A.N.: I'm bored and ill and really pissed off because college was closed today due to snow and I even did my coursework! So this was something I wrote about midnight last night! This is a prologue, but reviews are definitely welcome for future plotlines, etc. :D

"I'm begging you! From a mother to a mother, please." Tears splashed over the exquisite high cheekbones, pooling at the corners of the lovely mouth turned down with desperation. Huge topaz eyes glistened, wide and imploring, as she knelt at Lily's feet, hands clasped to stop their trembling. "He thinks it is you. He believes you to be the parents of the child who will bring his downfall. You know this! You cannot possibly comprehend the levels he will go to stop that from happening. Born to parents who have thrice defied the Dark Lord. Let me take the younger—I will protect him. No one knows that our own child is—I will take an Unbreakable Oath to protect him."

Lily and James exchanged stricken looks. Yes, they had known Voldemort believed their Harry—their first-born—was the key to his undoing. And they knew to what depths Voldemort would go to stop threats affecting him—he'd just taken the McKinnon family, and Dorcas. Gideon and Fabian…they'd gone down like heroes. Martyrs. And here knelt Narcissa Malfoy, nee Black, as a suppliant at a great altar, praying they would allow her to take their youngest child, the littler twin. Offering to protect him in a way they knew they could not. Because once Voldemort set his mind on something, there was no going back. They had known the costs of crossing Voldemort in his war long before they had first denied his invitation to join him.

"What happened to your child?" James asked hoarsely. Upstairs, one of the twins mewled softly. They were five months old, utterly indecipherable except the eyes. Harry had Lily's exquisite emerald-eyes. His twin had stunning hazel eyes, the colour of James's and the shape of Lily's. Narcissa's tears redoubled and her back curved to a perfect C as she sobbed brokenly.

"He died," she choked, her slender body shuddering. "He was ill. Dragon Pox." Lily pressed trembling fingers to her lips, tears splashing down her face at the thought of losing a child. Whether by Voldemort or by Narcissa here, they were going to lose one son anyway. James had made up his mind. He would do anything to protect his family. Anything, including giving over a cherished little boy to an enemy. The closer he is to danger, the farther he is from harm, he rationalised. If rationality could really be called upon in such a situation. He glanced at Lily. Her lip was trembling and she was silently shaking her head, but after a tiny sob escaped her lips she set her jaw and nodded, squeezing fresh hot tears from her stunning emerald eyes.

To save his life they would sacrifice him. He gripped Lily's upper-arm for a second before leaving the drawing-room of what had been his family's ancestral manor-house and took the split-staircase slowly. The mewling continued; it was a happy gurgling, completely contrasting the atmosphere in the rest of the house. The nursery was his favourite room; his boys' room. Sirius had charmed the constellations onto the midnight-blue ceiling; some thought the dark colour was oppressive, but the brightest star in the heavens shone brilliantly as the loveliest nightlight. Their godfather, Sirius the Dog Star, watched over them as they slept. Tears irritated James's nose and he hastily pushed them away from his face with the sleeve of his jumper. Christmas meant bitterly cold nights and fresh days with snow coating the grounds, hot mulled-cider and presents; they'd had visitors every day this week, Sirius mostly, and Remus, only once Peter had come by and James thought he had looked ill.

Albus had come by yesterday. He loved those boys. He'd given Harry a little plush golden snitch, the intricate details that would have been etched on the real thing, like the collection of the ones James had stolen at school and strung into a mobile above the cot as soon as they realised Lily was pregnant, embroidered with golden thread that seemed to glow in the darkness, giving the boys an extra nightlight. And Henry he'd given a little plush dragon that roared realistically when he squeezed it. Harry and Henry both lay facing each other, and not because Lily had put them to bed that way; every morning they were lying like this. They were the first things they saw in the morning before they fed them. They hadn't been separated for a day since they were born. Sirius had wanted to take Henry, for the same reason that Narcissa Malfoy was offering to: he would take it as a personal insult if he knew they had chosen her over him. But he had asked just after the twins were born. Things were different then. Sirius couldn't even tie his own shoelaces! How was he going to raise a baby? James smiled before it was wiped completely off his face with a silent sob that saw him crumple, clutching the side of the cot for support as his knees buckled. He stared through bleary eyes—and glasses fogging up—at his baby boys. Henry was awake and beaming at the light glinting off the snitches, a tiny little hand raised towards them, kicking his little legs happily. The twins were identical, but James knew them apart; Harry was very quiet, and rarely cried out except for when Henry was out of his sights. Henry was much more verbal, cooing at Lily or giggling in James's arms, humming as he lay beside Harry, smiling toothlessly, looking a lot like Tom the barman at the Leaky Cauldron, his eyes twinkling as they reflected the hundreds of jewel-bright pinpricks of light that represented the stars.

"Darling." James sniffed hastily, wiping his eyes hurriedly before Lily could see him crying. Because if she saw, they'd both be lost.

"I need to feed him, James," Lily said softly, and James nodded, his face crumpling with anguish as he reached into the cot for the still-smiling Henry, who clutched his little dragon, wrapped in a blanket and tucked inside a snitch-printed fleece bodysuit. He hummed happily as he was transferred to Lily in the squashy rocking armchair, and Lily freed her breast and fed him, her great fiery sheet of hair falling over her face and shielding the tears James knew were falling from her eyes. As soon as Henry had enough, and they always knew because he just conked right off to sleep, Lily wrapped him up tight in his blanket, whispered something into his ear as they walked downstairs, and James checked the nightlight before closing the door on Harry in the nursery.

"Where's your wand, James?" Lily asked throatily. James tugged his wand out of his back-pocket and sighed as they entered the drawing-room: Narcissa pulled herself off the floor, her still-sopping cheeks touched with a gentle flush of colour as her eyes softened and she reached for Henry. Lily held onto him steadfastly, and glancing at James she nodded slightly; she knew what she had to give first. She and Lily knelt; they clasped hands, Henry resting peacefully in Lily's arm, and James stood before them.

"Will you, Narcissa, raise our son, Henry, to the very best of your abilities?" Lily asked, tears streaming down her face. Narcissa was likewise tearing up again.

"I will," she said hoarsely. A thin tongue of brilliant flame issued from James's wand and wound itself around the women's hands like a red-hot wire.

"And will you, to the very best of your ability, protect him from harm?" A second tongue of flame encircled their wrists.

"And will you love him?" Lily beseeched hurriedly, leaning forward, her brilliant emerald-green eyes awash with salty tears that streamed down her cheeks onto Henry's blanket.

"I will. As if he were my own son," Narcissa promised, her voice throaty and heartfelt. A third tongue of flame shot from James's wand, twisted with the others, and bound itself thickly around their clasped hands, like a rope, like a red-hot shackle binding Narcissa to her word.

So Henry passed out of their home, out of their lives, and it wasn't until the day eleven-year-old Harry Potter went to buy his first pair of brand-new Hogwarts robes from Madam Malkin's that he met his blood-brother.

A.N.: Reviews are very welcome :D