Disclaimer- The characters, plot and places of Harry Potter are the property of JK Rowling.
Author's Note- As the title to this fic suggests the Priori Incantaem effect, as mentioned in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire plays a major role. I am writing this fic from the premise that it was Lily who came out of Voldemort's wand first during the Third Task. In the earlier editions of the book, like mine :), it was James who first makes his appearance but once this error was spotted The Goblet of Fire was reprinted to correct this mistake, as of course, James was murdered before Lily.As the title to this fic suggests the effect, as mentioned in plays a major role. I am writing this fic from the premise that it was Lily who came out of Voldemort's wand first during the Third Task. In the earlier editions of the book, like mine :), it was James who first makes his appearance but once this error was spotted was reprinted to correct this mistake, as of course, James was murdered before Lily.
On another note this version of Prior the Incanatem is edited… finally :)! It is a year or so now since I first posted this fic but in scanning over it now and again there have always been moments of dodgy grammar and story telling that have made me cringe ever so slightly ;)! So, I hope that you ENJOY this new version :)
And, as with the original there is a plot here. The events that unfold do allow for canon so it is not strictly AU…
PRIOR THE INCANTATEM
By Templa Otmena
Chapter One- Shielding Harry
'When the connection is broken, we will linger for only moments…but we will give you time…you must get to the Portkey, it will return you to Hogwarts…do you understand Harry?'
'Yes,' Harry gasped; fighting now to keep a hold on his wand, which was slipping and sliding beneath his fingers
'Accio!' Harry yelled, pointing his wand at the Triwizard Cup.
It flew into the air, and soared towards him- Harry caught it by the handle-
He heard Voldemort's scream of fury at the same moment as he felt the jerk behind his navel that meant the Portkey had worked- it was speeding him away in a whirl of wind and colour, Cedric along with him…they were going back…
'I'll take Harry, Dumbledore, I'll take him-'
'No, I would prefer-'
'Dumbledore, Amos Diggory's running… he's coming over… don't you think you should tell him- before he sees-?' 'Harry, stay here-' Girls were screaming, sobbing hysterically… the scene flickered oddly before Harry's eyes… 'It's all right, son, I've got you…come on…hospital wing…' 'Dumbledore said stay,' said Harry thickly, the pounding in his scar making him feel as though he was about to throw up; his vision was blurring worse than ever. 'You need to lie down…come on, now…'
'Dumbledore, Amos Diggory's running… he's coming over… don't you think you should tell him- before he sees-?'
'Harry, stay here-'
Girls were screaming, sobbing hysterically… the scene flickered oddly before Harry's eyes…
'It's all right, son, I've got you…come on…hospital wing…'
'Dumbledore said stay,' said Harry thickly, the pounding in his scar making him feel as though he was about to throw up; his vision was blurring worse than ever.
'You need to lie down…come on, now…'
Albus Dumbledore was not one to be easily swayed over a decision. Indeed, if one had the will to stand up against the old wizard and counter his opinion they would easily, albeit gently, be deterred and led to see that Dumbledore's opinion was the right one. With this in mind it was with uncharacteristic and painstaking reluctance that Hogwart's Headmaster turned from Harry. Even leaving him for a moment, even under the careful watch of Alastor Moody was proving too much for him. Choosing to ignore his nagging misgivings, Dumbledore closed his eyes for a mere second to collect himself and began his trek towards Amos Diggory who was sprinting towards the crowd clustered behind Dumbledore on the field, followed closely by his wife.
Despite his resolve Dumbledore allowed himself another look over his shoulder at Harry but found that he had vanished. Rather than succumbing to dumbfounded shock the Headmaster's weary countenance deepened into a scowl of cold fury. Without stopping Dumbledore turned on his heel in the direction of the castle, catching a brief glimpse of Harry being half pulled, half carried through an entrance. The situation did not need rationalising.
'The real Moody would not have removed him from my sight…'
James gasped as he felt himself slam flat into the ground; his face was pressed into the grass; the smell of it filled his nostrils. He did not move. He could not move. All the breath seemed to have been knocked out of him; his head was swimming so badly he felt as though the ground beneath him was swaying like the deck of a ship. He lay there, for how long he did not know. To the wizard it felt as though he was underwater. Sounds came to him from afar and he was drowning in pain. Lying in limbo like this however did not suit James. He was a man of action and some deep and throbbing feeling within him knew that he was needed and that there was no time to be nursing his own hurts.
With this recollection James attempted to rise rapidly from the ground. It was then that a torrent of sound deafened and confused him. There were voices everywhere, footsteps and screams. James blinked, trying to clear his foggy vision, vaguely he wondered if he had lost his glasses but no sooner had this though entered his mind had it flitted past him. He attempted to speak, opening and closing his jaw but his mouth was so dry and he could not form the words that he needed.
Despite his languid state James noted over the pounding of his head that the unbearable noise seemed to be coming from a good distance away. This both relieved and distressed the wizard. He needed to get up and to get help, but for what he could not recall, the pain was just too much.
It was against his small yet fighting will that James Potter fell back to the ground, unconscious, the effort involved in trying to stand just too much…
'Diggory came back to life?' said Sirius sharply.
'No spell can reawaken the dead,' said Dumbledore heavily. 'All that would have happened is a kind of reverse echo. A shadow of the living Cedric would have emerged from the wand…am I correct, Harry?'
'He spoke to me,' Harry said. He was suddenly shaking again. 'The…the ghost Cedric, or whatever he was, spoke.'
'An echo,' said Dumbledore, 'which retained Cedric's appearance and character. I am guessing other such forms appeared…less recent victims of Voldemort's wand…'
'An old man,' Harry said, his throat still constricted. 'Bertha Jorkins. And…'
'Your parents?' said Dumbledore quietly.
'Yes,' said Harry.
Sirius' grip on Harry's shoulder was now so tight it was painful.
Time had passed, there was no denying it and James could feel it.
With his newfound consciousness the young wizard adopted a pained expression as he lay prostrate in pain on the hard and unrelenting earth. How cruel it was that he could so easily find consciousness but too late. As he lay there he pondered just how long it had been since he had blacked out, he remembered those fleeting moments well, the pain had slashed in to him as quickly and with the same devastating effect as lightening. And with the recollection of those moments that gut-wrenching sensation returned to the young man.
Something was not right. He was not meant to be here. He was needed.
Slowly, gingerly, James carefully attempted to rise again. Despite his return to consciousness the panicked man found himself still mired in unending darkness. As he stumbled to his feet a hand carelessly flung up to his face and found that he was indeed wearing his glasses. No matter in which direction he turned it was all black. There was no way to determine where he was or how much time had gone by, let alone what time it actually was.
It was when James closed his eyes against the impenetrable barrier of dark that it hit him. With the same chilly force as the invisible wind that crashed into his body, memory resurfaced. It slammed into him with such a force that he was nearly knocked to the ground again in his shock and despair…
Lily. Harry. Fidelius. Voldemort.
'No…' he moaned. He could not be here! He needed to get back…
Blindly did James stumble forward, not knowing in which direction or where he was going. All he knew was that the inaction was crushing him. He had to get back to Godric's Hollow. He had to get back to his family.
He managed to keep his balance as he surged forwards but after little over ten feet the young wizard stumbled over something that was decidedly solid and that made a decidedly human sound…
As James regained himself he quickly reached for his wand but found that it was not there. Desperately did he look behind him towards the way that he had come but it was impossible to distinguish anything. Once again he stood but backed off a pace. He could hear ragged breathing from below him, as his companion became aware of his surroundings, just as he had. James took this as a sign that whoever was with him, be they friend or foe, were obviously at as much a disadvantage as he was. With this in mind James gulped down his trepidation and decided to approach the being.
'Who are you?' James asked sharply, his voice contrasting sharply with the rising panic and despair that had stolen his breath moments before.
'Wha…who…?' A croaky voice replied. There was fear there, of that James was certain as that voice turned in his direction. Not deterred in the slightest James did not relent.
'I'll ask you again. Who are you?'
The breathing amplified in accordance with the person's fear. Short rapid breaths were James' only answer for a few seconds until the voice spluttered. 'I…I'm Frank Bryce…who…?'
'What are you?' James interrupted. To his relief he found that he could now, just barely, make out the outline of who it was that he was talking to. He lay not three feet away and was looking up at him; he appeared to be a rather old man.
'Excuse me…?' Frank exclaimed, somewhat bewildered.
'Are you a Death Eater… friend or foe?'
'A Death Eater?!' James watched as Frank shook his head it what seemed to be bewilderment. 'Me…no…I'm a gardener…a Death Eater? What's…? Where am I?' he questioned, making to stand.
James sighed and offered the old man his hand. 'I don't know.' He took a moment to study Frank, as he called himself, only now wondering why it was that he could now see him, albeit vaguely, and his surroundings. It was obvious that he was no threat. All things considered, James thought, at best he was no threat, at worst, as he feared, Frank Bryce was a Muggle.
'How did I get here?' Frank persisted as he used James as support before pushing off him and standing on his own.
'I…I don't know.' James replied. With this better light James whipped his head from side to side and found that he and Frank seemed to be in a great field of sorts, in the middle of no where. His heart was hammering against the inside of his chest as he considered just what this might mean. Lily and Harry were in danger. Of this he was certain. His family, his entire life was in peril and here he was, possibly miles, leagues away and he could do nothing to defend them. James choked on a ragged sob that threatened to break free from his anguish that he was desperately trying to withhold. This was probably all some cruel torture of Voldemort's, he mused. To send him away where he would be absolutely useless and leave Lily and Harry. Helpless.
With that thought James blinked back his tears and his own useless, dark thoughts. There was no time for this now. He had to get back.
'That…that thing…' Frank gulped as James returned to awareness. 'Where is it?'
'Sorry…what?' James tersely asked.
Frank seemed to be looking around himself towards the ground, a look of genuine terror upon his old face. Finally, his search over Frank looked up to find James impatiently staring at him awaiting an answer. 'Sorry lad. Me? I'd call it a child, 'cept, I've never seen nothin' less like a child in all me life! Hairless 'n scaly lookin' it was…with gleamin' red eyes…' Frank then closed his eyes as he shuddered, wrapping his arms around his torso as though that would warm and protect him from the chilly memory that he had brought upon himself. His eyes snapped open and locked with James' however as he said, 'Come to think of it…that's the last thing I remember, before waking up here…'
James sighed impatiently and looked away, his mind racing. Truly, he did not have time for this but it was glaringly obvious that he was missing something here. Considering what Frank had just said James considered what it was that he last remembered before succumbing to dark and painful unconsciousness. That throbbing in his stomach increased as his worry and dread mounted. Voldemort. He had been dueling with him. James scrunched his eyes shut in recollection. That demon had burst through their door and James had remained, attempting to hold him off and hoping that Lily and Harry would escape.
And then as a flash. Voldemort. Wand raised. Darkness.
James snapped his eyes open and found Frank looking at him, wearing that same bewildered expression. Pushing his worries and recollections aside, for they would not help him now, James was reminded of an earlier concern of his.
'Are you a Muggle, sir?' James asked, attempting to keep his voice level and as pleasant as he could manage.
He watched as Frank's eyes widened in surprise and flashed in the with the same terror that he had displayed just prior. 'Oi! 'E called me that 'n all. Ranting on 'bout wizards.'
'He…the child?' James pondered, remembering the old man's earlier ramblings.
'Aye…but 'e were no child, like I said.'
James nodded; not sure what to make of what Frank was telling him. 'This child…' he began but he was interrupted by another groan. This one came from a couple of feet to his left. Despite themselves both James and Frank jumped, having thought themselves to be deserted and alone.
'Who's there?!' James demanded, his voice once again returning to that same clipped and fearless tone.
A female voice cleared a throat and groggily answered. '…Bertha Jorkins…' she coughed.
James brow furrowed in no little amount of surprise and confusion. He knew Bertha Jorkins, he had been at Hogwarts with her, and she had been a year or two above him. 'Bertha Jorkins?' he ventured, his voice small and intrigued. Finally he could focus on her a she gained her feet and brushed herself off.
'Yes,' she replied more cautiously, 'Who are you…?' She looked straight towards James and Frank.
Dumbfounded James answered. 'James Potter.'
'Frank…' He began, but was cut off by Bertha.
'James Potter!' she practically shrieked.
James' brow furrowed at her reaction, but before questions could be asked another groan interrupted them. The sound came from a little further behind James.
'Uhhhhrr…where am I?' A young male voice queried.
Brushing caution aside James walked towards the figure. 'We don't know.' He answered as he helped the person to stand and found, judging by his height and voice, that he could not have been older than sixteen. 'Who are you?' He asked.
'Cedric Diggory.' Replied the boy, rubbing his head. 'You?' Cedric looked hard at the person standing before him. 'Harry…?' He tentatively tried as he squinted up at the person before him.
'James Potter' James inclined his head and made to turn around. Providing no one else decided to abruptly and mysteriously appear from his past or at random, prostrate on the ground, he had to go.
'What? You can't be…' Cedric exclaimed. Bertha released a small, distressed squeal and as James looked at her he found that she was staring right back at him, fear in her eyes.
'I don't have time for this, I have to leave.' James said.
'But, son,' Frank said, 'We don't know where we are, how you gonna…'
'Apparate.' James answered. Why he had not thought of such a simple solution before he did not know. All he knew was that such a delay could be more than costly and that same cold grip of fear tightened its grip around his heart. Shaking his head and releasing a trembling breath James attempted to clear his mind. After a moment he said aloud 'Godric's Hollow'. Nothing happened, nothing changed. James tentatively opened his eyes and found that he was still surrounded by the same strange congregation of people who were staring at him as though he was crazy. Undeterred James sighed in frustration and tried again, closing his eyes and concentrating so hard that he appeared as one in pain. 'Godric's Hollow' he repeated. Louder this time but again, nothing. 'Bertha, you try…' he finally ordered in exasperation.
'Just try.' James tried to sound patient and friendly but he just did not have time for any of this. The tone of his voice suggested an authority and a fierceness that demanded attention and that should not be ignored nor messed with. Bertha effectively silenced whatever protests she might have offered and shut up. After looking hard at James for one last time she closed her eyes and she too drew her brows together in an expression of practiced concentration. 'Godric's Hollow' she pronounced. Nothing happened. 'Godric's Hollow' she repeated. Again, nothing.
'It's not working… James.'
'What do you people think you're doing?' Frank asked. He looked at James and Bertha with an expression caught between concern and perhaps fear, eyes darting between the two.
James bitterly ran both hands through his hair as he angrily grunted, turning his back on the strange group of people who could not help him.
Lily and Harry. Lily and Harry. Lily and Harry. Lily and Harry.
As James opened his eyes and again contemplated his surroundings a cloud shifted ever so slowly to reveal the nearly full moon shining brilliantly behind it, offering itself as a beacon to those lost. James gasped at the change in the surroundings. Truly it was amazing; the cloud had to have been very dense as it covered the moon, which now flooded the mall group in a bright and luminous light. However, a tower, reaching out of the landscape and fruitlessly grasping for that untouchable light obstructed this perfect and almost otherworldly display. The North Tower. As it stood as a stubborn, silent sentential James almost sobbed his relief. The familiarity of it and the hope that it always conveyed was amplified at this time, in his moment of desperate need.
'We're at Hogwarts!' He exclaimed before he began jogging towards his salvation. He did not turn to see the other three in his excitement and desperation. Bertha and Cedric had come out of their trances that seemed to be aimed at staring at James' back. Brief expressions of hope had flickered across their confused faces at the young wizard's explosive announcement. Frank, however just stared blankly back at him and then at his retreating back…
'Hog…what?' he spluttered.
James did not seem to hear him and if he did he did not answer. 'Why we can't Apparate! Of course! Have to find Dumbledore…'
James was unknowingly leading the way as Frank, Bertha and Cedric hurriedly chased after him but they stopped as he did after only having traveled a few feet. A shaft of glittering moonlight had highlighted a shape. Another figure. Another person. The figure was that of a slim, unconscious woman. A woman that James would have known anywhere.
As he stood there shocked and unmoving alongside his three companions, the woman stirred, and so, finally, did James.
'Lily!' he breathed as he stumbled towards her.
To be continued…