Albus followed Lily in from the kitchen but they stayed in the doorway and watched the amusing scene. He chuckled lightly as Harry grabbed at the colorful puffs of smoke and cackled his own glee. Lily moved into the room and picked the toddler out of his father's grasp.
"What a silly little boy your daddy is." she crooned at the boy who continued to giggle and pat her face.
Just as Albus moved into the living room the door was blasted off its hinges. James started yelling at Lily to take Harry and go. Albus acted on reflex when he drew the pram that was stored in the entryway into the way of the killing curse.
"I'll deal with this James." he moved forward, "Your wand is on the couch son take your family and go."
In a moment Albus had gone from a doting adopted grandfather to the mage known for defeating evil wizards. James and Lily gathered their emergency bag and pulled out the portkey. It fizzled and the two adults looked at each other in horror.
"Peter." James gasped looking around wildly before his eyes set on the window, "He gave them everything."
"Poor Peter." Lily's face was quickly being coated with tears.
"No, he's fine, that little rat. Look." James pointed out the window at the man cowering in the shadows, "He's the spy and we had him be our secret keeper."
"Are you sure?" Lily asked.
"There is only one way to find out." James frowned, "Besides we have to leave the house to get past their containment wards."
Lily held Harry tightly as James gave him a small sleeping draught before they slipped out the back door. It sounded like they had stepped into a war zone with the explosions coming from the front where Albus and Voldemort were battling. Lily stayed back in the shadows at the side of the house while James snuck around a tree and stunned Peter from behind. He quickly found the dark mark on the arm of his friend and hissed with the pain of betrayal. James tied him up and then sent off a patronus message to Sirius.
Throwing Peter over his shoulder he made his way back over to Lily, "He has it."
She pulled her wand and hit the man with several silent curses. James lifted an eyebrow when he didn't see any effect. Lily grinned and explained, "Boils, contained to his private parts and made to itch."
"You know I love the way your mind works." he kissed her lightly.
The next thing James knew Sirius was leaning over him and telling him to wake up. He shook his head and found Lily beside him holding Harry and both were still unconscious. The next thing he realized was that they were outside. It all came flooding back and James pointed his was at his best friend/brother.
"What is the magic word?" he asked.
"Supercalafragilisticexpealli docious." Sirius rolled his eyes, "It's only good as a password because no self-respecting Slytherin would ever say it."
"Peter has the mark, we have located the spy." James ignored the playful banter.
"Was." Sirius shrugged, "He's dead, want to tell me what happened?"
"Wait where are Albus and Voldemort?" James realized it was far too quiet.
"It's over." Sirius said, "Or at least it is for a while. I arrived down the lane a few moments ago. I could see the two of them fighting. I was at a safe distance when they exploded, I was still knocked down. A black cloud with Volde's face flew away and then I woke you up."
"I'm going to wake up Lily then we can check on Albus." James stood after making sure Lily was ok.
The two men slipped across the yard with their wands at the ready. They found a smoldering ashy spot on the grass that they decided had been Voldemort. On the other side they found the body of Albus Dumbledore. After checking to make sure he was dead Sirius sent off another patronus to the Aurors before following James back to the site where Voldemort had stood.
"What's that?" Sirius asked. James was looking at a small speck of pulsing black smoke, "Looks like the Voldecloud I saw earlier, I guess he left a piece of himself behind."
"Oh no." James looked wide eyed at Sirius, "Oh… I can't think of a curse word bad enough for this even if I could say one."
"What?" Sirius was confused.
"Auror training." James looked at his friend, "Did nothing sink into that empty skull?"
"What are you talking about?"
"He did leave a piece of himself behind. He is obviously still alive yet he has no body." James sighed, "Give me a local containment field. I'll use fiend fire to destroy it."
"Oh…." Sirius finally understood what James was suggesting and quickly provided the cover.
After a few moments the piece of soul was devoured by the fire. The two of them made their way back to Lily and sat on either side of her while they waited for the aurors to arrive. Ten minutes later they were still waiting and Lily was beginning to worry about Harry being out in the cold.
"I'm going to go see what's holding them up." Sirius sighed.
"We'll wait inside." James agreed and they parted ways. He added a few new warding spells to their house on the way in. He had no idea how many people Peter had told their secret to.
Sirius didn't return for another hour but when he did he brought a large group with him. James was at the door with his wand pointed at them before they could move an inch closer. Sirius knew James was in a panic since he hadn't been back and had not sent any messages.
Lifting is wand cautiously making certain he had pointed it away from the house he stated in a clear voice, "Expecto Patronum."
James sagged in relief and dropped the wards he had thrown up, "About time mate."
"Sorry, it's been a busy night. You aren't the only ones who were attacked." Sirius called as he strolled up to the door. He pointed out the Headmasters body and Voldemort's spot on the ground to the other aurors explaining as he walked.
"What's going on?" Lily asked from just behind James.
"The Longbottoms were attacked." He grimaced, "Alice is in St. Mungo's, exposure to the torture curse. Frank was hit too but not as badly. His mum is fine and so is the baby."
"Will they be ok?" she asked.
"Frank will but they're not sure about Alice. I'm sorry Lily." Sirius sighed, "Now, have you guys packed up?"
"Yes we're going to head to Pottermore." James sighed, "We almost left without you."
"Sorry that's out." Sirius said, "The house was burnt to the ground earlier. I sent the elves to the place in France to rest and recoup and store the stuff. All but a few kitchen utensils were saved. The elves had a few burns and things but nothing serious. They refused treatment to punish themselves for not saving the house."
"I better call them." James sighed, "I don't want them to hurt."
"Better yet why don't you just join them?" Sirius suggested in a whisper, "I'll be there as soon as I can wrap this up and find Moony. He needs to know about P… the rat."
"Where is Moody, I need to give a statement before we leave." James agreed after Lily nodded her approval.
An hour later Sirius handed him a portkey and wished the couple luck. They stopped spinning a few minutes later and Lily looked around in surprise, "Is this France?"
"It's code." James admitted, "We worked the whole thing out between us during the summer before sixth year. We called it our brotherhood code. Peter and Remus were never told about it. It was just for the two of us to help Sirius get over his family stuff. He could ask me for help without everyone knowing he was."
"What did he need help with?" she asked and James hesitated, "I know his family was dark but surely they didn't hurt him too bad."
"When he ran away before sixth year it was because his mother used two curses on him." James sighed, "First was the torture curse. He was held under that for almost too long. Next was one of his family's secret spells called the nightmare curse. It basically forced him to relive his worst nightmares in his dreams every night for months."
"The beginning of that year he kept getting drunk." Lily pushed.
"He never drank; he only pretended to be drunk because he was having trouble with his muscles still." James explained, "The nightmares kept him from sleeping so it really extended the recuperation time."
"He didn't want to appear weak so instead he appeared crazy." she shook her head, "Why?"
"If he was known to be weak the Slytherins would have attacked him at any and every opportunity." James sighed, "Instead they thought he was going crazy. Crazy is unpredictable. Crazy kept him safe until he could regain his strength."
"That actually makes since." Lily shook her head ruefully, "What is the world coming to when Sirius makes sense. Now where are we really?"
"Sirius had one Uncle that loved him. When he died he left everything to him since he had no children of his own." James grinned at the memory, "The will said he had hated the woman they had tried to stick him with. He was proud of Sirius bucking the system even better then he'd been able to do himself. This is the old guy's house in Ireland. He calls it his vacation hovel or that place in France."
"Hardly a hovel." Lily looked around the grand room they were in. She also took in the glorious view out the main window next to her, "Where in Ireland?"
"Not sure exactly as I've only been here once." he shrugged, "But to muggles it looks like the ruins of some old place on the cliffs overlooking the sea and a few small islands. Certain parts he actually has opened for visitors."
"Sirius lets muggles into his house?" she looked pointedly at the moving pictures on the walls.
"Obviously not this part of the property." James grinned, "This part is actually on an island just off the main land. It's only big enough to hold the house. Which also looks like ruins but it's closed off, no one is allowed. The wards are similar to Hogwarts. The tourist trade makes him a tidy profit, keeps him in motorcycle parts anyway."
"So we are safe?" she asked.
"Very." James agreed.
"Can we talk about what happened?" she shuddered, "And what did you use fiend fire on?"
A few hours later a crash brought them out of their half dozing state. Both stood and pointed their wands only to find Sirius and Remus with their wands trained back onto them. A few deep breaths and Sirius grinned.
"I solemnly swear I'm up to no good."
"Mischief managed." James ended, "Glad to see both of you in one piece. How was your evening?"
"Bad." Sirius slumped into the nearest chair, "Lily love, would you please take your spell off? It's been such a horrid evening I just can't express it without swear words."
"No Harry's in the room." she grinned, "Maybe when he's older, then again maybe not."
"We have some good news." Remus tried to change the subject, "Alice will recover."
James grabbed Lily as she sagged with relief and almost hit the floor. He steered her to a chair and handed her a cup of tea the elves had just brought in. The other two men got tea for themselves and they all took seats.
"Sirius let Moody know I'm going to stay off for a while yet." James said, "Until I'm sure they have all the death eaters I'm not leaving my family alone."
"All of the Black family knows I own this. I think they'll eventually look for you here." Sirius said, "However, I know of a rather large island not far. It's owned by a squib and he's been trying to sell me the place for the last six months. I couldn't afford it on my salary but you could dip into your savings. Put up some monster wards and you'd have a save place no one knew about."
"How large are you talking about?" James asked.
"At least as large as Pottermore was and maybe even larger." Sirius stated, "You could get someone to front for you."
"Who do you suggest?" James wasn't sure where he was going with this.
"Dodsworth." Sirius laughed at the face James made, "Just think it would be perfect. He doesn't ask questions. He doesn't keep records. Have a bag of gold and he'll do the work and make it all legal."
"I don't like the idea of working with the death eater's solicitor." James grimaced.
"Why not just approach the man who owns it with a bag of gold." Remus suggested, "Just trade him the deed for the bag. You can sign it later after he's gone. There is no law saying you have to register homes at the ministry. Most do it for the status symbol."
A few days later Sirius, along with James who was heavily disguised, approached the squib. They took a boat to the island and looked around. The man stayed on the beach while the wizards apparated up top to see what was there. To their shock a large castle was nestled in a forest covered island. It was huge. Far bigger than Pottermore, James was sure of it as they headed towards the castle. They were within ten feet of the front door when an elf popped up in front of them.
"May I help you?" the elf asked.
"We are here looking the place over with the intent to purchase it." James spoke in his heavily accented voice, "Could we enter the castle?"
"Where is Master Salban?" the elf asked.
"He opted to stay on the beach." Sirius offered.
"Wait here." the elf popped away and was back a few minutes later with the squib.
"Binky I did not want to come up here." Salban grumbled.
"But sir they want to view the castle and I cannot let them in without you." Binky explained.
"Fine." he grumbled bring me a brandy to the library while they look around." he huffed and entered the house with Sirius and James on his heels.
As Binky began to show them around Sirius whispered to James, "Reminds me of Hogwarts."
"This castle was modeled after Hogwarts." Binky smiled, "The first Master Salban loved his school so much he had a replica built for him to retire to. Master Salban here now hates it because it reminds him constantly that he couldn't get in."
"I'm done." James grinned, "Would you show us back to the library?" It was almost a duplicate of Hogwarts and they found they didn't really need to be led around, "I'll buy it."
"Good, you have the gold?" he asked.
James pulled four bags out and set them on the table. The elf confirmed the amount in them and Salban signed his name on the deed and handed it over. The man was practically skipping in place as James traded the deed off for the bags.
"If you wouldn't mind can you have Binky drop me and my gold off at my boat?" Salban asked, "Oh, and could you put a featherweight charm on the gold. Don't want to sink before I get to the bank."
"Featherweight charm is already on all four bags." James said and then turned to the elf, "Please do as Mr. Salban asked. Return to me after he is away please."
"Now all we have to do is move you guys in." Sirius danced a jig, "Can I use Ravenclaw tower?"
"No." James laughed at his friend, "You have your own place."
Binky returned and James took off his disguise and explained why he had used it. He noticed the elf was a bit nervous so he asked, "Are you ok?"
"I have to tell you the secret of the islands now." Binky stated.
"Ok." James looked questionably at Sirius wondering what he had been talked into.
"There are four islands. This is the big island with the castle." Binky was wide eyed not knowing how they would react to the secret, "The smallest island is wild. It has a forest and holds mostly birds. The second largest island holds the cattle and sheep herds. The next smallest is the werewolf island."
"Ok." James blinked, "How many live there?"
"Three is all that's left. The master before the last one was a werewolf. Everyone he bit he brought to the island. That is where he would go on the full moon to keep his family here safe. Lucky for last master the wolf master died before he knew he was a squib." Binky replied quickly.
"Best get Remus here then." James looked at Sirius who rolled his eyes and headed for the floo.
"Is this connected?" He asked before looking for the floo powder.
"No sir." Binky stated, "No fireplaces are on the network. Master Salban liked his privacy."
"We'll leave it that way for now." James stated, "I rather prefer my privacy at the moment. Bring Lily and Harry back with you."
"Can I apparate in and out?" Sirius asked next.
"Entrance is currently only granted at the edge of the cliff or the beach." Binky stated.
Binky continued to fill James in on the workings of the islands while Sirius was gone. Lily and Remus were dumbfounded when they arrived. Their expressions didn't change when they walked through the front door and down the halls. When Sirius insisted that Lily let him hold Harry before they walked into the next door she was confused but allowed it. He opened the door into the library and just watched their reactions.
"It's Hogwarts." Lily breathed as she entered looking around in awe.
"What in the world." Remus followed in right behind her.
Harry squealed and clapped before yelling, "Towy." over and over.
"That's right pup." Sirius chucked him under the chin, "Lots of stories in this room."
"I hope you like it." James stated, "It was kind of an impulse buy."