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Thicker Than Water: Hailey Potter and the Ties That Bind by Lucy Locke
Chapter 26 : Missing
 
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Missing

It took Luna several weeks to recover, but by the time spring arrived in late March, she was completely back to normal and was spending most of her time at home with baby James, who was growing by leaps and bounds. Hailey had last seen him on the first of March, when he and Luna had finally been allowed to leave St. Mungo’s. Luna had mentioned in her last letter that Demetrius Barrett, the photographer who took their family photos at Christmas was supposed to be taking some pictures of the baby soon, and Hailey had insisted on getting a photo as soon as they were finished. Harry was once again spending a lot of time away from home doing secret work for the Order. Fortunately, Luna had Dobby and Mrs. McMullen to help out around the house. Gryffindor had clobbered Hufflepuff in February’s match weeks before, and most everyone thought they would beat Ravenclaw in the final match of the season. The pleasant weather made Hailey cherish the time she spent on her broomstick in the fresh spring air. Hailey was training hard as usual, but studying even harder. Their exams were still several weeks away, but Hailey was determined to out perform Morgan in at least a couple of subjects this year, due in part to a remark that Morgan had made after their most recent Charms test. Hailey had been so preoccupied with her mother and the baby that she had performed very poorly during the written test. Morgan’s reaction when she caught sight of the “P” Professor Stoneworth had scribbled in the upper left hand corner of her paper had infuriated Hailey.

“Cheer up, Hailey,” Morgan had said as she patted Hailey on the shoulder in an attempt to appear sympathetic. “Charms can be really hard for the average student to understand…I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it soon, and as long as you do your best, your conscience is clear, right?”

Hailey had merely nodded in reply, making a silent promise to herself that she would beat Morgan in their final exam if it was the last thing she did.

“Wanna go out on the pitch for a bit before practice,” Mark asked Hailey on a particularly fine Saturday afternoon in late April. Hailey, Mark, Kieran and Argo were just getting ready to leave the Great Hall after finishing their lunch. The sky overhead was the perfect shade of blue accented with white clouds and golden sun. Hailey sighed sadly as she thought of the homework she needed to finish before practice.

“I can’t,” Hailey replied miserably as she pushed her empty plate aside. “I have two more chapters to read for Professor Stoneworth and I want to finish up my-“

“Homework again,” Mark said with a scowl. “We’ve still got another week before we have to finish reading that section on color charms…surely it can wait until tomorrow.”

“I can’t,” Hailey said resolutely, thinking of the smug look on Morgan’s face when they’d gotten their marks back on the charms test. “I’ll see you at practice.” Hailey saw Kieran smile at her from behind Mark’s back.

“Alright, then,” Mark replied, looking slightly put out. “I’ll see you later, then.”

“You really should go out and enjoy yourself, you know,” Argo said as they made their way back upstairs. “You studied on your birthday and all through the Easter holidays, too.”

“Yeah, well,” Hailey replied, thinking of Morgan, who was still in the common room reading Transfiguration. “I need to stay motivated to do well on exams.”

Kieran rolled his eyes at this, but said nothing. He knew perfectly well that Hailey’s competitive nature was the only thing keeping her inside this afternoon.

“I think we’re going to go see Hagrid in a few,” Kieran replied as Argo nodded affirmatively. “He says he’s found homes for the last of the Kneazles, and we wanted to see them one more time.”

“Wish I could keep one,” Argo said sadly. “But, Hagrid won’t let me…says it’s against the rules for me to keep a kneazle at school.”

“Since when does Hagrid follow rules and laws when it comes to animals,” Hailey asked incredulously as she thought of the baby manticore Hagrid had given her for her fifth birthday.

“Since Professor McGonagall told him he’d be in big trouble if a student wound up getting caught with a kneazle in their dormitory.” Kieran replied with a chuckle as they clambered through the portrait hole. “I think she knew somehow that Argo wanted one.”

“So, I’m just out of luck,” Argo said rather wistfully as the fat lady swung shut behind them. “Anyway, we can still go and see them off, but first, I have to get a book I need to take back to the library before Madame Pince kills me.”

“Tell Hagrid I said hi and that I’m sorry I can’t come with you,” Hailey replied as she headed upstairs to get her books. When she returned to the common room a few minutes later, the boys had already gone.

“Staying in again, Hailey,” Morgan said brightly as Hailey joined her in her favorite chair near the unlit fireplace. Morgan had skipped lunch to study. She was now reading an article in “The Journal of Advances in Defensive Magic” on Kappas Lupin had required them all to review.

“Yeah,” Hailey replied grudgingly as she stared out the window at the wonderful sunshine. With a sigh of longing as she turned away from the window, she took out her Charms book and started reading. She had only just gotten started when an unexpected visitor to the common room tapped her gently on the shoulder.

“Professor,” Hailey said quizzically as she turned and saw the careworn face of Remus Lupin. The look on his face told her in a split second that something was terribly wrong.

“I need to you come with me,” Professor Lupin said hoarsely as he pulled her gently out of her chair by the arm.

“What’s going on?” Hailey asked as Morgan looked on worriedly. Professor Lupin merely shook his head and led Hailey out of the portrait hole without another word.

“Something awful has happened hasn’t’ it,” Hailey said, her insides frozen with fear as Lupin led her into his study and closed and locked the door with a wave of his wand.

“Harry was arrested three days ago in Thailand during the course of his work for the Order,” Lupin said abruptly, running his hands through his hair as he spoke. “We only just found out this morning.”

“What,” Hailey croaked as she tried to catch her breath. She felt as though someone had knocked the wind out of her. “Why?”

“Draco Malfoy’s in-laws are very well connected in Bangkok,” Lupin went on wearily. “His wife’s sister-in-law, Suki Parkinson, is Taiwanese, and we think she might have used her family connections to get Harry into trouble.”

“What has he been charged with,” Hailey went on, making a mental note to ask Argo about his aunt’s family.

“Trespassing and wanded assault,” Lupin replied. “He supposedly broke into a wizard’s home with the intention of robbing him, and hexed the homeowners.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Hailey cried jumping up from her seat. “Surely everyone is smart enough to know that dad doesn’t need to rob anyone; he’s one of the wealthiest wizards in the UK.”

“You know perfectly well that logic has nothing to do with this,” Lupin said impatiently. “If there was any way for the Taiwanese ministry to substantiate the charges, they would have published it in every wizarding newspaper in the world! They made this up because the PPS suspects that Harry is investigating them.”

“What was he looking for in Thailand anyway,” Hailey asked curiously.

“Nothing that I care to discuss with a thirteen year old,” Lupin replied evasively. “That’s between Harry and the Order.”

Hailey scowled at him, but didn’t argue; she knew it would be pointless to press Lupin for more information. He had been as candid with her as he was going to be.

“Does my mum know,” Hailey asked with a sigh. Luna had already been through so much in the last few weeks that Hailey worried about the toll this could take on her mum.

“Professor McGonagall is getting in touch with her,” Lupin replied. “The headmistress had to go to meet with Minister Harrison today anyway, and so she was going to see Luna first.”

Hailey sighed deeply, thinking of Harry. The idea of her father being stashed away in some dingy wizard’s prison made her sick with anger. And now, after everything else, Luna was going to have to deal with yet another family crisis. Hailey had barely had a moment to wonder what her mother’s reaction was going to be when an urgent knock at the door interrupted her thoughts. She turned to face the door as Lupin opened it. Tonks barged in an instant later, and Hailey could tell by the look of panic on her face that something else had happened.

“Remus,” she panted, clutching at her husband’s robes. “Professor McGonagall has just returned…you need to come with me, now!”

“Go back to the common room, Hailey,” Lupin said quickly as he started toward the door. Tonks looked over at Hailey in surprise; apparently she had only just noticed that Hailey was there.

“I think we’d better bring her along, Remus,” Tonks said quickly. “Minerva was planning to talk to her anyway, so…”

“Is it my dad,” Hailey interrupted, jumping out of her seat as thought it was on fire. “Has something else happened to him…”

“The headmistress will explain everything when we see her,” Tonks interjected irritably. “Let’s go.”

Without another word, Hailey and Lupin followed Tonks up to Professor McGonagall’s office. The sick feeling in Hailey’s stomach was threatening to overpower her as they entered the headmistress’s study.

Professor McGonagall was pacing back and forth around her desk, her usually stoic face contorted with obvious concern when she saw that Hailey was accompanying Lupin and Tonks.

“I see you decided to go ahead and bring Hailey with you,” Professor McGonagall said without preamble.

“Hailey was with me when Tonks showed up in my office,” Lupin said quickly, as though to assure Professor McGonagall that he had not invited Hailey without her permission.

“That doesn’t matter now,” Professor McGonagall replied, her voice breaking slightly. “Hailey, has your mother mention anything to you about leaving town?”

“No,” Hailey said, confused. “No, she’s been taking it easy since James was born and she had dragon pox…she wasn’t planning on going back to work for another month. Why?”

“I assume that Professor Lupin has informed you about the situation with your father,” Professor McGonagall replied. Hailey nodded. “Well, then you are aware I’m sure that I was going to see her today to talk to her about what had happened, but when I arrived, no one was there.”

“Not even Mrs. McMullen,” Hailey gasped. The only time Mrs. McMullen left Hazelwood was to visit her relatives in Scottland in September of every year.

“No one was there,” Professor McGonagall reiterated. “The house was wrecked, and there was no sign that anyone had been there for the last three days.”

“What do you mean, wrecked,” Lupin said, his brow furrowed. “Were there signs of a struggle?”

“That’s exactly what I mean,” McGonagall replied.

“How do you know she’s been gone for three days,” Tonks blurted as Hailey looked on. She had been wondering the same thing, but was afraid that if she opened her mouth at the moment, she might be sick. Her whole family was in turmoil.

“I’m not totally sure about that time line, but I found a clue that makes me feel pretty certain that I’m right,” Professor McGonagall replied as she pulled a piece of bright purple parchment from the inside pocket of her robes and unfolded it. Hailey identified it at once.

“That’s from my mum’s calendar,” Hailey blurted as she ran over to examine the paper more closely. She looked down at the piece of paper and saw a note written in color change ink. Hailey recognized her mother’s handwriting. The date on the top of the page was three days old.

“Demetrius Barrett, One O’clock,” Luna had written in her pretty loopy writing on the lined paper.

“Does this mean anything to you, Hailey,” Professor McGonagall asked her urgently.

“Yes,” Hailey answered quickly. “Demetrius Barrett is a photographer who was supposed to be coming over to take pictures of James, but I don’t know what that would have to do with anything…” And then, it hit her…

“Dad was arrested three days ago,” Hailey blurted comprehendingly. “You don’t think that was a coincidence, do you, Professor?”

“No,” Professor McGonagall replied. “And, if I’m right, then this Demetrius Barrett may be the last person who saw your mother and brother before they vanished. So, we need to try to locate him right away. Do you know anything else about him?”

“Umm,” Hailey said desperately, trying to remember anything she could from the Christmas photo they’d had taken. “Just that he has a photography studio and that he took a family picture of us at Christmas, but I don’t recall anything else at the moment.”

“That’s a start,” Professor McGonagall replied. “Now, I have to go and meet with Kingsley and Minister Harrison and discuss with them whether or not we need to send Aurors out to look for them, so...”

“Do you mean that no one has started looking yet,” Hailey said indignantly, not caring that she had just interrupted the headmistress.

“Members of the Order are on alert,” Professor McGonagall snapped in reply to Hailey’s abruptness. “But we wanted to get some more information before we involved the ministry. We were hoping to avoid reporters in case the publicity might put Luna and the baby in more danger.”

“What can we do,” Lupin said quickly before Hailey could reply. “Do you need us to help in the search…”

“I will give you further instructions when I return later this evening,” Professor McGonagall replied as she wrapped a traveling cloak around her shoulders. “In the meantime, Hailey, you should return to Gryffindor tower at once. I want you to keep this quiet from everyone but Kieran, because I am sure has already sensed your distress. If you remember anything else that you might think is useful, let one of us know. Now, if you will excuse me,” she threw a handful of floo powder into her fire, causing the flames to turn emerald green at once. “I must go.” She stepped inside the fire, shouted “Ministry of Magic, London!” and was gone in a rush of fire.

Hailey stared at the fire for several seconds, watching the flames change from green back to their usual brilliant orange before Professor Lupin took her by the hand and led her to the door.

“I know this is hard for you, Hailey” He said as he opened the heavy door for Tonks and Hailey. “But, please obey Professor McGonagall and don’t try to do anything on your own. The Order will find your mum and James and they’ll be fine…”
“You don’t know that they’re fine,” Hailey snapped, her voice breaking as tears welled up in her eyes. “And neither does the stupid Order or the Ministry, so don’t patronize me.”

“You’re right,” Lupin said wearily, closing the door back, his eyes meeting hers as he wrapped his arm around her shoulder. “I wanted to make you feel better, but I know nothing I say can do that right now…I’m sorry.”

The tears that had been stinging Hailey’s eyes for the last several minutes finally spilled onto her cheeks as Lupin pulled her into a tight hug. She only pulled away from him after she heard Kieran’s voice in her head, telling her to meet him in the Entrance Hall. He told her they had to get to the only place where they could be alone. For that, she would need to bring the cloak and the map.


“I know I’ve read something else about the name Barrett somewhere recently but I can’t remember where,” Kieran said wearily after he had managed to soothe Hailey enough for the two of them to talk. They had made their way to the Shrieking Shack under the invisibility cloak as soon as Hailey had managed to retrieve it from her trunk.

“I just know that Snape has something to do with this somehow,” Hailey said as she rubbed her bloodshot eyes. “Argo was right about those letters; Snape is the only person who would have a reason to send letters to both Argo and I, and they kept threatening that something was going to happen in the spring. It makes sense.”

“Snape,” Kieran whispered, jumping off the dusty old couch in the decrepit lounge so fast that Hailey jumped. “I read the name Barrett when we were doing all that research into Snape’s past!”

“Oh my God!” Hailey cried in horror, jumping up as well when she read his mind. It was all coming back to her. Professor Rosier’s parents had been killed by Aurors, and her only surviving family member besides her brother had been Mrs. Rosier’s sister; Hailey couldn’t remember the first name, but the last name had been Barrett. She couldn’t believe that this insignificant scrap of information had somehow popped into Kieran’s head, but they had to use it.

********************************************************************************************

“Asking her could be risky,” Hailey said apprehensively an hour later as she and Kieran made their way to the Herbology offices. Hailey and Kieran had just returned from Professor Tonks’ office. They had rushed back up to the castle to tell Tonks and Lupin what Kieran had just remembered, only to find out from Goyle that Tonks and Lupin had left the castle on “personal business” for the evening. Hailey and Kieran knew better, of course; they were perfectly aware that Lupin and Tonks were working with McGonagall and the Order to try to find Luna. Hailey felt better knowing that they were working on the case, but it left her and Kieran in a bit of a bind with regard to this new information.

“You know we don’t have that kind of time,” Kieran argued. “I know this is risky, but Lupin and Tonks are off with McGonagall working for the Order, so we’ve got no choice but to ask her ourselves.”

Hailey nodded reluctantly; she knew that what Kieran was saying made sense, but it still didn’t stop her from feeling really apprehensive about prying into Professor Rosier’s past. She didn’t want to bring back any unpleasant memories about her childhood.

Kieran knocked forcefully on Professor Rosier’s office door and they waited for a response. They heard approaching footsteps on the other side of the door, which opened seconds later.

“Hi,” Professor Rosier said cheerfully as she beamed at Hailey and Kieran. She seemed very pleased to see them. “To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?”

“We need to ask you something important,” Kieran said without hesitation as Professor Rosier showed them inside. “It’s about-“He broke off in mid-sentence when he saw that they were not alone.

Argo was sitting in one of the chairs in front of Professor Rosier’s desk. He turned around and gazed at Kieran and Hailey in surprise. Hailey saw that he was holding what appeared to be an essay in his hands.

“I had just asked Argo to come and see me about a report he’s writing for me,” Professor Rosier said pleasantly. “But, you’re welcome to join us…what can I do for you? What’s so urgent?”

“We need your help with something,” Kieran went on brazenly. “Do you know a man named Demetrius Barrett?”

Professor Rosier’s smile vanished and her face was suddenly pale. Argo was watching the scene curiously.

“Y-yes,’ she stammered, trying to recover herself. “As a matter of fact I do. Why do you ask?” Hailey shot Kieran a worried look, she was so alarmed by Professor Rosier’s reaction that her instincts were telling her they should leave without further explanation.

“Professor McGonagall is looking for Hailey’s mum,” Kieran went on, ignoring Hailey’s silent pleas for him to stop. “And, Mrs. Potter had an appointment with him on the day they think she left, so we were hoping you might be able to tell us where to find him.”

“Oh,” Professor Rosier responded lamely, her face clearing. “Well, Demetrius is my first cousin, but I haven’t seen him for ages. I know that his studio is in Cardiff…” She stopped for a moment, apparently trying to remember more. “Hang on…” she said, her expression excited again as she left her office for the dusty storage where she and Professor Sprout kept all of their files. Hailey, Kieran and Argo were all too familiar with it, having spent detention cleaning in there.

“His address might be in this,” Professor Rosier said a moment later, indicating a flowery pink journal she was holding. It looked well-worn and was covered in dust. “Why don’t you take a look? Argo, will you help? Argo nodded reluctantly as he rose from his chair and reached for the book in Professor Rosier’s hand.

What happened next occurred so fast that Hailey and Kieran didn’t have time to react. A second later, Hailey felt an irresistible force around her midsection as she, Professor Rosier, Kieran and Argo traveled through a maze of color. Just when Hailey thought she was going to be sick, they stopped.

She, Kieran and Argo came to rest facedown in the dark on a cold floor that seemed to be made of dirt. There was a smell of moldy decay in the air. They were obviously in a cellar…the book had been a portkey! Hailey rolled over, trying to catch her breath and collect her thoughts as she reached out her hand in a blind effort to find the boys.

“Lumos,” Professor Rosier said casually. Instantly, light filled the musty, damp room. Before Hailey, Kieran or Argo could adjust to the light, thick ropes were twisting themselves around their hands and feet.

“So we all meet at last,” said a sneering voice from behind Hailey. “You have arrived sooner than I expected, Ivy.”

Hailey twisted fruitlessly in an effort to see the face of the man standing behind her, but the ropes that were binding the three of them were too tight. But, Hailey thought she already knew who he was.

“Potter and Morris started catching on faster than I planned, Severus,” Professor Rosier replied. “It was just lucky that Mr. Malfoy was already in my office when they showed up asking questions, otherwise things might not have worked out so well.”

“Yes, well,” Snape went on coldly. “Being too nosy to live runs in Potter’s family, so you should have expected no less. Why don’t you introduce us all, Ivy, and then we’ll tell them why they’re here.” He walked out from behind them as he spoke and turned to face them all.

Hailey gasped in horror as she stared up at the face of Severus Snape. If you could call the grotesque, red raw flesh surrounding a pair of hollow black eyes a face. The curse that had been inflicted upon him by Argo’s grandfather had apparently distorted his features beyond any sort of human comprehension. His nose was nothing more than a hole where there should have been bone and skin, and his lipless mouth was spread into a wide, sneering grin that made him look more monstrous than ever. Hailey felt Argo shudder beside her, and saw him turn away out of the corner of her eye.

“What’s the matter, Mr. Malfoy,” Snape hissed, his featureless face smiling grotesquely. “Don’t you appreciate your grandfather’s handiwork?”

Argo didn’t answer; he merely forced himself to meet Snape’s gaze again. Hailey knew that this was his way of trying to be brave, but she could tell that he was finding it difficult not to scream in horror. Kieran, too, was horrified by Snape’s appearance, but was doing a much better job at hiding his disgust than Argo.

“Where are my mum and my brother,” Hailey asked, sounding much braver than she felt.

“I was wondering how you had managed to keep your mouth shut for this long Potter,” Snape said dangerously, turning his freakish gaze toward Hailey instead. “You will see your brother soon enough. But, for now, we have a lot to talk about. Ivy, why don’t you explain to our guests how they got here.”

“I know why we’re here,” Hailey interrupted. “You want revenge on my father for killing Voldemort and putting you into Azkaban.”

“Those are obvious and valid reasons for me to kill you,” Snape agreed. “However, there is much more to tell.” He gestured again at Professor Rosier.

“It all started with your father, Hailey,” Professor Rosier said coldly, her beautiful face contorted with a rage that Hailey had never seen before. Kieran looked at her in disbelief as she spoke. He had trusted her, after all, even cared for her.
“You see, if it weren’t for your father, my brother would still be alive.”

“What,” Argo said, looking at Professor Rosier in surprise.

“Keep your mouth shut Mr. Malfoy,” Snape hissed, gesturing toward Professor Rosier to continue.

“Your father killed my brother, Atticus,” Professor Rosier hissed.

“You’re mad,” Hailey muttered, staring at Professor Rosier as though she’d never seen her before. “I read about what happened to your brother…he was an Auror and he vanished while he was working for the ministry…”

“He was working as a double agent for the PPS,” Professor Rosier went on. “He was following a lead based on information your father gave him when he vanished. He told me all about how Harry Potter never trusted him…how Harry Potter was constantly spying on him, hoping to catch him doing something illegal. The last time we talked, he told me about how he was afraid for his life because of the mess he was in with an investigation. Three days later, he was gone, and Harry Potter had been promoted into his old job.”

“Was it my father who convinced you of that,” Argo interrupted her, his face pale and expressionless. “Or, did you come to the wrong conclusion on your own?”

“Will you please just let me finish,” Professor Rosier cried angrily. “I’ve waited for years to be able to avenge my brother, and...”

“You’re anger is misdirected, Professor,” Argo went on bravely, interrupting her again. “Harry Potter didn’t kill your brother.”

“Don’t talk about things you don’t understand, boy,” Professor Rosier hissed, focusing her full attention on Argo now.

“My grandfather killed your brother, Professor,” Argo said unflinchingly. “I watched him do it.”




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