Disclaimer: I own nothing from the Harry Potter series.
When I first read this part of the book, I cried for a long while. I know many people don't really seem to like James Potter that well because of the James-Lily-Snape plot line, but I love James' character, and I wish we could have seen a bit of the development of the character in real time rather than from just learning about him from conversations and Snape's memory.
Song of the chapter: Regina Spektor – The Call (I'd recommend listening to it while reading.)
"My Favorite Day was Halloween."
Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year, ever since I was a child. My parents loved to dress me up in those funny muggle costumes that muggles loved to go so much on this day. Dad even took me out in the muggle world for what they called "Trick-or-Treat", and in the end, we always pooled up the candy we collected so we all got a tasty share at all the goodies.
When I started going to Hogwarts that changed. I spent Halloween in the castle, enjoying the entertainment from the ghosts and occasional dancing skeleton, and feasting on the wide variety of delicious treats at the Gryffindor table, iced cakes and so many flavors of ice-cream that if I tasted all of them, I'd get brain freeze, and Padfoot would laugh until he fell to the floor, clutching at his stomach. As we got older, in the middle of the night, we'd dress in costumes against Moony's better judgments and scare the living daylights out of the first years. It was so worth the detentions.
Halloween was the one day where I was at my happiest because it was the day that my father and I were partners in crime, the one day where I could get away with being truly spoiled. Then came the one Halloween where he wasn't there anymore. You could say it was a hollow feeling to be there without him. I'd walk into his old study, just like I did when I was a child, but now I wasn't bouncing around with flippant joy at the thought of sitting in front of the cackling fireplace with Mum and Dad, playing the game of choosing the best candies to taste.
Now I was there, eyes trailing on the dark fireplace, void of the cheerful dancing flames Dad conjured, the flames that could change colors when I asked. No candy littered the floor. My father's favorite armchair was cold, and the smoke of his pipe still lingered on the fabric. The room felt cold, like his crypt in the cemetery. I'd run my hand over the arm of the chair where I sat as a boy. I'd stopped crying a long time ago. Now, I didn't think I had the tears to shed anymore. He never got to see me graduate from school. A few years later, I lost Mum too.
I couldn't stay in the mansion anymore. They were everywhere. There was more than just Halloween haunting these walls, but birthdays and Christmases and Easters, and too many memories that I could bear. Sirius, Remus and Peter were the ones who pulled me out of the dark, who made me see that there was more to just the grief. And then there was Lily, who brought out those old smiles again. For a while, I never thought I could smile again. It was good to know that I could.
Halloween was still my favorite day of the year; that was until my wedding day, and then the day that Harry was born. By then, I'd dusted off my broomstick and taken to the air again, to make my parents proud, and feel alive again. Not to feel like an orphan, but to be the man that I knew was inside me, the one I was always going to grow into.
I'm James Potter, I'd tell myself. It's time to grow up.
And I did, but to be honest, I was always a child on the inside, and everyone knew it. Who else would get on a flying motorcycle with Sirius Black and get chased by muggle police men while being chased by Death Eaters, and still laugh about it all at the end of the day?
Harry was a few months old on his first Halloween. Lily laughed so hard when she saw our little toddler dressed as muggle superhero, a pudgy little Spider-Man, eyes wide in bewilderment at Daddy putting him in an odd outfit. I knew she didn't approve, but she thought he looked cute.
I guess I should have looked out for the next one, but the circumstances were different. I was stuck in our little cottage, the new home I had since I still couldn't go back to the old Potter Mansion. Was it catching dust? I didn't know. The days trailed away, but visits from friends weren't enough anymore. Playing with Harry was an upside. His laugh could make stone laugh. Day by day passed. My birthday, then Lily's, our friends', then Harry's. We started to talk about what to get him for Christmas. Not a broomstick. Sirius had taken care of that.
More days passed.
Halloween was just another day now.
Harry fussed at any costume directed at him, so we had tea and a bit of cake. He flew on his broomstick and I nearly hit my head trying to keep him from bouncing off the walls. Our cat, poor Oberon, was in hysterics at Harry trying to pull his tail—again, ("He doesn't understand that he isn't supposed to," Lily would say) and Oberon would yowl so loudly that Harry would cry, still trying to pull Oberon's tail. I would have laughed but Lily did not approve.
So I took Harry away from Oberon and set him on my lap, like my father did when I was still small enough not to break his knee. Little Harry, my boy, looked up at me, his spring green eyes—so like his mother's—blinked as the tears seeped out.
"No need to cry, Harry," I assured him, bouncing him on my knee. I grinned as he started to laugh. It always made him laugh.
He was so innocent. My heart twisted at the thought of Voldemort hunting him down. Why my son? I thought. He's just a baby. He can't do anything. He should have a better future than just hiding in a cottage all his life. He should be able to go out and play in the snow at Christmas. He should be allowed to have fun at Halloween and Easter. I'd take him, just like my father took me, out to "Trick-or-Treatings", though I knew Lily would never approve, just like my dear old Mum.
"Dada," Harry said in his little baby voice, poking at my pocket. "Pwetty lights?"
For a baby, he knew what he wanted, I had to admit it. Pretty lights. Sometimes I wished Remus never showed him in the lightworks when he came to visit. Harry would beg to see them all the time, so much that by the time he got tired of it, we were all exhausted. When Remus wasn't here, I had to show him the pretty lights.
Showers of sparkling beams, harmless fireworks, erupted from my wand into the air, dancing around us like a shower of meteors. Harry clapped and laughed. Pretty lights. His favorite was the green, like his eyes.
"More, more, more," he sang. I tried not to laugh at his eagerness. In the corner of my eye, I could see Lily in the doorway, watching us. I knew she was smiling at us.
The colorful lights became gold sparks, and then glistening bubbles, and then puffs of smoke, in different colors and shapes. My eyes blurred with weariness after a while. How this kid was still wide awake was a mystery to me; I was about to doze off.
"Happy Halloween," I said, kissing the top of Harry's head as I made the orange smoke into a pumpkin, like the ones Mum used to carve, or the brown ones into the pipe that Dad used to smoke. Lollipops and chocolates and other little treats danced in front of Harry. I beamed as he tried to grab them out of the air.
"Next year we'll get some candy, yeah?" I asked him softly. Harry looked up at me with his moon-bright green eyes and grinned, showing off the little white teeth growing in.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," he sang.
I heard a soft shuffling of footsteps behind me. There was my Lily, eyes gleaming wearily as she bent over the two of us.
"James, it's time for Harry to go to sleep now," she said gently. "It's past his bedtime."
"Already?" I checked the time. "Ah, well, little guy, we'll take this up tomorrow."
Lily shook her head fondly as she took Harry from my arms. He pouted but one smile from Mummy put him at ease. I dropped my wand on the sofa, my hand cramping from the spells, and I stretched as I got up. It was a quiet Halloween, one of the quietest I'd ever had since Dad's passing. I promised myself that the next would be better. Maybe Harry would be able to go outside, and hopefully by then Voldemort was gone.
I wrapped my arm around Lily and Harry, kissing my wife lightly on the lips. Harry made a face, causing us both to laugh.
"When you get a girlfriend I'll do the same, then," I teased him, poking him playfully in the side.
"James, that's not—" Lily started.
I never got to know what she was going to say.
Heartbeats felt eternal as I heard an explosion in the hallway, but when I raced to see what it was, heartbeats were the least of my worries.
Not him, I thought. Not now.
"Lily, take Harry and go!" I yelled; panic rose inside my chest. He was here for Harry, my son. I didn't look to her as she began to hurry towards me. "It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off!"
I didn't see Lily run passed me, but I felt her go, like a part of me leaving my body forever. I reached into my pocket for my wand, but there was nothing there. My heart froze. No wand. Where was my wand? My eyes flickered to the living room, where my wand sat on my couch, abandoned because of my stupidity.
The chances of my making it to my wand were little to nothing. Harry, I thought, Lily. I'd never see them again. Is this what Dad went through at King's Cross that day? Did he stand there, perfectly aware that his next actions would have a lasting effect on my forever, but if I was still alive by the end of the day, then it was worth it?
I could remember it as if it were yesterday. I'd been laughing with Remus and Sirius about something while Peter struggled to keep up with us when I saw them, my parents, waiting for me and Sirius so we could all go home. It was simple, at the end of sixth year, to think that the only thing to worry about now was N.E.W.T.s in seventh year. I was only feet away from Mum when the screams began, when Death Eaters attacked the station. The panic built to horrified pandemonium as parents scrambled around to get to their children or older kids to find their younger siblings. Some of us instinctively began to fight the Death Eaters, to protect the younger ones. I hadn't noticed the Death Eater behind me until my father rammed into me out of nowhere, pushing me out of the way as the killing curse hit him. He'd fallen in front of my eyes, like a marionette whose strings had been cut, and I could see the lights draining from him into nothingness, an empty void where he'd never see me again.
He'd died to save me. Now I would die to save Harry.
I didn't hear the words that took my life, but I felt it hit me. It was a sharp pain over my heart and then everything was distant, like a faint dream. It was gentle as touching clouds or floating on a calm lake, falling into a blissful slumber where all I could see where the people I loved. Lily. Harry. My parents. My friends.
Halloween was my favorite day of the year when I was a child, and it was throughout most of my life. Never had I ever dreamed, in a million years, that it would be my last day on this earth.
I nearly sobbed writing this. I don't know why I wanted to anyways, but I did and it's killing me. I wanted to trying writing something different than what I usually like to write. I wanted to write this for a while, but I never really got around to do so.
Opinions would be nice. I know it's not the best, and to be honest, this comes from my own fan-fiction of the Marauders' days at Hogwarts where yeah, James would be a prat, but the death of his father would sort of mature him up a bit. I'm not sure if I'd get around to writing it, but I'll let you know if I do.
I'd still working on my other stories right now. I just got this idea so strongly in my head that I needed to get it out before it killed me. I listened to the song of the chapter throughout the entire thing—it was on a loop—and now I don't think I'll ever be able to listen to it without thinking of this.
That's all for now, I guess. Tell me what you think.