Title: Old Magic

Author: TardisIsTheOnlyWaytoTravel

Story Summary: Lily's son was in danger. The only protection that would last would by the old magic, powered by a mother's need to protect her child… Setting: Some time after Harry was born, but before his parents were killed.

Author notes:

You'll all have to thank my mother for the inspiration for this one. She was musing about the kind of 'old magic' (see Voldemort's speech, Goblet of Fire) with the kind of nature Dumbledore mentions at the end of Philosopher's Stone, and thought about the cult of the Mother goddess and the way it was a female thing. It was an interesting discussion we had, and I had to write a fic about it.

Although now I'm rather curious about how the little clan of earthwitches worked and what they got up to… reckon this deserves a prequel?




"…this is old magic, I should have remembered it, I was foolish to overlook it…"

– Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

o0o o0o o0o

Lily smiled down at her newborn baby, trying not to let her worry and anxiety show through.

The Dark Lord was after her baby and the wizards had done all they could. There was nothing left to protect him that hadn't already been put in place, and there were ways around those. There was only one thing that Lily knew for certain could protect him, and that was why she'd sent James away for the day. What she was going to do was for women only.

Old magic.


Lily had found out about the old magic when she was eleven. A week after she got her Hogwarts letter Dad had taken Petunia out shopping and Mum and Granny had sat her down and told her the deep secrets.

"I always knew it'd be you, dear," Granny had smiled, resting a hand on Lily's cheek. "Normally it's the oldest gel that gets it but when Petunia clearly wasn't one of us I knew it would be you. And you proved me right, the moment you opened those big green eyes of yours."

Lily looked around, confused, while the bright green eyes of her mother and grandmother shone back.

"We're earthwitches, darling," Mum explained gently. "For generations now, the eldest daughter has always been an earthwitch, through the mother's line."

"But Petty's the oldest," Lily pointed out. Mum smiled.

"That's right sweetie. You see, every few generations the gift skips the eldest and goes to the youngest. It's rare, but when it happens it always makes the strongest earthwitches of all."

"How do you know I'm an earthwitch?" Lily demanded.

"Your eyes, lovey," Granny said affectionately, "and the way you have with plants and creatures. Remember when poor Socks got hit by that car, and only you could coax him out? That was old magic you were using. Then there were the flowers. Dearie, how many folk do you think can convince flowers to bloom in the middle of winter, even ones in a pot inside the house?"

Lily had stared, but her mother and grandmother stared back, smiling and serious.

"It's because of the letter, isn't it?" she said slowly. "That's why you're telling me now."

Granny laughed.

"That's right, girl," she said proudly. "Not often we get an earthwitch and a wand-waver in one! Mark my words, you're going to be gifted."

"It was important that you knew about earth magic before you started at the school," Lily's mother explained. "Their sort of magic is quite different, and it can swallow the old magic if you don't know it's there. It works on logic and science; ours works on feelings and the nature of things."

"Do Dad and Petty know?" Lily asked. Mum shook her head, smiling.

"No, Lily-pilly. It's a secret, just between us. Just between earthwitches. No one else is allowed to know. Can you keep it?"

Lily had smiled.


For years after, every school holidays on the days when both Petunia and Dad could be manoeuvred into going out, Mum and Granny taught her about the old magic. It was strange, spending all term learning careful, precise word-magic and coming home to find out about magic that worked with the heart and that couldn't be learnt, but had to be understood. Lily came to breathe the old magic as she did air. Over the years she became tall and white and beautiful as the magic led her to grow in just the right way.

Meanwhile Petunia was thin and scrawny with mousy brown hair and a shrill voice and a greedy eye. She dressed in ways that made Dad fume and went out every weekend with her boyfriend, a bulky, mean-eyed man with the same material mind as hers. She saw Lily, soft-haired and green eyed and growing as naturally and wonderfully as an apple tree and became as spiky and thorny as the wild stunted roses that grew in Granny's garden. So Lily focused on the old magic and the wizard magic and made friends in the wizard world where magic was accepted, if not understood, until she graduated when she married a wonderful, down-to-earth man who loved her.


Now Lily went into the garden, barefoot and holding her naked son in a blanket. She knelt in the grass, feet touching the earth, and unwrapped Harry to lay him in the soft green. She took in a deep breath, and concentrated.

Lily prayed.

She reached out to the greenery and the earth and the lingering traces of wilderness and let it flow through her, all the while sending her will out to the goddess.

Virgin. Mother. Crone. Woman of nature. Please, protect my son, look after my baby. Keep away the death. Let the old magic fill him, the magic of the earth and the wild run through him –

As she called on the old magic she could feel it rising up through the earth, green and shimmering, filling her up and grounding through her feet, stretching through her torso and arms and fingers –

Lily reached out and touched her son, feeling the magic run through her into him like an electric current. Harry gurgled in surprise and his tiny fists waved in the air. More and more magic rose up and was channelled through Lily into Harry, filling him, surrounding him, protecting him with the fierceness of the Mother goddess, until the magic slowed to a trickle and finally stopped.


Lily sat back with a sudden gasp, feeling drained. She flexed her fingers, which were warm and aching. The ache ran right up her arms, sore from too much magic.

Lily carefully wrapped Harry in his blanket again and held him close, cooing and murmuring softly. Holding him made her arms burn from the strain, but Lily was triumphant and relieved as she smiled into her son's face.


Large, wondering eyes looked back at her, shining the color of new leaves.