Title: Holly Bears the Crown
Rating: M, for some Adult Themes, and Sexual Situations
Fandom: Harry Potter
Summary: Instead of a son born in summer, a daughter is born in winter. There is still a prophecy and Privet Drive, but for Holly Ivy Potter nothing is quite what it could have been had a brother been born in her place. A Girl Who Lived fic.
Warnings: This is book canon up to 1979, but after that it is very AU. It is not a retelling of the books after year two, though the first two years have a lot of recognizable scenes and storylines. There are canon and non-canon pairings, canon and non-canon characters surviving, and canon and non-canon character deaths. Please do not read if this bothers you.
Notes: I am very fond of taking cliché ideas and twisting them. One such idea is the Girl Who Lived. While some of these stories reflect major changes, many of them just put a girl in Harry's place and let everything unfold the same way. But a girl's experiences growing up, and even entering the magical world would be very different from a boy's. Especially a girl savior of the Wizarding race. I wanted to take a look at what would change if the prophecy had always referred to a girl, and Holly Potter had always been the only target.
Please also note, I heavily use the books, including Quidditch through the Ages, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and the new information from Pottermore.
Disclaimer: All characters and their canon histories are the property of J.K Rowling. I own nothing, and anything you recognize belongs to the goddess herself.
The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.
Oh, the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.
The holly bears a blossom
As white as lily flower,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet savior
—Traditional English Christmas Carol
Hovering on the edge of the doorway, Lily Potter watched her husband of a month and a half and nervously bit her lip. She had never been fearful to tell James something in her entire life, but she was feeling uncommonly petrified over what she was about to relate. It would change their lives completely, and she wasn't sure if her recently nineteen-year-old husband was ready for it. She wasn't sure if she was ready for it.
He looked up from his book on warding stones and regarded his wife with growing confusion. Lily was hovering, and she never hovered. Putting A Complete Guide to Runic Wards aside, James gave her his full attention. He briefly wondered if it was something to do with the Order. "What's wrong, Lily? Did Dumbledore floo-call?"
"No, no, nothing like that," she said, twisting her hands. "I have something to tell you." Lily stepped into the room and sat on the sofa.
James covered her hands with his own. "Tell me," he commanded gently. "What ever it is can't be as bad as all that."
"Oh, no," Lily said, her green eyes immediately looking up and meeting James's hazel ones. "Nothing bad, just unexpected. James, I'm pregnant."
"Pr-pregnant?" he repeated. "How?"
Lily laughed a little at this. "The usual way, I imagine. Remember the honeymoon? Those long days and nights stayed in bed obviously did the trick."
"The honeymoon?" he sputtered, dropping her hands and running them both through his hair. "But, we've only been married…I thought that…I never…"
Her smile then started fading away. "Are you angry?"
James jerked his face to hers, looking shocked. "Angry? No, never!" he replied fervently. Reaching out, he clasped their hands together again and kissed her tenderly. When they pulled away, he said, "I'm just surprised. It took my parents sixty years to conceive me, and there wasn't even a miscarriage before that. I never even considered that it would happen so quickly with us."
She grinned, happy again. "Well, we weren't very good at using conception charms, and since I refused to take the potion…it was only time, really."
He laughed. "I love you."
"I love you," Lily replied.
"You've given me a son, Lils," James said, pulling her close. "I don't know how to thank you."
"It could be a girl," she answered back with a laugh.
"Boys are always the firstborn in the Potter family," James said. "And second too. Sometimes a girl is born much later, but it's rare. I can count the number of girls born to our family in the last two thousand years on one hand. No, this will be a boy. Our son." He leaned forward and reached out and cupped her stomach. "Our little Elvendork."
Lily smacked him upside the head.
The night air in Hogsmeade was brisk and cool, and it bit eagerly at the face of Albus Dumbledore as he walked down the cobblestone road. Though it was late April, spring had yet to show its face that year in Scotland. Due to that, and the amplified hostilities of the war that were ever increasing, the venerable Headmaster was alone on the street that led to the Hog's Head Inn. As much as he liked stretching his legs, Dumbledore rather resented having to go and speak to his brother, just because the taciturn publican couldn't be bothered to put quill to parchment.
Dumbledore had just turned a corner when his shoulder clipped a smaller cloaked figure hurrying his way, knocking them to the ground. "Oh, I do beg your pardon," he said, reaching over and helping up the fallen stranger.
The hood of the cloak fell back, and the Headmaster saw a thin, bespectacled woman with dark hair. "Worry not, my good man," she said in a soft, ethereal voice. "I knew that would happen."
"Indeed," Dumbledore said, somewhat confused by the odd, bug-like looking woman before him. He could smell the scent of sherry on her, and wondered if her mind wasn't befuddled by spirits. "I ask your forgiveness all the same," he said.
She nodded her head. "You have it, in fact…" she stopped speaking and went rigid. Her fingers cut into Albus's own hand, but he could not pull it away. She had him locked in a now iron grip.
"THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO VANQUISH THE DARK LORD APPROACHES…" her voice had gone harsh and guttural. "BORN TO THOSE WHO HAVE THRICE DEFIED HIM, BORN ON THE SHORTEST DAY OF THE YEAR…AND THE DARK LORD WILL MARK HER AS HIS EQUAL, BUT SHE WILL HAVE POWER THE DARK LORD KNOWS NOT…AND EITHER MUST DIE AT THE HAND OF THE OTHER FOR NIETHER CAN LIVE WHILE THE OTHER SURVIVES…THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO VANQUISH THE DARK LORD WILL BE BORN ON THE SHORTEST DAY OF THE YEAR…"
The woman's head fell forward onto her chest and she grunted. Then, suddenly, her head snapped back up and she looked Dumbledore straight in the eye. "The Inner Eye has informed me that I must not appear all knowing and therefore allow accidents to happen, lest I anger strangers," she said, her voice back to the floaty, wispy way of speaking she had before. "Thank you for your help, kind sir. Now I must be going."
"Wait," Dumbledore called out as she hurried away. "What is your name?"
"Sybill Trelawney," she said, turning to go.
"I am Albus Dumbledore," he informed her. Trelawney, he turned the name over in his mind for a moment. There had been a famous seer named Cassandra Trelawney. He then nodded his head. It seemed the family gift wasn't as extinguished as had been thought. Clearing his throat, he said, "Tell me, Miss Trelawney, have you ever considered teaching Divination? Professor Delphi is set to retire almost one year from now. He will need a replacement."
The woman smiled, pleasantly surprised, and Dumbledore tried to hide the dread which filled him.
"And we will need someone to work the reconnaissance mission a fortnight from now," Doge said, looking out over the assembled group of people. "Lily, how about you?"
Lily blushed, and looked to her husband, and he nodded his head. "I'm sorry, Elphias. Sorry, Headmaster." She inclined her head to Dumbledore who was seated at the head of the table. "I'm afraid I won't be able to participate in any missions until after Christmas. I'm pregnant, you see."
The basement room under the Hog's Head Inn exploded with good cheer, as wizards and witches rushed to congratulate the Potters. In times of war, it seemed that every wedding and every birth was a glimmer of light in the darkened world they now found themselves.
Sirius clapped James on the back and shook his hand, laughing about James keeping secrets. Marlene McKinnon embraced Lily, putting her hands on the redhead's stomach and whispering words of blessing, while Alice Longbottom joked about an active honeymoon. Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew started taking bets about the baby's birth date, and the Prewett twins were taking them on the sex. Dedalus Diggle was bouncing on his heels, and Alastor Moody grunted out a congratulations. Frank Longbottom and Edgar Bones volunteered to pick up Lily's missions, while Caradoc Dearborn spoke quietly with Emmeline Vance, who had a warm look in her eyes.
"Isn't it wonderful news, Albus?" Minerva McGonagall asked the Headmaster, smiling benevolently at James and Lily who were wrapped up in each other as the celebrations continued around them.
Dumbledore simply nodded, his heart heavy.
After the meeting, he pulled James and Lily aside and led them up to a private room in the Hog's Head Inn. Once the door was secured and the privacy spells in place, the aged warlock turned to the young couple with tired resignation in his eyes. It hurt to even look at them. Lily was glowing with happiness, and James wasn't much better, looking both smug and awed, all at the same time.
"I'm sorry to trouble you this evening," Albus said, feeling weary. "But I think there is something that you both should know."
Lily and James, who sat side by side, exchanged a look and then turned their heads back to their former Headmaster. "Of course, Professor," James said.
Dumbledore smiled softly. "I am no longer your Headmaster, James; you may call me Albus, as I have told you before."
James just grinned.
"Well," Dumbledore said, clearing his throat. "About two weeks ago, I was just outside this very pub when I ran into Sybill Trelawney, the descendant of Cassandra Trelawney." He had the Potters full attention now. "She related to me a prophecy. A prophecy which I think refers to your unborn child."
James laughed. "Professor, you know Divination is a load of shite. I'm surprised at you."
"Normally, I would agree James, but this was a true prophecy. I checked afterwards, and it was logged with the Department of Mysteries."
James was still chuckling, but Lily's face slowly sobered. With the headmaster so grave, whatever the prophecy said could not be good.
"What did it say? The prophecy, I mean." Her voice trembled.
Dumbledore related the contents to the couple, and by the end of it they were clasping hands and looking terrified. "I am so sorry, James, Lily. If there is one comfort to be drawn from this, it is that Voldemort has no idea that it exists."
"No," James said, shaking his head. "No! Potter firstborns are boys. They are always boys. I don't believe this; I can't."
"James, I know this is difficult, but Lily must be carrying a girl. There is no one else who has thrice defied him and carries a child. The two of you would not even have fit the contents of the prophecy before the skirmish outside Mould-on-the-Wold last month."
Lily began to cry quietly.
"No," James denied again. "Maybe Alice is pregnant and doesn't know it. Or maybe Emmeline is about to give birth to Caradoc's love child. Or hell, maybe McGonagall is about to elope with Elphinstone Bloody Urquart and is going to have a kid next Christmas! I don't care who it is, but it isn't Lily!"
"We'll keep her safe James, and the child. The Order will keep all of you safe. As long as Voldemort doesn't know about it, there is nothing yet to fear. Your daughter won't be a full grown witch for some years to come."
"I don't have a bloody daughter!" James yelled. "It's a boy! Potters have boys! You're wrong, you're so wrong! You have to be wrong. Come on, Lily."
He grabbed his wife's hand and pulled her from the room and out of the pub. The moment they were on the street, he immediately apparated the pair of them back to their townhouse in London. Once they arrived in the entry hall, Lily fell to her knees in tears.
James joined her on the ground and pulled her into his arms, wrapping her in a tight embrace. "It isn't true, Lils. I swear it. We'll be okay. It'll be a boy, you'll see."
When James and Lily sought comfort in each other that night, they both cried the entire time.
The house was silent as a tomb when three young men arrived there three days later. All of them were decked out in wizard clothing with the tallest and the shortest ones wearing yellow and black scarves wrapped around their necks. The shortest one of them also carried a small pennant. The other, a handsome man with black hair and grey eyes, wore a mud brown scarf that had two crossed golden bulrushes.
"Prongs, you git! Where are you? It's time to go!" Sirius called out, his voice echoing in the townhouse.
"I'll check upstairs," Remus said, jogging up the steps two at a time.
"James!" Sirius called out again.
"Maybe he forgot," Peter suggested.
"Forgot the Wimbourne and Puddlemere match? Not bloody likely," Sirius said to his friend.
A minute later, Remus came down the stairs at a fast clip. "There's no one on the first or second floor," he said. "Have you checked down here?"
"He's just been shouting a lot," Peter said.
Sirius rolled his eyes, and started opening doors. Between the three of them, they searched the ground floor, checking the dining room, the sitting rooms, and finally the study. It was there that they found James, curled up in a winged back chair with a bottle of Ogden's Old Firewhisky.
"James?" Sirius gasped, coming forward and taking the bottle from his friend. Remus did a diagnostic charm on the stag Animagus.
"Is he dead?" Peter asked.
"Don't be an imbecile," Sirius snapped. "He's obviously passed out. Merlin knows why."
"He's fine," Remus announced, performing a sobering charm on the sleeping Potter. Once it had a chance to take effect, James blinked bleary eyes open.
"Hey, mate," Sirius said, going down on his knees before James. "All right?"
"What day is it?" James asked, his voice husky.
"It's Saturday, Prongs," Remus said. "The Quidditch match, remember?"
"Oh," James said, before shaking his head. "I can't go. I have to wait for Lily. She's coming home from Cokeworth today."
"What was she doing there?" Peter asked.
"Visiting her parents," James mumbled. "She wanted to see them. Don't bloody well blame her."
"James," Sirius said, looking at his friend with an alert calmness. "What's going on?"
To the surprise of all of them, James began to cry. All three men were startled. The last time James had cried was at his mother's funeral. Sirius quickly wrapped him in a hug, knowing that his friend needed one desperately. The dog Animagus looked towards Remus to see if he knew what to do, but the werewolf just shrugged his shoulders in confusion.
"Is it Lily?" Remus asked softly. "Did you two have a fight?"
"What? No, no, don't be silly," James said, his tears slowing. He pulled away from Sirius once he realized that he was clutching at the other man, and sighed. "No, it's not Lily. It's…it's the baby."
"Oh God, Prongs," Sirius began.
James waved him off. "The baby is healthy. No, it's just…Dumbledore thinks it's a girl, and that there is a prophecy about her."
"What do you mean a prophecy?" Peter asked, looking confused.
Remus glared at him, and then turned back to James. "Go on, James."
"There's…you see…if it is a girl, then the prophecy says that she is the one to defeat Voldemort."
The other three men gasped in unison, though Peter squeaked in fear at the name, as well as what James said.
"I can't believe it," Remus said.
"Are you sure?" Sirius asked. "Does it call her by name?"
James shook his head dumbly. "It goes 'The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…Born to those who have thrice defied him, born on the shortest day of the year.' There's more after that bit about how it all happens, but that's pretty much the gist of how it could be our baby. It could be any baby girl due on the Winter Solstice, were it not for the fact that no one else has thrice defied him. Besides me and Lily, that is."
"James…" Sirius managed to say, reaching out and squeezing his friend's shoulder.
"Does Voldemort know?" Remus asked quietly, ignoring Peter's gasp.
"Not yet," James said. "As long as he doesn't know, we're all right." He took a shuddering breath. "But I can tell you one thing, mates. I have never been a man who hasn't wanted a daughter, but now I want a son so bad that I can barely think about anything else. A son would be safe."
The other three men nodded in commiseration.
"Push, Lily!" Andromeda Tonks said from her crouching position between the younger witch's legs. "I can see the head!"
"Not today, not today," Lily was muttering, tossing her head back and forth.
"James," Andromeda said, looking at the man who was holding tight to his wife's hand. "Do something. She has to push, or the baby will go into distress."
The brunet nodded and looked at his wife. Reaching out with his free hand, he cupped her face and practically growled, "Lily Heather Potter, you need to push."
Her green eyes met his and tears ran from her eyes, mingling with the sweat falling from her brow. "It can't be today, James. Not today."
"It is today, Lils," James said. "Nothing we can do about that now. I need you to push. Our child—our son—needs you to push."
"Our son," Lily repeated. A determined look came over her face, and she nodded. "Right."
Another contraction started and Andromeda called, "Now, Lily."
With five more great, heaving pushes, Lily brought her child into the world with a scream. The sound of a baby crying filled the room, and James saw Andromeda wrap a white cloth around the blood-covered infant. She severed the umbilical cord with her wand, cleaned the baby, and brought the small bundle around the side of the bed and presented it to Lily.
"What is it?" the new mother asked, reaching out her hand tentatively.
"It's a girl," was the reply Andromeda gave her.
Both James and Lily began to cry.
Later, after Andromeda had gone and James and Lily had gotten control over themselves, they stared in awe down at their new daughter. Gone was the fear and the destiny hanging over her head, and gone was the worry of things to come. The pair of them simply stared at their new baby and marveled at her beauty.
The infant was a wonder to look at. Atop her downy head was an already curly thatch of dark-red hair, which framed a cherubic face. A tiny little nose with a rosebud mouth, and bright, pink cheeks topped by wide hazel eyes stared up at them. James had never seen a baby born with hazel eyes; he thought they were always blue, though his mother had once told him that he was the same. But these, his daughter's eyes, were the same deep green-brown hazel as his own. Surrounding the pupil and extending outward they were amber with striations of grey, but near the iris they faded into a gold-tinged green. He felt proud and awed to know that his daughter would have those eyes for the rest of her life.
Outside the little room, winter had arrived in London. Tiny flurries were floating down and covering the streets with snow. The traffic blared and the sound of people drifted up though the windowpanes, but neither James nor Lily heard it. Their focus was completely on their perfect creation.
"Urgh," Lily said ten minutes later, downing a potion in one go. "I know Andromeda said it would help with nursing and healing, but humans are simply not meant to eat placenta. So disgusting."
James laughed. "Well, it's over and done and you won't have to do it again until the next baby."
"The next baby?" Lily repeated, raising one eyebrow. "James, I am still bleeding out of a very uncomfortable place right now. The talk of more babies can wait, don't you think?"
He held up his hands in surrender. Lily pulled down her nightgown and settled the baby at her breast. Because she looked a little embarrassed to have him watching her, James stood from his seat and walked to the window. Looking down, he smiled at the sight of the first snow of the year.
"Well," he said, turning back. "What shall we call her? Harry seems a bit cruel, don't you think?" Neither of them had dared to mention girl's names before now. They hadn't wanted to face the idea that it might be a possibility they had to consider.
Lily chuckled, careful not to dislodge the baby. "Just a touch. Are there Potter traditions about girls? My family always named their daughters for flowers. Petunia you know, of course, and my mother was Bryony and my maternal grandmother was Daisy. I think there was a Marigold in there somewhere too, but I'm not quite sure."
"There is the same Potter tradition for girls and boys," James said. "The boys are always named for Kings, variations and nicknames included, and the girls for Queens. Let's see, there was an Emma, an Eleanor, a Margaret, an Isabella, and a Livia. But I like your tradition better. Let's name her for a flower. We could call her Rose for her red hair."
His wife sighed. "Too common, it reminds me of Rose Brown. Do you remember her? She was three years ahead of us in Gryffindor."
"Yes," James said, snapping his fingers. "Was she the one with the enormous—"
Lily gave him a pointed look.
"Ego?" James finished lamely. He coughed, and then suggested the first flower that popped into his head. "How about Rhododendron?"
Lily rolled her eyes. "We could call her Amaryllis?" she suggested.
"Do you hate our daughter?" James asked teasingly. "What about Dahlia?"
She made a so-so motion with her hand. "Magnolia?"
He pulled a face. "What about calling her Heather after you?"
Lily grimaced. "I've always hated my middle name. There's always Pansy."
It was James's turn to grimace. "The Parkinsons named their daughter that a month ago—it was in the Prophet—and if it's all the same to you, I don't want our daughter to have the same name as a blood purist's kid."
"That's not terrible," James admitted. "Posy?"
"No," Lily said decisively. "There is a horrible Muggle children's rhyme associated with Posies. I've always hated it." She shifted slightly. "Iris?"
James sighed. "This is impossible. We might as well name her Asphodel, 'cause we couldn't think of anything better, and be done with it."
Lily laughed at the idea of naming her daughter with a variation of her own name. No, her daughter wasn't just another version of her, despite the early impression that the baby would grow up to look a lot like her. She needed to be her own person, and that required a name that would define her. Lily was still shifting through all the flower names she knew in her head when she heard singing outside of the window.
It was carol singers, two houses over. They were just finishing up the last strains of "Silent Night" when they shifted into singing "The Holly and the Ivy." The melodic strains drifted through the Potter's closed window, and Lily began to chuckle at the lines about the running deer and the lily flower. It seemed some things were to be decided for them.
She smiled, looking down at her perfect daughter, born so near to Christmas. Bright hazel eyes gazed back as the baby nursed. Stroking her daughter's cheek, Lily looked up at James and said decisively, "Holly. We'll name her Holly. Holly Ivy Potter."
James looked confused. "I thought we were going to name her after a flower?"
"Honestly, James," Lily replied with a teasing glint in her eyes. "Didn't you pay attention at Hogwarts at all? Holly has flowers, little white ones."
"I know that," James said pointedly, rolling his eyes. "Considering my O in Herbology, I think I paid attention. What I meant was I thought you wanted to name her for a flower, flower. Like Hyacinth or Heliotrope, or, getting away from the H's, even Daffodil or Violet." He looked doubtful. "If you're so attached to Holly, what about Hollyhock?"
"No," Lily said, shaking her head. "Just Holly is perfect. It's a protective force against evil in Muggle traditions."
The specter hanging over their daughter's head went unmentioned.
James settled down on the bed and smiled at his wife. "In our world too. There is also, of course, the story about the Holly Queen, which fits in nicely with Potter traditions as well."
"What story?" Lily asked.
"Well," James said grandly, reclining back on one elbow. "It goes like this. There once was a beautiful witch Queen who ruled over a great kingdom. One day, a neighboring wizard King saw a portrait of her, and fell in love with her, sight unseen. So he sent the Queen a proposal of marriage. Once she accepted, the King came to her lands with his army. He loved her very much, and they were happy for a time, but soon his own greed and need to rule overtook him. On the day after the Winter Solstice, the King seized control of her people, and took her throne."
The baby had stopped nursing, and her eyes were now turned in her father's direction, despite not being able to see him yet. His voice was rhythmic and soothing, and it calmed the baby, just as her mother's did.
James continued, "But though she played the part of a good Queen, she was cunning, and the witch Queen bided her time and built up her troops. On the day after the Summer Solstice, the Queen overthrew her husband and took back her kingdom. That should have been the end of it, but the King would not warrant defeat. He claimed back the throne after the Winter Solstice once more. This continued on for many years, one would conquer the other and reign for half the year. But Magic was watching and grew sad. The King and Queen were meant to be the perfect compliment to each other, but all they were causing was heartache and despair. Too many magical beings had been lost in their bloody conflicts, so Magic turned them all into trees, creating the first forest. The King was turned into an Oak and ruled the forest from the day after the Winter Solstice until the Summer Solstice. The Queen was made into a Holly tree and ruled from the day after the Summer Solstice to the Winter Solstice. And though the King and the Queen still loved each other, even as trees, they could never surrender to each other, even for love. So for the rest of time, their rule was divided, even if their hearts never were. The End."
"I've heard that too," Lily said, sighing. "But in the Muggle story, it is a Holly King, not a Queen, and there is no romance."
He shook his head. "The Oak is male, the Holly female. The perfect compliment to each other; made for each other in fact, but also the perfect opposite. Both are needed to complete the year, but they can never be joined together without war. That's where that wand rhyme comes from."
"What rhyme?" Lily asked.
"You know," James said. "It's sort of a superstition about wands."
"Muggle-born, remember? We have our own superstitions," Lily reminded him.
"Sorry, I forgot that you wouldn't know it," James said. "It goes, 'When his wand's oak and hers is holly, then to marry would be folly.' It's all because of the story of the Holly Queen and the Oak King. I don't know if there is any truth to it, but it's just become one of those things that people say whenever they have a daughter matched to a holly wand. It's due to the myth and also to Merlin and Morgana."
"He was rumored to have an oak wand," Lily remembered, thinking of reading that in A History of Magic.
"Yeah, and supposedly Morgana's was holly," James said. "Legend says they were both enemies and lovers until the day she died, but they could never find peace together."
"That's sad," Lily said softly.
James grinned at his wife's tender heart, and leaned in and kissed her sweetly. "Don't worry, sweetling. Our Holly probably won't run into many boys at Hogwarts named Oak."
"Oh, you," Lily said, swatting him on his shoulder. Her eyes then sought his and she smiled. "So you approve the name?"
"What other name could we give her?" James asked, beaming back at his beautiful wife. Reaching over, he plucked his newborn daughter from Lily's arms and cradled her close to his chest. "Holly Ivy Potter, welcome to the world."
"Merlin, James—she's beautiful."
James looked at his best friend and gave him a smug grin. "I know."
"Thank goodness she didn't get your ugly mug, Prongs," Remus said, clapping him on the back.
The new father just shook his head with amusement, glancing between his two friends. "Yeah, but she got my eyes. Lily's feeling very smug because the rest of it is all her."
Sirius laughed and gazed down into the basinet. Holly was kicking and smiling up at him, though James swore it was gas. The newest addition to the Potter family had been marveled at and adored by every person who had stopped by the house, including all the members of the Order. Her likeness to Lily was something that came up frequently.
The entirety of the Order considered themselves something of sentinels for the new baby. Peter, in his stupidity, had blurted out the part of the prophecy that he knew at the previous meeting, so now the whole Order knew about it, including the first three lines. Lily had been furious, and James annoyed, but Peter had been so apologetic that they had forgiven him after a while. As James had told his wife, it wasn't like there was anyone in the Order that they couldn't trust.
"So who'd you choose as Godmother?" Sirius asked James, pulling the elder Potter from his thoughts.
"Marlene," James replied, offering his finger to his daughter, who happily clasped it.
"And Padfoot for Godfather?" Remus guessed.
James and Sirius looked up at him in confusion.
"No," Sirius said. "For a daughter, there is only a Godmother. For a boy, only a Godfather. Pure-blood tradition."
"Lily thinks it's barmy," James told them, "but Marlene walked her through the whole thing after we asked her, and my wife understands now. Though Lily is Church of England, she hasn't any godparents at all."
Remus nodded, comprehending. Though he had been raised by a magical parent, his mother was a Muggle and due to his affliction they had closer ties to the Muggle world than the Wizarding one.
"Oh, by the by, Padfoot," James said, looking at Sirius. "Your cousin was the one who delivered her."
"What? Dromeda?" Sirius asked in surprise. "I haven't seen her since I was at Hogwarts. How was she?"
"She's well," James said, shaking the finger that Holly held back and forth. "She was Lily's healer at St. Mungo's for the check-ups, and they got along like a cauldron bubbling over. Andromeda volunteered to supervise the home birth rather than directing Lily to a midwife, and she has done the checks and immunizations as well. She was here this morning."
"Was that her leaving when I came in?" Remus asked. "With the green-haired little girl?"
"Yeah," Potter nodded. "Her daughter Dora wanted to see the baby."
Sirius grinned. "I'd heard that Dromeda had given birth to a Metamorphmagus, but I've never seen her. I bet she's as bossy as her mum." He smiled, shaking his head, and then looked back down at the newborn. Suddenly, he sobered, looked at James, and said, "Prongs, Holly's a girl, that means—"
"I know." James cut him off, swallowing. "But there is nothing we can do about it now. It is what it is. As long as Voldemort doesn't know, we're all right. She's safe in anonymity."
"Don't kill me!" the small man said, falling to his knees before Lord Voldemort and the four assembled Death Eaters. The Lestranges and Lucius Malfoy jeered at his predicament.
"Why, Young Pettigrew, you have guessed my intention," the Dark Lord said, causing his servants to laugh. The snake-like man slithered forward, stepping from an iron throne, holding his wand loosely in his grasp. The large hall the six of them were in was glowing with torchlight, and Voldemort's face looked even more terrifying with shadows playing about it.
Peter shivered on the floor. To the amusement of the Death Eaters, the scent of urine was soon filling the air. He quivered like a frightened rabbit, glancing to and fro in an agitated fashion, as if searching for an exit.
"Perhaps," the Dark Lord hissed, still moving ever closer. "It might be better to send you back to Dumbledore as a message. Removing your eyes and tongue will certainly tell him how I feel about spying, but I rather think you will miss the full affect if I do it after you are dead. Vivisection it is."
The rat-like man trembled. "No, please. I can tell you things…about the Order. Things you don't know…I can help you!"
Voldemort made a tsking sound with his tongue. "Ready to turn traitor all ready? How disappointing."
"Please! I'll serve you," Peter cried desperately. He reached out and kissed Voldemort's robes.
The Dark Lord jerked away from the small man and sneered. "I'd rather not have your Muggle-loving filth on my robes. Crucio!"
Peter screamed and the Death Eaters laughed.
"Not Muggle loving, never Muggle loving," Peter said shrilly when he could speak again. "They forced me to join! Black and Potter! I didn't want to; I couldn't care less about Muggles and Mudbloods. Please."
"A spy within the Order of the Phoenix." Voldemort laughed, and all the Death Eaters laughed with him. "I must admit, the thought does please me greatly." Peter looked as though he might relax, but the Dark Lord's next words stopped him. "But I was so looking forward to hurting you. Perhaps, killing you might be a better message."
"No!" Peter squealed.
"Crucio!" the Dark Lord intoned.
The Animagus's screamed in pain, and even after the curse was lifted he was still grunting. "Please, my lord. I'll serve only you."
"Crucio!" Voldemort said again.
Peter yelled, and then cried out, "There was a prophecy! About your defeat! Potter's girl will be the one. James told me. They trust me. I'm valuable to them. Please!"
The Dark Lord's red eyes darkened with interest as he settled onto his throne. "Tell me everything."
"Don't kill me!"
"That was not my intention." As the wind whispered through the nearly bare branches of the trees below the hill, Albus Dumbledore looked down at the man kneeling before him with contempt. "Well, Severus? What message does Lord Voldemort have for me?"
"No, no message. I'm here on my own account!" the desperate Death Eater said, jerking his hands through his hair in an agitated fashion. "I—I come with a warning—no, a request, please!"
Dumbledore flicked his wand, and suddenly there was silence on the hilltop. "What request could a Death Eater make of me?"
"The prophecy, the prediction, he knows about it!" Snape gasped out.
Dumbledore's face gave nothing away, but inside he was a riot of emotions. The day he had feared had come to pass. "I do not know what you mean," he dissembled.
"'The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…Born to those who have thrice defied him, born on the shortest day of the year.'" Snape recited. "He knows it; there is a spy in your Order! The Dark Lord thinks it means Lily Evans!"
"The prophecy did not refer to a woman. It spoke of a baby girl born on the Winter Solstice."
"You know what I mean," Snape gasped out. "He thinks it means her daughter, he is going to hunt her down—kill them all—"
"If she means so much to you," Dumbledore commented, "surely Lord Voldemort will spare her? He must be very impressed with you after your showing at the battle in Lower Flagley. Could you not ask for mercy for the mother, in exchange for the daughter?"
"I have—I have asked him—"
"You disgust me," Dumbledore said, his voice filled with loathing. "You do not care, then, about the deaths of her husband and child? They can die, as long as you have what you want?"
Snape said nothing. It was clear what his answer was. Finally, he gasped out hoarsely, "Hide them all, then. Keep her—them—safe. Please."
"And what will you give me in return, Severus?"
"In—in return?" His black eyes filled with determination, tinged with desperation. After a long moment, he said, "Anything."
James and Lily stood outside the small Godric's Hollow cottage, the almost one-year-old Holly clasped firmly in Lily's arms, while James held the cage with their spitting cat Artemis inside. They looked up at the sweet façade of the small house, taking in the honeysuckle vines and the creeping ivy. Though it was nearing winter, and there was not much greenery to be seen, the promise of what the house looked like was visible.
"It's not much," James said.
"It will do," Lily replied. "Once this is all over, we can go back to London and our life there."
James sighed. He wished in that moment, more than ever, that Lone Hill Hall had not burnt to the ground when he was eighteen. The Potter scion had always intended to rebuild, to repair what the Death Eaters had wrought (it struck him as ironic that they had burned down his home in revenge for him declining the offer to join them, whereas if they hadn't, he and Lily would have a safe place to flee besides this little cottage), but there never seemed to be time. With his parents gone, there was no one to supervise the rebuilding, what with him working full time for the war effort. So he had retreated to the Kensington townhouse, and Lily had joined him there once they were married.
"I can't believe you just had this cottage sitting empty," Lily said.
"It belonged to a cousin of mine, on the distaff side. Casperian Abbot was a bit of a shut-in, and refused to live anywhere but Godric's Hollow," James told her. "When he died without children, he left it to my mother. Normally it's rented, but after the last tenant left, I never got around to it."
Lily nodded. "Well, we'll make the best of it. At least there is a garden and lots of country for Holly to play in."
Their daughter smiled up at her mother at the sound of her name. "Me!" she declared, nodding her head and causing her red curls to dance.
"Yes, darling," Lily said, kissing the top of her silky head. "That's you."
"We'll be all right here, Lils," James said to her earnestly. "He won't find us here. We'll be safe."
"Safe," Lily repeated. "Yes, everything will be fine."