Disclaimer: I own nothing, I don't make money from the content, property of JKR, yada yada yada, and so on and so forth.
WELCOME TO A.B.E
Fan-art for the story can be found on my Homepage. Some NSFW content.
Full Summary: A butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil and a tornado brews in Texas. A simple choice: today or tomorrow? Conceived a day earlier, the Boy Who Lived was never born. He wasn't even a glimmer in his parents' eyes.
But she was; Harriet Lily Potter... Harry; the girl that grew up in a cupboard; the girl with safety-pinned knickers; the girl that was never wanted by the only family she had left; the girl that would give anything for the slightest bit of love.
With a lightning bolt scar, her mother's face, and her father's messy hair, Harriet has always been far less than welcome in the Dursley household. Ten years old, unloved, and uncared for, she's already seen more hardship than most will see in their entire lives. In fact, her life can't get much worse. Yet on July thirtieth, a strange letter is pushed through the Dursley's mail slot, turning her miserable world upside down. Discovering her magical heritage, Harry finally finds a place to belong and, after a chance meeting in a train station, she just might have found someone to love her.
What happens when the shoes of a hero are filled by the feet of a heroine? How does the world change? How do relationships change? How important can one person possibly be?
Follow Harry down the familiar path. Follow her as she steps off it. Walk with her as she creates ripples of flux that grow and twist into massive tsunamis, changing the course of history as we know it... for better... or for worse.
(Not a canon rehash. 'The Butterfly Effect' is a common trope in fiction when presenting scenarios involving time travel and 'what ifs' in which one storyline will diverge at the moment of a seemingly minor event. Change will build between the two storylines exponentially, eventually resulting in two significantly different outcomes.)
Rating: M for violence, gore, language, sexual situations (17+ in select chapters), and very sensitive themes (this story has some extreme dark bits as well as happy fluffy light bits)
Genre: Action/Adventure; Romance; Drama; Hurt & Comfort
Pairings: An overwhelming meal of H/G (Fem/) with a side-dish of H/R (Het), H/D (Het), H/L (Fem/), R/Hr, D/PP (main and final pairings are H/G, R/Hr, D/PP)
My problem with the term 'pairings' for this story: I'm all for realism. In reality, we don't have 'pairings.' The vast scale of human interaction goes far beyond a simple 'so and so has sex with so and so.' This story, even though fantastical in nature, is a realistic romance. There are multiple main characters, rather than just the two in the featured 'ship,' and Harry's relationships with all of them are based on connections that run far deeper than sex, attraction, or romance. When you reach the end of the second book, you'll see exactly what I mean.
- I love purely positive reviews, but real criticism is more helpful.
- Go read the Backwards with Purpose series by Deadwoodpecker and Harry Potter and the Wastelands of Time by Joe6991. These stories are filled with some serious imagination power that in turn sparked my own. They inspired me to pick up the pen and start writing after a year of dealing with some heavy shit. This story is nothing similar, but still, check them out. 'Shippers' of every type will appreciate them.
- Big thanks to Osma77 and Baby-Summer-Gurl for their work as beta readers.
- Should you come across any typos or grammatical errors while you read, feel free to post them in my open beta forum and I will correct them as soon as I am able.
A Butterfly Effect
Prologue 1: Today or Tomorrow
"And all the families of the families of the families of that one mouse! With a stamp of your foot, you annihilate first one, then a dozen, then a thousand, a million, a billion possible mice!"
Lily stared hollowly at him, an expression of disbelief smeared across her beautiful face.
"So, James... let me get this straight. You're telling me that on October thirtieth, one day before our first anniversary..." Her piercing green eyes narrowed and James instinctively took a step back, discreetly covering important parts of his anatomy. "... you want us to go out for a few pints with the boys?"
James gulped. They had been having a row for the past ten minutes and his wife was clearly losing her patience. He was going to have to pull out the big guns. "Lils, sweetie, it's just for an hour or two. We can try when we get back. It's been forever since we've been out. What's the point of life if we're too afraid to live it?"
The short redhead in front of him flared with anger. Despite Lily's small stature, James could have sworn that she was swelling to what could only be described as twice her original height.
"DON'T YOU DARE 'LILS, SWEETIE' ME, JAMES THEODORE POTTER! I KNOW ALL OF YOUR TRICKS AND I AM IMMUNE TO EACH AND EVERY ONE!"
The kitchen door banged open.
"I'm telling you, Worms, they finally have a chance at the cup! Chudley's keeper has been unstoppable. Didn't you see that-"
Sirius and Peter, whom had just reentered the living room, froze in their tracks at the sight of the incensed redhead. Peter shot Sirius a knowing look and nodded back towards the kitchen. His best friend sighed resignedly, stuffed the pumpkin pasty he was holding into his mouth, gave Lily a military salute, winked at him, turned, and marched right back into the kitchen... in a near goose-step fashion. Peter rolled his eyes at Sirius' antics and, smiling fondly at James and Lily, followed the taller man out of the room.
James looked back to his wife and was relieved to see that the corners of her mouth had twitched upwards. He thanked God for Sirius. A little bit of nicely-timed humor was always the best way to diffuse the ticking time bomb that was Lily. It reeled her back in.
The enraged woman seemed to shrink before his very eyes as her anger melted away.
"Lils..." he said softly, "I'm sorry. I don't want to row... I just... I feel like we're trapped in this house."
Folding her arms, she stomped towards him and, rather surprisingly, leaned into his chest, lightly touching her forehead to his chin.
James raised a finger and tilted her head upwards. Up close, her sparkling emerald-green eyes always took his breath away. "I am sorry."
Lily wrapped her arms up and around his neck, releasing a heavy sigh into the collar of his jumper. When she finally spoke, her tone was gentle... sad even. "James, you know I want to go out and have fun for a change. You know I do. But this is our second to last chance to try before my ovulation cycle ends. It's either today or tomorrow that we make this happen. We both know for a fact that if we go out to the pub tonight, there is no way either of us will be able to manage anything more than a few kisses before we fall asleep."
She cupped his cheek and continued. "We're sleepy drunks, James; you know it just as well as I do. And we also both know we're going to be tired tomorrow after dinner... and the match." James let out an indignant sputter and Lily smiled mischievously. "Yes, I know all about your wonderful surprise dinner in the top box at the Harpies game. Honestly… why you tell Remus anything secret is beyond me. He's the largest blabbermouth in the world… well, apart from my wayward sister that is."
James grimaced. He was going to kill Remus... and then kill him once more for good measure.
Lily buried her nose into his shirt and breathed him in. "James, I want a baby. I want a baby so bad it hurts. I want your baby. Our baby. I want to see him stare up at me with those big chocolate brown eyes of yours and I want him as soon as possible. I'm on so many fertility potions that it's making my head spin. I don't want to wait another month to try and conceive. I want him before one of us gets fed up with cowering from Voldemort and goes off to do something stupid and brave for the war effort."
James looked down into the eyes of the love of his life and said huskily, "I want that too, Lils."
"Then please, let's stay in tonight." Raking her fingernails over his shoulders and his chest, Lily stood on her tip-toes to brush her lips against his. "Let's make a baby together."
James grunted affirmatively, his body singing with want for her exquisite figure. As they embraced to share a soft, loving kiss, her words fully hit home. Grinning against her mouth he whispered, "So... I have you convinced that the Potter line only produces boys, do I?"
Swatting his arm playfully, she whispered back, "Well, if it is a girl, we're bloody well not naming our daughter Harold."
James laughed and adopted the most pompous imitation of Lucius Malfoy he could muster. "Harold is a most ancient and noble name for a young witch of pure-blood and upstanding… standing," he finished lamely.
Lily giggled and sighed into his neck. "Him... Her... what does it matter as long as it's ours? We can pick any name you want, love."
James grinned. "Oh really? What about Petunia?"
Lily moaned miserably into his shirt.
"Kidding! I was only kidding!" he said with a chuckle, pulling her chin up for another good, sound snog.
As their hands started to roam and their breath became heavy, Sirius, Peter, and Remus reentered the room.
"The battle has ended!" cried Sirius exuberantly, breaking their kiss by pulling them both into a one-armed hug. "Huzzah! Let's get going before the Death Eaters drink all the rum!"
Lily tore herself away from Sirius' embrace and flicked their friend squarely on the nose.
"Ouch! What was that for, you menacing woman?" asked Sirius indignantly, rubbing at the spot.
Remus slung an arm around Sirius' shoulder and flicked him in the ear. "Probably for being a wise-arse, Padfoot."
Sirius swatted him away and retorted with his customary, "Get bent, Moony."
Laughing wholesomely for the first time in week, James patted his friend gently on the shoulder. "Sorry, mate, but I think we're staying in tonight."
Sirius was clearly unsurprised by this news. He let out a cough that purposely failed to disguise the sound of a whip-crack and shuffled resignedly towards the door of the cottage. "Redheads, Prongs. I warned you. I warned you."
Peter let out a snort and replied, "This coming from the man who is oh-so-desperate to get us out to the Three Broomsticks... which is obviously just an excuse to disguise his poor attempt at courting a certain rather... buxom… redheaded barmaid?"
Sirius Black rarely blushed, but the few times that he did were usually caused by Peter's occasional bouts of lightning quick wit.
"Ah…yes…well, that's completely beside the point," stuttered Sirius.
Lily giggled and stepped around James, giving the three departing men a quick hug as they donned coats and walked out into the chilly autumn air.
Remus called back, "Have fun at the match, you two."
James pulled out his wand and thumbed it threateningly. "Honestly, Moony, you're a dead man."
Remus laughed the threat off and waved jovially.
Lily adopted her sternest voice, implying that what she had to say next was not a request, but rather, a subtly-disguised demand that would have serious consequences if not obeyed. "You three will come by for dinner on Tuesday, won't you? Frank and Alice are coming over. We can do a big sit down and catch up."
Sirius halted on the doorstep and gave Lily another quick hug. "Of course we will, Prongslette. There isn't a force on this earth that can keep me from your cooking. James' cooking... yes... many forces. But yours? Not a one."
James shot the man his best wounded puppy-dog face. "Oh come now, Padfoot... It isn't that bad!"
Sirius grimaced as if he were remembering a rather painful memory.
Lily cupped James' cheek and said overly sweetly, "I know you can make pancakes, Honey. It was entirely the pan's fault."
Sirius buttoned up his coat and leaned forward to whisper into James' ear, before marching his ridiculous goose-step down the front path. He caught up to Peter and Remus, who were briskly moving towards the picket fence and past the wards.
Lily called out, "Be safe, boys!"
The three men raised their hands in parting and with loud pops barely audible in the wind, they disapparated.
Lily shivered, patted James on the chest, and pulled him back inside. "So, what departing words of wisdom did Mr. Padfoot have for you this time?" she asked curiously.
Blood rushed to the lower part of his body as he turned to look at her. Raising his hand, he tweaked her nose, just as Sirius had.
Lily glared at him in mock outrage, growling playfully, as if she knew what he was going to say.
James let his hand linger, trailing it down her neck and over the sensitive spot on her collarbone. He knew this body better than he knew his own. The purring noise she made whenever his lips found that spot drove him absolutely wild.
Lily closed her eyes and stepped closer to him, pressing her hips into his groin, brushing feather light kisses on his neck.
His hand went down... thumb brushing against the curve of her breast; down... pausing at the small of her back to have her arch into him with a gasp; down... fingers finding the hem of her dress where silky fabric met the creamy skin of her thigh. He slipped his hand inside the lining of her lingerie and lightly pressed at the flesh right behind her womanhood.
Lily's knees gave out, as he knew they would. She slumped against him, moaning his name under her breath, her green eyes half-closed in pleasure..
James' teeth found her earlobe as his free hand tangled into her sweet-smelling red hair. Whispering softly into her ear, he answered her lingering question. "Mr. Padfoot tells me that make-up sex… is the best sex."
Chuckling, he dropped down, wrapped his arms around her upper thighs, and hoisted her into a fireman's hold. Carrying a squealing Lily into their bedroom, he turned and used his foot to shut the door with an eager SLAM.
Prologue 2: The Wreckage
BOOM BOOM BOOM
"No, Goggy, I jus'… fed yah."
BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM
"Lemm sleep now; tha's a good boy."
"HAGRID!" screamed a frantic voice. "OPEN THE BLOODY DOOR!"
"FOR GOD'S SAKE, MAN! HOW MUCH DID YOU HAVE?"
BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM
He opened a bleary eyelid. It took several long minutes for his vision to clear. There was such a throbbing in his temples that he found it difficult to sit up from his bed.
"Good grief, me `ead."
With a tremendous grunt, Hagrid lifted himself off the mattress and stumbled through the dark, feeling his way along furniture towards the front room of the hut.
He stumbled over something fleshy and round. There was a loud whine and a scuttling beneath his feet.
"Oh sorry there, Fang… didn' see yeh."
The pup was small; a runt really. Hagrid had spent many an hour trying to find the dog amongst the hidey-holes around the hut. In the dark, it was nigh impossible to spot his tiny black body.
Careful of where he placed his feet, so as not to stomp on the tails of any of the other pups from the litter, he slowly shuffled towards the door.
BOOM BOOM BOOM
"HAGRID, OPEN THIS DOOR RIGHT NOW OR I WILL BLOW THE DAMN THING DOWN!"
"I'M COMIN," Hagrid shouted back tiredly. "MERLIN'S BEARD! KEEP YER BRITCHES ON!"
He picked up his umbrella and tapped it against the door frame. There was a faint shimmer and a soft hum. Hagrid grabbed the door bolt, slid it aside, and wrenched it open in a huff.
It was pouring outside. The wind was howling over the treetops, blowing rain and fog in every direction.
The man on his doorstep didn't speak, merely stared at him from beneath his sopping-wet hood.
As he could only see ten or so meters through the fog and rain, Hagrid couldn't quite tell just who his visitor was. After a lengthy pause of silence, he raised his umbrella and pointed it threateningly at the man's face. However, right as he opened his mouth to tell whoever this shady bugger was to shove off, a brief lightning flash lit both the sky... and the visage under the hood.
"Si-Sirius?" gasped Hagrid, lowering the umbrella. He peered suspiciously out into the storm to search for followers, before moving aside to leave a space wide enough for Sirius to squeeze through. "What'r yeh doin 'ere? I though' yeh were supposed ter be in hidin' with Remus and Emmeline."
Closing the door quietly, Hagrid turned around and immediately went cross-eyed as the tip of a wand pressed right into the bridge of his nose.
"Hagrid?" asked Sirius tentatively, speaking in a slow, dangerous voice that dripped with a steely... something; a something that Hagrid had never heard before from the jaunty youth's mouth. "Who did you catch me snogging in your pumpkin patch five years ago this exact night?"
Hagrid was dumbfounded for a split-second, before realizing why there was a threatening piece of holly pointed at his face.
"Oh er…" he racked his brain. "Rosemerta, wasn' it? Didn' she knee yeh in the bits in surprise? Right spooky sort o' place fer a Holloween kiss if yeh ask me."
Hagrid grinned, expecting to see a similar expression break over the young man's face. However, when the only acknowledgement of his ribbing was a slump of the shoulders and a drop of the wand, he became extremely concerned .
"Sirius," he whispered. "Wha's this all about? It's nearly-"
Sirius cut him off. "I need my bike, Hagrid… now."
Hagrid's eyes bulged. "Whaaa'? What'r yeh on about? Wha's happened?"
"Hagrid… where is it?"
The anger bubbling in Sirius' voice shocked him. It was odd that a man half his size could chill him to the bone with naught but a few words.
"Ou' in the patch," answered Hagrid apprehensively.
Without a word, Sirius whirled around and threw open the door, stalking out into the rain.
Hagrid followed closely behind him, all the while trying to glean why Sirius was so upset. As they made their way across the hundred meters to the muddy patch of ground where Sirius' bike lay hidden, he could not help but feel an overwhelming sense of dread.
Hagrid knew that the Death Eaters had been especially... active... as of late.
"Sirius… Did summat happen at Hogsmeade? Did summat happen ter Rosy?"
Sirius growled and exploded a nearby pumpkin as he randomly disillusioned areas of the patch.
Hagrid's sense of dread multiplied tenfold.
Sirius found and mounted his uncovered bike, pressing his wand to the ignition. The headlight blazed and the engine roared into life. As the motorcycle began to pull away from the ground, Hagrid reached down and put a hand on the man's shoulder.
Composing himself, he asked gruffly, "Sirius… wha's happened?"
Sirius gazed hollowly at the fingers that were keeping him on the ground. The young man took a deep, steadying breath. "He found them. He found them, Hagrid."
Hagrid's hand slid off Sirius' shoulder to fall limply at his side. He mouthed like a fish, searching for words. "But… no. He can't `ave!"
"The wards fell. There's an eighty kilometer anti-apparition field in every direction around Godric's Hollow. Find Dumbledore, I'm sure he already knows."
With Sirius' last word, the bike shot into the air. A good fifty meters it had risen before a monstrous blast of dragon's flame erupted from the rear exhaust pipes. In a flash and a bang, Sirius and his black motorbike were gone.
Hagrid stood rooted to the spot. He didn't know what to think.
What to do?
He looked up at the castle and saw a silver flash rush out of a tower window overlooking the Great Hall. It sped away from the walls, illuminating the many brilliant colors of the paned glass windows. Hagrid realized with a jolt that it was headed straight towards him.
When the light finally came to a halt at his feet, he heard four words from the phoenix patronus that confirmed everything Sirius had said was true.
"Hagrid? My office, please."
Sirius Black rode like a man possessed, pushing the piece of muggle junk-metal to its absolute limit. He had run out of charges for the dragon's fire a few kilometers back.
He was so close.
And then... he saw it; the skull and the serpent, ghostly and shimmering in the rain.
With reckless abandon, Sirius crash-landed the bike into the picket fence.
Please, God! No!
Throwing himself off the smoking machine, he raced across the yard to the front door, ripping his wand from its holster.
Sirius paused in disbelief outside the frame. At the sight of the wood that was torn from its hinges, his Auror training went out the window. Barreling into the living room, he shouted so loudly that he thought his vocal chords would tear, "JAMES! LILY! WHERE ARE YOU?"
Scorch marks and spell burns lined the walls; furniture was missing and upturned; the lamps in the kitchen flickered from the ambient magic he could still taste in the air. The fight had taken place less than an hour ago. What frightened him most were the dead and bloodied corpses of animals strewn all over. Some were only half-transfigured.
He saw the bedroom door ajar, covered in large holes. As he stumbled towards it in the shaky light, his foot kicked something in the shadows.
It flew forward and Sirius gagged.
A severed hand… with a wedding ring. He stared at it numbly as it sat upon the red carpet…
The carpet in this house is white.
Sirius reached the bedroom and lit his wand. What he saw inside that room made his heart break a thousand times and a thousand times again. The body lay propped against the dresser, deep wounds covering every inch. The eyes were burned… no… gouged out; an arm was dripping blood from the severed wrist. Pain was on his face. His wand was at his side. The shattered glass from the dresser mirror was spread around him, each piece tinged red.
Sirius fell to his knees in front of the body. He dry-retched for a good five minutes before he could muster the strength to acknowledge James' still form.
Prongs... You did good, mate; you were everything I wasn't and everything I wanted to be. But this isn't goodbye... I'll see you again.
His knees weak, he stood shakily. He said no words or prayers, merely placed a hand on the shoulder of his best friend... his brother... and gripped tightly. Everything that needed to be said had been said already… before they went into hiding.
He picked up the wand next to the body, turned from James, and left the room behind. With a jolt, his eyes locked onto the ceiling above the living room.
Lily! This fight took enough time for her to run. She must have gotten away! But… the wards… and the baby... No! Please be alive!
Sirius hastily climbed the stairs, back against the wall, eyes darting frantically into every visible corner of the house. He didn't want to see it. He didn't want to see it… but he had to know.
He reached the landing.
A solitary light shone from the farthest door in the hall. He couldn't yet see into the room, but he felt a cold breeze blowing down towards him.
Maybe Lily took the baby and climbed out the window... yes... that could be it... a broom... surely she would have...
Thoughts hammered through his skull at a million miles a minute. His own heartbeat echoed loudly in his ears. He could feel the blood pulsing quickly through the arteries in his neck and chest.
Sliding his back along the wall, he slowly crept all the way up to the door.
She surely ran...
The sound of wind was whistling into the hall.
Sirius took a deep breath, trying to steady himself.
He spun into the room, firing several Auror-grade, wide-range stunners. When his eyes adjusted to the light, the first thing he noticed was that his spells kept right on going... and going, and going until they slammed into the side of Bathilda's chimney.
The entire back wall of the nursery was blown out.
The second thing he noticed was a complete lack of the gore and havoc he had witnessed downstairs. The carpet and walls, apart from the missing one, were pristine.
The third thing he noticed was a long, black cloak covering the prone form of a pale, balding man. He was lying face down on the carpet. There were three rather large stag horns sticking out of his legs and shoulders.
Well done, James old boy. You and Lily did what thousands have failed to do. You brought the bastard down!
Yet as soon as he spotted the other body in the room, half hidden behind the crib, the pride he felt for James and Lily vanished. Grief that could be compared only to what he felt downstairs surged through him.
Lils... Oh Prongslette.
Her brilliant green eyes stared blankly up at him. Her full lips were slightly parted and a familiar green bruise rested upon her left cheek. Surprisingly, her expression contained neither the shock nor terror that were smeared across the faces of so very many victims of Voldemort's dreaded curse.
No... she looks… tranquil.
Sirius bent down and dragged his fingertips over her eyelids, closing them forever.
I should have been here. I should have died with you.
When he could bare to look at her no more, he turned to the crib and flicker of hope flared within his heart.
Had the baby died first? If not…
He stepped slowly towards the small wooden crib he himself had helped James build. And as he looked down into it... that little spark of hope died; snuffed out like a doused candle flame.
Blood was cascading from the child's head.
Sirius knees gave way and he fell to the floor once more, running his fingers through his hair in anguish.
All gone. They're all gone.
Resting his head against the side of the crib, Sirius cried. He cried for James; cried for Lily; cried for every last man, woman, and child killed in this hellish war. He cried for himself, for he had lost his only family; a brother, a sister, and a godchild.
And then he cried for Harriet. She was innocent; helpless. Little Harry, murdered in her crib, would never know the joys of life.
He let the sobs wrack his body as grief hit him like a freight train. His cried echoed loudly in the quiet nursery.
Sirius couldn't have been sitting there for more than a few minutes, but it felt like days... years... eons. But, eventually, even though he was still wallowing in his misery, numbness filled him to the brim.
His breathing evened, his choking sobs slowed, and a fitting silence reigned over the small cottage.
Sirius jumped a foot in the air, hitting his head on the sharp end of the crib. Cursing and gripping his forehead in his hands, he stood and gazed once more into the crib.
Blood was still everywhere, all over the child, but a pair of bright green eyes stared back at him. The emerald orbs were moving, following his face as he swayed unsteadily over the small bed. Sirius beheld Harriet Lily Potter, alive and seemingly well... albeit lying in a pool of her own blood.
She was the spitting image of her mother: same green eyes, same little nose, same petite mouth… well, she had the trademark Potter hair. It was jet black and sticking up in every direction.
The last time he had seen her, she had been a tiny, fat, pink, hairless… thing. She had gurgled and grasped at his fingers as her father had held her for all to see. The second her miniature hand had closed around his pinky, he became completely smitten with that tiny ball of pudge .
The fact that she was lying here, frail, blood-spattered, parentless, looking exactly like Lily and James, and grasping once again for his pinky, shattered the last little bit of his already broken heart.
Picking up a nappie cloth from the bag beside the crib, he gently wiped the blood from her beautiful little face.
When he saw it, he almost screamed.
A jagged cut, the shape of a lightning bolt, was carved into the left side of her forehead, oozing a fresh coat of blood into her eye. Had it been a normal cut, he wouldn't have been so shocked. However... it wasn't. The skin around the wound was tinged a vivid shade of green; the same green as her eyes; the same green that rested upon Lily's cheek.
Having served as both an Auror and Unspeakable, he knew the true nature of the Killing curse. It was the energy of the spell that killed, not the direct hit. A killing curse that contacted skin would leave a green bruise on the body for days, whereas a hit on one's hair or clothing would still kill, but wouldn't leave a mark.
For this little girl to have a bruise and still be alive...
No. That's impossible. How is that possible?
Sirius switched his gaze back and forth with incredulity between mother, daughter, and the cloaked man that lay at his feet.
No... that's... absolutely impossible!
The little girl in the crib let go of his pinky and lay back on the coverlet of her crib, waving her feet in the air, gurgling happily. The blood from her cut was slowly clotting. It was a rather deep wound and would surely be a horrible scar, even if a healer could get to it right away.
He noticed that she was cuddling something beneath the blanket. Reaching down, he pulled the cloth away.
Sirius choked on what was both a sob of misery and a bark of laughter.
It was the miniature plush broomstick that he had bought for her at the small store in St Mungo's. It looked thoroughly chewed on.
Sighing sadly, he picked Harry up and cradled her in one arm. To his dismay, she gurgled in protest and began to cry.
Grabbing the chewed-up broomstick, he dangled it in front of her.
The crying slowed. A pudgy little arm reached for the stuffed toy and he let her hand close around the handle. The tattered twigs of the plushie promptly found themselves in her mouth.
As he rocked her slowly, she let out a tiny yawn and fell asleep in his arms.
"Oh Harry... I'm so sorry. You'll... You'll stay with me now." He brushed his thumb across her cheek and her head turned into his touch. "W-When you're older, I'll tell you all about them."
Bending down, he picked up Lily's wand, shot the most powerful stunner he could muster into the obviously dead body of Lord Voldemort, and left the nursery behind. Through the hallway windows, he could see lights moving outside the house.
They must be setting up the perimeter. Took them bloody well long enough.
Sirrius walked down the steps and out through the front door. Several things happened all at once. Shouts from every corner of the yard echoed against the house. Shadows flanked him. Impediment jinxes flew from every direction.
Standard aftermath procedure after a Dark Mark site becomes secured. Freeze anyone not in a hood and mask. Cutters, stunners, and bone breakers for everyone else. Get on with it, you lot.
"IT'S JUST BLACK! STAND DOWN!" Dawlish strode forward and unfroze him, letting his wand linger. "Sirius, you brewed me a love potion in our fourth year. To whom did I administer said potion?"
On any other day, Sirius would have grinned. But today, on this horrible night... he found that he could not. "My snotty cousin," he wheezed in a tired voice. "Narcissa Black."
Dawlish relaxed, looking him up and down before asking wearily, "What are you doing here? I thought you were stationed at Hogwarts."
"I felt the wards fall. I'm keyed in."
Dawlish gave him an apprehensive glance, "James? Lily?"
Sirius shook his head.
Dawlish looked down at the sleeping girl in Sirius' arms. "You got here in time to drive them off then?"
"What? What do you mean 'no?' How is the child alive?"
"I didn't… I didn't get here in time. Voldemort himself did the job."
At this, Dawlish and the ten other Aurors in his brigade stormed into action, racing for the house, forming shields and flanking positions.
Sirius called out, "There's no need. He's gone."
Dawlish stared at him dubiously. "Gone? He just left without killing the daughter? He was hell bent on killing the Potters... Merlin knows why."
Sirius gestured absentmindedly, his eyes returning to the scar on Harry's forehead. "No, Dawlish. Gone. Dead. Upstairs, third door on the right."
Dawlish spluttered incoherently while his thoughts seemed to be attempting to form rational patterns. "But... But Black, how can he be… if you got here too late? Did James and Lily wound him?"
Sirius considered the child in his arms before he spoke. "Well, James managed to puncture flesh... but nothing that seemed fatal. Lily… I couldn't tell you. It almost looks like she went quietly in the nursery. Dawlish, this might sound crazy, but I think she did it."
Dawlish looked at him strangely and asked, "Who? Lily?"
"No... Harry. Dawlish, look at the bruise around the cut. It's a curse scar. I'm sure of it."
Dawlish was a smart man; not a powerful man, but definitely a smart one. You had to be vaguely intelligent to become an Auror Captain. What Sirius was trying to convey was not lost on him. "Black, what you're suggesting here is absolutely impossible. No one survives it! It can't be done. The spell is literally death; death in corporeal form. It can't be stopped; it won't stop until the wizard's energy from the spell dissipates or it absorbs enough life. It even kills those little germs floating in the air that the muggles are so fond of. You're actually telling me that You-know-who's Avada Kedavra bounced off the forehead of a girl in diapers and hit him instead?"
"Yes. I actually think I am," he said slowly, trying to convince himself as well. "Maybe this was it; the prophecy! Maybe it said she could end him. I knew he was after them due to a prophecy... but I was never told what it said." Pacing back and forth with Harry in his arms, Sirius tried to make sense of it all. "What I really want to know is how the Fidelius broke in the first place. The keeper was totally secure."
Dawlish offered no reply to his muttered questions. The man was looking nervously at the house. "Black, are you sure he's dead? There isn't some kind of a trap waiting for us up there? Because if he's gone… well, if he's gone, we can… we can all be free from this war. It means we've won!"
"We didn't win, Dawlish," spat Sirius venomously as a surge of anger coursed through his body. "And if that monster isn't dead, then he's sure as hell in a coma after the stunner I…" Sirius trailed off as he spotted a shadowy figure skittering around the corner a few streets down.
"Oi, Sirius!" Hagrid came barreling down the road as fast as a broomstick could fly. "Dumbledore is ou'side the Apparition wards tryin to take em down. He told me to come and find yeh. Not let yeh out of me sight he says."
Sirius was paying little attention to Hagrid, however. His eyes were fixated on the corner.
Oh no... Please, tell me you didn't.
When his attention snapped back to the present situation, he realized he would not be able to do anything with Harry still in his arms. "Hagrid, Harry survived. I need you to take her to Dumbledore. Use my bike. Dawlish can fix it for you. I'll be back." Sirius shrugged off the sleeping child into one of Hagrid's enormous arms and ran off toward the street down which he had seen the shadow disappear.
Hagrid stared down at the sleeping girl in amazement.
"Survived? But... how?" he asked confusedly.
The black-haired man turned and darted away from him.
"Wait! Sirius, come back!"
But the Auror had already sprinted around the street corner at full speed and, with the girl in his arms, Hagrid could do nothing but let Sirius run.
Dawlish barked orders to his brigade about clean-up and containment. "Abbot, McMillan, go after Black. He must've been on to something."
The two fittest Aurors of the bunch went jogging off in the direction Sirius had taken.
"They'll watch him, Hagrid," said Dawlish, repairing the bike with a flick of his wand. "Well, best get on your way. You can reassure Dumbledore that Black is covered. I imagine the Headmaster thinks he might do something rash."
"Aye," agreed Hagrid, sighing heavily. "Tha' I should."
Hagrid straddled the bike and the seat magically expanded to fit his large size. He shifted the small girl from one arm to the other so he could fit her properly in the sidecar. As he pulled away, her tiny hand tried to wrap around one of his fingers. However, when she could not properly grasp his massive digits, she grunted unhappily and her bright emerald eyes flew open. She stared at him unrelentingly, as if he had done her some great personal wrong.
As he stared intently back into those big green orbs, a small plush broomstick made its way into the girl's mouth.
Hagrid threw back his head and let out a great bark of laughter.
Harry withdrew the broomstick from her mouth, smiled a wide three toothed smile, wiggled her feet, and gurgled.
Hagrid found her smile to be infectious. Grinning at her, he said gently, "Hullo, `Arry... or should I say Lily? I'm Hagrid."
She blew a raspberry and squawked happily as the bike lifted off the ground.
Sirius threw himself down an alley, chasing after the short man that had just dodged into it. He was running as fast as he could and was gaining on his prey, for his legs were long and he was quite fit. However, the man running from him was quite a different story. Even though his slightly pudgy friend could still run bloody fast, the fear of being caught likely pushing his adrenaline levels to their limit, Sirius could tell that he was losing his energy.
And yet... the rat kept running, no doubt searching for a safe place to collapse. That was always the case back at school. Whenever they were about to get caught performing some late night prank, the boy would always be the first one back to the common room, yet he would be too exhausted to climb the stairs to their dorm.
Sirius thanked his lucky stars that Voldemort had laced anti-animagus wards into the anti-apparition barrier. It was both a stag trap... and a rat trap. His prey surely would have gotten away long since had this not been the case.
Sirius screamed furiously at the man in front of him, accentuating his screams with stunners and bone-breakers. "GIVE IT UP, PETER! YOU CAN'T GET ESCAPE WHILE THE WARDS ARE UP! IT'S AT LEAST FORTY KILOMETERS TO THE BARRIER'S EDGE. SLOW DOWN, MY FRIEND! I JUST... WANT... TO... TALK!"
Peter yelled nothing back, just dodged into alley after alley, using his magic to thrust debris into Sirius' path and block the oncoming spells.
Peter, somewhat like Dawlish, didn't have the power to throw high powered stunners and curses around like baseballs. He had to rely on shield charms, conjuring, hexes, and his own resourcefulness. Peter was the type of duelist that would notice that you were dodging most of the spells that he sent towards you, so he would freeze the floor with a household freezing charm, throw a mass of nonverbal jelly-leg jinxes that you couldn't distinguish from stunners, and then conjure ropes to bind you after you had slipped on the ice while trying to dodge. He didn't need to overpower you. He was just more aware of his surroundings than other people were. Just like a rat, Peter had a strong survival drive that always gave him the edge. Of all the Marauders, only Remus, with his vast knowledge of spells, could best him consistently.
But tonight, of all nights, Peter wasn't going to best him or use a bit of cunning to slip from his fingers, for Sirius was driven by the rage and grief of a betrayal.
They rounded the edge of a building and came out into a large, empty, suburban street.
"PETER! I. SAID. SLOW. DOWN!" Four bone breakers left his wand. The first two were wide by a foot or so and went sailing into a red tank that sat propped against the nearest house.
But the second two...
The second two hit home.
Peter screamed in agony as his wrist and shin shattered. Tripping over his feet, he dropped his wand, landed flat on his face, and rolled nastily across the hard concrete.
Before Peter could recover, Sirius caught up with him. He stomped down on the black-ash wand the smaller man was scrambling for and was rewarded with a sharp CRACK.
Peter moaned in despair.
Smiling in satisfaction, Sirius pulled back his leg and with an angry grunt, kicked Peter in the stomach. He kicked out again and again, breaking down in anguished sobs as he did so.
Peter curled into a ball, trying to shield himself from the blows. Eventually, he was able to grab onto a leg and hold it in place to his chest.
Losing his footing, Sirius fell on top of the smaller man with a thwump. They struggled, but he managed to free his arm. Pulling it back, he punched Peter in the jaw as hard as he could and felt two of his fingers break. Peter groaned and cowered beneath him. Ignoring the pain, Sirius pulled back his fist and slugged the little rat again.
Sirius was about to let loose the next strike, when he heard the man's quivering voice say, "Padfoot… please."
He grasped Peter's collar and screamed venomously, "PLEASE? PLEASE? WE ALL SPENT A YEAR LOCKED UP JUST SO YOU COULD MAKE THE WRONG CHOICE! YOU DON'T GET A SECOND CHANCE YOU SLIMY LITTLE BASTARD!"
Sirius pressed on Peter's windpipe and the small man's face started to swell and turn blue.
"Prongs… *gasp* …wouldn't-"
Sirius roared, dragged Peter upwards, and slammed him into the nearest lamppost. "YOU DON'T EVER GET TO SAY THAT NAME AGAIN! YOU LOST YOUR GODDAMNED RIGHT! YOU'RE NOT WORMTAIL! YOU'RE A BLOODY DEATH EATER. YOU DESERVE WHAT YOU DEAL OUT! TRAITOR!
Sirius screamed that last word as loud as he could. Lights flickered on in many of the nearby houses, but he blatantly ignored them and threw Peter down to the ground. Sirius collapsed next to his once friend, wiping the sweat and tears from his own cheeks.
Peter grunted softly as he arranged his broken body into a position in which he would feel the least amount of pain.
"Why?" Sirius asked with sob.
Peter looked at him contemplatively, but said nothing.
"WHY?" he screamed. "How... How could you do it?"
Peter remained silent.
"How could you do it to James? To me? We treated you like a brother the second you stood up next to us when Malfoy called you a Mudblood on the train. How could you do it to Lily? The one person who would listen to your problems because she knew exactly what it was like? To Remus? The man taught you everything you know about magic. We both know you're dyslexic and can't read a textbook to save your damned life. He spent months sitting with you in the common room, dictating descriptions of spell after spell; potion after potion. His kindness and patience is the reason you're not the equivalent of a squib! How could you do it to Harry? You're her uncle! Not in blood but by bond. You killed your own brother, your own sister! You betrayed us all and you deserve to burn!"
Gazing at him demurely, Peter whispered, "Yes... I do." He let out a small, dry chuckle and continued. "I never told you that the hat wanted to put me in Ravenclaw first, did I? It saw my desire to learn; to succeed in this world of magic. Yet it also saw my disorder. I would never be welcomed in Rowena's house. Don't you remember how long it took the Hat to decide? I had traits that three of the four houses prized, yet the Hat could not decide for me. Finally it asked me where I'd like to go. I saw you sitting at the Gryffindor table; I saw James behind me in line and I knew he would be sitting there soon."
Peter shot him a sad smile. "So, I asked the hat to put me there as well. It yelled 'Gyrffindor'… even when I didn't have an ounce of bravery in my body. I knew I had no place there, but I chose to stay. You know the story after that. We all became great friends. You know, I had even convinced myself that you were my real friends, not just protectors and benefactors."
"We were your friends, Peter! We always were!"
Peter ignored him. "When you asked me to be the secret-keeper instead of yourself, I was so incredibly honored. Imagine that for once, the three great Marauders needed the fourth for more than just an extra body on prank quests. So, I took that honor and held it to the best of my ability. I hid in the Shack. I was going to wait out the war; sit and wait until Dumbledore finished him off for good. But he found me... well, Snape found me really. He and the Dark Lord were looking for ways into the school. Snape remembered the Shack and he noticed my rat form as I slept."
Peter shivered. "Snape summoned the Dark Lord. God... Sirius, he's terrifying. He ripped the knowledge of the Fidelius from my mind, yet he could only learn James and Lily's exact location if I told him willingly. They tortured me for hours and hours. I knew I would die if I didn't give them what they wanted and when the time came to either speak or die... I gave in. The Fidelius broke and I knew James, Lily, and Harry would be dead within the hour. I am... I am glad the girl survived... and I am quite glad he is gone."
Sirius growled at him.
Peter winced and continued. "At that moment, I knew that I deserved to die. I'm a weak man, Sirius. I cared not for my friends in that moment. I cared only about the pain inflicted upon my body. I cared only about continuing to live my meager existence. It was always about me surviving. I chose Gryffindor that day because I wanted to be safe from thugs like Malfoy and his band of goons. But I'm not a Gryffindor. I'm not a brave man, Sirius. I couldn't be brave enough to face my death. I don't belong in any one of the houses. I am not worthy of the magic I own. The only reason I appeared here tonight was to make sure Voldemort would not come after me had the Potters not been there."
Monologue over, Peter gazed hollowly at him.
Sirius raked his eyes over the bloody man and whispered fiercely, "You should have died! Had it been you in their place... I would've... we would've... well, I think you should know that for a short time on this earth Peter, there were four people that would have risked their lives to save your own."
He stood slowly and cast his gaze up and down the narrow street, searching for backup. Everywhere he looked, Muggles were crowding at their living room windows, peering out into the night. He supposed that, to their eyes, two strangely-dressed men openly brawling in the middle of the street would have seemed quite odd. Hopefully, they could pass as a pair of quarreling vagrants.
"You know," said Peter finally, "that sounded much like something you would say at my eulogy, Sirius."
Anger flaring, Sirius bent down and pushed the wand tip into Peter's throat. "I should do it, you little rat!"
Peter nodded. "You should. Although, I don't want you to. All I live for is the ability to live. But maybe... maybe I wouldn't feel so scared if it was you that did it."
Sirius' eyes hardened. "The ability to live? Spoken like a true Death Eater, Peter."
"Then do it. Kill me. I'm a man that kills to survive and I'm going to keep right on doing it. I will keep destroying families and lives if I must." Peter spat blood from his mouth onto the concrete. "I am ready. Are you?"
He killed James. He killed Lily. He killed our family. He as good as killed himself. But...
Moving closer, Sirius leaned down and whispered into Peter's ear, "I would never."
"Then we're at an impasse."
"No. You have two choices. One: stay here under my wand tip and wait for the Aurors, who are sure to be closing in on us. You will be taken to a Ministry holding cell, await trial, be tried as a willing accomplice to murder, and receive a minimum sentence of forty years. Two: I let you leave. Completely walk away. You leave the country. In two weeks without James and Lily, I will change my mind, hunt you down, and you'll go through step one anyway. In that time on the run... you might be able to find some peace of mind."
"Those don't sound like very good options to me, Sirius."
"The deepest circles of hell, Peter, are reserved for those that betray their family. The Aurors are coming. I can see their wands. Your options are already severely limited."
"But what about choice three, Sirius? I like my chances with choice three much better." His grey eyes narrowed, and then he grimaced. " The wards fell. You knew I was stalling. You should have killed me, Sirius, and I'm sorry for this."
Before Sirius could even think to cast a spell, Peter hurled one of the broken pieces of his wand at the red tank several feet behind them.
He looked back at Peter who was glaring at him, face full of anger, blood dripping down his hand. The Aurors chose that exact moment to apparate to Sirius' side.
"JAMES! LILY! SIRIUS, HOW COULD YOU?"
Realizing what Peter was doing, he raised his wand. His lips opened. His wand tip flicked upward to form the rudimentary stunner... and the world itself exploded around him. It was if he was the conductor and the destruction of the entire street was his symphony's opening chord. Knocked off his feet, he landed on his back with his ears and temples pounding from the blast.
Sirius groaned and tried to piece together what had just happened.
He was... he was waiting for enough gas to rise out of that tank you smashed! His wand core is Firecrab tail, he was waiting for the wards to fall, and waiting for witnesses. He framed you. He played you. A repeat performance of your schoolyard duels. You slipped on his household freezing charm, and he bound you tight with ropes.
Rat: one. Dog: zero.
Even with his entire life crashing down around him, even with the wands he felt pressing into the nape of his neck, Sirius threw back his head and laughed uproariously. Peter Pettigrew had just pulled the greatest prank in the history of the Marauders. It was really too bad that only he and Peter were in on the joke.
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Check out my profile for a link to this story's Fan-Art page i.e. my Homepage. Contains some NSFW content for your viewing pleasure.
Harry, Harrie, and Harri are all nicknames for Harriet. I went for Harry so the character would have the same feel. It will be weird for a few chapters to be sure.