Chapter 1 : Rylan
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This story is undergoing revision, and I plan to hopefully be writing it once again. Reviews on the revised version would be much appreciated!
Chapter 1: revised 11/2/2011
Enjoy! And let me know what you think!
Chapter Graphic by Jeanie at The Dark Arts
"Lily, we have to do something,” twenty-five-year-old James Potter whispered, wrapping his arms around his wife's frail body.
Lily shuddered against his body, feeling tremors shaker her shoulders and a gush of cold air reach her body. She sniffed and squeezed his arm, sending all her worry to his body. She needed him there to protect her. He was her fortress of strength and protection. He had always been there to hold her when she turned to him in her times of need. He had yet to fail her in supporting her in any way she needed, even when he himself struggled with his own inner conflicts. She nodded against his chest and whispered, "I know..."
James kissed her head sweetly as Lily drew away and looked down to the floor. James sighed heavily, pushing back her fiery hair. "Rylan is not safe. He has to go somewhere else,” he whispered as he brushed a kiss against her damp forehead.
"J-James, how do you expect me to depart with our him? He’s our son," she sobbed.
James soothed to her and wiped the tears from her cheeks, whispering, "I don't want to do it either, Lily, but we need to. If we want to keep Rylan safe, we must. We can't risk losing both of our children because of this."
"But if we go through with this, we may never see Rylan again," she whispered, lifting her head to her husband's gaze.
James pursed his lips together and felt tears in his eyes as he looked into hers. The sound of their son’s cries arose and Lily tried to keep herself from sobbing. She tried to imagine the twenty-two month old child upstairs dying, his cries falling into the distance. She sobbed loudly at the thought and James tried to envelope her into his arms, but she refused for him to do so. She nodded and whispered before making her way up the stairs to take her child into her arms. "All right. We have to send him away. We have to keep him safe."
"No, please! Please, Ms. Cassidy! You can't," eighteen-year-old Rylan begged with the woman who had always cared for him, who had raised him as her own at the small orphanage outside of London. He was in the backyard with her, Ms. Cassidy wanting to speak to Rylan where the other children couldn't hear. The raven haired man ran forward and took the woman's hands into his own. He begged, "Please! You can't. I have nowhere to go, I know no one, and I have no money! You can't just stick me on the streets."
"Rylan, dear," the kind, middle-aged woman began, shaking her head. "You know you were supposed to move out when you turned eighteen. I was kind enough to let you stay longer. I just can't support you anymore. The city won't allow it. I don't have the money to continue supporting you."
"I-I..." Rylan rambled quickly, trying to keep a roof over his head. "I-I'll get a job! I'll get a job and pay you until I've saved up enough for me to move out and find my own place! Please! I just need somewhere to stay."
Ms. Cassidy pursed her lips and put her hands on her hips. She looked into his hazel eyes and sighed heavily. "All right. Tomorrow you will go out to find a job. You're such a bright boy, Rylan. You deserve something more, and I'm sorry I can't give it to you. I can't pay for you to go to university, and the city won't either."
Rylan nodded sternly and straightened up, sighing. He felt as if a great burden had been released. He closed his eyes and slowly felt a sense of serenity come rushing back. "Thank you, Ms. Cassidy. Don't worry. I don't have to go to university."
Ms. Cassidy nodded and continued pinning the laundry onto the clothes line to let it dry. Rylan bent down to help her and he said, "Ms. Cassidy, earlier you mentioned something about me finding my birth parents. Is it true? Can I find out who they are?"
"Yes," the woman nodded, "you can find out who they are, and you may even get to meet them in person if your parents agree."
"I want to meet them," Rylan said sternly, pinning the clothes to the line. He sighed and placed his hands on his hips. "I want to know who they are."
"As do I," Ms. Cassidy smiled, chuckling as she hung the last piece of clothing. She wiped her hands on her apron and then bent down to pick up the basket. She held it against her hip and smiled to Rylan. "I want to know who would give up such an amazing boy."
Rylan smiled lightly and looked down to the ground. He shuffled his feet against the green earth as Ms. Cassidy touched his chin, making him look at her. "But, hey, even though they lost the best boy they could ever meet, I gained the best son in the world."
Rylan smiled, feeling his heart grow warm, and he walked up the steps with her, asking as he shoved his hands into his pockets. "You really think of me as a son?"
"Of course I do, Rylan," Ms. Cassidy laughed. "How do you expect me to not? You've been living with me at the orphanage for nearly seventeen years. All those couples that came by and considered adopting yo, lost so much when they chose not to. They were making the dumbest decisions of their life."
Rylan chuckled as he opened the door for her, and he stepped inside, closing it behind her. He sighed and folded his arms across his chest as Ms. Cassidy disappeared into the kitchen.
Rylan rubbed his eyes tiredly and yawned, stretching his long arms. He tried to think back to all the times when couples had come by to adopt and had almost chosen Rylan. Something had always stopped them though, and only Rylan and his favorite friend at the orphanage knew why they hadn't taken him. When he got angry, sad, or a bit too excited, something so odd would happen around him. It was always something that couldn't be explained. Once when he was six, he had been playing in the backyard, being watched by a not-too-friendly couple who were thinking about adopting him. Rylan had gotten so angry when he learned of the people's manners. He felt something boil inside of him, and he couldn't control it. When a flock of birds flew overhead, they all dropped dead to the ground.
Another time Rylan had made all the windows of the orphanage shatter with his anger. He had never told anyone that he was at fault for that matter. He knew he was different in some way. He was certain of that. He just didn't know how he was different. He couldn't explain all the odd things that happened to him. Even though he was raised by Ms. Cassidy, who had assured him when he asked that there was no such thing as magic, he knew, deep down, that she was wrong about that. There had to be some explanation for everything that revolved around him. He just couldn't put his finger on it.
That night Rylan sat in his favorite spot, gazing out the large window in the boys' room, staring at the full moon. He looked to the stars and sighed heavily as he sat in the large window sill. He looked to the six other boys, each sleeping in their beds. Rylan was the oldest. He was the oldest of every other orphan at the orphanage, the only one who had not been adopted. The six boys' ages ranged from five to fourteen, Rylan, the seventh boy, being nearly nineteen.
It was in the early hours of morning, Rylan knew that; however, he just couldn't bring himself to rise and crawl into his bed. He gazed out the window until he heard the door open and he turned his head. He heard Lexi's soft voice. "Ry? Is that you? Are you awake?"
"Yeah, it's me, Lexi. Come on in," Rylan said softly, letting his head fall against the wall softly. He sighed as the small, four-year-old girl walked into view, the moonlight making her face look paler than usual. He stretched out his legs and patted them softly, motioning for her to climb up. She sucked her thumb as she crawled into Rylan's lap and situated herself, wrapping her blanket around her body. She said happily, offering a corner to Rylan. "Here. You are cold too."
"No, I'm fine. Thank you," Rylan smiled, touching the girl's blond hair softly. The tiny girl situated herself into Rylan's lap and let her head fall against his chest. She used him as a pillow and sighed. After a moment, she whispered, "Macy woke me up and I couldn't get back to sleep, so I came over here. I knew you would be awake."
"Of course," he sighed, smoothing back her blond hair. He smiled as he looked to his best friend, the little girl who he could relate to the most. Lexi was a small child who had been at the orphanage since her birth and, at the time, Rylan had still been the oldest orphan around and Ms. Cassidy had needed help, so Rylan had volunteered to help take care of the new baby, that baby being Lexi Kidwell.
She asked in a soft voice, pulling her thumb out of her mouth, "Why do you stay up so late, Ry?"
Rylan shrugged and wrapped his arms around her. She giggled as he did so and Rylan rocked her back and forth, chuckling at her soft laughter. He whispered. "I guess I just like it. It's always so peaceful and calm."
"It's pretty," Lexi said happily. They entered silence and Lexi asked after a moment, her voice high-pitched and seeming as if nothing could bring down the girl's happiness. "What did Ms. Cassidy talk to you about today?"
Rylan sighed heavily and turned to look back out the window. He whispered, "I'm going to go look for a job tomorrow. 'Cause you know that I'm too old to stay here and I have to move away soon. I'm just getting a head start and saving up some money."
"Ry, what if I never go to live with a family like you?" she asked, looking up to his face from his lap. Rylan pursed his lips together and shook his head, touching her nose. "It won't happen. I can promise you that, Lexi. You're too perfect to not go and live with a family. Some people are going to be very lucky to have you in their lives someday. Just like how I'm lucky to have you."
She didn't say anything and then asked, "Why weren't you adopted, Ry?"
Rylan sighed heavily. Couples had stopped looking into adopting Rylan when he was twelve, he becoming so old. He spoke softly, "Because I'm different, Lexi. You know that. You know what I've done. I would be adopted if it weren't for those things."
"Oh," Lexi said. "You'll come visit me, right?"
"What do you mean, Lex?" Rylan asked as he kissed her head. Lexi looked out the window and touched the cold window pane, the tip of her frail finger turning white. She said, "When you move out, will you come visit me?"
"Of course I will," Rylan smiled. He sighed and made a promise, "And I promise that if someone hasn't come along to adopt you, then, maybe when you're older and so am I, I can adopt you."
"Yay!" she said enthusiastically, "Then we can be together all the time!"
Rylan chuckled and nodded, "That's right."
He swallowed a lump in his throat and sighed heavily, closing his eyes. He felt sleep take over him and he felt Lexi move for a second until she found a comfortable position in his lap and fell asleep. When he heard her breathe even out in sleep, Rylan felt free to close his eyes and drift asleep.
Rylan walked the streets of London the next day, grumbling under his breath. He kicked at the ground as he had no luck in job searching once again. He walked with his hands in his pockets and his lips tightly pursed together in a straight line, trying to hold back his screams of annoyance. A window to a clothing store shattered as Rylan walked by and Rylan squeezed his eyes shut and walked away innocently as people began crowding it with confusion. He murmured, "Bloody hell..."
He heard someone shouting, but he didn't pay attention to it. He kept his eyes down, his long and raven hair falling into his face. He knew the people nearest him had seen him in position to be the culprit in smashing the window, so they peered at his hands for an object that could have done the job. However, seeing nothing, they looked at him in confusion.
All of the sudden, he felt a tug on his arm and he found himself staring into the face of a brown haired woman who couldn't have been any older than he was. She was saying eagerly, "Harry! Harry, where have you been?! I haven't seen you since the wedding! And what are you doing out on the streets like this?!"
When the woman spotted his face, she clamped her mouth shut and said innocently. "Oh, forgive me. I'm sorry. I thought you were someone I knew."
"Oh, no. It's all right." Rylan shrugged, continuing to walk down the street as the woman stared at him as if she had seen him a million times over before. She said, quickly walking back to his side, "Wait a second. You look an awful lot like him. What's your name?"
"My name is Rylan," he said feebly, mesmerized by the girl’s face. It was heart-shaped, and her eyes were the shade of a brown chestnut, her hair a smooth milk chocolate. She smiled lightly and held out her hand, saying softly, "I'm Hermione Granger."
"Hi, Hermione," Rylan said lightly, shaking her hand. She chuckled, folding her arms across her chest and asked. "Does this Rylan have a last name?"
Rylan looked to her and pursed his lips together. He chuckled, looking down to the street and shook his head. He nearly whispered, finding it hard to voice out what he needed to say."Actually, no. I don't, but if I do, I have absolutely no idea what it is."
"Oh." Hermione said quickly, biting her lip, wondering if she had butted into his personal life. "I'm sorry to hear that."
"No, it's all right," Rylan shrugged lightly. "I live at the orphanage outside of London. I have all my life."
"O-Oh," Hermione pursed her lips together, saying softly, "forgive me. I'm sorry."
"It's all right," Rylan chuckled, looking to her. "Really. You didn't know. How could I have expected you to know?"
She blushed and shrugged, nodding slightly. "I guess you're right."
She then said quickly, inspecting the tall man next to her. "But you've got to be, what? Nineteen?"
"Yes," Rylan nodded, "I'm eighteen, but I'll be nineteen soon. I have nowhere to go. I couldn't bear with leaving the orphanage."
"Well, that's sweet of you," Hermione said lightly. Rylan smiled gently to her and continued walking. He wondered if she would continue to follow him, asking him questions until it drove him mad. They walked in silence, and Rylan felt awkward walking next to the girl he had just met. Sure, he was used to having his fair share of conversation with women, but never had this happened. Sure, he wasn't a great student at school and sometimes the professors would find him snogging a girl in the hall, but he hadn't ever found himself so mesmerized by such a woman before. He cleared his throat and said, "S-So, what are you doing around here today?"
"Well," Hermione shrugged, "I was out looking for someone."
"Harry?" Rylan asked. Hermione pursed her lips and Rylan could see her hesitation, but after a moment she nodded. She was silent and then burst, "God, you just look so much like him!"
Rylan chuckled and shrugged. Hermione whipped her head around at the sound of cruel voices. She stopped Rylan's walking as he asked her, "What is it?"
"T-They're here..." she mumbled, more to herself than to Rylan. She spoke quickly, looking as if she would bolt at any second. "I-I'm sorry, but I've got to go! It was nice meeting you!"
"W-Wait!" Rylan said quickly as she ran down an alley way. He followed her as she sprinted into the alley way. Rylan found it easy to keep up with her and he asked her as she tried to run away. "Who's here?"
"J-Just..." Hermione began stuttering, but she wasted no time in finishing.
“I’ve got to go,” she blurted, and then she was sprinting down the alley way.
Rylan stood there for many moments, confused as he watched her go, and he turned to look at the entrance of the alley way where five men rounded the corner and were fast approaching. They stopped in their tracks, surprised at the sight before them. They were wearing peculiar clothes that reminded Rylan oddly of robes, and they held wooden sticks in their hands as if it were a threat. He wanted to laugh at their stupidity, but there was something about the ferocity of their faces that kept him from bursting into fits of laughter. They shouted in cruel excitement. “It’s Potter! POTTER!”
He heard Hermione gasp at the end of the alley way, and she whipped around in worry. Whatever the men had said had set something off within her, for her reaction was intensified at the name of Potter. She bolted back towards Rylan, latching onto his hand, and she was tugging him off down the alleyway just as soon as she had hold of him.
She said quickly, "I’m sorry I brought you into this. You have to come with me now!”
Hermione made a quick turn into a different alley and Rylan stumbled after her. She burst into a tight space as they rounded the corner and tugged Rylan inside. The space was really only made for one person. She placed her hands on Rylan's stomach and pulled him inside, his body coming to a halt in front of hers. She panted and drew out her own stick, and Rylan watched with raised eyebrows as she waved it and murmured things that made no sense.
Losing his breath from the closeness, he felt Hermione grip his arms and hold him there. She said in a tired voice, "Don't leave until I say you can."
Rylan only nodded and continued trying to regain his breath. He could feel her heated breathing against his chest, he standing around a foot taller than her, and he could feel her chest pressed against his abs, one of her legs shaking between his. She averted her gaze away from Rylan's chest, just now noticing how defined his body was by muscle, and she turned to peek through the opening, seeing those five men run by. She pursed her lips together and sighed as Rylan asked in a whisper. "Who are they?"
"People who will be after me until it's all over,” Hermione said, whispering as she watched the five men pacing back and forth in the empty col-de-sac. One cursed loudly, and another threw his hands into the air, shouting, "We have to find them!!"
Hermione closed her eyes and whispered again, "They can't see or hear us now. They think you're Harry. I'm sorry to drag you into this."
"T-That's okay," he stuttered, looking down to the woman pressed against his body. She breathed heavily until the men disappeared with a loud crack. Rylan gasped as they suddenly vanished, gone, disappearing from sight. After a moment, Hermione sighed and stepped out of the small space, pulling Rylan along. Rylan stuttered, "W-What did they do? W-Where did they go?"
Hermione turned around, her stick raised and she shook her head, saying, "I'm sorry. I think we could have been friends. Obli - !"
"Wait!" Rylan shouted, running forward and lowering it from her grasp. Hermione pursed her lips and waited to see what Rylan had to say. He said in a rush, "Please don't do whatever you're about to do. I know it can't be good, b-but I have questions. I-Is there such thing as magic?"
Hermione bit her lip and then nodded slowly. She squeaked out, "Yes."
Rylan said in a rush, "Then I have to know. Odd things happen around me all the time. I-I made a flock of birds drop dead once, and I make glass shatter all the time. Such weird things happen around me. Could you explain it?"
Sighing, Hermione stared at Rylan in amazement. She spoke in a quiet voice, "W-Well, if you truly were a wizard, then you would have received your letter. I'm sorry I can't help you."
Rylan hesitated and then nodded, saying in soft voice, feeling put down. "All right. I understand."
Hermione walked forward and touched his arm gently, "I'm really sorry I can't help, but I have a friend that I can ask. Maybe I'll ask him and I could catch up with you later?"
Rylan smiled and nodded, whispering, "That would be nice. I'd really like to know anything there is to know..."
Hermione nodded a little bit and titled her head to the side. "I understand. I'll let you know then. It was nice to meet you, Rylan. I'll be in touch."
And with that she disappeared with the same noise the five men had just left with. Rylan blinked a few times and then rubbed his eyes, slightly hoping that maybe he would wake up in his bed at the orphanage. When he opened his eyes and he looked around the alley way, he realized that he hadn't been dreaming or imagining it. He bit his lip and lifted his eyebrows, huffing. He kicked a pebble before setting off down the street, letting his thoughts of the most recent events stew in his mind in a heap of bewilderment.
That night Hermione Granger sat on the stairs in the hallway of the Burrow, listening intently to Remus, Tonks, Mad-Eye, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley talk vigorously to one another in the kitchen. Ron came up behind her and settled, saying softly, "Hey."
Hermione looked to him, smiled, and then focused her attention back to the adults arguing in the kitchen. If she was discovered, they would cease the conversation immediately.
"I'm telling you, Arthur! It's him!" Remus said in a hiss. He gripped the chair with his hands until his knuckles turned white, looking to the others intently. Tonks was watching them eagerly, trying to decide whether Remus' thoughts were correct.
Arthur said quickly in a hushed whisper, "How can you know, Remus?! There are hundreds of Rylans out there! How can you know if it’s him for sure?!"
"You heard what Hermione said, Arthur! Look at the facts right in front of your nose! She said that the boy looked exactly like Harry, was almost nineteen, and odd things happened around him! It has to be him. It's got to be!"
"We can't go assuming things, Remus," Moody growled from against the counter. He pulled his glass eye out of a goblet full of water, and he popped it back into its socket.
Remus said quickly, straightening his body. "Fine. If you don't believe me, then let me meet the boy. I will meet him and then we will know for sure. We can have his blood tested!"
"It's risky, Remus," Molly said, shaking her head. She spoke softly, "What if it's not him? And what if we go through all these tests to find out that it's not Rylan Potter?"
Hermione clamped a hand over her mouth as Ron was about to splutter out, "Rylan Po - "
Hermione slapped his chest, and he silenced. They listened even more intently as Remus spoke in a weary voice, "I promised James and Lily that I would watch over their son. I've failed to do that. Rylan fell off of the grid when he was just a boy and Dumbledore had that arranged on purpose. Rylan was sent away so he would be safe. He disabled Rylan's Hogwarts letter because if Rylan went to Hogwarts, then Albus would have broken his promise to James. What if this is really him? What if this is really Harry's brother...?"