The night was a warm one, and the room was humid. James tugged at his cloak collar awkwardly, trying to look anywhere but at the scene happening right next to him. He ignored the numbing of his hand as Lily screamed and wailed as the baby was, well, being born.
Each screech sounded around the room and hit him like an Unforgivable, and he cursed himself for not being able to ease her pain, for not having the courage to watch his child be born.
Some Gryffindor he was.
After what seemed like an eternity, Lily, heaving and panting, stopped screaming, and a young baby boy was held carefully in her arms.
She seemed almost dull, lifeless, as if it took every ounce of magic in her to produce this child, and perhaps it did.
But James took one look at the child, at his wife, and made a silent promise to himself that he would do absolutely anything if it kept them safe.
Booker could remember something dark, something wet, several sets of hands pushed against his neck, nails digging into his skin and the breath escaping his lungs as his vision faded.
He died. He was sure of it.
But here he was, waking up again, in the arms of a strange, sickly woman, who cooed over him in such a familiar way that he couldn't help but cry.
He had not had a mother for years now. It felt nice.
Lily did not recover from her sickly disposition after giving birth, and had difficulty doing a great many things.
James tried his best not to be bitter about it, but the truth was that their child was so powerful that Lily, having to provide the most basic of magical power to the child, was drained.
The medi-witches were somber as they gave the news that she might not recover, but Lily just smiled.
"I'm glad I was able to have a child at all, it doesn't really matter to me," she said, a bright smile on her face, standing out against her pale skin.
James hid his anger and smiled for her.
They named the boy Harry James.
Lily had insisted on the middle name. She had told him that they both made the child. He deserved more credit, apparently.
He told her she was too modest as he kissed her brow, and gently rocked her to sleep with Harry in her arms.
She died overnight.
Booker was in too far over his head.
There was... magic, apparently.
Not as ridiculous as a city at the bottom of the ocean, he figured, but still. Magic.
His mother was sickly. Lily, her name was, and though she was gaunt of figure and pale of skin, her hair was a fiery red and her eyes a fierce green.
He hoped he didn't get her eyes. He never liked his face, his features. She looked better with the green.
His father was two-faced. James was happy around Lily, cooing over Booker just like her, all soft brown eyes and fatherly aura.
Then they would be in private, and the man had a downright sour look when around his son.
Being a former Pinkerton and soldier, Booker knew that look well.
He was the cause of the death of a loved one, but the person wasn't petty enough to take it out on him.
Lily wasn't cut out for birth, it would seem. Much like Annabelle had done before with Ana, she died two months after the birth, and the Potter household was stretched silent.
James came close to killing his son three times before he left the child in Sirius' care almost permanently.
He would wake up in the night, hearing the echoes of Lily in his ears, and remember why she was gone.
He'd grab his wand and glasses, and stop just outside the nursery door to catch his breath.
Then he would open the door just a crack and spot the child.
Lily had chosen that middle name, because she wanted people to know that this was his son as well, and here he was, one felony away from destroying that last tether to her.
He would close the door and firecall Sirius, Remus, Peter, Molly, whoever was awake, and ask them to babysit the next day.
Now he just sat in his office, staring at the moving photograph of the two of them dancing in the fall leaves, her cheeks rosy and her smile full.
Merlin, how he missed her.
It was two weeks before Harry's first birthday when Sirius finally gathered the courage to force James out of his office for more than a meal or a trip to the loo.
"You need to be there for your son."
"I can't do it, Sirius," James said, trying his best to tug away from his friend's tight grasp on his wrist.
"Is it because he reminds you of Lily?" Sirius asked with a harsh tone. "If so, you need to move on. This is your child."
"I can't do it, Siri, I really can't-"
"Because he's the reason why she's gone! He drained her of her magic and she withered away like a flower right before my eyes, and all that remains is him. Don't you understand? She's gone! She was the parent here. I don't know what to do without her."
James sank to the floor, overwhelmed with finally letting his feelings out, and sobbed heavily.
Sirius swallowed a lump in his throat.
He didn't know how to solve this, but maybe Remus did, and if so, maybe he could solve this crisis before Harry's first birthday rolled around.
Remus had no clue how to deal with this sort of situation. Upon telling Sirius, the man did not pout or whine like he normally did. He simply lowered his gaze and crossed his arms.
It made his heart ache, to see his friend so somber, so the werewolf promised he would try to figure something out.
Yet try as he did, James couldn't bring himself to so much as look at the child, and Harry's first birthday was celebrated quietly between Sirius, Remus, and the ever well-behaved Harry.
October 31st. A Death Eater raid on Diagon Alley pulled Sirius and Remus away from Harry's side for the night.
An hour later, the news that Voldemort had attacked the Potter home came to their ears, and Sirius took off running, a vengeance in his eyes the Remus could not comprehend.
Dumbledore appeared with the news that Harry had survived the assault, with a mere scar to show for it, despite taking a Killing Curse to the face, and was now in a safehouse.
"What of James?" Remus asked, worry eating away at him. Peter had been missing for a week, Sirius had just run off, and he felt like he was losing every lifeline he had.
"I'm afraid he did not survive. He died, I presume, to protect Harry."
The werewolf felt a chill go down his spine. James had... protected his son.
Perhaps all those times he had talked things out with the grieving man had finally gotten to him.
"Can I see Harry?" he asked, some enthusiasm returned.
"Not at this moment, my boy, he's being looked over by medi-witches. Perhaps in the morning when he has rested."
Remus didn't see Harry again for over a decade.
Booker had awoken to the sound of James bursting into the room, wand at the ready, and he wondered if the man had finally gotten the guts to go through with it and kill him.
He deserved it.
But, instead, James locked the door, and started chanting. Some protective bubble appeared around Booker, and James grimaced at the sound of the front door breaking down.
Someone was coming to attack.
From what Booker could understand, some sort of magical war was going on.
Perhaps this was it.
A strange cloaked figure burst into the room, and a deep voice cackled.
"Here to protect your son, Potter? From what I've heard, you haven't been a father to him for over a year."
James said nothing, but his fist clenched in anger.
"Not that it matters. Both of you will die tonight. Avada Kedavra!"
A green light shot out at James, but he dodged, and it hit the bubble around Booker, shattering it and dispelling the light.
"Not even going to bow like a proper pureblood?" James taunted, though the meaning of his words was lost on Booker. "How disgraceful."
The man sneered, but bowed ever so slightly.
James took the initiative, running forward and grabbing the man by the throat.
The man choked, his hood falling away to reveal a grotesque face, and Booker looked away and covered his ears.
He didn't want to hear the choking... something about it set him on edge.
The ugly man-like thing wrestled with his opponent, kneeing him in the stomach before reaching back for his wand at the same time as James did.
A large explosion sounded, and all that remained was ash, and the gross man, triumphant.
He laughed maniacally before finally turning his attention to Booker.
"And now, to finish this up."
He raised his wand.
Booker did the first thing he could thing of.
He used a vigor.
He hadn't mean to, but suddenly Devil's Kiss was running hot along the man's body, eating away at his skin and bone in a matter of seconds, and Booker, so intrigued at the ridiculously powerful Devil's Kiss he had produced, did not notice the completed spell hit him square in the face.
Light faded to black, and Dumbledore arrived to the scene with a somber, yet calculating look.
He had much to do.
AN: hey there. i'm pastry.
this is definitely not my first fanfiction, but this is a new account and the first one i'm publishing on it.
i've had this plot bunny running circles in my head for almost two years now, and i'm excited to get it out now.
please enjoy, and feel free to leave a review if you want to.