Disclaimers and Notes: Harry Potter is not mine, nor are any of the characters or items used in this fanfiction (thus, the word/term "Fanfiction")
To those who don't see it yet, this is a revised version. The plot itself hasn't changed, but hopefully a lot of the grammatical errors will be corrected. Not to mention my overzealous use of exclamation marks.
I also noted that over the years the formatting for has changed in such a way that all my page breaks are gone.
Also the CHAPTER ORDER has changed. How the heck did that happen?
This change isn't happening all at once. I'm doing one chapter at a time, whenever I can find the time.
I started writing this fanfic back in high school. I have long since graduated from college, but I will always have a soft spot for this fic. Otherwise I wouldn't be making time for it!
By Lady Geuna
Summary: What if James Potter wasn't killed on Halloween, 1981? Voldemort devised the perfect punishment for his insolence, a curse that would cause James more pain than the Cruciatus Curse could ever. But things don't exactly turn out as planned, and fate takes a strange turn for those in the past, as well as the future.
When James returned to the room Lily was still sitting with Harry cradled to her chest. Her hands rhythmically stroking the baby's back in a soothing manner, her eyes half-lidded and distant, as though lost in thought. After a moment of silence she finally looked to her husband expectantly.
It had been several minutes since James had gone to check on a strange sound from the backyard. A dark frown lingered on his face, his brow creased in frustration.
Finally, his wife's voice broke the silence.
"The Muggles next-door," James muttered, shaking his head. "They were just taking out their trash. A silly exercise..."
James smirked when he found himself on the receiving end of his wife's classic glare. Lily always gave him that looked when he mentioned the word "Muggle" in her presence, at least when used in any possibly condescending manner. She never really liked the term. After all, she was Muggle-born, but he just loved teasing her about it. Living in a Muggle neighborhood of all things became a rather tedious experience for someone from a Pureblood family, but it was the safest place to hide at the moment.
But no matter how "hidden" they were, James couldn't help but feel on edge...
Lily's mouth formed a slight frown of her own, her eyes meeting James' searchingly. "Where do you think he could be? I mean Peter, he..."
James didn't want to think on that, but the thought frightened him nonetheless. Peter... They had lost contact with him soon after Sirius had insisted they switch as Secret-Keeper. 'Wormtail, where are you...?' "I don't know. He should still be in hiding... And that's exactly what he should be doing, they could track the Floo Network, even the Owl Post if he..."
"Oh, rubbish," Lily snapped. "He's very well protected, and we're all here for him... Sirius was supposed to check on him for us, after all. See if he's okay." Lily sighed, closing her eyes for a moment. "Maybe Sirius knows? Or Remus?"
"Sirius said he would stop by soon. He'll probably check on Remus because..." He trailed off, unwilling to finish the sentence.
Lily's eyed him while James moved to sit next to her on the couch. She knew exactly what he was going to say. "Remus? Is he still suspicious?"
"Why would Sirius have any doubts about Remus," Lily continued, undaunted, "he's been nothing but trustworthy! You all have known each other for years, who else would know him better? Who could?"
James pressed a finger to the bridge of his nose, adjusting his circular spectacles. They had discussed this before, but Lily still abhorred the thought of mistrust between the four of them. It was a sentiment that he shared with her, more than anyone could ever know. What is more important than loyalty? But as things stood, James saw no was to fix the problem.
Yes, Sirius did have doubts about Lupin. They had all suspected a traitor amongst them, as much as James loathed to admit it… and, well, Lupin being a werewolf... Sirius was one to mistrust easily, but certainly not one of his friends, not someone like Lupin. The four of them were as close as they come, friends or otherwise. In fact, the animosity between Lupin and Sirius was becoming practically tangible. James wished nothing more than to just talk to them both, to sort things out. Maybe even bring some Veritaserum into the matter. But that was all impossible at the moment. James couldn't leave, couldn't Apparate anywhere or use the Floo Network. It was too dangerous.
No matter how important the matter was to him, it would have to wait until they were all out of danger… whenever that would be.
These days, though, James wondered if it was more of a question of "if" than "when"…
Harry suddenly let out a small whimper, causing his parents to look down at him simultaneously. The child knew that something was wrong, his brilliant green eyes wide and confused. Even if he was too young to comprehend the situation he could still sense things. James smiled comfortingly, brushing his hand over Harry's little head, where a patch of ink black hair had sprouted. Harry giggled in response to the contact, the child's mood instantly brightening as he tried to grab at his father's hand. Lily smiled, shifting Harry gently into James' arms.
James held Harry carefully. He had discovered that holding a child required no small amount of skill, and it took him a while to pick it up. Of course Lily could do it easily, it was maternal instinct. But when James first held Harry in his arms he couldn't help but worry that he would accidentally break him. Harry was so small and delicate, like he was made of glass...
"Don't worry," James whispered. He smiled as Harry studied his much larger hand with profound fascination. "You know your mum will protect you no matter what, right?" He looked up at Lily. A shadow of doubt hung over her features, but her eyes were set and showed strength in more ways than one. "I want you to protect our son. I know you can. You're strong—stronger than me, stronger than anyone I've ever known. You always have been, Lily."
Lily's bravery was slowly returning, her shoulders straightening. He saw his wife, a fellow Auror, as he had always known her. Sometimes it was easy to forget one's own strength in the face of impossible odds. "James..." Lily leaned forward as if to kiss him, but a noise startled them both.
James quickly passed Harry back to Lily and she protectively clutched the child to her chest. James cautiously got to his feet and moved slowly toward the window, peering through the blue print curtains.
"James?" Lily had gotten up as well, moving toward him cautiously. "What is it?" She narrowed her eyes, looking past through the curtain. She saw nothing but inky blackness, but that was odd in itself. "Has the streetlight gone out...? ... James?"
"Lily, move to the kitchen." James had taken his ward from his back pocket, holding his other hand up toward Lily as if to signal her to not move any closer. "Have your wand ready."
Lily's eyes widened, but she did as she was told, moving slowly over toward the kitchen door. She fumbled around for an instant, removing her wand from her pocket and clutching it in her hand. Lily's breathing was becoming fast and ragged, her eyes darting from the window to her husband. "They can't... He couldn't have..."
James searched out through the darkness. "I don't..." There was a sudden movement, a tall hooded figure darted out of view. His eyes widened in horror and he spun away just as the window exploded, the force of it knocking him off his feet. Lily cried out, doubling over to shield Harry from flying glass as James stumbled to his feet and reached Lily in a second. His face was cut, a stream of crimson running down from his brow.
Someone was outside.
Someone knew where they were!
James shoved Lily forward, shouting, "Move!" as he urged her through the doorway and into the kitchen. He could clearly hear movement outside now, the sound of a cloak bellowing in the wind. HE was here already. There was no time... "Take Harry upstairs..."
The sound of an explosion could be heard. It had to be the front door. The house trembled and the lights flickered. Floorboards and crossbeams moaned from the force that hit it. He stood firm, keeping his balance when the house shook, a grip on Lily's shoulders as she nearly lost her balance.
He was inside.
He'd found them... Peter...?
"Lily, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off!!" He was practically throwing Lily forward, urging her to leave him. He knew that she didn't want to, that she wanted to help him, wanted to try. But they both knew there was nothing she could do other than protect their son. Harry had begun to cry, frightened by the loud noises.
Another explosion soon followed, and the kitchen door was destroyed. Debris flew about and James raised his arms as to protect himself. When it was safe to look up, James held up his wand, pointing it toward the demolished doorway. He didn't have to look behind him to know Lily had gone upstairs, he could hear her footsteps pounding on the steps, the sound of his son's cries growing fainter.
'Live, both of you, please...'
Laughter. High-pitched laugher, he could hear it now, from just beyond the doorway. A cloud of dust had risen, impairing his vision beyond the doorway and causing a thin film to accumulate on his glasses. It should have settled by now. Voldemort probably had something to do with it, to obstruct his vision. But his gaze and aim did not waver. James kept his gaze firmly on the doorway. He waited for a movement of any kind, and... there!
"Stupefy," he bellowed.
The curse flew and hit... nothing. James dived for the tiled floor as a curse went flying past him. He knew there was more to come. James would be hit eventually, he knew. No one could face Voldemort alone like this. No one. He didn't have a chance, he accepted that, but he had to buy time for Lily. An idea struck him, and he pointed his wand at the kitchen table.
The table began to float in the air, and then with another flick of his wand, James sent it flying toward the doorway. Before the table could make contact with anything, it stopped in midair… and came flying right back at him. James prepared to cast "Impedimenta", but had barely spit out the incantation when a spell darted through the cloud of dust, hitting his wand hand. James could do nothing but let himself fall to the floor, and with good reason. The table sailed over his head, just barely missing his skull. A hit like that would have cracked his head open.
James' wand hand was injured, and his wand itself in pieces, splinters of mahogany dangling from strings of the inner core. It had to have been "Expulso", judging from the damage, carefully aimed... How could it be over so quickly?
The next thing he knew, a dark figure moved through the doorway, the dust finally settling and--
Total, white hot pain.
James had experience the curse before, more times than he would have liked, but none as powerful as this. This was pain, cast by someone impossibly skilled in its use, more so than any other being alive. Fire. Ice. But it all burned. White spots began to fill his vision. He was going to snap, to go insane, he. couldn't. take. it...
Then it was gone.
He would've been relieved had it been any other situation. James found that he couldn't move... His arms and legs wouldn't respond, like he had forgotten how to work them. But he could still feel thing. How could he not? Every part of his body hurt. Then he realized he was screaming. Or at least he was trying to scream. His throat was tight, only allowing him to voice a strangled cry. That curse... it was so powerful...
James knew why that spell had been so strong. The Cruciatus Curse is fueled from the caster's hate... The hate Voldemort had for him... For his family.
His heart was hammering so hard in his chest it was painful, and for a moment James wondered why it was still beating, why he was still alive. There was nothing but the distant sound of his son crying upstairs. There was the sound of footsteps coming closer, what seemed to be gravel crunching under someone's boots, a voice speaking to him…
"James Potter," the voice hissed.
He managed to focus his sight enough to take in a pair of crimson eyes and ink black hair. Those eyes glinted in a manner than could only be associated with the unfathomably insane. Something in those eyes made him feel a pang of fear as he had never experience before, and James hated himself for it. Those eyes made the blood freeze in his veins. His heart wanted to explode.
Voldemort spoke again, his tone suddenly very casual and quiet, but just as deadly. "You and your family have caused me a great deal of trouble in finding you. I cannot... will not tolerate insolence, you see. Much less from a Muggle loving Auror." He said those last words with immense distaste... No, not distaste, that was too weak a word. It was as if they were the most repulsive creatures imaginable. Someone that was unnatural. That should be destroyed. Hm, that probably exactly what he was thinking...
Then Voldemort smirked, chuckling lowly. His tone became mocking as he spoke, "But luckily my servant was kind enough to reveal your whereabouts..." He laughed, a horrible sound.
The realization was like a heavy weight upon his chest. It was crushing him, he couldn't breath. James couldn't help but feel the worst hatred toward the man he thought was his friend. But no, maybe… maybe there had been another way… Peter would never…!
Voldemort saw this and took pleasure in his suffering. James didn't want to give him that satisfaction and attempted to hide his rage. The Dark Lord should just kill him now and get it over with.
But Lily... He could still hear Harry crying upstairs...
"I know what you're thinking," Voldemort drawled. "But no, I will not kill you, Mr. Potter."
This didn't register well with James, who gained a look of utter confusion. He tried to move again, which only brought more pain. With an effort, he managed to croak, "Why...?" He hated looking so weak in front of this man. He wanted to say his name, "Voldemort," to spit it in his hideously pale face. Show Voldemort that he really wasn't so afraid as to be forced to say "You-Know-Who". That he was no coward. He really wasn't afraid of dying, but his family was still in danger.
"Confused? You shouldn't be. I would rather keep you around a little longer…"
Voldemort removed something from his robes. It looked like some sort of Time-Turner attached to a chain.
"Some say there are fates far worse than death, Mr. Potter. A foolish notion, only shared by weaker beings, such as yourself. I will show you such a fate, if you like. I can tell you want to know." The Time-Turner swayed in his grip, catching the light coming from the kitchen ceiling. James couldn't take his eyes off it… "Even a charm can make the worst curse of all. Did you know that, Mr. Potter?"
James hated the way this man... this thing said his name. Hated it. James had never experienced a feeling so violently consuming. He hated Voldemort for doing this to him. Hated Peter for betraying him. Hated himself for being stupid enough not to see it coming... James was no longer aware of anything but the Dark Lord's bony hand clutching his hair in a tight, painful grip. Voldemort's snake-like voice hissed vehemently in his ear.
"Have you ever wondered, Mr. Potter,
what it would be like if everything you ever loved dead?
Everything and everyone you couldn't protect, destroyed?
Where all light has been consumed by darkness?
And there is nothing you can do to stop it, because it has already come to pass?
You will discover for yourself, James Potter, and suffer.
This will be your own living Hell, boy.
Know that you could have saved them all, just by just giving in to me.
Because of your son...
Don't worry, no one will miss you.
There will be no one left to do so.
No one will know you're gone."
Voldemort pointed his wand at the remains of the kitchen table, muttering something. The piece of wood began to warp, changing shape. Soon, it had become a person. 'Me... It's me...' The table had been transfigurated into HIM. The form lay there, lifeless, its eyes starring blankly at him. It was like James was outside himself, like he was a ghost.
"And by the way.
That sound you heard in the backyard?
That was me.
Your degusting little Mudblood wife isn't going anywhere, I assure you.
It will be so good to meet young Harry..."
James couldn't respond if he wanted to. As he opened his mouth to scream, to warn Lily, to try something, anything, then Voldemort draped the chain over his neck.
James couldn't explain it then. A number of elements attacked his senses all at once.
Tears. He could feel them now as they trailed down his face.
There was the warm sensation of blood flowing from where his head hit the floor.
Everything going out of focus.
The Halloween feast at Hogwarts was well underway. The Great Hall was decorated as spectacularly as ever, with gold plates and live bats swooping down from the enchanted ceiling. The ghosts were not missed, most of them attending Nearly Headless Nick's Death Day Party again, including Peeves. This wasn't a disappointment for most, considering how much trouble the ghosts would cause on a day like this. The Hogwarts ghosts had a habit of feeling very high and mighty on Halloween, like they were entitled.
Ron grinned, surveying the food spread out before them hungrily, though he'd already finished two plates. "What next!?"
Hermione, who was setting to his left, shot him a look and gave a noise of disgust. "Really, Ron. You shouldn't eat so much, you'll be sick before the night is through!" She was still on her first serving, taking her time.
"But you've barely touched your food, and you don't know how much I'm capable of eating all at once."
Harry, who was seated across from them, looked clearly amused. "Yeah she does," he said quietly, trying to hide a smirk despite it all. "Remember earlier this year, third day...?"
Ron blushed. "That's different! I could've won a Galleon for that one! Can you imagine what I could get at Honeydukes with four hundred and some odd Knuts!?"
Hermione huffed. "Is that why you listened to Fred when he told you to eat all that pudding? Honestly, you should know better by now than to trust your own brothers..."
"Honestly," Ron mocked weakly, "who could get tired of chocolate pudding, it's marvelous-..."
"You certainly didn't find it marvelous by the fifth serving-..."
"Anyway," Ron interrupted loudly, smiling cheerfully. "I agree with you, Hermione! I have eaten quite a bit more than usual..." Hermione and Harry gave him rather surprised looks, then he continued, "That was the meal portion! So, now on to dessert, shall I?" Ron spotted a tray full of fluffy looking cake and reached for a slice intently, only to have his hand smacked away. "Hermione," he whined, "what was that for!?"
"Really! Other people are going to be eating those, so at least serve yourself properly!" She pointed at the said tool, a golden cake knife, which jutted out from the cake.
Ron rolled his eyes but obeyed, filling his plate again before digging in. Hermione made no further protests.
Harry, sitting to Ron's right, watched the scene, smiling as he took a gulp of pumpkin juice from his gold goblet. "I think 'Mione's right. You'll have to take a trip to Madam Pomfrey because it'll feel like... you..."
"Eh? Hey, Harry...?"
Harry couldn't hear Ron at the moment. He didn't know where it came from, but suddenly a wave of dizziness hit him. Unprepared, Harry swayed quite a bit, his goblet falling from his hand. He pressed one hand to his head, which was spinning, and the other over his heart. There was an odd squeezing sensation in his chest that wasn't at all pleasant. Was he having a heart attack? But if that were true, shouldn't he feel dizzy? Feel a sudden chill? He really had no idea, but the thought of actually worrying about it didn't even register in his mind...
Harry was hardly aware of Ron, who had to grab his shoulders to keep him from toppling over. Then all at once the dizziness, the pressure, and the whispers were gone, leaving him slightly dazed and rather confused.
"Harry? Harry, are you okay?"
"Ron, what happened?"
"He just looked weird and then..."
"Is it your scar?" This sentence was whispered lowly by Hermione.
Harry blinked a few times, straightening. "I'm fine..." A number of people had stopped to look at him, include many of his Gryffindor house mates. Dean, Seamus and Neville amongst them. They were voicing their concerns along with Ron and Hermione.
"You alright, 'Arry," Ron asked, letting him go slowly, as though he might fall over again at any moment.
Harry nodded absently, rubbing his hand over his heart as if he could still feel that pressure again.
"Ron may be right," Hermione said quietly. "Even if it wasn't your-er..." She looked around and then whispered behind her hand, "scar, it might mean something."
He felt extremely embarrassed that Hermione and Ron were making a deal of this. They didn't even know what happened. "Come off it," he insisted quietly. He glanced over to the teachers table, hoping that they hadn't noticed. Fortunately it seemed that Professor Dumbledore hadn't, nor had the other professors. On the other hand, it looked like rumor had already spread three tables over to the Slytherins, where Draco Malfoy was gazing over at him suspiciously. Harry groaned mentally at this. 'Just what I need...' "It was just a stupid little dizzy spell, nothing more." Heeh, tell that to the chill still running up his spine...
Ron gawked at this. "Little!?"
Hermione didn't look very convinced as she used her wand to clean up the mess Harry's fallen goblet had made. "The only other time I saw you have a dizzy spell like that a Dementor was present..."
Harry flinched slightly at the mention of Dementors. There couldn't be any around, could there...?
Ron saw his nervousness and was quick to change the subject. "Oi," he said, "why do they call it a "dizzy spell" anyway? Being dizzy doesn't have anything to do with magic, does it? Unless you count some sort of "Dizziness Curse". It's a Muggle thing, isn't it?"
"Ron, I think that's hardly the point here..."
Harry wasn't listening to their conversation. He was still caught up in that strange feeling... Like deja vu, maybe...?
James didn't know how long he'd been asleep, but when he awoke he felt like slipping back into the darkness again.
But no, he couldn't. James could move again, he figured that out. After all, he was bending his arms now. It was still painful, yes, but he ignored that. For some reason he was laying on concrete, on his side. His glasses were badly damaged, but that was only half the problem because he couldn't bring his eyes to focus anyway.
It took a moment before he recognized his surroundings.
In front of his home.
Sections of the building were caved in, blackened as if burn by fire. A sign nailed onto the still standing wooden fence-gate indicated it was marked to be torn down. Streetlight illuminated the front, throwing shadows and barely highlighting the dirty yellow police tape that was barely staying up anymore. All together the place he had once called a home, a haven, was no more than an empty, blackened husk.
Was he... in the future?
James could still hear them both screaming in his head...
He curled up into a ball, burying his face in his hands. He had nowhere to go. For all he knew everyone he'd known was dead or submitted to Voldemort. How far in the future was he? Have all the Muggles been killed?
These thoughts flitted through his head for only an instant before disappearing.
James just lay there in the darkness.
'Because of me... All because of me...'
/"Have you ever wondered, Mr. Potter,
what it would be like if everything you ever loved dead?"/
Voldemort's words drifted carelessly through his mind.
"No," he whispered, his hands balling into fists. His wand hand ached, reminding him of how it was injured earlier. "Please, no..."
/"You will discover for yourself, James Potter, and suffer.
This will be your own living Hell, boy.
Know that you could have saved them all, just by just giving in to me."
"All my fault..."
He lay there in the dark and cried.
To be continued...
Kay, first revision done. Waaay too many to go. There are still some mistakes, I'm guessing. If anyone wants to proof these for me, please feel free!
"Wingardium Leviosa" – A levitation spell.
"Impedimenta" – A spell that stops an object in motion or slows it down.
"Expulso" – A spells that makes thing explode. XD
"Crucio"- Causes victim to experiences unimaginable physical pain.