Prologue

Godric's Hollow. 15 years ago.

A black shape cut through the thick banks of snow. It was hard to tell what it was, for the falling snow was beginning to thicken and shroud everything, but it appeared to be some sort of animal.

Whatever it was, it was running for its life. It charged straight ahead, ignoring the freezing cold and the piled snow that threatened to block its path altogether. Finally it slowed down and raised its muzzle, sniffing the air. It took a cautious step forward, sniffed, stepped forward again, then, to all intents and purposes, it vanished.

If a Muggle had been watching, they would surely have assumed it was just a trick of the light, something that can sometimes happen when the weather is strange. But a wizard would have supposed something else entirely.

Sirius Black shifted out of his Animagus form. He had finally got here. He'd raced past the wards as fast as he could, and the Potter residence, a modest two-storey villa, was in front of him. He paused to look up at the sky above. He couldn't see the Dark Mark, so perhaps he had got there on time. Then again, he couldn't see anything on account of the snow.

He pounded on the door.

'James! Lily! James!'

They had to answer, they had to be all right. He couldn't see any signs of damage to the house. Voldemort wasn't here yet.

'Lily! Please answer! It's life or death!'

That bastard Wormtail. First chance Sirius got, he would throttle him to death. But at the moment, there were more important things.

A light flickered on in the room on the other side of the door, he could see it through the glass. Was it them? was it really them? Or had Pettigrew set a trap for him?

'Sirius.' A bleary-eyed James opened the door. He looked a little out of it, perhaps he had been drinking. It was almost Halloween after all.

'James, where's Lily? It's urgent.'

James opened his mouth, about to protest, then shut it again.

'I'm coming,' called Lily from somewhere above. 'I've just fed the babies.'

'James, he's betrayed you.'

'who?'

'Pettigrew. Who else?'

James' eyes widened, and a look of sickness swept over his features. 'No,' he said.

'Yes. I went to visit him today, check on him, see he was okay, that sort of thing. When I came in he was leaving. I guessed the rest. Made him tell me where you were. I would have killed him -.'

Lily, who had just now come down from the first floor, cried out at this point.

'I would have killed him, but he escaped. We have to get out.' Sirius suddenly stopped and looked about. 'Now!' he shouted, with increased concern. 'We have to get out now.'

As he said the word 'now' there was a flash of red light and a momentous cracking noise.

They did not need time to recognise the dark wixard standing before them. It was Voldemort, at the very height of his power. He held his wand delicately, not too loose, not too tight. Sirius did not wait for him to use it. He grabbed the Potters, tapped his wrist watch, and yelled, 'Portus!'

But at the last instant Lily broke away.

'No,' they heard her say, even as the world began to spin about them. 'My twins. Harry and Daniel. I must save them.'

They were Gryffindors, they couldn't leave her. And Sirius, remembering the children back at Godric's Hollow, felt hollow with remorse. What had he done? The babies.

When they came back Lily was dead. She was beautiful in death, her red hair spread about her like a mermaid's or an angel's. The babies were alive, thank heaven, though Daniel had a nasty gash on his forehead.

And Voldemort had gone.