“Lily, take Harry and go! It’s him! Go! Run! I’ll hold him off – ” James Potter ran from the room as the front door burst open and high-pitched cackle of laughter rang through the house.
Lily shivered and willed her husband to give them both time to get out. She hoped he would be able to escape safely too, she never wanted Harry to grow up without either one or both of his parents. She could hear lots of shouting in the hall. She ran to the back door and wrenched it open. It only she could get away from the house, she could Apparate to the Headquarters and get help.
She quickly slipped into the shadows. In her arms her young son stirred in the sudden change of temperature. She prayed he would not make a sound and give them away. She slipped into the trees as flashes from inside the house lit up the garden. She clung tightly to Harry, hoping more than anything that James was still alive.
“Has anyone spoken to Lily and James in the last couple of hours?”
“I don’t think so, why?”
“How is that significant, Sirius?”
“He’s their secret keeper. I persuaded him to take it. I just went to check on him, he’s not there, and there was no sign of a struggle. James and Lily could be in trouble.”
“And Peter could just have gone for an evening stroll. Stop worrying so much, Sirius, we’d know if anything was wrong.” Lupin replied casually and returned to the report that he was writing for Dumbledore.
Both men heard the front door crash open. Sirius glanced at Lupin, pulled his wand out and hurried off to investigate, Lupin quickly followed.
“Lily! What are you doing here? Where’s James?” Sirius demanded.
Lupin saw she was very pale, and holding baby Harry tightly.
“James – ”
Lupin ran forwards and caught Lily before she collapsed. Sirius removed his godson from her arms.
“We should take them upstairs.” Lupin said.
“I’ll do it, you get Dumbledore.”
James ducked a jet of green light and shot a spell at the intruder. He hoped Lily and Harry were safe and well away from the house. He had no idea how long he’d been duelling with Voldemort, or how much longer it would go on for.
“Where is he?” Voldemort hissed.
“Your son, where is he?”
James ducked another jet of light, this time red, and didn’t answer. He sensed Voldemort trying to access his thoughts and quickly raised a barrier. Suddenly, the Dark Lord lowered his wand.
“You’ve not seen the last of me, Potter.”
He disappeared out the back door and shouted to his Death Eaters. James sank against the wall, sheer exhaustion creeping into his every muscle.
Dumbledore and Lupin ran up the path to the Potter’s house. The front door had been blasted off its hinges, while photo frames, plants and ceramic pots littered the hall floor. The chairs had been overturned in the living room, while pages torn from books lay in a thick layer below the shelves. Pictures lay in their smashed frames on the table and mantelpiece.
“Check upstairs, and be careful. Someone could still be hiding somewhere.” Dumbledore instructed Lupin in a low voice.
Lupin slowly made his way up the stairs. There was no damage in any room up here, and no sign of James. He quickly rejoined Dumbledore in the hall.
“Upstairs is fine, there’s no damage, and no bodies.” Lupin reported.
“Which means James must either be in the kitchen, or not here.” Dumbledore concluded, gazing warily at the door.
“Let’s hope he’s in there, for Lily’s sake.” Lupin murmured, Lily had been very upset when Dumbledore had questioned her.
“Only one way to find out.” Dumbledore lead the way down the hall to the closed kitchen door.
Lupin gasped as the door opened. There was more damage in this room alone that in the rest of the house. He stepped forwards onto the carpet of smashed china and bent down to retrieve yet another photo in a broken frame. This one showed Lily holding a two-day-old Harry with James and Sirius on either side of her. He had been unable to join them that day, because of the full moon. He wiped a silent tear from his face and looked up to see Dumbledore staring out into the darkness.
“We should get out of here, Voldemort could return at any moment,” the old man muttered.
Lupin got to his feet as they heard a groan from across the room. He went to the counter separating the kitchen from the dining area and looked over.
“James!” He hurried around to his friend, “What happened?”
“Voldemort, he was after Harry.”
Dumbledore crouched down beside the two men as James spoke again.
“Where are Lily and Harry? Are they safe?”
“They’re at Headquarters,” Dumbledore said gently.
“I sent Lily outside with him. We’re not safe here anymore, Albus. He knows where we are.”
“You can stay at Headquarters for tonight while I sort something else out.” Dumbledore picked up a shard of plate and muttered a few words, “Which is precisely where we are going now.”
James and Lupin both placed a finger on the plate and instantly felt the pull of a Portkey.
Sirius sat in the living room cradling Harry in his arms. The toddler had been constantly crying since Lupin and Dumbledore had left. He had persuaded Lily to go and lie down after her near collapse, assuring her that he would be fine to care for Harry for the night. He realised Harry had some idea of what had happened, and wanted the comfort of his parents, but James was still unaccounted for, and Lily was not capable of caring for her child at the current time. He suddenly realised he could hear voices out in the entrance hall. He carefully stood up and went to investigate.
Lupin helped James to his feet as Dumbledore pocketed the Portkey.
“You should get some rest, all of you. We will only find out the extent of the damage in the morning.”
“Not before I’ve seen Lily and Harry.” James protested.
“You can see them in the morning, you need to rest.”
“I’m fine,” James replied defiantly, “I have to see them, I have to know that they’re all right.”
“There’ll be time for that in the morning, James. I’ve told you they are both safe, what more do you need me to say?”
“Words won’t make me feel any better, Albus! I don’t know how you became such a great wizard when you don’t understand love.”
Dumbledore turned to face the man slowly. Lupin had just enough time to register the pain showing in Dumbledore’s usually calm eyes before the old man disappeared. James sank to the floor again, “What have I done?”