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The low rumbles of thunder echoed off the walls and down the corridors of the old house like an enormous kettledrum. The wind howling outside made the ancient boards creak and moan and sent several small, furry creatures scurrying through the attic. 


In a small room on the third floor, the light from a candle bobbed and danced like a fairy enjoying Beltane as the draft seeped in through cracks in the old floorboards. A lone figure sat in an overstuffed armchair by a fire clinging to life in the hearth. He slowly let out his breath and slipped off his glasses. He placed his thumb and forefinger at the bridge of his nose and squeezed hard to try to relieve the pain building behind his emerald green eyes. He ran his hand down his face and the prickly stubble scraped across his palm. Wearily, he slipped the wire rims back on and continued to read the rolls of parchment piled neatly at his side. A red-tipped quill made a few marks on the homework assignment he was reading through. 


He lifted his gaze to the large window as a muffled tapping started to beat a steady rhythm against the glass. The tempo grew faster as the large raindrops dove harder to the ground in an attempt to wash away the grime of humankind that choked the air. A great flash of white light ripped a jagged tear open in the sky and the heavens let out an enormous clap of thunder in protest. The whole house shook from the core outward. 


In the deep recesses of the house at number twelve Grimmauld, a tiny voice screamed out.


"Daaaaddeeeeeeeeeeeee!"


Harry’s legs protested a little as he stood. How long have I been sitting here? he mused.


"Daaaaddeeeeeeeeeeeee!"


“I’m coming, baby.” Harry quickened his steps as he made his way to his little girl’s room. The soft padding of the new runners felt good against his bare feet and kept him from sliding on the old hardwood beneath him like he had in the past. Another enormous boom of thunder slammed against his eardrums and the little girl’s screams turned into panicked shrieks.


“DADDY! DADDY! DADDY!”


With a quick turn and a small pop, Harry disappeared from the hallway and reappeared in the center of a cotton candy machine. The pink walls glowed softly from the enchanted chandelier tinkling in the wind coming down through the small fireplace. The thick, pink rug covering the floor was littered with dolls. Their normally serene faces glared up at him with glass eyes that followed him to his daughter’s bed. Harry hated storms. They seemed to plague his life. He often felt his life was a storm, one where he constantly endured the onslaught of hail, driving rain, and fierce winds. The storm outside mirrored his emotions. Today was the two-year anniversary of the day that Hermione had died, the day the little girl now screaming for a hero had been born.


Harry did not feel like a hero. He may have vanquished Lord Voldemort, but he had lost Hermione in return. His eyes glanced briefly at the crime scene dollhouse under the window; Ron named it this because of the nude dolls strewn at odd angles on the various floors. All it needed was a Dark Mark hovering over it. 


“It’s okay, Catherine. Daddy’s here now.” As Harry approached the canopy bed, the small mound in the middle launched into his arms. He enfolded the tiny body in his embrace and rubbed his chin across the soft down of her hair. “I love you.”


“Too.” Catherine’s soft breath blew against Harry’s neck.


“You’re supposed to say I love you too.” Harry smiled at the use of Catherine’s endearment; it was a game they played daily


“Daddy, I see monser.” The little face peered up at him and tears glistened in her chocolate brown eyes, her mother’s eyes.


“Baby, there are no monsters in your room. Remember, we looked under the bed, in the closet, behind the dresser, and in your toy box. We sprayed the monster spray and I left the lights on for you.” Harry rubbed his hand up and down her back, trying to calm her. He had several more parchments to grade and needed to get back to them.


“No daddy, outsie.” Her little hands unfolded from between their bodies and she put them on his face. With little effort, she turned his head towards the window. The wind howled louder and the window rattled in its frame.


A streak of lighting cut through the inky black sky again and an enormous crash sent shards of glass flying through the air towards them. Harry watched in horror as the small elf-like body of an Erkling was clearly outlined in the window frame by the flash of light. Harry clutched Catherine to him and ran from the room, holding tightly to the body of his most prized possession. 


Now that it was in the house its high-pitched cackle could be heard. “Catherine, cover your ears, baby.” Harry ran to his study and slammed the door. He grabbed his wand from the table and waited for the horrid creature to appear. The fireplace in this room was not connected to the Floo, and he had never Apparted with Catherine. Can it be stunned? He wondered frantically, glancing around the room looking for an escape. 


He was the Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher, why was he drawing a blank about this creature? The only thing he could remember was that they were native to the Black Forest in Germany; their cackling laugh was somehow enticing to children, which they captured and then ate. He thought the German Ministry of Magic had them under control. How had it gotten here?


Harry’s ears were tuned to the sounds in the house. His own breathing was loud and filled with fear. Then he heard it: coming down the hall and ringing with the sound of triumph, the Erkling’s cackle was almost hysterical. Catherine started to squirm in Harry’s arms.


“Down, I git down, Daddy.” Catherine started to push away from Harry, trying hard to reach the luring sound on the other side of the door.


“No, Catherine, it’s bad, don’t listen.” Harry searched the room madly for something to cover her ears. He pointed his wand at a pillow and transfigured it into earmuffs. He put them on her head and then used a Blasting Curse to make a hole in the wall to the next room.


The door to his study opened behind him and he could hear the slapping sound of the Erkling’s feet running across the floor. Harry rushed through the guest bedroom towards the door leading to the hallway. He had to get to the kitchen where the Floo was connected. The fire behind him lost its fight and blew out as wind from the fierce storm rushed the fireplace.


He was making an awkward descent down the stairs, clutching Catherine to his chest, when he slipped and fell back. Harry’s wand flew down the stairs and skidded out of sight. To his horror the beast jumped from the landing above and was now standing at his feet. It let out a gleeful cackle and ripped Catherine from Harry’s grasp. It bound down the rest of the stairs and took off down the hallway.


Harry vaulted over the railing of the stairs and screamed out as he heard his ankle crack upon landing. His knees buckled under the strain of holding himself upright on one leg. He had to get Catherine. Clinging to the wall and various pieces of furniture Harry drug himself down the hall. Sweat was starting to stream down his temples and he was breathing hard. His eyes darted back and forth , peering into the rooms he passed. He heard Catherine’s tinkling giggle coming from the door at the end of the hall.


What had once been the Black family music room was now a child’s playroom. While Harry and Ron had been out hunting Horcruxes, Hermione and her mum had turned this room into a toy store. Catherine had slipped into Jane Grangers waiting hands after her daughter had fallen from a ladder and landed hard on her side while decorating this very room. The impact had sent Hermione into an early and unexpected labor. It had happened so fast; Jane had been unable to stop the hemorrhaging. She had watched in dispair as Hermione had lost her fight to live. Harry had not been able to enter this room since then so the old, unused hinges of the door creaked as he pushed it further open.


The hair on the back of his neck rose seconds before a bolt of lightening hit the old tree out side the house. The blinding light illuminated the room in front of him.


Catherine was sitting on a rug in front of the cold hearth giggling the merry laugh of a toddler, the folds of her purple nightgown piling around her, little toes peeking out behind. Harry could not see the Erkling’s body, but its bloated, three-fingered hand was poking Catherine in the tummy. Harry knew it was testing her to see how plump she was. An enormous, enchanted Rocking horse rocked foreword and back blocking the creature from Harry’s sight. He slowly crept around the room, he feared that if he startled the demon it would grab Catherine and run. The music from an old Muggle radio, a gift from Arthur, created an inappropriate soundtrack to his nightmare.


The enormous claps of thunder vibrating the air interrupted the soft lyrics. 


Baby mine, don’t you cry,
Baby mine, dry your eyes,



BOOM! The sound did not even faze Catherine. Her attention was riveted to the little being in front of her. Harry prayed that Catherine’s diminutive form would not appeal to the Erkling and the creature would move on.


Rest your head close to my heart,
Never to part, baby of mine. 



Harry’s heart beat faster as he limped his way around the perimeter of the room. He could now see the Erkling circling Catherine. Its grotesquely enlarged mouth twisted up at the corners, its large tongue licking its lips in anticipation.


Little one, when you play,
Pay no heed to what they say,
Let your eyes sparkle and shine,


Lightning again lit up the room as Harry watched in horror as the Erkling raised Catherine’s left arm to its mouth. When the Erkling’s teeth sank into his baby’s upper arm, he grabbed the rocking horse in front of him and threw it with all his might.


Never a tear, baby of mine.


Catherine’s terrified scream rent the air as her new playmate turned on her. Blood ran down her arm as the creature’s teeth sank to the bone. The Erkling’s jaw snapped open in shock when the heavy toy crashed into it. It lay motionless under the pristine white of the hobbyhorse’s body, its breath making the toy's tail rise and fall.


From your hair down to your toes,
You’re not much, goodness knows.
But you’re so precious to me,
Sweet as can be, baby of mine.



The last strains of the lullaby drifted through Harry’s head as he gathered his precious, screaming child in his arms. He had no idea where his wand was and concentrated on standing. Dragging his injured ankle and clutching Catherine, he made his way to the kitchen. He felt the little body go limp as Catherine’s life was quickly draining out onto his shirt. The edges of his vision were becoming fuzzy and he fought to stay conscious as he approached the fireplace. He grabbed a handful of green powder and threw it into the fire. The flames instantly turned green.


“The Burrow.” Harry said the words and then fell into the cool flames. As his kitchen disappeared from view he saw the Erkling step through the door. 


With his last bit of strength he stumbled out of the fire and into the Weasley’s home. He crashed into the dinner table and sent a bowl of apples flying across the room. His back slammed hard against the ground and his grip on Catherine slipped. He watched a shiny red apple spinning under the table before his world went black.


Harry startled awake. The heavy breathing and grunting of an unseen foe could be heard behind him. He twisted and turned frantically as he tried desperately to free himself from the blanket he was tangled in. As the fabric ripped apart he rolled out of the bed. A scream of anguish tore from his lungs, filling the room and echoing down the hall. In front of him the Erkling twisted its horrid features into what might be a smile, one small drop of blood clinging to its lips and holding the remains of Catherine’s nightgown. 


He launched himself at the beast before him, wrapped his hands around its little neck, and squeezed with all his might. The Erkling’s eyes widened in fright and it clawed furiously at Harry’s hands to try and free itself. When the last bit of air escaped from Satan’s beast the door behind him burst open. Harry heard Ron’s voice bellow,“Stupefy!” The spell sent Harry crashing to the floor; he hit his head and then the world faded to white.


Two people stared into the sterile, white room, their voices drifting in through the small wire screen.


“How long has he been in here?”


“About forty-eight hours. We had to put him in here. He is much stronger than we thought; he ripped the straight jacket right off as if it were made of paper. I’m so sorry, Miss Potter. I really think this is for the best. He severely injured the first house-elf when he threw the side table at him. And Wally - well, he has been buried already.”


“I am so sorry about the loss of the house-elf. I just never imagined he would get this bad. He has been fine for last three years.” Catherine’s eyes never left her father who was pacing the floor of the bare room. Limping awkwardly without his cane, his ankle that never healed properly turned at an odd angle. There was no furniture inside the padded room.


The doctor sighed, “We all knew something would happen to him, we just didn’t know what. When Mr. Weasley had to destroy the Horcrux inside of him before he could defeat the Dark Lord he had no idea of what it would do to Harry’s mind. Dark magic has horrible effects and this one took a long time to manifest itself. They little episodes of lost time and hallucinations over the years were just a small warning of what was to come. I fear we have completely lost him this time. He called me Ron after I stunned him. At least you had fifteen good years with him before this happened. Do you have any idea what he is seeing?”


Touching the unusual little marks ringing the upper part of her left arm she nodded her head yes. “Thank you Dr. Du Boise. I would like to go in and see him now.” Catherine turned to the Doctor, waiting.


“I really don’t think…”


“Please, Doctor, he is confined to the new straight jacket, and I have my mother’s wand. He won’t hurt me.” Catherine slipped off her shoes and stepped through the door. She approached the hero of the wizarding world, a broken man who now had gray peppering his hair. His pale green eyes watched her sit down. He hummed the tune of a lullaby that she faintly remembered from her childhood 


“Oh, Daddy.” Catherine wrapped her slender arms around her father. Her long auburn hair brushed the side of his face. Tears started to make little streams down her face as she felt him relax and lean into her. “I love you.”


She felt his tears mingle with hers and very faintly, with barely enough breath to move her hair he said one word. 


“Too.”

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