|SIYE Time:20:03 on 23rd March 2018|
A Little Bit of Hope
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Category: Post-Hogwarts, Post-DH/AB
Characters:Albus Dumbledore, Harry/Ginny, James Potter, Lily Potter, Remus Lupin, Sirius Black
Genres: Angst, Drama, Fluff, General
Story is Complete
Summary: At the height of the first wizarding war, Albus Dumbledore seeks out a mythical artefact to help bring hope to those he believes will be affected by the prophecy.
Hitcount: Story Total: 5357; Chapter Total: 527
Awards: View Trophy Room
I am so sorry this took me longer than promised! It has been a very busy few weeks for me!
Please note, there is a fair amount mentioned about Snape in this chapter. I used the books and tweets from JK Rowling to put together those conversations surrounding him.
Thanks again to my beta, Arnel, who is brilliant at kicking my butt over my horrendous grammar and sentence structure!
Shall post the final chapter next week.
July 1st 1981…
James Potter couldn’t help but smile when he walked into the kitchen to see the scene before him. He felt his heart flutter as he watched his beautiful red-headed wife feed their one and only child his breakfast. Even within the in midst of the war consuming the wizarding world, he felt incredibly lucky to have found a bright light in the darkness. He could feel his smile widen when his wife turned and smiled at him.
“I saw the owl,” Lily Potter said as she fed their son, Harry, some scrambled egg. “Who was the letter from?”
“Dumbledore,” he answered as he came over to the table and dropped on kiss on both his son’s and his wife’s heads. “He has asked us to come up to the school as he wishes to speak with us.”
Lily scrunched up in confusion for a second before answering, “Well, that’s not a problem, but I need time to get myself and Harry cleaned up and dressed.”
“That’s the other thing,” James said with a sigh. “He wants us to find someone who would be willing to look after Harry for the next twenty-four hours.”
“Did he say why?”
“No, nothing specific, at least. He just asked that we find someone we can trust to look after Harry as he needed us to do something for him. However, he said we needed to say to whoever looks after to Harry that we just want to spend some time together by ourselves.”
Lily did not immediately respond. Instead, she cleaned up Harry and cleared the plates away from the table as she thought about what they were being asked.
“Dada!” Harry cried as James came into his eyeline.
“Hey, there, little man,” James said as he picked his son up from out of his highchair.
Lily could hear her son’s giggles as she paused in front of the sink and dropped her head in worry. To be away from Harry for a whole day in the middle of a war was an extreme request in her opinion. However, she knew the Headmaster would not request something of her and James unless it was something of importance. Therefore, she could only assume he had made headway on the contents of the prophecy he had informed them about just after Harry’s birth.
“Ask Sirius to look after Harry,” Lily plainly stated. “He is the only one I trust to watch Harry for that amount of time.”
James did not feel the need to respond as he passed Harry over to his mum. They both knew Sirius loved and adored Harry and would do anything for his godson, even giving his life if it came down to it.
“Siri!” Harry cried as he spotted his godfather walking into the sitting room and began crawling over to him.
“Hey, there, kiddo,” Sirius replied with a wide smile, bending down to pick up his precious godson once he had crawled over to him. “How’s my favourite little wizard doing?”
Sirius began to tickle his godson, causing Harry to squeal in delight, much to the amusement of James and Lily who had followed Sirius into the sitting room.
“Before you get him all riled up, Padfoot, could we talk first, please?” James asked as Lily took Harry away from his godfather and took him upstairs for a nap.
Sirius didn’t fail to notice the serious look upon his best friend’s face or the fact that Lily had taken Harry out of the room. James had only mentioned to him that it was important that he came over to the cottage immediately, nothing else. Sirius had assumed that they had information for him or something of the sort, but something about the way the couple was acting suggested to him it was something completely different to what he was expecting.
“I need to ask you a favour, Sirius,” James stated once Sirius had taken a seat in one of the armchairs. “However, I need you to accept what I am asking and the reasons I am giving.”
Sirius didn’t need to think about what he was being asked of by James as he knew he would accept whatever it was he was told, having done the same in the past for the Marauders.
“That’s fine, James. What do you need me to do?”
“Lily and I have some things we need to discuss and decide upon and that’s not so easy to do when you have a child who constantly wants attention. Therefore, we were hoping you could stay here and look after Harry till tomorrow morning, lunch time at latest.”
Sirius simply nodded in response, sticking to his agreement not to question their reasons, but also recognising that his best friend had more to tell him.
“I know this is asking a lot of you, but I don’t want you to leave the house with Harry or leave the wards while we are gone. I don’t even want anyone to know Lily and I have left the house, not even Remus or Peter.”
“It’s fine, James,” Sirius cut in, sensing his friend’s agitated state over leaving his only child for the next twenty-four hours. “I can cope with looking after Harry by myself. I won’t tell anyone where I am or that you and Lily are not here. Whatever it is that has you and Lily needing time to yourselves is obviously important,
so if me being here helps you out, it really isn’t a problem.”
James breathed out a sigh of relief, knowing he was getting worried for no reason. If anyone would do what was needed to protect Harry, besides himself and Lily, it was Sirius.
“Thank you, Sirius,” he replied, feeling slightly more relaxed.
James and Lily sat in the chairs, opposite the Headmaster’s desk, clasping each other’s hands tightly as they worried about what it was Professor Dumbledore wanted to talk to them about and about being away for Harry for an extended amount of time.
“Thank you for meeting with me at such short notice,” Professor Dumbledore said as he took a seat at his desk. “I know I have asked a lot of you to leave Harry for the next twenty-four hours with vague reasons as to why, but I promise this is not a bad thing I am requesting of you.”
The two Potters simply nodded as they visibly relaxed at Dumbledore’s words.
“I know that I placed a great burden on you when I informed you that the prophecy that was made may in fact pertain to Harry,” the Headmaster continued. “While we still have no further information to confirm whether Voldemort is aware of Harry, or even Neville Longbottom, I want to offer you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that may help ease your worries.”
“I honestly don’t think our worries will ever be eased,” Lily admitted. “Not until Voldemort has been defeated.”
Dumbledore smiled gently at the worried parents. The burden he had placed upon them when he had informed them of the prophecy that stated that their child may potentially be the person destined to defeat the darkest wizard of their time was not an easy one to bear. He could understand their worries and their need to protect their child at all costs.
“That is understandable, Lily,” he responded. “However, the opportunity I am offering yourself and James today should ease those worries and give you hope and strength for the future.”
James doubted there was anything that could be offered to them that would help settle their feelings over the son’s future. However, he was willing to try on the off chance that it did.
“What’s this opportunity you have for us?” he asked, wanting to find out more before he agreed to anything.
“As I said before, it is a chance to give you hope and strength for the future,” the Headmaster replied. “Have either of you heard the myth of the Hopeful Heart?”
James’ eyes immediately lit up in recognition, whereas Lily just looked confused.
“Ah, I had a feeling you might have known, James,” Dumbledore said on seeing their reactions. “Lily, there has long been a myth amongst the older wizarding families of a one of a kind Time-Turner. Sadly, not much was known about it, specifically whether it was true. All that was known was that it gave the user a chance to visit the future for a period of twenty-four hours, providing them with hope for that future on their return.”
“If I remember what my mum and dad told me,” James said, taking over from the Headmaster, “the user would not remember the future to avoid the risk of it being changed.”
James paused for the moment as a thought came to mind.
“Are you telling us that this mythical artefact is real?” he asked as he looked his former professor with wide eyes.
“I am indeed, James. It is currently in my possession and I am offering you and Lily the opportunity to use it.”
“Tell me more about it, please,” Lily asked before James could accept the offer. “How does it work, exactly?”
“As I said before, it will allow you to travel forward in time for a period of twenty-four hours,” Dumbledore explained. “You can choose the year, but not the time and day as that remains the same. I would advise you choose the year 2010 as I believe that will allow enough time for the war to have passed and for Voldemort to be defeated.”
“Harry would be nearly thirty,” Lily said with a sigh. “What if we arrive and we discover we don’t survive? Or Harry hasn’t survived?”
“What if discover Harry has had a happy life? Or that he is married with children?” James countered, desperately wanting his wife to see the positive benefits to using the Time-turner. “It’s not like we will remember, that is part of the magic.”
Lily was tempted, but something was holding her back from saying yes.
“James is correct,” Dumbledore said, returning to his explanation. “You will not remember what you have seen or what you have been informed about. On your return, your memories of those twenty-four hours will be removed. However, you will be left with a strong sense of hope for the future you have seen.”
Dumbledore leaned forward, resting arms on his desk and looked Lily directly in the eye.
“The Hopeful Heart will only work if there is hope for a future you desire,” he carefully explained. “You must hold that desire, that hope, strong in your heart when you activate the Time-Turner. If it doesn’t move you forward, then, there is no hope.”
James turned his head to look at Dumbledore in shock as the Headmaster’s words registered in his mind. “Are you saying… is this a way to figure out whether the war will have a positive outcome?”
Lily looked at the Headmaster, wondering whether this was the real reason he was offering them the chance to use it.
“I must admit that the thought did cross my mind,” the older wizard confessed. “However, the very fact no one can remember what they have seen or experienced will be no help to us. Even then, it is what you hope for that will move you forward and everyone’s desires and hopes will differ. I think in your case, though, if you were to successfully use it, then, yes, it would mean a positive outcome for the war.”
James stood and went to kneel in front of his wife. Taking her hands in his, he spoke softly to her, “Lily, I don’t think it matters what we find out, but I do think we should take this chance. To come back with hope for a future for Harry is something we need right now. That hope could potentially help us make decisions that allow us to protect him.”
Lily looked up at her husband and smiled softly. She knew he was right in what he had said about hope helping them. Ever since they had been informed of the prophecy that possibly pertained to Harry, it had felt like all hope for them to have a happy life together as a family had been sucked away. They were currently living day to day, unable to plan anything in advance on the off-chance they had to suddenly go into hiding.
“Okay, let’s do it,” she finally replied.
Dumbledore removed the package from an unknown drawer in his desk and placed it carefully in front of the young couple. He then unwrapped it to reveal the Time-Turner, making them gasp at it grandness.
“No wonder people keep it a secret,” James said on seeing the ruby heart. “Must have some value for the gold and ruby alone!”
“James! Now is not the time for that,” Lily scolded her husband.
Dumbledore chuckled before he gave the couple an explanation of the Time-Turner and how it worked, ending by stressing the importance of being ready in advance for the return trip.
“If we are arriving here, in the same place from which we are leaving, will someone know to expect us?” Lily asked, once Dumbledore have finished explaining everything.
“I shall be leaving a letter for the Head of the school at the time of your trip,” the Headmaster confirmed. “I will arrange to have a letter sent to Harry as well.”
James and Lily smiled at one another, excitement shining all over their faces at the prospect of seeing their son as a grown man and discovering what his life would become.
“Well, then, when you are ready, you may activate the Time-Turner,” Dumbledore continued, knowing he had explained everything he needed to. “I truly hope that this works for you and you find only happiness for Harry in the future.”
James took the Hopeful Heart from the Headmaster and carefully placed the long chain round both his and Lily’s necks before they placed a finger to the gold ring.
Placing the tip of his wand on the ruby heart, James locked eyes with his wife, both smiling at the prospect of seeing the future as they allowed the hope they had for it to fill their hearts.
Finally, with a nod from Lily, James clearly stated, “2010.”
When nothing appeared to happen, the Potters felt disappointed and shocked at what it meant for the future. Both sighed in relief and strengthened the hope in their hearts as they felt their fingers become glued to the ring as a wind began to swirl around them. Seconds later, they were pulled away from the present and towards the future.
July 1st 2010…
Seconds later, James and Lily found themselves back in the Headmaster’s Office, wondering if the Time-Turner had worked. James quickly removed the Hopeful Heart and placed it safely in his pocket before grasping Lily’s hand and looking around the office to look for differences.
“James, look,” Lily said softly, her hand pointing towards a painting of a familiar face.
“Well, at least we know the Time-Turner worked,” he replied on seeing the sleeping portrait of Professor Dumbledore.
The sound of the door opening and shutting made the Potters jump and turn around to see who had entered the office. There, standing in front of the door, was Professor McGonagall.
“James, Lily, it is so good to see you,” the Professor said as she moved further into the office. “My apologies for not being here when you arrived, but I was dealing with some end of year issues.”
The Potters remained frozen in shock, unsure what to think of their former professor’s reaction to seeing them. Something in the way she had greeted them suggested that perhaps they did not survive the war.
“Please, take a seat,” Professor McGonagall gently said to them, recognising the shock they’d had to her greeting.
The couple did as they were requested, keeping a firm grasp on each other’s hands as they did so.
Professor McGonagall smiled warmly at two of her favourite former students and when no comment seemed forthcoming, she decided to steer the conversation herself.
“I can see your arrival here has caused you some shock,” she said in a gentle voice. “I can understand that as much has changed in the past twenty-nine years.”
“Of course, Professor,” Lily finally responded. “I think it was just a shock to see Professor Dumbledore’s portrait on the wall and your greeting…”
Lily’s words trailed off, knowing their arrival was as much as a surprise to the Professor as it was for them.
“Your greeting, Professor, it was… well, you seemed surprised and relieved to see us,” James asked on behalf of his wife.
Minerva sighed, cursing Harry in her head for making her be the one to break the news to his parents. Not that she didn’t understand his reasons for asking her to do so, it had been the same when Sirius and Remus had come from the past.
“I’m sorry to have to start your time here like this, but I am afraid to say that you did not survive the war,” she calmly told them. “You both died in October 1981, sacrificing yourselves to protect Harry.”
Lily immediately broke down into tears as James wrapped her up in his arms.
“We failed him, didn’t we?” Lily managed to choke out through her tears.
“Lily, sweetheart, I don’t think we did,” James cautiously replied. “If we had, we wouldn’t be here, would we?”
“James is correct, Lily,” Minerva confirmed. “Harry survived that night and survived having the Killing Curse thrown at him. He survived the war, he defeated Voldemort and has gone on to live a very happy life, even though he does still struggle with the memories of everything he has been through from time to time.”
Lily looked up from where she’d had her face buried in her husband’s chest, tears still running down her cheeks. The look of disbelief was evident on her face.
“He… my baby… he survived?”
Minerva smiled at the young woman. “Yes, he did and he is most anxious to meet you.”
“James, he survives! Harry survives!” Lily exclaimed loudly.
James chuckled at his wife’s happiness. “Yes, I know, sweetheart.”
“Harry asked me to give you an overview of his life and the war before he came to collect you,” Minerva told the Potters.
With a nod of confirmation from the couple, she proceeded to tell them what had happened on the night of Halloween 1981 and the subsequent events that led to Voldemort’s defeat.
Harry nervously paced the floor in front of the Floo, trying to decide when the best time would be to head over to Hogwarts to collect his parents. While he knew what time they would be arriving, thanks to the letter Minerva had received, he was trying to give her enough time to tell them the background to his life. He didn’t want to go too early, but at the same time, he did not want to leave it too long and waste the time they had here.
“Instead of working yourself up into a state, why don’t you just head over to collect them, now?” his wife asked as she came into the room, their daughter on her hip.
Harry smiled on seeing his favourite two red-heads. “I’m just trying… I’m nervous, Gin.”
Lily reached out her hands for her father as Ginny approached Harry, causing him to take her into his arms and blow a raspberry on her cheek, making her giggle. Ginny couldn’t help but smile as she watched her daughter and her husband interact with one another as Harry seemed to physically relax with the simple action.
“I know you’re nervous, Harry,” Ginny said as Harry tickled Lily. “You were tossing and turning all night. Just go and collect your parents. Don’t waste time here when you could be spending every minute they have here with them.”
Harry sighed, knowing his nerves about meeting his parents were keeping him from heading to Hogwarts. Recognising his wife was correct, he gave his daughter a kiss on the cheek and passed her back to her mother.
“I’m not sure how long I’ll be,” Harry quietly confessed. “I’ll try and have us back in time for lunch.”
“You’ll be fine, Harry,” Ginny whispered soothingly into his ear as she gave her husband a hug.
Harry pulled away and moved over to the Floo, shooting Ginny and Lily a nervous smile before disappearing into the green flames.
Minerva could only watch on in sadness as Lily and James came to terms with what they had learned of Harry’s life and his battle against Voldemort. James had his head in his hands as he struggled to contain his anger at discovering one of his closest friends had betrayed not just them, but Sirius and Remus as well. Lily, on the other hand, could only gently rub her husband’s back in a soothing manner as she looked over at Dumbledore’s portrait with tears in her eyes for helping her oldest friend.
The silence in the office was finally broken as the Floo flared to life and a dark-haired man stepped out, albeit clumsily. He quickly dusted himself down before allowing his gaze to fall upon the two people he had waited many years to meet.
James and Lily’s heads turned to meet the gaze of the man and they both gasped.
“He looks just like you, James,” Lily whispered, though her voice was heard by all.
“He has your eyes, Lily,” James replied on recognising the green eyes he loved so much on the face of their grown-up son.
“Mum? Dad?” Harry choked out, shocked at truly being able to meet his parents, despite knowing this day had been coming for a couple of months.
The final word had barely left his mouth when Lily stood from her chair and rushed over to pull her son into her arms, with James quickly joining her. Harry was quick to return the gesture, holding on tightly to the parents he only remembered through one horrible memory the Dementors would make him relive when he was near them.
“I want you to know, Harry, that your father and I could never regret sacrificing our lives for you,” Lily said fiercely when she pulled back to look her grown son in the eye. “To give our lives so that you could live would be something we would do time and time again for you.”
“I know you would, Mum,” Harry replied with a tearful smile. “It took me some time to fully understand why you would do that for me.”
“What changed that for you, son?” James asked, sensing it was a moment that had helped Harry understand, rather than a slow realisation.
“Becoming a father, myself.”
Lily nearly collapsed as the sudden realisation hit her that not only was she a grandmother, but also, that she was younger than the version of her son who was standing in front of her. James and she were only twenty-one, destined to die in just a few short months, and here they were, in the future, being told they had become grandparents.
“Mum? Are you okay?” Harry asked as he and James stopped Lily from stumbling and helped her over to a seat.
Lily tried to shake the thoughts from her head, but they refused to budge. She looked up at James with tear-filled eyes and smiled sadly at him.
“I just realised that you are older than we are, Harry,” she quietly confessed to the men. “You’re nearly thirty years old and here we are, in the future, at only twenty-one years old. It’s just a little overwhelming and strange to comprehend.”
Harry knelt in front of Lily, taking her hands in his and whispered, “That doesn’t matter to me, Mum. All that matters to me and Ginny, is that we get to have this time together, something I have desperately wanted all my life.”
Lily smiled at her grown son. She couldn’t get over just how much he looked like James, except for his eyes. Those, she could tell, he had inherited from her. It just saddened her to see a mix of happiness and sadness within them.
“Would you like to meet my wife and children?” Harry asked when his mum did not respond.
Lily nodded as James replied, “We’d be honoured, Harry.”
“Do you remember what your Mum and I told you about your Nanna and Grandpa Potter?” Harry asked as he knelt in front of his sons.
Albus screwed up his face as he thought about what he was asked before sadly shaking his head in defeat. James, on the other hand, was bouncing on the balls of his feet, happy that he knew the answer.
“Nanna and Grandpa Potter went to Heaven when you were a baby,” the six-year-old proudly told his Dad, “and today, we get to meet them!”
Harry smiled sadly at his two boys, recognising they didn’t fully understand what had happened their grandparents. The way James had spoken had made it sound like Harry’s parents had gone away on a long trip, which, in a way, they had.
“That’s right, James,” Harry replied, choosing to humour James. “I’ve just been to see them to tell them where we live and they will be coming through the Floo very shortly. So, I need you both to be on your best behaviour for me and your mum. Okay?”
Once the two boys had nodded their agreement, Harry stood and gently kissed his wife and daughter.
“They’ll be so proud of what you have accomplished in your life,” Ginny quietly said, seeing the nerves within her husband’s eyes.
Before Harry could respond, the Floo flared to life and his parents stepped out into the room.
“Mum, Dad,” Harry greeted them as he waved them to come over to him. “This is my wife, Ginny.”
“Hello, Mrs Potter, Mr Potter,” Ginny politely said as she gently shook their hands.
“Please, call us James and Lily,” James replied, grinning widely as he addressed his daughter-in-law.
“That’s my name and my sister’s name!” little James exclaimed loudly, capturing the older James’ attention.
Harry and Ginny both couldn’t help but chuckle at James’ response, knowing he had reacted the same way when Sirius and Remus had visited in May.
Lily could feel the tears begin to well up in her eyes as she watched her husband bend down so he was eye-level with his namesake.
“It’s like looking in a mirror,” James whispered, though everyone heard him. “You look very much I did when I was your age, James. Do you know who I am?”
Little James grinned widely and nodded his head. “Mummy and Daddy told me you were my Grandpa Potter and the red-haired lady is my Nanna Potter!”
“That’s right,” James replied as he looked over at his wife who fighting back the tears. “Now, do you want to introduce me and your Nanna to your brother and sister?”
James nodded eagerly as he pulled Albus closer to him.
“This is my brother, Albus and he is four,” he told his grandparents proudly, “Mummy is holding my sister, Lily and she is two. I am the oldest and I am six!”
Ginny placed Lily on the floor, next to her brothers, allowing her to meet her Grandpa Potter.
“Albus is the spitting image of you, Harry,” his mum said as she watched her husband greet their
Harry glanced over at Ginny and gave her a subtle nod.
“Mum?” Harry said as Ginny gathered the children and led them and James outside into the garden. “Do you want to help me finish making lunch?”
“What did you want to talk to me about?” Lily asked as she watched her grown-up son lay the table. “Don’t think I didn’t spot the subtle nod you gave your wife or the fact she encouraged your father to join her and the children in the garden.”
Harry sighed as he stopped what he was doing and took a seat at the table. He and Ginny had planned this moment between him and his mum so he could talk to her in private about her friendship with Snape. Considering Sirius’ reaction on discovering Albus’ middle name, they didn’t want to take any chances when it came to James.
“Before I tell you, I need you to promise me that you won’t ask me how I found out this information,” Harry said as he finally looked up at his mum, who had sat across the table from him. “To explain that would mean telling you the full story, which I know Minerva has only glossed over for you, and I want to tell you in full once the children have gone to bed.”
“I promise, Harry,” Lily immediately answered. She had no reason to deny her son’s request, not when he had been denied her and James as parents growing up. However, she was confused as to why he wanted to speak to just her, rather than both her and James.
Harry dragged his hands through his already messy hair as he figured out how to start. He didn’t want to just come out and say it, taking his mum by surprise, but it appeared to be the only way.
“I know about your friendship with Severus,” Harry said, choosing to use Snape’s first name in hopes that his mum would understand he had no problem with the friendship.
Harry could only watch as the look of understanding and then shock crossed his mum’s face.
“No wonder you didn’t want your father present for this conversation.”
“Well, after Sirius’ reaction to discovering my son’s middle name, I didn’t want to risk an argument with him.”
“I can only imagine,” Lily chuckled. “I take it, then, you know about their rivalry at school.”
Harry nodded. “Severus made it clear from my first day at Hogwarts that he didn’t like me. He decided I was too much like Dad without ever getting to know me. It wasn’t till after I had discovered your friendship with him, through his memories, that I could partially understand how hard it must have been to see me when I looked so much like Dad, except…”
“You had my eyes,” Lily finished for Harry.
“I watched him die, Mum,” Harry whispered as that day flashed in front of his eyes. “The last thing Severus requested of me was to look at him just so, as I now know, he could see my eyes, your eyes. I need you to understand, Mum, that no matter what I tell you about my life growing up, especially regarding Severus, he loved you so much. You are the reason he changed sides, became a spy, the reason I could do what was needed. He protected me, died for me, all because I was your son.”
Lily felt a couple of tears slip down her cheeks as she fondly remembered her childhood friend. She had always hoped he would see the light and change his ways. To know that he had gave her some relief, despite the fact she would not remember this on her return.
“I cannot guarantee that your father will be happy about the name, but he is not the same person he was in school,” Lily finally spoke in response. “He will be willing to listen to what you have to say, but I would suggest avoid telling him of Albus’ middle name until you have explained about Severus’ role in the war. However, Professor McGonagall did tell us that Severus changed sides before your father and I died.”
“Yeah, I think that might be the best idea,” Harry replied. “I think I probably should have done that when Sirius and Remus were here. They were more understanding once I had fully explained the events of the war and Severus’ role in it.”
“I have to ask, though, why use his name as a middle name for your son?” Lily asked, wondering why Harry would choose the name, despite knowing this man had not liked him.
“I wanted to make sure he was remembered,” Harry began. “He had no other family who could name their child for him and he deserves that recognition for his bravery. That doesn’t mean I like him or completely forgive him for the way he treated me over the years, but I do respect and admire him for everything he did in the fight against Voldemort and to help and protect me.”
Lily watched her son’s face as he explained. The look of pain and guilt in his eyes as he spoke suggested there was another reason.
“That’s not the only reason, though, is it?”
“No,” Harry admitted, not wanting to lie to his mum. “I… Severus felt guilty for so many things he had done, but he hated himself for destroying his friendship with you and for being the one who told Voldemort of the prophecy. He changed sides to help protect you, but you still died and he swore to protect me because I was your son, hoping he could find forgiveness for his actions. I think, perhaps, it was one of the reasons he gave me his memories.”
“Oh,” Lily gasped, shocked her childhood friend had been the one to tell Voldemort about the prophecy.
“Choosing his name as Albus’ middle name was, for me, a chance to do something similar,” Harry admitted.
“What do you mean?”
“I felt, and still do feel guilty for every death, especially the ones at the final battle,” Harry continued. “I just want to find forgiveness for my own actions, for not figuring it all out sooner, for being the one who turned up at Hogwarts that night and allowing Voldemort to follow me there. I know I seem happy, I am happy, but the events of the war, especially the final battle, still haunt me, Mum.”
Lily stood and made her way round the table to take her only child into her arms. She felt him cling to her as though he was begging for her forgiveness. Not that she felt he needed to be forgiven as nothing that had happened was his fault. It was all the result of a mad man with delusional ideas.
“It’s not your fault, Harry,” Lily softly crooned to him. “I think you know that. We can’t control the actions of others, but we can do all we can to try and stop them and that is what you did. You have to remember though, things may have ended much differently had your father and I survived, or if you had tried to confront Voldemort earlier than you did.”
Harry moved away from his mum’s embrace, discretely wiping his eyes as he did so.
“I know that, Mum,” Harry finally responded as he looked his Mum in the eye. “Percy, Ginny’s brother, asked me if there was anything I would have changed and I told him there wasn’t, because I knew if I changed just one thing, Voldemort may have won instead. I have to cling to that notion and Ginny’s love just to get through the bad days.”
Lily smiled at her son, amazed at the man he had become without her and James to raise him.
“I honestly didn’t know what to expect when we agreed to come here,” she told Harry as she pulled him back into her embrace. “I was worried what we would find, but, here you are, having become this incredible man despite everything you have been through. The very fact you know you wouldn’t change a thing that has happened shows deep down you know that you are not at fault for the deaths that occurred throughout the war. You just need time for your heart and your head to catch up with one another. You’ll get there eventually.”
Harry hugged his mum a little tighter for a second. “I know I will, Mum. Ginny reminds me of that every time I have a bad day.”
“Right, I think we better call your children and James in for lunch,” Lily said as she pulled away from Harry. “We didn’t come here to spend twenty-four hours here for only me and you to spend time together.”
“How about I spend some one on one time with Dad, later?” Harry suggested as he headed towards the back door to call everyone in for lunch.
“I think he would love that.”
“Daddy?” James asked as he ran up to the table where the adults were sitting. “Can we go for a fly?”
“James, manners,” Ginny reprimanded the six-year-old.
“Sure, we can,” Harry replied with a smile before looking over to his father. “Dad, do you want to join us?”
“Of course,” James eagerly replied, much to the amusement of his wife. “After hearing about your own antics on the Quidditch pitch, I have to see you fly.”
The three black-haired wizards began to make their way to the broom shed, only pausing when Ginny called out after them.
“Don’t go showing off any of your fancy tricks to your Dad with our son on your broom!”
Harry shot a look that said, “Like I would do that!” before he continued towards the broom shed.
A few minutes later, Harry was flying high in the sky as he prepared himself to perform a Wronski Feint, while James and his grandfather sat on another broom together, watching from a safe distance.
James whooped in delight as he watched his father perform the dangerous move to absolute perfection. His grandfather, however, sat behind him, trying to stop himself from tightening his grip on his grandson as his jaw dropped at just how talented a flyer his son was.
“Wow, Harry,” Older James said in awe as Harry flew back up to join his son and father. “I have to admit I was hoping you would be a natural on a broom. It looks like my wish came true.”
“Daddy?” Younger James piped up. “Can I go on my broom now?”
“Of course, you can,” Harry chuckled as he and his father drifted down to the ground.
James ran towards the broom shed to get his own broom as his father and grandfather took a seat on the grass.
“Can I ask you something, Dad?” Harry asked as the two men watched the younger James mount his broom and kick off the ground.
“I’d be worried if you didn’t have any questions for me, Harry,” James responded, having expected the questions from the moment Professor McGonagall had sadly informed them they did not survive the first war. “There is only so much Sirius and Remus could have told you as it is. I just wish you’d had more time with them. I still can’t believe Sirius spent twelve years in Azkaban.”
“Dad, don’t get angry, please,” Harry said calmly. “We can’t change the past and I wouldn’t even if I could. I may have only had a couple of years with Sirius in my life, but he supported me as best he was able to, given the circumstances.”
“Something I hope you will tell your mother and me later.”
“I promise, Ginny and I will tell you everything in more detail later,” Harry confirmed. “Anyway, I need to ask you something that I once asked Sirius and Remus. I need to hear your side of things, even though I know what they told me had to be true and that the reason I didn’t understand was because my own childhood had been so different to yours.”
“What do you need to know?” James asked, worried at what he was hearing.
Harry explained to his father about the day he had seen a memory of Snape’s that didn’t show the Marauders in the best light and the subsequent conversation he’d had with Sirius and Remus.
James could only sigh in response, dragging his hands through his hair as he attempted to formulate an answer that would satisfy his son.
“No excuse I give you will explain my behaviour,” he finally responded. “I was a spoiled, arrogant brat. People believed us to be the cool kids and we allowed it to go to our heads, thinking we could use it as an excuse to get away with the things we did, like picking on Snape. What we did was unacceptable and had your mother and I been the ones to raise you, we would not have condoned behaviour like that from you.”
“I know you wouldn’t have,” Harry said with a chuckle. “I know I don’t want my kids following in my footsteps. Admittedly, they will not face the same challenges I have, but I still don’t want them sneaking around
Hogwarts in the middle of the night, looking for an adventure of some kind.”
“I kept picking on Snape, even after I grew up, even after your mum finally agreed to date me,” James continued. “I never liked him, I won’t deny that, but I knew he had been friends with your mum and I hated that, just as much as I hated that he was into the Dark Arts.”
Harry’s jaw dropped in shock. It didn’t matter that Sirius and Remus had told him that they thought his father had suspected Severus had feelings for Lily, just hearing his father confirm he had known about the friendship was a shock.
“Does that mean…” Harry couldn’t even finish the question, scared of the response he would receive.
“Yes, I knew he had feelings for her,” James answered, knowing what his son had wanted to ask. “I could tell from the way he looked at her. The man may have been good at keeping his feelings to himself, but he could never hide his feelings for Lily, at least not to me, he couldn’t. I can’t fault him for falling for your mum, though. They had been friends from before they began Hogwarts and she treated him with kindness and respect he did not receive from much of the school. I am guessing he switched sides because Lily had been targeted by Voldemort.”
Harry shook his head in disbelief. His father knew more than he had let on to Lily, Sirius and Remus. Perhaps telling him about his son’s middle name wouldn’t be as much of a problem than he had previously thought.
“Yeah, he did,” Harry confirmed. “Protected me, right up until he died, all because I was her son. I respect and admire for him that.”
“I would as well,” James admitted. “I suspect I may respect him even more once I know the full extent of his role in the war and how he protected you. Even so, I need you to know that as much as I hated the man, when I heard what Sirius had done to him, I had to stop Severus from attempting to enter the Shrieking Shack. I would not wish the life of a werewolf on anyone, not even my own worst enemy.”
Harry relaxed on hearing his father saying that, while also mentally berating himself for forgetting that at the time he was struggling with what he had seen in the Pensieve.
“Thank you for being honest with me,” Harry said. “How about we leave the emotional topics for now and go and join your grandson?”
“Any excuse for me to fly with the youngest Quidditch player Hogwarts has seen in a century!” James replied, causing Harry to blush.
Harry couldn’t help but smile as he pointed his wand at the dirty plates and set them to washing themselves in the sink. Despite all his worries and nerves, he had spent an enjoyable day with his wife, children and his parents. He may have had serious chats, individually, with his mum and dad about Severus Snape, which had settled some issues he’d still had regarding the former Potions Master, but, overall, he had enjoyed spending time with his parents as they got to know their grandchildren and learn about the happier aspects of their son’s life. However, he knew now he would have to tell his parents, as promised, everything about his life and the war in more detail, something he was dreading.
Taking a deep breath in before slowly letting it out, Harry steadied his nerves before walking back into the living room where his parents had settled as they waited for him and Ginny to join them.
“Professor McGonagall gave us an overview of your life and of the war, Harry,” his mum spoke as Harry took a seat in his favourite armchair, “She told us how Peter betrayed us, how Sirius ended up in Azkaban, but she never told us who raised you. It made me suspect she was not pleased by where you ended up and that she didn’t want to be the one to tell us.”
Harry sighed. He had hoped to avoid the conversation of being raised by the Dursleys. He knew his parents would not be happy if the full story came out of how he was treated by his mother’s sister. They would want to return to their time and change it if it meant Harry didn’t have to grow up in the hostile environment he had been subjected to. However, he knew he didn’t want to lie to his parents and as far as he was aware, there was no way to overcome the magic within the Hopeful Heart that removed their memories of the future.
“Dumbledore asked Hagrid to rescue me from the ruins and take me to the one place I could remain safe,” Harry finally replied, determined to explain the reasons he ended up where he had. “I am not sure how he knew to make the decision he did, but he somehow figured out that you had sacrificed yourself for me, Mum. It was so powerful that it was able to repel Voldemort’s Killing Curse, powerful enough that it left me with a protection that could be used for my benefit against Voldemort.”
“Harry, I can tell you’re stalling,” Lily reprimanded him. “What are you trying to avoid telling us? Where did you end up living?”
“With the Dursleys,” Harry whispered painfully. “I was left on Aunt Petunia’s doorstep, who, when she took me in, helped invoke powerful wards around the house through your blood relation and your sacrifice.”
“That would make sense,” James mused as he thought about the stories of Old Magic his parents had told him growing up. “The protection would have been infused in the wards, protecting you and the Dursleys from anyone who meant you harm.”
“My sister took you in?” Lily finally spoke. “We’re barely talking to one another as it is. I know how she feels about the magical world and Vernon hates magic more than she does. Maybe they came around and they never had the chance to fix things with us. Did they give you a good life?”
Harry froze. His mum had asked the one question he knew would end with an answer that would upset her greatly. How was he supposed to tell her that her own sister had neglected and abused him? He rarely spoke of his childhood to anyone. He had confessed in full to Ginny in the months following the end of the war and they had spoken at great lengths about his fears of becoming a father as a result when they had discovered she was pregnant with James. He still struggled with those fears, worrying that one day he would slip up and do something unforgiveable to one of their children.
“They did give you a good childhood, didn’t they?” his mum asked again when he had still not answered the question.
Harry refused to look at either of his parents, scared to tell them truth and ruin what had already been a good day for them all.
“You need to tell them, Harry,” a soft voice came from the doorway. “You need to tell them the truth. They won’t be angry with you. They’ll be proud of the man you have become despite the upbringing you ended up having.”
James watched as his son looked up at his wife, who had just entered the living room, with a pleading look in his eyes. It was obvious to him that Harry did not wish to reveal certain facts to him and Lily about his childhood, which made him suspect that the Dursleys had not given his son the childhood he deserved. However, it was the compassionate look on Ginny’s face that confirmed that he was right in his suspicions and it was the very fact that it was same look his own mum had worn on her face the day Sirius had arrived at the Potters, having run away from home, that told him that Lily would most certainly not like what they were about to hear.
“Harry?” James softly said as he moved to kneel in front of his son. “Whatever it is, however awful it is, please tell us. Sirius went through a horrible childhood with his own family and my parents took him in when he ran away from home. I won’t pretend to understand whatever it is they put you through, but I can promise to be patient and listen to you, just like I did for Sirius.”
Harry’s eyes widened at his father’s words. He had known his grandparents had taken Sirius in, but he hadn’t realised that his godfather’s home life had been as bad as his.
“Just promise you won’t attempt to leave here and do harm to them,” Harry pleaded with his father, remembering when Ginny had nearly Apparated to Little Whinging to hex his relatives. He had been able to stop her by simply kissing her, he didn’t know how he would stop his father or his mother if either one of them decided they wanted to confront the Dursleys.
“I promise you I won’t go and confront them,” James replied.
Harry sighed, wondering how he was to start this conversation. He looked over to his mum, who his dad had return to sit next to, and knew she would not be pleased with what she would be told. He knew Ginny was right though in what she had said to him when she had entered the room, despite his upbringing he had become a good man and had not travelled down the dark road Tom Riddle had chosen.
It was only with the gentle squeeze of his shoulder from his wife that Harry finally found the courage to speak and reveal the complete truth of his childhood to his parents.
Lily gazed out of the window, over the grounds of Potter Cottage, thinking about the in-depth story Harry, with help from Ginny, had told her and James over the course of the evening. While she was shocked of how deeply involved he had been when it came to the war against Voldemort, her mind kept coming back to the fact her only child had been sent to live with her sister, which had resulted in him being neglected and abused. She couldn’t comprehend how any person would want to treat a child with such disdain, but the fact it had been her own family who had done so was just beyond her.
She was startled out of her thoughts as a thumb gently wiped away the tear that had slipped down her cheek.
“I hate what Harry has been through as much as you do, Lily,” James softly said as he took his wife into his arms. “I hate that he was abused and neglected by his own relatives, yet it amazes me and makes me so damn proud that he has become the loving and generous man that he is.”
Lily lifted her head to look up at her husband and offered him a small smile.
“It’s not exactly what I was hoping to hear from him, though,” Lily confessed. “I know I wasn’t expecting his life to be perfect, especially after Minerva told us those few basic facts. I just…”
“…hadn’t expected to discover he had been abused and neglected with a Dark wizard out for his blood on a yearly basis,” James finished for her.
“No, definitely not what I was expecting.”
James gently led his wife over to the bed their son had offered them for the night and the couple climbed in and made themselves comfortable.
“He is so much more than what I hoped for as a son,” Lily admitted into the darkness after James had dimmed the lights. “After everything he has been subjected to, he still found the courage to walk to what he thought would his own death just to save our world and yet he feels guilt for all those who died during the war. Do you think he would have been that way had he not been raised my sister and her vile husband?”
James didn’t immediately respond as he pulled his wife into his arms and held her close to his body. He wanted to say yes to her question, but even he knew just one change could mean a different outcome. Yet, he knew he couldn’t say no as he could see so much of him and Lily in Harry, looks and personality.
“Yes and no,” he finally replied.
Lily sat up, looking down at her husband in confusion.
“What I mean,” James began in response to her unasked question, “is that there is no right answer to your original question. I see so much of us in Harry that I would like to think he would have been the same man we have gotten to know had we been the ones to raise him. Yet, I can’t help but wonder how much of his experiences through his childhood have shaped him into the man he is today and how much of it comes from the short time he had with us.”
Lily continued to stare at her husband as she allowed his words to sink in. It did make sense based on what they had been told by Harry and Ginny that evening. The events of both of their childhoods had shaped them and made them into the people they were today. If neither one of them experienced what they had, there would probably be many differences in their lives, though she was certain, Harry and Ginny would have ended up together in any timeline.
“I think that had we raised him,” Lily finally said as she laid back down next to James, “he may have been heavily influenced by you and Sirius and would have gotten into far more trouble, but for completely different reasons.”
James could only laugh in response, knowing full well that Lily was right. Sirius and he had or were planning to turn Harry into a mini-Marauder.
“No matter how things have turned out, though, I am certain he would have fought for what was right if Neville had been the one who Voldemort had chosen as equal,” Lily continued once James stopped laughing. “You, Sirius and Remus might have loved to cause trouble, but you all stepped up when the time came and I know you would have made sure that Harry was the same.”
James could only nod in agreement as he thought of the loss of his two closest friends and the potential impact he and they could have had on Harry had they been given the chance.
Lily gently kissed the cheek of her youngest grandchild before handing her back to her father.
“They’re beautiful, Harry,” she told her son. “I’m glad I had the chance to meet them, even if I won’t remember this time we spent with you.”
She turned away from Harry, knowing she would say her goodbyes to him shortly, and looked at her husband, who was now taking his turn to say goodbye to their grandchildren.
“No giving them ideas, James,” she warned him sternly.
James looked up at her, an innocent look on his face. “Of course not, sweetheart.”
With a shake of head, Lily walked over to her daughter-in-law.
“Thank you for having us,” Lily said as she drew Ginny into a hug. “Thank you, also, for being there for my son.”
“He’s been there for me as much as I have for him,” Ginny protested as she pulled back from her mother-in-law’s embrace. “Even if it did take him a little longer to wake up and see me!”
Both women giggled at the statement.
“Even so,” Lily aid as she took a quick glance at her son and husband, “I am so glad he has you and your family. Something tells me if he didn’t, he wouldn’t have coped in the aftermath of everything he experienced during the war.”
Ginny smiled sadly as she recalled one of the conversations Harry and she had in the months after the final battle. “He said the same thing to me, not too long after the end of the war. He admitted that if he hadn’t had me and my family to come back to, he probably would have chosen to go on to join you, James and Sirius in the afterlife.”
“I can’t say I blame him for saying that to you. No one should live their life alone and without love.”
“No, they shouldn’t,” Ginny replied as thoughts of how differently Tom Riddle had turned out because of a similar upbringing. “Anyway, I best leave you and James to say your goodbyes to Harry. I’ll take the children out of the room and let you have your privacy.”
“Thank you,” Lily said in acknowledgement as Ginny moved across the room and gathered the children and said one last goodbye to James.
The door closed behind Ginny and the remaining Potters stayed quiet as they looked at one another, each wondering how they were meant to say goodbye.
Harry opened and closed his mouth several times as he attempted to say something, anything to his parents. However, it was just too hard to say goodbye, knowing this would be last time he would ever interact with them, knowing that when they returned to their own time, they would only have a few months left before Voldemort finally found them.
Lily saved him the effort of trying to figure out what to say, by coming over and wrapping him up in her arms. James followed barely seconds later, wrapping his arms around both his wife and son. Several minutes passed before the family pulled apart.
“Don’t say anything, Harry,” James said when Harry went to speak. “It is hard enough for all of us, knowing what will happen when we return. Just know that we appreciate being able to spend this time with you, seeing the man you have become, seeing you do have a bright future ahead of you, despite the trials and tribulations you will have to go through to get to this point.”
Harry only nodded in response, knowing there was nothing he could say in reply.
“We’re so proud of you, Harry,” Lily continued. “You have grown from a cheeky baby who could make anybody’s heart melt at the sight of your smile and into the most courageous, generous, loving man. I can take comfort in knowing this is the person you will become even without me and your father to raise you.”
“I love you both, so much,” Harry simply replied as he hugged both his parents one last time.
“We love you, too, Harry,” Lily responded as James led her over to the fireplace.
Harry could only watch as his parents took the Floo to Hogwarts, his heart breaking all over again as his parents began their journey back to their time and their eventual deaths.
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