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Chapter 1: Letters From A Second Son
Letters From A Second Son
June 12, 2000
Writing to let you know I'm safe. The “hunters” suspect that someone arrived from the other place (you know what I mean), but they don't know how to track. I'm hunting L, the redhead that escaped. That night wasn't the end of it, I think. Can't write too often, but I'll be in touch.
June 27, 2000
Don't write back to me. Never write back to me. My sending owls is bad enough...your owls will lead them straight to me. You asked what I was afraid might happen, or might be happening; I don't know what else could happen after that night, but I don't like taking chances. I'm keeping a close eye on things. The situation hasn't changed much. L is spending less time running now...I think she's looking for something. I hope everything is alright on your end. I might stop by for a quick visit.
July 8, 2000
That visit won't happen. L tried to kidnap me, and I almost killed her. She has followers now. They're stalking me, and I can't risk leading them to you.
July 31, 2000
Happy birthday. Would have gotten a gift, but some stuff came up. L turned the tables recently. She didn't kill me. She could have, but she didn't. I think she wants something from me. I have my suspicions, but...I can't discuss it here. I'll send this owl when it's safe again.
November 19, 2000
I can't kill her now. Not yet, anyway. She's up to something, and I want to find out what she's planning before I do it. If I kill her and her scheme lives on...I don't want to be responsible for that. I want to end the whole thing. The “hunters” aren't worried about me anymore. I guess they decided there was a malfunction in the reading that night. They don't know about me. And sorry for the short notes. I'm writing in my free time, and I don't have a lot of it. Hunting is a hard game.
December 20, 2000
They tried for me again. They poisoned me, but I escaped. A poorly brewed sleeping potion, of all things. They don't want me dead yet, that's certain. Why am I being hunted now? I think soon, I'll have to make a choice. Me or her. Whatever I find out, it has to be soon. They won't keep failing.
January 6, 2001
I finally found out what they want. I can't tell you here. It's too dangerous. But they...they want to do something with my soul. They kept talking about switching it. I guess they think there's something in me. A demon or some such. They almost got me spying, but I'm not a novice. If I kill L and a couple of her minions, I think I can end this. The rest will be warned off...and she's the one egging them on. It won't take much to scare them away for good.
March 22, 2001
This is the last owl I'm sending for a while. I have to lie low. I'm not sure what happened, but it won't be easy killing them now. They have some kind of helper, a guardian. It only appears when I'm close to them, and I don't know how to fight it. With them after me, and that thing helping them...I don't know. I have to do something, but I need a break first. I need to make a plan. I'll owl you when something happens.
Harry laid the last letter aside and folded his hands, thinking. The last piece of correspondence from his time-traveling son, the last remnant of a future that had never been, had arrived over a year ago. The lack of recent news was more than a little worrying for Harry, who had guessed that Lilith would cause as much trouble as she could if unchecked.
“Harry?” Hermione appeared in the doorway of his office. Situated on the fourth floor of Number 12, Grimmauld Place, it was more of a closet than anything else, but he had managed to squeeze a desk into it. The desk, fitted with dozens of drawers, was the only piece of furniture in the tiny room other than the rickety chair on which Harry sat. A single Butterbeer bottle, filled with shimmering yellow fairy lights, was the sole source of illumination. Several pieces of parchment, battered quills, empty ink wells, and chocolate frog wrappers littered the scarred wooden surface.
Harry rubbed his face and pushed away from the desk, spinning gently to the side. Considering the size of his ‘office’, the chair didn’t go far. “It’s been over a year,” he muttered into his palms. His fingers pressed against his eyelids, causing a myriad of colors to bloom in front of his weary eyes. “I’m worried.”
He heard footsteps as Hermione entered the room. She took one step and was immediately pressed against his seat. Her hand rubbed his shoulders gently. “He isn’t a novice at this, Harry. I’m sure he’s fine.”
“He’d been making a point of contacting me regularly,” Harry replied, looking up at her. “Why would he stop?”
“You’re not new to laying low,” she reminded him. “You know what it’s like.”
“Yeah,” he sighed. “It’s unnerving, though.”
“I know. Just give him time. He can’t always keep you updated. Between writing to you and finishing this business, I’d much rather his next letter tell you it’s all over.”
Harry shook his head. “That’s the problem. I’m worried it’s going to say something else.”
Hermione tilted her head. “You think he’s in trouble?”
Harry met her gaze. “I don’t know what to think. It’s easier to imagine something’s gone wrong, when you don’t know what’s going on.”
“From the sounds of it, she’s nowhere near us,” Hermione mused, her eyes drifting over to the desk, where James’ letters lay locked in a hidden drawer. “I don’t think we need to be worried.”
“She’s planning something,” Harry said flatly. “That much is obvious.” He sighed again, stretching backwards over his chair. “I don’t need this. I’m about to be 21, and I feel like I’m turning 60.”
Hermione rolled her eyes, an expression Harry always found endearing. “Harry, you’ve been gnawing at this for the last month. Why not relax? Your birthday’s tomorrow, and you’re wound tighter than a Coiling Chrysanthemum.”
Harry shook his head. “I can’t stop worrying. Every time I try to relax with stuff like this, it comes back to bite me.”
Hermione smiled. “Just for one day. Come back to bed with me.”
Harry turned to look at the letter on the desk. The last letter from a warrior that he was sure was working to stop a diabolical scheme. What scheme, he didn’t know, but he was afraid that he would find out.
“Harry.” Hermione’s tone was getting dangerous. Harry knew she was looking after his best interests; after all, they’d been married for three years. In that course of time, their bond had only gotten deeper and stronger, like an arctic river during a warm season.
“Fine,” he said finally. Right now he didn’t know what was going on. He was a year out of the loop. It wouldn’t help to worry about something that he was out of touch on. If he kept on like this, he would wear himself senseless. There was no point to that. Rising from his chair, he gave it a push so it rolled into its niche under the desk. Turning, he followed Hermione out of the room, before closing the door and locking it with a special charm that Hermione had researched specifically for this purpose.
As the door was sealed shut, Harry could feel in his gut that there would be another day when the matter locked in that desk wouldn’t be silent. Not just in his gut, but in his bones. The sort of feeling one gets when there’s a storm brewing on the horizon, as though hell itself were straining at its bonds, moments from breaking loose and shaking the world apart. Harry could feel something waiting in the wings, biding its time until the world was ripe for chaos. Following Hermione down the hall, their footsteps faint as a rat pattering beneath the floorboards of an abandoned old house, his mind was far away. There was no ignoring his instincts.
There would be a reckoning.
in the next chapter...
Harry grabbed one of the last three boxes. This one was rather large, and Harry had a feeling who knew exactly who sent it. Glancing at the top, his fears were confirmed. Two extravagant ‘W’s were emblazoned on the wrappings. “Might want to open this one outside,” he grumbled. Hermione, who had also seen the signature, grimaced.
“Surely they wouldn’t send anything too dangerous…?”
Thus begins the mega-series! I'll probably add one or two more chapters, then I'll stop to stockpile on them. In the meantime, this is a little taste. Sorry to make it so foreboding, but I couldn't help myself.
On to the next!