Warning: Rated T for language and mentions of violence.
A/N: Happy Halloween, lovely readers! This is my submission for the Shrieking Shack Society Halloween Challenge.
Trick or Treat
"Trick or treat!"
James stared at his wife in amusement. She was just so happy, and despite looking absolutely mental with her face painted orange, wearing a pumpkin costume that she had transfigured out of an old tablecloth, he could not begrudge her this moment of happiness—not when the past few years had been a nightmare for them.
"Well, well, well," James said with a smirk, looking down at Harry, who could normally walk just fine, but the matching pumpkin costume he wore was setting the lad's balance off. He hung there with Lily's hands tucked up under his arms, looking just as confused as James was about Muggle traditions. "It seems a pair of pumpkins has come to my door."
It was the door to the downstairs broom cupboard because James was not about to let either Lily or Harry step foot outside, even if Dumbledore insisted that the Fidelius Charm went to the edge of the porch.
Lily whispered in Harry's ear words to say, none of which he actually echoed. The boy had gone completely silent since she'd put him in the silly orange getup. James suspected it was in protest.
With a little huff, Lily held out Harry's small bag, and James dropped a large handful of sweets into it.
"That's too much!" Lily said, looking up at him with a stern expression on her face. "You're not supposed to give so many away to one child. You'll run out."
"Run out? Lils, it's just us." He popped a small chocolate in his mouth, grateful that Sirius had brought the sweets by, as they were running out of things to eat that weren't necessities, and Dumbledore wasn't due to set up a drop off of supplies for another two weeks.
Lily frowned. "Well . . . It's not supposed to be just us. And next year, when we hand out sweets properly, you can't give every child a fistful. We'll run out. Everyone will know that we're the people handing out all the sweets in bulk, and there will be a line to our door."
James shrugged his shoulder. "We'll just buy extra," he said, knowing that it irritated her when he even pretended to solve every problem with money. He had no intention of wasting his Galleons on a year's supply of Honeydukes only to have it go out the front door all in one night, but the annoyed look on Lily's face still made his heart flutter a bit, reminding him of times when a stray hex from the witch was his biggest concern.
Lily stood up, lifting Harry into her arms. "You're terrible," she told James, kissing his stubble-covered cheek. "I'm going to go and get changed and wash my face. Will you check on the tart? Make sure the crust isn't burning. The centre might jiggle just a bit, but not be all liquidy."
Stepping out of the cupboard, James tossed the bag of sweets on the nearby table and made his way to the kitchen, stopping only to stare at Lily's arse as she walked up the stairs. Propping open the oven, James looked around for one of the mitts that his wife kept around to keep from being burned. Giving up, he used his wand to magically pull on the rack, jostling it just a touch to check the centre of the tart. When it moved just a bit, he levitated the whole thing out of the oven and set it down on the counter.
Setting his wand down, James rubbed his hands together menacingly as he hovered over the tart, and wiggled his fingers, eager to have a taste. A moment before he could, however, Lily shouted down, "And don't you dare eat any of that treacle before we've had supper!"
In the middle of his grumbling, there was a loud bang in the other room, and a chill filled the house. Running to inspect, James gasped at the sight of Peter in the doorway, bleeding and pale. "Pete!" He ran to his friend, kicking the door shut. Peter collapsed onto the ground, landing on a small pile of leaves that the wind had blown in.
"Pete! Pete!" James turned his friend over to check for a pulse. Blood dripped from his mouth, and his eyes were rolled in the back of his head. "Lily, get down here! Peter's hurt!"
Even light on her feet, the sound of her storming down the stairs was thunderous. James cringed when Peter began coughing, choking on his own blood. "No, no, no, don't you dare go anywhere on me, mate."
"What happened?" Lily demanded as he fell in front of them, wand already out and checking Peter over.
"Cruciatus it looks like," James said, blinking away tears. He had been under the curse once before when he faced off against one of the Carrows, and Sirius had been bedridden for a full week when he had broken his own leg trying to get away from his cousin whilst she had him under the curse. The signs were fairly obvious, especially with the way Peter's body twitched.
Lily frowned as she cast a charm to make sure that Peter's airway was clear. "He bit through his tongue, I think. I'll go and get a Calming Draught. See if you can get him to talk."
"Come on, Wormtail," James whispered as he held his friend, gently squeezing his shoulders and arms to help ease the spasms out of the muscles. "I need you to tell me what happened."
Peter blinked, jolted until he realised where he was, and then started crying. "I-I-I'm s-s-so . . ."
"Here's the potion!" Lily rushed back into the room and smiled sweetly down at Peter. "Hey, you. Tilt your head back a bit. This is one of my own brews, so it'll help with the pain as well." She frowned when Peter began crying again and moved his head to the side to stop her from administering the potion. "Peter, you need to drink."
"No, I-I-I . . . I-I'm s-sorry . . ."
"Drink!" Lily snapped. With James's help, she pried Peter's mouth open and tipped the potion down his throat.
It took only ten seconds or so for most of the spasms in his muscles to ease back. Exhausted, Peter's body relaxed on James's hold, and his eyes blinked blearily up at Lily. "You shouldn't . . . help me. Not . . . I'm sorry. I didn't . . . I was afraid."
James swallowed nervously. "Afraid of what, mate? What happened? Who hurt you?"
Clenching his eyes tight, Peter sobbed. "The . . . The Dark Lord."
Lily's face went pale. "The . . . What?" She moved away from Peter as though he were infected. No one in the Order called Voldemort by that name. No one except Snape, and Snape was . . .
"No!" Peter cried out when Lily darted forward, yanking at his clothes. He didn't fight her off very well, already broken, so when she tugged the sleeve of his shirt up revealing a hideous black mark on his skin, Peter turned his face away from both of them and wept. "I'm sorry. I didn't know what else to do."
James felt his heart sink at the sight of the mark, and that heart broke over the sound of his friend's guilty cries. "Why?"
"They . . . They have my dad."
"Pete, your dad died over a year ago when . . . Oh. You lied. He wasn't . . . He wasn't killed in that fire?"
Peter shook his head. "I'm sorry. They said they'd kill him . . . I'm so sorry. I didn't want to, James, but . . . You have no idea . . ."
"Get up," James said, pulling Peter up to his feet. "Sit down on the sofa. Lily, go check on Harry, and grab my mirror."
Lily vanished, and Peter began to sob again. "No, no, James, not Sirius . . . He'll kill me. He'll kill me. He won't understand, he won't, he won't—"
"I need to call Sirius so he can get Lily and Harry out of here," James said firmly. "Peter, did you tell him? Did you tell Voldemort where we are? Is that . . . Did he torture it out of you?" When Peter closed his eyes and began to cry again, James's hands began to shake. "Shit. Shit . . . How long do we have?"
"How long do we have?!"
Peter opened his eyes and looked up at James, terrified as he whispered, "Run."
Lily returned with the mirror in hand. "Sirius Black," she said into it before looking up to find James slowly backing away from his friend. "James? James, what is it?"
The lights in the house extinguished all at once, and Peter began screaming, clutching at the mark on his arm as though he were being stabbed and burned at the same time. James spun on his heel and looked out the front window. A figure stood just on the other side of the Fidelius Charm. When it began to move, right through the security ward and the charm, James turned and looked at his wife.
"Lily, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off—"
She screamed as the front door blew off its hinges, but did not stop to look back as she ran for the stairs. James reached for his wand only to remember that he had left it in the kitchen. "Shit," he muttered and turned to snatch Wormtail's wand to protect them all, when he saw his friend shift into a rat, and run away.
James held his head high and glared at the door where Voldemort stood.
Red eyes. He had not expected that.
And then suddenly, they were no longer red. In fact, nothing in his sight was the colour it should have been. The sky beyond the door was not black. The walls were not blue. The carpet was not beige. Everything, instead, was a very bright, bright green.
Until it wasn't.