"James, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off -"
James Potter, Gryffindor through and through, felt a swell of pride amidst the terror of the moment. He Who Must Not Be Named had found their hiding place, was trying to kill their son, and Lily wanted to fight. Of course, he would go take his son and flee... But not without a bit of help, first.
"Protego Horribilis," came the whispered incantation. While he wasn't as good at Charms as his wife, he hadn't ignored Professor Flitwick in class, either. Sheer raw power had helped him defy Lord Voldemort before, and would help him again.
He began to run up the stairs with a grateful Lily making her stand at the stairway. If his mum could see him from beyond the grave, she'd be livid at her boy for allowing his wife to stand and fight. But arguing was precious moments wasted, and the former star chaser was the better flier and would be more likely to escape with their young son's life.
And wasn't that what parenting was all about? Protecting your children?
If Merlin was on his side tonight, maybe he'd have more children to protect one day.
Running, panting... Three feet from Harry's nursery... done.
James Potter collapsed.
Harry was not saved by his father after all.
Lily Potter had no idea that her husband and son had not already escaped by the time Voldemort blasted into her home. She stood, straight backed and proud, her wand held at the front door.
Of course he had to blast through her lovely bay window instead. The completely inappropriate impression that for a man who styled himself as Lord he was seriously lacking in manners left her momentarily amused. That unguarded moment didn't turn her to a fine red mist, however, as Voldemort seemed in the mood to chat with his enemy.
"Stand aside, Girl, and you will be allowed to live. Give me the boy willingly, and you will be forgiven for your impudence." The hissing voice sent a chill down Lily's spine, but she stood her ground silently as though in thought.
Time, give them time, distra-
Voldemort hissed, and stated the obvious. "I'm growing impatient." He continued, "It would be a shame to leave you as a lifeless husk in your lovely little home, especially after I worked so hard to receive my invitation. I'll even spare your beloved. You're young. There will be other children... If you get out of my way!"
Lily smiled serenely. "I've considered your offer, and I am afraid I'll have to decline. You see, I'm rather fond of Harry, and would be much put out by his death at the hands of an evil overlord."
"The boy! Now!" Voldemort was generally disinclined to show mercy to his enemies, and was not pleased that Lily, a mere mudblood, was not accepting her place at his feet, groveling in appreciation for his consideration.
"Avada Kedavra!" Lily screamed the incantation with all her power, with all of her love for her family and all of her hate for Voldemort. And it wasn't enough, because all of the hate in Lily's kind heart was not able to fuel something as vile as an Unforgivable Curse, because she was casting a hateful magic by using love.
He chuckled. "Allow me to demonstrate, Girl." And Voldemort, the black hearted Dark Lord, the one who's name was feared and reviled by all good people... He had enough hate. He had more hate in his heart than anyone before him and more than anyone after. "Avada Kedavra!" And his Killing Curse was powerful, and the green light flashed and barreled toward the young mother and wife.
Harry could hear yelling. Mum and Dad weren't the yelling sort of parents. Well, not angry yelling. Sometimes Padfoot came with Moony and they yelled a lot, and laughed while doing it. Sometimes Wormtail came and brought him toys and they yelled in the back garden as Harry chased Wormtail on his Comet Junior League Official Broom. But they weren't the sort to shout, and Mum usually didn't let Dad run up the stairs ("You sound like a Hippogriff, James, stop that."), and one of the voices was new.
Harry didn't know what to do, but he heard a crash, he heard a thump, he heard yelling, and he was alone. So, like any good fifteen month old boy with more curiosity than fear, he climbed out of his cot (Mum would call him naughty and smother him in kisses, and he looked forward to it) and worked very hard to open his door.
Right near his door, he found his father lying on the hallway floor. Harry considered him for a moment, decided it was a silly place to sleep but Dad was a very silly kind of Dad, and waddled his way past his prone father. Mum could handle the diaper.
He saw a flash of green light and made his way quickly to the top of the stairs, as quickly as a toddler still finding his footing can. A wraithlike creature pushed through his mother, floating up the stairs with a pained shriek. It grabbed Harry the way Moony sometimes did, but instead of tickles the scary monster scratched him and it HURT and he screamed.
The curse hadn't penetrated James' shield, by some miracle, but why in the world was Harry not miles away? Lily ran up the stairs to find Harry wrestling the wraith of Voldemort. It was the blood pouring from her son's face that gave the Lily the powerful hate she needed, and she shoved her wand between her still-struggling son and the black semi-solid whisp.
"Avada Kedavra!" That thing had her baby, and it would never hurt someone she loved ever again.
Charlus and Dorea Potter, loving grandparents who her son would never remember, gone forever at the hands of Death Eaters.
"Avada Kedavra!" She could have sworn it was still struggling, but she had plenty more inspiration.
"Avada Kedavra!" For Sevvie, her old best friend, poisoned by blood purity bigotry.
"Avada Kedavra!" For Fabian and Gideon, for a Molly in mourning, for all of his nephews that would miss them and the niece who would never remember them.
"Avada Kedavra!" Another hate-fueled flash of killer light for Emmeline and Dorcas, wonderful friends.
"Avada Kedavra!" Oh, poor Hagrid, another friend ruined by Voldemort's plans. A man who saw the good in every creature, framed by Tom Riddle for a murder he didn't commit, and prevented from completing his education.
"Avada Kedavra!" For her poor James, yards away, flat on his face just feet from saving their son.
"Stop! He's dead, Lily, ain't nothing in the world that can survive seven Killing Curses." She hadn't heard the half giant coming up the stairs, but the hand on her shoulder calmed her. "I'll take little Harry here downstairs for a bit o' a snack. Check on James, Harry has nothing to worry about now."
Lily used the last of her adrenaline to make her way to James. She grabbed him and turned him onto his back roughly, and when she saw that he was somehow (Oh, miracle of miracles!) still breathing she smiled and fell down in a dead faint next to him.