Pursuing Sanity

By: Max Pilote

Rating: PG-13 for intense situations and mild violence

Disclaimers: I don't own anything from Harry Potter and I don't pretend to. Um, some of the information might be innaccurate and a good deal of the information has been twisted on purpose. Sorry for spelling mistakes and word confusion. Sometimes, MS Word just hates the hell out of me.

Archives: TDR Fantasy Forest (www.tdrfantasyforest.tk)

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Summary: AU. What would it have been like if James Potter had stopped Voldemort in the hallway? A thirst for revenge leads James to the edge of insanity and back as he chases down the rat that betrayed his family.

Author's Notes: To touch up on a few things. Every now and then, James's awesome Quidditch skills are mentioned. I always say that his is a Chaser because J. K. Rowling mentioned in an interview that James Potter was the Chaser for the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Also, things in italics are supposed to be flashbacks and things in 'single quotes' such as those words are meant to be thoughts. They will mostly be followed by "he thought" or other such nonsense, but sometimes, they're not. This is just a warning.


Chapter One – A Different Result

Thunder roared as lightning lashed across the sky. Rain began to fall from the heavens, beating gently upon the earth below. The rubble of the once beautiful house was smoking as the rain extinguished the small figures that had been burning. Debris and rubble lay scattered across the front yard. Large piece of the walls and roof had fallen into the beautiful flower beds and gardens that had lined the house, destroying them. Items that were precious to the family that had lived here lay scattered and buried within the wreckage, broken and useless.

This was the scene that Sirius Black came upon as he landed his motorcycle in the front yard. It was horrifying. This is where his dearest friend James Potter had been hiding away with his wife Lily and his infant son Harry.

The ever present threat of the Dark Lord had been growing for years now. James and the rest of his friends had formed the Order of the Phoenix, dedicated to defeating Voldemort.

The years following had been happy, even with the threat of Voldemort. James Potter had finally married Lily Evans and soon after they had a beautiful son whom they affectionately named Harry James Potter.

Harry, however, was doomed to a tragic life. A prophecy had been told that Harry Potter would supposedly be the one to destroy Voldemort. Thus, the Dark Lord went to kill him. James and Lily took their son and hid away from the world in Godric's Hollow. James had wanted to make Sirius his secret keeper, his best friend in the entire world. Sirius, though, thought he was too obvious a choice and passed the job to Peter Pettigrew. This would be a choice he would regret.

"Don't worry," Sirius would remember James saying, "because I have an escape plan. I won't let Voldemort harm my family or my friends. Not the ones I love again."

Apparently, his escape plan had not included saving his own life. As Sirius picked his way through the rubble of Godric's Hollow, what little hope he had held in his heart of James being alive was dwindling and fading.

He started in the family room, which was the first room after what should have been the small entrance hall. Remnants of furniture and other household objects were indistinguishable to the debris of the rest of the house. He picked up different pictures that were mostly unharmed by the fires and the destruction, then placed them in his bag. Covered in glass and soot was a leather bound book, a Potter family album. This was also placed in Sirius's bag.

"Lily will want these," he said to himself.

James's supposedly great escape plan was rather simple. James would hold off Voldemort while Lily left with Harry under the invisibility cloak and took a portkey to Dumbledore. Luckily, Sirius had been speaking with Dumbledore at the moment Lily appeared, breathless and nearly hysteric. She was crying and Harry was crying. It was nearly impossible to gather anything from her. After several moments, they found out that Voldemort had attacked them. She admitted ruefully that she didn't expect James to survive.

Through her tears, she recounted the tale. She remembered James running into Harry's bedroom as she was dressing her infant son for bed. He placed the invisibility cloak in her arms and a deep, loving kiss upon her lips. Kissing Harry on the forehead, he bid them both good-bye, saying that Voldemort had come and they needed to escape. As Lily crossed the yard and reached for the portkey, she saw James go past the window as if he had been thrown. She heard him scream as if in great pain. Then, she saw the green flash of light. The house began to rumble slightly and the roof began to cave in on itself. Feeling that her James was dead, she simply grabbed the portkey and left.

Padfoot refused to believe that his friend was dead.

"No one can defeat the great James Potter," he repeated softly to himself as he made his way from the family room and through the dining room. James had said that so many times himself, maybe they were all starting to believe it.

He made his way through the dining room and then into a long hallway. The hallway had many doors to it. The first on the right lead to the master bedroom where Lily and James spent so many nights sleeping peacefully in each other's arms. The second on the right was a washroom. The first on the left was a study where the two kept had their extensive collection of books, either gifts or things gotten from travels and stores. The second on the left was a small room that had held a rocking chair and many different toys that an infant might play with. Either James or Lily would watch their baby as he played with the toys and smile when he smiled. At the very end of the hallway, however, was Harry Potter's bedroom. This was where James Potter had made his last stand.

Sirius could almost see the scene play in his mind as if he were there. He saw the door the opened up to the hallway splinter and explode as Voldemort destroyed it. He found James standing in the middle of the hallway, his wand pointed at the Dark Lord.

"Get out of my way boy, I'm only hear for the child."

He could hear James's response. "Harry's too young to harm you! I won't let you get near him!"

"Are you sure that is a wise choice, Potter? This isn't school anymore. You can't fly away on your broomstick or call on your friend's for help."

James had probably thrown the worst curses he could think of at Voldemort, just to stall him, save for the Unforgivable curses. For a few seconds, he fell back to take a breath, sure that Lily and Harry had gotten away safely.

"Why do you continue to fight if they are not here? You will pay for your distraction."

What Lily had seen must have been from Voldemort throwing James into the door that lead to Harry's room before following him in there. The crib Harry had slept in was probably shattered as James was most likely thrown it, the large and small wood splinters stabbing into his back. The screams Lily had heard could have only come from the Cruciatus curse. Like a knife in his heart, Sirius could never imagine that pain as he could see James fall to the floor and cry out in pain, but refuse to beg for mercy.

Sirius walked along the ruins of the long hallway and finally reached what would have been the entrance to Harry's bedroom. Where the door might have been, there lay a black cloak much like the one Voldemort was often seen wearing. He stepped on it, rather heavily, before moving forward. What remained of the furniture cracked under his feet and he looked down. Shards of glass reflected the lightning as it flashed in the sky once more. He brushed the wet strands of hair from his face and knelt down, picking up what remained of a pair of black, rounded glasses.

He recognized them almost immediately. His hands bled as he moved the large pieces of roof and wall as quickly as he could. James was buried under this pile, and he knew it. There was no way that he was leaving without James, dead or alive.

Fortunately, James was actually alive. As Sirius removed the last of the debris from on top of his fallen friend, the young wizard coughed as a full burst of air rushed into his lungs. His eyes shot open when he realized that he wasn't dead. Blood covered his body from various cuts and gashes.

"Can you hear me?" asked Sirius softly as he checked James's head for any fatal injuries.

James answered him with what seemed to be halfway between a groan and a whimper. Whatever had happened had to have been bad. There was never a time that Sirius could remember his friend being this horribly injured. He remembered watching all the Quidditch games James had played in, and he remembered the way his heart nearly stopped when he saw the star player plummet to the ground or when he was struck by a bludger. Even if he added all those injuries together, it wouldn't equal the horror he felt as he gazed upon the battered body of the once proud young wizard.

Rather loud shouts and other curious noises were starting to grow louder as the muggles in the area began to come out of their homes to investigate what happened. Trying unsuccessfully not to cause James anymore pain, Sirius moved the broken Prongs onto his motorcycle, climbing on behind him. He slipped his arm around James's waist to hold him there as Sirius drove a safe distance away from the non-magical folk before taking off into the night sky.

"Sirius?" It seemed as though James was finding his voice, but it was nearly impossible to hear over the roar of the engine as the motorcycle soared through the air.

"Don't talk, James," advised Sirius in a soothing, calm voice. "Just try and get some sleep, we'll be up here for a while."


To be continued...

Author's Notes: How's that for a first chapter? Please review!!