Summary: Neville is the Boy Who Lived, Harry Potter is a Slytherin. Both have a destiny to fulfill, but Harry is the one who can't seem to cope.
Warnings: Violence, disturbing imagery, drug use, homosexual situations. I don't think this qualifies anywhere near M in treatment, but I would suggest that if you're under 14 or very sensitive to morbid imagery, not to read this fic. STRONG PG-13
Spoilers: Lots of spoilers for minor details of the entire series, major for Deathly Hallows.
Author's Note: This is the beginning of the re-write of the original series. You can expect a lot of revision, and some really exciting events that weren't in the original.
Thank you all, for your extremely kind reviews, words of praise and encouragement to continue. It pushed me to keep writing, even when life was very grim. My only apology concerns how long it took to restart the story, but hey, we're all here now, right? I'll be updating once a week at the least, possibly more depending on editing time/homework load. I'm very excited and pleased with the end result of the re-write and I know you will be too. Read, review if you feel up to it, and enjoy the story!
Fighting The Green
The first few drops of sunlight spilled across Hogwarts, illuminating the tall glass windows and the brilliant green of the quidditch pitch. Fog lifted from the cold ground and embraced Ravenclaw tower in a thick, gray shroud. It was a common sight on Hogwarts as the summer green faded and winter began to carry it's pallid chill; and yet, when the events were measured that had transpired on this seemingly inauspicious day, it was a most uncommon morning indeed.
"He hasn't made a sound for hours," Lily confessed nervously, "Not since-," she could barely say it, even though the danger had long since passed.
The babe in the cradle peered up at the adults fussing over him, his brilliant green eyes landing on his mother.
"Don't worry about it dear," Poppy assured her as she checked over Harry in his crib, "Babies can get quite a shock from seeing that sort of thing, even if their little minds can't process it yet."
Harry stared at her for a long while from his basin. Lily had gone shockingly pale, her fingers pinching the edge of the transfigured bed. Her eyes closed briefly, the images tumbling behind her lids; ones of Voldemort screaming his rage, James vanishing into the early morning mist. Even after she blinked blearily into the light streaming in from Hogwarts' windows, she could still recall the sound of curses being thrown and the frost stiff grass crunching under her feet as she ran.
Poppy retrieved a calming draught from a tray, "Don't worry about a thing dear," Poppy said, handing Lily the potion, "Neither you, nor our little Harry are any worse for wear, frightening though it may have been."
Lily drank the potion down in a quick swallow, and set the empty vial by the other medical supplies in the room.
"The headmaster had this chamber set up especially for you. It's guarded, you're safe and the rest of Ravenclaw tower is well protected," Poppy reminded her, "Get some rest, or take a bath. Either will do you some good."
Lily had made her way over to a blue, overstuffed chair and collapsed into it, letting the velvet sooth her rattled nerves. Her bright red hair that was normally neat and tidy was wild around her face and had a few leaves still stuck in the strands. Her jeans had grass stains up the sides and across the back, and her shirt had never looked so rumpled and gray with dust. She hadn't bathed in two days.
Lily asked, "And what about James?"
Her eyes closed of her own volition until Poppy's voice snapped her awake.
"I'm sure he'll turn up. He certainly wouldn't want you filthy and exhausted for his sake."
Lily wiped the grime from her forehead and sighed, sinking further into the chair,"you're quite right," she said with a ghost of a smile.
Poppy gave Lily a comforting pat on the hand, told her to take a dreamless sleep potion if she felt too anxious to rest, and made her own way out. The door closed behind Poppy, and Lily suddenly found herself alone. She could hear a clock ticking somewhere, perhaps the sound of excited voices down the hall. They blurred into an unsettling dream, filled with darkness, dread and evil serpent eyes. Her eyes snapped open, her body tense. There was a rapping at the door, quiet and hesitant. Her hands had clenched onto the chair as if she were holding on for dear life. Stiffly, she removed them, rubbing her sore wrist as she went to answer it.
"James!" she shouted into the hall.
It wasn't James that stood in front of the door, but a tall dour man. It took her a moment to recognize him, as his face had nearly been concealed by lank black hair.
"Severus?" she breathed in abject surprise.
He stared at her, as though he couldn't quite believe what he saw. It had been years since they had spoken, Lily was at a loss what to say.
"Peter Pettigrew," he uttered stiffly, as though taken aback by the state she was in, "He's been arrested."
Lily was confused, perhaps from exhaustion, but it didn't make sense to her at first. And her childhood friend who'd been so awful for the last few years, who she thought had managed to get himself killed, was standing in front of her door. She absently brushed a leaf from her hair, a sad attempt at straightening up.
"He has?" she said, her voice tiny and small in her throat, "Why?"
"He was a traitor," Severus spat out, "The one who broke the charm."
Lily's jaw tried to work but it didn't. Instead she felt the most awful choking sensation in her throat. It was so inconceivable, it was almost ludicrous. They'd had dinner a few days before! Peter had seemed so sad, so depressed. How many frantic excuses had fluttered through her head, releasing him from any wrong doing, and then the realization thrummed through her head like a dreaded heartbeat.
"No," Lily said, her hands shaking, retreating into her room, "That can't be!"
Severus made no move to come in after her. He stood awkwardly in the doorway, his tall frame leaning to the right. The deep lines on his face hadn't been there before when they'd been in school, either. Perhaps he was exhausted too; it struck her suddenly that she hadn't any idea what he'd been through last night, or the last few years.
"How could he?" she gasped, "How could he even think-!"
"He wasn't thinking," Severus snarled, "Certainly you must recall that thinking wasn't exactly his strong point."
Lily turned to defend Peter out of habit, but her lips thinned in disgust, it was a foolish desire.
"I've only come to say that he-," Severus seemed to pause, as though looking for the proper words, "He may have redeemed himself. In a fashion."
"Did he," she uttered, "And how did he do that?"
"He distracted the Dark Lord," Severus said, "From hitting his mark early."
Lily's eyes widened, "At the house, we had time to scatter."
Under the fringe of black there was a hesitant nod. All of the sudden anger and awful feelings Lily had been harboring melted away. She looked away from her old friend, at the ground. She knew her eyes must be red, tears on the precipice. She didn't want him to see her weeping at the thought that a friend who had double crossed them, had come around. Severus wasn't much for forgiveness; he never had been.
"Did you," she finally uttered in the silence.
"What?" he stuttered.
"Redeem yourself?" she asked, her eyes lifting from the cobblestones.
They regarded one another for a very long time. Here at Hogwarts they weren't order members or death eaters, simply a girl and a boy that had once been friends. Time had not stopped however, the boyish face Lily had remembered had been given up to cruel age, jaded and sardonic with none of the humor remaining. The man standing in front of her might as well be a stranger, as the boy that sat in her room confessing atrocious acts had been, so long ago.
"Lils!" a voice called her, very far away, "Is he with you?"
"No Sirius," Lily said quickly, "James isn't here yet, have you seen him?"
Severus' footsteps clicked loudly on the stone floors, his robes leaving in a flurry of black. Lily shook herself out of the strange daydream she's been in for the past twenty four hours, flinging herself towards the stairs and calling out.
"I'd like us to be friends again," Lily shouted, "If we could."
Severus stopped his hasty retreat, and peered for the briefest of moments through the long curtain of his hair. He turned his head, and vanished down the stairs without another sound.
"Who was that?" Sirius asked, his comforting form arriving next to her, "Was that Snivellus?"
The disbelief in his voice was evident, and it suddenly made Lily feel very sad.
"It's all right," she said, her shoulders slumping, "Dumbledore let him in."
"How would you know!" Sirius demanded, "He could have snuck in here, the nasty snake!"
"Sirius!" Lily shouted her patience snapping, "He helped us, he could have run away or hid, but he helped us. I can't forget that."
Sirius seemed so terribly lost without James and for the second time that night, Lily remembered that she wasn't the only one hurting.
"He's not with you then?" Lily said, "You both went to the Longbottom's."
"We were split up," Sirius said, "The death eaters had already been there, you wouldn't have been able to bear the sight, Lils, I almost couldn't, I swear it."
"What happened?" Lily asked, the fear evident in her voice.
Sirius shook his head, "I don't know. I couldn't tell you if I tried. We won't know a thing for sure until Prongs gets back here."
Sirius' robes were in tatters, his hair untied from it's usual knot, wild and unkempt. Surely the two of them looked like they've been fighting in a jungle, instead of the grassy valley of Godric's Hollow. Lily can recall James thrusting their son into her arms, and directing her to flee. She also clearly remembered Severus darting out of the woods scaring her half to death, making sure she managed to get to Hogwarts. The rest of the night was a blur, her husband alive or dead, the news about Peter from an unusual source. She was unsure of everything now and friends that had seemed constant a few hours ago, were now cast under a veil of suspicion.
"Lils," Sirius said, wiping the tears from her cheeks, "It's all right. We have Harry, it's all right."
Sirius hugs her, and she clings to the assurance he offers her, that he'll find James and bring him home. Lily returns to her rooms and watches Harry in his basin as long as she can, until exhaustion wears down on her and she retires to bed.
When the high afternoon sun spills across Lily's cheeks, she realized Poppy had been there and gone already. There are fresh sheets laying beside her and a calming draught, as well as written directions in Poppy's straight forward script to take a bath and rest before seeing Dumbledore. It's a sensible suggestion, and after checking on Harry, she does as she's told and comes out of the bathroom moderately refreshed. Her hair is still damp, and her clothes still rumpled, but she feels better than she has in days.
But there standing next to the crib, is James.
"James," Lily breathed, "James!"
At first she thought it was a dream, it couldn't possibly be true, but he turned around and rushed to embrace her. They laugh giddily, so joyous to have found one another.
"What in the world happened," Lily asked, her hands threading through his hair, fingers touching his glasses and straightening them out, a habitual action she's never been so happy to perform.
"I'm all right," he said, "There was a scuffle at the Longbottom's."
James looked a bit worse for wear, but he seemed strong and in one piece, smiling at her now.
"Frank and Alice," Lily asked, "Where are they?"
The cheerful reunion is dampened by James shaking his head.
"I-" he breathed deeply, "It's difficult to explain. Frank is dead. Alice is...well. There's not much left of her to be alive."
Lily gasped, "And their baby, Neville?"
"Still alive," James said, "Miraculously. I was near enough that I heard the explosion, the screams. There was nothing I could do, it was just – something out of a fairy story! Neville was in the rubble, I got him out before the death eaters could finish what Voldemort started."
"Voldemort is -" Lily asked, her confusion growing.
"He's dead," James said, "Neville killed him. No one knows how, but he's definitely, certainly dead."
Lily had to sit down after the news, her mind reeling. James leaned in beside her, his head resting on her shoulder.
"It could have been us," he said, finally.
"We had help," Lily admitted, "From unexpected friends."
"Could have been," is all James said, as Lily's breath ruffled his hair.
They had narrowly missed the same fate as the Longbottoms. How much worse would it have been to know one of them survived and the other hadn't, or grimmer still, if they hadn't managed to carry Harry away in time. Despite the awfulness of the situation, Neville had survived, and though the prognosis on Alice was grim, it was perhaps not as terrible as it could have been.
A loud banging noise outside snapped them both out of their revelry. They rushed to the window and saw fireworks, sparklers, numerous noise makers below the tower.
"They're celebrating," James said, and genuinely smiles.
"It really is something to celebrate," Lily said, "A new beginning."
Their nightmare is perhaps, finally over.