Another short chapter. I have been enjoying break and spending time with my loved ones. My life partner was able to return for a brief one week visit. He's been living in Africa since May of 2012, and I have been unable to see him since then. We've missed each other quite desperately. Well, only nine more months until he's done with this overseas business. Yay! The documentary is still in the works, though the 25 minute promo came out to be a wild success. You might see it floating around the internet as a study of LGBT Identity Development theory. That's what my research is focused around for both my masters and my doctorate. I critically compare LGBT identity development theories that were created in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s and compare them to modern community members and how their developmental schemes differ. I hope that you enjoy this chapter. I wish it could have been longer, but I needed to end it where it ends for writing and chapter purposes. And believe me I stared at my keyboard long and hard before deciding to not add further work onto it. Well, enjoy!
Harry gasped and sat up, his body caked in sweat. What had woken him? Slowly the world came back into focus and the wizard regained his bearings. He was at one of the many safe houses that had been established for the resistance. His phone was ringing! Blindly, Harry reached out and slid his finger across the touch screen to answer the call and then put it on speakerphone.
"Potter." He answered curtly without checking to see who it was. His entire body was in unimaginable pain, and he hadn't the foggiest clue why.
"Harrison, this is Morgan." Harry sat straight up and couldn't contain the strangled yell of pain that erupted from his lips.
"Potter- Potter are you okay?" Morgan's tone was frantic and Harry's teeth grit harshly as he laid himself back down.
"I." He thought quickly. "I was in an automobile accident yesterday." Harry summed up. "I am currently in the hospitable."
There was a curse on the other line. "How badly are you hurt?"
Harry pulled back the covers and saw that his entire body was covered in tinged green bandages. That was a healers sign for extreme burns. The bandages covered absolutely everything that he could see. "Most of my body is burned, Morgan. I don't think that they expected me to wake up through the sedation."
Morgan was silent for a long time. "Potter, someone attacked Penelope- and I want to know what's going on."
Harry sighed, he had to explain some thing, it seemed. "Is she hurt badly?" Was his first question.
"No, but Prentiss, one of her friends didn't make it." Harry sighed loudly and sunk back into his pillow.
"You have my utmost condolences."
"Tell me what is going on, Harry!" Morgan's voice held a tinge of what Harry could only identify as mild panic.
"She was most likely targeted because of me." Harry confessed. "As my accident was not truly that much of an accident." In for a knut in for a sickle. "Once upon a time I was a leader in an underground operation that stood against the terrorists that gripped much of the UK and other European countries. It never showed in the news just how deeply the terrorists had rooted themselves into our lives and government, and that was how we wanted it. We defeated them, or at least that was how it appeared.
"I left. Retired, turned in everything and became a normal citizen. I went to university and eventually ended up in D.C. working with art and loving what I was doing." Harry paused and his throat closed with emotion. "The terrorists are back, Morgan."
The silence on the other end of the line was deafening. "And you just, what? Took off without a care or thought to the people here who you put in danger?" The FBI Special Agent's outrage was clearly evident.
"No, of course not!" Harry stated. "I put several people in place to look after Penelope- and all of you. I let nothing to chance." Tears pricked the back of his eyes and Harry was angry at himself for the betraying body action. "I don't know how they got to her!"
"Well, they did, and now one of us is dead." A knock on the door startled and broke the moment before the familiar head of Pavarti Patil poked through the now cracked open entryway.
"I'm sorry, Harry but I'm afraid that you'll have to end your phone call now. By all rights you shouldn't even be awake. As it is we need to look over your wounds and redress your wrappings."
Harry sighed. "Morgan, as you've undoubtedly heard- I have to go. Please, look after my girl for me until I get back?"
There was silence once again before Morgan clipped back, "Don't bother coming back." The line went dead and it was as though a huge whole at taken up residence in Harry's chest. He had blown it.
When Morgan knocked on Hermione's door, she didn't know what to expect. She let in the man who had become a very close friend and closed the door behind him. She had sent Rose off to her parents house in Australia for safe keeping, and the townhouse felt that much emptier without her little lovebug.
"Derek." Hermione broached carefully, he didn't seem to be in a mood to be trifled with. If anything he looked angrier than a stung boar. She reached out a hand to touch him. The two had grown closer than they would ever let on at the office. He was the perfect combination of brawn and brains that she found quite alluring. Though they hadn't officially spoke about it, she was sure that he felt the same way.
"Don't." He warned her and Hermione backed off in respect, but not without a tint of emotional pain. He began to pace around her living space and Hermione took a seat on the couch. He would speak when he was ready and not a moment sooner.
"When were you going to tell me that this was all some charade?" His words came out hot, fast, and angry.
Hermione's heart chilled to ice in her chest and then sunk dejectedly into her stomach. "Derek." She sighed. She wasn't going to insult his intelligence by trying to convince him that his knowledge wasn't true.
"I doubt that you'll believe a word that I say right now." That got Derek seated on the plush sofa seat that kitty cornered her couch. It was he that reached out and clasped their hands together.
"Tell me, because I want to believe in you- but it's so hard right now."
Hermione weighed her pros and cons before going all in. She couldn't tell him about magic, at least not until he signed the statute, however she could tell him some things and frankly, he deserved answers. Prentiss' death had hit him quite heavily. She had met the woman on a few occasions either physically or through a group conference phone or video call, and had liked the former agent.
"I took the job with Strauss though my qualifications could get me a much more suitable position. I had divorced my husband of some many years and was fighting a large custody battle over the parental rights to my son and daughter." She met Derek's startled expression with a calm eye. "My husband is a lesser son from an old Ducal house. Our son was still the first-born son of this particular line and old laws stated that he and his family had first claim and right to him. I was going to lose both children when Harry appeared on my doorstep.
"Harry had been my best friend growing up, he had also been the best friend to my former husband. The three of us attended the same boarding school and then served in combat together. Harry initially married Ron's younger sister (Derek's face switched), before divorcing her due to her marriage infidelities. I needed help to get out of Ron's, my former husband, and his family's clutches. He wanted me to move here so that Rose and I would have a chance at happiness, and possibly the eventual chance of getting my son back. He also brought me here to protect Penelope and all of you."
"But why weren't we alerted to the danger?" Morgan wanted to know, as he tried to keep his anger in check. He had begun to- no he doubted that he could ever have feelings for this woman now.
Hermione sighed. "It wasn't as though we didn't want to inform you, it's just that we can't." Green hazel eyes locked with chocolate brown ones and then held. "You know what it's like to work with classified information. I've seen your case files- remember the anthrax case where you couldn't even inform your own families?"
Derek's anger abetted slightly. "Do you remember how helpless that feeling was? That's what we've been living with. There are others here who Harry put in place to help keep you all safe. I can't believe one of the threats got through our network, but according to the chatter he was working alone and without informing the others in his network." She sighed and leaned back, thankful that their hands were still held so tightly together. "Small miracles that these men hate working together and sharing their knowledge.
That was the wrong thing to say. "Small miracles that Prentiss is dead?" Derek's anger returned white hot to run through his veins.
Hermione squared him with a look. "Morbidly speaking, Derek?" She paused. "Yes, we're very lucky that she was the only casualty. We're dealing with terrorists who have killed more people than the Twin Towers attack. When I got to the apartment and saw that you were alive, I was so relieved. I incapacitated the attacker, stemmed the blood flow as much as I could with Penelope and then checked on Emily." The witch sighed. "She most likely died on impact."
Derek made a noise that clearly designated this to be the truth.
"That man could have, and usually would have killed everyone in that apartment, and probably that building. It was sheer luck that he was such a sadistic and overall sloppy man."
They were quite for a long time and Derek ran his fingers over her knuckles again and again. His temper was furious and he knew that. It was what often got him in trouble. Hermione had moved halfway across the world to help protect people she didn't know. From her words, her overall disposition, and her body language everything that she had had been genuine. He had been in that position of having his hands tied, but knowing that and being there didn't make this any easier. Emily was dead- and this time it would be for real and goodbye.
Without thought he brought their hands to his lips and laid a feather light kiss on the back of her hands. His movements stilled as his brain caught up with his actions. Almost as though she burned him, Derek dropped her hands before storming out of the town house and away from Hermione.
I hope that you all enjoyed this short chapter. Longer ones will be coming, but as I enter into this last leg of my degree program I can so incredibly swamped. I just want to thank you all for riding out this journey with me, and note that it will continue to be a pleasure for some time to come.