Title: Happily Ever After
Happily Ever After
Henry couldn’t remember anything about his life. He did not know what significance the house he haunted had for him, just that he did not wish to leave. He did not know who he had been, just the overwhelming instinct that his name had been Henry. But Henry what? He did not know. He moved through the empty rooms, unaware what each meant to him. He stopped, looking uncomprehendingly at the new boxes piled inside his home. The house had been empty since the day he woke up dead. These boxes were new. Where had they come from? He frowned, drifting away. There must be new occupants…But who? He’d seen no one… He wandered through the house, watching men in brown uniforms carrying boxes large and small into his home and setting them in various rooms. He waited, watching for some clue of who would be invading his space. Unfortunately, no such clue came. The brown clad men carried hundreds of boxes into the house then promptly left, leaving him alone with the offending objects. He moved into his favorite room, though he did not know why he preferred it, looking out the window. The glass took up the entire wall, looking out onto the front lawn, which stretched all the way out to the edge of the forest that circled the home. He hadn’t had any human contact since he’d died…perhaps…if this invader were not quite so bad…The afterlife often felt lonely.
He waited patiently over the next few days for another touch with life. It was a week later when the uniformed men returned. They spent three days setting up the furniture, then another three unpacking the boxes and putting the contents away. It was two days after that when he got the first glimpse of the family that would be living with him. He stood near the top of the steps, invisible to them as he watched them enter the house.
A middle aged couple entered first. The man was a giant, or at least so it seemed. He was taller than any man he’d ever seen, standing at six and a half feet, at least. He closely resembled a bear, with bulging muscles and a bald head. If Henry had been alive, he’d have been terrified of the man and his cold, ice colored eyes.
The woman, conversely, was petite and pretty. She appeared to be toward the end of a pregnancy, the layers of her soft gown fluttering around the swollen bulge of her belly. She was otherwise very thin and had thin hair the color of blood that fell down her back. Her eyes were blue as well, though they appeared to be softer and kinder, more of a powder blue than frozen water. His eyes drifted away from her, behind the couple as another stepped through the door.
The newcomer must’ve been their son, or at least the man’s. He was even taller than the bear, though much leaner. His white hair was a tad long, but swept away from his face with a ribbon. He had the woman’s eyes and wore a pristine white suit with gold buttons. The men were so tall…And it seemed there was no one his own age, or what he presumed his age to be…
But then he heard a burst of laughter, a child’s high pitched squeal followed quickly by a woman’s giggle, and a small child, perhaps three, burst into the house, ducking between the elder son’s legs and headed for the stairs. The young boy was followed by two women, women who looked to be around his own age. One girl, who had inherited her mother’s red hair while the others all had white, was running after the boy with vigor and merriment, tugging the end of her long silver gown out of the way of her feet. The other, dressed in a bright red that made her white hair shine and her dark blue eyes gleam, yawned boredly and sauntered into the house with a lazy and uncaring gait.
He moved out of the child’s way, watching them with interest. While the others wandered the house, examining their new surroundings, the crimson haired girl chased the little boy up the steps, straight through him, and onto the second stair case. Finally she managed to wrap her arms around his wriggling body on the landing and hoisted him, kicking and giggling, into the air.
“Abel Vincent,” she cried, smiling widely as she held the boy above her head, “it appears I have caught you at last!”
“No, Lizzie, no!” the little boy squealed. “I let you catch me!”
Lizzie…His eyes took in every detail of her appearance. She appeared much kinder than the others in features. Her face was soft as she and the child, Abel, played. He was caught on her eyes, the strangest shade of pale green he’d ever seen, flecked with shards of baby blue, and her lips which were so soft looking and the color of red roses.
He almost wished to be corporeal just to feel her…
“Come on, Abel. Let’s go find your room.”
With one last glance down at the others, Henry trailed after Lizzie and Abel, following them up the stairs as they searched for the room where the young boy’s things had been stored. One good thing about being dead…it made sneaking much easier…
Lizzie and Abel made their way slowly through each room until they came to his. Henry smiled to himself. Lizzie seemed to be a fun woman…might be interesting to talk to her. He had to wait until she was alone and watch her a bit more, but he was so lonely…He needed someone to talk to. It’d been far too long without anyone else.
“Look, Lizzie!” the boy cried excitedly, pointing out the window. “Look at the birds!”
The girl’s smile softened as she came up behind Abel and examined where he was pointing to. “Oh yes, they’re beautiful.”
Henry moved behind them, looking past them out the window. He waited calmly for the girl to finish with Abel to move on to her own room. It seemed she could stay in there forever with that little boy. But eventually his mother called him away and with a smile, the girl left and began to look around.
He moved directly beside her, his lips an inch from her ear. “This is my favorite room, you know,” he whispered.
The girl jumped, her pale green eyes flying around the room in search of the source of the voice.
“Don’t worry. I won’t hurt you…” he said, revealing himself to her. “I…don’t mean to scare you…”
The girl’s green eyes studied him, roaming over him from head to toe, then she nodded and moved around him to shut the door.
“Well…hello…I’m Henry…” He held out his hand, then cleared his throat, pulling it back uncomfortably. “Sorry, I…forget sometimes…”
“It’s alright. My name is Alize.”
“I…I heard him call you Lizzie,” he murmured.
“My father called me that when I was little. It’s easier for him to pronounce than Alize.”
He moved back toward the window. “In any case…welcome to my home…”
“How long have you lived here?”
“I’ve no idea. Years…time is almost meaningless here…it’s hard to keep track of it all…”
“Does it feel like it’s been a long time?”
“A very long time…”
“And your name is Henry?”
“I think so…That’s one of the only thing I can remember.”
“So you don’t know how old you are?”
“I…I think I must’ve been…sixteen or…or seventeen when I died…”
She nodded. “Do you…want to know?”
“Perhaps. It’s never really mattered.”
“I could find out for you.”
“Really?” He blinked. “H-how?”
“Public records. Newspapers.”
“You’d really help me…?”
“Why wouldn’t I?”
“I just…you don’t even know me…”
“I have a big heart.”
She nodded again. “Just do me one favor.”
“Yes?” he breathed.
“Try not to reveal yourself around Abel. He’s very easily frightened…He won’t respond well.”
“Right…I’ll try…He won’t even…know I’m here.”
She shook her head. “I just meant when he’s alone. When he’s around me, you don’t have to worry. But when he’s all by himself every little noise scares him to tears.”
“Okay. I promise.” He moved closer to her. “It has been a pleasure meeting you, Alize…”
She smiled warmly. “I have to say the same, Henry.”
“Can…can you see if…if I have family still alive…?” he whispered.
“Thank you. I should go…”
He shrugged, smiling. “I suppose I don’t have anywhere to go, do I?”
“You don’t have to go anywhere if you don’t want…”
“I know. Um…Where are you from?”
“The United States.”
“Oh…I’m…I’m still in Britain, aren’t I?”
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m…Well, I’m engaged to someone here. So is April.”
He frowned. “Sounds almost familiar…”
“Perhaps you knew him.”
“I don’t know. Perhaps.” He drifted closer. “I would do anything for you if you do what you’ve said…and help me. I’d do anything in return…”
“I don’t want anything in return.”
He smiled. “I will forever be your friend.”
She smiled. “I’d like that.”
“Good morning,” he whispered to Alize a few days later. “Can you do something with me today? Anything…I’m just…feeling restless…”
Alize, who still lay in bed, blinked sleepily at him. “I suppose the concept of ‘sleeping in’ has lost its appeal over time for you, hasn’t it?”
“Sorry…” He moved closer to her side. She pushed down the thick silver duvet and sat up slowly, reclining against her pillows.
“You can join me if you want,” she offered, making room for him on the bed.
He slid onto the bed, watching her curiously.
“I found some newspapers the other evening,” she told him, leaning over and pulling open the bedside table drawer.
“What did they say?” he murmured, excited.
“I think this is you.” She pulled out a slightly yellowed newspaper, folding it so a section towards the back of the paper now was on top. “It’s a birth announcement.”
“From when?” He looked over her shoulder.
“The article was written January 1987.” She showed him the small article with the attached picture. “James and Lily Potter are proud to announce the birth of their second son, Henry Potter.” The picture that came with the article was small, black and white, a young couple smiling with a boy sitting between them. The boy was holding a newborn and grinning broadly.
“I have a brother…”
“I found his birth announcement too. His name is Harry.”
“Harry,” he repeated, biting his lip. “Thank you, Alize…This is just…wow…”
“You’re welcome.” She laid back against her pillows again. “I’ll continue looking, I promise.”
“You’re the most amazing friend.”
A soft smile curled her lips. “I just want to help.”
He pressed closer to her, smiling. “I know…Have you met Scorpius…?”
She covered a yawn with her hand as she shook her head.
“I hope he’s good to you…”
“It’s up to him how he treats me.”
“You deserve someone who treats you right.”
“It’s not my choice,” she said adamantly.
“He does. And if he doesn’t see how amazing you are, he’s blind,” Henry asserted.
“We’ll see.” She rolled onto her side, looking up at him. “What is it you want to do today?”
“Whatever you want. I haven’t done anything fun in forever…”
“I think our choices are limited given your condition.”
He chuckled. “I guess…It sucks being dead…”
“I imagine so. Can you leave the house?”
“I’ve never tried. I don’t see why not.”
“Then perhaps you can come to the library with me this time.”
“I’d love to.”
“If you let me sleep for a few more hours.”
He nodded, moving off the bed.
“Good night, Henry,” she murmured, sinking down into the bed, her eyes fluttering shut.
He watched her for a moment. It sucks being dead…That had certainly become apparent lately.
At just after noon, Alize and Henry stepped into the dark, quiet solitude of the library and headed straight for the newspapers. Henry peered over her shoulder as she flipped through articles, glancing at her face every now and again. If only he could touch…feel…
“Here.” Her soft voice slid over him, startling him from his thoughts.
He blinked, looking at the paper in her hand. “What is it?”
“Your brother, Harry, is married and has three children.”
“My brother…This is amazing…I have a family…”
“I can’t find anything about your death, though. It must not have been reported.”
“Normally they only have articles when someone dies a particularly traumatic death. Such as a fire or a plane crash. You might’ve just been sick.”
“Yeah…Maybe.” He couldn’t stop watching her lips as she spoke.
“Perhaps I could speak to your brother for you.”
“Does it say where he is?”
“It said he lives in his godfather’s family house. His godfather is Sirius Black…I know where the Black family lives.”
“I want to see him…I have to.”
Those lips he couldn’t look away from lifted into a smile. “Shall we then?”
“If you’d like.”
She stood up, tucking the newspaper in her bag. “Let’s go.”
He drew a breath of anticipation as he drifted behind her. The secrets of his life…all he’d forgotten…He could almost see it…
Harry Potter had just made him a cup of tea and settled down with the Daily Prophet when he heard a soft knock on his front door. He set his cup down, rising. His house elf was already moving toward the door, but he waved her away, answering it himself. “Good morning. To what do I owe this pleasure?” He smiled warmly at the pretty young girl on his doorstep. She looked to be Albus’s age. Perhaps she was one of his friends? He shook that thought aside immediately. She didn’t look anything like the crowd his young son enjoyed spending time with. She wore a long silver gown that fell to her feet, tied with a ribbon at the back and her long, crimson curls were pulled back from her face with a large bow at the back of her head. She looked…regal. Royal, almost.
“Are you Harry Potter?” she asked. Her voice was odd…a unique accent he’d never heard before.
“Yes, I am...And who are you?”
She held out one small, pale hand. “My name is Alize Warren. My family just moved into your old home. I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions…?”
“Of course. Please come in.” He held the door open wider. She slipped past him into the house, her curls bouncing down her spine. He smiled, watching her as he led her to his living room. “What kind of questions?”
Large blue green eyes slid around the room, taking in all the details before she turned to face him again. “I apologize if this seems blunt, but did you have a younger brother named Henry?”
He blinked, shocked. How did she know about Henry…? “Many years ago, yes…”
“He was sixteen when he died?”
He nodded, blinking away tears. It had been a few months before his wedding to Ginny. Henry was supposed to be his best man.
“I tried to look it up, but I found no mention in the newspapers,” the girl continued. “May I ask how he died?”
“He was very sick…He died at St. Mungo’s from pneumonia.”
Her head bobbed in a slow nod and she glanced to a spot beside her for a moment before looking back up at him. “Since we’ve moved in, Henry’s been haunting me.”
“You’ve seen him?”
She nodded again. “He has no memory of his life.”
“Yes.” She looked to the right again.
He followed her gaze and watched wide-eyed as Henry slowly materialized.
“Hi…” Henry waved nervously. “Nice to meet you.”
“Should I…leave you alone to talk?” Alize asked.
Harry shook his head, moving slowly towards Henry. “I haven’t seen you in nearly twenty years…”
Henry smiled sadly. “I don’t remember anything…”
“Well, I have much to tell you then.” Harry wiped away a tear as he smiled at his brother.
With each word Harry spoke, memories of his life returned slowly, vividly. His parents, his school years…Harry’s wedding…It was all coming back to him. The person he’d been…he was actually proud of the life he’d led. He’d been a good kid. Harry told him about his children, his life after Henry’s death. Henry asked to meet them and Harry sent the elf to get them.
The first to arrive was a girl who Harry introduced as Lily, his youngest. She looked a lot like her mother with bright red hair and a freckled face. She was a bit shy, but they had a nice conversation as they waited for the other children to arrive. James Sirius followed her, a tall, athletic man with a cocky grin. While he talked to James, two boys, opposites in appearance, descended the steps, laughing about something.
Out of the corner of his eye, Henry noticed Alize suddenly stiffen in her seat. Then she stood quickly, smoothing down her dress and adjusting the bow that pinned her hair back.
“Albus…this is your uncle Henry.”
Albus Severus blinked, watching Henry, then grinned. “That’s so cool.”
The blonde standing beside him, stepped forward. “I’m Scorpius, Albus’s friend…” His eyes strayed to Alize, his gaze appreciative.
Henry scowled, suddenly feeling protective towards her. Scorpius? Could this be…?
“Scorpius is practically part of the family. He’s here more than I am sometimes,” Harry said chuckling. “He’s actually engaged to be married soon.”
“To me,” Alize said softly, the first time she had spoken since Henry and Harry had begun their conversation.
Scorpius’s eyes widened slightly as he smiled. “Strange way to finally meet you, Alize.”
“You’re even more lovely than I was led to believe,” he murmured, moving closer. Henry shifted beside Alize, watching him suspiciously.
“Thank you.” Alize’s eyes flickered to Henry briefly.
“Are you staying for a while?” Scorpius asked, a bit hopeful.
Alize shook her head slowly. “No…I have to be home soon.”
“Can you come back tomorrow? I’d really like to get to know you…without my parents hanging around…”
“I don’t know…” She glanced first at Henry then back at Harry.
“You’re welcome anytime Alize,” Harry smiled.
Henry merely scowled.
“Henry?” Alize asked. “Would you like to come home with me or would you prefer to stay here?”
“I’d like to go home…”
She turned back to Harry. “I’m sorry, we have to be going now. It was very nice to meet all of you…”
“And you. Please feel free to come back.”
Scorpius kissed her cheek. “Goodbye, Alize.”
Henry barely stopped himself from growling.
Henry watched the light glinting off of Alize’s damp curls as she sat curled up in bed after her shower. The red tresses were gleaming enchantingly in the dim light coming in from the window.
“What did you think?” she asked, looking up at him through her lashes, her head bent to her knees.
“It was…enlightening.” He gulped, his stomach feeling a bit fluttery.
“They were very nice.”
“Yeah…” He moved towards the window. “So that was…Scorpius…”
She let out a soft sigh and closed her eyes. “I thought I would have…I don’t know…some sort of attachment to him. That when I saw him my heart would skip a beat and I’d get excited. But…”
“You don’t love him? You don’t really have to marry him…”
She shrugged. “I didn’t feel anything. Not even when he touched me. I didn’t mind it but I didn’t want him to, either.”
Henry felt an odd glee at her words. She didn’t like Scorpius… “I knew his father…He was in Harry’s year. A selfish, whiny git…”
She chuckled then sighed again. “Perhaps I’ll grow to love him.” She uncoiled her body and laid down against her pillows. “Perhaps I’ll never like him.”
“When is the wedding…?”
“In a year. My seventeenth birthday.”
“Hmm.” Every moment he was around her, his feelings for her grew. But he would never be able to touch her…She couldn’t return his feelings. He was dead. There was nothing left for him.
Alize yawned into her hand and rolled onto her side to face him. “Will you join me?”
“Lay with me.”
He moved onto the bed, lying beside her. Alize smiled up at him, pulling her blankets up to her chin.
“You’re my best friend, Henry. You know that?”
“And you’re mine,” he whispered.
“Where do you go when I’m sleeping?”
“I…I just wander mostly…” He often found himself watching her sleep lately…
“It must get boring for you.”
“I wish there was something I could do for you.” She yawned again, her eyes fluttering shut.
“You’ve done plenty,” he mumbled.
“You don’t have to…stick around while I’m…sleeping…”
“I don’t mind.”
“Okay…” She curled up in a ball beneath the blanket and with one more yawn was fast asleep.
He smiled as he watched her…so very beautiful…Her face looked so serene. Sliding just a bit closer, he reached out his hand to caress her cheek. The sight of his pale fingers passing through her like air was a cruel reminder. He could never touch her…no matter how much he wanted to.
To be continued...