A/N: So after I wrote the original "Death & Rebirth", someone made a comment that they had not seen a story where James survived and Lily did not. And I'm strangely intrigued by the possibility of events wherein Harry Potter, while his family is important, does not gain the notoriety that he "should". And the idea of one of his parents dying to save him is still attractive to me. And since when I started the first one, it was meant as a Snape/Lily moment, I then considered "what if it was the other way around? what if James died, and Lily survived?" Both outcomes would result in a different sort of boy who would enter Hogwarts, and this way, I get my Snape/Lily. Granted, this is basically a prologue to something that hasn't been written yet, and while it can be a stand-alone, there will be more. I just have to finish "Aftermath" first, as it is the continuation of the original "Death & Rebirth".
This story will be familiar to those who read "Death & Rebirth", but believe me, plenty is changed, despite a few lines being exactly the same. (Can't plagiarize your own words, right?). So if you wanted someone else to have a chance, this is it.
In the meantime, until I get to the fuller story which will follow this, under another name (I promise I won't get as cliche as calling it "Aftermath - Redux"), take a look at the original D&R, and its continuation. Keep checking back, and hopefully I'll have this continuation going within a month.
Read and review - tell me what you think!
Of course, this entire thing would be impossible without JKR's original stories, which I stake no claim on, plot, character, or other-wise. I'm just messing about with her timelines...a lot.
"Death & Rebirth – Redux"
James Potter never had a sixth sense, but he was no stranger to being on his guard.
And he had been on his guard for months now.
The hairs rose on the back of his neck, and he carefully set his book, face down, on the couch where he had been reading. He reached for his wand, almost hidden in the crevice between the cushions, and looked to his wife, who sat in the rocking chair in their spare living room, dozing lightly, holding their son while he slept.
"Lily," he said, softly but urgently.
Her eyes snapped open. She caught her husband's gaze, and rose, and he nodded his head towards their bedroom at the back of the house.
She raised her eyebrows, as though indignant that he appeared to be telling her to hide.
He nodded at the sleeping child, and she looked down at him in her arms. Little Harry was fast asleep, his thumb stuck in his mouth. He sucked it once, and then his lips parted with a little sigh, and he inhaled deeply, his little belly pressing against her chest.
She swallowed hard, and turned to leave, watching as her husband rose, wand in hand.
Outside their home, a man in black, alone, watched in fear as the most powerful wizard of the last century, a dark wizard, glided up the walkway as though he meant to call on the Potters. He made a hissing noise, and his black-cloaked followers spread out around the house, covering the exits.
The Dark Lord had come for Harry Potter.
Severus Snape wasted no time in apparating away, the crack of his exit mistaken for the clumsy Death Eater who stepped over a branch as he integrated himself with the front hedge.
# # # # #
With a loud CRACK!, the man in black apparated into the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix.
"Potter," he managed to get out, fear and urgency in his eyes, face, and his voice.
Albus Dumbledore, nor the other remaining members present needed anymore. They raised their wands and with the sound of firecrackers, were gone, following their comrade into the ether.
# # # # #
The sound of firecrackers arrived abruptly at the Potter residence; Severus Snape was first.
And he watched as a green light shot out of the end of Voldemort's wand, striking James Potter directly in the chest.
He raised his own wand, and uttered the same curse, just as the rest of the Order appeared, and almost as one, raised their wands and did the same.
The heavy black cloak the Dark Lord wore crumpled to the floor.
If he was not dead, he was awfully close to it, for the strength of one of those curses from those wands would have killed any other wizard, and the sheer number alone, seven at once on the heels of the first that he had deflected from the man he had killed, was more than devastating.
The followers in the hedges scattered, one having seen the defeat of their Dark Lord, and hissing to the others before they all ran, apparating away from the scene.
There was a full moment of silence, before Frank Longbottom stepped forward and pulled the single blanket from the spartan living room couch of the safe house and laid it over the body on the floor. He gently closed the eyes of the young man, his breath catching in his throat at the thought of another life taken so young in this war of wizard against wizard.
Then there was the creaking sound of a slowly opening door, and a red haired woman stepped into view of the moonlit living room.
"Lily," Snape breathed, and part of him wanted to rush to her, to hold her as she took in the covered body that lay on the floor, and then looked at each man and woman standing around it, making the deduction of who must be under the blanket.
Lily Potter was a strong woman, and she held up the façade very well. She swallowed hard, and took a tentative step towards the body, her son waking up and beginning to fuss in her arms. She held him close, and stroked his hair, licking her lips and not looking at anyone who slowly backed away from the body.
She stepped closer, nearer to Severus Snape, and he couldn't stop himself from reaching out to grab her forearm.
She turned her head quickly to him, seemingly surprised that there was someone else in the room.
While it had been many years since they were friends, the look in his eyes was not one of an enemy. His dark eyes shone in the moonlit darkness, meeting her green ones. She held his stare, willing herself not to cry, even as her lip started to tremble.
"Lily," he said softly, and even almost sadly, and she just stared a moment before breaking the stare and moving forward. He loosened his grip and let her go.
She fell gracefully to her knees, not releasing her hold on her son, who had started to quiet again. She stared at the blanket, at the shape which was his nose, his head, seeing each thread woven tightly, and her eyes picking out the little tiny bits of fuzz, as though they were the strangest thing she had ever seen.
No one moved, no one knew what to do, she was just so quiet. Alice Longbottom, the only other female in the room, gripped her husband's hand tightly, knowing that this could be them. Their son was of an age with young Harry, and she had a flash of herself, sitting as Lily Potter was, holding her son, knowing that under the blanket was her husband, dead from the hand of Voldemort.
Frank Longbottom looked down at his wife, who was staring at Lily, biting her lip, her eyes wide with sympathy. She felt his gaze, and looked up at him, and he nodded once at her.
She walked towards Lily Potter, not letting her husband's hand go until the last possible second. She knelt next to Lily, and put her hand on the other woman's shoulder.
"Lily," she said, and Lily looked at her, the tears which she had been so careful not to spill, trying so hard to be strong, crested her lids and began to fall down her cheeks. Alice pulled her into an embrace, gently holding Harry between them, and Lily made no noise, just cried and cried, inhaling deeply as the tears continued to spill. Alice rocked her back and forth awkwardly, holding her around the shoulders and stroking her long red locks. She let her cry, did not shush her, did not speak, just rocked her back and forth.
"Alastor, Frank, go to the Ministry, tell them what has happened here," he said, and then nodded at the other two who stood silently staring at the scene before them. "You too," he added, and with a last look at his wife, Frank nodded and he and the other three raised their wands to apparate away when the door flew open.
"James! Lily!" Sirius Black almost fell into the room, haste and worry clear on his face.
The small crowd parted, and he took in the covered body on the floor and the red head in Alice Longbottom's arms all at once.
Lily Potter looked up at the sound of a familiar voice, and taking in the figure of her friend, tried to speak, but sobs which she had kept bottled started to blossom in her chest.
He ran to her, and Alice Longbottom rose from her knees, and went to her husband, who had not yet disapparated. She took his hand, and then he slid his arm around her shoulders, and held her close to him.
"Lily, oh god, no, Lily," Sirius did not take long to make his conclusions.
"Sirius, James, James, he," was all she could manage before she couldn't speak, and she reached a shaking hand towards the blanket, as though to uncover it and show him instead of telling him.
Sirius grabbed her hand, and pulled it to his chest, and her lip trembled and she fell into him, her son now roused fully by the noise and the jolt of being thrust again between two bodies. He murmured "mummy, mummy," and she clutched him tighter, and Sirius pulled her into his arms, and mimicked Alice's gesture, rocking her back and forth as sobs were ripped from her chest.
Tears began streaming down his face, but he did not give way to anything more, his eyes frozen on the body on the floor.
Dumbledore nodded to the four wizards, who raised their wands again, and disapparated.
"Severus," Dumbledore said softly, and Sirius Black turned his head at the name, suddenly registering the other man in the room.
He frowned, having never trusted the man in his strange defection from the Dark Lord's ranks. He saw that Severus was staring, his gaze only broken by a second uttering of his name.
Severus flinched as he heard his name again, and turned his head to Albus Dumbledore.
"Who did this, Severus?" Albus asked, moving closer to him, putting his hand on the other man's arm, before being shrugged off.
Sirius stared at them. "Impossible."
"I saw him, Black."
"Peter would never," Black began, but was cut off by the harsh rasp of the black-cloaked man.
"I saw him, Black. I saw Pettigrew following Voldemort, saw him whisper in Voldemort's ear, leaving him only when they finally reached this secret safehouse."
Sirius Black did not want to believe that his friend, their friend had betrayed them, but Sirius only realized he knew where they were once the secret had been given away, as though a fog lifted from his brain, and he was immediately fearful of what that had meant. No one else knew where the Potters were. Peter Pettigrew was the only one of them that knew, and…James was dead.
Someone had told.
Sirius swallowed and clenched his jaw, wanting desperately not to believe the man that spoke the words, years of animosity assuring him that the man could utter no truths.
But the tiny logical part of his brain that was still functioning knew him to be right. There was only one way – Voldemort had to have hexed Peter into giving away the secret, had to have…
"Voldemort must have done something to Peter, must have made him tell."
Snape curled his lip in disgust at the man who was before him, willfully disbelieving the truth, simply because it had come from his own lips. "I'm not an idiot, Black, contrary to your belief. I saw him, and he was not hexed, he was not cursed, he was not even coerced into giving it away. He told the Dark Lord willingly because he thought it could save his own hide!" Snape's voice had risen as he spoke, and with the last four words, the child in Lily's arms began to cry.
"Stop it!" She yelled, her voice raw. "Stop arguing! Just stop it!"
Severus and Sirius looked back at the woman who had just lost her husband, and she was angry and sad, both emotions vying for dominance on her face.
She turned her head to her child, who she kissed on the temple gently, and stroked his head, shushing him as she slid away from her friend.
"Severus," Albus Dumbledore lay a hand on his shoulder. "Find Peter Pettigrew. He will be able to sort this out for us."
Severus grimaced angrily, knowing that he would only prove them all wrong about the inconstant loyalties of the Gryffindor who was once an integral part of the inner circle of the man and woman who knelt on the floor and the dead body that grew cold not inches from them.
He nodded once, and swept towards the door before disapparating with a crack! to pick up the chilling trail of the betrayer.
"Sirius, Lily, we must go to the Ministry. Lily, you must tell them all what happened. We must make sure that he's really dead, we must bring those to justice who are responsible for what happened here," he iterated carefully.
Sirius rose from Lily's arms, and took the child from her. She turned to look at the body, and finally got the courage to lift the blanket.
The other two wizards froze, watching her.
She peeled it back from his face, no farther than his neck, and her hands went to her mouth as she started crying anew, and she pulled his head into her lap, uncovering a shoulder as the blanket slid, and stroked his face, her tears falling on his forehead, on his glasses. She smoothed his hair, and touched his cheeks, his lips, as though her touch could revive him.
"James, oh James, you stupid, selfless man," she whispered, wishing she had convinced him to hide with her – Voldemort had been taken down so quickly, she almost had herself convinced that they wouldn't've been found, that the Order could have saved them. But she knew that her husband had bought them time, bought her time, her son time, the Order time, to come to the rescue. Just a moment too late.
She leaned forward and placed a kiss on his forehead, and then leaned her forehead against his, her hands never stopping their gentle touches on his face and hair.
She stayed like that for several moments, Albus and Sirius watching, but unable to help her, and feeling horribly useless.
Albus Dumbledore, however, was a man of experience in matters such as this, and he went to Lily as she held her husband. He put his hand on her shoulder.
"Come, Mrs. Potter. We will make sure whomever is responsible will be brought to justice."
Lily looked up at the old man, who had been her headmaster when she was a student, whom she had looked up to like a magical grandfather, and held in high esteem.
"Dumbledore," she managed to cry, and he helped her rise, and enfolded her in his arms as she wept again.
"Come, come, Mrs. Potter. It won't do to cry like this in front of your son, you must be strong. You are a strong woman, and you must continue to be strong for your son. He needs you now, more than ever."
To any other ears, this may have sounded harsh, snapping a widow out of her grief, but Lily leaned back from him, and met his blue eyes, that held a sad gaze, and knew that he meant well. He was right. She had to be strong for her son. Her son who was all she had left of the man who lay before her. She swallowed her tears and nodded once, and then held her arms out to take the boy from Sirius.
Sirius stepped forward, and hefted James' limp body into his arms, irregardless of the strain on his back.
Lily nodded to him, and he took the body and disapparated.
Then Lily turned to Dumbledore, and nodded once, and the two of them disappeared, leaving the house behind, the empty rooms of an unfamiliar place, not yet a home.
And Lily Potter, who was stronger in will even than Dumbledore gave her credit for, embraced her Gryffindor heritage, and faced the Ministry with her head held high, and told of her husband's sacrifice in the defeat of the Dark Lord who had terrorized the wizarding world for nearly ten years.
And those who followed him were brought to justice, ferreted out by the Ministry once the protection of the leader was vanquished.
And she watched each of them being led off to Azkaban, to be subject to the Dementor's Kiss, and an era of fear was ended, and a new life lay waiting to begin.
A/N: Well? What possibilities are brewing in YOUR imagination? Tell me your suggestions - this one is not completely outlined yet, and so I'm open to a little creative coercion. Keep your eyes peeled for the epic continuation...