Chapter 27 : The Anchor
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After James had pulled himself from the depths of Parker’s mind, he felt strangely different. The world around him changed; he was no longer in the library of a home but rather back on the cold, tiled floor of the kitchen in his own flat.
He felt strangely uneasy as one world fell away and he returned to his own. After he had shared with everyone what Parker had done, James simply pulled himself along the floor until he was leaning against the nearest cabinet. With his back resting against the dark wood, he allowed himself to relax, and his shoulders slackened.
The others still looked upon him in apprehensive anticipation.
Breathing heavily for reasons he was unsure of, James exhaled. “This changes things…”
He felt defeated. Their fight with Parker was nowhere near done, yet James felt as if they had already been defeated.
“You’re right,” muttered Teddy with the same sense of defeat. “This changes everything. We thought you were our secret weapon in all this. You were the horcrux that was never supposed to be made. You were his weakness that he never knew he had. But now that he is actively creating horcruxes, you’re not our secret weapon anymore. And now that they know another horcrux exists somewhere, they’ll be looking for you.”
“Not to mention it’s one more thing that has to be taken care of in order to take Parker down. Before we can stop him, we have to destroy the horcrux he just made,” Lorcan said with a deep determination.
Norah turned to James in question. “Did you happen to see it? The horcrux they created. Do you know what it’s in?”
James nodded and felt a small surge of hope at that. At least they knew what the horcrux was. “It’s a locket. Just a gold locket with a crest on it. They tried creating a second and inserting it into a watch, but they couldn’t. Because that part of the ripped soul was already gone from his body—already in me.”
While biting her nails anxiously, Dominique questioned him quickly. “Teddy’s right; they will be looking for that first horcrux—for you. We have to act quickly because we can’t know how long it will take before they realize you are the horcrux.”
Lorcan piped up. “That should be to our advantage, though. They won’t assume it went into James. They’ll be searching for tangible objects first, right…?”
“That’s not necessarily accurate…” muttered James as the realization dawned on him. He looked to his lap, groaning, and the others looked to him in question. “When I looked into Parker’s mind, I saw who was with him. His mother. And Clancy. I…I told Clancy about my horcrux months ago. She knows. She could out me whenever she feels like it. If she hasn’t already...”
There were a few moments of heavy silence as if they didn’t quite know what to say or how to react.
Lorcan was the one to finally break the silence with an exasperated outburst, throwing his hands into the air animatedly. “Goddammit, James!”
“Lorcan!” Norah scolded him instantly for his tactless outburst.
James shot Lorcan a reproachful look. “What?!” he burst defensively. “I told her when I exposed Parker’s true identity. She thought she was just dating some bloke named Nolan. I thought telling her the truth would convince her of Parker’s madness. How was I to know she would decide to stay with a murderous sociopath?!”
“We know, James, we know,” Teddy encouraged him, shooting Lorcan a reprimanding glance. “You couldn’t have had any idea that Clancy would still be with him after everything that’s happened.”
“Makes her just as twisted as him…” muttered Molly under her breath.
Dominique looked thoughtfully to Molly then as she thought on her words, and then she mused aloud as something clicked. “I don’t know about that, though. Clancy set me free…She was the one to get me safely out of there. She never seemed…evil. I asked if she was coming with me, and she said she couldn’t because she was afraid of what Parker would do without her. To me, that sounds like—”
“Like she’s his anchor,” Norah quietly finished for her. “Like she’s the only thing keeping Parker human.”
“Exactly,” nodded Dominique. “So she might be with him still for the safety of everyone else…”
“And to be honest,” mused Teddy, “if she wanted to tell Parker and expose James, she would have done so a long time ago. She’s clearly holding onto that card until she knows exactly how she wants to play her hand.”
“But why hasn’t she told him then…? Why not tell him…?” questioned Molly.
Dominique rolled her shoulders. “Like I said. Maybe it’s just because she’s not evil.”
“No,” Norah shook her head in quiet disagreement. “That’s not it.” Her gaze moved to James before she spoke again. “She hasn’t told Parker because she still has feelings for James.”
James furrowed his brow. “What? No, she doesn’t. You’ve never met her; how could you know that?”
Norah actually smiled then and took James’ hand. “A woman has her tells. I don’t need to meet her to know; I know from the way you’ve talked about her. And I know how hard it is to try to get over you. She has feelings for you. She’s protecting you.”
“We can’t be foolish enough as to accept the possibility that I screwed up when preparing one of the receptacles. It’s possible that’s what happened, but we have to be prepared for any possibility. And the only other possibility is that another horcrux already exists. Somehow.”
“But how?” asked Parker curiously, watching his mother pace about the room as she tried to decipher this riddle. From next to him, Clancy wringed her hands together and fell into silence, biting down on her bottom lip and seemingly folding into herself.
“It doesn’t matter how, does it?” Pansy forced her son to question. In her mind, it didn’t matter how another horcrux exited. It didn’t change anything. It didn’t change the fact that another horcrux likely existed and they had no idea what it resided in. “What matters is that a piece of your soul is out there somewhere, and we have no idea where or what in. So we have to be open-minded about this to figure out what could have happened and when.”
“Azkaban,” stated Parker without delay. He didn’t need to think about the when. Somehow, in his heart, he knew when it most likely happened. He had always felt different after that day, and he had somehow miraculously survived the fall and the icy cold depths of the ocean. He had always attributed his survival to his body’s ability to endure a great amount; however, now thinking about the circumstances, perhaps his survival was attributable to something else entirely. “If it happened at all, it happened at Azkaban. When I woke up along the shores, I thought I was dead. When I realized I wasn’t, I couldn’t fathom how I could have possibly survived everything that day—the Killing Curse that sent me over the ledge, the fall, the impact of the water, or the freezing cold of it. But this…This would answer everything. This would explain why I survived that day. I couldn’t die.”
“That’s very possible…” muttered Pansy, finally ceasing her pacing, sinking into a chair across the room, and gnawing on the nail of her thumb as she thought. “We’ll start there. It narrows down the search of potential objects to things present only at Azkaban that day.”
“But I didn’t have hardly anything on me…” muttered Parker. “And Dad’s body wasn’t recovered; he was crushed when Azkaban crumbled. And you have his watch already…”
Clancy looked from mother to son again and again as she watched them process this revelation and begin to think up possible scenarios and objects. Panic had overwhelmed Clancy when Pansy came to the conclusion that a horcrux must have previously existed before they attempted to create the two.
She didn’t realize how intensely she had been biting her lip, for she suddenly tasted blood. At the taste, she stopped herself and couldn’t handle her panic and anxiety any more. If she couldn’t contain herself, Pansy and Parker would ask questions—questions about why she was acting strange and about why she was being so quiet.
“I have to go to the loo…” she muttered quickly, taking the moment of silence to escape while she could.
Neither Parker nor Pansy seemed to register her words, for they were both too deep in thought. So Clancy rose and skittered from the room. He walked quickly to her and Parker’s room, still gnawing on her thumb anxiously. When she reached it, she closed the door behind her and leaned against the dark wood, releasing a deep breath she didn’t know she had been holding.
“James…” she whispered under her breath, his name having such deep meaning and impact on her in that moment.
Clancy had kept his secret since that day James had revealed Parker’s true identity to her and the fact that a piece of Parker lived inside him. At the time, she hadn’t believed a word James said. Truthfully, she hadn’t wanted to believe him even if, in her heart, she knew he had been speaking true. She should have listened to him then and there, but for whatever twisted reason, she truly loved Parker and wasn’t brave or strong enough to leave him or let herself believe that the man she loved—known only by the name of Nolan Paxton at the time—could be cruel enough to be the man James claimed him to be. And because she had been in denial about Parker’s true identity, she had believed James’ claim about the horcrux of Parker Namken being inside of him to be just as ridiculous.
But, after she had confronted Parker and learned the truth, she understood James’ declaration about the horcrux to be just as true. And after she had, she didn’t know what to do with that information. In a way, so much of Parker’s plan and fate rested in her hands—and he had no idea. If she told him, what would he do? He would be furious that a piece of him had lived for so long within his enemy, and he would be enraged that the Potters held such a pivotal weapon against him, one they could destroy if given the chance. If she told him, though, would he be able to do anything? He wouldn’t be able to kill James without killing a piece of himself. Perhaps, if Parker knew of the horcrux, he would have no choice but to spare James. However, knowing his untamed fury, she knew he would find a different way to make the lives of the Potters miserable.
And if she kept this piece of information from him, could James die even if Parker tried? How did that sort of thing work with Parker inside him? If something happened to either Parker or James and the horcrux remained safe, then both of them would survive. And that was what she wanted. She didn’t want Parker to die, and she didn’t want James to die. She loved Parker, and for some reason she couldn’t explain, a part of her heart would always be saved for James.
She didn’t know what to do with this information. Her breathing quickened as she began to panic about what to do. She wished she didn’t know about the horcrux; if she didn’t know, she wouldn’t be in this situation now. If she didn’t say anything and Pansy and Parker continued to believe that a first horcrux was out there, then they would scour the world and set it afire to find the horcrux.
Unable to cope with the pressure and panic of this monumental information she held, she felt her muscles go weak and lethargic. Her legs gave out, and she sank to the floor. She knew this feeling all too well, and it had been quite some time since she had experienced a seizure. Months, actually, but she could feel it coming and knew she had triggered it in her panic.
She pressed the back of her head against the door and looked up at the ceiling as she prepared for the worst. She opened her mouth to cry out for help before she lost all control of her body and senses. “Par—ker!”
Her muscles tensed and her breath caught as she began to twitch. Just as the twitching began to turn into bodily jerks, she felt the door behind her push against her.
“Clancy!” Parker shouted in urgency as he tried to push the door open with Clancy leaning against it.
Knowing he was trying to come to her aid, she did her best to move even though her body didn’t wish to cooperate. She was able to twist and lay down, which relieved her weight from against the door enough for Parker to give one hard push and open the door. The door ended up sliding Clancy’s body further along the floor until he was able to enter.
Frantically, he dropped to the floor beside her. From where she lay on the floor, her eyes moved to him and she desperately reached out with her hand, opening and closing it, a longing plea. As Parker pulled her into his lap, he took her hand and squeezed tightly as she prepared for the seizure.
He ran his fingers through her hair with his free hand. “I heard you call out. What happened? You’ve been seizure-free for months!”
“I–I don’t know,” she was able to manage, lying through her teeth. She couldn’t tell him the truth—that she had been so panicked and stressed about knowing the truth about Parker’s first horcrux that she had induced her own seizure.
She gave a particularly large jolt in Parker’s arms, and then she began to kick and thrash as the seizure reached its peak. Parker remained by her side, consoling her and running his fingers through her hair.
She met his eyes and looked into them weakly. In that moment, she saw so much from him. This was her first seizure with him since his identity had been revealed to be Parker Namken. All her other seizures with him, he had been Nolan Paxton then, and while he had helped her through them, his help had always seemed half-hearted—like he would be there for her physically but wasn’t invested emotionally in helping her.
But this time was different. She could feel the emotion in him. In that moment, he truly cared for her and was worried about her well-being. There was love and pain in his eyes.
Yet now, after she had wished time and time again for him to invest more emotionally in their relationship and care more for her, he was finally doing so, and now she wished he wouldn’t. She didn’t want to know how much he cared for her. She didn’t want to see the anguish in him from watching her in pain, for seeing that good and loving side of him only complicated things now. It made her want to stay with him and enable his murderous plan.
If he didn’t care for her, it would be so much easier to leave him behind and do the right thing.
When her seizure finally subsided, he helped her get some elixir down her throat and helped her get into their bed. He then quickly slipped out to tell his mother that Clancy wasn’t feeling well and they could pick up where they left off at a later point. He then returned to his and Clancy’s room, and he sat on the bed with her, wrapping his arms around her comfortingly.
While Parker was flustered about the idea that he had a horcrux out there he hadn’t known anything about, he realized that horcrux had clearly existed for some time without his knowledge, so he was perfectly okay with not knowing what that object that was for a little longer—because right now, all that mattered was Clancy. So he was able to forget about the unknown horcrux as he laid on his bed with Clancy in his arms.
“What do you think triggered the seizure?” asked Parker quietly as he ran his fingers through her hair.
Clancy, feeling small and hopeless in his arms as her muscles refused to do anything other than lay there, spoke softly with her cheek pressed to Parker’s chest. “I don’t know. It must have been the stress of watching you go through that. You were in so much pain…”
She knew she couldn’t tell him the true reason. She knew her seizure was due to her panic about James, but she couldn’t tell Parker that. So she said the first thing that came to mind, and it was partly true, for she had been concerned about Parker. Watching him endure so much excruciating pain truly hurt her.
Parker squeezed her tighter at her words. “I’m sorry my pain has caused you pain.”
“I’ll be fine,” she encouraged him. “I’ll be epileptic for the rest of my life. This is something I will have to get used to, I suppose.”
“And I’ll be here,” said Parker softly as he kissed the trellises of her hair, “right by your side.”
They lay in peaceful silence with Parker stroking her hair for some time before he released his grip on her just enough to sit up and turn to face her. “As a matter of fact,” Parker began again in a soft voice, “I have something now that can ensure I am always with you.”
Curiously, Clancy mustered her strength to turn to look at him, furrowing her brow. “What do you mean?”
“I mean this,” answered Parker as he pulled the locket newly turned horcrux out of his pocket. He held it by its chain, the locket holding a part of his soul gently swaying beneath his hand.
Clancy reached up to gingerly touch it. The warm metal slid against the palm of her hand, and she ran her thumb over the crest on the locket: a C with two snakes wrapped threateningly around it. Clancy almost asked why it had a C, but the she remembered Parker was truly a Carrow. He had explained it to her not long after she learned his true identity; his father, Elias Namken, had been born Elias Carrow, but after Voldemort was defeated in the war and Elias’ older siblings, Alecto and Amycus, were captured and imprisoned, Elias changed his name to Namken as to avoid the generalizations and scrutiny he faced as a Carrow but to also plan his attack on Harry Potter without the watchful eye of the Ministry.
As she held it, she suddenly felt a faint thump come from within. Startled, she looked to him in surprise before looking back at the locket again.
“It has to be kept safe,” said Parker quietly, “and I’d like to think that a piece of me will always be with you. Will you wear it…?”
She pursed her lips and swallowed. She knew he meant it as a kind and loving gesture. She understood the sentiment, but a part of it still felt incredibly morbid to her—to wear a piece of someone’s soul about their neck. Half-heartedly, she nodded and looked to him.
“Of course I’ll wear it,” she answered. “I’ll keep it safe.”
He then pressed the locket firmly against her palm and wrapped her fingers around it. As their hands together held a part of his soul, he pulled her in and kissed her firmly. When they broke away, he pressed his forehead to hers. “I love you,” he whispered.
She felt her voice crack when she weakly answered back. “Love you too.”
After James managed to gather his bearing and collect his thoughts, he focused on calming everyone else down and next steps. What were they to do now, and what did they do with this new information? That was what they had to decide next—before Parker started digging too deep and discovered their secret.
So, once James—with the help of Norah—convinced everyone that they had it handled and the others could go about their day, they ended their brunch on a relatively somber note. With Dominique safely returned to them and the wedding being everyone’s main focus, they had all been able to forget about Parker Namken for the shortest of times, yet they had been cruelly and suddenly reminded of the painful present: Parker Namken was out to get them all, and he wouldn’t rest until he had what he wanted. So, with some heavy persuading, they pushed Teddy and Dominique out the door to return to celebrating their nuptials, and the others left shortly after.
As soon as they were out the door, James and Norah cleaned up the kitchen and left to seek the counsel of the one person they knew could help them: Harry.
Harry sat at the kitchen table when they arrived, sipping a coffee and flipping through The Quibbler for a few laughs. Upon their entrance, he looked up with a smile and set down his mug. “Hey. How was your brunch?”
“It was fine,” said James quickly, trying to not seem as flustered as he felt. “Listen, Dad. We need to talk to you.”
Harry folded The Quibbler quickly and set it down, his brow raising inquisitively. “What’s wrong? What’s happened?”
James sat down in the chair next to his father, rubbing his scar like it was a nervous tick. “Something happened. This morning at bunch. W–with my scar.”
Harry leaned forward uneasily as Norah took the chair opposite James. “Go on,” he encouraged.
“It hurt all of the sudden. Like never before. And it was excruciating. It even started to bleed. We realized we could take advantage of the situation and figure out why it was hurting if I…if I looked into Parker’s mind.” James said the last part with a hint of hesitation in his voice, his eyes never leaving his father’s as a means to gauge his thoughts on the matter.
Harry pursed his lips and said nothing, clearly keeping his thoughts to himself until James got to the point, for her clearly had something more urgent to tell him other than just his scar hurting.
“So I did. But what I saw…Dad, he’s creating horcruxes,” breathed James hopelessly.
Harry’s face turned white as a sheet, and his face was almost absent of expression. “T–That can’t be…”
“It is. I don’t know if it’s his goal to make multiple or just the two, but he created another horcrux today. It’s in a locket. That’s when I felt the pain—when they created the first horcrux—and that was when I looked into his mind. After they finished the first, they tried to make the second, but they couldn’t. Because the second one had already been made. The one in me.”
Harry rose silently from his chair, and he rubbed the stubble on his chin as he began to pace about the kitchen. “What happened then?” he asked. “Did you see what happened next?”
“They started to get suspicious and were questioning what could have happened. But that was when I stopped.”
“So we don’t know if they have any suspicions as to the second horcrux?” he asked, his eyes focused on the floor. He was clearly trying to calculate their next move and how to best handle the situation.
“It doesn’t matter if they have any suspicions or not,” said James as he shook his head. “Clancy knows…She knows about me. The horcrux. It’s clear that she hasn’t told him yet, but we can’t know if or when she will tell him. So we have to assume that Parker knows about me.”
Harry nodded as he processed this information. “You’re right,” he agreed. “If we think there is even the slightest chance that Clancy could reveal you are a horcrux, then we have to be proactive and take it as a certainty.”
“B–But how…? Dad, how do we be proactive about this? H–How do we fix this?!” asked James, starting to panic. He didn’t even realize that he had begun to incessantly scratch at his wrist. Norah rose from her spot at the table and went to comfort him. She knelt beside him and took his hands into her own, holding them tightly. Even as James tried to squeeze his panic into her hands, he still rattled off questions. “We have to assume that he knows! He knows! And if he knows…then who knows what he will do!”
“It's okay, it's okay,” said Harry quickly, trying to hide his own panic as to calm his son. “There is one thing we can do. Until we figure out how to handle this.”
“Since we must assume that Parker knows, we must also assume that he knows he can see into your mind as well—just as you can see into his. You can’t let him do that. So there's only one thing you can do: you must become an Occlumens.”
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