If you have previously read some of The Dream Trilogy before, I would ask that you take a moment and see the author's note below. If you are brand new to the story, please feel free to skip ahead to the actual prologue.
Author's Note: As you may have noticed, The Dream Trilogy has all but disappeared. I have spent the last three years re-writing the books into something much better, and now it is finally time to re-launch! Therefore, the original version has been deleted, and we will be starting again with weekly updates of the new chapters. Even if you have read the story recently, I would highly recommend you start the trilogy from the beginning again. Not only will certain things not make sense if you don't, but also the new version is vastly superior.
The trilogy is finished, so these updates should happen every Friday without interference. If you enjoy what you read, please let me know in the reviews! Please refrain though from sharing any spoilers from the original version, for the sake of new-time readers who won't know what to expect.
If you would like to follow me on Twitter to keep up with the books' progress (as well as a good smattering of Game of Thrones laughs and baby animal pics) my handle is HelenJHaslam. I will also be sharing progress of the books' artwork and the creation of the website.
This trilogy has been twelve years in the making, and I am so very happy to finally be sharing it with you as it was meant to be.
Thank you for joining me in this adventure,
Helen J Haslam
We live separate lives, can't even organise
One more meeting of minds ain't gonna make it right, no
There's more humanity in just letting it be now
'Cause I can't seem to justify when we're living separate dreams
Have we forgotten love, we're lost in
Oh, you're not the only one
We're so entwined to lose it
To the passing of time
Oh, we came undone,
We came untied, we came untied
Alex lent his cheek against the cool marble pillar, and let his eyes flutter half closed. He wasn't exactly tired – he didn't sleep like he used to – but his brain was all clogged up and needed to stare into the middle distance for a moment or two and think of fluffy things. Several brown folders held shut by elastic bands rested precariously in his fingers, threatening to spill their contents onto the shiny marble floor. One of them was quivering, and he was pretty sure the other was smoking.
Just one more minute, he thought, angling his shoulder so his upper torso was also pressed against the pillar. He let out a noise that resembled a purr.
The clatter of the cleaner's bucket being dragged along the corridor behind him snapped him back to his senses, and he jumped to attention, wiping something that was definitely not drool from his mouth. He nodded at the creature with the mop, who saluted back and carried on singing along to the song playing through the large headphones perched on his lumpy head. If Alex had to guess he'd say the caretaker was some form of troll, but he generally felt it rude to ask someone what their species was, so he'd spent the last three years mentally referring to him as the cleaner, or guy-who-likes-Kiss-and-Janis-Joplin.
The area Alex was waiting in, had actually spent the last millennia worth of evenings waiting in, was a wide marbled entranceway filled with pillars like the one he'd just been dozing on, and numerous wooden doors scattered along the walls. He always waited outside the same one, though its occupant had changed several times over the centuries. This one had chosen to decorate the outside of her door with sheets of an unknown child's finger painting, a periodic table and a flier from a kebab shop.
The entrance hall resembled a more classical era, somewhere Aristotle would have enjoyed a good old stamp about, but as was per usual Alex didn't really look like he belonged there. He wore floppy navy pirate boots whose soles had been replaced many times over, and tucked into them were some stonewashed Levi's originals, ripped at the knees. His t-shirt was pretty faded but the words 'Glastonbury 1970' could still just about be made out amongst the design, and over that was a well fitted tailcoat, rolled up at the elbows and lined with fabric he was very proud to have won off Genghis Khan in a game of snap. Everything about him looked to be well-worn and well-loved, except for his hair which clearly stated he paid an extortionate amount for it to appear like he'd just fallen out of bed, and he didn't care who knew it.
He knew the report that evening wasn't so different from the ones he gave almost every day, but he still felt slightly queasy at the news he had to deliver. He hoisted up the top file, flicked quickly to the right sheet of paper and ran his finger down the list of facts he hastily scrawled. True, situations like this didn't generally pop up all that often, but they nearly always sorted themselves out fast enough. It was just the particular subject of the anomaly that had caught his attention.
The electronic display on the door chirped and Alex looked up to see it now read 'Enter!' in a cheery neon green. He snapped the file shut again, pinged the rubber band back around it and strode over the door. He didn't bother knocking and turned open the handle with a flourish.
"Evening Jia!" he cried to the middle-aged Chinese woman hunched over the desk before him. Her hair was stuck out at all angles, escaping from the bun she had originally captured it in earlier that day, and there was ink smudged across several parts of her face. Coffee mugs littered the desk, along with stack upon stack of paper, a laptop, and an abacus. Not one of the five clocks in the room was at the correct time, but Alex knew for a fact Jia could tell him exactly how early or late they all were to the minute.
She stared at him blearily as he clicked the door closed and bounded over to the chair in front of the heaving desk. "Hello my love," she said, smiling to reveal the lipstick on her teeth. "How's you?"
"Yes, yes," he said. "I'm grand, hunky dory, you?"
"Only had eleven cups of coffee today," she said proudly, typing something on her laptop. "I might get to go home soon."
Alex forced his most casual smile onto his face. "I'll try not to keep you then," he said sincerely.
He launched into the usual updates, fishing out the relevant documents from his files and feeling quite proud that the elastic bands held out for him. "There were eighty three new variants created today, with Watchers organised for all but four."
"They turn you down?" asked Jia as she shuffled her papers and flicked some beads across her abacus.
"Yes," said Alex. "But only one threw a shoe at my head, so I'm calling it a win." He stared at the paper he'd been looking at outside in the entrance way and drummed his fingers on his knee. He'd run out of other things to talk about.
"That it?" asked Jia hopefully, hand already reaching for her handbag.
Alex shifted in his seat and tried to keep his voice light. "There's just one more thing, actually, small thing, nothing to worry about."
Jia's face dropped, a defeated look on her as she sat back down. "That sounds like I should get the emergency procedures forms out."
"No," replied Alex, waving a hand in disagreement. "Honestly, I wouldn't normally even bother you with it, it's just because it involves someone important, a key player."
Jia sighed and reopened her laptop, taking a sip of slightly congealed coffee. "Who?" she said, clicking away with her mouse until she'd brought up the right program.
She rubbed her nose, adding a new streak of ink. "Who?"
"Oh," said Alex, flicking through his papers until he found the notes he wanted. "He's pretty important in my reality, in several thousand realities actually, he's probably in some of your other ones?"
Jia frowned and picked up a log book. "The name rings a bell now you mention it. He's human I take it?"
"Yes, but one of the magical ones – slightly less than one per cent of the population in my world can perform magic with the aid of a wand. Once they've been trained," he added. He forgot sometimes how many possible worlds there were, and his manager took care of at least a dozen realities, some of them vastly different to his own. "When he was a baby Voldemort tried to kill him."
"Ahh," said Jia. "Now I remember, he's that nasty fellow that killed everybody back in the eighties."
"Yes, evil wizard," said Alex encouragingly. "Killed far too many people, including Harry's parents, but when old Voldy tried to zap him, the spell backfired and poof! No more bad guy."
Jia was making notes on a sheet of paper that already contained a series of bullet points and a game of hangman. "Yes, yes," she muttered. "You're quite right, there are thousands of realities with that, just didn't recognise the name. So," she looked up, her tired eyes bright. "What's he done, how much trouble are we talking about?"
"Well," said Alex, hopping to his feet so he could pace along the little office. "Like I said, in my reality Harry grew up an orphan, living with his beastly aunt and uncle, then went to the British magic school Hogwarts when he was eleven. He's had an unusual amount of run-ins with what remains of Voldemort, but normally he's got himself a couple of mates to keep him out of too much bother." Normally, Alex added ruefully to himself. Where had they been when all Hell broke loose, he wanted to know. Talk about letting the side down.
Jia was on the laptop. "Names?" she barked.
"Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger." He gave her a moment's more typing, then carried on. "Harry has a godfather, his name is Sirius Black, and when James and Lily Potter were murdered he was wrongly accused by the Ministry of Magic of being the one who betrayed them to Voldemort. It was in fact another friend of the Potters', a Peter Pettigrew, who was the traitor. Sirius went to jail without trial, but broke out a couple of years ago, at which time Harry learnt the truth and has assisted his Godfather in remaining one step ahead of the Ministry ever since."
Jia's fingers were flying over the keys, her eyes tracing through what looked like an incomprehensibly large tree glowing blue on the black screen. "Yes," she said, nodding and blinking furiously. "This happened in several other thousand realities too, I'm still not getting where the problem is."
"Oh it's coming," said Alex, rubbing the back of his head. "Yesterday Sirius was recaptured. He's likely to be sent back to prison, or worse."
Jia's index finger was following along the tree. "That's happened in half a dozen places too."
"Yes," replied Alex with a grimace. "But in my reality Harry then lost his temper by a Dimensional Hotspot and propelled himself into a reality when his parents were never murdered and Sirius never imprisoned."
Jia raised her eyebrows. "Ah," she said, taking her finger away from the tree.
"Now, it shouldn't be too much of a problem," explained Alex hastily before Jia could jump to any wrong conclusions. "I've had a couple of instances like this before, but being that he's a wizard, surrounded by other wizards, he should be able to get himself home without too much of a headache."
"Too much of a headache?" clarified Jia. "Are you serious? You've lost someone in the wrong reality?"
Alex held up a finger. "Yes," he said, trying to sound confident. "But he's a resourceful little chap, and I'm sure it won't be long before he and his friends are working on the spell to bring him home, it can be done."
Jia let her head drop onto the desk. "But what," she garbled, her mouth mashed up to the wood. "About the consequences in the other reality?" She lifted her head back up, a red crease running down the side of her face. "He'll derail it entirely!"
She was right, but Alex also knew it wasn't entirely hopeless. "There's still a version of the world where he doesn't show up, and that will continue to branch out as usual. This reality he's now created will fix itself too in time, I promise, it's what happened last time."
"Last time," she said, shaking her head. "Who on the many Earths let you remain a Watcher after this happened before?"
"A handsome, clever, very wise-"
"Oh give it a rest," she said, pinching the bridge of her nose. "I want hourly progress reports."
"Yes ma'am," said Alex sheepishly.
"Where is he now?"
Alex sat back down, a small sense of relief creeping into his stomach. It was always best to discuss a problem out loud he found, it made everything seem much better. Even if the person you were talking to wanted to fire you. "Sleeping, the crossover takes quite a bit out of you."
Jia took in a deep breath. "And have you at least liaised with the Watcher from the other reality, the one from before this Potter boy showed up?"
"Yes it's all in hand, although she is having some trouble finding a new representative for the new reality."
"That's the least of our worries." She flipped her log book closed and folded her hands in front of her. "I want to know the second this Potter boy is back home, understood?"
"Right you are," said Alex, hastily collecting up all his documents and backing away from the desk. "I'm sure it will be fine, he's a sensible lad, he'll get himself back across in a jiffy I'm sure. Nothing to worry about."
"Nothing to worry about," murmured Jia as Alex gave her one last grin and slipped out the door. A moment passed as she stared at the tree-like diagram, the spiral of infinite possibilities, for every worthy decision, there was a branch, an offshoot. "Nothing to worry about," she said, and took another sip of congealed coffee.