Author's Note: This is a random little plot bunny that had become annoying, so I decided to write it and get it out of my head…

Disclaimer: This is not mine. Not really. I'm just taking Rowling's characters and shaking them up a little. I won't hurt them…permanently.


Return Father

By: Renatus


Chapter 01 – Lord of the Manor

Godric's Hollow hadn't seen life in nearly two decades. So when a ragged looking man suddenly appeared amidst a violent swirl of wind that strangely didn't lift the thick layer of dust upon the furniture, the house itself seemed to shudder in response. The man however, didn't notice, so intent he was on the visions playing before his eyes; visions that had occurred in the very room he unknowingly stood within. The visions that were a memory of the last few moments he could recall, but that were a distant and speculated past to the world around him.

The man drew in a shaky breath, trying to steady his racing heart and labored breathing. The house again shuddered at the presence of life within its halls, a ripple nearly unperceivable but distinctly felt. This time, the man noticed the response.

The man looked up, seeing the room for what it was rather than how he recalled it. His hazel eyes were hard, yet confused as he took in the sight of the room. It clearly showed evidence of the decades of time it stood empty. A deep sadness filled his eyes at the sight, nearly hiding the horror-filled realization that his mind conceived.

He rose to his feet slowly, his eyes still darting around the room and its familiar objects. After but a moment, he turned, his movements slow and deliberate, and walked towards the hall that lead to the house proper. He took in the layers of dust and spreading cobwebs of the hall, but he didn't pause his steady pace. His eyes were hard and guarded as his feet walked a path that he didn't have to think on. He knew the house well. The hall emptied into a spacious living area, filled with furniture that once would have been cozy if not for the time of neglect. He took in the room, seeing his memories overlap the dusty sight before him.

He could recall the sight of the warm light from the fireplace that cast a glow over the room, warming it into a welcoming interior that he could no longer find before his physical body. He took in a ragged breath as his mind provided the figures that once lived within the house. He could see them in his mind's eye; the bright smile of the woman and the infant cries of glee from a child upon her lap. He closed his eyes tightly, trying to shut out the image of love that only caused him pain. His memory subsided, and he let his eyes open once more, again seeing only the dank and cold space of the house.

He moved through the room more swiftly than before, his eyes straight ahead as he refused them to look upon the area. He paused, however, at the foot of the stairs as he stared up into the shadows that cloaked the upper floor. It was only then that he noticed the steadily darkening light, and he glanced out a window to see that dusk was swiftly approaching. He watched the orange ball of the sun for a moment, taking in the riot of colors that sprung into the sky.

He turned from the sight and took a deep breath as he put one foot upon the bottom stair. With a strength he wasn't aware he had possessed, he climbed the stairs to the second floor. He slowed as he reached the landing, taking in the hall before him, and the doors that lined it. He didn't stop, however, as he knew that he would not be able to make his feet continue if he did.

His face showed his trepidation as he entered the first door to his right, and then he stopped dead in his tracks. There was no strength in him that could push him to enter the room. His eyes swept over the darkening chamber quickly, and then were drawn to the small bed that stood beneath the window. Its covers were pulled back and rumpled, as if they had been slept in and no one bothered to make it. One corner of the soft quilt lay trailed across the floor. The man stared at the image, his memory again taking over to overlay the dusty scene before him.

He could see the woman, her face lit by the soft light of the sunrise as she bent over the side of the bed. Beneath her was the infant child, his arms stretched up towards her as he batted at the strands of her hair as they tickled his face. The boy's innocent laughter rang silently through the man's ears as he pushed the image away.

He was once again faced with the shadowy room before him, covered in a layer of dust and utterly empty save the spiders in their corners. He drew in a ragged breath, feeling himself shake at the intensity of the memory. His hand shot out to grip the door jam, as he felt his knees weaken and he chocked back an anguished cry. A single tear leaked from his eye as he stared at the empty room. The impact of its sight hit him and he slid down to the floor, knowing that he would never again see the woman and child except in his own mind.

He was unsure how long he sat and stared, unseeing, into the room before him, but when he roused it was dark and night had fallen. He shifted his sore muscles, and rose to his feet, swaying slightly as he regained his balance. He moved slowly over to a table at the end of the hall, his hand running lightly along the wall in the dark. He found the table without problem, his memory providing its location and contents without even thinking about it. Pulling open a drawer, he found what he was looking for, a candle and set of matches. It took him a couple tries as his fingers fumbled with the book of matches, but he was soon graced with the flickering light of the candle.

Turning back to the hall with the candle in hand he entered another room, on the opposite side of the one he couldn't bring himself to enter. The room was more spacious than the first and the bed was large against the wall. He again looked around, but he refused his memories any purchase.

For a few moments he stood in the middle, simply watching as the candle cast flickering shadows on the wall before he turned and approached the dresser. Atop its dulled wooden surface was an assortment of items, but only one held his attention. It was a small glass figurine of a stag, standing proud with its antlered head raised high in defiance and confidence. Twined around the antlers, and trailing down its neck was a strand of greenery that sprouted small delicate flowers, lilies. He stared at it a moment before gently taking it in his hand and slipping it within a pocket of his robe. He looked once more around the room and left. He walked steadily back down the hall, not pausing at the open door of the child's room, and descended the stairs. He passed back through the living area and stopped in the foyer, back to where he had begun.

He couldn't stop the memory. It was the most vivid of them all, the most recent.

He saw the door buckle under an unseen force, and shudder before snapping violently, sending a rain of splinters throughout the room. The darkness outside the door poured into the house in the form of black robed figures. They circled the room, prowling around the man who stood at its center. For a moment there was nothing, no movement, no whisper of breath, and then suddenly chaos exploded.

The man had his wand already drawn, and he didn't hesitate before flinging out spells at the cloaked figures around him. They in turn, didn't hesitate to throw curses back at him. He was well trained, and an able fighter, but the odds were heavily against him. The man fell to the ground, writhing in agony at the mercy of one of the most unforgiving curses multiplied by the many hands that held it upon him. His wand dropped from his hand and rolled across the floor, but he didn't notice.

The pain stopped, and the man was left gasping for breath, his muscles shuddering from the after shocks of the curse. His attention though, was drawn to the new arrival. A man dressed not in black like the others, but in a deep green that matched his eyes.

"James." The dark man hissed out to him, pausing to stare down at the figure on the ground. "You have become bothersome."

The man, James, snarled up at the man in green, still unable to rise due to the curses thrust upon him. "Voldemort."

"It was remarkably easy to get to you, Potter." Voldemort said in a tone that neared that of normal conversation. "Especially with the aid of your very own Secret Keeper."

James' felt his eyes widen in shock at the revelation, then quickly narrow in anger. He had been betrayed. His friend had betrayed him and his family.

"And now you will suffer." Voldemort continued, "And your family will die."

James gasped for breath, his body shuddering uncontrollably in the after shocks of the multiple curses. He could not rise, and he noted that his wand had been lost from him. His thoughts flew to his family, and he hoped that they had the time they needed to escape.

"But death, for you, is too merciful." Voldemort said, kneeling down next to the prone form. "You have refused my offer, and defied me at every turn. I do not take well to such things, Potter."

"Fuck you." James ground out through his teeth.

Voldemort snarled, and then paused before chuckling. James shuddered at the sound.

"You will wish you had accepted my offer, Potter, when you return to find all of your line gone." Voldemort rose to his full height, staring down at the man below him. "I thought it was an appropriate punishment for you, Potter. To be forced away from the world only to return when the last of your blood breathes his last."

James struggled with his uncooperating body, forcing his limbs to move and support him as he rose to his knees.

"Don't worry." Voldemort said, taking a few steps backward. "You will not be gone long. Your brood will die this night."

James looked up into the cold green eyes of the Dark Lord, his body gasping for the breath it needed. He glanced around him, knowing that he was surrounded and that there was nothing he could do to escape. His only hope was that he had delayed Voldemort enough for Lily to escape with their son. It was all that mattered.

"I'm sure we will meet again, Potter." Voldemort said, snapping James' attention back to him. James watched in growing trepidation as the man's eyes shifted and turned color, the vivid green dulling and then changing to red. James felt the rise of power in the room, and saw it glowing from within the bright red eyes of the Dark Lord as he hissed out the words of a spell.

James initially didn't feel any pain from the spell, which surprised him. But the light that surrounded him brought a torrent of wind that whipped his robes around his body. Then a strange sensation of being torn ripped through him, as if he had held a portkey that was improperly made. He yelled out in pain as he was swept away with the wind.

James gasped sharply as he pulled away from the memory, falling to one knee as he returned to the present and tried to regain his bearings. He looked around wildly, searching the shadows of the foyer for the black-robed Death Eaters, his mind still caught in the moment of his past.

He began to calm when no evidence of Voldemort or his followers were in the room, and he again took in the sight of the dust covered furniture and dank walls. The sight of the house told him that it had been many years since Voldemort attacked their home.

The thought brought him hope that Lily and Harry had escaped and lived past that night, but he still felt the deep pang of sorrow and loss. The spell Voldemort cast upon him destined him to return only when the last of his blood had died. He knew in his heart, though it caused him great pain to acknowledge it, that his son was dead.

"Harry." He whispered painfully into the dark. His hand found its way to his pocket and his fingers curled around the delicate figure of the stag. He would never see his son again. He had known it when Voldemort said the words, but his heart hadn't accepted it until he saw the empty nursery.

From his position on the floor, James again scanned the room, fighting back the flickering shadows that threatened to take the shape of cloaked men. An odd shape caught his eye beneath one of the chairs in the corner. He crawled to the chair, peering beneath it to identify the object.

It was a wand. He pulled it out of the corner, sneezing as the motion pulled the dust up into the air. He felt a wave of warmth flow through his hand into his arm, and the wand shot out a burst of blue and orange sparks. James' face softened for the first time as he recognized the feeling of his wand. Somehow, it had been overlooked and left within the house.

James rose to his feet, leaving the candle cold on the floor and made his way to the door. His feet dragged slightly, reflecting the heaviness he felt in his heart. The once strong and solid door was gone and in its place stood a replacement of simple wood. James took only a moment to reflect upon the loss of the doors that had guarded the manor for centuries. He pushed open the simple doors that did little more than keep out the natural elements and stepped onto the front porch.

It was still dark, though a sliver of moonlight gave some light to the yard. James stood before the door, staring out over the yard before him. He couldn't see it well, but he knew that it was overgrown. Stepping down the few stairs to the ground James paused to glance back at the house, though he couldn't see it, before turning around and apparating away.

Behind him the ancient house shuddered at the departure of its Lord, sending a ripple of magic out from its foundations. As if rising from a long slumber the house stretched and pulsed, awakening its dormant powers before once again settling into silence.

James apparated directly to Hogwarts, appearing before the school gates. There was only one man he knew could aid him and that was Albus Dumbledore. He felt weary and sore, his body still suffering from the many curses that he was held under by the Death Eaters. He struggled to keep himself upright as his muscles spasmed sporadically.

He wasn't sure how long it took him to reach the front doors of the castle. By the time he climbed the stairs and faced the massive doors he was exhausted. Discovering that the doors were locked and that he would not be able to enter the castle, James slid down the wall to settle upon the floor. His body ached, and his head was beginning to swim. He had used much of his magic fighting the Death Eaters and then apparating; add to that he was still suffering from the exposure to so many curses and he was amazed that he hadn't yet collapsed.

He sat, huddled next to the wall of the school with his robes tucked close around him as the night went on. Resting his head back against the stone he saw that the sky was clear and the stars were bright. He was barely aware of his body slipping into sleep.