The whoosh of the wind rustling the trees added a peaceful background noise to the pleasant setting. The fire crackled merrily, each hiss and pop interspersed with the giggles of the infant child. Lily smiled down at the child in its cradle, the deep look of love in her eyes accompanied by the sparkle of happiness caused by her child's laughter.
In the secure grasp of her hand was a slim silver chain, wound around the soft flesh twice. The interlocking links of the chain streamed down, glinting in the fading evening light on one side, but hued a vibrant orange from the reflection of the fire on the other side. At the end of the simple chain hung a pocket watch, similarly plain in all ways. It had belonged to her father, and her grandfather before him, a trusty family heirloom which had always kept time well, regardless of whether it was wound or not. This little facet of the watch's 'personality' had always baffled the Evans family, until Lily Evans went to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, in a world where occurrences such as these were explained away with the ease of a simple wave of one's wand.
The watch was perfectly circular, and small enough that it hardly eclipsed the hand of her child as he happily batted at it with his pudgy-fingered hands. The back was silver, engraved simply with concentric circles that shined brighter than the more muted silver of the un-engraved parts. The face, too, was simple … the background a pure white, with two thin black hands pointing the correct time. The hour marks were made of the same silver, a short rectangular piece indicating each of the twelve hours, and four dots of ink between the rectangular jewels to show the minutes. Upon the white background was a beautifully inked signature, the flawless calligraphy spelling 'Leandros'. Below it, in the same flawless calligraphy, was the word "Sparta," wrapped around a tiny purple jewel. The last masterpiece of a Greek watchmaker who had, with his last breath, feverishly pressed the watch into the hand of her Grandfather, then died.
Harry batted at the watch, giggling happily as he made contact, the watch swinging through the air above his head. Laid in his cot and dressed in a set of white pajamas, he bounced about happily, tiring himself to the point of sleeping. Lily smiled, half in happiness at her child's obvious pleasure, and half in relief. Harry had woken up bawling an hour ago, and it had taken until now to get the child back into a resting position. Now she simply sat there, playing with her only child and giggling along with Harry as he amused himself.
Surprisingly, his next swing was a little too successful, for his chubby little fingers wrapped around the top of the watch, the momentum causing it to be tugged away from her. The chain, rather than give way, simply unfurled from its position around her hand, sliding off so smoothly that it felt like cloth, rather than metal, against her skin. Giggling and gurgling happily now that he had claimed his prize, Harry rolled onto his side, tucking the watch under the covers with him. When Lily tried to extricate it from his grasp, he began giggling again, shielding it from her view by rolling on top of it and dancing away from her hand whenever she tried to retrieve it.
She smiled serenely, lifting him out of the cot and holding him in the air. "Harry," she said softly, "you want to give the watch back to Mummy?"
He squealed laughingly, grasping onto it with surprising strength, enough so that it would be a struggle to extricate it from his grasp. She gave up, sighing despite the small smile playing about her lips. "Okay, sweetie," she cooed, "you can keep it. But you keep it safe, you hear me? That's really special, okay?"
Unbeknownst to her, with that simple decision, she had just saved her son's life.
Noticing that she wasn't trying to take it from him anymore, he giggled again, his open mouth revealing pink gums and tiny white teeth in their first stages of growing. She smoothed his hair down, planting a purposely wet kiss on his forehead, and set him back down on the cot. He held the watch closely to his chest, eyes slowly closing shut. She gently pulled the blanket up to his chin, and sat back in her chair as he drifted off to sleep. Within minutes, as he had tired himself out by playing around for an hour, his breath grew even. The look of utter tranquility on his face made her smile wanly, and she gently ran a finger down his face. She debated removing the watch from his grasp, but seeing the expression of peace on his face, she decided against it. A simple wave of her wand would undo any damage to it…and someday, it would belong to him anyway.
A pair of arms wrapped around her waist gently, and she felt a chin on her shoulder. Living under the Fidelius Charm for over a year had long worn away any jumpiness, so the lack of noise in his approach and the sudden touch was not surprising enough to startle her. She smiled, feeling James' cheek against her own, his bristly stubble brushing against the hairless, soft skin on her face.
"He looks so calm," James said, squeezing his arms around her slightly, "did it take a long time?"
She shook her head, placing her hands on top of his, but making no movement to pull them away. "He was pretty energetic today," she whispered, "but he's the most darling little thing I could possibly imagine."
He smiled, and she could feel it as his facial muscles moved against her cheek. Then his right hand slid over her abdomen, pressing gently against her lower belly, and she turned slightly to look at him, an inquisitive look on her face.
He spoke, his voice slightly hoarse, and a glint in his eye that promised happiness. "You know," he said slowly, "we could always have another."
"Anoth- what?!" she squeaked, now turning to face him, her voice unnaturally high. "Another baby, James? You- what… yes!" she gushed excitedly, doing her best to keep her voice down as he baby slept.
He grinned roguishly at her in response, and gathered her into a hug, lifting her off the ground easily. "I knew you wanted another kid, sweetheart." She blushed, making him laugh. "Tomorrow," he promised, "I'll get Sirius to come here and baby sit Harry, he loves 'teachin' yer sprog howta do magic'."
She giggled, and planted a kiss on his lips, making him grin even wider. "I, on the other hand, will get two things tomorrow. First, a fertility potion for you and a few energy potions for myself," he said, waggling his eyebrows and making Lily blush, "and second, a hotel reservation at a nice Muggle place, and we'll spend the whole day uh… doing-"
She glared at him, cutting him off, and in a low, dangerous voice, muttered "You had better not say 'doing it', James Nathaniel Potter." Then she winked at him, and in a husky voice, continued, "What we'll be doing, darling, is called 'making love'. Many times." He laughed, and ignoring her muted squeal, reached down and lifted her into the air as if they were newlyweds, then carried her down the stairs, laughing all the way. Miraculously, Harry remained asleep, something they were extremely thankful for.
They sat in the living room for a long time, with James laying his head in Lily's lap, her fingers playing with his hair as they talked about inconsequential things, then moved on to the state of the war. Two empty glasses of wine sat on the short table in front of them.
Lily sighed happily. "It's so calm," she whispered, hearing a grunt of assent from James, "I love it here."
As if those words had been a harbinger of misfortune, the door suddenly shattered inwards, covering the small hallway that led into the house with splinters. They scrambled to their feet in shock, fear etched across their expressions as they drew their wands.
From the haze of dust that had billowed in emerged a haunting figure with glowing red eyes. A single word fell from James' lips, and it was enough to describe the gravity of their situation.
His laughter echoed strangely in the confines of the room. He stood there, still for a moment, then lifted his wand from its position next to his thigh, his spidery hands grasping the stick of wood gently. Immediately the two Potters sprang into action, Lily sprinting for the stairs as James flung a flurry of curses at Voldemort. The Dark Lord simply waved his wand, sending the curses on a new tangent, where they struck the walls, leaving burn marks. Another wave of his wand caused both parents to be lifted off their feet and flung painfully against another wall, shackles emerging to restrain them. The Dark Lord cocked his head slightly, and the shackles tightened painfully on their wrists, causing them to involuntarily relax their wand arms, and thereby surrender their wands to the gentle embrace of the rug below them.
He laughed, even as the two Potters desperately fought the chains that held them. "So naïve," he whispered, "so… painfully naïve."
Red in the face, James swore loudly, the situation so tragic that Lily couldn't even summon the muster to scold him for his language. "Peter!" Lily hissed angrily, condemning the traitor.
"Yessss," the Dark Lord whispered, his voice somehow booming despite the uncharacteristically soft way in which he had enunciated the words. "Peter," he agreed cruelly, smirking at their devastated expressions. "So foolish of you to trust one who only seeks the company of those more powerful than himself. So naïve of you to even imagine", he snapped, "that even one such as him would neglect to acknowledge the one Wizard on Earth who has no peer."
His self satisfied expression never left his face. Even as Lily opened her mouth to scream at him, to scream her frustration, he silenced her with a simple look of disdain. "It is not you who I have come here for, as you well know. Mudblood and Blood Traitor … I should expunge your very existence from this world. But I will not… I will take that which I have come here to take, namely the life of your spawn." He spat the last word with fury, flecks of spittle emerging from his mouth.
"No," Lily wept, pleading with him, "please have mercy, I beg you! He is just a child, just an infant! He cannot possibly harm you!"
Voldemort simply sneered. "Do not insult my intelligence, Mudblood!" he snapped, turning towards the stairs. "In a few hours, those chains will wear away, and you will be free to acknowledge the truth of my triumph over your son, supposed defeater of the Dark Lord that he is. I leave you alive for my own amusement … I leave Wormtail to you, too. May you enjoy his service, for I certainly shall not." He laughed hysterically, climbing the stairs. From below, he could hear them screaming at him, begging for his mercy … but it accomplished naught but to bring a smile to his twisted face.
He stepped onto the landing, immediately heading towards the door right at the end, having found the location of the child from its parents' minds. He entered quietly this time, pushing the partially open door away with the toe of his shoe, and walked in.
Inside the room, the baby was crying, no doubt having heard the commotion downstairs. He moved to the edge of the cot and peered at the child, sizing up his 'adversary' with amusement. This was to be his downfall? This child, born to Gryffindors, who would grow up in a house full of laughter, then spend seven cursory years at Hogwarts, having learnt little more than a shielding charm? He scoffed at the idea, smirking widely.
"Goodbye, little one," he whispered, the malice in his eyes visible even in the Dark Lord's reflection in the child's vibrantly green eyes. It seemed fitting to him that a child bearing such unique, stunning eyes would die by a curse of the same color, the same unforgiving tenacity.
"Avada Kedavra," he incanted, pointing his wand at the boy's forehead. The green light buckled out of his wand tip, racing towards the boy's face. Almost in slow motion, the boy's eyes widened, now completely uncovering the brilliance of his eyes … and his right hand rose to shield his face. In the palm of his hand, grasped tightly in the infant's fingers, was a watch with a silver casing and a white background, upon which two thin hands indicated the time.
The beam from the Dark Lord's wand was slightly larger in diameter than a cricket ball … a testament to his power, and now, to his misfortune. Half the beam struck the boy's forehead, a few inches above his right eye, and the other half struck the watch. For a second, everything was still. Then, a ripple of the same green light danced across the infant's pupils, and across the glossy face of the watch. A second later, the room erupted with a flash of white light, streaks of gold reaching out from the boy's body to wreak havoc within a ten foot radius of the child. Through the supernova-like explosion of light that overwhelmed the room, an observer would have seen a beam of emerald green light, about the size of a cricket ball in diameter, strike the Dark Lord Voldemort in the center of his chest.
The light grew, eclipsing everything in the room with its brightness … then suddenly died away. All that remained were the charred remains of the Dark Lord, and the undamaged cot, the rest of the room letting off smoke from the intensity of the heat caused by the foreign magic.
One hour and fifty six minutes later, the room was filled with the sound of a woman crying as Lily sobbed in pain, held in James' arms. Tears rolled down their cheeks as they wept unashamedly, mourning the loss of their son to the vile magics that Voldemort commanded.
With a flash of the same white light that had nearly destroyed the child's room, Harry James Potter reappeared, nearly two thousand five hundred years in the past. Lying on the ground in the bitter cold, the child cried loudly, knowing that he had lost something.
The snow drifted down slowly, each flake sending a shiver through the child's small body. In the distance a wolf howled, but the howl was abruptly silenced. Harry continued to cry, the sound growing louder and louder. Soon, footsteps were heard, as well as the sound of something massive being dragged through the snow. The infant was lifted off the ground, and almost immediately, the child stopped weeping, simply sniffing loudly and staring at the stranger in curiosity.
The one who had found the child was young … only seventeen years of age. He was garbed in nothing but a simple loin cloth around his waist, looping under his crotch and tied securely behind him. He was strong, muscles rippling in the cold of the night, yet bore the unmistakable look of a boy … not yet a man.
"Hello, young one," the boy spoke, the language something that little Harry was not accustomed to, "from whence did you come?"
He peered at the child, noting the regal features immediately. Above the infant's right eyebrow was a slightly deep cut in the shape of a lightening bolt, the injury matting the hair with blood. The young man's eyes widened at the sight, immediately interpreting the cut as a sign from the gods. Zeus himself had marked this child … with such a countenance, such eyes and such a defining endorsement given by the gods themselves, this was an obvious message. He gathered some snow in his spare hand, using it to wash the wound as the snow melted. His finger brushed against the boy's cut, and he pulled it away with a start, having heard a roaring whoosh of sound, followed by an explosion of green light in his mind's eye. Fearlessly, the young man gazed at the child for a few seconds, having made his decision.
"Leandros," he whispered, "you shall be a lion of a man some day."
Silently, Harry continued staring at the boy, oblivious to the cold even as his body shook.
"Wait here," the boy said, setting him down on a dry rock. He stepped away for a minute, and Harry began to panic again, but returned a second later, again dragging something. Harry watched in awe, but with no apparent fear as the older boy dropped the body of a truly massive wolf on the ground, setting his staff on the ground next to him. Using a small knife, perhaps a few inches long, the boy began skinning the beast with quick, experienced strokes. Within ten minutes, the boy had removed the beast's skin entirely, leaving a bleeding hunk of flesh and bone on the ground. He opened the skin and draped it on the snow with the fur facing the night sky, and dragged it around for a few minutes, leaving bright red streaks of blood behind.
Once he deemed it clean enough, he lifted Harry again, and wrapped the skin around him, smiling slightly as he saw Harry snuggle into its warmth and relax. He spared but one curious glance for the silver trinket in Harry's hand, then tucked it into the makeshift wrapping with Harry. Lifting the bundled child and holding him securely to his broad chest, the young man bent down again and retrieved his staff. With quick, purposeful steps, he began walking into the night, holding Harry tightly.
"My name is Leonidas," the boy said, his voice solemn. Harry, too cold to really care, simply gurgled once, then fell asleep. Leonidas smiled slightly, and kept walking.
When Harry awoke, the next day, it was to the low beat of large drums. He peered around inquisitively, and saw that the boy holding him was now walking through a beautiful city. All around them, people looked upon them solemnly, and knelt as they passed, inclining their heads down. Presently, the number of townspeople dwindled away, and the few people that Harry now saw were garbed in helmets and cloaks, grasping massive shields in one hand and large spears in the other.
The boy holding him walked through an archway, then stopped. A horn sounded, making Harry grimace as the sound assaulted his ears.
The boy stood taller now, squaring his shoulders and no longer moving. Looking around, Harry saw between ten and twenty people standing, then saw them kneel gracefully. "All hail King Leonidas," one announced, kneeling before the boy and holding a fist above his heart. Harry peered around curiously, then made an exclamation of surprise as he was lifted high into the air.
"Spartans," Leonidas spoke, "I found this child during my trials. The child impresses me … he shows no fear even at his tender age. As I skinned the wolf, there was not a drop of fear in his eyes. He shall be raised as a Spartan… I have a feeling that this child is extremely important. He shall be a Ward of the Royal Family, raised in the Spartan way and taught to lead."
The man kneeling just a few feet in front of the boy holding Harry nodded. "It shall be as you say, my King."
Hours later, at the edge of a jagged cliff, the boy was held aloft by a Priest, examined from every angle. If he had been small or sickly, puny or misshapen, he would have been discarded like thousands before him, thrown from the cliff to land violently among the shattered skeletons at the bottom. Above the child, carrion already screeched, as if in preparation for a possible morsel of food. A glint in the Priest's eye was the decision, as Harry was handed to the safety of the King's grasp.
And so it was, that Harry James Potter, the Savior of the Light and Chosen of Prophecy was raised as a Spartan and inducted as a member of the Royal Family of Sparta.