Disclaimer I do not own Harry Potter and everything recognisable belongs to J K Rowling.
The rain had finally stopped, but grey clouds still hung in the sky, shadowing the crowd below. A large group of people clad in black robes, stood silently as Albus Dumbledore offered a few words of comfort in the wake of a tragedy. His heartfelt condolence made Lily break down, despite her valiant efforts to remain composed. As she sobbed uncontrollably in the midst of her supporting friends, her son - the only family she had left - stood silently by her side.
Harry didn't say a word. He didn't turn to see the people that came to attend the funeral. He didn't turn to hold his mother, as she cried. He didn't even make the effort to listen to Dumbledore. Truth was, he wasn't completely aware of what was happening. His attention, his whole and complete, undivided attention, was on the two coffins laid out before him. One held his dad, the brave and loving James Potter. The man that ultimately gave his life protecting his family. The other, much smaller coffin, held Harry's brother.
It was strange, Harry thought to himself, how calm one could look after surrendering their life. James and Damien looked peacefully asleep now. When he had pulled them out of the burning Godric's Hollow, they had looked terrible, clothes singed, their flesh marred with burns.
'It was smoke inhalation that killed them,' The Healers voice rang in Harry's head. 'It's very little comfort, I understand, but at least I can offer you this; they didn't burn to death.'
The Healer had been wrong. It wasn't even a little comfort.
A hand rested on Harry's shoulder, snapping him out of his thoughts. He looked up into Sirius' puffy, red rimmed eyes, which were still leaking tears.
"Harry," he choked out and nodded towards the coffins.
Harry turned to see Dumbledore had finished his speech. Now, he was just standing there, looking at Harry with a pained expression, just like the rest were. With a sudden lurch in his stomach, Harry realised it was time. They were going to lower the coffins into the graves.
Harry stepped forward, through the muddy grass to walk closer to the coffins. He stood by James' side, staring at the unnaturally pale face that lay so silently against the silk interior of the coffin. Reaching in, Harry slowly stroked the face, trying to ignore how cold it was. Pulling back his hand, Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out the tiny golden ball. For a moment, he stood and stared at the snitch grasped in his fingers.
'This became a forever reminder of my victory, my pride.' Harry remembered his dad saying. 'I want you to have it. A little reminder that my victory, my pride isn't this, but it's my son. You, Harry, are my pride, my victory.'
Doing his best to steady his trembling hand, Harry lowered the snitch into his dad's coffin. He ignored the stinging in his eyes, simply reaching up to brush at his wet cheeks. But when he turned to the small coffin on the other side, Harry found he couldn't move. His feet wouldn't obey him. Using all the energy he had, Harry forced himself to move to his brother's coffin. Damien looked so peaceful, as if he were only asleep. Harry could almost trick himself into believing that, if it weren't for those angry burns on the side of his face. Reaching into his pocket, Harry pulled out a single, slightly bent card. The first chocolate frog card he had ever received. The first gift his little brother had given him. Harry's vision blurred as hot tears welled in his eyes. He reached in and gently, he slipped the card under Damien's cold hands.
Gripping onto the edge of the coffin, Harry cried. He sobbed until there was no breath left in him. Two pairs of hands held him.
"Harry, don't," Ron's voice, thick with tears itself, whispered in his ear.
"Come on, Harry," Neville's equally pained voice came from the other side.
The two friends pulled Harry away, arms around him, supporting him back to the crowd. Harry saw Lily was in the arms of her two friends also. Sirius and Remus were comforting her, urging her to hold herself together. Lily's tear soaked eyes met her son's and she let out another cry. Freeing her arms from her friend's gentle grips, she held them out to Harry. On trembling knees, with great help from his friends, Harry made it back to his mother's arms. He hugged her tight, taking solace in her warm embrace.
Together, Harry and Lily watched as the lids were closed and the coffins were lowered into the ground. One by one, the gathered crowd took a handful of dirt and threw it into the graves of a father and his young son. Lily was drowning in her grief. She choked out Damien's name, cried James' name repeatedly. As Molly and Alice hugged her and stood by her side, Harry watched as the last of the crowd moved away, having paid their respects. Dumbledore raised his wand last and the graves filled, leaving slightly raised bumps in the ground. Harry closed his eyes and tears spilled down his cheeks. That was it. His dad and brother were buried. They were gone, never to come back.
Far off in the distance, the sound of wind chimes echoed. Harry opened his eyes. Turning his head, Harry saw a crypt, a good twenty feet away. Small, shiny, silver wind chimes hovered at the entrance, playing a tinkering sound as the wind whistled through them. The sound echoed in Harry, passing through him like fire. The sound of the wind chimes reminded him of a strange sounding laugh, belonging to a wild haired woman, clad in a shiny gold top and skirt. But more than that, it was what the woman had given him that had frozen Harry to the spot. The small bronze coin, no bigger than a Galleon, with a two-headed serpent engraved on it.
'This will be your most prized possession,' she had said. 'You will need it, oh boy, will you need it, and it will be your only way.'
Harry stepped back. His green gaze swept past the assembled mourners to rest on the two graves. He stared at them for no more than a few seconds, before he turned around and shot off, running as fast as he could.
Harry apparated to the place he thought he wouldn't have the stomach to face again. The charred, broken state of Godric's Hollow had been almost too much to take when he came here yesterday. He had fought with Sirius and his mum, to be allowed to come back, so he could take the snitch and card from his room. His mum had finally relented and Sirius had accompanied him. The entire place was left in pieces, ripped apart by the fire; every room burned, except Harry's. Harry had forced himself not to think about it. He wouldn't think about him and how he had planned to keep Harry safe from the fire, only so he could witness the death of his family. Harry knew he would lose his mind if he allowed himself to think about his once father, Voldemort. Harry couldn't deal with it, not yet. So, he had simply gone into his room, took his two prized possessions and walked back out, swearing never to return. How was Harry to know he would be breaking his promise in less than twenty-four hours?
Harry raced past the security wards placed by the Ministry, not caring a damn if he tripped them. He ran past the doorless entry and up the badly deteriorating stairs. He didn't stop until he reached his room. He ran straight to his dresser and yanked the drawers open. Such was his haste, he pulled it out entirely. The contents spilled on his floor. Harry dropped to his knees, searching frantically through his clothes for the small coin. He had thrown it in here, he was sure of it. Not finding it, Harry stood up and pulled open another drawer, dumping it onto the ground. He threw the drawer aside and went through his things. The coin wasn't there either.
"Damn it!" Harry cried. "Where are you!"
He pulled another drawer open and then another and another until his dresser was empty. His clothes and things were scattered across his floor but the coin wasn't there. Harry sat back on his knees, pushing back angry panicked tears. He ran both hands through his hair. What was going on? When he didn't want the thing, the stupid coin kept following him everywhere. Now that he was desperately looking for it, he couldn't find it.
Snapping his head up, Harry found his wide-eyed mother at his door.
"Mum," Harry was stunned. "How did you know I was here?"
"The...the wards," Lily said, staring at the clothes dumped in the middle of the floor. "They went off. Remus said it was...it was you- what are you doing?"
Harry got to his feet.
"Go, mum," he said. "I need to look for something."
"It's not safe here," Lily said. "I told you that yesterday. The floor's weakened by the fire. It could collapse."
"So go then," Harry said, looking through his bookshelf, in case the coin was there.
"What are you doing?" Lily asked again. "What are you looking for? What's so important you couldn't wait for the funeral to end completely?"
Harry didn't let his mum's hurt tone halt him. He kept searching his room, going from one corner to the other. He had to find the coin.
"Harry, I'm asking you something?"
"Mum, please," Harry turned to face her.
From the corner of his eye, he saw something glint in the sunlight coming in from the window. Turning to his bedside drawer, he found the talisman, sitting exactly where he had found it on Christmas morning. Harry hurried to it and picked it up. The moment the cold coin touched his hand, Harry felt a sense of relief wash through him. A small smile crossed his face. He could fix this now. He could make everything right again.
"Harry? Harry, what is that?" Lily asked, but Harry pocketed the coin and turned to rush past her. "Harry!" Lily grabbed a hold of him, halting him. "What's going on?"
"It's okay, mum," he said and Lily's grip loosened at the smile on his face. "Everything's going to be okay now. I'm going to fix this."
Lily's eyes narrowed.
"Fix? Fix what? What are you talking about?"
Harry pulled himself out of her grip, but held onto her hands.
"I know what I have to do," he said. "Everything will go back to the way it was." He held her gaze. "I can bring them back."
Lily's face crumpled, like Harry had said what she was fearing the most.
"Harry," she choked back a sob. "Honey," she cupped his face. "No one can bring back the dead."
"Wizards can't," Harry replied, "but there are other forces out there."
Lily bit her lip and shook her head.
"No, Harry," she said. "Nothing, wizard or otherwise, absolutely no one can bring back what is gone." She sucked in a breath. "James," her voice quivered, "and...and Damy," she shook her head. "They're gone. They can't come back."
Harry stepped back, out of her reach.
"I don't accept that," he said. "They will come back. I'll make sure of it."
He turned and went downstairs.
"What are you thinking of doing?" Lily asked, following after him. "Harry, please, talk to me. What are you going to do?"
"Whatever I have to," Harry replied. "This is my fault. I'll do whatever it takes to fix it."
"Your fault?" Lily caught his arm just as he reached the landing. She turned him around. "None of this is your fault."
"Yes, it is!" Harry suddenly shouted, catching Lily by surprise. She let go of him and stood back, staring at him and the angry tears glistening in his eyes. "This is my fault, mum!" Harry shouted. "All of this," he gestured to his surroundings. "What happened to...to dad and...and Damy," he had to stop. He had to take in a breath to ease the pain that erupted in him at the mention of his brother. "Mum," he took in a shuddering breath. "They wouldn't have died, if it wasn't for me."
"Don't say that," Lily whispered. "please, Harry, don't."
"You know it's true," Harry said. "If I hadn't come back, if I had stayed away, dad and Damy would've been alive today!"
"Stop it!" Lily yelled. "Don't you dare say that. Don't you dare, you hear me!"
"It's my fault, mum," Harry repeated, quietly this time. "If I had told you the first time Voldemort broke past the wards and sent me a letter, you and dad would've changed the wards. You would've stepped up the security. But I didn't tell you. I kept it a secret. My stupidity cost me the life of my dad and brother."
Lily, who had learned of Voldemort's correspondence with Harry shortly after discovering the bodies of her husband and son, kept silent. She was angry with Harry over that, extremely angry, but she didn't have it in her to talk to Harry about it. She didn't want to add to his guilt.
"Listen to me, Harry," she said, stepping closer to him. "None of this is your fault. Yes, you should have told us about Voldemort contacting you, but even if you had, Voldemort could've found another way to get to us. He found us in Diagon Alley, didn't he? That wasn't your fault. You didn't know he was going to come." She ran a hand over his hair. "This is no one's fault but Voldemort's. Place blame where it deserves to be placed."
Harry looked up at her, accepting the sincerity in her eyes. It didn't mean he believed her though.
"Okay," he said. "But I'm still going. I have a chance to fix this."
"You don't want dad back?" Harry asked.
Lily paused, pain flashing on her face.
"Of course I do."
"Harry," Lily struggled to hold back her tears. "I would do anything, anything to get them back, you know that-"
"Then let me go," Harry said. "You'll get them back, I promise you."
"What are you thinking about doing?" Lily asked again. "Just tell me where you're going?"
But Harry simply pulled himself out of her grip again and turned to walk outside.
"Harry! Harry, wait!" Lily called, running after him. "If you think I'm letting my eleven year old son go out alone-"
"I have to be alone, mum. It won't work otherwise."
"What won't work? Will you just tell me what you're planning on doing?"
Harry didn't answer. He kept on walking down the path.
"Harry! Harry, please!" Lily yelled after him. "There's nothing you can do, Harry! No spell can bring back the dead!"
Harry stopped. He turned around to hold Lily's teary gaze.
"Who said anything about spells?" he said quietly.
Lily stared at him with panicked confusion. Without saying another word, Harry turned and stepped past the anti-appartation wards. He disappeared with a small pop, leaving behind a distraught Lily, screaming his name.
Snow crunched loudly under Harry's feet, as he hit the ground. He stared around at the deserted grounds, where an entire circus had once proudly stood. Harry didn't know if the coin alone would summon the Gypsy, so he chose to come here, the first place he had met her. Harry knew his mum would probably have Sirius and the rest out looking for him. The last place anyone would look for him, would be the empty grounds where once a muggle circus had taken place.
Harry walked over to the spot he had stood and conversed with Gazelle. He dug out the coin and held it in a tight fist. He closed his eyes and let out a shaky breath, which misted in the cold air. He turned the coin three times in his hand. Opening his eyes, he expected to see the smug looking Gypsy standing before him. No one was there. Harry frowned and turned the coin thrice again. No one answered the call.
"Come on," Harry growled. "Gazelle!" he called out. "I know you're here! Show yourself!"
A tinkering laugh sounded all around him.
"My, my," came her voice from behind and Harry turned around to meet her dark eyes. "Aren't we impatient?" she asked, leaning against a pole.
Harry strode up to her.
"Can you really do it?" he asked.
"Hmm?" Gazelle asked, raising an eyebrow. "Do what, child?"
"What you said," Harry bit back. "Manipulate the dead. Can you really do that?"
Gazelle laughed and straightened up.
"Oh, that," she lazily stretched, going up onto her tiptoes, holding her hands high up in the air. "Of course I can."
Harry nodded, breathing out a gasp of relief. A part of him had been afraid Gazelle was just showing off.
"Okay," he said. "You wanted a deal, right?"
Gazelle stared at him with dark eyes, a slight smirk at her lips.
"Here it is then," Harry said. "You bring my dad and brother back to life," he paused briefly, willing himself to stay strong, "and I'll give you my magic."
Gazelle smiled, showing her teeth.
"Will you now?" she asked.
"Every last drop," Harry promised. "But you have to bring them back to life and you have to do it tonight. They come back as they were, in perfect health with their full powers."
"Oh my," Gazelle grinned. "That's a lot of work."
"You're taking my magic," Harry said. "Trust me, it's all worth it."
Gazelle laughed, taking a moment to look Harry up from head to toe.
"Indeed," she replied.
"So," Harry straightened up, holding his head high. "Do we have a deal?"
Gazelle took a moment before taking in a deep breath. She moved closer to Harry, bending slightly to look Harry in the eye. Leaning in close, she gently, almost lovingly, whispered a single word.
Harry was taken aback.
"What?" he asked.
"No," she repeated. "No deal." She straightened up and turned around, walking away.
"Hey!" Harry yelled, running after her. "What do you mean? You wanted my power."
"I did," Gazelle admitted. "But I'm not interested anymore. You made me wait too long."
"Gazelle," Harry blocked her path. "You can't do this. You're the only one that can bring my family back."
"I know," Gazelle replied, " but I won't." she shrugged. "Frustrating isn't it? When you can't get what you want, even though it's right there." She side-stepped him and continued walking.
A mighty gust of wind stopped her. The pole that she had been leaning against uprooted and flew towards her. It missed her by several inches, clanging to the floor before her. Gazelle, looking unfazed, turned to look at the enraged eleven year old.
"I won't miss next time," Harry growled, his eyes a dark poison green. "That pole can knock your head clean off!"
"Dead Gypsies can't fulfil deals, can they?"
Harry stepped closer.
"If you won't make a deal, you're of no use to me."
Gazelle's tinkering laugh made goosebumps erupt all over Harry.
"My dear sweet child," she cooed. "If I want, I can disappear faster than the blink of an eye. You can spend lifetimes looking but you'll never find me." She tilted her head to the side, studying Harry. "If I'm still here, then there must be a reason, don't you think?"
Harry forced himself to calm down.
"Will you make the deal then?"
Gazelle stepped back and folded her arms across her chest.
"You have a good memory," she said. "You must remember me telling you that you would ask for my help?"
"I do," Harry replied.
"Good," Gazelle said. "Then you know that I'm right. I predicted this and it came to pass." She stepped closer, smiling. "Do you remember what else I told you would happen?"
The memory came back to Harry; stuck in his cell in Nurmengard, Gazelle had tempted him with freedom in exchange for his magic. Harry had knocked her back then. He remembered her fiercely spoken words.
'You stupid boy. You have no idea what's coming...keep that coin, boy. You'll need it, mark my words. You will bow before me, on your knees and beg me to help you!'
Harry looked up at her and saw the smirk on her face. Her eyes glinted with dark amusement.
"Ah, you do remember," she said. "What are you waiting for, boy?"
Gritting his teeth, Harry lowered himself onto his knees, in the freezing snow. Keeping his eyes on her the entire time, Harry managed to spit the words out.
"Please," he said. "I'm begging you. Help me."
Gazelle laughed, throwing back her head in vicious glee.
"Oh dear," she said. "You could cut through steel with that glare."
"What do you want!" Harry yelled. "I'm doing what you asked. I'm on my knees! I'm begging you! What else do you want?"
"I want so much more," Gazelle said. "So much, even you'll be surprised."
"Just tell me, can you do it!" Harry spat, rising to his feet. "Can you bring my dad and brother back?"
"I can," Gazelle replied with a slow nod. "But that's not the question." She moved closer. "The question is, to bring back your father and brother, what are you willing to give up?"
Harry paused for a moment.
"Everything," he breathed.
Gazelle smiled, almost in triumph. She reached into her top and pulled out a small vial with a clear liquid. She held it out to Harry.
"In that case," she smirked, "you'll get your deal."
Harry eyed the vial.
"What is that?"
"The answer to all your prayers."
Harry took the vial from her but didn't drink it right away. He looked up at her.
"What will it do?"
"It'll bind your powers," Gazelle said, "and transfer them to me."
Harry had to fight the bile that rose in his throat. He nodded with great difficulty.
"So I'll...I'll be a.. a squib?"
"If you live through it," Gazelle replied.
Harry looked down at the vial.
"My dad and brother?"
"Drink the vial and you'll get your dad and brother back," Gazelle said.
"I may be desperate but I'm not stupid," Harry bit back. "You bring them back first and then I'll drink whatever you want."
Gazelle laughed and shook her head.
"Doesn't work that way. The moment you drink that, my end of the deal will be fulfilled." She smirked at him. "Trust me."
Harry glared at her.
"You want your family back?" Gazelle asked. "Then drink up. If not, then drop the vial and walk away."
Harry took a long moment to consider his options. He looked to Gazelle before dropping his gaze to the vial. Taking in a shuddering breath, he uncapped the vial and held it up. He traded one last look with Gazelle.
"Just so you know," Harry said. "I don't need my powers to kill you." His fierce green gaze fell on her. "Don't even think about cheating me."
"I won't," she replied. "You drink that, James and Damien Potter will come back to life, back to the way they were, in complete health and with their full powers." She held up her hands. "Of course, your brother will have to reach his seventeenth birthday before he can get his full powers, just like other wizards."
The mental image of a seventeen year old Damien gripped Harry. Holding onto that image, that hope, Harry closed his eyes and brought the vial to his lips and tipped it up. The liquid was tasteless but the moment it passed his throat Harry felt his whole body tingle, from the tips of his hair to his toes. The cold air around him vanished and a comfortable warmth surrounded him. Harry had been expecting pain, excruciating agony as his magic was ripped out of him, but there was no pain. In fact, he didn't feel different at all. Warily, Harry opened his eyes, but what he saw stole the very breath from his lungs.
He was standing in a lush, expensively decorated room. A room he had fallen in love with the first moment he had seen it. Facing him was his bed, the one that he had grown up sleeping in.
Harry turned around, staring wide-eyed as the short, plump and balding man before him.
"I know this is a lot to take in," Peter went on, wringing his hands nervously, "but you must make a decision."
Harry turned his head, catching his reflection in the mirror of his eight door wardrobe. He was no longer the pale eleven year old with haunted green eyes. His face didn't show signs of malnutrition he suffered at Nurmengard. He looked perfectly healthy, just like he had a year ago, when he was only ten years old.
Harry's mind was reeling. What had happened? Was this a part of the deal? Is this what the Gypsy had planned? Then it hit him. Of course it was. This was her way of fulfilling Harry's wish. She didn't cast a spell. She simply rewound time, to a year exactly. His dad and Damien were still alive. They were in Godric's Hollow right now, safe and sound, probably having dinner.
Harry bristled at the name. He turned to see Peter Pettigrew staring worriedly at him.
"I've told you the truth. You know now how the Dark Lord has wronged you." He went on. "I brought you here, all those years ago. I wronged you too." Tears were brimming in his eyes. "But I can correct my wrongs. I can take you away from here. I can take you back home."
"Home," Harry said, speaking the word with dry lips. "Home," he repeated. "Yes. I want to go home." He turned to face Peter. "I want to go home."
Peter smiled, overjoyed.
"Please, hurry," he wiped at his eyes. "We must go, now."
Harry nodded at him. He didn't want to stay here for even a moment longer. Peter turned to the door and slipped it open. Harry turned around to see his wand sitting on his bedside table. Harry gave it one last look. He was a squib now. What use did he have for a wand?
Leaving his wand lying there, Harry turned and followed Peter out the door, ready to go home to his family.
"Come on," Peter whispered as they hurried down the corridors of Riddle Manor.
Harry followed close by his side. His mind was fixed to only one thing; getting to Godric's Hollow and seeing his dad again, seeing Damien again. Gazelle may have taken his magic, but she had given him more than he could ever ask for. By taking him back a year, not only did she ensure James and Damien were fine, she had erased Harry's trouble with the Ministry. The events of last year never happened. No one learned he had killed a man tonight. There wasn't going to be a trial looming in his future. He could be with his family for good.
Harry reckoned he was probably the only one with the memory of what had happened. He wasn't going to make the same mistakes. This time, he would be ready for Lord Voldemort. This time, he would do what he had to, to ensure Lord Voldemort didn't get anywhere near him or his family.
Peter reached the end of the stairs and paused to wipe the sweat from his brow.
"Almost there," he said. "Just let me transform and sneak out to make sure the foyer is clear."
Peter took a step forward and suddenly fell to the ground with a cry, twitching and twisting on the ground.
"Peter!" Harry made to rush towards him when someone grabbed him from behind. Harry twisted to look up and gasped. "Lucius!"
Lucius Malfoy had Harry's arms in a bruising grip. He hadn't quite twisted them behind Harry's back but still Harry was rendered defenceless. It didn't stop Harry from fighting though.
"Let go of me!" Harry yelled, trying to kick and twist out of Lucius' hold.
"I don't think so, Prince," Lucius replied, firming his grip.
Stepping out from the shadows, Lord Voldemort made himself known. His wand was still pointed at Peter, holding him under a silent Cruciatus curse, but his ruby red gaze was on Harry.
Harry's panic was rising fast, making him breathless. This wasn't supposed to happen. It didn't happen last time. They had got out. Peter had sneaked him out of Riddle manor. He had got home. He had been reunited with his family. He couldn't get caught. This couldn't be happening.
"How-?" Harry choked out. "How did you know?"
Voldemort smirked. He tilted his head to the side and Harry followed his gesture, looking over at the portrait that was the door. A shape began forming out from the portrait; a portrait of a two-headed serpent. Harry gaped in utter shock as Gazelle materialised before him. Understanding hit Harry, hard.
"You-?" he breathed. "You tricked me."
"Aww," Gazelle pouted. "Don't look so hurt, Harry," she said as she walked closer. "It wasn't personal. I was only doing my master's bidding."
Harry's gaze snapped to Voldemort. Such was Harry's surprise and shock, he stopped fighting to get free.
"You?" he asked. "You...sent her after me?"
Voldemort's smirked and lifted up his wand, ending the curse on Peter. He turned to face Gazelle, who bowed deeply before him. Looking back at Harry, Voldemort shook his head.
"I wish I could remember," he said. "I believe I would have enjoyed your look of utter disbelief even more, should I have known what it is I did."
Harry looked to Gazelle.
"You're the only one that knows what happened," Gazelle explained. "That vial that you drank, thinking it was something to bind your powers?" She laughed. "It doesn't bind your powers. What it does, is collect and bind the entire memory of last year into one, easily accessible memory." She grinned at Harry. "The only ones that know what happened in that whole one year that I have rewound, is you and me."
Harry glared at her, fighting to get free again.
"You're dead!" he spat venomously. "I told you I would kill you if you cheated me!"
"But I didn't cheat you," Gazelle said. "You got what you asked for. They're alive. They're healthy and as long as you stay away from them, they'll stay that way." She walked over to Harry's restrained form. "My dear child. I gave you what you asked for. You asked for them to be brought back to life. You didn't say anything about being with them."
Harry glared at her with angry tears welling in his eyes.
"You're dead!" he hissed at her, fighting with vigour to free himself. "You hear me? You're dead!"
Gazelle smiled at him.
"You'll kill me," she said, "but only if you remember me."
Harry stiffened in Lucius' hold.
"You see, when you didn't come back to our Lord, he summoned me from my world," Gazelle explained. "Too much time had passed. A simple Obliviate wouldn't be enough for you. The Lord would have had to memory charm you and you know how unpredictable memory charms are. They can be reversed. An Obliviate can't be undone." She moved closer to Harry. "So the Dark Lord told me I had to get you here, with the entirety of your defiance bound in one memory, so a single Obliviate would erase it." She tilted her head to the side as she looked at Harry. "Didn't you find it strange, Harry, that in the middle of a muggle circus, I happen to cross your path?" She giggled at the rage on Harry's face. "I knew where you were, because my Lord had told me where to find you. At every opportunity, I tried to get your agreement. You see the potion only works if you knowingly consume it. You have to know what you're drinking isn't for your benefit." She laughed softly. "Sacrifice," she whispered the word. "It's where the magic lies."
Harry didn't say anything. He only glowered at her with a hatred so fierce, she could feel chills run down her spine. She moved back and away from him. With a last bow to Voldemort, she turned to go back to her portrait.
"Until you desire my service again, my Lord." She gave Harry a last look before disappearing.
Voldemort walked over to Harry's struggling form and ran his finger gently down Harry's cheek, almost lovingly.
"Don't worry son, you won't remember any of this." He assured. "Everything will go back to the way it was."
Harry jerked his head away and glared angrily at him, through tear filled eyes.
"You can wipe my memories away today, but you'll get caught. I will learn your truth again one day and when I do, you'll never be able to stop me from leaving you!"
The Dark Lord smiled.
"Rest assured Harry, if that day ever comes," he pointed his wand at him. "I'll kill you myself." He smirked before whispering the one word that would have Harry stand by his side again. "Obliviate!"
Hundreds of miles away, James abruptly snapped awake, his heart beating erratically and sweat gathered on his brow. James looked around his living room, at the roaring fire he was sitting in front of. His newspaper had dropped to the floor as he had no doubt dozed off in his comfortable chair.
James reached down to pick up the paper. It was then that he realised his hands were shaking. James took a moment to calm himself down. He recognised the feeling of dreadful anxiety but he had no idea why he was feeling it.
Had he fallen into such a deep sleep that he had a nightmare? James wasn't sure. For one thing, he couldn't even remember what he had been dreaming about. But there was something niggling at the back of his subconscious. Something in his bones that told him he had lost something very important.
James looked up at his ceiling.
"Lily!" he yelled.
"What?" came Lily's reply from upstairs.
"Where's Damien?" James asked.
"I'm giving him a bath!" Lily yelled back. "You already knew that!"
James sat back, thinking. Yeah, he did know that. Lily took him upstairs before him.
"Never mind!" James yelled. He looked around his living room again. "Never mind," he muttered to himself.
He glanced to the Christmas tree, still sitting on one corner of the room. A reminder left by Lily to 'take down the decorations' hovered around the tinsel covered monstrosity. James stretched and settled back in his seat. 'Tomorrow,' he thought to himself, 'I'll do it tomorrow.'
The flames in his fireplace suddenly turned green and leapt six feet tall before diminishing completely. James looked up at three very familiar visitors. Sirius, Remus and Frank all grinned at him.
"Hey Prongs!" Sirius greeted, stepping out of the fireplace.
Remus and Frank followed behind him. As soon as Frank's foot left the fireplace, orange flames returned, bursting back to life.
James smiled at them.
"You could at least let me know you were coming," he playfully complained. "I could've been busy."
Frank waved a hand at him.
"It's seven in the evening and you have a seven year old in the house." He winked at him. "You're not getting busy for another ten years at least!" he chuckled.
"You would know!" James replied, aiming a punch at him, but the fellow Auror and Order member leapt out of the way, laughing harder.
James fell into the easy banter he shared with his friends, pushing the fading feeling of ominous foreboding to the back of his mind. James was never to know how close he came tonight to having Harry back in his life. There was no way for James to know it would take another six years before he met his eldest son, in an abandoned warehouse, behind a silver mask.