Chapter 6 : The Sacrifice
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Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.”
- G.K. Chesterston
Godric’s Hollow was a small old-fashioned village with cobblestone streets and quaint little shops. It was one of the few townships that had a long history for both wizards and muggles. In the old village square, the gallows still stood, although unused for several decades. Witch burnings had also taken place in the village square, but those structures had been gone for centuries.
Lily looked on drearily at the people bustling by in the square from her window. They made her feel trapped as she wasn’t allowed to leave her new hideout. Dumbledore had confirmed that Voldemort believed that Harry was the child in the prophecy. Her family was a direct target now and there was no telling how far Voldemort would go to find them.
Her charms books were sprawled out on the floor where she had been going over her notes. She found she worked better lying beside Harry as he played. She could not bear to leave him out of her sight, just as any mother would feel if her child was in danger.
Lily sat back onto the floor beside Harry and grabbed the text she had been working on. It was another one of those books she could barely understand. Dumbledore had advised her that she would find what she needed in it, but even after hours of translating the Old English her efforts seemed fruitless.
In a moment of uncontrollable frustration, she threw the old book across the room, startling Harry.
“I’m sorry baby” she said to him gently. “I just don’t know what to do to save you!” she added desperately.
She wiped the tears off her cheek as she got up to go pick up the book she had thrown. As she bent down to pick it up, she noticed several pages of notes had fallen out of it. They were not written in her hand.
She picked them up and examined them carefully. At the top of one of the pages she saw a name: Nicholas Flammel.
The name sounded very familiar and then it clicked. Nicholas Flammel had worked with Dumbledore. He had done some translating work for the Order. Her heart leapt as she read over the notes. Finally something I can understand she thought to herself.
A particular passage caught her attention:
Death can release the most potent magic. It is part of what can give dark magic its power. But a powerful wizard can control the power of his own death if he is willing to die.
She then thought back to what she had read several months earlier:
The most powerful of protective magics are bound in love.
Lily’s heart was pounding as realization hit her. She had been desperate to find something to protect Harry if Voldemort ever found them and now she possibly had.
If she was willing to die, she could control the power of her own death. Perhaps it would be enough to protect Harry if all else fails.
She shuddered at the thought. “But then Harry would be alone” she mumbled to herself. She swept her long red hair out of her face as she sighed. There had to be another way. She couldn’t leave Harry alone; not with the war, not with the prophecy lying heavily on his shoulders.
Her thoughts were interrupted by James as he appeared in the doorway of the nursery. “Lils, Dumbledore is here with Remus, Sirius and Peter. He wants to talk to us about security measures.”
Lily nodded in understanding. James approached her and kneeled down beside her. “Lils, are you alright?” he asked her gently.
“I’m fine.” she said hurriedly.
James looked at her seriously. “You look like you’ve been crying.”
“I’m fine!” Lily said unconvincingly.
James put his arms around her. “I love you Lils.”
Lily hugged him for a moment and pulled away. “I love you too James. I’ll be alright I’m just a little frustrated right now.”
“Okay” said James still not completely convinced. He gave her a quick kiss and got up to leave. “You coming?”
The meeting concerning the Potter’s safety went by quickly. In the end it was decided that they would be protected by the Fidelus Charm. Although there had been some disagreement from Dumbledore, the Potters had chosen Sirius as their Secret Keeper. James and Lily had insisted that there was no one they trusted more than Sirius.
When Dumbledore and the others left, Sirius stayed behind saying he needed to spend some time with his godson. In truth, he really needed to talk to James.
Sirius pulled James back into the sitting room while Lily went upstairs to go put Harry to bed.
“Prongs, I need to talk to you about this whole Secret Keeper business.” He said seriously.
James’ brow furrowed. “What do you mean?” he asked worriedly, his hand instantly rising to mess his hair. “I know it’s a lot to ask, but I thought...”
“Don’t be stupid James.” Sirius said curtly. “It’s just that I’m worried about Remus.”
“Remus?” James looked pensive for a moment. “He HAS been looking rather tired lately...”
“...and he hasn’t been acting like himself lately either.” Sirius added.
James nodded. For the past year Remus really hadn’t been around much. He had come to Headquarters for regular reports, but the rest of the time he was working under cover for the Order with the werewolves. When they got a chance to actually talk to him alone, which was rare, he was always exhausted and his usual casual humor was all but gone.
“What does this have to do with your being Secret Keeper?” James asked seriously.
Sirius took a deep breath. “I really don’t like the fact that he knows about it.”
“You think he’s the spy.” said James knowingly.
Sirius looked straight at him and nodded.
James shook his head. “It’s not Remus. It can’t be! I trust him. Pads, we’ve been through this already.”
Sirius began pacing with impatience. “Prongs, Moony was my friend too, but it HAS to be someone close to you! He hasn’t really been around, but Lily has been keeping him up to date on things...things that suddenly became common knowledge to the death eaters.”
“I can’t believe this Padfoot! He’s my friend! He’s our friend! Don’t you remember everything we’ve done for eachother?” Anger rose in James voice as he spoke.
“What’s going on?” said a voice from the doorway. Lily had just come down the stairs. “What are you boys talking about?”
“Sirius is trying to convince me that Remus is the spy.” said James grumpily.
Lily rolled her eyes. “Not again Sirius...”
Sirius looked straight at her. “What if you’re wrong?” he asked severely. “What if you’re wrong and Remus runs to tell Voldemort who your Secret Keeper is? You know I would rather die than tell them...but there are ways they could get the information from me against my will. Then what would happen to Harry? Is trusting Remus really worth the risk?”
He looked at them both, his dark grey eyes pleading for understanding. He couldn’t bear the thought of Voldemort going after the Potters, not if it could avoided. They were the only people in the world he truly cared about.
Lily looked at James for a long moment. Finally, she asked “What do you suggest Sirius?”
The following night the Fidelus charm was performed with Peter as Secret Keeper. It was the perfect bluff, Sirius thought to himself as he watched Peter leave to go into hiding. Voldemort would never suspect that the Potters would ever even consider making Wormtail their Secret Keeper.
Sirius had to go into hiding himself, but he wanted to talk to James and Lily alone first. He hadn’t been long without them in ages and there was no way to know when he would ever see them again. Given the fact that Voldemort was most surely going to go after him, this may even be the last chance he would ever have to tell Lily and James just how much they mean to him.
“Prongs, can we talk alone for a second?” asked Sirius tentatively.
James raised a mocking eyebrow, but followed Sirius into the den. They stopped at the back of the room by the roaring fireplace.
“What is it Padfoot?” asked James.
Sirius’ eyes uncharacteristically darted to the ground. “I’m not really good at this sort of thing James. But you know we’ll likely never see eachother again.”
James smiled sadly. “It’s not really like you to be so under self-doubting Siri.”
“I’m not being self-doubting.” Sirius said quickly, giving James a defensive look. “I’m just facing the facts. This isn’t a game anymore James.”
James gave a small laugh, but nodded. “I never thought I’d see the day where I’d hear that from YOU.”
Sirius laughed slightly. “I guess everyone grows up sometime.”
“I’ll miss you Sirius. Things won’t be the same without you.” said James.
“I know. You’ll be bored, won’t you?” said Sirius.
James nodded, smiling. “You have a way of making everything more fun.”
Sirius’ grey eyes were beginning to water. He feigned brushing his dark hair out of his face to wipe his eyes.
James wasn’t fooled as he felt tears coming on himself. He pulled Sirius into a tight hug. “You’re my brother Siri.”
Sirius nodded as a single tear rolled down his cheek. “Always Prongs.”
After a few moments, they went back into the entrance hall. Lily stood in the stairs watching them.
James had his arm on Sirius’ shoulder, as he looked from Lily’s pleading green eyes to Sirius’ watery grey ones. His hand dropped from Sirius’ shoulder as he nodded slightly. “I’m going to go upstairs to check on Harry. We’ll see eachother again Padfoot.”
Sirius nodded and James went up the stairs, kissing Lily on the cheek on his way up.
Lily stood motionless as she looked at Sirius. “So you’re leaving then?” she asked.
“Yeah, I’ve got to go into hiding now don’t I?” he said meeting her gaze.
Lily walked down the stairs to stand right in front of him. “I’ll miss you.” she said honestly. Her heart was racing at the look he was giving her. His eyes were so full of emotion; she had never seen them that way before. There was a longing there, and something else...
Sirius put his hand gently on her cheek. “I’ll miss you too Lils.”
Recklessly, he filled the space between them and kissed her. Lily could not pull away from him. Instead she sank into him, captivated by the feel of his soft lips.
After a few moments, he pulled out of the kiss and leaned his forehead against hers. “Sorry about that Lils, I’ve just always wanted to do that and I may never get another chance.” His voice was shaking slightly as he spoke.
Lily sighed. Her feelings for Sirius had always been conflicted, particularly when she thought of James. But at this moment she knew she loved him, perhaps more than she should.
“Why?” She asked tentatively.
“Why what?” Sirius asked, curling his fingers idly in her long red hair.
Lily took a deep breath. “Why have you always wanted to do that?”
Sirius took a step back to look her in the eyes. He couldn’t hide the look of surprise in his chiseled features. His look saddened as he spoke.
“You know why Lily.” he said seriously. “Don’t make me have to say it. James is my best friend, my brother...”
“I know. I know. I just...” Lily’s heart was thumping madly now. Overcome with confusion, she didn't know how to express what she was feeling.
Sirius’ grey eyes watered. “I love you too Lils.” He quickly kissed her again, lingering for a moment, then turned away and walked out the front door.
Lily was in the kitchen preparing diner when James entered.
“I just put Harry down for his nap.” said James before lifting the lid off of a pot on the stove. “Smells good.”
Lily nodded slightly, but kept her eyes on her cooking. She had been feeling a little off since her goodbye with Sirius the previous night. Perhaps it was the guilt she felt for kissing him, or perhaps it was the emptiness she felt without him. She wasn’t sure which.
As if picking up on her thoughts, James said “I miss him too.”
Lily turned and quickly blurted “What makes you think I miss Sirius?”
James raised his eyebrow at her “Don’t you?”
Lily couldn’t prevent the guilty look in her eyes. She nodded quickly and returned to her cooking.
James put his arms around her and gently pulled her away from the stove. He tenderly lifted her chin with his hand. “I know you kissed Sirius last night.” There was no malice in his voice as he spoke.
“You do?” asked Lily nervously, trying for a moment to pull out of his embrace.
James held her tightly. “I do. The mirrors, remember? I spoke to Sirius this morning.”
“You’re not mad?” asked Lily timidly.
James shook his head. “No. The only reason I brought it up is because I knew you’d be feeling guilty about it.” Lily nodded, keeping his gaze.
James continued. “I just wanted you to know that I’m okay with it. I understand...” He hesitated for a moment. “...but I’m just worried that...” He didn’t know how to say it. His large brown eyes looked at her pleadingly.
“I love you James. That’ll never change.” said Lily. They kissed.
They were suddenly interrupted when one of their secrecy alarms went off.
James quickly ran for the window. Suddenly he pulled Lily out of the kitchen towards the stairs. “Lily, take Harry and go! It’s Him! Go! Run! I’ll hold him off –” he said forcibly as he gave her a push up the stairs.
Fear rose in her chest as her heart pounded harshly. She was so nervous she stumbled halfway up the stairs. She quickly picked herself up and ran to the nursery, just as she heard their front door blasted open.
Her hands were shaking as she picked up Harry. A cackle of high pitched laughter pierced her ears as she heard the words of the killing curse being uttered. The sound of a body falling heavily on the ground confirmed her worst fears. James was dead.
Her mind was swimming. She couldn’t think clearly. She didn’t even have her wand. She was still shaking dreadfully as she pulled open the window, but it was too late.
Voldemort entered the nursery, smiling slyly at her as he approached.
“Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!” screamed Lily, shielding her son from his sight with her body.
“Stand aside, you silly girl...stand aside, now –” said Voldemort impatiently.
“Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead –” said Lily pleadingly.
Voldemort continued to advance on her.
“Not Harry! Please...have mercy...have mercy...” begged Lily as the words she had read in Nicholas Flammel’s notes came rushing back to her.
A powerful wizard can control the power of his own death if he is willing to die. The words resounded loudly in her mind.
It was her only hope. Harry would have to grow up alone. But a slight relief filled her as she thought of Sirius. Sirius would be there for Harry. Sirius would take care of her son.
She screamed as she saw the green light emerge from Voldemort’s wand, but let it happen. She focused on her love for Harry and her willingness to control the power of her own death. It was all she could do. She then heard the shrill laugther of her killer and knew no more.
Sirius’ heart was racing frantically as his flying motorcycle approached Godric’s Hollow. His worse fears when he saw that Peter wasn’t at his hideout were confirmed when he saw smoke rising eerily from the ruins. The rat had betrayed them.
He jumped off his bike before it even touched the ground and darted towards the house anxiously. He still clung to the hope that James had managed to get his family away safely.
His hopes were immediately crushed when he saw James. He was sprawled unceremoniously at the bottom of the stairs, his brown eyes lifeless.
Sirius fell to his knees, unable to master the anguish he felt. He clung to James’s body as he cried, unable to bear the loss of his best friend, his brother, his Prongs. He had lost James before, but not like this. Before there had been hope. It was the only thing that had kept him going. Now it was over. James was dead.
Suddenly, a baby’s cry broke into his thoughts. It was coming from the second floor. Sirius rose instantly, unsure as to whether he was imagining it, but still desperate to find someone he loved alive.
He ran up the stairs to the nursery, his whole body shaking with adrenaline. He saw Harry was still in his crib, howling shrilly with a severe lightning shaped cut on his forehead. A shimmer of relief broke through Sirius’ sorrow as he rushed to the crib to pick up his godson. Harry was alive!
But just as he approached the crib, he tripped over something he hadn’t seen...Lily. Horror spread through him as he looked into her lifeless green eyes. Not Lily too! His heart screamed as he turned his head and retched. She was the only woman he would ever love. He had always known it. And now she was gone.
Although he felt like lying down and dying, Sirius forced himself to get up and pick up his godson. He had to protect Harry now. It was the only family he had left and the death eaters would likely be back.
Sirius’ tears were still flowing as he took a moment to hug Harry. He whispered to his godson soothingly despite the terror and rage that was slowly beginning to consume him. Safe in his godfather arms, Harry stopped crying.
Sirius ran back outside, forcing himself not to look at James as he passed.
Hagrid was outside looking fearstricken, standing beside Sirius’ motorbike staring at the ruins of the house. His voice was unsteady as he asked “Are Lily and James really...?”
Sirius could barely contain his despair as he nodded.
Hagrid bowed his head and howled eerily. “I couldn’t believe it. Dumbledore warned me before sending me here, but I just couldn’t believe it! Lily and James...”
Sirius leaned into Hagrid for support, still holding Harry in his arms. “They were my only family Hagrid.” he said shakily. Hagrid put his arm around Sirius and patted him gently.
“At least I still have Harry.” Sirius murmured.
Hagrid looked down guiltily at Sirius. “I’m sorry Sirius, but I ‘ave to take ‘im. Dumbledore said Harry has to go to his family now.”
Sirius’s eyes sparked fearfully as he backed away clutching Harry. “But he’s my godson Hagrid. I’m his family. I’ll take care of him.”
Hagrid put his hand gently on Sirius’ shoulder. “Dumbledore said he has to go to his aunt and uncle. Those were my orders.”
Sirius looked for a moment as if he was going to take Harry and run, but instead he placed the bundle in Hagrid’s arms. “Take my motorbike then.” Sirius said in an unusually calm voice. “I won’t need it anymore” he added.
His face was white as ash and his hand shook as he pushed a strand of dark hair out of his face. Hagrid looked at him sadly. "I'm sorry Sirius..." he said slowly. Hagrid understood what it was like to not have a family, how important friends were when you had no one else. What else could he say to someone who had just lost everything.
Sirius watched Hagrid leave with Harry, unsure for a moment of what to do. He was standing outside the ruins of a house, inside which his two best friends in the world lay dead. If he wasn’t allowed to take care of Harry, he had nothing left to live for.
Suddenly, he had a moment of clarity and his first thoughts when he arrived to the house that night came back to him. Peter. This was all because of Peter.
It was all his fault. He was the one who had convinced James and Lily to use Peter as a Secret Keeper. And that rat had betrayed them! Peter was the spy! He had been selling them out for over a year!
The revenge that filled his heart was as powerful as the anguish he had felt upon seeing James and Lily that night. He was no longer rational as he set out to kill the one responsible for all this.