A/N (updated 1-16-16): Hello & welcome! This "twisted canon" story is part 1 of a 7-part series, all parts of which are complete & posted on my profile. J.K. Rowling owns everything Harry Potter-related, I'm just playing with some ideas of my own. Thanks in advance for reading, & I hope you enjoy! :)
"James, stop that! You're going to get Harry all worked up before bed!" Lily Potter tried to make her voice sound disapproving, but it was hard not to smile at the endless giggles coming from her son.
"Aww, but he loves it, don't you, Harrykins?" her husband chuckled, expelling another wave of colorful bubbles from the end of his wand as the black-haired child continued to roar with laughter.
"Of course he does, but it's time for bed," Lily said, bending down to scoop Harry up off the floor. "Come now, love, time to sleep." When Harry made a discontented noise and began to squirm, she cooed, "Hush, sweetheart. If you're a good little boy, Mummy will read you a bedtime story." At these magic words, Harry immediately stilled – though he was only fifteen months old, he already had a long list of favorite things, and having his mother read to him was definitely one of them.
"Night, Harry," James said softly, tilting his head to give his son a kiss. "Be a good boy for Mummy, yeah?" Harry sighed happily in response and patted his father's nose with a chubby hand, and James chuckled again as he leaned over to kiss his wife.
"I'll be back in a few minutes," Lily said, giving him a small smile.
"I'll be waiting. Love you."
"Love you too."
Lily made her way slowly up the stairs of their small home and down the hall to Harry's room. After placing him carefully in his crib and wrapping his blankets around him, she took a seat in her favorite rocker and began to speak softly.
"High on a hill in an enchanted garden, enclosed by tall walls and protected by strong magic, flowed the Fountain of Fair Fortune..."
Lily was a Muggle-born herself, but James had introduced her to The Tales of Beedle the Bard when Harry was born, and she told them to her son just as often as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. The Fountain of Fair Fortune, happy little story that it was, was one of her favorites, and as she began weaving the tale of the three witches and the luckless knight who accompanies them on their journey, she watched her son's eyes slowly begin to droop. By the time the main characters had reached the fountain, Harry was sound asleep. Lily smiled, strode to the crib, and gently stroked her son's hair.
"Goodnight, sweetheart," she whispered. "Mummy loves you."
All of a sudden, she heard a massive crash from downstairs. It sounded like the front door when Padfoot flung it open too carelessly - but Padfoot wouldn't be barging in at this hour, would he? He knew it was Harry's bedtime…
Then she heard something that made her blood run cold:
"Lily!" James shouted. "It's him! Go - take Harry and run!"
"Oh Merlin..." Lily whispered. There was no need to ask who 'he' was – she already knew. The rest of the Order had worried about this for ages, but she and James had ignored the warnings, insisted that their secret was safe, and now it was coming back to haunt them. Lord Voldemort had found them at last.
Lily paused for merely a second before making her decision. There was no point in trying to help James - Voldemort was clearly in the house, so if her husband wasn't already dead, he would be in a matter of minutes. James had always had a bad habit of leaving his wand out of reach, and Lily had no reason to believe he'd done any differently when she'd gone upstairs. She forced herself not to think about it and raced silently back down the hall - she had to get her son to safety, no matter what.
"Come on, Harry love, we've got to go," she said softly, scooping the child up into a makeshift pouch she hastily constructed from his blankets. He settled into her chest but didn't stir, but Lily knew she didn't have much time - she could hear Voldemort systematically tearing apart the sitting room, no doubt searching for her, and although Harry had always been a heavy sleeper, the excessive noise would surely wake him soon. Adjusting her hold on her son, Lily wrenched open the window and kicked out the screen, crossing her fingers that the sounds of destruction still coming from below were enough to mask her own actions. Carefully, she crawled out onto the nearest branch of the tree that grew close to the house and began her descent. She had only managed to get herself a few feet lower than the window before Harry's bedroom door burst open, revealing a figure with snakelike features and gleaming red eyes.
"Give me the child, and you may go free," he said softly.
"Never," Lily hissed, crawling to a lower branch as she spoke. Voldemort's eyes narrowed.
"So be it, then." He raised his wand. "Avada Kedavra!"
Lily ducked just in time, and the deadly green jet sailed into the tree inches above her head with an angry sizzling sound. Wrapping one hand protectively around Harry, Lily swung herself to the next branch and dropped the last several feet to the ground, whipping out her wand as she did so. She didn't understand why Voldemort wasn't following her - if the Fidelius Charm had failed, surely the Apparition wards were also down, and he could've easily blocked her path - but she wasn't complaining. She tried turning on the spot and had her question answered immediately - the anti-Apparition wards surrounding the Potter property were still intact. As quickly as she could, Lily began running towards the fence surrounding her lawn, throwing curses over her shoulder as she did so - if she could just get over the fence, she could Apparate to safety.
When Lily was about ten feet from the fence, she stopped and faced the house once more. Voldemort was still staring at her through Harry's window.
"Last chance, you silly girl!" he called. "Hand over the child!"
"Never!" Lily shouted back. "I will die before I give up my son!" Both raised their wands at the same time.
The spells collided and rebounded on the house, triggering a massive explosion that caused half the roof to cave in. Lily could barely see through the smoke, but she turned and raced towards the fence once more. She vaulted the wooden barrier and knew a single, gut-wrenching pain for James as she turned on the spot and vanished.
As a safety precaution, Lily spent well over an hour Apparating everywhere she could think of, then walking for ten minutes or so before repeating the process. By the time she reached her final destination, she was ready to drop and extremely surprised that she hadn't Splinched herself due to her rattled emotions. The house that appeared before her was dark and foreboding looking, but Lily knew there was no safer place for her to be - Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place was heavily protected, with Dumbledore himself as Secret-Keeper. Without a backward glance, she rushed up the front steps and pounded on the door as hard as she could. Moments later, the heavy door opened to reveal a handsome young man, thick black locks framing his gray eyes.
"Lily, what's up?" Sirius Black asked, flashing his signature roguish smile. "We weren't expecting you tonight!" The grin vanished as he took in Lily's expression, thrown into relief by the street lamps, and the burden she carried.
"Lily, what's wrong? Where's James?" he asked urgently.
"Can I...can I come in please, Padfoot?" Lily had somehow managed to keep her cool until now, but her legs were beginning to shake and her lip to tremble.
"Yes, of course," Sirius replied.
"Is anyone else here?" Lily asked.
"There's a group of us in the kitchen," came the answer. "Lily, what the hell is going on? You've just shown up on my doorstep at ten o'clock at night looking like you've seen a ghost."
"Not yet, please," Lily begged. "I can only tell this once." Sirius gave her a concerned look but nodded and led the way to the basement kitchen, where several people sat chatting around the large wooden table. The laughter and talk ceased instantly when the group caught sight of Lily.
"Lily, what's wrong?" Remus Lupin demanded, echoing his friend's earlier statement. "Where's James?" Lily braced the hand not clutching her son against the table and took a deep breath, willing herself to hold back the tears for just a bit longer. Her shoulders began to shake and she found she could only manage three words:
"He found us."
Unable to hold herself together any longer, Lily collapsed into the nearest chair and began sobbing. Nobody needed any further explanation to know what had happened.
"Oh, Merlin," Remus whispered, immediately moving to Lily's side and wrapping his arms around her. "James..."
"I'll kill him," Sirius growled. "That bastard was their Secret-Keeper, and he betrayed them! He sold them to Voldemort! Only ever did anything when he could see the benefit for himself, the slimy little rat..."
"Sirius, that's enough," Dumbledore said sharply. "We will deal with Pettigrew later. Right now, we have a more pressing problem." He gestured towards Lily, who was still crying steadily into Remus' chest as he attempted to console her.
"Obviously, Voldemort went after the Potters for a reason. What that reason is, we don't know for certain, but Lily and Harry need protection, and quickly. I had a feeling that something like this might happen, and I have already begun several arrangements - I must return to Hogwarts to finalize some things, but I will be back in the morning, and we will discuss what must be done. In the meantime, no one is to leave this house, least of all you or Remus - we cannot guarantee that Voldemort will not send Peter after you in an attempt to learn of Lily and Harry's whereabouts. Peter never did have a strong mind, and Voldemort will know of his connections to you all."
"Former connections," Sirius muttered. "I will not have myself associated with the scum who as good as murdered my best friend!"
"Whatever you want to call it, Voldemort will still know," Dumbledore said gently. "The best thing you can do right now is be there for Lily - she will no doubt feel she has to stay strong for her son, but she needs to let it all go if she's to make it through this. She'll need your help."
"We'll do our best, Albus," Remus said, coaxing Lily to stand.
"Thank you. I can't ask any more of you at this time." With a nod, Dumbledore swept from the room.
The next morning, Lily awoke to find herself in a familiar bed she recognized as belonging in one of the guest rooms at Grimmauld Place. The room's color scheme and uppity decor screamed of Padfoot's pureblood heritage, but her friend had gone to lengths to make the room more welcoming since his mother had died and he'd inherited the house - Quidditch posters littered the walls, and a photograph from Harry's first birthday party held a place of honor next to the door. James had an arm around Lily, and Harry was perched on Padfoot's shoulders, a ridiculous grin plastered on his cake-smeared face. Lily smiled softly at the happy child's living counterpart, who was curled up next to her on the bed, snoring gently. She smoothed back the stray hairs that stuck up on top of his head, hair that was so much like James' - oh, James. She let out a dry sob and sucked in her breath. She'd cried herself to sleep the night before, but crying wouldn't bring James back, and he wouldn't have wanted her to curl up into herself like she was doing. James would have wanted her to fight back like the Gryffindor she was, to do her part to ensure he hadn't died in vain. Squaring her shoulders as best she could in her prostrate position, Lily vowed to do just that - James was gone, but she still had Harry, and he needed her.
As if sensing his mother's thoughts, Harry stirred, yawning widely as he opened his bright green eyes. He grinned at the sight of Lily gazing down at him and reached up to hug her. Cradling him to her chest, Lily kissed his head and made her way down to the kitchen in search of breakfast.
"Morning, Lil," Sirius greeted her. "Sleep alright?"
"As well as can be expected, I suppose," she replied with a shrug. She placed Harry in the high chair Sirius kept especially for him and accepted the mug of coffee her friend offered her, taking a long sip and sighing as the hot liquid warmed her insides.
"I made some eggs - they're not quite as good as Moony's, but at least they're edible."
"Lil, answer me honestly," Sirius said as he joined her. "Are you okay?" Lily sighed heavily.
"No, not really," she answered, fiddling with her fork, "but moping around isn't going to do me any good. Don't get me wrong, I'm devastated, but James…" She paused and pressed her hands to her eyes as if the pressure would make the pain go away, then sighed and swallowed heavily.
"James wouldn't have wanted me to fall apart. We've lost plenty of other good people and still gone on fighting, and I intend to do my part - my son will grow up knowing his father's story, and hopefully he'll do so in a world without Voldemort." Her green eyes, so very like her son's, blazed fiercely as she spoke.
"That's our Lily," Sirius said fondly, reaching over and patting her arm. "Just be careful, yeah? We all know what Voldemort's capable of - Harry's already lost his dad; we can't have him losing his mum, too."
"I will," Lily promised. She glanced around the kitchen, which was unoccupied save the three of them. "Albus was here last night?" Her tone suggested that she already knew the answer to her question and was merely asking for confirmation.
"Mhmm." Sirius nodded and swallowed a mouthful of pumpkin juice before continuing. "He said he thought something like this might happen - I dunno if he meant to you specifically, or to the Order in general - and that he's been making preparations for a while. He's going to drop in sometime today to talk to you. Of course, he said all this last night too, but, well…"
"I figured as much," Lily said. "I'm surprised I even remembered he was here, given…everything. I would definitely like to hear what he has to say." Harry babbled something and smacked his toast against his tray, as if in agreement.
"Just as vocal as always, I see," someone said with a chuckle. Turning in their seats, Sirius and Lily met the gaze of Albus Dumbledore himself. The old wizard joined them at the table, turning his bright blue eyes to Lily.
"I know it's hardly any consolation, but I'm sorry for your loss, my dear," he said quietly. "James was a fine young man."
"Thank you, Albus," Lily said. "I wish his time hadn't been so soon."
"As do we all. I thought you might like to have this." Dumbledore reached into his robes and withdrew a small golden band, which Lily immediately recognized as her husband's wedding ring.
"How did you get this?" she whispered, taking the ring from Dumbledore's outstretched hand and running her fingers over the smooth metal in awe.
"Lily, did you really think we'd leave James' body to be desecrated by the Death Eaters? A small team went to your house last night, not long after you arrived here. James is safe at Hogwarts for the time being - I assume you'd like to lay him to rest in Godric's Hollow, where he belongs, but we'll have to wait until it's safe to do so. They also rescued your cat - I believe she's upstairs in your room waiting for you."
"Sasha made it out?" Lily said with a small chuckle. "Harry will be happy; he adores her." She reached out and patted the older wizard's hand. "Thank you, Albus, so very much. This means a lot to me." She kissed the ring gently and looped it onto the chain she wore around her neck.
"Of course." He offered her a small smile. "Now, we must discuss the matter of what comes next. You can't stay here, I'm afraid - Headquarters is safe enough, to be sure, but it's no place for a child." Lily shook her head in agreement.
"No, you're right. Harry needs a place he can grow up. No offense," she added quickly, shooting a glance at Sirius. He let out a bark-like laugh.
"None taken," he said flippantly. "If I were him, I wouldn't want to grow up here either. What did you have in mind, Dumbledore?"
"If you're open to the idea, I can offer you a safe house in a Muggle town near Little Whinging," Dumbledore said.
"So close to my sister?" Lily asked, making a face. "Albus, she hates me."
"Hate is a strong word," he cautioned. "Petunia may have hard feelings towards you, to be sure, but she is still your sister, and I highly doubt she genuinely hates you. Whether you choose to reach out to her is your decision alone, but I would feel better knowing you were near to someone you knew. Arabella Figg also lives just a few streets away from Privet Drive, which would put you in contact with the Order almost instantly should you need us."
"That's not a bad idea, Lil," Sirius admitted. "Ara's not a top-priority Order member, and the fact that she's a Squib means Voldemort has never given her a second look - I don't even think he knows she exists." He looked towards Dumbledore, who confirmed this statement with a nod.
"Arabella Figg has always been good at lying low," he said. "She would be a perfect contact for you, not to mention you know how she adores Harry." He smiled at the black-haired boy, who was busy smearing porridge on his tray.
"Would this house be under the Fidelius?" Lily asked.
"A variation of it, yes," Dumbledore replied, "and I would be your Secret-Keeper. Having a suburban Muggle house suddenly disappear completely would generate a long list of awkward questions that we just don't have answers for, and so your new home will remain perfectly visible to your neighbors – they will not, however, be able to divulge the name of who lives there. This, I think, will make it easier for you as Harry gets older, since it is incredibly difficult to explain when a child inadvertently wanders outside a Fidelius' protection boundaries, and he'll be able to have Muggle playmates should you so choose. Just like the Fidelius Charm, Wizarding folk will be unable to locate the house at all without hearing its location from me. Until we uncover Voldemort's agenda, I'm taking no chances. I would like you to reside in this safe house as well, Sirius."
"Me?" the younger man asked, eyebrows raised in disbelief. "Why me?"
"Several reasons," Dumbledore said. "First, very few people know that Lily and James changed Secret-Keepers at the last minute - to be fair, not many knew who their original Secret-Keeper was, but I'd rather not take any chances. We cannot be sure that Peter hasn't already told Voldemort of your involvement, nor can we be certain that there aren't any other spies in the Order. Until such time as we determine otherwise, I'd feel better knowing you were protected. Besides, Harry's going to need a father-figure in his life, and as Remus has to deal with his..."
"Furry little problem?" Sirius suggested, his eyes sparkling playfully.
"Yes, his 'furry little problem'," Dumbledore chuckled. "As Remus has to deal with that and will be spending a great deal of time recruiting in werewolf camps throughout the country, you are certainly the best person for the job. Harry already knows you well, so I don't think he'll think much of it if you're around a bit more."
"Like he wasn't already over for dinner every other day," Lily smirked. "I think it's perfect."
"You can certainly still do work for the Order," Dumbledore continued when he saw the doubt still lingering on Sirius' face. "I have no objection to that - I'd just like your primary assignment to be Harry."
"Oh, what the hell," Sirius said with a grin. "Any time I get to spend with my godson is good by me."
"Watch your mouth," Lily said, smacking his arm playfully. "There's a child present!"
"Sorry, Harry!" Sirius called jovially, and Harry squealed and tossed his spoon to the floor, laughing hysterically.
"That sounds like it's settled, then," Dumbledore said. "We just need to finalize a couple of things, and then we can get you in there as soon as the charm is in place."