Fated Miracle by millie



Summary: The night of Halloween 1981, something happened that had never even been thought of before. A miracle occurred and the Potters survived an attack from Voldemort who was vanquished. But life is not completely easy after Voldemort is gone and James and Lily have a lot more hurdles to go through. Alternate Universe.
Rating: PG-13 starstarstarstarhalf-star
Categories: Alternate Universe
Characters: None
Genres: None
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2022.10.08
Updated: 2023.08.11


Index

Chapter 1: A Destiny Foretold
Chapter 2: The Boy Who Lived
Chapter 3: Aftermath
Chapter 4: Innocent
Chapter 5: Trials and Tribulations
Chapter 6: Seeds of Change


Chapter 1: A Destiny Foretold

Author's Notes: This is a rewrite of my story "A Different Life". Yes I know, I'm a chaotic mess and it's not a sign of a good author that this is the second time I'm rewriting the same story but I believe in this one and I hope I can live up to everyone's expectations. Thank you to all those who are still here and still reading my stories despite me being the absolute worst fanfiction author someone can be.

Posting schedule: Every other Saturday (I hope I'm able to follow it)

Please read and review!

Millie15128




Chapter One
A Destiny Foretold


The first thing James saw when he woke up was Lily’s hair. It was everywhere. James raised his head blearily, grimacing when some of her hair stuck to his mouth and came along. He loved his wife’s brilliant red hair, but it sometimes was quite annoying in the morning.

Spitting out strands of her hair, James groped his bedside table for his glasses. His hand hit something, accidentally knocking it off the table, and James winced, bracing himself for the sound. But nothing happened, and then glasses were placed on his nose by long, bony fingers that weren’t his own. James adjusted them while covering a yawn at the same time. He had been up all night as Lily had been up all night ” the closer her due date came, the harder it was for her to sleep ” so he was a tiny bit grumpy about having his meagre amount of sleep disturbed.

“Filbert?” His house-elf was standing beside the bed, his hands wringing nervously. “What is it?” He asked, softening his tone. It wasn’t his fault that James had returned home from an Order mission late and then spent the whole night making sure Lily was comfortable despite her trying to get him to sleep several times.

“Master James,” he whispered, glancing at Lily. “Albus Dumbledore is waiting for you in the Floo.”

James’ brow furrowed. “Dumbledore? What does he want?” Lily moved slightly beside him, so James ran his hand through her hair, knowing it soothed her. Sure enough, Lily relaxed, a soft sigh escaping her lips.

“He wouldn’t say, Master James,” said Filbert. “Just that he wanted to meet you and Mistress Lily urgently.”

James sighed. “Okay, tell him I’ll be there.”

Filbert bowed and disappeared with a pop. James carefully removed Lily’s arm from around him and crept out of bed. He moved his pillow and placed it underneath her arm so she wouldn’t feel the absence.

He didn’t bother dressing; he just slipped on his dressing gown, pocketed his wand, parted the curtain that separated the bed chamber from the sitting room, and left the room. The corridors were silent. Freema and Loopy were constantly occupied with taking care of his parents ever since they were diagnosed with dragon pox, and Isabella was never found anywhere other than the kitchen.

James moved towards the stairs, his gaze drawn towards the right corridor leading to his parents’ room. There was an ache deep in his chest, a kind of deep chasm with rough waves threatening to drown him while he tried to stay afloat. He hadn’t touched his parents since that awful day two months ago, and he missed his mother’s soft hands and his father’s warm hugs as much as he wanted the war to be over. Which was a lot.

Sure, he had been able to see them and even talked to them, but they could barely answer him without erupting into a coughing fit. And Lily had been banned from entering the room altogether, even with a Bubblehead Charm. It was deemed too dangerous for the baby.

His depressing thoughts carried him down the stairs, through the foyer, past the kitchen and living room, and into the small room reserved for external Floo calls and external Apparition. In the warm cracking flames sat the head of Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts, Supreme Mugwump of the ICW, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, and the leader of the Order of the Phoenix.

“Professor Dumbledore,” he greeted, dropping onto the couch in front of the fire.

“James,” Dumbledore smiled. It looked creepy with the flames surrounding his head. “I asked Lily to be here too.”

“Lily has barely been able to sleep the whole night so you’ll have to excuse her.” James crossed his arms. “Anything you want with her can be done after the baby is born.”

“Ah yes, the due date is soon, isn’t it?” There was a weird expression on the older man’s face that James couldn’t decipher.

“The Healer said end of July,” said James, unable to stop the warmth and joy from leaking into his tone.

Dumbledore smiled, but again, James noticed it wasn’t his usual expression; his eyes weren’t twinkling, which was a big indication something was wrong, despite how annoying James usually found it. “Is everything alright, Professor?”

“I would like you and Lily to come to Hogwarts at your earliest convenience. Preferably now because I have another group of people coming and I would prefer to tell both of you at once.”

James scowled. “I told you, Professor””

“It is extremely urgent, James. I wouldn’t be disturbing you otherwise.” Dumbledore seemed to hesitate, and then, “This could make the difference between winning the war and losing it.”

James sucked in a breath. If it was that serious... “We’ll be there soon, Professor.”

“Thank you, James. I will see you soon,” With a pop, Dumbledore’s head disappeared, and James was left staring at the fire.

After a few minutes, he left the room, quickly climbed the stairs, and reached his bedroom. He opened the door and crossed the sitting room in a matter of steps. When he parted the curtain, he noticed that Lily was no longer asleep. Her eyes were open, and she was watching him approach.

James slipped into the bed beside her and pulled her into his arms. “Why did you leave?” She asked, her voice soft from sleep.

“Dumbledore wants us to come to Hogwarts,” he replied quietly. “He says it’s urgent and the outcome of the war depends on whatever he wants to tell us. I told him we would be there soon. If you don’t want to come, I’ll go myself.”

There was silence from Lily for a few moments. James untangled his hand from her hair, cupped her chin, and gently moved her face so that he could meet her eyes. “What’s wrong?”

“I want this war to be over, James,” quiet determination was in her tone. “No matter what it takes, I want the Snitch to grow in a safe world.”

James nodded and helped her get out of bed. He watched as she waddled her way towards the bathroom and sighed. The ‘Snitch’ would be born in a few weeks, and James knew everything would change. It already had. He’d joined the Order for the thrill and adrenaline of the chase. But he quickly learnt that war was no game. And when they realised that Dumbledore’s actions were only defensive, he set up the Grey Brotherhood with Lily, her friends, and the Marauders.

The war was showing no signs of ending, and James desperately needed it to end. He was sick of the fear and worry and the constant shadow of grief that seemed to hang over them. My son would grow up in a better world, he thought. He hoped whatever Dumbledore wanted to tell them would be able to win them the war.

*

Half an hour later, the couple was dressed and ready to go. Since Lily had entered her third trimester, she was told it was too dangerous to Floo alone in case something happened, so James and Lily stepped into the green flames together. It was good that his ancestors had been arrogant and willing to spend a lot of money on the gigantic fireplace; otherwise, they wouldn’t have fit.

“Hogwarts, Headmasters Office!” The ‘visitors’ room disappeared in a whirl of colours as they were spun past various grates before finally being deposited in Hogwarts.

To his surprise, Alice and Frank were also sitting in front of the Headmaster’s desk

“Alice!” Lily was a blur beside him as she rushed to meet her long-time friend. James followed behind her and grinned at Frank. He liked Frank; he’d been Head boy in their third year, and even back then, James had liked him because he wasn’t overly pompous or a stickler for rules.

James shook Frank’s hand and hugged Alice when Lily finally let go of her. He nodded his head at Dumbledore and helped Lily into one of the chairs in front of his desk despite her refusing his help. Dumbledore didn’t say anything until all four of them had settled into the chairs.

“I don’t know if any of you are aware of this,” he began. “But Professor Knight has retired, leaving the post of Divination Professor open.”

James frowned. What did that have to do with winning the war?

“I interviewed a candidate recently. Sybil Trelawney is the descendent of Cassandra Trelawney so I assumed she must a lot of prowess in this field.” Dumbledore rested his chin on top of his interlocked fingers. “I was greatly disappointed when it seemed that she was nothing more than a fraud.”

“I’m sorry, Professor but I don’t see what this has to do with Voldemort and the war?” interjected Lily.

Dumbledore continued as if she hadn’t spoken. “When I turned around to leave, Sybil gave a prophecy. A prophecy that was related to Voldemort and his downfall.”

There was silence in the room until “Please tell me you didn’t believe that!” Lily burst out. “Divination is a woolly piece of crap! How can you hinge the success of this war on a prophecy?"

James was quiet. Lily raised a good point, especially if she was basing her opinion on Knight. But Lily had not grown up in the wizarding world. She didn’t know about the stories and the legends that he used to read as a kid, the stories which always had a basis in truth. Lily didn’t know about the true Seers, who weren’t taught the art of Divination but were born with it.

“A lot of the Divination that Professor Knight taught wasn’t real Divination,” said Allice quietly. “However, an authentic, real prophecy, will always come true.”

“How do we know that whatever prophecy this woman gave is real?” demanded Lily, turning to face Alice.

“A Seer is not aware when she gives a prophecy,” explained Dumbledore. “It’s as if an out-of-world being possesses them and reveals the prediction of the future. It also causes a change in the voice and appearance of a Seer.”

“I’ve heard their tone gets really rough and harsh,” said Frank. “Their eyes get unfocused or something like that.”

“You would be correct, Frank.” Dumbledore inclined his head. “Sybil displayed all of these signs which is why I immediately took her seriously.”

“What did the prophecy say?” asked James.

“That matters not,” said Dumbledore in that annoyingly superior voice of his. As if he was the only one who would know what to do with the contents of the prophecy. “The main point of the prophecy is that a child would be born at the end of July that would be the one to vanquish the Dark Lord and would be born to those who defied Voldemort three times.”

James cocked his head and stared at Dumbledore. He was leaving something out. He didn’t know how he knew, but there was something that Dumbledore was not telling them. Something else was also mentioned in the prophecy.

“Are you sure that’s all the prophecy said, Professor?” asked Frank, evidently thinking the same. Judging by Alice and Lily’s faces, they were also on the same page.

Dumbledore opened his mouth, but James spoke up before he could say anything. “I’ll make it clear before you say anything that we don’t owe any loyalty to this war,” warned James. “Nothing is stopping me from packing everything and taking my family abroad.”

Dumbledore narrowed his eyes at him. “You’re bluffing,” he said quietly but with confidence. “You will never leave your motherland behind, especially when you know people might be dying here while you run away like a coward. That would be an insult to your character.”

“You may be right about that,” James conceded. “But my family matters more to me than my pride or peace of mind. If staying here and fighting means that my son might be murdered, then no thank you. I’ll take guilt over that any day.”

“I’ll advise you to tell the full prophecy immediately,” said Lily quietly but with intense emotion behind her voice.

“Otherwise, James will not be the only one who leaves,” added Alice.

Dumbledore sighed and stood up. He went over to a black cupboard in the corner that James was surprised he had never noticed before. From it, Dumbledore withdrew a silvery bowl with strange markings along its circumference. He returned to his desk and set the Pensieve on the table before sitting down.

Dumbledore placed his wand at his temple and withdrew a long silvery strand which he deposited in the Pensieve. He prodded the surface with his wand, and the silver fluid inside it shifted, spinning in circles until finally, a misty figure emerged. The woman had big glasses, flyaway grey hair, and numerous shawls covering her thin figure. Her mouth was sagging open, and her eyes were unfocused.

The woman, Sybil, opened her mouth and spoke:

“THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO VANQUISH THE DARK LORD APPROACHES. . . . BORN TO THOSE WHO HAVE THRICE DEFIED HIM, BORN AS THE SEVENTH MONTH DIES . . . AND THE DARK LORD WILL MARK HIM AS HIS EQUAL, BUT HE WILL HAVE POWER THE DARK LORD KNOWS NOT . . . AND EITHER MUST DIE AT THE HAND OF THE OTHER FOR NEITHER CAN LIVE WHILE THE OTHER SURVIVES. . . . THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO VANQUISH THE DARK LORD WILL BE BORN AS THE SEVENTH MONTH DIES. . . .”

The voice did have that harsh, rough quality that Frank had said it would. James glanced at Lily. Her face was pale, and her eyes were glued to the figure; she was transfixed and still as a statue, as if she couldn’t move even if she tried. James swallowed and repeated the words in his head.

Born to those who have thrice defied him. . .

Born as the seventh month dies. . .

Dumbledore had only called these two couples. Lily’s due date was the end of July. Alice’s due date was at the same time, too. His mind flashed back to when the two of them had dreamed of their kids being close in age and growing up as best friends.

James glanced at Frank and Alice. Frank’s knuckles were white from his tight grip on the armrest, and Alice had a hand over her mouth. Dumbledore’s face was grave, confirming their worst thoughts.

It felt so surreal that only half an hour ago, he had been hoping whatever Dumbledore told them would end the war so their son could live in a safe world. Now...

“But Voldemort doesn’t know of this prophecy, right?” asked James in a desperate tone. “There is no way he could have found out, so we don’t have anything to worry about, right?”

Dumbledore sighed, suddenly looking every bit his age. “Unfortunately, one of Voldemort’s servants overheard part of the prophecy. He was thrown from the establishment but he must have rushed to his master and told him the part that he heard.”

“How do you know that?” asked Alice, finally removing her hand from her mouth.

“After realising that Voldemort meant to murder a child, the servant and told me the truth.”

“Who is he?” growled James, his eyes narrowed.

Dumbledore seemed to know exactly what he was thinking. “I am not going to disclose his identity. Rest assured he turned spy for me at the risk of his own life. He will not betray us.”

James almost asked how Dumbledore was so sure, but he shut his mouth. There was no point in arguing with Dumbledore when it was going to be of no use anyways. Dumbledore only revealed information when he deemed it to be the right time, not before and not after.

“Are you sure our children are the ones mentioned in the prophecy?” asked Lily, a look of hope and anguish in her eyes. “There are probably a lot of women pregnant with due dates at the end of July or even children whose birthdays come at that time. Why have you only called us?” There was a guilty expression on her face which James understood; he also was hoping for someone else’s child to be of the prophecy, no matter how horrible that made him feel.

Dumbledore sighed. “Firstly, the prophecy says that the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches, which implies that the child will be born soon.”

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that!” exclaimed Frank. “It can mean a child is coming from another country or something like that!”

“It doesn’t matter what we think,” said Dumbledore sadly. “What matters is that Voldemort believes it to be either one of your children. And he seems to be leaning towards the Potters.”

A sob tore through Lily’s body as she doubled over in her chair, her arms wrapped around her stomach protectively. James left his chair and hugged her close. He pressed his lips into her hair and bowed his head so that no one else would notice the tear sliding down his cheek and falling onto his wife’s hair.

When James returned to his seat, he noticed that the other couple had been feeling the same, and Frank was also returning to his seat.

“It would also be prudent to mention,” interjected Dumbledore quietly. “That the prophecy mentions the child would be born to those who thrice defied him. That’s why only the four of you are here. No other couple who escaped Voldemort thrice are having a child at the end of July.”

“What do we do then?” asked Lily, fierce determination replacing the heartbreak on her face. “Because I’ll be damned if I allow Voldemort to come close to my child.”

“A Fidelius Charm might be suitable,” suggested Dumbledore. “The spell is extremely difficult to cast but it’s near impenetrable as the Secret cannot be forcefully taken from the Secret-Keeper by Legilimency, Imperius Curse or even Veritaserum.”

That made sense, thought James, his mind immediately flashing to Sirius. Given how reckless he was, Sirius would probably not be someone else’s first choice, but James knew he would defend his family with his life. Nothing mattered more to Sirius than family.

“If you agree, I can be the Secret-Keeper for both of you,” offered Dumbledore. “Voldemort would never risk trying to capture me.”

James’ immediate reaction was ‘Hell no!’ While it was true that Voldemort would not capture Dumbledore, it also had the disadvantage of having authority over their home. Dumbledore would be the one to decide who could be given the Secret of his home, and James wasn’t keen on giving Dumbledore any more power over their lives than he already had.

He glanced at Lily, who looked at him and shook her head. She agreed with him. He turned back to Dumbledore and said firmly, “I can’t say about Frank and Alice but we will decide our own Secret-Keeper.”

Dumbledore nodded as if he had been expecting it and turned to the Longbottoms, who also denied the offer.

“Choose wisely,” said Dumbledore in the end. “I suspect a traitor in the Order and the worst thing to do would be to give your child to Voldemort on a silver platter.”

James kept the warning in his mind for about a second before dismissing it. Sirius would take his own life before betraying him. “I’m not worried, Dumbledore,” he said firmly. “He won’t betray us.”

*

Lily spent the rest of the day cleaning the kitchen from top to bottom even though it was already spotless, courtesy of the kitchen house-elf, Isabella, who followed her around and kept protesting with her hands flapping in the air, muttering about ‘Mistress is supposed to rest’ and who knows what else. The truth was that Lily needed something to keep her hands and mind busy; otherwise, she would go spare.

James had invited their friends, including Frank, Alice, Sirius, Remus, Peter, and Marlene. Lily would have liked Dorcas and Mary to be there too, but the two of them had gone overseas in an attempt to recruit more people to the Order and invite foreign aid against Voldemort. Lily hadn’t seen them for months as she missed them desperately.

Strong arms wrapped around her waist and pulled her close to a muscled chest. Lily smiled, covered the pot on the stove, and turned around to see her husband gazing warmly down at her.

“How are you doing?” he asked, his voice soft and understanding.

“Not thinking about it,” replied Lily, smiling shakily at him. Her hand drifted down towards her belly. “It feels absurd to think that this tiny life inside me who kicks horrendously and keeps me up all night is. . .what? Prophesised to defeat Voldemort”? She laughed derisively. “Voldemort is so damn stupid if he thinks his downfall will come at the hand of a child.”

James smiled fondly down at her, his hands sliding over her arms and ending around her waist. “He should be more scared of an angry mother whose child is threatened.”

“Damn right he should!” she retorted. “No one gets to threaten my family and live after it. Not even the self-proclaimed ‘Greatest Dark Lord’ blah blah.”

She was about to mutter a few more curses and threats about what she would do to him if he ever came near her son when a whoosh sounded from the Floo room, followed by Sirius’ voice.

“Potters!” He said, striding into the kitchen. James removed his arm from around her, and Lily smiled, knowing what was to come. Sirius came straight towards her, picked her up clean into his arms, and lifted her into the air.

“Sirius!” She said, laughing, settling her hands on his shoulders. She had no idea how he managed to pick her up given how large she was, but she theorised he must be using a Strengthening Charm or something because there was no way his delicate, aristocratic self was strong enough to pick her up, no matter what he claimed.

Sirius grinned up at her. “How’s the Snitch? He’s good, isn’t he? Still kicking?”

“You should be asking about me, Black,” she huffed in amusement. “Your godson never lets me have a moment of peace!”

Sirius, still grinning, set her down on the floor. “That’s my boy!”

Lily laughed and turned back to the food cooking on the stove as James and Sirius exchanged greetings. There was a second whoosh from the other room, followed by another immediately. Lily pulled out her wand, but James grabbed her hand before she could.

“What do you want to do, love?” he asked, his eyes dancing in amusement. “We don’t want a repeat of last time, do we?” Lily flushed. The last time she tried to use magic, it had gone haywire, and the dish she had been levitating fell to the floor, splattering hot gravy over them.

“Shut it! That was only once!” She said, just as Remus and Peter came inside the room. Still, she let James levitate the pot to the adjacent dining room and turned to greet the two men.

When the greetings were over, she ushered everyone into the dining room to wait for the rest of the dinner party. It was not long before Frank and Alice, followed by Marlene, were also seated at the table.

While the dinner between eight friends was usually very lively, it was less so this time because of the subdued mood of the Longbottoms and the Potters. She knew the others had noticed, but no one said anything and pretended everything was normal. It was not until dessert was finished and they were all settled in the living room with bottles of Butterbeer ” Lily and Alice sipped on pumpkin juice ” that Sirius finally cracked.

“Okay, spill,” he said, “Something is up with,” he pointed at the two couples, “the four of you that’s got you all depressed and gloomy.”

“This isn’t just a social visit,” said Remus. It was not a question but a statement. “You have something to tell all of us.”

Frank and Alice were quiet, and Lily also didn’t feel like explaining what happened, so she looked at James, knowing he would understand.

James sighed and took the lead. “We met with Dumbledore yesterday,” he started. “Dumbledore had received information from a spy which related to the four of us.”

“Dumbledore has a spy in Voldemort’s ranks?” asked Marlene, startled.

“That’s what he said,” said Frank. “According to his intel, Voldemort is coming after us four.”

“Dumbledore advised us to go into hiding so that’s what we are going to do,” said Lily.

“Wait,” said Sirius, looking between the four of them. “Voldemort’s coming after you four? Why? What for?”

“We don’t know,” said James before Frank and Alice could potentially reveal the prophecy. But one glance at them relieved their worries; their expressions were evidence enough that they agreed with them and had no plans to reveal the existence of a prophecy.

“We think it may be because all of us have managed to escape Voldemort before and he probably can’t take that. It’s an insult to his ‘greatness’,” said James, rolling his eyes. “So, he thinks he has to kill us.”

“But Voldemort was after the members of the Order long before this,” said Remus, his amber eyes narrowed. “You just now going into hiding?”

“We are going to have a child soon, Remus!” Lily snapped. “We can defend ourselves but my son will not be able to!”

Logically, she knew it wasn’t his fault; he was asking a genuine question, but the constant worry and fear were catching up to her, and she couldn’t help but take it out on him.

Thankfully, Remus understood and even apologised.

Peter, who had been silent until now, spoke up. “But what if” what if Voldemort finds you?” he asked, licking his lips nervously.

Alice shrugged nonchalantly, but there was an intense look in her eyes. “Then we go down fighting. If dying means I can save my child in some way, then I will do it.”

“But Voldemort should not be able to reach us,” James assured. “We were thinking of using the Fidelius Charm, so as long as the Secret-Keeper doesn’t betray us, Voldemort will not be able to reach us.”

“We were thinking of asking you, Sirius,” added Lily. “You’d be the perfect choice. Well, you or Marlene but”"

“I can’t do it,” interrupted Marlene. “You know I’m leaving the country to meet Dorcas and Mary tomorrow so if anything happens, I won’t be there. Besides, it’s not like you can cast the Fidelius Charm today.”

Lily chuckled. “I know. You didn’t let me finish my sentence; I was going to say that you or Sirius were our first choices but since you won’t be available, we chose Sirius.”

“I’ll do it,” said Sirius quietly. “You can trust me.”




Of course, Sirius would have realised they weren’t being completely honest. thought James as the man in question joined him in his silent vigil of the stars.

The others had left earlier, but Sirius and Marlene had stuck around. James had thought the three of them were still inside, but one glance at the open door behind him showed that the dining room was empty; Sirius was standing next to him, but the ladies were nowhere to be seen.

“Where are our better halves?” asked James, turning back to the stars.

Sirius huffed in amusement. Lily and Marlene were commonly referred to as their better selves in their group of friends because of something that happened the previous year” something that James would rather not repeat.

“Lily took Marlene upstairs to show her the nursery,” he replied. There was a pause for a few minutes until Sirius spoke again. "So?"

“What?” asked James, despite knowing perfectly well what he was asking.

“Bloody hell, Prongs,” said Sirius, his lips quirked up. “Am I going to have to coax it out of you?”

James sighed and pushed his hands into his pockets. “We lied earlier,” he said.

Sirius rolled his eyes. “Really? I would never have guessed.”

James ignored him. “Dumbledore called us to tell us of a prophecy.” He exhaled. “A prophecy which said that the one to vanquish Voldemort is approaching.”

Sirius was silent for a moment. “Then that’s good, isn’t it?”

James turned towards Sirius for the first time. “The one who has the power to defeat Voldemort will be born at the end of July to those who thrice defied him,” he said softly.

James watched as Sirius’ face went through several emotions. First, there was confusion, followed by comprehension and then horror.

“That can’t be”no!” He cried, shaking his head. ““But”but that’s. . . “He took a deep breath. “Are you sure the prophecy was about the Snitch or Longbottoms’ child? It could be about someone else or”” He was looking around the gardens as if someone would suddenly pop out and scream, “It’s me! I have the power to vanquish Voldemort!”

“It doesn’t matter,” James interrupted, turning back to face the sky. “It doesn’t matter because Voldemort thinks that the prophecy refers to either our son or the Longbottom’s. It doesn’t matter because Voldemort will come after us.”

Sirius cursed, and silence fell around them until he spoke again. “You really want me to be your Secret-Keeper?”

James glanced at him. Sirius usually shied away from feelings, but James felt Sirius should have known what he meant to him. “Don’t be an idiot, Sirius; it doesn’t suit you,” he said instead of responding.

"Maybe that's exactly why you shouldn't choose me,"

“What are you talking about?” demanded James. “You’re my best friend, my brother really. You’re the perfect choice for it!”

Sirius let out a frustrated sigh. “Yeah, and how many people know that, James? Loads of people know us from Hogwarts and practically everyone in England knows that the Heir of the Black Family stayed with the Potters after he was disowned. They would be expecting me to be your Secret-Keeper!”

James thought about it. It made sense. It actually made a lot of sense that he wasn’t surprised they hadn’t thought about it before. “That’s true. But what do you suggest we do? Make people think you’re the Secret-Keeper but choose someone else?” He’d said it jokingly but Sirius looked like that was exactly what he meant.

“I’d appreciate if you didn’t go around spreading rumours about me being your Keeper, though,” said Sirius, wincing. “I kind of like not being tortured to the point of insanity. Voldemort can just assume that you’d make me your Secret-Keeper.”

James smirked. "They won’t torture you”"

Sirius snorted. "Yeah right”"

“”to the point of insanity,” James continued. “They need you sane to tell the Secret.”

Sirius rolled his eyes. “Ha, ha very funny.”

James’ smile slowly faded, and he frowned. “But how is Voldemort supposed to know that we are using the Fidelius, anyways? We could be using any number of protections, or we could have left the country; it’s not like he would know.”

“He’d know because Dumbledore suspects a spy in the Order,” came a voice behind them. The two men turned around to see Marlene and Lily joining them. He had suspected Lily would tell Marlene the truth, and he was right. From the looks on their faces, they had probably been standing there for a long time.

“Dumbledore said he suspects the Order has been infiltrated so even if we don’t tell anyone, Voldemort will probably know,” said Lily.

“Which is why you probably shouldn’t tell anyone else that you are not going to be choosing Sirius,” Marlene added. James reached out an arm and drew Lily close to his chest, though the move wasn’t as smooth as it usually was. On his left, Marlene stood next to Sirius with her head on his shoulder.

It was peaceful. It was safe.

James hoped it would always be this way.

*

“You’re”you’re leaving?” coughed Mum, trying to sit up. James longed to cancel his Bubblehead Charm, go over to her, and calm her down, but he would risk getting the pox, and he was not about to endanger himself or Lily like that. Not when the Snitch was this close to being born.

His heart ached when he saw his mum’s expression. His father was more stoic, but he could tell the older man was upset too. James hadn’t wanted to leave, but he knew he couldn’t do anything to endanger his parents. If he cast the Fidelius Charm on the Manor and their Secret was revealed somehow, his parents would be in danger too” they couldn’t even defend themselves.

If he and Lily weren’t here, Voldemort would have no reason to target his parents.

He and Lily had discussed the matter late into the night and eventually decided on finding a smaller home ” there was also a concern that the Manor was too big to perform a Fidelius Charm ” but only after the Snitch was born. Lily was the only one who knew enough about the Fidelius Charm ” it had been her project in N.E.W.T year ” to perform the spell, and she was warned against performing strenuous magic in her pregnancy.

Till then, they had decided to activate the war wards on the Manor, which were almost impenetrable.

“The Snitch will be born soon,” said James, smiling. “Lily and I decided that we’re forming a family so it’s time for us to move out.”

“You practically have the whole Manor, James,” wheezed Dad. “We never get out of this room.” There was a hint of the old mischief in his eyes. “Or are you tired of taking care of your old, sick parents?”

“Of course, Dad, that’s exactly why we want to move out,” James deadpanned. “It’s not like Lily paces in front of your door for ages and spends hours in her study trying to figure out a way to get in without endangering anyone.”

Mum smiled, though it didn’t look as bright as it usually did, owing to the green tinge and her pockmarked skin. “If you want to move out, that’s fine with us, dear.”

James let out a breath. “Are you sure you would be okay alone? Lily and I just wanted to strike out alone for a bit; we stayed here because the war was heating up but it isn’t showing any signs of ending and we wanted to””

Dad laughed, only a fraction of the big, booming laugh he usually had. “We understand, James. Your mother and I were young once too; we get the need for privacy.”

James grimaced. “Definitely didn’t need to know that.”

As he joked and laughed with his parents, the prophecy played on a loop in the back of his head. He couldn’t tell his parents; it killed him to lie to them like this, but they were already sick, and to know that their grandson was targeted before he was even born...

No, he decided, they didn’t need to know. And when the war was over, and his parents were rid of the Dragon Pox, he would confess.

He would confess that the real reason wasn’t that they wanted to be away from his parents or independent, but because his wife and child were already in danger, he didn’t want his parents to be in danger too. His parents would be safe here till then, and he, Lily, and the Snitch would be safe under the Fidelius Charm.

*

Watching Lily was one of James' pastimes. She was currently pottering around the kitchen, trying to bake something - despite being horrible at it - while Isabella followed her around the kitchen, muttering under her breath and squeaking whenever Lily did something - be it pouring flour into a bowl or putting the brownies into the oven.

Lily always relaxed him even when she was not talking or looking at him. This was why he was quite annoyed when the dog tag around his neck buzzed against his skin. He pulled it out of his shirt and noticed Lily doing the same. Tapping his wand against its silver surface, it glowed slightly, and Narcissa Malfoy's voice spoke out of it.

This is a pre-recorded message and cannot be responded to without contacting Gold. Neither of them said anything but just waited. Two seconds later, both dog tags started up again.

I know I made it perfectly clear that you may be helping me, but I am not a spy for the Light. Regardless of what I said, I feel this one time is something I just cannot stand back on. Let me be clear, though, that this is one and one time only.

James exchanged a look with Lily; whatever Narcissa wanted to tell them, it must be pretty important and dangerous for her to break her own statement of not spying for them.

There is a chance you know this already, but if you didn't, this news will be appreciated, I'm sure. It has come to my attention that the Dark Lord has a spy in the Order. He does not have the means to access the people in the GB, but I am well aware that most of the members are also members of the Order of the Phoenix and, thus, privy to a lot of information that would be disastrous in the hands of the Dark Lord.

The Dark Lord is very confident about the information he receives from his spy and has mentioned several times that he finds it amusing for the Potters to be unaware of the danger that lurks so close to them. I took this to mean whoever is the traitor is close to you and not just a random member of the Order. I'd advise you to be careful with the information you tell people, even those in your Inner Circle.

Another detail that has come to light is that the Dark Lord has made several plans to target you both. He has asked many of his devoted followers to tail your friends and find as much information about your schedule as possible. I fear he has plans for you personally though I deduced that you might already know this given Lord Potter's leave from the Auror office and assigning a proxy for his seat in the Wizengamot.

I will try to gather more information about the spy and plans to attack you both, but I warn you to be cautious and remain on your guard.

The dog tag vibrated again before settling in his hand. James tucked it under his shirt and looked at Lily. "Well, we knew all that already,"

She nodded, a frown on her face. "We did but Voldemort seems to be really confident about whoever this spy is, isn't he?"

James stood up and drew her closer to him. Resting his cheek against her head, he pressed a soft kiss into her hair. "I think the spy is severely overestimating their abilities. Probably think being in the same organisation and having the same enemy equates to being close to us."

"We won't be betrayed, Lily," he said, pressing her tightly to him. Lily didn't say anything, just tucked herself closer to him.

They stayed in the comforting embrace for several minutes until the timer on the oven beeped.

James slowly pulled himself away and smiled at her. "Let's talk about something else, kay? How about I try your brownies and exclaim at how good they are while my stomach protests?"

She slapped his arm, laughing. "You stomach doesn't have good taste. My brownies are delicious,"

"Sure, that's why you never eat them yourself," he muttered under his breath and smiled innocently when she cocked an eyebrow at him.

"I was just agreeing with you, Lily-flower," he said, following her to the oven.

*

Lily already knew her son would be just as mischievous and troublemaker as the Marauders. Why? Not only because he wreaked havoc on her body but also because he chose the most inopportune moment to arrive into the world. James was gone to the Ministry to submit his application for indefinite leave; Isabella had gone to the village for groceries, while the other house-elves were who knew where.

The only person with her when her water broke was Sirius, and Lily couldn’t decide if it was a good or bad thing. On the one hand, he was practically her brother, and she knew, after James, he was the one she was closest to. But on the other hand, he was absolutely useless when she needed him. The man was currently cluelessly hovering around her and panicking more than she was.

“Sirius!” she finally shouted. He shut up and stared at her dumbly. “Send a Patronus to James and get me the blue bag from my closet.”

Sirius nodded. “Right, right. Okay, Patronus to James and blue bag in closet.” He flicked his wand, and a silvery blue Grim emerged from his wand, looked at him for a few seconds, and then ran away, disappearing into the wall. Sirius turned on his heel and strode towards their walk-in closet.

“Lily!” She heard him call after a few minutes.

“What?” She snapped back. The pain from the contractions was making her cranky, and he was taking so goddamn long.

“I can’t find a blue bag!” His voice was close to hysterical.

Lily rolled her eyes and yelled in frustration, “Goddamnit Sirius! Are you a wizard or not? Just summon it for Merlin’s sake!”

She could practically see him smack himself in the forehead before he emerged from the closet with the blue bag in his hand and a proud grin on his face.

“Come on,” he said, hurrying to her. He handed her the bag and then picked her up, bridal style. “Let’s get you to St. Mungo’s.”

Lily blanched at the thought of the Floo, but there was nothing she could do” Apparating was dangerous for her at the moment, and the thought of the Knight Bus made her cringe. Sirius carried her down the stairs into the visitor’s room and stepped into the fireplace.

“St. Mungo’s!” He shouted, and they were whisked away in a whirl of green flames and emerged in a white corridor, brimming with patients with various injuries or accidents and wizards and witches wearing lime green robes running around the room, harried looks on their faces.

“We have an emergency!” called Sirius, hurrying towards one of the lime-robed wizards. “This witch is in labour!” A Healer glanced at them distractedly and muttered. “Second floor,” and left before Sirius could even respond.

“Lily!” As Sirius turned around, Lily sighed in relief at seeing her husband emerging from one of the fireplaces. Sirius set her down carefully when James approached; there was no Healer to be seen so James conjured a floating stretcher and carefully levitated Lily onto the bed.

Several minutes passed by as she and James waited there while Sirius went to go call a Healer. James’ hand stroked her hair lightly in rhythmic movements until Sirius came back with a lime-robed wizard.

Lily kept her eyes closed and tried to focus on nothing as James talked to a Healer and levitated the stretcher to the second floor, Sirius trailing behind them.

“Lily!” The witch in question wondered how many times someone would call her in the span of a day. The person calling her turned out to be her medi-witch, Merideth, who led them through a set of double doors into a room with chairs fitted against the walls” Lily surmised it must be a waiting room.

Another set of double doors later, and she was in a hospital room. James stationed the stretcher next to the bed and gently levitated her out and onto the bed.

“I’m afraid I will have to ask you to vacate the room,” said the Healer pompously. Sirius moved towards the door, but James narrowed his eyes.

“To hell I will!” He said, steel in his voice. “Nothing can make me leave my wife alone right now.”

*

After Sirius left the room, he proceeded to send Patronus messages to everyone he could think of. Remus, Peter, Andromeda, even Professor McGonagall. Marlene was in Canada with Dorcas and Mary for the time being, but he sent her a message anyway, just to keep her updated. It would take time to reach her and would be quite weak by the time it reached there, but the three of them deserved the right to know as soon as possible.

He sent one to the Potters, ashamed at the thought that he hadn’t even told them before leaving for St. Mungo’s.

He followed that with one to the Longbottoms, too though he knew they probably won’t come. Their own son had been born just the day before, so it was unlikely.

In no time at all, the waiting room was crowded. Remus arrived first, followed by Andromeda, Ted, and their seven-year-old daughter, Nymphadora. Next was Peter, and finally Minnie.

It felt as if they had been waiting for days ” though it had only been four hours and forty-two minutes, not that Sirius was counting ” when James finally emerged with a blue bundle in his arms. Sirius, who had been pacing for the past half-hour, stopped in his tracks; Remus pushed away from the wall, Minnie stood up, and Peter, who had been dozing in his chair, jerked awake. Dora jumped up excitedly while Andromeda and Ted, who were just coming inside ” they had left to bring refreshments for everyone ” rushed over.

James had a proud and happy grin on his face. Sirius had never seen him so full of joy and excitement, and he’d known James since they were eleven. James extended the bundle in his arms to show a wrinkly, red face with his eyes tightly shut. For some reason, the tiny baby boy seemed so damn beautiful to Sirius, and his heart filled with emotion.

“All of you meet your godson, nephew, and grandson, Harry James Potter,” he said, referring to Sirius, Remus, Peter, Andromeda, and Minnie. “Six pounds and eight ounces and he was born at seven-thirty pm.” His face was almost split into two with his grin.

Sirius stepped closer and gently trailed his finger down the baby’s soft, satiny cheek. The tiny eyes fluttered open, and Lily’s eyes stared back at him. He looked up at James.

“I thought you said earlier that a baby’s eyes are blue at birth?”

James grinned. “Yeah, that’s what Lily said too but apparently, there are rare cases like this too. Little Harry’s already breaking the expectations set on him!”

Sirius looked down again when he felt something and saw Harry’s tiny fingers curled around his finger. There was a small tuft of black hair on his head, and Sirius couldn’t help but marvel at how much he looked like James. His hair, his nose, even his cheekbones, that was all James. But the eyes. Those eyes were Lily.

“Do you want to hold him?” James asked.

Sirius blanched in shock. “Me? But”that”I can’t”” He was looking between Harry and James as if he had been asked to do something horrible. Sirius was usually very eloquent and smooth, and his stuttering made James burst into laughter.

“Merlin, Padfoot, you look less scared when you are duelling!”

Sirius muttered something along the lines of that’s way easier but carefully took the little boy from James. Andromeda came over and showed him how to hold Harry while also cooing over Harry at the same time. The rest of them gathered around Sirius, all of them gasping in delight and making adorable noises.

Sirius handed Harry to Minnie on her insistence and took a deep breath. He glanced past James and saw Lily inside the room, smiling as she looked at them. Her hair was wet with sweat, and she looked tired, but she was also glowing. Motherhood suits her, he thought as he went inside and sat next to her.

“Harry is absolutely beautiful,” he said softly. For once, his countenance matched his name.

Lily smiled warmly and leaned forward to hug him. “You’ll be a wonderful godfather, Sirius, don’t doubt that.”

“You and James need to stop doing that,” he muttered as she pulled away.

“Do what?” Her eyes twinkled with innocence.

“Know exactly what I’m thinking,” Sirius said flatly.

Lily laughed as James came inside, baby Harry back in his arms. He sat next to Lily and put an arm around her; Lily leaned her head on his shoulder and took Harry from him. Both of them were looking down at their son and occasionally each other lovingly; Sirius felt as if he was intruding on a private moment, so he got up and left the room, leaving the couple, now a trio, to themselves.

*

The first thing James did when Lily was discharged and they went back to Potter Manor with baby Harry was to visit his parents. They had sent a Patronus message after Harry had been born, but it was not the same as the real thing. Not that he would take Harry inside the room, but he had photos and stories to share.

When he went inside, Mum was watching the door as if she had been waiting for him to come. James smiled and moved aside, allowing Lily to enter as well. Now that she was not pregnant, she was allowed to be inside, with a Bubblehead Charm, obviously.

“Lily! Oh, it’s so wonderful to see you!” Mum’s joy was pouring off her, making her old and tired face come alive again.

“We’ve missed you a lot, Lily,” said Dad as they settled in chairs near the door. “Having James visit us just isn’t the same thing.”

“Oi!” protested James. “Is she your child or am I?”

“Lily, obviously,” retorted Mum. “We saw you near a trashcan and felt sorry for you so we brought you home.”

James rolled his eyes but couldn’t hide the twitch of his lips. “Real funny, Mum. Absolutely hilarious.”

“How are you feeling, dear?” Mum asked Lily, completely ignoring him. “I felt really exhausted after James was born, especially when he kept crying all night, disturbing his parents constantly ” not that he has changed much in that aspect.”

“You’re right; I feel really exhausted,” admitted Lily. "But I’m also so happy. Just looking at Harry fills me with so much emotion that I-I just”” Lily shuddered, and James ran a hand down her back, calming her.

“I’d die for him,” she finished, fierce love coating her words.

Mum and Dad were looking at her with love and understanding. Lily had sent her parents on holiday to Canada so that they would be well away from the war ” also ensuring that Dorcas and Mary could check in on them ” thus, he knew she was grateful for having his mum and dad there for her. Lily should admit she had two sets of parents, he thought fondly as they showed pictures of Harry to the older couple. Their baby boy was only a week old, but he had enough pictures to fill an album.

*

James and Lily started looking for a cottage once Harry was almost four months old. Those four months had wreaked havoc on the young parents, and Lily felt quite strongly that someone should have told her how difficult parenting was. Harry constantly woke them up in the middle of the night, making her long for the time when she used to get more than a few hours of sleep.

Nevertheless, she was happier than she thought she could have been. Happy and blissful were the words she described her life after marrying James. But now, she felt something that surpassed even that despite the worry in the back of her mind.

Another reason for their long delay was so Lily could return to her pre-pregnancy self. She started working out again and brushed up all her spells. The rest of the time ” which wasn’t really a lot ” was spent practicing the Fidelius Charm. She already knew the theory due to her N.E.W.T project but was having difficulty with the practical work.

James reassured her constantly, but Lily was almost obsessive with her need to master the charm. Frank’s grandmother had once performed a Fidelius Charm in her youth, so she had performed the charm for the Longbottoms and even became their Secret-Keeper; Augusta had offered to perform the charm, but since the Potters didn’t want even a single person to know their Secret-Keeper, they declined.

Finally, in mid-November, Lily was able to cast the charm successfully. This prompted their rather sudden search for a house to move into, something they neglected to do beforehand due to a new factor being added into their daily lives. Harry was not someone who followed a schedule, so they hardly had enough time in a day to do everything else and then look for a house as well.

The first house that they selected as an option was a three-bedroom bungalow in Birmingham. It was a nice enough house, but it was in a Muggle area, so after careful consideration, the couple removed that option. The next few options were discarded, too, until they finally landed the jackpot.

The house was a two-bedroom cottage in Godric’s Hollow in Exeter. Godric's Hollow had Muggle inhabitants, too, but the house itself was in the wizarding part of the village. It had three bedrooms, an open concept kitchen, a living room with a backyard, and a front porch with a small area that Lily designated for her flowers. Additionally, there was a pond in the backyard that James immediately fell in love with.

It took James and Lily almost two weeks to pack up all their stuff from Potter Manor. Filbert and Minley were constantly begging to come along with them. Still, Lily couldn’t risk them if something happened and Peter accidentally revealed the Secret to the wrong person or was tortured to reveal it ” that was something Lily was very afraid of ” but they were counting on Voldemort overlooking him and focusing on Sirius.

It was early December when James, Lily, Sirius, and Peter gathered inside Number thirty-three, Godric’s Hollow, Exeter. Lily stood right in the centre of the house, the living room. Peter was across her as the Secret-Keeper, and James and Sirius were on the right and left, respectively, to provide power to the charm.

Slowly, hesitantly, Lily began the incantation; she was afraid of messing up, but she shouldn’t have worried. The words came naturally as she waved her wand in the required movements. The process took more than ten minutes, and she was exhausted by the end.

James, Lily, and Harry Potter live in Number thirty-three, Godric’s Hollow, Exeter, thought Lily, concentrating fiercely as she pointed her wand at Peter. She watched the effects as he almost doubled over but didn’t stumble, thankfully. James and Sirius were also finding it hard to stay upright due to power being extracted from them, and all of them were quite relieved when a bright light engulfed the whole circle.

Lily closed her eyes as the light slammed into her and waited for the glare behind her eyelids to fade before she opened them again. She, James, and Sirius were standing outside with no recollection of the place they had just been in. Lily tried as hard as she could but couldn’t even think of a vague impression. She knew she was the one who cast the Fidelius Charm, but she couldn’t remember anything relating to the place.

Peter suddenly appeared out of nowhere, snapping them out of their stupor. “It worked,” said Lily. “Do you remember it?” He probably did, given he hadn’t been kicked out, but it didn’t hurt to be sure.

“James, Lily, and Harry Potter live at Number thirty-three, Godric’s Hollow, Exeter,” whispered Peter, and everything rushed back into her head. How long they spent searching for the house, casting the Fidelius Charm. The cottage materialised in front of them as well, making them sigh in relief.

It was done. The Fidelius Charm was cast. Now, they just had to move in with Harry and hope for the best.

Voldemort will not touch my child, Lily vowed to herself. Not while I am alive.

*

Back to index


Chapter 2: The Boy Who Lived

Chapter Two
The Boy Who Lived


“James!”

The man in question took a deep breath and looked across the table at his wife. “Yes?”

“I’ve been speaking for the past twenty minutes and that’s all you have to say?!” She snapped, red spots forming high on her cheekbones.

“What do you want me to say, Lily?” He asked, frustration edging his voice. “You’ve been going on about the same thing not for the past twenty minutes, but for the past two days! There is only so many times I can show excitement for the new apothecary opening when I don’t give a damn.”

Tears filled Lily’s eyes, making James feel guilty and confused. He hadn’t meant to make her cry, but at the same time, he was shocked because Lily wasn’t someone to cry at such a small fight.

“I hate you, James Potter!” she yelled and pushed back her chair to stand up. She gave him one last glare and strode from the room.

James sighed and put his fork down. This fighting and arguing had become a regular routine over the last few days, and he had no idea how to fix it; both tempers were running high because of their confinement, and Harry wasn’t helping matters.

Being a child of not even six months, Harry had no idea of their confinement and the danger hanging over them and was a typical baby with tantrums. He absolutely refused to let them sleep and had quite the shows of accidental magic when they tried to make him do something he didn’t want to.

There were other problems than their confinement and Harry - not that Harry was a problem, he was just too exuberant for his tired parents - as well. Both he and Lily had always been fairly active people, and having to stick inside a house without anything to do was torture for the both of them. Lily still had a small potions laboratory which she used to make more potions than they needed - Sirius dropped off whatever ingredients she needed - but since James was on leave from the Auror Department, he had nothing to do.

He wasn’t even receiving paperwork from the Wizengamot ever since he assigned Fabian Prewett as his proxy - he would have preferred Frank or Sirius, but both were compromised - and even his mail from Gringotts arrived at Potter Manor since he had forgotten to ask the Goblins to change the address.

Besides, regular owls were too dangerous anyways.

There was also the matter of Christmas. The twenty-fifth was almost upon them but judging from the meagre decorations in their home, it didn't feel like it. Sirius had brought them ornaments, tinsel, and even mistletoe, and they'd had a fun evening setting everything. However, as soon as the laughter faded, the worry, the confinement, and the fear settled back in.

Rousing himself from his thoughts, James stood up and flicked his wand, sending all the dishes to the sink before they started scrubbing themselves. He followed Lily upstairs and found her in Harry’s nursery. She was leaning over Harry’s cot and stroking his hair softly.

He went up to her and slipped his arms around her, relieved when she leaned back into him. He dropped a kiss onto her neck and said quietly, “I’m sorry,”

She sighed. “It’s not your fault. It’s me; I know I’ve been flying off the handle at every little thing lately -”

“I get it, Lily,” he said, resting his chin on her shoulder. “We’ve been stuck here for the past two weeks with minimal contact with anyone except Sirius and Peter. It’s getting on my nerves too.”

“Yeah,” agreed Lily. “I just felt like yelling at something and you were right there.”

James chuckled, tightening his arms around her. “Well, love, you have permission to yell at me anytime and anywhere you want. I promise I won’t get mad.” James thought he saw a sliver of a smile on Lily’s face, but that soon faded. “Lily?” Something was bothering her. Something more than just their confinement and lack of sleep. Lily tugged at his arms to loosen them and turned around. The expression on her face was unlike anything he had seen before. It was both terrified and happy mixed in with worry and vulnerability.

“I’m pregnant, James,” she almost whispered.

James' world stopped. Pregnant? “Really?” He asked, his eyes roaming her face for confirmation.

She nodded. “Less than two months,”

James couldn’t stop the smile that spread on his face at the news even if he had tried. Lily was pregnant. They were having another child. “Lily, that’s wonderful! Another child. . .” His smile faded as the reason for her worry registered in his mind. “Oh.”

“Yes, James. Oh,“ said Lily. “I’m not upset; far from it, actually. I’m just scared.” Tears were leaking from her eyes, so James raised his hand and used the pad of his thumb to wipe them away.

“We’ll protect the baby, Lily,” he said firmly. “I have to admit, the situation isn’t. . . ideal. Harry is not even a year yet and is in so much danger, despite that. We already have so many people on the verge of death and bringing a new baby in this world is not the best decision...but I love this child already, Lily.”

Lily nodded, a smile breaking out on her face. “I agree. I always thought I would be one of the people who focused on their career first and got married in their 30s. Having children before that was out of the question. Yet, here I am, not yet twenty-one with a second child on the way and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Lily slid her fingers into his hair and made eye contact. “You and Harry are my everything, and this baby already has a space in my heart. I don’t even know if it’s a girl or a boy,” She laughed slightly as if the thought was unbelievable.

James decided that no more words were needed. So he leaned in and kissed her.

~FM~


Being back on British soil felt like heaven. Marlene had gone to Canada around July and had been there for almost a whole year and had missed a lot of important events - Harry’s birth, Neville’s birth, to name a few - and she had missed everyone so much that she had briefly debated the idea of coming back home for a few days.

But Dumbledore would have shown her those twinkly, disappointed blue eyes and would say some drivel or the other about how recruiting foreign wizards was important. They needed her in Canada to communicate between the Ministry there and the Order and also allow Dorcas and Mary to have some form of communication, since she planned to come back while they didn't. Still, Marlene's patience had almost run out when finally, Dumbledore said she'd done a fantastic job and could return.

Personally, she felt they should spend a little more time recruiting British wizards instead of looking abroad. The right witch or wizard was always there, and they might not have had the chance to openly defy Voldemort.

Marlene rolled her eyes for the umpteenth time as the wizard in front of her droned on and on about something that she just didn’t care about. Usually, she was more friendly than this, but she desperately needed to get out of here, and the man checking her luggage at the Portkey Arrival Point was slower than a turtle. She would have to resort to drastic measures if he didn't hurry up.

And this man was stupid if he thought it was a good idea to hang around in such a public space when the Ministry was practically overflowing with infiltrators.

“- So I told her that I was just kidding; it was only a joke, don’t know why she took me seriously,” he said, running his wand absentmindedly over her handbag. “But we’re all made up now!”

Marlene smiled insincerely and said as sarcastically as she could, “That’s amazing. It’s such a big deal that you managed to make up with your girlfriend that you should tell everyone about it.”

Ignoring his delighted smile at that - I should, shouldn’t I? - she leaned over and took her bag back was proud to say she did not snatch it - see, Mother? I can be well-mannered when I want to be - and was only slightly rude as she left the Portkey Office.

Thankful to see the back of him, Marlene hurried towards the lifts. As she passed the various corridors of the Department of Magical Transportation, she frowned slightly at the lack of people. She’d noticed it earlier, too, but she had waved it off, thinking it was probably because of people unwilling to use Portkeys these days. But the Ministry was suspiciously empty when it should be teeming with other witches and wizards at this time of the evening.

Only years of training and experience allowed her to spin around and conjure a shield as soon as the hairs on the back of her neck stood up. A bright pink charm splashed harmlessly against her shield. A Severing Charm which had been aimed directly at her neck. She returned the favour, aiming at the Death Eater right in front of her. She could see four Death Eaters, but there were probably more.

She dodged a hex and took cover behind one of the pillars in the corridor. Breathing heavily, she debated what to do. She didn’t know how many Death Eaters there were in total, so Marlene didn’t know if she could take them all, but she wasn’t sure if she should call the GB either.

Her decision was made for her when she heard quick breathing and footsteps behind her. She took a second to steady herself and jumped from behind the pillar just as the Death Eater was turning around it. As a result, her outstretched wand jabbed straight into his neck, making her cast a quick Stupefy. She would have cast the Severing Charm, but she preferred not to get her new clothes stained with blood, thank you very much.

Another Death Eater jumped forward, engaging her in a duel. He wasn’t particularly bright, but his spells were overpowered, making it difficult for her to shield against them. She sent a quick spell chain of a Disarming Charm followed by a Conjunctivitis Curse and a finger-removing jinx. The wizard could not defend against it because of the speed of the spell chain and dropped to the floor, crying in pain.

Seeing he was incapacitated, she turned around, aiming a roundhouse kick at the man who’d been just behind her. Her heavy boots crashed into his face, drawing blood and sending him to the floor. It didn’t stop him from aiming the Killing Curse at her, which she avoided by bending backward. She stomped his face with the heel of her boot while sending an Entrail-Expelling Curse at the Death Eater across the room who had flung a Killing Curse at her. Both spells missed, and she spun away from the moaning wizard on the floor, now left with only one target.

Marlene and the last Death Eater stared at each other, probing the other for weaknesses. Marlene sent a quick Bone-Breaking Curse suddenly and twisted her wrist simultaneously, flinging the small dagger that slid out at the Death Eater. The wizard shielded the curse and even sent his own but was unable to dodge the dagger, which hit exactly where she had intended.

Marlene ducked and let the curse pass over her head. When she looked up, her knife was firmly embedded in his neck. Blood trickled from the wound even as he desperately tried to remove the blade, but it was of no use. A second later, the light had left his eyes.

Despite one Death Eater being dead and the other three incapacitated, Marlene didn’t let her guard down. There could be more Death Eaters, but when none jumped out at her, she deduced the wizards must have been arrogant enough to assume four mediocre wizards could off her.

She snorted mentally at the thought. I am not the McKinnon’s daughter for nothing. I would have disappointed myself if I hadn’t picked up skills after living with a martial arts champion and a swordsmith.

Marlene quickly set about cleaning the place. She vanished all the blood with an overpowered Cleaning Charm and bound the three unconscious wizards together. Thankfully, none of the furniture had been damaged in the corridor except for a vase lying on the floor in pieces. Marlene repaired it with a wave of her wand and rummaged in her pocket for anything she could discard. There was nothing useless in there except for a few Knuts.

Taking one of them, she made it into an emergency Portkey - something which should never ever leave the boundaries of the GB and the Order, or they’d all be crucified - and tucked it into the rope binding the wizards together. She tapped it twice, causing it to glow a bluish colour for a second before it disappeared, taking along the three wizards.

Marlene extracted her dagger from the man’s neck and cleaned it with a wave of her wand. She slid it into its sheath and slipped it into its holster on her arm. Then, she transfigured the Death Eater’s body into a handkerchief and shoved it into her robes .

Marlene summoned the luggage she had left in a corner and shrunk it to fit in her pocket. With that, she left for her original direction: the lifts. Thankfully, they were empty - though it was kind of shocking no one had come up while she was duelling with the Death Eaters - so she was alone on the way down.

There were loads of wizards and witches in the Atrium, which she was thankful for. It helped her blend in instead of bringing attention to her dishevelled hair and jumpy demeanour - it generally took her an hour to calm down after the adrenaline rush involved in a duel. She left the Ministry from the Muggle entrance and Disapparated in an empty and dark alley.

She landed in a decrepit Muggle graveyard. It was mostly empty as it was situated in a rural village with a population of less than one hundred. Sneaking over to a corner, she took out the handkerchief and used her wand to dig a hole in the ground. She dropped the handkerchief in it and piled dirt on it before using her wand to make it seem natural. Nodding to herself, she Disapparated.

When the feeling of being squeezed into a tube disappeared, Marlene found herself in front of her parents' house. She would have liked to see Sirius first, but she knew her parents would worry unnecessarily if she didn’t assure them of her safety.

When Marlene opened the small gate, she expected to feel the usual magic tingling over her skin as the wards checked her identity. Only, she didn’t feel anything this time. In fact, there was a sort of malicious feel in the air. Marlene frowned, just realising that everything was tinged with green. Dread pooled in her belly as she hesitantly glanced above her head.

Glaring down at her from the sky was the Dark Mark.

~FM~


The funeral of Mathew and Melanie McKinnon took place on a sunny Saturday morning, three days after Marlene returned from Canada. Not many people were in attendance. Most of their friends had come, but some had declined because of the danger of coming out in public. Those who had come to support Marlene were Sirius, Remus, Peter, and other distant Order members.

Marlene could have used her best friends' comfort, but two were in hiding, and two were abroad. As it was, Sirius did more for her than she ever thought possible. He was the one who organised the whole funeral and packed up her parents' home. He constantly checked up on her to make sure she was eating and sleeping and always had a shoulder to cry on.

Not that Marlene had shed a single tear since that night. She felt numb, as if it was just a bad dream and she would wake up soon. But deep inside, she knew it was not, and the fierce part of her, not struck by grief, vowed to take revenge on Voldemort. She would make sure she regretted ever thinking about killing her parents.

After seeing the Dark Mark, the attack on her at the Ministry suddenly seemed clearer. It hadn’t been a random Death Eater attack. Voldemort had planned to wipe out the McKinnons. And judging by the state of her parents, Voldemort had killed them himself. Marlene might have died alongside them if she hadn’t gone to Canada. Or maybe she could have fought with them, and they would still be alive.

She snorted at the thought. If her parents, a top-skill swordsmith and a martial arts champion, couldn’t defend themselves against Voldemort, what chance did she have?

A soft cough broke through her hazy thoughts. She looked up from where she was staring at a photo - the McKinnon family had gone to Spain one summer, which had resulted in one of the best times she ever had - and saw Sirius standing near the doorway. There was a timid and slightly confused expression on his face, so different from his usual overconfident self.

He had no idea how to deal with her, but he was doing his best.

“Everyone has left,” he said, sitting down beside her. His shoulder touched hers lightly, providing subtle comfort.

An abstract, vague part of her brain acknowledged the fact, but she didn’t respond. Thankfully, she didn’t need to. Sirius wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pulling her into his chest, and for the first time since their deaths, Marlene cried.

~FM~


Sirius felt trapped, and he wasn’t even the one who was stuck in hiding. Ever since close friends of the Potters and Longbottoms - Marlene, Sirius, Remus, Peter - had felt as if someone was following them whenever they went in public, Dumbledore had forbidden them to contact any family under the Fidelius Charm. Sirius would have disregarded him, but James, Lily, and even Frank and Alice agreed with it and made him stay away.

They eventually came to the compromise of sending one letter a week and Sirius visiting once a month to drop off groceries and provide sensitive information he couldn’t tell over mail. It was very inadequate, but it was the best - and safest - option in the face of their situation.

Sometimes, any of them would pop in randomly, but these visits had reduced since James had let Dumbledore borrow his cloak.

Usually, Sirius and Marlene would read a new letter together and show it to Remus and Peter later, but the most recent letter was read only by Sirius alone.

Dear Padfoot, Thank you, thank you, for Harry’s birthday present! It was his favourite by far. One year old and already zooming along on a toy broomstick, he looked so pleased with himself, I’m enclosing a picture so you can see. You know it only rises about two feet off the ground, but he nearly killed the cat, and he smashed a horrible vase Petunia sent me for Christmas (no complaints there). Of course, James thought it was so funny, says he’s going to be a great Quidditch player, but we’ve had to pack away all the ornaments and make sure we don’t take our eyes off him when he gets going.

We had a very quiet birthday tea, just us and old Bathilda, who has always been sweet to us and who dotes on Harry. We were so sorry you couldn’t come, but the Order’s got to come first, and Harry’s not old enough to know it’s his birthday anyway! James is getting a bit frustrated shut up here, he tries not to show it but I can tell - also, Dumbledore’s still got his Invisibility Cloak, so no chance of little excursions. If you could visit, it would cheer him up so much. Wormy was here last weekend, I thought he seemed down, but that was probably the news about the McKinnons; I cried all evening when I heard.

Bathilda drops in most days, she’s a fascinating old thing with the most amazing stories about Dumbledore, I’m not sure he’d be pleased if he knew! I don’t know how much to believe, actually, because it seems incredible that Dumbledore could ever have been friends with Gellert Grindelwald. I think her mind’s going, personally!
Lots of love,
Lily,


Sirius smiled throughout the letter. He’d been unable to visit for Harry’s birthday, but he had sent a broomstick, and to hear Harry being so natural at it excited him. When the war was over, he, James, and Harry would have to go actual flying, and they would teach Harry cool moves and how to play Quidditch.

Personally, he didn’t feel any remorse for the cat. Lily loved that creature, but there was no love lost between it and Sirius. Only, if it had died, Lily would have been inconsolable.

He was glad to see - or read - that the Potters still had some form of company when the others were not visiting. Regardless, Sirius decided to visit soon; a restless James was a reckless James, and Sirius - he usually encouraged it, but times were different - did not want that to happen.

~FM~


Compared to Harry's relatively large reception when he was born, the newest Potter was only greeted with James, Lily, Harry, the medi-witch, Remus, and Sirius as her welcoming party. Lily would have liked the Longbottoms, Marlene, and Peter to be there, too, but Marlene had thrown herself into work after her family’s death and was rarely seen, even by Sirius; the Longbottoms were still in hiding and had their own daughter a week ago while Peter was busy with his Ministry job and taking care of his sick mother.

“She’s beautiful,” said Remus softly from his chair by the bed. Unlike Harry’s birth, Lily had chosen the home birth option for her second child - not that she had a choice. A discreet medi-witch had been chosen to assist her in her birth, and they’d assigned the guest bedroom for that task and outfitted it with all the necessary equipment.

Elisabeth Lilian Potter had been born on 17th August 1981 at 5:02 PM. Again, James had stayed with her and given her support, and he’d called Sirius and Remus in when their daughter had been born.

The medi-witch had left after washing Elisabeth and recording her information and had consented to be obliviated of the Cottage's location.

“What’s her name?” asked Sirius, sitting on the edge of the bed with a squirming Harry in his arms.

“Elisabeth Lilian Potter,” James grinned. “I told Lily she should put ‘Lily’ as the middle name instead of ‘Lilian’ but she said it sounded too weird.”

Lily huffed. “Well, it does! ‘Lily’ was definitely not meant for a middle name!”

Sirius’ lips quirked up. “Whatever you say, Lily.” He finally lost his grip on Harry, who crawled over to his parents and stared at Elisabeth as if she was the most fascinating thing in the world.

James scooped up Harry in his arms and set him on his knee; he watched as Harry leaned over and poked Elisabeth’s cheek with his chubby finger. The girl’s eyes, blue for now, fluttered open and brother and sister stared at each other.

“That’s your sister, Harry,” said Lily softly.

“Sista?” he asked confusedly.

They’d explained the concept of brothers and sisters to Harry earlier, but he was evidently still confused as to who, or what, the pink shrivelled thing in his mother’s arms was.

“Her name’s Elisabeth,” said James, gently grabbing Harry’s hand before he could poke her more. “You were a baby once just like her and your Mummy and Daddy took care of you. Now that you are grown up, it’s your responsibility to take care of her, as her older brother,”

He grinned before adding, “Make sure she never dates anyone before the age of thirty, at least,”

Lily smacked his arm lightly, but amusement shone from her eyes.

Harry, who probably had not understood a single word, made a garbled noise that sounded vaguely happy but didn’t react further. Though that was probably because he got distracted by the ring on Sirius’ hand. Harry loved the rings his parents and godfather wore and was constantly playing with them or trying to bite them.

“Remus,” called Lily, prompting the brown-haired wizard to look at her, “James said he would do it himself but since he has forgotten, I decided I should do it,”

“Hey!” protested James. “I want to ask him!”

Lily smiled exasperatedly. “Then, ask him, James. Or are you planning to wait till Elisabeth will be ready to go to Hogwarts?”

“Your mother’s very mean to me,” he mumbled to Elisabeth and turned to Remus. “We were hoping you would be godfather to her, Moony,”

Remus looked shocked, as if the thought of possibly being Elisabeth’s godfather had never entered his mind. “Me? I can’t -”

“Of course, you can, Moony,” interrupted Sirius before wincing as Harry almost took his hand off, trying to remove his Black Heir ring. “Who else would they choose?”

“I don’t know,” said Remus bewilderedly. “Peter?”

Lily smiled slightly. “No offense to Peter, but he doesn’t know how to tell a child from their face to their toes. I would prefer my daughter to be in more capable hands,”

“I know what you’re going to say,” said James. “I’m a werewolf and I’ll be a danger, blah blah, but we don’t care, Moony. You are the best person for the job and you can’t change our minds,”

Remus looked uncertain for a few moments before taking a deep breath. “Okay. I’ll be her godfather.”

“Excellent!”

“Who’re you going to choose for godmother?” he asked curiously.

Lily smiled sadly. “We decided on Marlene but she couldn’t be here so. . . “She shrugged helplessly. “We’ll ask her when she feels better,”

The mood sobered at that. Because of her unwillingness to think about anything other than work, Marlene had become reckless and signed herself for every mission, and every raid that occurred, and nothing anyone said would change her mind. As a result, she’d been severely injured.

~FM~


Little Harry’s giggles made his father, James, smile. There were fewer things to laugh at these days, and what with being in hiding and the fear of Voldemort, the atmosphere was subdued and depressing, though Harry always cheered that up with his bright smiles and loud giggles.

“Dada, mo! mo!”

James was distracted from his musings when his son tried to catch coloured smoke in his fist. He turned around when he heard a voice and looked to see his wife coming into the room.

“It’s Harry’s bedtime, James. He needs to sleep. Lizzie’s already in bed.”

“Alright, here you go.” He tossed their son to her, drawing another giggle from him. Lily didn’t say anything but gave him a disapproving frown though she was unable to hide the glint in her eyes at hearing Harry giggle.

He stretched lazily and tossed his wand on the couch behind him as he moved towards the stairs to follow his wife. He checked on their daughter, who was fast asleep cuddling a stuffed doe, and went into Harry’s nursery to see Lily tucking him in.

He stroked Harry’s hair softly, who was quickly falling asleep, kissed Lily’s hair, and went back downstairs. He was clearing up the dishes from their dinner earlier when the front door clicked open. James froze. Anyone who came usually knocked first, so it was unusual for the door to open by itself.

James sprinted for the hallway, and there, in the doorway of their Cottage, stood Voldemort with his glistening red eyes and pale, waxy skin. His hand plunged into his pocket, remembering belatedly that he had left his wand on the couch. There was a clatter of footsteps behind him, and panic filled James’ heart. He had to protect Lily and the children.

“Lily, take the children and go! It’s him! Go! Run! I’ll hold him off!” He shouted. There was silence behind him, and then footsteps started again, though away from him this time.

Voldemort laughed as if his courage was amusing, and James prepared himself for death. His time had come; he could only hope that Lily and the children could escape in time.

“You are not worth my time, James Potter,” murmured Voldemort silkily before his wand came up, a colourless spell emerging from the tip. James had half a second to recognise it as the Blasting Charm before the spell crashed into the floor in front of him, and he was flung off his feet.

He slammed into the opposing wall, splinters of wood surrounding him. Dust shook from the ceiling, and the plates on the counter crashed to the floor, shattering. His neck bent at an unnatural angle as he slumped down to the floor, a trail of blood following him. Voldemort didn’t spare the dying man a second glance. Instead, his attention turned towards the stairs where the boy was.

He climbed the stairs slowly, practically tasting the fear in the air. It was intoxicating and powerful.

The Dark Lord smirked as he thought about how the night would end. He was Lord Voldemort, and no small baby was powerful enough to beat him.

He was an Avada Kedavra away from achieving victory.

~FM~


Lily screamed when she heard the explosion. Her heart was beating fast; she could hear not only the beats but feel them as well. Her vision was blacking around the edges in time with her heartbeats, but Lily couldn’t focus.

James was dead. Or dying.

James.

James.

She let herself have a second to process that, and sprang into action when she heard footsteps approaching. She didn’t have her wand with her, but she did have the GB emergency Portkey. She turned around and linked Harry and Lizzie’s hands together.

“Do not let go, okay?” She asked, bending down and staring straight into Harry’s eyes. He nodded slightly, and Lily hoped she had impressed the seriousness of the situation on him. “I need you to keep holding on,” She brushed Harry’s hair back and took a deep breath before straightening.

She took Lizzie’s tiny hand into her own and grabbed the Portkey with her other one just as Voldemort entered the room. He was cloaked in dark robes and gliding as if walking was inferior to him.

“Mischief managed,” she murmured. The Portkey flashed blue just as Lizzie woke up and started crying. The tiny girl jerked, and Lily watched in horror as Harry’s hand slipped from his sisters before the mother and daughter were whisked away.

Her scream travelled along with her as she landed on her knees in the GB headquarters in Potter Manor. The only one present was Marlene, who jumped up when she saw her.

“Lily! What happened -” Marlene’s face was a mixture of concern, shock, and fear.

Lily thrust the still-crying child in her arms and stood up. “Take care of her,” she said and Disapparated. She arrived in the visitors' room from where she Disapparated a second time to Harry’s nursery in Godric’s Hollow.

A jet of green light was heading straight for Harry. “NO!” She screamed, rushing over to intercept the spell. “Not Harry! Take me, please!”

But it was too late. The green light passed by Lily with a millimetre difference and hit Harry straight in the forehead. The next thing she knew, an explosion rocked the house. Dust shook from the ceiling, the wall behind her blew apart, and pieces of bricks and wood crashed into her and the surroundings. Her head banged into the cot, and she crumbled to the floor, unconscious.

~FM~


There was something inside Sirius that was telling him that something was wrong. He had been in Peter’s flat for over an hour, and he was nowhere to be seen when he should have been back from work over an hour ago. He quickly left the flat and Apparated to Godric’s Hollow. His heart jumped to his throat when he arrived in front of the Potter Cottage and noticed the wreckage.

He hesitantly stepped inside. A crater was in the middle of the hallway, and the opposite wall was blown away, letting the air in; Sirius could see the night peeking through the hole. And there was James, lying in a puddle of his own blood. Sirius hurried over to him, hoping that James was still alive, but his eyes were closed, and blood was oozing out of him.

There was no way he survived, given the amount of blood that had left his body. Sirius collapsed to his knees, and for the first time since he was sixteen, a tear leaked out of his eye, trailing down his cheek and falling to the floor.

James, with his confidence that bordered on arrogance. James, who could never get his hair to lie flat, and who was absolutely wrapped around Lily’s finger. James, who took Sirius in when he had nowhere to go. James, with his mischief and pranks and kindness and his big, loving heart.

James, who had left him. James, who was never coming back.

Just when Sirius couldn’t take it anymore, he heard a cry from upstairs. His head shot up. That sounded like Harry. He wiped his face and stood up. As he climbed the stairs, he glanced back at his best friend, his brother, before turning away. The upstairs corridor looked perfectly normal, except the nursery door had holes gouged in it, and a few bricks and pieces of wood were lying in front of it.

This time, Sirius barely hesitated before going inside. What he saw made his already grief-stricken heart sink to the bottom of his chest. There was a big hole in the opposite wall though the crib in front of it was somehow still intact. Lily was lying on the floor in front of the cot, her hand curling around the cot's bars while a puddle of blood formed under her dark-red hair.

A black-robed body was lying near Lily. With an angry snarl, Sirius kicked the body out of the hole in the wall; that monster didn’t deserve to be next to such a beautiful woman like Lily.

An abstract thought crossed his mind that Voldemort hadn’t killed either of the Potters with the Killing Curse before a cry broke through the haze in his mind. Harry was standing in his cot, his hands gripping the railing; he was staring at Sirius with big, green eyes, and big, fat tears rolled down his small face.

He strode over to the cot and used his wand to gently siphon the blood that was matted on Harry’s forehead. He frowned when the thin lightning bolt-shaped scar refused to heal, but he decided he would do something about it later. Right now, he didn’t even know how the scar came to be. He picked up Harry and set him on his left hip; the little boy who snuggled into his shoulder.

Sirius looked around, realising that Lizzie was nowhere to be seen. He left the nursery and checked all the other rooms, but he couldn’t find her anywhere. Fear gripped his heart. What the hell? As horrifying as the thought was, if Voldemort had killed the youngest Potter, then her body should be present. But given that there was no sign of her, had Voldemort taken her with him?

But Voldemort was dead. He’d kicked the body out of the house just moments prior. Had another Death Eater been with Voldemort? How many people knew of the significance of the Potters and why Voldemort targeted them specifically?

Peter.

His heart was telling him that Peter must have given the Secret to someone he thought trustworthy, or he’d been tortured to reveal it, but his logical brain discounted each desperate hope and put betrayal as the reason why Voldemort was able to find Godric’s Hollow.

Peter had been shifty and vague for a few months and was constantly making excuses for being busy or having to leave early. He wasn’t seen as often by anyone and rarely contributed to conversations even if he did come. The only people who knew the Secret were Dumbledore, Sirius himself, Remus, and Marlene. Peter was the only one who could have given the Secret to someone, and given that he’d seen Peter just yesterday, it was unlikely he had suffered extensive torture.

And there was also the fact that he’d been making comments about the suspiciousness of Remus’ actions. Had he done that so that no one would focus on him and direct their scrutiny towards Moony?

It was highly likely that Peter had betrayed them.

The thought sent a sliver of hurt and anger through him. He let it fill him and overcome him until revenge was the only thing on his mind. Peter was the reason that James and Lily died, the reason Lizzie was missing, and the reason Harry had a scar on his forehead. Wormtail would have to pay.

Something tugged on his hair, and Sirius looked down to see his hair wrapped around Harry’s fist. “Paddy,” he said, his doe eyes looking at Sirius with so much confusion and hope that it crushed Sirius. “Mamma? Dada?”

Sirius drew Harry closer to him and pressed a kiss into his soft locks. “They’re not here, Harry. They’re gone,” he murmured just as a sound came from downstairs.

They were no longer alone. Sirius tucked Harry securely into his jacket and gripped his wand tightly before descending the stairs. To his relief, it was Dumbledore and Hagrid.

Sirius considered how strange it was that Hagrid was there as well. He didn’t know the Secret, so how could he see the Cottage? He pushed the thought aside for the moment, though.

“What’s my greatest achievement?” he asked, raising his wand.

“Getting Lily to approve of you,” replied Dumbledore calmly before asking his own question. “What’s my favourite jam flavour?”

“Raspberry,” Sirius lowered his wand. “What are you doing here?”

“I have an instrument which recorded the Fidelius Charm cast on this house. With James’ and Lily’s permission, of course,” Dumbledore added, seeing the look on Sirius’ face.

“It alerted me when the Fidelius Charm broke -”

“Wait, what?” interrupted Sirius, startled. “The Fidelius Charm broke? How?”

“There were readings of a magical explosion so large that it shattered the ward. Something like this has been unheard of before and it was worrying enough for me to come here myself.”

“Oh,” Sirius didn’t know what to say. “James and Lily are dead.” He said finally, quietly.

Dumbledore looked at him sadly. “We are sorry for your loss, Sirius. However, I know they died protecting their children which is how they would have wanted to go,”

They didn’t want to go at all! he thought angrily but stuffed it inside and took a deep breath. “That’s another thing. Lizzie is missing,”

“Missing?” asked Dumbledore, surprised. “Why would she be missing?”

“I don’t know!” he snapped. “If I had known, I wouldn’t need to tell you, would I?”

Silence descended in the room. Hagrid looked like he wanted to shout at Sirius for talking to Dumbledore that way, but a look from the older man made him remain quiet.

“May I see Harry, Sirius?” asked Dumbledore softly. “According to my information, a Killing Curse was cast on this location and I fear the effects that would have had on Harry,”

Sirius was loathe to give Harry away just to satisfy Dumbledore’s curiosity. But the scar on Harry’s head was a worry, and it would probably be better if it was examined now instead of later. He carefully handed Harry, who had fallen asleep while tucked into his jacket, to Dumbledore and waited for the verdict.

Dumbledore ran his wand several times over Harry and twice over his scar. Finally, he tucked his wand into his robes and traced the strange lightning bolt-shaped scar with his finger. “It is as I thought,” he muttered, seemingly unaware that he had said it aloud.

“Thought what?” asked Sirius quickly.

Dumbledore sighed and looked at him, his eyes dim through the half-moon glasses. “The scans show that Harry was hit by the Killing Curse but, as you can see in front of you, he survived it.”

What?!“ asked Sirius incredulously. “Are you sure your scans are correct, Dumbledore? Everyone knows you can’t survive being hit by the Killing Curse. It’s an instant death for everybody. “

“I believe that Lily put herself in front of the Killing Curse even when Voldemort gave her the chance to step aside. This caused a shield of sorts to protect Harry. I take it Voldemort has been defeated?”

“His body is lying outside the house,” said Sirius, unwilling to explain further.

Dumbledore only nodded. “I’m afraid I will have to leave. I want to confirm this theory with my spy so that we leave no stone unturned.” Sirius extended his arms to take Harry back, but Dumbledore wasn’t done yet. “I’m afraid I can’t let you take Harry, Sirius.”

Sirius narrowed his eyes. “Let me? I don’t see who you are to let me do anything, in regards to Harry. I am his godfather and the man James and Lily chose to take care of their children. You, however, were not anywhere in the list of potential options, so I fail to see what you have to do with any of this,”

“Don’t talk to Dumbledore that way!” shouted Hagrid, stepping closer threateningly. “He -”

“It’s okay, Hagrid,” said Dumbledore gently, raising a hand. “Sirius has a right to raise his objections. However,” he turned to Sirius. “I believe that Voldemort is not dead.”

“I saw his body myself, Dumbledore,” said Sirius, with gritted teeth.

“Voldemort travelled the paths of darkness more than anyone before him and he was too interested in the Dark Arts and too ambitious to have not found a way to gain immortality.”

“But what does that have to do with Harry?” asked Sirius impatiently.

“Voldemort will return one day and undoubtedly pursue Harry. Thus, he needs somewhere where he can be safe from all threats at all times.”

“What makes you think I can’t keep him safe?” demanded Sirius.

“Dumbledore’s right, Sirius,” said a voice behind him. Sirius spun around, his wand in his hand even though he’d recognise Marlene’s voice anywhere. Sirius could see the grief in her eyes and knew she had found out. As for him, Harry and revenge were the only things driving him; he would have collapsed already if he didn’t have something else to do.

“What do you mean Dumbledore’s right?” he asked. “How can you say that!? James and Lily wanted us to take care of their children!”

She drew closer to him and cupped his cheek gently. There were tear tracks on her pale face. “I know Sirius,” she said quietly. “But I also know that if Peter managed to deceive us for this long, then he’s a lot more dangerous than we thought.”

“We need to capture Peter and we need to alert Remus. Harry will be fine.” she assured him.

“I can’t leave him, Marls,” he confessed. “Lizzie’s already missing and Harry…he was hit by the Killing Curse; I just want to scoop him in my arms and never let go,”

Her brow furrowed in confusion. “Missing? She’s not missing.”

Hope shot through Sirius like an arrow. “Where is she? How do you know? Is she alright?”

“Lily came to me an hour ago,” she said, raising her voice so that Dumbledore would hear her too. “That’s how I knew that something was wrong. She Portkeyed in, screaming, and thrust Lizzie at me before Disapparating. She’s at Potter Manor now with Isabella, the Potter Manor elf,”

“She did that?” Dumbledore had a speculative look in his eyes, making Sirius want to punch him. Lily’s last actions weren’t to be dissected. She died protecting her children, that was enough. “I can only conclude that she tried to escape with her children but somehow, Harry was left behind, prompting her to return.”

Marlene ignored him and looked back at Sirius. “Whatever Dumbledore’s faults, Harry will be safe with Dumbledore for the time being,” she said softly. “We have other things to take care of; if we don’t do anything, then the Ministry will undoubtedly meddle as usual and mess everything up. The last thing we need is for them to do something completely ridiculous like pinning the blame on you,”

“James and Lily need to be taken care of,” she added quietly, and that did it for Sirius. His friends deserved a proper burial instead of having to lie in their blood for hours.

He turned to Dumbledore and Hagrid. “Where are you going to take Harry, Dumbledore? Lizzie’s at Potter Manor so I think it would be best for Harry to go there as well,” A sad half-smile crossed his face. “The elves practically raised James when Flea and Effie were busy so both children would be more than taken care of,”

“Alas, Sirius, Potter Manor can be accessed by the Traditionalist Families,” said Dumbledore, shaking his head. “They might have only gone once or twice when Fleamont and Euphemia used to host parties but it would be more than enough for Death Eaters to somehow find a way in,”

Sirius clenched his jaw at Dumbledore’s inability to accept someone else’s suggestion. “War wards have been activated at the Manor, Dumbledore. Nothing and no one against the Potters’ wishes can enter.”

“I’m sorry but I don’t trust those wards,” he said apologetically. “I have another secure location in my mind where all of Harry’s needs will be taken care of.”

Sirius felt undecided. On the one hand, Harry and Lizzie’s safety was his priority, and if both were safe, albeit, in different places, for the time being, he could focus on finding Peter. On the other hand, he wanted to keep both children with himself so that he knew where they were and what they were doing at all times until he could return.

He let out a breath. “Okay, you can take him to this location. But I’m warning you, Dumbledore, when I get back, I want Harry immediately,”

“Where is it that you are going?” inquired Dumbledore politely, but Sirius had already turned away.

“You take care of J-James and Lily and I’ll go after Peter, yeah?”

Marlene nodded. “Go, Sirius. Time is of the essence. Don’t forget to contact Remus as well.”

Sirius leaned in and kissed her before stepping back and leaving the house. A light wind was blowing, so he tied his hair in a low ponytail to prevent it from getting into his eyes. He gazed at the sky for all of two seconds and then Disapparated.

He had a hunch about where Peter was.

~FM~


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Chapter 3: Aftermath

Author's Notes: I am so soo deeply sorry for posting a day late. I kind of...forgot? I remembered at night and then I hadn't even edited it yet so that is why it took me so long to post.

Anyways, please follow me on Instagram (Millie15128) and Tumblr (Millie15128)!


Chapter Three
Aftermath


Marlene squared her shoulders as she watched Dumbledore and Hagrid Disapparate with baby Harry. It was one of the hardest things she had ever done - handing the child of her dead best friends into the hands of someone none of them entirely trusted - but it had to be done. Harry and Lizzie would be safe for the time being while she and Sirius set things right again.

Then they could get the children back and raise them the way James and Lily would have wanted them to. Frank and Remus could be the loving uncles, while Alice would be the doting aunt and godmother who let you get away with everything.

A sizzle of pain went through her when she thought about Peter. She had never been really close to him, none of the girls had, but he was still in the Marauders and had been a constant in her life ever since she, Lily, and Alice befriended the Marauders. It hurt that he betrayed them.

But that hurt was nothing compared to the ache in her chest at the thought of her best friend no longer being alive. Lily would no longer be able to laugh her carefree laugh, smirk when she one-upped the Marauders, or watch Harry grow up the way she had daydreamed.

But their deaths were not in vain, she thought to herself and stiffened her spine with stern resolve. Gripping her wand tightly in her hand, she crept over to James and gazed down at him sadly. He was one of the most mischievous people she had ever seen, but he also had the biggest heart a wizard could have.

The world would be emptier without James Potter in it.

She bent down and siphoned the blood with her wand. He had hit his head against the wall, so she gently straightened him and cleaned his head. There was a big wound there from which blood was still oozing out. Her eyes narrowed when she noticed it, and she cocked her head to the side, thinking how weird it was that blood was still pulsing out when he had already been dead for nearly half an hour.

Her eyes trailed over his entire figure and came to rest on his hand lying on his chest. The Lordship Ring was still there even though it was enchanted to be banished into the Potter Family Account at Gringotts when the Lord of the House died. But that meant. . .

Her eyes focused on his chest. Still, and then. . . movement. James’ chest was moving up and down; the movement was shallow, as if he was on the verge of death, but he was not dead yet.

James was alive.

Snapping out of her euphoria, she hurriedly set to work and started healing him. She healed all the cuts he received because of the wood and brick pieces. Most of them were small, but one was lodged in his ribcage - thankfully, it missed his lung or heart, or he would have definitely been dead - which required delicate effort to take out and close the wound.

The wound on the back of his head was too serious for her capabilities, so she closed it as best as she could and wrapped a bandage around his head to stop the bleeding. She then used her wand to levitate him to the mostly unharmed couch and gently laid him down on it. She stood, gazing at her friend for a moment more, and then she turned away and climbed the stairs, willing her heart to slow down.

Just because James is alive doesn’t mean Lily is, she reminded herself. She sacrificed herself for Harry; there is no way she lived. Every step was another dagger to her heart, but she kept going like she always did. Marlene braced herself against the corridor wall for a second and stepped inside Harry’s nursery.

The nursery that James and Lily had lovingly painted and decorated themselves was destroyed. The wall was blown apart, a giant blackened scorch mark was on the floor, and splinters of wood and bricks were scattered around the room. In the middle of it all lay Lily, dark blood mixing in with the red of her hair and almost invisible if not for the light shining on it. A puddle of blood had seeped from under her hair and spread around her head.

Marlene employed her Occlumency skills and completely shut down the emotional part of her brain. Seeing Lily was harder than seeing James because she didn’t know him like she did his wife. However, she and Lily had been best friends since their first year at Hogwarts, and Marlene had counted on Lily to always be there.

Marlene slowly bent down and sat next to Lily. She stared at her for a few minutes, unable to bring up the courage or effort to do anything else. She raised her hand, seemingly without her brain’s permission, and trailed her fingers over Lily’s cheek. It was still warm, making her let out a stifled sob.

Marlene softly stroked her hair, uncaring about the blood that got on her hands. Lily had always been there for her; the least she could do was sit by Lily for a little while, even though she was already dead.

Perhaps it was because of her overwhelming grief that she didn’t immediately detect the change in Lily’s breathing. Though she definitely noticed when her hand twitched and her eyes fluttered open while she could do nothing but watch in shock. She tried sending signals to her hands and feet to bloody move, but it felt like the world had dropped from underneath her feet, and she couldn’t move at all.

Lily’s eyes were unfocused for the first few moments as she gazed listlessly around the room. Her mouth opened as if she wanted to say something, but a cough emerged instead. Marlene conjured a glass and filled it with water before pressing it to her lips and holding her head carefully.

“Where’s Harry!? Where’s my baby?” she asked desperately as soon as she was done.

Marlene stroked her hair to calm her down. “It’s alright, Harry and Lizzie are both alright,” she said in a soothing tone.

Lily practically deflated with relief. Marlene saw the look of utter happiness and calm that spread across her face. A second later, Marlene wondered if it had been a trick of the light as her body had tensed again, and the same heartbroken expression filled her face.

“Oh Merlin, James,” she said, her hands holding her head as she doubled over.

Marlene rushed to assure her. In her happiness at finding her best friend not dead, she had completely forgotten that Lily probably thought her husband was dead. “James is alive, Lily,”

The confused, hopeful, yet resigned expression on Lily’s face broke Marlene’s heart all over again. “He’s not, Marly. I- I heard him,” a sob escaped her, “I heard h-him scream,”

Marlene grabbed her arms and leaned close. “I’m being serious, Lily. He was gravely injured but I managed to heal him well enough for now. He’s on the sofa downstairs under a Stabilising Charm. It’s the best I could do for him right now,” Marlene refrained from mentioning that he was still in a critical state, and unless Lily hurried up, there was a high chance he wouldn’t make it.

Lily stood up so suddenly that Marlene fell back on her backside before hurrying to stand up as well. She followed the redhead out of the room and downstairs and almost bumped into her when Lily stopped in her tracks at the base of the stairs. Marlene followed her gaze to where James was lying on the sofa.

Marlene gave her a soft push. “Go,” she said softly. Lily didn’t need more encouragement. She practically tore across the room and fell to her knees next to James. She placed her hand on his cheek and stroked his hair softly. When she placed her head on his chest and started sobbing - in relief, Marlene suspected - Marlene had to turn away. It was too much of a private moment between the couple for her to witness. She certainly wouldn’t want someone else watching her if she were in the same situation.

Not that she ever wanted to be in that situation. She had already lost too much, and she didn't even want to think about the thought of believing Sirius to be dead, even if he were alive.

When Lily coughed slightly to get her attention, Marlene turned back to face the room. Standing up now, Lily had one hand in James’ pale one.

“I’m taking him to Potter Manor. The elves will be able to do something for him,” A sliver of amusement crossed her face. “They’re better at healing than some of the Healers at St. Mungo’s,”

Marlene just nodded and crossed the room to hug Lily. Lily seemed to know what she was thinking as she removed her hand from James’ and wrapped both arms around her.

“I thought you were dead,” she whispered against Lily’s dusty shoulder.

The witch tightened her arms in response. “I’m alive, Marlene,”

Things still needed to be explained - from both sides - but for now, the silent comfort and assurance were enough. It was a few minutes later that they finally pulled away. “I’ll see you later,” Marlene said, stepping away.

Lily shot her a confused look. “What? Aren’t you coming?”

“I need to help Sirius,” she replied quietly. “He went after Peter. And that’s not to mention stopping the Ministry before they decide to meddle,”

Lily’s face tightened at the mention of Peter, but she nodded. “Where is Harry?”

Marlene shook her head. “I don’t know. Sirius’ wanted to take him but we agreed on letting Dumbledore take him to a safe place. Sirius was the only one who could have any idea where Peter was and someone needed to take care of your ‘bodies’.”

Lily nodded, even as worry flashed across her face. “I-I’ll contact him after getting James healed.” She shook her head as if just remembering something. “I need to take care of Lizzie too; she’s not even half a year old, she’ll need her mother,”

Marlene watched the Potter couple Disapparate before she left the house. She set a few simple wards around the place - in case the Ministry or the Death Eaters decided to create a memorial (both for different reasons) - and Disapparated to her and Sirius’ flat.

*

Marlene had expected problems to occur because of the Ministry meddling in stuff they had no right to, but she had not expected they would do this. And she had never expected that Dumbledore would agree to it.

Her throat was dry and parched with how much she had screamed in the past hour. But nothing she said or did convinced the Ministry or Dumbledore that Sirius was goddamn innocent!

Marlene suppressed a growl; she had to bury her anger and goddamn think. Sirius needed her to be strong right now.

Someone came and stood next to her. “He’s innocent, isn’t he?”

“If you thought for even a second that he’s guilty, then you’re the best friend you think you are, Remus!” she snapped back. Marlene had received a message from Sirius on her dog tag that he had found Peter in Remus’ cottage and would update her soon.

That update never came.

Instead, when she reached Remus’ cottage, she found Peter nowhere in sight, Sirius being dragged away by Aurors, and Remus trying to stop them. Peter must have escaped in all the commotion with no one to watch him; Marlene cursed Sirius in her head, wishing he had been calm enough to cast a Stunning Spell on the rat. Not that she could blame him, she didn’t think she would have been calm and logical had she thought her best friend was dead either.

“What did Peter tell you?”

Remus let out a breath. “He said that James and Lily were- they- well, they were gone and Sirius betrayed us all. I didn’t really believe him at first because Sirius loved James but I guess, Peter had been spreading seeds of doubt in us for ages that I started to believe him a little.”

“Then the Aurors stormed in and took him away.” Marlene didn’t respond; there was nothing she could say. Once again, the Ministry had proven to be idiotic while Dumbledore had proven to be. . . Well, she didn’t know what, just that he had believed Sirius to be guilty and likely told the Aurors where Sirius could be found.

“There was something Peter mentioned that... “

Marlene turned to face him when he didn’t continue. “What did Peter say, Remus?”

“He said that Sirius wasn’t supposed to live,” said Remus, an undefinable emotion in his voice but one that felt like wolf. “Bellatrix was waiting for Sirius at his flat and he wasn’t supposed to live.”

Marlene swallowed. “But Sirius never went to his flat so Bellatrix never found him. Peter severely underestimated Sirius’ devotion to James and Lily,”

Remus didn’t say anything in response.

Marlene frowned at his lack of reaction before remembering. “Ah! I forgot to tell you! James and Lily are alive,”

His neck turned so quickly that a crack echoed around them. “What?

“I was supposed to take care of James’ and Lily’s bodies but when I cleaned the blood, I found out that both of them were in a critical state but neither of them were dead; Sirius was too grief-stricken to check properly. James was unconscious but Lily woke up and Apparated both of them to Potter Manor. They’re with Lizzie right now while Harry is at a safe house.”

All the tension seemed to leak out of Remus’ body, and he would have collapsed to the floor if Marlene hadn’t caught him in time.

“We can feel relieved later, Remus,” she said, pulling him upright. “Right now, Sirius needs us. We need a plan to save him and for that we need to meet up with everyone else.”

“It’s time for a meeting of the Grey Brotherhood.”

*

Marlene found the Potter family in the living room when she and Remus entered Potter Manor. Lizzie was held carefully by Lily, who was sitting on the sofa next to an awake James. Various house-elves were gathered next to them, and most of them were constantly patting James and occasionally Lily as if assuring themselves that both were alive.

“Marlene! Remus!” Lily stood up, passing the fast-asleep Lizzie to Isabella. Remus didn’t respond; he just went straight to her and hugged her tight.

“I’m alive, Remus,” she said quietly, patting his back. Remus broke away from her and wiped his eyes. He turned towards James and knelt to hug him, too. The hug between the two men was longer than the one with Lily. Both women turned away from the scene to give them privacy. Remus and James may not be as close as James and Sirius, but they had been as close as brothers since they were eleven, so such emotion was warranted.

“Where’s Sirius?” asked Lily confusedly. She evidently expected to see him with her, perhaps with news about Peter’s incarceration.

“He was arrested,” she replied quietly.

What?!“ Her shout attracted the attention of the men, who broke their reunion and turned towards them. “What do you mean Sirius was arrested? He hasn’t done anything wrong!”

James shot up from the couch. “What?“ He winced in pain because of his sudden movement, his hand pressing against the wound on his chest, prompting Lily to hurry over and push him down on the sofa again.

Marlene sighed and sat down in one of the armchairs. “Sirius went after Peter and found him with Remus. The Aurors stormed the cottage soon after and took him away, claiming that Barty Crouch himself had ordered Sirius’ arrest. According to Remus, the Aurors were mostly those we determined to be susceptible to bribery. They may have been paid to arrest Sirius.”

James looked furious, causing Lily to place her hand on his shoulder and squeeze, despite the anger on her face. “What bout Dumbledore? Does he know?”

Remus and Marlene exchanged looks; he gestured at her, causing her to shoot him a glare. “Dumbledore endorsed it, apparently. When I arrived, they were about to Apparate, so I shouted at them that Dumbledore wouldn’t approve of it - we might not trust him but his reputation comes in handy sometimes - but they said Dumbledore knows and agreed with the arrest and even told them where Sirius would most likely be.”

James tried to stand up again, but Lily pushed him down. “Let me go, Lily! I need to free Sirius!”

She glared at him. “First of all, I am not doing anything, it will be all of us who free Sirius. Secondly, we need a plan before we go rushing off. I know you’re used to rushing in and saving the day, love, but Sirius will need more than you throwing your weight around as Lord Potter.”

James paused suddenly. “Wait. Even the fact that Sirius is Heir Black didn’t stop them?”

Remus shook his head. “No. Sirius threatened to bring down the wrath of House Black on them for what they were doing but they seemed unafraid.”

James frowned. “There has to be a reason for that. They didn’t mention anything else at all?”

Remus stared hard at the table in front of him, a thoughtful look on his face. “Not that I remember, no. They did mention something about that not being a problem.”

Lily bit her lip. “We’ll have to think about that later. We need to free Sirius first before finding out why he was imprisoned in the first place.”

“Without a trial,” added James.

Marlene pushed away all the thoughts and used Occlumency to bring her brain to the calm, logical state she was known for. She shut down the fact that it was Sirius they were talking about and imagined it as just another mission. “We need to call a Brotherhood meeting. Only the Trusted members, not all of them.”

James nodded. “Of course, I’ll do it.” He pulled out the dog tag and channelled some magic into it. “I solemnly swear to protect,” he murmured, and the dog tag glowed slightly for a second. “Prongs to Hunter, Talon, Feather, Canis, Euro.”

The dog tag glowed again and didn’t dim this time. Slowly, voices started issuing from the dog tag.

“Hunter speaking,” Frank.

“Canis and Euro here, Prongs,” Fabian and Gideon

“Talon here,” Alice.

“Prongs, this is Feather,” Andromeda.

James glanced up at them before looking down at the dog tag. “Emergency meeting in thirty minutes. Everyone to meet in PM Basement.”

“Roger, Prongs,”

“Be right there,”

“Protection complete,” murmured James; The glow subsided from the dog tag.

Now they just had to wait for the members.

*

Thirty minutes later, the meeting room of the Brotherhood in the basement of Potter Manor was crowded with various witches and wizards. Everyone gathered at a big table in the corner of the room. James was sitting at the head with Lily on his left and Remus and Marlene on his right. Frank had chosen to stand against the wall with Fabian and Gideon while Alice sat next to Lily with Andromeda on her other side.

“What’s the matter?” entreated Alice once everyone had settled. It had to be something important for James to have called them out of hiding.

It took an hour and several loud interruptions before James and Lily conveyed the whole story to everyone. They were naturally outraged on Sirius’s behalf and concerned for James and Harry’s wellbeing.

“Harry’s fine,” said Marlene. “He was hit by the Killing Curse but Sirius healed the cut and Dumbledore examined him; he’s been sent to a safe location by Dumbledore but we don’t know where that is.”

“Our plan is to get Harry back after we free Sirius,” added Lily, unable to disguise the worry in her voice.

“How are we going to do that?” cut in Andromeda. “The Ministry is known for refusing to listening to reason and Dumbledore seems to have abandoned Sirius.”

Marlene smirked. “That’s why we are not going to use Dumbledore or the Ministry for this,” Everyone turned towards her with questioning looks. “We’re going to use the Wizengamot.”

A silence fell around everyone as they thought it over.

“That’s a good idea,” said Gideon, impressed. “We need the Wizengamot to hold a trial for Sirius, I presume?” Marlene nodded. From what they learnt, the Ministry had not taken in Sirius as a suspect but as a criminal, which meant it was unlikely he got a proper trial.

“We don’t have Peter so we don’t have any evidence,” mused Fabian. “But we do have witnesses in James and Lily.”

Remus sat up. “Wait a second. You said Dumbledore left after Sirius did, right?” he asked, turning to Marlene, who nodded slowly. “That means he doesn’t know James and Lily did not die.”

Marlene’s brow furrowed. “And if Dumbledore contacted the Aurors with Sirius’ likely location, then Dumbledore might also contact the Prophet; after all, it’s not everyday a wizard survives the Killing Curse,”

“That can prove better for us,” said Andromeda. “If no one knows that we have fool proof witnesses, then no one - mainly the Dark faction in the Wizengamot - can plan against them,”

Left unsaid was that the Dark faction would try everything in their arsenal to keep Sirius locked up. As long as Sirius was incarcerated, no one was the Heir of the House of Black, and Lucius Malfoy would undoubtedly benefit from that. Since he was the leader of the Dark, the other families would surely support him.

“We need someone trustworthy on the Wizengamot to call an emergency meeting and schedule a trial,”

“I wish House seats had enough power to schedule a trial,” lamented Frank. “We can call an emergency but we’ll need someone high up in the DMLE to hold a trial,”

“What about Amelia Bones?” suggested Andromeda. “We were at Hogwarts together and while we didn’t interact, Ted always speaks highly of her.”

James nodded slowly. “She’s known to be fair and just; we can assume she doesn’t know about the fact that Sirius was most likely not given a trial.”

“Who’ll approach her?” asked Lily, looking around at everyone. “It can’t be James or me, Remus doesn’t hold any political power, and I doubt she would listen to Fabian or Gideon after what they did to the Auror department.

“It wasn’t on purpose!” protested Fabian, though his eyes glinted with amusement, which implied that, yes, it was on purpose.

“And she might not hear me out,” said Andromeda tightly. “Given my association with the House of Black,”

“She’s known to be fair and impartial so she will most likely listen to you,” defended Alice. “But we can’t take any chances.”

“That leaves Alice or me,” said Frank quietly. “She knows us from the Auror department, so she will listen to us and, more importantly, believe us,”

“With that logic, she should never have believed that Sirius, who was an Auror under her, would be capable of what he is accused of,” muttered Remus, quiet enough that only James heard him.

“Let’s go with Frank. He’s Lord Longbottom as well so that gives him more authority.”

Nods of assent and approval echoed around the room.

“Now, we need to discuss the finer details of this rough plan,” sighed James. “Nothing should go wrong which means we need to pay attention to every little thing.”

*

YOU-KNOW-WHO MURDERED THE POTTERS
SON HAILED AS THE BOY WHO LIVED
SIRIUS BLACK DEATH EATER. SENT TO AZKABAN FOR ACCOMPLICE IN POTTERS DEATHS


In a surprising move of events last night, You-Know-Who attacked the Potters, murdering the parents and leaving behind the two baby Potters as Harry Potter defeated the Dark Lord. No one knows how he was defeated, but it seems that, for the first time, a wizard has survived the Killing Curse, leaving behind only a lightning bolt scar on the toddler’s forehead. Harry Potter was transported to a safe location till his time at Hogwarts.

It turns out that James Potter’s best friend, Sirius Black, has been hiding his true colours until now. He was the Secret-Keeper for the Potters and betrayed their positions to You-Know-Who. The Potters were murdered in young Harry’s nursery, dying to protect their son and daughter. Our brave Aurors have arrested Sirius Black before he could harm the Boy Who Lived or the Potters’ loyal friends.

Albus Dumbledore was heard saying: “This is a very sorrowful tragedy, indeed. James and Lily were some of my best pupils and their children are no doubt going to be an amazing wizard and witch when they grow up. I have seen to the safety of the Potter children, as their parents would have no doubt wanted me to do, and sent the children to a safe location. In the events of James’ and Lily’s deaths, there is no one to care for them so I have taken the role of their magical guardian myself. I look forward to when they will rejoin the magical world.”

Bartemius Crouch was quoted as saying: “We are not going to accommodate Death Eaters anymore and it’s about time they pay for their crimes. Lord and Lady Potter would surely be glad that we have put a dangerous criminal where he belongs for life.”

Minister Bagnold was unavailable for comment, but her secretary was heard saying that the Minister was upset at the innocent loss of life. It was a mystery how Harry Potter had managed to kill You-Know-Who, but she was glad the two children were safe.

We are very glad that a one-year-old wizard was able to save us! Thanks to the Boy Who Lived, our world is free of terror once more. We wish Harry and Elisabeth Potter best wishes for their time in the Muggle world and look forward to when they rejoin us. We at the Daily Prophet also send our condolences to their friends and express our regrets that the young couple were so ruthlessly killed for no apparent reason.


The morning Prophet confirmed what the Brotherhood had predicted. Dumbledore had probably told the Aurors that James and Lily were dead, having seen their ‘bodies’ himself.

The news leaking made no change to their plans, except instead of James occupying the Potter seat in the Wizengamot, he would attend as a witness only with Lily. Remus, Marlene, and Alice were to wait outside for them and to stage a distraction in case something went wrong - the Wizengamot ruled Sirius to be guilty, as absurd as the thought was - so that Sirius could escape in the confusion.

*

Back to index


Chapter 4: Innocent

Author's Notes: I apologise deeply for being completely inactive for a month. Life was very busy and I couldn’t find time to post at all. First, I had to go to another city for a family wedding (considering the fact I was attending as part of the host family, not a guest, there was a lot to do) and I did not take my laptop with me so I did not have access to my files.



Secondly, once we came back, my exams started and I literally had no time to even think about anything fun (that’s a lie, I daydreamed about holidays a lot :)). My exams ended this Monday so I decided to wait till Saturday to post like my usual schedule.



Thank you for being patient with me. I hope you like this chapter (I apologise for the short length but it seemed like a good place to end!)

Millie15128


Chapter Four
Innocent


Frank found Amelia Bones in her office in the corner of the Auror department. He knocked on the open door and waited for her to give him permission, which she did, though she didn’t look up from the file in her hand. Frank entered the office and sat on one of the chairs in front of the desk. While Amelia was busy, he passed the time by looking around the office. He didn’t come here often; he could count the number of times he came into this office on his two hands and would still have fingers left over.

The office wasn’t overly large, but Amelia had made it suit her needs. A bookshelf was behind her desk, and a set of wooden filing cabinets sat next to them. The floor was carpeted in a tasteful grey, and the desk was oak brown with gold trim. There were a few pictures on the walls consisting of people he thought might be her family and one of her graduation and another of the day she was promoted to Deputy Head Auror.

Less than ten minutes later, Amelia placed the papers on her desk and looked at him. “Auror Longbottom, I thought you were on indefinite leave?” She phrased it like a question.

Frank nodded. “You would be right about that, Deputy Head Auror. However, I have some details regarding the incident in the Daily Prophet that I feel should be brought to light immediately,”

The usually stern woman’s eyes softened. “Ah, yes. James and Lily were good friends of you and Alice, weren’t they? I apologise sincerely for your loss.”

Frank’s lips curved upwards in a wry smile. The Daily Prophet declaring James and Lily dead was undoubtedly the work of Dumbledore, who had been the only one on the scene who had no idea the Potters were not dead. Well, Sirius didn't know as well, but he didn’t think anyone would have asked Sirius about it with the way they dragged him to Azkaban.

“Thank you, Madam Bones, but I was actually referring to the incarceration of Sirius Black.”

He saw a second of doubt in her eyes, as if she was suspicious of the reasons behind Sirius’ arrest before they hardened. “I am willing to listen to you, Auror Longbottom.”

Frank leaned forward. “Are you aware that Sirius Black never had a trial?”

“Pardon?”

“Sirius Black never had a trial,” repeated Frank, understanding her shock. “He was taken from the scene as a suspect without any forewarning ” even when they had no reason to ” and was immediately thrown into Azkaban.”

“How do you know this when I, myself, had no idea?” she asked. Her tone was pleasant enough, but he could read the suspicion in her eyes.

“Marlene McKinnon and Remus Lupin were at the scene when Sirius Black was arrested. When they tried to stop the Aurors, they claimed that the Head of the DMLE had ordered Sirius to be sent to Azkaban, not taken in as a suspect. Add in the fact that Albus Dumbledore seemed to be convinced of Sirius’ guilt, no one bothered to get Sirius a trial.”

“And do you believe he is guilty?” she asked, her expression unreadable. “You are advocating for a trial but what if he is proven guilty?”

“Sirius is innocent,” replied Frank quietly. “You know Auror Black, Madam Bones, and you know he would never have betrayed James Potter.”

Amelia didn’t verbally respond but raised an eyebrow, motioning him to continue.

“I don’t have any physical evidence, but I do have witnesses.”

She didn’t ask him who the witnesses were; she correctly guessed that he wouldn’t answer. “Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention, Auror Longbottom. I assure you, it won’t be long before Auror Black will get his trial.”

Frank nodded his thanks and stood up to leave. The first part of their plan had gone without a hitch. Hopefully, the rest of the plan would be similar.

∼FM∼
Amelia Bones shivered unnoticeably as she looked up at the imposing building that was Azkaban Prison. Taking a moment to steady herself, she entered through the iron gates ” she ignored the Dementors hovering beside it even as she pulled her cloak tighter around herself ” and crossed the big grey archway where the paths split into three. On the left were the maximum-security prisoners, on the right, were the minimum-security prisoners, and in the middle was the administration department.

Amelia flashed her Auror I.D badge to the guard standing beyond the archway. “Who’re you here for?” he asked through a yawn.

“Sirius Black.” said Amelia.

The guard looked at her for the first time and seemed to realise who she was. “Of course, Madam Bones. Let me grab my cloak, and I’ll be right out.” He disappeared inside through the middle path and reappeared a few minutes later wearing a heavy-duty cloak. He led her to the left side of the prison, where most of the Dementors were present.

They walked down one corridor of cells before climbing a staircase at the end of the corridor and coming up onto the first floor of the prison, where the most security was present. Amelia immediately cast her Patronus, a bear, the same as the totem of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Bones. Sirius Black’s cell was the last one in this corridor, with three Dementors hovering beside it.

Amelia used her Patronus to push the Dementors back before facing the guard. “Open the cell.”

The guard looked at her with an uneasy expression. “Are you sure, Madam Bones? He’s dangerous, they say””

Amelia raised an eyebrow at him. “I don’t think I made myself clear. I wasn’t requesting you, I was ordering you.”

There was still doubt in his expression, but he came forward and tapped the cell with his wand. He muttered something under his breath, and the rusty bars creaked open, the sound like a cannon blast in the eerie quietness of the prison. Amelia lit the tip of her wand and stepped inside.

The walls were made of dirty stone; it was so dark in the cell that even Amelia’s wand couldn’t light the cell up properly; it was as if the darkness was inside the stone bricks. A tray with a bowl of grey, sludgy food and a glass of water sat near her feet. There was a toilet and a sink in one corner and a thin metal bed on the opposite wall. On top of the bed, surrounded by a ratty blanket, was the wizard she had come to get.

He was awake and still sane ” it hadn’t even been a day since he had been left here ” if a bit paler. He was watching her approach but made no move to get up.

“Sirius Black,” she said, holding her wand high to cast the light on him. “You’re requested at the Ministry for questioning. It would be in your best interests to cooperate with the Aurors.”

A bitter laugh escaped him. “What? Finally, realised you got the wrong man? Or are you asking to get the various crimes I did under Voldemort?” The guard shrieked at him using the name, but Amelia paid him no mind. Instead, she leaned forward, not enough that the guard would notice but enough that he wouldn’t be able to hear her.

“I’m here to free you, so listen to me, will you?” That seemed to get his attention. His head shot up, and he searched her face as if looking for a lie. After a few seconds, she passed his inspection, and he stood up from the bed, letting the blanket fall to the floor.

The guard yelped and moved forward. “Hold on, Madam Bones!” He brandished his wand, but Amelia raised a hand, immediately stopping him.

“Do you think so low of the Deputy Head Auror that she can’t take on one Death Eater herself?”

He backtracked quickly. “No, no, of course that’s not what I meant””

“Good. Then you let me do my job while you do yours.” She pulled a pair of magic-resistant handcuffs from her robe and moved forward. Black presented his wrists without being prompted, and Amelia closed the handcuffs around his wrists, noting the glow it caused. Black didn’t even try to struggle; he just followed her as she led him out of the cell.

They followed the guard through the corridor and down the stairs. Once they were standing in front of the building, she turned toward the guard. “Bring me everything that was confiscated from him.”

He looked like he wanted to argue again, but he seemed to have given up on that, so he turned around and disappeared into the administration department.

“Were you telling the truth?” Black turned towards her as soon as the guard disappeared through the door.

“Have you ever known me to be dishonest?” Amelia glanced at him. “Auror Longbottom was the one who brought it to my attention that you never received a trial. I, and most of the wizarding world, had assumed that you had gotten a closed trial with no press or visitors or even the House seats ” just the Minister, the Head of MLE and other concerned Ministry officials.”

“Frank knows what happened?” he asked quickly. “And he believes me?”

“Yes, he came to me with the information that Remus Lupin and Marlene McKinnon had witnessed the Aurors arresting you.”

That seemed to bring a significant change in him. Before, he had been a little hopeful, but now the light dimmed from his eyes and was replaced by a raging, burning fire. “Peter, that rat””

Before Amelia could ask what he meant, the guard returned with a black pouch in his arms, causing Sirius to fall silent though his eyes were still glinting with fury.

Amelia took the pouch from the wizard and followed him to the big iron gates. “Grab my arm,” She held out her arm for Black, who gripped it by the elbow. She nodded at the guard, who glanced at Sirius fearfully and nodded back shakily. A second and a trip through a rubber tube later, the two were standing in Amelia’s office ” her being one of the few people who had access to Apparition from inside her office.

“Sit down,” she instructed. Black practically fell into a chair. Amelia removed the cuffs with a tap of her wand and pushed them into her robes. She rounded the desk and sat down in her chair. She said nothing for a few minutes and opted to watch Black instead.

Rubbing his wrists, Black looked at her with deadened eyes. “What now?” he asked flatly as if he couldn’t care less.

“Now we get you a trial,” she replied. “What were you saying about some Peter earlier?”

That furious look was back in his eyes, and he straightened up, his hands wrapped around the armrest, knuckles white. “Peter! That absolute rat! He betrayed James and Lily! They trusted him and he” he...” He was so overcome by rage and sorrow that it seemed to choke him and make him unable to speak.

Not that Amelia particularly cared about that at the moment. “What do you mean Peter was the one who betrayed the Potters? Everyone seems to be of the opinion that you were the Potters’ Secret-Keeper.”

He slouched back in his chair, staring at the floor before him. “We thought it was a perfect idea. Let everyone think that I’m the Secret-Keeper while it actually was Peter. Everyone would assume it’s me since James and I have been close for so long, and no one would look at Peter twice,” he gave a short, bitter laugh. “It would have worked too had it not been Peter himself who betrayed us to Voldemort. I can imagine him being so happy the night we asked him to be Secret-Keeper and rushing to go back to his Lord to give him the happy news.”

Amelia looked at him closely, but he didn’t seem to be lying. There was no deception in his eyes that she could detect.

“And now James and Lily are dead, and it’s all my fault!” Black seemed unaware that she was still there. He was speaking in a monotone voice and going on and on without realising she was listening.

“If Peter was the Secret-Keeper,” she started, “Then why are you the one at fault?” She wasn’t sure if he had heard her, but he glanced up, and she could see his eyes were clear.

“I was the one who suggested that we use Peter as a decoy,” he replied quietly.

Amelia didn’t know how to respond to that; she had never been the emotional or comforting type; that had been more her brother’s forte. Instead of acknowledging it, she ignored it instead.

“What were you doing at Remus Lupin’s cottage where you were arrested?”

“Peter was there.” was his only response.

“I see,” Amelia raised an eyebrow. “And where is he now?”

Black shook his head. “I don’t know. If Marlene and Remus didn’t tell Frank about him, then it means he probably escaped. I don’t know what Frank is going to do for me at my trial. Peter was my only evidence and I doubt the Wizengamot will let me use Veritaserum.”

“Frank said that he doesn’t have evidence in physical form but he has witnesses.” said Amelia.

Sirius glanced at her, a confused look in his eyes. “Witnesses? The only witnesses that I can have are J”James, Lily or Peter and none of them can testify for me.”

Amelia sighed and stood up. “I didn’t ask him about his witnesses; I assume he has a plan or he wouldn’t have approached me so confidently.” She walked around her desk and stood directly in front of him before she continued.

“You’re staying in one of the holding cells till your trial; I’ll try to get it scheduled as early as possible but it might take a week, at the very least.”

Black nodded and stood up. Amelia gripped his arm and Apparated them to the holding cells inside the Ministry. She motioned for Black to pull up his hood and showed the wizard at the door her I.D. badge.

He didn’t even look up before bidding her entry. Amelia led Black towards one of the holding cells at the very end. The cell was rarely used, so it was relatively clean and brighter than the others. She tapped the bars with her wand, which clanged open. Black went inside without being prompted.

Amelia locked the bars again and looked at him. “I’ll have a house-elf send you food till your trial.”

Black, who had been gazing at his surroundings, turned to look at her. “Thank you, Madam Bones.”

Her lips twisted into a wry smile. “Thank your friend, Auror Black. If it wasn’t for him, I would never have realised the injustice that was being done.”

∼FM∼


Sirius’ trial occurred a week later, and the waiting period felt like torture for the members of the Brotherhood, especially the Marauders, Longbottoms, and Marlene. No one in the Ministry or the Wizengamot other than Amelia knew who the trial was for though that didn’t stop various politicians and even Dumbledore from finding out.

Albus Dumbledore banged his gavel. “Order!” The few people who were talking quieted down easily, and the meeting began. “Welcome to the five-thousand, one hundred and ninety-second Wizengamot session!

“This is mostly a judicial session. Firstly, I would like everyone to hold a minute of silence for the loss of one of our very own. Lord Potter will be missed.” The silence was not held for Sirius Black because he betrayed the Wizengamot. After the minute of silence was over, Dumbledore spoke again. “We have one trial on our agenda. Madam Bones, I turn the floor over to you.” Dumbledore was curious about whose trial it was since no name was given, which was weird, but he held his tongue.

Amelia nodded to her Aurors, who disappeared through a side door. When they reappeared, Sirius Black was with them in prison robes and handcuffs around his wrists. “Honourable Witches and Wizards, the defendant is one Sirius Black. The charges for the accused are being a Death Eater and accessory in the death of Lord and Lady Potter.” The Aurors led Sirius towards the chair in the middle of the room and removed the handcuffs from his wrists.

A tall, blonde woman had followed Sirius into the room who now introduced herself as Caroline Baker, the lawyer appointed to Sirius’ case.

Sirius sat down, letting the glowing iron chains slither around his arms and legs till he was tied up securely. Despite being treated like a convicted criminal, he was sitting in the chair like it was a throne; Amelia recognised his aristocratic posture was one most Purebloods used when disguising weakness.

There was an uproar from the wizards and witches seated. Several of them even stood up or tried to send spells at Sirius. Thankfully, a magical barrier had been erected between the benches and the dais three years ago. Dumbledore banged his gavel again, but when that made no difference, he sent up red sparks with his wand that erupted with a loud bang.

“What is this, Amelia?” asked Dumbledore. “I thought Sirius Black had already been convicted of these crimes?”

Amelia shook her head and suppressed her irritation at Dumbledore for not using her proper title. “That’s where you are wrong, Chief Warlock. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Sirius Black never had a trial,” She noticed out of the corner of her eye that Barty Crouch and Millicent Bagnold had frowns on their faces. Dumbledore looked shocked, as if he didn’t know that, which was a small consolation.

He might be manipulative and uncaring of other people’s beliefs, but he hadn’t condemned an innocent man to Azkaban on purpose.

Though, given that he had believed Sirius to be guilty without evidence despite fighting on the same side, he wasn’t that much better.

“Sirius Black was arrested on the scene and the Aurors sent were heard saying that they were to arrest Sirius Black on the orders of Bartemius Crouch who wanted Black to be thrown into Azkaban immediately without a trial.” continued Amelia.

Amelia motioned one of the nearby wizards to take the documents in her hand. “The reports from the Aurors in question have been taken after checking them for signs of compulsion or the Imperius Curse, as per routine, Chief Warlock,” The wizard placed the file on Dumbledore’s desk, who tapped his wand against its surface; immediately, every wizard seated on the benches had the file in front of them.

Many of the old, traditional families were looking outraged at this piece of news though Amelia noticed some of the Dark-aligned families glancing at Lord Malfoy.

“What if he is guilty, Madam Bones?” asked Lord Nott smoothly after he’d been granted permission to speak. He was not one of Malfoy’s supporters but was dangerous in his own right. “That’s quite a big accusation you just made.”

Amelia smiled politely. Only a select few could tell the sarcasm in her voice when she said, “That’s why we are holding this trial, isn’t it?”

∼FM∼


Sirius felt like he was going to throw up. Or cry. He was going to do either of them or both if he didn’t control himself; it was with difficulty that he presented a clear image in front of the Wizengamot.

Amelia turned away from the jury and faced him. “Sirius Orion Black, sentenced to life in Azkaban Prison by Head of the DMLE, Bartemius Crouch on the thirty-first of October 1981 for leaking the hidden location of James Potter and Lily Potter nee Evans, resulting in their murder by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and the attempted murder of their son, Harry James Potter, otherwise known as the Boy Who Lived.”

“How do you plead?”

“Not guilty,” replied Sirius as calmly as he could, though he was sure his voice sounded hoarse due to not being used.

She raised an eyebrow at him. “What evidence can you provide for your claim when most of the evidence is overwhelmingly against you?”

Caroline stood up from her seat next to him, moving one of her parchments to the top of her file. “My client was never acknowledged as the Secret-Keeper. While it is true that they or James and Lily Potter never refuted the claims, he was never confirmed. No one in this room other than Sirius Black was there when the Fidelius was cast so we have no concrete evidence that Sirius Black was the Potter’s Secret-Keeper.”

“Why would the Potters feel the need to have people believe Sirius Black is the Secret-Keeper?”

Caroline smiled. “I would think that would be obvious. As long as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named keeps his attention on Sirius Black, he might never reach the real Secret-Keeper,”

Amelia nodded slowly. “According to you, Sirius Black was never the Potters’ Secret-Keeper?” Caroline nodded. “Then who was it?”

“Peter Pettigrew,” said Sirius quietly though his voice still echoed around the room. Murmurs started around the room like fires though they settled when he spoke again. “James and Lily originally wanted it to be me since I’ve been James’ friend since we were eleven and a”” He closed his eyes for a second and took a deep breath. When he spoke again, his eyes were shining. “”was closest to both of them but I felt those were the exact reasons why I shouldn’t be their Secret-Keeper.”

“We thought there was a spy among us so we were the only ones who knew who the Secret-Keeper would be,” he finished hoarsely.

“Are you saying that you were not the Secret-Keeper for the Potters?” demanded Amelia.

Sirius licked his lips and nodded. “That is correct, Madam Bones. I was supposed to check up on Peter and keep him safe but when he didn’t return from work, I got worried and went straight to James’ and Lily’s home.”

Chatter increased around the room. The jury was whispering and murmuring, and Sirius couldn’t help but note that many of them looked doubtful now when they had been certain of his guilt earlier.

“What did you do when you reached there?”

“I”I held Harry. I couldn’t find their daughter, Elisabeth Potter, so when Dumbledore arrived, I was extremely grateful. He requested to take Harry from me and transport him to a safe location. I resisted at first but then I agreed. My girlfriend, Marlene McKinnon, was there as well and she and I discussed what to do next. I was to go after Peter while Marlene cleaned up the Potters’ bodies.”

“Why did you resist handing Harry Potter over?” Amelia asked, her eyes on him.

“He’s my godson,” said Sirius, a desperate, pleading lilt to his voice. “His parents were g-gone, I couldn’t find Lizzie and he was crying when I got there. His parents trusted me to take care of him,” he said quietly. “I had already let them down too much, I wasn’t going to risk their son’s safety as well.”

The eyes of a few of the witches and wizards in the jury softened at this.

“How did you know where to find Peter Pettigrew?”

Sirius blew out a breath and thought about what to answer. He didn’t have any clues or evidence that had led him to Remus’ cottage. He’d instinctively known Peter would be there after he didn’t find Peter in his flat. “I went to Peter’s residence first, but he was nowhere to be found. I wasn’t sure if he would have gone into hiding; if James and Lily were dead, he might have concocted a plan for me to take the fall so that he would be free.

“If that were the case, then there were two people who he would have to convince of my guilt. He rightly guessed that Remus Lupin would be easier to convince and if he was on Peter’s case, then he might have a chance to convince Marlene too,”

Amelia’s eyebrows were dangerously close to disappearing into her hairline, and when she spoke, there was a sceptical note in her voice. “You deduced all that by yourself?”

Sirius shrugged. “I watched Peter grow up; I’ve known him since we were eleven and I know the way he thinks.” He shook his head and let out a small bitter laugh. “Though, I guess I didn’t know him well enough,”

Bartemius Crouch then stood up. “Excuse me if I express a bit of doubt in your story. How very convenient for you, Mr Black, that you knew where Peter Pettigrew would be. Yet, when my Aurors arrived there, he was nowhere to be found. You aren’t suggesting that he Apparated, did you? Not when my Aurors confirmed the existence of Anti-Apparition wards on Mr Lupin’s cottage?”

“He’s an Animagus,”

“He’s a what?

Sirius exhaled heavily. He felt like he was betraying everything the Marauders stood for, but he owed James and Lily to take care of their children, and he wanted Peter to pay for his betrayal.

“How do you know that?”

Sirius let out a derisive chuckle. “He became one in fifth year; he was my friend, my dorm mate. How could I not know?” Sirius didn’t reveal anything else. He might have given Peter away, but he would take Remus’, James', and his own secret to the grave.

“Where is Peter Pettigrew now?”

Sirius shook his head. “I don’t know; probably hiding like the coward he is.”

Crouch’s lip curled. “If you cannot provide the whereabouts of Peter Pettigrew, then I cannot in good conscience let a convicted murderer like you go free.”

“Well, you’re not the one leading this trial, Mr Crouch,” said Amelia sharply. “Sirius Black’s testimony has enough credibility to be taken seriously. Mr Black is to be given a fair trial, one that he was denied earlier. And Veritaserum and Pensieve memories are allowed to be used in a criminal trial.”

Malfoy lit the tip of his wand and held it high in the air. Sirius snorted mentally. The Black Heirship was slipping out of his hands, and of course, Lucius couldn’t let that happen. Dumbledore waved a hand to let him continue, prompting him to stand up. “Permission must be given to administer the truth potion, Madam Bones, and memories can be altered or tampered with.”

“My client gives his permission to use Veritaserum,” said Caroline, her eyes sharp. “I also have witnesses who were present at the scene when the Fidelius Charm was cast.”

Sirius turned towards her, his brain whirring. The only ones present then had been him, Remus, James, and Lily. Had Remus believed him? Amelia had said that Frank had talked to Remus and Marlene, which meant they both probably believed him.

But it was not Remus who entered from the door behind the witness stand. It was James and Lily.

∼FM∼


James had to resist covering his ears when they entered the witness stand. When something surprising happened in the Wizengamot, most of the witches and wizards usually kept their surprise hidden or contained to low whispers, but they were almost shouting now. Naked shock was on their faces. James suppressed a smirk; none of them had expected someone thought to be dead to be the one who took to the witness stand.

He snuck a glance at Sirius. He was staring at them, his face white and eyes almost round. James grinned and winked at him, but Sirius didn’t respond at all; he was still in shock.

Amelia recovered the quickest. “This is quite a surprise, Lord and Lady Potter. It was thought that you both died on the night of Halloween,”

Lily smiled. “People seemed to have been misinformed.” She looked around at everyone. “Voldemort underestimated us and decided not to waste the Killing Curse.”

“He used the Blasting Curse on me and failed to realise that just because my head was bleeding didn’t mean I was dead yet,” continued James. He glanced at Lily, letting her finish the rest.

Lily took a deep breath and let her gaze travel around the room. They had debated about revealing what had happened with her and Harry, but then the Daily Prophet had forced their hand. If they didn’t tell the truth, they might be branded as liars, and the wizarding world was already too invested in Harry’s life; she didn’t want them to be even more invasive.

“I had an emergency Portkey with me which I used to transport myself and my children to safety after I heard James fall,” she said. “Unfortunately, Harry pulled away at the last minute accidentally and was left behind. I left my daughter in capable hands and immediately returned just as Voldemort cast the Killing Curse at my son.”

“Which then rebounded?” asked Amelia.

“I rush over to intercept the curse but it went past me and hit Harry instead,” she confirmed. “The resulting explosion knocked me out cold; since I fell down, my head started bleeding as well and Marlene McKinnon who had been in charge of cleaning up our bodies had to provide emergency medical aid to keep us, especially James, from dying.”

Dumbledore spoke up. “It is a delight to see two of my best students to be alive and well, Lord and Lady Potter. However, we were in the middle a trial and you have been called to the witness stand to present your evidence,”

James nodded, stepping forward. “Of course, Chief Warlock. Firstly, I would like to point out that Sirius has been my best friend, my brother, since we were eleven. We have been through everything together, have seen each other’s highs and lows and we both would rather die than betray each other.”

“We’ll take that into account, Lord Potter,” said Amelia.

“I was the one who cast the Fidelius Charm over our home,” continued Lily. “Both of us were obviously there when we discussed switching the Secret-Keepers and consented to trusting our safety in Peter Pettigrew’s hands.”

“While the testimony of witnesses is usually considered foolproof,” started Bartemius Crouch, and James had a bad feeling about it. “I don’t think I have to mention how close the Potters are to Sirius Black, something they emphasised themselves. What are the chances that they are covering for their friend?”

“That’s absolute bullshit!” shouted James, his nostrils flaring in anger. Lily placed a hand on his arm to calm him down though her own face was twisted with fury. “Why would I want to defend someone who might have been the cause of my wife’s and children’s demise?”

“I don’t know about you, Mr Crouch,” said Lily, her eyes narrowed. “But we value our family’s safety more than whatever we would get out of defending a traitor!”

Dumbledore banged his gavel as whispers grew in the courtroom. “Both parties should control themselves. Mr Crouch, you do not have the authority to question the authenticity of the testimony of a witness. Lord and Lady Potter, you’ve given your testimony so you should leave the room,”

Crouch begrudgingly sat down again. Lily left the room through the door they came from, but James opened the fence separating the witness stand from the room and made his way toward the Potter Seat. When he sat down, the Potter Coat of Arms glowed golden before dimming. The same golden glow surrounded him for a second and was absorbed into his skin.

Frank, who was sitting in the Longbottom seat right next to him, nodded at him and smiled. James grinned back but then turned towards the room.

“The room recognises James Potter, Lord of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter,” called Dumbledore. James nodded, his eyes on Sirius, who had twisted around to look at him. He was finally believing them as wonder and hope had entered his eyes which were shining brightly.

When the room settled and quiet fell around everyone, Caroline spoke up. “My client has given his permission to administer Veritaserum, Madam Bones. Everyone here seems to be disbelieving of the testimony and evidence provided by the witness, instead choosing to believe flimsy circumstantial evidence,” Crouch flushed an ugly sort of red at this. “The truth potion should remove any doubts,”

“Of course, Miss Baker,” Amelia motioned to the wizard in the corner who left the courtroom and returned five minutes later, a clear potions vial in his hand and another vial containing a silvery potion.

Amelia took the bottle from him and let three drops fall on Sirius’ tongue. Immediately, the effect could be seen. Sirius slumped in his chair, his eyes glazed over though James knew he would still be mentally present.

“What is your name?” asked Amelia.

“Sirius Orion Black.”

“Are you a Death Eater?”

“No.”

“Were you the Potters’ Secret-Keeper?”

“No, it was Peter Pettigrew,” The wizards and witches started talking amongst themselves again, and James saw Crouch pale slightly. He seemed to be realising how badly he had judged things.

“How do you know the Secret-Keeper was Peter Pettigrew?”

“I was there when the Fidelius Charm was cast and provided power to the spell.”

“How did you know where to find Peter Pettigrew?”

“I didn’t know for sure; it was a gut feeling. An instinctive decision to go to Remus’ cottage.”

Amelia nodded. “How did Peter Pettigrew escape the Aurors who didn’t see him anywhere when they searched the cottage belonging to Remus Lupin?”

“Peter is a rat Animagus so he would escaped when the rest of us were distracted.”

Amelia nodded again and faced the rest of the room. “Sirius Black has confessed to be free of guilt while under the influence of the truth potion. It is now time to take a vote.”

“All those in favour of conviction?” called Dumbledore. No one raised their hands. Even those that James knew would benefit from Sirius’ incarceration, like Lucius Malfoy, did not raise their hands.

“All those in favour of clearing the accused of all charges?” This time, almost everyone raised their hands. Lucius Malfoy, Parkinson, Crabbe, Goyle, and Bulstrode were the only people who abstained from voting.

“Very well, the accused has been cleared of all charges.” said Dumbledore, a hint of a smile playing around his lips. “Court dismissed.”

The witches and wizards started moving, leaving their benches and moving towards the now open door; James chose to remain behind and wait for Sirius, accompanied by Frank.

The Aurors, waiting in the corner, now removed the chains from around Sirius, who stumbled to his feet. James had half a second of warning before Sirius was squeezing him so tightly that he felt as if he couldn’t breathe. Regardless, James hugged back just as tightly.

“How”what?” asked Sirius when they pulled apart, unable to complete his sentence.

James clapped his back. “We’ll explain everything after we get back Harry. Come on, Remus, Lily, Marlene, and Alice are waiting for us,” They waved goodbye to Caroline, who was a member of the Brotherhood, and left the courtroom.

∼FM∼


Lily narrowed her eyes when she saw Dumbledore leaving the courtroom. She had a bone to pick with him. She strode towards him, ignoring Alice and Marlene calling her back. Dumbledore seemed to be expecting her as he turned towards her before she had even reached him.

From the corner of her eye, she noticed Sirius, Frank, and James exiting the courtroom. “I would like guardianship of my children back, Dumbledore,” she said tightly. James came up behind her, making her stand taller, grateful for the support he offered.

Dumbledore sighed. “It’s not as easy as that, Lily””

“That’s Lady Potter to you, Headmaster,” she interrupted, her eyes flashing. “I don’t see what’s so difficult? Are you going to deny us what’s rightfully ours?”

Dumbledore glanced around the corridor, and only then did Lily notice that people were staring at them. “Let’s take this somewhere private, Lady Potter,”

Exhaling through her nose, Lily nodded sharply and followed Dumbledore to an empty office nearby. They were accompanied by the Longbottoms, Sirius, Remus, and Marlene, who tagged along behind them.

“I said this to Sirius before and I am saying it to you now,” said Dumbledore once the appropriate locking and privacy spells had been cast on the door. “I have reason to believe that Voldemort did not die that night. He will come back one day and when he does, he will go after Harry. Harry is safe where he is and would be till it’s time for Hogwarts.”

James raised an eyebrow. “What kind of parents do you think we are, Headmaster? Did you really think that we were going to let Harry be raised somewhere other than with us? I fought hard to have my family with me,” he said quietly. “Now that Mum and Dad are recovering, and Voldemort is gone for the time being, no one, not even you, is going to stop me from having my complete family with me.”

“What is so special about this safe location anyways?” demanded Lily. “I dare say, Harry would be safer at Potter Manor behind all the centuries old wards than at some random safe house.”

“Lily, when you tried to sacrifice yourself for Harry,” said Dumbledore. “A sort of shield was formed which reflected the Killing Curse back to Voldemort. Since you share the same blood with Harry, this protection runs through his veins and will keep safe from Voldemort or his Death Eaters who can not touch him as long as your blood runs through him.”

Lily looked at him with a confused expression on her face. “Are you implying you cast blood wards on this location? But, for that to work, you would need someone with the same blood to be living in the. . .oh.

Dumbledore did not know where Lily had sent her parents for safety, and she had only one other blood relative.

Petunia.

James glanced between Dumbledore and Lily before coming to the same conclusion. “No! Dumbledore, Lily’s sister hates magic! Why the hell would you send Harry there especially with that whale of a husband she married; they hate so-called freaky things.”

“Yet, she took him in, Lord Potter,” replied Dumbledore quietly. “She took Harry Potter into her home, and in doing so, she sealed the blood magic I had cast.”

“Did you even confirm that she wanted Harry?” asked Lily, trembling with rage.

Dumbledore glanced at her. “I’m sorry, Lady Potter; I don’t quite understand what you mean.”

“DID YOU EVEN STOP TO MAKE SURE WHETHER SHE WANTED HARRY?” shouted Lily, losing her patience. “The Petunia I know wouldn’t have taken anything abnormal into her home unless she had no choice. Did you deliver the news of my ‘death’ to her in person or did you just drop Harry off at the doorstep with a letter or something and hope for the best?”

Judging by Dumbledore’s expression, that is exactly what he had done. James felt rage building up in him. Before he could erupt, Remus spoke up.

“Dumbledore, if these blood wards are really that important, then I don’t see why you can’t just cast them over Potter Manor.” he said calmly. “I’m sure the protection would be even stronger as Lily was the one who gave the protection in the first place.”

“For the protection to work properly, Harry would have to remain inside the Manor at all times, there are to be no exceptions to this,” said Dumbledore firmly, his eyes unyielding.

James took a moment to gape at the boldness of the Headmaster. “I’m sorry, what?“ He shook his head, staring at Dumbledore. “I don’t understand you, Headmaster. You are no one to suggest how we raise our son!”

“You mean nothing to Harry,” said Lily harshly. “Cast your blood protection on the Manor if you need to but you are no one to suggest what we do with Harry and how he is raised. You will only be Harry’s headmaster in the future, provided that we even send our children to Hogwarts.”

Dumbledore raised his eyebrows. “You would consider sending Harry to another school?”

“Hogwarts has really lost its standard, Headmaster,” said James quietly. “Blood purity runs rampant in that school and the teachers don’t do anything,” He’d been one of those prejudiced students who had nothing to worry about. “There’s the prejudice against Houses as well, especially Slytherin; I don’t want to subject my children to that bigotry if they get Sorted into a House the public doesn’t like.”

“There’s the quality of teaching as well,” added Lily. “Most teachers at Hogwarts are of subpar quality. If Voldemort will come back someday, I want my children to have more education and training than that.”

“We’ll be seeing you again, Headmaster,” said James, turning to leave. “Hopefully, not any time soon.”

∼FM∼


Lily had always hated the place where Petunia lived. In her opinion, it was a modern suburb but completely devoid of life. All the houses had the same four bedrooms, the same garage, and the same neatly trimmed garden; it gave her the creeps. She much preferred the different cottages of Godric’s Hollow or the town in Cornwall near Potter Manor.

“Ready?” asked James. He clutched a file in his hands that Lily knew contained the guardianship papers. Dumbledore had officially signed the guardianship rights of Harry to Petunia, so they needed more than just going there and getting their children back.

“I think so,” replied Lily. She wasn’t; her mind was constantly jumping between different scenarios and the situation they would find Harry in ” Petunia might be a bit more pleasant to Harry, but she knew Vernon would never be.

They walked over to number four, Privet Drive. There was no car in the drive like Lily had seen before, so she reasoned that Vernon was probably not home. Good. Petunia would be much more pleasant. She rang the golden doorbell before James could because that was just a recipe for disaster. She had learnt her lesson, never bring James and Sirius near a Muggle doorbell.

“Hello, I am Petunia Durs”” Petunia’s face turned the colour of sour milk when she saw them. Lily supposed it must be a shock; Dumbledore had told her that she had died, and to see her on Petunia’s doorstep a week later ought to be scary. “Lily, you, you died! That man said so! But then” you””

Lily smiled softly. “I didn’t die, Tuney. Dumbledore didn’t bother checking our bodies properly. We didn’t die but everyone thought we did.”

“We’re here to get Harry back,” added James.

“Right,” said Petunia shakily. “He’s upstairs.” Petunia led them through an expensive”looking foyer and up the wooden staircase. The door to the first room on the right was open, and through it, Lily could see Harry playing with Petunia’s son Dudley.

“I didn’t expect you to place him with your own son, Petunia,” said James quietly.

Petunia didn’t blush, but her cheeks took on an unhealthy pink tinge. “Vernon wanted to put him in the cupboard under the stairs,”

Lily was sure her face had turned red; she could definitely feel the heat. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes to calm herself, not wanting to blow up at Petunia. James looked as if smoke would come pouring out of his years, so she squeezed his hand, willing him to calm down. His muscles relaxed slightly, but he was still glaring at Petunia.

Petunia winced slightly. “This was just before he left for work so I brought him out after Vernon left,”

“Thank you, Petunia,” said Lily. “I think we better go now; if I am here when your husband comes home, I don’t think he will live long.” Her voice was calm, too calm. A clear indication that her infamous temper was about to make an appearance.

Lily opened the door wide and stepped inside, followed by James and Petunia. Harry looked up from where he was making a lopsided tower, and his face broke out in a toothy grin. “Mama!” Harry fell over twice, but it didn’t dampen his enthusiasm as Lily knelt on the ground. Little Harry barrelled into her and gave her a sloppy kiss on the cheek. James went over and kneeled next to them, joining the family hug.

Sometime later, Lily stood up, placing Harry on her hip. “Sign these papers, Tuney,” she said when James extended the file. “We’ll be out of your hair as soon as you sign.”

Petunia left the room and returned with a blue pen two minutes later. She opened the file and took the parchments out, signing in all the required places. When she was done, she handed the file back to James and looked at them with awkward relief.

“We’ll be leaving now, Petunia,” said Lily. “You can tell Vernon the truth.” With that, there were twin pops of Apparition, and the Potters disappeared from number four, Privet Drive.

∼FM∼


Back to index


Chapter 5: Trials and Tribulations

Author's Notes: This chapter has not been betaed so I apologise for any mistakes.


Chapter Five
Trials and Tribulations


Everything was slowly going back to normal. James’ parents were recovering and could now even get out of bed and come downstairs for a bit if the others cast the Bubblehead Charm. James and Lily were no longer jumping and pulling out their wands at every little thing. A sense of peace and tranquillity had descended over them.

Neither of them went to work immediately. The Auror office didn’t have a problem extending James’ leave, while Lily confided in him that she had no idea what to do. Before dedicating herself to the war effort, she had dreamed of pursuing Masteries in Charms and Potions and potentially starting her own business. But she had decided not to rush things, especially since the thought of leaving Harry and Lizzie alone gave her anxiety, and she much preferred staying at home with them until she could be sure they would be alright without her.

Christmas of 1981 contrasted widely with that of the previous year. This time, James and Lily invited all their extended friends and family, including the Longbottoms, various Order and GB members and Lily’s parents. Lily had sent an invitation to Petunia as well which had not been answered. The party brought the whole Order back again as it had disbanded after the war.

It was the first time everyone truly felt the war was over and they could actually celebrate. Harry and Lizzie were given toddler-friendly wands for their birthday that could produce colourful light when waved while James gave Lily a set of goblin-made unbreakable crystal vials. They were extremely rare and even more expensive but it was the best gift Lily had ever received.

However, the best gift was Lily’s who announced, quite happily, that she was two months pregnant. The news was a surprise for everyone, though no one more than James and resulted in him dipping Lily in his arms and kissing her for several long minutes while everyone else grew more and more uncomfortable.

Their bubble of peace and contentment was abruptly burst three months after Halloween by one Albus Dumbledore.

James made sure Lily had no idea who was here - she was liable to explode these days if the name of Dumbledore was so much as even spoken of - and went to the huge, iron gates himself. Dumbledore was standing outside, looking absurdly out of place among the stately pillars of the Manor and sprawling hills nearby due to his outlandish robes and long, silver beard.

“Dumbledore, what can I do for you?” greeted James without bothering to open the door. He may be more civil to Dumbledore than Lily would be, but that didn’t mean he had forgotten about Dumbledore placing Harry with the Dursleys.

“James,” Dumbledore smiled, a familiar twinkle - which had died down during the war - in his eyes once again. “May I come inside? I’m sure you agree that we have a lot to talk about.”

James didn’t change his stance. “I disagree; I don’t see what we could possibly have to talk about. Whatever you have to say, you can say it right here.”

The brightness in the older man’s eyes dimmed a little. “I would like to talk about the future of young Harry Potter.”

James raised an eyebrow. “I don’t see how that’s any of your business. Harry is mine and Lily’s son so I believe we two are the only ones who should have a say in his future, not counting the various family members of which you are not a part of.”

Dumbledore sighed. “I’m not sure why you are believing me to be the villain here when I just tried to do what was best for your son. If this is about Sirius, then I admit I should have trusted in him and investigated further but, as much as we might wish, it is impossible to change the past.”

Catching the look on James’ face, he let out an amused chuckle. “At least without the use of a time turner but if those were easily available, the world would be chaos, wouldn’t it?”

“Fine, I’ll let go of what you did to Sirius,” conceded James. He wouldn’t forgive Dumbledore for believing the worst of Sirius when he had never given any reason for Dumbledore to think so, but he could set it aside. “What possessed you to take the custody of our children in your own hands?”

For the first time in their conversation, James’ tone turned acid. His teeth clenched together, and his hands curled into fists to stop himself from pulling his wand and setting everything on fire.

Dumbledore raised a calm hand and set it gently on the gate’s iron bars. “I was only trying to do what I thought best for the children, James,” he said quietly. “I believed Sirius to be guilty and I think we would both agree that Remus, although wonderful with children, would not be able to care for a child.”

James didn’t say anything. It was true that while Remus would be a great father figure, he didn’t have a steady job, nor was there anyone else that could take care of the children during the full moon.

“What about Marlene?” he asked instead. “The Longbottoms? Heck, even the Weasleys would have been acceptable. We barely know them - only through Gideon and Fabian - but they’re definitely on our side and even know how to take care of children!”

“I did not trust Marlene to be in a position to take care of children due to her behaviour after the death of her parents,” replied Dumbledore quietly. “She was in severe grief and would have been unable to take care of your children properly; I am sure you will agree with that,”

James knew Marlene would have been a wonderful mother to their children if something happened to them, but there was no denying that by the end of the war, she had turned to the GB missions so much that she was often coming home injured and exhausted; nothing Sirius or anyone else said made a difference on her. Maybe she wouldn’t have been able to handle the responsibility. He couldn’t fault Dumbledore for considering the possibility.

“The Longbottoms were already in danger and a target for Voldemort as well while the Weasleys have six sons and a newly born daughter and I feared two more children would have been an extreme burden on not only them but their financial capabilities.”

“What about Andromeda?” asked James. “Minnie? Both of them were also potential guardians for our children in our will but why were they never even considered by you?”

Dumbledore looked more like his age than he had in the whole conversation. “I admit the thought did cross my mind but I sent Harry to Petunia Dursley because I feared living in the Wizarding World where everyone was singing his praises and hailing him as the Boy Who Lived might be too much for the young boy. No child should have to go through such fame at that young of an age.” “In other words, you didn’t want Harry to have a big head!” said James angrily. He felt like punching the gates in front of him or blasting Dumbledore apart with raw magic, but he resisted the urge, hanging on to his resolve by only a thin thread.

“Admirable thought, Dumbledore,” ground out James through clenched teeth. “But it was not your decision to make! You mean nothing, and I repeat, nothing to Harry or Lizzie. It’s high time you keep that in mind!”

“James, Harry’s safety should be your first priority-” tried Dumbledore again.

“Harry’s and Lizzie’s safety is my first priority!” James hissed. “Don’t think for a second you can take our children away from us! If you try a single thing, I will come down on you and I will come down hard with everything I have.” His voice was not that of a fun-loving, kind man but a father desperate to protect his children and willing to do anything for them.

”Voldemort will come after Harry, James and he needs to be trained-”

“You think Harry will be trained in a Muggle household!?” demanded James incredulously. “What will he do if Voldemort comes after him, huh? Punch him?” He laughed derisively. “Harry is my son and I will do anything and everything to protect him but I’m not letting anyone take him away from me, not even the self-proclaimed most powerful wizard in the world!”

“I just need you to trust me, James.” Implored Dumbledore quietly. “Just like you always have.”

“Trust you?” asked James. “Trust you? How the hell am I supposed to trust you when you haven’t given me a reason to?”

James could see it in Dumbledore’s eyes when he realised James could not be convinced. “Good day, Dumbledore. The next time you see my children, it will be if they come to Hogwarts.”

He turned on his heel and strode back towards the Manor, gravel crunching loudly under his angry steps. When he entered the living room, he found Lily sitting on the floor, playing with Harry while Lizzie dozed in a bassinet nearby.

“Who was it?” asked Lily, looking up. Harry was sitting in her lap, trying increasingly to chew her hair while Lily kept pulling it out of her grasp. James went over to her and conjured a band wandlessly. He scooped her hair up in a ponytail and tied the band around it.

The simple action diffused his anger more thoroughly than any Calming Potion could.

“Thanks, love,” said Lily, pecking him on the cheek.

James sat down beside her, causing Harry to squeal delightedly and sidle onto his lap. “Where are Mum and Dad?” He asked, avoiding her question.

Lily narrowed her eyes. “Upstairs, sleeping. They were feeling better than usual today and Freema and Loopy had to force them upstairs for their medicine.”

James’ heart warmed at hearing his parents were getting better. Soon enough, they would be completely alright; Lily was already working on a potion that would hopefully eliminate the greenish tinge to their skin, but as of now, she was unsuccessful.

“And Sirius?” Sirius had started living with them ever since Halloween. After the war, they discovered that his apartment had blown up due to whatever Bellatrix Lestrange had cast on it. Thankfully, there was nothing important in the flat - most of their old memories and mementoes were stored at Potter Manor or Remus’ cottage - except clothes and appliances, which could easily be replaced.

“He took Marlene out on a date,” she replied, smiling hopefully. James felt hope swelling his chest too. Both Sirius and Marlene had been affected by the war, with Marlene going into a deep depression after her parents’ deaths and only emerging from it when the war was finished, and the consequences laid bare in front of her. While Sirius had been almost as much affected by the events of Halloween as James and Lily themselves had been.

It had severely affected their relationship as well, and this was the first time the two were out anywhere alone together, with their entire focus just on each other.

“I hope it helps,” murmured James. He wrapped an arm around her shoulder and pulled her close to his chest. Harry, giggling adorably, slid off his lap and waddled over to Lizzie’s bassinet. It was low enough that he could poke his head over it, and they watched in silence as he made silly faces at his sister, unaware that she was asleep.

“You didn’t answer me, James,” said Lily, drawing his attention. Her eyes were still narrowed, and her voice was firm.

James sighed. “It was Dumbledore. He wanted to discuss Harry’s safety.”

Lily’s eyes were mere slits now. “In other words, he wanted to convince us to send her off to Petunia anyways.”

James shrugged. “I’m not sure what exactly he had in mind. I shut him down before he could start.”

Lily frowned, her brow scrunching adorably, making James want to kiss that spot. “I don’t understand what he wants now. He can’t possibly be expecting us to send Harry and Lizzie to Petunia; he knows us better than that.”

“I don’t think it would even be possible for Harry and Lizzie to be safe there even if we do send them,” said James thoughtfully. “The blood protection depended on Harry and Lizzie considering the house their home and it usually requires a few weeks of regeneration before it would fail. Sirius’ trial was two weeks ago so the blood protection has probably failed by now.”

“I was thinking the same thing,” said Lily. “And the fact that Dumbledore came here today gives the impression that he probably hasn’t realised this yet.”

James sighed. “Unlikely given he’s Dumbledore and whatnot but if he has, then I don’t know what purpose he came here for. It’s not like I really let him speak.”

Lily set her head on his shoulder and scooted closer. “Don’t worry, I would have probably done the same.”

“No, you probably would have hexed him,” James grinned and dropped a kiss on her head, pleased when she let out a snort.

~FM~


James returned from his first Wizengamot meeting after Halloween, with Sirius in tow. Lily had honestly expected that to happen because of how less time the two had spent together recently and had already invited Marlene over. Harry and Lizzie were both exhausted after a hyper day of annoying their mother and Monty and Fee were still recovering so it was the perfect opportunity for the four friends to catch up.

Marlene had brought Chinese takeout with her so Lily decided to let the house elves have an early night, dismissing their concerns about her potentially needing them.

“How was the meeting?” asked Marlene once everyone had settled around the dining table. James and Lily were sitting on one side and Marlene and Sirius on the other with the rest of the long table being devoid of people. Lily’s observant eyes couldn’t help but notice that Marlene was eating uncomfortably with her left hand and ‘accidentally’ dropping her fork under the table and ducking down to get it revealed to her that she and Sirius were holding hands.

Lily grinned, glad to see them back to their old selves and emerged back from under the table, her fork in hand.

“Boring,” said Sirius around a mouthful of food. “Nothing new, just everyone arguing but not actually getting anything done.”

“There was an announcement though,” said James, twirling noodles around his fork. “The wizards suspected of being Death Eaters are going to have their trials in two weeks.”

Marlene and Lily both sat up. “That definitely doesn’t count in the category of boring,” said Marlene, glaring at Sirius.

Sirius shrugged back at her. “You think it’s actually going to cause a difference? The suspected Death Eaters include Nott, Malfoy, Yaxley and Parkinson. They can easily pay off half the members of the Wizengamot to vote in their favour. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of members who would refuse what they can offer.”

“Isn’t Lestrange and Black part of that list?” asked Lily. She found it strange how some of the most suspected members were not having a trial.

Sirius’ eyes darkened at the mention of his cousin. “From what I heard, they were included but the Ministry cannot find them anywhere. “ Marlene snorted. “It’s just like them to hide like the cowards they are.” Her eyes, however, were soft as she looked at Sirius and Lily noticed the way she pulled her hand from the table. Sirius had a really complicated relationship with his family so there was no doubt in anyone’s mind about where his mental state was.

Lily felt the conversation was getting a bit too morose and said, “Today is not the day to talk about depressing topics! Let’s talk about something else, surely we have better things to talk about than useless blood purists?”

Sirius snorted, his eyes lighting which had been Lily’s goal. “What Lily Potter wants, Lily Potter gets.”

~FM~


Sirius blinked at the figure in his doorway and wondered if he was dreaming. He dismissed that thought immediately, even his dreams were not this crazy.

“Are you going to let me in, dear cousin, or am I supposed to stand here in the cold?” asked Narcissa, raising an aristocratic eyebrow. The look made Sirius feel like a small child again.

He opened the door wider and let the woman into his home. Sirius had moved out of the Potters a few weeks ago and he and Marlene had decided to buy a flat together. They had considered renovating the Black Manor and living there considering Sirius had become Lord Black in the beginning of January “ the news of Lord Arcturus Black, Sirius’ grandfather’s death had hit the news a few days after Christmas “ but ultimately decided against living in such a large Manor with just the two of them.

“You have a.. pleasant home.” Said Narcissa, looking around the living room. The flat Sirius and Marlene had chosen was small but they had made it cosy. It was a far cry from the polished marble floors and the elegant couches of Malfoy Manor but Sirius appreciated the fact that his cousin was at least trying to be polite.

Sirius gestured for Narcissa to take a seat and sat down in the leather armchair across from her. He waved his wand, and a few seconds later, two mugs and a teapot on a tray came floating in from the kitchen. He poured tea for both of them and handed one of the mugs to Narcissa. It had a funny Muggle design on it and the words “World’s Best Dog” written on it but Narcissa did not comment or made a mocking insult like she usually would have.

Instead, she accepted the mug from him, clutching it between her palms. She leaned closer and blew on the surface, causing ripples but did not take a sip.

“What do you want, Narcissa?” asked Sirius, staring intensely at her. “You made it perfectly clear two months ago that you would no longer interact with any of us or be a part of the Brotherhood now that the war is over.” The contract every member signed did allow her to leave but she was not allowed to speak of her involvement or give away any information regarding the Brotherhood or its members.

“I am aware of that,” she said stiffly as if she knew she was going against her own words. “But I admit, I require some help and you are the only one who can give it to me.”

Sirius’ brow furrowed in confusion. “What is it that you want?” What could she possibly want that only he could give her?

Narcissa let out a breath. “I am not asking you, Sirius, I am asking the Lord of my House.”

Sirius blinked in shock. Suddenly the pieces all seemed to click together. “You want me to protect Lucius.”

“I came here with that intention, yes.” Her shoulders, while straight and back, had a sort of tension to them.

Sirius tilted his head. “What makes you think I will agree to this? You are aware that I am part of an organisation that wants to put men like Lucius behind bars?” His tone was slightly mocking and was rewarded with Narcissa flinching before she caught herself.

“But you are a Black,” she said quietly. “Black never turn on one another.“ Sirius swallowed slightly. That was an unspoken rule in the Black family; no matter what happens, no matter which side you are on, you don’t betray another Black.

Bellatrix was the only one who had betrayed that rule and had been cast out of the Black family by his grandfather for her betrayal.

“I am Black, but Lucius is not.” He replied, knowing what she would say yet wanting to hear it anyways.

“But I am,” she leaned forward and for the first time, her mask fell, revealing a desperate, pleading expression. “Please, Sirius, if you ever once loved me “ ever once considered me your cousin, then please do this for me.”

“I don’t want the- Draco to grow without a father.” Sirius noticed her slip with interest and the way her hand had twitched towards her stomach. He filed that away for future thought.

“I’m sure that is something you can understand.” She finished quietly.

Sirius remembered what he had felt when he realised Harry and Lizzie would grow up without their parents and they were not even his own children. “I cannot vote in favour of him but I can abstain from voting altogether. I’ll try to get James and Frank to do it too but I cannot promise you anything more.”

Narcissa nodded, a slightly relieved expression on her face before she gathered herself. “Thank you, Sirius, that is more than enough.”

Just as she was about to stand up, evidently considering the conversation over, Sirius spoke up. “I’d like something in return though.” Narcissa froze and settled back down. She didn’t seem surprised though. “What would you like?” Her nose wrinkled as if being so direct and blunt disgusted her but Sirius didn’t have the patience for verbal mind games so he, again, appreciated the effort she was making.

“If, or more clearly, when Voldemort comes back “ something I am sure you already know “ I want a written statement from Lucius that he would support us, to the best of his abilities, while staying in Voldemort’s circle.” Other than flinching at Voldemort’s name, she didn’t show any reaction at first.

Then finally, she let out a breath and said, “I’ll have to discuss it with him.”

Sirius nodded in reply, accepting the answer. “I hope you know that I won’t do your favour without this condition.” Narcissa’s face pinched together as if she was sucking on a lemon but then she smoothed out her expression and nodded.

Now that their business was concluded, Narcissa stood up and Sirius followed suit, leading her towards the door.

“For what it’s worth,” he said softly as Narcissa grabbed the doorknob. “I’m sorry.” For a second he thought she hadn’t heard him but as she stepped outside he heard her say, “You have nothing to be sorry for.”

Then she was gone.

Sirius moved to close the door but just then, Marlene stepped inside; she had gone to Diagon Alley for a quick errand and was just returning. She looked between him and the empty hallway outside and said, “Do I want to know?”

Sirius sighed. “Don’t hate me for this.”

The loud tones of an angry witch shouting at her boyfriend could be heard a few minutes later.

~FM~


As promised, once he received Lucius’ statement, Sirius did not vote in favour of Lucius at his trial but did not vote against him either; he had managed to convince James, Frank and the Prewetts as well though not without a lot of reluctance on their part.

He’d also managed to get Marlene to not vote against Lucius, though his ears were still ringing from her tirade. She did not like letting Death Eaters off, especially someone who had been in Voldemort’s Inner Circle but Sirius had promised Narcissa, and those were binding. Besides, after she had calmed down, she understood the place he was coming from and accepted his decision.

The Death Eater trials went exactly as they had expected. Most of them claimed to have been under the Imperius Curse and since there was no way to prove it, they had no choice but to believe them, especially when the Veritaserum option was denied by each and every one of them, claiming ‘family secrets.’

Their group had obviously voted against the rest of the Death Eaters, excluding Lucius, but the Wizengamot members, mainly the elected ones, were too gullible and believed the Imperius defence.

Nott, Parkinson, Malfoy, Yaxley, Macnair, and even Travers and Mulciber had all got off scot-free. Marlene had seethed when she found out Travers had been there when her parents had been murdered and had spent several hours demolishing dummies in the Auror training room, not with her wand, but with her sword.

A few weeks after the trials, the news broke that Igor Karkaroff had been captured for his crimes as a Death Eater. Sirius had heard of the Durmstrang headmaster but for some reason, had never expected he would have been involved in the affairs of Britain.

More surprising than that was when he was brought back from Azkaban and an early emergency Wizengamot session was held which Sirius and James, along with Frank, the Prewetts and Marlene who had finally claimed her Noble House Lordship, naturally attended.

The session, like the Death Eater trials, took place in Courtroom 10, deep inside the Ministry. The dementors brought Karkaroff inside in thin, ragged robes and brought with them an atmosphere of deep, bone-chilling despair and coldness. Sirius took a deep breath, pressing his fingernails into his arm, the pain helping him to ward away the memories of Azkaban and the Potters’ pseudo-deaths.

James placed a hand on his wrist and squeezed tightly. Sirius gripped it with his other hand and squeezed back before turning towards the centre of the courtroom.

When Karkaroff sat down in the chair, the chains glowed gold and snaked around him, binding him to the chair. Sirius shuddered, remembering his own trial and brought up his Occlumency shields to stuff the thought away.

The session was led by Barty Crouch. He stood up and said, “Igor Karkaroff. You have been brought from Azkaban to present evidence to the Ministry of Magic. You have given us to understand that you have important information for us.”

Ah. thought Sirius, exchanging a glance with James. Karkaroff was betraying his fellow Death Eaters and giving away their names to secure his own freedom. On one hand, it was good for them but on the other… Sirius couldn’t respect someone who could not even remain loyal to the side they had chosen.

Karkaroff straightened. “I have, sir,” he said. He sounded eager yet terrified all at once. “I wish to be of use to the Ministry. I wish to help. I ” I know that the Ministry is trying to ” to round up the last of the Dark Lord’s supporters. I am eager to assist in any way I can....”

Murmurs rose around Sirius. People were talking, either with interest or mistrust.

“You say you have names for us, Karkaroff,” said Crouch. “Let us hear them, please.”

“You must understand,” said Karkaroff hurriedly, “that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named operated always in the greatest secrecy.... He preferred that we ” I mean to say, his supporters ” and I regret now, very deeply, that I ever counted myself among them ””

“Get on with it,” muttered Sirius. James snorted in agreement.

“” we never knew the names of every one of our fellows ” He alone knew exactly who we all were ””

“Yet you say you have some names for us?” said Crouch.

“I ” I do,” said Karkaroff breathlessly. “And these were important supporters, mark you. People I saw with my own eyes doing his bidding. I give this information as a sign that I fully and totally renounce him, and am filled with a remorse so deep I can barely ””

Sirius exchanged an eyeroll with James.

“These names are?” said Crouch sharply. Sirius smirked; Crouch seemed just as annoyed as them at the prolonged, unnecessary remorse.

Karkaroff drew a deep breath. “There was Antonin Dolohov,” he said. “I ” I saw him torture countless Muggles and ” and non-supporters of the Dark Lord.”

“Well, that’s useless,” muttered Frank, from James’ other side. James and Sirius both hummed in agreement. Dolohov had been caught only days after Karkaroff’s arrest.

“We have already apprehended Dolohov,” said Crouch. “He was caught shortly after yourself.”

“Indeed?” said Karkaroff, his eyes widening. “I ” I am delighted to hear it!”

“Sure looks delighted, doesn’t he?” noted James sarcastically. Indeed, Karkaroff looked more scared than before. One of his names was useless.

“Any others?” said Crouch coldly.

“Why, yes . . . there was Rosier,” said Karkaroff hurriedly. “Evan Rosier.”

“Rosier is dead,” said Crouch. “He was caught shortly after you were too. He preferred to fight rather than come quietly and was killed in the struggle.” James, Sirius and Marlene who had all finally returned to the Auror office had all participated in his arrest, alongside Moody and other experienced Aurors.

“No ” no more than Rosier deserved!” said Karkaroff, a real note of panic in his voice now.

“Any more?” said Crouch.

“Yes!” said Karkaroff. “There was Travers ” he helped murder the McKinnons! Mulciber ” he specialized in the Imperius Curse, forced countless people to do horrific things! Rookwood, who was a spy, and passed He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named useful information from inside the Ministry itself!”

Sirius straightened in his chair. That was a name he hadn’t heard before.

“Rookwood?” said Crouch, nodding to a witch sitting in front of him, who began scribbling upon her piece of parchment. “Augustus Rookwood of the Department of Mysteries?”

Sirius was glad the man had been caught. If he had been from the Department of Mysteries then it could be very possible that he revealed countless Ministry secrets to Voldemort.

“The very same,” said Karkaroff eagerly. “I believe he used a network of well-placed wizards, both inside the Ministry and out, to collect information ””

“But Travers and Mulciber we have,” said Crouch. “Very well, Karkaroff, if that is all, you will be returned to Azkaban while we decide ””

“Not yet!” cried Karkaroff, looking quite desperate. “Wait, I have more!” He was sweating strongly now. “Snape!” he shouted. “Severus Snape!”

Sirius shared a startled yet not entirely surprised look with James. They had suspected all along that Snivellus was a Death Eater but to have it confirmed…

“Lily’s going to hate this.” Mumbled James. Sirius nodded in agreement. For some reason, Lily still had a soft spot for her old friend and would be devastated that now there was no doubt that he wasn’t the boy he had once been.

“Snape has been cleared by this council,” said Crouch disdainfully. It was evident what he thought about Snape’s guilt. “He has been vouched for by Albus Dumbledore.”

“No!” shouted Karkaroff, straining at the chains that bound him to the chair. “I assure you! Severus Snape is a Death Eater!” Dumbledore, who had been silent till now, stood up and addressed the room. I have given evidence already on this matter,” he said calmly. “Severus Snape was indeed a Death Eater. However, he rejoined our side before Lord Voldemort’s downfall and turned spy for us, at great personal risk. He is now no more a Death Eater than I am.”

“Oh sure,” muttered James angrily under his breath. “He vouched for bloody Snivellus but wouldn’t even give you the benefit of the doubt!”

“Very well, Karkaroff,” Crouch said coldly, “you have been of assistance. I shall review your case. You will return to Azkaban in the meantime....”

The dementors once again escorted Karkaroff out of the courtroom. James and Sirius stood up, waving goodbye to Frank and the Prewett twins and moved towards Marlene who was standing near the seats of the Noble Houses.

“I saw Dumbledore looking at me earlier,” she said as soon as they came within earshot. “We better leave quick if you don’t want him to talk to us.”

The three of them hurried away from the courtroom.

~FM~


The next arrest news that hit the Prophet was even more surprising.

“Ludo Bagman?” muttered Frank. Marlene, Sirius, James and Lily had decided to visit the Longbottoms. They weren’t living in Longbottom Manor where Augusta, Frank’s mother resided but had chosen to live in one of the smaller, more obscure Longbottom properties.

The children, Harry, Lizzie, Neville and Victoria, the Longbottoms’ daughter who Marlene and the others had met only after the war, were rolling around happily on a nest of pillows and blankets that James and Sirius had made for them earlier.

“Wasn’t he that annoying Gryffindor a few years below us?” asked James, turning to Sirius. “The one who always used to follow us around?”

Sirius nodded. “Yeah, that was him. Never really expected him to be a Death Eater, didn’t really seem like the kind of guy.”

“He asked me out once,” revealed Marlene, feeling her lips twitch at the memory. “Gave me a long list of all his best qualities but failed to mention his best one.”

“Which was?” asked Sirius, his fingers tightening around his shoulder. Sirius wasn’t really the jealous type but he could get quite possessive and Marlene found she happened to like that side of Sirius.

She grinned in response to his question. “How absolutely beautiful he looks while Bats are flying out of his nose.” The room erupted into laughter while Alice who was just coming inside from the kitchen, levitating a tray of Butterbeers made a horrified face and asked,

“But he just asked you out! What happened to ‘the worst she can do is say no’?”

“He didn’t just ask me out,” replied Marlene, catching the bottle of Butterbeer Alice tossed at her. Usually, the group preferred some kind of alcohol but the after-effects of war were still lingering and it was dangerous to be drunk when Death Eaters could catch you by surprise any moment. “He also insulted James and Sirius in the same breath and you all know how I get when someone insults my loved ones.”

“Ah yes,” James snorted. “We all remember that.” Marlene smiled even as her heart twinged and ached with sadness. The last time she had hexed someone for insulting her loved ones, it had been her parents whom she had defended. And when the time came to actually defend them, she hadn’t been there at all.

Sirius pulled her closer to his chest and dropped a kiss on the top of her head. The heaviness in her heart lessened, and Marlene shook her head, tuning back into the conversation.

“When’s the trial happening?” asked Lily, bringing them back to their original topic.

“I’ve heard it’s going to be in a few days, probably by Thursday.” Answered Alice. She handed everyone all the bottles and then settled down next to Frank, snuggling into him. Frank pulled her into his lap and kissed her lips softly. They looked so disgustingly sweet to Marlene, it almost made her puke. Almost, because she knew she and Sirius were just as bad.

All of a sudden, a loud, blaring alarm sounded in the room. Marlene straightened, her gaze colliding with Sirius’. They both knew what that meant.

The wards were failing.

~FM~


Author's Note: I have only one word for my absence for so long: exams. Unfortunately, it might take me some time to post the next chapter as well because I've been facing a lot of internet problems so it's hard to do anything really, on the internet. It took me forever to get these websites to work long enough to post this chapter.

Parts of the chapter have been taken from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and do not belong to me.

On the other hand, I am working on other projects! I've only just started so it will be a while before I can post them but I'm so excited!

Thank you for reading and reviewing!


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Chapter 6: Seeds of Change

Author's Notes: Hi, yes, I'm still alive, though I don't know for long, considering school is starting back up soon :(


Chapter Six
Seeds of Change


When the dust had settled and the Death Eaters had been captured, the living room of the Fauna Cottage, a Longbottom property, had been completely destroyed. Marlene looked around, just now noticing the wreckage.

“Everyone safe?” asked Frank tensely, lying on the floor. Marlene felt sympathy clench around her heart as she looked at him. In a rare moment of weakness, he had been caught unaware by Bellatrix Lestrange and had been put under the Cruciatus Curse until James had levitated a broken piece of wood to smash into her head, breaking the connection.

His screams were just another addition to the horrors that showed up every night in her nightmares.

The Death Eaters were all lying unconscious in the corner of the room, one over the other. Marlene felt vicious hate rise up in her chest as she looked at them. She had come very close to using Avada Kedavra on Bellatrix before deciding that Azkaban might actually be a worse punishment for her, considering how crazy Bellatrix already was. She would probably consider dying for the sake of Voldemort to be an honour.

James waved his wand, vanishing most of the dust before he moved towards the stairs, his expression hard and unreadable. Marlene and Sirius hurried over to help him while Remus pulled up Frank. Together, James, Marlene and Sirius pulled down the hastily erected wards and hurried upstairs.

Marlene was about to step onto the landing when James shot out an arm, almost pushing her backwards. “Wait!” he cocked his head and flicked his wand once. Whatever he saw made him smirk a little and he levitated a vase from a corner table and dropped it on the floor.

The floor was obscured by a bright flash of light. Marlene brought up a shield immediately and only when the light had faded did she bring it down. What she saw propelled a laugh from her. The pieces of the broken vase were hidden from view by a yellowish-greenish swamp that had started spreading.

“Lily, I presume?” asked Sirius, his lips pulled into a smirk.

James nodded and murmured softly, “That’s my girl.” The swamp was awake with the sound of animals. A creature resembling a crocodile but with sharper teeth snapped at Marlene and she backed away, flicking her wand at it. Instead of vanishing, the crocodile multiplied into two.

“What the hell, Lily?” called Marlene, backing away even further. No one replied.

James brought up a shield, nearly opaque because of the power he put into it and said loudly, “Lily, it's us! The battles over, the Death Eaters are captured downstairs.”

“Tell me something only you would know.” Lily finally spoke though they still couldn’t see her or Alice.

James smiled mischievously. “James, no,” said Sirius, shaking his head though he was grinning too. “She’s going to bury you.”

“When you were pregnant with Harry,” said James, ignoring Sirius. “You wanted to name him “Elvendork”!”

There was a crash from inside and then Lily appeared in the doorway of the master bedroom, Alice looking over her shoulder. Her cheeks were bright red as she directed her wand at the swamp. It was sucked into her wand like a whirlpool and soon, the floor was back to its pristine condition.

“Elvendork, Lily, really?” grinned Sirius. Marlene felt her lips twitch as well. Sirius had proposed naming Harry Elvendork when he first found out Lily was pregnant and it had become something of an inside joke between Sirius and Kames which they constantly used to tease Lily. She must have changed her mind then.

“I was drowsy and in pain, Potter,” said Lily primly. “I have an excuse.” The couple looked at each other, James' smile fading and Lily’s hard expression melting into something soft. James had a second warning before Lily strode across the room and crashed into his arms. Marlene, along with Sirius, both steadied him as he stumbled and moved across the room towards Alice, to give the two some privacy.

Marlene engulfed Alice in a hug, squeezing tightly, Alice squeezing back just as hard. They were soon by another pair of arms, hugging both of them close. Marlene turned her head, catching Lily’s emerald gaze and smiled softly at the witch. She smiled back, a little tremulously.

The girls finally broke apart and turned to face James and Sirius. Both of them hugged Alice as well. “You should go downstairs,” said James seriously as he removed his arm from her shoulders.

Fear flashed across Alice’s face. “Frank? Is he alright?” she asked desperately.

“He’s alright,” said Sirius gently, grabbing her shoulders. “Bellatrix put him under the Cruciatus Curse for a bit so he’s just a little doozy but no lasting damage. He just needs you, that’s all.” Alice immediately broke free from his arms and hurried downstairs without another word.

“The children, are they alright?” asked James hesitantly. His jaw was tight with tension and Marlene noticed how Sirius put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. Alice and Lily had not taken part in the fight, choosing instead to protect the children.

Lily smiled and placed a hand on his jaw. “They’re alright, don’t worry. They were all playing with blocks when I came outside.” She turned away from her husband and took down the wards on the master bedroom.

Marlene followed the others inside. While she and Sirius didn’t have children of their own, they both cared immensely about the Potters’ and Longbottoms’ children. Harry, Neville, Lizzie and Victoria were crowded near the corner on a soft rug and were playing with a set of wooden blocks. More like, Harry and Neville were playing with them while Lizzie and Victoria just smashed them into the floor and squealed excitedly at the loud noise.

James hurried over and crouched down next to the children, his arms immediately engulfing all of them in his arms. They wiggled and laughed, escaping his hold but there was no denying the relief on James’ face.

James swung Harry onto his hip while Lily scooped up Lizzie in her arms. Sirius and Marlene both took Neville and Victoria and the quartet made their way downstairs where they found Frank and Alice in a passionate embrace.

“Not quite what I meant when I said he needs you,” joked Sirius. The couple broke apart, flushing red.

Marlene grinned, handing Victoria off to her mother who immediately pulled her closer to her chest, tightening her arms. Victoria waved around her chubby arms and made a noise but when Alice showed no sign of loosening her hold, she settled down, turning her head into her mother’s shoulder.

Frank took Neville from Sirius and tossed him into the air gently, making the young boy giggle excitedly. Marlene glanced away from the wholesome scene, her eyes landing on the Death Eaters tied up in the corner of the destroyed living room.

“We should get them to the Ministry before they wake up,” she said quietly, hating that she was disturbing the peaceful moment, but knowing it had to be done.

Immediately, everyone’s face hardened. “We’ll take them to the Ministry,” said James, motioning to Sirius. He held up a hand when Frank, Alice, Marlene and Lily made to protest.

“Frank, you’re injured, don’t even think about going anywhere other than your mother’s Manor which is much, much safer than this. Alice, I don’t think you’re in a hurry to leave your husband for long and you know how long this is going to take.”

“The paperwork alone is going to take hours,” added Sirius. “Lily, while we would love to have you there, you’re not an Auror and they’re going to kick you out as soon as we hand over the Death Eaters anyways.” Lily and Alice both looked unhappy but they nodded slightly, understanding the decision.

“Excuse me, Sirius,” demanded Marlene, stepping forward. “I’m an Auror too, and fortunately for you both, I’m not injured in any way. You’re not keeping me away from the Ministry, no matter what.”

James didn’t say anything but he flicked his eyes towards Lily. He didn’t have to elaborate, Marlene understood. He wanted her to be there for Lily. Lily didn’t miss the movement either.

“I’m not a damsel in distress, Potter,” she said in a hard voice, her eyes flashing. “I don’t need someone to take care of me, I’m not going to burst out in hysterics any moment now.”

James pulled her close, his hand resting upon the curve of her neck. “I know, love,” he said quietly. Marlene tried to block her ears, feeling like she was invading their privacy. Both she and Sirius turned away from the scene.

A few moments later, James and Lily finished their whispered conversation. “Let’s go to Potter Manor, Marlene,” said Lily moving towards her. They waved goodbye to Frank and Alice who were Flooing to Longbottom Manor and kissed their respective boyfriend and husband. Then Lily grabbed Marlene’s arm and apparated them both along with Harry and Lizzie, safely secured in their arms, to Potter Manor.

~FM~


The trial of Barty Crouch Jr. and Bellatrix, Rabastian and Rodolphus Lestrange was held just a few days later. Thankfully, all of them were now locked up in Azkaban though James couldn’t deny that his heart had done a little twinge when Barty Crouch Jr. had begged and pleaded with his father. It seemed just a little cruel for his own father to be the one to give him a lifetime of imprisonment in what was basically hell.

It seemed that other people shared a similar sentiment to him. Whenever he went out with Remus and Sirius, he heard people talking about how Barty Crouch had been a nice boy and it was a cruel, unjust punishment for him. What a terrible father Crouch was to not even feel sympathy when his own wife was crying for their son.

He also heard hints of it going around the Auror office. It wasn’t loud or widespread in any way “ considering that Crouch was the Head of the DMLE, they were all working under him “ but every now and then, he would hear an Auror or a Hit Wizard talking about Crouch’s harshness and lack of mercy for anyone, be it his own son.

People were now also starting to question Crouch’s other practices, such as his orders that all Aurors were allowed to kill Death Eaters and use Unforgivables to do so. Such an allowance had never been made before and now that the war was over and the cloud of danger had dissipated, people were starting to grow uneasy.

Even the Daily Prophet printed a three-page spread on Barty Crouch and his life from his Hogwarts days to his sentencing of his son to prison. The article was in no way favourable to the man and just served to fuel the fervour against him. During all this time, Crouch never made a public statement which, James thought, just made things worse.

He came home one day from the Ministry to see Lily sitting at the kitchen table. The Prophet was spread out in front of her. “Did you hear anything at the Ministry?” she asked absently, leaning up to kiss him.

James rested his chin on her head, already knowing what she was talking about. “When the Head of your Department is demoted and pushed aside to Magical Cooperation, it’s hard not to notice.”

Lily snorted but then her expression grew pensive. “Do you think he was right in doing this?” she asked.

James sat down in a chair next to her and chose his words carefully. “Honestly, I don’t know what I would do in his position. On one hand, I’m an Auror and a member of the GB and very strongly against Death Eaters.”

“On the other hand, if I was in his place,” continued Lily, her gaze darting to the next room where James had already seen Harry and Lizzie playing with the house elves. “I'm not sure I would have abandoned Harry or Lizzie like that.” James shuddered, just thinking about his innocent and pure children ever getting involved with a group of Death Eaters. “No matter how wrong or evil they are or become, I could never hate them,” he said softly.

“Exactly,” she replied and scooted her chair closer to his. James grabbed her hand and pulled her into his lap, tucking her head into his chin. He felt her breath ghost across his neck as she exhaled. “Hopefully, we’ll never have to go through that.”

James just squeezed her tighter and dropped a kiss on her head. He and Lily would make sure to instil qualities in their children that would keep them far, far away from groups like the Death Eaters.

~FM~


Their son was born on 30 June 1982 in the maternity ward of St. Mungos Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. Contrary to the sorry reception on Elisabeth’s birth, the waiting room this time was fit to bursting with people. James had been inside with Lily during the birth but Sirius, Remus, Marlene, the Longbottoms, Professor McGonagall, both sets of grandparents, the Tonks and Dorcas and Mary who had come back from Canada soon after the war were waiting when James came out.

Silence fell in the room as they saw him before suddenly erupting into a large clamour. Everyone started to gather around him, asking for news. James grinned and raised his voice. “The baby has been born,” he said. “Mum, Dad, both sets of you-” There was a smattering of laughter as Lily’s parents and his own stood up, their skin still tinged green. “Lily wants you four inside first.”

They followed him inside the room where Lily was lying on the bed, sweaty and tired but glowing with happiness, a baby blue bundle in her arms. They settled in chairs around her bed while James settled next to Lily on the bed, placing an arm around her shoulders. Lily leaned into him, glancing up, her emerald eyes brimming with love.

James leaned down and kissed her before breaking away to kiss their son on the forehead. “Meet your grandson,” he said, facing the others. “Damien Sirius Potter.”

His father smiled. “Sirius will be so delighted, you won’t hear the end of it.”

Lily laughed, filling James' chest with warmth. If it was possible, he would have bottled her laugh and gotten drunk on it. “His ego will be so inflated, it will be hard for him to walk under his big head.”

At their urging, Lily transferred her son carefully into the arms of his waiting grandmothers who did not fail to coo over him. “You should call the others in as well,” she said quietly as she watched her mother and mother-in-law. Her hands twitched and James knew she was resisting the urge to take Damien back into her own arms.

He smoothed her damp hair away from her forehead and pressed a kiss there. “It will be a madhouse with all of them in here.”

Lily smirked. “Good thing I like madness.”

James grinned back at her and left the room to go call the others. They were all impatiently waiting in the hall, Sirius especially who was pacing back and forth. Lizzie was asleep, curled in Alice’s arms, who had left her own children back home with Frank’s grandmother while Harry was being entertained by Frank and Remus.

His best friend slash brother stopped pacing at the sight of him and impatience was scrawled all over his face.

James let them stew in silence for a bit, grinning at the look on both Sirius and Remus’ faces and then finally said, “Lily wants you guys inside.”

There was a mad rush as everyone stood up and hurried towards the room and James stepped aside to let them pass. Closing the door behind him, he made his way back to Lily who had possession of Damien back in her arms.

“Guys,” said Lily, smiling down at their son. “Meet Damien Sirius Potter.” Sirius stopped in his tracks at her words and stared at Lily. His gaze shifted to James who grinned at him. “Don’t go getting a big head now, Padfoot, it’s big enough as it is.”

Sirius chuckled, his wonder and awe-filled stare now broken, and moved towards Lily. James took Harry in his arms while the others settled in chairs around the bed. There was practically no space in the room anymore.

Harry squirmed in his arms and James let go of him slightly, allowing him to lean over Lily’s arm and stare at Damien.

“That’s your brother, Harry,” he whispered softly.

~FM~


Lily’s business plan for her apothecary was completed around the time Damien turned three months old. She went a step ahead and got in contact with dealers and companies who would be willing to store their products with her. It was only after everything was ready, that she realised she hadn’t made arrangements for a building.

She allowed herself one meltdown while James rubbed her back and then got back to work. Thankfully, Remus knew of a wizard in Diagon Alley who would be willing to rent out his two-story building. She received his letter of confirmation along with the morning newspaper. Disregarding the paper, which detailed the birth of the Malfoy twins, she ripped the letter open, feeling her smile widen.

“What’s got you so happy, love?” asked James, wrapping his arms around her waist from behind and placing his chin on her shoulder. He leaned over and scanned the contents of the letter.

“Remus came through,” she whispered happily, with not a small amount of disbelief. She still couldn’t believe that she was actually doing this. She had dreamed of opening her own apothecary ever since she was rebuffed at one due to her status of being Muggleborn and it was slightly unbelievable that she had made it this far.

“Let’s visit the building today,” suggested James. Lily quickly agreed.





Lily and James apparated to the Diagon Alley Apparition Point, later in the evening. Despite the late hour, the street was still bustling with activity. The storefronts were lit and the doors were open as they left the Point, towards their destination.

It took them around ten minutes to reach the building. It was located near one of the biggest points of Diagon Alley, the Daily Prophet office and had two floors. The top floor had a balcony and Lily was already imagining what she would do with it.

The door was locked and the windows were boarded up when they reached it. Lily tapped the door with her wand and it clicked open. Stepping inside was like stepping inside an abandoned, haunted building. It was entirely dark “ the windows didn’t really allow any light from outside “ and there was dust practically everywhere.

Lily coughed, bringing her hand to cover her face as James flicked his wand, vanishing most of the dust. He also conjured three shining balls of light; they floated up to the corner of the room, illuminating it brightly.

Excluding the dust and the general dirtiness, Lily could tell the place would make a good apothecary. She was already imagining, it, replacing the dirty, broken countertop with a sleek marble one, the empty walls replaced with wooden shelves with glass doors.

There was a staircase in one corner, with metal railings, that curved upwards to the second floor. Moving across the floor, Lily went upwards, James following behind her. The stairs were creaky and trembled under her weight; Lily made a mental note to replace them with sturdier ones.
b The second floor was smaller than the first, with a balcony that extended towards the front side of the building.

“You can use this as your storage room,” murmured James, approaching one of the walls. He brushed his hand against it, his finger becoming grey with dust.

Lily tilted her head to the side, and examined the room, thinking about his suggestion. While it would certainly be helpful to have a storage room right above the apothecary, maybe she could turn half of the room into a potions laboratory as well. So that she would be able to brew potions as well in her own time.

While the lab at Potter Manor was well equipped and extensive, it was used by the house elves as well as Fee and Lily preferred having her own space.

As she observed the room, Lily felt a gush of excitement rise up inside her. She was actually doing this. She was going to have her own business and do one of the things she loved with a passion.

She couldn’t wait to get started.

~FM~


It had become a tradition since the end of the war for all the various Inner Circle members of the GB to gather in one place every few weeks and catch up with each other. This time, everyone from the Potters to Minerva McGonagall was gathered in Andromeda Tonks’ house.

It was a lively affair, with everyone telling about newer developments, and speaking over each other. The table was bursting with delicious food and spicy aromas. Lily had thought she had been the only one with news but it turned out Sirius had quite a big development about his life to share as well.

“You’re quitting the Aurors?” asked James incredulously, his hand paused halfway to the glass he had been about to pick up.

Sirius shrugged, an apologetic look on his face, “Sorry I didn’t tell you before. I was thinking about it since that trial of Karkaroff but I wasn’t sure until yesterday.”

“Why?” asked Frank, frowning. Frank had already been an Auror when James and Sirius had joined and had been the one to mentor him. As capable of an Auror, as Sirius was, it was hard to believe he wanted to quit.

Sirius sighed. “The only reason I joined the Aurors in the first place was because of the war. Now that it is over and done with, well…” He spread his hands in a “what can I do” gesture, “I don’t want to be an Auror anymore.”

James sat back, finally grabbing the glass he had been reaching for. “If you think it's best for you, then alright. But what are you going to do now? Roll around in your family’s riches?” His lips quirked up, his way of forgiving Sirius for not telling him before anyone else. It wasn’t that he didn’t think that Sirius deserved to do whatever he wanted to do, but he would have liked a forewarning.

Sirius grinned back. “Nah, that’s dirty money, and you know me, the symbol of morality that I am.” His tone turned serious then. “I’m thinking of joining the Hogwarts Board of Governors.”

“You mean I was the one who gave you the idea and you went along with it,” said Minnie dryly.

Sirius grinned. “How could I forget? The entire credit for this decision goes to Minnie, of course!”

Lily raised her eyebrows. “With you on there, Hogwarts might actually improve its standards.”

Sirius gasped theatrically, holding a hand to his chest. “Lily, do you mean to say I am capable of improving Hogwarts’ standards? I’m flattered, Lily-flower, truly.” Lily gave him a haughty look but couldn’t quite smother the smile on her face. “Well, I certainly trust you more than all the old Pureblood bigots on the Board.”

“You might even get to replace Binns, no?” said Marlene, a thoughtful smile on her face.

“Replace the Potions Master position while you’re at it,” said Minnie, her lips pursed.

“I shudder to think what you have to be able to do to put that expression on your face, Minnie,” said James, raising an eyebrow.

“Well, you would have to treat First-Years like N.E.W.T level students.”

Lily snorted. “You mean the current Potions Professor at Hogwarts teaches First-Years without giving them any basic safety protocol or brewing instructions.” When Minnie didn’t laugh, Lily sat up, her smile fading. “Don’t tell me, this is actually what’s happening.”

“Wasn’t Slughorn the Professor?” asked Alice, frowning.

“He quit during the war,” answered Remus. “He was an excellent teacher and Potions Master but it's safe to say he was a coward. He went into hiding and hasn’t been seen since.”

“Who is it?”

Minnie didn’t reply for a second and James had the strangest thought that she was reluctant to tell them. Which was funny considering he had never seen her hesitant before, especially for something as small as this.

“Severus Snape.” Sirius who had just taken a sip from his glass, choked, spraying firewhisky everywhere. Marlene thumped him on his back and cleaned up the mess with a wave of her wand.

“Snivellus?” gasped Sirius finally. James could relate to the sentence. Sirius jerked suddenly, a pained exclamation leaving his lips. James glanced to his left to see his wife’s firm expression and was suddenly glad he had not been the one to blurt the first thing on his mind as Sirius did.

“Just because I am not friends with him anymore or that he joined a murderous cult doesn’t give you the right to call him that disgusting, schoolyard nickname,” she said evenly before turning to face Minnie.

“I am not going to have my children be taught under that… man,” she spat, her expression furious.

Minnie raised an eyebrow and Lily immediately deflated; her anger was not directed at Minnie anyways. “Perhaps you should see Dumbledore then. He is the one who appointed him and refuses to hear any complaint despite the numerous students from almost every house who have complained since Severus’ appointment.”

“You know, I think I will,” murmured Lily, her eyes unfocusing. James already knew she had a brilliant plan in her mind and he couldn’t wait to hear it.

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