Author’s Notes: This is a one-shot separate from “House Divided,”
written as an exercise in a different genre as well as a way to break writer’s
block… many, many thanks and barrels of laughs to Anya, both for corrupting and
motivating me, and to WHIMSY, for being the most incredible Emperor this poor
Americanized gal has ever seen. All feedback is, as always, appreciated!
Rated C for Creepy Content. Because I found it creepy, and Whimsy found
it creepy, and Anya IS creepy, and I’d rather warn you now than risk upsetting
It was rather unexpected, but hardly unpleasant, when Lisa
arrived with little Henry at the Morgans’ house that afternoon.
Amanda was upstairs, watering the potted plants in the guest
bedroom, when she heard her daughter-in-law calling. “Lisa? Is that you?” She
frowned, feeling instantly anxious. “Is everything alright?” These days, with
dangers around every corner, she was always worried for the safety of her
“Everything’s fine, I just – ” There was a slamming noise,
and Amanda could hear Lisa scolding her son for something… how unusual,
she thought to herself, frowning more deeply and setting down the watering can
on the ledge. He’s usually such a well-behaved little boy.
By the time she made her way through the hall and down the
stairs – slowly, for her hip was acting up again – little Henry had
disappeared, and Lisa was standing alone in the doorway, a worn travel bag
slung over her shoulder, looking positively frazzled.
“Lisa, dear! What a surprise!” Amanda said, gathering her up
in a hug. “Are you ill? You look a little worn…”
Lisa broke away and shook her head. “Just tired. Henry’s
“Nothing wrong with a little energy in a healthy boy.”
“Of course not.” But her tone was weary, and Amanda couldn’t
help but be worried. “Listen, Mum, I’m sorry to drop in on you like this…”
“Don’t be silly. You’re welcome any time, day or night, you
know that, dear…”
She shook her head again. “I know. But… well, Henry wants to
Amanda felt her face break into a happy grin. “Oh, John will
be so glad to hear that. I swear, he might just love that little boy more than
he loves the rest of us put together!”
“I know. But Henry just wouldn’t give me any peace about it,
Mum, I’ve never seen anything like it. Shouting nonstop that he wants to see
Granddad, that he won’t do anything until he sees Granddad, that he misses
Amanda thought that sounded rather out of character for
little Henry… such a quiet, nice boy, who loved his books more than anything.
“You know how boys are,” she said, trying to smile comfortingly. “They get
something in their heads, and they just won’t let it go…” Lisa didn’t respond,
instead looking away to the side and refusing to meet Amanda’s gaze. There were
dark shadows encircling her eyes, sticking out against her pale skin like deep
purple smudges. “But Lisa, dear, you look exhausted,” Amanda continued,
carrying over the pause, trying to hide her concern. “Why don’t you go home and
get some rest? I’ll watch Henry until John gets home, and then we’ll give him
some dinner, and John can Floo him back later this evening.”
“Dad’s not home?” Lisa’s eyes widened.
“No, he’s…” Amanda paused, wondering just how much she was
allowed to tell Lisa about John’s work for that mysterious Order group. She
decided not much. “He’s working late.”
“Oh, alright. Thanks, Mum,” she said softly, and she bent
down and kissed Amanda on the cheek. “I… I really need a break.”
“Don’t worry about a thing,” Amanda plastered on her best
motherly smile. Perhaps Henry was ill… perhaps Henry and Lisa were both ill…
and so she scurried off to find him right after Lisa left. It only took her a
few moments to locate her grandson, sitting demurely in the center of her
living room sofa, a book open on his lap.
“Hello, darling!” she said, bending over and giving him a
warm hug and a kiss on the forehead. “How are you?”
He barely returned the hug. After a moment, she drew back.
“Are you alright?”
Henry nodded curtly and said, “Where’s Granddad?”
Amanda narrowed her eyes and put her hands on her hips. “I’ll
thank you to greet me, Henry Morgan, like a civilized boy.”
He stared at her blankly for a moment before saying, “Hullo,
Grandma. Where’s Granddad?”
“At work. He’ll be home soon.”
Henry frowned, his small eyebrows furrowing as though he were
deciding whether this were an acceptable answer, but after a moment he looked
up and gave a small smile. “Okay.”
Amanda breathed an inaudible sigh of relief. “Do you need
anything, dear? Grandma’s just going to go upstairs and finish her cleaning, if
you’re all set with your book.”
Grinning more widely to reveal two missing front teeth,
Henry said, “Yup, I’m all set here. Just waiting for Granddad.” At this, he
buried his face back in the book, and Amanda knew that he could sit that way
for hours. She ruffled his soft curly head as she left the room, thankful that
she and John had been blessed with such a sweet grandchild.
But it was only twenty minutes later, when Amanda was
halfway through cleaning the master bathroom, that Henry reappeared. “When’s
Granddad going to be back? I want to see him now.”
Amanda had been kneeling down on the tile floor, casting
Scouring charms under the sink, and she rocked back onto her heels, setting
down her wand and holding the counter for balance. “Sorry, dear, I don’t expect
him back for at least another hour. Would you like something to eat?” Henry
shook his head stubbornly, an impatient scowl on his face. From her position on
the floor, Amanda felt an uncomfortable prickling behind her neck – she set her
jaw and tried to ignore it. “Well then, you’re just going to have to wait.” Turning
back to the sink, she started to lean over again, but she felt a sharp tap on
“Now, Grandma, now,” Henry whined, as though he hadn’t heard
or didn’t care about anything she had just told him. Amanda’s first reaction
was to blink in surprise – she didn’t think she had ever heard Henry whine,
yet alone at an adult – but her second, which very quickly overtook the first,
was to hoist herself up onto her feet and march him down the hallway into the
guest bedroom. Sitting him down in a straight-backed chair, Amanda took a deep
breath, counted to ten, and turned to address him. He was slouched down in the
chair, his arms folded across his chest, his face a mask of spoiled boredom. She
felt a sharp stab of something in her gut that she attributed to frustration.
If this is what Lisa’s been dealing with for the past
week, no wonder she’s exhausted.
Amanda cleared her throat and put her hands on her hips.
“Listen here, Henry Morgan, don’t you dare take that tone of voice with me!
Now, what is so important that you cannot wait an hour to talk to
Henry ignored her completely. Amanda sighed, beginning to worry
that she may have overreacted. But – no, Henry was out of line. He deserved to
be scolded. “I don’t care how upset you are, you may NOT speak to me that way.
Or to your Mum or Dad, or to Granddad, do you hear me?”
He sullenly refused to acknowledge her presence, and Amanda
was seized with an unreasonable urge to shake him. “What has gotten in to you?
You are NOT acting like yourself, Henry! Are you ill?”
At this, he finally looked up, and she was taken aback to
see that his expression was curious. “I’m not acting like myself?” His tone was
startlingly inquisitive, and somewhere in the back of her mind Amanda
registered something odd in his question.
“No,” she responded curtly. “The Henry I know is not rude to
Henry seemed to consider this, before sitting up in the
chair and looking at her politely. “I’m ever so sorry for being rude, Grandma,”
he said sincerely. Amanda watched him skeptically. “I just wanted to see
Granddad. I won’t do it again.” He looked up at her with large, round brown
eyes, and Amanda felt her heart melt quite against her will.
“Oh…” she struggled to stay angry with him and failed. The
curse of being a grandmother. “Alright, then. Run along – go finish your book.”
He jumped out of the seat, gave her a quick hug, and scampered out of the room
and down the stairs. She followed him to the door and watched him go, shaking
her head helplessly. Had all her children been like that? Maybe they had, and
it had just been so long since she’d reared them that she couldn’t remember.
A strange knocking noise from the next room startled her out
of her reverie, and she wandered curiously through the doorway to see what was
The window was open, and the wind blowing into the room was
causing the closet door to open and shut. How curious. Amanda couldn’t remember
opening the window, though she supposed she must have, but nevertheless she
felt somewhat uneasy as she walked across the room and tugged the window
“Just being silly,” she muttered to herself as she headed
back into the hallway, wiping her hands absently on her robes. “Now… where was
It was only a few minutes later, when she had eased herself
back down onto the bathroom floor to finish scouring the tiles, that she
realized her wand was missing.
“Henry, darling, you haven’t seen Grandma’s wand, have you?”
Amanda bustled into the room where Henry was sitting back on the sofa, face in
“No,” he said, without looking up.
“I must have left it somewhere,” Amanda said, sighing,
feeling not for the first time that old age was slowly creeping up on her. She leaned
up against the kitchen counter and tried to remember. “First I forget the
window, then I misplace my wand, for heaven’s sake…” her voice trailed
It hit her quite suddenly. “The window!” she breathed. “Merlin,
the window.” Amanda stood up, her heart pounding loudly in her chest, and
looked at the clock. Still a while before John would be home.
She involuntarily reached for her wand – it was a reflex,
after all these years in the Wizarding world, whenever she was nervous, or
afraid – and tried to laugh at herself when she realized that, of course, it
She thought she heard a thud upstairs.
Amanda froze. She could feel her heart speeding up its pace
in her chest, each thud seeming to resonate through her, as her stomach
instantly flopped over and tied itself in knots.
No, I must have imagined that… she thought
desperately, her hands clasped tightly. Imagination running away with me.
That’s what happens when your husband starts to work for a secret organization
and you leave the windows open…
But somehow, she wasn’t sure. And, as she glanced over at
Henry, who was obliviously reading his book on the sofa, she decided that she
wasn’t going to take any chances with her grandson’s life. Especially when she
didn’t have her wand.
“Henry, dear, how would you like to go out for dinner?” she
asked, walking toward him, trying to keep her voice light and steady.
He looked up at her. “To a restaurant?”
“Sure!” Amanda smiled. “Sure, to a restaurant.”
“Okay,” Henry shrugged. “Cool.”
“And I’m sorry, but you’ll have to wait a little longer to
But Henry was reading his book again. “No, I won’t…”
Amanda sighed, not feeling up to another argument. “You stay
right here and let Grandma go get her purse. We’ll take the Floo!” Henry nodded
vaguely, and she hurried into the front hall, where she’d left her purse by the
door. She eyed the stairs warily as she passed them and sped up slightly.
Snatching up her purse and hurrying with it back into the kitchen,
she ripped it open and took out a piece of paper, grabbing a quill that lay
abandoned on the counter. She paused, thinking of the best way to phrase this
for John without sounding completely foolish, and wrote:
I lost my wand and found the bedroom window open, thought
I heard a strange noise, so I’m taking Henry to O’Neill’s Pub for dinner. I’m
sure it’s nothing. Please be careful.
She would try to have one of the waiters at O’Neill’s
contact John for her from the restaurant, so he wouldn’t Apparate back here at
all. Just in case.
Setting the note down on the center of the counter, where
he’d be sure to see it, Amanda glanced over at the fireplace and was relieved
to see that she had left a fire burning from earlier in the afternoon. “Henry!”
she called, clutching her purse in one hand and reaching for the Floo powder
with the other, “Henry! Come on, dear, let’s go!” She grabbed a handful of the
powder, measuring it in her fist, letting some of the small grains fall back
into the jar.
Amanda shot a glance behind her. “Henry!” She tossed the
powder into the fire and stepped back, waiting for the inevitable green burst
Or maybe not so inevitable?
Amada stared, disbelieving, at the low, yellow flames.
“What?” she exclaimed, more to herself than anyone else as she grabbed another
handful of powder and threw it into the fire, careful to make sure it landed
right in the center. But there was no reaction.
There were only two things that could cause this, she
thought frantically, dropping her purse on the ground and reaching for the Floo
powder pot with two shaky hands. Either there was something wrong with the
powder, or her fireplace wasn’t connected to the Floo.
Amanda held the open pot close to her face and peered
inside. It was the same Floo powder she’d been using every day for the past
week, since she’d refilled the jar. There was nothing wrong with the powder.
But… that meant… in fear and anger, she emptied the entire jar of powder on top
of the flames, but they only hissed and spit and let the powder fall to the
stone bottom, remaining stubbornly yellow. Her rapidly pounding heart sped up
to a near frantic pace, and she could hear the blood roaring in her ears.
Amanda took a step back, shaking her head. “Disconnected?
Disconnected from the Floo? But there are only… only two people in the house,
and that’s me and Henry…” Running as fast as she could, ignoring a twinge in
her hip, she ran back into the living room. “Henry,” she gasped, dropping to
her knees and putting her hands on the boy’s shoulders, trying to impress the
urgency of the situation on him. “Henry, did you disable the Floo?”
“Did I what?” He frowned at her, puzzled. “I didn’t Floo
anywhere. Mummy doesn’t let me Floo by myself.”
“No, no, did you disable it? Did you… turn it off?”
Henry looked, if possible, more confused by this attempted
clarification, and he shook his head.
“No, of course not,” Amanda muttered to herself, stepping
back and letting go of his shoulders. “Of course you didn’t. You wouldn’t even
know how to do that, would you? I don’t even know how to do that.”
Henry shrugged and went back to his book.
The prickling sense of fear that had been steadily sneaking
up on Amanda for the past hour suddenly arrived full force. Backing up against
the wall, she tried to steady herself, but her hands were shaking badly, and
she heard herself say, “There’s someone in the house. Oh, God, there’s someone
in the house.”
An eerie silence fell, broken only by the periodic sound of
Henry turning the page of his book. A few minutes later – though it could have
been a few hours – she heard someone whistling at the door and almost tripped
over a chair as she rushed through the room and down the hallway to get there.
“Hello, love,” he said, appearing through the doorway with
his trademark grin, still the same even after more than twenty years of
marriage. “What’s the fuss?”
“John,” she gasped, throwing herself into his arms and
burying her face in his chest. “You’ve got to come, I think there’s someone in
“What?” He pushed her away, holding her at arm’s length to
get a look at her face. “What are you talking about?”
She breathlessly explained what had happened, about the
window and her missing wand and the Floo, and how she couldn’t fix it because
of her wand, and how she couldn’t Apparate out because she couldn’t leave Henry,
and she was too weak for Side Along Apparition…
“Henry?” John interrupted her. “What’s Henry doing here?”
“Lisa brought him over, he’s been clamoring to see you for
the past few days, apparently,” Amanda said, grabbing John’s hand and pulling
him into the living room. “He’s in here, we couldn’t Floo out…”
But John’s eyes were focused over her head and into the
room, and his face had paled slightly. “Where exactly did you leave him,
“Right on the sofa by – ” She whirled around, and she could
feel the blood draining from her face. “Oh my god.”
The room was empty.
“Don’t panic,” John said quickly, resting a large hand on
her arm. “I’m sure he’s just gone upstairs to get another book…”
Amanda nodded and tried to breathe, but the air was only
coming in shallow gasps.
“You check down here, and I’ll go upstairs, alright?” John
said, watching her closely. “Alright, Amanda?”
Her name shocked her back to reality. “Alright,” she said,
nodding quickly. “Go.”
She didn’t find anyone in the living room, or the kitchen,
or the bathroom, or either of the hallway cupboards… but several minutes into
her tense search, Amanda heard muffled shouts from upstairs and what sounded
like a chair being knocked over – panic filling her heart, she ran up the
stairs as fast as she could go, but by the time she reached the top, the shouts
She stood in the hall, terrified, feeling overwhelmingly
naked and vulnerable without her wand.
“John?” she ventured into the silence. “Henry?”
“Grandma?” a shaky voice called from the far bedroom. She
forgot her fear and ran to the door, tried the knob and found it was unlatched,
twisted and pushed it open with all her might. The room was in shambles, but
she barely had time to register the mess before her eyes found Henry,
white-faced and shaking, standing in the corner. She threw herself at him and
wrapped her arms around his small body tightly, afraid to let him go lest she
lose him again.
“Oh, Henry, I was so worried, you were gone, and then –
Henry, are you alright?”
They broke away, and Henry whimpered slightly. His eyes were
fixed over her right shoulder, and when she slowly turned around to follow his
gaze…the chest of drawers had crashed onto its side, and lying halfway underneath
it, with his head facing away from her and his leg twisted at a funny angle,
“John,” she cried, rushing forward, heedless of the danger,
not knowing or caring whether the attacker was still in the room. Falling to
the floor beside him, she saw a steady trickle of blood running from the top of
his head down his neck and dripping off his collar… she couldn’t see his face.
“Oh god, John, wake up,” she whispered, trying to push the chest
off him, but she wasn’t strong enough, and she was afraid that it would only
crush him further. Amanda sat in shock, her mind oddly blank – she had never
felt so helpless in her life.
“Grandma.” She jumped at the voice, which came from just
behind her ear, and her heart was thudding so loudly she could barely hear over
it as she turned around.
Henry was standing a few feet away, holding out her wand.
There was a moment’s initial shock, when Amanda couldn’t
quite believe her eyes, but then she let out a gasp and a shaky laugh of relief
and cried, “Henry, you found my wand! We can help Granddad now, thank you, dearest,
I can’t imagine how you found it…”
She reached out toward him, and Henry took a step back.
“Darling, I need my wand so I can help Granddad,” she said, slowly
overtaken by a growing horror as she realized that Henry had probably seen the
attack on John and… could he think that Amanda was going to hurt him, too? She
tried to steady her voice, smile reassuringly, tried not to frighten the boy
any more than he already was. “And I need to protect us from the bad person who
The terror of the situation hadn’t left her – she knew that
the attacker was somewhere near by and that they didn’t have a lot of time –
her husband was lying, crushed, on the floor – but at this laugh, Amanda felt
even more uneasy. She wasn’t sure why. It was just his laugh, Henry’s laugh,
the little merry laugh of a boy who’s been given a new book by his Granddad, or
who just finished a plate of cherry pie…
“Henry…” She inched toward him again, and he took another
step backward, her wand still clenched in his childish fist. “No – Henry – did
you see who did this?”
But a strange spasm crossed Henry’s face before it went
oddly blank, and he was… Amanda shook her head, back and forth, trying to clear
it, trying to make sense out of a world gone mad.
He was raising her wand and pointing it straight at her.
And then, in a flash that she almost wished she hadn’t
realized, it all became painfully clear.
“Who are you?” she whispered, horrified.
Henry’s eyes darkened, in a way no child’s ought to be able
to do, and he shouted something. Amanda closed her eyes. She didn’t want to
Sit on the bed.
Obediently, Henry sat. Henry always did as he was told – Mummy
had taught him that. She said that when he followed instructions so well it
made her proud. Like the time he did all the mathematics problems correctly and
Mummy gave him a gold star. She said he was such a good, bright boy and that he
would do great things someday.
He glanced unconcernedly around the room, swinging his legs
back and forth, taking in the wrecked chest of drawers, the torn curtain, the
broken window. It had broken on Grandma’s head when he made her fly backwards
Henry looked at the two bodies, one lying very still under
the heavy chest, the other under the window, yet the chest was heaving. Breathing.
Kill her. Kill her.
Henry frowned. He didn’t know how to kill. But he was a clever
boy, like Mummy said. After all, he hadn’t known how to turn off the Floo,
either, but the voice had taught him.
Henry nodded to himself and hopped off the bed, skipping
over to where Grandma was lying underneath the window. He was careful not to
step on any of the broken glass, and he tried to keep his trainers out of the
blood. They were new. He had just got them last week.
Henry opened his mouth to repeat the word. After a second,
he snapped it shut and frowned again, this time in confusion, because he didn’t
really want Grandma to be dead like Granddad was.
Grandma had said who are you? What a silly thing for
her to have asked. He was Henry, of course.
His chubby hand, holding Grandma’s wand, dropped slightly.
Henry didn’t like it when the voice shouted. Shouting was
for the kind of boys who didn’t follow instructions. Obediently, he raised the
wand back up, pointing it at Grandma’s neck. As he said the spell, he gave a
gap-toothed grin. Mummy would be so proud of him.
“Oh, and how horrible, a
nine-year-old boy has been arrested for trying to kill his grandparents, they
think he was under the Imperius Curse…”
- Hermione Granger, Harry
Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 21, The Unknowable Room