The Sugar Quill
Author: Falling Damps (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Henry  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

“Henry

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 people later!

 

 

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 family…

 

“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 been… energetic.”

 

“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 see Dad.”

 

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 Granddad…”

 

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 her shoulder.

 

“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 Granddad?”

 

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 his elders.”

 

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 causing it.

 

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 closed.

 

“Just being silly,” she muttered to herself as she headed back into the hallway, wiping her hands absently on her robes. “Now… where was I?”

 

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 his book.

 

“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 off.

 

The window…

 

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 wasn’t there.

 

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 see Granddad.”

 

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:

 

John,

 

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.

 

Love, Amanda

 

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 of flame.

 

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. “John! John!”

 

“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 the house…”

 

“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, Amanda?”

 

“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 had stopped.

 

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, was…

 

“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 did this.”

 

Henry laughed.

 

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 see.

 

 

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 into it.

 

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.

 

Say “Suffocare.”

 

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.

 

Say “Suffocare.”

 

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.

 

Suffocare!

 

Grandma had said who are you? What a silly thing for her to have asked. He was Henry, of course.

 

Suffocare!

 

His chubby hand, holding Grandma’s wand, dropped slightly.

 

SUFFOCARE!

 

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

//
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