Some Things are Better Left Unkown Some Things are Better Left Unknown

fanfic by A. Giesbrecht

"For in much Wisdom there is much Grief, and he that increaseth Knowledge increaseth Pain" --Ecclesiastes 1:18, KJV
"Despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt." --Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings
"No one is ever told what would have happened." --Aslan, Prince Caspian

(A/N: Anybody who gets the Tolkien quote--the one in the story, not the title, of course--deserves a cookie)

--Chapter 4: Last Words--

The next morning, they were all up early. Harry had explained the situation to Hermione the night before (completely horrifying her) and she joined them in the common room at 5 AM for the Marauders' departure. Before then, though, while James was explaining something complicated to Peter, Sirius pulled Harry aside.
"You have to tell me," he demanded.
"Whatever it is you want to know, I can't," said Harry. "You heard James."
"Well, don't tell him you told me then," said Sirius shortly. "But I have to know."
"It was me, wasn't it? Just tell me it was me who did it, so as soon as we get back I can go feed myself to the giant squid."
"Sirius, what are you talking about? Who did what?"
Sirius clenched his fists, looking frustrated. "Don't play dumb, Harry! I heard Ron say one of James' friends sold him to Voldemort. If it was me, just tell me now so I can jump off the Astronomy Tower, or drink undiluted bubotuber pus, or laugh at a live dragon, or otherwise end my life before I can sink that low! I have to know!"
Harry just stared at him. His mind went back to the Shrieking Shack, and the undeniable conviction in the older Sirius' voice when he'd said he would rather have died than betray James Potter. Harry had never really thought about how deep or far back that kind of brotherly devotion went, never really realised how strong it could be, as it was obvious that Sirius really would prefer death. The sober, determined look on the young Sirius Black's face was far to old for him. Harry was speechless in the face of it. At last, he said,
"It wasn't you."
"Don't you dare lie--"
"I swear, Sirius, it wasn't you! I swear on--on my life! You would never betray anybody, and you know it."
Sirius swallowed his reply and looked down at his shoes.
"In fact," Harry hesitated, unsure whether he should say it, but wanting desperately to dispell all of Sirius' doubts. "In fact, if it weren't for you, I don't know what I'd do. You're still around, you know. You're going to be my godfather."
Now it was Sirius who didn't know what to say, mouthing "What?"
"You'll look out for me," Harry went on. "You'll write to me, and give me advice. You'll tell me what my parents were like. You'll be..." Harry glanced at James, who was still deep in conversation with Peter. (Remus would have helped, but he'd fallen asleep) "You're the closest thing I have to a dad." Sirius' formerly open mouth closed and tightened as a look of wonder and acceptance merged in his eyes. The whole situation had taken on a completely new light.
"Padfoot, are you ready?" James was done explaining whatever-it-was to Peter.
"Oh, er, yeah," Sirius took one last, hard look at Harry before helping James wake up Remus.
They descended the stairs of the tower silently, meeting Hermione in the common room. Hermione, upon seeing them, immediately ran up to Harry and Ron and hissed "I can't believe you told them!"
"It was an accident! Honest!"
"Right." Hermione folded her arms in a manner very reminsiscent of Mrs. Weasley when Fred and George were trying to explain why Percy had just turned into a large chipmunk.
"It was an accident, Hermione," said Remus, coming over to them. "They were arguing, and we were standing outside the door. They didn't know we were there."
"But a memory charm--"
"No good," said Ron. "According to James, they don't work on him."
"That's impossible." Hermione was even more skeptical than before.
"It's not impossible," said James, "It's true. Memory charms just don't work on me." He paused a moment before explaining. "Back in third year, Flitwick taught us Cheering Charms, but no one in our class--not even Lily Evans, the best in our year at Charms, could get one to work on me."
"Even Flitwick couldn't get the charm to work," add Remus, "but he didn't ask any questions. That evening, McGonagall called James away to Dumbledore's office. We thought he was in trouble for something."
"I thought I was in trouble for something," corrected James. "But Dumbledore only sat me down and asked me what happened in Charms. I told him, and then he asked me if he could try a few other spells, because he suspected it wasn't just a mistake. So it turns out that I'm resistant to almost any kind of charm that has to do with altering my mind: Memory Charms, Cheering Charms, Distraction Charms, most glamours... maybe even the Imperious Curse, but we're not sure."
"James won't let me try," said a dissappointed Sirius.
"There's a reason its called an Unforgivable Curse, Padfoot," said Remus. "We don't want you spending the rest of your life in Azkaban."
"I wouldn't make him do anything bad."
"Can I trust you on that?" said James with a knowing smirk.
"Look, it wouldn't be that lacy--"
"Harry can throw off the Imperious Curse," interrupted Ron. All the Marauders stared at him.
"Someone's cast it on him?" said James, shocked.
"It was... part of a class excercise, in Defense Against the Dark Arts," explained Harry quickly. "Nothing serious. But Ron didn't have any problem casting a Cheering Charm on me."
"Were you in a good mood that day?" asked Sirius.
Harry gave him a funny look. "What does that have to do with anything?"
"You have to want to resist the charm," said Remus. "Consciously or unconsciously. James really didn't want cheering up, so he resisted it. That's also why the Somebody Else's Problem charm worked on you, too. If you'd been suspicious of distractions charms, you probably could have broken it without our help."
Hermione glance at her watch. "I'm sorry Remus, this is really interesting, but its getting late, and the other students will be up soon. Are you four ready to leave?"
James shrugged. "As ready as we'll ever be, I think. Sirius?"
"We don't have to do anything special for this part," said Sirius with a smirk. "I could have said the incantation anytime and sent us back home, no matter what we were doing."
"That could be unpleasant," shivered Remus.
"Or very funny, depending on how you look at it," said Sirius, grinning.
"So, are we saying goodbye?" said Harry, an unexpected ache twinging in his chest. He couldn't stop thinking how this would be the last and only time he would ever see his father alive, regardless of form. It wasn't hard in the least for every last Marauder to guess what he was thinking.
"Don't worry, Harry," said Peter. "We won't forget you."
"Yeah, and who knows? This just might change everything," chimed in Sirius, trying to be cheerful, despite the sinking feeling in his stomach.
"And sorry if I've been a wet blanket about all this," said Remus uncomfortably. "It's just that I would never forgive myself if everything changed for the worse because of us."
Harry couldn't help but grin. "Forget it. Where would we all be if you weren't a wet blanket?"
Sirius tried to say something like "Having a good deal more fun," but James jabbed him in the ribs.
"It's been great, Harry, it really has," said James honestly. "And if things don't change, at least, you know, I know what sort of person you're, er, going to be."
"And I know now what you're--" Harry almost couldn't say it, "--what you're really like..." There was a very uncomfortable moment as they stared at one another, the gravity of what they were saying sinking in. Then, abruptly, they embraced. James' eyes were hot with tears, and he guessed that Harry was crying, too, but they both realised that they didn't care. Any sort of petty teenage idea of dignity melted as Harry clung tight to the boy who would someday be his father. Maybe this James was only fifteen, but that didn't change the fundamental truth of it, that for once in his life, Harry's father was not just a dream, a memory, or a shadowy spectre, but a real, warm, solid human being. As for James, he didn't fully understand the emotion that engulfed him now. Something about family, and regret, and longing, and loneliness, and it was as strong as anything else he'd ever felt before. All he could rightly comprehend was that this meant the world to Harry, and that he wanted Harry to know that it would be all right.
Presently, Harry pulled away. "You'd better get going," he whispered hoarsely.
"Right then." James straightened his robes and rejoined the other Marauders. "Harry?"
"In case--in case I still die, I just want you to know that, erm, that..." James took a very deep breath. "That I think you would have made a really great son." It was not the most eloquent thing James had ever said, not by a long shot, but it was enough. And he felt a lot better for having said it, seeing how Harry's face lit up.
"And I think you would make a really great dad," Harry replied in kind.
That was the last thing James heard before Sirius repeated the incantation that would send them back through time. He wasn't sure whether the shimmer that swept the room, taking Harry, Ron, and Hermione with it, was wholly from the spell, or if it had to do with the tears in his eyes. Either way, when he blinked, they were gone. Dead silence reigned over the Common Room at 3AM, the fourth of November, 1970.
"So that's it, then," said Sirius quietly, as they all watched the blazing fire in the hearth. "We did what we did, and now we're back. Now what?"
"Now we go to bed," said James, looking up at him, determination never wavering. "And tomorrow we face the future, just like any other day." He paced resolutely to the dormitory door, paused, and waited for the others to follow.
Peter shook his head. "I just hope this time, the future is different."
"Me too, Peter," said Remus, following James, with the others right behind. They ascended the stairs in silence, pushing open the door of their own familiar dormitory, empty of course. Each boy went to his own bed, changing into pajamas, and still saying nothing. But as James took off his glasses, he remarked into the darkness of the room, "The important thing is that we don't forget."

November 8, 1995

Harry was mostly silent the rest of the day. Neither Ron nor Hermione chose to comment about this, though everyone noticed. There was really no point. Harry's friends only hoped he wouldn't dwell too long on the past. It was hard enough for them, meeting Harry's dad and his friends when they were young and innocent, but they couldn't fathom what Harry was going through. So, after assuring him that they would be willing and eager to listen if he chose to talk about it, Ron and Hermione pretty much left Harry alone and stayed at a distance, watching.
But the next day, something unexpected happened. The three friends were eating breakfast in the Great Hall, still mostly silent, when the mail arrived. But that wasn't the unexpected thing. The unexpected thing was that no less than three owls decended upon Harry, each carrying a different letter. Harry stared at them in wonder as they delivered their burdens, taking turns to sample Harry's pumpkin juice and bacon before taking flight again. Harry recognised the handwriting of two of the letters immediately. One had Remus Lupin's formal script, and another Sirius' bold lettering. But the third was addressed in a quick, angular hand, very unlike the other two, and the parchment it was written on was rather yellow. Overcome with curiousity, Harry immediately got up from his place and slipped out of the Hall, Ron and Hermione following. He fairly ran back to the dormitory, which was largely deserted, and holed up in a corner, ripping open the letters.
"Can I see them when you're done?" asked Ron hesitantly. Harry only nodded, unfolding first Remus' letter. It said:

Dear Harry,

I suppose you've had quite an adventure this last week. I was wondering why the date 3 November 1995 on my calendar looked so familiar when Sirius reminded me of our time-travelling excursion. The oddest part is thinking that to me, that adventure was twenty-five years ago, whereas to you, it was only yesterday. I was very tempted to drop by Hogwarts during it all and give you all a good scare when I realised that anything I did to you would come back to haunt me in my memories.
You should know what happened as a result of it all. Though nothing earth-shattering changed, (obviously) the knowledge that you would someday meet your father, even as a fifteen-year-old boy, was a great comfort to me. When things looked darkest back in 1981, James would sometimes bring up your parting words to him, and we would all remember that someday, somehow, the Light would triumph, and you would be safe at Hogwarts, maybe as an orphan, but safe nonetheless. I'm glad that, in spite of everything, this has turned out to be true.
It just occured to me (with Sirius' help) that I should send you instructions on performing the Somebody Else's Problem charm. I'm sure it will prove immensely helpful, especially with all that has been going on, so I will enclose them with this letter. Also, you are probably quite curious about the nature and extent of your abilities to resist Mind-Altering Charms. We did a lot of research on it after Hogwarts, and I'd be happy to answer any questions.
And now it seems that Sirius has stolen my owl in order to deliver his own letter, so I must send this with a post owl from the villiage. Take care! I hope to see you soon, and then perhaps we can sit and reminisce about all the fun we had with Filch's cat.


Harry smiled as he handed the letter to Ron, digging in the envelope for the promised instructions. Sure enough, he found them, and after a quick glance, he tore open Sirius' letter, wondering what it would say. The unknown letter he would save for last.


Tell me honestly, was I as annoying as Remus is insisting I was when we showed up in the Common Room at the age of fifteen? He seems to think that I made a complete idiot of myself, but I disagree.
Anyway, I hope the past few days have been as much fun as I remember them being. Please let me know if Snape has managed to pick up a few new nicknames as a result of our hairstyling prowess. If you'd like instructions on anything we pulled, just let me know. (Remus will be including his Somebody Else's Problem charm in his letter, so you can use that. It takes a bit of practice, but don't practice on yourself and end up being ignored for two days, like your dad did)
Harry, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for telling me the truth about whether I would betray Lily and James, and for adding the bit about being your godfather. Though I admit that it was partly because of that that I suspected Remus to be the traitor, and also partly why I convinced James to switch Secret-Keepers, (don't dwell on this part, I'll try to explain later) it was still your words that sustained me through many long nights in Azkaban. Knowing that you would come out all right, that you would someday believe my innocence, was a source of great hope for me. It wasn't a truly happy thought, so it, like my knowledge of my own innocence, couldn't be taken from me, but it was certainly something. Though its also why I didn't think to explain myself right away back in the Shrieking Shack. I guess I assumed you would believe me without question. Its a good thing Remus knew better. (Doesn't he always?) But the important thing is that you told me, and that if you hadn't, I probably really would have tried to commit suicide. Let me put it this way: you saved my life, Harry.
And now I'm being very sentimental. At this point in the conversation, James would be cuffing me in the shoulder and telling me to get on with it. It is the truth, though.
I hope to see you soon. I've been at Remus' since June, and he's been out and about rounding up all our old friends, but that part's almost finished. It won't be long before Dumbledore summons us all, and it will likely be at Hogwarts. So keep your eyes open.


Harry couldn't swallow the lump in his throat after reading Sirius' letter, but he put it aside, itching to find out who had sent the last letter. He examined the parchment and handwriting carefully. There was an odd stamp on the back, saying "DELAYED DELIVERY, 9 NOVEMBER, 1995" A sense of anticipation made Harry shiver as he slit open the envelope. He gasped loudly when he saw both the signature and the date, and read the letter three times over:

29 October 1981

Dear Harry,

I certainly hope this letter finds you well. Actually, my greatest hope is that this letter doesn't find you at all, and that in a few months or so, I can stop by the Owl Post office and retrieve it when it becomes unnecessary. But something tells me that won't happen.
As I write this, the memories of that adventure we had in your time come back clear as a photograph to my mind, and I remember just as clearly what you told me about my fate. I still don't believe that such things are set in stone, but I also know that fate isn't something you can avoid. You're reading this letter, which means that things haven't changed, that your mother and I still lost our lives, and that you are still an orphan. It breaks my heart to think about it.
This will seem odd to you, but as I'm writing this, I'm watching you. You're still very small yet, just a toddler, but you are already the joy of our lives. Lily's and mine. Lily can't get over how much you're like me, in looks and temper. But I know that you're also a lot like Lily. You have her eyes, of course, but you also have her quiet strength and common sense. I haven't told her what I know about the possible future, I don't think it would be quite fair. Its bad enough that I know what might happen, I couldn't bear to thrust that burden on her. But she knows the possibilities. And I hope more than anything that it won't matter in the end, and that she will know what sort of person you become because she is there to see it.
But that's not the point of this letter, to bring up dreams of what-could-have-been. The point is to tell you that I--we--love you dearly, Harry. That I've been thinking a lot about what you become, and that even if I'm not there to see you now, that I'm still very proud of you. Perhaps Sirius has already told you that I would be, but I know you want to hear it from me. You're a wonderful son. Don't forget that. Don't doubt it, either.
I should like to thank you for not telling me who I would marry. Especially since, if you had, I probably wouldn't have believed you. But you will have to ask one of the other Marauders for details about how I, mischeivous prankster James Potter, ended up with studious, law-abiding Lily Evans. It still surprises me that actually fell in love, but Harry, you could not ask for a better mother. She is a postively wonderful woman: talented, intelligent, kind, caring, absolutely beautiful, and she makes a mean fruit salad. Go ahead, laugh at that. I wish you could see the glare she's giving me right now for telling her that I consider it her most winning trait. Your mother has a very nice glare.
I hope you enjoyed yourself during our visit at least as much as I think you did. You have no idea how glad I am that no matter what happens, you will still have those memories of me and the Marauders. I suppose its no use now admonishing you to stay out of trouble. In fact, Harry, I want to encourage you to get into as much harmless trouble as you can manage. Sirius can be a great help in this area. Your years at Hogwarts are probably already the best you've ever had; enjoy them while you can! Be creative, and never underestimate the possibilites of a well-placed Dungbomb. Don't forget to study, though. If only because the more you know about magic, the more fun you can have with magical pranking. But also because, as your father, it is my duty to tell you to study hard, even if I'm not there in person to do it. And if Lily knew about this, she would probably tell you to study hard, too.
Harry, there's something you might want to know. I've been studying protective charms ever since we returned from our adventure. I remembered that you said it was Lily's sacrifice that saved you, and I wanted to know how that worked. This is what I've found:
I'm pretty sure what saved your life is a charm called the Agape Aeternum Charm. It is extremely rare and difficult, especially because no one is quite sure how it works. Only the strongest and deepest love that a person can have for another can set the charm and make it stick. I don't know what all this involves, but if Lily really does offer herself to Voldemort in your place, that's what did it. None of the books I've found on the charm say how strong it is, only that it has been known to protect against powerful curses. I'm glad knowing that our love for you will protect you against the worst curse of all.
I'm afraid I have to end my letter. There's so much I wish I could tell you, but there isn't time, or space. I've enclosed a picture for you of all us Marauders and our friends at your first birthday party. Well, almost all. Peter couldn't make it. He had an urgent call to the Ministry that day, but I'm sure you understand. I just kept remembering how you had no photos on your bedside table, and this was the best one, especially because it has you in it. I hope you like it.



Through tears and shaking hands, Harry dug out the rest of the contents of the envelope. Inside was the aforementioned picture. Harry stared at it for a long time, unable to keep from smiling at the cheerful group that waved up at him. This was one picture he didn't have in the album Hagrid had given him, and he decided immediately that he needed to find a frame: it would look great on his bedside table. It was of a picnic, out in a beautiful garden full of flowers and trees and thick green grass. In the background was a small, homey cottage, and a whole group of family and friends were sitting on the grass, waving at the camera. Sirius and Remus were in it, of course, waving and grinning madly, looking young and happy, along with a few others Harry didn't know. He hoped Sirius could tell him. But the best part of all was his parents in the center, looking up and smiling at him while Lily held a one-year-old Harry in her arms. "Thanks, Dad," Harry whispered.

Same day, in some nastily cold corner of Britain

Peter Pettigrew, known to some as Wormtail, shivered as he huddled outside his master's fortress. But he didn't shirk from his duties. His master needed him, and he was more than willing to obey. He enjoyed knowing that he'd chosen the right side of things, the side that won. The side that gave him power. So he kept watch over the land about Voldemort's fortress, ready to welcome the Death Eaters that arrived to give their reports and pay homage to the greatest Dark Wizard of all time, whom Peter counted himself priviledged to serve.
The wind moaned hollowly, and Peter pulled his cloak closer. Blasted weather, he thought, grimacing at the dark clouds that sailed ever-so-slowly across a leaden sky. As he watched, a bit of newspaper skittered along the ground, carried by the wind. It snagged on Peter's boots and held there. Peter tried to shake it off, but it wouldn't come, sticking long enough for him to notice the headlines. He wrinkled his brow. Why did the paper look so familiar? Bending down, he snatched it up, unfolding it against the persistent wind.
It was a copy of the Daily Prophet, several days old and probably tossed by some careless wizard and forgotten. But what caught Peter's eye was the date: 3 November 1995. He choked. He knew that date.
Memories half-forgotten over the last quarter of a century flooded back into his mind, bright and clear and painful. A wild idea, courtesy of Sirius. A complicated charm. Walking about in a strange future, meeting James' son. Three days spent wreaking havoc on Hogwarts. And then that awful discovery... He could hear, loud and clear as if spoken beside him, the words of Harry's best friend:

"...what are you gonna tell them: 'Hey James, guess what, one of your friends is going to sell your life for his'?"

They'd known. They'd always known. Peter squeezed his eyes shut against the images that assaulted him, the sounds, the words, Remus and Sirius arguing over whether they can change things back; Ron, white as milk as he stared off into space; Harry, sobbing into his hands; James, bravely accepting his fate...

"... at least it sounds like I die doing something noble, and that's more than most people get."

Noble... die doing something noble... noble sacrifice... love... He died for the love of his son... he would have died for his friends... Sirius' words from more than a year before stabbed his heart like a blade of fire.


James died... as Peter should have died... he died... he knew it was coming... he wasn't afraid to die...

"Curse you, James, why do you have to haunt me??" Peter's cry was lost to the wind and the empty lands. He slumped against the fortress wall, covering his head with his hands and weeping, weeping for lost innocence, for lost friends, for broken trust and betrayal. For a boy without a father, and parents who would never see their son grown. Weeping for the knowledge that it was all his fault; his weakness, his fear, his selfishness that was to blame. For the first time in his life, the magnitude of his sins became clear to him.

A/N: Yowzers. When I started this story, even this chapter, I wouldn't have imagined that it would end like that. Strangely, I finished this chapter at about 2AM, when I was supposed to be working on a doctrinal statement. I'm always most creative when I'm supposed to be doing something else. g> But man, I never thought I could make Wormtail a sympathetic character. However much I hate the man, I have to pity him too. His weakness and fear are all too familiar. Worse, his transgressions will catch up with him someday, and may the Lord have mercy on his soul when they do.)
2nd A/N for the updated edition: Arwen, you didn't know where the Tolkien quote was? Its in the argument between Harry and Sirius right at the beginning of this chapter.

"... so I can jump off the Astronomy Tower, or drink undiluted bubotuber pus, or laugh at a live dragon..."

"Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo, you fool!" The Hobbit

I just couldn't help myself. Hope everyone is enjoying the new HTML formatting. I just couldn't stand using txt anymore.

And to all my wonderful reviewers: Padfootsgirl, lily girl, Technomad, Malfoy's Best Friend, Zeptron Zulu, Sandrilene Anastasia, Barbara Fett, peachylaura, KittenGirl555, RavenLady, Dunno, Hermione2000, Lunamew, parker, Julie, Xavien, Arwen, Ayleeandra, Mayleesa, hermione, Maxwell Coffee House, Jenavira, Onedergirl, Adelina, Dark Empress, Chupacabra, Cat, lone astronomer, Dumbledore, Girl 17, ~*Ginny*~, Zelda, and Aziraphale; THANKS, GUYS! Your kind words are greatly appreciated.