A Father's Love
Disclaimer: : I am not J.K. Rowling, I am not a multinational bookselling company, nor am I a multi-million dollar movie company, so I don't own anything that you recognize. I am a retired former teacher who likes to twist plots and play with characters, so enjoy.
Summary: AU Dumbledore told Harry that those we love never truly leave us. What if that statement was truer than even he ever imagined? No Slash.
James Potter was sitting at his desk, trying to make sense of the mounds of information that Dumbledore's network of spies and informants had gleaned over the past several weeks, but it was rough going. Since he had been forced to resign his job as an Unspeakable to take his wife and now eleven month old son into hiding several months ago, he had begged the old man to at least give him something to occupy his time. As much as he enjoyed the time with his wife and son, he needed to feel as if he was still fighting against Voldemort and by analyzing the seemingly random and unrelated bits of information gleaned from Dumbledore's various sources, he could sometimes see patterns and make connections that had so far predicted at least three attacks that they had been able to turn into ambushes. His naturally analytical mind had been honed during his years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry by developing and planning out elaborate pranks and he used it now to try and thwart the evil dark lord as much as possible.
He sat back for a moment, chewing on the end of his ink spattered quill as he reminisced about those carefree days. He had met his best friends on the Hogwarts Express on his first trip to the Magical school as an eleven year old and after both Sirius Black and Remus Lupin had been sorted into Gryffindor with him, it seemed that the fates had thrown them together for a reason. He had been the son of elderly parents who had given up on ever being parents and was now the first to admit he had been overprotected and spoiled all of his life.
He had met Sirius Black as they both met outside of an empty compartment and the two boys had instantly recognized their similar status by the cut of their under clothing, and fit of their custom made robes as well as their hand crafted top of the line trunks. Sirius and he had claimed a compartment to themselves as the spoiled but deserving heirs of Ancient and Most Noble Families as they felt it was their due. The two found that they shared many things from their privileged upbringing to the heavy responsibilities they would both be expected to handle upon the deaths of their fathers. It seemed as if their whole lives had been planned out for them from infancy and a sympathetic cord of understanding bound the two together from that first hour. But then Sirius Black had been sorted into Gryffindor and his life shattered.
While James had watched the shocked and white faced boy head for the Gryffindor table after the Sorting Hat had yelled out "Gryffindor" the entire school had stopped in utter shock and disbelief before the pointing fingers and whispers broke out, especially amongst Sirius' older cousins and family friends who were all sitting in stunned disbelief and horror at the Slytherin table. As he stood waiting for his own sorting he vowed to be placed with his friend no matter what the bloody old hat said. He had expected to be placed into Ravenclaw like his mother but he vowed to convince the moldy hat that he would sneak into the Headmaster's office and torch the old hat if it didn't listen to him. As it turned out, he didn't have to convince the hat and he gave a deep sigh of relief as he placed the hat back onto the stool and marched over to his new friend to offer whatever comfort that he could.
James had stayed up late into the night comforting and helping the distraught and almost frantic boy who was afraid of even writing to his parents about being placed into the most hated House at Hogwarts, at least the House his family hated the most. The torment and anguish apparent in the haunted grey eyes had reached deep down into his very soul and made a connection that James had never had before and in fact, didn't even think was possible.
The next morning Sirius had been devastated to receive no less than three Howlers with his breakfast. His Mother, Father and Uncle Aquila Lestrange had all sent the loud and very visible evidence of their displeasure at the sorting of a Black into such a reviled House to the utter embarrassment and humiliation of the eleven year old. All three had promised dire consequences and severe punishment when Sirius returned home if he somehow didn't find a way to be resorted immediately. And when Sirius had fled the Great Hall with the mocking shouts and derisive laughter of most of the students in the Great Hall following him out the door, James had dropped his serviette and rushed out after the fleeing boy without hesitation.
When James had accompanied Sirius later that day to see their Head of House, Professor McGonagall, she had said she was sympathetic to Sirius' dismay, but adamant that the Hat's original placement was final and no resorting had ever occurred in the almost a century the school had been in existence. The two eleven year olds left her office disappointed and disillusioned about how much the Professor really cared about the members of her own House and a little more of their innocence and trust in authority figures was lost forever. Neither one of them could see why the two of them couldn't be resorted together into Ravenclaw; it would have been acceptable to both sets of parents but the dour and strict Professor hadn't even really seemed to care about the dire consequences facing the justifiably frightened Black child and both boys felt she had simply brushed them off as inconsequential.
They had become inseparable from that first day, one boy pampered but so lonely for someone his age to connect with and the other so adrift from his parents' unexpected and harsh reaction to something the child really had no control over at all, that they instantly bonded more deeply than most brothers.
It had only taken a couple of days for their duo to become a trio when the two saved one of their roommates from three older Slytherins who were making fun of his shabby robes and unassuming manner and casting minor stinging hexes to make the boy twist and dance while they made rude comments and laughed at his tears of pain and humiliation. Remus had become the quiet but brilliant third to their group that day. Each of the three recognized their own loneliness in the others and could empathize and sympathize with each other as no one else in their house, even their Head of House, tried or even cared to notice.
It had taken the young trio less than a month to figure out how things worked in the magical school. Groups of older students would harass and bully younger students relentlessly whenever they could find them isolated and away from the purview of the teachers and prefects. And complaining to a Professor did nothing, especially if it was more than one older student against a younger one. And if they tried to fight back and pulled a wand they would get in trouble for fighting. It never seemed to matter who started the altercation or how disparate the two groups' abilities were, the punishment was for fighting, and both sides were equally and harshly dealt with. Apparently Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry didn't believe in the concept of not guilty by reason of self defense. And it certainly paid no heed to any ideal of equality in forces or numbers.
So the trio turned their talents into anonymous pranking to help settle the score against the worst of the bullies. James was the planner and strategist, Remus was the scholarly researcher who found the spells and potions that they needed and Sirius was reckless and unafraid of parental displeasure so he usually volunteered to plant the pranks despite the risk of being caught and punished. Since his parents had threatened severe punishment just for being a Gryffindor, he figured his punishment for being caught wouldn't be any worse than what his parents already planned on dishing out to him at the first opportunity. All three boys quickly learned that when you have nothing to loose and feel abandoned and betrayed by your own house, detentions and house points mean very little in the grand scheme of life and reality.
It wasn't long before they had to include the last member of their dormitory into their little group because it was the only way they could keep the mousy little boy from overhearing their plotting and planning. He was barely able to keep up in classes and was as much an outcast from the various cliques as James, Sirius, and Remus were, and was desperate to belong with some group and there was no one else in their house and year except the girls, and they flat out refused to have anything to do with the pathetic and socially inept boy. He had never turned them in, but the trio was afraid he would decide he could earn acceptance and approval from at least the Professors by turning in his dorm mates, so they began including him into their group. Besides he was so nondescript that people just forgot he was in the room sometimes, which made him perfect for planting some of their pranks while the others were under careful and intense scrutiny.
James absently waved a wand to refill his empty tea cup and sat back again; cupping the warm cup in his hands as his mind wandered back again to the glory days of Hogwarts. He could hear his beloved wife upstairs giving his son and heir a bath and the squeals and giggles coming from the bathroom made him smile as he thought about how he had finally convinced Lilly Evans to even give him the time of day. The pretty bookish redhead had always despised the quartet for their 'childish' pranks and wouldn't even give him the time of day to explain exactly 'why' they were pranking people, especially the Slytherins.
And then everything came to a head when they were relaxing after taking their last O.W.L. examination in early June of their fifth year. James had flipped Severus Snape upside down and dangled him in the air outside by the lake in retaliation for the potion the sly and greasy haired Slytherin had brewed for some of his older house mates to slip into unsuspecting younger girls' juice. Little Peter had managed to be nearly invisible as a couple of seventh year Slytherins, Rookwood and Malfoy, laughed and bragged about being able to molest two little second year Hufflepuff Mudbloods without anyone being able to prove anything since Snape's wonderful potion made it so the girls forgot the last three hours. They were planning to go after several of the older girls since it had worked so well with the two younger girls that afternoon but Peter had ran to tell the rest of the quartet and they had managed to use a switching spell on the vials in the older Slytherins' robe pockets with a vial of colored water and the two had been caught and given a weeks detention.
Unfortunately Snape's potion had worked too well and it would just be Peter's word that anything had happened to the second years so the group decided it would be useless to take it to the Headmaster. As Remus had pointed out, the rest of the Slytherins wouldn't hesitate to give Malfoy and Rookwood alibis for the time of the incident and it would just be the quartet that would be punished for trying to get them into trouble. So James and Sirius took it upon themselves to punish Snape for brewing such a foul potion.
He gave a small smirk as he thought back on the turning point that had made his life together with his wonderful wife and adorable son possible. He would have to one day say thanks to the disagreeable Severus Snape for turning on Lily and calling her that despicable name. Lily had thought the trio might have been out of line when they flipped the greasy haired little git upside down and showed off his graying underpants for the entire world to see. How was he to know the slimy hairball didn't wear trousers like everyone else did? And when she had first confronted him about why they were always picking on the greasy git they had quickly made up some lame excuse about something trivial because they couldn't explain the real reasons behind their ongoing attacks out on the side of the lake in front of a large group of students from all four houses. But the vicious verbal attack on Lily from Snape when she had tried to defend him, followed by the weeks of deliberately hateful and blatant attacks on the girl that followed had proven to her once and for all that there might actually be a valid reason that Snape and his fellow Slytherins had been the target of so many of the Marauders sometimes vicious pranks.
James had finally been able to convince Lily to listen to his explanation when he had snuck down to the hospital wing one night after Lily had been sent to the infirmary because of the side effects of one of Snape's more vile and sneaky actions. Lily and Snape had vied for the top position in potions class their entire school career and Snape had finally managed to sabotage one of her potions without old Slughorn noticing. The resulting flare-up had sent her and her partner Hestia both to the infirmary with boils from the potion and burns from the scalding hot liquid on their arms and hands.
After James had left the infirmary and she had nothing but time to think as she laid in the stiff white bed, Lily had realized that the Marauders pranks tended to be humiliating and very public while Snape and his bullying band of future Death Eaters went after people who had no way of defending themselves, as the sneaky bastards rarely attacked in public and never left any witnesses or proof that one of his potions had caused the disagreeable and very often painful effects that plagued one of Snivellus' victims. And any time they were accused, they supplied each other with unbreakable alibis. The Professors were unwilling to do more than question those accused without some physical proof and so nothing was ever done, even when the victims had to spend time in the infirmary just as she was doing now.
That conversation had led to a tentative friendship between Lily and James which he had fostered by using the summer to send lots of owls to her, explaining the circumstances of some of their most memorable pranks of the past. Of course, some of their benign pranks targeted the general population of the school so it wouldn't be instantly evident that they were targeting certain older students, but their most malicious and embarrassing pranks were always reserved for the most deserving of the bullies.
By the end of that summer, Lily was fully on board with their program of revenge through pranks and actually helped with their pranks and even supplied some non-magical ideas for pranks that she had found in several Muggle joke books that they could adapt and use. That had lead to their first date and, as they say, the rest was history.
James brought his mind to the present, and turned and smiled at the sight of a freshly scrubbed Harry being carried into his study for a goodnight kiss by his wife. He stood and hugged them both, Harry giggling from between them as he reached up and snagged his father's glasses from the end of his nose.
"Harry, give those back to Daddy, he needs to see to work, love." Lily gave a girlish giggle at the satisfied smirk on her son's face as he jammed an earpiece into his mouth and chewed on the silver metal. James pulled away, placing a kiss on the top of Harry's unruly and wet black hair as he reclaimed his glasses.
"Ugh, baby drool!" he said as he wiped them on the hem of his shirt. But he smiled as he said it.
Lily bustled around the kitchen of the small gate house they were using as a hiding place and smiled at her husband as he dipped a spoon into the sauce to sneak a taste. James put down the spoon and snuggled to the back of Lily as she continued to chop vegetables for the salad she was making. He wrapped his arms around her waist as he nuzzled the back of her neck, forcing her long hair out of his way with his chin so he could reach the soft and slightly ticklish skin underneath.
Harry sat contently on the floor, peeling off the labels of the vegetable cans he had managed to steal out of the bottom of the pantry cupboard without his mother noticing. She thought he was playing with a set of soft plastic blocks, but the cans had proven to be much more entertaining and he was being unusually quiet since he somehow suspected that his mother would take them away from him if she noticed what he was doing. It seemed as if she always took away the best toys whenever he managed to get a hold of them. He had worked a long time to reach his father's wand from the table the other day and as soon as he made the wonderful stick make bright sparks she had taken it away and then made him take a nap.
Lily giggled at James and turned her head around over her shoulder to give him a kiss and gasped as she spotted her little hellion busily removing labels in the corner. "James, take care of Harry. I need to finish up before Dumbledore gets here and I just don't have time to mess with him right now." She put her hands on her hips in exasperation. "Now how am I supposed to know what is in those cans, young man?"
Harry just gave an innocent grin and then squalled in frustration when his father reached down and scooped him up from the mess of cans and torn labels. James was torn between scolding his son and laughing at his antics, but at a huff from Lily, he decided he should at least pretend to scold him.
"Well, I guess we're going to have some mystery meals for a little while thanks to you. What are we going to do with you, huh?" He continued to lightly scold a still complaining Harry as he took him into the lounge to place him in the much hated playpen so he could clean up the mess the toddler had made without Harry helping any more. Harry screamed his displeasure at being left alone in the room as his father just left him and returned to the kitchen.
As the two finished their tasks, the screams turned into huffing cries, and finally just hitching breaths as Harry gave up and went to sleep, a large stuffed black dog held tightly to his chest for comfort.
Wonderful smells were permeating the small cottage by the time the floo flared an hour later and a tall wizard with long grayish white hair and a flowing beard stepped gracefully out of the fireplace to stop and bend over a sleepy eyed little boy just waking up from his nap.
"Well, Little Harry, my boy, how are you doing?" He bent and scooped up Harry who had managed to stand up and reach his arms up over his head to be picked up. "Shall we go and find your Mummy and Daddy…I believe I hear them in the kitchen." He kept talking as he walked into the warm and inviting kitchen, taking a deep breath to fully appreciate the wonderful aromas that assaulted his long and crooked nose.
"My Lily, something smells wonderful." Dumbledore remarked while bouncing the young boy on his hip.
James and Lily turned somewhat startled by the old Headmaster's nearly silent entrance. "Why didn't the wards and the floo announce your arrival, Headmaster?" James was beginning to be upset about how they had been surprised by their visitor.
Dumbledore handed Harry to his mother as she reached for her son. He took a seat at the already set kitchen table and spread his hands in a silent motion asking for patience.
As he stroked his long beard through a circle of his fingers, he gathered his thoughts before speaking. "I have come here this evening with both good news and bad news. As you have already broached the topic of my bad news I shall begin with that topic. Somehow, the Death Eaters have managed to steal a device that will negate most of the wards commonly used in the oldest family estates from deep within the Department of Mysteries. Fortunately there were only two such devices in the Ministry's possession and the thief only managed to secure one of them before he was routed from the facility. Unfortunately he somehow managed to escape with it. The Department of Magical Law Enforcement is in quite an uproar as we speak because no one has been able to ascertain how someone managed to breach the security around the storage facility without setting off any of their alarms. It seems the ward was only tripped after the thief managed to gain entry to the most secure room and then simply grabbed a shelf full of enchanted items that were being studied for their uses. And at this time, it is unknown whether the thief actually knows what all of the items he stole do or if it was taken at random with the other items on the shelf."
Dumbledore smiled at Lily and gave her a single nod of thanks as she placed a cup of tea in front of him. He took a moment to fix the brew exactly like he preferred before speaking once more. "I used the second such object to arrive here this evening to ascertain if your wards here would be sufficient. Alas, my unexpected arrival has demonstrated their woeful inadequacy against this object." He reached into a hidden pocket in his bright green robes and pulled out a silver disk about the size of his fist that was covered with runes and magical symbols covering it completely. "Since we are not certain that this was the objective of the break-in or if it was merely snatched up with the other missing items in order to confuse the objective, we must act as if it was a primary focus and take measures to neutralize its effect."
James had helped Lily sit down as she clutched Harry tightly to her chest in shock and fear. James turned his attention to the Headmaster as he took his own seat beside his wife and son and across from their visitor. "And how does that affect us, sir?"
"Now James, how many times have I requested that you call me Albus. I am, after all, no longer your Headmaster or indeed in any type of authority over you."
James waved his hand impatiently, wanting answers. "Are you finally willing to tell us why you have insisted we go into hiding then…Albus?" His lips were white as he pressed them together; annoyance and frustration at the old man and his riddles and games overpowering his fear for his family.
Dumbledore breathed deeply before letting out a long sigh. "I suspect that the time has arrived. I had hoped to keep this from everyone but, alas, I fear I can no longer in good conscious ask you to hide without telling you the entire story."
Lily handed Harry to her husband and quickly removed their dinner from the stove, placing stasis charms on everything so that she could turn her full attention to what the old man was saying. James had pulled Harry onto his lap and kissed the unruly mop of black hair that he shared with his boy.
Looking at first her husband and then at her former Headmaster, Lily sat down as she huffed softly. "I believe the time has long passed for you to tell us the whole truth. Exactly what have you been hiding from us, old man?" She raised an eyebrow in question and folded her arms. James recognized her expression as the first stage of her volatile temper beginning to boil.
"I will warn you, Albus, when Lily gets that expression it is best to confess to everything… even if you aren't guilty." James was only half joking as he said that. Lily reached over took her son from her husband's lap and put him in his high chair with a bread roll from the table to keep his occupied while the adults discussed the matter before them.
Albus took another sip of his tea, folded his arms with his hands in the deep sleeves of his robe. He sat back in the comfortable wooden kitchen chair and closed his eyes for a single moment before beginning. "Three years ago when Madame Reveur left as Divination Professor I met an applicant for the position at the Hogs Head in Hogsmeade.
Now the only reason I had agreed to meet this woman was because she did come from an old family with several very well known and accurate seers. I had intended to tell her that we would no longer being offering Divination at Hogwarts since seers are born, not educated and therefore it would be better for a true see to seek an apprenticeship rather than taking an elective class at our school. Just as I was preparing to thank her and dismiss her she went into a trance. Much to my shock and surprise she then issued a prophecy that I have no reason to suspect is not valid."
He looked down his long, crooked nose as both Lily and James hid snorts of disbelief. "You mean I gave up my job, took my wife and son away from their home, and hid out from everyone for the last three months because of some crackpot 'seers' prediction?" James was now standing, his hands on the table as he leaned over putting his own face just inches away from Dumbledore's nose.
The old man remained calm and merely leaned back to allow a little more space between the two men. "Now, now James… you must allow me to continue and I shall endeavor to explain." James did sit down but his face still show his disbelief and burgeoning anger. Lily was visibly biting her lip to refrain from taking the meddling old man to task for disrupting their whole life and making her terrified for the safety of her family for nothing but some dodgy prophesy.
"I shall share the memory with either one or both of you the next opportunity we have to meet at Hogwarts but for now I must ask you to bear with me and accept what I am about to tell you on faith. You should also be aware that this prophecy appeared in the Department of Mystery's Hall of Prophecy in a memory globe as is customary for all true prophecies." The two Potters seemed to settle down a little at that statement and leaned back once more.
"As I was saying," Dumbledore continued, "this woman went into a trance and gave the following prophecy:
"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 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."
Dumbledore sat back and steepled his fingers, resting his chin on his finger tips as the young witch and wizard tried to assimilate all that the prophecy could mean to their family and themselves. It was several long, silent and tense moments before Lily began to speak.
"Who else knows about this? And is there any proof that this applies to our Harry?" She turned and summoned a Muggle yellow legal pad and a biro from the front room and placed them in front of her, deftly removing her wand from within Harry's range and replacing it in her apron pocket. She leaned her head down just long enough to scribble down the prophecy and then raised her head and glared at the Headmaster, daring him to not answer her.
"Yes, Dumbledore… how do we know that this is our son? And what exactly does it mean for him and for us? How do we prepare for it?" James glanced down as he noticed his wife writing down his questions as well, leaving several lines between each one for the old wizard's answers.
With a sigh and a fleeting frown, Dumbledore tried to explain. "There are two boys born at the same time that this could apply to. Harry here and Little Neville Longbottom both fit the parameters of the prophecy. Frank and Alice have also managed to escape from Voldemort on three occasions just as you and Lily have. And Neville was born on the 30th of July while Harry was born the next night. As for the rest, I am afraid I have no idea what it means." He paused and looked suddenly much older, "And I must inform you that Voldemort knows at least the first part of the prophecy. A young Death Eater had hidden himself in the shadows in the hallway outside of the room I was interviewing Sybil Trelawney in and was only discovered halfway through her proclamation."
James jumped up, barely managing to catch his chair before it fell over, and began to pace in agitation. "Who was the Death Eater, Albus, and how much does he know? Was he allowed to escape…does Voldemort know either Neville or Harry could be his downfall? What can we do…should we leave the country…escape and hide amongst the Muggle world? What…you can't just come here and tell us this without telling us more!" His agitation was making the volume of his voice raise and his pacing stopped abruptly as he stopped across from Dumbledore and slammed his fists down on the table in front of him as he leaned over, nose to nose, demanding answers.
Lily was angry but managed to focus her anger on the hastily scribbled notes she was continuing to make on the yellow pad. Her biro making scratching noises as she frantically tried to keep her writing up with her whirling thoughts and her husband's rapid fire questions.
It had taken all evening, and their most serious questions had never been answered, but both Lily and James had been convinced as the evening wore on that even if they didn't believe in the infallibility of prophecy, they had to treat it as such because Voldemort would most likely treat it as such and would, therefore be after them at some point.
Lily was cleaning up the kitchen, puttering around to keep her hands busy as her mind whirled in controlled panic. James came down the stairs from finally putting poor little Harry to bed only to find his wife mindlessly cleaning the already clean countertops with a dirty rag.
As he reached for her hands to stop their mindless motions, she turned and buried her head into her husband's chest, a soft sob escaping her as she clung to him for strength. "What are we going to do, James? How can we keep that psychotic monster from our son? And how do we prepare him…keep him alive long enough to grow up…what do we do?" Her voice faded as she started to cry softly.
"I don't know, Lils…but we'll manage somehow, we always do. I can start researching tomorrow for ways to nullify the effects of that artifact that Dumbledore left us. And no one is better at charms than you are, even old Flitwick says so. I'm sure that we can come up with something that will protect our boy from that …" He felt his own tears on his cheeks as words failed him.
The next few days set the pattern for the following months at the little gatekeeper's cottage. James poured over books and manuscripts from any source he could find. The Potter Manor had an extensive library, even more extensive in some ways than the Hogwarts library, and both Sirius and the Headmaster would bring any of their personal books that they thought might be helpful. Remus had volunteered to spend many long hours searching the Heritage and Heirloom vaults that the Potters maintained at Gringott's and when he was done, he scrounged the bookshops in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. He even made several trips down into Knockturn Alley, though no one informed Lily that he had done that, and when he had exhausted those sources, he turned to haunting the libraries at Cambridge and Oxford, looking for anything that might help his friends and their son to survive.
Lily was madly scribbling arithmantic and runic formulas in a series of spiral binders that she had Remus fetch for her. He had lived amongst Muggles and was very capable of passing without comment in that world so he was the best one to send on those types of errands. She thought she had the beginnings of an old magic protection spell that had its origins in druidic rituals and was combining it with both ancient Egyptian and Sumerian magics and was hopefully optimistic about making something that would even protect against the Killing Curse if necessary.
The frantic group took an evening off to celebrate little Harry's first birthday, though the adults all looked frazzled and anxious even as he demolished the chocolate cake that his mother had baked for the evening. A few presents and a hot bath later, Harry was finally asleep upstairs and the somber mood descended over the little cottage once more.
Sirius sighed and ran his hand through his shoulder length black hair, forcing it back from his face in frustration. "Any luck?" He looked at first James and then Lily, one eyebrow raised in hope.
James blew out a deep breath in frustration. "Some, but not any near enough or fast enough for my complete satisfaction. I found an ancient hiding spell that we can cast over the entire cottage that will keep us safe for the present. It needs two fairly strong wizards or witches to cast the spell, one to receive the spell and a fourth person as the 'secret keeper'. It's called the Fidelius Charm and once it is cast, no one can find us even if they are looking directly at us. I can cast it with one of you to help, Lily as one who is being protected can receive it, but we will need to decide who is going to help cast and who will keep the secret. Unfortunately it needs to be cast at midnight of a full moon so Remus is definitely out of helping. Sorry, old friend." He reached over to where Remus was sitting and patted him on the knee in consolation and comfort.
Remus hit the arm of his chair in frustration and resignation. "Well, it will have to be Peter and Sirius then, as they are the only other two who know where you are now. Unless you are going to let Dumbledore in on casting the spell, or being the secret keeper for you?" He looked between his two friends but he got a negative head shake and a grimace of distaste from Lily and an equally disgusted look from James.
"Not unless there is no other choice. I was having a hard time with him after he informed us about the Prophecy…he should have told us when we first went into hiding and not waited for so long. I feel like we would have had a solution by now or at least been much closer to one if he hadn't been so intent on keeping his secrets. And you know how we all feel about Snivellus. How that Death Eater ever managed to convince Dumbledore that he had a change of heart and now wants to spy for him is beyond me. I didn't think the old man could ever be such a fool." James was almost yelling by the time he had finished speaking.
Lily leaned against James and spit out, "That Death Eater would turn us over in a heartbeat for the glory of it and to get back at James. And I don't trust the Headmaster not to reveal the secret to him. When we try to find out what's going on, all he says is 'it's not my secret to reveal, but I trust Severus with my life.' Well, I don't and I don't trust either of them at this point. He also wanted us to sign some malarkey about Harry going to live with Petunia," her face scrunched up as if she had eaten a bitter potion at the mere mention of her estranged sister, "if something happened to us. Can you imagine what my 'darling sister' would do to a magical child under her control, let along my magical child?" It was clear that if looks could kill, Petunia would cease to exist rather rapidly.
Sirius gave an involuntary shiver of revulsion. "She makes my mother look tolerant and loving."
The other laughed softly though there was really no humor in the statements. The talk continued well into the night until it was finally decided that the Fidelius would be cast on the next full moon with Sirius as the secret keeper and Peter as the second caster of the spell.
On October 13, 1981 the four friends gathered together to cast an ancient protection spell that hadn't been cast in over 600 years. Their fifth friend was safely locked away in the old stone buttery that he used to stay safe on the full moons and Harry was visiting Minerva McGonagall for the evening. They had told their plans to Dumbledore and the other members of the Order of the Phoenix, but they wanted no witnesses since they wanted the secret of their whereabouts strictly controlled and they were unsure about some of the members and downright distrustful of others, Snape and Mundungous Fletcher in particular.
They had attempted the spell twice but it seemed that Peter was just as pathetic at magic as he had always been and was unable to successfully support James in casting such a complex and powerful spell. It had taken the combined efforts of all of the other Marauders to help him become an animagus, and even then he could only manage a common garden rat. In fact, they had about given up on him ever succeeding at becoming anything until he had returned from Christmas holiday in their sixth year as a successful animagus, even though his form lacked much power.
"Look James, I don't think Peter is going to get this. No offence Peter, but I just don't think you are magically strong enough to cast this. So how about if Peter and I switch roles, he becomes the secret keeper and I will help you cast the spell. That's better any way because everyone knows how close we are and if Snivellus gives up information to the old maniac, then they will come after me, and I can't give you up even under torture since I won't be the secret keeper."
No one noticed the hopeful look of glee that quickly passed across Peter's face or the way he was twisting his hands together in nervous anticipation. James ran a hand through his messy hair, making it stick up even more than usual.
He nodded reluctantly before saying, "I can see that, Siri. Yeah, that makes sense if you look at it. You are the logical secret keeper for us and that would make Peter safer. No one would expect us to use him as the secret keeper and he could keep a low profile so that we all stay safe. Okay, let's try it one more time. Sirius, you know the incantation, we'll start on three."
The third casting was successful. After Peter wrote the secret on several pieces of paper so that the secret could be shared with essential personnel, he slipped a final one into the pocket of his robe and apparated away to await the next calling of his master.
On the morning of October 30th, Lily ran screaming with excitement into the small living room of the gatekeeper's cottage and twirled around, a thick spiral notebook raised high above her head as she danced with excitement.
"I found it! I did it!" She repeated over and over. "This ritual should work!"
James scooped Harry up off the floor from where they had been playing with multicolored blocks and gathered his wife into a three way hug. Harry had no idea what was going on but he was happy that his Mummy and Daddy seemed to be so happy. It felt like forever since they had been so happy so he joined them in squealing in glee as the three pirouetted around the sofa and jumped over the tangle of blocks on the floor.
The three collapsed finally in a tangle of arms and legs on the battered old sofa, breathless but still exuberant.
"Tell me, Lillybell. Explain it to me. Can we all use it, is it just to protect a child…how soon can we test it and use it?" His words tumbled out in his happiness at his wife's apparent success.
Lily took several deep breaths as her husband admired the view. "Well, I know that it will protect Harry, I'm not completely sure that it will totally protect an adult from the Killing Curse. But it will either absorb the curse or rebound it upon the caster when a loving parent willingly sacrifices themselves for their child." She bit her lip as she looked down, unwilling to look James straight in the face as the awful reality of the spell hit him.
"No, Lily. You can't do that…I'll do it if it must be done to save both you and Harry. I don't think I could go on without you." His voice faded into a husky whisper as he felt his throat close up and his eyes shimmer with moisture. "It has to save you both."
"I think I can continue to refine it so that it will cover all three of us, but for now, this is all that I have found. And it's better than nothing until I can rework it." She grabbed her men and pulled them into a fierce hug. "Let us protect Harry for now, and then later when I have worked it out, we can redo it, please?" She had the beginnings of tears as she begged her husband to let her protect her baby at least. "I don't want to lose either one of you, either." She kissed James, gently and tried to pour all of her feelings of love and hope into it.
Harry didn't know what had happened to the fun of minutes ago, but he knew that if Mummy and Daddy kept smashing their lips together he would soon find himself upstairs in his crib so he put a hand on each chest from his place between them and pushed as hard as he could. "Yecch…no do…no, no, no!"
James pulled back slowly before leaning forward and giving Lily a kiss and then placed another one on Harry's forehead before he reached his hand out and ruffled the black headed tot on his lap. "All right, Harry beary…you win for now." He looked over the boys' head and gave his wife a meaningful glance. "For now." He repeated softly.
"All right. I will let you cast it on just Harry for now. What can I do to help?" He sighed resignedly and his shoulders slumped in defeat.
"We need to stand up and hold Harry between us as we both cast the spell of innocent protection. I have it written down here phonetically since it's in ancient Welsh and I don't think you speak it very fluently." She gave a wry smile at her spouse as he made a rue of distaste.
"No, Magical Languages was your forte, not mine. Give me an honest transfiguration any day. Besides, there is a reason no one but the Welsh speak it. It is impossible for any normal person to twist their tongue that way without causing grievous bodily harm."
"Well, then it's a good thing I'm not normal since I can speak it and I'm not Welsh. How your family can be Welsh and your Manor is in Wales yet you don't speak even rudimentary Welsh, is beyond me!" It was an argument they had frequently had and it lacked any true venom. Since the Potters had settled in Godric's Hollow centuries ago, they had remained aloof and separated from the local population almost entirely, choosing to stay on their vast acreage and bringing in house elves and squibs for any necessary jobs around the vast estate. With apparition and portkeys so easily available, the family found going to Diagon Alley or London actually easier than going to the nearest village.
She handed him the notebook while pulling Harry over onto her lap for a cuddle. James read the open page and seemed to be trying to tie his tongue into knots as he worked to memorize the long and difficult incantation. He wished futilely that Lily had found something in Latin or Greek as he had some chance of pronouncing that without swallowing his tongue. He spoke the long phrases and looked over toward the two who were giggling at the faces he was making.
"Alwn ar 'r Dduwiau at achlesa 'r 'n ddieuog buchedd rhyngom. Cadw 'u 'n ddihangol chan unrhyw a ddeisyf 'u amhara. 'm hud , 'm buchedd , 'm enaid ardystia at amddiffyn 'u. Okay, exactly what am I saying here? For all I know, I have just announced my undying love for Snape and invited him for a threesome with Bellatrix Lestrange."
Lily smirked and leaned over. "Why James, how did you guess? No, it says something like 'we call upon the Gods to protect the innocent life between us. Keep them safe from any that wish them harm. My magic, my life, my soul do I pledge to defend them. At least that's the best that I can translate it into." Lily almost whispered the ancient blessing as her husband made a silent vow to protect not only his son but his wife, the two loves of his life as well.
"Well, that just about covers it doesn't it. Does this thing have to be done naked under a full moon or while painted blue and dancing down the main street of Hogsmeade or anything that I should know about?" He raised one eyebrow and waggled it suggestively.
"No, but I could add some things to it if you would like." She smirked back and called his bluff.
"No, that's all right Lily. But really, does it have any special requirements about casting it?" He had turned serious again.
"We need to be outside and surrounded by woods, at least half a mile from any 'dwellings of man' and it would be best to be cast on a solstice, but I am not willing to wait that long. Samhain tomorrow would be the second best time, just at sunrise."
James was thoughtful for a moment as he considered where they could do the ritual the easiest. "There are several spots here on the Potter estate that would fit that description easily." He grew thoughtful before his eyes lit up. "How about just before dawn we apparate to that clearing we have the picnics at and then we can cast the ritual beside that stream with the waterfall that you like so much. You know the one."
She did indeed as she was almost certain that Harry had been conceived there on the warm blanket they had spread out for their first midnight picnic as man and wife that unseasonably autumn afternoon, made even more perfect with the use of a few discrete warming charms. She blushed gently but James either didn't notice or pretended not to. She hoped he was remembering that evening with as much fondness as she was.
"I certainly remember that clearing and it would be perfect. We couldn't stay too long as it's not as protected as here but it should be safe for the amount of time it will take to cast the spell." Her voice was husky as her emotions responded to her memories.
James looked up at her from the paper he was trying to memorize and his eyes widened as he responded to the look on his wife's face. He leaned forward and kissed her as Harry covered his eyes with his hands. He was right, they took him up to bed not long after that.
The clearing looked different on the cold October dawn than it had that warm autumn afternoon, but it was still beautiful in an almost otherworldly and ethereal way. The leaves of the oak trees were almost gone, the winds of the harsh Welsh autumn stripping them early. The grass was almost totally buried under the fall of brown, red, and orange leaves; that close to the waterfall and the small river, the small glen never lacked for water, and the moisture in the air kept it vibrant and fertile year round. The lightening sky made the shadows play eerily and the mist rising from the waterfall dampened earth made swirls of magic that billowed softly in and out of the thick forest. Lily lay Harry down on the thick wool blanket that James had spread out at the very edge of the glen and kissed his sleeping head softly before pulling James to her and kissing him. His arms drew her closer and he deepened the kiss, anxious to show her how much he loved her and how deeply he was vowing to keep them safe.
The loud call of an owl returning from a night of hunting brought them to the present and they both sighed and returned to their task. "You have it memorized, James?" Lily asked in barely a whisper, unwilling to break the preternatural silence of the glen with speech before they had to.
He murmured against her soft cheek, "Yeah, I do. Let's get this over with. I don't feel as safe outside of the Fidelius."
Lily carefully un-wrapped Harry from the thick cloak she had bound him in and picked him up. He stretched, his little face scrunching up, his arms going up over his head while his torso twisted and his knees drew up to his chest in complaint at losing the warmth of the cloak. He was dressed in a plain white woolen robe with no metal or modern materials, his bare feet pulled up inside the long robe as he complained loudly but wordlessly at being awakened so early and with such disregard for his physical comfort.
Lily and James both laughed at the disgusted look Harry gave them before standing up and moving together to a large flat rock that was close enough to the small waterfall for the spray to coat them all with a silvery mist that sparkled and glistened in the first rays of the rising sun.
Their outer cloaks and shoes had been discarded on Harry's blanket at the edge of the clearing so Lily and James stood together in robes of pure white wool, simple ties of braided cord wrapped around their waists, all three nude under their robes. The three could have been from the ancient times themselves as they wore garments that would have aroused no comment from the druids that inhabited the woods long before the Normans, the Vikings, or even the Saxons invaded the forests of England and Wales.
As the pink and orange rays of the breaking dawn colored their plain robes, Lily and James held Harry between them, each with a hand on his head, the other arm linked together and holding the sleepy baby cradled safely. With their arms intertwined, they were holding each other as well as their son, drawing strength and support as well as giving it. Together they chanted the long and difficult incantation, feeling their magic swell deep from within them as they began the ancient chant. There was no one there to witness the little family as the magic deep within the forest of his ancestral home gathered in support and comfort of James the rightful son and heir. Shades of his ancestors glided through the mist to swirl around the trio. With each beat of their hearts, the pure golden glow surrounding the trio grew and pulsed.
"Alwn ar 'r Dduwiau at achlesa 'r 'n ddieuog buchedd rhyngom. Cadw 'u 'n ddihangol chan unrhyw a ddeisyf 'u amhara. 'm hud , 'm buchedd , 'm enaid ardystia at amddiffyn 'u." The strong tenor of James' voice blended in the ethereal silence of the glen with Lily's melodic alto to fill the hollow with the magic that grew ever larger within them. The spirits that flowed within the deepening mist went unnoticed as the light surrounding the living group pulsed larger with each word spoken.
James felt surrounded and awed at the weight of centuries that seemed to grow with each phrase they spoke. "Alwn ar 'r Dduwiau at achlesa 'r 'n ddieuog buchedd rhyngom. Cadw 'u 'n ddihangol chan unrhyw a ddeisyf 'u amhara. 'm hud , 'm buchedd , 'm enaid ardystia at amddiffyn 'u." The clearing was bright as the noonday sun now, Lily and James both closing their eyes against the brightness. The very air seemed to pulse and hum with magic as they began the final chant to seal the protection upon their innocent child.
Row upon row of spectral shapes grew upward from the ground, distinct figures of witches, and wizards as each reached a ghostly hand toward the trio in the middle of their magical circle. Each specter floated with a hand upon the head of the one in front of them, the inner row with their hands touching James, Lily, and Harry. Thousands of powerful magical beings floated, lending their magic and love for the protection on the innocents, blessing their descendants. Lily's voice cracked as the pure magic surrounding them began to overpower her senses, overloading her until her husband was holding her up as well as Harry.
James forced the third incantation out around the pulsing magic that swelled and threatened to burst out of his very skin. "Alwn ar 'r Dduwiau at achlesa 'r 'n ddieuog buchedd rhyngom. Cadw 'u 'n ddihangol chan unrhyw a ddeisyf 'u amhara. 'm hud , 'm buchedd , 'm enaid ardystia at amddiffyn 'u." The last syllable was barely a whisper of remembered sound as James slowly sank to the ground, joining his son and wife in the darkness of unconsciousness.
As the three lay blissfully ignorant upon the ground, the spectral forms of millennia's worth of Potters continued to pour magic into the protective spell until their magic was spent and they seeped back into the ground to continue their eternal rest, the ancient magic of the five hidden and long forgotten ley lines that converged in the glen slowly recharging their magic until it should be called forth once more to protect the Potter line.
The trio had slept most of that Halloween morning after the two adults had managed to awaken enough to safely apparate back home without splinching themselves or Harry, but by noon Harry was tired of entertaining himself and was hungry and cranky. James was entertaining him in the living room with animated stuffed animals that he was making move with lazy swishes of his wand while he reclined on the old sofa, about half asleep. Lily had roused enough to shower earlier and was now busy in the kitchen fixing sandwiches for her son and husband when the floo alarm sounded and Sirius' voice called out.
"Hello the house. Let me through you lazy layabouts!"
James pushed himself up on one elbow enough to flick his wand at the fireplace and release the wards to allow his best friend into their home. "How do you know that we're layabouts, Padfoot? Have you been spying upon us as we sleep?"
"Yeah, didn't you know, I'm a psychotic stalker just waiting for my chance to attack. Oh wait; I'm the axe murderer, right? I always get those two confused somehow."
James just chuckled at the ridiculousness of his friend while Harry squealed with glee and threw his hands up, demanding to be picked up and entertained by his godfather. Lily called from the kitchen wanting to know if Sirius was staying for lunch.
"No, I just stopped by to see if Peter was here. I went by his flat earlier and no one was there. He didn't leave a note and I haven't heard from him since day before yesterday so I'm starting to get worried about him. I'm not sure we did the right thing making him the secret keeper. I worry that if Voldemort gets hold of him he'll roll over rather than even try to protect you. After all, how trustworthy can a rat animagus be; I mean he truly is a little rat you know?"
Lily came into the room with a platter of sandwiches in one hand and a jug of pumpkin juice in the other. She had a stack of plastic cups tucked under one arm and a spray of napkins showed in her pocket. Sirius leaped up to help her while James just yawned, cracking his jaw loudly and painfully.
Sirius wiggled his eyebrows suggestively at the tired pair and snidely commented, "Just what has both of you so tired today? It's afternoon after all, and even I've been up a while."
James was trying to explain around yawning and eating a sandwich, but Lily just smacked the back of his head and muttered about the lack of manners in all males of the species.
"Hey, I resemble that remark. And I'm not even eating yet." Sirius protested as he scooped Harry up onto his lap and fed him a bite of sandwich. Lily snickered at him and told him a little of what they had accomplished that morning. "We were up before dawn and went to the Potter estate to complete an ancient protection ritual that I found. It's just a last resort measure so I'm not going to explain it too much to you. I still have a lot of work to do on it before it will be complete and protect us all, but meanwhile, I wanted every little bit on Harry that we could do."
Sirius nodded his understanding and finished eating before leaving to once more look for Peter. And when he found the little rat he would demand that the bugger let him know every day that he was all right and where he would be or he'd damn well find someone else to help while they recast the Fidelius charm.
Pettigrew had been waiting for two days for a private audience with his Lord. Ever since he had been recruited in his sixth year at Hogwarts he had been spying on Dumbledore and the other members of the Order of the Phoenix, but he was too well known and too valuable to expose so he had to wait to report until it was just his Master and perhaps Bellatrix in the Manor. He had always known the other three only tolerated him because he was in their dorm. When Severus Snape had recruited him and provided potions and spells that allowed him to finally master the animagus transformation, Peter had repaid him by spying on the daft Headmaster and his other roommates. He had provided the information that allowed Snape to convince the 'omnipotent' Albus Dumbledore that Snape had truly repented of the horrific life of a Death Eater when in fact, Snape was a double agent, and the Dark Lord himself had wanted him placed him at Hogwarts and in the Order, and was carefully feeding the old man just enough information to trust the greasy bastard. And now, Peter would have the last laugh and show those imbeciles that he was truly the best Marauder of all. He would have revenge for the years of them barely tolerating him and making jokes at his expense. He would show them how powerful he really was and they would rue the day that they mocked him and began to use him.
"My Lord," Peter groveled on the filthy floor, kissing his Master's robe in reverence. "I can give you the blood traitor Potter and his Mudblood whore. They have hidden under an ancient spell, but I know the secret and can take you there."
An unholy cackle of glee broke the silence of the decrepit old manor and the two plotted and planned. At the first stroke of midnight on Halloween night, Voldemort and Pettigrew disappeared to reappear on the front step of the old gate keeper's cottage in Godric's Hollow.
With an inhuman scream of satisfaction, Voldemort blew the front door inward, surprising the two sitting close together on the faded old sofa. James pushed Lily off as he stood, grabbing up his wand from the coffee table in front of him. He fired a reducto out of the gaping hole in his front wall and screamed at Lily. "Go, take Harry, and run. I'll hold him off!"
Lily scrambled for the staircase, throwing bludgeoning hexes over her shoulder as she scooted up the stairs, staying as close to the wall for protection as she could. She could hear the sizzle and crackle of spells and the crashing of furniture as a fierce battle took place just behind her. With a single-minded determination that gave her tunnel vision, she ran full out down the hall and threw open Harry's bedroom door, dropping her wand as she scooped her screaming son to her breast.
James, meanwhile, was being overpowered and driven back by the sheer force of Voldemort's spells. He was a very strong wizard, but he lacked the ruthlessness and the sheer power that several dark rituals had granted his now not totally human foe. He was holding his own though as he made a strategic retreat towards the kitchen and the back door, hoping he could escape and then help his wife and son from outside. His mind repeated the mantra, "Must save Harry and Lily, must save Harry and Lily, must save Harry and Lily…" in a never ending chant that seemed to cause a responding and strengthening pulse of his magic with each repetition. He never noticed that Peter Pettigrew, the penultimate traitor had snuck in through the back door and sent a weak stunner that hit him directly between the shoulder blades. He spun in place to shoot a slicing hex at the opponent behind him but nothing came out of his wand. He looked down and saw his own body lying crumpled, lifeless and staring on the floor while his feet disappeared into his own form.
He turned around to find Voldemort laughing and turning toward the stairs where he could hear his son still screaming and Lily yelling something about wards and being unable to leave the room.
James turned from the beam of white light that was heading inexorably toward him, lunging to pull his ghostly feet out of his crumpled body, and willing his spirit up the stairs to defend his wife and son. He screamed in frustration before finally managing to completely separate himself from his physical body and flung himself up through the ceiling and the floorboards of his son's room just in time to see Voldemort cast the Killing Curse at Lily.
With a scream of "NO!" he grabbed onto his wife's soul and dragged her back to earth before he coiled the two of them around his screaming son. He cradled his two loves in his ghostly arms and pulled their heads down onto his chest, hiding them from the unnatural creature with the blazing blood red eyes that cackled with unholy mirth while his wife's lifeless body lay sprawled beside them on the bedroom floor.
Lily shook off her shock at what had happened and the fact that both she and her husband appeared to be ghosts. Her single minded determination that her son would survive now blazing with a fire of righteous indignation at the fates and the being that had just orphaned her precious baby boy. She could feel her magic strengthening and blending with James' and then, while the beast before them made crude jokes to the despicable excuse for a human being that they had entrusted their very lives to, she could feel hundreds, if not thousands of other ethereal beings lending their magic to form an invisible shield of love around Harry.
By the time Voldemort had aimed his wand again, the layers of love around the baby had made a virtual fortress of invisible magic. His high, inhuman voice sibilant and hissing, Voldemort screamed once more, "AVADA KEDAVRA!"
A sickly green light spewed from the end of his yew wand and hit the shield of love surrounding the boy. The thin beam collided with the ancient magical force of thousands of Potters and shot back to the caster at the speed of light. A flash of light shot through the shield and entered the forehead of the small boy, causing a strange lightening shaped mark, and rendering the child unconscious. Pettigrew screamed in horror as his master's robes crumpled, emptying as a wraith like swirl of noxious black murkiness formed above the suddenly empty clothing. The long yew wand fell to the floor as the teeming miasma swirled malevolently around the boy, still looking to gain entrance to the unprotected mind of the child.
Another pulse of pure golden light blew the ceiling upward and the walls outward, forcing the black cloud to flee or be totally destroyed. Pettigrew found himself outside the house, literally blown through the walls and out of the first story of the now destroyed house. He felt something hit him in the head and looked stupidly at his former Master's wand as it lay on the ground amongst the burned and charred remains of the walls of the house. It took several seconds before the sounds of the wards crashing and the sound of Muggle sirens coming nearer before he shook himself, slipped the wand into the pocket with his own wand, and then disapparated with a loud crack of displaced air to find a deep hole to hide in.
Harry had just begun to whimper as the deep rumble of a large motorcycle split the night air. Screams of anguish alerted the small boy to the presence of his beloved godfather and he roused enough to scream in earnest from his place under his destroyed crib in the debris of the first floor.
James knew that his son had survived and that he had somehow been blown into the boy's head in the flash of magic that had split Harry's forehead open. He hoped that Lily had been brought with his… 'Essence' if you will. He knew that he was dead and that he had refused to pass over in order to save his wife and son and he knew that he had kept Lily from passing over just as she was separated from her body also. But he didn't know how he could survive as a ghost while fully contained within his toddler son's body and if his presence, and Lily's if she was also here, would drive the poor boy schizophrenic or if he could interact with him in any way. He might just fade out of existence without the boy ever being aware of his presence. He wished to all the gods that he knew what had happened and what would happen now but he supposed that all he could do was sit back and wait for what was going to happen, as he surely had no control over anything now.
He managed to access enough of Harry's consciousness to look through Harry's slowly blinking eyes later that day. He was looking up the nostrils of Albus Dumbledore for some reason. He urged Harry to turn his head as the view wasn't helping any and when Harry turned he recognized Minerva McGonagall with a particularly pinched expression upon her face. He swiveled his head as the old Headmaster seemed to be placing him in a large basket.
Harry's hand reached up and found a thick parchment envelope as Dumbledore finally moved enough for James to recognize where they were. James had never wished so much for a wand at that moment so that he could blast that twinkle eyed monster straight into the seventh depth of hell. How in hell had the old coot managed to circumvent their express wishes and leave their innocent, helpless, vulnerable baby boy with those indescribable excuses for human, those piles of worthless excrement!
In spite of all of their efforts, despite the express wishes of every document that they left, that manipulative old bastard had left Harry at the Dursley's!
AN: I hope that you enjoyed this rather long chapter. I wanted to get the preliminary back story out before the real story begins. Just how different will life be for baby Harry if James manages somehow to help him at the Dursley residence? And did Lily survive too? Let me know if you are interested in my continuing this story or if I should just keep working on the other two. Thank you to all of you who read this and a big thank you for everyone who takes the time to leave a review. It feeds my muse.