Lily Potter examined the cover of her favourite photo album. It was July 31st, 1998. Today would have been her eldest son's eighteenth birthday. She sighed, as tucked a strand of hair back behind her ear, while the other hand traced the golden lettering on the cover. Her eyes followed her finger as she read the title.
HARRY JAMES POTTER
Born 31st July 1980
The album had been intended to track her little boy's journey through life, though she had never filled it. He had died when he was fifteen months old. Her hands stroked the soft leather, her mind too frightened to look at her son again. It was always so painful.
"Mum?" a soft voice came from the doorway. Lily looked up to see her youngest daughter, ten-year-old Sophie, watching her carefully.
"Hello, Sophie," Lily said softly. She placed the album on the couch next to her. "Why aren't you playing with Emily and Rose?"
"Emily asked Rose to show her the plans for Rose's next prank," Sophie said matter-of-factly. "And I don't want to get involved. Plus, Dad's moping around the place like… well, anyway, he's moping, and I saw you sneak in here, so I – I followed."
Lily smiled at her little girl, or as much of a smile as she could muster.
"Why are you so sad?" Sophie asked settling herself on the couch next to her mother. She rested her head against Lily, so Lily could stroke the girl's hair, which was as red as her mother's. Then Sophie's eyes rested on the album. "Oh…" she breathed.
"Today would be Harry's eighteenth birthday," Lily wrapped her arms around Sophie. The child snuggled into her mother's arms. "Look with me, darling?" Lily nodded to the album. Sophie's hand stretched out towards the cover. Her fingers traced her big brother's name, just as her mother had done.
"Okay, Mummy," she nodded. Lily smiled and placed the album on her lap. Sophie opened it slowly. The first picture, a large portrait of baby Harry, looked up at them. Harry, then only a few months old, giggled at his mother and sister, reaching towards them. Lily felt tears well up behind her eyes, as she smiled at her son, resisting the urge to reach to him as well. Blinking back the tears, she turned the page. A photograph of Harry with his parents, Sirius and Remus, when Harry was just a couple of hours old, was positioned neatly in the top corner. 'July 31st 1980. Baby Harry James Potter is born.' Lily's elegant script was beneath the photo. She continued through, unable to hold back tears, as they ran down her cheeks. She gasped at the picture of Harry's christening, causing Sophie to squeeze her hand. She felt her mind glaze over a she stared at picture after picture. Harry's first – and only, the words flashed into her mind – Christmas, his Easter, and birthday, and other little snapshots of moments in his life. When he first walked, ate solid food, smiled and receiving his stuffed stag. Then a picture of him speaking his first word to Lily. "Mama".
Lily let out a small sob. Sophie whipped around and hugged her mother tightly. Lily knew they were almost at the end. She turned the page. It was the last one. Down at the bottom, was a small picture of Harry in his playpen, clutching his stag, while laughing and pointing to a pumpkin head, in which a candle was producing dancing light. It was dark outside. 'Evening, Halloween 1981. Half and hour prior.' Lily heard Sophie gasp. The little girl didn't need to ask what 'half and hour prior' meant. It was half an hour before the attack that had ended in the murder of her brother. Lily clutched the book, a choked sob pushing its way out of her mouth. A single tear fell onto a playful little Harry's face. The little boy in the picture didn't even notice.
James Potter was moody. His sons, Andy and Nick, were irritating him with their cheerful manner. Cheerful. Today. James wanted to scream at the world they weren't allowed to be cheerful. How could they, when his firstborn son had been so tragically slaughtered nearly seventeen years ago? And especially since today would have been Harry's eighteenth birthday. He kicked the wall in his study. The family portrait above the mantelpiece wobbled. James glared at it. No Harry. Why did Voldemort have to kill his son? Why not another innocent toddler? James froze as this angry though swept through his mind. No, he thought. Nobody deserved to die. No innocent toddlers should be killed.
"DAMN!" James yelled suddenly. "WHY DID YOU HAVE TO KILL MY BABY?"
He collapsed into his chair, sobbing. He would eternally regret making Peter his Secret Keeper. The rat and his master had arrived at Godric's Hollow, where the family were hiding. Voldemort and James had duelled, as had Peter and Lily. Peter faked Lily taking him down, and Lily had run for her son. James hadn't noticed Peter aiming a stunner at him. He came round ten minutes later, and charged up the stairs to see Peter holding Lily at knifepoint whilst Voldemort calmly held his son, tauntingly cooing him, even though Harry was screaming. James tried to summon the boy, but Voldemort was too fast. Harry zoomed into James' arms – with a gaping wound across his throat. James never saw the knife. James had never forgiven himself. Why didn't he stun the evil wizard? Lily had constantly tried to tell her husband he wasn't to blame, and generally he accepted it. But there were two says each year, when he simply couldn't cope. July 31st and October 31st. Nick, his youngest son, had eloquently said "Harry's birthday and death day." James couldn't disagree, but he had been shocked to hear such words coming from a six-year-old's mouth. He massaged his temples, trying fruitlessly to avert his thoughts. A small sob escaped his lips, and he fell forward, onto the desk, his head landing on his arms. He didn't even try to halt the tears.
Harry Potter stared around the battlefield. His wand hung limply by his side as he gazed at the many bodies. It was a miracle none of his friends were among the dead. Hermione, Ron, Ginny, Neville, Luna, Remus and all the Weasleys had survived. Scarcely any of the Death Eaters were alive still. The Order had successfully surrounded Voldemort's stronghold in Little Hangleton. When the Death Eaters attacked, the Aurors arrived, and the Death Eaters were outnumbered, mainly because not all were in the Riddle House and the Order had cut of all means of communication. Harry had taken on Voldemort when he had eventually emerged. When he first attempted to kill, Voldemort laughed and informed Harry there was no chance of Harry succeeding. That was when Harry dropped the first Horcrux. Marvolo's ring. Voldemort had been shocked, but still held his sneer. Quickly, Harry dropped the locket, the cup and the diary. Voldemort went deathly pale. Then Harry removed a sapphire earring. Rowena Ravenclaw's. Clearly, it was then Voldemort realised he had to kill Harry instantly. He threw the curse. Harry summoned Nagini at the same moment. The curse hit the snake, destroying the final Horcrux. Harry shuddered, thinking of Voldemort's incessant rage after that. Voldemort had attacked Harry mightily and Harry had scarcely managed to stay on his feet. Voldemort then attempted to strangle Harry. Harry remembered the horror he felt as Voldemort approached him. The Dark Lord's fingers curled around Harry's throat and both screamed. Voldemort let go instantly. His hands were blistering, just like Quirrell. Harry watched in shock as the Dark Lord tried again to kill him. Both hands blistered. Harry knew from experience that Voldemort would try to escape. Harry drew his wand and forced the curse to continue across the Dark Lord's body. Harry poured all his love into the wand. He used his mother's love to make the blistering cover Voldemort. He used his father's love to give him strength. He created an unbreakable connection. And Voldemort disintegrated.
"Harry," a soft female voice came from behind him.
"Ginny," he replied, turning around to see the girl he had let go to protect. Her red hair was braided and immaculate. She didn't look like a survivor of a brutal war. Her blue robes didn't have a single crease and her face bore no scars or cuts, though Harry knew she had duelledRodolphus and RabastanLestrange.
"It's over," she said simply. He nodded, a sad smile creeping across his face. "Mum and Dad want us home."
Harry snorted. It signalled a return to normality, Mr and Mrs Weasley calling them home.
"What?" Ginny demanded. "It's not like you can go home to your parents!"
Harry froze. "Ginny…" he said.
"Oh, Harry, I'm so sorry," she gasped.
'You have no idea what I'd give to be with them," Harry said. "I wish I could be with them. I wish I could have a family."
'I wish we could have Harry back,' Lily murmured, brushing the teardrop off the photograph. 'I wish we could be a family again.'
'I wish Harry could be with us,' James muttered to himself. 'I wish our family would be complete again.'
Ginny Weasley got the shock of her life, when Harry Potter vanished from the battlefield in a burst of golden light.