Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling, I'm just playing with him for the time being.
Author's Note: Please read and review. I will answer all reviews on my profile page.
An Empty Cradle
Tension filled the darken room. Lord Voldemort waited for Wormtail to stop jabbering. His excuses were beginning to gnaw on the Dark Lord's nerves. Lazily, he raised his wand and pointed it at his servant. Screams filled the air, as Voldemort placed the Cruciatus Curse on him.
"I grow tired of your excuses, Wormtail!"
"You are far too merciful-." Wormtail shrieked, as he rolled on the floor in pain.
"Remember that," Voldemort said, as he lifted the curse. "Wormtail, I have waited quite patiently these past months for such an opportunity as this. Do you know what I want?"
"The Potters dead?" Wormtail cringed expecting more pain.
"Yes, Wormtail, I would like that very much. Now that you have been made their Secret Keeper for the blood traitor and his mudblood wife, it is witbin my grasp."
Wormtail dumbly nodded his head.
"But, Wormtail, you have yet to tell me their location. I have been merciful to you… for now, but my patience is wearing thin. Voldemort toyed with his wand before resting it once again on the quivering form before him.
"My Lord, please, they are my friends."
Voldemort laughed. "What is your price, besides your life?"
Wormtail suddenly became still. "My Lord, have I not served you well?"
"Yes, Wormtail, you have had your uses, but like all rats, you will lose your worth." Voldemort let his words sink into Wormtail's head. "Tell me their location and you shall live. It is a chance many would kill to have, and I am offering it to you."
"They are at Godric's Hollow."
Voldemort smiled coldly. "Of course," he murmured mostly to himself.
"My Lord, will you kill Lily and James?"
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… Born to parents who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…And that is as far as Snape was able to hear. The Potter boy is a threat to me?"
"But must Lily and James die for him?"
Voldemort's snake-like eyes fell on Wormtail. "You have no loyalty. You betrayed them. They would kill you, because of the information you have just given me. Do not fear, Wormtail, for you have something better then their protection. You have mine."
Wormtail crawled to his master's feet and grabbed the hem of his robes. "You are far too good to me."
Voldemort smirked once more. "What would happen, Wormtail, if one of the two promised children were to disappear?" When Wormtail shook his head, Voldemort continued. "I would be invincible. This is where you come into play, Wormtail."
"Silence!" Wormtail became immediately quiet. "I will spare your 'friends', all I ask is for you to bring the boy to me."
"You wish me to kidnap Harry, my Lord?"
"Harry," Voldemort whispered. "Harry is the key. I need him alive for the time being. I will have Lucius take him to the Department of Mysteries and take the prophecy. After that, I will decide if young Harry lives or dies. Wormtail, you will grab Harry and take him to Lucius. He will take care of the rest."
"Why me, my Lord?"
"The boy will hardly be afraid of 'Uncle' Wormtail, will he? If you are discovered, Wormtail, remember that your friends will die along with Harry. I can always pay a visit to the Longbottoms to get the prophecy. Now, Wormtail, it is time for you to be off."
Not needing to be told twice, Wormtail apparated away from the Dark Lord's fortress.
Night had fallen hours ago, yet Lily and James Potter were still awake. Peter Pettigrew was beginning to have doubts about his mission. Were James and Lily ever going to go to bed? In the window of the small house, Pettigrew watched as James came up behind Lily wrapping his arms around her. She smiled and then playfully slapped his face causing James to smile ruefully. Peter silently wondered what James had done. Lily reached for the light, and Peter's heart jumped into his throat. They were finally going to bed! The house darkened. The only light to be seen was emitting from Lily and James's room, but that too disappeared after a time.
Turning into his rat form, Pettigrew traveled across the lawn to the small shed, in which a ladder was kept. Transforming back into his human form, Peter carried the ladder to Harry's window. Setting it gently up against the house, Peter then returned to being a rat. He scurried through the grass, until he reached a crack in the foundation. Pushing himself through, he continued on his mission. First, he went to check on James and Lily. Both appeared to be sound asleep, but Peter knew better. James had told him and Sirius on one occasion that he had not been sleeping well as of late. This mission's success would depend on Harry. Pettigrew knew this.
Peter transformed to be able to open the door to Harry's nursery. Inside, Harry was sleeping contently. Before picking Harry up, Pettigrew opened the window. Now that the window was opened, he lifted Harry into his arms and began to go through the window, when he heard footsteps. Harry stirred slightly in his arms. To Peter's relief, the footsteps went past the door to the nursery and continued down the stairs. Slowly and quietly, Peter descended down the ladder. His legs shaking fiercely, nevertheless his feet never slipped. Guilt filtered through the walls that he had built around his mind.
"I am doing what is best for James," he whispered, as he looked into Harry's face. "James would have died, if the Dark Lord had decided to kill you straight out. It is better this way."
Wormtail's feet landed on the ground, and he began to run with all his might into the woods that surrounded the Potters' house. The running jostled Harry from his sleep, but he did not cry out when he saw that his Uncle Wormtail was holding him. Instead, he snuggled deeper into the warm arms.
Wormtail smiled. "That's a good boy, Harry. You just go right back to sleep."
In the woods, Peter stopped. With a pop, Lucius Malfoy appeared before him. "Well done, Pettigrew, you didn't bumble this one. Now hand over the boy. I need to get him to the Ministry before the Potters realize that he is missing."
Reluctantly, Peter handed over the sleeping bundle. Malfoy immediately apparated. With one more glance toward the Potters' home, Pettigrew apparated back to his master to wait for Harry's fate to be decided.
James walked down the stairs of his home and turned into the kitchen to get a glass of water. He gazed out into the night, as he drank from the glass cup. His eyes squinted, as he thought he saw movement toward the woods. Putting down the glass, he peered more closely out the window. The uneasy feeling he had felt this Halloween's day rose in him once again. He moved to the magic detectors that Dumbledore had lent them. Nothing showed on them. Frowning, James returned to the kitchen and poured out the remnants of water that remained in the glass, before making his way back to the second floor.
He stopped at Harry's door and slowly opened it, not wanting to disturb the sleeping infant. He smiled, as he thought of Harry. However, his smile disappeared when he saw the opened window. The door was swung open with force, as he ran into the dark room. His heart stopped when he saw the empty cradle. Gazing through the window, James noted the ladder and disturbed patches of grass around it.
Running back to the room that he shared with Lily, he grabbed his wand that lay on his nightstand. Turning, he went to Lily's side and shook her from her sleep. "Lily, Harry's gone! They've kidnapped him!"
Lily's eyes opened wide. Her mouth opened then closed as if she was trying to say something but was too shocked to.
"I need you to contact Dumbledore. They went into the woods, I'm certain of it. I need you to tell Dumbledore, I will be back after I examine the woods."
"Be careful, James." Lily pleaded, as she grabbed her own wand.
The two parted in the downstairs living room. With Lily contacting Dumbledore through Floo Powder, James felt safe to proceed with his search of the woods. He followed the kidnapper's trail. But once in the woods, it disappeared, leaving James certain that they had apparated. Fury welled up inside him, and he angrily kicked the ground before returning to the house.
Once inside, he felt relief when he saw that Dumbledore had already arrived and was now seated in one of the living room chairs. He had probably used the Floo Network to reach the Potters' house. Lily was sitting across from the esteemed professor on the sofa. James shook his head, when he saw Lily's inquisitive look.
"Whoever it was apparated before I could reach them." He said, as he slumped down onto the sofa right beside Lily. He wrapped his right arm around her quivering shoulder.
Dumbledore nodded at James's conclusion. "Not too long ago, I received a message from the Ministry of Magic that Harry Potter and Lucius Malfoy entered into the Department of Mysteries and took from the Hall of Prophecies a prophecy pertaining to Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter, and Neville Longbottom. They, of course, were gone by the time Aurors went to apprehend them."
Both Lily and James's faces paled immediately at the mention of the prophecy.
"So he knows," Lily whispered.
Dumbledore nodded solemnly. "Our only hope is now Neville."
"What about Harry," James asked stubbornly.
"I am afraid, once Voldemort hears the full context of the prophecy that Harry will no longer be needed or wanted alive by Voldemort."
"He won't kill my baby," Lily moaned out of anger and despair of being unable to do anything to aid her son.
The professor took in the young frustrated parents. "I will not lie to you." He folded his hands solemnly. "The odds of us finding Harry alive are not good, but the Order will do everything humanly possible to find him."
"I want to help." James eyes lit with a fierce fire.
"So do I," Lily whispered.
"Lil, this is not-."
"James, you are not going to stop me from helping find our child!"
Dumbledore broke in, before the argument went further. "It would be best if both of you leave this for the Order."
"We are members of the Order!"
Sighing, Dumbledore calmly explained. "James, you and Lily are too emotionally involved with the situation. You would follow your hearts instead of you heads, which would put not only put yourselves in danger but Harry as well. You know many of us at the Order care deeply about Harry. You must trust us."
Lily placed her arms around her husband and slowly nodded her head. "You will tell us immediately if you find anything… anything at all."
"Yes, no matter how little, you will hear it from me." Dumbledore paused. "I have already had members of the Order attain Sirius for questioning."
"Why Sirius?" James blurted out. "He would never have kidnapped Harry!"
"He was your Secret Keeper."
"No," James suddenly stopped, and the flames in his eyes grew larger. Peter was our Secret Keeper. HE'S BEEN WORKING FOR VOLDEMORT THE WHOLE TIME!" James stood suddenly and began to pace. "I will find that rat and kill him!"
Lily seemed speechless at her husband's outburst and at the truth of who betrayed them. She began to rub her tear-stained eyes, as if to turn back time.
"We will take care of Peter, James. I will release Sirius immediately." Dumbledore rose from his chair. "Before I leave you, both of you must promise not to leave this house until I approve it." When neither parent replied, Dumbledore narrowed his eyes, until finally he got two nods of agreement.
"We will do everything possible." With that Dumbledore grabbed a hand-full of Floo Powder and disappeared into the fireplace. His last words being, 'Ministry of Magic'.
With the professor's departure, James returned to Lily and took her in his arms, and together they grieved.
The search for Harry James Potter was nearing its third week. The investigators were no closer to finding the lost infant. James Potter walked through the halls of the Aurors' office with one of his best friends, Sirius Black. Only recently had he been allowed to return to work by Dumbledore, though James knew that he was under close supervision. He was, however glad to be doing something instead of waiting. Lily too had been allowed to continue helping the Order with brewing her potions.
"Black, Potter, you're wanted in Moody's office." A voice called.
The two exchanged looks. The door to Moody's office was just down the way. An ominous feeling entered James's heart, and he abruptly felt cold.
"You alright, Mate?"
"Of course." Came James's short reply.
Sirius reached for the door handle and turned it. The office was filled with many interesting magical trinkets. Many of the trinkets were used to detect spells, dark wizards, and a wide variety of magical items. Moody, himself, stood behind his desk, looking as sinister as ever. His magical eye traveled between Sirius and James, as he waited for them to seat themselves. Three seats were placed in front of the desk, the third being occupied by Albus Dumbledore.
"Did you find something," James asked expectantly.
Albus's head bowed causing his long beard to cascade down his robes. "A Dark Mark was placed over a country house. The order went to investigate. Inside the house was torn apart."
"Powerful magic," Moody added.
"What does this have to do with Harry?" Sirius said becoming impatient.
"We found the body of a child Harry's age."
"Harry?" James nearly choked out the name, as conflicted emotions welled up in his throat.
Dumbledore nodded his head. "There is no doubt."
James stood suddenly, and before anyone could stop him, he was gone.
"Give him some time alone," Sirius calmly stated. Even though he sounded calm, he was seriously concerned about his friend.
Dumbledore nodded. "Let's hope that Peter Pettigrew does not cross James's path, before we have the chance to question him."
Sirius's eyes fell on the door that James had just departed through, and anger welled up inside him. "He better not cross my path as well!"
"It is all over the Daily Prophet, my Dark Lord, that Harry Potter is dead." Bellatrix Lestrange spoke, as she knelt before the Lord Voldemort. "But what do we do with the real Potter."
Voldemort leaned deeply into his throne chair. Silently, he tapped his fingers against each other. He had listened to the prophecy on numerous occasions these past three weeks, but had yet to come to a conclusion. The only two things he had decided on was that he should end the search for young Harry, and to obliterate Wormtail's memories that concerned the Potter Child. Both of these had now been successfully carried out. Impatiently, he rose and moved to leave the throne room.
"Follow me," he called to his loyal Death Eater. "It is I who gets to choose who will destroy me. Ironic really. It is also ironic that, if I had proceeded with my original plan, I might not have been here today. But that is not important, for ultimately I have defeated Dumbledore by stealing the boy."
Bellatrix remained silent. She knew better then to interrupt the Dark Lord during such times as these.
"I have removed one of the possibilities away from Dumbledore's watchful eyes. What if I were to choose him as my poison."
"Choose him and kill him… it makes sense, my Lord."
"I mean to take it one step further." Voldemort laughed harshly. By this time, the two had reached the door, which shut off Harry Potter's new 'nursery' from the world. Slowly, the Dark Lord opened the door and entered. This would be his second visit with the small lad.
"What do you have in mind, my Lord?"
Awkwardly, Voldemort picked up the watchful infant. With one chilled finger, he traced the child's cheek. An unfeeling smile cracked his lips. The Dark Lord's whisper was barely audible, but Lestrange unmistakably heard it.
"I intend to love him."