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Chapter 1: Perfect Moments
No moment had ever seemed the most perfect to James Potter.
Of course, there were some that had come pretty close. Like when Lily Evans said her final “I do”; she was finally his, and he was hers, for ever. Like when he was seventeen, and he had led his fantastic Quidditch team to victory; his last year, and he had triumphed over the Slytherins. Like when Lily had told him she was pregnant.
Those moments had been as perfect as it could get for him, because that special golden glow never seemed to last. There was always something else that came up and dispelled the magic, even just slightly, bringing him back down to reality.
James could still hold onto those moments, and he always would, because they were what made him. Without memories of what you have been through, who can you truly say you are? And indeed through all of the last few years, it was only those highs, the best times with his friends and family, that had kept him going.
They were what had tied him to humanity when his mind was in danger of floating away from everything he knew, into the black beyond. He was sure that would be more peaceful and easy there, but that didn't make it right.
James had always imagined that joining Voldemort would be a bit like the time when he had been imperiused (before the Order of the Pheonix arrived to save him, as they did). His mind had been so easy and felt so safe then, with his worries gone away. All the orders were laid out for him, just there, and all he had to do was follow them. It was as simple as could be.
But something had nagged at the back of his mind the whole time, and now he imagined that if he had joined, he would have had to push it back forever... or die. Either way, it was the inevitable ending; if You-know-who had found it there, he would surely kill him, or his conscience would.
James hated to think like this, and it would only be in his moments of darkest despair that he dwelt on these horrors.
He had never truly considered Death Eaterism anyway. There was nothing for him there! He was a Gryffindor, and he hated muggle-baiting. He believed muggleborns should have at least as many rights as the average witch or wizard: they needed extra help in being eased into the magical world in the first place, didn't they?
None of these traits were exactly Death Eater criteria. Nothing was worse than undeserved cruelty, in James’ eyes. The way he saw it, the whole concept was completely twisted; from start to finish, it was a bad plan. Why couldn’t everyone feel the same?
Maybe it was because they didn’t know love, like Dumbledore always said. Certainly, it was what kept him together. Without Lily and Harry, or his friends... he'd have nothing left worth fighting for. Maybe he would give in.
Maybe it was because of their parents and friends – they had never believed anything else. That was maybe how it was with less 'bad' Slytherins, who were only ambitious and not necessarily evil… but got led astray. After all, nobody is all good or all bad.
Probably, it was because they were scared. They didn’t want to stick their necks out to the school bully, and risk getting noticed. James knew he had certainly never worried about not standing out, but it couldn't be the same for everybody.
James contemplated it all as he carried on setting up the washing up for the enchanted scrubbers. After all, who exactly was he? But then, Lily was calling and laughing from Harry’s room. He smiled, dropping his wand on the sofa, and the dark shadows were banished as he strolled upstairs. He knew he shouldn’t let them in again. He had so much to live for.
He would be whoever she wanted him to be; that was who James Potter was.
And there she was, on the sofa, with her beautiful, shining, long, glossy, auburn hair… James could describe it forever. Yet it was her eyes that always got him: those gleaming, quick, yet deep, emerald green eyes that sparkled and flashed with each new happy thought.
She was so beautiful, and every time James saw Lily, he was reminded of how lucky he was, that he could be the one to take her.
As he walked through the doorway, she was playing with Harry. Their son, Harry James Potter. He was so lovely, with James’ hair and Lily’s eyes. Best of both, Lily always said.
There was nothing James wouldn’t do to protect Harry or Lily, he knew. They were so much more important than himself, but somehow, that felt more natural than anything else. James marvelled at how easily he knew it, but it was a loyalty deeper than human nature could interrupt.
Sitting down, James felt so perfectly elated to be here, with his amazing wife and gorgeous 18-month-year-old. They were all he needed, now, to feel this good, to feel the will to carry on.
It didn’t matter that he hadn’t been out of the house in weeks. It didn’t matter that he had lost contact with almost everyone except his three friends, now that his parents were… gone. Here, James could forget that all was horror and terror outside the firelight of their little house.
It was as if Voldemort didn’t even exist, and this was the closest to perfect a moment had ever become. He belonged here... it was the most perfect of all.
James just sat for a moment, hugging tiny Harry, feeling the love. Glancing out of the window, all was dark, except for the lights from the windows of their house, which couldn’t have been seen by anyone outside himself and his two hearts.
You wouldn’t have thought I’d need two hearts to live, but if either of mine go, I’ll surely die, James thought.
A shadow appeared in the light of their windows. Frowning, James handed Harry to Lily so that he could walk to the window. He was curious as to how that could happen, because surely the Fidelius Charm would protect against that…? But no, he must have been imagining it.
The shadow paced forward again, then took a second step. Then again. A hooded figure opened their supposed-to-be-invisible gate and stepped through.
The world stopped turning for James as everything fell into place with a sickening click.
No… not tonight. Please. Please, God … no.
The blood had frozen in his veins, but now James’ adrenaline rushed through his veins, like flames igniting his will and his reason.
He turned around stiffly, still almost unable to move. He opened his mouth and nearly choked on the words. They tasted rusty as they spilt out.
“Lily… he’s come. He’s here, Lily!” He had only a few split seconds before panic took him over.
No perfect moment ever lasted.
My first ever fanfic! Posted originally January 2011, edited typos August 2011, edited properly May 2012.