Their first meeting was tense and awkward; understandably so, taking place as it did in a windowless chamber buried deep within Azkaban. Although the Dementors who guarded the place had reluctantly withdrawn to bestow their attentions on their regular inmates, Eldred Worple struggled to shake off the soul-sucking despair that usually only visited him in the wee hours of the worst nights: that he had never been able to write and was actually getting worse at it all the time, that any day now he was going to be turned out of his flat and die unloved and forgotten on the streets, that he had just spent the entirety of his latest royalty cheque (which was not at all substantial) on crystallised pineapple in order to land an exclusive interview with the vampire who was sitting across the small, bare table from him, impassively silent.
Worple fumbled through the notes he had taken when he had spoken with Slughorn, although they were brief and sketchy and anyway he had memorized their contents. This Sanguini was the first vampire to be actually arrested in Britain in decades, apparently; something to do with a Muggle girl found exsanguinated in his cellar. Sanguini was professing total ignorance, while the Ministry were torn between the desire to tie him somehow to the dark activities He Who Must Not Be Named and the desire to preserve already-strained diplomatic relations with Transylvania. "Either way, everyone loves vampires, you know," Slughorn had said cheerfully around a mouthful of pineapple. "Story'll practically write itself." And Worple had bobbed his head in agreement, already picturing his byline splashed across the front page of the Daily Prophet.
Now he seemed to have forgotten all of his glib interviewing tricks. All he could remember was that once he had intended to write serious tomes on important matters studded with painfully earnest footnotes, not slapdash pieces of hackwork that were not exactly printed on acid-free parchment.
Also, he was alone in a deep dark room with a vampire and painfully aware of the thumping of his heart.
"So," he began desperately, and it was not much of a beginning. His interviewee was regarding him indifferently with half-lidded eyes.
"So," he tried again, with a slightly more purposeful inflection. Sanguini showed no intention of assisting him, which Worple felt was really ungrateful of him. After all, this interview was a favour to him, as well.
"So," he said finally, "what's it like then, being a vampire?" It was an idiotic question, but at least it was a question.
Sanguini opened his mouth, revealing some very shiny, very pointy teeth. "So very lonely," he began, and Worple almost laughed with relief. He leant forward, quill racing, as the vampire spun out a tale of betrayal, exile and misfortune with only a bit of judicious prompting on his part. He could see the story now, as clearly as though it were already written.
When they got to the bit about the girl in the cellar, however, Sanguini was rather less willing to share. "No, of course, I completely understand," Worple assured him. "Between you and your solicitor - they have - given you a solicitor, haven't they? Well, no matter, because things are going to change after we get your side of the story out there, show people what vampirism is really all about."
"And I get half of the money, correct?" Sanguini said, licking his lips.
"Yes, yes, of course," Worple said distractedly. "And that's only the beginning. I thing there's a book in this." He gathered up the rolls of parchment he had covered and shoved them back into his ever-expanding satchel. "You were saying that among, you know, vampires, the drinking of blood is actually an act of kinship and, er...intimacy?"
"Precisely," Sanguini nodded solemnly. "It is necessary to have the blood, of course, but not nearly so much as hysterical wizards and Muggles would have it. What is important is the bond."
"It must be hellish for you, then," Worple went on. He had stood and was heading for the ragged bell-pull in the corner to summon his escort and get out of Azkaban, but somehow he ended up standing over Sanguini's chair instead. "I mean, even worse than it is generally, being in Azkaban and all," he added lamely.
Sanguini caught up one of Worple's fat, inkstained hands in his own long, pale, slender ones. "It is the worst kind of torment," he murmured. His lips were pressed up against Worple's wrist and Worple felt his hand getting as clammy as a schoolboy's. "I've never met a wizard before who understood."
"It's not dangerous," Worple said shakily. "It doesn't hurt?"
"No," Sanguini said, "not hurt, exactly," although it did, the sharp teeth tearing at his soft wrist and biting through his own lip to keep from crying out. Worple felt lightheaded almost at once, and the sight of his own blood staining Sanguini's cool lips made him weak in the knees. Sanguini was on him at once, licking away the blood dripping down his chin even as he staunched the flow of blood from his wrist. "You see?" he whispered between kisses. "The communion of blood is the communion of souls..."
Worple wasn't certain about the communion of souls, but as Sanguini tore off his robes with those powerful fingers, he wasn't thinking of anything besides the communion of flesh. It was when Sanguini sank his fangs into his neck that he came, pain and pleasure commingled like the blood and semen sticky on his skin.
"I'll visit again, if they let me," he said as he left, clutching his the remains of robes to his body to keep himself decent. Sanguini just gazed at him with those hollow eyes.
Everything and nothing turned out the way he had imagined it. The article did make the front page of the Daily Prophet, with a follow-up in the Sunday color supplement after all charges against Sanguini were dropped. The book Blood Brothers: My Life Amongst the Vampires followed as swiftly as he could write it, although the cursory research he did in the vampire community did not exactly bear out Sanguini's account of himself and he could scarcely keep his supposed blood brother from preying on impressionable young girls long enough to conduct a book-signing.
Sometimes he hated himself for what he had been reduced to; but then, he found that keeping a vampire in his bed every night had its advantages. He slept very soundly through the night.