Before it Began

By. SkyQuill

Summary

James knew he was in love at first sight, but what would it take for Lily to love him back? Read their story leading up to their deaths and discover the dangers they faced and the loves and friendships they shared.

Disclaimer

I do not own most of the characters and places or anything else that may seem familiar. J.K. Rowling has the exclusive claim to this as well as the general plot that formed this fanfic. I also do not own poems 'Do Not Stand By My Grave and Weep' nor "In Memory' by Joyce Kilmer.

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Chapter 43: Fragments

Alice Longbottom clutched Neville closely to her as she stood silently sobbing underneath the weeping willow. Tears poured down her face unceasingly despite Frank's comforting arm around her shoulders. Even he had tears in his eyes as they stood there, clad in black and unspeaking. The last funeral Alice had attended had been Serena's, and the wave of grief that this thought initiated added to their present agony made it seem as though the very world were ending.

The minister continued to drone on about the Potter's lives, his voice carrying loudly across the peaceful meadow. Few had shown up to attend the Potter's funeral just outside Godric's Hollow, but then, few had been able to attend.

Sirius Black had been convicted without trial for associating himself with Voldemort and the Death Eaters. He was also charged in revealing the Potter's location and therefore, assisting in their murder. It was unbelieavable and the wizarding world had been sent reeling at this news. Alice simply couldn't digest the news, no matter how many times she was told. How could Sirius, Jame's best friend and Harry's godfather, so cruelly aid the dark lord in his vicious cavolts? Then again, she supposed numbly, Sirius did hail from the well known dark family of Black's... But even so...

And then there was the case of Peter Pettigrew. He had always been such a quiet, timid boy, Alice thought drearily as the minister continued to ramble. No one had ever paid him much attention; he had often been neglected, or left out, and then to have the courage to try and warn his friends... Alice couldn't bear the thought of his murder. He alone had known and tried to help, but Sirius had killed him too. There were almost a dozen witnesses, both muggle and wizard, who had saw the brutal way in which Sirius ended Peter and so many other's lives. It made Alice sick to even think of it...

And so here they were-the Longbottom's, Remus and Cadence- mourning yet another loss. First Frank's parents, then Serena, then Callidora, and now all this? How much more could they take? How long, until the rest of their lives were ended? Voldemort was gone, that may have been so, but Dumbledore had assured them that he did not believe this was a permanent relief, and besides, their were still the death eaters to contend with. Alice bit back another sob as she thought of this. Lily and James, they had always been so adamant in their attempts to help end the war, and yet it still drew on, despite their deaths. How could life be so unfair?

As Alice dissolved into a fresh set of sobs, Cadence's own shouldes shook with her grief. Her skin was tinged grey and their were dark shadows under her eyes. Even her usually glossy hair hung dull and lank. Her heart was swimming with pain and her head buzzed with confusion. Her agony for Lily, James and Harry was so deep, she couldn't even shed a tear. She was shocked beyond belief. It seemed as though her entire body had shut down. She hadn't eaten since she had heard of the murders, nor had she slept. And even as her life seemingly stopped functioning, her mind fought on, contemplating all the events. She knew, deep down, that they didn't add up. How could they?

Cadence sighed, and leaned against the trunk of the tree that overshadowed the graves. Sirius had confided in her his plans to change secret keeper to Peter, and she couldn't help but wonder whether he had done so or not. She was almost one hundred percent confident that Sirius had not been a double agent, due to his lack of the dark mark, his loving demeanor and his almost non-existence absences. Cadence had been with him for almost every hour of the day when they were not working. Sirius would not have had the time to slip off.

And even then, all this did not explain why Sirius had murdered half a dozen muggles and his own friend. Why had Sirius murdered Peter? Had it been in rage? Maybe Sirius had changed secret keepers and Peter had been the turn-coat... Cadence shook her head furiously, trying to clear it. She wasn't making sense. For one, Peter did not have the guts or brains to accomplice himself with you-know-who, secondly, it still did not excuse how Sirius had taken all those innocent lives. Even if he had not been guilty of treachery, he was surely responsible for the muggle's deaths. There was solid proof in that case... Cadence could not help but blame herself, if only she had listened to Sirius...if only she had trusted him...

Remus watched helplessly as his friend's around him dealt with the pain of their loss. Alice and Frank were devastated, and Cadence was a wreck. He had seen pain in her eyes, and yet an extra cloud seemed to overshadow it. Remus knew that she and Sirius had shared special feelings, but they had broken up before the incident. Could any of that had anything to do with Sirius's seemingly lack in reason? Or maybe he really just had been a traitor all along..

Remus bit down on his tongue, fighting tooth and nail to hide his emotions. He was not ashamed for the other's to see him cry, or show emotion...no, he was scared of what might happen if he let himself be overcome with grief. In less then a week, Remus had lost every one of his closest friends. James, Sirius, Peter, and himself... He closed his eyes, reminiscing their old school days as marauders. Their first day on the train...

"Oi!" grinned a dark haired boy as he poked his head inside the compartment and glanced around it. Eleven year old Remus raised his head curiously from the book he had been reading.

"Yes?" he replied politely, feeling slightly nervous. It was his first encounter with what appeared to be a fellow first year and he wasn't all to confident. His appeareance was slightly wearied and woe-begotten from the full moon that had just passed, and his clothes were rather shabby and old. To his great relief, the other boy didn't seem to mind.

"Mind if I join you?" he asked, his dark eyes dancing merrily. Remus gave a small smile,

"Sure." he agreed, gesturing to the seat across from him. The boy flashed him an ever broader grin of thanks before tugging his trunk in and hefting it atop the luggage rack. He was already rather tall for his age.

"Sirius Black." the boy panted, offering his hand as he slumped into the seat across from him. Remus shook it gladly,

"Remus Lupin." he replied. "Pleased to meet you." Sirius smiled impishly at his response but did not say anything else. For a moment, the two boys stared across the small compartment at each other before succumbing to the awkward silence. Remus had just opened his book back up to the page he had left off at when another disturbance came from the hallway.

"SOD OFF MALFOY!" a young, boy's voice shouted with clear anger. Remus and Sirius exchanged curious looks before hurrying to peer out the compartment window. Another eleven year old, from the looks of it, with platinum blonde hair was scurrying off down the hallway while a messy black haired kid and short, straw haired kid marched in the other direction, coming towards their compartment. For some reason, Sirius seemed to find this highly amusing. With gleeful laughter, he slid the door open and gave the taller kid a one-armed hug.

"James!" he exclaimed happily. The dark haired kid-James- pushed his glasses further up his nose before replying in a somewhat disgruntled voice,

"Hullo Sirius. Fancy seeing you here." Sirius just chuckled some more before ushering the two kids into the room. He glanced apologetically at Remus,

"I hope you don't mind Remus." he said. Remus shook his head, torn between amusement and confusion.

"Not at all."

"Great." Sirius said, his mischievious twinkle returning to his eyes. "James, this is Remus Lupin. Remus, this is James Potter, my best mate since we were four." Remus exchanged greetings with the boy named James before turning to the last, unnamed kid. He seemed to shake with fear under Remus's kindly gaze.

"And you are?"

"Peter Pettigrew." James answered for him. "I rescued him from that git Malfoy and his precous tag along, Snape. Pathetic they are, bullying other kids already."

"How'd you rescue em" Sirius asked eagerly. Remus too felt rather curious, although James too was tall for his age, he did not seem to possess extrodinary muscle power.

"Just a little magic." James replied casually. Remus and Peter gaped at James while Sirius gave him a clap on the back.

"You know magic already?" Remus practically croaked, feeling somewhat diminished. He knew that pureblooded wizards would probably have some advantage over the half-bloods but he had not expected to be this far behind already. James seemed to sense what he was thinking for he explained,

"Nothing big. My dad had been coaching me on a few simple spells before I left for Hogwarts, but I couldn't practice them before obviously. So I guess the theory was pretty good."

"Don't worry," Sirius added happily, "I don't know a single bit of magic, and i'm sure no one else does either. James has always been a bit of a keener." He tipped James a knowing wink to which James replied with a scowl.

"Oh shut up Sirius." he grumbled, "You know full well that's not true, and besides, who was the one who was reading book after book on pranking spells after he got his letter? I don't seem to recall you referring to us as keener's then." Sirius retorted in within minutes, the two boys argument had evolved into a full fledged wrestling tournament. Peter was oooh-ing and ahh-ing childishly as Remus watched on.

"What's wrong with studying?" he asked mildly, thinking self-conciously of 'Hogwarts a History' he had been skimming over before Sirius barged in. James and Sirius halted their tussle immediatly and gawked up at him from the floor.

"Nothing at all." James said promptly. While Sirius grinned wickedly.

"Don't worry, we'll forgive your little hobby." he joked. "But you better know a thing or two about pranking, i'm all out of ideas." Remus rolled his eyes at Sirius, despite the happiness he was feeling from making new friends.

James and Sirius had just resumed their match, in which Sirius was struggling out of a half-nelson when a new person slid the door to the compartment open. They both froze again, to encounter a rather shocked, green eyed gaze.

"Oh, um, sorry," the girl muttered embarressedly. "I'll just leave then." She brushed her vivid red hair from her face and made to close her eyes but James called out,

"Wait!"

"Er, yes?" the girl replied, looking rather bewildered.

"What's your name?" The girl flushed slightly pink but said smoothly,

"Lily Evans."

"Cool." Sirius chipped in. "I'm Sirius Black, this is James Potter, that's Remus Lupin and that's er, Peter Pittengrance."

"P-p-pettigrew." Peter corrected them shyly but nobody heard him.

"Right." the girl named Lily said awkwardly, looking unsure how to act. She shuffled her feet anxiously, "Well...bye." She turned and strode off quickly down the hallway, pulling her trunk behind her. James stared after her, an unreadable expression on his face... It had been the beginning of it all.

"Remus?" inquired someone's tearful voice. Remus jolted from his reverie to meet Alice's worried gaze. He was surprised to see that the service had ended."Are you alright?" Remus opened his mouth to answer but Alice cut him off, sounding rather distant.

"No...of course you're not, sorry. None of us are. It's just...terrible..." She broke off as her usually bright brown eyes filled with tears again. Remus didn't know what to say, he glanced helplessly at Frank who was holding Neville. Neither man met each other's gaze, unable to voice their emotions. Remus sighed,

"It'll be alright Alice." he said kindly. "It will get better, the pain...it will go away eventually, i mean, yeah..." Remus let his voice trail off awkwardly. He had never been the best at comforting people, and right now, he wasn't even sure he was in a state too. He was, in shock to put it frankly. Neville gurgled happily in his father's arms, oblivious to his surroundings. At his blissful, unconcerned behaviour, Remus couldn't help but think of Harry. How would the poor child be coping in an unfamiliar home, with unfamiliar people? Remus shook his head sadly, remembering Lily's hostility regarding her sister. He couldn't help but wonder how Harry was being treated...

"Well," Frank said, his deep voice sounding empty, "Come on love. Augusta will take Neville for a few hours so we can spend a little time... adjusting." Alice followed her husband wordlessly, tears streaming from her eyes yet again. As Remus glanced around at the remaining guests, he noted that all of their faces were wet...all except his. What was wrong with him? He had been one of the closest to the Potters and yet he couldn't even shed a single tear for their loss... Remus clenched his fists in frustration, and strode away from the graves. As each step took his farther away from the plot, he increased his speed, feeling a building desire to get out of there. Finally, he exited from the cemetary and continued to run down the street, not even thinking to apparate. All he wanted to do was run, as far as he could. As the tears finally burst free, whipping into the wind, Remus knew he was running away from the truth.

000

Cadence stared mindlessly at the graves, not even noticing she was the only person left. Her mind kept churning, but she didn't want to think...she didn't want to believe what had happened, but most of all, she didn't want to accept what her actions had caused. Had she only had half the mind to listen to Sirius's feelings, she might have been able to...to what? Even she didn't know, but somehow she knew that if she had stayed with him, she could have prevented this entire ordeal. Somehow...

Impatiently, Cadence wiped the tears from her eyes and sank down onto light coating of snow that blanketed the ground. She ignored the coldness that seeped through her robes, instead, choosing to focus on what had been engraved on Lily and James's shared headstone.

Underneath their names and date of birth and death, was a small verse from the poem 'In Memory' by Joyce Kilmer, that James had requested in his will be placed upon it. It read,

Love's voice is through your song;

Above and Under

And in each note to echo and remain.

As Cadence re-read each line, over and over, she cried her heart out. As each salty tear hit the snow, it caused it to melt, leaving Cadence dripping wet. Evening was beginning to settle upon her and the temperature was dropping. Only when the moisture on her cheeks began to freeze did Cadence finally admit defeat. Shakily, she struggled to her feet and removed a piece of parchment from her pocket.

A week before Harry's first birthday, Lily had come to Cadence with a special request. She had given her a small slip of parchment with the words of a death poem upon it. Although Cadence had shrugged the matter off lightly and assured her friend that it probably wouldn't be needed, she had felt honoured by the responsibility. Lily had given her that poem in the event that she died. She had informed Cadence that it was only to be given to Harry on his seventeenth birthday in the case of such an incident.

Cadence gazed at the crumpled parchement through bleary eyes, wondering about it's purpose. It had to be more then a simple poem for it so be of such importance. Lily must have jinxed it somehow, though she was at a loss as to what for. Cadence bit her lip and cleared her mind of her ponderings. She had come to a conclusion in all her confusion, she knew what she must do. Unfortunately, it might result in her being unable to carry out Lily's wishes. But Cadence refused to let that happen...

Drawing her wand, Cadence cast an extremely advanced spell on the parchment. She watched as it glowed brightly pink, and then yellow for a moment before setting it gently upon the headstone. Then with a deep breath Cadence turned, fully prepared to fight for what she believed in.

As she left the cemetary, the piece of parchment began dissolving into the headtone. Even in the darknening light, the fading words could just be made out by a stranger that had just arrived at the cemetary. Black hair whipped in the wind as deep, blue eyes took in the writing...

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there.I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.

000

Alice didn't even have the energy to scream as a body binding curse hit her from behind. Her brown eyes widened in fear and shock as two hooded figures loomed above her, having just ambushed her after entering her own home. Her eyes darted desperately to Frank but he had already been subdued by yet another two death eaters.

With what seemed to be great satisfaction, the death eaters laughed, their eyes gleaming with mirth. Alice wanted to scream at them in rage, and fury but her mouth was still quite frozen. As the death eaters pulled down their heads and removed their masks, their identities were revealed to the Longbottoms. Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange, Rabastan Lestrange and to her enormous surprise, Bartemius Crouch Junior were all there, giggling and chuckling as though this were a pleasent get-together.

"Oh how mighty are Dumbledore's little aurors now?" Rabastan spat, his pale eyes glinting maniacally. Alice tried to struggle against the hex holding her but it was no use. Desperately she attempted to non-verbally free herself but her wand in her pocket wouldn't react. Alice supposed it was due to her lack of magic. Ever since Lily and James had died, depression had reduced her magic significantly.

"Take their wands." Bellatrix ordered coldly, her voice calm and demanding. She seemed quite eager to get down to business. Alice glared at Rodolphus as he snatched her wand away and then moved on to Frank. The moment both their wands were in custody, the death eaters freed them. Alice immediatly stumbled into Frank's protective arms.

"What do you want?" Frank asked hoarsely, trying will all his might to live up to his Gryffindor bravery. Needless to say by his pale complexion and raspy voice, he was failing dismally.

"We'll cut straight to the chase then." Rodolphus hissed, as Crouch Juniour watched eagerly. "We know how close you are to Dumbledore and to the pathetic Potters..., we want to know where the dark lord is!"

When both Frank and Alice remained silent in their bewilderment and fear, Bellatrix impatiently snapped.

"TELL US NOW!"

"W-w-w-e don't know." Alice whimpered as the death eaters kept their wands trained firmly on their victims.

"Liar!" Crouch junior hissed, moving forwards in the darkness of the unlit house. "Tell us, or you will pay the consequences!" Frank moved infront of Alice, attempting to shield her from view. He remaned unbudging despite Alice's desperate shoving.

"Frank--p-please..." she wailed.

"We don't know." Frank said firmly. "Your sad excuse for a leader is probably dead!" he added venemously. The death eaters looked as though they had been slapped.

"Grab the woman!" Bellatrix ordered with a sneer. Rodolphus and Rabastan stepped forwards collectively but Frank snarled at them,

"Don't touch her!"

"Oh how touching," Bellatrix simpered angrily. "Get her!" Frank tried to fight them off, but he was no match against their collective magic. Within moments, he had been bound by invisble ropes.

"Perhaps, you need a little persuading?" Bartemius suggested through clenched teeth. "Crucio!" Alice attempted to dive out of the way but her lack of energy resulted in slow reactive skills. With a simple jet of light, pain was inflicted upon the witch like none other she had experianced. It was pain beyond pain, and the only thing that kept Alice from begging for her death was the image of her son, Neville.

Within moments, the curse was lifting, leaving Alice gasping for breath. As she struggled for oxygen, she distantly heard Frank's pleadings but before she had time to gather her senses, a second crucio had hit her.

She screamed, wishing it would end, hoping, praying... Again, Neville's face popped up in her mind, weaker then before, but there nonetheless. Desperately, she focused on the image, feeling love surge through her body. Almost as soon as this emotion began the cruciactus curse was lifted. Crouch Junior was looking frustrated but spoke to Frank in a low even voice,

"Last chance Longbottom." he warned dangerously.

"No please I dont-" Frank begged but he couldn't finish. With agony he watched as the death eater cruelly cast the curse for a last time on Alice. It was over within minutes. A few minutes of boke chilling screams, and heart wrenching pain and it was over. Frank shivered as his sweat and tears coated his skin and he was released from his binds. Sobbing, he dragged himself over to Alice's shaking body and laid a hand on her shoulder.

"Alice, love..." he whispered gently, desperation emanating in his voice. But a single look into Alice's kind, brown eyes revealed her broken soul. Frank screamed in fury and turned enraged to the death eaters. He hadn't made it two steps when the curse hit him and he fell beside his wife. Slowly, Frank joined his wife in insanity, having been tortured by their very love for each other. With the ending of their lives, their shattered souls joined the fragments of their broken hearts.

000

Cadence struggled against the wind, ignoring the biting cold as it knawed at her exposed skin. Despite the freezing temperatures, she praised her luck for sending her a blizzard. It was the perfect way to sneak past all the wizarding guards Azkaban had in place.

The snow continued to rush past, catching on Cadence's thin black robes and in her now dull hair. All depression seemed to have abandoned her as she now strode through the snowdrifts, a fierce determination alit in her eyes.

As she pushed on through the storm, she let her mind wander. Serena's blonde hair and light green eyes found it's way into her memories. Cadence was struck with sadness as she remembered her old friend and all the good times they had shared. She remembered them laughing at Honeydukes, and cheering at Quidditch games. Poor Serena had never even had a chance in the real world. She had been victimized before the war had really, fully begun...

Cadence stumbled on a patch of ice but quickly regained her balance. She tried to ignore the pang of sadness at the memory of Callidora which entered her mind at that moment but was unable to stop the memories from flowing. With tedious recollection, she thought back on shopping trips with her old friend, chocolate binges and even that one time they saved those kids from the fires. They had remained best friends through the good and the bad and yet Calli' too had left her in a darkening world...

Even more aches plagued her heart as Cadence's thoughts drifted to Lily, James and Harry. She and Lily had been best friends ever since the first year, it seemed impossible that they would ever be seperated. And yet here she was, trudging through a blizzard to reach Azkaban prison without Lily's spirited and brave personality by her side. Fighting back tears of both laughter and sadness, Cadence reflected on James's and Lily's school days. It seemed so unlikely that such a pair had gone on to make such a fairytale couple.

Cadence's attention was brought back to present as out of the blinding whiteness, a large, black shadow appeared. It seemed that she had finally reached the prison walls. Taking a deep breath, she wondered just what measures of defense had been applied to the boundary. And tragicly...she would never find out.

As Cadence took out her wand, prepared to do the wall some heavy damage, a hoarse, rattling sound distracted her. In alarm, she spun around, only to find her blood run cold. Not one, but five dementors were approaching her in the snow. Cadence felt a sob rise up in her throat, yet fury burned in her heart. These heartless creatures had imprisoned the innocent. They had imprisoned the man she had finally realized she loved.

The dementors continued to glide steadily towards her, their emotions merciless and hungry. Cadence felt herself grow colder, if that was indeed possible.

"No!" she screamed desperately. "Please, i just have to see Sirius, I...I have to tell him i'm sorry!" She felt tears sting her eyes in the frozen wasteland as she hopelessly tried to reason with the unreasonable. The dementors continued their advance without halting. Cadence felt sorrow pierce her heart and in that instant, she knew what was coming.

An attempt to break in or out of Azkaban instantly sentenced the perpetrator to the dementor's kiss. Cadence felt ever bit of desperation well up inside her as the dementor began to lower it's hood.

"NO!" she shrieked, but this time her voice was tinged with determination. "I won't die like this!" Furiously, Cadence dodged away from the foul creature and began summoning up the happiest image she could conjure. A photograph of all of her friends taken at their year seven graduation surfaced to mind and Cadence held it close as she bellowed, "EXPECTO PATRONUM!"

Instantly, a phantom hawk burst from her wand and streaked towards the closest dementor. Cadence's emotions had been running impeccably high for the patronus chased away the dementors with ease. As the last one disappeared into the fog, Cadence let herself collapse into the snow. Shivering, she pulled her knees close to her body for both comfort and warmth. My turn, she thought grimly, but strangely enough, she felt no tears come to he eyes. Instead, a sense of acceptance seemed to weigh upon her. She was not the type of person who could live without her friends...and Sirius.

Cadence sighed as she closed her eyes for the last time, and as her conciousness began to fade she thought...I love you Sirius.

As a last bit of goodness, and hope died in the frozen purgatory of Azkaban, two more lives joined the broken and forgotten. It was the shattering of times before it really began...and only fragments were left to piece back the puzzle.

Author's Note: tear Well it's finished. And i apologize for postponing it so much, I guess some part of me really just didn't want to end it all. It's hard to believe that it's finally over. I've been working on this story for an entire year and a month! I guess it's become such a big part of my writing life.

Anyhow, I know i've promised a sequel for this story, and I have been considering it. The only thing i've realized is that, with starting highschool and all, I don't know if i'll have much extra time. However, I did give you all my word and I did leave the story off so that it can be continued, and so i've made my decision. There will be a followup for this story, taking place after Harry's sixth year, but I should think that the updates are going to take longer. As well, I will be working to revise and edit this one at the same time so it will take awhile. For anyone interested, this story may be having small parts rewritten and i've contemplated adding a few chapters in the middle. So keep updated if you want to check out the editations and additions. ;)

So that's it...my final author's note for this story. A bit sad, a bit relieving. I can definitely promise more writing in the future, so until next time! And please drop me a final review too, if you have a moment. ;)