The Price of Change

The Prologue


The year was 1980. It was a Thursday, the 31st of July. A warm, ordinary day for most of England. Nothing too out of the usual was happening on the English island country.

For one Mr. James Potter, it would turn out to be one of the most special days of his life. He was at a lunch meeting in London when he got the message, one of his guards walking over and whispering the news into his ear. His first reaction had been irritation that he was interrupted, but then it gave way to surprise and joy. No matter how important that meeting was originally it paled in comparison to the importance of what was happening elsewhere at that moment.

His eyes widened at the news and he felt his heart leap in his chest, his heart rate getting faster. James stood up and excused himself, apologizing to the clients he was meeting with and promising to reschedule as soon as he was able.

"My wife is in labor." He responded simply to their questioning and somewhat offended looks as he quickly left them and exited the restaurant, not wanting to waste any more time.

His two bodyguards followed behind him closely. They ducked into a nearby alleyway and, making sure no one was around, they apparated to St. Mungo's Hospital. With a slight cracking sound, they disappeared only to reappear in a small room. Not missing a beat, James walked out of the room and emerged into a hallway. There were several people walking up and down the hallway, a few of them going into one of the many rooms in the apparition wing of the hospital.

James soon found himself in the main lobby. There was somewhat of a lull as the place was usually packed, busy, and noisy but in this case was mostly empty and quiet. As he approached the front desk, a familiar voice called out behind him.

"James?"

Turning around, he flashed a warm smile towards one of his close friends as he approached, coming from the apparition wing as well.

"Frank! What are you doing here?" He asked curiously.

"Funny. I was about to ask you the same thing."

"Well, Lily's gone into labor."

"You're kidding!"

James shook his head. "It's true. I was on my way to her ward when you arrived. I was in the middle of a business meeting when I found out, and then came straight here."

Frank Longbottom started to laugh.

"What? What is it?" Asked James, giving his friend a confused look.

Frank shook his head as he composed himself. "Alice is in labor too!"

"Quit pulling my leg, Frank."

"Honest! She is!"

James couldn't help but grin. What were the odds? "Well, I'll be... I guess we're going to be fathers at the same time, mate." He looked Frank straight in the eyes, an excited twinkle in both of them. "Our kids can grow up together... And they will be good friends, just like we are."

Frank gave him a nod. "Right you are, James. But I think we should get to our respective wives sooner rather than later. We can talk about this fantastic coincidence and future implications another time."

James chuckled, "Alright then. Congratulations, Frank! I hope everything goes smoothly for you guys today."

"Right back at you! Congratulations!"

They approached the desk together and asked one of the healers on duty where they might find their wives. They were directed to two different wards, and so they parted ways.

Minutes later and James was outside Lily's ward, the two bodyguards posted far down the hall. The room had been soundproofed so that the screams wouldn't escape and bother anyone, particularly the other patients, but he knew that her cries of pain and effort existed.

There were seats placed by the door, but he could not find it in himself to sit down. He paced back and forth in front of the door, wringing his hands in nervousness and anticipation. He couldn't believe it. He was going to have his first child soon. He had barely really thought about it since his wife had told him the news. At the time he had been both shocked and ecstatic, but eventually he lost himself with his work again.

After all, he still had to work. Plus there wasn't much he could do anyway, since the servants took care of everything and they had to wait about nine months anyway before the child would come out.

He wondered if it was a boy or a girl. They had opted not to be told the gender of the baby, since the healers already knew with their diagnostic spells. James and his wife wanted it to be a surprise though so they could only guess. He hoped it was a boy.

He didn't know how long he paced out there, but eventually the door to the ward opened. There were no screams or cries that emanated from the room. Was it all over?

"How did it... how did it go? How is she? The baby...?" He asked one of the healers who stepped out.

"Lord Potter," she greeted with a bow of the head, "It went well. She's fine and the baby is healthy. Why don't you go in and see for yourself? If you'll excuse me, I must attend to my other patients." As she walked away she congratulated him over her shoulder.

James hesitated for one second before he stepped through the threshold and into the ward. His wife lay on the bed, looking very much exhausted. She was smiling though, and in her arms she held the baby who was wrapped up in a white towel.

"Lils." He didn't really know what to say as he approached her bedside.

She looked up, her smile widening. "Hey darling. You missed the show." She looked exhausted.

James grinned, "I didn't mind missing that part, to be perfectly honest." He looked to the bundle in her arms. "How is the baby?"

Lily Potter turned back to gazing at her adorable little baby. "He is doing really well for a newborn. He's in perfect health I'm told."

He had a son. James couldn't believe it. He sat on the edge of the bed and reached out a hand, placing it gently on the baby's head. This was his son.

"He has your eyes." He noted the green hue of the baby's pupils.

She leaned forward and kissed the baby's forehead, the movement causing the infant to have a look of discomfort on his face as he started to cry.

"What should we name him?" She asked as she tried to sooth the wailing infant.

"Up to you, dear. You're the one who did all the work," he said with an amused tone.

She gave him a look that told him he should be serious about it.

"Okay, okay..." he conceded, turning serious, "I'm not sure, really. We could name him James too, perhaps. James Junior? James the Second? Though I'm not quite sure how many ancestors I have who were named James... Might have to take a look at the ole family tree again."

Lily rolled her eyes and started shaking her head. "Oh no, no, no, no, no. We are not doing that junior or numbering thing."

"Charlus? Like my granddad? Or maybe we can name him after yours?"

"Harold?" She tested the sound of the name. No, it didn't seem quite right to her. But maybe... "Harry." She repeated it once more, and found herself liking it.

James grinned. He liked the name too. "Harry, eh? That works for me."

"Welcome to the world, Harry James Potter." Lily said to the infant in her arms who had quieted down and was beginning to doze.

James took her hand in his and squeezed it tight as they looked on adoringly at their son.

-xxxxxx-

Potter Estate, England
July 30, 1981

Lily Potter was outside in the backyard with Alice Longbottom, directing the workers on the finishing touches of the party setup. A huge banner that said "HAPPY 1ST BIRTHDAY HARRY!" was suspended in midair over the big tent, right next to another one that said "HAPPY 1ST BIRTHDAY NEVILLE." Underneath the tent were numerous tables and chairs and a small stage for the musicians.

Between the tent and the mansion was an assortment of inflatables. A big inflatable slide and a bouncy house, among others. These were for the little kids that some of the guests were going to bring.

James watched from the large windows of his study as he sat behind his big hand-crafted wooden desk made of exotic wood. It had a price tag well above normal, but it was of excellent quality and best of all it was unique. He looked away from the window and focused on the long piece of parchment he had been writing on for the last hour or so.

It was his will. The Last Will and Testament of Lord James Potter.

Lily had insisted that he draft one up, in case something were to happen. He had of course been resistant at first, saying that nothing was going to happen and that he didn't need to write one just yet. He was still young after all. But as usual, Lily won out with her logical arguments as well as the fact that he loved her and would do anything for her. It did make a lot of sense, he finally realized and so here he was writing away.

The hardest part though was that by writing it he acknowledged that at some point his time on Earth was going to end. That was a difficult thing to imagine, particularly for someone his age. Yet it had to be done.

It took him another hour to finish and to read it over several times. Once he was satisfied with it, he sealed the will and placed it into a hardened scroll case made of iron. Etched into the metal were runes that held the protective enchantments that allowed only someone of Potter blood to open it. He used it only when he was going to be carrying important documents around.

Better to be safe than sorry, as the saying goes. He then secured the case into one of the magically-enhanced pockets of his coat, which he put on as he walked out of his study. A quick visit to Gringotts was in order.

-xxxxxx-

Potter Estate, England
November 17, 1981

James tossed Harry up into the air, much to the delight of the little one, and caught him before tossing him back up. He did this several times, joining his son in his laughter as he found himself enjoying the moment. After a few more times he stopped, the still giggling toddler tapping at him with his tiny hands as if to say he wanted more.

"That's enough for now. Wouldn't want you to get dizzy, little man." He said to the green-eyed little boy as he put him down on the ground.

Harry looked up at his father, who sat down heavily in a nearby armchair. The little guy started to play with the toy blocks that were scattered about, as well as some toy cars that he loved. He actually made car noises when he played with them, which was a really cute sight to behold.

James watched his son playing with a tired smile.

He had spent only a fraction of the last year and a quarter of his son's life actually with his son. Work was keeping him extremely busy lately, but he considered it a good investment of his time and effort for the future of his family. The Potters were already well off, but his hard work had been steadily growing the holdings of the family to even greater heights.

Only a few people knew of the true extent of the Potter wealth, and those who knew would have been stunned at just how wealthy they truly were. In truth, James did not have to work at all. He could live off of the interest and profits of the family business and investments. But he felt it was his duty to develop that wealth and increase it further.

Plus he found the work to be extremely interesting and, most importantly, challenging. It also made him feel like he was accomplishing something and doing something useful with his life. It gave him a sense of purpose. Even Lily has begun working with the Potter businesses, taking charge of a few holdings and subsidiaries that interested her. She was loving it and welcomed the challenges much like James did, but unlike her husband she made sure to spend more time with Harry than with her work.

Looking at his son as he happily played with his toys, he was beginning to think that soon his purpose should shift from improving the family wealth to raising his only son.

-xxxxxx-

Grounds of the Quidditch World Cup, Ireland
August 25, 1982

"But what if..." Lily started to say, but was cut off swiftly by her husband.

"He's fine, dear. Stop worrying so much! He's at home with the butler, the elves, and the guards. They'll take good care of him." He said reassuringly, feeling somewhat annoyed. He too felt concerned for the well-being of his son, but he trusted the butler, the guards and the elves, all of whom were magically bound to protect and serve the family. His wife had been pestering him every so often since they had arrived at the World Cup camp and he simply wanted to enjoy this time without any worries. The Quidditch World Cup only happened once every four years after all.

"I suppose you're right." She brushed away some errant red locks as she took a sip of wine from the simple but elegant silver goblet in her hand.

They were in their spacious and rather luxurious tent located in the VIP section of the camping grounds, closest to the stadium. The Quidditch World Cup started two days ago, on the 23rd of August. So far most of the games have been pretty one-sided, but now that the more competitive teams are playing against each other the games should get a lot more interesting.

They were, in fact, waiting for the Longbottoms to drop by as they were in the same box together. They were uncharacteristically late, the Potters noted, but figured it had to be something important if it kept them from being on time. Sirius and Remus were gallivanting around no doubt, but they said that they would come by the tent before the doors to the stadium were opened.

Sure enough, the flaps of the tent were pushed aside as three people walked through. The two Longbottoms, Frank and Alice, stepped in along with a third person who James was more than surprised to see. In fact, surprised was insufficient to describe how he felt.

"Frank! Alice! Glad you could make it..." James greeted them with hugs, though he was half-looking at the man who had come in with them.

"Sorry we're late. We..." he looked at the rather short man who had come in with them, "Ran into an old friend." Said Frank with an amused grin.

James let out a beaming smile. "Peter! My goodness, man. Where have you been all this time? It's been, what? Five years?" James asked as he shook the man's hand. He had not seen Peter Pettigrew since they had all graduated from Hogwarts several years ago.

He looked quite the same as he did before, thinner but definitely still chubby. His usual disheveled hair looked cleaner than last he remembered it, indicating an attempt to tame it and look more presentable. He wore a cheap coat that looked to be more than several years old, frayed and worn down, though it actually looked clean for once. As if he had cleaned not only his hair but his clothes recently. James remembered when they had to pester him about his cleanliness, since he was not exactly the biggest advocate of personal hygiene. He also noted that Peter had actually lost a good amount of weight, for he had been quite fat before.

"Lord Potter! It's so good to see you again, old friend." Peter said in his same squeaky voice. "As for where I've been... well, I've been... away... away on business." Before James could react to his vague reply the unexpected guest then turned to the redhead of the group, who had walked over. "And it's always a... pleasure to see a beautiful woman like you, Lady Potter."

Lily giggled at the comment and flashed a smile of her own. "Good to see you too, Peter dear."

"You know you don't have to call us Lord and Lady, especially in private, Peter," remarked James in a serious tone, deciding not to press his old friend for more details, and Peter nodded with a smile.

"He's right, you know," Lily added, "You're living in Ireland now, right?"

Peter was quick to shake his head. "Oh no! Not anymore. I shall be returning to England... ah... soon enough. I've just been away... away on business, as I said."

"Well, it's great that you're here. You're looking well. Are you watching the games with anyone?" said James as they all sat down on some of the comfy seats. He grabbed some of the unused goblets on the coffee table between them all and poured his guests some wine.

"Yes, I'm here with a few... friends." His beady eyes looked over at James. "Although I was hoping I might join you all for this next game so we could hang out... like old times."

-xxxxxx-

Seven hours later...

"What a brilliant match, wouldn't you say James?" Asked Frank excitedly and the two quickly began to discuss their favorite moments of the game. Bulgaria had pulled it out in the end, barely brushing past Lithuania with a score of 230-220.

They were heading back to their respective tents when Lily noticed that Peter was no longer with them.

Suddenly, several explosions erupted in the distance. Booming sounds that echoed across the grounds, quickly followed by shrill screams and cries of panic and pain. Lights began flashing in the main grounds, indicating a magical firefight. The Potters and Longbottoms all looked at each other worriedly.

"Rioting?" Asked Alice to the group, all of whom had their wands out.

"Maybe," James responded with a shrug, "Come on, let's get to our tents. The Aurors can sort it out."

Before they moved sounds of fighting erupted from behind them as well, an explosion nearby causing them to jump a little. People were running in a panic, screaming and yelling as spells started flying all over. The foursome turned around and saw masked wizards dressed in dark robes firing all kinds of curses at the people.

Frank growled. "Dark wizards... damn terrorists."

"We have to do something." Alice said, looking at her husband. They were Aurors after all, albeit off-duty ones.

James spoke up then. "We're with you, Frank. Alice." He held his wind in a tight grip, his breathing coming slow and steady as he got into his battle mode.

"Let's go!" Cried Frank as he charged forward, flinging spells of his own towards the group of six dark wizards.

Ten minutes later and the dark wizards were down on the ground, some subdued while others were undoubtedly dead. Against such violent dark wizards, sometimes deadly force was the only way to take care of them. None of them felt any remorse for their actions, only a sense of responsibility to fight the enemy and protect the innocents.

"There appears to be a lot more of them on the main camping grounds." Frank noted, his gaze directed towards the bulk of the fighting away from the stadium.

Lily frowned. "Why haven't the Aurors gotten a handle of the situation?"

"I don't know. But we're here and able to help, so let's keep fighting." Alice responded firmly.

James stayed silent. He was uneasy about the whole situation. The Quidditch World Cup was supposed to be a safe event, with at least thirty Aurors present for security. The fact that there was still fighting suggested that a good number of them might have been taken down. This attack seemed to have been planned well, and he had no doubt that many of the Aurors were probably caught by surprise.

"Everyone ready?" Frank asked, looking at each of them as they gave him a nod. "Okay. Stick together and watch each other's backs. Let's teach these baddies a lesson."

They ran towards the fighting, eyes alert and scanning for any enemies on the way. There were still several people running around with frightened looks and more than a few who hid behind various objects, shaking and scared.

The four of them quickly fell upon the flank of the enemy, catching them off guard and downing four of them - one each - before the dark wizards could react. There were a few Aurors who were engaging them, but they were tired, battered, and injured. They let out a cheer when they realized that they were getting some help, though it was short-lived as the dark wizards regrouped and fought both parties.

"These guys are pretty serious. Definitely skilled wizards. These aren't amateurs like that other group we took down!" Yelled James as he erected a shield that absorbed a few curses thrown his way as he ran to a different spot for cover.

Frank took down one of their opponents, sending him flying into a burning tent ten feet back. He yelled back at his friend, "Amateurs or not, they're going to pay for what they've done!" He emerged out of cover and fired off several spells, dodging and deflecting a few that were aimed at him.

Suddenly, a spell managed to get through Lily's defense, making her stumble backwards and fall with a pained cry.

"LILY!" James exclaimed in both horror and anger as he rushed to her side, forgetting for a moment to protect himself as he did so. Thankfully he was not hit as he dropped down on his knees to the ground next to her.

She had a nasty gash on her left side, blood everywhere. She looked to be in terrible pain.

"Lily," he said worriedly as he ran a diagnostic spell that he knew.

"Stupid... so... stupid.. careless.." she said in between hisses of pain.

"Shhh... shh... it's okay. Don't move. Don't talk. Just stay still. I'll patch you up as best as I can. You're going to be okay, you here me Lils?"

She smiled fleetingly, looking at her husband before closing her eyes and grimacing.

He counteracted the curse that was making the pain worse, thankfully recognizing what it was. He then proceeded to use the healing spells he had learned in the Auror Academy during his brief stint as a law enforcement official.

"Bloody hell!" cried Frank, "The Aurors are all down. We're on our own until backup gets here."

"Where the hell is the backup?" Alice asked angrily as she shot spells off towards one dark wizard who she had caught in the open. He was putting up a valiant effort to defend himself from the onslaught, but it proved too much and he went down.

James finished, the wound sealed and cleaned up. A true healer would need to work on it to fully heal it, but it would do for now.

Lily's hand grabbed his and squeezed it. "Thanks, honey."

"Don't scare me like that." James said, relief flooding him that she was going to be okay. He honestly felt like his heart stopped for a moment there.

She scowled. "I was being a little careless... but now I'm pissed off."

"I'm starting to feel sorry for these guys already, Lils." He helped her up just as Frank called out to them.

"They're flanking us! On the right!"

"We'll handle it, Frank!" James replied, the couple shared a look and Lily nodding to indicate that she was ready.

-xxxxxx-

"Where the hell did these guys come from?" Growled one Remus Lupin as he floated a barrel up in the air, sending it crashing into one of the masked attackers. The barrel smacked the attacker with a loud thud, and Remus' enhanced hearing allowed him to hear with some satisfaction the cracking of breaking bones.

"No clue, but they've interrupted our revelry and I am most upset." Said a most irate Sirius Black, hitting another assailant with a nasty curse that had the man screaming in agony. He was a Black, after all, and so his knowledge of dark spells was pretty extensive. Normally, he would not use such curses but he made an exception when he was fighting dark wizards and witches.

They were both still a bit drunk but were good enough to fight back, having sobered quickly when they realized that there was a battle going on.

"We need to find James and Lily." Remus hid behind a hastily erected barrier shield as he was attacked by two opponents simultaneously.

Sirius, several feet away and facing the opposite direction, downed the last of his opponents on that side as the man was ravaged by deep cuts across his upper torso, blood flowing freely. Satisfied that the right flank was secure, he moved to help Remus. It took them another three minutes before they finished off the remaining attackers in the area.

The sounds of fighting had died down some, but it was not over yet.

"You alright?" Remus looked over at his friend.

Sirius scoffed. "It'll take more than a few lowly dark wizards to best Sirius Black the Third."

Remus rolled his eyes. "Come on... Let's go."

They approached the remaining sounds of fighting, and from a distance they could see two groups battling it out. The two of them moved forward cautiously.

-xxxxxx-

"Damn that was close." Breathed James, a curse flying over his head and singing the tips of some of his hair, barely missing him.

The aggressive attack left the masked assailant vulnerable though, and Lily took advantage of that. The masked opponent was soon on the ground, unmoving.

"You okay, James?"

"Yeah, Lils. Feeling a bit tired, but I'm okay." He looked at her with concern. "How are you?" His gaze drifting down to the torn part of her dress where the injury was still clearly visible.

"I'm fine. It's nothing serious." She assured him, giving him a look when he raised an eyebrow at her and glanced at the wound two more times.

"James? Lily?" A voice squeaked from the shadows.

They both whirled around, wands raised, before they realized who it was.

"Peter!" Lily spoke first with a hint of relief, afraid for a second that someone had gotten a jump on them. "I'm glad you're alright."

"You disappeared on us there." Said James, thinking that perhaps Peter had hidden away to be safe, "But it's still dangerous. You should get out of here."

"L-Let me help you!" Said the rat-like man, getting somewhat unsteadily to his feet and whipping out his wand.

James hesitated for a moment, aware that Peter wasn't exactly a great spellcaster, but decided that it wouldn't hurt to have a little more help. Besides, the man wanted to do it after all and who was he to deny him?

"Alright. Try not to do anything foolish." He turned and began to move back to where Fred and Alice were fighting the last vestiges of the attackers. Lily was close on his heels. They were not more than a few paces away from the Longbottoms when it happened.

"A... Av..." said Peter, trembling a little.

"What was that, Peter?" Lily turned around in time to see it happen.

"Avada Kedavra!" exclaimed the short, chubby man with his wand pointed at James' back, suddenly finding an ounce of courage.

A flash of green later and James Potter was face down on the ground, completely still.

Lily was rooted to the ground, frozen as she stared down at her motionless husband. Her eyes were wide and she was shaking. Her wand slipped out of her hand and fell to the ground.

"No... no..." She began to say in a small voice, the sobs and tears coming as she dropped to her knees.

"I-I'm sorry... I'm s-so sorry..." Peter squeaked out, turning and running away.

"NOOOO!" Yelled a voice in the distance.

Overhead, a ghostly image of a skull with a snake coming out of its mouth glowed over the grounds.

-xxxxxx-

St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, London, England
August 26, 1982

St. Mungo's was a mess, healers moving without pause from one patient to another. Cries of pain and fear from the injured intermingled with the stressed and urgent shouts between healers. The entire available staff of the hospital was on hand, and still it was not enough to handle the volume of the injured. The aurors that normally stood guard at the hospital were forced to assist the overwhelmed staff.

The attack had been devastating. There were fifty-three civilians killed, two hundred and seventy-eight injured, and thirty-six missing. Thirty-nine of the forty Aurors on duty at the event, twenty from Ireland and twenty from England, were dead.

Among the dead, and thought to be the main target of the terrorist group that attacked, were the the Minister of Magic of the United Kingdom, Millicent Bagnold, and the Minister of Magic of Ireland, Niall O'Hara, were both found dead in their viewing box at the arena, where they had been locked down during the fighting. Their entire entourage of guards stood by to protect them, and none of them saw the killer.

Whoever slew them had somehow managed to get into and out of the box undetected. Even though the box itself was protected by its own anti-apparition and portkey wards, on top of the anti-apparition wards and portkey wards erected for the entire stadium. The two Aurors inside the box with them were also found dead. No signs of struggle were found, indicating that they were caught by surprise.

The Department of Magical Law Enforcement in Britain was on high alert in all public areas in case the terrorist group might strike elsewhere. They were bold enough to attack the Quidditch World Cup after all, though not entirely successful as many of their number were killed or captured. Of those captured, some of them were found to be under one of the three Unforgivable Curses: the Imperius, which was dark magic that subjected one's mind to the control of the caster.

Many of them were expected to be sentenced to Azkaban, the magical island prison located in the North Sea to the east of the UK.

Junior Minister Cornelius Fudge was named Interim Minister until the Wizengamot convened and decided on who would be the next Minister of Magic. That date was set for the following day, with the full Wizengamot expected to be in attendance after such a tragedy. After that order of business, the Wizengamot was to immediately conduct judicial trials on the captured terrorists.

Sirius and Remus waited outside Lily's room, sitting in the chairs out in the hallway as they waited for the healers to finish up with her. They were quiet, both still in a state of shock and disbelief. Their best friend James Potter was dead. Their two other close friends, Frank and Alice Longbottom, were missing. And worst of all, their once close friend Peter Pettigrew was the one responsible for the death of James.

"Why, Remus? Why did he do it?" Asked Sirius in a hollow voice. "Why..?"

Both of them had dark circles under their eyes and looked exhausted, not having been able to sleep after the ordeal they had gone through.

Remus had no answer for him. He could not comprehend it either. He was not sure if he wanted to comprehend it. They had always been nice to Peter. Hell, they had all been close throughout their time in Hogwarts. They were the Marauders! Practically brothers in all but blood. They had been there for each other and had a lot of good memories together. And yet Peter had betrayed them, James most of all. He did not know why Peter did it, but he could at least safely assume that Peter was in league with the terrorist group that attacked them.

The sound of a door opening caused them to stir, both of them standing immediately and looking on eagerly at the healer who stepped out.

He looked tired as well. St. Mungo's was undoubtedly extremely busy following the attack taking care of all the injured.

"How is she?" Sirius asked him.

He sighed. "It looks like she'll make a full recovery. She was hit in the fighting, but the wound was patched up pretty well. We finished what was left of the healing required. Other than that, she's still in shock at the loss of her husband Lord Potter. Lady Potter is currently asleep... and I would suggest that she get as much rest as possible." He looked pointedly at them as he said the last part.

"We'll come back tomorrow then." Remus said in reply, placing a hand on Sirius shoulder. His friend gave a slow nod of agreement, saying nothing.

The healer shrugged, already walking away. "That would be best. Now excuse me, gentlemen, there are others I need to attend to..."

-xxxxxx-

Somewhere in England

"Crucio!" hissed the man in black robes with a dark green trim, the tone harsh and cold. His right arm extended outward, wand in hand as it pointed towards the short, chubby little man who cried out and writhed in pain. A few seconds later and the spell was released.

"I am pleased with your success at the World Cup, Wormtail." The dark-robed man said with a cold, measured voice. "However, you failed to kill both the Potters, as I instructed."

"I-I-I'm s-sorry master... p-please... I'm sorry... I w-will do b-better!" Wormtail stuttered as he lay on the ground in the fetal position. He was shaking from the lingering pain that crawled across and underneath his skin as well as the fear of his master's wrath.

"Because you were, for the most part, successful," the master paused, "That will be the extent of your punishment."

"T-Thank you m-master! Thank y-you!" Wormtail could not believe his luck. He had expected more pain and suffering for his failure, but his master seemed to be in a more forgiving mood.

"But do not make this a habit, Wormtail. When I give you a task, I expect you to complete it. Fully. Am I understood?"

"Yes, m-master. I understand." He figured that he should be more successful in the future. He could not believe that he had killed his own friend. James had always been nice to him, but deep down Peter had always been jealous of the man and while he had hesitated he had ultimately pulled through and taken his life. Lily, on the other hand... he could not bring himself to do that to her. That was the one thing he could not do.

"Someone else will take care of the Potter woman," the master said nonchalantly, spinning on his heel and his robes billowing behind him as he walked to the raised obsidian throne against the back wall of the large hall.

Peter felt conflicted when he heard that. A part of him cared for Lily. He had always had a crush on her, and he wanted to warn her and keep her safe. But another part of him told him to stay out of it. This other part was telling him that if he wanted to live, he would not intervene and he would obey the master's will. Peter did love living above all, so he chose to quell his feelings.

"What of the Longbottoms, Wormtail?" Asked the master, taking a seat on his throne.

Peter got onto his hands and knees, still looking down as the master did not like anyone looking straight at him. "B-Bella has them, m-my Lord."

The master laughed. It was a cold, heartless laugh. "Good. I'm sure she is... enjoying their company tonight." He thought for a moment. "Inform Bella that they must not be killed... but that she is free to damage them permanently, so long as they live on. And when she is done, have her drop them off in the middle of Diagon Alley." He laughed lightly at the thought. "Yes... that would work nicely."

"As y-you will, my L-Lord." Peter rose, eyes still averted downward as he bowed towards the master and scurried off.

The master watched the small man scurry away like the rat he was and shook his head. Wormtail had his uses, but he was beginning to wonder if there might be some liability in terms of his loyalty. He needed servants with unquestionable loyalty and commitment. But one had to work with what one got at times.

A snake slithered towards the throne from the shadows. It was a rather large snake, which indicated it was either old or magical. Or both.

"Masssster..." the snake hissed, its tongue flicking out at high speed. "Issss it tiiime?"

"Notttt yet, myyy pet. We neeeed to build our sssstrength. We musssst be pattttiiient." Replied the master as he leaned back in his throne. The black stone felt cold to the touch, but he welcomed the feeling.

The snake slithered itself around the throne, wrapping itself around the base of it. It was long enough to go around twice and it seemed to settle itself down to sleep.

The master had accomplished a great victory with the attack, the first move in the long game ahead. His lips twisted up into a smile as he thought of the future. Things were looking very dark for Britain.


Author's notes: Another HP fic that I really wanted to write. Haha at this rate it will take years to finish my stories... nah, just kidding. But it may take several months. Sorry, but that's just the way I am. Too many story ideas and too many good animes/books/movies to write about. Enjoy!