Disclaimer: All credit for the Harry Potter universe goes to the great JKR. I take credit only for the work that is clearly mine.

The Shadow of the Serpent:

Sequel to Home Alone


Through the mist, the darkness grows,
The Shadow of the Serpent goes.

Stronger, steadier, formless in stealth,
Anger, desire, self-loathing, wealth.

It seeps into the souls of men,
Corrupts the mind, struggles to win

The brave, the noble, the good of heart;
The kind, the gentle, the loyal art

Forsaken to its almighty power.
All is lost, the midnight hour

But hope springs forth if he holds true,
Victory comes to the chosen few.

Into the darkness the child, the foe,
The men return that destiny knows.

The battle rages, the pieces set,
Out of the depth of hell they met.

The plume of the serpent,
The jewel of the eye,
The feather of tears,
The gift of the sky.

Look up to the heaven,
Look out to the sea.
The child of Lightning
And Thunder is he!

The Legend...

In ancient days, in the land of Mesoamerica, there were once three sophisticated and enlightened civilisations. These civilisations thrived until the Spanish Conquistadors came and conquered the land, dividing the people.

In those days, the magical people of these three civilisations banded together and formed a secret society. They hid themselves from the rest of the world, far away from the influence of the politics of the time and the brutal Spaniards, settling on the magical island of Tlilli Tlapalla - the land of wisdom. There they remained hidden for centuries, until one man discovered their secret. In exchange for knowledge and ancient artefacts to take back to the Wizard and Muggle world, he agreed to keep their secret.

The man's name was Stephen Hunter. The people of the island knew him as an honourable man and called him Xolotl, because it was foreseen he would play a great role in the coming dark days. It was prophesied that Xolotl would return the true Prince to the world, ultimately saving it from destruction at the hands of the evil sorcerer, Tezcatlipoca.

Many centuries before the Prince-God, Quetzalcoatl, was forced out by an evil plot formulated by the hand of his enemy, Tezcatlipoca. He sailed away to the East on a raft of serpents and birds. He promised the people that he, or one of his sons, would return one day to free the world from the evil hand of his enemy.

This is the story of the legend of the defender of humanity - the Plumed Serpent, Quetzalcoatl - and how the boy, Harry Potter, became a man.

Present Day...

Albus Dumbledore paced the floor of his office, deep in thought. The letter had been one of the hardest he had ever written and he could only hope he had chosen the right words. That one letter had to accomplish the impossible. Losing the boy now would be devastating to their cause. There was simply too much at stake to fail.

Dumbledore shuffled his feet nervously as he paced. Harry's recent behaviour was the latest in a string of troubling events that kept him up late into the wee hours of the morning. The incident a few days ago at Privet Drive had been as frightening for him as it had been for those watching. Harry had actually trained his wand on him and spoken in a voice that was more Tom Riddle than Harry Potter. Dumbledore shuddered at the memory of his cold, green eyes twisted with hate. He had always known Harry was a very powerful wizard, but even he was shocked at the power radiating off the boy. Harry could easily have blown the house apart if he had wanted to.

Why had he allowed it to get this far? He had known Tom would try something like this. His fatal mistake had been placing his trust in a man he knew harboured a grudge against the boy. He knew Severus was not perfect. But he had truly believed his old friend could overcome his past for the sake of the greater good. Unfortunately it had been a costly mistake- one that could possibly be their undoing.

'No!' he thought angrily as he slammed his fist down on his desk. He would never allow that to happen. Tom Riddle would not win this time. As long as Stephen Hunter could be convinced, Voldemort would be stopped. As long as the ex-Auror could put aside his anger and hate...

Dumbledore shook his head and attempted to drag his thoughts from the past. He had to focus on Harry now. Harry was far too vulnerable and much too valuable to lose. Only a month ago, he had come close to losing the boy once again because of his foolish mistakes. Now he must rectify those errors.

His heart filled with pain as he remembered how distraught Harry had been after the Department of Mysteries incident. He would give his life to protect the boy if he could. A single tear slid down his cheek and he choked with emotion. No matter how much he hated it, the plan he had conceived fifteen years ago must go forward. If only there was another way-

A loud knock interrupted his meditation. With Dumbledore's permission, Kingsley Shacklebolt strode through the door, his massive dark frame filling the doorway forebodingly. He was not smiling.

"Headmaster," he said in his characteristic deep voice that reverberated through Dumbledore's inner sanctum like a loud gong. "There has been a development near Privet Drive. The Potter boy... he's acting funny again. If we don't do something soon, people may get hurt."

Dumbledore sighed. With or without Hunter, he would have to act. He hated to do it to Harry, but he really had no choice. "Call Severus," he said sadly. "It is time."

Far away, a letter was delivered to a sandy-haired man, sitting by himself on a quiet strip of beach. He recognised the bird at once. It was his old Snowy owl, Zeus.

The bird landed lightly on his extended arm. Despite himself, Stephen Hunter felt a wave of happiness wash over him at the sight of his old friend. He had left Zeus behind when he had left England, just as he had left everything behind.

"You're looking old, Zeus," he told the bird fondly as he smoothed his feathers.

Zeus gave an indignant hoot.

"Yes, I suppose I'm looking old as well," Hunter laughed lightly. "It's good to see you again, my friend."

The regal animal blinked and hooted a reproachful, but equally fond response.

"What are you doing so far from home?" he asked.

It was only when Zeus held out his leg that he noticed the letter. Hunter untied the letter from the bird's leg, an uneasy feeling settling in the pit of his stomach. Who would know that the only way to find him was through his owl?

Even though he had left him behind, Zeus always turned up from time to time to check on him. Hunter had tried to discourage the bird, but Snowy owls were known for their keen intellect, fierce loyalty, and stubborn temperament. Zeus refused to go away for good, no matter how much Hunter wanted him to. He had no idea where the bird went or who he came into contact with, but he always checked in eventually.

Turning his attention the letter, his uneasiness intensified. One glance at the loopy handwriting written in green ink, and his heart was pounding. His handsome, weather-worn face darkened in recognition.

Hunter's first impulse was to rip the letter apart and throw the pieces in the ocean. There was nothing Dumbledore could say that he would want to hear. Those bridges had been burned long ago, and he was never going back.

Several times he made to tear it up, but something always stopped him. For almost an hour he sat there, alternatively crumpling and smoothing out the folded parchment, a silent battle raging in his head. Zeus had long grown tired of the game, and had flown off in search of a tasty snack and a long rest. Hunter knew he would return eventually looking for a reply, and he had yet to even open the damned thing. Why did Dumbledore have to do this to him now?

Building up his resolve, Hunter finally counselled himself to open the letter. If he didn't, he knew he'd regret it. The thought of Dumbledore making him lose any more sleep than he already had over the years was unacceptable. He needed to know what the old man wanted so that there would be no question in his mind when he rejected the content of the letter. He couldn't possibly imagine what the old man could want that hadn't already been said years before.

Taking a deep breath, he slit open the envelope and slid the parchment out of its snug home with shaking fingers. Carefully he unfolded the letter and began to read.

Dear Mr. Hunter,

I debated long and hard before contacting you, but I feel I
have no choice. You may or may not know that our old nemesis,
Lord Voldemort, has indeed returned and is attempting to
gather his forces together once again. But it is not this
news, however grave it may be, that has prompted me to seek
you out after all this time.

My primary focus these days is on young Mr. Potter. The boy,
as you very well know, is our only hope of defeating Voldemort
once and for all. Indeed, he is a remarkable young man - very
much his father's son. James would surely be proud of the
person he has become.

Harry needs your help, Stephen. He shares a mind connection
with Voldemort through his curse scar, and Tom is taking
advantage of this connection. Harry needs to learn Occlumency
and you are the best Occlumens I have ever worked with. I
would do it myself, if I could, but Tom's feelings about me
are interfering and making the connection stronger.

I know that we have had our differences in the past. I am
hoping that you can set our history aside and do this, not for
me, but for James and Lily. You and Harry have both lost your
families to Voldemort. Harry has also lost his childhood.
Please don't let him lose his life.

As you consider what I have said, do not let your personal
feelings towards me cloud your judgement on this issue. I am
confident that once you consider the matter, you will agree to
help because it is the right thing to do.

I hope this letter finds you well, Stephen, and that you have
found the peace that you sought. Know that if you ever decide
to come home, there will always be a place for you at
Hogwarts. You are in my thoughts constantly.

Albus Dumbledore

Hunter cursed as he crumpled the letter in frustration. He intended to throw the thing as far away from him as possible, but it was as if glue were bonding the parchment to his hand. He couldn't do it, and that made him even angrier. Dumbledore always knew just what to say to make him think twice about refusing. He hated the man all the more for knowing him so well.

He sat on the beach for a good long while, willing himself not to break but unable to hold the tide back any longer. Like an empty well, the tears did not fall easily. His sobs were guttural and anguished. He hadn't cried in years - not since that night - but the letter had opened a chasm in his soul. It was a wound he thought he had buried along with his wife and son.

When he was finished, he uncurled the letter from his clenched fingers, smoothed it out, and read it again. He knew he could not refuse. He had known for a long time that his destiny was intertwined with another's. Without question, it had begun.

[A/N: I'm so sorry this was delayed. I promise that I have been working on it steadily since completing Home Alone. However, the week after I published the last chapter, I found out that my husband was being transferred and we had to move. Subsequently, I decided to wait until after the move and we were settled to publish the sequel to Home Alone.

So... here we are, one week into our new home, and here is the Prologue to the sequel that I promised. Thank you to everyone who emailed or reviewed asking about my progress. Your inquiries helped keep me motivated. I cherish each and every review, email, and critique.

I hope you like this story. It is more serious, in-depth, and complicated than Home Alone- but hopefully with all of the same elements of humour, angst, fluff, suspense, and drama. If anyone is curious about the history surrounding the legend, I assure you that I am not so creative that I made any of it up. It is straight from history and can be found easily on the web. I did however adapt it somewhat to fit my purposes. Mesoamerican culture is fascinating. I found such rich information that fit so perfectly into the Harry Potter universe that I couldn't believe my luck. Not much embellishment was needed.

I hope you'll like the direction I've taken this universe. I'll continue to rely on canon as much as possible, but I wanted to take my writing one step further and try to develop a deeper story with plot and substance. Hopefully it will be worthy in your eyes.

Now for the downside... Updates will be slower for this story, I'm sorry to say. I'll try my best to write quicker, but I'm making no promises. I do have several very long chapters already written (most average over 7,000 words), but I started a new job this week and I know that I'll be busy. The level of writing has forced me to slow down and take my time so as to not make mistakes with plot, grammar, spelling, and character development. I hope you understand. I wouldn't even be publishing this now if it weren't for the weekly responses I get from many of you out there. I'm a lover of fan fiction too, so I know how it is. Just know that I will finish, even if it takes me a long time. It gives me new insight into why OotP took so long!

Finally, thanks again to my beta reader, Chromatix, for all his input and emails. I really appreciate him. I also need to thank my family for their understanding (most days) and encouragement. It means the world to me.

Now... on to Shadow of the Serpent!]