|SIYE Time:7:08 on 15th August 2022|
Category: Alternate Universe
Genres: Angst, Drama, Romance
Warnings: Mild Language
Story is Complete
Summary: 10-year-old Willow Young had always been warned of the house at the end of the lane along with its mysterious occupant. But still, she found herself drawn to the house and the old man with sad green eyes that lived inside.
Hitcount: Story Total: 3461; Chapter Total: 372
Awards: View Trophy Room
My 1st story started since 2010 under a new penname. Hope people enjoy. Feedback whether good or bad is always appreciated.
Chapter 1: Curious by Nature
10-year-old Willow Young had always been warned of the house at the end of the lane along with its mysterious occupant by all the other kids on her block. She lived in the village of Ottery St. Catchpole on a dead-end street. The houses were spaced far enough apart that you would have to yell to get your neighbor's attention but not so far apart as to give off the appearance of living in the middle of nowhere. It wasn't what one would consider country living, but it was better than living in the town square.
Willow enjoyed where she lived. Her parents had moved them there after her baby brother was born. Her mum said it was because they had needed the extra space but Willow knew it was because her mum hated living in the center of London. Her father didn't care as long as her mum was happy. He was lovey-dovey like that.
She spent many days just riding her bike around and playing with the other kids on the block exploring the almost-countryside. When she moved, she had been scared that friends would be hard to make but everyone here seemed nice. It was quiet living and it suited her family just fine.
She was almost sad that after this summer everything would change. Her mum and dad would be sending her to a boarding school in Scotland. She had grown up knowing what Hogwarts School was of course since her whole family had gone there for as many generations back as she could remember. She still had 2 months though to enjoy the quiet and friendships that she had gained over the past couple of years.
Her mind was brought back to the old man in the house at the end of the lane.
He was a recluse that kept to himself. She had never seen him leave his property and never seemed to get visitors. He had no family that she was aware of. When she had first moved here and had gone riding her bike with the first friend that she had met, Olivia had warned her not to go onto the man's property. For some reason, Willow was inexplicably drawn to the house every time she passed it but heeded her friend's warning.
She had caught glimpses of the occupant. She sometimes caught him in the garden tending to his flowers or looking out the window as she and her friends had passed by on bikes. His face, however, was always turned away from her or hidden in shadows.
When she had asked all her friends why they never attempted to cross his property they had all explained that they had felt a creepy feeling, like someone was watching them when they had tried before and therefore, had stopped attempting it.
"Hey Willow," Olivia said, "Me and Noah have to head home. Mum wanted us home by six for supper. Wanna ride home with us?"
"Nah," she replied turning to her two friends, "My family eats a little later and I'd like to keep riding for a while."
"Alright," Noah said as he peddled to the other side of her, "We'll see you tomorrow, yeah?"
"Definitely," she replied with a grin.
She watched as her friends rode away, they only lived a mile down the road, and continued on her way. She kept riding, passing all the houses, and enjoying the cool summer breeze as it whipped around her body.
One thing she was looking forward to when she attended Hogwarts was Quidditch. Riding a broom in general seemed like fun. She had only ridden once or twice when she had snuck her dad's old broom from the shed. She had been scolded something fierce by her mum talking about how much she could've been hurt but she hadn't missed her dad's beaming smile that he tried to hide. Riding a bike was fun and freeing but she just figured flying a broom would be even more so.
So lost in her thoughts, she didn't see the rut in the road until it was too late.
Her front tire hit the rut, her bike pitched forwards, and before she could stop herself, she went flying head-first over the handlebars.
She landed hard on her side. She heard a popping sound as she landed and her ankle immediately radiated pain to the rest of her body. She cried out as tears threatened to escape from her eyes. She looked over at her bike and saw the front had dented into the tire.
I guess I'll need a new bike then, she thought.
It seemed silly to think about her bike when she was almost certain her ankle was broken and she didn't know how she was going to get home. Her home was farther away than Olivia and Noah's.
She looked up and was surprised to see herself in front of the old man's house at the end of the lane. Even more surprising still was the fact that he saw the old man himself walking towards her at an astonishing rate of speed for one so old.
"Are you okay miss?" he asked in a worried tone as he reached her, "I saw you take a nasty tumble off that bike."
"I wasn't paying attention," she said embarrassingly, "I'm pretty sure my ankle is broken. I can't move it."
"Well let's see if we can't get you fixed up then," he replied, "I use to be a doctor before I retired. Would it bother you if I carried you or would you like to use my shoulder and try to walk yourself?"
Surprised that he had even asked she replied, "It would be quicker if you carried me. It hurts so bad."
"Alright," he said with a smile as he scooped her up into his arms with surprising strength, "Here we go."
As he started walking, Willow took this time to study the old man. His timeworn face had wrinkles in it. He looked as if he didn't see enough sunlight. His skin was pale but not unhealthily so. His hair was short with a salt and pepper tint to it. She had noticed however that when he smiled, the years seemed to drop off of his face and he looked younger. It was as if he didn't smile enough. His eyes though were the most striking feature. Even through his glasses, they shined a bright jade green. Even at 10 years old, Willow could see that his eyes had seen much. He had an old faded scar on his forehead but she couldn't make out the shape.
He carried her up his porch steps and sat her down gently on an old porch swing.
"Let me go inside and get a couple of things and see what we can do about that ankle of yours," he said.
"Okay," she replied softly.
Once the man had gone, she thought back to her friends' warnings about the old man in the house at the end of the lane. He didn't seem dangerous or creepy. On the contrary, for some unknown reason, she felt completely safe around him. He felt like an old friend.
Her foot throbbed and she looked down at it. A nasty purple and yellow bruise was starting to form. She knew her mum could fix it right up with a spell and give her a potion for the pain but her curiosity over the old man outweighed the pain in her foot.
He came back outside with a small suitcase-shaped object and sat it down next to her.
"Would you mind taking your shoe and sock off so I can get a better look miss...?"
"My name is Willow Young," I replied as I slowly slid off my shoe and sock.
"Well Willow," he said with a smile, "You're an extremely brave girl. Most kids would be crying right now."
"My mum and dad say that all the time," she said and as the old man looked confused she added, "I'm really clumsy. I get hurt a lot."
He gently and tenderly felt around her ankle before exclaiming, "It's not broken, only dislocated. Although I'm sure it still hurts just as much."
"It's no picnic," she replied and the old man laughed softly.
"No I suppose it's not," he replied.
I'm going to have to reset your ankle," he said, "If you'd rather me phone up your mum or dad and they can take you to a hospital you can do that instead."
"I trust you," she replied simply.
The man looked surprised for a second before saying, "Okay then. This will hurt so you better not look down."
She looked up at the ceiling just as she heard the old man mutter something under his breath.
She felt a pop and she yelped. Her head jerked down just in time to see the old man stuff something hastily in his pocket but she didn't get a glimpse of what it was.
There you go," he replied as he wrapped the ankle in bandages, "It'll still be sore for a while but the bone is back in place."
"Thank you," she replied and true to his word, her ankle was sore.
"You know when I was younger I was just like you," the man said with a laugh, "I went to a private school and I was in the school's hospital wing every year."
"So you're clumsy like me?" Willow asked.
"You could say that," he replied with a laugh.
Willow liked it when the old man laughed. She had a feeling he didn't laugh enough.
"I think we should phone your parents now and let them know where you are so they don't worry don't you?" the man said
"Um mister," she replied, "My family doesn't have a phone. They're pretty stone-age."
"Hmm," the man said, "Well how far do you live? I could drive you down the road."
"It's not far," she replied, "Like two miles down the road."
"Alright then let me go get my keys and I'll take you home," he said as he stood up from his crouched position.
He reached inside the door to grab his keys off of what she figured was a key hook and shut it. He disappeared into the garage. As she heard a vehicle start she stood up, careful not to put too much pressure on her injured ankle, and hobbled over to the rails.
He backed out of the garage as she made her way down the steps, assisted by the rail in her hands, and slowly walked over to the car.
He got out and held the passenger side door open for her where she climbed inside before shutting the door.
He got back in on his side and the car started moving backwards.
"So what's the worst injury you've ever had," she asked trying to break the silence. Not that he was out of his house he seemed on edge, almost fearful.
"Oh well one day I was on the school roof," he replied, "Me and my friends were big into dares you see and I was dared to get onto the roof. Well me being as clumsy as I am fell off and I broke 2 ribs, my arm in 4 different places, and I got a concussion."
"Wow," she replied, "That must have hurt.
"It was no picnic," he replied using her earlier words.
"This is it," she said as the man slowed to a stop.
"Alright," the old man said, "I want you to go in and tell your parents what happened. They might still want to take you to the hospital."
"You're not going with me?" she asked, "I'm sure they'd like to meet you. You helped me after all."
"I'm uh, "he said uneasily, "I'm not so good around people. I'm sure everyone that lives around here has noticed by now that I don't get out much."
"Yeah when I moved here 2 years ago everyone warned me to stay away from the house at the end of the lane," she replied.
The old man chuckled, "My reputation precedes me I see."
Willow smiled before opening the door, "Thank you for fixing my ankle. I'll leave you so you can go back to doing whatever hermits do."
"You're very welcome, "the old man replied with a laugh.
"Hold up," she said, "What do I even call you. I never got your name."
"That's because I never told you my name," the old man said.
He looked like he was debating something before finally saying, "You can call me Harry."
"Well thanks again Harry," she said with a wave as she shut the door. She watched as he turned around and drove back the way they had come before she started hobbling to the steps of her house lost in thought.
After she had told her mum and dad what had happened and about the old man that had helped her, and after checking to make sure the man had indeed fixed her ankle, her dad gave her a potion to ease the pain.
"You should've come straight home," her mum said, "We could've fixed it up instantly."
"He was a doctor mum," Willow said with an exasperated sigh, "He knew what he was doing."
Willow heard a pop and another pop shortly after but chalked it up to a car backfiring down the road.
She didn't want to tell them that when he set her ankle back in place, she hadn't felt his hands on her foot or ankle at all. She had also heard him mumble under his breath and tuck something back into his jeans. The more she thought about it, the more she was convinced.
The old man was a wizard.
He had to be. There was no other explanation as to how he fixed her foot without even touching it.
Dinner was amazing as always. Her mum was an excellent cook. Her grandmum was better and even better than her grandmum, was her great grandmum. All the women in her family knew how to cook and each generation was better the further you went back. She hoped one day that she would be just as good a cook as her great grandmum was. She was already teaching her how. According to her, as long as you could cook, you would always keep your man happy, not that Willow cared about such things. She was only 10 years old after all. But one day, maybe one day she could please a family of her own with good food.
"Hey Willow," her dad said from the front door, "I thought you said that your bike was ruined and that you left it at the end of the lane?"
"I did," she replied as she got up to walk to the door, "The front was all smashed into the tire."
Her dad gestured outside as she reached the front door and her mouth opened in shock.
There, right before her steps, was her bike, never having looked like she had just wrecked it.
"Oh," she said in amazement, "the old man must have fixed it and brought it back."
"Well be sure to thank him if you ever see him again," her dad said as he closed the door.
"I doubt I will," she replied, "He's a hermit."
"Indeed," her father said.
She went up to her room still thinking about Harry who she was now convinced was a wizard. There was no way he had fixed her bike that quick without magic.
She would just ask him next time she saw him... if she saw him again.
And with that thought, she fell asleep.
Dow n the road, inside his house, the old man sat in a chair staring at a picture of a beautiful woman in her 20s with vibrant red hair and chocolate brown eyes. Eyes that reminded him strikingly of the 10-year-old girl he had just helped.
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