DISCLAIMER: All recognisable characters, concepts and locations belong in their entirety to J.K. Rowling, her publishers and associated production companies, none of which I am affiliated with in any way

SYZYGY
CHAPTER ONE.

"Syzygy," Peter said, reading aloud from the dictionary. "Pronounced siz' i-ji. Noun, conjunction or opposition: the period of new or full moon: a dipody ... plural ..."

"Let me see that," James held his hand out for the dictionary, and reluctantly, Peter handed it over. James rested it on the floor, and bent over it, his fingers tracing swiftly along the printed words, seeking and eventually finding the definition he was looking for. His eyes scanned the page, taking it in.

"Is it?" asked Sirius.

James nodded. "It's in," he said. "You can have it."

"Bollocks!" swore Sirius.

Peter grinned evilly, and took up the pencil. "Another two hundred points to me ... on a triple word score, and using the y from yarmulke, which, as we all remember, is a type of hat worn by ..."

"It puts you three hundred points in the lead, Peter," James interjected. He checked his pieces again. As was customary when playing wizarding scrabble, the letters had altered themselves whilst he had been looking away, and he had lost 'zupa,' a collection of village communities, governed by a 'zupan,' in the early history of Serbia. In its place he had gained 'zoanthropy,' which means a form of mental delusion in which a man believes himself to be an animal. However, by the grin on Peter's face, he could tell that even this would not be enough to pull the game.

"Tent!" said Sirius, triumphantly. "On an octuple word score ... oh bugger!"

"On a minus word score," corrected James. "Sirius, it isn't your lucky night. That puts you on minus sixteen. So, the scores stand at ..."

"The bloody board is favouring Peter," Sirius snapped, folding his arms and looking most contrary. "I say we play snakes and ladders."

"My go," said James gaily. "Spinifex ... that's a genus of Australian grasses ... you can look it up if you'd like ..."

"I won't bother," Sirius snarled. "Your turn, Wormy," he added, through gritted teeth.

Peter smiled again. "Well, look now," he said. "Percolin, a small bird, a cross between a partridge and a quail."

"Still playing, boys?"

All three of them looked up. Lily was standing in the doorway, holding a tray on which stood three small glasses, each containing a viscous black liquid, topped with cream.

"I thought you might like some coffee," she said. "I put whiskey in it."

"Capital," said Peter, smacking his lips. "You wouldn't have any more of those cigars, would you?"

Lily Potter rolled her eyes. "You smoked the last one last time you came round here," she said. "I'm just going to put the tray on top of the telly, over here. Bedtime soon, eh, Jamie?"

Sirius barely stifled a snigger at this.

"Don't be so bloody immature," Lily said in jest. "And you might not make so much noise too. I've only just settled Harry again."

James glanced at the sterling silver carriage clock which sat atop the mantelpiece. It had been a present from his Grandfather, and what was more, it was a proper, Muggle clock: one which actually told the time. Currently it was twenty five minutes past midnight.

Peter yawned on cue.

"Is he having a restless night?" James asked, reaching for the Irish coffee. He handed the little glasses to Peter and Sirius.

"He's already woken up three times," Lily said. She was looking flustered ... her cheeks were red through exertion and her hair unkempt and dishevelled. "I think he's worried about something. And he seems to be running a fever. I've given him some Calpol. He's sleeping now ... and so should you boys be. We've a busy day ahead of us."

"I am very tired, you know," Sirius said. "I think I might go to bed as well ..."

"Coward," Peter muttered. "Stay and be routed like a man!"

"Well, I put the camp beds up in the spare room," Lily said. "There's fresh towels for you, and if you need another blanket, then take one. I'll," she paused to yawn, "I'll see you all in the morning. I want to leave at eight sharp."

"Goodnight."

"Night, Lil."

"Night," said Sirius, barely looking up. Lily slipped out of the room, and closed the door behind her. Outside, raindrops coursed down the windowpanes and lightning forked across an angry sky. It was high summer ... but it didn't feel like it. There was a coldness about the air, a sense of menace seemed to pervade every room of the tiny, stone cottage. It even spooked James ... even with the lights switched on in every room. And it very definitely spooked Harry. The child had been consistently ill since their arrival. He was irritable and moody, and most unlike his normal self. Lily had begun to worry that the atmosphere might be stunting him in some way, either mentally or physically. Whatever the reason was, the fact remained that Godric's Hollow was just not right. The sooner they could move on, the better. James shuddered.

"Pencil," said Sirius. "Twenty points."

"That puts you on four," said Peter, yawning. "Want to call it a night?"

"I think," James said, draining his coffee in one gulp, "that that might be a very good idea."

***

Harry mewled unhappily in his cot as James stumbled past the bedroom door. His headaches were coming again, and with greater frequency now, and even a trip to the apothecary down in Hogsmeade had not been able to sort him out. He clutched his hand to his forehead as a fresh wave of pain broke over him. He was dimly aware of Harry clinging to the bars of the cot, watching him through doe-like eyes.

Water. Get water.

He stumbled into the bathroom, and flicked on the light. As he did so, another rumble of thunder echoed across the moors. The wind was picking up. James eyed himself in the shaving mirror. He looked dreadful ... his eyes were bloodshot, and he didn't think it was through all the alcohol he had drunk. He opened the cold tap on the washbasin, and stuck his head under it, allowing the icy flow to trickle down his throat. Why did I wake up? What's going on?

Lightning flashed again, followed, just seconds later, by another peal of thunder.

The lights went out. James stood up quickly, and cracked his skull on the shaving mirror.

"Shit!"

He could hear Harry crying. He fumbled blindly in the dark for a towel to pat his mouth dry. Damn fool for leaving your wand in the bedroom! James cursed mentally. He pushed open the bathroom door, and stepped out onto the landing. They had not had carpets put down yet, and the floorboards were nasty and grimy under his bare feet.

"What's happening?"

There was a dim, shadowy shape standing on the stairs. Sirius.

"Just a power cut," said James. "Get them all the time round here."

"Ah," Sirius said. He yawned again, and scratched his head. "Well ... m'going back to bed."

James nodded. "Just going to check on the kid," he said.

He stepped into Harry's bedroom. Harry was sitting cross legged in the cot, the sheets drawn up around him, rocking backwards and forwards and whimpering to himself. James flicked the light switch, but, as he suspected, nothing
happened.

"You okay, Bambi?" he asked, tiptoeing over to the cot. Harry watched him intently, and sniffed. Lightning flashed again outside, briefly illuminating Harry's face. His emerald green eyes seemed to be even brighter than usual.
James plucked the tiny boy out of his cot, and padded over to the window seat, all the while stroking Harry's back rhythmically, as he had seen Lily do so many times.

"S'okay darling. I've got you. I've got you."

He bent down to kiss Harry on the head, and run his fingers through the boy's mop of jet black hair. Harry squirmed in his arms, but made no attempt to get free.

"Nightmare, was it?" James asked. The Quidditch mobile Sirius had bought him on his first birthday was rotating slowly overhead, the players chasing each other round and round in a never-ending spiral. Harry said nothing.

"I can't sleep either," said James. "So that makes two of us, doesn't it, darling? Silly old Prongs can't sleep either."

Harry whispered something that sounded like, "Prongs."

"What's the matter, eh?"

Harry did not reply, instead, he sniffed again.

"I think you had a nightmare," said James.

"Ight ... ightmayer," Harry said.

James ran his hand across Harry's fevered brow ... and was mildly surprised when his hand came away wet.

"Harry?"

The power came back on at that point, and Lily was suddenly framed in the doorway. Her nightdress was hanging slightly off one shoulder.

"What's happening?" she asked.

"Harry," said James, simply. He cast his eyes back down to Harry's forehead. The boy was blinking in the sudden bright light. But ... that ... that's blood.

"Lily."

"What is it?"

"I think he's cracked his head. I think he's bleeding," said James. "Go get me some cotton wool and stuff."

Lily paled. "I'll be right back."

James traced his fingers along the cut, wiping clean the blood, staining his fingertips as he did so. Harry whined impatiently.

"Daddy!"

"M'right here, Harry. I've got you," James said. His eyes drifted to the cut again. Except there was no cut this time.

"Harry?"

James gingerly put his fingers to Harry's forehead again. There was no trace of blood. There was no mark, no broken skin, there was nothing whatsoever to suggest any physical injury at all.

"Holy Mothe ..." James began.

As he spoke, a single drop of blood detached itself from Harry's forehead, and trickled slowly downwards. James made no attempt to stop it. And now, more was coming, slowly and relentlessly dripping from what was ... apparently, a non-existent cut.

"Shit," James said. "Oh shit ... oh shit ... Lily!"

His wife appeared in the doorway again, her auburn hair cascading down her back. In her hand she was holding a box of plasters and a bag of cotton wool buds.

"Thank God..."

"What ... I was only in the next room. There's no need to bloody shout."

Harry screwed up his face, and began to snivel. James patted him again on the back. Crimson blood was flowing freely now, staining Harry's pyjama top and James' chest. He hugged his son closer.

"It won't stop," he said, looking up. "It won't stop and there's no fucking cut on him! There isn't a mark on him!"

TO BE CONTINUED?