Disclaimer: Harry Potter is not mine. I wish it was, but sadly it is not!
A/N: Hi readers! I am still hard at work on "Everyone Deserves a Miracle", but this storyline has been nagging at me and making it hard to write! I'm hoping that by working on both at once I can keep the creative juices flowing! I am not sure what kind of time line this story is going to have. I think there is probably going to be a pretty big time jump in the next chapter, not sure though. Let me know what you think! I welcome constructive/kind/respectful criticism. Please be kind! You guys rock!
James Potter dimly became aware of his surroundings. First and foremost was the pain; he felt as if every muscle in his body was on fire. What happened? he thought to himself. He was struck with a horrifying flashback of Voldemort bursting into his home. He remembered the duel, the way he had just managed to dodge Voldemort's Avada Kedavra which had grazed his side and sent him flying backwards into the staircase. He assumed Voldemort had figured he was dead.
"Lily, Harry!" James gasped.
He forced himself to his feet. Slowly and painfully he made his way up the half-ruined staircase and to the door of his son's nursery. James fell to his knees at the sight of Lily—his Lily—lying lifelessly on the floor in front of him. His whole world narrowed to just her. He pulled her into his arms and rocked her slowly back and forth whispering apologies and words of love as his tears dripped into her vibrant red hair.
After some moments James laid Lily back on the ground and kissed her forehead before dragging himself to his feet. He slowly moved towards Harry's crib. I can't lose him too, not my baby boy, James thought as he carefully lifted aside the mangled crib. Harry's still form lay curled on a blanket, his stuffed animals close to him.
"No," James gasped.
Sobs of anguish racked his frame as he grabbed his baby boy close to his chest. His sobs turned to tears of joy when Harry awoke with a squawk and looked at James with his bright emerald eyes.
"Oh baby, it's okay, Daddy's here, Daddy's got you. Hush baby," James whispered patting his son's small back. Harry slowly stopped crying and clutched the front of James' filthy shirt in his small fists.
James reached back into the crib and pulled out the baby blanket Lily had lovingly knit for Harry and the three stuffed animals Remus and Sirius had given Harry, a stag, a wolf, and a dog. The rat was left in its place of dishonor in the corner; James was coming to realize exactly what had happened that night.
James pressed Harry's face close to his chest so that the boy would not see his mother's body lying on the floor. James forced himself to walk down the stairs and outside, leaving Lily behind. I'm so sorry Lily, but Harry needs me now. You died protecting him and I promise you I will keep him safe. I'm so sorry I couldn't save you. I'm sorry I'm leaving you now, but Harry needs me, he thought as he slowly sank to the ground near the tree in his front yard and rested with his back to the trunk. He mindlessly rubbed circles on Harry's back and stared into the night—lost.
"Prongs! Prongs, Lily, where are you?"
The panicked voice roused James from his stupor. His best friend, Sirius Black, raced towards the front door of the cottage.
"Padfoot," James croaked softly from his spot on the lawn.
Sirius snapped his head toward his friend and raced over.
"Thank Merlin, I saw the house and I thought…" Sirius trailed off at the pained expression on James' face.
His eyes dropped to the small form cradled against James' chest. Not Harry, please God not Harry, Sirius thought. He couldn't be gone, not his perfect little godson, the light in his life. His knees went weak and he dropped beside James. He reached a hand out to stroke Harry's cheek. He drooped in relief when he felt the warmth in the soft cheek beneath his finger. The pain in James' eyes could only come from one thing then.
"Lily," Sirius said softly, tears filling his eyes.
James looked at him sadly, the pain in his eyes overwhelming.
"I'm so sorry Prongs," Sirius whispered hugging his friend as best he could without jostling Harry.
"I had to leave her in there Padfoot, I had to get Harry out, his head was bleeding and I was afraid the whole place was going to come down on us. I had to leave her lying there…" James said his voice breaking with emotion.
The tears came harder then and he buried his face in Sirius' shoulder and let his best friend rub his back in the same way he rubbed Harry's. After some time James calmed down enough to pull himself together and talk to Sirius.
"Peter betrayed us," James said his voice full of pain and hate.
He had trusted the rat, he had considered him one of his closest friends. Sirius nodded bitterly.
"I checked on him before I came here. He wasn't there and I knew something must have happened. I-I'm so s-s-sorry Prongs. I made you switch Secret Keepers. It's my fault," Sirius whispered his own tears falling thickly.
James shook his head. Even in his grief and anger at the betrayal of his close friend, he couldn't allow the self-loathing and pain he saw in Sirius' eyes remain.
"You were trying to keep us all safe Padfoot. It wasn't your fault," James said.
Sirius looked profoundly relieved, but a dark look came over his features.
"I'll kill the rat," he muttered darkly.
In that moment James had absolutely no doubt that Sirius was entirely sincere. He too wanted Peter dead, but the cost would be too great.
"No," he told Sirius.
"What do you mean 'no'? I won't let him get away with what he's done James!" Sirius cried.
"So you'll kill him and get sent to Azkaban for life? Think of Harry! He is already going to grow up without a mother; do you want to take another person he loves away from him?" James shouted back.
The shouting woke Harry who began to wail.
"Shhh, it's okay baby. Daddy didn't mean to yell. It's alright," James cooed to the boy.
"Mama?" Harry asked plaintively, tears streaming down his chubby cheeks.
"No baby, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry Harry," James said crying into Harry's messy hair.
In that moment Sirius realized James was right. As much as he wanted the rat dead for betraying them, he couldn't leave Harry. He couldn't miss seeing the beautiful boy he loved grow up. He couldn't leave James either. Without Lily he was going to need help.
"You're right. It isn't worth it. We should go to Hogwarts, Dumbledore will need to know what happened," Sirius said softly.
James nodded and Harry turned his head towards Sirius.
"Pa'foo," he murmured sleepily reaching a hand out towards Sirius.
Sirius stretched out a finger that Harry grabbed tightly in his chubby fist and used it to pull Sirius closer. Sirius kissed the baby's forehead and pulled an emergency portkey from his pocket. He tapped it with his wand and the trio was soon landing on the floor of Dumbledore's office.
"James, Sirius, what's happened?" Albus asked concernedly.
"Voldemort," James choked out. He was still too overwhelmed to speak so he merely placed his wand to his temple and put the memory in the Pensieve on Dumbledore's stand.
The headmaster moved towards the basin and turned to look back at the two men and baby. Sirius looked at James questioningly and James nodded that he should accompany the headmaster. The two men disappeared into the Pensieve and James settled himself in a chair with Harry in his lap to wait. He tried to heal his son's cut, but the cut would not close, though it did stop bleeding.
Ten minutes later the others emerged from the Pensieve. Sirius looked very pale and was trembling. He was deeply grieved by Lily's loss, but to see how close he had come to losing his best friend and godson was unbearable. Before anyone could speak the fireplace roared green and Remus Lupin tumbled into the room, pale-faced and anxious.
"Albus…Godric's Hollow…Lily and James…" he gasped out between pants.
He looked around the room and gave a soft cry when he laid eyes on Sirius. James and Harry were not visible from his position.
"How could you? I thought you loved them as much as I did? How could you do this?" Remus asked Sirius heartbrokenly.
"I didn't, Moony, I could never," Sirius said beseechingly.
"You were their Secret Keeper," Remus answered harshly.
"We switched. It was Peter," James said softly, standing up from the chair.
"James, Harry, oh thank goodness," Remus gasped as he hurried over to embrace his friend and press a kiss to the top of Harry's head.
"Wait, it was Peter?" Remus gasped as the shock of seeing his friend and honorary nephew alive dimmed and he processed James' words.
"Wormtail sold us out. He is the reason Lily's dead! He knew what Voldemort wanted. He was willing to let him kill Harry," James' voice broke as he said his son's name.
How could anyone want to hurt an innocent child? Especially kill a child as kind and loving as his Harry.
"Oh James," Remus said softly, his heart breaking for his friend.
James buried his face in Harry's hair for a moment before looking at the headmaster.
"I've tried to heal Harry's cut and I can't, why not?" James asked turning the boy in his arms to that Dumbledore could see his forehead.
"It is a curse scar James. There is no way for it to be healed. It is a mark he will carry all his life," Albus answered sadly.
"How did he get it?" James wondered aloud.
He had assumed that the cut had come from the destruction of the house. If it had come from a curse then maybe there was still something evil at work on his son.
"I cannot say for certain, but I can tell you what I believe from what I viewed in the Pensieve. I believe that Lily died to save Harry; gave her life for her son's. In doing so she afforded him the blood protection of her love. When Voldemort cast his wand on Harry to perform the Killing Curse it rebounded upon him, leaving Harry with this scar," Dumbledore answered.
James clutched the boy tighter to his chest. Voldemort had actually cast the Avada Kedavra at his son. James could not bear the idea of losing Harry. The pain of losing Lily was monumental and he knew it would be several weeks before he could function completely normally, but if Harry had died he would have had no will to live at all.
"Voldemort's dead?" Sirius gasped in disbelief.
Albus shook his head sadly.
"He is gone for now, but I believe he has dark magic that will someday allow him to return. For now though, we are safe," he said.
"From Voldemort, but his Death Eaters are still out there, including Peter. James, you and Harry have to stay safe. They aren't going to like the fact their master was defeated by a child," Remus said worriedly.
"I won't hide, not again," James said.
"I'll do everything to keep Harry safe, but I won't shut us out from the world again. Harry needs what he has left of his family, and so do I," James continued gesturing at Remus and Sirius.
In that moment the camaraderie between the three Marauders was stronger than ever. Any hurt feelings over lack of trust or thoughts of betrayal were forgotten with the reminder that they truly were a family.
"We will keep you both safe. We would all die for Harry or for you," Sirius told James.
Remus nodded his agreement.
"We can use my home. My father made it unplottable after Greyback's attack. It is safe enough until you find your own place to live or until you decide you want to leave," Remus spoke up.
James nodded his assent and gave Remus and Sirius a grateful look.
"If I may suggest that you stay here for a few nights, just to get you back on your feet," Albus said.
The men agreed and soon they were installed in a guest suite.
James paced the floor with Harry in his arms for an hour until the boy drifted off, but still James simply sat on the couch and held him.
"I can't bring myself to let him go. I almost lost him," James whispered softly to his friends as he stared at his baby's precious face.
"It's okay mate," Sirius answered soothingly.
He led James to the bed and urged him to lie down. He placed the sleeping Harry next to him and cast a charm so that the baby could not be rolled on or smothered.
"Try to sleep mate," Sirius said softly.
"We'll be right out here if you need us," Remus answered.
James fell asleep quickly, exhausted from the emotion of the night.
Sirius and Remus sat up talking in the common area of their suite.
"What are we going to do Moony?" Sirius asked desperately.
"The only thing we can do Padfoot, be there for them when they need us," Remus answered sadly.
The two men stared into the fire thinking of the wonderful friend that had lost and the betrayal of a man they considered their brother.