A/N: Written for the Houses Competition Winter Challenge. Is just a one-shot for now, but will flesh out later into full story if requested.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or the characters, those belong to our queen, her Majesty J.K. Rowling.
Prompt: Only Lily died (not James)
Someone was talking, but his befuddled mind couldn't form cohesive words from the sounds. Where was he? It was completely dark, and he couldn't hear anything besides the voice and an infernal ringing, but there was something hard, uneven, and uncomfortable under his back. He tried to focus. There had been… some sort of light… green, maybe, and a blast? Another sound entered his mind– a scream. It was a woman's voice, a voice of pure terror. As he remembered the sound, he could feel mounting panic. How did he know that voice? He was sure he did know it, sure it belonged to someone familiar, someone important…
"Lily!" James sat up, eyes darting around frantically as memories flooded his mind. Someone shook him and his eyes focused on another familiar, very important someone– Sirius.
"Sirius! Where's Lily?"
"Oh, thank Merlin," his friend replied instead, collapsing onto the rubble beside him. "James, you're alive."
"Yeah, why wouldn't I be?"
Sirius sat up, incredulous. "Why wouldn't you be? Because bleeding You-Know-Who showed up, that's why." Only now did James notice the tear tracks lining Sirius' grimy face. Sirius let out a shaky breath. "Honestly."
"Where's Lily? And Harry?" James asked. Sirius froze. James didn't need an answer. He bolted up the stairs two at a time, hearing Sirius hot on his heels.
In the nursery, there was a sight so horrible James sunk to his knees. Sirius slumped with a thud next to him, but that didn't matter, because his wife was on the floor. Dead.
James' throat closed up as he shook his head. No sound escaped him except for a low whine.
"Lily," Sirius whispered beside him. "She can't– no! She–"
He was cut off by a scream of agony. The grief built up in James' soul until it burst out in a wailing, animalistic howl of unadulterated pain. He crawled to her body and shook it. "Lily! Lily! Wake up! Wake up!" he sobbed. "Come back, Lily! I need you! Please!"
"James," Sirius whispered hoarsely, scooting over to gently remove his hands from her arms. "She's not going to wake up."
"No," he moaned. "No." James collapsed against Sirius, breaking down with sobs. The brothers held each other close in their grief. "And Harry–" James was unable to finish the thought out loud, and he buried his face in Sirius' shoulder.
"Oh my god," Sirius breathed. "What the hell–? Oh my–" The color drained from his face. "James." He pointed. "James, is that–"
The broken man's face emerged, blotchy and wet. He hiccuped. "What?" His eyes widened and his mouth made a small O as he saw the second body. It was cloaked, so they couldn't be sure, but James could take a fairly good guess.
It was the body of Lord Voldemort.
James slowly rose, and Sirius, hesitant, followed. James drew his wand from his robes and approached the body cautiously. He asked, "Do you think he's really–?"
"I hope so."
"How? How in Circe's–"
"I don't know, but if he's not dead–"
"This could be our chance," James murmured. "We could finally kill him once and for all."
Sirius nodded. "I'll turn him over and you'll have the spell ready?"
James nodded back shakily, his eyes growing hard as he aimed at his target. "On the count of three. One… two… three."
Sirius kicked the body over and James bellowed, "AVADA KEDAVRA!"
But the light was gone from Lord Voldemort's eyes.
"James! He's dead!"
But the Potter was hopping around like a fiend, casting madly. "Avada Kedavra! Crucio! Take that!" He kicked the limp form in the face with all his strength. "And that!" Another jet of green flew from his wand and hit the corpse square in the chest, though it had no effect. "And that, you vile bastard!"
Sirius overcame his shock and rushed at his increasingly dangerous friend. "James! He's dead! Stop! It won't do any good! James!" He grabbed his friend from behind, pinning his arms to his sides. Sirius wrenched the wand from James' hand and cast a hurried Leg-Locking curse when he whirled on him.
"He took everything from me! EVERYTHING!" James howled as he struggled futilely. "He destroyed my family! He took Lily! He took Harry! I'll destroy him!"
His rage was disrupted by a cry– the cry of a baby.
The men froze. The baby's cry sounded again, more insistent this time.
"Harry?" Sirius gasped. He approached the crib, which he had not dared to peer into for fear of what he'd find inside. Slowly, he peeked over the bars, preparing for the worst– But there was Harry, wailing and traumatized, yes, but he was alive!
"He's alive! He's alive!" Sirius cried, scooping the child in his arms and cradling him to his chest, planning to never let go. At once, Harry stopped crying and began gurgling contentedly.
"Let me see him!" James demanded, struggling once more against the bonds of the Body-Bind.
"You're not going to go all psycho again, are you?"
"He deserved it," James growled, eyeing the body mutinously.
"I'm not saying he doesn't, but James…" Sirius unconsciously held Harry's head closer to himself.
"He took Lily. He took everything," James repeated, his voice cracking.
"You still have Harry," Sirius reminded him softly. "And I can't very well hand over my only godson to a maniac, now, can I?" James glared at him. "I know you're hurting– Merlin, I can't even think about it right now." He cleared his throat and sniffed, "but we need to be strong for Harry."
James bit the inside of his cheek and chuckled morosely. "Who knew you'd ever be the source of reason and rationality, Padfoot?"
He gave a small smile. "I have my moments."
"Now, will you please let me hold my son?"
Sirius smirked and released his friend from the Body-Bind. James stood and dusted himself off. Sirius silently passed him Harry and James instantly cradled the child.
Harry blinked his eyes open and stared at his father. "Dada?"
"Hey, Prongslet," James whispered, reaching out his finger so that Harry could wrap his tiny fist around it. "I'm never going to let anything bad happen to you, you hear? Never. You're safe with me. Now go to sleep."
He and Sirius walked over to the wall that hadn't been blown apart by…. something and sat, leaning their backs against the plaster. "It's a miracle," Sirius breathed. "A bloody miracle. How in Morgana's name did he survive?"
"Don't know, don't care," James replied. "He's alive, and that's all that matters." They laid Harry down on their laps and leaned against each other, each offering comfort to the other in their grief.
"How am I going to be a good father without her?" James asked into the silence.
"You have me," Sirius said, "and Remus and Pe–" If not in their current predicament, the way their eyes both widened would have been comical.
"Merlin's balls! Peter!"
"That dirty rat," Sirius growled. Neither of them smiled at the joke.
"How–? Why–!?" James sputtered in fury. "That fuc– bloody wanker! How dare he!? How dare he!?"
"He– he was with Him!?" Sirius spat. "How dare he!? He betrayed us! He–" He shook his head.
"This is wrong. This is all wrong. He– he was one of us, he was a Marauder, he can't have–" James ducked his head and groaned.
"He's a Marauder no longer," Sirius said. "He betrayed us, went to the Dark Side, and killed a fellow Marauder. We will find him and make him pay. Hey," he clapped James on the shoulder, "he will pay."
"No problem." There was a pause.
"How could he?"
"I… have no idea. Some people have no soul." Sirius sighed. "Now, let's get some sleep."
Loud thuds echoed through the cottage. "Mmm," James mumbled. "Not yet." The thuds persisted. "Noooo."
"James. James, someone's here."
He sat upright. For the second time that night, he was awoken by Sirius in the gloom. "What?" Glancing around blearily, James saw that he was still leaning against the wall with Harry in his lap– apparently, he'd drifted off after the night's exertions. "Who's here?"
"I don't know, but considering recent events, I'd suggest we have our wits about us."
James nodded and shifted Harry so that he could stand. He held his wand in one hand and Harry in the crook of his other elbow. "Let's go."
The men traveled down the stairs silently, stunners on the tips of their tongues. They encountered the door that led to the kitchen, where the intruder had broken in. They pressed themselves against the wall on either sides of the door. Sirius held up three fingers. On the count of three. Three. He began folding them down. Two. James turned his body to block the space between his child and the doorway. One.
Sirius kicked the door open and he and James rushed in.
But the two ducked with war-honed reflexes as a spell came flying back at them. They backed up as an enormous figure bellowed and charged at them with a proportionally huge… umbrella?
"Hagrid?" James gasped.
"James?" the huge man asked. "Is tha' you? Blimey, it is! Though' you were dead, I did! I's good to see ya, lad! An' Sirius! Been a while, innit?"
"Prove who you are!" Sirius barked.
"Oh, er, I'm Rubeus Hagrid, I was expelled from Hogwarts, I am now Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts. Um, I'm part o' the Order of the Phoenix, founded by Dumbledore, I've wanted a pet dragon ever since I can remember–"
"Fine, fine we believe you," Sirius said, lowering his wand.
"God, Hagrid, you scared us half to death," James said. "But it's real good to see you as well."
"We thought you were a Death Eater," Sirius explained. "They'll be seething once news gets out their Lord's dead." He spat out "Lord" as if it were vulgar.
"So i's true, then? You-Know-Who's really… dead?"
The young men nodded before James stopped. "How'd you know that?"
"Dumbledore. I'd scarcely believed it… thought they were rumors… told meself it wouldn't do nuthin' to hope… But blimey, I am glad."
"Aren't we all?" James sighed, shifting his weight to reveal the baby on his hip.
"Where's Lily?" James drew in a sharp breath and averted his eyes to the floor, blinking rapidly. "Oh," Hagrid said simply. He drew a tablecloth-sized, spotted handkerchief from the depths of his cloak and blew his nose with the sound of a foghorn. "She was a great person, she was." They men fell into a depressed silence. "Is tha' little Harry?" Hagrid asked, to break the tension. James nodded. "He's alive then? On'y you do wonder how he did it…"
"I've no clue," James told him. "Sirius just found him in the crib and– Merlin's bollocks, what the bleeding hell is on his forehead?!"
The three men crowded around the now-awake baby, examining the child's crown. A jagged scar stretched out from the left side of the skull and branched out like a skinny bolt of lightning. It didn't look life-threatening, but beads of blood dotted the shape.
"Someone get me a cloth," James said frantically. He was handed one by Sirius and began dabbing at the wound. "How'd he get it?"
"Wha' you mean? From You-Know-Who, o' course!" Hagrid replied.
"He did this?"
"Yeah, I espect tha's the scar from when You-Know-Who tried to kill 'im," Hagrid said, looking bewildered that they didn't understand.
"The scar? You mean you knew about this?" Sirius asked incredulously.
"Yeah, don' you?"
"I woke up to find my wife and the Dark Lord dead and my house half-collapsed. How could I possibly have known my son would have a scar on his forehead?" James asked.
"Oh. Well, this migh' be a bit of a shock, so you may wanna sit down," Hagrid said, gesturing towards the kitchen table, which looked remarkably clean and untouched by the attack compared to the rest of the house. James could almost see himself sitting down to dinner yesterday as happily as ever, holding hands with Lily as they took turns feeding Harry, both trying not to get splattered by the baby's food and laughing between small kisses… His chest ached and he sat down. There'll be time to grieve later, he reminded himself. James shoved his emotions down and began paying attention.
"Righ', so, You-Know-Who wanted to see the end of the lot o' you – sorry for bein' blunt – and somehow, he figured ou' where you were." James and Sirius exchanged dark glances. "Don' know how he did it, but he did. After the attack, ol' Bathilda Bagshot Apparated to Headquarters and recounted the whole thing. She'd seen it on her evenin' walk. But–"
"She didn't think to call for help?" Sirius huffed.
"But," Hagrid continued, "the craziest thing was, she'd seen You-Know-Who by the crib through the window. He'd raised his wand and cast an ord'nary killin' curse, but the things is, it didn't work. Instead, it rebounded on You-Know-Who. She saw 'im fall with the flash o' green light, she did, and then she 'eard little 'Arry cryin' and she Apparated down to Headquarters to tell everyone the news. Well, o' course, we all spread the news quick as we could. Once the Minister announced it, everyone in the country, possibly the world, knew that a one-year-old had survived the killing curse and defeated the darkest wizard of all time. And now, now little Harry's famous."
"Famous?" James asked.
"For defeatin' You-Know-Who, o' course. People reckon he's Saviour of the wizardin' world. He's a hero, they're callin' him the Boy Who Lived. He'll be gettin' a lotta publicity, I can tell ya that. Point is, your son is the most famous wizard in the world– you son is the Saviour. The Boy Who Lived."
James fell back in his chair and ran one hand through his hair as he processed the incredible information. Harry, his son, his one-year-old son, was the Saviour of the wizarding world? The Boy Who Lived? It made no sense, but…
"It lines up," James said, stunned.
"No, it doesn't," Sirius said. "How in the hell could a one-year-old survive a killing curse? It's taken down dozens of full-grown, highly trained witches and wizards."
"Well, no one knows how he did it. Tha's the mystery of it. That's the questions everyone is asking: how'd he do it? You wouldn't happen to know, would ya?"
"I've no bloody clue," James said tiredly. "Hagrid, are you sure that's what happened? Maybe You-Know-Who missed."
"Well, that wouldn't explain how he's dead, and he'd keep firing until he hit 'is target anyway, wouldn't he?"
The three men sat back in silence, each thinking hard.
"Hagrid, how did you know where to find us?" Sirius asked slowly. "This house is protected by the Fidelius."
"Dumbledore told me."
"Why? Why are you here? Why did he send you?"
"Oh, uh." Hagrid looked down, uncomfortable. "Well, I was supposed to er, take Harry."
"Take him? Take him where?" James growled, holding his child tighter, as if afraid Hagrid would snatch his son away.
"To 'is relatives," Hagrid explained, "to live there."
"Which relatives? Both Lily's parents and mine are dead."
"He's supposed to live with Lily's sister."
James and Sirius glanced at each other, horrified.
"Petunia?" James spluttered. "That cow? Why in the name of Merlin would Dumbledore–?"
"Well, everyone thought you were dead, see," Hagrid told James.
"Well, I'm alive and breathing right before your bleeding eyes," James spat.
"Besides, I'm Harry's legal guardian," Sirius sneered. "Why wouldn't he go to me?"
"Oy, don't attack me, I'm just the messenger," Hagrid said, putting his hands up. "I don' know why Harry wouldn't have gone to you, Sirius, but i's Dumbledore. He has 'is reasons."
"Reasons that involve taking my child away from his rightful and legal guardian and placing him into the clutches of a demented demon-woman."
"James, we have to trust 'im," Hagrid said. "He's the leader of the bleedin' Order!"
"That doesn't mean anything about his concerns, or lack of, for Harry's personal safety," Sirius hissed.
"You're both on'y twen'y one. You don' know how ter raise a child. Petunia – that's what you said her name was, right? – she's older, she's got a husband, and she has a baby of her own, so she'll know how to take care of Harry."
"It's not whether she'd know how that I'm worried about, it's more whether she'd actually take of him," James grumbled.
"What?" Hagrid asked. "An' why wouldn't she?"
James sighed. "Petunia and her husband, Vernon, hate all things to do with magic. Once Petunia found that she had a witch in the family, she became jealous and cruel, and their relationship deteriorated until they hated each other. Or at least Petunia did. The point is, I'm sure she'd treat Harry miserably, and I won't allow you to take him."
Hagrid waved one of his huge hands. "I'm sure i's not that bad, James. Trust me, Dumbledore knows what he's doin'."
"Wasn't this only supposed to be done if both of Harry's parents were dead?" Sirius interjected. "James, as he said, is very much still alive and kicking, so I don't see why we're still arguing. Harry stays with James."
"But James will be all by himself," Hagrid argued in vain.
Sirius glared, offended. "You think I won't stay and help? That I wouldn't help raise my own godson, especially right now? James won't be alone, not if Remus and I can help it."
"Hagrid, Harry is staying with me," James said firmly. "Please leave and inform Dumbledore of our decision."
"And tell him that if he ever tries to steal Harry away from us, we will have a word with him," Sirius added.
There was no doubt in Hagrid's mind what "a word" meant, and recognizing the battle was lost, he sighed. "Fine, I understand your point. I'll just be going, then." He stood, making the chair and floor groan under his weight, and raised a hand in farewell before seeing himself out the way he came.
As the back door slammed shut with a squeal, James and Sirius both sighed. They sat in companionable silence, James studying Harry's face as he slept. The Boy Who Lived. The Saviour.
"What am I going to do?"
Sirius looked up. "First of all, it's what are we going to. I meant it when I said I'd stick by you and help. In answer to your question, let me ask another question: In what regard?"
James smiled humorlessly. "Where are we going to live? I mean, we can't stay here, Death Eaters will be swarming us once they get the address out of Peter."
"Why would Peter give the Death Eaters the address? He doesn't get anything out of it," Sirius said.
"He might," James explained. "Think about it from the Death Eaters' perspective. Peter gives the Dark Lord the location of the place where he meets his demise, and he's associated with us all through Hogwarts, as many of them probably remember, and we're very outspoken Light supporters. They'll think Peter was on our side all along, and he gave Voldemort the address to lure him to his death. They'll be wanting their revenge, and–" James paled.
"And they'll want to kill Harry," he whispered.
Sirius groaned. "He's a target now. Since he defeated the Dark Lord, they'll want their revenge. And they'll want to kill you too, once it gets out that you're alive."
"We have to leave. It's only a matter of time before they find Peter and get our address. Hold Harry," James said, kissing his son on the forehead before thrusting the baby into Sirius's arms. "I'll get our stuff and then we need to get out of here."
James raced upstairs to find clothes when he stopped. Lily was lying on the ground exactly where he'd left her. James tensed, trying to decide quickly. But it wasn't even a choice; James knew what he'd do. "Serva corpus." A smooth, glossy sheen came over the body and shone for a moment before disappearing, protecting and preserving the figure. James stood and and gazed morosely at his wife before resuming his frenzied packing. Clothes, shoes, diapers, a bottle, a pacifier, the crib (shrunken, of course), toothbrushes, toothpaste, and money all went into a bag, which James then shrunk and put in his pocket. Finally, he went back to Lily, bent down, and hoisted her on his shoulders in a fireman's carry. He made his way down the stairs again, fighting off the fleeting image of him carrying a laughing Lily full of life and twirling her around the room as she screamed for him to put her down. James shook his head and continued into the kitchen.
He blinked at the sight of a motorcycle in the small kitchen. "We could just Apparate." He suggested.
"Harry wouldn't like it," Sirius called from the other side of the bike. "Besides, I am definitely not leaving this to the Death Eaters. Have you gotten everything?" He walked around the motorbike to see James carrying Lily's body and froze.
"I couldn't leave her," James whispered. "She needs a proper funeral."
Sirius bit his lip and nodded. "I'll secure Harry between us with a sticking charm," he said, doing so before hopping onto the bike himself. He jerked his head towards the motorcycle. "Well, come on, then. We haven't got all day."
James stepped forward, arranging Lily onto the seat before cramming himself into the very back. He wrapped his arms around Lily to steady her and said, "We're good to go."
"Where are we going, by the way?" Sirius asked as the engine roared to life. He drove out of the house before accelerating down the winding lane.
"North," James decided. "We'll find a small town somewhere with a cottage for rent. Then we can find Remus, settle down, and start looking for Pettigrew."
"Sounds like a plan," Sirius said before slamming the red ascend button. They rose into the air and shot off into the sunrise.
Unbeknownst to them, whispers carried through the wind in praise of Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived.
How was it? Did you like it? Please leave a review so I know if you guys want me to continue and/or make this into a fully-fledged story! Thank you all!