April 16th, 2002
Harry stalked into the room on guard, with the snake statuette drawn, but not aimed at them. So the memory at least somewhat worked, James thought to himself with relief. Harry remained standing, though, just like the day before.
"Still you insist on disguising yourselves as those assholes, huh?" He sighed heavily. "I'll bite. If my innocence is proven, as the memory of the retrial would suggest, what do you want with me?"
"We need your help."
"You said that yesterday. With what?"
"You saw that You-Know-Who is back-"
"No fucking shit, dumbass! What the fuck do you think I kept telling everyone before I was carted off to Azkaban after that sham trial? No. You all refused to listen to me then, why is it suddenly my problem now?"
James closed his eyes, and recalled the night that the truth about Harry's supposed crime became horrifyingly clear.
OCTOBER 31ST, 1995
James was walking with Albus Dumbledore after a meeting with all the department heads about the most recent Dark Lord to crawl out of the woodwork in Britain. He was still at large following his escape from the ferry to Azkaban. According to the aurors on the boat at the time, there had been a blinding flash of light, an almost musical chime, and then Harr- Dark Lord Potter was gone.
Dumbledore had confided with him, earlier that day, that he was still trying to figure out how he missed the signs, and went so far as to say that he blamed himself for the entire crisis.
Unfortunately, there had been no luck in tracking down the newest threat to their peaceful existence. Dumbledore's tracking spells all pointed to the stars, and a different one each day at that, when they attempted to use magic to find him. Somehow, he had massively obscured his magical signature. After two weeks of the same result, they gave up on using spells or rituals to find him.
For a time, there had been frequent sightings of Ha- the boy. Then, the Ministry, tired of false leads from people just trying to get a quick coin, passed a decree fining people for false reports of criminal presence or activity. No sightings whatsoever had been reported after aurors started enforcing the decree.
Dumbledore nodded to a group of people walking from the other elevator. James noticed something wrong immediately. Dumbledore, lost in thought more deeply that James had been, took a moment longer to realize exactly what this group was wearing. Black robes, with a pointed hood, not a wizard's hat. A bone-white mask, crafted into the visage of a skull, covered their face. And then they saw the man, if you could call him that, at the heart of the group.
Any who had fought in the Blood War would immediately recognize the figure at the head of this force. The ashen skin, crimson eyes, and serpent-like visage were very distinct. Harry Potter had not lied. Lord Voldemort had risen from the dead.
"Have you figured it out yet, old man?" Voldemort asked Dumbledore with a smirk, wand twirling lazily through his fingers, a glass orb dangling from his other hand.
"Have I figured what out, Tom?" Dumbledore asked, hiding his nervousness behind a facade that only one who had known the man for years could see past.
"The real murderer of the Diggory spawn, of course! I must say, it was ever so helpful of you to send him away, the only witness to my return."
James paled with shock and horror. Was he- he had to be. That meant…
"Indeed, it was most helpful..." Voldemort declared triumphantly, holding aloft a small glass orb, no bigger than his fist, with coils of mist clouding its interior. A small parchment tag trailed below it, secured by a thin string. Dumbledore looked even more fearful by this development than the knowledge that they had condemned an innocent child to Azkaban, even if the boy- Harry- had never made it there.
"Absolute rubbish, Dumbledore. I can't believe we were both deceived by that bumbling old fool." With that, the Dark Lord dropped the sphere to the ground. The glass orb - a prophecy, James realized in surprise - shattered into tiny shards, barely bigger than a wood splinter apiece. The mist faded away, only a memory now, held within the minds of those who remembered its contents.
"Now, Dumbledore, prepare to die. AVADA KEDAVRA!"
The Headmaster barely dodged the jet of green light in time. In response, he sent a tongue of flame at his opponent. The Death Eaters made to attack, but their Master halted them with a cry, and hurled another curse at Dumbledore.
James, on the other hand, had no reservations about attacking. These scum followed the man who destroyed his son's life; they were going to pay. He slung his strongest blasting spell at the group of Death Eaters, and the battle commenced.
The fighting continued for several minutes. At some point, Aurors arrived into the Atrium, engaging the Death Eaters in skirmishes around the room. By the eighth minute of dueling, however, Dumbledore was visibly tiring. Only the arrival of another group of Aurors, accompanied by Madame Bones and Minister Fudge, averted their otherwise-inevitable defeat
Voldemort snarled. He knew an unwinnable fight when he saw one. "Retreat!" He and his minions vanished into the wind, taking advantage of the temporarily-lowered wards that allowed the Aurors to bring reinforcements into the building.
When the last of the Death Eaters had vanished, and he had recovered his breath, Dumbledore announced, "We have made a grave error. Voldemort, during the duel, confessed to me the real identity of Cedric Diggory's murderer."
Fudge cried out, "See here, Dumbledore – we all know Potter killed the boy!"
"We were wrong, Cornelius," the aging Headmaster said solemnly. "We were wrong."
April 16th, 2002
"So what was this supposed 'prophecy?'" Harry asked after James finished relating the story to his estranged son.
James took a deep breath and recited, "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches. Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies. The child of fate will be forgotten and condemned as the Dark Lord wanes and waxes. And either must perish at the hand of the other, for neither can die while the other survives. The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord shall be born as the seventh month dies."
"The hell do you take me for?" Harry demanded. "A fool? Those are the words of a two-bit fortune teller desperate for coin! I honestly thought I would never agree with Voldemort about anything, but damn, that's rubbish if I ever heard any. Why the hell can't you all fight him yourselves?"
James sighed. Clearly appealing to Harry's sense of obligation via the prophecy was a no-go.
"We tried," Lily said. "We tried, and failed."
"Really?" Harry asked snidely. "Must not have tried very hard, then."
"The day after You-Know-Who announced his return, Dumbledore called together the… old crowd… to discuss our options and plan our efforts to resist."
NOVEMBER 1ST, 1995
"Quiet down," Dumbledore called out as he sealed the doors to the hall.
"As I am sure you have all heard, Voldemort is back from the dead, and has gathered many of his Death Eaters back to his side. During the short time since his resurrection, Voldemort has already achieved a great victory: he has thrown the Ministry of Magic into chaos to the degree that he was never able to match in his first rise."
"You mean by announcing the Potter boy's innocence, when you proclaimed him guilty?" A gruff voice, Lily couldn't tell who it belonged to, shouted from the back of the room.
Dumbledore sighed. "Yes. With this one declaration, Voldemort has made it so that the Ministry is effectively unable to oppose him. We need to, once again, stand as a shield against the darkness."
"Under your leadership? You, who couldn't see the signs that he was making his return? You, who condemned an innocent boy to Azkaban because you didn't want to see the truth?" Lily realized with surprise that it was Alastor Moody, Dumbledore's long-time friend and second-in-command of the Order during the first war, who was speaking out against him.
"I, who was able to lead you all to stop Voldemort's advance in the first war," Dumbledore rebuked.
Emmaline Vance interjected, "At this point, the only one who can lead us is Dumbledore. No one else has the experience he does. Yes, he made mistakes, and some of them have been costly, but who else here has led the fight against two Dark Lords?"
With a reluctant sigh, Moody conceded.
"If we're done with that matter," Dumbledore said sharply, "we need to plan our resistance."
"We don't have the manpower we used to have," Frank Longbottom stated. "Our number one priority has to be recruitment."
"Yes," Moody said. "Voldemort has a several month long head start on us there, at least."
"We also need information. We have no idea what You-Know-Who is planning, or where he's going to strike, right now." This from Arabella Figg.
"The intelligence group was gutted during the last war," Lily rebuked. "Only two of our undercover operatives are still alive, one of them out of contact, and only one analyst and interrogator each are left."
"It comes down to recruitment, then," Frank's wife, Alice, declared. "I'll get my team together and working on that immediately."
"Do that. Arabella, we need Mr. Fletcher's contacts in the bar scene, get him back in the fold. Alastor, prepare a training program for new response agents. I want an outline on my desk by the end of the week. Dismissed."
April 16th, 2002
"It sounds like this 'Order of the Phoenix' was off to a decent, if rocky, start," Harry said. "What made everything fall apart?"
Before either James or Lily could answer, the clock chimed three, and the guard outside the door entered the room. Harry proclaimed, "That's the start of my shift," and left, though he seemed regretful that the story had to be cut short..
James turned to Lily. "It looks like we've caught his interest."
"Yes. The mention of contacts and intelligence gathering especially. I think we should emphasize that during our retelling."
"I think you're right. Do you think he'd be interested in Chimaera?"
"I think he would be very interested."
"We shouldn't tell him who's involved from the start, though. Too much too fast."
"Agreed. It might serve as another way to keep him engaged."