Chapter 1 : Our Last Summer
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Only one summer with my baby boy before I was murdered. Before both of us were murdered, my husband and I.
All I could remember for many years was the beach. Everything about that day was a paradise after our long months spent in hiding. Everything about it was beautiful. The taste of the salty air. The coarseness of the sand between my toes. My husband's hands intertwined with my own, as we kissed. The sounds of my baby's laughter mixing with the roar of the ocean.
We were innocent then. We knew we were in danger, but who can quite believe that any man would hurt such a beautiful family? Especially that day.
James was the first one up that morning. Usually I was the one dragging his sorry behind out of bed, but this morning, he woke me with the smell of pancakes wafting in from the kitchen.
I stumbled in, bleary eyed, wearing my nightdress, with my fiery red hair standing up in every possible direction.
James grinned at me from the stove. "I made you breakfast," he said proudly, showing me his masterpiece.
"Oh, but I'm wearing a bathing suit today," I said grumpily. "I should eat something lighter."
I had not lost all the gained weight from my pregnancy, and I was still very self-conscious about it.
"C'mon," said James, with a hint of a whine in his voice. "One pancake won't kill you."
He plopped a plate down in front of me, with a steaming pancake in the middle.
I stared at it.
Grudgingly, I picked up my fork and grumbled," Unless I choke."
James rolled his eyes and kissed the top of my head. "I love you just the way you are."
"Da!" cried a tiny voice from the other room. "Daaaaa!"
"Harry's calling for you," I said through a mouthful of pancakes.
I watched him leave the room and could hear him talking to the baby. After a moment, he brought Harry into the kitchen, and I couldn't help but marvel at how similar they looked. A year old, Harry already had his father's ridiculously messy hair and the same facial structure. But he had my eyes.
The eyes that his father had called "green pickled toad" eyes, whenever he wanted to irritate me.
"Harry told me that he wants to go now," said James solemnly.
"Oh, he did not," I said, in exasperation, as I finished my pancakes.
Although Harry was a very bright baby, he couldn't say much more than "Da" for James, "ow" for owl, and "yeah!" I understood James's eagerness, though. We had been moved from house to house for the past three months, unable to see anyone for more than ten minutes and unable to leave the house. Dumbledore had decided that it was imperative that we stay safe, and so he had stated that he would perform a Fidelius Charm, if things got to that point. We had hoped that they wouldn't.
Still, I had been able to live crammed into a house with my little family. James, however, wanted to be out there fighting, and I think it was a great blow to his manly ego to have to hide. We had many heated arguments about it, always trying to keep our voices low so as not to disturb the one reason we were so desperate for safety. I had told James repeatedly that there wasn't anyone calling him a coward. They all knew that he had a young son to care for. Still, he was restless.
I think that Dumbledore must have sensed this and was afraid that James would do something terribly stupid.
He was probably right.
Either way, we were given one day of freedom. We had been given a few options-- a picnic in the park, a day at the zoo, even a skiing day in the Alps.
We chose the beach.
I had always loved the beach, and James and I figured that it would have the most escape options, if necessary. (Although, I think he kind of fancied the idea of a downhill ski chase.) We had requested to be absolutely alone-- no Hit Wizards, no Aurors, nothing to bother us. If trouble were to come along, we would handle ourselves. It was going to be a normal day for our not-so-normal family.
I had gotten everything ready the night before, so while I threw a few last minute things together, James dressed the baby. We had been told that Dumbledore would leave a Portkey on the back porch, and when we were ready, we headed out the door.
A grimy looking top hat sat in the center of the step, looking completely wonderful to us.
"Are you ready?" I asked, balancing Harry on my hip with one hand and squeezing James's with the other.
"I was born ready, love," he said, winking at me.
He thrust his hand out and grabbed the hat. There was a sharp tug, and we were gone.
When we arrived at the beach, James and I immediately burst into laughter at the shocked expression on Harry's face. He had never traveled by Portkey and was obviously stunned. For a moment, I was afraid that he was going to burst into tears, but he couldn't resist our smiles and so began his lovely giggling.
We moved close to the water, and I set Harry down on the sand. The morning sun had not been out for long, so it was still cool to the touch. James and I watched as he ran his fingers along it and picked it up to let it fall through them.
And then he promptly tried to eat it.
"No, no no," I said, quickly pushing his sandy hands away from his waiting mouth. I looked up at James. "Your side of the family."
He flexed his arms and said, "I had to toughen up somehow."
I picked up a nearby seashell and chucked it at his chest, causing him to drop his heroic stance, in favor of a more pathetic one.
That is, clutching where the shell had hit, as if it had been a missile fired at him.
Harry looked at his father in wonder, and James said, "Mummy's trying to kill me."
Harry broke into a nearly toothless grin and cried, "Yeah!"
"You think that's funny, huh?" said James, smiling at the baby. "You're on mummy's side?"
He began to tickle Harry, perhaps more roughly than he should have. "Stop it, you're going to hurt him," I said, in exasperation.
Sometimes, I wondered if he knew the difference between a baby and a Quaffle.
"No, I won't," protested James. "He's a strong little boy. He'll be a Quidditch player, like his daddy."
"Although, hopefully not as big-headed as his daddy," I said, under my breath.
James reached out to touch Harry's soft head. "Nope, seems normal to me."
I slugged him on the arm, and he feigned injury. "Oh, my arm," he groaned melodramatically. "My life is ending. Only one thing can save me now."
"Really?" I said, raising my eyebrows at him. "And what is that?"
"Why only to see my lovely wife-" he broke into a wicked grin. "In her lovely little bathing suit."
I should have known.
"James Potter," I said, pulling off my sundress and rolling my eyes. "You never change."
In my little lime green bikini, I picked up Harry, and we, and the extra baggage on my hips, headed towards the ocean.
"Where're you going?" called James, jogging to catch up with me. "The whole point of my suggestive statement was so that we would end up making love on the beach."
"In broad daylight and with Harry awake?" I asked indignantly. "I don't think so." He looked a little dejected, even as the warm sea waves lapped around our ankles, so I muttered, "That's what the night is for."
He grinned at winked at me--my handsome husband-- before reaching his arms out for Harry. I gently handed him over and began to wade out a little farther, then turned to see James holding Harry so that his feet just touched the water. The baby's mouth had opened in an "o" of surprise that made me laugh.
He was beautiful. We were beautiful. The beach, too, was beautiful.
My only regret was that the day didn't last forever.
We made a sand castle, caught a crab, had a picnic, and even spotted a big, old pelican resting on a distant dock. All of it Harry took in with bright, intelligent eyes, until he fell asleep with the setting sun.
The fiery colors painted the ocean and the beach in a glow of gold and red.
"Gryffindor colors," I teased James, as I rested my head on his shoulder.
And when the stars appeared, their light and beauty reflected in the dark waters of the sea, James and I made love in the glorious night.
That perfect day could not have been forgotten, especially by my restless mind of the afterlife. Nothing could ever have competed with its absolute perfection.
I only hope that, one day, Harry will remember that day, whether it be the feel of the sea breeze or the sight of a crab pinching his father's finger.
I hope that he will remember that one day that I could not forget.
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