In honor of Evil Author Day, I’m posting some of my WIPs and not-quite-abandoned drafts. Yes, I know Evil Author Day was actually yesterday, but I missed it. So I’m doing it today instead.
Harry Potter / Highlander Crossover: By The Sword Snippets (PG13)
Whether or not these snippets make it into the final version of By The Sword, I hope you will enjoy this sneak peek.
“Are you sure?”
“I know what a pre-Immortal feels like. I haven’t been mistaken yet.”
Duncan closed his eyes as his worst fears were confirmed. “I felt it too, but I had hoped that I was wrong.”
“I know you want us to keep him, Duncan, and I’ll admit that I’m growing fond of the lad, but you know how much more dangerous it will be…” Methos sounded resigned.
For a moment, Duncan wanted to lash out, to take his anger out on his lover. He restrained himself, however. Methos was only stating the truth, no matter how unpleasant. “I know, M – Adam. I know. We should arrange a mortal family for him and cut all ties between us. I know.”
Methos said nothing, merely waiting.
After a moment, Duncan continued, “It’s just – you know what he’s been through. How attached he’s become to us, even in such a short time. I promised him, Adam. I gave my word! He’s this close to being broken beyond repair. I think, if we leave him, if I break my promise…his soul will never recover.”
“With the way our lives are, you know the odds. An old enemy looking for revenge, amoral headhunters seeking an easy kill, or even just some idiot with a death wish – it could happen far too easily.”
“Really? No more objections?”
“No more objections, Duncan. You’ve convinced me. If it does happen, at least he’ll have known what it is to have a proper family. Better a short and happy life than a long and twisted one.”
“Honestly, I’m not sure if I could handle it, if it did happen.” The very thought made Duncan feel sick. He already loved the child as if he were his own blood, and the idea of…
“We’ll do our best to prevent it. And if it comes to that, I’ll take care of it.”
Guilt twisted his stomach. To expect such a thing of Methos, just because of his age and past! Methos might pretend to be unaffected, but Duncan knew that the other man already loved little Harry as much as he did. “No. That wouldna’ be right. If it happens, we’ll take care if it together, I’ll nae ask you to carry the burden alone.”
A few moments of quiet, as each man contemplated the possible horrors of the future.
“I mean it, Adam. Harry will be our son, mine and yours. If it happens before the proper time, we’ll protect him and keep him with us until he tires of life. When that time comes, we’ll give him peace and lay him to rest…together. He’ll not become another Kenny. It’ll be hard, but don’t go trying to protect me from it, Old Man. Self-sacrifice is supposed to be my character flaw, not yours.”
Methos snorted softly before reaching up to pull Duncan’s head down so their foreheads touched. “Guess you’re rubbing off on me, Boy Scout.”
Duncan laughed weakly. “God willing, Harry’s First Death won’t occur until he’s properly grown, and our plans won’t be needed.”
“May the Gods look favorably upon him.”
Knowingly raising a pre-Immortal child was a surprisingly stressful undertaking.
First, there was the need to avoid death while at the same time not over-sheltering. They had both raised mortal children before, but Harry was the first pre-immortal they had raised.
The urge to wrap him in a protective bubble, protecting him from all danger and harm was understandable, considering the consequences of his First Death occurring while he was still too young. Understandable, but incredibly dangerous all the same.
After all, they were raising a child who would, Gods willing, live for hundreds, even thousands, of years. An Immortal’s childhood and mortal life had an incredible impact upon the person they would become. Oh, they could learn and grow past it, but that essential core would always remain. For all his knowledge and sophistication, Duncan was at heart a Highland warrior – and he always would be. Methos – well, Methos was a nomadic goat-herder. To protect and shelter Harry from the dangers and realities of the world would only serve to deny him needed tools for his future survival.
Duncan helped Harry out of the car, wincing at the angry red of his scar.
When Harry had written to them about the pain in his scar and the strange prescient dreams he was suffering from, they hadn’t wasted any time finding and hiring a private healer.
Strangely, when they had arrived at Hogwarts to take Harry to his appointment with the healer, Dumbledore had tried his best to dissuade them.
“Madame Pomphrey is very experienced with such matters, and would be happy to examine and treat young Harry. And of course, since she’s under contract with Hogwarts, the cost of her services have already been covered by Harry’s tuition. Private Healers can be so expensive, you know.”
“Thank you for the offer, Headmaster, but I must decline. We have already contracted with a private Healer. While I am sure that Madame Pomphrey is a fine Healer and would do her best, her many duties doubtlessly make it difficult for her to keep up with the latest techniques. Harry’s health is our main concern, and we are well able to afford the cost.”
As a child, Harry had sometimes complained of pain in his scar, and had recounted horrifying nightmares which would cause him to wake up screaming. The doctors they had taken him too had not been able to find a cause for his symptoms, nor had they been able to explain why the scar would often become painfully infected.
And the Healer hadn’t been able to cure the problem, either. But at least she had been able to give them more information. Apparently, the scar had been somehow infected with some sort of dark curse.
Which had brought them to their last resort: the sacred spring where Methos had once brought Duncan in order to drive a Dark Quickening out of him. If it could drive out a Dark Quickening, they hoped that it would also be able to drive out whatever Darkness Harry had been cursed with.
Flight From Death
Methos burst out laughing. Not a genteel, social laugh, but a genuine belly laugh. Duncan and the other Immortals stared at him in stunned surprise. Duncan, for one, could not remember the last time he had heard his lover laugh in such a way. And about such a serious subject matter!
Richie was the first to break. “What’s so funny?”
Tears of laughter streaming down his face, Methos managed to gasp out, “Fl-Flight From D-Death. V-Voldemort. Death.”
It took a moment for the joke to sink in, and then Richie was laughing too, followed quickly by Duncan, Connor, and Amanda. The others, who weren’t privy to the information needed to grasp the punchline, only looked on, bewildered by their seemingly insane companions.
Finally, wiping the tears from his eyes and taking a deep breath, Methos managed to calm himself. The others quickly followed suit, although there was the occasional cackle as someone momentarily lost control.
Once everyone had gained a semblance of calm once again, Methos adopted a suitably pompous and instructional tone and turned to the youngest member of their group, Richie.
“And that is why you must always be careful about what names you assume. All names are revealing, of course, but a self-given name can be far more revealing than any other. Voldemort’s choice of a name displays his weakness and fear for all to see, even though he may not realize it. He probably chose it when he was much younger, thinking it to be grand and intimidating, not realizing how much it revealed about his motivations and fears. And it makes a grand joke for us.” Unable to maintain his serious façade any longer, he burst out laughing again.
Duncan looked at the arrogant blonde child standing before his desk.
“Sit down, Master Malfoy.”
This had been totally unexpected. When Sirius Black had made Harry Potter his legal and magical heir, via a ritual very similar to blood adoption, and then promptly went to prison, little Harry had actually become Lord Black. Of course, while he was an infant, everything had been handled by trustees, but when Duncan had taken over the reins of Harry’s obligations as his proper magical guardian, he had in essence become Harry’s Regent until he came of age. For all intents and purposes, he was Lord Black. And, since Narcissa Black had actually married slightly below her station, in terms of rank if not wealth, this gave him ultimate authority over her and her children. In short, he was Draco’s Family Head. Duncan had never been one to shirk his responsibilities. Hence young Malfoy’s current presence in his study.
Draco, in the meantime, was feeling totally off balance.
First, an owl had arrived at breakfast, bearing the seal of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black. Upon opening the letter, he had discovered a formally worded summons, a floo address, and an appointment time. Not a polite request for a meeting at a time most convenient for him. Simply an order to present himself before the Lord Black at 1pm that afternoon. As if Draco was some sort of lackey, and not the Malfoy Heir. It was insulting, and he had discarded the summons without another thought.
But his mother had seen the Seal and had swiftly summoned the letter from where he had discarded it on the table. She had read it quickly, and had let out a gasp that drew his father’s attention. Draco had never seen her so genuinely unnerved before in his entire life.