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First names were most often used by childhood or school friends. If the friendship was made after school age, first names would only really be used by women. Men were far more likely to refer to their friends by their surnames, a mark of familiarity. — Documentation

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Carson Bixby for Sloane Bixby. You can take the middle-aged man out of quidd—oh, apparently you can't.
Separating was also not a great idea, though they weren't doing great at staying together anyway. If she were to volunteer to be the human sacrifice.. well... Hogsmeade had plenty of debutantes anyway...

Barnabas Skeeter in CYOA: Group D

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Complete threads set in ten different forum locations. Threads must have at least ten posts, and three must be your own. Character accounts cannot be combined.


Things That Go Bump In The Night
See Inside 
28 April, 1888 — Vampire Caverns

It had taken Lyra longer than she had anticipated to find the vampire caverns, but if she was being honest, a good deal of the delay was due to her own trepidation. It didn't make any sense, given that she had long since moved past the point where she need fear an attack by anything that lurked in the Forbidden Forest. She was more predator than prey now, and she could easily have defended herself if anything did try to stand in her way — not that that was likely. No beast would be coming after her; she didn't have the scent of a living thing and would have made a very poor meal on any account.

Still, she couldn't help the sense of rather childish dread she felt at the idea of actually finding the vampire caverns. This had been a place of horror stories when she was a child, a place that featured in those tales nannies made up to keep children from misbehaving. Be a good girl and don't wander too far, or you might find yourself whisked away to the vampire caverns. Well, Lyra had never been a good girl, and she had wandered too far, and she had still managed for years to avoid the place. Except in the briefest of passing moments, she hadn't had any interaction with her own kind at all since her transformation, which made the idea of seeking them out and trying to reason with them all the more terrifying. What sorts of people would she find there? Would they still be people, or would they be closer to the more monstrous depiction of vampires she'd been raised on as a child?

It was easier, for a time, to simply continue lurking on the edges of Muggle society, as she had been doing for years. She knew how to go undetected, and with regular access to the Ministry's blood bank there was never a crisis moment when she grew too hungry. But she hadn't come to England to continue doing the same thing she could have done in America. She had come to England for a purpose, and it was time she found her spine and started after it.

It was the middle of the night when she finally stumbled upon the place, and she glimpsed the light of a fire through the trees before anything else. She knew she was too far from town for this presence to be human (at least, no human who valued their life would wander this far out, at this time of night), but she still wasn't sure that she had really found the place. She didn't know at all what to expect. Were they actually just caves, like animals would live in? Or had they been transformed by decades of inhabitants into something more akin to the Muggle myths of dragons' lairs, filled with hoarded treasures from past conquests?

Well, this was the time to find out, she supposed. "Hello?" Lyra called tentatively as she pushed her way through the last layer of foliage separating her from them.

Ishmael — but I can flex the date to whatever you need if this doesn't work for you!

because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me — the Carriage held but just Ourselves — and Immortality.
Having hit up a few of his London contacts already this month - or at least, having attempted to; the murder that the Prophet had put down to a potential vampire attack had unsettled no shortage of people - Ishmael had returned to the caverns in Hogsmeade to try some of the slum folk instead.

Besides, he didn't like to live in Monty's pocket, didn't like to make out that he orbited him and wasn't capable of anything else. The caverns afforded him some space, some independence, some contact with his own kind (mixed bag that they were). Rolling his eyes, he parted ways from a bickering pair in one of the caverns - they'd be at it a while yet, they'd barely notice him slinking off - and picked his way back towards his own.

He flung a few more pieces of kindling on the fire he'd left burning - they were so isolated, this far in the forest, that trying to conceal their presence was hardly necessary; if anyone approached, it'd be a poor, desperately lost human, drawn like a moth to the (literal) flame - and Ishmael, though he possessed plenty of restraint, wasn't usually one to turn away snacks were they to wander right into his lap.

He'd just been about to pick up the Count of Monte Cristo again (he'd never been much of a reader before, but, then again, an afterlife stretching emptily out in front of you drove you to odder things than books), when he heard the rustle of branches and bushes - near, very near.

It had to be an animal, Ishmael had just thought, though most prey knew by now not to venture too close to the caverns, because they did very well at quenching some of the inhabitants' thirst. He stood, silent and listening, and then circled round the fire and headed towards the thicket line. And there, he saw her. He hadn't smelled blood at her approach - humans continued to reek of it, after all his years bridling his reaction to it - but he also didn't recognise her, which would be... rare.

He stepped up, better into her eyeline, wondering whether he had been mistaken. She'd called hello?, though, which begged conversation as first call. (Ishmael was more than happy to oblige. He was also exceptionally pleased to be first on the scene: the caverns so rarely had visitors; everyone else would quite jealous.)

"Well, well, well," Ishmael drawled, though there was a glint of actual interest in his eyes, an interest that was, for the moment, eclipsing instinctive wariness. He was on familiar terrain, at least, so he'd likely have the upper hand. "What do we have here?" Or who, rather.

A man emerged from the shadows, only emerged wasn't really the right word for it. That implied a clear distinguishing break, which hadn't been present in this case. It was more as though the figure of the man resolved itself from the shadows, like a body moving through water. In any case, he didn't appear to be much older than she did — but of course, appearances could be quite deceiving among people like them. He was a vampire; the scent of blood was absent and his skin had that same grey, sunken look hers always did. Not that she had been entertaining many ideas about encountering anything but another vampire, this far out in the woods.

"I'm looking for the caverns," she said, hoping her tone sounded certain and bold and didn't betray the bundle of nerves she was trying to push down to the pit of her stomach. It wasn't as though she was concerned that these people might try to hurt her, but she didn't really know what she was doing. It was entirely possible that there was some sort of established protocol for interactions between vampires that she was woefully ignorant of, and this was the only first impression she would have the chance to make with the English vampires. They were going to be here forever, so the stakes were fairly high if she managed to screw this up.

"It would appear I've found them," she continued, with a cursory glance at her surroundings. She couldn't see much with any distinction beyond the ring illuminated by the fire, which mostly just looked like another clearing in the Forbidden Forest. She'd passed a dozen like it already, and this one did not seem remarkable except for the company it contained. Would she be calling this home soon? The idea seemed unfathomable, but if the whole point was to ingrain herself in the social scene (such that it was) of undead England, this seemed the ideal place to begin. Of course, before she could get to that she'd have to establish with the current tenants that she was looking for a new living situation, and she had no idea how to start that conversation. Turning her attention back to the man, she offered a bit hesitantly, "My name is Lyra."

because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me — the Carriage held but just Ourselves — and Immortality.
It was her first time here, then. How exciting. (The very idea of novelty lost its shine, the older you got. Nothing was ever new anymore. It was a great shame.)

He nodded, if only to confirm she was in the right place, and beckoned her forwards in a gesture of welcome, something that wasn't technically needed here - this was perhaps the only place vampires were welcome enough that it went without saying - but once you'd experienced that sorry fact enough, you appreciated invitations in all the more.

His place was a little ways back from here, in shadow behind the fire but the entrance perhaps still visible from here, an arched opening in the rock. It was not the grandest cave around - he hadn't been here as long as some, and had never much considered anywhere a permanent home, to start with - but he did have a growing collection of possessions in the hollow tunnels and chambers he inhabited, things he needed and others he'd just picked up, here and there: some trunks full of clothes and valuables, some personal blood-stores at the back, a couple of magic carpets, some antique furniture - just a piece or two to spruce the place up - and a few odd vestiges of his past sprinkled amongst the rest.

"You're new, Lyra," Ishmael supposed, with another spark of interest. If he was wrong, she would no doubt contradict him; although new itself did not mean young, necessarily. Oh, she looked young - she'd been turned young - but she might have been a vampire a long while.

He had certainly never crossed paths with her before, and he was keen to find out more about her (and get to be the one to deal out the gossip later). "Welcome," he added authoritatively, as though he were the official greeting-party. He drew himself up in uncharacteristic uprightness, attempted his best serious expression and low, booming voice, and continued, dragging the words out: "I am Zulfiqar."  

He still wasn't any taller than her, nor much broader, and if he was not the only person she met at the caverns, the illusion he was attempting to build of someone imperturbable and impressive and all-knowing was going to crumble sooner rather than later. Probably best to see her on his side in a way he was better at, then. "Nah," he said, expelling a breath and a laugh after a prolonged pause, seriousness disintegrating into a grin. "Call me Ishmael. Come on then, where're you from?" He asked, this time trying to beckon forth some of her story.

The first name he gave her sounded exotic, and his skin did have something of a darker tint to it (particularly for a vampire), and she was both impressed and a bit intimidated. Not in the traditional sense, but rather in the social sense. Where had he come from? What was his story? How long had he been here? Were any of those questions she would ever find the courage to ask? It seemed horribly impolite to dig into his past if he made no offer to share it with her, and she didn't know the best way to even go about it. Investigating the personal lives of vampires who had lived for potentially hundreds of years already had never been covered by her etiquette teachers.

Then he laughed, and the illusion was broken — or rather, changed. He still seemed to have a certain mystique to him, but his body language now seemed more approachable and put her a little more at ease. She followed him in towards the caverns, and her response to his question came more easily than she would have expected it to, given how nervous she'd been just a moment before. "Britain, originally. But I've been in America the past several years." After a beat, she added in as conversational a tone as she could manage, "Where are you from?" And when, she wanted to know, but that still seemed a bit too personal to just ask upfront.

because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me — the Carriage held but just Ourselves — and Immortality.
"Magical Britain?" Ishmael interjected, hardly subtle in his curiosity. He would assume so, for vampires to even find their way to the outskirts of Hogsmeade here. He mightn't have grown up in the midst of the magical world (Hogsmeade had not even existed like this, for starters), but at least he had known about it, had passed the years in the company of as many witches and wizards as he had muggles. A muggle, once turned, was magical enough to be here - at least, could not claim to be at home in their own world any longer - but even in the wizarding world, they were confined to haunting the margins, so Ishmael supposed it hardly mattered.

Several years, she said: Ishmael wasn't sure whether several was on the nose or an amusing understatement. Either way, his fanged grin broadened at her mention of America - they might have a little or a lot in common in their pasts, he couldn't yet tell, but America provoked a strange little opportunity for coincidental camaraderie, and that was always a start. "Oh, here and there," Ishmael answered brightly, remaining vague, less out of a ploy for mystery than because the remark was true (and more exciting in general than just admitting Liverpool). His accent had always been a bit mixed-up, the lower class English mangled slightly by learning from his father's foreign example, and lost and distorted all the more by spending more time abroad than here.

"But I spent a bit of time in America myself," he elaborated, figuring he wouldn't get anything interesting out of her if he didn't offer up some tidbits in return. "Not when you did, though, I expect. Back during the War." (He didn't bother specifying which war.) "What sort of thing did you get up to there?" He asked, like they were exchanging holiday stories and not tales of the past which - judging by what they both were - was not necessarily guaranteed to have been pretty.  

"Uhm, yes. Magical Britain," she clarified, lightly biting her lower lip in a show of mild embarrassment. It hadn't occurred to her that she might need to specify, but here she knew she was showing her ignorance of the rest of the vampiric world. She had always known that vampires could be made of Muggles just as easily as witches and wizards, but having never met one herself she had forgotten it. Of course, she didn't meet many vampires, and the two or three she had chanced upon in passing didn't stick around long enough to reveal their entire life stories, nor had she offered them her own.

She was — or rather, had been — just about as magical as they came, before her death. Her brother had been the Minister of Magic, but it seemed foolish to even consider bringing that up now. What would this mysterious figure — who had been in America during the War, whenever that had been — care about her connection to the man who had run magical Britain half a decade ago?

"I trained as a nurse, actually," she said instead. America seemed like a safer topic, and possibly a more interesting one to her new companion than anything that had happened in her human life. After a slight pause, she added with a mischevious smile, "It allowed me ready access to blood — both stored and... fresh. On occasion." She had not been above depriving a recently deceased corpse of blood it no longer needed, if she could get a moment alone with the body, though this was something she would never admit to any of her human conversation partners. It was refreshing to be able to say something like that, though — and rather nice, she was finding, to be able to smile without trying to hide her fangs. When was the last time she had done that?

because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me — the Carriage held but just Ourselves — and Immortality.
Did you now?” Ishmael queried, interest piqued still further. Trained as a nurse! That was not only clever, but rather impressive. He had met plenty of vampires, over the years - enough that Ishmael tended to suppose he’d seen a good cross-section of their society, a reasonable sample from which to determine how things worked, what was à la mode - but very few had anything resembling a legitimate career. A career, certainly (after all, he considered himself employed, to this day), but not a respectable vocation like a nurse, and particularly not working alongside humans. There were some, after all, but a vampire’s time in such professions tended not to last all that long.

He wondered if that was why she had fled America. However much control she possessed - and she must have had some, to work in a hospital without killing every patient she came across - few people lasted without a slip-up, here and there.

“How exciting!” He exclaimed, with a grin; his tone was a little melodramatic, perhaps, but not meant to be mocking. “And, mmm, convenient. Nothing does compare to fresh.” One of the few surgical skills Ishmael had picked up from all his (fairly idle) years had been the proper (human) processes of bloodletting, so that he could carefully collect up donations, then store them or pass them on, from his - well, more squeamish contributors. Since fresh blood was best, Ishmael personally chose to drink straight from the donator, if and when he could.

“What forced you to leave?” He asked; there were a range of reasons vampires moved on from place to place, many more than ‘of one’s own volition’. “And,” Ishmael added, amiably, “I might be able to help you find a new supply, if you need it - if you plan on staying, of course.” She may not need help finding new fresh blood - but it was not as though she would get away with working in a magical hospital here in Hogsmeade.

It seemed that they were creating a sort of rapport, which Lyra was pleased by. It had been a long time since she'd been able to have a genuine relationship with another person. There were friendly faces here and there in her time in America, of course, but she had never been able to actually really connect with any of the Muggles she'd met — how could she, when it was necessary to conceal her entire past and a good deal of her present reality from them?

Her smile faltered slightly at his offer of helping her find new sources, however. This was more to business, as far as her purpose in coming back to England, but she wasn't sure that she was really ready to just jump into it with both feet. What would he think of her plan to try for transparency with the magical community? And what did he have in mind when he said he could help her find a new supply?

If he was offering to show her the darkest allies and most forlorn streets on which to stalk out potential victims for murder, maybe it was better to bring it up now and get their difference in opinion aired between them — before she grew too attached to the idea of becoming friendly. "I intended to use the Ministry's blood banks," she said evenly, watching carefully to see how that idea would register with him.

because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me — the Carriage held but just Ourselves — and Immortality.
He hadn't meant to alter the tone of their conversation, but her expression had shifted oddly at that. He narrowed his eyes, waiting to see what on earth was wrong.

She already had a plan, it seemed.

A foolhardy one.

"Oh, you're going to use the Ministry," Ishmael echoed, the disapproval and disbelief he felt trumped entirely by sheer amusement. He didn't bother to suppress his laughter at all, just threw his head back and eventually came to with a shake of his head and another snort. "Well, good luck with that."

She wouldn't be the only one who did use them, here. But it meant she must be young, to think that could even possibly be a sensible idea. Or her time nursing in America had painted her too rosy a picture of what it was like to live with humans. Ishmael wondered idly if he should talk her out of it, or just let her be.

But she was staying, it sounded like.

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   Lyra Potter

Lyra had prepared to be met with resistance, but she wasn't sure she had anticipated that anyone would laugh at her. Was this better or worse than open hostility? She pursed her lips to keep any expression from crossing her face before he'd finished. She didn't enjoy the feeling of being so wholly dismissed, and she had never tolerated being condescended to — it had been quite the point of contention between her brothers and herself, when she had still been alive (how innocent and foolish all those little dramatics seemed now!) Still, she was determined not to let her temper get the better of her. First impressions could only be made once, after all, and anyone she met here at the vampire caverns was destined to become an acquaintance that spanned decades, or longer. She could not afford to make enemies so soon.

"You seem to have quite a decided opinion of the blood banks," she said, as evenly as she could. "Have you ever used them?"

because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me — the Carriage held but just Ourselves — and Immortality.
She looked blank at his response, quiet and careful and controlled. Self-control was a useful quality to have, in their world, and if she could keep this demeanour up in other circumstances, Ishmael supposed he'd be impressed. (Well - she'd see for herself, meeting the rest of the vampires who lurked about these caverns. They were a mismatched bunch. Ragtag. Incongruous. Volatile. She'd understand soon enough.)

It was unlikely that she had used the official blood banks before herself, if she had been living off her hospital in America and had only just arrived here, but Ishmael couldn't be bothered to point out the hypocrisy in her plans and the high-and-mighty question she put to him. If she had any faith at all in the Ministry blood banks, that was already too much faith, and perhaps he could dissuade her now, and save her struggle.

He shook his head again. "What, and truss myself up to the Being division and the Minister's whims?" Ishmael asked in answer, his mouth twitching up in an incredulous smirk. "Jot my name down for them on a nice little register, and come a-calling every week so they can keep an eye on me? No, thanks. I'll be just fine." How anyone could think that was a good idea, he truly didn't know. What you saw when you looked at the Ministry from far enough off, a safely removed distance of geography and time, was a writhing mass of instability: it would be one thing in one year, and then swallow itself whole and be reborn as something entirely different, and anyone who wanted to be subject to that unknown could go ahead and be swallowed up too.

"You won't be the first, of course," he added with an offhand shrug, so that she didn't take it personally, or think she was the only fool around. "There are always a few who do."

Lyra could understand his hesitation, but everything he argued against was entirely necessary for her aims. How could she convince humanity to trust them if they didn't open themselves up to a little scrutiny from the outside world? But however necessary, it was a risk, and she couldn't pretend not to see that. The stakes seemed, from her perspective, to have lessened since she was first turned, but that didn't meant that they were nonexistent for an older vampire who had no living relations to expose themselves to, no existing ties to the magical world. It would be quite a change, she imagined, for someone who had been living the same lifestyle for fifty years, or a hundred years, to willingly give up the secrecy they enjoyed.

She didn't like the way he talked about the others who had tried the blood bank, though. He hadn't actually used the past tense to describe them, but it had seemed a little too dismissive to be referring to anyone that he still interacted with, which left her with a sense of foreboding. "Oh?" she asked, eyebrow arched inquiringly. "And what generally happens to them?"

because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me — the Carriage held but just Ourselves — and Immortality.
Ishmael only shrugged again. She’d go investigating if she cared to know, and he hadn’t always cared to know, in case he got too caught up in their troubles.

“You’ll see for yourself, I expect, if you stay long enough,” he said, keeping up a smile, because he hadn’t planned on being some dour herald of doom - she’d think him wretchedly dull, and he couldn’t have that! But it’d also be a shame if Lyra here got caught up into too much trouble, because then he’d have no one new to talk to after all. “There’s one or two here now,” he admitted - she’d be able to make friends among them, the young and the dreamers, (though hopefully she’d still prove more fun) - “and you can ask them yourself, if you like. The thing is,” Ishmael pointed out, a little friendly warning not to get her hopes up, “see, blood bank or not, they’re still just as liable to slipping up as the rest of us.” That Dimitri Lancaster, for one; Ishmael’d be damned if he managed to stick to the Ministry as much as he pretended. Honestly, he barely had enough control around humans to make it to the banks and back.

“I expect you weren’t here for all the fuss about half-breeds just last year, either,” Ishmael said, brightly enough. “Better not go having any human’s baby,” he joked (mostly), snickering; that’ll definitely be trouble, in time.” The ban had been reversed, he knew vaguely enough, but still. Half-breeds had a lifetime of trouble, nevertheless. (Fortunately for him, he mostly fucked men these days. Saved that trouble.)
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   Lyra Potter

If there had still been enough blood in Lyra's body to blush, her cheeks would have been bright red by now. The remark about slipping up was bad enough — he hadn't actually accused her of anything, but the way that his tone was, it was like he knew that her life since being turned had been a patchwork quilt of attempts to make a new life followed by disastrous, bloody endings. He probably did know, come to think of it, though he wouldn't have caught the specifics; her story was probably far from unique among the recently turned. She knew from her time in the magical community that vampires were either arrested or killed on a not-infrequent basis, and most of those were ones who had lasted a decade or less before being caught.

Following right on its heels, however, was his apparently offhand comment about having children with full-blooded humans. Surely he couldn't have any suspicions about that? She could not imagine that her case was so very much like everyone else's at least on that front. Perhaps she had been no better at controlling her bloodlust than the average vampire, at the beginning, but the child — well, that was August's fault, really. Not that she hadn't participated, but who could have blamed her? She had been a teenaged girl who had just lost everything; of course she had jumped at the chance to feel loved again. But from his perspective... well, how many lovesick fools would have welcomed their vampire fiancee in with open arms? Not many.

"I've no plans to," she said, which wasn't a lie. She hadn't exactly planned to do it the first time around, either — but then, she hadn't realized that it was even possible for her to become pregnant until she was. "But you don't think that attitude could change for the better? A lot could happen in a dozen years."

And she hoped, for the sake of August's child, that they did — but she realized as soon as the words left her mouth how naive they must have sounded to Ishmael. She didn't even know how old he was — a dozen years might have seemed like nothing, to him, and she was definitely showing her inexperience and youth.

because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me — the Carriage held but just Ourselves — and Immortality.

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