Prologue: Grief Hath No End

A/N: So a lot of you are probably wondering why I am writing and publishing this while I'm working on Secrets. The truth is that writing in Lemony Snicket's style takes a long time and a lot of patience, and I just couldn't wait to publish this story. It's basically my version of what the series would be like if the Quagmires stayed with the Baudelaires after the Vile Village. I know there are other stories out there and I was inspired by them to write my own version. However, a few differences will be that Holly S. will be included and take a much more active role in the plot of the eighth book and so on. Don't worry, I will continue working on Secrets at a slower rate and certain things in this story will be clearer as I write the two simultaneously. Please let me know what you think and I want to thank everyone for their support.

"Ashes to ashes… dust to dust… Amen," a solemn voice says.

A young girl squeezes her handkerchief tightly and wraps her arms around herself because there was no one around her that she trusted enough to hug. She was alone now, so completely alone in the world. Her legs shake to the point where she can no longer stand, forcing her to sit down in a nearby chair. The overwhelming grief she is feeling is not something she would wish on her worst enemy... well maybe on those enemies who did this… the people who made her an orphan.

Orphan…

Those words roll around in her head as she watches her father's coffin being lowered into the ground. Like many people before her, she now carried the title that defined many of the agents her father worked for and people around the world who were not related to a specific organization. Even her friends, who had this title literally dictate their living conditions, she now had it. No longer was she a "half-orphan" or a child of a single-parent family, but an orphan and there was no one left in the world to care and comfort for her.

"I love you, Papa," she whimpers in a very tiny voice.

She doesn't understand why sadness hurts so much. She had experienced grief in her life before; specifically losing her mother at the age of six… she should be able to face this loss with some courage and strength, but she is unable to do so. Perhaps it was because she was so young when she'd experienced the death of her mother that she didn't fully understand the impact this had on her life. Or perhaps it was because her father was the last person in her life that she loved and truly trusted… even if that trust had been called into doubt with all the secrets he'd kept from her during his lifetime. Gone were the promises of walking her down the aisle when she got married or sitting in the front row when she played in a classical orchestra. Everything was gone and she was truly alone in the world.

As the dirt begins to cover his coffin, the girl feels a hand on her shoulder.

Only a few people had shown up to her father's funeral, which surprised the girl considering the large organization he worked for. This may have been because of the distance it took to reach her hometown in which they were laying her father to rest. Like at her mother's funeral, she felt completely lost and unable to recognize any faces except for three.

There was a secretary from Mulctuary Money Management, and a waiter from multiple restaurants; both of whom Holly had rescued from a village that was the scene of her father's murder. There was also the taxi driver who had driven her away from Prufrock Preparatory School so long ago and brought her back to her home to be her temporary guardian. That is until she went off on her own in search of her friends. The rest of the mourners were just faces in the crowd.

There was a man in a pinstriped suit that stood nearby having his head bowed in respect. There was a woman dressed in very fancy clothes standing near the gravesite and a few others whom the girl assumed were agents of the organization that came to pay their respects.

What was considered fortunate was that several people who could not make the service had sent flowers and other tokens of sympathy.

There was a rather large bouquet of flowers standing near an image of her father with the message:

Our Deepest Sympathies

- The staff of Hotel Denouement

There was also a large bronze porthole that had been engraved and made into a sort of picture frame that held an image of her father. There was a small message written under the frame:

The one who hesitated the least will never be lost.

- Love CW and F

And finally, there was a poem sent by an unknown individual that was written by Christy Anne Martine that read:

He's in the sun,

the wind, the rain,

He's in the air you breathe with every breath you take.

He sings a song of hope and cheer, there's no more pain, no more fear.

You'll see him in the clouds above,

Hear his whisper words of love.

You'll be together before long, until then

Listen and play their song.

The last part of the poem seemed a little unusual, almost written differently for a reason. The girl assumes that the sender knew about her mother's death as well and re-wrote the last part to create a connection between the two losses.

However, despite all the gifts and the sympathy that the girl was receiving from those who were not present and those who were; the girl wishes beyond everything else that her friends were here. The friends she had worked so hard to try and find; the friends she had left behind in pursuit of answers, and the friends she loved so very much, especially one.

The service ends quietly and the girl stares at the grave in front of her, which had been corrected considering the inane circumstances that led them to this point.

In Loving Memory of Jacques Snicket

Dedicated Volunteer

Noble Friend

Devoted Husband

Loving Father