Seeking Truth

The inevitable occurred, ladies and gentlemen - I started a Harry Potter fanfiction. To those who are reading Here and There, never fear; that story shall have its proper end. I'm at the point where I'm slowly becoming bald attempting to figure out where it has decided to go, and therefore need to set it aside and work on something else. Welcome to that Something Else. This is still a work in progress, but the first three chapters are roughly completed, meaning that they should be up relatively soon. Until then...enjoy my first jump into writing with one of my favorites stories. ^.^

Chapter One – Meeting Potter

"Mr. Potter?"

Harry's attention was drawn from his work at the feminine voice before him. It sounded, strangely enough, both confident and tentative, as if the speaker knew what she ought to do but was terrified to do so. His emerald eyes shot up to take in the woman who stood tensely before his desk. She was taller than he, curvy without looking too thin, and surprisingly muscular. Her curling black hair rested in a low ponytail on her neck, but wisps of it dangled crazily about her face in defiance. The dark silver eyes that studied him back were round in surprise, framed by a plain oval pair of navy glasses. She wore only a touch of makeup, from what he could tell, and seemed particularly uncomfortable in the olive robes she toyed with unconsciously. Giving her a bright smile, Harry nodded.

"Yes? Can I help you?"

He saw her breath hitch slightly as she clasped her hands before her, tight enough that the knuckles turned pale. For a long while she simply stared at him, occasionally opening her mouth as if to speak but changing it to a cough as uncertainty overwhelmed her. He was on the verge of suggesting they move to an empty conference room when she found her voice once more.

"Hi," she said lamely and cringed. The internal struggle of remaining calm without sounding like an idiot was apparent on her face, and Harry found it all highly amusing. "My name is Elizabeth – " She cut herself off, brows furrowing and a slightly dark shadow overcoming her features. Her gaze fell to her hands, where she twirled a plain copper ring on her thumb. "Well, Elizabeth's my first name. That much I know for sure."

Harry's curiosity continued to escalate as he observed her. Why was a young American witch standing cryptically before his Ministry desk, speaking in riddles? Normally he would have been irritated by this seemingly pointless interruption – even though he wasn't out on the field at the moment didn't mean he wasn't busy as hell – but his interest in the woman won against the emotion. Oddly, he was drawn to know more.

"This was a stupid idea," the woman suddenly affirmed, her tone matter-of-fact. "I'm bothering you at work…and I don't even really know…and I can't even…" She sighed, pushing a strand of hair behind her ear and readjusting her wand. Harry hadn't even noticed it before; the wooden instrument rested between her ear and the glasses in a very Luna-like fashion. The action made him grin until he noticed her slowly backing away.

"Wait…Miss Elizabeth!" he called as she twisted about, already racing down the rows of desks. He rose to his feet to follow, ignoring the curious glares of his co-workers as he attempted to catch up. He could not feel certain why, but he knew he could not let the woman leave just yet.

She paced by the lift when he finally discovered her, but unfortunately he was not the first. As the doors rattled open, the Minister himself stepped out, instantly taking her in as she made to enter his place. With a booming laugh that made her jump, he placed an incredulous hand on her shoulder.

"Miss Potter?" Kingsley asked, his eyes raking over her now-white face. "It cannot be! Hermione said you'd be arriving soon…but certainly you must…and here's Harry now!"

Reluctantly, she spun about, mouth gaping as she turned to Harry. He was frozen to the spot more solidly than if someone had cursed him there, his mind attempting to understand what Kingsley had called her. "Potter…?" he muttered, finally taking a single step forward. His motion, though subtle, set her off, causing her to lunge into the lift just as the doors began to close. He heard her call out to him before she vanished behind the enormous barrier.

"I need to go – I'm sorry!" With that, the woman vanished, leaving a flabbergasted Harry to turn to his sheepish boss.

"What the hell was that about?"

Kingsley frowned, unable to properly meet Harry's eyes. "I believe I may have just made a very grave mistake."

"Stupidstupidstupidstupidstupid," Liz muttered to herself as she made her way back to the Leaky Cauldron, the inn where Hermione had arranged for her to stay. Barely in the country (back in the country, she reminded herself with a grimace) and she already made a fool of herself. She stormed into the establishment, ignoring the barkeep's concerned expression as she bolted up to her room. Locking the door behind her, she yanked off the atrocious robes and threw them on her bed, digging through her bag for her OWL. She couldn't remember life before the wizarding smart phone – it had all of the efficiency and convenience of its Muggle counterpart with a few magical touches that made it a godsend. She'd had it altered so she could use it in the UK, mostly because she hadn't been away from her shop for more than an afternoon since opening it two years previously and was anxious to ensure her employees could reach her if need be. Pressing her thumb to the screen, the device recognized her print and unlocked, allowing her to quickly dial the necessary number. She set the phone on the mantel and plopped ungracefully into an armchair as it rang.

Faintly, she heard an anxious male voice answer. "Lizzie? That you? Are you there?"

"Conrad, view," she demanded of the device, and immediately the voice grew louder as the phone responded to her command. Before long, the tall, wiry frame of her assistant materialized before the fireplace, his colors dimmed to pastels by the magic as if she were watching a ghost of his shape. His already concerned expression turned darker as she came into view.

"What happened? What'd that bastard of a British hero do?"

She chuckled, giving the man a small grin that was more of a scowl. "It wasn't him, Alex, it was me. I couldn't do it."

"So wait…he still doesn't know?" her friend asked, taking a seat on his end of the line. The sight of Alex seemingly suspended in air in front of her empty fireplace nearly sent her into a fit of hysterical giggles, but Liz fought the inclination. The boy was already concerned enough about the state of her sanity.

"No. God, Alex, it was so awkward…he was minding his own business, doing his job…and I just showed up, completely unannounced, and without any idea what I was going to do or even say. He was so nice and I just…froze. I couldn't ruin his day with something like this; he didn't deserve it."

"Finding out he may have a relative isn't going to ruin his day, Lizzie," Alex reassured her gently, pity in his tone. "If he's as great as everyone claims – hell, if he's a decent enough human being in general – he should be happy about it."

Sighing, she kicked off her shoes, pulling her knees over the arm of her chair to allow her feet to dangle. "I know. But he's been through so much already, and he's only twenty for heaven's sake, and I've had it so calm in comparison…I never should have come, not without understanding for sure. This isn't worth it. I'm not worth it."

"Elizabeth Anne Hogan, or Potter, or whoever the hell you are, you are so worth it. You are smart, witty, brilliant, attractive, and possibly the funniest person I know. I am more than willing to share you with those Red Coats simply because everyone ought to have the chance to meet the awesome that is you – Mr. Golden Boy included."

"That was so offensive…," she muttered, trying to hide her smile behind her hand. "'Red Coats,' Alex? Really? Add that to the list of things I should not say while on this side of the pond."

"Well, it got you to smile, didn't it?" he replied with a self-satisfied grin before becoming serious once more. "But seriously, Liz – he needs to know."

With a grimace, she said, "About that…he might by now. There was this guy…he recognized me, don't ask me how, and called me Potter in front of him…and I ran. God, I am such a coward, Alex."

"You are not a coward – it's a natural reaction to run from a possible threat. You may not have been through the same problems, Lizzie, but you've had your fair share of hardship and performed amazingly. You don't give yourself enough credit, my friend."

"I need to find Hermione," she stated, more to herself than to her assistant. Abruptly, she glanced at her watch and back at him, face rueful. "Alex! It's 11 a.m. here! That means…five hours…I woke you up! I'm so sorry!"

He shrugged her apology off. "I assumed you'd call; I was already awake. Besides, I need to get in to the shop a bit early this morning anyway, to prepare for the first day sans owner. Consider yourself my alarm clock."

"I better let you go," she countered, giving him a soft smile. "Good luck today. Don't let Gorton blow himself up. Call me if you need anything."

"We'll be fine – worry about your own issues. Keep us updated."

"I will, and hopefully I won't call you at 6 a.m. again. Talk to you soon."

"Lizzie. Speak with him. He can't be mad at you – you knew as much as he did. He deserves to know."

"I'm aware. Just…give me some time. Miss you."

"We miss you too. Everything will be fine." With that, his image flickered and Liz was alone. Groaning, she pulled herself to her feet, searching for the last letter she received from Hermione. They began their correspondence a few months before, when Hermione contacted Liz with information that jarred the American's seemingly straightforward existence. It took a long while (and many, many letters) for Liz to even begin to believe the witch, but the evidence in her favor was astronomical. She was almost certainly a Potter, and the famous Harry Potter's sole remaining magical blood relative. Such a possibility demanded to be acted upon, leading Liz to the country she was born in yet did not remember.

Finding Hermione's letter, she glanced over it, searching for the address to her flat. Summoning her OWL, she read it the address, and before long a thin white line, visible only to her, led her in the proper direction. Pocketing the gadget and her wand as she reached for her Muggle jacket, she made her way out of the inn, intent upon waiting for Hermione to return so that they could speak.

Harry couldn't get any more information out of Kingsley, much to his frustration. Unable to continue his work until his curiosity had been satisfied, he went to the one person he sought answers from since the age of eleven: Hermione Granger. He followed the familiar path to her office, hoping she wouldn't be too busy on her lunch hour to have a chat with one of her best friends. As he reached the end of the long line of closed doors that eventually led to hers, he spotted her and Ron walking in his direction. The looks of pleasant surprise on both their faces faded when they noticed his expression.

"What's wrong, mate?" Ron asked, releasing his fiancé's hand. "What happened?"

"I think…I just met a relative," he mumbled, running a hand through the chaotic mass of hair atop his head. Ron seemed as incredulous as he was, but Hermione's hand flew to her mouth, brown eyes wide.

"Oh no…she's here? Already?" She darted back to her office, the two men close behind. Grabbing her purse and giving Ron an apologetic squeeze on the arm, she turned to Harry. "It's complicated, Harry – I haven't the time to explain now. I'm sorry. I've got to find her."

"Hermione, wait! Who is she? Where are you going?" Harry's desperation was evident in his tone, causing her to stop.

"I can't do the thing properly right now, but please, just…trust me. I need to find her. I never expected her to come to you first…bloody independent Americans…I'll be back soon!" She dashed toward the lifts, but Harry had been deserted in such a way too often that day. Dragging a very confused Ron along behind him, they followed her, staying close enough to see her without being spotted. She immediately headed for the Leaky Cauldron, darting upstairs and back down almost instantly. She did not seem surprised to find the two waiting for her below.

"She's gone," Hermione fretted as Ron placed a comforting arm around her shoulders. "What did you do to her, Harry James Potter?!"

"What I did?" he flustered, his anger rising. "She came to me, Hermione! Completely unexpected and completely mental! Blathering about names and speaking in puzzles…tell me now, Hermione, before we go any further. Who is she?"

Reluctantly, Hermione breathed out a sigh. "Her name's Elizabeth Hogan – at least it was. She's a highly gifted Potions mistress, the youngest America's seen in decades, and owns a shop outside of New York City. I decided to do some digging, after being told…something…and found her." Her eyes finally met his, a mixture of fear and excitement in her gaze. "Harry, I think she's your cousin."

There's a reason why this is a work in progess...and typos are inevitable. My fuming inner editor is ashamed. Kudos to my friend Jori for finding my error and correcting me. "Gastronomical" indeed... XD