- Chapter 1 -
James Potter sighed to himself as he slumped over his kitchen table. We're screwed, he thought to himself. We're all so very screwed. Once more, he looked over the crumpled parchment he held in his hand.
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches,
Born to those who have thrice defied him,
Born as the seventh month dies.
And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal,
But he will have power the Dark Lord knows not,
And either must die at the hand of the other,
For neither can live while the other survives.
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord,
Will be born as the seventh month dies…
It was written in Dumbledore's spindly script, and the page also housed any notes that the Order had collectively decided were the most important. James had another three pages of notes and speculations somewhere, but they all added up to the same thing: Either his son or Frank's son was going to kill Voldemort. Or…
But no, the second option didn't bear thinking about. His son wouldn't die. He couldn't die. Harry wasn't even two years old, and already, his life was being planned out for him.
"Dammit, it isn't fair!" He hissed, banging his fist on the table. He jumped up as he felt a hand gently touch his shoulder. "Lils…" James sighed in relief; it had been his wife who'd scared him. "I didn't hear you come in."
"Silencing charm on my shoes," she admitted, with a shake of her fiery red hair. "Didn't want to wake Harry." James ducked his head to her shoulder and when he raised it, some minutes later, tears were glistening in his eyes.
"Why him, Lily? Why our Harry? He's too young to have the world relying on him." The tears were rolling freely down his face, now, and he wiped at them savagely with the sleeve of his robes. "And does this mean that we're going to have to stay here 'til he grows up, 'til he can fight? Is Voldemort going to be around for that long?" A tinge of fear crept into James' voice. "And what if he doesn't want to fight? Will they make him? They can't make him; I won't let them!" Once more, he buried his face in the crook of Lily's neck. She rubbed his back in small circles, making soothing noises until his shoulders stopped shaking.
"I know it's hard, James, but our son will do what he has to do. Don't forget, it could be little Neville, too; Harry might be safe." Her brow furrowed slightly, as it often did when she was deep in thought. "After all, Neville is a pure-blood. Surely Voldemort would consider him the bigger threat and mark him?" She nodded to herself, pleased with her own logic. "It'll all be okay, James. We're under the Fidelius charm, anyway; no one can find us here."
"I'm just so worried about him, Lils. Everything's changing so fast. And now with this prophecy… I'm going to have to start behaving, aren't I?" He looked up at Lily's face, and nodded glumly to himself. "No more stupid pranks, no more Prongs with Moony. No more drunken nights…" James trailed off, his expression of horror showing exactly how 'pleased' he would be to give up his firewhiskey.
"It might not even be Harry, James. But yes, you are going to behave and grow up. Though, I don't doubt that the Marauders will be looking to induct our son as their newest member." James blushed a little at this; Sirius had already mentioned the idea a few times. "But that doesn't mean you can't have some fun, James. We'll get through this, I know we will. We'll survive, we always have. Just this time, Harry will be there with us." Lily stretched up onto her toes, and placed a kiss on James' head. "And Sirius, and Remus, and Peter can come round tomorrow for a booze-up. God knows we all need one."
Lily giggled at the incredulous expression of sheer joy on James' face. "What? There was a reason we got married, you know?" James joined in, laughing as he slung an arm around his wife's shoulders.
"I love you, Lils. But I'd love you even more if you let Harry become an honorary Marauder…" James trailed off and gave Lily his best puppy dog impression.
"No, James! I will not have you four being a bad influence on our son!" Lily rolled her eyes at her immature husband.
"You know, it's going to happen anyway…" James yelped as his wife batted his arm. "Okay, okay, you can influence him and he'll be a 'proper Prefect' and a 'real Head Boy'." They both laughed, fondly remembering their school days, only a few years gone.
"I live in hope," Lily giggled out.
"I do love you though, Lily. With all my heart." James rested his forehead on his wife's and stared unwaveringly into her emerald eyes.
"And I, you, James."
- HBP - HBP - HBP - HBP - HBP -
A few hours later, James sat in the living room of his small cottage, having calmed down some. He had his wand in his hand; making clouds of smoke appear for his son. The little boy was laughing and trying to catch the smoke in his small fists. He pouted and shook his head when it slipped through his hands.
"He looks just like you when he does that," Lily, teased, "with his hair all over the place. Honestly, I can never untangle it!"
"I don't pout!" James protested. "I frown!"
"You're pouting now, love," Lily told him with a giggle. She leant down and kissed him on the cheek, her long, dark-red hair falling in front of their faces, hiding them from the rest of the world.
"Up!" A small voice demanded. Lily and James pulled apart, smiling. James reached down and picked the boy up from the floor to join in the group hug. A dimpled smile appeared on his face and his eyes fell shut. James watched on in awe.
Harry was 15 months old, now, but James never tired of his son. He had jet black hair that always looked a mess, just like his own. He had Lily's eyes, though. They were almond-shaped and startlingly green. He got a dimple in his left cheek when he was really happy, but James wasn't sure whose side of the family that trait came from.
"It's bedtime, James," Lily whispered in his ear. "Don't play any more games with him, he hates sleeping as it is." James reluctantly passed the child over, threw his wand back onto the sofa, and stretched out, yawning. Lily put Harry over her shoulder, using one hand to steady him. The other hand collected a wide assortment of toys as they made their way upstairs.
"He just wants to make mischief at night time!" James called after them. "Marauder stock, see?" Lily smiled ruefully and shook her head.
"Don't you listen to your Daddy, Harry." Lily whispered to her son. "You be Mommy's little angel, instead." She placed a soft kiss to his forehead as they climbed the stairs.
Outside, in the cold that always seemed to be present at Godric's Hollow, a robed figure opened the creaking gate. A skeletal, white hand rose to point the wand it was holding at the door, which burst open at the figure's command. As James came sprinting into the hall, the man was already over the threshold.
"Lily, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off-" A shrill laugh, a whispered command, a flash of green light, and James Potter fell to the floor. Lily Potter, however, could be heard screaming upstairs.
Furniture scraped on the floor as she attempted to barricade herself in. She cursed herself for not having her wand with her. How stupid could she be? Nowhere was safe enough to warrant not carrying a weapon anymore.
For the second time that night, a door burst open. She stood with Harry in her arms, facing him. As he entered the room, she dropped the boy into the cot behind her, and threw her arms wide.
"Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!" What a sight she was! The man thought. Her lithe figure, coupled with her fiery red hair, half- cowering in front of the most powerful wizard in the world.
"Stand aside, you silly girl… stand aside now…" The figure rasped as it advanced on her.
"Not Harry, please no. Take me, kill me instead-" He was in front of her now. She looked up into his eyes, pleading. "Not Harry!" She repeated, tears now streaming down her face. "Please… have mercy… have mercy…"
The hooded figure laughed, throwing his head back with wild abandon. As it turned to look at the woman, she saw the hood had fallen down. She looked upon the face of a man, a man who had once been beautiful. Tom Riddle, the logical part of her brain told her. Lord Voldemort, the panicked part of her brain said. Cruel bastard, the rest screamed. He smiled at her, a smile full of spite and hatred.
"Crucio," he hissed, pointing his wand at her.
The woman fell to the floor screaming almost immediately. Her arms and legs flailed aimlessly. The man lowered his wand, his red eyes nearly burning a hole into the woman.
Slowly, carefully, the woman picked herself up off the floor. Her legs still shook, her arms still trembled, and every part of her still ached, but eventually she stood. Again, she was between Riddle and the cot.
"Stand aside, little Lily. I won't ask again." She didn't move. "Avada Kedavra." Green light reflected all around the room; the boy scrunched up his eyes. Lily crumpled once more. This time, her body was still. Voldemort crouched, his head cocked, so he could look into her emerald eyes.
"What he saw in you, I'll never know. Filthy little Mudblood succubus." He fairly spat the last word. A hand snaked out from underneath his robes and moved up to touch her red hair, and he bent his face to touch his lips to hers. Voldemort paused a few inches away, as a small voice rang out across the room.
"No!" Voldemort looked up, a smirk already on his face. There, his small hands clutching at the bars of his crib, was what he had come for. Messy black hair, like the man he had killed downstairs. Bright-green eyes, like the woman on the floor in front of him.
"Think you can stop me, little boy?" He laughed again. "Avada Kedavra." He flicked his wand, lazily, at the child in the cot, turning away as he did so.
"No!" The boy growled. Voldemort spun, eyes flashing with confusion. The child was glowing, a deep purple colour. The man watched in satisfaction as the flash of green spun at the boy, hitting him in his forehead.
"No!" The boy cried out, in anguish, and the green reappeared, tinged in the same purple as the child. Voldemort stepped back.
"This… can't… be…" His eyes widened as the jet of light hit him solidly in the chest. He felt nothing as the light consumed his entire form. A small part of his brain whispered that it wasn't the end.
Harry seemed to float towards where the man had disappeared, but at the sight of his mother on the floor, he drifted to her.
"Momma?" He whispered. "Momma, wake up!" His small hands reached out to her, tugging at her hair and her clothes. He pressed his face to the ground in front of her, looking directly into her glassy-eyed stare.
"Momma, come play with me!" Harry got louder with each word he cried. "Momma, I need you! Momma!" The boy collapsed into tears, one of his fists wrapped around his mother's index finger.
- HBP - HBP - HBP - HBP - HBP -
A few hundred miles away, somewhere in Scotland, two men sat in frantic discussion. One was old, with long grey hair, an even longer beard and shrewd blue eyes. The younger man was very young, in his early twenties, although to look into his steely onyx eyes, one might be forgiven for assuming that this man was much older than he seemed. His dark hair hung lankly around his face as he leant forwards, his head in his hands.
"He said it was tonight, Albus!" The younger man was clearly anguished. "He said he could get past the Fidelius! You have to do something!"
The older man sat back in his chair, his brow furrowed in thought. His left hand drummed out a pattern on the desk before he offered the younger man a bowl, filled with sweets.
"Bertie Botts Bean, Severus?" He offered, with a twinkle in his eye. At Severus' glare, he merely shrugged and placed the bowl back onto his desk. "There is no way for him to get past the Fidelius, my boy. The Potters are safe. She is safe."
"You didn't see him, Headmaster!" The young professor stood and began to pace. "He was to go to the Potters, and then to the Longbottoms! He was so sure of himself! And, as deluded as the man may be, he is no fool! You must do something! You must stop him!"
"I will go to Godric's Hollow, if only to appease you, Severus," Albus sighed quietly. "Stay here, I shall return shortly." He turned abruptly, to the fiery phoenix behind him. "Fawkes? Would you be so kind as to carry me to the gates? And then I would be most grateful if you would return and keep our dear Professor Snape company."
The bird trilled merrily before gracefully launching itself into the air. It slowed, as it passed next to the headmaster, who grasped the bird's tail feathers, and was lifted into the air.
"Oh, and Severus?" he called, as they passed out of the window. "Do tell Minerva I've gone!"
The young man sighed as he watched the elder man reach the gates before apparating away.
"I hope you're right, you old coot," he whispered to himself. "I hope you're right." Severus crossed to the fireplace and took a pinch of Floo powder from the pot above the mantelpiece. He threw it into the fire, calling for Minerva McGonagall as he did so.
A few moments later, a woman's head appeared in the fireplace.
"Yes, Mister Snape?" Her Scottish accent was always pronounced when she was annoyed, and unfortunately for Severus, she was most definitely annoyed.
"It's Professor Snape, as well you know!" He shot the woman an angry glare, at which she rolled her eyes. "Dumbledore asked me to tell you that he has gone to check on the Potters and the Longbottoms. He may be away for a little while."
"Thank you, Professor Snape. Is that all?"
"Yes," The man hissed, as Minerva's head popped out of the fireplace. He continued his pacing, making sure to walk by the window, and watch for the Headmaster's return.
As it was, due to his pacing, he missed the man apparating to the gates, and only saw as Albus began to run towards Hagrid's hut. Snape froze. Albus never ran. Something was wrong.
Severus tore down the revolving stairs, having to pause a second for the gargoyle to open enough for him to squeeze past. He ran as fast as he could to the hut, reaching it as an intense pain tore through his left arm. He fell to his knees, screaming, barely noticing as Dumbledore came to his side, and the half-giant exited through the gates.
When the pain in his arm had dulled enough for Severus to be able to think clearly, he ripped his shirtsleeve off to get a better look at his arm. His dark mark was fading already; it was merely red, rather than the usual black.
"He is gone?" Severus looked up at the wizard in front of him, who nodded in response. "And Lily?" Severus only had to look at Dumbledore's watery eyes to know the answer to that.
"I'm so sorry, my boy." At that, Severus collapsed into tears, burying his face into the older man's robes.
"Her son, Severus." Albus spoke softly. "Her son lives. He has her eyes, you know? And all over the world, people will raise their glasses to the memories of James and Lily Potter. But they will drink to Harry Potter - the boy who lived!"