I did say I wouldn't leave you with such a cliffhanger for long, so here's the next chapter. It's shorter than my usual length. Only 5.5K. And it picks up a few minutes before the end of that last chapter. Please read the notice in my End Notes.

Warning: Language.

5.5K words.


The Gift

Draco observed Harry leave the ballroom with mild curiosity, and a gnawing sense of unease suddenly came over him. 'Did he sense something?' he thought. Even if he had been assured that the threat of the Dark Goblins had been settled, Draco couldn't help but wonder if that was the truth. He certainly didn't doubt Harry did as he said; rather, it was that they couldn't be sure the goblins didn't have a contingency plan. They could all still be a target, only now with a false sense of security.

As he contemplated the reason for Harry's departure, Draco couldn't help but wonder why he felt nervous whenever Harry wasn't around. The Malfoy scion was certain he wasn't the only one. Many witches and wizards looked to Harry for safety and security—himself included. He was so powerful and capable; it was hard not to rely on him. Draco couldn't help but notice Granger, Greengrass, and several adults exchanging glances as they observed Harry's exit. However, when Draco couldn't find Fleur, he turned to the large double doors Harry left through. His feelings of unease quickly shifted to annoyance.

"No…" a frustrated Draco remarked, loathing the thought of such an attractive girl with Harry Potter, of all people.

"No, what?" Tracey asked, raising an eyebrow at her boyfriend's sudden agitation.

Rubbing his temples to ease the rising irritation, Draco sighed, stating, "I just… can't believe our luck sometimes!"

Nodding in agreement, Tracey shared her own issues. "You're telling me," she admitted. "I've wanted that golden bangle ever since I saw it, and now my mum owns it. How fair is that?"

The teen couple diverted their attention to Arthur Weasley, who—along with Molly and the rest of their children—presented his gift to the newlyweds. The present was the size of a dartboard and wrapped in multi-colored paper. Sirius took it gratefully as Arthur stated, "This humble gift is from all of us at the Weasley house." He explained to Sharon, "You see, despite our long lineage, the Weasley house doesn't have much in the way of heirlooms to pass down. However, this piece of magic is truly one of a kind, even in our society. And I felt this would be a perfect addition to your family as well."

Sirius eagerly tore open the wrapping and discovered the gift was an ancient-looking clock without numbers of even hour hands. Where the numbered hours should be, 'Home' was written in at the twelve o'clock, 'Work' was written in at the one o'clock, 'School' at the two, 'Hospital,' 'Traveling,' 'Prison,' 'Mortal Peril,' and then dashes adorned the remaining five places.

Arthur informed Sirius, and those gathered, "It's a clock, but rather than tell time, it monitors the whereabouts of each family member."

"Ohhhhh," Sirius groaned happily, eying the gift with gleeful eyes. "As an Auror, I've been interested in an artifact like this since I first laid eyes on yours. How's it work?"

Arthur smiled proudly and eagerly explained, "First, the family members gather around because there is a bit of a range limit. Then, as the head of your house, you tap the center of the clock and add a bit of magic. After a bit of a light show, the golden hands of your immediate family—by blood or marriage—will appear."

Focusing on the clock's dashes, Sharon asked, "What are these empty spaces? Where the seven through eleven should be?"

"Oh, you can add in whatever you'd like, dear," Molly cheerfully chimed in. "Ours has other locations such as the garden, the dentist, or quidditch. But it could be different for you. We made it so you can personalize it however you wish."

With a knowing smile, a slightly more cheeky Amelia called out, "I'd recommend adding The Pub. That way, your new wife will always know when you're sneaking off."

Laughter erupted among the remaining guests at Amelia's remark, and Sharon responded with a witty, "More like I'll know when to give him a hard time for going without me." There was another boom of laughter that echoed against the walls of the ballroom.

Excitement brimming in his eyes, Sirius enthusiastically declared, "Oh, well, I gotta use it now."

With a bit of a flourish, the head Auror tapped the center of the clock with his wand, immediately setting off the lighting mechanism. Twisting rays of pure golden light erupted from the clock, lancing through the air and converging on Sirius. The luminescent beams connected with him before shooting out from the center of his chest. A mesmerizing dance of golden light unfolded, as if celestial ribbons had come to life, connecting Sirius to his most immediate family, Sharon and Tracey.

As golden rays sparked and flickered around the clock, Arthur's voice broke through the enchanting spectacle as he explained, "It doesn't take longer than a minute or two for the hour hands to materialize with a name and a picture."

After a couple of minutes, the radiant beams connecting Sirius, Sharon, and Tracey dissipated, revealing three golden hour hands on the clock, each adorned with a picture and a name.

Inspecting the image of herself on her golden hour hand, Tracey shrugged cutely and remarked, "At least it's a cute picture."

"Why I'm hurt, Arthur Weasley! Grievously wounded!" Lily called seriously but with a touch of playfulness. "I thought we were friends. What do I have to do to own one? Name your price!"

Arthur laughed and was about to answer when Sirius hastily interjected, "Before that… my dear Arthur, I'd like to ask you. Would it be possible to add a second family to the same clock?"

Arthur pondered the intriguing question for a moment before Molly shrugged, her expression mirroring uncertainty. Finally, the jovial man replied, "I'm afraid we've never tried… but I don't see why not."

"First time for everything," Sirius remarked with a grin. Looking over to Lily, he called for all to hear, "Lily Potter, get over here!"

Draco, who had been observing the proceedings with dwindling interest, suddenly became anxious. His eyes darted to a cheerful Lily first, then the family clock, and at the sudden turn of events, he dreaded what might happen. "Oh shit," he mumbled.

In front of all, Sirius proudly declared, "I made a promise with my best mate—your husband," he directed at Lily. "That I'd always do everything in my power to look after you and Hardwin. This is just a natural extension of that promise."

Draco's eyes quickly darted around the grand room, searching for Nicolas and Perenelle so that they could decide on how to proceed. Personally, Draco didn't care, but for his revenge, he didn't want the impact of something like this to destabilize Harry's already fragile emotional equilibrium.

Eying Sirius cautiously, Lily asked, "Are you sure?"

"It'll help me feel more at ease," Sirius sincerely reassured her.

"I think he meant to say it'll help us both feel at ease," Sharon restated, standing beside her husband in full support of the decision. "As far as I'm concerned, you're part of this family—and Tracey and Hardwin are brother and sister."

"Eww!" Tracey voiced as Hardwin called, "Gross!"

Everyone laughed before Sharon finished saying, "We'd be honored to share this wonderful gift with you."

Lily embraced both Sharon and Sirius for being such dear friends, and with their instruction, Arthur then added the remaining locations: Quidditch, Shopping, Black Manor, Potter Manor, and Potter Home.

When Draco couldn't catch sight of the Flamels, he suddenly recalled they were one of the few guests who went for a leisure stroll through the grand gardens. Slowly, so as to not draw attention to himself, Draco began walking in the same direction Harry had taken when he left the room to warn him.

But it was too late.

Lily tapped her wand on the center of the clock, initiating the festive light show. A brilliant white light burst forth from the magical clock, spiraling gracefully through the air before connecting with Lily directly through the center of her chest—to her heart. From her, two beams of white light extended outward. One swiftly found its mark in the chest of Hardwin Potter, connecting mother and son. However, it was the second line that abruptly halted the night's joyous festivities. Everything stopped. Sirius, Remus, Lily, Hardwin, Dumbledore, and everyone else in the room were gobsmacked by the sight of the second white light speeding out of the ballroom.

An alert Harry found himself staring wide-eyed at the ethereal light piercing through his chest for three agonizingly long seconds… before realizing that he felt no pain—drawing in his brows curiously. Adding to his confusion, Nova wasn't even on high alert, nor did she seem alarmed or concerned. Tentatively, Harry passed his hand through the luminous beam, and to his growing bewilderment, felt fine.

Inspecting the strange bright tether going through his chest, Fleur asked, "Wat iz eet?"

"I… don't know," Harry admitted, his hand lingering on his chest whilst his eyes traced the path of the light coming through the closed door.

"Zhe life you live, my dearest… Eet never lacks excitement, non?" Fleur asked with a hint of cheekiness.

Harry huffed in agreement before urging, "Come on."

Whipping out his wand, Harry hurriedly exited the room. Following the luminous tether, he heightened his senses and searched the area for any hint of danger. As he sprinted through the corridor, the anticipation building within him, he couldn't help but feel a sense of foreboding, especially when he sensed the magical signatures of the guests in the ballroom ahead. Judging from their waving patterns, they all seemed agitated—confounded. Harry couldn't explain it, especially when he rushed inside the room and didn't see anyone fighting for their lives. But clearly, something had happened.

"Please don't let it be more goblins," Harry quietly pleaded.

As he entered the grand ballroom, the first thing that struck him was the absolutely shocked faces looking at him—as if he were the grim reaper coming to snatch their souls and they weren't ready. Rushing toward the gathering, he wanted to ask anyone what had happened… that was until he noticed the origin of the white light and who it was connected to.

Harry's eyes traced the bright line from his chest to Lily, and from her to Hardwin. Instantly, a sinking feeling gripped his stomach and yanked the organ down; all the while, his mind struggled to deny the obvious. The way his stunned mother was gazing at him, the confused look on his brother's face, all Harry could think was, 'No, no, no, no, no, no. Please, Merlin, no.'

Nicolas and Perenelle made their way toward the gathering, having returned from the balcony that led to the elegant gardens. At the sight of the light going through Harry's chest, confusion crossed Nicolas's features, and he turned to Draco, asking, "What's with the light?"

Draco sighed, his tone heavy with resignation as he warned, "You two better prepare yourself."

Gradually, the luminous link disappeared from the Potters, and three silver hour hands emerged on the family clock. One bore the smiling picture of Lily, accompanied by her name; another displayed Hardwin's picture and name; and a final hand featured the face of Ares Flamel, but the name read Harry Potter.

The solemn room was enveloped in stillness, and the only sound that broke the heavy silence was the dull tapping of Lily's wand as it slipped from her trembling fingers, clattering softly against the marble floor. She took faltering steps forward, her lips trembling as she struggled to form the words that seemed forever trapped in her throat. She tried hard to speak his name, opening and closing her mouth, but an invisible force constricted her ability to speak. The person who birthed Harry palmed her abdomen over her fine dress as the tears began pouring down her pallid cheeks.

Harry could sense the collective gazes of everyone in the room, bearing down on him like hot lamps baking his skin. He saw his mother's anguished expression—her heartache and longing palpable even without words—as her trembling hand reached out for him. He had always yearned for her motherly touch—always dreamed of it and of having his family—but not like this. This felt unnatural, out of place, like a pale husk of the joyful reunion he had always envisioned.

Harry's mind spiraled into a jumbled mess of rampaging thoughts—tapping into his magic. He reminded himself that she would be in more danger by his side. He reminded himself that she would be in grave danger if he revealed himself. In his own timeline, Voldemort had mercilessly taken her life. They had barely survived an attack by dark goblin assassins. Once the world found out Lily Potter had a second son named Harry, she would become an even bigger target.

As these thoughts infested his mind, his profound connection to magic reacted to the turmoil within. The chairs, tables, and stands all around the ballroom abruptly transfigured into walls—brick walls, cement walls, wooden walls. These barriers quickly shot up to towering heights before slowly leaning over and crumbling upon impacting the floor, scaring some of the gathered.

Harry struggled to contain his wild magic, but another tormenting thought gnawed at him: the fear of her revulsion, her disgust, at the choices he had made to become the person in front of her now. Harry didn't want that. He would much rather be dead when she learned his true identity, because then she'd only know of the good deeds he had done. Not the failures, losses, and deaths he was responsible for. For her to see him—her lost son—so caked in the blood of enemies made him sick. His nostrils were filled with the stench, and that wasn't how he wanted her to know him.

The magnitude of the moment pressed down on him, and the room swirled in his vision. Regardless of his attempts, his magic only continued reacting to the surge of emotion within him and darkened the room, as if a cloud covered all the lights. Raindrops began to fall on everyone as the swirling wind picked up. Harry realized he was the one creating the rainfall and tried to hold himself back—hold his emotions back—but it seemed impossible.

When the rain intensified, Harry suddenly pivoted on his heel and turned away from her, determined to run from both her presence and the overpowering surge of emotions and magic threatening to violently erupt. He could already feel his face burning with shame, and his stomach churned and twisted with a nauseating turmoil boiling within him—threatening to vomit everything he'd eaten all day.

Despite the water raining on everyone in the room, none left. They simply stood and watched, as if judging him. Lightning and thunder erupted, and Harry felt he needed to leave—for the safety of everyone. As he took a heavy step away from her, his entire body weighed down by a crushing sense of despair, a piercing cry—louder than the thunder—filled with sorrow and longing, shattered the fragile silence between them, sending tremors through his very soul.


The sound of his name, uttered with such anguish, echoed in his ears, a haunting reminder of another lifetime. It was as if he were transported back in time, back to when he was a helpless baby, hearing his mother's voice moments before Voldemort had torn her away from him. The torrent of rainwater turned to snow, pelting everyone when the strong wind picked up.

Slowly, Harry turned to see Lily Potter—ignoring the snow and water soaking them—her anguished expression marred by tears streaming down her face, gazing at him with the very same emerald eyes he inherited. In that heart-wrenching gaze, Harry saw a myriad of unspoken words and unspoken desires. He couldn't fathom what she had sought from him, but he knew that he couldn't stay. There were no words in him—only stomach-twisting anguish—and the weight of so many eyes upon him threatened to unravel the fragile threads holding him together.

A raspy, weakened voice escaped his parched lips, inaudible above the thundering beat of his heart in his ears. "Nova," he croaked. His familiar heard him despite the noise, and in an instant, he vanished in a burst of flames. The maelstrom dissipated in an instant, leaving behind a room filled with soaking-wet and stunned onlookers.

"Fuck," Draco cursed under his breath, flinging his arms to whip off the water. "I knew he'd run."

"What happened?" a frantic Perenelle demanded of Draco.

"Mum!" Hardwin cried, rushing to his mother's side as she sank to the lightly flooded floor, overwhelmed by the emotional turmoil that had unfolded before her eyes.

Just then, a flash of fiery light caught the attention of everyone in the room. Harry had returned, and his emerald eyes instantly fell on Lily, gazing at him from the floor. Dark clouds soon gathered above them, and though he wanted to say words to convey the raging storm of emotions within him—words of any kind, truly—he simply couldn't. Harry turned and walked toward the Flamels.

"We're leaving," he told them. Placing a trembling hand on each of their shoulders, both Nicolas and Perenelle noticed, but said nothing of it.

Harry was about to leave when Lily yelled, "Wait!" He stilled, watching her gather herself as she forced her uncooperative limbs to move, kicking up water all the while. Her desperate voice pulled at his heart as she exclaimed, "Wa-wait, please! I won't say anything. I promise you, you can say anything you'd like—ask me anything you want! Yell! Scream at me! I won't force anything on you. Ju-Just… p-please… don't leave."

Tears welled up in Harry's eyes, feeling the heat of them as they threatened to spill over. His voice was heavy with a mixture of pain and accusation as he uttered, "You were the one who left me."

Lily's mouth opened, her eyes wide with the urge to defend herself, but then she clamped her hands over her lips, shaking her head frantically, as if to say, 'No, that wasn't it.' However, Harry wouldn't stay and dispute it.

He simply said, "Nova," and the three flamed away, leaving behind a flooded room filled with unspoken grief and unresolved emotions.

The Flamels landed in their London whitestone townhouse, and the automated lights flickered on, bathing them in a warm glow. With a heavy heart and slumped shoulders, Harry walked over to the plush couch and unceremoniously threw himself face-first across the length of it. Nova flapped her wings and gracefully landed on the couch's backrest. Her black feathers contrasted sharply against the light blue couch as she gazed at her laid-up, motionless master.

In the hushed atmosphere, Nicolas and Perenelle exchanged a knowing glance, understanding that words needed to be spoken—even if they couldn't entirely ease Harry's turmoil—but unsure of what those words ought to be.

Wringing water out of his coat, Nicolas' voice was filled with genuine concern as he ventured to ask, "Harry? You doing okay?"

Without lifting his head from the couch's cushion, Harry groaned before saying in muffled speech, "Take me out of Hogwarts."

"…That might pose some challenges," Nicolas cautiously replied. "I mean, you still have a tournament you can't exactly excuse yourself from-" Perenelle placed her palm on her husband's shoulder as Harry groaned in further annoyance.

"We'll just be in the kitchen if you need us," she gently reassured Harry.

Before they left, Harry tilted his head to more clearly confess with a hint of despair, "What should I do?" His voice carried the weight of a lost boy with fractured thoughts. "I can't even think straight. I don't even know what I want!" Suddenly sitting up, his eyes filled with anxiousness as he vented, "She's my mother! But she left me!" Shaking his head as if that was wrong, he stated, "And why should I even care?! I need to kill Voldemort! That's all I'm here to do! That's all I'm good for… I'm meant to kill him and disappear! Why should she get in the way of that?! What right does she have?!"

Harry slammed his face into the cushion again, groaning at how unsure of himself, his thoughts, or his goals he felt. He felt like a ship without its rudder in the middle of a storm. Perenelle's soft voice broke through that turbulent storm of his emotions. She had moved closer to him without him noticing, and was now sitting on the coffee table before him.

Her eyes brimming with empathy and understanding, Perenelle softly said, "Harry… I can't begin to fathom how you must be feeling—how chaotic your thoughts must be—but I want you to know that you're allowed to think and feel however you like. If you feel you need to focus on one thing at a time—whatever that may be—do that. If you feel unable to come to a decision, then don't. All you need to do right now is think about yourself because your well-being is what matters most."

Harry looked up, his eyes still shimmering with tears, and said, "I didn't intend for her to know."

"I know," Perenelle tenderly agreed.

"But now she does," he muttered, his tone laced with frustration.

"Among others," Nicolas added.

"…Sirius and Remus," a despondent-looking Harry noted.

"And Dumbledore," Nicolas unenthusiastically pointed out.

"I don't care about him," an irked Harry stated, annoyed by the headmaster. "I don't care about any of them. I just want to do my damn job in peace!" He averted his eyes, his head spinning by it all as he admitted, "I don't know when… I need some time."

"Take all the time you need," Perenelle tenderly replied.

"Why don't you write a letter?" Nicolas suggested. Harry and Perenelle turned to him as he promoted, "It's a great way to organize your thoughts, and if you like, you can send some to your friends—even if just to tell them you'd rather not discuss this yet. After all, in times of great strife, friends can be the sense of peace that shields one from the madness. And I'm sure they'd appreciate knowing if you're okay."

Looking at his pseudo-parents, Harry realized that Nicolas was right. The truth was, simply talking to them—to people who supported him wholeheartedly—felt nice. He recalled many occasions on which they were by his side, helping him navigate the worst of his chaotic emotions and psychological struggles. They had given him the essential cover and financial means to freely move around in this world. When his plans failed or when his psychological breaks left him paralyzed, they talked him down from the brink of despair and kept him on the right path. It was Nicola and Perenelle who gifted him with Nova and Hedwig.

As he recalled all these undeniable moments of unwavering support, he felt his eyes moisten with the wellspring of gratitude and emotion. The people beside him felt like steadfast allies in his mission fraught with danger and uncertainty—like Ron and Hermione had always been.

Rubbing his eyes, he said, "I think you're right." Harry stood up, and Nova hopped on his shoulder as he added, "Sirius mentioned getting the Locket. Can you get it for me tomorrow?"

"Of course," Nicolas answered.

With a sense of caution, Perenelle asked, "Is there anything you'd like us to say? Or not say?"

"I don't know," Harry admitted. "I just need to take a breath and think."

"Okay," Nicolas asserted. "We'll ask him to respect your privacy."

"Thanks," Harry returned. "I'll be in my room."

In the dimly lit room, Harry spent the entire night writing and rewriting letters, struggling to flesh out his disorganized thoughts. As the night wore on, moonlight filtering through the curtains, he sat at his desk and penned heartfelt letters to Hermione of old. To his Ron; to his Sirius; to his parents.

To Hermione, he wrote, 'Now that you know everything that happened, what do I do? You've always had answers, even if, at times, I was too stubborn to listen. I know you wouldn't allow me to play the fool and ignore it all. You'd tell me something along the lines of facing the hard choice. You'd remind me that I always make the hard choice, and I'd get really annoyed with you for it. But deep down, I'd know you were right.'

To Ron, he asked with a sense of longing, 'The one person I could forget my troubles with.' Harry grinned the most when writing to his best mate. 'If you were here, we would be doing anything and everything that was a guaranteed laugh. We'd run from Hermione, play exploding snap, you'd beat me in wizard's chess, or we'd go flying for hours. I need that now. I miss you, brother.'

To his Godfather, Sirius, he longingly confessed, 'I miss you.' Laden with unspoken grief, Harry had to lean back in his chair and wipe his red-rimmed eyes of the building moisture before continuing again. 'I miss you so much. I suppose we all miss each other. Thinking about you makes me wonder what kind of advice you'd give me now. You were always the best at helping me understand and accept just how unfair the world could be. I suppose you'd be happy to have at least one of them back. But would you approve of what she did? Don't ask me if I know what she did! All that matters is that she left! …And I know you left because you were forced to go to Azkaban, but she wasn't forced to… Fuck! …You're going to ask me if I know whether she was forced to let me go or not, aren't you? All the while knowing that I don't know for sure. Then you'd say something snappy to make me laugh, like, 'Life's short. Smile while you still have teeth!''

In the letters to his parents, he questioned their choices, longing to understand why everything in the cosmos insisted they be apart. Harry stared at the only two questions on an otherwise blank sheet of parchment. 'Was it hard? Would you have given me up?' The silence of the room seemed to be enough of an answer, until he thought of the only person in existence he could ask.

The only answer he could personally understand was that they would… if it meant saving his life. After a daze of restless naps and extensive writing, the conclusion a weary Harry came to was, "How close to my mother is she?"

A sudden knock on the door jolted Harry from his musing.

"Dinner's ready," Perenelle said through the door. Harry hadn't expected an entire day to pass him by. "Would you like to come down? Or I can bring it up?"

Harry took a deep breath, feeling the heaviness of the night still lingering in his bones. "It's fine," he replied. With a sense of reluctance, he rose from his seat and headed downstairs for a brief break from the demanding confines of his thoughts.

In the tranquil atmosphere of their cozy kitchen bathed in evening light, Harry, Perenelle, and Nicolas sat down to dinner. The white room with black accents was bathed in a soft, reddish-orange hue that offered Harry a brief distraction from the weight of his troubles. The large spread before them, cooked with care by Dobby, was hearty and delicious, and filled the room with the aroma of freshly cooked food.

"Would you like to hear how it went?" Perenelle asked, setting down her glass of wine.

"So long as you have the Locket, I'd rather not," Harry replied, preferring to pet Hedwig and feed her bacon.

The married couple exchanged a knowing look for a moment, and then shrugged before Nicolas continued, "If that's the case, when we met with Sirius, as you might've guessed, Lily was also there."

"And they had a plethora of questions about you," Perenelle added.

Still wrestling with his emotions, Harry eyed them with a quirked brow before repeating, "I said I'd rather not hear."

"We heard," Perenelle assured him and then proceeded to explain what happened. "I must admit, it did feel inappropriate to talk about you without you being present. So, we simply asked for the Locket."

Reading between the lines and grasping the unspoken details, a skeptical Harry asked, "You did get the Locket, right?"

"That Sirius does think on his feet," a smirking Nicolas chimed in with a cheerful tone.

Realizing what must've happened, Harry couldn't help but confirm, "He didn't give it to you."

"He said he'd be happy to hand it over," Nicolas elaborated with a hint of amusement. "…after you meet with Lily."

"That cocky git," Harry retorted in disbelief, though Nicolas only smiled, as if enjoying this twist of events. "Doesn't he realize what's at stake?!"

"I'm sure he does," Nicolas casually stated, as if it were a mundane truth of reality.

"And for good measure, he added that you must also promise not to drop out of school," Perenelle interjected with the faintest hint of mischief.

Harry found that last addition so surreal, that his eyebrows drew in and disbelief crept into his voice as he asked, "Did he really say that?"

They both nodded innocently, and despite eying them closely, Harry couldn't tell if they had a hand in that result or not. "Fuck!" he cursed, exasperated by the entire ordeal.

"Language," Perenelle reminded him.

Harry huffed in annoyance before lamenting, "Other than Nagini, the locket is the last Horcrux we need. I could hunt Voldemort in peace once that's destroyed."

"We know all about hiding, and trust me, finding him won't be so easy," Perenelle pointed out thoughtfully.

"And I fear he won't come out until he's at full strength," Nicolas figured, concerned by the possibilities of that path. "Unless you can draw him out, the best strategy seems to be to let him come to you, which a megalomaniac like him will no doubt do."

"It's the attention," Perenelle chimed in, her tone reflecting a wealth of experience. "They always crave to be seen."

Harry, realizing that if he wanted the Locket, he'd have to face his mother, making him wonder about his luck sometimes. Such rotten luck felt as if he had been born under the worst alignment of stars imaginable.

"Harry?" Perenelle carefully called. "What do you want to do?"

"What choice do I have?" he lamely returned with deep resignation in his voice. "I have this sinking feeling she won't stop trying to meet me. Not until she realizes how much more danger she'll be in."

"Oh sweety," Perenelle began, shaking her head kindly. "That's not going to scare her off."

Harry slumped back in his chair, annoyed with the undeniable truth of her words.

Later that night, anxiety clawed at Harry's nerves as he spent two painstaking hours crafting a single line in a letter intended for Lily. He spent another thirty minutes staring at that one line before eventually folding and sealing it in an envelope. As an extra added security, Harry cast an intent-based blood charm on it. Should anyone not related to his bloodline attempt to open the letter, the letter would burst into flames. After a long sigh, he handed the letter to Hedwig.

"Be careful," he told her before she flew off.

Harry was too nervous to sleep and occupied those restless hours by writing letters to Hermione, Fleur, Daphne, and Luna. He explained that he was relatively fine and expressed his desire to see them soon. To Daphne, he invited her and her sister to stay with them during the holidays—specifically so Nicolas and Perenelle could examine Astoria's curse. Harry omitted any details about his lineage or what happened at the end of the wedding, and hoped they understood. He also penned a quick letter to Sirius and Sharon, and it simply read, 'Sorry for ruining your wedding.'

Still unable to sleep, Harry retreated to the basement's training room to push his body and magic to exhaustion. Dripping in sweat, he finished his rigorous workout with a jog through the dimly lit streets of London. When an exhausted Harry returned, he found Hedwig waiting with a letter from Lily Potter at her foot. After getting cleaned up, it took the nervous teen ages to muster up the courage to open the envelope, but when he did, the brief response read:

'We can meet at a time and place of your choosing. I can come alone, or with anyone you'd like to be there. And yes, of course, I'll tell you everything about that night and why the world doesn't know who Harry Potter is.'

Fellow fanfic readers, I must regretfully inform you that From Ruin is GOING ON HIATUS. That's why the chapter is shorter. I felt that would be a good place to leave this leg of Harry's journey. The reason for the hiatus is simple and two-fold. One, I'm tired of being broke. And by broke, I mean I'm one car accident or serious health issue away from being worried about paying bills. I'm about to reach middle age and this paycheck to paycheck/trading my finite time for money isn't cutting it anymore. I need to focus on my career, which brings me to my second reason: I AM A WRITER. I love writing stories, and I have over a dozen good ideas for original content just sitting there, waiting to be written. I could spend the next two years just banging those out and maybe begin generating enough income that I can drop down to a part-time position or stop working all together.

So, I plan to do one of two things. Either I'm going to not write a single chapter of The Last Prayer or From Ruin for the next two years and pump out as many of my original ideas as possible(the goal is 8 in two years), or I'm going to write my novels, and in between each book, I write a chapter of one of my fics. I haven't decided which option I'll take yet, but I like the second idea because the fanfic chapter between novels could be like a palette cleanser. I can also do some advertising for my work, because the faster I get to a position where my books are earning serious returns, the more time I'll have to finish my fics. I feel like From Ruin has another 250-300K left before I hit that complete button. And The Last Prayer feels like it has another 300-400K left to go before it's done. Guys and gals, I want to finish my fics—I want to finish anything I start in general—but they would take me no less than two years, and I NEED to set my financial life up for success, especially now that I'm going to enter the latter half of my life.

The next half of From Ruin will deal with the big talk between mother and son, the many perspectives of the wizarding world dealing with the existence of another Potter, the remaining Triwizard Tournament tasks, more Dumbledore tomfoolery, Hermione/Daphne/Fleur goodness, more attacks, more Umbridge, and of course, more Voldemort. Look forward to that.

If you noticed any mistakes in this chapter, please let me know. I don't have beta readers for this fic so all I have is a few programs and myself.

If any of you would like to help out, I always appreciate a vote of confidence. If you want to help and you just happen to be balling out of control, I have links to tip in my bio.

I apologize for the hiatus, but hope you understand why I have to. When I return, I'll be better able to entertain you guys on a higher level. At least, that's the goal. Thank you for coming along on this narrative journey, and I'll see you again. Be easy.


P.S. I will be posting a chapter for my Last Prayer fic, but you can expect a hiatus notice there as well.