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   When Albus walked into the Great Hall, he stopped in his tracks.  The room had been completely transformed.  There were huge jack o' lanterns everywhere, lit up by candles.  Realistic looking spider webs were draped across every surface.  The four House tables had disappeared and were replaced by spindly round wooden tables.  Fake spiders were crawling around the floor.  Fake bats were flying around.  Tables of food were set up everywhere.  Cauldrons were smoking on top of them, emitting all sorts of different colored smoke. 

    The professors were all milling about and talking with each other.  Kendrick was dressed up as Merlin or Dumbledore, Albus couldn't tell which.  Neville was dressed as Godric Gryffindor, Patil as Rowena Ravenclaw, and even Slughorn was dressed as Salazar Slytherin.  Polo was not dressed as Helga Hufflepuff, a fact John was quick to point out.  He was probably dressed as some other famous Hufflepuff, but Albus had no idea who it was.

    In fact, nearly all the professors were dressed up.  The only one who wasn't was Balladanis.  He was wearing his usual pristine black robes with the intricate silver fastenings.  He was wearing a grim look as he brushed past Albus and his friends.  His eyes narrowed a little at John but he quickly looked away.  Albus thought this was odd, but didn't dwell on it.

    As the room gradually filled with more and more students, Albus noticed that there were an alarming amount of them dressed up as his father.  Most were first years.  Albus just kept staring as eleven-year-olds with plastic glasses and fake scars on their faces walked past.  He thought it was really really odd.

    "We're surrounded by your dad,"  John laughed as another miniature Harry Potter walked by.

    "This is just weird,"  Albus muttered, shaking his head.

    "It's kind of funny,"  John laughed even harder.

    "Bet you wouldn't think that if everyone was dressing up as your dad,"  Albus replied.

    "And that kid's dressed up as your uncle!"  Kaden announced, pointing to a red-haired boy who could've easily passed for a Weasley.  In fact, he didn't really look like he was dressed up at all, but Albus figured he was his Uncle Ron.

    "Uncle Ron would like that,"  Albus smirked.

    "He would,"  someone said from behind Albus.

    Albus turned around and saw the real Harry Potter with a plate of biscuits in hand.  "Hi, Dad!"

    "This has got to be the strangest party ever,"  Harry said,  "I've never seen people dressed up as me before.  It's rather odd."

    "Yeah,"  Albus agreed.  He didn't really like that so many people were dressed as his dad.

    "Too bad Ron is on duty tonight,"  Harry sighed,  "He would've liked to see a kid dressed as him.  Where's Rose?"

    "Er...."

    Harry gave Albus a curious look.  "Is everything all right?"

    "Um, yeah,"  Albus mumbled,  "I guess."

    "Well, you know I'm always here if you need to talk,"  Harry replied,  "I like your costumes, by the way."

    "Thanks,"  Albus grinned,  "Kaden's idea."

    "So far I haven't seen any other Muggle costumes,"  Harry pointed out,  "I've got to go talk to Kendrick, so I'll see you soon."

    Albus nodded.  "See you later."

    Once Harry left, Albus and his friends wandered over to one of the food tables.  They loaded up plates with chicken and potatoes and various other stuff and went to find seats.

    "Look, Albus,"  Matt pointed to the door,  "The girls are dressed as Muggle witches."

    Albus looked up and saw Rose, Amanda, and Linda strolling into the room dressed as the Muggle version of a witch.  All three of them were wearing plain black robes, black witch hats, and had painted their faces green.

    Albus caught Amanda's eye and they gave each other weak smiles as the girls walked into the room. 

    "Guess they couldn't come up with any other ideas,"  John muttered.

    "We did agree on costumes before they stopped speaking to us,"  Albus pointed out.

    "I guess,"  John said.

    "Looks like they're coming over here,"  Matt groaned.

    Albus set down his plate and watched as the girls progressed towards them.  Rose's face was still stony, even in green.  Amanda was leading them, so Albus figured she wanted to say hi, not Rose.

    "Hi, Albus,"  Amanda greeted them,  "Matt, John, Kaden.  Great costumes."

    "Thanks,"  Albus smiled,  "You, too."

    Nobody else said anything.  Albus stood awkwardly with Amanda and looked around at the group.  Rose was glaring at Matt and vice versa.  John and Kaden were shifting nervously around.  Linda was staring at John, but not in a loathing way.  It was more of a combination between curiosity and revulsion, which Albus thought was kind of odd.

    "This is just so stupid!"  Amanda finally exclaimed,  "Do you lot want to keep fighting for the rest of the year?"

    "Not really,"  Albus muttered.

    Rose sent a withering look at Amanda and then turned around and left in a huff.  Amanda sighed and followed her.  Linda shook her head and then ran after Amanda.

    "Well, that was awkward,"  Kaden announced a few seconds later.

    "Is this really what the rest of the year is going to be like?"  Albus asked, looking pointedly at Matt,  "Because I think I'll go mad if it is."

    "Well, Rose started it,"  Matt muttered.

    "You both started it,"  Albus snapped,  "And you both had better finish it."

    "It's not that simple, Albus,"  Matt sighed.

    "It isn't?"  Albus asked,  "What am I missing, then?  I was there.  You two fought over whether Linda should be in the Room or not!  And we all said no, but Rose is still upset over it!  I just don't understand it."

    "Told you it wasn't simple,"  Matt said in barely more than a whisper.

    "They're girls.  Nothing is simple with girls,"  John groaned,  "And do you know why it's not simple, Matt?"

    Matt shifted uncomfortably and looked away for a few seconds.  "Yeah, I do," he whispered.

    "Care to explain?"  Albus asked, now thoroughly confused.

    "Not here,"  Matt said,  "Come on, let's go to the room."

    Albus followed Matt out of the Great Hall with John and Kaden on either side of him.  None of them said a word until they reached the Marauder's Den.  They went inside and sat down on the furniture.  Matt stood up as soon as he sat down and then began pacing around.  It reminded Albus of the time he explained about the Hallows back in their first year.

    "All right, what's up with the girls?"  John asked after Matt paced for a few moments.

    Matt stopped pacing and stood in front of them.  "Ok, here it goes.  What do you know about vampires?"

    "Wait, what?"  Albus shook his head.  What in the name of Merlin did vampires have to do with the girls?

    "What do you know about vampires?"  Matt repeated.

    John laughed.  "They vant to suck your blood!"  he exclaimed in a bad Transylvannian accent.  He opened his mouth and leaned towards Kaden's neck.

    "Ew,"  Kaden moved away,  "Vampires are afraid of garlic and they can't see themselves in mirrors.  They can't go out during the day and they turn into bats.  Oh, and you have to kill them with a wooden stake to the heart."

    "Er,"  Albus began,  "I don't really know much besides the whole blood sucking thing."

    "You know,"  Matt began,  "You know nothing about vampires, yet you knew enough about werewolves to figure out that I was one."

    "That was Rose,"  Albus reminded him.

    "Right, anyway, Kaden, those are the vampires as Muggles see them.  They're not like that."

    "Oh,"  Kaden said.

    "What do vampires have to do with this anyway?"  John asked,  "I just want to know why Rose is so stubborn."

    "It's just the way she is,"  Albus muttered.

    "Vampires,"  Matt continued,  "In the wizarding world, are the undead.  They're dead, but they're still around, obviously.  Vampires feed on human blood, but if they don't suck a human completely dry, the victim becomes a vampire themselves."

    "Sort of like werewolves,"  Kaden pointed out.

    "Yeah, I guess,"  Matt replied,  "But not really.  Anyway, they basically die but they don't.  They become immortal and stop aging.  Someone could be bitten when they're twenty and still look twenty two hundred years later.  Their hearts stop beating and they run out of blood.  That's why they turn pasty white.  Then, they need to feed on blood in order to survive.  They can either use human or animal blood.  The vampires that like to integrate into human society prefer to use animal blood.  All they need to survive is blood.  They don't need food.  But they eat it to pretend they're human.  They don't need to sleep either."

    "Really?"  Kaden asked,  "That is weird."

    Albus never knew any of that.  Now the vampire unit in Defense class was going to be incredibly easy.

    "How often do they drink blood?"  Albus asked.

    "Depends on the vampire.  Most need to drink it every couple of weeks or so."

    "What happens if they don't?" 

    "They get weak,"  Matt explained,  "Vampires are exceptionally strong and fast, but if they haven't had any blood recently, they feel weak and sick."

    "Like you do before the full moon,"  Kaden pointed out.

    "Yeah,"  Matt nodded,  "Sort of like that."

    "Can they go out during the day?"  John asked.

    "There's a potion that they take so they can go out in the sun.  The sun hurts them.  Kind of like the moon for werewolves."

    "But what's this got to do with Rose?"  John asked impatiently.

    "I'm getting there,"  Matt said as he began pacing again,  "Anyway, vampires are fast and strong so they can catch their prey.  But they are also more beautiful than regular humans.  That way people are attracted to them.  They're also really really charismatic.  When you meet one, you're naturally attracted to them.  It's hard to explain, you're just drawn to them.  It doesn't even matter if they're a boy or a girl or if you're a boy or a girl."

    Albus suddenly remembered the day the foreign students arrived and he first laid eyes on Linda.  She was beautiful.  Albus hadn't been able to take his eyes off her.  But she didn't seem particularly charismatic.  After hearing Matt's description of a vampire, Linda did sound like one, except for the charismatic part.  She hardly said a word.

    "So if a vampire walked through the door, I'd immediately want to to go over to them?"  John asked.

    "Pretty much, yeah,"  Matt said.

    "How do you know all this?"  John asked.

    "Remember the library at my house?  There are loads of vampire books there because of my dad's job.  I've read a few of them."

    "Well, you'll do great on whatever test Balladanis gives us on vampires when we get to that unit,"  John laughed.

    "Wait,"  Kaden looked at Matt curiously,  "Muggles believe that vampires and werewolves hate each other, and didn't you say that's real?"

    "Er, yeah,"  Matt said quietly,  "That's pretty much it.  But mostly the big rivalry is between werewolves and vampires who live away from wizards.  There are packs of werewolves and covens of vampires who fight over territory and stuff.  That doesn't happen as much as it did years ago, but it still does occasionally, mostly in other countries."

    "So, you don't really hate all vampires?"  Kaden asked.

    "I've never really met one,"  Matt shrugged.

    "And what in the name of Merlin does this have to do with Rose rowing with us?"  John asked exasperatingly.

    Albus was getting a bit impatient as well.  Sure, he liked hearing about vampires.  They were kind of interesting, but he mainly wanted to know what Matt knew about Rose. 

    "Linda is a vampire,"  Matt said simply.

    The room was silent for a few minutes.  Albus stared at Matt.  Linda was a vampire?  It was possible.  She did fit some of the characteristics, but it was still hard to grasp.  Albus had never met a vampire before, let alone one that was his age.

    "When did you figure that out?"  Albus asked.

    "As soon as she walked past the Gryffindor table,"  Matt answered.
   
    John looked at him in awe.  "Wow, that's impressive.  You ought to go into the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures."

    "Now that would be even more ironic than my dad working there,"  Matt laughed,  "But I would have known she was a vampire even if I didn't know so much about them.  Werewolves and vampires can instantly recognize each other."

    "How?"  Albus asked.

    "Smell,"  Matt said,  "Vampires have a distinctive smell, but regular wizards can't tell.  Werewolves can, though.  And vampires can smell werewolves."

    "And you didn't tell us?"  John asked incredulously.

    "I didn't see the point, until now."

    "Didn't see the point?  There's a vampire at Hogwarts and you didn't think to tell us?"  John shook his head,  "There's always a reason to tell us that kind of stuff."

    Matt shrugged.  "Well, you know now."

    Albus was still processing the information.  Linda was a vampire.  Matt knew Linda was a vampire from the start.  Werewolves can smell vampires.  Vampires can sense werewolves.  That meant-

    "Wait,"  Albus began,  "Linda knows you're a werewolf, doesn't she?"

    Matt sighed.  "Yes, she probably does."

    "Then why does it matter if she gets to go in the Marauder's Den?"  John asked,  "Not that I want to let her in."

    "It's the principle of the thing!"  Matt replied,  "I just don't see why Killigan let her go to his school but he wouldn't let me!  I know it's stupid to avoid her because of that because it's not her fault, but I just don't get it."

    Albus hadn't even thought of that.  Matt was right; it didn't make sense.  How was letting a vampire into a school any different from letting a werewolf?

    "But if you had been let in, you wouldn't have moved here,"  John pointed out.

    "I know, and I'm glad we moved, but it's just not fair,"  Matt sighed.

    "So,"  Kaden said loudly,  "There's a vampire at Hogwarts.  Who's blood is she sucking?"

    “That, is actually a good question,"  Albus said.

    "I have no idea,"  Matt replied,  "I'm guessing she's sucking animal blood.  Probably hunts in the forest."

    "What about the whole 'vampires are charismatic' thing?"  Albus asked.  Even if Linda did want to suck human blood, he had no idea how she'd manage to lure a human towards her.  She seemed to avoid as many people as possible.

    Matt smiled wryly,  "That's where it gets interesting.  The three of you don't see her as charismatic, right?"

    "Yeah,"  Albus said.  John and Kaden nodded.

    "That's what I thought.  It's because you're friends with me."

    Albus turned to look at John and Kaden.  Both of them looked as confused as Albus felt.

    "Wait, what?"  John asked.

    "Even way back when there were more packs of werewolves and covens of vampires running about, it was possible for humans to affiliate with one or the other.  Occasionally, a pack of werewolves would sort of 'adopt' a human and the human would live with the pack.  I mean, the human would leave for the full moon, but live with the pack the rest of the month.  But if the human came upon a vampire, the human would be completely undesirable to a vampire because they were affiliated with werewolves."

    "And we're affiliated with you, so Linda wouldn't want to suck our blood, even if she did suck human blood?"  Albus asked.

    "Exactly,"  Matt replied,  "Remember how everyone seemed to flock around Linda when she first came here?  Everyone except us.  Even Rose disliked her back then."

    "But she doesn't now,"  Kaden reminded him.

    "I know.  That's because as Rose started spending more time with Linda, she spent less time with us, with me.  She became less affiliated with me, so to speak.  And then when we had that row, well, now she's just affiliated with Linda.  She's completely under Linda's charisma."

    Rose was affiliated with a vampire?  Did this mean there was no hope of her reconciling with Matt?  Albus groaned inwardly.  He really didn't like Linda now.  She was putting a huge rift into their group.

    "Is it possible for a person to be friends with both a werewolf and a vampire?"  Albus asked quietly.

    "I think so,"  Matt sighed,  "But Rose won't even talk to us."
   
    "I think the only way she will is if we agree to let Linda into the Marauder's Den,"  Albus muttered,  "She's just so stubborn."

    "But we don't want to let her in here,"  John groaned.

    "No, we don't,"  Matt agreed.

    "Do you think Rose knows she's a vampire?"  Albus asked.  Rose was smart, but if she had found out Linda was a vampire, she probably would have told him.  She told him Matt was a werewolf, after all.  Unless of course she discovered Linda was a vampire after the row.

    "No idea,"  Matt shrugged,  "Do you know if she knows anything about vampires?"

    "Probably not much,"  Albus answered.

    "Then she might not.  Linda's obviously trying to conceal that she's a vampire.  I bet she'll find out when we do the vampire unit in Defense, though."

    "Unless we tell her first,"  Albus said quietly.

    "Are we going to?"  John asked.

    "Would she even listen?"  Matt asked.

    "I sort of think we should at least try to tell her,"  Albus said,  "And Amanda, too."

    "I suppose,"  Matt sighed,  "But they're always around Linda."

    "We'll just have to wait until she's at Quidditch practice.  I think the Australian team practices on Mondays, so I guess we'll wait until then,"  Albus said.

    The room descended into silence for a few minutes.  Linda had definitely spiked Albus's curiosity.  He was mostly curious about why Linda had been allowed to go to the Australian School of Sorcery but Matt hadn't.  What was the difference in letting a vampire attend than a werewolf?  Even if Linda did suck animal blood, there was still the potential for her to suck human blood.

    "Bloody hell,"  Kaden let out a low whistle,  "A vampire at Hogwarts."

    Albus nodded.  Kaden pretty much summed up what Albus was thinking.  Linda being a vampire had shocked him more than Matt being a werewolf.  He wasn't sure why, but maybe it was because Teddy's dad had been a werewolf and he attended Hogwarts, but as far as Albus knew, no vampires had ever been there.


A/N:  Thanks to my beta, Dancer_of_Starlight, as well as everyone who has read and reviewed this!  You guys are awesome!

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