Disclaimer I do not own Harry Potter and everything recognisable belongs to J K Rowling. Also this story is inspired by 'A Shattered Prophecy' by Project Dark Overlord.
Chapter Forty Seven
Godric's Hollow was filled with Aurors and members of the Order. The moment James's patronus reached the Headquarters and relayed his message about Harry, everyone had rushed to the small cottage. Lily and Damien were amongst the crowd, trying to get a moment of privacy with James, so they could talk as a family. It was only when Dumbledore arrived that James found he could get away from his friends and fellow Order members' endless questions. The three Potters moved to one side of the room, as Dumbledore addressed the rest of the Order.
"I don't understand," Lily said, her face flushed as a result of her happiness and anxiousness. "If Harry came looking for answers, why did he leave?"
"I think when I came in with Tonks and Sturgis, I scared him away," James said guiltily.
"I can't believe he came here," Lily said, shaking her head. "He came back, he came looking for answers."
James nodded slowly. "Instead, all he got was an empty house."
Damien moved closer to him. "Dad?" He held onto his arm.
James tried to muster up a smile for Damien, but couldn't quite manage it. "I should have been here," he said. "If I was, I wouldn't have let Harry leave."
Lily looked over at Dumbledore, who was just finishing his instructions. She looked back to James. "Harry will come back," she said quietly to her husband. "If he came once, he will come again. This time, all of us will be here." She tightened her hold on James's hand. "We're not leaving Godric's Hollow again. No matter what anyone says." She flashed a meaningful look at Dumbledore and the Order. "We'll strengthen the wards, do what we have to, but we're going to stay here," Lily said. "We're going to wait for our son to come back to us."
Lord Voldemort prided himself for being a wizard with meticulous planning. He had always taken the time to plan his actions, whether they were attacks on his enemies or the safeguarding of his own men. He didn't act in haste, that was the job of a fool and he – Lord Voldemort – was anything but a fool. Yet, as he stood in his chamber, back turned to his men, he felt as though he was nothing more. How could he not foresee this? How was it possible, after all his planning and setting things in motion years ago, things went so wrong?
Voldemort had taken all the necessary steps. He had done everything he had to; he broke the boy thoroughly before carefully piecing him back together, moulding him into the perfect weapon. The result? He got what he wanted; Harry was a force to be reckoned with. He was ready and willing to carry out Voldemort's wishes. But what Voldemort didn't plan, what he never intended for, had happened also - he had become Harry's father and Harry, his son.
Somewhere along the path of lies, through the years of pretence, Voldemort had started to care, to really care, for the boy. Which was why today, Harry's actions hurt Voldemort deeper than he ever thought possible. The memory that he ripped from Lucius's mind would forever haunt him – seeing his Harry, his son in every sense of the word, destroying the Horcrux that was given to him was something he would never forget.
Taking in a breath, Voldemort turned around, red pitiless eyes scanned the chamber to rest on Lucius. His hair was still streaked with dirt, clothes dishevelled and his wrists still torn and bleeding. By the time Bella and her team of Death Eaters had reached the cave, Lucius had managed to free one hand from the iron shackles. Seeing the bowed head of his most trusted Death Eater made fury rise in him again. He bit it back. He had already tortured Lucius for several long minutes and it did nothing to soothe his anger.
"Leave," he hissed to his men, "and bring him back, alive."
The Death Eaters bowed their heads. They didn't need any clarification. Their voices rang out as one. "Yes master."
They filed out of the doors. Only two remained in the chamber, the trembling Lucius Malfoy and sombre Bellatrix Lestrange. Once the last Death Eater left and closed the door, Bella hesitantly stepped closer to the Dark Lord.
"Master," she started, "Thank you. Thank you for giving Harry another chance. You have my word, he won't ever defy you again-"
"Yes," Voldemort cut her off, his voice laced with anger. "He won't. I'll make sure of that."
"My Lord," Lucius rasped, his throat still raw from screaming under Voldemort's cruciatus curse. "A thousand pardons, but, what about Harry's impertinence with destroying your possession?"
Voldemort turned to look at Lucius, red eyes flashing with anger. Lucius dropped his head quickly.
"Don't worry about Harry, Lucius," Voldemort said. "I will deal with him and his transgression when I get him back. You worry about yourself!" He stepped closer. "Explain to me again, why you couldn't tell you were being followed? Why my inner circle Death Eater, one of the few wizards I trusted enough to allow him to get close to my heir, failed me?"
"My Lord," Lucius was lost for words. He kept his head bowed, eyes fixed to the ground. He felt the Dark Lord's cold glare cutting into him.
"If you have any desire to remaining breathing, you will find Harry and bring him back to me," Voldemort instructed.
"Yes, my Lord," Lucius replied at once.
"Understand this, Lucius," Voldemort said, towering over him. "I have worked too long and too hard to just let Harry walk away now. I will win this war and I will do it with Harry by my side."
Lucius couldn't stop himself. He looked up at Voldemort in surprise.
"Find him," Voldemort said, holding Lucius' gaze. "Bring him to me so I can Obliviate him. You have this one chance to rectify the mistake you made, Lucius. Otherwise, this mistake will cost you everything."
Lucius swallowed heavily and nodded. "Yes, my Lord."
It had been five days since Harry's defiance against Voldemort. Five days since Dumbledore had instructed every Order member to search for Harry, to bring him to safety before the Death Eaters or Ministry Aurors got to him. Five days since James and Lily ignored everyone's protests and returned to live in Godric's Hollow, believing in their hearts that Harry would come back to them. Five long stressful days and there was no sign of Harry. It was as if he had simply disappeared from their world.
James and Lily had strengthened the wards. They had implemented new security measures. They had done everything but touch the blood wards. Every day was spent in silent worry, with all three Potters watching the door, waiting for the knock that never came.
By the end of that week, James was at his wits end. Even the presence of his best friends did nothing to cheer him up.
"Look at it this way," Sirius said. "At least Harry is away from that monster. At least he knows the truth."
Seated across from James, Remus added, "Now Harry knows Voldemort lied to him. He knows you didn't hurt him."
James slowly nodded. "Yeah, Harry knows the truth now," he said. "He knows his entire life was a lie. He's out there, alone and confused, probably heartbroken, questioning every moment of his life." He looked up at his friends. "Tell me again why that's a good thing?"
Both Remus and Sirius sat back, not knowing what to say.
"He didn't come home," James said. "After finding out everything. After leaving Voldemort, Harry still didn't come home." He met Sirius's gaze. "There has to be a reason."
"James..." Sirius started, but couldn't find anything to say.
The phone suddenly rang, making Sirius jump. "Merlin!" he cried, clutching at his chest. "Lily, why do you insist on having that heart-attack-causing-machine in this house?"
"It's only a telephone, Padfoot," Lily replied from the kitchen. "James, please get that for me," she called.
James threw an agitated look her way. "What for? You know the only person who uses that stupid thing is your sister. The last person she wants to talk to is me."
The only reason James and Lily even had the muggle phone was because Petunia had sworn she would never contact them the magical way. If Lily wanted to speak to Petunia or if she wanted Petunia to keep in contact with her then she had to get a telephone. Lily had agreed. Petunia was a pain but she was her only sister.
"My hands are wet," Lily called, "either come do the dishes or answer the phone."
James sighed and got up, answering the phone. "Hello, Potters residence." James said.
There was no answer. It was clear someone was on the other end as James could hear the sound of traffic in the distance.
"Hello? Hello?" James repeated. "Hello, is anybody there?" James asked again.
"Who is it?" Lily asked, stepping out of the kitchen, drying her hands on a towel.
"Don't know, there's no answer." James replied.
Damien walked in, head lowered over the Quidditch magazine in his hand. He stopped to stare at his dad.
"Why are you talking to Aunt Petunia?" he asked.
"I'm not," James replied. "Hello?" he spoke into the phone. "Is anyone there?" he asked, annoyed.
He was just about to hang up when he heard the response at the other end. It was a sound he never thought he would hear, not like this anyway.
James felt like his heart had stopped. The voice was very quiet and filled with pain. James clung to the phone, his heart thumping heavily in his chest.
"Harry?" James whispered, unable to make his voice louder. After a moments pause, Harry answered.
"Yeah, it's me."
James's knees buckled as he heard his son's voice. It was a struggle to remain standing. Seeing his reaction, Sirius, Remus, Lily and Damien rushed to his side, crowding around him. But James could only concentrate on Harry. He sounded so tired, so exhausted. James wanted to say so many things. He wanted to ask where Harry was, how he was, but all James could manage was a question in a weak voice. "Are you alright?"
Harry took a moment to answer. "I'm…I'm okay. I...I wanted to say that…that I'm, I'm sorry."
James was startled for a moment. Sorry? Sorry for what? Why was Harry apologising? He hadn't done anything wrong. It wasn't his fault he was taken by Peter so many years ago. It was James's fault for trusting someone like Peter.
"I should have given you a chance," Harry continued. "I…I should have listened to you. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for everything I said and...and did to you."
James understood it now. Harry was talking about that day on the cliff, when he had pretended to be Sirius and almost killed James. In all honesty, James hadn't had much time to think about that incident. Too much had happened afterwards, seeing Harry's pensieve memories, losing Harry back to Voldemort and then the search for 'Alex' leading to the discovery of the Longbottoms, it all had pushed the memory of the attack to the back of his mind.
"Wait," James said, "is that...is that why you haven't come?" he asked. James had never thought that guilt was the thing stopping Harry from returning to them. "Harry, listen to me," James started, gripping the phone tighter. "You don't have to be sorry. I don't blame you. You didn't know the truth."
Harry didn't reply but from the sound of Harry's breathing, James could tell he was breaking down.
"Where are you, Harry?" James asked, fighting back his own tears. "Tell me where you are and I'll come get you."
"No," Harry responded quietly but defiantly.
"Harry, please," James said with desperation. "You don't understand how much danger you are in. You have to let me help you."
"You can't help me," Harry replied. His voice was a lot stronger now, but James could still feel the hurt in his voice. "I don't want you to get into more trouble. I can't just come home and hope that everyone will leave me alone. It doesn't work like that. If I come home, the Ministry will take over and want you to hand me over to them."
"And you think that I'll do that?" James asked incredulously.
"You won't have a choice. If you don't, they'll throw you into Azkaban as well," Harry said. "You can't get involved. Damien needs you. M-mum needs you."
James felt his heart leap painfully as Harry called Lily, 'mum'
"Harry…" James started but Harry cut him off.
"I called so that I could say sorry. If there was any other way, I would come home in a heartbeat. But I gave up my chance when I ran away from Hogwarts. No one will give me another chance. No matter what you tell them."
"That's not true," James said quickly. "You will get another chance, I'll make sure of it! Please, Harry, just tell me where are you. I'll come–"
"No," Harry stubbornly replied.
"Harry," James pleaded, tears apparent in his voice now. "You're not safe out there. Everyone is looking for you. You can't beat the Death Eaters and the Aurors." James tried desperately to convince Harry. "You can't hide, please let me help you."
"Don't worry, dad. I'm very good at hiding," Harry said and James could imagine the sad smile on Harry's face.
"Harry, don't do this. Please!" James begged.
"Bye, dad. Don't put yourself into more trouble because of me."
"Harry, No! Don't…" James stopped at the click of the phone being disconnected.
James let go of the receiver.
"James? What happened?" Lily asked, "What did Harry say? Where is he? How is he? James?"
"Prongs?" Sirius asked, holding onto him.
James looked up at the four pale faces staring at him. It took him nearly twenty minutes to repeat his conversation with Harry. At the end of which, all of them were in tears.
"He can't just hide!" Lily exclaimed. "Where is he going to go? Where is he going to sleep? How is he going to survive with no food?" She was shaking her head, tears leaking out of her eyes. "No! Harry can't survive like this! You have to find him, James. We have to find him!" she cried hysterically.
"We will," Remus comforted. "We will."
"At least we know one thing," Sirius said, thoughtfully. "Harry's not in our world. He's in the muggle one. That's why he used a muggle telephone to contact you. He figured our communication systems would be heavily monitored, so he couldn't take that risk. He's in the muggle world."
"But where did Harry get the money to make that phone call?" Damien asked.
The three men looked at each other. They didn't say anything, but all three had the same thought. It was time they went looking for 'Alex' again.
There was a knock on the door, making 'little' John look over in surprise. His wife, Fiona, shared his confusion. No one came to their door this late in the evening. John was surprised anyone would even be out in this downpour. He got up and went to answer the door. He found an exhausted and thoroughly drenched looking Alex.
"Alex?" John frowned. "What are you doing? You're gonna catch your death in this rain." He quickly ushered the boy inside.
Alex was shivering, soaked from head to foot. "Sorry," he said. "I hate to drop by unannounced."
John chuckled as he dug out a towel. "When have you ever given us a warning?" he joked, throwing the towel at him. Usually, Alex would have a cheeky retort or two, but today he just stood in silence, the towel in his hands.
John's brow furrowed. "You okay, Alex?" he asked. "Something wrong?"
John had always been very impressed with how cool and collected Alex was. Even when the boy was in one of his fights, he never seemed to get nervous. There was an aura of confidence around Alex, one that made sense seeing how gifted the nineteen year old was when it came to fighting.
But today, John noticed that Alex seemed different. It was as though the confidence had been sucked out of him. His emerald eyes were bloodshot, face pale and thin. Somehow he looked younger, troubled and vulnerable. It made John's heart skip a beat.
"Goodness Alex." Fiona shook her head. "You need to get out of those clothes. Here, I'll get you something."
"No," Alex stopped her from walking away. "I'll be fine, don't worry," he said. "I need to speak to you." He looked over at John. "Both of you."
John and Fiona sat down, watching Alex take a hesitant seat across from them.
"What's wrong, Alex?" John asked again.
Alex didn't answer right away. He dropped his head, hands clutched around the towel that he still hadn't used yet.
John stared at him. 'Is this even the same boy?' he thought to himself.
"I need to...to tell you something," Alex started, still looking down. "I just...I cant figure out how to start it."
Fiona took in a dramatic gasp. "Are you breaking up with us?" she asked with exaggerated surprise.
John smiled as Fiona chuckled at herself. But when Alex looked up at them, their smiles slipped off their faces.
"Alex," Fiona reached out to touch his knee. "What's wrong?"
Alex shook his head, his face taut as if in pain. He took in a deep breath.
"There's something I need to tell you," he started, "but...but please just...just hear me out until the end, before you say anything, okay?"
Fiona pulled her hand back and nodded. "What is it?"
Alex took a moment before he closed his eyes. "Do you remember how we met?"
John was surprised. He looked to his wife, to see her mirror his expression.
"Of course we do," Fiona replied. "It's not easy to forget when someone saves your life."
Alex didn't say anything. If John or Fiona could read his mind, they would have seen the turbulent emotions within him. He had in fact saved their lives, but not how they remembered it.
John and Fiona didn't remember they were Frank and Alice Longbottom. They didn't remember the night, almost three years ago, when Death Eaters had broken into their home and tortured them. They didn't remember the masked boy that had come and stopped Voldemort's men, sending them outside to wait for him. They didn't even remember their shocked surprise when they saw the boy remove his mask and reveal a face that resembled a young James Potter. If they did, they would have recalled how the young boy had bragged about killing them for Voldemort, but the moment he raised his wand at Alice, he stopped. Inexplicably, the boy had changed his mind and opening the pensieve he transfigured from his ring, he forced both Frank and Alice inside, trapping them.
They didn't remember any of that because John and Fiona were under a memory charm, one that Harry Potter – the boy they knew and loved as Alex – had cast on them.
What John and Fiona did remember, was that almost three years ago, they had suffered a terrible car crash. They were horribly injured and would have died on the road if it wasn't for the kind actions of a stranger named Alex, who got them to a hospital in time. When John and Fiona regained consciousness, they learned they were both suffering from memory loss, a result of the head injuries they sustained. Fiona hadn't even known that she was pregnant with Nigel.
Waking up in a confused daze, Alex had been the first person they met. Alex helped them by introducing them to John Allen, the man that took them under his wing. The life they were living now, was in thanks to John Allen and their closest friend, Alex.
Alex took in a great breath. "John, Fiona," he started.
The sound of Nigel crying interrupted him.
"Sorry, Alex," Fiona said. "I'll be back in a minute." She hurried away.
"What were you going to say?" John asked.
"I need to tell you something," Alex started, visibly uncomfortable. "And it's not easy to say, or hear I guess," he faltered before closing his eyes, "and you're pretty much going to hate me afterwards but...but I deserve that."
"Alex?" John frowned. "What are you going on about? Why would I hate you?"
Alex looked at him, fighting to hold his gaze. "John," he started, "I–"
"I'm sorry," Fiona appeared with a sleepy and disgruntled looking Nigel in her arms, "but he won't settle with me. He wants his daddy."
John took Nigel into his arms, resting the two year old on his lap. Fiona sat down next to her husband.
"I'm sorry, Alex," Fiona said. "What were you saying?"
Alex stared at Nigel, at the little boy half asleep in his father's arms. It suddenly occurred to him that by telling John and Fiona the truth about their identity, he was risking Nigel. There was no way Frank and Alice Longbottom would remain hidden in the human world once they regained their memories. They would go back to the wizarding world and Voldemort would hunt them down. He could feel his former father's anger as it ached in his scar. Voldemort was furious and he would love nothing more than to take out his anger on others. He would make an example out of the Longbottoms, and he wouldn't spare a two year old...
Fiona's call made Alex look up at her.
"What were you about to say?" she asked.
Alex blinked at her. He looked once more time at Nigel before burying the thought of telling John and Fiona the truth.
"I was...going to say...I need to take on more fights," Alex said.
John looked surprised. "But you said you had personal stuff going on and couldn't fight for a few months?"
"Things have changed," Alex said. "I need the fights and...I..I sorta need the...the winnings too."
John relaxed. "Is that it? Is that why you were so nervous? You need to keep the cash that you are earning?"
Fiona shook her head. "Honestly, Alex, you had me so worried."
"I've told you before. The winnings are yours." John said. "You earn them so you keep them. You didn't have to remind us of how we met and what you've done for us, just to ask for your own money."
Alex didn't say anything. John handed the now completely asleep Nigel to Fiona and got up. He went to one of the drawers and pulled out a small paper book. He brought it over to Alex and handed him it. "Here, this is yours."
Alex took the book and opened it. It had numbers printed inside. Alex looked up at John, with a confused expression.
"I've been keeping your share of the winnings aside for you." John explained. "I know you said that you didn't need the money and that I should just keep the whole lot but it's your share. I figured there might come a day when you do need the money. So I opened a separate account for you. And in any future fights, you can have your share of the winnings too." He smiled. "I always say that you should save for a rainy day. Guess this day was yours."
Alex smiled at John's terrible joke. He looked at the figures printed on the book. If he was careful, it would last him a while.
"Is this really what you came here to talk about?" John asked. "You were so nervous to ask for your own money? You thought I would hate you for asking for your share?" John shook his head. "If I didn't know that you can dislocate a jaw with a single punch, I would have smacked you for being so stupid."
Alex didn't say a word, plunging John deeper into worry over the boy.
"Is something bothering you?" he asked. "You've not got yourself tangled up with the wrong type of people, have you?"
Alex took a moment to shake his head.
"It's nothing, John. You don't have to worry." He looked down at the book in his hand before slipping it into his pocket. "I need to go, but I'll see you soon."
"Stay and have something to eat," Fiona called.
Alex shook his head. "Maybe another time."
"At least wait for the rain to stop," John said. "It's a storm out there."
"It won't do anything to me," Alex said. "This storm I can handle."
He left quickly, heading out into the torrential rain. John watched him go from the door, feeling an ominous sense of foreboding. There was something not right with Alex. He was clearly stressed out. What had he got himself into that meant he needed his share of the money from the fights? He never needed the money before. No matter what he said, something was very, very wrong with Alex. John made himself promise he was going to find out exactly what it was, so he could help his young friend.
"You've lost your mind!" Draco snapped.
"Why not?" Harry answered in quiet contrast, "I've lost pretty much everything else."
"Well you are not losing your life, that's for sure!" Draco said. "You are coming with me. We are leaving tonight."
"What's the point?" Harry asked. "Voldemort would find me wherever I go. Leaving the country isn't an option."
"So what are you going to do?" Draco asked. "Hide here for the rest of your life?" He gestured to the small dark cave they were in. It was one of their favourite places to play in as kids. "You're going to try and stay one step ahead of the Dark Lord? How long before someone catches you? If not a Death Eater then an Auror will get you." Draco came to kneel next to Harry's sitting form. "Harry, you've got to open your eyes. If you stay here, you're dead. Every Death Eater out there is looking for you."
Harry smirked. "If only they would look a little closer."
"Just because they haven't searched this place yet doesn't mean they won't," Draco said. "You need to get away and lie low for a while."
Harry looked at Draco, his emerald eyes locking with grey ones.
"For how long?" he asked. "How long do I 'lie low' for? Until the war is over? Until Voldemort wins and takes over the wizarding world? What Draco? How long should I hide for?" He shook his head and looked away. "There is no recovering from this for me. My life is over – it was over when I was ripped away from my family. Voldemort took everything away from me; my childhood, my parents, my family, my future, my life!" His eyes burned with anger. "I'm going to take everything away from him. He took away what was important to me. Now, I'm going to take away the most important thing to him!"
"What's that?" Draco asked quietly.
Harry smirked. "His immortality."
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