with a sigh, smiling softly at Harry who kept his head down, but slowly stood to look at him. Green eyes stared at him with confusion, surprise and something that seemed to be curiosity or even a little admiration. Edward didn't know what to say and before he could say anything the enthusiastic applause and whistling interrupted their eye contact, forcing him to give a grateful smile to their audience.

“I think I'll… Take some fresh air. Excuse me.” Harry said quickly, opening the balcony door.

Edward turned to Alice, his withering gaze fixed upon her.

'Thank me later,' she winked boldly at him, pushing the button on the stereo's remote as she pulled Jasper to dance the foxtrot, followed by Carlisle and Esme, Rosalie with Emmett, and lastly Hermione and Ron.

He stood in a corner, staring into space as the music played. 

Looking to the side, he saw through the windows the figure of Harry standing on the balcony. His body leaned against the balustrade as he stared at the star-studded sky, one of the perks of living so far away from major urban centers without all that smog. Edward watched the boy in his moment of solitude, reminding him of the beach day when Harry was sitting on the sand while watching the sunset.

But this time there was a difference. As he watched his family and friends dance with joy, Edward realized how sad the contrast of the scene was when he compared it with Harry. He couldn't read his mind, let alone did he have Jasper's empathic powers, but he could feel that no matter how much Harry smiled, laughed or interacted, he would always recoil, to be alone.

He felt this loneliness too, after all. His existence had been like that for a century. They were two lonely souls.

Edward grabbed a bottle of drink with two glasses, discreetly walking out to the balcony while trying to avoid bringing much attention to himself. Stopping at the door, he pondered whether or not to interrupt Harry in his private moment, but something was telling him that he should not be alone. Edward didn't want to leave him alone. Taking a deep breath, he opened the door and entered the space.

"Am I disturbing you?" The vampire asked.

Harry turned toward him, his eyes wide with fright, but calmed to see that it was him.

“Never." He replied shyly.

The vampire's still and cold heart warmed at that answer.

"I apologize for my sister..." He said, offering a calm smile. “I've known her for almost fifty years and could never understand how someone so small can be so annoying”

Harry laughed softly.

"Oh no... No... It's okay." Harry assured with a slight smile.

Edward approached him, lifting the bottle with the glasses.

“I don't know if you wanted one, but I brought a drink. "

Harry let out a dramatic yet comic sigh.

"You are an angel, Edward, that's just what I needed!" Harry chuckled and grabbed a glass while the other poured a drink.

The vampire read the label.

“Ogden's Old Firewhisky... I never hear of that brand.”

"It's a kind of magical whiskey made in Godric’s Hollow..." Harry explained. "Try it..."

Edward poured himself a glass while being watched closely by Harry. The liquid was golden-orange, sparkling as if it had its own light and the smell was warm, like liquid sunlight... Taking a discreet sip, Edward felt it drip down his throat like a pleasant fire, heat spreading rapidly throughout his body. It was like being warmed inside out by an invisible fireplace.

"Fascinating!" He exclaimed.

"I know, right?" Harry said, pouring himself a shot.

“You know we shouldn't be doing this, don't you? Technically, we're 17 years old. ” Edward said casually with a mischievous smile as he watched the wizard drink.

Harry snorted.

"You're bizarrely moral for a vampire"

"For your information, I'm the one who keeps decorum among my siblings... Especially Emmett, who even after all this time with us is still almost a savage," Edward defended himself dramatically.

"OI, I HEARD THAT!!!" Emmett shouted from the room, making the other two laugh.

A silence settled between them, and as Edward watched a slight nostalgic smile from across the boy’s lips, his cheeks flushed from the beverage he was drinking.

"What are you thinking?" The vampire asked in his low velvety voice.

Harry sighed.

"I'm watching them dance ..." He pointed with his chin at the three couples who were elegantly spinning in the other room of the house.

"Oh ..."

"I'm remembering my time... These kinds of songs playing on the radio... The social changes that I followed and experienced..." Harry rambled "When we live this long, we accumulate many memories. Many experiences...”

Edward smiled wistfully.

“I just know that feeling…” He replied. “What do you miss the most?"

Harry paused to think, staring at his hands.

“I miss who I was… How simple everything was… I miss the romanticism and a certain kind of innocence. It is becoming impossible to spend a day without getting nostalgic about something… It makes me angry and frustrated to be so young yet so old. I'm so fucking tired.” Harry finished talking with a sip of his drink.

Edward was silent.

"I miss a lot of things, but…. The past is in the past." Harry whispered.

The vampire bowed his head, understanding well what Harry felt.

He himself had lived for over a century, a hundred years of never-ending experiences.

One hundred years of following social changes, changes of thoughts, behaviors… Edward followed and adhered to such changes as often as he could. After all, as a telepath, he understood human thought better than anyone else, causing him to reevaluate the values that existed at the time he was raised and that shaped his education. For example, women’s rights, racism, homosexuality...

Edward was raised at a time when he was told that it was immoral, sinful, a crime against nature for one man to have relations with another man. There was no talk of "love," because "love" was something that existed "only" between men and women and anything other than that was "perversion" and "sickness".

For a while, even after being turned into a vampire, he still brought with him such prejudices, but gradually it was extinguished both by Carlisle's wisdom and his mind-reading ability, where he understood firsthand that love didn’t need labels to happen. It simply happened in a natural, unpremeditated way... Edward could hear firsthand the suffering, anguish, and sadness of these people who felt like trash for not fitting into a pattern imposed by a society full of hypocrisy.

How could he still be prejudiced after that? It made no sense.

Edward stared at the couples as they continued to spin around the dance floor to the sound of the ending song, until he had a rather bold but irresistible idea.

"Harry... Would you grant me the honor of dancing the next song with you?" Edward asked cautiously.

Harry turned his head to look at him, his green eyes taken aback by the question and his mouth ajar.

"A dance...?" He whispered.

Edward nodded.

"Well... It would be lovely to be able to dance… With you." Harry whispered a little shyly.

The vampire who had so far been leaning against the balustrade stood in front of the black-haired boy, placing a hand behind his back and offering his arm for Harry to take for himself. Edward might have evolved over the decades, but his ways of acting like a perfect gentleman of the early twentieth century were permanent.

Harry intertwined his arm with Edward's, letting the vampire lead him to the center of the beautifully decorated balcony with candles and rose vases at the corners, which exuded a wonderful perfume.

The song changed, filling the area with the hypnotic and romantic beats of 'I Only Have Eyes for You' by The Flamingos, a song that Edward hadn't heard in years but it was still one of his favorites.

"I'm smaller than you, so... Lead the dance." Harry whispered.

Edward smiled, placing his hand on Harry's back and Harry in turn put his hand on his shoulder. The vampire sighed as the wizard's other hand caught his. Vampire’s cold skin felt the warmth and softness of the human’s hand. Their bodies were at an appropriate distance as Edward began to guide him in slow steps, perfectly synchronized to the music.

"You dance very well," Edward whispered.

"I had a good teacher..." Harry replied with a dreamy look. "But I was a shitty dancer before... You should have seen me at the Yule Ball"

Edward laughed without even understanding what he meant.

My love must be a kind of blind love

I can't see anyone but you

Edward felt once again the sensation of butterfly wings flapping in his stomach as he lost himself in Harry's eyes. The warmth of Harry’s hands warmed his cold skin, making him feel hot inside, much hotter than fire whiskey could do.

That was a different kind of warmth.

He couldn't help but smile at the boy as they spun elegantly and effortlessly, and he almost gasped when he got back a bright smile from Harry that made his dimples highlight his face.

Are the stars out tonight?

I don't know if it's cloudy or bright

I only have eyes for you, dear

Edward felt the joy of having Harry in his arms and the sensation was unbelievable. His body slowly approached the other’s, his chin resting on the top of the wizard's head. The scent of Harry’s dark hair caused an irrepressible desire to hold him, to protect him, to never to let him go… To have him forever and ever…

Even his inner monster, which Edward so despised, rejoiced at the idea and growled in approval, both agreeing on something for a change.

The moon may be high

But I can't see the thing in the sky

I only have eyes for you

Everything around him seemed to be enveloped in a sort of blur that faded things.

Edward could not focus on anything but Harry, his eyes, his hand gently caressing the vampire’s stony shoulder, their bodies slowly getting closer, more and more... He was so absorbed that if asked at the time what was his name he couldn’t answer.

Edwin?

Edgard?

Edmund?

I don't know if we're in a garden

Or on a crowded avenue

You are here and I am

His hand came down to the base of the boy's spine, who in response moved even closer to his body, nestling his head into the vampire's cold chest as he closed his eyes. Edward took a deep breath, getting drunk on that divine scent, and for a single moment he felt privileged and truly humble, as if he was graced by a miracle.

He prayed in thanks to the Lord that this was happening to him… To have finally found someone.

As they spun around again, Edward had noticed that his siblings, parents, and friends had stopped dancing but were still holding each other, watching him and Harry.

Carlisle and Esme smiled at him, proud and pleased.

"He's perfect for you, Edward." He heard Esme think with immense pleasure. 

Alice smiled at him euphorically while Jasper’s smile was more discrete. Emmett lifted his thumb up in approval and even Rosalie, always so “bitchy”, smiled slightly at him.

Ron and Hermione both looked at the scene curiously, but also with something that looked like fear and even sadness, which Edward couldn’t and didn’t want to try to understand at that moment.

Ignoring everyone, he turned his attention only to the one in his arms and nothing but him, closing his eyes as he continued to dance at his own pace.

At that moment, there were only two people on Earth.

Edward Cullen and Harry Potter.

Maybe millions of people go by

But they all disappear from view

Edward took a deep breath as he took his hand from Harry's waist, bringing it to Harry's face, caressing his hot, flushed cheeks with his fingertips.

Harry lifted his head, eyes closed and lips parted, exhaling his warm, sweet breath… Edward never thought he could see anyone so handsome. He smiled as he tilted his face down, his own lips gently brushing the scar on the boy's forehead, then down to his nose...

And I only have eyes for you

The wizard's lips were warm, soft, delicate... His taste - a part of the vampire's mind unraveling as much detail as possible - was sweet, of such an aphrodisiac sweetness that it caused his cold, hard body to give little tremors. as if he felt his legs become soft, unsteady.

Had Edward finally died? Had he, contrary to what he thought, gone to Paradise?

For there was no plausible explanation why he could be feeling those emotions while still on Earth.

It was not possible, but it was still happening.

Harry had put one hand to the nape of his neck, stroking the hair with his fingertips while his other hand was resting on the lapel of his tuxedo. Edward in response, hugged him, wrapping Harry’s waist with his arms

"I..." Harry whispered, slowly tearing himself away from the vampire. "I think it's time for me to go..."

Edward took a deep breath, controlling his emotions.

"Harry... I don't... I'm sorry ..." Edward said as he tried to form whatever sentence he felt right now. "I... "

"Shhh... Do not say anything" Harry put his finger in the vampire's lips as he smiled. "I loved dancing with you… Edward... Thanks."

Edward kissed the wizard's finger and smiled back.

"I say the same," he whispered back.

Harry took a deep breath, looking at the copper-haired boy for a few seconds longer until he walked back to the living room, where his friends were.

"I’m going home..."

"Let us go with you." Hermione suggested cautiously.

“No, no, Mione. Stay. Enjoy your party! I just... I need to get my head in place... I think I drank too much.” Harry said, blushing. Everyone knew it wasn't the brandy that had popped into his head.

"Are you sure?" Ron asked.

"Absolutely"

He said goodbye to each of the Cullens. Alice and Esme hugged him, wishing he would come back as soon as possible and both mentally begged him to come back as Edward's boyfriend.

"Thanks for the night ... It was wonderful." Harry told the Cullens politely.

"It was an effervescent night, wasn't it Edward?" Emmett said looking at his brother. However, Edward was still too absorbed in his own thoughts to understand the teasing.

Harry blushed deeply, but took a deep breath and turned to the vampire whom he had just kissed.

"Good night ... Edward ..."

"A thousand times good night... Harry" He smiled shyly.

With a loud crack, Harry apparated from the Cullens' house.

'Paradise has the shape of pink lips, the taste of firewhisky, honey, mint and cherry... Has a soft texture, has warmth...' Edward's mind asserted in pleasure as he caressed his tingling lips with the sensation of the kiss, reveling in the memory of the taste of the other boy's mouth.

Ignoring the people around, Edward decided to go to his bedroom, up the stairs while whistling 'Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered' and feeling his chest explode in happiness.

Ah... How sweet was the feeling of being in love.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER XII

WHITE ROSES

“Loooook who's already heeere...” Alice smiled to see that Edward was already in the Cullen's garage the morning after Hermione's birthday, putting his backpack in the silver Volvo's passenger seat.

“Hello!” Edward greeted his brothers who were standing next to Emmett's jeep.

“Hello...?!” Jasper frowned as he felt the emotions of excitement, nervousness and euphoria coming from his brother so intensely that even he felt a little contagious “Edward… is everything all right?”

The vampire looked around and smiled charmingly.

“Of course… It's a nice morning, isn't it?”

Rosalie looked toward the open garage door and just saw the usual cloudy gray sky of Forks.

“Of course it is,” The blonde snorted sarcastically.

“An effervescent morning!” Emmett said causing everyone else to burst out laughing except the bronze haired vampire.

“Very funny,” Edward said dryly.

“It was you who started it!” Emmett defended himself dramatically.

“It was so awkward,” Rosalie smirked in amusement.

“Do you want to talk to Harry, Ed?” Alice asked, flashing her long eyelashes like butterfly wings.

“Yeah… I want to. ”

“Awesome!” The little vampire said as she took Jasper's hands.

Edward paused for a moment as he looked at his siblings who were staring at him with curious looks and questioning thoughts.

“Listen…” The boy muttered as he rubbed his forehead “I ask you not to make ‘funny’ comments about what happened yesterday between Harry and I. I’m talking about you Emmett.”

The muscular vampire just raised his hands in resignation.

“I’ll not say anything!”

“Good... I'll meet you guys later.” Edward said goodbye with a quick wave of his hand as he got into the car.

.

.

.

As he drove to school, Edward whistled quietly as a song played on the radio. 

He was humorous, nervous and even happy, hardly able to believe that going to school - something he had always repudiated - could be a contributing part of his emotions, but he had to be honest: it wasn't because of that place full of dull students with mediocre thoughts or of the classes in which he had far more knowledge of the subject than the teachers themselves...

It was because he could see Harry.

His friend, whom he had recently discovered he was in love with and who he had kissed hours before. 

Kissed! 

 

Oh, and how good it was... The vampire smiled shyly as he remembered the warmth and softness of those lips, which to his surprise caused him a much greater frenzy than if he would have tasted his blood... The way their bodies fit together as they embraced… Or the way Harry stroked his coppery hair with such affection that it made his petrified legs feels unsteady…

But now there was a more important question.

What would happen next?

Surely they should talk about what happened… Should Edward explain himself? Should he tell Harry about his feelings? Or should he wait for any sign from the wizard? He wished momentarily that Alice had given him advice, for now nothing came to his mind. In any case, he was sure things would no longer be the way they were before and that in part, he wished they weren't. He wished things were like the sight his sister had shown him.

Sitting in his usual place in the biology class, Edward patiently watched the flow of students enter that classroom, hoping that he would see the green-eyed wizard with them. But he didn't come... Probably had some setback or stopped somewhere for coffee. At least that's what he expected.

The Biology class went slow to the vampire who repeatedly looked at the time on his phone as he wondered if he should text the wizard or wait, but unwillingly opted for the latter, not wanting to give Harry the wrong impression that he was too anxious to see him - even if he actually was.

When lunch time came, he stopped at the cafeteria door, quickly scouring the vast space in search of Harry, but only found Hermione and Ron at the table with the rest of the Cullens. Edward greeted them as he sat down, completely in silence. From time to time Alice would mentally ask him if everything was okay and he would respond only with a slight flick of his mouth or eyebrow that he was okay.

After the bell sounded and his brothers parted for their respective classes, he approached Hermione, lightly touching her shoulder so that she was left behind.

“Hermione?”

“Uh, Edward...?”

The vampire sighed.

“I'd like to talk to you about Harry, if you don't mind...”

“Oh... Okay”

The two sat at the table alone, the girl looking at him curiously.

“Why didn't he come today?” Edward whispered.

Hermione gripped the strap of her purse while biting her bottom lip.

“I think he's still absorbing the events of last night… About your kiss,” the witch said cautiously.

Edward bowed his head, his face of perfect angles and contours taking on a mask of concern.

“But don’t worry” Hermione assured quickly “It's just that he needs some time, you know?”

“Do you think I made a mistake? To have kissed him?”

The girl pondered.

“I think it was inevitable... It would have happened sometime”

“I should have been more patient... I shouldn’t have forced...”

“Edward...” Hermione interrupted. “You kissed him and he was reciprocal. Besides, if he didn't want to, I assure you he would have demonstrated that.”

“Yes, but... ”

“But nothing… Relax, it will be alright in due course.”

Edward breathed impatiently as he combed his modern pompadour with his fingers.

“I just don't want to mess things up between us. His friendship is important to me!”

“Just his friendship?” Hermione stared at him out of the corner of her eye as she arched an eyebrow.

“If he wants to be just my friend… That would be enough to make me happy.” Edward said, but deep down he wasn't so confident with his own words.

Hermione looked at him thoughtfully.

“You really like him, don't you?” she whispered.

The boy looked down at the table.

“Yeah... And it scares me”

“Why?”

“I never thought I would be interested for a boy, you know?” He replied thoughtfully.

Hermione looked at him seriously.

“Just tell me he's not a ‘guinea pig’ for your ‘personal discoveries,’” she said coldly.

“No!!! No... Don't get me wrong. What I mean is that this is all very new to me, that I don't know what to do or how to react to about it. More and more I realize that I like him and it terrifies me to think that I ruined things between us for a mistake or carelessness on my part…” Edward paused for a moment and continued “I don't want him to walk away from me, but I will understand if he so decides”

“Oh... ”

“Did he… Did he tell you anything about the kiss? Or about me?” Edward asked uncertainly.

“No, yesterday when I arrived he was in his bedroom… I preferred to leave him alone with his own thoughts. He likes to...”

“I know,” Edward murmured with a shy smile.

“You know?” Hermione raised an eyebrow.

“Well...” Edward said in a low velvety voice “He likes to be alone when he has to make important decisions... He gets a contemplative expression on his face, like a little crease on his forehead when he starts thinking about his possibilities...”

Hermione giggled and blushed softly.

“You are definitely in love with him… And that's good… You know, at first I didn't like the idea of your proximity with him.”

Edward frowned.

“Because I'm a vampire?”

“No… There are more complicated matters involved... ”

“Why do I always feel that there is something you guys hide from me?!” Edward asked with some impatience.

The witch blinked in surprise at the other's statement, releasing the breath she held on instinct.

“Again, it's not up to me or Ron to tell you...” Hermione hesitantly rose from the table and finished. “But if it's any good, I know he's probably wondering whether or not to trust you enough to tell you… Just be patient.”

He didn't answer, just watched the witch walk to the exit of the already empty cafeteria.

.

.

.

Seven days passed and over that time Edward's joy was gradually replaced by the bitterness and fear of the wizard's absence. He was afraid, for he was increasingly convinced that he had ruined things because of his recklessness and haste, even though Hermione had assured him that was not the real reason of Harry's attitude, but Edward knew it was.

He should have been patient, should have first talked to the boy in a private place, calmly explaining his feelings and intentions as well as asking him if he could - with all due respect and if Harry permitted - kiss him. The vampire knew that for some it was an old-fashioned way to behave, but that was the way he was raised and that in this case might have been the best way to act, but nooo... He let himself act on impulse like any human teenager driven by hormones, a deplorable and vile attitude.

What also bothered him was that besides the silence of the boy who didn’t respond to the messages he sent, Alice also had no clue of future possibilities, leaving him blind. Edward had to resist the urge to go to Harry's house, to beg him to talk with or at least to see him, but as Hermione had told him, he needed to be calm; otherwise it would make things worse.

But until when?

How could he remain calm when uncertainty gradually eroded him?

Sitting in a corner of the room during the early hours of the morning, he watched his sisters and brothers and foster parents with their mates, immersed in their own conversations, occasionally exchanging passionate glances or laughing at anything they told each other... Was that what love did? Did it make their existence easier, even though they didn't have a soul? He envied them so much... With a sigh, he silently retreated to the bedroom, once again isolating himself from everyone.

Esme and Carlisle watched their younger/oldest son climb the stairs, each with furrowed brows and thoughtful minds about him.

“I'm worried about Edward...” Esme put her hand over her husband's. “I feel he needs to talk to someone.”

“Do you think so?” Carlisle asked in a low voice.

“Yes... He's always been so mature and reserved, but that doesn't mean he doesn't need to hear someone wiser and more experienced...” The matriarch vampire responded sweetly. “Even more so now that he finally found his possible mate...”

The oldest Cullen smiled conspiratorially at her.

“Do you really think that he and Harry...”

“Oh, I'm pretty sure! I never saw Edward look at someone else the same way he looked at Harry that night. Not even with Tanya, Rosalie or even Bella…” Esme whispered so only her husband to hear. “Which to me is a big sign... But even so, he needs to listen to someone and who would be better than his father?”

The blond doctor sighed at the wisdom of his wife's words.

“You're right...” he responded by giving her a quick kiss on her lips before getting up.

“I'm always right!!!” Esme laughed softly as she shook her head.

In a second Carlisle was already knocking on Edward's bedroom door, entering cautiously, seeing that Edward was sitting on the couch while crumpling sheet music in frustration.

“Son? Can we talk?”

The boy blinked in surprise, but nodded. Carlisle closed the door, marveling that he no longer heard the usual noise of the other inhabitants of the house or even the sounds of the woods.

It was almost like...

“…magic. Harry put a spell that acoustically isolated my room.” Edward completed the thought of his father.

Carlisle smiled.

He never tired of marveling at the prowess those three witches were capable of performing, with their magic and spells that seemed to make the impossible turns possible.

“How are you?” Carlisle said as he pulled out an empty chair and sat in front of his first adopted child.

“I'm fine,” Edward answered automatically.

The patriarch raised his eyebrows.

“Edward... You know that I, as well as your family, we’re always here to support you, whatever happens.” The blonde put his hand on his shoulder “So… What’s bothering you?”

Edward sighed, looking to the side.

“I feel... I don't know... I feel disoriented by of all this... You know, about Harry,” he whispered.

“Harry? Why? He... Rejected you?”

“NO! Or yes… I mean, I don't know. He doesn't talk to me anymore... His silence is driving me crazy and I don't know what to do. Hermione told me that I should wait, that everything would work out, but with each passing day I start to doubt it.” Edward confided.

“In that case… I advise you to do exactly what she said, son. Take it easy... Everything will be fine.” Carlisle assured with a warm smile. “Soon you… and he… will be fine”

Edward rolled his eyes.

“You and Esme are in love with the idea that me and him could have a romance, aren't you?”

Carlisle shrugged.

“I won’t lie. It's one of the things I've always wanted ... That you could find love, the way me and your siblings found ours. Your mate, a soulmate to live with together and forever.”

“Soul? Oh, Carlisle, we have no soul...” Edward replied, slightly bitter.

“Of course we do.” Carlisle stated, already accustomed to the self-deprecating thoughts his son had repeated over the decades. “What makes you think, considering the things you feel today for the other boy, that you have no soul?”

“We're predators... Nature's freaks that for some reason can exist even though we're dead!” Edward whispered his belief with absolute certainty.

“Did you feel dead while dancing with Harry?” Carlisle asked with a calm smile. ”When you kissed him, didn't you feel anything? No kind of emotion, sensation or feeling?”

Edward frowned.

“I felt of course, but...”

“So here's your answer,” the older man interrupted. “You're alive; as alive as me, Esme or your siblings. We have a soul; a soul and a body that feels attraction, love, affection, joy and happiness among other feelings... Only the ones who feels absolutely nothing are dead and I assure you that there are thousands of humans out there, that even though their hearts are beating, they’re completely dead inside.”

The copper-haired boy lowered his gaze, remaining silent for long minutes until finally he whispered.

“Still, I'm afraid...”

“Afraid of what?”

Edward stood, his back to Carlisle as he looked out the window.

“Fear that I might hurt him... That something might happen to him because I am what I am.”

“Are you talking about what happened to Isabella? Are you afraid of what happened to her happening to Harry too? Edward… I think we have an agreement that Harry isn’t an ordinary human… I think, or better, I know and you should know that he's capable of standing for himself”

Edward sighed.

“But there are more things that you’re thinking, am I right?”

“Yeah… I wish Harry could like me the same way I like him, that we could be together... But the logical part of me says that it would be best for him to get away from me, but if he really gets away from me, what am I going to do? What if...”

 

“Edward… We all get scared when we fall in love. It is natural to feel uncertainty, doubt, and for us vampires, it is even more complicated because we feel emotions much more intensely than humans... If we love someone, we will love forever. And along with love, come the instinct to protect, to care for, the jealousy, the euphoria and the fear of losing our mate. But my advice is that you stop worrying about what might happen... Leave it to Alice to take care of... She's pretty good with it.”

Edward laughed.

“Soooo… Do you like him?”

The immortal teenager turned to his foster father with a shy smile.

Like is an understatement for what I feel for him right now.”

“Esme will be overjoyed at knowing this.” Carlisle smiled, causing Edward to roll his eyes.

“Oh no, please, no...  Alice's thoughts are more than enough for me!” Edward's mouth twisted with embarrassment.

“It's impossible for them to avoid, you know...” The doctor laughed.

The younger one paused for a moment.

“Why does everyone have this fixation for me to find someone?”

“Because we all want you to be happy! Not momentarily content with something, but happy as we all are… You're too good and noble not to have happiness, I know that.” Carlisle replied as he got up from his chair, looking at him one last time before leaving. “And Edward...”

“Yes?”

“Keep calm and don't suffer in advance. Whatever happens, I’ll be here for you ... We’ll all be.”

“Thanks Carlisle... For everything,” he whispered as watched his father leave the room and feeling a genuine sense of tranquility and perhaps even a slight confidence that everything would work out.

.

.

.

The next day, all the Cullens remained at home, for it was one of the rare days when the blue sky and bright sun reigned over Forks.

Jasper and Emmett took the opportunity to hunt bears, which was of immense importance to Emmett, for even decades after of his transformation, he still resented to the animal that caused the end of his human life, and seized every opportunity he had for a “rematch” against bears, just as a child throwing a tantrum would do. Alice entertained herself with her sketchbook, sketching dresses or selecting fabric samples to make new clothes. Rosalie, in turn, checked the engine of their cars as well as polishing the bodywork of her red convertible, making it shiny like a new penny. Esme spent time in her greenhouse, growing and crossing different species of roses in order to obtain new varieties.

Edward strummed the keys of his piano randomly between classical, blues, jazz, or composing new works, and in recent days he had been composing a new piece, a delicate lullaby with “noir” tones just like the boy who was his inspiring muse.

At one point Alice set aside her sketches and walked over to him with a huge smile, sitting on her brother's side and reading the score of what had already been composed. Alice began to follow the song with her soprano voice that sounded like bells, rising and falling her tone as the song progressed. When Edward finished playing, she clapped her hands excitedly.

“It's beautiful!!! He will love...”

Edward frowned, cutting her off midway.

“Don't make that face. Obviously you wouldn't compose something like that if you weren't inspired by certain someone.”

“It could be for someone from our family...” He tried to defend himself.

Alice made a mocking face.

“Emmett will feel in the clouds when he discovers that you composed this for him,” she replied sarcastically.

“Okay, okay... It's for him,” he said while shrugging resignedly. “But the way things are, I don't think I'll have the opportunity to show it.”

“I think you should be more optimistic Eddie...”

“It's easy for you to say that when...”

Edward was interrupted by the vibration of his cell phone in the pocket of his jeans. Picking up the phone, he had almost broken it to see that it was a notification of a message from Harry. Alice had walked away from him with a smile as he clicked to read what he had received.

'Hi.'

 

The vampire stopped breathing, just staring at the phone screen while watching the active online status of the wizard. Resuming his breath, he slowly typed a greeting in response, which was read immediately.

 

Harry: 'I think we need to talk'

Harry: 'If you can, I'm at your meadow'

He stared at the message for almost two minutes.

Harry: 'But if you don't want to, I will understand'

Waking up from his daze, the vampire typed an answer.

Edward: 'I'll be there in a moment.'

Putting his phone inside his pocket, he left the house with a supernatural speed, running through the forest as fast as he could towards to the meadow.

Arriving a few minutes later, he stopped behind a tree, noting that Harry was sitting on the grass beside his backpack, hugging his knees as he looked in the direction the vampire was supposed to arrive. The sun bathed the meadow with a golden light, sublimating the air with the scent of grass, wildflowers and the sweet scent of the boy's blood.

Taking a deep breath, he emerged from the shade of the tree and walked to Harry’s direction, his skin immediately refracting the sunlight in millions of sparkling sparks. Whether by instinct or hearing the sound of his footsteps, the other boy seemed to be aware of his presence, slowly turning his head toward him and rising from the greenery to face him. They both stood in an awkward silence.

“Hello…” Harry whispered at last.

“Hello…” Edward replied shyly.

At times like this, he felt firsthand all the nervousness, insecurity and awkwardness he had read in human minds over the years of his existence. Theoretically he should be prepared for situations like this, but it was almost bizarre to notice that nothing had prepared him for that moment. The experience he was having with Harry was unique for several reasons.

The wizard bit his lower lip, looking down as his fingers gripped hem of his shirt.

“I...” Harry mumbled uncertainly while still avoiding eye contact with the vampire. “I'm glad you came.”

Edward smiled.

That sounded like the beginning of a promising conversation, didn't it?

“I'm glad to be here...” He answered truthfully, stepping forward and getting closer to him.

Harry sighed, lifting his head and looking into Edward's face. The vampire looked at the other closely, only now noticing that the boy's appearance gave hints of what had happened to him in the days marked by his absence: Harry had dark circles under his eyes that stood out in his pale face, suggesting that he hadn’t a good night of sleep. He looked tired, drained.

“Edward... I guess you know the reason why we need to talk, right?”

“I suppose so...” Edward replied with a nod, biting his lower lip before continuing to speak. “But first, I'd like to apologize for what happened that night...”

“There’s no need...”

“No...” Edward interrupted softly, moving a little closer. “I apologize for not asking your permission for kissing you, Harry.”

“Oh...” the black-haired boy exclaimed as he looked down.

“But I'd be lying...” Edward said, holding his breath as he gently touched Harry's chin and lifted his face so he could see him “...If I said I'm sorry for kissing you… Because I’m not.”

Harry's eyes widened.

“We... We had been drinking, we had slow dances...” Harry mumbled about those possible causes.

“I didn't kiss you because of the alcohol or the slow dancing, Harry... Partly it gave me the courage to kiss you, but it wasn't the main reason.”

The wizard put his fingers to his own lips, staring the nowhere for a moment as he processed the words of the other.

“Why?” The boy whispered frowning at him as if trying to understand something absurd “Why did you do that?!”

Edward looked down.

There were several ways to answer that question, countless answers that would generate endless possibilities... Edward decided to focus on just one, the riskiest of all - the truth. The truth could bring him even closer to the wizard or could ruin the relationship they had built so far. And even afraid, he should be honest. Honest for Harry and especially for himself.

He began to focus, choosing the best words that could express his feelings, a part of himself praying that he wouldn’t sound too cheesy or too intense. The words should express what he felt and nothing more. Taking his hand to the wizard's face, once again he touched the warm, soft skin with the tips of his cold fingers, as he watched Harry's cheeks to blush in response.

“I like you, Harry”

Simple, concise and above all, true.

“Oh.”

“I like you and I have for a while...” Edward continued with a slight smile, looking at the smaller boy “I was kind of too blind to realize what I was feeling. Not to mention I was kind of coerced by my sister, who helped me to realize it, but... But short and straight, the truth is that I kissed you because I like you!”

Harry stared at Edward in silence, his brows knit together as he gently removed the vampire's hand from his face.

“You don't like me Edward ...” Harry whispered “You can't like me...”

Edward gasped in surprise, because that was not an expected answer.

“Harry...”

“No, listen... What you imagine you feel...” Harry pointed with his index finger at the space between them, moving away from the vampire as he walked backwards “...it's not real. It can't exist!!!”

“Harry!” Edward exclaimed with a nervous smile, feeling the urgency emerge in his voice. “I'm saying I like you! I really like you... It's not my imagination!”

The wizard closed his eyes, hugging himself as he walked away, unable to see the moment when the vampire's smile was slowly replaced by an expression of bitter surprise.

“But I guess my feelings aren’t reciprocated...” Edward said, a part of him surprised at how vulnerable his voice sounded.

Harry was silent.

The vampire swallowed hard, clinging to any coherent words he could speak.

“I… I understand.” Edward kept his head up, trying to ignore the sting in his eyes from the venom that lubricated his eyeballs, a remnant of the physiological reflexes of the time when he was human and capable to cry.

Harry remained motionless.

“Can we continue to be friends then?” He went on trying not to cause any more damage and, who knows, repair their friendship. “Can we pretend nothing happened and be as we were before? We’re friends after all Harry...”

“No, Edward...” Harry whispered “We can't.”

“Harry, please...”

“No!!!” The human shook his head “We can't pretend that nothing happened... We, or rather, I transgressed a line that I imposed on myself in relation to you!”

“I don't understand...” Edward frowned.

“Edward, I can't be near you!!!” Harry looked straight at the immortal boy, his voice taking on a hard steel tone. “You're a mistake, a hindrance in my path and my plans... It was my mistake to approach you. We’re not friends, we cannot be friends, we’ll never be friends!”

“Why?” Edward asked.

Harry turned his face to the side.

“WHY?!” He asked again, unable to contain the harshness in his voice because of his pain at being rejected.

“I... I have my reasons…” Harry answered.

“So tell me, Harry, please!!!” Edward approached, taking both of Harry's hands with no intention of releasing him “Tell me, help me to understand you!”

Harry refused to look at him.

“I'm asking... No, begging you...”

“Why don't you accept what I'm saying?! Why do you make things difficult?!” Harry snapped, breaking free of the vampire's hands “Go away, Edward, leave me alone! Pretend I don't exist!!!”

“I don't accept your claims easily because I like you!” Edward replied sounding resolute and desperate. “I can't read your mind, but I feel, no, I know you feel something for me too!”

“No...” Harry denied. “I don't feel anything!”

“I see it in your eyes...” The bronze-haired boy caressed the other's face. “I feel you like me too... Your lips say one thing, but your eyes tell me another...”

Harry felt Edward caress his face while his other hand held him by the waist.

“I felt it in your kiss that you like me too...” Edward whispered, his cold lips brushing the curious scar on Harry's forehead. “I can feel the vibration of your heartbeat when I touch you...”

“No...” Harry whimpered, putting his hand on the other's chest to push him away, but kept in place.

“Yes... I can feel...” The vampire said softly as he placed his hand on top of the wizard's, pressing against his cold chest “You could feel mine too, if it still beat... It would be for you.”

Cheesy. But true.

“Stop...” Harry tasted the salty taste of his tears streaming down his trembling parted lips.

Edward wiped the tears that were streaming down the wizard's face, his fingers caressing him gently.

“Harry, why are you crying?” He asked, feeling once again that instinct to protect him, to make him smile.

Harry buried his face in Edward's chest, sobbing as he hugged him.

“Harry, I'm here... Don't cry, my darling,” he whispered.

“STOP TELLING ME THESE THINGS!!! DO NOT CALL ME ‘YOUR DARLING’!!!” Harry yelled desperately, stepping back from the other's embrace “How… How can I decide what's right when you're clouding up my mind?!”

Edward was silent as the boy hid his face with his hands.

“I must get away from you, but how can I do that when you make everything so difficult?!” Harry snapped, staring at him with a red face. “You come into my life, make me feel more lost than I already am... WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!”

'I want you' Edward's mind answered, but his throat was unable to make a sound at that moment.

“Harry...”

“I'm a good liar, you know... I know that, because I've been told many times...” Harry laughed bitterly. “Today I would lie to you again... It would be easy, it would be appropriate!”

“But…?” Edward added with a whisper.

The boy bowed his head, breathing with his mouth.

“But I can't...” Harry finally replied in a hazy voice. “How can I lie when you look at me that way or tell me these things?!”

“Harry...” The vampire moved closer, wrapping his arms around his waist, feeling helpless to see him like that. Even his inner monster grunted in dissatisfaction. “Hey... I’m here... ”

The vampire caressed the wizard’s hair tenderly, his pale fingers playing with the dark hair that smelled of lavender, blending perfectly with his naturally sweet scent. He greeted the thirst in his throat just as he would greet an old friend, because that was real proof that Harry was with him, in his arms... Seeing that the other was calmer, he undid the hug, but still held the wizard's hands, caressing the knuckles of his delicate fingers, while the tip of his nose touched his forehead.

“I hate you...” The boy whispered at one point, staring at their joined hands. “I hate you for making me like you...”

Edward blinked, astonished and unable to contain a huge smile that had exposed his perfect white teeth. There were no words in the world who could express the turmoil of emotions that Edward felt to hear those three words.

“Oh Harry...” Edward said stroking his cheek again.

“But...” Harry was serious, taking his hand from his face and looking into his eyes. “I can't be with you.”

Edward felt the mask of happiness on his face collapse again into a pained expression.

“Why?” The vampire said softly.

“It's complicated...” The wizard looked down.

“Harry, for all that is sacred, tell me!!!” Edward protested. “I can't stand being tortured that way anymore, feeling helpless for not knowing anything, for not know things that would allow me to understand you better!”

“Edward...”

“Please...” He begged as the wizard stared at him intently.

“Sometimes...” Harry whispered. “Sometimes you remind me of him”

“Who?”

The wizard took a deep breath, moving away from the vampire and walking over to his backpack that was thrown in the grass, crouching for something inside. Edward watched him closely, seeing him standing with his back still turned to him as he held something.

“Harry…?”

“Give me a minute...” He replied, wiping the tears from his eyes with the flannel shirt sleeve he wore.

Edward saw Harry take a deep breath before he started walking toward him, noticing that Harry was holding something that looked like a piece of paper. 

A letter?

“What's this?” The copper-haired boy asked confused.

Harry had said nothing, just handed the object to the vampire and walked into the middle of the meadow as he hugged himself.

Edward bowed his head and saw that what he held was not a letter but the back of a photograph with a handwritten message.

“Harry,

The portrait you gave me is constantly in the inner pocket of my jacket as a reminder that I will always carry you in my heart. 

Is it too presumptuous to ask you to carry mine wherever you are?

With all my love,

- Ced"

 

Turning the picture over, the first thing Edward did was frown in confusion. What he saw was a black and white portrait of him with a slight smile, wearing a sweater and tie.

 

 

How and why did Harry have that?

When did he take this picture? He struggled to remember, maybe Alice or Esme had...

Then suddenly he realized...

...It wasn't him. 

Edward felt as if he had entered an absurd, surrealistic reality... Had he fallen into any illusion? Was it some kind of spell? A prank? Edward looked up to see if Harry was laughing his possible prank, he hoped it was a prank, but everything he saw was the wizard who turned his back and was silent.

The vampire’s eyes turned to the photograph of the stranger who had his face, while a flood of thoughts made him feel close to feel in shock.

“What…” And he heard his voice fail, but forced himself to say something for the sake of his own sanity, for now more than ever he needed answers. “Harry, who is this?”

Harry turned around, rubbing his face against his shirt sleeve, taking several steadying breaths.

“His name was Cedric...” the wizard whispered “Cedric Diggory”

The vampire remained motionless while Harry breathed more, trying to compose himself.

“Cedric...” Edward swallowed after saying that name that somehow sounded bitter in his mouth. “Cedric was your boyfriend... ”

The boy nodded.

“Yeah... He was... He was the love of my life.” Harry's lips quivered.

Edward was silent for a few minutes as that information sank into his mind.

“Why are we alike?” He asked in a low tone, still trying to overcome his shock and disbelief.

“You are Doppelgängers...” Harry explained as he stared into the void. “Physically identical people who are distinct at the same time... Hermione explained to me that the likelihood of Doppelgängers meet each other is tiny, almost impossible, after all there are billions of people in the world, scattered everywhere. If they exist at the same time, they almost never meet. Sometimes they exist at different period of times... That's the case between you and him.”

Edward looked back at the picture again, trying to use a part of his mind that wasn’t freaking out in that moment.

He could see that he and Cedric were indeed identical: the same strong jawline with square chin, shape of mouth, straight nose and high cheekbones. But there were also slight subtleties that set them apart: Cedric had softer, youthful features with gentle eyes, while Edward’s face had sharp lines, a little more polished and mature.

“He was a little bit different from you, physically speaking...” Harry murmured as if he guessed on what the vampire was thinking, taking the picture from his hand. “He had light brown hair, but in the sunlight seemed like dark gold... His eyes were gray as a rainy day, but always warm and kind…”

Harry approached Edward, bringing his hand to the vampire's marble face.

“But sometimes when I look at you or the way you look at me... Well... It's surreal. Not to mention cruel,” Harry said sadly as he took his hand from the taller boy's face.

Edward was appalled.

'But you hurt him already...' was what Hermione had told him before.

That was reason why the black-haired boy occasionally looked at him with eyes full of pain and sadness and Edward realized that that look had been there since from the beginning when Harry saw him in the school cafeteria, in biology class or when they were at the beach.

Every time Harry saw him, he saw another person.

When they were dozing in that same place, Harry, sleepily, called him Ced.

He felt a similar sensation that a human would have when feeling nauseated...

“During all the time when you looked at me... Did you think about him?” He whispered.

Harry's tear-filled eyes stared at him for a few seconds while silence served as an answer. Edward felt his throat tighten as his eyes burned once more.

“When we danced… When we kissed…” He asked. “During all the moments we’re together…?”

Harry cried as he nodded.

Fuck!” Edward cursed under his breath as he felt his lungs empty, his chest contracting to the point of physical pain.

“I think of him... It's impossible for me to look at you and not think of him.” Harry closed his eyes, his pale face contorted in a look of loss. “Even after all these years, his absence causes me pain... He was a part of me!”

Harry opened his eyes to look back at him.

“But now I think of you, Edward ... I keep thinking of you... And now all I feel is disgust for myself!”

“Harry...” Edward said hesitantly but ended up hugging Harry in one swift motion. “I'm so sorry.”

“Why are you apologizing? You should be mad, yelling at me, wishing that I was going to Hell!!!” The wizard cried. “You should do anything but hold me in your arms. Stop it!!!”

Edward wished he was capable of it, but it was clear that it would only serve to make him and the wizard farther apart and that was the last thing he wanted. Edward wished he could be angry, furious, or offended and in part he felt some of it, but it was all meaningless when Harry was actually the one who was suffering. The vampire redirected his anger to himself, to his cursed face that tortured the boy he was in love with... Why did everything in his life have to be hard?

“I'm sorry...” he repeated, his hand circling the human's back in comfort. “If I knew you were dealing with this, I...”

“It's not your fault” the boy replied “What could you do?”

“Even so...”

Harry buried his face in the vampire's cold neck, the witch's warm breath on his skin making him shiver.

“I like you, Edward...” Harry whimpered.

Hearing these words again should bring him great joy, but the context in which they were inserted made the vampire's petrified heart ache.

“I like you much more,” he answered softly at the cruel reality of what he'd said.

Harry was silent.

“I should get away from you now, more than ever ...” Edward continued.

“I should too...” Harry whispered.

“But I don't know if I have the strength to stay away from you.”

“Me either...” the human confessed.

Edward sighed, feeling defeated at the impasse between what he was supposed to do - which was to walk away - and what he truly wanted - which was to stay. With his chin on the top of Harry's head, he watched the bucolic beauty of the meadow surrounding them, the birdsongs, the sunlight coming through the clouds and making him sparkle once more...

Why was this so familiar?

He frowned at the feeling of déja vu until he remembered a memory, not a memory itself, but something that might happen - Alice's prediction. In a future, he and Harry would be in this same place and Harry would say that he loved him...

“Harry...”

“Yes...”

“Look at me...” Edward lifted the boy's chin and contemplated his face. “I want to ask you something...”

“A-alright.”

“Is there hope for me?”

The wizard blinked his eyes in confusion. “Hope?”

“Yes, hope...” Edward whispered as he caressed his cheek gently. “Harry, I know this is the last thing you want to hear from me, but I want you to know that I'm truly in love with you…”

“Edward...”

“No, listen to me…” Edward pleaded. “I know I'm not in a favorable circumstance… I know I’m asking for too much… But please, give me a chance!”

“A chance?!”

“Yes... Harry tell me if there is hope, however small, that one day you could love me and want me too... Because if there’s hope Harry, I give my word that I’ll wait for you!”

“Edward...” Harry gasped, feeling breathless.

“Please...”

“Why are you asking me this?” the wizard whispered.

“You already know why...” he replied.

“That's not fair!!!” Harry protested “You're putting a choice in my hands... How can you do this to me?!”

Edward swallowed hard.

“I'll walk away from you if you want, even if I don't want to go. I'll respect what you decide,” he replied, feeling the pang of anguish again. “I'll do what you want... I'll be what you want… I can be your friend for all the times you need me... I can be your lover, devoted only to you... Or I can be a stranger.”

Harry cried silently.

“I can't give you an answer now,” the human whispered after long minutes while drying his tears, but his voice still failed.

“I know...” Edward replied. “And I'll wait as long as you need”

Harry walked into the middle of the meadow, grabbing his backpack and looking at Edward once more.

“Meet me here tomorrow, same time... I... I'll give my answer,” the wizard said before apparating, leaving Edward alone and metaphorically lost.

.

-                                                                                           

.

Unlike the day before, the next morning's sky was marked by the gray color of heavy clouds and icy winds that whistled through the tree branches, the air once more damp and cold.

Edward arrived at the meadow an hour in advance - which was a plus, because right after Harry left, he seriously considered staying there to wait for him, but in the end it would turn out to be as frustrating and annoying as having to wait in his bedroom. When he arrived at his house, Alice bombarded with questions, but was ignored immediately. He needed to be alone, alone to think, to digest that much information he had received and surely no one in his family could help him, let alone understand.

Sitting on the grass, he looked down at the small bouquet of white roses he had picked from Esme's greenhouse and which he had carefully carried as he ran to the meadow, afraid they would be destroyed on the way. Looking at the flowers, he wondered if it was a good idea to bring it with him, if it was appropriate to the occasion.

One of his reminiscent memories of the time when he was human, was the time he spent with his biological mother, Elizabeth, watching her carefully plant, prune and cultivate her beloved flowers... Edward had been born from wealthy family during the final years of the Gilded Age and like every boy from high-society, he was raised to be an example of chivalry. He learned etiquette, how to dance, to talk, to act properly and learned others things that are now out of style and fallen into oblivion, like the language of flowers.

'Flowers always have a meaning Edward...' his mother's voice sounding muffled like a distant echo in his mind 'The rose symbolizes love. But just as there is not just a variety of roses, there is not just one kind of love... For example, the red rose means the deep and ardent love... The yellow rose is the brotherly and fraternal love, celebrated between friends... The lavender rose means love at first sight... And lastly, the white rose means innocence, the purity of a new love and also a new beginning.'

And so he hoped it would be so... That he could have a beginning of something that - if it depended on him – would be endless.

He would wait.

Minutes passed and he waited, perfectly still like a statue, something only vampires could do.

The minutes turned into one hour, which was followed by another hour.

Edward stared slowly sideways, looking at everything and nothing at the same time. Physically he was fine, but emotionally he felt a deep tightness in his chest.

'He will come...' he forced himself to think 'He must have had a setback... Ron or Hermione must have asked for a last minute favor...'

A thunderous rumble boomed in the lead-gray sky as the rain began to fall.

'He will come' Edward repeated, swaying slightly like a child. 'Maybe he missed the time... Maybe he had an emergency... He will come... '

The raindrops were cold, the vampire could feel it, but it didn't bother him much as it would a human. However, he could feel the unpleasant sensation of having his clothes soaked in water and his pompadour crumbled into an uneven mass of wet bronze hair.

'He will come... He will come... He will come...' became a prayer, a mantra in which he repeated over and over as he felt his chest grow heavier. His sentimental side told him that, but his rational side told him the reality of that moment.

'He... He will not come'

He took a deep breath, his shaking hand still holding the bouquet of white roses as he rose from the grass. The meadow was no longer a solar-looking place, bright and warm as it had been the day before or in Alice's premonition... It was cold, wet and somber now - just like him. Now that he had received an answer, he had nothing else to do there. It was time to go home.

CRACK!!!

The familiar sound made Edward stop walking and for a moment he thought he was delirious or misheard the sound of lightning or thunder... Breathing shortly he smelled that scent that made him feel warm inside, confirming the presence of the one he expected so much.

Harry was only a few steps away, equally wet and seemed to be cold. His face was pale, reddened eyes that looked as though he had cried but were now looking at him with a serene expression, his lips forming a delicate smile as he saw that the vampire carried flowers for him.

Edward swallowed hard, shifting his feet.

Harry walked in rapid steps, crashing into the bronze-haired boy's body, hugging his toned torso and hiding his face in his chest. Edward was still for a few seconds, so surprised that this was happening that he had dropped the bouquet on the grass, which was good, so that he could hug the wizard better.

“You're soaked, you’ll get sick…” Edward murmured worriedly for the fact that he couldn't warm up Harry with his body heat.

“I don't care,” Harry whispered with his eyes closed. “Just keep holding me in your arms, Edward.”

Edward did so willingly, feeling hot flashes spread through their bodies as Harry whispered something that sounded like a spell.

“You’re here!!! God, you’re really here!” The vampire exclaimed happily, his voice bordering on purring with joy.

“I am,” Harry nodded, momentarily thoughtful. “I’m sorry for my delay... I needed to talk to someone before.”

“I thought you weren't coming... I thought...” Edward mumbled.

The wizard broke the hug, rising up to his tip toes as he rested his hands the taller boy's broad shoulders. Edward soon understood what Harry intended. Their second kiss was delicate, sweet, literally wet and cold, but above all it seemed to be, at least to Edward, a preview that good things were bound to happen… Finally!

“I...” Harry whispered after parting from the kiss, his cheeks flushed as his fingers combed through Edward's wet hair. “I don't know what to expect from this... And for the first time in many years I'm afraid.”

“Afraid of me?”

“No...” Harry denied with a soft smile “I'm afraid, because I don't know where this is going to lead me... And somehow it sounds okay as long as you’re… You’re with me.”

“I will be!” Edward said immediately, making the wizard smile softly.

“Edward, did you really mean those things to me? Are you... Are you really in love with me?”

“I'm! Of course I am, Harry...”

“Good, so I need to tell you some things... Things you need to keep in mind if we want this to work out.”

The vampire was silent.                  

“The first thing you should know is that I still love him...” Harry said in a low, cautious voice “And I'll never stop loving him... Believe me, I do not say that because I want to hurt you, I say because you need to be aware of it.”

Edward nodded his head. Hearing those words hurt him, for he understood that he would never have Harry only to himself.

“I understand,” he whispered wistfully “And I would never ask you to stop loving… Loving Cedric. It would be cowardly and insensitivity on my part... I don't know him or the story of you both, but I respect you.”

“Thank you,” Harry whispered back, eyes closed. “The second thing I want to ask is that you have patience with me. Sometimes I'll want to be alone, sometimes I'll ask for a break... Well... I need to get used to being in a relationship again, so…”

“That’s okay,” the vampire assured with a smile.

Harry hugged him, hiding his face in the vampire's wet coat.

“Promise me one thing Edward, just one thing...”

“Whatever you want”

“Do not hurt me...”

Edward's smile was replaced with concern as Harry looked fragile, small and vulnerable, something that made him think of a porcelain doll flirting dangerously with the edge of a cliff. He held him close, wanting to protect him from everything and everyone, to ward off the fear Harry confessed to feeling.

“I promise,” Edward said solemnly, placing his hand on the side of Harry's face, looking into his eyes. “I will never, ever hurt you.”

Harry gave a soft smile, pressing his lips to Edward's who lifted him into his arms so that they could be at the same height. Harry began to laugh like a child when Edward pecked his flushed face with countless kisses that showed the vampire's enormous affection for him.

Even with the uncertainties that were still in his mind, Edward was convinced of only three things on that rainy afternoon.

First, Harry was no ordinary human - he was an extraordinary, intriguing, beautiful, eternally young wizard.

Second, the relationship that was being born at that moment would be constantly tested, ranging from his own insecurity about Harry's ex, Cedric, to the wizard's fears about both of them.

The third was that he was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with Harry, but Harry wasn’t in love with him in the way he felt…

Not yet.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER XIII

NIGHTMARE

Being a member of a pack wasn't just consist in running around the reserve in the shape of a wolf and howling at the full moon - although, as much as most would not admit, they did it very often. In fact, being a member of a pack meant that each had a designated role, a hierarchy to respect as well as duties to fulfill, ranging from group and individual training to strengthen the group to designating a member to be responsible for bringing food – a huge amount of food - during weekly meetings.

And Seth Clearwater's task as a member of the Quileute Pack was simple: patrolling a small area of forest that bordered La Push Beach from dusk to dawn and then reporting everything to his Alpha, Sam Uley.

The reason they patrolled was more a matter of tradition than necessity, for the Cullens had never broken the treaty and it had been years since nomadic vampires had passed through the reserve, the scent of which was saturated with wolves’ musk. The only things they found in these rounds were occasional backpacker camps and hikers who enjoyed the outdoors or hormonal teenagers who used the forest as their hiding place to cling as shamelessly as possible. In the end, the wolves patrolling eventually lay somewhere in the forest and waited for time to return to their homes, for nothing really happened.

If the task was dull for the others, Seth, on the other hand, looked on with enthusiasm: he was the youngest of the pack, recently turned fifteen and that would technically be his first patrol on his own, his solo mission, Sam's vow of confidence who saw the boy's dedication to the idea of being a member of a pack as well as respecting his orders and commands without hesitation – a  rare thing, since almost all members had a difficult personality and back and a half questioned him.

So Seth would do his best, even if his mission was something as simple as shooing out troublemakers from the reserve and that was exactly what he was going to do right now.

“Hey you there!” he exclaimed as he approached three teenagers older than him, sitting on the beach sand next to a cooler and empty beer bottles. Seeing him, they stood up in surprise.

“Hey...” a dirty-blond boy of the same height as Seth greeted suspicious manner well as others.

The young werewolf stopped, putting his hands in the pockets of his battered denim shorts.

“You know you can't drink in this area” he stated seriously “Right?!”

“Really?” The shorter boy in the group asked as he opened it by uncapping a beer bottle and tossing the lid on the sand.

Seth took a deep breath. 'Patience ... Patience' he repeated to himself.  

“Fuck off... Here is a beach! A public place” The other said in a mocking tone.

“No. This is a reserve” Seth corrected. “You can come in here, but not to drink or much less dirty this place... So I ask you to leave” 

The three looked at each other in a serious expression and laughed out loud.

“And if we don’t want to?!” The tallest crossed his arms, trying to look intimidating “What will you do?”

“I… I'll call the authorities” Seth responded with dignity “I'm sure your parents will be pleased to receive a warning from Sheriff Swan!”

The young boys looked at each other again, frightened by the threat, but furious as they grabbed the cooler and personal belongings, scowled at the boy who remained serene - or at least tried to look.

As they walked away, Seth again caught their attention.

“Hey... The trash…” he said as he kicked an empty bottle.

The blonde snorted in hatred as he picked up the bottles and threw them into a bag they carried. The three walked toward the road leading to the road, but Seth was able to hear his curses thanks to his keen hearing.

“Our ancestors should have wiped out these savages until there are none left!”

The boy clenched his fists, feeling his inner wolf growl in rage and claw at his mental walls, eager to get out. Taking a deep breath, he was able to calm the wild instinct - admirable, as self-control among lycanthropes was hard to tame even after years. If he were Leah, those guys would probably be about to lose their limbs.

Seth smiled.

If Leah Clearwater had a remarkably explosive temperament, acid words, and short temper because of her complicated relationship with Sam and her genius personality, Seth, her youngest brother was just the opposite: he was a calm, witty, confident and positive boy. He knew that violence was not always an alternative to conflict resolution.

So those troublemakers should thank heaven for not meeting Leah.

Taking a deep breath, he walked to the edge of the forest looking around once more to make sure he was alone. He had quickly stripped off his shirt, along with his shorts and underpants, getting naked — something needed to do if he wanted to avoid ragging his clothes as he turned into a wolf.

The transformation was not as painful as it had been the first time, but it was still uncomfortable.

Seth could feel his bones cracking as he stretched, warped, or shrunk beneath his muscles that also warped to form a wolf's body as his accelerated healing power eased the pain. Jacob, his friend and greatest inspiration in the pack, assured him that over time the transformation took place faster and more painlessly than it would be as natural as breathing.

Already in his wolf form - bigger than ordinary wolves but still smaller compared to the guys in his tribe - Seth stretched his back and front legs as if stretching after a long nap. Shaking his shaggy brown fur, he raced into the forest at high speed, his paws barely touching the ground so fast he was. Running aimlessly in his wolf form through the woods had always given him a great sense of happiness and freedom, but now he had to focus on his main mission.

Patrol the reserve.

And patrolling was nothing less than paying attention to the area around them with keen senses, especially hearing and smell since the sight of wolves was not as developed as these first two senses. Noises of squirrels, the roar of deer, the sound of waves crashing on rocks, the beginning of the owls' night singing ... The boy's hearing could pick up every sound and know where it came from as well as his nose could capture hundreds of thousands of tinny odors, catalog them into different categories and locate their origin. Seth raced around for miles for about three hours as the cold, silver glow of the full moon filtered through the tall trees covered with moss and lichen.

Lying in the grass of a small meadow, he stretched again as he felt tiredness from the physical exertion engulfing his muscles, opening his canine mouth in a long yawn, propping his head up on his paws as his tail swung toward him on the sides. The fresh wind blew from the west, carrying the green, moist scent of the forest mixed with the maritime odor and the side of La Push beach... He closed his eyes, his breathing slowing as his heartbeat slowed, surrendering to sleep... His dream was a profusion of random colors, disjointed images and memories woven with costumes.

The first thing Seth noticed as he slowly opened his eyes was that night was slowly giving way to dawn, the sky still punctuated by a few stars, but clear enough to see well. Yawning again, he got up, trotted at a slow pace into the woods toward the beach, like a sleepwalker. The only thing his mind was focused on was coming to his house and asking his mother, Sue, to prepare a huge amount of eggs and bacon ... Ah ... Bacon ... Crunchy, delicious... He could even feel the smell if he thought about it…

Seth paused for a moment as his sense of smell caught something.

He took a deep breath.

In addition to the usual forest odors, he can smell a similar scent of something burning from the northwest of where he was, probably some camper who left the portable stove on and ended up burning something around, a situation that was surprisingly common in the reserve, making the pack always extra careful with campers. For a moment Seth wondered if he should go to the beach for his clothes, but eventually gave up, because he should check where that smell came from, after all it was still his patrol shift. Snorting in frustration - his bacon eggs would have to wait - he ran toward what the smell was pointing to.

The odor grew stronger to as he approached.

He entered a closed part of the forest where a fog covered the damp ground like a carpet, the tall trees blocked any possible light from the sky, and silence reigned utterly except for the sound of his paws touching the ground. 'Too quiet…' he thought as he looked around.  

“KRRAAAA KRAAAAA!!!!”

Seth felt his heart skip a beat size off the scare that had to listen to loud horde of crows flew in his direction. The little wolf stepped back as they surrounded him and flew up, but stopped when he saw that a single crow had landed near him, on top of a mossy rock. The bird was as black as tar, with feathers so glossy that they seemed to be made of metal, but what stood out were the eyes: scarlet red, fiery and even cruel - if that were possible.

The bird fell silent, staring at it until it flew ahead of the werewolf, to something that seemed to lead to a steep path. Seth glanced back, once again wondering if he should return, for his instinct warned him to get out, but at the same time his rational part said there was nothing to fear, just birds and that same and something. He was a werewolf, a member of Quileute and he could very well handle the situation or run away as soon as possible. There was nothing to fear.

He went on, cautiously descending until he was close to where he was being lit by what looked like torches. Hiding behind a tree, Seth took a deep breath mapping the place mentally through the odors.

The smell of something burning was there, along with the smell of herbs, a resinous odor that seemed to be incense and something that dominated all other odors, a smell that resembled iron and salt. Blood

The smell of clotted, rancid blood saturated every air molecule in the place, making the simple act of breathing make him deeply nauseous, as if he had entered a slaughterhouse. Swallowing hard and taking short breaths so that his lungs wouldn't fill with it, Seth silently walked forward, but still hiding behind a bush as a precaution, seeing with his eyes what was going on in that place.

He wished he had not seen.

He wished he had not gone to that place.

He wanted to get out of there as soon as possible, but his legs were stuck to the ground as if they weighed tons.

In a small meadow lit by the flickering torchlight, Seth saw three people with their backs to him, kneeling on the ground in positions similar to those one would have when praying. The wolf can only distinguish their shapes, but without much detail because they were all dressed in black hooded cloaks covering their heads.

“Ave Satanis ... Ave dominus autem inferos ...” they spoke in unison in what resembled a chorus or a chant.

What drew attention was what was in front of them and that seemed to be the “altar”: the bodies of three naked men were hanged in woods stakes. Two of them were crucified upside down, their chests were opened and hollow, their hearts torn... On their bellies, inverted pentagrams were painted with blood, dark red against the already grayish white skin. Not even his eyes were spared, having been torn from his eye socket and causing their faces to be stained with already clotted blood, as if they were crying.

The middle one had an even more violent end, if possible: he had his head beheaded and replaced with that of a long-horned black goat, his hands and feet also severed with goat paws in place... Although the skin was dirty for the blood, Seth can see the tattoo on the corpse's arm. He felt a lump in his throat, forcing himself to swallow the gastric juice from his stomach so as not to vomit.

These were the guys he'd kicked out of the reserve hours earlier.

Seth felt his heart hammering violently against his chest as suddenly the three monsters - yes, monsters was the only word that was appropriate for anyone who committed that barbarism - turned toward him. The young wolf expected to see their faces, but the only thing he had seen was metal masks with vertical slits in place of their mouths and engraved symbols on the surface, especially inverted crucifixes on their foreheads. The only visible piece of skin they showed was bloodstained hands, one in particular holding a dagger in which the blade still dripped the red liquid.

Another pointed a finger toward him... That wasn't good.

It was definitely not good.

An adrenaline rush was enough to set Seth in the opposite direction, forcing his trembling legs to run, to get out of there as quickly as possible, anywhere where safe, anywhere but that.

As he ran, he felt his hind legs being pinched and dragged back to that place as it was being pulled by an invisible rope, making a whining sound come out of his mouth.

He went into despair.

His front paws were trying to steady themselves on the ground, but all he could do was mark the dark earth with cracks by his claws. He howled loudly in the hope that some member of his pack would be around, so could know he was in danger and could come to his aid. Looking around, he saw that he had returned to the place of that diabolical cult where the three monsters waited for him quietly.

Seth howled loudly, growled, cried all at the same time, but everything was so inefficient. One of the killers waved his bloodstained hands toward him, causing him to be lifted off the ground by a strange gravity-defying force, levitating gently as he wiggled his paws desperately. He felt his wolf being retracted and compressed inside him, his bones and limbs being transformed against his will into the shape of his human body.

Seth screamed at the top of his lungs for help until he was out of breath and when he would scream again, his lips stuck together until disappeared from his face as if he had never had a mouth.

Hot tears and wide brown eyes stared at the masked men who continued to stare at him in silence as the taller assassin walked toward him with the dagger on the hand.

Seth would soon discover that living was no longer a priority. He had discovered at that moment that dying as soon as possible was the only hope he could have.

.

.

.

Edward's eyes widened and his mouth twisted in horror as he watched a helpless girl scream as she was cut in half by a chainsaw, which spurted blood to the walls asher organs spread across the floor. Turning to the side, he had seen Harry calmly eating buttered popcorn as if none of it bothered him… And it didn't bother him.

“Harry... When you suggested we watch a movie, I didn't think it would be...” Edward trailed off as the killer struck his victim once more “...that kind of... movie”

“Fists thing fists, you suggested romantic movies...” Harry said as he rubbed his nose “I hate romantic movies”

“But apparently you like carnage” The vampire gave him a wry smile.

“Oh… Don’t exaggerate...” the wizard replied “For my defense, I like Disney too!”

Harry rubbed Edward's forearm, smiling at him sweetly, and looked back at the TV screen with a comical expression on his face as he saw the hot guy in the movie being beheaded with a machete.

“This is so bloody fake, I mean, it's extremely hard to behead someone with their own hands in a single blow...” Harry pointed at the screen with a handful of popcorn in his hands “The muscles, tendons and bones of the cervical spine aren’t that easy to cut on the first blow...”

Edward blinked in disbelief as the boy looked at him with an expression that seemed to be ingenuous and confused.

“Well... At least that's what I heard...” Harry completed quickly.

“Okay...” he answered slowly.

“But if you want to know how I know that, there's a simple answer” Harry approached him as if to tell a secret “I've met someone who was beheaded!”

Edward looked at him seriously and burst out laughing.

“Ookay...”

Harry rolled his eyes.

“I’m serious! I've met one... I can even say we're friends...” the wizard said seriously as he ate popcorn.

Edward looked at him expecting it to be a joke, but all he saw was the wizard continue to look at him seriously until he turned his attention to the massacre unfolding on the TV screen .

“You... You're not kidding, are you?”

Harry shook his head, causing Edward to open his mouth in disbelief.

“His name was Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington...” Harry murmured “A noble wizard who had attended the court of King Henry VII and had been sentenced to death for a…A magical incident. He was quite resigned to his fate but the problem is that his executioner's axe was blunt... Well, you can guess what happened next...”

“They provided another one to give him a quick and dignified death, I believe” Edward replied.

“Oh no... He was executed with the same blunt axe... Sir Nicholas took forty-five strokes to the neck and some into his skull!” Harry said smiling as he watched Edward be horrified and went on “Oh, don't worry, his story ends happily…”

“Happy?!” Edward replied in shock.

“Yes... Today Sir Nicholas is one of the ghosts that haunt Hogwarts Castle and we all affectionately call him Nearly-Headless Nick”

“Nearly-Headless Nick?! How can anyone be ' Nearly ' headless?” the vampire frowned.

“Well... It's just that the beheading was badly executed because of the ax and his head was still attached to the body by a simple tendon ...” Harry said with a shrug “That's happened a lot on this kind of execution, but the problem was brilliantly solved when a dude invented the guillotine, so yeah… Vive le France!”

Edward was silent until he laughed.

“What's funny?!” the wizard narrowed his eyes

“Nothing, it's just...” Edward laughed as he frowned “Sometimes you talk about morbid things with such light way... Sometimes I forget that you have this dark, wicked sense of humor”

Harry smiled as he leaned back on the couch.

“So I feel like I should warn you: I might be a little wicked” the wizard said with a mischievous twinkle in his green eyes.

Edward smiled at him in response as they both refocused on the movie in which he continued to ooze huge amounts of blood with each frame.

“Oh... Don't tell me you're scared?!” Harry narrowed his eyes in amusement as Edward looked away at one point.

“Oh yes ... I can’t tell how much I am” Edward snapped sarcastically.

The wizard looked at him with a mischievous smile and looked back at the movie.

It was Saturday night and Edward was in the living room of Harry's house for another schedule of watching movies, listening to records, talking or just enjoying each other's company as every couple did.

Couple.

That word sounded deliciously absurd to Edward as he still couldn't believe that they really were in a relationship. It was curious to note that he and Harry were still behaving the same way as before, as good friends who enjoyed each other's company, have good conversations or teased each other with sarcastic comments... Everything was the same except for the kisses, hugs and physical contact that Edward could gave to Harry, because now besides being a friend, he was his boyfriend.

Boyfriend!

The vampire smiled at that word, reveling in the sound of that statement, repeating over and over in his head like a persistent song: He was Harry's boyfriend! Harry was his boyfriend! The wizard was his! Guided by his possessive instinct, he hugged the Harry's waist, which reacted with surprise, but nodded as he rested his head on the vampire’s shoulder and continued to eat his popcorn while watching the slasher movie.   

Edward placed a kiss on the dark hair of his human.

Harry still acted with surprise and shyness when Edward touched him tenderly or kissed him and that made the vampire panic for a few seconds when he thought he did something rude or disrespectful. The English boy saw his frightened expression and soon assured him that it was all right, apologized for the reaction, explaining that he was just getting used to the idea of someone touching him in that intimate way. That is why their relationship was moving at that calm and pressureless pace, only with loving embraces and respectful kisses.

Edward gladly accepted, both for being a gentleman molded by ancient customs and for knowing that Harry had a good reason to act with caution: Cedric Diggory. 

Harry's first boyfriend and according to the same was still his great love. Cedric Diggory and his face that was identical to Edward's.

Since the day they spend in the meadow, Harry had never mentioned Cedric's name again, but Edward knew that his presence was constant ... Sometimes, when Harry smiled at him in a way, a small part of Edward’s mind wondered if that smile was really for him... Or for the other.

On moments like these, Edward's pessimism was precariously won by the set of positive thoughts that were turning into something like the hope and even faith.

First, Harry had said he liked him, Edward. 

Harry had given to both of them a chance. 

Edward didn't know when, but he knew from Alice's vision that Harry would one day love him, entirely, completely. But, a tiny voice on his mind whimpered at the fact that he would never have the wizard's heart entirely to himself, but only a half of it... But Edward convinced himself that it would be more than enough for him.

The vampire looked back at his yawning boyfriend as he rubbed his fingers over his eyes.

“You look tired...” he said as he combed Harry's bangs with his fingers.

“Yeah... I'm quite tired…” Harry complained drowsily “Yesterday in the woods was exhausting”

“What were you doing in the woods?” Edward asked as he drawn circles with his fingers on the boy's waist.

“The usual... Recite songs and magical texts...” the wizard replied “Everything so… Dull and repetitive”

Edward frowned in confusion.

“The full moon is a good time for witches to recharge, balance or extend their magical powers through rituals...” Harry explained unselfishly while interlaced his warm fingers with the cold fingers of the vampire “It's not a necessity like drinking water, but it's a good thing to do…”

“Oh... I see” Edward rambled, his free fingers running down the boy's dark hair “But you don't look exactly ‘recharged’”

“I know...” Harry whispered with a slight smile “I'm feeling drained actually...”

“So this is a good reason for you don't go to the woods”

“Because…?”

“It's dangerous” Edward said, hugging him protectively “I don't like the idea of you in the woods when there are so many potential dangers... If necessary, I will accompany you next time”

Harry took his head off Edward’s shoulder, looking into the vampire's golden eyes with a funny and defiant expression as the other stared at him with genuine concern.

“I think I can take care of myself, you know...”

Edward arched a scornful eyebrow as he looked down at her boyfriend's fragile shoulders and small body, receiving a light punch in his stony chest, an action that made him laugh.

“I’m serious… Stop laughing!”

The vampire continued to laugh softly.

“Hey!” Harry caught his eye, feeling offended. “Your prat!!!”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry... It's just...” Edward took a deep breath with the nose leaning against the head of the other “It's still hard to reconcile the fact that you are able to protect yourself and don't need me for doing that...”

The human cocked his head to the side, feeling confused. Edward continued seriously in his voice, intertwining his fingers with Harry's.

“I feel it is my duty, so to speak, to ensure that you are safe and secure...”

The wizard snorted.

“What?” Edward asked.

Harry smiled and shook his head in denial.

“Oh Ed... You're definitely so... So Edwardian!” The wizard said in a playful way “I’m dating with such old, outdated man...”

“You’re not that young tho... You’re as old as me!” Edward answered the tease.

“As if!” Harry embraced the vampire’s toned arm, pressing his warm cheek against the white and cold skin “I am a lovely and modern 72 year old man... You, on the other hand, would already rest on a grave, being nothing more than a skeleton.”

Edward laughed.

“But seriously...” the human went on “Not wanting to ruin your expectations, but already ruining them: I'm not your damsel in distress...”

The copper-haired boy sighed.

“I know… God help the person who bothers you”

“That’s the spirit!”

“But still, promise me to be careful. And don't go to the woods alone...” the vampire pleaded softly.

“You're not giving up on this topic, are you?”

“No way”

“Okay, I promise to be cautious and give you more peace of mind...” Harry said as he raised his right hand in promise while his left behind his back. Edward narrowed his eyes.

“You're crossing your fingers with your other hand, aren't you? ”

“Me?” Harry squinted innocently “I have no idea what you're talking about...”

“You little cheater!!!” Edward hugged him pressing his lips against Harry’s neck while the wizard laughed. Soon they were kissing tenderly.

A loud meow broke their kiss, turning the vampire's attention back to an orange-haired cat with wrinkled face and a fuzzy brush-like tail - it was Crookshanks, Hermione's familiar who was coming down the stairs while chasing a brown fat rat. That was Scabbers, Ron's familiar.

Harry sighed as Crookshanks held the rat in his mouth and Edward smiled as he saw the cat wagging his tail happily.

“Crookshanks! Let him go!” Harry commanded.

Crookshanks stared at him disinterestedly with his big yellow eyes.

“Let him go... Now!” the wizard said once more and the cat reluctantly released Scabbers, who ran startled under the couch. “Frankly, it's almost like watching an eternal episode of Tom & Jerry…”

Edward would respond if it wasn't for the fact that Crookshanks jumped on his lap, curling around himself like a fluffy orange ball. The vampire smiled as he stroked the soft fur with his fingers.

“He likes you” Harry pointed out with a smile as he sat next to him.

“It's weird because animals don't usually approach us...” Edward replied with a soft smile.

The wizard raised his eyebrows.

“The smell of vampires stresses animals, who feel endangered by our presence ...” he explained.

They both fell silent for a moment, Harry resting his head on Edward's shoulder as he caressed the cat.

“When I was a human, I loved animals...” Edward recalled “I kind had a lonely childhood... I spent most of my free time with my dogs...”

Harry smiled sweetly at him.

“Dogs?”

“Yes... I’m very fond of dogs”

“Oh... Maybe one day I'll give you a puppy then...” the wizard said.

“Don’t do that… I don’t want to scare the poor thing” Edward replied, kissing his forehead as Crookshanks get off his lap when saw Scabbers running again.

“Believe me, I already have one in mind that will be perfect for you” Harry said with a mischievous twinkle in his green eyes.

Edward smiled, tenderly kissing his lips, but stopped when he saw a white owl watching him with narrow eyes.

“Harry…?”

“Yes?”

“Is it my impression or that owl is judging me?”

The wizard looked in the direction the boy was looking, seeing the owl perched on the windowsill.

“Oh finally she has come back...Edward I want you to meet Hedwig...” Harry said extending his arm, causing the owl to spread the white wings and fly into the room, landing softly on the wizard's arm “My familiar!”

Hedwig regarded Edward with her golden-yellow eyes suspiciously, looking at Harry then.

“Don't worry... Edward is trustworthy, he's my... Well, he's my boyfriend now” Harry muttered as he fingered the bird's head, which seemed to be quieter.

The vampire looked at them curiously.

“Witches and familiars share a special connection...” Harry said to the other “We are protect each other... She was kind of anxious to see me with you”

“Oh...”

“But everything is fine now… You can pet her if you want to” the human offered his arm with the bird toward the vampire.

Edward looked at Harry and cautiously lifted his fingers to the owl, which tilted her head. He touched her, feeling the texture of her silky, shimmering white feathers while Harry looked at them with a bittersweet expression.

“She's beautiful...” Edward said sincerely.

“She says thanks…” Harry smiled softly as he got up from the couch and walked to the window, extending his arm outward and causing Hedwig to fly away “You stay there… I'm going to the kitchen to get something to eat… I'm starving…”

Edward nodded, watching the boy walk down the hallway that led to the house's kitchen, leaving him alone in the living room. He took the opportunity to check his phone, opening incoming messages.

Alice: So how's my favorite couple?

Edward rolled his eyes as he typed.

None of your business.

Minutes passed and the phone vibrated.

Alice: rude!!!

Alice: I don't know how a sweetheart like harry could see something in you!

Alice: but whatever… send him a hug to me and say that esme wants him to come visit us because she misses her new son-in-law.

Edward sighed feeling embarrassed.

He hadn't announced to his family about the news of his relationship status, because he didn't want them to make a fuss and comments about it, but it was hard to hide the fact when everyone seemed attentive to his movements and soon all his parents found out and they reacted as expected: Alice hugged him and jumped through the house excitedly while Jasper offered a formal greeting and well wishes. Rosalie gave to him a rare and sincere smile telling him to  “don't push Harry away with his dramatic, angst, pessimistic thoughts”. Emmett was the worst: the muscular vampire had the audacity, the nerve to give him sexual advices, leaving Edward in deep shock while the rest of his siblings had convulsions of so much laughter at their expense.   

But no one was as happy as Carlisle and especially Esme.

His foster father patted him on the back, congratulating him and giving a long speech about how important it was for Edward to be optimistic about life and with the opportunity to perhaps find a mate. Esme, meanwhile, was in heaven, repeating how happy she was and telling her Harry was her perfect match since the night of Hermione's birthday party.

Not wanting to be alone, he got up from the couch, deciding to go to the kitchen to join the human. As he walked he noticed the absence of personal decoration in the wizard’s house as there was no suggestion that they were actually living there. Harry had explained to him that as they were passing, there was no reason for them to make this place permanent - which led Edward to panic momentarily at the thought that Harry might leave one day.

As he considered the details of a future where they would be together, Edward stopped as a cold air streamed through his body, sending a chill through him.

Looking to the side, he saw that a door was open. Approaching, he saw that the door gave access to the basement stairs of the house, the steps being taken in total darkness, that not even his keen hunter's vision could discern what was going on below them. Edward felt the tingling in the back of his neck and small electrical discharges in his body...

“What are you doing?”

The vampire blinked as he was taken aback by Harry staring at him while holding a plate with sandwich. Edward blinked and looked down, seeing that his hand was on the doorknob, something that made him perplexed because he doesn’t remember to do such action.

“Uh… nothing…” he said releasing the doorknob “I was going in the kitchen to meet you”

“Oh, I see...”

“What 's in here?” Edward asked with a nod to the door.

 “Nothing... Just some magical trash from me and my friends...” Harry smiled, snapping his fingers and locking the door.

“Let's go!”

Edward grinned as he put his hand on the shorter boy's shoulder, both walking into the living room so they could watch the horror movie again.

 

 

After the movie was over, Edward saw that Harry had fallen asleep on his side, looking peaceful in his sleep. The vampire gave a chaste kiss on the wizard's head, pulling a blanket to keep him warm on that cold, rainy night. Rising from the couch, careful not to wake him, he picked up the dirty dishes and walked into the kitchen, putting them in the washing machine. A few minutes later, Hermione had come through the back door while carrying a shopping bag.

“Hello Edward!”

“Hello, Hermione… How are you?”

“Perfectly fine… Where is Harry?” she asked as she set the bag on the counter.

“Sleeping on the couch ... He's tired for the hours you guys spent in the woods…” Edward said as he put his hands in his pockets.

Hermione stopped for a moment and smiled at last.

“Yeah, last night was a little exhausting for us... Ron is asleep so far ... In fact, almost hibernating I'd say...” the witch said casually as she unpacked her bag shopping “Are you guys having fun?”

“Yes, sure... A night full of blood and mutilation...” Edward pretended to frown as Hermione paled “We are watching a horror movie”

“Oohhh yeah, of course...” she laughed nervously.

The two remained in comfortable silence until Hermione murmured in a restrained voice.

“You know… I'm… I’m grateful to you”

“Hm… For what?”

The girl sighed as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, crossing her arms as she leaned against the counter.

“For making my friend happy these past few days… For making things lighter for him. It was so long ago that I didn't see him like that, since…” she murmured thoughtfully.

Edward looked down and smiled but was unable to miss the subtle message hidden in the witch's words.

“You mean… Since Cedric?” Edward asked cautiously.

Hermione raised her brown eyes to him in surprise, standing still for a few seconds until she gathered herself and nodded.

“Yes… In a way”

Edward was silent for a moment, staring at his shoe.

“Has Harry had any kind of relationship to anyone after him?” he asked uncertainly. 

The two were silent for a few seconds.

“Yeah...” Hermione replied “Well… He dated Ron's sister, Ginny, in the late 80's for a while...”

Edward bit his lower lip.

“Did he like her?”

Hermione looked thoughtful.

“Yes… But not the way she wanted it. Ginny was heartbroken but understood that Harry couldn't correspond to her on the same way ... He could never connect with her or other people after…” Hermione broke off abruptly.

The vampire frowned slightly, moistening his dry lips. He could once again feel that close in his chest and lump in his throat, unable to say anything for long minutes. Looking out the kitchen window, he saw the leaden gray sky with heavy clouds, while his curiosity for answers, which bordered on masochism, consumed him.

“How… How was he like?” 

Hermione seemed to be taken aback, but took a deep breath in understanding who Edward was asking.

“Cedric was… He was kind and good… Incredibly handsome too” the witch smiled wistfully as she seemed to revisit old memories “All the girls at school fancied him and I admit that I, too, for a short while period of time...”

Edward stared at the floor.     

“It's funny that after all those years, I still associate him the image of a Prince Charming… The kind who have shining armor and ride a white horse… And at times even made me believe in fairy tale, when I saw him with Harry, the way they interacted with each other...” she murmured with a vague look.

Hermione fell silent and went on.

“In addition to admiration, I confess that I felt a little jealous when I saw them... Not that I wanted one of them… But... I wanted someone to look at me the same way they look each other... I was quite romantic”

Edward's face collapsed into a hurt expression, catching the attention of Hermione who quickly turned regretful.

“Edward ... I'm so sorry, I...”

“No, no... It's...” he took a deep breath “It's okay, I just...”

He broke off, rubbing the back of his neck with his hand as he closed his eyes.

“What happened…” he whispered “What happened when he first saw me? How he reacted?”

Hermione pursed her lips in a thin line, seeming to ponder whether or not to tell.

“He... Well... When we arrived at home, he cried all day...” she said softly “Seeing you was somewhat shocking to all of us...”

Edward snapped his tongue on the roof of his mouth with a bitter smile.

“I understand that should be hard for you, this whole thing… It’s crazy, for sure... But don’t feel defeated by it” Hermione said cautiously, friendly putting her hand on the vampire’s one “I say this, because I believe in your potential... I think you’ll find a way to make it all work out...”

Edward smiled at her wistfully.

“Thanks... That means a lot to me” he answered at last, being interrupted by a vibration in his jeans pocket. “Sorry, just a moment”

He picked up his cell phone, seeing that it was a message from Alice.

Family meeting. Now.

“I have to go home...” he said putting his phone in his pocket “I'll talk to Harry before I go... Good night Hermione”

“Good night Edward… Say ‘hello’ to your family for me.”

Edward grinned and walked away, walking into the living room where Harry was still sleeping on the couch, wrapped in the blanket like a burrito. He approached the wizard, kneeling in front of him, carefully taking off his glasses, placing them on the coffee table in front and leading his fingers to the dark hair of the wizard. Edward would wake him up so he could say goodbye, but something made him stop.

Little flashes of images and sounds invaded his mind as if he were remembering something. It took the vampire long seconds to realize that he had found a breach in Harry's mental shields and that he was seeing the wizard's dreams at that very moment.

Edward was euphoric, smiling as he followed those images, for it was as if he were beside Harry in that dream, or rather as if he was dreaming about it himself.

Harry's dream was of himself walking through a forest where birds sang as rays of sunshine bathed the place in warm golden light, colorful butterflies perched on the various wildflowers along the way and in front of him a huge apple tree with green apples, except for one with a temptingly bright red color.

Harry from this dream was on his tiptoes and with some difficulty took the apple, taking a deep bite.

And suddenly they were no longer in an idyllic, beautiful and charming place.

It was now a creepy place where crows flew across a red sky, fire blazing in crackling flames in the trees of dry branches, a lot of smoke accompanied by a sickening smell that resembled sulfur. Edward saw that Harry looked startled to look at his blood-covered hands as he looked at the large apple tree that instead of fruit hung several rotting corpses. Then a noise echoed through that place, the sound of wood breaking and cracking... The trunk of the tree opened, leaving a huge humanoid creature, but at the same time animalistic , with a goat's head with long curved horns, in its belly a huge mouth in which sharp teeth seemed to want to devour whatever lay ahead, cracked hooves instead of feet...

That thing was the evil incarnate.

It was the Devil.

The Devil raised his hand with sharp claws toward them, rapidly approaching...

“FUCK!!!”

Their connection was broken and Edward could see in hundredths of seconds that Harry's body fell on the couch after it levitated for a few inches. The boy was panting as his heart was beating at a fast pace, wide eyes watching around him to see if he was indeed in that forest.

“Shhh, it's alright, it's alright, I'm here...” Edward said absorbed in fright as he hugged the human, rubbing his back gently as he wrapped his arms around his shoulders and neck, hiding his face in his chest.

Harry swallowed hard.

“Harry, it's alright ... It was just a nightmare... You're safe... I'm here... It was just a nightmare...” the vampire said, kissing his boyfriend's head “Breathe deep down... Follow my breath... Yes... Very good...”

The wizard stood for minutes until he regained his calm, cringing into the taller boy's embrace.

“I think it's time to stop to watch so many horror movies, don't you agree?” Edward's cold lips rubbed the boy's forehead, who laughed softly in response.

Harry straightened, looking at Edward shyly.

“Thank you...”

“No need to thank... I said I would protect you didn't I?” he teased.

“Oh, do not be pretentious...” Harry gave a slight slap on Edward's hand on his waist.

“My damsel in distress...” Edward fiddled with the wizard's lock of hair “So helpless and fragile...”

“I'll show you who is the damsel in distress...” Harry said sarcastically.

“I'm sure of it, but not for now… I have to go home.”

“So soon?”

“Unfortunately... Family meeting...”

“Oh...”

“But if you need me, just call me… Or do what you did that time, 'astral projection'… Whatever you prefer”

Harry sighed.

“Fine...” he stood up, holding Edward's hand as they both walked to the door.

“Before I forget, Esme asked to say she's missing you and wants to see you more often…”

Harry frowned.

“I know...” Edward shrugged “My parents might be too excited about this thing of us being together”

“Alright, I understand ... I like your parents, they're very kind” Harry said as he opened the door.

“Don’t say that in front of them because they’ll make everything even more embarrassing than already is” Edward said with a smile.

Harry laughed.

“Good night Ed”

“Good night, Harry” the vampire said, giving a chaste kiss on the other's lips. “See you tomorrow, my damsel”

“Get out, your jerk!”

Edward laughed as he walked toward his Volvo.

.

.

.

Edward walked into his house, walking into the living room, frowning when he saw that his parents and siblings were gathered in the room, all with concerned and thoughtful expressions.

“What is it?” The vampire asked.

“Alice had a vision...” Jasper said as he held his wife's hand.

“What did you see?”

“Son... First of all, be calm, all will be fine...” Carlisle said in prevention.

“We’ll take care of the situation. It will be all right” Esme assured him. 

Edward didn't like that at all.

“Alice... What did you see?!” He repeated through his teeth.

The little vampire looked at him with wide golden eyes.

“Victoria is on our way... With an army of newborns... She wants revenge on us and especially you... She knows about you and Harry”

Chapter Text

CHAPTER XIV

THREAT

It was absolutely silent in the woods that night, except for the sounds of the cold wind blowing through the tree branches as well as occasional thunders announcing that could rain at any moment.

As humans slept peacefully in their homes, feeling protected by their locked doors or even guns in their drawers, in the forests surrounding this quiet city they thought they knew so well, there were dangers far beyond their comprehension, dangers in which they thought there were existent only in horror movies... They didn't even dream that while sleeping at that moment, seven vampires were standing like statues in a spot of the woods, vampires they saw every day in their work or study places.

Lucy, a nurse at the Forks hospital who was just taking a nap between her shifts, could never have imagined that Dr. Carlisle Cullen, a brilliant doctor and extremely kind man who she saw daily, was actually a three hundred years old vampire. Jessica Stanley, volleyball athlete and future Forks High School Prom Queen, could never have imagined that the Cullens, the weirdest and most beautiful teenagers in the entire city, drank the blood from brown bears and deer every weekend.

But there they were.

All seven, aware of any sound or movement that might indicate the approach of an enemy they didn’t expect to meet - and to be honest, had even forgotten her existence.

"Are you sure this is where you saw her?" Carlisle asked Alice.

Everyone looked at her with different kinds of apprehensive expressions.

“Yes... At any moment she’ll come...” She answered with complete certainty, staring straight ahead and concentrating on keeping her mind focused in case she had a vision.

Edward kept his mouth shut in a thin line, his face a stoic expression. If Alice's vision was correct, Victoria would run through that part of the forest near the Calawah River at any moment, a move that was strange if they think carefully about it.

Jasper, with extensive experience in battles and battle strategy, has come up with two possibilities.

The first is that Victoria could be conducting a reconnaissance of nearby areas, a common thing to do when planning a tactic to attack enemies.

The second was that she was deliberately trying to draw the Cullens' attention to announce her presence or to lure them to a certain location and surprise them with an attack from her "army". This second option was worrying simply because they should remember that there was a group of newborns led by her, an army of vampires who were at the height of their physical strength but totally out of control, like wild animals.

As he waited impatiently, a part of Edward's mind remembered for the hundredth time the visions Alice had shown him — not exactly visions of things that would happen, of a future probability, but things that had already happened and were occurring.

.

Rain.

Lights blurred by water.

Distant sounds of car horns and sirens miles away.

She was hiding in the darkness of an alley in Seattle's industrial district near the pier. In silence she watched with her hunter's eyes a potential prey, but this time with a different purpose.

The first thing she felt was his scent being amplified by the damp rain air, a scent that made her mouth fill with venom and her throat burn with thirst.

She ignored her instinct. That wasn’t what she was there for.

Human eyes were too weak to see well in those conditions, but she could. She saw that he seemed like a good choice: tall, athletic, apparently healthy. He was perfect for her purposes.

She flew as faster than an arrow, pushing the man to the ground who was visibly stunned to be hit from nowhere.

"Who's there?" He said shakily as he looked around and saw no one. He repeated the question as he turned his back, trying to see what or who had done it.

She smiled, running once more toward him, this time throwing him against a wall, making him gasp in pain - or at least what he thought to be pain ... What a little fool! Soon he would know what real pain was. 

He got up and ran to the pier, but stopped for a moment, clenching his fists and shouting in defiance against her, probably driven by an adrenaline rush. She liked it ... Almost everyone she hunted behaved similarly to shaky, defenseless lab mice, even peeing in their pants in fear.

Not this one. He was tough.

Before he could say one more thing, she ran after him, taking his hand and digging her teeth into his skin, all in seconds. He fell to the ground, screaming in pain as the venom began to spread through his veins.

Now he knew what pain was.

.

.

Edward moved his head to his right in a fraction of seconds as he heard the sound of a branch being broken. Before he could run in that direction, Emmett put a hand on his chest, nodding for him to look carefully.

The bronzed-haired vampire saw that it was only a deer that, seeing them, ran away as fast as could. Animals had the same reaction upon finding a vampire, being driven by a prey's survival instinct as it was about to be hunted by its predator.

He returned to his starting position, even more tense than usual.

.

Victoria watched with some contempt and even disgust at the group of twenty-three newborns fighting among themselves over six humans who were looking in terror at these red-eyed demonic creatures. Three of them began fighting with each other, resulting in one having the head shattered in splinters like a marble statue and causing cries of horror in the chained humans.

Great.

Now she had twenty-two newborns for her army.

"It’s not enough” she said, modulating her voice so that it sounded melodious to the man beside her.

"I don't think it's wise... We're getting too much attention," he replied.

She turned to him with a seductive smile.

"Who cares?" She whispered, placing her hand on his arm suggestively. "We’re powerful... You’re powerful, darling… But we need more power!"

They turned to see that two more vampires had been dismembered as well as the blood of humans spilling over the wall and floor as the newborns clustered around them, biting them and sucking them into different limbs like arms, legs, hands and even face.

They all resembled like hungry dogs.

Victoria rolled her eyes.

“Of much more power”.

.

"She's almost coming..." Alice said to her family with a whisper. “Get ready!!!”

Edward flexed his legs in response, feeling a growl bubble in his chest in anticipation.

.

.

Victoria was sitting on a branch of a tree, shrouded in the darkness of the night, hundreds of feet from the Cullen house.

She noted that vampires seemed to have a kind of party.

She growled softly, furious that they were happy and carefree, celebrating something while she...

Victoria shook her head with a hateful expression sculpting her beautiful face, taking a deep breath and staying focused. Bouncing on the floor, she ran toward the house for a detailed view, but still keeping a considerable distance. She needed to know if their coven had grown larger or smaller.

She smiled to herself, thanking the fact that their home had those large windows that gave a good view of the inside. Looking at it, she recognized the blond man who was the head of the family, dancing with his wife. Quickly searching, she saw the tiny short-haired vampire, Alice... She knew her name because it was her James who turned Alice when she was a demented girl from a Mississippi sanatorium. Beside her was a blond guy who had several bite scars on his face, a blond girl who looked like a life-size Barbie, a tall, very muscular guy...

There were also two others, a red-haired boy and a dark-haired girl.

New additions to the coven?

She soon dismissed it. They were humans.

Rummaging again she finally saw him  the youngest of teenagers, the copper-haired vampire who killed her mate, dancing with a dark-haired human boy. Victoria watched the scene carefully, seeing they two spin smoothly with the sound of slow music until they kissed.  

She gave a cruel smile.

She already knew what to do.

.

.

“ON YOUR LEFT!!!” Alice exclaimed.

In milliseconds they all ran in the indicated direction.

Edward growled at the sight of Victoria's gust of red curls that contrasted with the darkness of the woods like flames of fire. She didn't even bother to turn to look at them and even though she was running at supernatural speed, she did it lightly, almost carefree.

She ran as if there weren't seven vampires hunting her right now.

“DON'T LET HER ESCAPE!!!” Rosalie shouted, irritated by the audacity of that tattered nomad who was acting so careless about them.

“NOT FUCKING WAY!!!” Emmett replied to his wife, leaping past Edward, staying a short distance from her until he grabbed her by the shoulder, making him smile at his victory by capturing her. “I GOT YOU!!!”

Emmett's joy was short because Victoria grabbed his arm and flung to the side, making him collide with violence in the trunk of a tree with a bang broke, falling in the way in which they run, delaying the persecution. Edward quickly swerved to the right and jumped in the path she followed, his eyes focused on not losing sight of her.

She was fast, very fast, her bare feet barely touching the ground as she ran, sliding gracefully and lethally between the trees like a panther during her hunt. As if having fun with chase, Victoria used the tree trunk to propel her legs, like acrobats of a circus show. Jasper growled angrily at that provocation, mimicking her movement and getting extremely close to catching her in midair, but failed by inches and milliseconds of synchronization.

“SHE’LL ESCAPE!!!” Esme shouted to her family as she saw to where Victoria was leading them.

“NO, SHE WON’T!” Edward shouted, running and jumping as far as he could, managing to be two yards away from her, close enough that the redhead's scent filled his lungs.

Hearing the sound of running water, Victoria jumped up, crossing the flowing river to set her feet on the other bank with a triumphant smile.

“STOP!!!” Carlisle shouted, causing all of them to immediately stop the persecution on the shore. “She’s in another territory!”

Edward's golden eyes were glassy as he stared at Victoria, who stared him back with her black eyes full of a twisted amusement, contempt and a bloodthirsty desire for revenge. Edward could read her thoughts, a succession of memories and random images that showed the deaths of innocents for the creation of her army, the face of James, both torturing and killing Bella, along with images that were idealizations of her sadistic desires.

She planned digging her hand into the chest of the black-haired boy, Harry, who would scream in deep agony, tearing out his still beating heart and throw out his body to her newborns who would drink his sweet blood. She imagined Edward witnessing it all and then killing him with his family. 

“I'm going to kill your little boyfriend... Slowly…  And I’ll make you watch everything” Victoria whispered with a smile, staring at him as if making a promise.

Edward lifted his upper lip revealing his razor-sharp white teeth, feeling his chest tremble at the beastly growl that grew in him and escaped through his venom-filled mouth. He growled loudly, a guttural sound that bordered on the demonic. His mind was taken over by his inner monster that would only be satisfied when it ripped the head off that bitch and she was burning into a pyre until turned to dust.

“EDWARD, NO!” Carlisle screamed in despair as he saw his younger and oldest son leap across the Calawah River, invading Quileute territory and breaking his own treaty with the chief of the tribe for decades.

Edward didn't care or even heard the clamor of his parents and siblings shouting for him to return.

He wouldn’t go.

That part of the forest was unknown, it smelled terribly of a wet dog like all wolves and there was really a possibility that he was headed straight for a trap, but Edward went on, growling furiously at the vampire who was laughing wildly when she saw that she had teased him like that... How it would end, only God knew.

Looking up, he jumped up, holding on to a branch and using it as a prop to propel his body into a great leap, landing his feet effortlessly on the ground and getting very close to her, reaching out to grab her. A little longer and he would hold her in a deadly hug, already feeling the sensation.

“URGH!!!”

Edward was hit by something coming from his right side, landing violently on the dirt floor while a body was on top of him. Blinking, still feeling stunned by the unexpected movement, he saw fangs of the size of a little finger was inches from distance from his face, brown eyes dominated by fury and claws that reduced his shirt  to shreds but being inefficient to damage the petrified skin of his chest.

‘Got you, leech!’ Jacob Black's mind proclaimed in a mixture of victory and fury as he growled in his animalistic form. 

Edward growled back, breaking free of the huge wolf that crouched his front legs in an attacking position, his sharp canines exposed as the hairs of his back were raised. The vampire gave a quick glance at the direction he was running… Victoria was already gone. Looking ahead, he saw that Jacob was beginning to approach in slow steps, ready for the attack.

"Jacob..." Edward raised his hands in redemption, controlling himself to use his calmer tone of voice. “I don't want to fight... Please…”

‘You’ll not fight, leech, you’ll die! You’ll pay for what you did!!!’

Quick footsteps accompanied by grows were heard by the vampire and soon he was surrounded by seven wolves of different colors and sizes, leading by one who was the largest of all, black-haired, mature-looking and majestic in bearing.

Sam Uley.

‘Jacob... Back off!’ His mental voice commanded. 

Jacob growled in response as another wolf approached him, gray-haired. Edward recognized as Leah Clearwater, the only woman in Sam's pack.

‘He has invaded the territory, Sam... We have every right to kill him!’ Leah threw her thoughts to her Alpha, while part of the wolves agreed on a chorus of supportive thoughts. 

‘And cause a war with his family? Make one of you...’ Sam looked at the younger wolves except for Jacob ‘...to die? Is that what all of you want?!’  

‘The treaty says ...’ Jacob replied. 

Sam growled loudly at Jacob and even Edward felt the urge to take a small step back in respect.

‘I know very well what the treaty says and I don't need you to remind me, Jacob. The role of the pack is to protect our people and we’ll not achieve this by seeking fights that will cause preventable deaths. Stop thinking only about you and your personal revenge... Back off!’

‘This has nothing to do with her, Sam…’ Jacob replied sourly, approaching Edward with his fangs showing. 

‘Jacob...’

Jacob glared at Edward as the vampire stared at his own reflection in the wolf's brown eyes, seeing that even though his own face seemed calm, his mind was utter chaos.

‘JACOB, I TOLD TO BACK OFF!’ Seth used his Alpha command to Jacob, who grunted as he stepped back along with Leah, the rest of the wolves bowing their heads in respect for their leader.  

Seth approached the vampire, his dark brown eyes narrowed in distrust.

‘You're Cullen telepath, right? Can you understand me? Can you hear me?’

Edward blinked in astonishment, shaking his head in positive.

‘Good... The rest of your kind are in our territory?’

No. On the other bank of the river.” Edward answered. 

‘Um... Right. Wait for me for a moment.’ Sam said turning his back to Edward, but glancing at the other wolves. ‘As for you, I want to see you exactly where you are when return. Understood?’

The rest of the pack stared at each other, their thoughts of pure hostility being grudgingly restrained by their Alpha's command.

‘Don't think this is over Cullen’ Jacob scolded. 

Edward clenched his jaw and stared at the floor with an expression of concern, not at Jacob Black's threats, but at his failed attempt at capture. By now Victoria was several miles away, meeting her gradually growing army of newborns... He clenched his fists as he remembered the threat she had made, her intention to use Harry as revenge and the way she wanted to do that... No! He wouldn’t allow her to touch a single strand of Harry's hair, he wouldn’t make the same mistake in underestimating his enemies as he did when he was with Bella. He learned his lesson.

He would protect Harry at all costs.

“Shall we?”

Edward lifted his head and saw that Sam was in human form, wearing a threadbare denim shorts with a sleeveless shirt while holding a brown envelope in one hand.

“To where?” Edward asked.

“Take me to your leader.” Sam said. “The rest of you continue the patrol under Jared's orders and remember... Constant vigilance!"

The wolves nodded and ran together in one direction, deep into the woods, leaving Edward alone with Sam.

The two began to walk, Edward at a human pace to respect the condition the Quileute Alpha was in, both silent for twenty long minutes. Arriving on the banks of the river, he saw that his family was still there, everyone's face carved with expressions of anxiety, fear and apprehension. Emmett was the first to see him, whistling for his family to see that he had arrived.

Sam had taken a step forward, placing his hands behind his back in a position similar to a soldier.

“I want to talk to clan chief Cullen.” Sam said in a normal tone of voice because he knew that vampires could hear him without problems.

The vampires looked at each other suspiciously and Carlisle sighed before jumping over the Calawah River, followed by his wife and children.

As they laid their feet on the floor, Esme shot Edward a look of maternal concern as she saw the state of his shirt, with clear claw marks and wondered if he had dueled a wolf. Edward shook his head quickly, assuring a look that he was well.

“First, I would like to offer my sincere apologies for the irresponsible behavior...” Carlisle told while looking to his fist adoptive son “... in which Edward did. It is not something that will be repeated again. “

Edward would say something, being immediately cut off by Esme.

“I hope this incident can be forgiven and forgotten by you, we don't want any kind of conflict. Our coven has always respected and will respect the Quileutes and the treaty that guarantees our peaceful coexistence.” The matriarch said with a kind smile.

“It's good to hear that..." Sam said in a calm voice. “... but that's not why I came here.”

Carlisle blinked incredulously, as did the rest of the group.

“No?”

“No.”

Sam paused for a moment, taking a deep breath as he held the envelope in both hands. Edward pondered for a moment the contents of what the Alpha carried so carefully.

“A week ago, the youngest of our pack, Seth, disappeared while doing a routine patrol on La Push beach…”

Edward immediately felt that this report wouldn’t end well.

“… We searched for almost two days, finding only his clothes near the coast, but the scent trail had been erased by the rain.”

“Did you call any authority?” Carlisle asked.

“We couldn’t. If the police came to us, they would start investigating us, which would eventually lead to suspicions about the pack. We would become suspicious.”

“But it's the disappearance of a teenager... You should have contacted the police.”

“If any of your..." Sam looked with disgust at the five young vampires and then at Esme. "... Children disappeared, would you go to the police?"

Esme shrugged, understanding what he wanted to mean.

“In any case the Forks police also went to our reserve as some teenage boys had disappeared on the same day as Seth. The police found their car on the road, no theft or tampering signs.” Seth explained.

“I think I read about it on the local news...” Jasper said, drawing attention to him. “They were studying at Forks High School and some students also commented on their disappearance... It was the first case since Newton's son.”

It's not about disappearances anymore.” Sam said in a voice free of any emotion. 

“A vampire attacked them?” Edward asked.

“No... We found them in a remote part of the forest.” Sam replied, hesitating for a moment. Edward tried to read his thoughts, but they were troubled by the strong emotions Sam tried to tame in order to express himself. Opening his eyes, the Alpha handed the envelope to Carlisle, who reluctantly took it in his hands.

Carlisle opened the envelope that was filled with photographs.

"Good Heavens..." the patriarch gasped, his golden eyes filled with terror.

Edward projected his power into Carlisle's mind, seeing through him what he saw.

Three mutilated decaying corpses hanging from crosses, with signs of torture and other atrocities, including one, with the decapitated head replaced by a goat’s one. The next image showed Seth lying naked on the ground, his body also rotting, open and with signs that the flesh of his thighs and belly had been torn and cut.

Edward felt deeply disgusted, just as when he had seen Mike Newton's body, only now much worse than before, worse than he could imagine.  

Jasper took the photos from Carlisle's hands and soon all the Cullens saw the contents of the images, all horrified, especially Esme, that if she could, she would be in tears.

"He was..." Sam paused for a moment. "Seth was murdered and had parts of his body eaten... It was a mark of human teeth, but not like yours. Your venom would leave specific marks on the body.”

"My God..." Esme gave a dry sob as she was hugged by her husband.

Seth paused for a moment longer, staring at his callused hands.

“He was just fifteen years old... He was under my responsibility.” He whispered.

“It wasn't your fault.” Carlisle whispered back.

Sam ignored, too bitter to be comforted by the words of a leech.

“After we found them, I photographed everything and buried the three humans in the woods. Seth's funeral and burial was the day before yesterday.” Sam went on. “I took the photos to the council of elders and we agreed that given the situation, even with our rivalry, we should have a conversation... So here I am."

Sam paused.

“Have you ever seen something like this? Do you know what could do this?”  

Carlisle shook his head, his eyes fixed on the emptiness.

“No... I don’t know anything with this kind of evilness.”

"Witches..." Edward whispered unconsciously and frowning. “Witches…”

Sam looked at the bronze-haired vampire as if he was out of his mind.

“What did you said?!”

“There are witches in Forks…” The vampire answered with conviction. “The full moon is the moment when they... Perform rituals to extend their magical powers...”

Carlisle's eyes widened.

"Edward, aren't you suggesting that ..." his father said in dismay as his siblings began to look at each other.

“NO!!!” Edward protested looking at everyone. "No... Harry would never, never do that. Neither his friends... Our friends for the love of what is sacred!!!" 

“Who is Harry?! What does he know about this?!” Sam took a step toward Edward, his voice starting to get deeper.

Edward went silent.

“WHO IS HARRY?!”

“Harry, huh, he is my boyfriend. He, like his friends are... Witches. But not this kind!”

Sam started to growl, his fangs starting to grow. He was about to transform into the fullness of his lupine form.

“So, your boyfriend killed Seth, is that what you're telling me?!” he growled, moving closer to Edward, who was quickly supported by his siblings, surrounded him in a kind of protective circle.

“Don't you dare touch him, your mongrel!” Rosalie growled at the man.

“Remember you're at a disadvantage here...” Jasper threatened as Emmett clenched his fists with a crackle sound. 

“You all, stop now!” Esme begged, approaching them with fear that it would result in an unwanted fight.

Both groups ignored her.

“No!” Edward continued, looking at Sam steadily, but a part of his mind was already in regret “It wasn't them, I was at Harry's house on the night Seth was killed! I was with them... It couldn't have been them!!! It wasn't them!!!” 

“And you expect me to believe you?!” Sam growled.

“You'll have to believe it if you don't want to hurt innocent people like Seth was!” Edward said. He knew it was a low blow on his part to use Seth as an argument, but he wanted to prove a point.

Sam stepped back, still enraged, but less than before, his claws digging into his palm until the blood dripped, the smell was unpleasant enough to not arouse interest in the vampires.

"I demand to talk to this Harry!" Sam growled. 

“No! No way... Out of the question!!!” Edward answered.

“If not for good... I guarantee it will be for bad!” Sam threatened.

Edward broke free of his siblings, pointing his index finger at the wolf.

“Don't you dare come near him!!!” He threatened back.

“If your ‘boyfriend’...” Sam spat the word with disgust “... is so innocent as you claim, he has nothing to hide, isn’t it?”

Once again, everyone looked at Edward, expecting some reaction from him. He knew that everyone's opinion, especially that of his family, would depend on how he reacted to Sam's words.

Edward didn't want to expose Harry to one more unnecessary risk, but now it seemed impossible. If it wasn't enough to have Victoria, who wanted to rip his heart out, now Harry would have to suffer the mistrust a raging pack of werewolves, or rather shapeshifters, who believed he was guilty without even seeing him.

"Very well. I'll talk to him and we'll appoint a date to this meeting" Edward said resolutely. "But it will be at my house, with me and my family watching everything,"

Alice blinked in confusion and then her face illuminating with realization.

"Edward, I don't always say that, but you're genius!" Alice gave him a discreet smile of satisfaction.

Edward nodded a little. Their house was still with the protection that Harry and his friends casted and if the wolves crossed the line, they certainly would be in trouble.

“So it’s decided...” Carlisle approached, using his old pacifying tone. “You and your pack are invited to come to my house to talk about it... You will be welcome as long as you respect the mate of my son.”

Sam's mouth was in a thin line, his mind bubbling with anger as he saw that he was in a dead-lock: on the one hand he didn't want to subject himself to the terms given by the leeches, his mind encouraging him to search with his pack every corner of Forks until they find 'Harry and his friends' and extract the truth of them, even if using not-so-legal-methods, but on the other hand he knew that in doing so he would start a battle against the Cullens, ending the "Cold War" that existed between wolves and vampires and that guaranteed the peace of all.

He was at their mercy and hated them even more for it.

“Alright... The sooner it is the better.” Sam said finally, his jaw clenched.

“Glad to hear it Sam.” Carlisle said respectfully as he held out his hand, which was rejected by the young man.

“I...” Esme said as she approached, her face marred with pity and compassion. “I'm really, really sorry about what happened to Seth and I can't imagine how much you’re all suffering from his loss."

“His death will not be in vain" Sam said, looking at all vampires “He’ll be avenged.”

"I'm sure so ..." Carlisle said, placing his hand on Esme's shoulder "And all of us would be honored to be able to help with whatever you need.”

“Great!” Sam said sarcastically, starting to walk towards the part of the forest belonging to the wolves, but turning then. “Before I leave... What are you all doing here in the first place?”

The vampires looked at each other for a moment. Another problem to be solved.

“Are you watching the news from Seattle and the region?” Jasper asked.

“Yeah... A wave of gang killings or something...” Sam said with some disinterest.

“No... It's not gangs.” Alice said. “These are traces left by... Our kind. A vampire, Victoria, is creating an army of newborns to take revenge on us.”

“What a pity.” Sam said with irony. “Good luck to you all.”

“Good luck to all of us, for she will come with them here.” Alice replied.

Sam's wry smile faded.

“What?”

“That's what you heard. We don't know when, but she will come. It will just be the beginning of a carnage.” Jasper added.

Sam paused for a moment, looking around and taking a deep breath.

“I will take this to the council of elders.” He replied. “If true, the wolves will have to defend the city.”

“It is true!” Edward replied sourly. “I was running after her and would almost capture her if it wasn't for Jacob Black attacking me!!!”

Sam looked at Edward incredulously.

“Wait a minute... Is that why you are here? That's why you...” Sam pointed to Edward “...invaded our territory?”  

“Yes” Edward answered. “For what reason would I invade your territory in the first place?”

“You're crazy... No... You all are!” Sam said in awe.

“Pardon me?” Esme asked confused.

“There was no one in our territory! That crazy red-head bloodsucker here...” Sam pointed again to Edward “...was running through the woods, growling and grunting to nothing until Jacob stopped him.”

The Cullens were paralyzed. 

Edward's golden eyes widened at Sam.

“No, no! She was there! My family and I chased her, she jumped the river and came to your part of the territory!” He argued.

“No, you vegetarian leech, there was nobody! I guarantee to you, if a vampire were in our area, we would have destroyed immediately!” Sam replied. “I ask you to return to your territory... And I look forward to meeting this Harry.”

Edward and his family watched Sam transform into a huge black wolf, disappearing into the woods. As if waking up from a trance, one by one they jumped over the river, running back toward the mansion, all too confused to say anything.

That was not possible.

They saw her, smelled her, Emmett even physically touched her as well had been attacked by her and now Sam said there was no one? It made no sense... Although things in the last few months made no sense... They would think about that at a better time.

Edward felt his mind exhausted by the over-information he had as well as the roller coaster of emotions he had spent in a so short time... Victoria, the newborns, the threat to Harry's life and the hatred that she incited him... The wolves, Jacob's resentment against him, the barbaric murder of Seth and the other three humans, Sam's demands, the fact that there were other witches in Forks who were already behind it, Sam threatening him and his family and saying that Victoria wasn't there... And lastly the fact that Edward had lied to everyone by saying that he was with Harry the night Seth had disappeared.

He wasn’t.

He saw Harry only the next night, where he watched horror movies with him on the living room couch.

Edward lied not to raise unfounded suspicions against his boyfriend and new friends, after all, he had made this mistake himself before. It wasn't as if Harry, Ron, and Hermione had anything to do with it.

They were innocent.

Harry was innocent.

He knew that... Didn’t he know?  

 

Chapter Text

CHAPTER XV

THE RIVAL

Harry was a boy with routines.

In his bedroom at night, he would put his vinyl records to play while reading books, doing his homework, writing in what appeared to be a notebook or with his phone for a few minutes, texting Edward or checking his emails. After some time, when the clock struck 1 a.m., Harry turned off the room lights with a wave of hand, curling on his blanket, leaving only the tuft of his black hair uncloaked, his breathing slowing down while gradually was beginning to fall asleep. From time to time he had mumbled something incomprehensible and even levitated from his bed, but that only happened around 3 a.m. when he was in a deep state of sleep.

In the morning he woke up irritably, magically throwing the alarm clock against the wall, causing the object to shatter and then be repaired by a spell until it was in perfect state. With unruly hair, eyes heavy with sleep, still wearing his pajamas consisting of sweatpants that fell seductively on his hips complemented by an oversized cotton shirt, he walked slowly to the bathroom while his bed was tidied up with magic and garments still on the hanger floated until they landed on the mattress.

After half an hour, Harry came out of the bathroom wrapped in a fluffy white towel with the drops of water still running down his back and some still trapped in his hair, sparkling like dew. With a flick of his fingers, he dried his hair and stopped in front of the mirror to get dressed - but unlike other humans (or vampires) who needed to wear piece by piece, Harry only gave a slight spin in front of his reflection and when he stopped, he was wearing the clothes. If he didn't like the result, he would spin again, changing his clothes in just two seconds. When satisfied with his appearance, he would take his bag and leave the room, ready for another day at Forks High School.

Edward knew this routine, for the past four days he had observed it.

Anonymously, of course.

After the strange and inexplicable episode with Victoria and the veiled threat of Sam Uley, it became clear that Harry was no longer unknown to his long-standing and enemy: the wizard was now the target of a furious and mistrust wolf pack and a vengeful vampire, who wanted to kill him at any cost. And Edward had no more peace of mind and consequently began to guard and protect his boyfriend from anyone who dared to attack him. He wouldn’t make the same mistake again.

And once again, there he was, climbing a tree that had a good view to the wizard's bedroom window, hiding in the shadows of the night whose sky was covered by thick layers of clouds and sitting on a thick branch enough to support his weight. He wouldn’t leave until dawn and when he was sure that Harry was safe enough, only to meet the boy minutes later on the school.

And as Harry nibbled on the tip of a pen as he continued his nightly reading where he occasionally looked out the window and turned his attention to the book, Edward was unable to not think how repetitive this situation was.

Over a year ago, on the other side of town, he had been making his "night visits" at Bella Swan's house, and for a while she didn't know that either. Edward found that Bella enjoyed reading classic novels like Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte, had a disorganized but always clean room, and that even though she was introvert and shy when awake, she chattered in her sleep, repeating the vampire's name several times. Edward again felt that bitter feeling of regret as he remembered the human girl and everything that happened...

And he would continue to relive such feelings if it were not for the fact that Harry no longer read but opened the window as he thrust his body out, his face contorted in an expression of impatience.

Edward went on alert.

Would anyone have started any attacks?!

Would the newborns have advanced without him noticing?!

Was it Sam and his pack?!

“Edward...” Harry said impatiently in a low voice, but perfectly audible to the other supernatural boy “I know you 're there. Come here!”

The vampire blinked in disbelief, paralyzed for long seconds.

“I'll count to five... If you don't come here right now, I swear I’ll call the police!” Harry repeated “One... Two... Three...”

Edward awoke from his dazed state, feeling as embarrassed as a child being caught by his parents in doing something that was forbidden. A small part of his head seriously considered running home and feigning dementia when Harry asked about it on the next day, but it was too late, for he was already walking toward the wizard's house, who was looking at him sharply from above.

“Come here!” The wizard ordered before leaving the window.

The vampire leaped effortlessly to the window and into Harry's room, staring at Harry with narrow eyes and crossed arms.

“Good Evening...” Edward whispered.

“Good Evening.” Harry answered dryly.

“Well, I was passing by and...”

“Oh spare me that lame excuse Edward! You're an awful liar” Harry scolded “I know you've been watching me for days.”

Edward felt ashamed.

“The first few times I let go, but now you're pissing me off.... Why are you watching me?”

The bronze- haired vampire was silent, considering what to answer.

“I... I'm not watching you...”

Harry frowned in response, causing the other to shrug.

“Okay, I'll rephrase it...” Edward approached him. “I'm watching over you, but it's to make sure you're safe.”

The wizard raised an eyebrow.

“Safe from what?”

“There are many dangers in Forks, Harry…” Edward explained with a soft voice “And… well… Ensuring your safety is my duty.”

“Your duty?” Harry said skeptically. “And your duty is basically what, Edward? Protect me from lightning and thunder while I sleep?”

“That’s too, if necessary” Edward answered seriously, causing Harry to unexpectedly laugh in response and the vampire was happy to say that as the wizard seemed to relax a little bit.

“If you're aware of it, it's not necessary… I'm not afraid of that. Actually, I'm not afraid of almost anything” Harry replied mildly “But seriously now, I know there's something you’re hiding from me.”

Edward looked away.

“This city isn’t safe ...” he repeated.

“Forks?” Harry asked skeptically.

Edward kept his gaze to the side.

“Edward, look at me...” Harry approached trying another approach by placing both hands on the perfect chiseled face of the vampire. “Tell me what's going on”

“No.”

“Edward...” Harry repeated, his tone getting hard.

“It's nothing... It's just my unreasonable concern...” he tried to mislead.

“Concern for what?”

“Nothing in particular, I'm just being super protective, you know... There’s nothing, so… How was your day?” He tried once more to change the topic.

“Cut it out and talk right now” Harry snapped.

Edward was silent for long seconds.

“You won't give up until you know, do you?”

“No.” Harry was incisive.

“What if I go out the window? Or keep my mouth shut without saying anything?”

“Then, you'll find out what I do to people when they don’t tell me the information I want” Harry said in a somber tone, his pupils contracting to as a supernatural glow emerged in his eyes.

“Harry...”

“Don't make me to do it with you!” the wizard snapped.

Edward was silent as Harry stared at him.

“So…?”

“Alright...” Edward sighed in defeat “But first, I want to assure you that we are making every effort to prevent something from happening. I, mostly… Nothing will happen. ”

“Prevent what?”

“The newborns...”

“Yes, what about them?”

“They were with Victoria.” Edward said cautiously.

Harry pouted as he seemed to think.

“Hmm…Who?”

Edward took a deep breath.

“Victoria...The James's mate, who… Killed Bella...” Edward said slowly as his voice died as he finished the sentence.

“Ooohh yes... That one” Harry's face lit up for a second as he remembered the conversation he had with Edward at the school cafeteria months earlier “What about her?”

“She's behind everything, the Seattle attacks... She’s creating newborns.” the vampire said cautiously “She's doing this for a specific reason, which is revenge on me.”

Harry seemed to think for a moment.

“And it’s creating an army...” Harry reasoned with the pieces of information he had “She's after you for revenge... And consequently after me, isn’t it?”

Edward nodded.

“But she and her monsters won't touch you with a finger!” Edward assured him, caressing the other's warm face “I will not allow it!”

Harry seemed to think for a moment and took a deep breath.

“Well... This will be fun” Harry's eyes twinkled “Things have been very quiet lately... Ron will be excited to hear about this.”

“What?” Edward blinked in disbelief for the second time that night “Harry… Did you hear what I said?”

“Yes...” Harry hummed as he jumped on his bed, sitting on the edge “A vampire and her army are behind us... So what?”

“'So what'?”

“Yeah… So what?” Harry repeated coldly “It's not like we can't handle it”

“Harry...” Edward approached him, his tone worried “Newborns are vile, animalistic creatures… Fifteen of them would be enough to decimate this entire city in an hour… You have no idea how serious this is, especially when they are controlled by someone whose goal, the only goal is hurting me through you. ”

“Edward...” Harry said his name slowly, as if talking to a child. “Let them come, and we'll be prepared. Stop acting like a drama queen”

He opened his mouth to say something but closed it. There was no point in discussing this when Harry acted so naturally and carefree.

“But there’s another thing that you want to tell me, right?” Harry said calmly “What else are you trying to protect me from?”

The vampire passed closed his eyes.

There was still that.

“The pack of wolves...”

This time Harry took a deep breath.

“What about them?” He said monotonously.

“One of them... Well ...” Edward murmured. “One of them, a boy of fifteen, was killed along with three others in the reserve...”

“Killed?” Harry asked with a frown, his attention focusing for what was said “Killed like ... Like that other boy?”

“Yes... In similar circumstances, but worse than that of Mike Newton, if possible... The alpha of the pack showed us the pictures he took... There are no words to describe how…. Evil it was”

Harry paled.

Hell...” the wizard said softly, thinking about information until his face was suspicious “And how exactly did it get to me?”

Edward froze like a statue as he remembered who had talked about Harry and his friends. Oops...

“Edward...” Harry said with narrow eyes.

“I'm so sorry...” Edward said exasperated. “I didn't mean to, it was inadvertently… I was so shocked that I ended up talking too much…”

Harry's green eyes stared at him with fury.

“I see!” The wizard countered “Now they think my friends and I are guilty?!”

“No! I mean, maybe, but I guarantee that everything will be okay.” Edward explained. “Sam, the pack's alpha, just wants to talk to you. There's nothing to fear, Harry... You're innocent”

Edward paused for a moment, his face turning neutral.

“…Aren’t you?”

“Of course I am! Edward... ” Harry gasped in surprise “Are you suspicious of me?! Is that the reason you are watching me?!”

Edward bit his lower lip and went on.

“Harry... They were killed on the same full moon night you and your friends were in the woods...” Edward said cautiously “These are suspicious circumstances for…  For other people”

“Yes, I told you so myself…” Harry confirmed “But I want to know about you. Are you suspicious of me?”

Edward paused for a moment as the wizard's face took on an angry expression every second of his silence.

“OUT!!! GET OUT!!!” Harry said furious, pointing to the window.

“No, Harry, wait!!!” Edward exclaimed exasperated “Wait… That's not what you're thinking, I swear!!!”

“Oh no?!” the wizard replied, feeling betrayed “I can see in your eyes!”

“What do you mean?” Edward asked confused.

“Why do I feel that deep down you will always be suspicious of me when something like this happens?” Harry said.

Edward shook his head as he wrapped Harry's body against his in an immobilizing hug in a split second, kissing the boy’s hair tenderly in an attempt to soothe him.

“I swear I’m not suspicious at you, my darling... I know that you, Ron or Hermione wouldn't be capable to do anything so... So evil...” the vampire whispered, while Harry fell silent “I know that as well as my family. Believe me”

Harry swallowed hard, standing still for long minutes while Edward's arms still wrapped around his body.

“So he wants to talk to me?” The wizard asked softly, his cheek resting on the other's chest.

“Yes… The meeting will be in my house and I'll be by your side all the time… I won't let any of those dogs do anything to you…” he reassured as his fingers stroked the wizard’s hair.

“Oh...” Harry whispered.

“I trust you... With all my heart.” He added.

Edward lifted the boy's chin, pressing their lips on a chaste kiss, his free hand stroking the wizard’s waist as their bodies kept a proper distance - their kisses were still calm, gentle and without pressure because the vampire respected the fact that Harry was still adapting to the idea that they were in a relationship, despite the circumstances .

But at times like these, when Harry was in his arms, Edward felt his other self scratching the mental walls of self-control that he had built over the decades, an alter ego of himself that had been born the moment he became a vampire. This other Edward was more primitive, animalistic, dark, sexual... This Edward growled with satisfaction as he felt his hands on the wizard's warm and small body, delighted in imagining touching him in a more intimate way, being able to make Harry moan his name and beg for more on the moment he was inside him, between his warm legs, claiming him in every way a man could do... All these primitive desires that until then were asleep, was now exploding violently into Edward's mind, but he could only suppress this explosion through chaste kisses.

Edward jerked back in an abrupt leap, gasping as a lightning bolt passed through his stony body as Harry stared at him with wide eyes.

“Hey is everything okay? Did I do something wrong?” Harry asked.

Edward closed his eyes, breathing through his mouth as he tried to think of anything other than the fact that he was starting to have an erection.

“Yes, just ...” he took a deep breath once more “Just need a second...”

He counted to five and opened his eyes again, seeing that the wizard was still looking at him with concern.

“Your eyes ... They’re black!” Harry exclaimed softly.

Edward stared into the mirror across the room, seeing his own face in a frightened mask as his eyes were black as onyx, a physical sign shown by vampires when they were thirsty... Or when they were possessed by their primitive instincts – including the sexual instincts.

“My sincere apologizes...” the vampire whispered, shaking his head as if trying to shake off that trace of his dirty thoughts “I almost lost my control.”

“Because of my blood?” Harry asked innocently, worried in cause discomfort on his boyfriend.

“Yeah...” he replied simply, turning toward the window “I'm going back to my vigil. Sleep well Harry”

“Wait...” Harry approached him.

Edward turned to look at him.

“Yes…?”

“Don't go... Stay, please...” the wizard blushed softly as he said the words.

“I don't think it's appropriate” Edward straightened.

Harry raised his eyebrow skeptically.

“And being outside my house, watching me sleep all night on a tree, is appropriate?!” the wizard sneered.

“How do you know that?” Edward mumbled and looking to the window where a white owl was on the railing “Oh... Hedwig!”

“It would be comical if it wasn't weird, you know...” Harry joked.

“It's not weird...” Edward defended himself “Once again, I was protecting you... And I...”

“...And you?”

“I like watching you sleep. It's kind of fascinating” he admitted.

“This is so weird, Ed…” Harry laughed “Next time I'll call the police”

Edward would have blushed if he could.

“But since you want to do your 'vigil'... You can stay with me...” Harry continued with a sweet smile.

“Alone... In your room ...?” The vampire smiled.

“Yes... How scandalous...” the wizard whispered as if it were a secret, making Edward laugh out loud.

“If you insist...” Edward said finally, while looking at Harry intently.

Harry was once again wearing his sweatpants with an emerald green knitted wool sweater with a big “H” on the front, the color of the garment further enhancing his eyes.

“I like your sweater...” Edward muttered, causing Harry smiled while looking down and touching the fabric.

“Oh thank you ... Ron's mom who made it for me... In all the Yules she knits a sweater for family and friends...” the wizard smiled affectionately as he remembered the Weasley matriarch.

“Yules?”

“Muggles celebrate Christmas... Witches celebrate Yule .” Harry explained.

“Oh, I see... Anyway, it suits you...” the vampire complimented earnestly, causing Harry's cheeks to be dyed pink. Edward looked around Harry's room and exclaimed “So this is where you rest...”

The room was small but comfortable.

A spacious bed lined with soft white sheets and inviting-looking pillows. A desk with Harry's MacBook beside scattered papers and piles of different textbooks on the surface. There was also a small shelf of aged-looking books written in a language that Edward couldn’t read; On the wall were posters of old movies, as well as a red and gold pennant pinned over the bed, with the word “GRYFFINDOR” written with a lion figure.

'Would it be some English rugby team?' Edward pondered for a moment.

But what was most striking was the ceiling: above them was a night sky dotted with stars and galaxies, so close and so real that Edward was sure he could reach one if he raised his hand high.

“Wow, that's... Breathtaking,” he said in wonder.

“I know…” the wizard whispered as he lay back on the bed and offered for Edward to lie beside him “It's a similar spell used in the ceiling of Hogwarts Great Hall”

“Hogwarts? Your magic school?” Edward asked as he lay down next to the wizard.

“Yes...” Harry confirmed with a smile.

“Must be a fantastic place...”

“Yeah, it is... ”

The two stood for long minutes, watching the starry sky to move in a cosmic dance while occasional shooting stars streaked that celestial dome.

“That’s the Canis Major constellation...” Edward whispered as he pointed forefinger at the aforementioned group of stars as silver lines drew the shape of the constellation.

“And that's Sirius, the brightest star in the sky!” Harry said softly with an affectionate smile forming on his lips.

Edward looked at the wizard for a moment curiously.

“What is it?”

Harry chuckled softly, approaching Edward as he rested his cheek on the vampire's broad shoulder.

“Sirius is my godfather's name...” the wizard explained in a homesick tone.

“Oh...” Edward immediately became interested in the direction of the conversation, as he loved to know a little more about Harry’s past and his family “How is he?”

“He is almost like a second father to me, although not quite what you would expect from a 'conventional' godfather ...” the British boy said as his fingers play with the necklace around his neck. “He looks like a rebel rock star, with the ‘I-don’t-give-a-fuck' attitude along with the tattoos… At first sight, he may seem a little frightening, but in fact he’s a prankster at heart”

Edward smiled at those words so full of affection.

“We in the family call him Padfoot.”

“Padfoot?”

“Yeah... It's because he can turn into a big black dog and he has big paws...” Harry laughed softly making the vampire laugh too.

“Oh… He's an… What's the name again?”

“Animagus.”

“That’s one… Are you an animagus too?”

“No, I’m not yet” Harry explained. “But my papa can turn into a big stag”

Edward grinned at the wizard as his gaze dropped to the necklace he always wore.

“It's an exquisite piece...” he said leading his fingers up to the delicate golden bird pendant with wings that connected the thin gold chain.

“It's a Golden-Snidget...” the wizard explained, his smile fading.

“A-what?”

“A magical, golden-feathered bird that flies faster than a hummingbird… For centuries past, they were hunted by wizards for fun and sport, but nowadays they are in a state of conservation. In Quidditch we use the Golden Snitch, which is a mechanized version of them.” Harry explained.

“This has some meaning behind?” Edward asked as his fingers played with the pendant.

“Snidgets are monogamous birds… When they find a partner, the Silver-Snidget, they stay with them for the rest of their lives”

“A romantic gift so...” Edward smiled at Harry, but the wizard lowered his eyes, his face taking on a sad countenance.

Edward stood still for a moment, wondering why that sudden change of mood of the wizard, who had once been so cheerful and affectionate but now distant and melancholy. Would he have said something he shouldn't have? Looking back at the necklace, Edward slowly understood why it was around Harry's neck - the reason caused him to feel the same bitterness he felt the day he and Harry talked in the meadow.

“Cedric had good taste...” he whispered, tightening his lips in a thin line after saying.

“Yes ... He had...” Harry whispered back, opening his eyes to look again at the artificial sky of his room.

They remained silent as they watched the stars flicker and flicker for long minutes.

“So...” Edward continued, trying to change the subject. “Do you like stars...”

Harry shifted in bed trying to find a more comfortable position.

“Yes ... When I'm sleepless, I just lie in bed and look at them ... And I let my mind wander anywhere...” the wizard said “And slowly, I sleep.”

Edward smiled.

“It's fascinating to watch you sleep... ”

“You're such a weirdo, Edward...” Harry said softly in an accusing tone.

“I'm serious...” Edward said, burying his nose in Harry's hair “You get a calm expression on your face, as if you were in peace... Sometimes you say something I cannot understand... Sometimes you float from your bed...”

“Kinda weird, isn't it?” Harry said with his eyes closed as he took a deep breath.

“A little... But I'm used to it”

“Oh… Have you stalked other people's night habits so…”

“‘To stalk’ is a little bit exaggerated... I prefer to call it as ‘observation survey’” Edward defended himself.

“Ed... Watching people sleep without them being aware of it is bizarre and weird... Don't do that. Privacy is a basic human right...” Harry said in a voice similar to that of a father by lovingly rebuking his son. Edward would have blushed to the ears if he could.

The vampire cleared his throat as he continued to speak.

“Every time you sleep, do you dream of something?” He asked.

Harry yawned.

“No ... Most of the time I just sleep and wake up the next day ... But other times I dream of something or other...”

“I wonder if you already ...” Edward asked, but stopped abruptly.

“… If I already…? ”

The vampire took a deep breath creating the courage to continue.

“Are you ever… Ever dreaming of me?” He asked and held his breath after that bold question.

Harry smiled with his eyes closed.

“Sometimes...” he whispered back.

“And how were those dreams?” Edward was curious.

“I don't remember their exact context, to be honest...” Harry muttered “I only remember one specific thing about you...”

“What would it be?

“Your tender golden eyes... Looking at me...” the wizard sighed.

Edward smiled, kissing his black hair.

“If I could sleep... I would only dream of you...” he confessed, causing Harry to smile sleepily.

“Good to know so...” Harry whispered.

Edward stilled as Harry's breathing gradually calmed as his heartbeat slowed. When finally slept, Edward pulled the blanket couple to cover it , resisting the urge to kiss his forehead , because he was afraid that his s cold lips woke him. For a moment he considered staying in bed to observe his human's sleep, but realized that it would be most appropriate for him to sit in the corner armchair to provide adequate space.

By getting up cautiously, Edward can better check the details of Harry's room, because after all, one of the best ways to know someone was to observe the room where the person slept. Rooms were an extension of one's personality and mind, and it was unnerving for the vampire to know a little more about the boy he was in love with.

On Harry's desk were textbooks mixed with scrolls of magical texts written in languages, pictures, stamps, and symbols in which he understood nothing. Curious, he eventually took a roll of old-looking parchment, unwinding it carefully as he felt the velvety softness of the paper to his touch.

The first thing he noticed was that the scroll was indeed magical, for it had been greeted by a heraldic coat of arms consisting of two lions that revered a long-horned black stag and beneath the crest were three Latin words that formed a motto: 'Nobilitatis · Fide · Potestatem ', or ‘Nobility · Loyalty · Power'. The coat of arms disappeared as if it had been absorbed by the scroll and soon new engravings emerged, headed by a flourish and gothic calligraphy title.

En Stirps Nobilis et Gens Antiquissima Potter

Soon the letters rearranged to form the English title.

The Most Noble and Ancient

House of Potter

Edward blinked in surprise.

It was a complex family tree dating back Harry's ancestor, since the XI century. The root of the tree bore the name of the oldest dated ancestor, Lord Linfred de Stinchcombe, born in 1104 and deceased in 1389, married to Lady Lamia of the House of Black. Through the children of this union, the tree was growing, dividing and subdividing branches in dozens of different branches with different names and family unions, with their respective dates of birth and of death.

Edward noticed that there was mention of different s families over the will tree, seemingly magical families, such as Prewett, followed again by Black, some Weasley, Lestrange and also one named Malfoy. All of them spelled in golden letters in which corresponded with the words “The Sacred Twenty-Eight”.

But there were also certain members who had married other families, but their names were struck from the tree in a sign of apparent dishonor. Edward's knowledge of the History of Great-Britain was somewhat scarce, but he recognized names of noble and even royal houses, such as House of York, Stuart, Lancaster, and even Tudor. The members that joined to these families had a life expectancy of an average person between 70 to 80 years, while the rest came to live for centuries.

The members who had died had their names written in black letters, while those who lived were still written in scarlet-red, however, only three names still stood out in red: Lord James Arthur Potter born in 1643, Lady Lillian Elizabeth of the House of Evans but Potter by marriage, being born in 1644.

The Potter's noble lineage ended with only one direct heir: Harry James Potter, born in 1947.

The vampire smiled briefly as he rolled the scroll. Harry was humble enough to hide from him the information that besides being a wizard, he was also an aristocrat with noble blood. “More English than that, impossible” Edward thought lightly.

Glancing over, he turns into a soft-looking leather-bound book, with artistically engraved golden arabesques on the cover. Edward opened it and found it to be a photo album of Harry.

The vampire was static with emotion.

Turning the page, he had smiled at the first moving picture, leaving him once again amazed by these magical displays. The image, dated 1948, showed Harry as a toddler, probably with one year old, being held by his father, James, while his tiny hand held the index finger of a beautiful woman, Lily, all three smiling happily. 

 

The vampire smiled tenderly, his index finger caressing the surface of the paper as he analyzed the picture. Harry was physically similar to his father, both with the same dark hair and some features of his face like the strong lines of his jaw, but Harry had all the softness and sweetness of his mother's gaze.

Still smiling, he had turned the page, coming across a picture showing a slightly older Harry, probably four years old, sitting on a lawn beside a platinum- haired boy bordering on white, both about the ages both displaying their childish smiles with milk tooth and clasped hands .

The images of childhood continued.

Harry mounted on a small broom that floated a few inches off the ground with the caption “Yule gift from Padfoot, 1953” something that made the vampire laugh softly when he saw the tiny wizard with his broom.

There were pictures of Harry, Ron, and Hermione together from a young age, along with other children in which he had no name. There was a page dedicated to a single photo, which showed Harry smiling sweetly for a skinny boy who look strangely familiar, older and taller, who wore a paper crown and held a wood sword, pretending to imitate a heroic pose.

Edward watched through the photographs Harry grown as Hermione and Ron and the style of clothes and hairstyles, Edward thought it was the early 60's.

 

Once again the trio, a teenager, appeared smiling in front of the cameras ; another showed a formal photo of Harry with his parents , properly dressed in the fashion of the time ...

And then the vampire's smile faded as he saw the next two photos.

The first was a portrait of a smiling Cedric Diggory wearing a two-tone shirt, with his kind gray eyes, smooth hair and rosy cheeks.

 

The second showed Cedric hugging Harry by his waist, this one had placed his hands on the taller boy's chest, both of them looking at each other in deeply affection.

“I loved him... So much…”  Edward recalled what Harry said to him long ago “He loved me too... He looked at me as if I was the most important thing in the world... As if I was some kind of miracle he had expected...”

Again, Edward felt a stab in his chest, the pain mixed with envy as he clenched his fists.

It was hard, so hard to be in love with someone who, despite liking you, still didn't feel ready enough to surrender completely. And in response to this, Edward cultivated the inevitable feelings of envy and anger toward Cedric, as Cedric had become his rival, an enemy who, even being separated from them for decades and actually dead, was still present at all times where Edward was with Harry.

Cedric was the third person in that relationship, and no matter how hard Edward tried to forget him, he would always come back to haunt the vampire.

Edward took a deep breath as he watched the rest of the wizard's photos, realizing that at one point Harry had stopped aging, passing through the 70s, 80s and 90s with his youth an beauty intact.

When he finishes seeing the photos, he slowly walks to the still-sleeping wizard's bed, immersed in his peaceful sleep. Edward more than ever prayed that Harry was dreaming of him and his golden eyes, and not with gray eyes... Not with gray eyes. Seeing again the golden Snidget chain shining faintly in the dim lamplight, he soon conjectured that soon he should present the wizard with something that showed his affection and above all represented him – he still had no idea of that would be, but he would think calmly at a more opportune moment .

Though he could stand for hours without any discomfort, he sat in the armchair, tilting his head up as he stared at the different constellations suspended from the ceiling of that room, letting his mind wander to countless thoughts.

At 3 a.m., the clock stopped and Harry started to levitate above the bed, the sheet that covered him slowly falling back on the mattress... Edward watched fascinated that scene, seeing Harry's body being illuminated by white light and bluish from the artificial stars, something so fantastic and dreamy that they seemed to be the fruit of a fertile and imaginative mind. And just as he had begun to levitate, he had landed on the mattress, turning on his side as he covered himself once more and oblivious to the fact of what had just occurred.

The vampire's cell phone vibrated in his pocket and as he picked it up he saw that Alice had texted.

A - is everything alright?

Edward looked around and started typing.

E - Yes. I'm in his bedroom now.

Alice sent him several chocked emoticons.

A – ohh la la

The vampire rolled his eyes.

E - It's not what you and your dirty mind are thinking. Harry is sleeping and I'm watching for his safety in his room. That’s all.

A - oookaaay, if u say so...

He frowned

A - but just to remind u... emmett bought condoms for u and left it in ur wallet!!!!!!

Edward nearly smashed the phone with his fingers and before he could type in an answer for his perverted sister, the phone discharged causing him to grunt in response. Looking around the room, he saw that Harry had a charger available in the socket near the nightstand, which would be nice, because by dawn the device would have charged enough.

As he plugged in his phone, his attention was captured by the open drawer of the furniture in which was a black leather notebook with Harry's initials etched in gold letters.

That was his diary.

Edward pursed his lips in a thin line at the temptation to take it and read the thoughts he never had access to, a master key to understanding Harry in an intimate way... But he soon suppressed the urge. Besides being extremely wrong, Edward would feel guilty for breaking the wizard's trust in such a dirty way.

Shaking his head, he had looked at the other object in the drawer, a small number of letters already yellowed by time, tied by a dark green velvet ribbon that revealed Harry's care for it, as if they were precious relics.

Edward's eyes soon read the two words written in black ink already faded with beautiful cursive handwriting.

Cedric Diggory was the sender.

He felt the dilemma bubble in his head as he held the letters and felt the fragile texture of the paper in his cold fingers.

An internal confrontation broke out within him and he could not escape.

Looking once again at Harry still asleep, Edward sighed deeply as he closed his eyes.

.

.

.

The next morning, Harry awoke as irritably as usual and was almost startled to see Edward sitting in his chair like a perfect gentleman, his eyes - which turned to gold again - staring at him as a smile etched his perfect lips.

“Good morning, my little one...” Edward greeted.

Harry grunted in response, making the vampire laugh.

“Should I get away so you can break your alarm clock as usual?” he asked innocently as Harry rolled over and covered his head with a pillow.

“I want to sleep…” the wizard moaned nonconformist “I HATE school”

“You and millions more teenagers ... Including myself.” Edward replied affectionately.

Harry seemed to go back to sleep, but he had risen suddenly after a few minutes, his image bordering on the lovable with his messy dark hair twisted in every direction as his mouth pouted in a bad mood. Edward had bitten his bottom lip at the thought of how sexy Harry looked with that look.

“I'm going to take my shower...” the boy said as he waved his hand and made the bed tidy up “Will I meet you there? ”

“No... I'll take you in my car...” Edward replied with a crooked smile.

“I have my own car, you know...” Harry smiled sleepily followed by a yawn.

“Yeah, but... I want to have the pleasure of taking my boyfriend to school” he replied.

The wizard smiled as he shrugged, walking into the bathroom and closing the door softly.

Edward stood for a few seconds, looking back at the nightstand with the drawer closed.

All of Cedric's letters were there, without exception. Edward technically had not appropriated either, which was already a plus for his conscience, as he wasn’t a dishonest thief.

He had just taken a picture of the contents of one with his cell phone and kept it back in place.

And though a part of himself was screaming at himself at that moment, Edward's alter ego, the monster told him that there was nothing wrong with that, after all, he needed to know who his rival was.

He needed information.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER XVI

PERVERSION

Forks was a tiny city.

A tiny city with barely 4,000 inhabitants.

A tiny city, barely 4,000 inhabitants, with a high school with just over 300 teenagers.

Teenagers driven by hormones and their youthful dramas, but mostly from the boredom they all had but all tried to alleviate with the same activities: watching volleyball, basketball, soccer and school swimming competitions ... Eating burger at Sully's, diner local ... Going to Port Angeles on weekends to watch movies or shopping at the mall ... Everything so dull, so repetitive.

If you were a teenager who went to Forks High School and wanted to know information about someone, there was no person more knowledgeable than Jessica Stanley who proudly claimed to “know everything about everyone” - even if her friend Angela Weber told her, kindly as possible that this wasn't something to be proud of.

After going through the mourning period of the death of her almost-boyfriend, Mike Newton - a long period of almost a month, which she said was thought to be “dying of sadness” - Jessica overcame the dark phase and was again the lively, communicative girl she was - though others used the terms as 'gossipy bitch' rather than 'cheerful and communicative' when referring to her, but Jessica knew it was the envy of others. Proof of this was that Justin, the son of the mayor and quarterback of the football team, was so into her…

However, despite having returned to chatting openly with her friends and flirting with the handsome boys, Jessica can't help but realize that after Mike's murder and the recent disappearance of three students, everyone was only talking about morbid and dark subjects, making the school look more like a police station. She even tried to shift the focus of the conversation to a lighter subject, such as what the prom theme would be or what they could do on the weekend, but she saw that it was pointless.

But what Jessica could never dream of was that one Monday morning, the entire Forks High School would have such hot gossip that it made global warming looking like a complete joke in comparison.

Like, really.

As she texted with Angela, Ben and Eric, the school parking lot that was gradually filling up with some students' cars, a gleaming silver Volvo arrived.

Up to this detail, nothing unusual.

It was Edward-Mister-Perfection-Cullen, in which arrived in his perfect car, bought by his perfect foster-father, Dr. Carlisle Cullen. However, what was striking was that Edward wasn’t alone; he was accompanied and not by his siblings. He was accompanied by one of the new students from England, the dark-haired boy with posh accent, Harry Potter.

Jessica watched Edward open the passenger seat door so the other one could get out.

“Wait a minute...” she thought a little dazzled as she felt her feminine intuition tell her there was something there “No... Can't be possible...”

She saw them walking together, Edward absolutely handsome, tall, looking like he had just finished a fashion photoshoot or something like that. Beside him was Harry, who, though almost a head shorter than Edward and with small frame, was still very handsome in his own way, walking in an aristocratic and elegant stance, as if everyone around him were his servants and unworthy of his attention.

Jessica might be starting to go crazy, but she could feel that there was a kind of tension between them.

“No...” She shook her head in disagreement, because it wasn't the word she could use to describe... It was something else... An intense thing, like an energy of attraction between their bodies “Would it be possible?” She wondered incredulously.

At one point, Edward leaned over to Harry and Harry just smiled shyly as his cheeks flushed slightly.

And then, Jessica saw it!

It began with the small brush of fingers, light enough to look unpretentious until Edward held Harry's hand and then exposed his perfect smile. The English boy rolled his eyes and looked forward, but approached discretely towards Edward’s side instead of walking away from him.

“OH MY GOD!!!” Jessica was surprised to hear her own voice exclaim loudly and high-pitched.

Quickly picking up her phone, she took as many photos as possible, but almost had a heart stroke when Edward stopped and turned toward her, as if she'd screamed for his name. The copper-haired boy gave her a look so cold it made her want to disappear and for a moment she thought he knew what she was doing. Harry in turn looked at her from head to toe, raising his eyebrow in an expression of disinterest as if he saw nothing but an insect, whispering something to the Cullen boy who grudgingly seemed to agree with what was said.

Jessica watched them walk together and no longer holding their hands, until they entered the building. Blinking her eyes several times, she realized that the hand holding the phone was shaking, but was still able to send the photos to all the chat groups she participated in, along with the words:

‘YOU GUYS NEED TO SEE THIS!!!!’

It didn't take long for her to receive a flood of messages in response.

Soon the photos spread as fast as a fire burning dry straw, and in less than an hour almost everyone at Forks High School was aware of the most shocking gossip of all: Edward Cullen, the handsomest – and weirdest in some way – boy in town, was, in fact, gay. And, was probably dating with the English boy.

Over a year ago he had done the same thing, being the hot-topic of conversations when he started to date Bella Swan, which for Jessica was shocking, almost bizarre, because from all the girls on that school, who were more interesting and prettier - like herself, for example - he had chosen Bella... Not that Jessica had something against her late and dearest friend, no, never, but facts were facts: Bella was plain like white bread.

But looking back, she now realized that Edward being with Bella wasn't that shocking. Not even a little.

Edward dating another boy, that was even more shocking.

‘No...’ Jessica thought ‘This is just scandalous!’

.

.

.

He didn't need a sensitive hearing to know that all the whispers in the halls were about them; He didn't need his telepathic gift to know their thoughts around him, let alone his hunter instincts that warned him that he was being watched.

Edward, like his family, was already accustomed to being the subject of comments and gossips wherever they went, a natural reaction from humans when they saw them - they were attracted to their superhuman beauties, the hypnotic voice, the natural sweet smell they exuded from their cold bodies, but, at the same time caused strangeness thanks to their reclusive habits and self-imposed isolation.

Being a telepath, Edward had the basic function of monitoring the thoughts of humans around him and making sure his family's secret was safe. Over the decades, some people have speculated that the Cullens were a kind of “sect” because they only walked among themselves and wore a family crest like members of a secret society; others have said they just acted weird because they looked “cooler”; Very, very seldom, someone - usually was the nerds and the fans of horror stories – would speculated that there was something ‘supernatural’ about them and rarer still guessed that they’re vampires, but when that happened, Edward warned his family and quickly they moved elsewhere, disappearing without a trace behind.

But now the situation was somewhat different.

The first class of the day was English and while the teacher wasn’t there yet, the students kept low comments and thoughts in which they didn’t know that Edward could hear.

But he could.

“Did you see the pictures?” A short-haired girl asked in a whisper to the other girl next to her.

“Who still hasn't seen it?! I was shocked, oh my god...”

“Is he really…?!”

“It seems…”

The vampire pursed his lips in a thin line as he listened to the conversation of two students in the back of the classroom.

“I wonder if his father knows... My aunt who is a nurse said Dr. Cullen is a very religious man...”

“’Religious’ my ass! All those Cullens are kind of freaks, you know what I mean... Adoptive siblings who fuck with each other under the same roof. That's practically incest or something...  And the fact of Edward being a faggot only proves what I said: they’re all freaks…” a male teen answered in debauchery “And that another dude, Potter, is a freak too”

Edward gritted his teeth, feeling the acid taste of the venom fill his mouth as well as a growl growing in his chest; reaching under his desk, he squeezed his own leg, discounting his anger and helplessness at that gesture, his perfect face contorted in an expression of hostile passivity.

Glancing sideways, he saw Harry, who was sitting on his beside, with a straight spine and head held high, his face sporting an expression of anxiety. He seemed to be alert, as if expecting something to happen at any moment. Edward frowned as he looked down, feeling his anger replaced by a latent guilt as he realized that he had dragged Harry into this situation, when the wizard warned him to be patient and not push him too much.

But there they were, being the target of all malicious comments thanks to a simple and brief gesture of holding his hand. Harry could - and had - reason to walk away from him, to finish what they barely started... Edward was so distressed.

“Harry...” he whispered, causing the wizard to turn his face towards him “I'm so sorry...”

“Sorry for what?”

“For bring us to this spotlight… For making us a target of all this scrutiny...” he murmured, glancing around quickly, but returned the wizard's eyes again “I'll understand if you want... You know...”

Edward was unable to complete his sentence, too scared to become a reality. Harry shook his head slightly as he looked forward, where Hermione was talking with her partner, Maria, a shy and melancholy girl.

Harry closed his eyes while his fingers absentmindedly playing with the Golden Snidget pendant which Cedric had given him. Edward bowed his head again as more comments about them invaded his mind and ears, some of them being without malice while others were cruel and degrading. 

The vampire didn’t care to be the subject of their conversations, he didn’t care about what those simplistic kids thought about him, but he was uncomfortable to hear the awful things they said about his boyfriend.

“If it was on my time...” Harry whispered, his voice sounding light “We'd be in such trouble...”

Edward gave a slight smile when he saw that Harry seemed to be calm.

“If it was on my time...” the vampire replied “...we would be sent to a labor camp... Or to an asylum to receive shock treatment...”

“Going back a little further, we would be burned at the stake to commit sodomy and perversion the laws of nature...” the wizard completed with a low laugh, but gradually his expression grew sad.

Edward felt a chill in his chest at the sight of his boyfriend's face.

“I'm so sorry ...” he repeated regretfully.

Harry shrank back in his chair.

“When you say ‘you're sorry’, is it because you held my hand in public?” Harry asked.

Edward quickly denied vehemently.

“Never...” the vampire assured “I'm sorry for not being discreet enough, to not respect our privacy, no, your privacy... You asked me that things between us should to be calm and slow, but I turned it difficult instead.”

“Well... That’s true” the wizard agreed.

The vampire was silent.

“I confess I’d prefer to keep our relationship in secret, private, just for us... Not because I’m ashamed of you, but for particular reasons you know...” Harry continued to speak, resting his cheek on his own shoulder “But...”

“But…?”

“Truth to be told, I like you, Edward.” Harry said shyly.

“I like you, too...” Edward smiled sweetly, internally thanking God for Harry not choosing to walk away from him “Very much…”

“I know...” Harry smiled shyly as he entwined his delicate fingers with the vampire's on the table, looking deep into his golden eyes “There's no reason to us denying it, or hide from others... I like you, you're my boyfriend and no one has anything to do with it"

Edward grinned at Harry, who rose his chin arrogantly, but then offered a kind smile that highlighted his rosy cheeks. The vampire had become so wrapped up in his boyfriend that he hadn’t noticed when a male teen approached them with a disdainful expression on his face as he saw their joined hands and pulling a chair to sit opposite them.

Edward vaguely remembered that his name was something with the letter ‘J’, a typical stereotype of a high-school jock flattered by his mediocre sports achievements that masked his lack of skill with anything that required a minimum of intellect.

“Hey... So it's true what they're talking about?” He said while chewing a piece of gum in annoying way.

“Excuse me?” Edward said harshly.

“That you...” he pointed with his chin toward Edward and then to Harry “...and you are... ‘Together’”

Edward would answer, but Harry cut him off.

“Who the hell are you?” The wizard said coldly.

“Justin... I'm son of Forks mayor, and the Spartans Captain” he said falsely humbly, his tone unable to hide his real personality “I just wanted to speak on behalf of everyone that we have nothing against people of your kind... I wish luck to you, seriously, but…”

“But?” Harry raised his eyebrow.                                                                        

“But it would be nice if you guys don’t make out in our front, if you know what I mean…”

Justin's friends smiled like hyenas as they saw their friend imposing respect and order, while other students watched the scene with curiosity and utter silence. Hermione, in turn, stared at the scene with her eyes full of veiled fury while her partner beside her looked frightened.

Edward clenched his jaw and contracted fist of his free hand showing the lilac vein on his pale forearm and tensing the petrified muscles. Once again he felt the venom being produced in abundance by his mouth glands and burning down his throat. Apparently Harry felt that he was becoming unsteady and in response, gently squeezed his hand, ensuring that all was well.

“Well… Justin…” the wizard muttered in a low voice, the words coming out of his mouth formally and coldly “Do yourself a favor and recoil in your insignificance. Right now”

“What did you say?!” Justin said, looking pissed ‘I'm going to break you whole, you little faggot!’  “Listen here your fagg…”

Justin had no time to go on, for at once the chewing gum slipped down his throat, blocking the airway. Edward frowned at seeing the teen start coughing violently, his face and ears turning red as his lungs began to burn thanks to the lack of air.

“HE'S CHOKING, DO SOMETHING!” one girl said urgently as she pointed to Justin, who fell on the ground, desperate to breathe. Soon several colleagues carried him to middle of classroom and lifted him, hugging him tightly from behind to force him to expel the gum.

“HE ISN’T SPITING!!! FUCK!!!” his jock friend, Ben, said desperate when he saw that the other boy was starting to turn purple “JUSTIN, FORCE IT OUT!!! C’MON!!!”

If they weren't fast, Justin would suffocate in a matter of a few minutes.

And while chaos reigned in the classroom, three people stood in their seats as they watched the scene: Hermione with a raised eyebrow and the corners of her mouth twisted into a soft smile of satisfaction; Harry looked cold as he saw the scene, completely unshaken by the commotion around him; and Edward, absorbed and unresponsive, witnessed it all and was shocked to realize that there was a reason why Justin hadn't spewed out the gum yet.

“Harry, at this rate he’ll die...” the vampire said with a whisper.

Harry shrugged.

“What a pity...”

“Harry!”

Edward shook the boy’s hand, which was still looking straight to the other student, his green eyes with a soft glow, his pupils dilated like a cat.

“Harry!!!” Edward begged, turning the wizard's face in his direction so he could see how serious the situation was “He’ll die!”

The black-haired wizard let out a breath, glancing at the muggle boy, whose face was purple and with red eyes.

“Anapneo!” Harry whispered.

Edward watched Justin spit his gum through coughs, breathing desperately for air to fill his lungs again as several students breathed a sigh of relief around him and his two friends took him to the infirmary.

“What was that?!” Edward asked, startled.

Harry looked at him indifferently.

“A filthy muggle choking. Something very ordinary to happen”

“Harry... You... You... ”

“I what?!” Harry asked impatient.

“He could have died!” Edward whispered.

“People like him don’t get to insult people like me. Maybe next time he isn’t that lucky...” the wizard said with a cold tone.

Edward blinked.

“Tell me you're kidding...”

Harry took a deep breath.

“If you only knew how rotten that boy and his little friends are and what they are capable of doing, you would see that making him die choking on gum is almost an act of mercy.” Harry replied coldly.

The vampire's eyes widened.

“You… Did you really consider about killing him?!”

“Hmm... Yes... No…” Harry answered “Maybe I'd make him breathe again... Maybe I'd let him die... I'd have a few more seconds to decide.”

While the teacher claimed that everything was fine and that Justin was already being treated in the infirmary, everyone started to calm down as she began to explain the literary work of the day. Still somewhat scared, Edward stared at Harry out of the corner of his eyes and saw that Harry seemed to be relaxed and cool again, like nothing had happened minutes before.

“What?” Harry asked with a slight smile.

Edward blinked as he stared at the desk, feeling uncomfortable.

“For a thousandth of a second… When all that happened… ” he whispered “…it seemed like you had gone and another person was in my front. Another person, but not the Harry I know...”

The wizard's smile faded as he looked down sheepishly.

“Sorry if I scared you . It wasn’t my intention.” Harry said softly. “It's just...”

The wizard broke off, running his hand through his dark hair and closing his eyes.

“Sometimes, when I do certain kinds of magic, I kind of get into a trance or a frenzy... It's hard to explain... Once I start it's quite hard to stop.”

Edward frowned at the information, unable to notice how familiar it sounded.

“So this happens to you too...” Edward mused after a few minutes.

Harry looked at him confusedly.

“There's a reason there's a negligible percentage of vampires around the world…” the copper -haired boy explained quietly “ Our species will never be dominant in terms of quantity, because it's hard for us to transform someone.”

“Difficult? It's not enough just... Bite? ”

“No…” Edward shook his head lightly “When we drink and taste the human blood, it’s as if… It’s as if we’re overwhelmed by a wild instinct, an insane urge to quench our thirst, to drain every drop of blood from a body... When we start, it's hard to stop. Not everyone has the strength to do it. ”

Harry was silent.

“Does the animal blood diet satiate you?” He asked, stroking the cold hand of the other with his thumb.

“No... It's like a being human surviving with tofu...” Edward smiled at the face of the wizard with the mention of the food “Keep me fed, but... Never entirely satisfied”

Harry was silent and Edward was thoughtful.

Even after decades he still felt the eternal burning and dryness in his throat, like a human would as inhaled hot smoke while thirsty... That sensation was soothed by animal blood, but never totally appeased, an eternal reminder of the high price that his vampire condition required.

“Do you miss it?” Harry asked softly.

“Huh?”

“You know...” the wizard shook his head suggestively.

Edward blinked, biting his bottom lip.

“I... I don't want to be… To be a monster” he whispered turning his face to the window to hide the real truth in his eyes.

Harry took a deep breath, caressing the vampire’s hand tenderly.

“You aren’t a monster... You’re my Edward”

Edward slowly turned his head toward him, smiling softly at the trust in which the wizard’s eyes demonstrated, not resisting the urge to support his arm on the back of Harry's chair, laughing softly to hear the sighs of some girls, their thoughts ranging from envy to admiration.

“They’re all looking at us...” Harry whispered.

“Not everyone... That guy isn’t looking...” Edward pointed his chin at a boy who was tediously biting the tip of his pencil, absorbed in his thoughts until he looked the vampire and started to talk with his friend on his beside “Now he's looking.”

Harry shook his head as he looked down with a smile.

“It doesn't matter if I'm breaking the rules, since I'm going to Hell anyway ...” the vampire smirked.

“Oh... I'll guide you along the way…” Harry winked at him maliciously.

.

.

.

“So... When and where exactly are we going to meet the shapeshifters?” Harry asked as he sat next to Edward at the usual Cullen table in the cafeteria.

Edward sighed as he remembered that there was something to be solved.

“Tonight... I texted the Alpha from their pack” the vampire replied “It's going to be at our house, so there's nothing to worry about.”

“As long as those dogs stay in line, we have nothing to worry about.” Rosalie corrected.

“Rose!” Alice scolded her sister “Esme said to be kind and avoid friction.”

“Whatever...” the blonde replied as she tossed a lock of her hair back.

"Anyway, the sooner this date happens, the better ..." Jasper said tightly, frowning then "I'll have a huge job of appeasing their emotions today."

“It's going to be quick, I promise” Edward assured him.

“Why do they insist to meet us?” Hermione frowned.

“That’s a long story ...” Edward replied with a sigh as he remembered the photos of Seth's murder.

“Witches, vampires and shapeshifters under the same roof... Almost a supernatural confederation or a Halloween party” Harry said sarcastically, making some of the vampires laugh.

“Where's Ron?” Emmett asked as he noticed the redhead's absence at the table.

“He’s doing a little mission in my name” Hermione replied drinking her tea.

The Cullens looked around and saw that some students were still looking and whispering about Edward and Harry.

“Today you gave them a lot to talk about, don't you bro?” Emmett said with a mischievous smile.

“It was annoying...” Rosalie said in retaliation “What part of our motto 'don't get unnecessary attention' didn't you understand Edward? ”

“Rosalie, I didn't mean to, believe me...” the vampire replied through his teeth “They took a picture of me and Harry without our permission… Do you think I really wanted them to talk about me and my boyfriend the way they are?”

The blonde's face softened as she saw her brother hug Harry's shoulders protectively as the wizard ate his sandwich calmly.

“Sorry…” and she answered more calmly “It's just that it's hard for me to keep quiet while they say these horrible things about you or our family.”

“But you say horrible things to Edward everyday...” Alice frowned.

“It's different! I can talk, not the others…” Rosalie snapped acidic while the others smiled in response.

“Well, now that Harry and Edward are officially and publicly a couple, how about we aaall hang out on a couple date?” Alice said excitedly.

“No, thanks sweetie…” The blonde countered amid the laughter of the others. “I have a reputation to watch out for.”

“Rosie...”

“Look! Ron is back…” Jasper pointed to the cafeteria door, hoping they would change the subject and make his mate forget these dubious plans.

“Hey guys...” Ron pulled out a chair. “Did I miss a lot?”

“No, you’re here in time!” Hermione murmured to her boyfriend with an anxious look “Tell me, did you find it?”

Ron gave her a victorious smile as he pulled a carefully folded white handkerchief from his leather jacket.

“It was a little difficult, but I found it in the locker room,” he said as he handed the handkerchief to Hermione.

“Are you absolutely sure that this are theirs?” The witch asked, her face with a serious expression.

“Absolutely.” The redhead smiled.

“Perfect!” Hermione smiled, opening her purse and grabbing a lipstick and a tiny bottle of French perfume, Shalimar.

“What's this?” Alice asked curiously.

“That’s...” Hermione said softly, staring at her cellphone screen as she perfectly applied the vibrant red lipstick to her lips. “Nothing but me getting ready to do what I like most…”

“Make up?” Rosalie asked as she smiled at her friend.

“No, Rose...” the witch said, opening the handkerchief carefully.

Edward and his siblings saw that in the handkerchief there were three strands of human hair, one blond and two darker. Hermione carefully opened the perfume bottle, releasing the scent of fresh lemon, sweet vanilla and leather as she took the three strands of hair and inserted it into the bottle. The vampires saw the strands crumble in the golden liquid like magic.

“I'm afraid I won't be able to go to the meeting.” Hermione said as she applied a few drops of perfume on her neck and neckline. “I have to teach some muggles a lesson they will never forget…”

Ron and Harry smirked as the vampires stared in astonishment.

“Hm...?” Edward asked confused.

“Mione loves to seduce muggle boys...” Harry said hugging Edward's arm “…and torment them after that.”

“One of the greatest pleasures to be a witch…” Hermione said maliciously

“What?” Emmett asked.

“Hermione... You're not serious, are you?” Alice asked in surprise.

“Of course I’m…” the witch shrugged “You girls should do that once in a while... You don't have this physical perfection and power of attraction for nothing…”

“Ron... Dude, are you really going to let your girl to… To seduce other guys?!” Emmett turned to the redhead, who was calmly eating his snack.

“But of course!” Ron replied with a mischievous smile “No one is as good at doing this as Mione… Am I right, darling?”

The witch smiled sweetly at the redhead but then turned serious.

“But truth to be told, I’m not seducing them for lust purposes... I vomit with the idea of these filthy muggles touch me” Hermione said in a low voice as she looked at the table where Justin and his two friends are talking in loud laughter “I'll seduce them for justice... They deserve and must suffer.”

Edward was confused just as his siblings looked at each other.

“What did they do to you?” Edward asked.

“To me? Nothing, but they've done awful things before and planned to do something against my friend today.”  She answered.

“I heard what they talked about in PE class…” Ron said rigidly to look at Edward “They planned to give a 'lesson' on you for not wanting to 'fags' in this school... But one of them thought it would be better and easier to spank Harry instead, because he is smaller.”

Edward went livid as well as others, looking to his boyfriend who remained calm.

“What?!”

“As if those worms could do something like that...” Harry said nonchalantly “The courage...”

“They won't touch you... I’ll break their bones if they dare to do that ...” Edward said quickly, alerting himself to possible threats against his mate.

“Don’t worry… It's fine. Hermione will take care of everything.” Harry answered, kissing the vampire's strong jaw.

Hermione smiled triumphantly as she got up from the table with her purse.

“Hermione...” Alice called the witch.

“Yes?”

“You mentioned they had done awful things before...” Alice murmured with a frown and a fragile voice “What they did?”

The English girl looked down with a sigh of regret as her red lips formed a thin line.

“I don’t think this is up to me to tell… It’s not my secret.” Hermione said with a whisper, while Ron and Harry kept quiet.

“What they did?” Jasper repeated the question. “The secret will be safe with us.”

Hermione sat back at the table, looking down at her burgundy nails.

“Maria is a girl who is my partner in English... She and her parents came from Mexico a few years ago when she was just a baby. Her mom works as a maid at Justin's house, in exchange for a promise that his father will help them speed up the visa process here in the United States...” Hermione whispered “Some time ago, Justin and his friends asked Maria to tutor them in English, because they need to improve their grades, but, at the end, they had other purposes...”

Hermione paused for a while, taking a deep breath.

“They put something on her drink... They raped her and filmed everything, threatening to post the video on the Internet and dismiss her mom, if she decided to say anything… She can't do anything, at least for now, but I can and I will do... I'll seduce and torture them, I'll make each of them learn what happens when a woman defends other women.”

They all fell silent, pale faces showing different kinds of expressions of horror, sadness and shock. Edward looked at his older sister, frowning in compassion as he realized that of everyone at that table, Rosalie was the most aware of that terrible event.

Rosalie dug her nails into her palm, her beautiful face contorted in a veiled fury as she remembered that pain she had known so well and had long been asleep but never forgotten. It might have been a thousand years, but she would still remember the face of her ex-fiancé and his friends, the way her human life had ended thanks to them, as well as the satisfaction of her revenge on each of them, when she had reborn as a vampire - one of the few joys she had in her cursed life as an immortal creature.

 “Hermione...” Rosalie said gravely, holding the witch's hand that found herself staring into the blonde's golden eyes “Give me lipstick and perfume ...”

“Rosalie...” the witch said in surprise.

“Two united women will be more successful” the blonde answered.

“Rose... You don't have to...” Alice said rubbing her sister's arm.

“Hermione is right Alice... Women have to defend other women ...” the vampire replied as she looked painfully at her sister “I'm not human anymore, but I'm still a woman. I understand the pain this girl is going through and I wish someone had defended me the same way, but I wasn’t so lucky...”

The witch and wizards were mortified to realize about the connection that Rosalie and Maria had.

“But now I can” the blonde beauty continued “I can and I will...”

“Rose, are you sure?” Hermione asked “I don’t want to make you feel bad...”

“I’ll feel bad if I don't help you.” - The blonde said firmly.

Hermione paused for a moment as she saw the determination in her eyes, smiling slightly as she opened her purse .

“Rouge Satan or Rouge Infernale?” The witch extended two lipstick options.

“Rouge Infernale...” Rosalie said as she took the lipstick and put on her lips, feeling the velvety texture and seeing how wonderful  the color stood out against her skin, like blood over the snow “Shall we?”

“Of course!” Hermione stood up, both of them preparing to go to the boys' table.

“Mione?” Ron said as he drank his coke.

“Yes?”

“If there's anything left of them... Leave it to me.” Ron blinked as the witch smiled wickedly.

Edward and siblings as well as the rest of the students in the cafeteria watched the two girls walk together arm in arm, blonde and brunette with graceful beauties, red lips stretched in charming smiles as they left behind a soft, alluring and sensual trail of lemon, vanilla and leather.

.

.

.

Edward parked the car in front of Harry's house after a short silent ride. The vampire had a stiff expression on his face with a crease formed on his forehead.

“What's it?” Harry asked him fondly, turning his head toward him.

Edward looked down, sighing heavily as his mouth twitched in an expression of remorse.

“I shouldn't have made it all happen...” the vampire stated. “For my fault, you would be beaten, just because I wanted to hold your hand ...”

“Edward...”

“No, Harry! You have no idea what I’d feel on seeing you hurt and to not being able to protect you...” Edward shook his head.

“But I don't need you to protect me...” Harry said softly “I know how to take care of myself... I know I'm not very intimidating physically speaking, but I can take care of myself... And I don't need a gum for that.”

Harry offered a smile to Edward who smiled briefly but became serious.

“I want to protect you, but not because I think you're weak or defenseless, because you aren’t… But it’s because in doing so, I protect myself too...” Edward put his hand on the younger boy's face “When someone hurts you, hurts me too.”

The wizard sighed, looking to the side thoughtfully.

“Tonight, when we talk to the wolves, I'll be on your side. If any of those stupid school kids come against us, I'll be on your side. If anyone says anything about us, I'll be on your side. Always!” the vampire assured. “We're in this together, aren't we?”

Harry smiled softly, his fingers caressing the other's sturdy apple and jaw as his green eyes glowed wistfully.

“You have no idea how much I've wanted to hear that...” Harry said, placing both hands on Edward's broad shoulders, kissing him gently while the other hugged his waist.

“We'll take care of each other...” Edward breathed the scent that came from Harry's neck after the kiss ended.

The wizard stiffened for a brief moment, looking at Edward bittersweetly.

“Yeah... We'll take care...” Harry looked down with a half-smile, giving one last goodbye kiss before getting out of the car. “See you later Ed.”

“See you!” Edward smiled to see his boyfriend walking fast to avoid getting wet with the falling rain.

Starting the car's engine, Edward started toward his house, sprinting down the wet asphalt road. Alice had anticipated that it wouldn‘t rain at the time of the meeting that would take place within hours.

Before getting out of the car, Edward had taken out his phone, unlocking the screen on which he had shown his photo gallery, the last app he had used. The last image was the picture he had clandestinely taken from Cedric Diggory's letter, an attitude that he regreted. He should immediately exclude, should forget that he did that. And he would. His finger clicked on the image, widening it on the phone screen as Cedric's elegant cursive handwriting greeted him.

Selecting the ‘delete’ option, Edward hesitated for a moment. He felt bad, wrong, and dirty doing this, but he couldn't help the temptation to read, to know a crumb of information about his rival.

It was stronger than him.

Taking a deep breath, he began to read.

“February 15, 1964

Darling Harry,

Although you say a thousand times to me that you’re okay and fine, I know that you aren’t... I know what you feel, because I see the truth in your eyes, and they never lie to me.

I know how it hurts you, for all the times we have to pretend we're just friends, especially at this time of Valentine’s Day.

I know that because it hurts me too and causes me pain… So much pain.

Countless was the times as we walk side by side in the hallways of school, when I almost laced my fingers with yours to hold your hand or when I say goodbye, I almost kiss you. It hurts me to have to police myself when we're around each other, not being able to ‘smile too much’ or 'look too much’ at you because if I do, anyone would be able to see that you have my heart. Not Cho, or any girl, but you and only you.

I love you Harry. I always loved you and I’ll always love you. I never get tired of repeating this, for luckily (and unfortunately) you're the only person I can say those words to.

I'd give anything to tell everyone how much I love you, to say proudly that I'm your boyfriend, to say how lucky I am that you love me too, to take you to the movies and watch a romance movie you hate and kiss you like all dating couples do, to come to your house with a bouquet of flowers and officially introduce myself to your parents... I would give anything to tell my dad that I have no interest in any girl in the village or my mom, when she rambling on about my future wife, because I've already found the one I want to spend the rest of my days with.

But I can't. We can't, as you said to me yourself.

People say they admire true love, etc., etc., but they would be the first to throw stones at us. I can stand it all, but I couldn't stand to see stones thrown at you, my little one... It would hurt me and cause me pain, much more than just keeping this secret.

So, to answer your question about what kind of love story we would both have, here's my answer: we have the greatest love story ever, but we're the only ones who know it... And maybe the only ones that will know. But it's not because nobody knows, doesn't mean it doesn't exist, don't you agree?

Always yours,

Ced” 

Edward lowered his phone to his lap after he had finished reading the letter, his gaze staring at the raindrops streaming down the windshield.

He wasn’t angry at Cedric's statements.

He wasn’t jealous as he read about Harry's love for him.

He could only feel a great and strange sense of empathy for all he had read, for he had a real experience of the things Cedric wanted to protect Harry from. He understood.

And he felt sad for both of them.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER XVII

MONSTERS

At times like what he was experiencing in that moment, Jasper Hale hated being an empath and even cursed the fact that his supernatural gift was such a power - even if he had a willingness to do so long before his transformation, when he was still human. .

His human life was relatively simple.

Born in 1844 to the Withlock family, Jasper had a quiet childhood on his father's farm, a cattle ranch 30km from Houston, Texas. His youth had been marked by a modest and befitting education for the boys of the time: he had learned to hunt and shoot with both hands, to tame and ride a horse effectively, to be a gentleman with the local maidens - something he It was particularly good - either drinking whiskey or rum without vexing himself.

He had always been popular wherever he went; people were soon drawn to his infectious sense of humor, attractive smile and pleasant conversation filled with words that hinted that he understood his listeners - but those people rarely realized that Jasper had manipulated or influenced them for some personal benefit or private reason, not that he was malicious in the strict sense of the word... He just made good use of his natural charisma that God had given.  

In 1861 the American Civil War broke out and Jasper, at the age of 17, had naturally allisted in the Confederate army in which he was fighting for the independence of the southern states as well as maintaining slavery - something Jasper would be ashamed of over the decades when he thought about it. Being a soldier was an exciting way to go considering the options it owned until then: he could be like his father and run the farm when he died or could follow this career that would open many doors for him, far beyond what were in Texas

It was easy to decide and so he had.

Thanks to his talent on influencing people, he had become the youngest Texan cavalry major at the age of 19, an impressive one that pointed to a promising future. But such a future would be cut short in 1863 in a meeting with three Mexican beauties with pale skin and crimson eyes.

1863 had been the year of his “death” and the birth as a vampire, then to ally himself with an army of newly created vampires and enter into a much smaller scale war, but dangerous and destructive enough to leave physical scars on him — there were marks of bites spread on his arms, neck and even his face - but above all, emotional scars.

Jasper had been exposed and had also done great acts of violence and coupled with his empathic power he was able to feel the fear, despair and anguish of the vampires he smashed and the humans he killed to feed on, something that for a long time made him became depressed, and cemented in himself something similar to post-traumatic stress - even after decades of adhering to a vegetarian diet, he still had trouble controlling his thirst just as he had trouble being exposed to a flurry of different emotions, as happened at the school where there were all those teenage kids that made him feel on an emotional roller coaster.

That early evening at his family's house had been no exception: he could feel their emotions, especially Carlisle's, which ranged from nervousness to concrete fear that they would slip and cause a direct conflict with the Quileutes, ending their treaty established more than 80 years ago. He had sent waves of comfort to those around him, but it was hard to calm them when he was nervous himself.

The only ones who were calm - or at least they seemed, because Jasper couldn't read their emotions - were the English wizards, Ronald Weasley and Harry Potter.

Ron was sitting on the couch casually, swinging his foot to the rhythm of the song that he was humming, fiddling with the zipper of his hoodie and occasionally glancing at his phone.

Harry, for his part, was sitting formally with a perfect posture and a raised head, but his face had peaceful expression with quiet smiles as he looked at Edward in which his fingers had intertwined with his. Edward disguised very well, but was as or even more nervous than everyone there, ready to attack or defend if any of the wolves advanced on the human.

Jasper frowned as he looked down.

They had so many problems...

First, some witch had tried to cast a curse on them. Second was the red-haired nomadic vampire, Victoria, leading an army of newborns in which they were thirsty for their destruction. And now they had to deal with angry and even more suspicious wolves about them and their association with the wizards.

Having been a soldier and all through his history, Jasper had an analytical mind in which he worked coldly and rationally, and rationally thinking, he saw that the wolves' distrust had a backing: they were dealing with something never seen before, an unknown danger that was indeed very threatening. A young wolf - or rather shapeshifter , as the raven-haired boy pointed out - had been slaughtered like a pig, violently and in circumstances that even shocked the experienced vampire.

“Would it be possible if...?” Jasper looked up with discretion. 

Although he interacted amicably with wizards and was comfortable with them, he was unable to suppress that sense of distrust of them. There would always be a tiny voice in his head, sounding over and over again that there was something off about the magical teenagers, something possible dangerous, the voice saying he didn't know them.

And he didn't really know.

Jasper didn't know what they were capable of, he didn't know the risks they could represent to him and his family, he didn't know about their pasts, let alone the real reason why they were in Forks ... Everything about them was wrapped around in half words, scattered phrases or bad stories.

Again he looked at the only two people who had beating hearts in that room.

Ron was talking amicably to Emmett, who was waiting to Rosalie's return from her “mission” with Hermione - a mission in which Carlisle and Esme had no idea. Jasper looked at Ron, his playful blue eyes and freckled face like a mischievous boy... Was Ron, the same Ron who watched basketball and football games with them, be able to mutilate and eviscerate someone?

Jasper's golden eyes returned to the other wizard.

Harry now had his cheek resting on Edward's shoulder as he caressed the vampire's stony hand with his fingers, his eyes fixed at some random point... Would it be possible that Harry with his small-frame, reserved green eyes and composed behavior being capable to eat someone else's flesh in a satanic ritual?

“It would be possible if...” Jasper repeated mentally, but stopped abruptly. 

Edward glanced reproachfully at him, and Jasper immediately made mental excuses when he saw his brother discreetly lift his upper lip, showing his razor-sharp white teeth.

Edward was extremely protective of his mate and would not allow anyone to raise “unfounded” suspicions about the boy, especially if these suspicions come from his family... But Jasper knew from own experience that when you love, you do not see the defects that the person has. He had made that mistake by being manipulated by the vampire who had turned him, and now he saw certain signs when he saw his brother: it was obvious to notice how Edward was entirely in Harry's palm, the vampire enchanted and mesmerized by his green eyes, smiles and sweetness. This was natural when two people are together and in love.

But...

Was Harry taking advantage of this? Was he manipulating him in any way?

Harry wouldn't be able to do something like that!” Edward had said to him the night before. ”He wouldn't be able to do something so monstrous, disgusting and sick... He's not a monster like us, Jasper, a monster like me... Compared to the things I've done, Harry is an angel.”  

Jasper bit his lower lip.

He didn't have as thorough a biblical knowledge as Carlisle or even Edward.

He had never particularly been religious even when his birth mother had dragged him to church on Sunday mornings.

He was a man of facts, of logical thoughts... But even he knew that the Devil had once been an angel.

“Listen...” Carlisle said, pointing his index finger up, catching the vampires' attention and getting Jasper out of his thoughts. They could hear sounds of fast footsteps coming from dozens of meters from where they were.

Edward whispered once more something only Harry could hear, wrapping his arm around his waist.

“They're coming.” Carlisle finished, rising from the couch with Esme holding his hand.

The time has come.

.

.

“Beauty is power” was what her mother often said from an early age. 

“Rosie... Comb your hair the way Mom taught you...”

“Rosie... Pink suits you more and enhances your complexion...”

“Rosie... Daddy bought a new dress for you to wear...”

“…Rosie? Never forget that beauty is power...”

Rosalie Hale stared at her reflection in the mirror, momentarily lost in thought as she gazed at her delicately contoured face, sweetly curved lips, sculpted nose, long eyelashes and perfect eyebrows. Her perfect face was framed by her hair in that shade of pale wheat, falling in soft waves like a cascade of gold.

She was sitting at Hermione's dressing table, applying her makeup with different brushes in movements as precise as a surgeon's. For her, putting on makeup was a meditation-like ritual, reassuring her.

“Beauty is power” Rosalie thought with pleasure as she looked at her reflection, but her slight smile soon faded “Beauty was my disgrace... My curse”  

It was because of her beauty, vanity and ambition of her parents that she was denied the simple pleasures of a human life, of growing old, of having children and grandchildren... Of dying in peace.

“Rosalie?” Hermione caught her eye as she emerged from the bathroom wearing a black bra and panties decorated with delicate lace that contrasted with her fair skin.

“Yes?”

“Want some help closing your dress?”

“Hm, yes... Of course...” she replied blinking slowly, rising from the stool while holding the front of her navy blue dress with her hands.

Hermione approached from behind as she zipped the dress, both girls in comfortable silence.

“Rose...” the witch said slowly and uncertainly but gently “You don't have to come with me, you know... I don't want you to feel bad about that...”

The vampire gave a brief bitter smile as she looked down.

“I feel bad because of that for 86 years...” she answered quietly, making Hermione go still “I've felt worse, in fact, but... It's the kind of thing I'll always carry with me. It's like a curse...”

Hermione bit her lower lip, not knowing what to say.

“When you told me what that girl was going through, I-” Rosalie paused for a moment, taking a deep breath. “I couldn't help thinking about myself either.”

The blonde stopped for a moment and laughed tragically.

“Thinking about myself...” she shook her head with a slight bitter smile “Can I be called selfish for thinking of myself even at such a time?”

The witch shook her head and Rosalie stopped to think.

“When I was human, my parents had expectations of me... had expectations of myself...” she went on, looking at her hands “I was always beautiful. I liked the jealous glances of my girlfriends... I liked the idea of being the beauty of the city. The Beauty Queen... I was futile and foolish, but all the girls of a good family at that time were raised to be futile and foolish... A decorative doll on a shelf.”  

Hermione gave a sympathetic half smile.

“Did that even bother you?”

“No... I was, or rather, I'm kinda vain, but... Deep down I knew my dreams were simple: get married, have a nice house, have kids...” she stopped, turned to Hermione with a calm smile “I love babies, you know? When I was a girl, I kissed all my dolls before bed, pretending to be my daughters... I could hardly wait to have a real baby, to take care and watch her grow up...”

Hermione smiled while the vampire that remained motionless.

“It was five men...” Rosalie said softly after a few minutes.

Hermione blinked in confusion and then her expression went dark when she understood.

“One of them was my fiancé...” the vampire continued “Royce…”

“Rose...” Hermione exclaimed shocked.

“I was coming back from a friend's house a week before my wedding... He was drinking with his friends, all of them heirs of important families in our town...” Rosalie whispered, her eyes almost glassy with pain “They left me bleeding in a dirt alley to die...”

Hermione's jaw tightened, her brown eyes watering.

“Carlisle found me and turned me...” she continued “I was already in so much pain... And when the venom started to run through my veins I begged God to let me die... ‘Lord, have mercy on me, let me die’, I prayed… A part of me had already died that night, so really dying would be a relief…”

Rosalie tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.

“My heart stopped beating and then I opened my eyes. I was dead, but I was alive... I was strong enough to exterminate an entire army, but I was broken inside” she mused.

“What... What happened next?” Hermione asked.

“I was hidden at Carlisle’s house... He expected me to be Edward’s mate and us to be a couple, but Edward rejected me... From there, I began to suspect that he was, you know… Gay.” Rosalie said with a mocking smile, drawing a low laugh from Hermione, but then being serious. “I had a lot of things to assimilate... In the meantime, I was reported missing and the entire city began searching me. My family put pictures of me in the papers as well as my... My fiancé begged to be helped to find me...”  

“Filthy pig...” Hermione said through her teeth.

“He stole many things from me that night... Dreams, innocence... Possibilities.” the blonde stated “But I got revenge on them... One by one. I left Royce last, to know that something bad was going after him... I had to be very careful not to make them bleed, because I would hate to have their dirt blood inside me... Besides, I didn't want to stain the wedding dress I wore.”

A wicked smile came to Hermione's lips.

“Wedding dress?” the witch asked.

Rosalie shrugged with a mischievous wink.

“I was kind of theatrical at the time...”

The two girls laughed.

“I'm so sorry.” Hermione said after a pause “But I want to repeat: you don't have to come with me, if you prefer.”

Rosalie sighed.

“It's all right...” she answered calmly “Like I said earlier, I feel it's almost a moral duty to help you and that girl.”

The witch smiled, becoming thoughtful then.

“And after all? After you have done justice... What happened?” Hermione asked.

Rosalie smiled as she noticed that the girl used the word justice instead of revenge, something small but that mean a lot to her.

“Things got better when I met Emmett... And somehow, despite everything, I'm happy now, despite missing certain things as you may already know...”

“I'm glad to hear this. Really!”

Rosalie sat on the stool, slipping on her high-heeled shoes while Hermione putted her most delicate silk stockings and tied it on with a garter belt. Alice would be thrilled to see such beautiful lingerie.

“Hermione?” Rosalie asked after a few minutes while looking at her curiously. Thought not aging like normal humans, Hermione was still a human with a beating heart, flushed face and with a warm, hot body. 

A body full of possibilities.

“Yes?”

“How... What is it like to be a witch?” she asked “You told me that you were born as a witch, but that you could choose to remain a certain moment... Do you regret your decisions on some moments?”

Hermione smiled at the question, taking a deep breath as she put her hands on her small waist.

“Well... Being a witch is being free to decide what you want or what to be...” she replied with a tone of deep pride “It's about having power and not being afraid to use, you know what I mean?”

Hermione walked to the closet, taking a small black dress.

“Being a witch is not being subject to the rules that others impose on you...” Hermione smiled, putting on her dress and zipping up the side. “We have been hunted for centuries by ordinary men, because we represent everything what they fear most.”

“What would it be?”

“Women with power. There is nothing that frightens a muggle man of mediocre thinking than a woman to be stronger or more powerful than them... Of a woman to be free.” Hermione replied, taking the perfume and applying it on her neck. “And about regretting... Well, I had never thought of that, but I think to be honest, I don't have regrets, just like Ron.”

“And Harry?”

Hermione gave a calm smile.

“Harry is another story, under other circumstances.” She replied, stopping for a moment adding. ”But overall, that's it... There are so many delicious pleasures in being a witch... Did I answer your question?”

Rosalie smiled softly, but certain thoughts made her brow furrow.

“What's it?” Hermione asked.

“There is a reason why the dogs of La Push insist on seeing you all.” Rosalie said “Four people, including one of them, were killed in a kind of ritual...”

Hermione stood for a few seconds.

“Ritual?”

“Yes... It seemed to be a kind of… I don’t know, really evil, like a satanic ritual” the vampire went on “They were brutally mutilated and one of them had part of his body eaten”

Hermione's face went chalk white, her lips tightened into a thin line.

“Eaten?!”

“Yes...” Rosalie confirmed in a serious voice “Don’t get me wrong, but… Hermione, do you have anything to do with it? Is there something you want to tell me?”

“No! Rosie...!” the witch gasped nervously, her heart racing “Of course not... I never... We don't... This is ridiculous.” 

“Hm...” the blonde vampire looked at the other girl for a few seconds “Sorry... It's just... Never mind...”

Hermione was silent, staring into the vanity mirror for a moment.

“There are various types of monsters...” the girl said carefully “There are those that exist in the folklore and horror story for children to have nightmares, and that's just it: folklore and stories... But there are also those who people think exist only in folklore and horror stories, but they really exist, like werewolves, witches... or vampires!”

Rosalie gave a brief smile.

“And there are those we see every day, we know their names, we cross with them on the corridors of the school or the workplace... We live with them and we even think we really know them... They disguise themselves as our colleagues, friends or in some cases as our parents, siblings, uncles or even fiancés.” Hermione said and paused to see the vampire standing still “Humans are capable of doing terrible things Rosalie, often do just for pleasure to see the suffering of others.”

Hermione took a deep breath.

“I'm a witch and you're a vampire and depending on your point of view, we're both monsters. But in my opinion, the only monsters in this city are the three mortals we will meet in a few minutes.” she said finally, taking the bag and putting it on her shoulder and extending her hand toward the other girl  “So I ask you: do you want to hunt monsters with me tonight?”

Rosalie tilted her head, closing her eyes for a moment in doubt at what the witch had told her, but that doubt was soon swept away when the ghost of Royce King's cynical smile came into her mind, making her taste the acid of the venom in her mouth.

“What is the plan?” Rosalie asked decisively as she took the witch's hand.

Hermione smiled, arching an eyebrow.

“Oh... I prepared a little surprise for them... I'll tell you by the way.”

That would be an interesting night.

.

.

.

That night would be a disaster.

Although big, the Cullens' living room seemed small, almost claustrophobic in the face of people who stood there, as well as the tension that filled the air: on one side, six vampires and two wizards, most with expressions of anxious concern. On the other, the six wolves in their human form, tall and muscular bodies, their suspicious faces and above all furious for moments before, two of them had suffered a magical attack as they approached the vampire mansion.

Leah Clearwater and Jacob Black were violently repelled by some kind of shield, making them felt a similar sensation of being electrocuted, every muscle in their bodies twisting in pure agony. Carlisle had been horrified to see this, running to the aid of the two who slowly felt the effects of the attack diminishing and refused to be touched by the doctor, who patiently explained that the house was under special protection that expelled those who intended to injure the residents. Sam, in turn, had widened his eyes at the undulating force field like a transparent membrane and his mind was filled with questions.

After much talk and suspicious glances, one by one entered the mansion, followed by Esme, who led them into the living room, where the rest of the vampires were along with two humans.

And what followed was an awkward silence.

The wolves fixed their intense gaze on the two boys in front of them, not knowing exactly how to react now that they were in front of the suspects of killing Seth. Emotions varied from one to one, Jasper could tell, but the thoughts were unanimous as Edward heard.

Disbelief. Unbelief.

Sam, Leah, Jacob, and the rest of them expected to find two menacing monsters in which they would tear to pieces with their teeth before they even said 'good evening', but all they saw was a freckled blue-eyed redhead and a small dark-haired boy who seemed unable to withstand a physical blow that they would deliver. They looked like two normal teenagers, much more normal than the Cullens freaks.

Edward watched Jacob's hateful gaze toward him, his thoughts as corrosive as acid - the vampire was sure it could be 50 years and Jacob would still hate him and he wasn't surprised to find that the feeling was reciprocal.

“Well, since we're all here, I'd like to make the introductions, if you allow me” Carlisle said in a diplomatic tone to Sam, pointing at the redhead “Sam, I'd like to introduce Ronald Weasley, a friend of the family... Ronald, this is Sam Uley, the honorable alpha of the La Push Quileute pack.”

“What's up.” Ron said seriously, offering his hand to the alpha, who took reluctantly and squeezed tightly. Ron was indifferent to the grip, a mocking smile lurking on his lips.

Ron greeted each of them, who spoke shortly and dryly, except for Leah, who refused.

 “And this is Harry Potter, family friend and boyfriend of my son, Edward.” Carlisle went on.

Harry broke free of Edward’s arm around his waist, walking toward the wolves.

“Nice to meet you.” The British boy said politely, extending his hand to the alpha.

“Hm.” Sam made a small sound of indifference as Harry greeted each of them.

Jacob wrapped the boy's soft and small hand in his large, callused, glancing him from head to toe and looking back at the copper-haired vampire with contempt.

‘Really?’ He exclaimed mentally disgusted. 

Edward clenched his jaw and clenched his fists. Carlisle would be worried to know, but Edward had a great urge to smash that dog's skull with his hands on the same way he would do with a chestnut.

Jacob would add a not-too-polite verbal comment to provoke the vampire, but the wizard’s green eyes were gazing at him with intensity, dilated pupils as a predator. Jacob was much taller, strong and hard to impose fear, but that look was enough to keep him quiet immediately. Beneath the apparent fragility of that body or the sweetness of that features, Jacob could see that there was something cold in Harry Potter, like a veiled cruelty.

“Very well ...” Harry whispered as he stepped away from him, stepping back to stand beside Ron, ignoring Jasper and Edward's curious looks.

Sam, like the others, followed their eyes with each movement of the two boys, hoping that something or anything could denounce them. At that moment, nothing.

“So ... wizards ...” Sam said slowly.

- Right. Harry offered a friendly smile, nodding his head.

None of the wolves smiled back, on the contrary, they looked at him as if he were an abomination. Harry's face cooled. Jasper could feel the growing tension in that room, and if it were human, it would be sweating cold.

Carlisle cleared his throat, drawing everyone's attention to himself and using his peaceful tone of voice.

“As you all know, we are meeting here, on friendly terms...”

“FRIENDLY TERMS ?!” Leah growled, taking a step forward “WE ARE HERE TO REVENG MY BROTHER'S DEATH, KILL THESE...” 

Harry and Ron remained composed, just watching her.

“MONSTERS!!!” Leah fired.

And once again, the awkward silence overwhelmed everyone present.

Or almost all of them.

“Hm… Have you finished?” Harry said formally and coldly, leaving the vampires a little dismayed to see how unshaken he was, since there was no rapid heartbeat, his voice showed no trace of tremor, it was just polished and cold as steel.

Ron smiled discreetly, putting his hands in the pockets of his jeans.

Silence.

“Good…” the wizard went on, placing both hands behind his back “Since you're throwing charges at us, I want to know exactly what my friends and I are being accused with, in the first place...”

Sam took a deep breath, stepping forward.

“Seth was the youngest member of our pack, and since he was 15, I had given him the first mission on which he would do it by himself, which was to patrol the reserve area near the beach.” the alpha explained. “He should have come back at dawn, but, he didn't come back.”

Leah's eyes watered and she turned her back as she refused to be seen crying in front of the leeches.

“He had disappeared along with three other teenagers in town who had gone to the beach that day... We searched the area and... And found Seth.” Sam unzipped his jacket, pulling the photos from his inner pocket, handing them to Harry. “But not the way we wanted him.”

The wizard had taken the photos, moving from one to one in complete silence, his brow slightly furrowed, but with glassy green eyes as he looked at the images. Ron had caught them too, his face becoming unintelligible. Jasper, who was doing a lot of work to soften and soothe the spirits of those present, wished he could know exactly what Harry and Ron were feeling from seeing those pictures that shocked even him, who had seen almost everything about in terms of violence.

“The mind-reader vampire told us this was done by witches... Which brings us to you.” Sam concluded, clenching his fists tightly.  

“Based on...?” Harry shrugged.

“Didn't you hear what I said ?! The mind-reader vampire...”

“Edward says a lot of things and they aren’t always with a real background.” Harry cut in, glancing at his boyfriend who widened his eyes indignantly. Emmett and Alice exchanged a look of amusement despite the tension of the moment “But he has already learned the lesson. So, I must repeat, these accusations are based on what? In what proof or evidence?”

Sam and the others opened their mouths to speak, but nothing came out.

“You all can turn into the shape of wolves...” Ron added “You can smell each person's unique scents. Do you recognize our scent like on the crime scene?”

Silence.

“We finished the first part here then...” Harry looked at Sam as if he were a complete moron.

“This... This means nothing!” Jacob scolded pointing his index finger at both, drawing everyone’s attention “You may well have cast a spell or done some witchcraft to us all!”

Edward shifted, wanting to intervene.

Harry raised an eyebrow at the boy in front of him.

“I'm talking to your alpha, not to you... mutt!” The wizard snapped nonchalantly, making Jacob furious, Carlisle in shock and Edward wide-eyed.

In milliseconds, Jacob clenched his fist and raised it ready to punch the green-eyed wizard, but Harry had also raised his hand and closed his fingers as if grasping something in the air.

And he was.

Jacob felt his fist clench with a tremendous invisible force, unable to move an inch as he felt a pressure squeeze his hand.

“Next time you do that... There will be no next time.” Harry said calmly, spreading his fingers and releasing the shapeshifter's fist.

Emmett pursed his lips like a little boy wanting to laugh, approaching Edward who was about to advance on Jacob’s neck.

“Your boyfriend is so badass!” Emmett whispered, pointing his chin at the wizard in front. 

Edward would scold him and asking for seriousness for the moment, but he didn't, for realizing that Emmett was right. Seeing that cold stoic facet of Harry aroused in him a sense of wonder, admiration, a little bit of pride, as well as an unusual heat that slowly spread in his chest and descended to other parts...

'Oh...' Edward would have blushed if he could, ashamed of himself for having such thoughts.

“But going on...” Harry said, ignoring Jacob's frightened look “...My friends and I have done nothing with Seth... I'm sorry for the loss of you all”

"You’re sorry?!" Leah turned with furious eyes full of tears "My baby brother was quartered... There were pieces of him that were... That were..."

“I'm really sorry.” Harry repeated and added “But my friends and I aren’t guilty and we’ll not take responsibility for that. The real culprit is out there and this is what we should be concerned about. But if you want to keep blaming someone here in this room, blame your leader who allowed a child to prowl through the woods alone when so many people have been disappearing lately. He, more than anyone, should know that the forest isn’t such a safe place.” 

Sam opened his mouth to say something but closed it, preferring to look down. Edward and Jasper realized that the pack's alpha felt the weight of the wizard's words, seeing that there was some reason in what he had heard.

“Harry...” Carlisle said worried “There’s no need to...”

Harry raised his hand politely.

“With all due respect, Carlisle, we have much more serious and urgent things to discuss.” the wizard said “We need to be practical for what really matters now.” 

“What are you talking about?” Emmett asked now confused.

“It isn’t obvious?” Ron said, looking around “We have murders involving magic, a horde of vampires who will march here any moment... We're in the middle of a war about to break out.”

Everyone's faces darkened as they remembered those details.

“Do you understand how serious is this?” Harry completed looking at the wolves “So, can we really talk now?!”  

Emmett approached Edward again, who was still slightly gaping.

“Super badass…”

Edward rolled his eyes but smiled.

.

.

.

Rosalie mentally counted to five as not to lose her focus, after all, if she wanted that to work, she must appear nothing short of charming and docile to those human boys. And the formula for that was simple: she blinked her golden eyes so that highlighted her long lashes; she tossed her hair aside to expose the curve of her neck as well as enhance her cleavage; she smiled sweetly, highlighting her beautiful cheekbones and dimples... The result was sucessfull: they were wide-eyed, mouths half open and hearts bouncing.

Hermione also played such a game of seduction, mesmerizing them with her chocolate brown eyes, unassuming touches and most of all with the scent of perfume that exuded subtly from her skin, a perfume in which she had been enriched with a spell that carried the hair of the three boys, leaving them in a kind of trance every time they felt a breath of fragrance.

The truth is that if anyone asked Justin or his friends how exactly they got out with the two hottest girls in school, they wouldn't be able to answer. If they were clever, they would have noticed that it was at least strange, because everyone knew that Rosalie dated the big guy, Emmett and Hermione with that ginger, Ron, the two girls always reclusive in their closed groups.

But here they were at Sully's, Forks' only dinner, where it welcomed the local residents, school students and the fishermen who traveled to that region of the state to fishing the famous salmon in the Calawah River. At a table near the window, Justin, Matt, and Dylan recounted - or boasted - once again how they managed to change the school's score within minutes before the time was up. ‘Chicks are very into winner athletes’ everyone knew that and they made the best using of it.

Hermione, who sipped her strawberry milkshake, occasionally smiled or made small comments to show that she was interested in what they said, occasionally looking at her elegant wristwatch. It was almost time.

“Babe, are you sure you don't want to eat something? I pay!” Matt offered to Rosalie, who turned her gaze to him. Matt had light brown hair, a short neck and an ordinary face.

The blonde smiled, tilting her head to the side.

“No, thanks... I'm on a... A special diet.” she answered.

“With the body you have, you don't even have to...” Dylan, with dark hair and dark eyes, licked his lower lip with a lewd smile, looking at the girl with intensity.

Rosalie froze her face with a smile, avoiding as much as not ruining everything by making her angelic face take on a fierce expression, bordering on the demonic. Hermione put a hand on hers under the table in comfort.

“You know ...” Hermione said lightly “Rosie and I shouldn't be with you now... Especially after we heard certain ‘things’ about you guys...”

The three male teenagers looked at each other.

“What did you hear?” Justin asked.

“That you break the hearts of girls like us...” Rosalie replied smiling.

“... and don't even apologize later.” Hermione completed.

The three laughed.

“So it’s true?” the vampire asked, leaning forward so that she purposefully exposed her cleavage.

“What?” Matt asked in a whisper.

“Are you bad boys?” she whispered back.

The three turned red and laughed nervously.

“Maybe...” one of them said with a smile.

“Hmmm...” Hermione said as she played with her milkshake's straw “So, it seems we have a secret to tell you boys...”

“A secret?”

“Yes…” she nodded.

“What kind of secret?”

“Do you really want to know?” Rosalie's voice sounded velvety.

“Sure...” Matt answered.

“Well... We love bad boys, because we're bad girls too...” Hermione concluded in a low voice, making them to look down to see the direction she pointed with her finger.

The three of them stood, gaping and their minds imploding in several thoughts as they saw the English girl’s fingers rise the hem of her black dress by a few inches, displaying the delicate lace of her stocking and garter belt that held it.

“Oh fuck...” Dylan gasped, blinking slowly, looking at his friends on the side.

“So Rosie and I were wondering if maybe you don't want to come with us for a... Private party...” Hermione said, winking at them at the end, wiggling her hair to release a warm breath of her scent.

“A p-party?” Justin asked excitedly.  

“Yeah... Just the five of us... What do you guys think? Would you go with us?” Rosalie said, warm golden eyes watching them closely.

“Now!!!” Justin said as he stood up with his two friends. If he'd gotten it right, they were the luckiest fucking guys in the world “At where?!”

“That's a surpriiise...” Hermione hummed, standing with Rosalie holding hands “Shall we?”

The boys smiled like hyenas as they left the diner after paying for their meal, enjoying that they were after the girls to check their beautiful bodies with those dresses that valued their silhouettes. They were way beyond hot, there was no girl at school that came close to that, including Jessica - Justin didn't even remember her features when he was around those two beauties.

Justin gasped at the sight of Rosalie's convertible car, an imposing BMW of blood-red glossy bodywork. His hand itched to drive that machine, for his father would never give him such a car.

“Amazing isn't it?” Rosalie said as she turned back.

“Fuck...” he gasped again, excited. “ Can I...?”

“Na-nani-na-no!” The blonde shook her head with a small laugh, sitting in the driver's seat, while Hermione sat next to her.

With a slight frustration, Justin settled into the backseat next to his friends who opened their wallets to check if they brought the condoms, rubbing their hands in excitement, preparing for what would happen soon.

Hermione pushed the button on the radio as Rosalie began driving through the city streets, the cold wind blowing in the girls' golden and brown hair, the hypnotic music playing at low volume, their scent filling their lungs...

“Here boys, for you!” Hermione smiled as she turned to the backseat and handed them a metal canteen.

“What is it?” Justin asked.

“Scotch from a special reserve” she winked.

Justin opened the canteen, smelling the alcoholic drink as he brought it near his nose and saw that looked like an expensive thing. Smiling at his friends, he took the first sip, trying his best to not grimace as he was only used to drinking less strong drinks like beer. The whiskey descended like flames of fire down his throat, leaving on his tongue the bitter taste and curiously something that resembled herbs.

“So, did you like it?” Hermione asked as Rosalie drove the car onto the freeway.

“Very much!” Matt said, enjoying the warmth spreading from his throat to his fingertips.

“Oh, I’m so happy you guys liked it... If you want something else, just talk” she said as she curled a strand of her hair with her finger. 

“What I really want is to rip your clothes off and fuck you hard!” Dylan said suddenly, frowning as he realized what he had said, for he had really thought that, but not with the intention of speaking aloud.

Hermione laughed.

“Oh, I see so...”

“My bad, I didn't...”

“Noooo problem ...” she crooned.

“I'll turn up the sound!” Justin said as he leaned forward and turned the volume knob on the sound system, but he became unbalanced with the movement of the car and reflexively rested his hand on Rosalie arm, making the girl shift uncomfortably to get rid of the touch.

“Wow... Your skin is so cold...” he exclaimed, wondering how strange it was that her skin was so cold and hard, like stone.

“We're almost there...” Rosalie ignored the comment, turning onto a road that led to a narrow dirt road that cut through the dark forest, lit only by the headlights of the car.

“Hey, where are we going?” Justin asked as he realized where they were, looking around and seeing nothing but tall trees with mossy branches.

“A special place...” Rosalie murmured as she looked into the rearview mirror, seeing them with intensity.

“This sounds like a horror movie ...” Matt said between giggles.

“Really?” Hermione asked.

“Yeah, like... Like that movie with that hottie, Megan Fox, where she was a cannibal demon who seduced the guys and ate them later!” Matt laughed to himself as he had that random memory.

Justin and Dylan laughed out loud. 

Hermione and Rosalie smiled as they exchanged glances.

“Relax… Your flesh doesn't interest me...” Hermione laughed, but then turned serious.

“As well your blood…” Rosalie sneered.

The three boys felt a chill run down their spines for some reason.

“Tell me, boys... What was the spiciest thing you ever did?” The English girl suddenly asked.

“We three fucked Justin's maid's daughter...” Matt replied, the words popping out of his mouth without the slightest restriction.

“She made it difficult at first, saying that she didn’t want to, that she was a virgin and blah blah blah...” Dylan continued chattering, patting his shoulder “But Justin here put a “candy” in her drink, and later she was high as fuck... We even recorded a video!”

“It was nice, but then the bitch started screaming and crying in Spanish with us later, as if she hadn’t liked... She scratched me all over.” Justin said angrily.

“But man, was it worth it or not?” Dylan asked.

“Sometimes I even jerk off when I watched it again” Matt laughed.

The car braked sharply, causing them to jump forward and slam their faces into the seat.

“What the fuck, what happened?” Justin asked disoriented.

He saw the blonde girl take her delicate hands off the steering wheel, and almost rubbed his eyes when he saw that the part of the car in which the girl had held was deformed.

“Get out of the car” Hermione said quietly, her voice low and threatening.

“What...”

“GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE CAR. NOW!!!” Rosalie growled.

Justin turned to look at her, seeing that her beautiful face was distorted into an almost animalistic expression, the golden eyes now black and feral.

Justin retreated back, his heart accelerating to as the fear stiffen the muscles, lungs begging for air, because he unconsciously arrested breathing.

Something was wrong. 

Terribly and deeply wrong.

Hermione got out of the car, walking ahead of the headlights that lit the dirt road. 

In the blink of an eye, Rosalie was no longer in the driver's seat but beside them, opening the door and gripping his arm in a cold steel grip, making him moan in terror as he was dragged effortlessly by her.

“JUSTIN!” Matt shouted scared.

“LET HIM GO!!!” Dylan shouted in terror.

Hermione held up what appeared to be a sliver of twig toward them.

Imperio!” 

Matt and Dylan immediately stopped shouting.

They were no longer scared, they no longer felt that sense of something horrible about to happen, on the contrary, they felt as if they were being filled with something similar to that of inner peace , as if they were floating, flying, as if all worries, fears and other thoughts had been wiped from their minds. They smiled wide, their eyes wide and glassy.

“Get out of the car.” Hermione said, her voice modulating in the air like music.

How could they deny an order from someone with such a beautiful voice? Calmly and quietly they got out of the car, walking - or was it floating? - to where Hermione pointed at them, both ignoring Justin's screams as he tried in vain to get their attention.

Rosalie threw Justin effortless, making him falling to the hard ground like broken toy, soiling his shirt and face with mud and dust. Looking up, he had seen Hermione with her arms crossed and holding a wand, his two friends standing and smiling like lunatics while Rosalie stared at him with her face of cruel beauty.

He was scared.

Gradually his mind came to the conclusion that whatever those two girls were, they certainly weren't normal. He felt his heart hammer against his chest, pumping his adrenaline-injected blood, forcing him to react.

And he reacted.

Justin got up and ran through the trees with all the speed his training gave him, running away as if his life depended on it - and deep down he was sure it did. To the hell Matt and Dylan, he would save his own skin of these two crazy chick.

And then he fell.

Justin had fallen to the ground, but was unable to get up because something had tangled in his leg, rising and squeezing with a tight grip. Looking down he saw that it was the root of a plant that seemed to grow and curl around his limbs. Trying to get up, he had fallen again and to his despair was beginning to be dragged down that root, causing him to try to hold on to anything.

All in vain. He continued to be dragged, hurting his hands and fingers throughout the process.

When he found himself, he had returned to exactly where he had fled, Hermione and Rosalie smiling coldly at him.

Don't turn your back on the ladies, Justin...” Rosalie said, her voice rough, dry and cold as ice cracked.

“They don't make gentlemen anymore...” Hermione pretended to wail, approaching him as the plant curled his legs and hands. ”If I were you, I wouldn't try not to move too much... Devil's Snare is a rather temperamental plant.”

“HELP!!! SOMEONE HELP ME!!!” he shouted, starting to cry.

“Why are you screaming Justin? Aren't you having fun with us?” Hermione asked gently.

“Of course he's... You're having fun, aren't you?!” Rosalie chuckled, putting her high heels on his shin, pressing in a single blow as she stepped.

A crackling sound, similar to a cracking dry branch, had been heard by them. 

Justin screamed at once, a horrible ache in his leg, twitching in agony as the plant continued to clench him, just as it grew and curled around his friends, who were slowly regaining consciousness but unable to scream as they were gagged.

“L-et m-me go... Pl-ple-please!!!” he cried. “L-let m-me go!!!”

“Oh no... No, no, no, no...” Hermione shook her head “You were a very, very nasty boy, Justin... And deep down, you know you need to be punished, you're begging for it.”

“Too bad we can't kill him...” Rosalie said scornfully.

“I know, right? It’s sooo frustrating…” Hermione put her hand on her hips “But death is too easy, too quick. It's not much use for him to die, it would only give us a headache later.”

He shouted for help again.

“Humans are so annoying.” Rosalie said, rolling her black eyes.  

“Don’t tell me...”

Hermione approached Justin, who was beginning to sob, hot tears washing his face like a terribly frightened child. The girl crouched beside him holding his chin with her hand, forcing him to look at her.

“Look at my face... Look at my eyes ...” she said coldly “This is the face of someone who will torment you until the last day of your miserable life... Every night, when you and your little friends close your eyes to sleep, I will torment you and rip you apart… Piece by piece”

Justin sobbed.

“Did you hear that boys? That goes for you too…” Hermione winked at the other two, who were also crying.

“If you touch any girl's without her consent, I'll go after you… Wherever you are” Rosalie threatened the other two.

“I think this won’t be necessary darling...” Hermione stood up.

“No?”

“No... I'll give them my last little gift...” Hermione said calmly, surrounding the boys who remained motionless “Vos omnes ministri Odey et destructiones et seratore discorde...” 

Justin felt his tear-blurred vision grow even more blurred, a strange dizziness that made everything spin and made him sick to his stomach.

“…Et qui libiter operates facitis et tractibus , quod eat noce...”

He felt heavier and heavier, as if every limb of his body was injected with lead and pinned to that floor.

“... Vos conjurae idec nos conjuo et ofid fiat mier alve Justin, Matt et Dylan!”

Rosalie watched the humans go quiet, terror-filled eyes that were fixed on nothing, a single trickle of blood leaking from their noses.

“What did you do?” she asked.

“A blood curse... It will slowly take away their vitality, sexual vigor and mental health... At least while I'm still keeping the spell.” Hermione explained.

Rosalie stood staring at her, and Hermione blinked shyly.

“Too much?” the witch asked.

The blonde thought for a moment and smiled throwing her hair back.

“Nor could I do better!”

Hermione gave a crystal clear laugh.

.

.

.

“Let me get this straight. So, because of this Blood Moon, Forks will attract witches from all over the world?” Sam asked.

“Basically.” Ron answered.

“This city is really bizarre...” Jacob muttered to himself.

“Is that why you are here?” Quil, one of the shifters asked.

Harry shifted on the couch.

“Indeed... I had plans for this event, but new plans came along the way.” Harry explained. “The important thing to know is that during all the full moons, you should under no circumstances wander alone through the woods. This goes for vampires as well.”

“Why?” Jasper asked.

“Magic attacks are much stronger when done against a single person. The more people they have together, the less vulnerable they are.”  Ron explained “It will be enough to prevent more deaths, at least for now.”

“So we should stay home at these times?” Alice asked.

“Yeah, at least until we catch who's behind it” Harry explained.  “And of course, there is also the issue of the newborns.”

“Which we’ll also help...” Ron said excitedly.

“You speak as if we already agree to all of this” Jacob said.

“It's not about agreeing, mutt.” Harry countered.  “You all have to accept, periodt. Either you swallow your pride and accept what we say, or you all die one by one until no one remain. Is that what you want?"

Jacob was outraged, but fell silent as he looked at Sam. Alice had covered her mouth as Emmett pursed his lips, trying not to draw attention from Esme's scolding gaze.

“I don't trust you. And in none of the leeches” Leah scolded.

“The feeling is reciprocal. We don't trust you and you don't trust us, nobody trusts anyone... But that's what we have.” Harry shrugged.

“From what we hear, there's no way to denying it, Sam...” Carlisle said “We have to come together, both to guarantee your, mine, our survival as a whole and to protect the humans who live in this city. You, as a leader, certainly take this into consideration. We have a deal?”

Sam got serious, looking out the window overlooking the Calawah River, taking a deep breath as he looked back at the wizards and vampires.

“We have a deal.” Sam answered.

“Sam?!” Jacob and Leah protested.

“SHUT UP!” He commanded in his imposing deep voice, resuming his composure after a few seconds. “Count on us for whatever you need... We’re natural enemies and always will be, but now we have enemies in common.”

Carlisle smiled fatherly, glad that he could come to an agreement.

“I have experience in fighting the newly created. I invite you to join us in practice.” Jasper said calmly. “We need to be prepared for the worse and I guarantee it will be if we don't train properly”

“Ron, Hermione and I will be training with you all too.” Harry said.

“No way!!!”  Edward shook his head “This is too dangerous, you will not participate!”

“Do shut up” Harry put his index finger to his lips, looking at Edward with impatience “This is not in discussing.”

“But...”

“Quiet!!!”  The wizard said through his teeth, turning to the others “Jasper is right. Time is running out and we need to act... With Alice's visions scrambled, this battle can be all right in months or even tomorrow.”

“I will do my best to keep you all on alert.” Alice said to the wolves “I can't see your future, but whatever I can see, I'll let you know.”

“This is going to be so good...” Emmett snapped his big fists, excited by the prospect of a real fight.

While the others shapeshifters and vampires began to discuss other important details, Harry discreetly approached toward Edward.

“Follow me” Harry whispered to the vampire in a serious tone.

Edward frowned and walked behind the wizard, both leaving the living room, going up to the stairs, while the dark haired boy leading him to the vampire's bedroom.

Harry stopped in the middle, turning to Edward.

"Close the door." he said softly.

Edward was confused, but he did what was said. Harry’s face softened while a sweet smile spread on his lips.

“Am I allowed to speak now?” Edward whispered with his velvety voice.

Harry approached him, place his hands on the vampire's broad shoulders and standing up on his tiptoes.

“No...” Harry whispered back, looking at the tall vampire tenderly “Buuuuut, you're allowed to hold me in your arms and snog me until you take my breath away...”

Edward gave a big smile, kissing the boy's sweet lips as he hugged his waist.

Emmett was right... He had gotten a badass boyfriend who also had a tender heart.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER XVIII

TWO LIONS

“Come in Jasper...” Carlisle's soft voice sounded muffled behind his office door as the other vampire had his fist raised with the intention of knocking.

Jasper looked and listened to the surroundings, making sure no one was around. Shortly after the wolves left, Ron apparated to his home, while Edward drove with Harry by car; Esme had gone to her bedroom to finish her projects; Alice had turned to her sketches and Emmett with his video game and waiting for Rosalie.

This was the most opportune time for the Texan vampire to talk to the Cullen patriarch alone without the risk of being disturbed.

Entering the room and carefully closing the door behind him, Jasper had been greeted by Carlisle who was sat in his elegant brown leather swivel chair reading a thick compendium of surgical techniques. Seeing him, Carlisle had lowered the book, welcoming him with a reassuring smile and warm, affectionate golden eyes.

Jasper smiled.

After that stressful night, getting around Carlisle and his peaceful, placid emotions was relaxing. It was almost like reaching a safe harbor after facing a rough sea.

“Some problem?” he asked.

Jasper nodded, approaching and sitting in the chair facing Carlisle, joining his hands on the desk. Even though he was afraid to have this conversation, Carlisle was the only person Jasper could confide in about the thoughts that were forming in his mind and he, with his wisdom, certainly knew what to do.

“Carlisle...” Jasper muttered in a low, cautious tone.

“Yeah?” he frowned a bit, knowing that the conversation was serious.

“I want you to answer me honestly in the way you have always been, at all times...” the blonde said bluntly, watching his father be dismayed at the direction the conversation was being directed “Do you trust Harry and the other wizards?”

Carlisle shifted in his chair, visibly surprised by the question he had received.

“Jasper... Hm, sorry I didn't understand?”

“Do you trust or not?”

The older Cullen glanced sideways for a second and looked back at his adopted son.

“Well... There is no reason for me not to trust” he answered carefully, looking at the young man and continued “But... I think you have a reason to believe otherwise, don't you?”

Jasper paused for a brief moment, his scarred face turning serious.

“For the past few weeks an idea hasn’t gone out of my head... A lingering sensation, if that's make sense”

“Which would be?”

“That we’re increasingly wrapping ourselves with a rope that in the end will only hang us” Jasper looked seriously “These murders, black magic rituals, these attacks on us, the threat of wolves... All of this happening almost simultaneously since we met the wizards and they came into our lives.”

Carlisle got serious.

“Jasper, what exactly do you mean? Do you suspect something? Did they give any clues?”

Jasper let out the air between his parted lips impatiently.

“For starters, they are hiding something from us from the beginning... Carlisle, we don't know anything about them.” Jasper said urgently “We don’t know the real reason why they came to Forks and why they are here, we don’t know about their background in England, we don’t know what they really are...”

“Jasper...” Carlisle said softly “You spent weeks in their company, it’s not possible that in the meantime you don’t ...”

“Edward can't read their minds...” he interrupted the other “...Alice can't see the future about them, I can't feel or influence their emotions. They always give evasive answers to certain questions... What we know of them is just a superficial layer. It's like they keep a glass wall between them and us... They see us and know us, but we only know what they decide to share, which isn’t much, by the way.”

Carlisle scratched his brow that had begun to frown with every word he listened and Jasper had begun to feel his concern push away Carlisle's usual calm..

“Jasper, are you suggesting that Harry, Hermione and Ron are responsible for the murders in Forks?” Carlisle whispered softly and seriously, as that hypothesis made him suddenly heavy.

“I don’t know.” Jasper murmured honestly “And that's the point. I don’t know. We don’t know...”

The former Confederate paused, pressing his lips into a thin line.

“While we were at the meeting, I couldn't help but notice Ron, and especially Harry.” he continued. “They didn't look shocked to see those pictures. They looked a little uncomfortable as if it were a minor annoyance or something. But not shocked.”

The doctor stopped as he remembered the reactions he had seen hours earlier.

“People react differently to certain things Jasper ...” Carlisle tried to argue, more to himself than to his son.

“Carlisle... I've seen horrible things even when I was human, in my wartime and after my transformation. But still, that was appalling to me.”

Carlisle stared at him seriously, nodding reluctantly.

“Harry, for example...” Jasper whispered. “What do you say about his behavior today?”

“A little abrasive, I think... irreducible. He could have been a little more diplomatic with the wolves, a little kinder because of the delicate situation we're in.”

Jasper nodded.

“What you call being abrasive or irreducible to me has another name, Carlisle... I've seen looks like that before... It was cold, inhuman...” Jasper whispered “Someone who could kill without remorse.”

“You're not talking as if you're suspicious of Jasper.” Carlisle answered worriedly. “You're talking for sure.”

Jasper shrugged.

“For now I'm treating this as possibilities... But... Think...” Jasper replied logically, gesturing with his hands. “With the things we've seen so far and the things we know from the outside, they might as well to be Devil worshipers, committing these atrocities under our noses while benefiting from our trust, while pretending to be our allies, friends or...”

Jasper broke off as Carlisle sighed deeply, knowing where they were going.

“Edward wouldn't listen to me. I can't even think about it when I'm around him.” Jasper whispered “He has already placed Harry on a pedestal and there is no one who can make him get him out of there... I know that, because I already made this mistake, as you well know.”

Carlisle put both hands on his face for a moment until he looked back at his adopted son.

“If those assumptions are true... If this is true, Edward couldn't cope with it...” the older Cullen whispered shaken, leaning against the back of his leather chair. “Harry is his soulmate, the mate he expected... If what you are telling me is true... If Harry is really using him...”

“That would break my brother's heart.” Jasper looked down as he remembered the intensity of Edward's emotions toward the green-eyed wizard, for if that were true, there would be so much pain and sadness under the Cullen's roof.

Carlisle shook his head in a pained countenance.

“That would destroy him” Carlisle corrected as he stared at nothing.

They were silent for long minutes, the sound of the ticking of the clock and the soft crackle of the burning fireplace that cast its light through the room. Carlisle rose from his chair, walking to the window overlooking the night forest as he kept his hands behind his back. Jasper watched the reflection of the other vampire's face through the window glass.

“Months ago...” Carlisle said after a few minutes “Edward told me something that only now I could remember”

Jasper raised his head.

“What?”

“He had confided in me that he had seen something in the woods about witches that made him scared. I told him to be careful, but not to treat them with prejudices...” Carlisle said vaguely “For some reason this has escaped my mind over the weeks and months...”

“Did he even say what he saw?”

“No... He didn’t.” Carlisle turned to Jasper “But now that it comes to mind, I see that your suspicions are... Justifiable.”

The two fell silent once more, gathered in their own thoughts. At one point Carlisle had advanced to his bookshelf, his index finger running across the different shelfs until he found a small book, bound in aged-looking leather and yellowed pages. Taking it carefully, the vampire looked seriously at the book and then at Jasper.

“My father was a priest and witch hunter, you know well... He always told me about witches.” the patriarch Cullen said seriously, golden eyes cautious. “I grew up listening to their stories and warnings about their existence... He told me they were Satan's servants, tasked with spreading Evil across the Earth, as well as vampires and werewolves. I watched him torture and kill many people he accused of witchcraft, many of them innocent...”

Jasper was silent.

“In his quest for purification he turned out to be inhuman and cruel, but he was right about werewolves, about vampires... And maybe he can be right about witches.” Carlisle said, handing the book to Jasper.

“What is it?” Jasper asked as he touched the old-looking book, seeing it from all angles.

“My father kept records and notes on supernatural subjects,” he explained. “This diary and the wooden cross are the only things I could recover after his parish caught fire in the Great Fire of London in 1666.”

Jasper lowered the diary, looking at Carlisle seriously.

“Why didn't you show it to us before?” Jasper asked, feeling somewhat betrayed “That would be of great value to us from the beginning.”

“Because as you read, you will understand that this was written by a disturbed fanatic who saw Evil in everything but himself...” Carlisle argued “Not much to start investigating, but this is a start.”

Jasper nodded, holding the diary in both hands.

“So are we really going to investigate them?” Jasper asked.

“Yes... We have to protect our family and the ties that bind us... We, Cullens must protect ourselves.”

“If we are wrong...?”

“If we're wrong, which I'd rather keep believing, then we'll put a stone on the subject as it should be... Harry is Edward's mate, and by extension, a son for me too.”

Jasper nodded, walking to the door, but looking at the other before leaving.

“And if we're right, Carlisle?”

Carlisle stopped, staring at the floor as his brows drew together in an expression of sadness.

“If we are right, may the Lord help us, for my son will suffer greatly...” the doctor said in a whisper.

With resignation, Jasper closed the door behind him, determined to bring answers to his family.

“What a night we had, no?” Edward smiled as he put his hands in his pockets, watching Harry throw the jacket he wore on the armchair in the corner of his room.

“Yeah... But I've been through more difficult situations.” Harry replied, turning to him, placing hands on his waist “To be honest I thought it would be worse...”

“We all thought so... Jasper was about to lose his calm with so much strain on him…” Edward said, frowning as he remembered his brother who was uneasy about everyone's emotions as well as his unfair thoughts about Harry and his friends, which for him were just fruits of nervousness.

“I agree... And I wonder how bad it would be if he wasn't there, holding the strings... or rather the leashes of certain dogs.” Harry muttered with a smile.

Edward's face soured at the reference, clenching his fists so that his knuckles made a dry crack.

“Jacob would hit you.” he said falsely calm.

“Hm? Oh yes, he tried...” Harry said with a shrug “But it’s okay…”

“No Harry, it's not 'okay'. If he did something, if he…” Edward snapped and broke off, too frustrated to express himself verbally.

The wizard smile softly at him.

“And give him a reason to want to attack you? Oh, Ed... You're so much smarter than that...” Harry replied, rising on tiptoe to kiss his cheek.

Edward's anger was replaced by the familiar sensation of butterflies in his stomach, as well as a pleasant tingle that was on his cheek after being kissed.

“But not smart enough when you're involved...” he teased, provoking a low laugh from the other.

Harry kicked off his shoes and shoved them with his feet to the side, flopping onto his back on the spacious bed and sinking into the fluffy pillows. Grinning mischievously, the wizard crossed his heels as he laid his hands in a good manner on his belly, looking at Edward conspiratorially.

“So...” the wizard said gruffly.

The vampire knit his eyebrows.

 ”You can lie by my side... In this bedroom, I'm not the one who has the habit of biting, you know...” Harry winked.

Edward laughed.

“Should I?” the vampire said with good humor “What if it's your plan to corrupt my virtue?”

Harry widened his eyes and put a hand on his chest.

“My vile plans have been discovered!” he said dramatically and laughed, watching Edward take off his shoes and lying by his side.

“Jokes aside, I know you wouldn't go home...” Harry smiled. ”You probably would sit on a tree branch like an owl all night to watching me.”

The vampire frowned slightly offended.

“I just want...”

“I know...” the wizard whispered and then smiled, raising a hand to Edward’s head to caress him.

Edward was silent enjoying the caress he received, the feel of the fingers touching and curling his hair with tenderness and affection... That gesture made his chest fill with pleasant warmth, causing him a crazy desire to laugh so wonderful it was.

And so, at moments like this, Edward was beginning to believe that he was slowly going mad. Mad, for it seemed that Harry had completely overwhelmed him, leaving him at the mercy of the charm of his green eyes, smiles, kisses and caresses, making himself the focal point of his existence on a rapid timescale.

Gently, Edward interrupted the human's gentle touch, grasping his wrist and lifting it to his nose. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath, enjoying the fact that the wizard had stopped wearing cologne, so that his natural scent wasn’t irritatingly altered by those of synthetic origin.

‘There is no scent in the world that compares with his...’ he thought with pleasure ‘He smells like my own Paradise... Like something made just for me.’

Edward smiled, placing a respectful, almost reverent kiss on Harry's wrist.

The wizard blushed as he felt the vampire's cold lips on that still unexplored piece of skin, while Edward could feel the vibration of the human's heartbeat in his own lips. His throat burned and itched, his razor-sharp white teeth almost scraping over the delicate skin that would give him access to the artery through which hot, sweet-smelling blood flowed.

He was close, so close. But all he had done was kiss him once more.

“You're like a heroine made especially for me...” he rambled.

Harry blinked in disbelief and laughed in a hoarse voice.

“What's it?” he asked confused at the other's abrupt laugh.

The wizard shook his head in denial, looking at the vampire with a mischievous look.

“I've been called a lot of things, but being compared to a drug is something new”

“Hmmm... It may be an affectionate pet name I'll give you...” the vampire teased. 

Harry snorted.

“Call me that and I'll call you ‘glitter pot’ or ‘sparkly boy’” he replied.

Edward laughed, raising his hands in redemption.

“No pet names!”

“Good boy...” Harry teased.

“You know... Changing the subject, but not so much...” Edward said as he put his arm around the other's shoulders “Tonight you kinda surprised me.” 

“In what sense?” Harry asked curiously.

“Your stance before the wolves... You looked so authoritarian, so... Rigid, cold... Frosty. Never backing down or being bullied…” Edward stopped to think “Actually, it was you who intimidated them...” 

“And...?” Harry whispered for him to continue.

“I kind of liked it.” Edward confessed.

“Really?” a smile appeared on the black-haired boy's face.

“Yeah...” the vampire stated with a serene smile, his fingers playing with the other's hair “You seemed so unshakable, so sure of yourself, never needing my intervention, even though I was there for you... You don't need me, Harry... And that makes me a little bewildered, I must confess.”

The wizard looked confused.

“I don’t understand...”

Edward sighed.

“I have no experience with relationships...” he began to explain “The closest one I had was with Bella and in this relationship, I realized that there would always be a brutal inequality between us... I'm a vampire and because of that, I would always be a step ahead of her and she would always depend on me and I didn't object to that. It was like a lion being with a lamb, you know what I mean? I knew what to expect and how to act...”

“Didn't you think of turning her?” Harry asked “So you guys would be equal...”

“She wanted to, but I denied it. I didn't want her to turn into a soulless monster like me…” Edward replied, making the boy look thoughtful.

“Edward, you're not that...” the wizard scolded softly “You're everything except a soulless monster.”

Edward smiled at Harry, because even though he didn't agree with the other's statement, he was still happy to hear those words.

“Anyway, were you ok to be in this unequal relationship?”

“I was ok with that because in a way it was predictable... I knew how to play my ‘role’, so to speak.” Edward continued his confession.

“That's a bit old-fashioned... And possibly sexist, you know...” Harry whispered.

“I know, but I was raised this way Harry... I'm 17, but I'm also almost 120. I'm from another time, from a world that no longer exists except in books, photos or movies, just like you...” Edward replied, pausing for a moment and going on “With Bella, I was in a safe position, but with you it's all so different...”

“So, do you... Do you want me to be dependent on you?” Harry whispered cautiously.

“No! Heavens, no…” Edward denied vehemently, kissing the wizard's forehead and looking into his eyes “What I mean is that more and more I realize that in our relationship there is equality and that at certain times, it's you who is a few steps ahead... And I think I'm fine with it.”

Harry put his head on the vampire’s chest, his hand stroking the buttons of the white shirt that Edward wore.

“It's good to know, but... You're wrong at a certain point...”

Edward frowned worriedly.

“Excuse me?”

“How can I explain...”

Harry took a deep breath as he opened his eyes and stared at the starry sky from the ceiling of his room and especially a cluster of stars.

“See... That is the constellation of Leo...” he said thoughtfully causing Edward to look up “I was born under the sign of Leo... At Hogwarts, I was selected for ‘house’ named Gryffindor, where the symbol is a lion... I think in many ways I am like a lion too: in difficult and necessary situations, I can be tough, aggressive, brutal and sometimes cruel even… I 'scratch' to protect myself and the people who are important to me, but I suffer more in doing so than from being ‘scratched’.”

Harry stopped and continued.

“You're wrong to say that I didn't need you, because the truth is the other way around. I needed... A lot.” he said turning his gaze to the other “And to my surprise, instead of feeling like a dependent, scared and fragile little boy, needing you made me feel good and strong...”

Edward sucked the air through his parted lips, his thumb caressing Harry’s flushed cheek.

“Do you really need me?” he asked in a whisper.

Harry nodded.

“Yes I need.” Harry answered in a low voice, as if telling a secret.

“Then I'll be here for you...” the vampire said warmly, his warm golden eyes staring at him with intensity “…forever!”

The black-haired boy hadn't answered, just smiled and kissed him quickly.

Edward looked up and stared at the constellation that hung over them.

“So the lion fell in love with another lion...” he continued, kissing Harry's strong chin.

“A rather troublesome lion...” the wizard gasped as he felt Edward's cold lips kiss the crook of his neck as he buried his fingers in the other's bronze colored hair.

“A lion with possible masochistic tendencies...” Edward replied with a hoarse, musical laugh as distanced himself to see the other better.

They both looked at each other tenderly for a few moments until Harry frowned as if something occurred to him at the moment.

“Can I ask you something?” the wizard asked.

“Sure…”

“Why does Jacob Black hate you?” Harry said as he looked at him.

The vampire sighed at the other's questioning.

“It's a long story...” he said, somewhat annoyed.

Harry narrowed his eyes suspiciously.

“Hmm... Let me guess...” the wizard muttered. “...has to do with Bella?”  

The vampire's eyes widened.

“How do you know that? Did you read his mind?”

“No. But it is quite obvious that the reason is far beyond the fact that you are a vampire... So I assume it must involve a girl aaaaand the only girl I have in mind that you got involved with, was Bella.” Harry answered with a low laugh.

Edward chuckled in response, but then went quiet as his mind wandered over events that had occurred almost a year ago, but which seemed to be much more than that.

“Vampires and werewolves, I mean, shapeshifters, are natural enemies. The reason for this is unknown, but still an undeniable fact... Despite the differences and all the history of conflict between our species, we are equal in one aspect: we have the ability to identify those in which are our perfect match.”

“Like soulmates?” Harry completed. 

“In a way, although I still think vampires have no soul...” Edward frowned, beginning to abstract on his theory “How would it be possible if...”

“Focus, Edward!” Harry demanded, causing the vampire to smile.

“Right... Well, wolves know when they find their perfect match when they suffer something they call ‘imprinting’, a kind of instant bond that makes them feel a deep connection with a person.”

“Jacob had an imprinting on Bella.” Harry conjectured.

“Yeah... And as far as I knew, they were childhood friends until Bella moved from Forks...And then, when she returned, they reconnected again.” Edward explained awkwardly “They could have been together, but...”

Harry was silent.

“I showed up and made Bella to choose me instead of him” Edward continued, feeling ashamed “Alice saw that there was a possibility that Bella and I could have a future together... I clung to it with tooth and nails, because I... I really wanted to have someone to be mine... I was so...”

Edward stopped, staring at the bedroom ceiling.

“I was so tired of being alone... And because of that, I ignored my own heart that told me that no matter how hard I tried, Bella could never be my perfect match, could never really complete me... In an alternate universe, in another world and in other circumstances, we might have a future together, we could be soulmates... But I was wrong and it cost her life.” Edward muttered thoughtfully “Jacob hates me because I took from him the possibility of being happy with his mate. So his hatred for me is more than justifiable.”

Harry took a deep breath.

“You can't always blame yourself for the things that happen, Edward...” the wizard whispered as he caressed the other's neck.

“But I should...”

“I know you feel guilty...” Harry interrupted, adjusting himself in bed so that they could face each other “...but consider that Bella had chosen you. It was her decision too. And yes, maybe you could work out, or maybe you guys broke up and she would have stayed with Jacob or even someone else.”

“But if I hadn't interfered, she would at least be alive.” the vampire whispered depressed.

“Maybe... Or maybe she would have died while being with Jacob. There is no way to know...” Harry answered stroking the cold cheeks of the copper-haired boy, as he seemed to slowly understand what he was saying “But you can't carry the weight of guilt with you forever... Do you understand what I mean?”

The vampire sighed as he hugged him, kissing Harry's forehead as he closed his eyes tightly.

For a long time he had been alone. 

He had his family of course, he loved them and he was loved back, but even his family couldn’t fill that emptiness he had within him that had grown over the decades.

For a long time he believed that he was cursed to know only loneliness, to move from city to city and from school to school, repeating the same role as a human teenager boy hundreds of times, to be confined to that existence that made him feel so miserable, so unhappy.

For a long time, he had read books, watched movies, listened to thoughts and watched the people around him experience love and because of that, he believed that this was as close as he would ever know to that sentiment. He believed he knew everything about love, but none of that prepared him for the sensation as he had Harry in his arms: he no longer felt that emptiness, he wasn’t miserable, he wasn’t unhappy.

Love imploded in his petrified, dead and still heart, making him feel more alive than ever for almost a century as a vampire.

He was scared.

He was brave.

“At times like this, I find it hard to believe that all this is real...” he whispered as his lips brushed Harry's skin. “That you’re real...”

“Hmm?” Harry said.

Edward smiled softly.

“I never felt for anyone what I feel for you, Harry... And never will” he confessed, his velvety voice pronouncing the words carefully  “You came into my life like a cannon ball, tooking to the floor all the things in what I believed and considered to be true...”

Harry chuckled softly as he lowered his face, while Edward put his hand to the wizard's chin, gently lifting him to look at him. If Edward's heart beat, it would be frantic right now.

“Now I pray every day that you'll never go away... That you'll never leave me, that I'll never be alone again...” the vampire said unable to contain the fragility in his voice, his warm golden eyes fixed on the emerald green of the teenager in his arms “You have no idea how long I waited for you...”

Harry's face had gone pale with fright, but it gradually flushed, his cheeks and ears exploding with color.

“Edward...” the wizard gasped.

“I... I know maybe it's too soon to say what I'm going to say and you can't tell me the same... At least not for now...” Edward closed his eyes, holding the words in his mind so they wouldn't escape. “What I mean is that you, Harry James Potter, are the sweetest, loveliest and most extraordinary boy I've ever known. You have conquered every bit of me and now I am forever devoted to you.”  

Edward held his breath, his hands shaking as he touched Harry's face with enormous reverence.

“I love you...”

Harry's eyes filled with tears that the vampire had wiped with his thumb before they even fell.

“... with all my heart.” he completed. 

Harry lowered his face as he covered it with his hands, his breathing unsteady and pulse beating frantically, but no sound coming from his lips. 

Edward smelled the saline scent of tears, touching the tip of his nose to the wizard's hair until he was hugged by him; Harry’s arms was around his shoulders, his face hide in the crook of the Edward’s neck, causing the vampire to wrap his own arms on Harry’s waist.

The wizard cried silently as his fingers were on the back of Edward's neck, his tears wetting the collar of the shirt he wore. The vampire slowly realized that at that moment, Harry was unarmed, without his defiant courage, without that coldness he showed to wolves or threatening situations, without the air of authority he emanated. Harry was scared and that left Edward bewildered.

“I think saying 'I love you' was the most terrible thing I ever told you...” Edward muttered under his breath, his icy breath blowing into the dark hair.

Harry shook his head slightly in denial as he slowly broke away from the hug, rising from the bed as he wiped his tears away, turning his back to look out the window. Edward was silent as he watched the wizard stare into nothing for a few minutes until he turned to see him.

“You love me now...” Harry whispered weakly “But you won't always love me... One day, sooner or later, you will hate me...”

Edward stood up in a thousandth of a second, standing beside him.

“I don't see how this could happen, love...” Edward said lifting his chin to see the other's eyes “Harry, look at me, c’mon... That’s right ... Look, I'll never hate you.”

“You can't know...”

“I could never hate you... Ever!” Edward said resolutely, his gaze intense and honest. “I'll just love you... Always”

Harry knit his eyebrows as if the words he had heard were beginning to make sense, biting his lower lip.

“Why do you make things so intense?” Harry asked almost grumpily “It's so unfair...”

“Well, you're worth it.” Edward answered calmly.

“How cheesy.” the wizard rolled his eyes, making the vampire smile.

“Okay , let me rephrase...” the vampire put his hand on the other's hips, drawing him closer as he stared at him. “I'm willing to make you mine, just as I’m already yours.”

 Harry widened his eyes like a frightened child.

“Fuck, Edward...” the wizard gasped as he blushed.

“Language, Harry...” Edward corrected.

Harry laughed, resting his forehead on the vampire's shoulder as Edward’s hands rested on his waist.

“What you say is really true?” Harry questioned.

“The most pure and absolute truth.” Edward smiled, kissing the wizard's earlobe and was delighted to see that the human had shivered.

They kissed again, Edward's hands still on Harry's waist, his fingers tracing the edges of his shirt respectfully and softly, almost touching the bare skin at the base of the wizard's back.

Harry took a deep breath, placing his hand on Edward's chest and pushing him back.

“What's it?” The vampire asked, confused by that action. Would he have done something wrong?

Harry ignored, causing Edward to walk backwards to sit on the bed.

“I want to test something...” he said in a whisper.

“Test what?” Edward's eyes widened innocently.

“Don't panic... Just relax, okay?” Harry whispered breathlessly, placing his hands on the vampire's broad shoulders as he sat on his lap, facing him as he positioned his legs at Edward’s sides.

“Harry...” Edward's eyes widened, already feeling the nervousness bubbling in his chest.

“Shhh...” the wizard placed his index finger on his cold lips and then bent to kiss him once more.

Edward felt Harry's warm lips kissing him gently, tenderly and lovingly, causing him to close his eyes and enjoy the warm tongue, the sweet taste of his mouth, the texture and softness of his lips just as he felt the wizard's fingers in his hair, touching him, caressing him. Encouraged by the kiss, Edward slowly brought his hands to the wizard's hips, who, in response, pressed his thighs against his legs.

Harry continued to kiss him, resting his hands on the vampire's strong chest, which rose and fell in an unreasonable quest for air - Edward didn't need to breathe, but he felt the need to fill his lungs with air if he wanted his brain and sanity not collapse.

Amid protests, Harry broke away from the kiss, staring at him with his bright green eyes as he brought his hand to the other's face, his fingertips running along the sculpted, defined lines of the vampire's square jaw and moving up his lips, stroking it with the thumb.

“Open your mouth Edward...” Harry whispered .

“Hm, what?”

“Do what I say... Open your mouth ...” the wizard repeated.

Edward let his breath out of his mouth as he opened it, feeling a strange vibration inside him as if it were the ghost of the beating beat of his own heart, that still and petrified organ.

Carefully, the wizard had brought the tip of his index finger to the other's mouth, more precisely to the human-looking canine tooth, but still with the sharp point. Edward's eyes widened in horror, but it was too late: with one swift movement, Harry had punctured his finger and was pointing upwards where a drop of red blood had sprung from the incision made.

The scent of Harry's blood knocked him out right away.

The scent was much more intense, much sweeter and more concentrated than the one emanating from his skin, saturated the air around him and filled his lungs, his throat burning with violence as a growl growled in his chest. The vampire's eyes were now black as coal, as Harry grinned at him like a devil, running the tip of his bloody finger to his own lips, painting them red.

Edward thought he would move forward to attack him, but in truth he was paralyzed, his hands still firm on the English boy's hips as an erection began to grow inside his own jeans. Leaning toward him once more, Harry kissed him again, this time with vigor, intensity and even hunger. Edward took a few seconds to react, but kissed him back, tasting Harry's lips mixed with his blood, sweet-tasting blood, magnificent as a nectar that made his throat burn like red-hot iron and contract, but he ignored it.

That kiss made him feel much, much better than he could have if he drank his blood. That kiss was narcotic, erotic, addictive, divine and sinful... Flirting with danger, taking him to Heaven and Hell at the same time. He'd never been kissed like that and now that he'd found out how good it was, he wanted more. 

Edward wrapped his arms around Harry's waist in a possessive hug, his erection clenching uncomfortably in his jeans as he continued to be kissed. At one point, Harry had moved his hips in a controlled motion, causing an animalistic sound to escape the copper-haired boy's lips.

“MINE!!!” Edward growled possessively, hiding his face in the wizard's warm neck, feeling his small, warm body pressed against his. “MINE!”

“Am I?” Harry gasped in his warm breath, his hands caressing the other's strong arms.

“Only mine...” Edward said, gently scraping his teeth on the skin of the other's neck, above his jugular. Harry cursed under his breath, his fingers gripping Edward's hair as his own warm lips kissed the other's cold neck.

The vampire kept his face hidden in the crook of the wizard's neck, eyes closed as he enjoyed the warmth and softness of that skin in contrast to his own, hard and cold as marble. With short, controlled breaths, Edward slowly regained control of himself, but still holding Harry in his arms... At that moment there were no enemies, no worries, no threats, just the two of them in that room.

Moving his head to see him, Edward caressed his boyfriend's face.

“Harry... What was that?” Edward asked, sounding and looking bewildered.

“Just to show that you're much stronger than you think...” Harry said looking into the other's eyes “Don't be afraid to be who you are, Edward... And don't be afraid to follow your instincts either...”

“But... I could have hurt you...” Edward looked down embarrassed, hiding his black eyes.

“Shhh...” Harry put the index finger in which he had pierced his lip “You didn't attack me because you kept control. Once again, you are stronger than you think.”

“Am I?”

“Yes, of course you are...” the wizard smiled sweetly at him, wiping his finger from his lips, which still had a drop of blood on it “So... Is my blood appetizing, Mr. Cullen?”

With a coy, shy smile, the vampire licked his own lips in which had the traces of the wizard's blood. Closing his eyes, he felt in his tongue Harry's taste. It was sweet, with something reminiscent of the taste of red berries sap or the warmth of brandy and small particles and various nuances that he couldn't identify. It was simply divine.

“You taste like red berries and brandy...” Edward said, kissing Harry's fingertip, closing his eyes as his throat contracted and stung in protest.

“Good for you, Dracula's apprentice, because I only taste rust and salt in my mouth, ugh...” Harry said with a disgusted face.

Edward laughed, causing Harry to laugh then. Stopping laughing, the vampire had stared at the wizard, watching his flushed cheeks, sparkling green eyes, red lips, wild dark hair… An invitation for Edward to lust.

“You will be my doom Harry Potter.” Edward whispered to himself.

Harry blinked, stunned by those words.

“Interesting choice of words... ” he said softly. 

Edward smiled, pulling him to the bed and leaning back on the pillows, causing Harry to put his head on his chest, both watching the star-studded artificial sky.

Jacob Black hated vampires.

He hated those undead freaks of chalk-skinned, cold and hard as stone, with that unbearably sweet, floral and resinous smell that emanated from their bodies and permeated the air around them that made him reminiscing the smell of wilted flowers at a funeral, which was quite appropriate after all. He hated them, for it was absurd for him that his tribe would accept that they shared their territories with those freaks.

He hated vampires.

But above all, he hated Edward Cullen.

He hated that perpetual good-boy aura he was keen to keep, hated his refined, elegant manners, his expensive clothes that were worth more than the savings he and his father, Billy Black had, but mostly hated him for stealing Bella from him.

Bella was supposed to be his, but thanks to that leech she was dead. 

Jacob's happiness was dead and buried, causing his feelings to be embittered by the grudge that grew in his chest like roots, draining all the subtlety he once had. He was unhappy, but somehow it was nice to think that Edward was unhappy too. He had to be unhappy, for that would be a kind of divine justice to know that he would be eternally unhappy.

But then he found that he was wrong.

Edward wasn't unhappy, wasn't suffering for Bella's loss, he was dating, getting on with his life - or getting on with his death? - forward as if nothing had happened.

As he walked to the training camp next to the other pack members - a meadow stuck in the middle of the Quileute-vampire boundary - Jacob had seen Edward holding hands with dark-haired wizard, the two of them talking about something until the vampire raised the boy’s hand to his lips to kiss him tenderly like in the old movies.  

Jacob clenched his fists as he looked down, feeling hatred and disgust. Not because they were both men - putting things on a scale, that was the smallest detail, although it also had a bit of input.

He hated Edward and was disgusted himself, for deep down he was deeply envious of the vampire: envious of his happiness and envious that he had found someone for himself.

He was unhappy while Edward was fine and that was unfair to his eyes.

As they all prepared for the first training of wolves, vampires, and wizards, Jacob watched them again, Edward and the arrogant black-haired wizard who had humiliated him in front of his pack and other vampires.

“They deserve each other... Two fucking freaks, two monsters...” he thought, gritting his teeth tightly and twitching his jaw. 

But then, as if provoked by stinging, he saw Edward smile in love as Harry tiptoed to kiss his cheek, then headed toward the two other wizards, the red-haired boy who was in their meeting next to a girl he has never seen before. Jacob didn't look away, watching Edward put his fingers on his cheek, while the big vampire, Emmett, teased him with comments about them. 

Edward's happiness disgusted him, made his blood boil.

He didn't deserve that. 

Jacob didn't know how, but he was going to find a way to take Edward out of that smile, just as the vampire had done to him. He would make Edward unhappy.

It would be an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.