Jasper smells the blood first.
The smell is a bonfire between weak flashes of light that is the humans around him, the beating hearts and the liquid sloshing along the walls of their veins. But now between the mix of foods, humans and city there is amortentia smoke circling around him.
The familiar itch of his fangs returns, there is venom flooding Jasper’s mouth. If there were still a beating heart in his chest it would be running with the speed of wild horses right now. But Jasper is stronger than the urge to find, feed and kill. It has been years uncounted since human blood last touched his tongue.
Jasper is stronger than his instincts. Jasper will not let the terror of death overflow every part of his being again.
His legs move on their own, though. There is the adrenalin of a hunt flowing through him, like the venom that now has taken the place of warm blood. Jasper sticks to shadows and rooftops, his golden eyes running over every movement, every shift of change around him. The smell gets stronger with every second passed as the strength of a monster carries Jasper deeper into the city jungle.
Finally the vampire sits on an open windowsill, his fingers gripping the wood and the concrete too tight. The stone turns to dust in his palm. Blood looms before him, as a teasing mistress of the brothels his superiors loved to visit every so often, back in the day. It’s both a punishment and a reward.
The woman that looks back at Jasper with eyes of the brightest green and hair darker than the eyes of a hungry vampire has lightning spreading across her face. One of her small hands grips onto her bleeding side, the other holds a glowing wand steady and aimed at the empty cavern where Jasper’s heart once sat.
Nightlife laughs loud in the background and then one of them moves.
Harry wakes up slowly. Like old paint curling along the wall, peeling off inch by inch, her eyes twitch and then blink awake. The world is a mist of black spots and white solar flares at first, a cacophony of blurry and colorless shapes thrown in the middle. Her breath is slow and a dull pain still keeps up with the drum of her heart.
“Shouldn’t I be dead? Or a vampire, at the least?” She speaks and what comes out of her mouth is a whisper of a broken voice and words. There is an itch along the inside of her throat, getting more unpleasant as time ticks by.
The man, the vampire that had found her, sits in the corner of the room, away from the windows. As far as away from her and the dried puddles of her blood as he can. He’s beautiful. Blond curls and marble-white skin, the slender body of a trained man. Harry knows this one had been good on the eyes even when alive.
“I have taken to a vegetarian diet, Ma’am.” He replies, eyes unblinking and posture too calm, too controlled. The accent, the slight drawl of words reminds Harry of old cowboy movies she listened to in secret, locked away in her cupboard. “It was hard to… resist, however. I had to leave.”
Harry scratches her nails along the rough sheets. She wants to ask why he came back, why he is still here. She wants to ask how he had even resisted the call of blood, in the first place. But her fingers wrap around the hilt of her wand and she is tired of being alone.
It’s hard to swallow, harder still to keep speaking. “I’m Harry. What’s your name?”
Jasper can feel the quiet acceptance and the loud confusion that rolls off Harry in small waves. There is resignation and inquisitiveness that mix together and blend each other out. And above it all her loneliness is the strongest emotion that he can feel.
“All you alright now, Ma’am?” Jasper retreats back where he had sat before, furthest away from the temptation dangled before his nose. He swallows back venom and fangs, weaves his fingers together to hold them tight.
Harry snorts. It’s unladylike, certainly not something any of the women of his time would do. But there was Charlotte, once, and she had showed him that there were more than manners to being a lady. “I’ll live. Are you okay, with the blood and all?”
Jasper thinks back on the flesh that had knitted together by itself, the magic that sparked in the air when he had tried to move Harry to the bed. Magical, this woman. “I had animal blood before coming here. I left for a while to calm down. It’s better now.” The windows are open and cold air slides against his skin.
He hesitates for a moment, unsure if it is his place to ask and inquire. But this is a woman, alone and wounded. It seems like she is hunted, alike to a wild animal, if the destruction in the bare rooms was anything to go by. “Ma’am, are you safe here?”
“No. There is nowhere I am safe right now.” Harry sighs in defeat so strong it would have made Jasper choke were he still human. She drinks from her glass of water and whines quietly when her still fresh wound sends a thrill of pain along her whole body. Jasper can hear the blood flow quickening.
Jasper may be a vampire, but he is also a gentleman, has been taught to care for those in need. Harry may be a witch, but she is also wounded, on the run and weak. Still human, still soft against the hardness of his unchanging skin – Jasper feels like it is his duty now, to at least offer his help, if nothing else.
Harry watches him with those bright green eyes, head tilted in interested wonder. Jasper ignores the drum of his instincts that seems to deafen him for a few seconds. “Ma’am, would you allow me to travel with you, for now?”
Surprise colors both her face and emotions. The smile that tugs on her lips is one of gratitude, the kind that Jasper has not seen directed his way for years and more. “Sure. Thanks, mister vampire.”
“Why are they trying to capture you, if I may ask, ma’am?” Jasper holds out his elbow and forearm for Harry to grasp and hold onto. Magic hides his skin from the sun, just like it hides the beating of Harry’s heart and the smell of her warm blood from him.
It has been so long since a woman has held onto him of her own will, despite the bite mark scars littering his arms and neck like scattered freckles.
Harry smoothes her hand down the front of her loose shirt, tucks her fingers into the pocket of her jacket. “I haven’t aged past seventeen in some ten years.” The smile on her lips is mischievous, even if her emotions sing in faded hurt. “That tends to freak out even the magicals.”
Jasper steers them both away from the crowds and along the more deserted streets. Small cafés and shops line the building walls, couples lean into each other as they whisper about this and that. He hears everything, even if his focus is on the way Harry breathes. It is an addiction he allows himself to fall into.
“I did not know your kind could become immortals.” Like us, Jasper does not say. Because even a vampire can be killed, no matter how much of a monster it is. With the way that Harry sags against his arm and with the sadness that seems to radiate from her small frame, her immortality is so much worse. “I’m sorry, for bringing up unwanted things.”
“Oh, it’s okay.” Harry reaches out to fold a loose strand behind her ear. A flash of sunlight reflects in the metal of her earrings. They swing with the rhythm of her walking, each a different coat of arms. “It’s better if you know.” She speaks like a general, bent over maps and planning for a battle.
They are in a war, perhaps.
Jasper still sends a wave of calm towards her, just a bit and enough to relax and chase away the negative. “Well, between the two of us, I think you are the prettiest supernatural entity.” He jokes with a small upturn of his lips and a laugh that follows his words.
Harry looks up at him, green eyes half-lidded and hidden behind strands of ink black. She smiles and small dimples play at the corners of her mouth. “My, what a charmer you are, Whitlock.”
They stand on the shore of an ocean, American soil under their feet. The portkey they used lies cold and useless in the sand, washed clean by the waves.
Harry is as still as a human can be, her eyes closed and face fully relaxed for the first time in weeks. She doesn’t seem to care about the water lapping around her ankles, soaking her shoes. She doesn’t seem to care about the wind that tosses her hair around in a whirlwind of black against the blue of the sky. There are goose bumps on her skin, the shorts and loose shirt not enough to warm her.
She inhales and looks at Jasper.
The vampire stands tall and unmoving, one would think him a statue would they see the man. Jasper’s skin shines in the evening sun, his eyes distant as they look over the beach and the trees that stretch so far ahead of them. He’s beautiful now, when there are shadows playing in his hair and across the arc of his nose. The scars stand out even more so than usual.
“I believe America will be safer for you, darlin’.” Jasper reaches out with his hand and offers Harry his open palm. His fingers are long and slender, curved ever so slightly as he holds them perfectly still. “It will be easier to hide in these lands.”
Harry takes his hand and laughs, a loud and booming thing that feels light on her tongue despite everything. “I’ll just have to trust you, won’t I?” She already does, with all her heart. It has been but a few months, but Jasper has stayed by her side despite the near failures and frantic running in the middle of the night.
There is something almost warm flashing in the dull amber of Jasper’s eyes. His hold may be cold as snow, but the curve of his lips is as warm as summer day. “It would be an honor, Harry.”
America is land of wild magic and wilder beings – Harry loves it. The wonder pours out of her as easily as rain does from grey clouds. Jasper marvels in the amazement that the woman shows, pure and untouched even in the face of all the horrors she must have seen.
Jasper has yet to tell her of the Vampire Wars, of Maria, who both turned and used him.
“Oh, look at that!” Harry pulls Jasper along with her, her palm warm and sweaty against the cool marble of the vampire’s hold. She laughs like a child let loose in a candy store, her magic once again hiding Jasper’s vampire traits from the eyes of curious humans that are around them. “It goes so high up!”
Jasper laughs with her, since the enthusiasm and fresh ozone of careless freedom is so easy to get lost into. He feels the jealousy and awe from the men and women who stare at them for too long. There is jealousy directed to Harry, for how could a girl so plain be with a beauty like him? The vampire pulls Harry into his side when she stops and holds her around the waist.
The message is clear in the air, he hopes. It may not have been for long that he has known this little witch, but the subtle beauty and grace that she possesses, the determination of a queen and the unwillingness to give up make her far more beautiful than any vampire woman will ever be in the eyes of Jasper.
Perhaps this will turn into love at some point, even if it isn’t quite that yet.
Harry turns her eyes up at him, there is mischief dancing in the endless green. “Let’s go, Jasper, I want to try the roller coasters.” She dances out of his hold and weaves her way towards the entrance.
“As you wish, darlin’.” Jasper follows her effortlessly, his senses tuned onto the tinkle of her laughter and the smell of her magic.
Harry slides her finger across the smooth skin of Jasper’s cheek. There is not a single imperfection, no dips and scars that would mark the man.
She wonder what would she had felt under her fingertips had Jasper still been alive. Would there be a dusting of freckles across marks left by hard teenage years? Would there be knife wounds from the war of long ago? She knows it’s meaningless to think of these things, since if Jasper had not received the bite he would not be here right now, enclosed by her thighs and warmed up by her body.
“What are you thinking about?” Jasper’s lips move under her gaze, his hold on her upper thighs gentle and feather light. “You feel a little sad.”
“I’m wondering if you had freckles.” Harry tilts her head just so and imagines a healthy pink blush upon tanned skin, sweat sliding along Jasper’s temples and hair a mess of tangles and sand in the wild winds of Texas heat.
Jasper doesn’t blink, not quite, but there is something close to confusion painted in the golden sunset of his eyes. “I’m afraid I cannot recall anymore, darlin’. It’s been too long and most of the memories from before are muddled.”
“That sucks.” Harry places both of her palms on Jasper’s cheeks, her eyes half-lidded and uncertainty a rock in her chest. “So, I’m pretty sure you already know, but I kind of like you.” She licks her lips, tries not to move and fidget under Jasper’s gaze.
The vampire squeezes her thighs but doesn’t say anything. His lips do move into a knowing smile, a ghost of fangs blinks in and out of existence as he parts his lips ever so slightly. It’s a quiet go on, a I am listening carved into every movement that Jasper does and does not make.
So Harry sighs and leans closer. She’s unsure, but she is also Harry Potter, the Girl Who Lived, the Chosen One, the warrior, and she will dive head first into whatever motion she has decided on.
Jasper’s lips are cold and firm, pleasant against hers. The fingers around her upper thighs tighten their hold and then Jasper opens his mouth, deepens their kiss. She makes a small sound at the back of her throat and there are fingers holding her head, sliding across the nape of her neck. It lasts for a short moment and an eternity, the soft sighs of her breath a tempo of their duet.
She pulls away and blinks to chase away the solar bunnies in her vision. “We’re probably going to be one weird pair, but want to date me?” Harry asks in one breath, her cheeks warm from her blush.
“It would be a pleasure, Harry.” Jasper whispers against her lips and pulls her to him.
“Do you know this one?” Jasper looks down on the wizard tied up in scratching and unforgiving ropes. There is terror and hatred coating the man from head to toe, his lips move in silent curses and damnations. It’s a sorry sight, pathetic.
Harry taps her knee with her wand. Contemplation and disgust dance along with whatever she is thinking about. The mane of her hair is even more chaotic than usual; there are dirt streaks along the side of her face. She is beautiful in this war paint, Jasper thinks. Right now all of his world centers on the witch stood next to him, dressed in her torn clothes and wearing the image of a warrior.
“He’s part of Shacklebolt’s new auror squads. I’ve seen him around at school.” Harry raises her wand and points it towards the man lying on the ground. “Sorry, but I really don’t care about going back there, not with the welcome I will get.” Her lips form a sneer, her face a mask of perfect indifference.
Jasper watches as Harry erases and builds new memories, weaves a story most boring that would hide their footsteps left on American lands. It’s simple and practical, better than killing and making the ones that hunt her suspicious.
Once she is done Harry exhales in a slow movement, her head tipped back and the long line of her neck exposed and tempting in the light of the low hanging moon. But Jasper will not allow himself to give into it – he will admire from afar, marvel the movement of her throat as she swallows, the bend and curve of her stance.
“Ron and Hermione told me they would come.” Harry finally speaks, her eyes turned towards Jasper. They shine in amusement and old, accepted sadness. “They said I’m still wanted, that I should hide better.” It is not often she speaks of her two dear friends, left behind in the magical Britain, but she has told Jasper enough.
The vampire takes off his jacket, worn only to avoid curious glances from humans that wonder if the cold wind does not bite into his skin. He lays it around Harry’s shoulders, watches as the woman hides her hands into the long sleeves. “You have good friends.” He says.
“I do, don’t I?” Harry zips up the jacket and grins wide, her mood a storm on its own. “But you’re pretty awesome as well.” Her arms wrap around Jasper’s waist and she leans into him, safe and tired from the rush of adrenalin.
Jasper allows his palms to settle in the back pockets of Harry’s jeans. There might be no one to see, the enemy in magic induced sleep by their feet, but it still feels right to hold her so close and away from the world. “Indeed? I remember you saying something similar yesterday night as well.”
Harry laughs quietly against his chest, her breath warm where it seeps through his shirt. “Well you were pretty awesome then as well.” Her fingers trail along Jasper’s collarbone and a sense of playfulness lingers in the air. “We could repeat it once we get back to the hotel.”
“Ah, but darlin’, I believe that what you need now, after a battle well fought, is rest.” Jasper lifts her up so easily and settles her in his arms. She laughs, her head laid against Jasper’s shoulder and legs kicking out gently.
They sit at a table of a small café. The rain falls in gentle drops, the sea of umbrellas waves in and out of focus. Harry can feel Jasper’s legs brushing against hers and his palm on her bared knee. She flicks out her tongue and licks a drop of melting ice cream into her mouth.
A cup of tea sits before them. The steam weaves higher and higher up, only to disintegrate into the air as soon as it has flown too far.
“Should we go and stay with my coven?” Jasper is leaning forward, his elbow set on the table and head resting in his palm. He blinks lazily, only to fool the humans around them and turns his golden gaze upon her.
Harry takes another bite of her ice cream, lost in thought and trying to remember everything she knows about vampire covens. “Will it be alright?” She asks after a moment, unsure if her presence there will be welcomed and accepted.
Jasper slides his hand down her calf and then up again, fingertips tickle the underside of her knee. She turns her head away and snorts, her leg trembling slightly under the vampire’s touch. There are fading love bites hidden by the collar of her blouse, ones that only the two of them know about.
“Darlin’, I’m sure it will be alright. Alice already knows about you, although she isn’t quite sure what you are.” Jasper grins and Harry can see his fangs. The sight is adorable, she admits, even if others would fear it instead. “She has called me many times asking about you.”
“Well, I don’t mind. If you’re so sure.” Harry licks her lips free from the frozen sweet and reaches for her tea instead. Her eyes close and the feeling of Jasper’s touch is even more pronounced.
The vampire moves, lays his head on her shoulder and Harry can feel the golden curls against her neck. “I am. Just as I am sure that I would kill anyone who tries to hurt you again.” The collar of her blouse is pulled down and his lips move against her bared shoulder.
The teacup touches the tray and Harry huffs a breath of a laugh, her chest raises with every inhale that she takes. “Well then, I have nothing to worry about, I guess.” She raises Jasper’s hand, the one that has been on her knee, to her lips and kisses the man’s fingertips. “My knight in shining armor.”
Jasper carries Harry in piggyback, her legs wrapped around his waist and arms placed on his shoulders. Her laughter rings in his ears, the beat of her heart a vibration against his back. He runs along the highway, Harry’s magic a shield before them so that the wind doesn’t cut and bruise her skin.
“Will your coven even like me?” Harry lays her cheek against his head, her voice quiet, but Jasper can hear it clearly anyway. There is uncertainly lacing her words, worry of not being accepted.
Jasper stops in his tracks, careful not to jostle the frail, oh so frail, human being he carries. For a moment they both simply stare at the deep orange of the sky, the slow descent of the sun behind the trees. “They will love you. Especially Esme and Alice, I think.”
“Even though I’m magical and all that?” Harry leans further over Jasper’s shoulder, her hair a waterfall of black around her face. “And that little immortality bit; won’t that be a bit weird?” She digs her fingers into his shoulders, her brow furrows ever so slightly.
There is old history there, hidden in the smallest and palest scars that cover her skin. In the flinch from touch, when she is lost in her thoughts and memories – Jasper can guess from the feelings alone that Harry did not know the love of a family for a long time. For that he wants to tear open the world and undo the wrongs, but it’s impossible. There is still future ahead of them, enough time to heal.
“They will love you regardless of everything. Even more so because of your immortality. Don’t worry so much, darlin’, I’ll be there to protect you.” Jasper tilts his head back and places a kiss on the swell of her cheek.
Harry stretches her arms out in pleased content, her worries taken care of for now. “If you say so.” She hides her face in the crook of his neck.
Jasper starts running once more, the sunset lights up the path before them. “I don’t just say, my dear, I know.”