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Thicker Than Water: Hailey Potter and the Ties That Bind by Lucy Locke
Chapter 25 : The Fourth Potter
 
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25. The Fourth Potter

“It’s possible that there are two writers,” Kieran said thoughtfully as he and Hailey sat by the fire later that night. It was after midnight, and Harry had sent a letter a half an hour earlier to tell them that he would meet with them tomorrow. The common room was empty and dark except for the fire’s dying embers, and they had been discussing the letter ever since everyone had gone to bed. “The writing style in the second letter seemed a bit different from the Christmas card, so maybe there is more than one person sending them.” Kieran went on.

“Or maybe that’s a trick,” Hailey speculated. “Maybe the message I got today was deliberately written differently to throw us off, especially if there’s someone here at school who wants to do me in. How else do you explain the poison?”

“But the letter was all ratty looking,” Kieran countered. “It had to have traveled pretty far from the look of it.”

“Maybe,” Hailey replied. “But, Lupin also hinted that the person may have just wanted us to think that the letter had traveled a long way to confuse us, didn’t he?”

“This theory about there being two letter writers was your idea,” Kieran said with an exasperated sigh. “I was just agreeing that you might be on to something.”

“I know,” Hailey said impatiently. “But…I just can’t make sense of it either way. “

“We can speculate all night long, but it doesn’t matter,” Kieran went on, twirling a lock of his hair around his finger. “Not until we talk to Harry anyway. You can go over it with him and see what he thinks.”

“You know what he’s going to say tomorrow,” Hailey snarled. “He’s just going to lecture me about staying out of trouble and tell me for the millionth time that I’d better not try to investigate this myself…he’s such a filthy hypocrite sometimes.”

“That doesn’t mean he won’t listen to what you have to say,” Kieran replied. “So, just try not to start any arguments with him tomorrow.”

Hailey glared wordlessly at Kieran in reply. She knew that Kieran hated it when she and Harry argued, but lately it seemed unavoidable for father and daughter to clash over this whole situation. Hailey was tired of Harry treating her like a child.

“Just try not to lose your temper,” Kieran said imploringly. “It’ll only make things…” He stopped in mid-sentence at the sound of descending footsteps.

“I see you two are still awake,” Argo said from the bottom of the boys’ dormitory staircase. “I thought you might be.”

“Um… yeah,” Hailey replied lamely. How much of their conversation had Argo heard? “I couldn’t sleep, so Kieran was keeping me company.”

“Me neither, “Argo replied, taking the seat next to Kieran. “I just had too much on my mind.”

“Like what,” Kieran asked, hoping to steer the conversation away from anything that Argo might have overheard them talking about.

“Like how I know that letter Hailey got tonight wasn’t from her grandfather,” Argo said boldly. Kieran and Hailey stared at him, open-mouthed and shocked. Had he been listening this whole time?

“What are you talking about?” Hailey replied with an unconvincing look of confusion on her face. “I told you, I-“

“I know your grandfather didn’t send you that letter,” Argo reiterated as he pulled a weathered looking piece of parchment out of the pocket of his light blue dressing gown. “And here’s how I know.” He handed the note to Hailey. Her heart sank as she read the type-written message.

Good Day, Mr. Malfoy!

I wanted to take this opportunity to send you my belated condolences on the unfortunate death of your dear grandfather. I know how heartbroken your father must be. But, alas, those who live by the wand, so die by it. Lucius was a very capable wizard in his youth, but fighting with Harry Potter cost him his freedom, and betraying his friends cost him his life. Speaking of friends, I know that your father must be very displeased at your choice of companions. Little though I value his opinion anymore, I have to say that I am shocked; even Draco and Lucius were loyal to their families, though they didn’t give a damn about
anyone else. Yet, you are still Draco’s son and Lucius’ grandson, and a bad son is better than no son. Remember that when you reach the end of your young life. Tell Potter I said hello and that I will write her very soon…though I will meet you both face to face shortly.

“When did you get that,” Hailey croaked as she handed the letter to Kieran. Her mouth had gone dry and she felt almost as shaken as she had when she received her letter earlier that evening.

“Three days ago,” Argo replied. “I didn’t tell anyone about it, though. I was sort of waiting to see if you got anything. I thought that if the person who wrote this to me really did write to you, then the threats were probably serious. I saw how upset you got whenever you got that letter tonight, and I knew it had to be from him.”

“Him,” Hailey replied blankly, still too shocked to think straight.

“Snape,” Argo went on. “It has to be Snape; who else could it be? That’s who your letter was from, too wasn’t it?”

“It could be,” Hailey answered cautiously. “Or it could be someone who wants us to think it’s him.”

“How many people could possibly have something against both of us,” Argo argued. “Our families don’t move in the same social circles, do they? As a general rule, your father’s enemies are my father’s friends, and vice versa. Snape is the only one who has something against both of them, isn’t he?”

“That makes sense,” Kieran said. “But, there’s more to this than you know about, Argo.” Kieran gave Hailey a searching look as he spoke, asking her wordlessly for permission to continue. Hailey nodded; they might as well tell Argo everything.

“So that ‘accident’ you had in potions at the start of term was no accident,” Argo said breathlessly as Kieran finished explaining about the poison and the other letters that Harry had gotten. “And that happened before Snape got out of prison.”

“And Hailey’s dad started getting weird letters last summer,” Kieran interjected. “So, Snape can’t be doing this all on his own, if he really is part of it.”

“My dad is coming to talk to us about everything tomorrow,” Hailey cut in. “Do you want us to show him your letter? I think it might help…he might be able to make a comparison between this one and the others and come up with something.”

“The paper and the typestyle on yours is very similar to the one Hailey got,” Kieran continued agreeably. “So it might help if Harry had both of them.”

“Alright,” Argo nodded reluctantly. “But if you can, bring it back to me. I’d like to keep it.”


Hailey and Kieran were on their way to the Great Hall for an early breakfast when Professor Lupin stopped them at the top of the marble staircase.

“Harry is waiting for you in my office,” Lupin whispered, gesturing in the opposite direction. They had suspected that Harry would probably turn up early, so Kieran had stuck Argo’s letter in the pocket of his robes just in case. Grateful that they had decided to get up before the others, they followed him.

“He thought it would be best to meet you early before your friends had time to miss you,” Lupin went on as he opened the door to his office. “I’ll leave you alone to talk.”

Hailey and Kieran walked inside to find Harry sitting in a red velvet covered armchair by the fire. He smiled at them as he conjured two more identical chairs and invited them to join him.

“Remus and I were just discussing the events of last night,” Harry said wanly. He looked as tired and careworn as ever. “We have several theories about who might be behind this, but Kingsley thinks that we should take a wait and see approach at this point. He is hoping that the writer will get sloppy and make a mistake that we can use to trap him.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Kieran blurted indignantly. “You don’t mean we’re supposed to wait for someone to actually attack Hailey before we do anything!”

“Kingsley is an objective party in this, and a gifted Auror,” Harry replied. “But, as I reminded him, he is not a father. Members of the Order are analyzing the parchment on that letter as we speak on my instructions, and others are unofficially participating in the hunt for Snape.”

“You think Snape is part of this, too, then,” Hailey said.

“I think he has something to do with it,” Harry replied cautiously. “But, I can’t prove it yet.”

“We have something that might help you,” Kieran said quickly, pulling Argo’s letter out of the pocket of his robes. He handed it to Harry, who read it through several times before speaking.

“When did Argo get this,” Harry asked them with an oddly satisfied look on his face.

“He told us last night that someone sent it to him three days ago,” Hailey replied. “He said that he was waiting to see if I got anything before he mentioned it to anyone.”

“This could prove to be useful,” Harry continued. “We’ll test this one as well when I return to Hazelwood, but in the meantime, I would like to speak to Argo myself.”

“I’ll go and find him,” Kieran replied at once as he headed toward the door. “He’s probably having breakfast.”

“So you really think Snape is behind this,” Hailey asked with a hint of doubtfulness after Kieran had closed the door behind him. “I mean, you had been getting letters before he got out of Azkaban.”

“I don’t believe that Snape is acting on his own,” Harry replied. “It’s not his style. Snape is a powerful dark wizard, but he has never committed any crimes that we know of without outside help. He was a devoted and obedient Death Eater until Voldemort lost his body. He was loyal to Dumbledore after Voldemort was presumed to be destroyed. He followed Dumbledore’s rules without question, until his master returned to power. It was only on Voldemort’s orders that he participated in the plot to kill Dumbledore. So, it doesn’t make sense that he would do anything this bold without an accomplice.”

“Right,” Hailey replied as a thrilling thought occurred to her. “Well, hopefully you’ll find out who’s helping him, and I was thinking that maybe I could use myself as bait…”

“No,” Harry interrupted forcefully before Hailey could finish. “I’ve already told you that you’re not to go off on your own and try to find out anything. This is a very dangerous situation, so if you notice anything odd, I expect you to tell Tonks or Remus right away.”

“You didn’t even let me finish,” Hailey replied indignantly, frustrated with Harry’s refusal to listen. “So, how do you know what I was going to say?”

“I know you as well as I know myself, Hailey,” Harry said with a small grin. “I was just as arrogant and nosy as you are when I was twelve, and as a result, I’m lucky to be alive.”

Hailey scowled at him in reply, knowing that to argue the matter further would be a waste of time.

Seconds later, Kieran returned with a very apprehensive looking Argo at his heels. Hailey could understand why her friend was nervous; the last time he’d seen Harry, Harry had been furious with him for being out after hours with his daughter.

“Hello, Argo,” Harry said in a reassuring voice as he rose from his chair to shake hands with Argo, who extended his reluctantly. Harry conjured yet another chair for Argo, and he sat down beside the others with a nervous glance in Hailey’s direction.

“Hailey and Kieran were just showing me the letter you received a few days ago,” Harry went on kindly, hoping to make Argo feel more at ease. “When did you get this letter, exactly?”

“Um, four days ago,” Argo replied, biting his lip nervously. “It arrived during the evening post. I thought it was sort of odd, since I’d never gotten anything in the evening before.” Harry nodded in reply, running a hand through his messy hair for a moment before continuing.

“Did you tell your father about this,” Harry asked.

“I didn’t tell anyone until I told Hailey and Kieran last night,” Argo replied firmly. “I didn’t want to do anything until I had some proof that it was serious. When I saw Hailey’s reaction to the letter she got during the evening post last night, I knew that he must’ve written her, too, just like he said he was going to…Look, I’m not going to tell Draco, don’t worry…”

“Maybe you should tell him,” Harry replied, to Hailey and Kieran’s astonishment.

“Why should I?” Argo asked, his cool eyes boring into Harry’s mistrustfully. “Surely you don’t want him to know anything.”

“If my son were being threatened, I’d want to know,” Harry replied with a shrug.

“Right,” Argo said lamely, still looking skeptical.

“Do you mind if I hold on to your letter, Argo,” Harry asked, holding up the ratty-looking paper in his hand. “I’d like to do some comparisons between this one and the one that Hailey got last night.”

“Okay,” Argo replied reluctantly. “But, I’d like to have it back at some point.”

“I’ll do my best,” Harry said with a small smile. “Anyway, I need to get going, so I’ll see you all…”

The office door opened abruptly before Harry could finish his sentence. The newcomer burst in so quickly that Hailey and the others didn’t have time to be surprised to see Professor McGonagall instead of Lupin.

“An owl just arrived in my office for you Harry,” Professor McGonagall panted as she handed the letter to Harry. “It’s marked urgent.”

Harry tore the bright blue envelope unceremoniously and began to read, his face turning the color of parchment as his eyes sped across the blue paper.

“Who’s it from,” Hailey whispered breathlessly, her heart sinking horribly at the look on her father’s face. She was sure the letter writer had struck again.

“It’s from Healer Pye,” Harry said quickly, his voice breaking a little. “Your mum has been rushed to St. Mungo’s…she’s in labor.”

“But it’s too soon,” Hailey gasped. Her mouth had gone very dry, and her face felt as though it were on fire. It was only the 15th of February. The baby wasn’t supposed to come until April.

“Yes,” Harry muttered as he grabbed his emerald green cloak from the back of the red velvet chair. “I have to go…I’ll send you an owl as soon as I know what’s going on.”

“We’re going with you,” Hailey replied forcefully. Kieran nodded supportively.

“Fine,” Harry said, surprising Hailey. “I don’t have the time or energy to argue with you.”

“I’ll have Hagrid get a carriage to take you to the Village,” Professor McGonagall said. “Then, you can apparate from there.”

Just a few short minutes later, Harry, Hailey and Kieran were rushing toward the information desk at the crowded hospital, where a pretty blonde witch was arguing with a man who appeared to be afflicted with a strange skin ailment that was making him scratch uncontrollably.

“You need to sign in on the fourth floor,” The witch was repeating in an increasingly agitated voice over the man’s indignant shrieks of pain.

“But, I can’t wait,” The man bellowed as he scratched the skin on his arm, which had begun to bleed. “Can’t you…”

“Next,” The witch interrupted, turning her attention to Harry. Her eyes found the scar on his forehead immediately and her demeanor changed at once.”

“Mr. Potter,” She said, her face suddenly concerned. “Healer Pye’s apprentice is expecting you, so if you’ll wait here, I’ll get her.”

Hailey and Kieran exchanged frightened looks, as they braced themselves for the worst.

“This is Healer Spencer,” the witch from the front desk said moments later as she gestured toward a young dark-haired witch in green healers’ robes standing beside her.

“Where’s my wife,” Harry asked the young healer without preamble. “How is the baby?”

“We can discuss everything in my office upstairs,” The young healer began. “If you’ll just come…”

“Where is my wife,” Harry repeated, his voice more demanding this time. “And how is my baby?”

“For security reasons, I’d rather not discuss that here, Mr. Potter,” The healer repeated. “Please just come upstairs with me so that I explain what happened.”

What did that mean? Hailey wondered silently as they followed the healer up the stairs to the second floor. Had someone attacked her Luna? Had the letter writer made good on the threats they’d been making since last year? The healer ushered them into a small windowless room with a battered old desk and lots of file cabinets. She conjured three chairs for them and locked the door with a wave of her wand when they were all seated.

“Your wife has developed what appears to be an unusual strain of dragon pox,” the healer said with a sigh as she flipped through Luna’s chart. “Though, she’s not sure when or how she could have been exposed to it. St. Mungo’s hasn’t treated anyone for this kind of dragon pox for many years, and the symptoms were unusually severe and sudden. We’ve managed to give her the proper potions to avoid further complications, but I’m afraid that it will probably be some time before she fully recovers.”

“What do you mean ‘further complications,” Harry interjected, his knuckles white from gripping the arms of the chair he was sitting in.

“Luna is stable, but we were unable to stop her premature labor,” the healer replied. “The baby is on its way as we speak, and given the fact that she’s nearly two months early, we don’t know what to expect, especially if the child has contracted dragon pox.”

“And if the baby has dragon pox,” Harry prompted her, his frustration growing.

“I’ve never seen a case like this one before, Mr. Potter,” The healer replied. “So speculating isn’t productive, and I-“

“Why couldn’t you tell us all of this downstairs,” Hailey interjected. Both Harry and Healer Spencer looked shocked at her abrupt interruption. She didn’t care if they thought she was being rude. She was sure that there was something the healer wasn’t telling them, and she wanted to know what it was.

“Because,” The healer replied slowly after a moment’s pause. “We don’t think that the infection was accidental.”

“What do you mean?” Harry demanded.

“The strain of dragon pox Luna has was only ever carried by the Siberian Spiketail,” The healer replied. “And since they’ve been extinct for over fifteen years, the only viruses that are in existence in the UK are in a high-security area of The Department of Mysteries…or, at least, that was supposed to be the case.”

“Can we see her,” Harry asked.

“I’m afraid that isn’t possible just now,” Healer Spencer said wearily. “We have to keep her isolated for the next 48 hours in order to reduce the risk of her infecting someone else.”

At that moment, a knock on the door caused them all to jump a little.

“Come in,” Healer Spencer said. The door opened at once to reveal an old man that Hailey recognized as Healer Pye.

“I have wonderful news,” Healer Pye said with a small smile, still standing in the open doorway. “Your baby was born fifteen minutes ago, Mr. Potter, and it does not have dragon pox.”

“How is the baby otherwise,” Harry asked desperately.

“Small, but strong,” the healer replied. “I gave Luna a sleeping potion; she’s stable, but she’ll need to sleep for a few days, I think.” He turned his gaze back to the corridor behind him and gestured to someone who was apparently standing out of view. Moments later, an old nurse with lots of fluffy grey hair appeared behind him. She handed Healer Pye a very small bundle of blue blankets.
“This is your son, Mr. Potter,” the healer said as he handed the squirming bundle to Harry. “We’ll leave you lot alone for a few minutes so you can get to know each other a little better.”

A speechless Harry pulled back the blankets to reveal a tiny baby boy with lots of messy black hair. Hailey and Kieran peered over Harry’s shoulder. The baby opened his bluish green eyes and peered blearily up at the three of them, frowning slightly.

“Hello, James,” Hailey murmured as she stroked his tiny cheek with her index finger.

“Is that his name, then,” Harry asked, giving Hailey a knowing smile. The baby moved his head in such a way that he appeared to be nodding in agreement with his big sister.

“That’s settles it,” Harry said. “Now, for the middle name, your mum had mentioned the name Farbius…”

The baby cried in apparent disapproval before Harry could finish. Kieran and Hailey laughed.

“Alright,” Harry said, rocking the baby in an attempt to soothe him. “Not Farbius.”

“How about Ronald,” Harry asked James when he’d calmed down. “It would make my best friend very happy if you’d agree to Ronald.”

James Ronald Potter closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep in his father’s arms without further protest.



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