chapter 2 revised: June 2012
Chapter Graphic by Jeanie at The Dark Arts
Hermione rose from the stairs and grabbed onto Ron's arm, tugging him up. He stumbled along and Hermione burst into his bedroom, shutting the door behind them. She turned to him, her eyes wide and stuttered, "Harry has a brother?!"
"No." Ron shook his head, lifting his lips in a confused manner. "How is that possible? Harry would have known. We
would have known. How could something as big as this stay a secret all these years?"
"You heard what Remus said! It's as easy as that," Hermione said, snapping her fingers for the emphasis. Ron sat down on his bed and folded his arms across his chest, thinking hard.
He pondered for many moments and then asked, "How like Harry are we talking about?"
"I'm telling you. I was so certain it was Harry when I saw him on the streets. It...It was
Harry except for hazel eyes! Only his back was turned, so I couldn’t see his eyes before. And Ron, you know me. I wouldn’t jeopardize everything like that to run up to a stranger and declare he’s Harry Potter! I was certain it was him," Hermione said, beginning to pace.
Ron turned his head to gaze out the window and murmured, "I wonder where he is...I can't believe he left like that."
"Well, I knew it was coming. It's the typical thing for Harry to do: leave in the dead of night with no clues to the ones he's leaving behind as to where he is going. You saw the look on his face after the funeral when we told him we would follow. You could tell that he wouldn't let us do it." Hermione sat down opposite of Ron and huffed loudly. She began staring out the window as Ron was doing and sighed, "He's been gone so long. I just wish that he would let us know if he was all right."
"He won't though. Even I know that." Ron shook his head, looking to Hermione. "He's not going to come home until all of those horcruxes are destroyed. He’s too thick to accept that he can’t do this alone."
"Yes, I know." Hermione nodded. She sighed and rose, passing Ron. She whispered a feeble goodnight to him before walking down the hall and entering Ginny's bedroom where she was staying during her visit at the Burrow. Ginny turned in her bed and asked, "What are they talking about down there? They're being so bloody loud..."
Hermione nodded in the darkness of Ginny's bedroom and closed the door. She stumbled over to the dresser she was using and opened one of the drawers as she replied, "They're talking about that guy I met today. Rylan."
"He's just a guy. Knowing him isn't going to change the whole world." she mumbled tiredly. Hermione lifted her eyebrows at that comment, thinking about how truly ironic it was. She pulled her blouse above her head and unclasped her bra, pulling out her pajama shirt. She pulled it over her head, and then she slipped out of her jeans, replacing them with her bottoms.
She sighed heavily and put her clothes in a pile next to the dresser. She ran her fingers through her hair and said quietly, "Actually, he is kind of important. I just can't believe what a coincidence it was that I ran into him."
"Why's he so important?" she asked, turning onto her side to see Hermione's shadow crawling into the bed across the room.
Hermione replied, sighing as her head hit the pillow softly. "They think he's Harry's brother."
"What?!" Ginny hissed into the room.
Hermione smiled lightly, knowing that Ginny was going to react somewhat like that. She sighed and turned, pulling the covers up over her body, "Ron and I overheard them talking downstairs. Well, we were more of eavesdropping, but Remus was saying that this might really be Harry's brother, and your mum asked how we could know for sure if this was really Rylan Potter. I guess Harry's parents gave up their first son to keep him safe."
"Sounds like the Potter thing," Ginny murmured. “I still…I don’t believe it.”
Hermione turned onto her back and folded her arms above her head, entwining her fingers. She ignored Ginny’s last comment; she couldn’t convince Ginny any more than she already had. She had no further proof, and Hermione knew this was a pivotal moment. Ginny would come to understand it in her own time. Instead, Hermione commented on Ginny’s first sarcastic statement.
"It does, doesn't it? I just can't believe that it's never gotten out before. Harry has a brother,
and your parents, Sirius, Remus, Dumbledore, Mad-Eye...everyone! Everyone knew that he had a brother and never said anything."
Hermione sat up and burst, "What rotten people! After all these times when Harry's needed family! He's always had it and they never told him about it! Now, he's off all by himself when he really does have someone!"
"What's he doing out there, Hermione...?" Ginny squeaked. Her voice seemed to grow more and more distant as she asked this question.
Hermione sighed and grabbed the sheet off her bed, wrinkling it in her tight grasp. Hermione lay back down and whispered, closing her eyes, "He's doing what he has to, Ginny."
"What a stupid, noble, masochistic thing to do. But I know..." Ginny whispered back. She turned the other way, looking away from Hermione and murmuring under her breath, "I just wish what he had to do wasn't so dangerous."
"Don't worry, Gin," Hermione whispered, her eyes drooping heavily with sleep. She sighed before letting her eyes remain shut, drifting off to sleep. "He'll be home soon."
"Hey, Rylan! Think fast!" John shouted from the backyard, throwing a baseball to him. Rylan turned around, pausing in his conversation with the other boys. He caught it easily, chucking it back to John, shouting, "You've got to do better than that, John!"
"Damn it..." John muttered, kicking the grass. He had tried over and over to toss something Rylan's way and see him not
catch it, but it seemed as though Rylan couldn't
miss a catch. Rylan turned back and continued talking to the other boys, wanting to hear about the woman he had met in London two days ago. Rylan smirked as he told them, their eyes wide at the story of her beauty he wove.
They all laughed, and Rylan turned around, just moments before the baseball would have hit him in the head. He lifted his arm quickly and caught it, tsking John, and throwing it back to him with ease. Ms. Cassidy's voice sounded from the back porch and she shouted out, "Rylan! Someone is here to see you!"
Rylan paused his conversation with the other boys and looked up the stairs. He never had visitors. It had to be Hermione. Just like she promised. In a way, Rylan was surprised. He hadn’t expected her to keep her end of the bargain, but he was thrilled to know that she had.
"It's her," Rylan whispered, bounding up the steps as the boys wanted to eagerly follow. Rylan entered the house, passing Ms. Cassidy, and veered into the entrance hallway where Lexi ran into him, stumbling backwards. Rylan chuckled and grabbed onto Lexi as she nearly fell over, "Wow. Watch it there, Lexi. You and your mad speed could have knocked me over!"
"You really think so?!" she burst eagerly, leaping up into Rylan's arms.
Rylan chuckled and nodded, saying sarcastically as he made his way to the front door, "Oh, yes. I do! I could have fallen over! One day, you're going to be the fastest thing ever if you don't start slowing down now!"
Lexi giggled, and Rylan grinned at the girl. He gound it strange that such a young girl could be his best friend, but she was. It was simpler that way. Lexi was young enough to not question the strange things Rylan did on occasion; she still believed in miracles, magic, and fairy tales. To Lexi, Rylan wasn’t crazy or a freak. He was special, and she made Rylan feel at home.
With anyone else at the arrival of such an important visitor, Rylan would have shooed them off. But this was Lexi, and whatever Rylan knew, Lexi could know as well. So he gladly carried her on his hip and let her toy with the long locks of raven hair above his ear.
He turned to face the guests at the front door. His smile widened even more when he saw Hermione beaming at him and an unfamiliar man behind her. After thinking he would never see her again, it was a thrill to see her standing before him once more. The man, however, was staring at Rylan so intently that he began to feel self-conscious.
Rylan straightened and held out his free hand to Hermione, smiling. "Hey, Hermione. I didn't really think you were serious."
"Of course I was," Hermione said, tilting her head to the side. She gladly shook Rylan’s hand and inclined her head to Lexi. Hermione bit her lip and motioned towards the man with shaggy brown hair and a scarred face behind her. "This is my friend, Remus Lupin."
"Hi, Remus," Rylan said in a kind voice, offering him his hand. Remus disregarded his hand and instead, focused on the boy's features. He stepped forward, staring at Rylan intently, and whispered, "It really is you. Y-You're...I can't believe it..."
"S-Sorry. Who?" Rylan asked, quirking up his eyebrows. He looked to Hermione with an odd expression and she swallowed, looking down as Remus gently touched Rylan's shoulder, and then quickly grasped it. Remus said eagerly, "It really is you, and you look just like them both. I never thought I’d see you all grown up. The last time I saw you, you were sleeping in your mother's arms..."
That sent up a flag for Rylan. He grew stiff and hoped Lexi didn’t notice his new tension in his grasp about her. He whispered to her as he set her on the ground, "Why don't you go play in the back with John? Show him how to really
throw a baseball."
Lexi giggled and skittered down the hallway.
"You know my mother?" Rylan asked. He motioned for the two to step back and allow him room on the front porch. For the moment, he didn’t care if it seemed rude that he hadn’t invited them inside. This was not a conversation that he wanted any of the other children to hear.
Remus nodded and smiled lightly, "Of course. She was an unbelievably kind woman. Your father was such a great friend of mine. We were like brothers."
Rylan's face began to glow with happiness. Finally someone who could tell him about his family. Remus asked after a moment, "How long have you been here, Rylan?"
"For as long as I can remember," he shrugged in reply. "Seventeen years..."
"May I speak with the woman who runs this orphanage?" Remus asked, straightening and finally looking at Rylan in a more polite way.
Rylan swallowed and nodded, opening the door and allowing them to enter.
He led them through the hallway and out onto the back porch where Ms. Cassidy sat, happily reading a book. Rylan touched her shoulder gently and said, "Ms. Cassidy, this man would like to speak to you."
Ms. Cassidy lowered her book and stood, walking to Remus. As Ms. Cassidy and Remus entered conversation, Rylan paid no heed to them and he walked to Hermione, pursing his lips. He then smiled as he caught sight of John, trying to show off. Rylan chuckled to her as she giggled, "Ignore them. John, there, thinks he's just the coolest person in the world."
Hermione laughed loudly as one of the other boys chucked the ball across the yard and hit John, making him grimace and begin shouting at the other one. Rylan chuckled, and Hermione began speaking, "I can't help but think about how lucky we both are that we ran into each other the other day. I think you're going to be really surprised to hear what Remus has to tell you."
Rylan smiled and whispered, "Maybe I'll finally get to meet my parents. Maybe I even have a sister, or a brother."
Hermione looked down and pursed her lips together. Rylan noticed her sudden mood swing and asked softly, "What?"
"Nothing," she shook her head quickly. Lexi came bounding up the steps and tugged on Rylan's legs.
Rylan looked down to her and heaved her up into his arms again, saying, "Let me introduce you properly, eh? Lexi, this is Hermione. Hermione, meet my best girl."
Lexi spoke quickly, wrapping her arms around the boy’s neck, "Rylan's mine! You can’t have him."
Hermione giggled and shook her head, "Don't worry, Lexi. I'm not here to take him from you. You can have him."
Lexi giggled as Rylan smiled, and she clung to his neck. Inside, Rylan felt his insides jump at her comment. She knew she was just kidding when he looked to her and she winked to him.
That evening, Remus and Hermione were still at the orphanage. Rylan had given up on trying to squeeze information out of the two when he went to go talk to them. The other children had retreated to bed, and Ms. Cassidy and Remus were still speaking heatedly. They had been at it for hours. Rylan sat on the top landing of the stairs up to the second floor, his legs stretched out in front of him, listening in on Ms. Cassidy and Remus. Hermione walked out of the kitchen, sighing. She spotted Rylan and smiled to him as she settled herself one step below Rylan, looking up to him.
"I wonder when they're going to end this. I think they could go on for hours."
"They probably could," Rylan sighed, shaking his head. He had always been a patient boy, but sitting there and being unable to make anything of their conversation was sucking him dry of his patience. Knowing Remus would hold answers for him, he was becoming desperate.
He said to divert his growing impatience, "It's hard to get Ms. Cassidy to keep quiet."
Hermione giggled and then said, "She seems like a very nice woman."
"She is," he nodded.
Hermione looked down to her lap, twiddling her thumbs in a nervous way, and then began to speak, "Rylan, I don't know if I should be telling you this. Remus might become infuriated with me, but I think you have the right to know right now."
"O-Oh," Rylan said eagerly, straightening up, interested. "What is it?"
"W-Well, y-you have a brother. Harry. Harry is your brother..." Hermione finished, pursing her lips together and waiting for his reaction.
Rylan's eyebrows lifted immensely and he opened his mouth to speak, but found himself at loss for words.
"U-Um...Wow, b-but if I have a brother, why isn't he here with me? Or why didn't I know of him years ago?" he stuttered.
"Harry wasn't sent to an orphanage," Hermione whispered.
Rylan looked down to his lap and then nodded, "Oh. I see.”
An uncomfortable silence fell over the two of them as Hermione pondered her next words.
Rylan mused his deeper thoughts with depression. “Harry got to stay and live with my parents while they sent me away to live here, didn’t he?”
"No." Hermione shook her head quickly, trying to change his thoughts, "That's not what happened at all. I overheard Remus last night talking to my friend parents. Your parents sent you away to keep you safe because of something that was made about Harry. They sent you away to keep you safe."
"B-But..." Rylan looked down and then whispered, "If they knew I was here, knew I was alive, why didn't they come by and ever visit me? This doesn't make sense. I-If I have a brother..."
"It's very difficult to explain and understand, but I'm sure everyone will tell you all you need to know. I don't even know what happened. Remus doesn't even know that I know that you're Harry's brother,” Hermione said, trying to reassure him after seeing the look on his face. She took his hand and squeezed it gently. "But this explains why I thought you were Harry. You look just like him."
Rylan let the color rise to his cheeks as Hermione squeezed his hand gently and leaned against the wall. He looked away and stuttered out, "H-How old is Harry? What is our last name?"
"Harry's seventeen. Your last name is Potter."
"Rylan Potter..." he whispered, saying his name. The name rolled nicely off his tongue. He felt like an entirely different person, as if he had only realized that half of his life had been missing.
Hermione smiled as he took in his name and she squeezed his hand in a reassuring way, "Don't worry. The Potters have always been great people. Harry's too heroic to spare a moment for himself, and I'm sure you the same."
Rylan smiled and let his head gently hit the wall. He asked in a whisper, "How do you know my brother?"
"I went to school with him," Hermione said, sighing and looking away, trying to peer into the kitchen to catch a glimpse of Ms. Cassidy and Remus. She was unsuccessful, so she turned her head back and continued to speak. "I've known Harry for six years."
She chuckled and sighed. "We've been through so much together. Harry, Ron, and I have been together all these years. Harry's going to be happy to finally hear that he has what he's always wanted."
"What's that?" Rylan asked in a whisper, his large hand beginning to sweat in her small one. He waited for her reply, but it didn't come. Instead, she responded with a weak voice,
"Harry left in the middle of June. No one has seen him since. We don't know where he is and we don't know when he is coming back. He left in the middle of the night and didn't even leave a note behind. He's out there, doing what he has to to win this battle."
"What battle?" Rylan asked again, turning towards her.
Hermione looked to her legs and said, "In the Wizarding world, we have good and bad. The people who side for the bad and completely dedicate themselves to the dark side, are called Death Eaters. Amongst them, they follow one man...N-Named Lord V-Voldemort. A prophecy was created before Harry was born about Voldemort and your brother. The prophecy said that, in the end, they would have to kill the other, but to do that, Harry has things that need to be done. We all know that a battle waits around any of the million possible corners. We just don't know when..."
"Y-You mean...There are people out there who possess magic and are plotting a war?" Rylan stuttered.
Hermione nodded, "Yes. That's exactly what I'm saying."
"No one knows. Our best answer: because one prophecy says so.”
Three Months Earlier
Harry Potter quickly moved to turn off the alarm clock blaring in Ron's room. He bolted up and it took him a moment to remember why he had set his alarm for two in the morning. He looked down, sighing heavily, when he remembered that this was it. He was leaving. For good, too...
He didn't ever plan on coming back, and he would most likely never see his friends again...
Never see Ginny again...
He closed his eyes briefly as he pulled off his pajama bottoms and replaced them with his jeans and put a t-shirt on quickly. He put socks on and slipped into his shoes. He brought out a bag that he had hidden from beneath his bed and shoved his pajama pants into them, walking to the dresser and grabbing all his clothes and shoving them into the bag as well. Quickly he shoved his wand into his pocket and walked to the door, turning back only once to catch his final glimpse of his best mate, sleeping as if nothing was wrong, when really everything
was slowly turning upside down.
Harry sighed and groaned inwardly, thinking about how lucky Ron Weasley was to have such a happy life, such a happy family, and he left the room. He walked down the hall as silently as he could and grabbed his belongings from the bathroom. Zipping it shut, he murmured an incantation and it shrunk so he could easily slip it into his pocket.
He felt as if he were betraying Mr. and Mrs. Weasley by leaving the safety of their hospitality in the middle of the night like this, but he couldn't help it. He knew that he had to do what he thought was right.
He crept down the halls and passed by the door that led to Ginny's room. He had never been in, but he felt a sudden urge to peek into it, to see her sleeping form, if only for this one time.
Slowly, he wrapped his large hand around the door knob and turned it, pushing open the door. He heard her soft breathing and felt his heart stop for a moment. He slowly entered, wanting to make as little sound as possible.
Her room was small yet cozy, and pictures of Ginny and her friends covered her walls, along with a few of Ron, Hermione, and even himself. Harry smiled lightly, just barely able to see the outline of the moving pictures on the walls through the hazy moonlight flooding in through the window above her bed. He saw the sleeping form of her shadow and wanted to walk up to her side, touch her gently, and hold her. He wanted her to be his...
He closed his eyes, wishing he had the courage to be with her again. He had to tell her...
He couldn't just leave her behind without an explanation. Ginny needed to know. He walked to her desk and found a blank piece of parchment sitting on top. He dipped the quill into
the ink bottle next to the parchment and began writing slowly.
I'm leaving. I have to. I can't stay. If I do, I will be putting your whole family in danger. Everything is going to change when I turn seventeen next week. You must understand. I don't want to do this, but I must. I didn't want to leave you, but I had to. I can't leave without knowing that you know my feelings for you. I'm not asking for anything in return, only that you not tell anyone that I left you this. Ron doesn't know that I'm leaving. Neither does Hermione. I don't ask for anything in return, Ginny. I only want what is best for you. I will probably never see you again. Remember me through our times together last term, and don't let me get far from your heart. Know that I love you with all of mine.
He sighed and set the quill down, walking to her bedside. Ginny gave a turn in her sleep and Harry paused for a moment, pleading that she hadn't awoken. As she gave a sleepy grunt, Harry sighed and continued his walk to her side. He placed the letter on the pillow next to Ginny's head and swiftly leaned down to kiss her forehead. As he did so, he breathed in her fresh and heavy scent of lavender, feeling his stomach flip. He tried to cherish her skin on his lips as he kissed her gently.
He tried to drink her in one last time...
He straightened, pushing back a lock of her red hair as she turned onto her side in her sleep. Harry even thought that he had heard her murmuring his name. Perhaps she had. Harry stared at her one last moment before turning around and leaving her bedroom, not daring to look back at the woman he knew he would be leaving forever.