Author's Note: This has been sitting on my computer for about a year now. It's something I originally started writing for my sister because we both LOVE angst and HATE the Epilogue! (However, since this story clearly accepts the Epilogue into its canon, you should be able to enjoy it regardless of what side of that debate you happen to support.) But now I've cleaned it up a bit and decided to share!
Updates will be sporadic, but I do intend to finish! Feedback of any kind is a huge encouragement.
All Was Well
Chapter One: Assuming All Was Well
Ginny refilled the glass from the sink for the third time in a row. Her hand shaking only slightly, she lifted it to her lips and drank the entire thing in a quick succession of gulping swallows. She took a few deep breaths. When she looked around the world seemed a little… unstable. Like it wasn't spinning yet, but it was just waiting for her say-so to start.
"Ginny? Gin, you home?" someone called from the living room. The voice broke through the silence of the empty house—the kids were all outside playing—like a crack of thunder. Ginny barely reacted. She set her glass down on the counter and ran her fingers through her hair, hoping she appeared more put-together than she felt.
When she got into the living room her attention turned to the fireplace, where she was unsurprised to see Hermione's concerned expression floating amidst the flames.
"I'm here," Ginny said, needlessly. She didn't have it in her to give Hermione a more polite greeting.
Her friend's frown deepened slightly. "I don't suppose there's been any news?" she asked. She was speaking very quietly. She'd been doing that for two days, like a loud noise might be the thing that pushed Ginny over the deep end. Possibly true, but it was getting seriously annoying.
"You know there hasn't been," Ginny replied. She meant to sound angry, but it just came out tired. "I'll contact you the second I know anything."
"I know, I know," said Hermione, "It's just…" she bit her lip, cut off that train of thought, whatever it had just been, and asked, "How are you holding up?"
Ginny silently stared back at her, forcibly dragging the moment into awkwardness. How was she holding up? Could what she'd been going through for the past two days even be described as holding up?
"I think I'm going to tell the kids," she said finally. Hermione looked relieved to get a response, but then her worry returned to her face, doubled.
"Do you think that's a good idea?" she asked. "I mean, we still don't know anything. And they're so young, there's no need to—"
"Hermione, James is fifteen," Ginny said, crossing her arms. "I should have told him everything from the start. And Harry," her voice caught slightly on his name, but she kept going as if it hadn't happened, "Harry faced Voldemort twice by the time he was Lily's age. They're his children, and they'll be fine."
"Are you trying to convince me or yourself?" Hermione asked mildly.
Ginny narrowed her eyes. "I'll let you know if I hear anything," she said with finality, all but dismissing Hermione. The other woman sighed and regarded her sadly.
"All right, talk to you soon." Her face disappeared, and Ginny's posture immediately sagged with relief. She'd found that being around other people, including and especially her own children, was difficult. When she was by herself she didn't have to pretend that she was fine, that she was holding up, and that everything was going to be okay. All of that took more energy than she felt like she could muster.
"Dad's dead, isn't he?" came a quiet voice from the stairs. Ginny spun around to face her son—Albus. It was a beautiful day, and she'd shooed the children out with their brooms earlier. Of course Al would have lost interest and come back in to read instead. He'd probably been up in his room, and heard her and Hermione talking. He was still holding his book—one of the Muggle adventures he was so fond of.
He regarded her soberly, his expression far too serious for his thirteen-year-old face.
"Oh," Ginny said, "Sweetie, Dad's not dead."
"Then what was all that with Aunt Hermione?" he asked. "He hasn't been home in days. And something's wrong, we all know it. What have you been keeping from us?"
Ginny put her face in her hands and took a deep breath. When she peered through her fingers she saw that Albus was still there, watching her expectantly. Finally she said, "Fine. Go get your brother and sister and I'll tell you."
Albus swallowed hard and nodded. Ginny noticed that despite acting so stoically, the boy was very near tears.
"Hey," she caught hold of him before he reached the door and pulled him into a hug. He was getting quite tall—almost as tall as her. He'd probably be like his brother, who was already taller. "Don't worry, Al," she said. She meant to say something like, "Dad's okay," or "everything will be fine," but the words seemed to get stuck in her throat. So instead she said, "You'll know everything in a minute."
Al nodded and dashed out the door. Ginny seriously hoped he wasn't crying, because then surely she would lose it herself. But of her three children, Al would take this the hardest. James could so easily mask anything with humor, and Lily was always a tough kid, tougher than either of her brothers, maybe, even though she was younger.
Even so, none of them had ever faced something like this before. Their childhood, under the careful watch of their parents and extended family, had been full of love and safety with only the occasional minor misadventure that went with any wizard's upbringing. This was different. This was the kind of thing more fitting to Ginny's own childhood, full of fear and misgiving. Uncertainty. She couldn't be sure how they would react. It was why she'd decided to hide it from them in the first place.
But she couldn't anymore, not with what she was planning. Both of their parents couldn't disappear without explanation. So she collapsed onto the couch, and waited.
Two days earlier…
"I think it was… Wiggy the Warlock, in the apothecary, with… Avada Kedavra!"
Lily said the last part very suddenly, looking directly at Albus. He flinched, and glared when Lily and James burst out laughing. "Oh shut up, I was startled not scared. I don't know why this game is so violent, isn't it supposed to be for kids?"
"What do you mean?" asked Ginny, "I still like this game, don't I?" She glanced down at the Wizard Clue board, visually confirming Lily's guess. The tiny plastic figure of Wiggy the Warlock paced around the cardboard apothecary. Every once in a while he would glance up and shake his fist at Lily. Wiggy in particular could get quite a temper when he was accused.
"Do you have anything or not?" Lily asked her mother impatiently.
Ginny laughed and pulled a card out from the small pile in her hands. She showed its face to Lily, being careful to make sure James, who was trying to look like he wasn't trying to peek, didn't see it. Lily frowned when she saw Wiggy the Warlock looking back at her, holding one chubby hand over his mouth so he wouldn't accidentally make a sound and give himself away to the others. "Fine," she said, frowning down at her suspect sheet.
"Right, if Ace Detective Lily is done wasting our time…" James said, picking up the dice. He wore a familiar grin that meant he was close to winning, if he didn't have the answer already. Ginny smiled fondly at him. James could get so competitive over the simplest things.
It was a lovely summer evening. They'd had a bout of good weather lately. If they'd been outside they could have seen all the stars. Instead they were spread out on the floor of the living room, having pushed aside the couch and various bits of mismatched furniture to make room for the game board, and all of the windows were open, letting in a pleasant night breeze. Ginny was just thinking that the night would only be better if Harry would come home early somehow, and perhaps that made her listen carefully for someone outside, and that's why she heard it—the sound of someone Apparating, although they would have to be all the way at the end of the front walk because of the wards on the house. She stood up.
"What's up, Mum?" asked Albus.
"I think I hear Dad," she said, "Keep playing." She crossed to the small foyer that opened off of the living room and was about to open the front door when the bell rang. Her hand hesitated on the knob and she felt a small stab of disappointment. So it wasn't Harry then.
When she opened the door she'd altered her expectations and thought that maybe she might see Hermione or her brother, who lived the closest of their various friends and relatives. So she was extremely surprised to see a short man with pale brown skin and curly hair wearing dark green robes. She recognized him as Henry Vellums, Harry's second in command in the Auror Department, and selected for the position with good reason. He was an extremely talented wizard, although he always seemed a bit bewildered by his own abilities. His mother had been an African shawoman, his father an accountant from Brighton. They'd both been killed by dark wizards when he was in his teens. Ginny had only met him on a few occasions, but Harry talked about him enough that she felt she knew him a great deal.
"Mrs. Potter…" Vellums greeted her formally. "May I come inside?"
Ginny noted the expression on his face. There was a tightness to his mouth and around his eyes that caused a sudden dread to creep into Ginny like a cold hand gripped around her heart. She glanced back into the living room where her children were all laughing about something—so much that James and Albus had fallen over and Lily appeared to be crying, banging one hand on the floor and disrupting the game pieces. Ginny turned back to Vellums and said, "No, it's a nice night, I'll just step outside."
She shut the door quietly behind her and then turned to face him, her eyes searching his. "What is it?" she asked, not bothering to mask her fear. "Did something happen to Harry?"
She noticed vaguely that he held a pointed wizard's cap in his hands—probably he had taken it off to be polite. Now he turned it around and around by the brim with his long fingers, nervously. "He's…" he said, suddenly unable to meet her eyes…
Ginny stood very still. She could hear the blood rushing through her ears and willed herself to calm down, her heart to slow, because if she couldn't hear the next part, if she didn't hear the word said out loud, she would never believe it. And she had to know the truth.
"He's… missing," Vellums said finally. He did not look very happy to be saying this, but to Ginny it was as if she'd been drowning and thrown a line at the last possible second.
"Missing?" she repeated. She realized that there was a wild grin on her face and tried to school her expression. "Oh my God, do you have any idea what I thought you were going to say?"
Vellums regarded her relief sadly. "I'm sorry, I know missing is better than, you know, but the thing is, Harry… he might be…" His voice broke off. Ginny, still high from relief, felt compelled to comfort him.
"But he's been missing before," she said, almost dismissively. "For days, even, like that time he got trapped in the Gorgons' lair? And it can't have been more than a few hours, this time, right? A routine raid can't last that long."
His eyebrows shot up, causing several worry lines to form on his forehead. They looked comfortable there, and despite the fact that Vellums was fairly young, it wouldn't be long before they were permanent. "Harry told you about the mission?"
Ginny realized her mistake and cast around for an excuse. "Uh, no, I just assumed…" she sighed and gave up. "Yeah, okay, sorry, I know that stuff is supposed to be Top Secret or whatever, but I can't stand not knowing what danger he's putting himself in. You understand, don't you?"
"Of course I do," sighed Vellums, "My wife's just the same. And I'm not about to rat out the head of the department, am I?," a faint smile appeared on his lips. "He's the person you're supposed to rat people out to. And besides, despite the rumors, I'm not gunning for department head. I was mad enough when Harry put me under him, I wouldn't touch his job with a ten foot pole." Ginny raised her eyebrows. People thought Vellums was after Harry's job? That was a new one to her. But she supposed power-plays came with any Ministry job description. "And now he's gone, and I'm stuck with it." Vellums looked down at his hat, seeming honestly disturbed with the prospect.
"Is that all?" Ginny asked politely.
"What?" Vellums asked, obviously distracted. Then he shook his head sharply. "No, not at all. Ginny, Mrs. Potter—"
"Ginny," he said, regarding her seriously. "Look, I've had to tell this to people before, but I'm having a hard time because it's you. Because it's Harry."
"Tell what?" Ginny asked, frowning. "You said he's missing. He's been missing before, he—"
"This time is different," Vellums said darkly. "They were just on a routine raid, the hideout of a dark objects ring, Harry and a team of three other Aurors. Two were dead when we got there. One called for back-up, then got knocked out. Knocked out before he saw what happened to Harry. But Harry wasn't there when we got there. He wasn't anywhere."
Ginny sat down hard on the front step. "Two people… died?" Suddenly frantic, she said, "But they were left behind, right? They wouldn't have taken Harry unless he was alive." Her optimism fizzled out as she heard her own words. So Harry had been taken somewhere, by some unknown villain who most certainly wanted to hurt him. Maybe kill him.
"That's not all…" Vellums added. He was turning his hat quite quickly now, and looked as if he wished he could be anywhere else except where he was. "There was quite a bit of blood at the scene, Ginny."
Ginny was quiet for a moment and then asked, as if she couldn't help herself, "Harry's?"
Vellums nodded stiffly.
"I can't take this!" Ginny growled, startling Vellums with her sudden ferocity. She stood up and pushed him back angrily. "He's dead, he's not dead! What do you think, Henry?"
Vellums hesitated, thinking his answer through, before saying, "I'm going to be honest with you because from what Harry's told me you're not the sort to appreciate sugar-coating." Ginny felt a sob growing in her throat at the mention of Harry calmly chatting about her at work and quelled it. Her eyes were dry and she looked at Vellums steadily.
"Tell me," she said.
"What I think is this: I think that the dark objects ring—which is illegal, and dangerous, of course, but not the worst thing we come up against by a long shot—was a front for something much worse. I think someone had it in for Harry, something personal against him, and they planned all of this to get revenge. And I think they'll probably keep him alive for a while, but only so they can do any number of horrible things to him."
"You think a lot of things, don't you?" Ginny asked sourly.
Vellums shrugged. "I didn't get this far by underestimating what I'm up against. I've seen a lot of these people, Ginny, people who fall into dark magic. It has a certain effect. I know how their minds work—"
"I know too," Ginny cut him off sharply. "More than you can imagine."
Vellums opened his mouth to say something, but closed it sharply. Perhaps it was Ginny's stony expression that quieted him, or perhaps, just faintly, it was the ghost of Tom Riddle, looking out through her eyes for the briefest of moments.
They stood and quietly regarded each other. Ginny felt the surliness that had built up within her melt away, and suddenly she only felt tired, and scared. The breeze picked up and she shivered, crossing her arms.
"Thank you," she said, "For telling me the truth."
Vellums nodded. "I'm sorry to do it," he said. "Is there anything I can do for you, or your family?"
That sounded like a routine question to Ginny, and she wasn't sure what comfort the man could provide now that he'd told her what he knew. She shook her head. "Thank you," she said, "But we'll be fine."
He nodded and backed up a few steps, toward the end of the walk where he could Apparate away. "I have to get back, then. The search is on, of course. There should be two Aurors here within half an hour. I think under the circumstances it's best to keep a watch on the house. I'll contact you the minute I know anything."
Ginny couldn't bring herself to thank him again, so there was an awkward pause before the man turned and walked away. Ginny watched him until he reached the street, spun on the spot, and vanished with a small pop. She glanced around, but didn't expect to see anyone. Their house was secluded, hidden by woods on two sides, and the only one for a mile in any direction. It had to be that way since the neighborhood was mostly Muggles, and the Potters loved flying a bit too much to live anywhere they might easily be seen.
Still, she got the feeling of being watched, and hoped that the Aurors would arrive soon. Vellums was right, of course. If someone had been after Harry, they might try to come after her too, or their children. She reached a hand out and touched the door frame softly. Over a dozen protective wards were in place—she could feel them, if she tried, humming beneath her palm. They would be safe, wouldn't they? She certainly didn't feel safe. Whoever they were up against had gotten Harry somehow. The thought was almost unimaginable.
As she stepped back inside, she briefly pressed a hand against her ribs. It wasn't quite a physical feeling, but she could tell that something deep inside her was cracked.
The Potter children were very quiet. Lily leaned against her mother on the couch, James sat beside them. Albus was on the floor, his arms curled around his knees. None of them said a word after Ginny had finished telling them all she had learned from Vellums two nights ago, and all she had learned from him since then, which wasn't much. Harry was still missing; they still weren't sure who was behind it. They had no way of knowing where he'd been taken, and the longer it took them to figure it out, the more likely it was that he couldn't be saved even if they did find him.
James was the first to break the silence. "I can't believe it!" he said angrily. "How could somebody get Dad? He's the best, isn't he? He's effing Harry Potter!"
"James," Ginny said warningly, more out of habit than anything else. She sighed and said, "He was probably ambushed. It was a trap. A set-up."
"Why did Dad go if it was a trap?" Lily asked. Ginny stroked her hair gently.
"He didn't know," she said, and her voice broke. She took a breath to a get a grip on herself. She was tired, and she didn't want to pretend to be okay, but that didn't mean she wasn't going to do it. Not when the kids needed her to do it. "You know his job is dangerous. Sometimes these things happen."
"But why?" Lily pressed, obviously frustrated. "Why do they have to happen? Why do people have to be bad?"
"Give it a rest, Lils," James said sulkily.
Ginny shot James a Look and said to Lily, "I don't know, sweetheart. Some people are just bad. Or sometimes bad things happen to people and it makes them bad themselves."
"But—" Lily began, but Albus spoke up for the first time, cutting her off.
"Not you," he said, looking at Ginny. "Not Dad. Lots of bad things happened to you, right? And you've never used dark magic."
A small, wry smile found its way to Ginny's lips. "That's true," she said. The smile faded. "And much good it's done Dad. I wonder if people can be too good sometimes… Too good for their own good, that's the way your dad always was."
"Why are you talking about him in the past tense?" Albus asked. His voice cracked, as it tended to do, especially when he was nervous or upset.
"I'm not," Ginny said firmly. "I'm saying, he's always been that way. Up until now. When he still is."
James rolled his eyes, "Great, okay. Dad's good, other people are bad. We get it. But how are they going to find him?"
"Well, that's the thing…" said Ginny. She briefly wondered if this would be even harder to say than all the rest, but then it came pouring out, easiest of all: "I'm going to find him."
"What?" all three children asked at almost exactly the same time. Ginny looked at each of them in turn. James had quite a surly expression, and she knew that she probably wouldn't get more than sarcasm from him until he calmed down. Lily was frowning as if she was trying to figure out a difficult problem. Albus was the hardest to look at. He simply looked… sad. But all of them were taking it well; they weren't crying, they were surprised at her statement but didn't seem scared. They were tough, her kids, and brave. They would be all right.
She wondered at how a conversation could change from a mother talking to her children, to a person talking to other people.
"I can't just sit here," she told them honestly. "I can't just wait around for someone else to tell me that Harry—that your dad is dead. Not if there's something I can do…" She looked around at her children, who were all regarding her warily now. "You'll be fine," she told them with more certainty than she felt. "There have been guards here every day, you probably haven't seen them—"
"We did, thanks," James said.
Ginny sighed. "I'm sorry I kept you in the dark, all right? I didn't know what to do. Now look, I'm leaving tonight. I want you all to pack bags to go stay with Uncle Ron for a while."
"No!" Lily and Albus disagreed immediately.
"What if he comes back?" Lily asked frantically. "What if Dad comes back and no one's here?"
"What if they come after us there and get Hermione and Ron and Rose and Hugo too?" Albus asked, his face pale.
Ginny felt a pang in her heart. She remembered a time long ago when Harry, looking much younger, more like Albus, told her that she couldn't be his girlfriend because she could get killed. Even after Voldemort's death, it had taken some convincing for Harry to be completely okay with something as vulnerable as a girlfriend, a wife, a family. And they did know the dangers—theirs was probably the most strongly protected wizarding household in England, and all of the Weasleys weren't far behind. But until now those dangers hadn't seemed so real. People held grudges against Harry, but that was a far cry from a genocidal psychopath with a grudge and a prophecy to back it up. Ginny was amazed to realize that somehow, even after everything she had been through, she had managed to form a sense of security.
And look where assuming all was well had brought her.
"You'll be fine," she said to them with much more certainty than she felt. "And Dad will know where to find you if he comes back." She turned to James.
"No complaints from you? That's unusual." She tried to smile.
The look James gave her in return was dead serious. "I want to come with you," he said.
Ginny wasn't surprised. If anything, she was surprised by how very unsurprised she was. But how could she be? James didn't normally look like his father, at least not nearly as much as Albus. But just now he was regarding her with such a determined expression he reminded her more of Harry than Albus ever did.
Her first instinct was to calm down slightly, about everything. After all, when Harry got that expression it usually meant that he was going to take care of things. And everything would turn out all right. She could remember that young face as clear as yesterday, twisted with pain but trying not to show it, telling her to get out of the Chamber, to leave him…
Then she remembered that, of course, this wasn't Harry at all, it was James, and there was no way in hell he was putting himself in danger.
Her wandering thoughts had occurred in all of a second. "No," she said simply.
James's resolved expression crumpled almost immediately, and to Ginny's relief he didn't look like Harry anymore. Probably his proposal should have made her proud, but not in this kind of situation. Not with Harry's own track record of getting mixed up in extremely dangerous things, especially when he was right around James's age.
"Why not?" he complained. "I can help you! I'm old enough."
"You are not old enough," Ginny disagreed. "And it's the holidays. You can't even use magic."
"The Ministry won't care if I'm doing it to save Dad!" James pointed out. "They'll probably thank me."
"I want to go too!" piped up Lily.
Ginny heaved a frustrated sigh. She should have realized this would have sparked some kind of argument with the kids. They were Harry's after all, as she had reminded Hermione earlier. And she'd thought that they should be kept from the truth because it would frighten them!
She should have known. She was just so focused on saving Harry, on figuring out how she was going to go about it… it had been easy to forget that leaving home would probably be one of the most difficult parts of the whole operation.
"Listen, you three," she said, trying to insert a bit of no nonsense in her voice. Albus hadn't made a bid to join her yet, and perhaps wasn't likely too, but she addressed him too just in case. "This is serious. It's nice that you want to help your dad…"
"Nice?" James repeated. "I don't want to do it to be nice."
Ginny asked, "Well then, why do you want to do it?"
And James's answer was immediate, "Because he's in trouble and he might need my help."
This was getting harder and harder by the minute. Ginny wondered if she'd make it out without a full-blown row starting up. She hoped so. If things didn't go well, she didn't want angry words to be the last to pass between her and her kids.
But she would reserve those kinds of thoughts for later.
"Dad is in trouble," she conceded. "But I promise you, there is nothing you can do about it. Where ever he's being… held… it's going to be dangerous. Whoever was able to get him must be really powerful, and you all aren't experienced enough."
"More powerful than Voldemort?" James asked insistently.
Ginny was somewhat shocked by the question. "No, of course not."
"Dad went after Voldemort when he was my age," James continued. "When he thought Sirius was captured, you all left school and went right to go find him, to face Voldemort even though Dad was only fifteen, and you were only Al's age! You told us that, you told us that story. You survived, didn't you? You got out."
Ginny's voice was cold when she replied, "Sirius didn't."
James shut up immediately, his gaze aimed toward the floor. He looked like he still wanted to argue but couldn't think of anything else to say.
Ginny sighed and reached over to touch James's shoulder. "I understand this is frustrating," she said, her voice deliberately calm. "But it's what has to be done. When you three are older you can go about saving whoever you want," just not if I have anything to say about it, she added silently. "Now go upstairs and pack some bags so you can stay with Uncle Ron, all right? Please."
For a moment she didn't think they would do it, and she did her best to keep the frustration screaming in her chest from showing on her face. Ginny had never been the best at hiding her emotions. For most of her life she'd never seen any need to, and she certainly never had a problem with saying exactly what was on her mind. But that had changed quite a bit when the kids came along.
But in truth, presently the feelings she suppressed were pretty far removed from fear or worry. Beneath the calm she imposed on herself for the kids, something raged and twisted inside. Something she couldn't really describe as anything except violence. And she was trying very hard not to think about it. Not until the kids were safe. Not until she got out. Then nothing else would matter.
Slowly, finally, each of her children got up and made their way towards the foyer where the staircase was. Ginny did her best to hold in a sigh of relief. She understood why they were fighting her on this, but when it came right down to it, the longer she was here convincing them not to get involved, the longer she wasn't out there, finding Harry.
As soon as Albus, trailing behind the others slightly, disappeared into the foyer, Ginny allowed herself to sink back into the couch and close her eyes. Soon, she told herself. Soon she would have her answers. There was just one more obstacle to overcome.
Ron and Hermione.
"I can't believe this!" James raged. He was packing, shoving random bits of clothing at various stages of cleanliness into a backpack without looking at them, but he certainly wasn't happy about it. "I can't believe she's just going to leave us like this. I should be allowed to go!"
Albus said nothing. He was much more careful about his own bag, regarding the neatly folded clothes in his drawers with scrutiny. He made sure to stock up on socks and underwear in particular.
"And just what does she think she's going to do anyway, huh? I mean, I know she knows how to fight and all, but she's a writer for Merlin's sake. She's not a damned Auror, like Dad."
Albus continued to pack quietly. He half-listened to his brother's ranting, but for the most part consumed himself with the task. He had two jackets he was considering, but only one was waterproof. He'd better bring that one.
"Are you even listening, Al?" James snapped at him, finally, as Albus knew inevitably would happen, turning his anger on his little brother. "Do you even care that all this is happening? I mean, I didn't see you trying to convince Mum to let us go." He narrowed his eyes. "Your own little sister wants to go, but you don't? Why am I not surprised?"
Albus regarded him levelly, his green eyes revealing nothing. Before he had the chance to defend himself, if he was even going to bother, Lily stomped into the room. She dropped a bright pink duffel bag on the ground and it landed with a loud thunk. It was so full that the zipper hadn't been able to close properly, and from what Albus could see her packing methods were much more similar to their older brother's than his own.
"I'm ready," she said moodily. "But I don't like it. I don't like this. What if Mum never comes back?"
The boys simultaneously noted with surprise that Lily was close to tears. It sent a shiver of panic through each of them; Lily rarely cried. If she was crying, then things had to be pretty awful.
"Don't worry," James said, awkwardly fumbling for the words to comfort a sister who usually didn't need it. "She will. Mum's tough. She knows what she's doing."
Albus knew better than to point out that this statement was practically the opposite of what James had said not one minute before. Instead he closed up his own bag, and watched his siblings. The three Potter children could only seem to stand there, looking at each other. None of them was ready to go back downstairs and to get dumped on their aunt and uncle while their mother went out and risked her life for their father, who might already be dead anyway.
It occurred to all three that this was the worst thing that ever happened to them.
"Well, let's go then," Albus prompted finally. On his part, as much as he would rather stay behind, if they had to go then he was anxious to get moving. He made for the door, but James interrupted him.
"Hey, Al," he said, "I, er, what I said. Look, I get it. I mean, maybe it is a little crazy to want to go along. I'm just not thinking straight, and I'll er, get over it."
Lily shot him a look, thinking over his words before figuring out was going on. She turned her gaze to Albus. She hadn't said anything, more because she didn't know what to make of it than as matter of showing any kind of tact, but she'd also noticed his silence during their argument downstairs.
"You won't," Albus said quietly. He had a peculiar expression on his face, one that Lily didn't recognize. More often than not Albus's face was hidden behind a book anyway.
James frowned. "I'm trying to apologize here, you know I'm no good at it…"
"Shut up," Albus said. It was quite an assertive statement. James was so surprised he shut his mouth tight immediately. Albus regarded his brother and sister and in that moment Lily realized what was different, what she couldn't place before. Determination.
If Ginny had been there to see, she would have noticed it right away. James wearing that expression resembled Harry, maybe, but when Albus wore it… it was like stepping through time. But she didn't see, and the kids couldn't know.
"I didn't say anything for a reason," Albus explained. "I don't want Mum to be suspicious."
"Suspicious of what?" Lily breathed, her eyes wide with actual amazement.
"That we're going to sneak away, of course," Albus said. "We're going to go out and find Dad for ourselves."
"Merlin's balls," said James. "Who are you and what have you done with my little brother?"
"He's right here," replied Albus. "And he's got a plan."
END OF CHAPTER ONE
Author's Note: So there you have it! Just as a side note to any extreme nit-pickers: I'm aware that James and Al, according to Harry, specifically do not share a room. I say they do. I guess you can officially count my fanfiction as AU then, lol.
Until next time!