A/N: This is the first chapter of a sequel to "Death and Rebirth". I highly suggest you read that first, if only to get a few things straight, such as what I changed to make this an AU. Firstly, only Lily was killed, not James. And the Dark Lord was taken down by Snape & the Order, never to touch young Harry. I started this as a Snape/Lily fic in "Death and Rebirth", so there will be those connotations in this story. But it's mostly about those left behind.
James Potter stood in the empty living room, his hands in his pockets.
His son slept soundly in the other room, mostly oblivious to what had happened. He asked for "mummy" a few times, but James just shook his head and said "no mummy" and for the most part, little Harry simply acquiesced, as though he could ask later and get a better answer.
He stared at the floor. That was the spot where his wife died. Right there.
On the heels of a picture-clear image of his dead wife flashed a memory of how he had found her in the room.
Clutched in the arms of Severus Snape.
He was so confused at first, that he couldn't understand what was going on. His son fussed a little in his arms, mostly asleep, as he had been shushing him and rubbing his back the way he liked to keep him calm while they hid from You-Know-Who.
He had hid, like a coward, while his wife fought off the Dark Lord. While his wife died in the other room, James Potter had cowered in a broom closet, knowing that even if he could have run, even if he could have climbed out the window in the small bedroom, shoved Harry's crib out of the way silently, and climbed out the window, there were probably Death Eaters waiting outside. He could do nothing, nothing, but sit in the broom closet and wait for them to find him. Wait to die.
And then it got quiet.
So he came out of hiding, to find…to see his wife's beautiful red hair, her hand, her…wand.
Her fingers were slightly curled, and the wand rolled back and forth, back and forth, as her body was moved, back and forth. Then she was lifted, just so, and her wrist pulled up, and the wand rolled to her fingers, then over them, and it just lay on the ground, out of her reach. Just out of her reach.
Your wand, Lily. You dropped it.
His eyes moved from her hand to light on her hair, red red locks surrounded by black.
Someone was crying.
Someone was saying her name, "Lily, Lily, Lily. No, please, Lily. Lily, oh Lily, please. No."
He dragged his eyes away from her hair, mutely trying to understand who was speaking. He felt he should have been saying those words, but…they didn't come out of his mouth. Strange.
Who is that?
All in black. Black puddle on his floor, surrounding her red hair, her creamy, freckled skin. Stark and black.
His head was bent over hers, his black hair over her red.
"Lily. Oh Lily. No. Please. No."
And he turned his face, he kissed her, his lips on her forehead.
Familiar. That nose.
Then he took in the black cloak, the black hair, and the nose, and…
Get away from her.
Stop touching her.
"GET AWAY FROM HER! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!"
He shook his head, jogging himself out of the fog of memory. He had thrown Snape aside, and someone took Harry, and he took his wife in his arms, and took her away.
He swallowed once, still staring at the same spot on the floor.
And somewhere in the back of his mind, he felt a little bit sorry that he had thrown the other man like he did. He was so angry. It was something he hadn't felt in a really long time. He was angry that that man should touch Lily like that. Hold her like that.
It had been so long since he felt that strange emotion. Jealousy.
# # # # #
Seven Years Earlier…
Sirius Black elbowed his friend in the ribs.
"Whatcha starin' at Prongs?"
James shook his head, and broke his faraway gaze. Hands in his pockets, he did not miss a step as they walked across the grounds, towards the picnicking lawn.
Sirius raised an eyebrow and stared at his friend a moment.
"No, not nothin'. What's goin' on?"
"I said nothing. Leave it, Padfoot."
Sirius may not have wanted to, but he let the matter drop.
Until James started staring again, and he followed his friend's line of sight.
Sitting cozy in the shade of a non-whomping willow was Severus Snape and Lily Evans.
They weren't touching; Snape was sitting with his back against the tree trunk, one knee pulled up, balancing a book that he read from, and Lily lay on her stomach on a blanket facing him, just to his right, engrossed in literature as well. She kicked her feet back and forth in the air, and popped her gum.
Sirius curled his lip in disgust.
"Ugh. Disgusting. I don't get it. He's filthy. And not just because he's a Slytherin. I swear, that kid doesn't shower. Why does she hang around him?"
James just shrugged.
Sirius lightly smacked his friend on the arm. "Come on," he said and nodded his head in the direction of the quiet pair.
James stared at his friend for a moment, but acquiesced to his request.
"So, Miss Evans, what brings you to this dirty corner of Hogwarts this fine day?" Sirius asked brightly, shooting a look at Snape when he said the word 'dirty'.
Lily Evans peered up at the two shadows who blocked her light.
"You're blocking my light, Black. Oh, hello, Potter."
"Evans," Potter said quietly, and reached up to run his fingers into his unruly hair.
"Actually, I think you will find that it is not I who blocks the sunlight, but a certain unwashed snake."
"Stuff it, Black. Leave us alone. Go torture someone else."
All this time, Snape had sat quietly, staring flatly at Black and Potter, his subtle movements missed by the intruding pair.
Lily continued to banter with Sirius, who was the first to start switching from foot to foot, as though he had to readjust his weighted stance. It was slow at first, and then Potter started doing the same, and Lily stopped midsentence.
"What is wrong with you two?"
"Nothing at all, Evans," Sirius replied with a smile.
"Actually, my feet feel kinda hot," James said, and shook one foot as though he could dispel the sensation.
And suddenly they both heard a snigger.
"Snake! What the hell did you do?!"
And then both boys were trying very hard not to be standing on both feet, causing them to dance around in a humorous manner. They backed away in their dance, and started peeling off their shoes, then their socks, in their dance. And while still within earshot, Sirius yelled back at them.
"You'll pay for this Snivelly!"
Snape just chuckled again, until his moment was broken by his friend's stare.
"Seeevvvv," she dragged out his name, her eyes narrowed at him.
"What?" He asked, as though he'd done nothing wrong.
"That wasn't nice."
He straightened out his leg and then crossed his arms across his chest, almost pouting. "They started it."
"Just ignore them, will you? They're harmless. Jerks, but harmless. You shouldn't just go around hexing people."
Snape shrugged. "It'll wear off in a couple of minutes."
"Sev." She still stared at him, and he knew when to back down.
"Okay, okay. Sorry." He pulled his knee back up, rebalanced his book, found his place, and went back to reading.
Lily stared at him for a moment, considering him, and then went back to her book.
# # # # #
James almost had to laugh at the memory of the charm he had learned and then used more than once after that day. He settled for a small smile that tugged the corner of his mouth, even while he stared at the floor, which was now just white and grey berber, nothing more.
While feet was an effective target for it, it also worked on entire bodies, and he remembered with fondness him and Sirius casting it on the girls of the intramural quidditch team after a practice, while they peeped from the other meeting room that adjoined the team room. The girls had non-chalantly started removing shoes, then practice pants, then jerseys, then undershirts, until some of them were just in their brassieres and shorts before they started to get suspiscious.
No one had ever found out about that, but for a pair of fifteen year old boys, seeing the well-developed sixth and seventh year girls of not just their house, but a few Ravenclaws, Hufflepuffs, and even a Slytherin or two (even Sirius had to admit that some Slytherins had that going for them) in their undergarments, it was the best day ever.
He sighed, and heard his son in the other room, his ears attuned to the sound of his sleep-talk.
Their bags were packed, and they were ready to go back home.
The Dark Lord was dead, and the remains of his body were in a jar in a well-secured department of the Ministry.
James had packed his wife's things – he wasn't ready to get rid of them just yet. But he wasn't sure what to do next, and he hoped that she would show him the way.
A/N: I wasn't sure if I could do this, this type of epic fic. So reviews are muchly appreciated, and while I do have some very clear ideas about what I'm going to be doing, some details are definitely fuzzy, and so suggestions are welcome. Hope you keep reading, and I hope to have up a chapter per week, if not more, sooner, so that I don't leave anyone hanging for too long!