Disclaimer - Anything that you recognize to belong to the Harry Potter universe is not mine, but J.K. Rowling's. The storyline and plot and any other characters, however, are the sole property of myself.
A/N: Due to a mistake, this story was deleted off the website, so I'm reposting it now. Thanks.
James Potter smiled weakly as he entered his Godric's Hollow home and his two sons – five-year-old Harry and three-year-old Nicholas – ran in to greet him. He immediately knelt to their level and accepted their enthusiastic hugs, holding them longer than he normally would – who knew when he would be able to do so again?
"Guess what, Daddy!" Harry said eagerly. "Uncle Moony brought me a real Snitch to play with!"
"And he gotted me a beetle!" Nicholas yelled over his brother.
James raised his eyebrow as his wife and best friend entered. "A beetle?" he asked Remus.
The werewolf shrugged and grinned. "To my credit, it's a beetle that can be trained," he said. "How'd everything go today?"
The momentary amusement he'd been filled with evaporated immediately. He glanced at his sons. "Er, Remus, could you keep an eye on the boys for a few minutes? I have to talk to Lily."
Remus' brow furrowed at the look on his friend's face. "Yeah, sure," he said as James led his wife out of the kitchen and up the stairs.
"James, what is it?" Lily asked concernedly as they went up the stairs. Her husband only shook his head as they entered their bedroom and closed the door.
Lily sat on the bed while James paced in front of her. It was a few minutes before he spoke; there wasn't any easy way to even begin to phrase this. He gulped before finally speaking. "You have to take the boys and leave the country," he said, stopping to look directly at his wife. Her eyebrows rose, but before she could speak, he went on. "Dumbledore and Mad-Eye have been comparing notes, and they've come to the conclusion that even though our home is protected against most attacks, we're not. Any time you leave the house, you and the boys are–"
"So we stay in the house!" Lily interrupted, standing. "What makes you think we have to leave the country?"
James sighed. "Because the Fidelius Charm isn't going to last," he said. "And even if we keep attempting to recast it, it's going to lose more strength every time. The only way to ensure that Voldemort doesn't find Harry is for you to take him and leave."
Lily stared openmouthed at him. "And what about you?" she asked.
James shuffled uncomfortably under his wife's stare. "Well, I'd stay," he said. She opened her mouth angrily, but he quickly began speaking. "Just for the time being! I can't just pack up and leave my friends!"
"And what about my parents?" Lily retorted, getting angry now. "You're so concerned about Remus, Sirius, and Peter that you're forgetting about them, aren't you?"
"No, I'm not," James said, feeling quite offended. "Maybe if you'd listen for a moment, I could explain my plan." Lily crossed her arms and sat back on the bed again. Though she was silent now, her glare was saying much more than she'd said in the last five minutes. "Look, I'm not a fan of this, but think about it, Lily. Voldemort isn't going to cross any oceans to search for Harry, and even if he did, he'd have a hell of a lot of searching to do in America to find you."
"America?" Lily asked skeptically.
James nodded. "Yeah, why not?" he replied. "If you stay in Europe, the chances that you'll be found attacked are much more likely."
"No, James," Lily said flatly, starting to leave the room. "I am not leaving my family, my friends, and my husband just because Mad-Eye Moody is having a paranoid thought!"
James sat on the bed. "It's not just Mad-Eye," he said quietly as Lily started to open the door. She stopped and listened. "How much more of this can we actually take, Lily? The boys can't go out and play with the kids in the neighborhood; they have to wait until Frank and Alice or Molly and Arthur can get their kids over. When was the last time you went out with your friends and just had fun? Or dared to go see your Muggle sister without being worried that Death Eaters might be watching you, then target her just for the fun of it? I can't remember the last time I was able to take my family out for the day without planning it for weeks and looking over my shoulder every thirty bloody seconds. Harry and Nicholas deserve more than this. They deserve their freedom and to live without worrying. I don't know what else to do…"
Lily turned around again as her husband's voice broke. She approached him and kneeled in front of him. "James, I know you're worried," she said, taking his hands. "But the solution isn't separating you from your family."
"It wouldn't be for long," James said again. "Just until it's safe enough for you to bring them back."
"When do you think that might be?" she asked gently. "Do you really think I would sleep easily knowing my husband and father to my children is here fighting the darkest, most feared wizard in a century?"
James' watery hazel eyes met his wife's gorgeous emerald green ones. Every time he saw them, he fell even deeper in love with her and that made it easier for him to say what he did next. "I want you to be safe," he said strongly. "I'm begging you to do this for me, Lily, even if you don't believe what I'm saying or if you don't think anything has changed."
She sighed. "Can I just… think this over for a bit?" she asked. "I'm not saying no; just give me some time to think, all right?"
James nodded. "Fair enough, I s'pose," he said with a small grin. "And if it will help your decision along, maybe I could ask Moony to go along with you."
She led the way out of the room. "What makes you think Remus might want to go?" she asked.
He shrugged. "Werewolves need holidays too," he replied, attempting humor. Lily shot him a glare over her shoulder, but her lips were twitching slightly.
"Okay!" she called, reentering the kitchen where the boys had tackled Remus to the ground. "Who wants pizza?"
After a few moments, Lily was able to disentangle her sons and the wizard. Remus pushed himself off the ground, his hair ruffled and his breathing heavy, but he grinned widely at James. "Well, I tried to tire them out," he said, "but I don't think I managed it."
James chuckled and clapped his friend on the shoulder. "It's all right, Sirius and Peter are coming by later; between the four of us, they'll be passed out before dessert." He shrugged. "Either that or we will… Before they get here, I need to talk to you."
"Why's Moony getting a bloody holiday?" Sirius whined later that evening in James' office. He'd just told his friends what he had proposed to Lily and was warily watching their reactions. "I could use a bit of relaxation too, you know!"
James rolled his eyes and sipped at his firewhiskey. "We all could," he said dully. "But Moony's the only one of us who doesn't have a job and, no offence, Remus, doesn't have much of a chance of getting one over here."
Remus raised his glass. "No offence taken, Prongs," he said slightly drunkenly. "So when does this little trip happen?"
James shrugged. "Depends on what Lily decides. As of right now, she doesn't think it's necessary to go; I spent half an hour trying to convince her."
"Do you really think it's necessary?" Peter asked. "I mean, it's not like You-Know-Who has gotten any closer to finding you."
Sirius shook his head at his friend. "When are you going to start calling him by his name, Wormtail?" he asked wearily. "All of us do!"
Peter wrung his hands nervously. "Well, I'm just not as comfortable with it as you are," he said defensively.
"Leave him alone, Sirius," James said, throwing a quill at the wizard. "To answer your question, Peter, yes, I do think it absolutely necessary. While Sirius has done a bang up job as Secret-Keeper," he nodded respectively at his friend; Sirius raised his drink in response, "Dumbledore is afraid that the longer this war goes on, Voldemort may find a way around it. His spy says Voldemort is already studying the charm, looking for loopholes; he knows damn well Sirius isn't going to voluntarily tell him and he's found out several times that Sirius can throw his Imperius Curse without breaking a sweat, something most wizards die trying to do. One of my biggest concerns is that he might try taking Sirius hostage, weakening him to the point where there is no resistance, and putting him under the Imperius Curse that way–"
"Way to kill the buzz, Prongs, thanks," Sirius said dully, setting down his drink.
"You know it's a possibility," James said sternly. "Don't act like it's not. None of us are invincible, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves otherwise. If Lily and the boys are out of the country, we can lift the charm and Sirius will be mostly free of attack. And then we can concentrate on bringing Voldemort down."
Sirius, Remus, and Peter looked uneasily at each other, all noting the fear and intensity in their best friend's voice. "If it will make you feel a bit better," Remus said slowly, looking directly at James, "I'll try talking to Lily. She usually listens to me, doesn't she?"
James gave him a half-smile. "Thanks, mate."
Several days later, Lily had very reluctantly agreed to James' plan to keeping their family safe. Once James had had her consent, he'd presented very detailed plans as though he'd had them all along. Lily knew, in hindsight, that he had. She and Remus would take the boys to a small town in America and live under fake names and fake stories. While Lily thought it unlikely that this would keep them hidden from Lord Voldemort, James and Dumbledore were absolutely convinced that if they stuck to their stories, they would be safe.
So on a rather cold, rainy evening in late November, James was loading luggage into the car Lily had convinced him to buy years ago for convenience. Lily stood on their porch wrapped in a jacket, listening as her son's said goodbye to Sirius and Peter.
"Be good for your mum," Sirius was telling Harry sternly. "Only play your pranks on Moony, understand?"
Harry laughed as Remus presumably slapped his best friend.
James finished packing the car, closed the lid of the boot, and walked back up the sidewalk to the porch. "You'll be all right," he told Lily, rubbing his hands across her arms to warm and comfort her. "Remus will take care of you."
She nodded, trying and failing to smile. "I know he will," she responded. "I just really wish you could come with us."
James swallowed hard. "So do I," he said in a thick voice. "But I'll visit when I can. Sirius and Peter too. I'm sure your parents will want to as well."
"You'll tell them what happened, won't you?" Lily asked.
"Of course I will," he responded. "First thing tomorrow, I promise."
Someone cleared their throat behind Lily. James looked up to find Remus watching them apologetically. "We have to get to the airport," he said regretfully.
James nodded. "Just another minute," he said. Remus nodded understandingly and returned inside. James looked back at his wife. "No matter what happens, remember that I love you and that's why I'm doing this. Nothing else is more important than keeping you and my sons safe. Before you know it, you'll be back home, Voldemort will be gone, and we can be a family again."
Lily's response was to kiss James more deeply than she ever had. She put every ounce of love she had into the kiss, making absolutely certain James knew that it wasn't optional for him to come out of the war alive. It lasted not even a minute, but it seemed less than a few seconds before James was pulling away from her.
"You have to go," he told her remorsefully, barely fighting back his tears. He grabbed her hand and pulled her inside. "All right, boys, give Daddy a hug."
Nearly an hour later, Remus ushered Harry and Nicholas into their seats on the airplane before letting Lily in and sitting beside her. She hadn't said a word during the drive to the airport, even when Marlene McKinnon had attempted so hard to start conversation as she drove them. Now she silently buckled the boys into their seats, pulled the shade on the window so they would be more tempted to sleep, and stared at the ceiling.
"Would you like something to drink?" Remus asked her quietly.
She shook her head, now closing her eyes.
With a sigh, Remus reached beneath his seat for his knapsack and pulled out one of the books Sirius had thought he would enjoy. He chuckled at the title – Pranking the Moon: Practical Jokes Fit for a Werewolf – and settled in for a long flight.
"Mum, why couldn't we have just taken a portkey?" Harry asked rather loudly as they walked through the very crowded airport in New York City. "It would've been quicker!"
"Harry, hush!" Lily chided, looking around. "I told you, we're traveling the Muggle way. Remember how excited you were about this before?"
"That was before I knew how bloody long it would take!"
"Harry James, watch your language!"
Remus chuckled as he adjusted a sleeping Nicholas on his hip. "How about a bite to eat?" he asked. "We've got another hour of our layover after all."
They settled for a simple hamburger lunch. Remus ordered while Lily did her best to keep the boys in their seats and only had a minor language barrier at the counter when he attempted to order chips with the hamburgers instead of French fries. Luckily he had been smart enough to convert their wizard money to Muggle currency before leaving England and had converted the British pounds to American dollars upon their arrival in New York.
He thanked the young woman at the counter and took the tray of food and drink back to the table Lily had picked out. "All right, boys," he said, sitting down. "Dig in."
Both Harry and Nicholas enjoyed their lunches that were packed in a cardboard house-like box, as well as the toy cars they received as prizes. Lily watched in amusement as her sons talked about their first plane ride, Harry telling his younger brother in quieter than normal tones that he could fly quicker than the plane on a broomstick. When she had finished with her own meal, Lily looked at Remus. "Er, I'm going to the ladies and to make a call…" she said quietly. "Can you manage for a few moments?"
Remus smiled. "Of course I can," he replied. "Tell James hello for me."
James heard the telephone downstairs in the kitchen ringing and nearly killed himself getting out of the shower to get to it. He completely forgot to dry himself off or to even grab a towel and took the stairs three at a time before sliding across the wooden floor made slippery by his wet feet and stumbling across the kitchen before the phone stopped ringing.
"Hello? Hello?" he said hastily, hoping she hadn't hung up yet.
"Hi," Lily's voice said happily. "Did I catch you at a bad time?"
He laughed. "Er, no, not at all," he replied, taking the phone and sitting at the kitchen table. "Just got out of the shower actually. Where are you?"
"An airport in New York," she replied tiredly. "Remus and the boys are eating – Remus says hello, by the way – and I had a few minutes before we have to run to catch our next plane, so I wanted to check on you."
"Check on me?" James asked in mock-offence. "Lily, you've been gone less than a day; I can't have blown the house up by now."
She laughed. "Well, with Sirius hanging around as much as I'm sure he is, it'll only be a matter of time."
"You don't give us nearly enough credit, my love."
"Even so," Lily said, her smiled evident in her voice. "I wanted to remind you that I love you very much and to take care of yourself."
He smiled into the phone, knowing she couldn't see him. "I love you too," he responded.
She sighed and James briefly heard one of his sons in the background, followed by Remus' voice calling for him to wait. "I have to go," she said sadly. "I'll call you when we land again."
"All right. Give the boys a hug and kiss for me," he said. "And punch Moony in the shoulder for Sirius – he found out Moony left the itching powder in his underwear drawer."
She laughed again. "Consider it done. I'll speak to you soon."
"Bye," James said before she hung up. It was a few more moments before he forced himself to stand and put the phone back on its cradle. He walked slowly back up to the bathroom to dry off and get dressed, wondering if he'd made a mistake by sending his family so far away. He already missed them as though he hadn't seen them in years. He had to keep reminding himself that Voldemort's threat was very real and they were safer where they would be going.
As he pulled on his jeans, he heard his front door open and Sirius calling for him so they could get to the Order meeting. With a sigh, James headed down the stairs.
Remus and Lily looked out the taxi windows as the car drove through rain and trees to their new, hopefully very temporary home.
"Where're you folks from?" the driver asked, glancing in the rearview mirror at them.
"England," Remus responded with a smile.
The driver nodded. "Thought so," he said. "Love your accents."
Remus' lips twitched as he glanced at Lily. "Yours aren't bad either," Lily told the driver as he turned a corner. "I think I see it, boys!"
Nicholas and Harry did their best to worm out of their seatbelts and climb into the adults' laps to look out the windows. "Where? I don't see anything!" Nicholas said.
They had arrived in a very small neighborhood, only three or four houses in it, all spread out from one another. Each house had its own personality and Lily immediately thought she knew why James and Dumbledore had thought she would prefer this place to anywhere else. The view was gorgeous. The neighborhood stood at the base of a snowcapped mountain and was as surrounded by trees as the road they'd just come from. If this hadn't been enough, Lily was able to see a lake directly behind one of the larger homes.
"Which one is ours, Mummy?" Harry asked, craning his neck to look out the window.
To Lily's delight, their taxi pulled into the driveway of the lakefront house and stopped. "You need any help getting your luggage inside?" the driver asked as Remus pulled out some money for him.
"No, we'll be fine," Remus said, handing him the cash. "Keep the change, my good man."
The driver looked briefly at the amount Remus had given him and beamed. "Thanks!" he said enthusiastically, getting out to at least open the trunk of the car for them.
"How much did you give him?" Lily asked quietly as she and Remus lugged the suitcases to the porch, glancing back as the driver seemed very eager to help them out in any way. Harry and Nicholas had already run forward and were now peering into the windows.
"Well, the fare was thirty dollars, and I gave him a fifty," Remus responded, turning to watch the driver pull out of the driveway. Lily rolled her eyes and shook her head. Once the taxi had gone, Remus pulled his wand from his jacket pocket and tapped the doorknob. "Alohomora."
The door opened and the four of them stood, staring in awe. From the outside, the house had looked large, but inside, someone had very obviously used magic. There looked to be three levels to the house, though only two on the outside. The living room was large enough to hold the entire Order of the Phoenix and most of their families; the kitchen was only a bit smaller than the Hogwarts kitchen; and the bedrooms were nearly triple the size of the ones in the Potters' Godric's Hollow home. Somebody had fully furnished the home for them, making their transition to their new life that much easier.
"It's a bloody mansion," Remus whispered to Lily as the boys chased each other up and down the staircases.
Lily only nodded. They had entered the room she would soon claim as her own and found that the closet was the size of Nicholas's old room. "I wonder what's on the third level," she said as Harry found a door that hid a set of stairs. She had believed it to be a linen closet.
The two adults followed the boys up to discover two rooms: one a playroom for the boys and the other a small office and library for Remus. In the latter seemed to be every book Remus could ever find remotely interesting. "I could definitely learn to like this," Remus said, grinning as he explored the bookcases.
Chuckling, Lily entered the playroom where Nicholas had climbed into a toy box in a corner and was now throwing out toys he found uninteresting. Harry had discovered a toy broomstick and was flying around the room, somehow avoiding every object in his way – Lily wondered if it had been charmed that way. "Boys, you can play later," she said. "Go grab your bags, find a bedroom, and unpack before dinner."
"Aww, Mum!" Harry said, coming to a halt mere inches from his mother's kneecaps. "Do we have to?"
"Yes, you have to," Lily said, pulling Harry off the broomstick and placing him on the floor. "That goes for you too, Remus!"
"Aww, Lily, do I have to?" came Remus' whining voice from his office.
Lily rolled her eyes and chuckled as she headed downstairs to the front hall again. As she stepped off the last stair, she noticed something sitting on a table beside the door. It was a note with her name written in very familiar handwriting. She smiled, quickly making her way towards it and picking it up to read it.
My dearest Lily,
Though I know it is nothing but the deepest torture being apart from me, I hope that while you and the boys are living in the states, your time there will be comfortable. I've given this house some personal touches that I hope all four of you will appreciate. While the boys are playing upstairs in their own rooms, you can spend your free time in your very own potions lab in the basement. I hope you will think of me every time you walk down those stairs and inhale what can very often become toxic scents – just make sure you open a window…
Lily chuckled and shook her head.
Furthermore, on a much more serious note, please inform our resident werewolf that there is a very safe place in which he can spend his full moon nights. Our favorite Headmaster found the perfect spot – if he follows the path around that gorgeous lake and into the woods, he will find a stone well covered with a stone door. There is a specific string of words that he will need to speak as he taps his wand on the door for it to open and reveal a staircase down to a very comfortable, very soundproof room. If he needs a hint of which words to use, remind him of the map.
Tuck the boys in for me and tell them I love them. I promise that I will see you soon, my love. Take care of yourself, the boys, and Moony. And don't forget to prank the latter at least once a week to keep him on his toes.
I love you more than words can say.