celestine_fics: The four Hogwarts founders in Potter Puffs style (Books - Harry Potter - House Unity)
celestine_fics ([personal profile] celestine_fics) wrote2011-12-24 06:41 pm

Harry Potter Fic: Memoria (PG-13)

Author: [personal profile] celestineangel
Title: Memoria
Characters/Pairings: James-centric; James/Lily
Rating: PG-13, mostly for language.
Warnings: None, really.
Word Count: 4,574
Summary: Like so many doomed men before him, James Potter wants to know the future.
Notes: Originally written for [profile] hp_emofest, as a gift for the community because my muse abandoned my prompt and decided to do this instead. I actually prompted this for another fest, but, well, now I'm writing it myself. I hope everyone enjoys it! Thanks must be given to the wondermous beta, [profile] cymonie, for the suggestions and help. And to [personal profile] aimlesstravels, as well, for reading from the beginning and cheerleading. :)
Disclaimer: Of course, Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling and to WB, and to anyone who actually owns any of the rights. Which is not me, this is all for fun. Also, there's a bit of text in here that is quoted from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pages 332 and 333 of the Scholastic hardcover edition. You will know it when you see it.




Memoria



James looks from his best mate to the dangerous magical device sitting on the table in front of them. Oh, it doesn't look dangerous, it looks rather innocent, actually, but looks are so often deceiving.

"You know," Sirius says, nonchalance covering a tremble of nervousness, "most men in your position would be ordering his mates a fourth round of drinks right about now. Perhaps enjoying the charms of a lovely—" He cuts off when James sends him a glare over the table. "All right, fine. I'm just saying, this is a little much, even for you. Who knows what you could cock up?"

"And since when are you the voice of reason?" Both of them know very well how strong Sirius' reasoning abilities are when it comes to the reckless and the perilous.

"Since right now, apparently. There's a reason those things are heavily controlled by the Ministry, and I'd rather not be responsible for ending up as your grandfather or some such. That'd be awkward."

James rolls his eyes, standing to pace up and down the little room. Lily is still living with her parents, allowing him to spend a night in their new house alone. This private get-together with Sirius is James' version of a bachelor party. He knows it's odd, especially when he told Remus and Peter they should just go home, and he'd see them in the morning. They are dear friends, really, but he only has one best mate, one best man.

"I'm going to the future, Padfoot, and you're not going with me. Very little chance of you becoming my grandfather."

Still, Sirius' eyes are shuttered, solemn in a way that unnerves James because he isn't accustomed to it, at least when talking about anything other than Voldemort. Especially when discussing potential hi-jinks. This is unlike him; then again, James realizes, this particular stunt is rather more risky than anything either of them have attempted before. "Maybe not, but anything else could happen."

"It's the future, Sirius. How can I possibly do something too terrible to something that doesn't technically exist?" With a sigh, he throws his hands in the air. "For all we know, nothing will happen because the future isn't set, and it's impossible to travel there because it's too malleable."

"Why do you even want to do this? Come on, mate, it's not like you're not head over arse for Lily. Have been forever."

James can't answer, not immediately, because he's not entirely certain himself why he wants so badly to see the future. All he really knows is that the future really is a malleable thing, unknown to him, and with Voldemort out there growing in power, more uncertain every day. They could both die tomorrow, they could die before their vows echoed in their loved ones' ears.

"Bugger it," he says, sitting on the couch again, staring at the thing on his table. "I have to do this."

Sirius stares at him a moment longer, until his decision writes itself over the lines of his body, in the movement of his torso and arm as he reaches out to point at the various aspects of the device. "This isn't a normal time turner, obviously. It's not for hours or even days. See, it's bigger." And it is, bigger and more complicated, sporting dials and knobs a normal time turner doesn't have. James looks up at his friend, wondering not for the first time how Sirius managed to wrangle this thing out of the hands of the Department of Mysteries, but the insufferable bastard never can answer a question straight on. "You'll have to calibrate the dial to what unit of time you want, such as years, decades, or centuries. Then each time you flip the hourglass will take you that many units. Three flips will take you three decades rather than three hours, for instance." He stops, and frowns at James. "You're not planning to go centuries, are you?"

"Don't be an idiot."

"Just never know with you." Sirius shrugs.

James peers at him over the time turner. "How'd you even get your hands on this? I know I said—but I never expected you'd actually be able to do it."

At that, a grin breaks out over Sirius' face, and he's once more the carefree troublemaker from their not-so-long-ago school days. "Everyone's got their secrets. I'm not about to tell mine, not even to you."

"Fine, then, don't. Just hand it over."

He thinks for a moment Sirius won't, that he'll keep it and tell James this whole idea is insane. That he should forget it, and give Remus and Peter a call on the Floo and invite them all out for drinks. Maybe he should. Lily is going to murder him no matter what he does, if she finds out about the time-travelling.

Then Sirius tosses it through the air, and James catches it easily. Such a light-weight object that can show him things he might not be meant to see. But he has to do this. He has to.

"Wish me luck, mate."

Sirius watches him slide the chain over his head. "Good luck, idiot."

At the height of his emotional maturity, James sticks out his tongue before setting the time turner's dials for decades. He double-checks, as he has no desire to prove Sirius right in the matter of his intellectual capacity and end up centuries in the future to boot. Certain it's right, he breathes in deep and turns the hourglass twice.

As the world spins around him, he thinks oh damn, I should have grabbed my invisibility cloak.


~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~


The world stopped spinning.

James looked up to find the world had ended.

Oh Merlin, what is this?

The time turner dropped him exactly in the same spot he'd left from, something that might've been awkward had there been anyone else in the room. Except there was no room, at least none that had been lived in for quite some time. Around him, the living room had gone from a brightly-lit, cheery room with cream walls to brown and black wreckage. Mouth open, he turned to take in the destruction, which seemed to be complete. What did this?

We moved, he thought, knowing even as the words formed that they were untrue. We moved and somehow the house fell into disrepair.

Numb, his mind didn't protest when his feet took him from room to room, many of them in a near-perfect state, others damaged from whatever had damaged the living room. He didn't particularly want to go up the stairs, but he couldn't stop himself. There, the worst, a nursery with the roof blown off.

James couldn't bear any more; he turned and ran down the stairs, through the rooms, out of the house. Part of him thought desperately to just turn the hourglass back to where he started, but the rest of him pounded with the need to know. Why, why did this happen, what was it, who? As if there were really any question.

Outside was worse.

"On this spot, on the night of 31 October 1981,
Lily and James Potter lost their lives.
Their son, Harry, remains the only wizard
ever to have survived the Killing Curse.
This house, invisible to Muggles, has been left
in its ruined state as a monument to the Potters
and as a reminder of the violence
that tore apart their family."


A son. He had a son, with Lily, but it didn't matter because they were dead.

James touched the plaque, and the graffiti on and around it, reading with wonder and a fascinated sort of horror. Well wishes to his son, to Harry Potter, to the Boy-Who-Lived. Most of them old and faded with time, though there were some few that gleamed newer, words of triumph--Harry defeated Voldemort!--words of congratulations, of hope. All written over and around words of death, such a terrible monument to everything James had hoped to build but hadn’t built yet. This was a monument to all the things James would apparently never have a chance to build.

Where will Harry go? It was exceedingly easy, somehow, to think of Harry as though he knew him. Five minutes ago the idea of children had never crossed his mind, and now... everything was different.

Where did Harry go?

"Harry?" A voice from the shadows. "That you, mate?"

James looked up from the plaque to see a young man standing a few yards away. His hair blazed bright in the chilly February evening. James couldn't place him, though it had to be one of the Weasley brood. One he knew, or did Arthur and Molly keep going?

"Harry?" The man stepped closer, and there was just enough light for James to see a concerned frown light his face.

He cleared his throat and hoped he sounded as much like his son as he apparently looked from a distance. "Yeah," he said, and it came out as a croak. "Yeah, it's me."

"You all right?"

"Yeah, fine."

He didn't look convinced, but stopped all the same. "You shouldn't hang around here, you know. I can see why you do, but really, it's a bit morbid, yeah?"

Despite himself, James felt his mouth twitch in an answering smile. "A bit."

Harry's friend sighed, and James could just see the rolling of eyes as the young Weasley gestured to him. "Come on, then. Hermione's already at your place with Ginny, I was just taking a stroll. Didn't think I'd find you out here. Let's get going, huh, before the wives have something to say about it."

"I'll be there in a minute. I promise." His voice sounded hollow to him, but Harry's friend seemed to take it as a matter of course, nodded, and headed off in the direction of another street.

So, Harry lived here in Godric's Hollow. Married, apparently, with good friends who cared about him. But no parents. James stood, looking down the street in the direction of the young man who thought he was his son, and toyed with the idea of following him. For a brief but blinding second, James wanted nothing more than to see his grown son, needed to see him, to prove to himself the reality of this future.

Then the moment passed, and reason renewed. When was the last time you were reasonable, Prongs? Sirius, the voice in his mind, but that was not important. Only one thing was important.

The Godric's Hollow library was closed this late at night, of course, even the private wizarding sections charmed so Muggles couldn't find them, but it was nothing a good charm or two couldn't fix. One to open the door, another to take care of the security system, and a third to light the end of his wand so he could see. History had never been his strong suit, but it didn't take him long to figure out the right section, or that his first thought had been right, of course. The wizarding world he knew could never let anything important happen without documenting it in as many ways as possible. Lily told him once that the Muggle world was much the same way only less--what was the word she'd used, he'd taken offence to it, oh yes--ridiculous.

He found what he needed easily enough. Books and newspapers and collections of letters, the wizard library in Godric's Hollow had a complete archive dedicated to all things Harry Potter.

"Maybe not, but anything else could happen."

Sirius again, in the back of his mind, acting as his conscience. Who the bloody hell had ever thought Sirius Black would be anyone's conscience, let alone James Potter's? Yet, as he stood twenty years in his own future, with his hand resting on the cover of a book that would reveal the details of those years, he couldn't help but think of Sirius sitting on his sofa at home, the non-destroyed home twenty years ago, and warning him about messing with time. Or attempting to warn him. Attempting to be the good one, for once.

James hesitated longer over opening the book. Why did he want to? Well, obviously he wanted to know how he died. He needed to know, obviously, because--

Because....

His fingers twitched. Because Lily. Because himself. Because Harry, who had lost them, and when? When had he lost them? Where had he gone after?

What can I do to change it?

"No," he whispered to the empty room.

What do you mean, no? Isn't that why you wanted to come here to begin with?

No, he'd only wanted to see, not--

Bollocks, mate. No one wants to go to the future only to see the future. You can't fool me.

He'd only wanted to see. James took a breath, repeating it. He'd only wanted to see, and now he had, and that should be enough, shouldn't it? All right, so he would die. He had known that would be a possibility when he chose to fight Voldemort instead of join him. So Lily would die, she'd made the same choice. So their son would... would grow up... Harry would grow up without them. Doing so had brought him here, to this archive, obviously already a legend amongst his fellow wizards and witches.

Who was James Potter to decide a different course?

"No one," he decided. "I don't change anything. I don't, obviously." He spoke to himself, to the books, to the otherwise empty space, the only witness to his dilemma. "I mean, I came here, and this is the future. So I must not do anything to change it, or it would already be different, yeah?"

It made sense in his head, anyway, if he didn't think too hard about it.

All of this resolved in his mind as a perfectly legitimate reason to read at least one book. The smallest. Just one. One couldn't hurt anything.

His fingers tightened on the book cover. It read: Momentous Moments in Magical History. He wouldn't even have to read the whole thing, only the sections involving himself and Harry. James flipped to the back instead of opening the front cover, and there, plain as anything, he saw index listings for "Potter, Harry", "Potter, James" and "Potter, Lily." They were all within the same one hundred page span.

James turned to the first page, sat down, and began to read.


~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~


Sirius is up off the couch in a flash the moment James reappears, and he must see something in James' face, because his own turns several shades whiter. "Bloody hell, James, what happened? How long've you been gone?"

It takes James a moment to understand the question. Of course, it's only been a few seconds for Sirius, if even that long. Sirius has no idea, none whatsoever, of the things teeming within James' head, the knowledge he gained with a forbidden object. He takes off the time turner and hands it to Sirius, almost dropping it before Sirius takes it. He wants to be rid of it, he should have known, should have taken Sirius' warnings to heart.

"James?" Now Sirius looks at him with growing confusion, and under that, growing alarm.

Merlin. Padfoot, you have no idea.

The words are almost out of his mouth before he can stop them. No, no I'm not all right, you're not all right, Peter's a traitor and we're not all right, none of us are. Lily and I are going to die, our son will be raised by her awful sister, and you're going to Azkaban for our murders, mate. And those twelve Muggles. Nothing is all right.

"I'm fine," he manages. "I'm fine, it's all right."

"Bollocks you are, now what happened?"

James shakes his head. His stuffed-to-the-brim head, aching from too much, pounding from not enough. Too much knowledge, not enough time. Never enough time.

"Don't think I should tell you. Least not yet." He is aware that his voice is faint, but can't make himself speak any louder. He knows now just how fragile this time is, how short, and he can't bear to break it. "Maybe one day."

Sirius stares at him, and it's clear he knows. Knows something, at least, knows James is keeping something back.

"You were right," he tells his best mate, "I shouldn't have gone, and now... I don't know what to do."

"Do? You don't do anything, mate. Whatever you saw, it's going to influence you now and--" Sirius cuts off when he sees James smile, and he knows Sirius understands. "I'll have this back safe and sound in the morning before anyone knows it was gone."

"Good."

They part then, and although he's going to see Sirius tomorrow--Padfoot is his best man, after all--it feels like there's a decades-wide chasm between them.

James does not sleep that night.


~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~


"We know next to nothing of Harry Potter's tempestuous year on the run, as Mr. Potter himself is reticent on the subject, and his closest friends have followed his lead.

James has never possessed a photographic memory, but phrases from the books he read keep returning to his mind, complete as the day he read them. Words between them floated up from James' memory at random intervals, for no reason he could discern save that what he saw was always in his thoughts. Always.

"On what strange quest did Dumbledore send his star pupil, the Boy-Who-Lived, that ended in his death on Hogwarts' Astronomy Tower? Only one person knows for certain; if we are ever to learn anything, it seems it will not be for many years to come, when Harry Potter is an old man, ready to tell his story."

Sirius and Lily are not as surreptitious as they think they are. They look at him when they think he doesn't know, they look at each other, they communicate their worry for his mental state.

Yesterday, Lily told him the good news.

"After the defeat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Potter made certain to clear the name of his godfather, Sirius Black. Unfortunately, it came too late for the late scion of the noble and ancient House of Black, who died at the hands of his own demented cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange."

If only she knew, if only Sirius knew, but they don't, of course, they can't. James hasn't breathed a word to them of what he brought with him, and how can he? What to tell Sirius of his impending death, or Lily of the reasons he cannot be excited about this baby, though he already loves the little unborn Harry more than he can imagine. More than he ever thought he could imagine loving anyone, even, perhaps, more than Lily.

How to tell them that this little boy will be orphaned before he is two years old, and raised by hateful relatives, pitted against the darkest wizard of their times?

He should never have read those books.

Sometimes he wonders if this uncharacteristic perfect memory of each and every damning word is merely a magical side-effect of time-travel, or if it is a punishment. If there is a deity living in the sky or the earth, dwelling in the spaces between, James does not think it outside the realm of reason to think such a being would take umbrage with what he's done.

What sort of man has he become? He never used to think like this.

"It is known from investigations of the time that James Potter was the first to die that night. When He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named entered the Potter house in Godric's Hollow, James was the first he encountered, and met Lily upstairs, in the nursery."

Ah, right, he is the sort of man who will die in less than two years. At least he'll die for a purpose. This is what he tells himself in order to keep going every day. This is what he tells himself so he can smile at Lily, talk to her, and feel the growing life moving in her belly. This way he can joke with Sirius and pretend he doesn't know the thirteen years in Azkaban Sirius has in front of him.

James doesn't pretend very well, he knows that, but he tries.


~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~


James' parents do not live to see Harry born, which in his current condition of his mind, he considers a strange blessing. His parents will never know the future.

The day they bring their son home, James is able to forget for several hours, mostly due to the numerous people who jump out of every crack in their house to give them a hearty "Surprise!" Sirius is at the forefront of them, of course, along with Remus, smiling and shaking James' hand, nervously accepting Lily's offer to hold the baby. There, too, is Peter, seeming to lurk in the corners though this is mostly in James' head, he thinks.

Mostly, he tries to ignore Peter.

Dumbledore is there, and James has a flash of a gruesome post-death photo of the man lying at rest, one arm withered. The image is terrible enough without wondering who took it, and who the hell thought it would be a good idea to publish it. Worse, the rest of the world he knew drank it up like nectar.

There are many of their friends there to welcome them; the Longbottoms are there with their newborn son, born only the day before Harry. According to the twinkling sign draped across the wall--the one emitting silver stars, probably erected and enchanted by Sirius, who has no taste--this party is for both families and their new sons. The Longbottoms are radiant with the joy of their Neville, who basks in their love with already bright, inquisitive eyes.

Just a little more than a year, and all of that will end.

James smiles woodenly as he accepts the Longbottoms' congratulations, though only Sirius seems to notice. Even Lily is too preoccupied with thanking their guests and showing off little Harry, who already has James' dark hair, but then, he had known he would. Sirius makes his way through the crowd and takes James' shoulder, gently leading him away to a corner.

"Think you could look a little happier to see everyone, or should I get the firing squad right now?"

"Leave off," he growls a little, not in the mood. "I'm fine, you old hen."

"Right, and my mother sends you her many happy regards."

James tries to find something smart to say in return, but nothing comes. His well of wit and humor has gone dry as sandpaper, covered over by bricks, each of them with words of prophecy etched in their stone.

"I'm just tired. This is a great party, really, but it's been a long few days, you know?"

"Yeah," Sirius says, patting his shoulder, though his eyes say that he does not for one moment believe James is that tired. "I understand. Look, you just have to get through maybe an hour of this, and then you and Lily can make your excuses. You want to be alone with the baby for a while, something like that. Just don't be an ungrateful arse, yeah?"

James nudges Sirius in the ribs. "Yeah."

He makes it through the rest of the party, always with the ghosts of the future behind his eyes, but he manages.


~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~


Baby Harry grows at a rate that seems alarming. Really, how much food can a baby pack away, and just how big are they supposed to be? When James expresses thoughts like these, Lily rolls her eyes at him and laughs, informing him that he is being quite ridiculous. Which is fine, he prefers ridiculous to what he feels most of the time.

Most of the time, he wants to lock them both in the cellar to keep them safe. Sometimes, he considers drinking poison, or jumping off a bridge, just to make the words stop. The words and the images, the photographs of war so painstakingly reproduced in thousands of copies of hundreds of pages in dozens of books. They almost never stop, even in his dreams. He only wants them to be silent, to be still, and the only time they are is when he's with Lily and they are in the midst of one of their battles of wit.

At night, however, it's nearly unbearable.

What he does instead of toss around and risk waking Lily, who will certainly ask what's wrong, is he goes to Harry's room. There, in the darkness of the nursery, he sits and touches Harry's hair gently, marveling over how dark it is, how soft. So much like his own and yet not. The boy's eyes are settling, and James thinks they'll end up green, like Lily's.

Tonight, he walks across the space of Harry's room and back again, and a third time, rocking the baby in his arms. He sings in a low voice, lullabies and popular songs, anything slow and soothing. At first, Harry looked up at him with eyes James imagined were solemn, knowing. They can't be, of course, there's no way, even if Harry were capable of comprehending... it's a stupid thought, he knows it, but can't stop it from coming, either.

Nor can he stop what comes next: words. Before James really understands what he's doing, he's telling little Harry all those things he can't possibly understand. All the things a father may tell his son when he knows he won't be there to see him grow, and more. He tells all his secrets.

He says: I am your father, and I love you. I will always love you.

He says: There is a war, there are bad people, and many people have died. Good people will still die, and good people will suffer.

He says: I am going to die before you're a man, but I will always love you.

And he says: Never forget that I love you, no matter what anyone says. When they lock you up, when they laugh at you, when they suspect you of wrong-doing, when they lead you on wild chases, remember that I love you, and your mother loves you, and that is all that matters.

Last of all he says: You will be a hero. My death will be worth it.

He cries as he says it, and may or may not believe it.


~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~


Apparently, there is a prophecy. Meanwhile, some people believe Remus is a traitor, and Sirius is worried about James.

As for Remus, well, that's just bollocks. No way Remus is a traitor, werewolf or not. Anyone who says otherwise, well, has already been told what they can do with their opinion. Loudly. And forcefully.

For the prophecy, he wants to believe that's a load of shite, but Dumbledore hasn't expressed even an ounce of doubt, only caution. If Dumbledore advises caution, the situation must be serious enough to warrant it, right?

And as for James...

As for James, he hasn't been right since the night before his wedding, and now he sits listening to Dumbledore assure them he has every intention of keeping them safe until the full meaning of this prophecy he heard from some second-rate visionary--that he hired to work at Hogwarts!--becomes apparent. Sirius wishes he knew what it was James saw, but his friend keeps his secrets close to him. They swim in his eyes but never emerge enough to be seen.

"This is why I believe you should hide," Dumbledore says, looking straight at James, who has his arms around Lily. Her eyes are on Harry as he sits on the floor, attention completely taken up by the toy wand Sirius brought him; thankfully, the only magic it is capable of is colored sparks. When Dumbledore speaks again, Lily's mouth moves to a faint frown. "Hide well, and as long as needed."

"Why?" It's a simple enough question, but when James asks it, he asks it from the secret place he lives in.

Dumbledore just looks at him over the rim of his half-moon glasses, the smallest of smiles gracing his lips. A crazy moment passes in which Sirius thinks Albus Dumbledore must have been quite handsome in his younger days; really he's still not bad-looking, just old for Sirius' tastes. Then the moment passes and he is left only wondering what emotion could be behind the smile. Dumbledore is always so hard to read. "Why else, Mr. Potter, but to protect that which you have built?"

It's alarming how suddenly James sits straight, Sirius feels himself recoil just on instinct. There's something in James' eyes he can't place, matched to the secrets, part of them, maybe--no, definitely.

"The Fidelius."

"Yes."

There's a canny light in James' gaze now that Sirius has usually seen while his mate plotted a particularly ingenious prank, or perhaps a battle plan against Death Eaters. James knows something. Has known something for a while, but this, this is deeper, sharper.

"Who would be the Secret Keeper?"

Dumbledore gives a shrug that can barely be seen through the layers of his robes and hair. "I could offer my services, of course, but I suspect you may wish to use someone closer to you."

Lily's green eyes are on her husband. She knows James is hiding secrets, she's spoken with Sirius about it behind James' back, neither of them feeling any guilt. Why should they feel guilt when he's the one keeping secrets from them? Well, of course, Sirius is keeping things from her, too, since he never did tell her about James' little jaunt to the future. He might have to soon, though. They talk behind James' back because they're worried for him, but also for Harry. Losing his father to madness is simply unacceptable.

Lily says, "Sirius, why don't you do it? You're James' best friend. Who better?"

"I'll do it, if you'll have me. Of course."

"Ah, a worthy candidate already. I am impressed that you should have such close and loyal friends, Mr. Potter." Dumbledore stands, gathering the ends of his robes around him. "It will be some time before I am prepared to perform the charm properly, as it is quite complicated." He turns a wizened smile to Sirius. "I will, of course, need your help with the final phase."

"Of course," Sirius says, though he knows exactly zero about how to cast the Fidelius Charm. He assumes Dumbledore will take care of the heavy spellcasting, and he will only have to be there for the part that binds him as the Secret Keeper.

"Then until I send for you."

There's the pop of Apparition, then Dumbledore is gone and Sirius glances at James, who stares off into nothing. Then there's Lily, and Sirius' eyes meet hers, communication zings between them with the ease of familiarity. They know James, and know there's darkness going on in him that he refuses to tell.

Their shared look says what do we do now?


~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~


James watches Lily as she wipes her forehead with a sleeve, her wand raised in her other hand, and with it she spreads great swathes of fresh blue paint over the nursery walls; Harry is older now, and needs a room proper for a toddler, not an infant. Lily is beautiful in her Muggle overalls, purple shirt beneath, the legs cuffed up halfway up her calves. She's so beautiful. He would die for her. He will.

But Merlin, he so wishes he could just live with her, and with Harry.

Can't I? I know how....

Change the now, leave the future to itself. I could survive in 1981 only to die in 1982. We could all live only for Voldemort to murder Harry when he's five.

"James?"

He shakes himself from his thoughts to find Lily frowning at him. "Hmm?"

"I don't like it when you're introspective. It's not like you. All deep and thoughtful. Frankly, dear, it's rather frightening."

He can't help but laugh at that, though he's very aware the laugh rings as hollow as a church bell. "Frightening? Really? I'm thoughtful, I swear. Always have been, you've just been painfully ignorant."

She gives him a Look and walks to him, leaning down to stare him in the face where he sits. "You haven't raised your wand in a good ten minutes. Please don't tell me you're planning to let your wife do all the work."

For a moment he is completely in the present, considering a number of responses that might end with him sporting a garden of flowers sprouting from his hair, or perhaps bat-wings for ears. He considers, she grins, waiting for him to open his mouth and damn himself.

The doorbell rings, and James is out the door in a heartbeat. "Sorry, love, but can't keep the company waiting!" he says with a laugh, and laughs all the way until he opens the door.

There stands Dumbledore, Sirius... and Peter.

"May we come inside, Mr. Potter? I'm ready to perform the charm we spoke about, and Mr. Black has an idea I find rather brilliant."

"Perhaps the greatest tragedy of the entire affair is the betrayal of the Potters by their good friend--not, as it was believed for many years, Sirius Black--Peter Pettigrew, their real Secret Keeper."


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