The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe was created and is owned by J.K.
Rowling. My story is for entertainment purposes only, and no infringement
of rights is intended.
Note: The phrase "Butterfly Effect" comes from the theory that seemingly
insignificant events (such as the flutter of a butterfly's wings) can cause
a chain of events which leads to dramatic or large-scale phenomena (such
as the formation of a tornado).
Thanks to my beta, Emelye, for pointing out typos, adding Britishisms, and
providing assistance and encouragement.
August 31, 1979
Darkness spread like a thick blanket across the parlour, but the man braced
against the stiff upholstery of the armchair found no comfort in its obscuring
cover. A single candle stub, flickering on the edge of the stone mantelpiece,
allowed him to follow the steady progress of the carriage clock as it counted
down the minutes until sunrise. Silence magnified every sound, from the rhythmic
tick of passing time to his own measured breaths, while sleep, even rest,
Eleven more hours, and he would be waving good-bye to his children as the
Hogwart's Express rounded the first gentle curve on its journey north. Eleven
hours, and they would pass into Albus Dumbledore's protection . . . as safe
as anyone could possibly be while Voldemort's followers expanded his reign
of terror. Perhaps, after the children had returned to school, Phaedra would
be willing to abandon their facade of normalcy, and the two of them could
move into his sister's flat in the city. Despite her unquestionable talents,
he had grave misgivings about Amelia living alone during these perilous times,
and there was a small measure of protection, for all of them, to be found
in the strength of numbers.
His eyes drifted to the three trunks, lined up like beasts of burden along
the parlor wall, waiting to perform their role in delivering the innocent
from evil. How far into blackness had his world descended, that school was
no longer an adventure but an escape? Would his children ever know the simple
joys he had taken for granted in his own youth, without a cloud of violence
threatening every step? Ten hours and fifty nine minutes, and they would
be safe . . . .
He blinked several times, too exhausted for a moment to resist the downward
pull of his heavy eyelids. In his mind's eye, he pictured Phaedra upstairs
in their cozy four poster bed. She would be fighting sleep as he was, her
hand convulsing on her wand, as she too counted down the hours and minutes
until their children's departure. The image wasn't a comforting one, and
he tried instead to paint a mental image of three tousled blonde heads, nestled
into pillows amid untroubled dreams of friends and lessons and Quidditch
practice. Ten hours and fifty eight minutes . . . .
A tiny creak caused him to bolt upright, tightening his grip on his wand
as he pivoted in the direction of the wooden staircase. As his eyes adjusted
once again to the darkness, he met the wide-eyed stare of his youngest daughter,
who stood frozen on the bottom step. Wisps of honey-colored hair, having
escaped from the long plait down her back, circled her head like a halo,
and her bare toes peeped from under the edge of her nightdress. Her slender
fingers were deathly white on the banister as her blue eyes flitted from
his upraised wand to his face and back again.
"You're supposed to be asleep, Poppet." As he spoke, he forced his features
to relax into a semblance of parental calm. Her lips compressed, and he thought
for a moment she might be distracted by his revival of the childish nickname.
She wasn't deceived, though, and her gaze remained riveted to his wand even
after he dropped it casually to his side.
"Are you expecting trouble tonight?" she asked, with a calm maturity that
both surprised and impressed him. She was growing up so fast, and he was
torn between shielding her from the truth and preparing her for the worst.
"I'm not expecting trouble, Parthencia," he said, reverting to his daughter's
proper name as he sought a middle ground, "but it's always best to be prepared.
You've heard about . . . about the dark wizards who've been causing trouble
in our world, and I'm concerned that things may get worse before they get
Her face was solemn as she considered his words. "Should I sleep with my
He looked down at the wand in his hand. Taking a deep, steadying breath,
he set it on the small table at the edge of the staircase. "No, of course
not. There's no reason for anyone to try to harm you. Besides, you know you're
not allowed to use magic outside school. Your wand's packed away in your
trunk." She continued to frown, looking unconvinced, so he added, "You can
get it out tomorrow on the train, if it will make you feel better."
She nodded, but it was apparent from her pensive manner that she had more
important concerns than the train ride to Hogwarts. "Will you and mum be
all right, after we're gone? Maybe we should stay home . . . stick together
until . . . until 'you-know-who' is gone?"
He cringed inwardly at the tone of mingled dread and awe as she whispered
Voldemort's sobriquet. Reality was frightening enough without magnifying
his powers with imagination and exaggeration. "You're going back to school,"
he said firmly. "We aren't going to let Voldemort prevent us from moving
forward with our lives. If we hide from life, turn our backs on everything
important to us, he wins without even raising his wand."
She nodded again, this time with quiet determination. "If you want me to
go, I will." Her eyes brightened, and a flicker of a smile touched her lips.
"We're to have a new Defence Against Dark Arts teacher this year, and there
are loads of books on defence in the library. There's a way to stop him;
we just need to find it. I'll never go over to the dark side, no matter what."
"I know you won't," he assured her, trying to answer her smile with one of
his own. "Where you will go is back to bed, young lady, right now. We need
to be up early in the morning." She smiled again, much more cheerfully, and
his heart contracted as she stood on tiptoes to press a soft kiss to his
He stood at the foot of the staircase, listening to her receding footsteps
and the soft rustle of fabric as she crawled back under the covers. If only
he could somehow turn back the hands of time. He coveted the happy years
before the rise of the dark wizard.
Slumping back onto the sofa, he forced his eyes closed, forced himself to
believe that those happy times would someday return. His world would once
again be at peace, and he would be surrounded by his family, one day even
holding his first grandchild on his knee . . . .
The idea began to weave itself into his mind, and his deepest wishes filled
in the details of the lovely dream. It was his first grandson's birthday,
and Phaedra was holding out a huge cake as the family gathered round the
dinner table, their voices raised in song. The cake was decorated with
colorful, frosted dragons, and its candles blazed with light. The fantasy
was so real that the slightly acrid smell stung his nose while the words
of the song boomed in his ears.
"Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday, dear Edgar . . .
Edgar . . .
He woke, disoriented, Phaedra's terrified scream vibrating in his ears. The
smell of smoke, too, was frighteningly real, and his last conscious thought
as he dove for his wand amid flashes of green light was that Voldemort had
won, after all.