“Wait,” Harry gasps, grabbing Niall’s wrist before he can turn the page. He lets his eyes roam the photo hungrily, heart beating wildly in his chest.
It’s a family portrait, that much is obvious, the Earl and his wife smacked right in the middle, in front of the foyer, ornately decorated. The picture is black and white but Harry can easily imagine the way her jewels shone brightly, red stones or maybe green, a reflection of the lady’s social status. Next to them are a gaggle of girls, toddlers and children and teenagers, all of them dressed as impeccably. But that’s not what catches Harry’s eyes. No, there in the right corner, next to the Earl, is the ghost. The man he saw, who yelled at him for invading his property, and it’s proof right there… This man existed, a creature of flesh and blood from another century and definitely not somebody that Harry imagined. Harry’s eyes drop to the bottom of the photograph where the inscription reads Lord & Lady Tomlinson, surrounded by their children Louis, Charlotte, Félicité, Daisy, Phoebe, Ernest and Doris. Christmas Day, 1921.
“It’s him,” Harry whispers, letting his finger fall on the page, stroking the tiny image of the man he saw.
“That’s the man you saw?” Niall asks, bending so close to the book that his nose almost touches it. “You’re sure?” he adds, dropping the book and turning towards Harry.
Harry nods, suddenly feeling overwhelmed, as he sneaks another glance into the serious face of Louis Tomlinson.
He’s right there. He existed. And Harry has never felt more terrified.
“I’m sure,” he says with gulp. “I could never forget that face,” he admits. He could never forget those cheekbones and that nose, the way he stood, confident and regal but not without kindness. And those eyes… Harry sighs. He could never forget those eyes.
“Harry,” Niall says slowly and Harry shakes his head, not quite ready for what this implies.
“Louis Tomlinson,” Harry whispers.
“What happened to him?” Harry asks, reaching for the book, starting to turn the pages frantically, looking for more information, but there is nothing but pictures, pages and pages of pictures and whoever said a picture is worth a thousand words clearly wasn’t thinking straight because Harry would kill for just one line about how this man died.
“There’s no point,” Niall says, grabbing Harry’s hand, stopping his fidgety movement. “We don’t know what happened to him after the Estate was sold.”
“What?” Harry gasps. “How is that possible? How can we not know? He was an aristocrat, surely that’s against the law to forget about them?”
Niall laughs. “Unfortunately not. We know a bit about some of the sisters but that’s it.”
Harry frowns. “You’ve looked into this before, right?”
“Yeah, but just because I haven’t found the information doesn’t mean it’s not out there. With your help, we might be able to find something new.”