Chapter One: The Resurrection
The door to Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, slammed shut as a thin, hook-nosed figure whisked through the hall inside, his dark robes swaying to and fro to match his brisk pace. The man did not appear pleased to be there, judging from the sourness of his expression, but when he reached the door at the end of the hallway, he did not hesitate to push it open and stride into the room beyond.
It appeared that he was expected. Many were seated at the long wooden table there, and all glanced up when he entered. They appeared to have been in deep, hushed conversation. The room around them was a kitchen, with a large, gaping fireplace at its end and chairs surrounding the table.
"You called, Headmaster?" asked the Potions Master coolly, with barely a glance at the others there.
"Yes, yes, Severus." Albus Dumbledore motioned vaguely to one of the empty chairs. It was obvious his mind was returning from wherever it had ventured in the wait for Snape's arrival. "Come in. Sit down."
Distinctly turning his nose up at the empty space at Sirius Black's side, Severus Snape moved down the table, past the Weasley parents and Minerva McGonagall, and took a seat stiffly beside Kingsley Shaklebolt. At the table, the other Order members already had their attention fixed on the headmaster, waiting in anticipation for Molly Weasley to place the usual protective charms so the meeting could begin. They couldn't risk anyone eavesdropping, not after the Weasley twins' incident last week.
"I expect there is an explanation for this emergency meeting, Dumbledore?" Alastor Moody said gruffly. "I had to wrestle with my time just to get here."
"Yes, Alastor." The blue eyes, usually glittering with life, were dull behind his half-moon spectacles as he surveyed the members of the Order before him. "I assure you, the news of this meeting is, in fact, very serious." He waited for them to settle and Molly Weasley to seat herself, and then began.
"I'm afraid I have received… startling news two days ago," he said, setting his wrinkled hands down on the table. "Concerning the lives of Lily and James Potter."
There was slight shifting at the mentioning of the names; the members of the Order were obviously a bit offset by the unusual topic, and further unsettled by the fact that it had been classified as an urgent meeting. A few glanced at one another, as if to assure themselves that they were not the only ones taken aback.
Dumbledore paused, giving the others time to refocus their thoughts before he continued, "Two days ago, I received strange news from down in West Country. It was brought to my attention by a squib who works at a muggle hospital there that two individuals, a man and a woman, had been brought there to be treated for hypothermia, curiously enough." There were slight murmurs at Dumbledore's words. "According to the hospital's reports, they had been found outside of Godric's Hollow graveyard, collapsed on the ground. But that was not what drew his suspicion. In addition to realizing that the two were, in fact, a witch and a wizard, it soon also became apparent that the two were under the mistaken impression that the year was 1981."
Frowns greeted Dumbledore's words. Nymphadora Tonks murmured something in a low voice to Moody. It was apparent that not many in the room seemed to like where this story was taking them. Not when 1981 had been the year of Lily and James' deaths. No one liked the idea of unearthing what was buried.
"Normally," Dumbledore continued, "If a witch or a wizard has misconceptions like that, they are brought to a wizarding hospital and checked for spell damage, another possible source of confusion or amnesia. The curious thing about this couple, however, was the fact that they kept asking for their son, Harry, whom they believed to be an infant. Eventually, the coincidences became too similar, and when the two finally identified themselves to the squib as James and Lily Potter, the squib contacted me immediately."
"That's impossible!" Minerva McGonagall interrupted. She had suddenly grown very pale, and seemed deeply unsettled at the idea that others could be masquerading as the Potters. Across the table, Remus and Sirius looked ashen gray.
"I was under the same impression, Minerva," Dumbledore replied. His voice was quite steady, but his stern gaze warned her against making further interruptions. "Until I went to Godric's Hollow the next day to see for myself. Local muggles claimed that the graveyard at Godric's Hollow had been torn apart on the twenty-forth of June. Tombstones had been thrown about. The earth was uprooted. And, at the place where Lily and James were buried, the graves were empty. There were just holes in the ground."
"What are you saying?" Sirius Black snapped suddenly.
"The similarities are eerie," Dumbledore said, continuing the narrative as if there had been no interruption. "I did not expect to find them. But I did find them, the self-proclaimed James and Lily, just as the squib had told me. They were most certainly alive, healthy, and determinedly inquiring after the whereabouts of their son." He paused for a moment. "I questioned them thoroughly, and… and I believe there's a strong possibility that these people are who they say they are."
There was a tense moment of silence as the members of the Order peered at Dumbledore under troubled brows. Sirius Black paled.
Kingsley Shaklebolt broke the silence. "Could they be Death Eaters?" he suggested in his thick accent, shrugging his shoulders and glancing to the Order members beside him, as if for confirmation at the validity of his suggestion. "…Some type of Dark Magic?"
"At first, I believed it to be a trap for the Order," Dumbledore said. "Or some type of mockery of the dead who had died at the hands of Voldemort-" The others flinched. "-But both were able to answer all of my questions and more, even things only Lily and James would know."
An incredulous silence followed in the wake of his words. The possibility that the two could even be back was too incredible for words.
"And what method did you use to accomplish this interrogation?" Moody asked him, looking extremely dubious.
"My own personal supply of Veritaserum. And I assure you, Alastor, my supply has not been tampered with."
"Veritaserum is not foolproof," Moody pointed out gruffly.
"Perhaps," said Dumbledore. "However, both were also able to produce full-bodied patronuses, a stag and a doe. That, if anything, cannot be faked. If they were Death Eaters, they would not have had the ability to perform such magic."
"Could it have been Inferi, Albus?" McGonagall asked in a hushed voice. "Or the effect of some type of Dark Magic to bring back the dead? Could You-Know-Who have tampered with their minds to make them appear to be the Potters? Could he have Imperiused them?"
"I'm afraid not, Minerva," replied Dumbledore. His features were solemn. "They were not Imperiused; I made sure of it. As for mind tampering, I was able to examine their minds and I am fairly confident in the assertion that they were not meddled with. Of course, there is the possibility that they are practiced in the art of Occlumency, but I suspect not." He paused for a moment. "As for Inferi, Inferi have no will of their own; they are puppets for the dark wizard who reanimates them. These individuals were no way puppet-like. They showed no signs of vacancy or emptiness." He smiled grimly. "And I'm afraid there are no other known ways of bringing the dead into a full, lucid state. This type of magic has never witnessed before. No one has thought it possible. But then," he said darkly, "No one believed it was possible to survive the killing curse."
"Could they be dark wizards under the effects of Polyjuice Potion?" Arthur Weasley said. The others glanced around, seeming uncomfortable with the idea. Over the rims of his glasses, Dumbledore raised his brow at Severus, inviting him to answer the question.
"Not for that amount of time," Snape said finally. He seemed even more pale than usual. His paleness was matched only by that of Sirius, who now looked as though he was about to be sick. "Like most potions, the Polyjuice Potion can age and fall from functionality. Samples taken from the subjects must be fresh… and the subjects must be alive. Additionally, even under the effects of Polyjuice Potion, Death Eaters would not be able to produce a patronus."
There was another long silence. The Order seemed disturbed by the reply.
"Could it be another type of Dark Magic?" Arthur Weasley asked.
There was another silence. No one seemed to be able to list any other possibilities.
"What is your opinion, Albus?" McGonagall asked him. "You undoubtedly have dwelt upon this."
"…I find it highly unusual that the day Voldemort returned-" The others flinched. "-Happened to be the day Godric's Hollow Graveyard was upset and the Potters were resurrected-"
"We don't know that this is the real James and Lily," interrupted Sirius savagely.
Dumbledore paused. His expression hardened. "The explanation for Harry's survival is the fact that Lily Potter, on the night that Voldemort came to Godric's Hollow, gave up her life to save Harry. She cast her love between them, and the killing curse rebounded, saving Harry's life. Lily's protection still lives in Harry." Dumbledore glanced about the room, at the Order members who were staring attentively at him. "When they gave their lives to protect their son, Voldemort was destroyed, ensuring Harry's safety. Now that the threat has returned, however, it is possible – however unthinkable it may seem – that the same binding spell that allowed Lily and James to cast protection over their son has now caused them to be resurrected in light of the returning threat."
There was another long pause.
"You're saying that it is possible for them to be Lily and James?" Tonks asked carefully.
Dumbledore's eyes gleamed at her over his glasses. "It is a possibility. Just because we have never heard of it happening does not mean that it is impossible."
"And they're bound to protect Harry against You-Know-Who?" Arthur Weasley asked.
"Bound by their protective shield, perhaps," replied Dumbledore. "Only love has such power, something that Dark Magic has never truly been able to match in strength."
"But you said previously that Lily Potter managed to set up the shield," Molly Weasley began. "How, then, is James Potter alive as well?"
Dumbledore shook his head. "That, I do not know. Perhaps it the fact that Voldemort was resurrected with both Lily and James' blood. The magic used to resurrect Voldemort could have caused a parallel resurrection in Godric's Hollow… I do not know for certain yet."
There was another long silence as his words sunk in. "You really believe it's them?" Tonks asked him. Her tone was hushed, and even though the room had protective charms that prevented them from being overheard, it seemed appropriate to speak softly.
"Never have I seen such devotion for a child in anyone but a parent," Dumbledore said, and Sirius made a choking sound. "When they were lucid and fully off the medications that the muggles were giving them, they were immediately demanding for their son. …Though I cannot say I have much experience parenting, I know that concern was real."
"Has someone already told them the current year…?" McGonagall asked him. "About You-Know-Who and their son...?"
"Unfortunately, they had already found out by the time I reached them. I did not explain much of what had transpired since then, as they were too distraught and needed to be assured first and foremost that their son was safe." Dumbledore folded his hands on the table. "They have no recollection of waking in their graves. They do recall dying, and awakening in the muggle hospital. It came as quite a shock that fourteen years had elapsed and their son was no longer an infant."
"But Albus," began Molly Weasley. She looked uncomfortable. "If this is some type of binding charm, then how were they able to be resurrected to the state they are now…? Fourteen years…" Molly trailed off, shaking her head and glancing sideways at her husband. "By now the bodies would be…"
"Decayed," offered Arthur Weasley.
Molly nodded. "Decayed. …How is it possible that the pieces could come back together…?"
"I do not know, Molly," Dumbledore said. "This is a highly unusual situation, as I have mentioned. We're dealing with protective charms, ones we have never encountered before. I do not know how the bodies came to be reformed. I do not yet know if this situation is permanent, if Lily and James will cease to exist if Voldemort is destroyed, or if they will be able to return to functioning lives when the charm binds them so closely with their son. I do not know how this will affect Harry or the Durselys, who are shielded by Lily's blood. All I know for certain is that the graves at Godric's Hollow are empty, and the witch and wizard I encountered yesterday are living, breathing, and fully lucid."
"…You really believe it's them, Albus?" Remus asked quietly from the side of the table.
Dumbledore hesitated for a moment. "I do," he finally admitted out loud.
There was another choking sound from Sirius. The Order did not seem to believe it, and they sat through another dumbfounded silence.
"And Harry," began Molly Weasley. "What about Harry…?"
"…What they know about their son?" Arthur Weasley finished, glancing from his wife back to Dumbledore.
Dumbledore's eyes glinted over the rims of his glasses. "They would not calm until I had assured them that he was both safe and in good hands." He paused for a moment, then, in an afterthought, he added, "I confided little else, for Harry's protection. They were placated only when I told them the ambiguity was for Harry's safety."
"And what about Harry?" Tonks asked him, phrasing aloud the question all had been wondering. "Who will tell him?"
"I will inform Harry when the appropriate time comes," Dumbledore told her. "In the meantime, we should work at reintroducing James and Lily to the Order. Slowly, for the Order's own safety. The more people that surround them, the more likely it will be ensured that this is the true Lily and James."
"They're going to rejoin the Order?" Tonks asked him, seeming surprised.
"It would be best if we confided in them slowly," Dumbledore admitted. "Although I am fairly confident in my assessment that these are true Potters, I think that hasty reintroduction will be unwise. At least, until we know more about the situation."
"We must be cautious," Mad-Eye Moody growled, his fake eye swiveling in its socket as it scanned the room. Of all the Order members in the room, he seemed least certain with the idea of bringing in two mysterious figures.
There was a general murmur of consent. The other members of the Order seemed to be thoughtful, only just pulling out of the incredulous trance that had befallen them at the initial relay of the astonishing news.
"And where are they now, Albus?" McGonagall asked Dumbledore, breaking yet another pause in the conversation.
"At the hospital. I will bring them here tomorrow, if all goes well," Dumbledore told them. "Then, I expect we will have a lot of explaining to do. In fact, I fear we will have more to explain than they will."