Chapter 1 : Fallen Heroes
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“Sirius,” he said. “Sirius, sit down.”
Sirius pulled the bar stool out and touched the rim of his fire whiskey glass to his lips.. “How are you, Prongs?” he asked with a grin.
James ran a hand through his hair with a heavy sigh. His eyes were bright as he too sat at the bar. The bartender appeared on the other end to take his drink order, but James waved him away. “Sirius,” he started again. “Merlin I don’t even know where to start.”
“How about you start at the part where you decided to disappear on your best mate for a good solid two months with a certain redhead,” Sirius laughed jovially. James only cracked a small smile. “So how is the fiery wench?” Sirius asked as he took another sip of his drink.
“Pregnant,” James’s eyes met Sirius’s and fire whiskey sprayed across the length of the bar in a tumultuous spray.
“Lils is pregnant!?” he cried. “You’re pregnant!?”
This scene had occurred seven months ago, and now, twenty-two-muggle-baby-classes, forty-bags-of-diapers, and one-new-blue-colored-nursery later, Sirius, Remus, and James were huddled in a muggle hospital waiting room. The doctors had told James to leave the room mid-delivery.
“James,” Remus, ever the compassionate one, laid a hand on the father-to-be’s shoulder. “Lily has never met an obstacle she could not over come. She’s a strong woman.”
“She’d have to be, to be having Prongs’s kid,” Sirius grinned, trying to lighten the mood.
James’s hands were clenched and he was bent over, his elbows resting on his knees. She had insisted on a muggle hospital. She said it was how she was born, and how her mother was born, and how any normal baby should be born. She said magic couldn’t be responsible for fixing everything. James did not agree; not if magic was going to keep him from loosing the most important person in his world. “She said no magic,” he said in a low voice.
Sirius met Remus’s eyes over James’s head. Both expressions were grim.
“Everything was going fine,” he said. “You think, going in there, that it’s going to be an easy ride. After all, you’re not the one having a baby. All you have to do is hold her hand and make sure she doesn’t forget to breath. But they don’t prepare you for watching her in so much pain. They don’t tell you how to cope with the desire to switch places just so you don’t have to watch her face twist up like that every few minutes. They don’t tell you how to ease her pain so she stops screaming.”
Sirius reached across the table filled with old muggle magazines and their stationary photographs and gripped James’s wrist, squeezing it gently to tell him he was here and listening.
James sighed and ran his hands through his hair, sitting back and crossing his arms against is chest.
“James Potter,” a voice said from across the room.
James, seeing the man in the white coat, immediately was on his feet. Remus and Sirius followed, not close enough to be intruding, but close enough to be able to hear every word.
“I’m James Potter. Is my wife alright? Is the baby ok?”
The doctor held out his hand to stop James’s tumultuous questions. “There are complications we did not expect, Mr. Potter,” he said. “I don’t have much time so I’m going to be frank with you. We don’t know if your wife is going to pull through.”
James felt the world around him slipping away and Sirius rushed forward to steady him. The doctor cast the black haired man a curious look and Sirius replied, “I’m his brother.”
“The baby has a prolapsed cord,” the doctor continued. “They are currently performing a cesarean section, but your wife is not breathing on her own.”
James could not find his voice. He had so many questions. Can I see her? Will the baby live? Will Lily live?
“Prolapsed cord?” Remus asked.
“The umbilical cord has started to come out before the baby, causing it to be pinched.. It’s cutting off his oxygen supply,” the doctor explained. “The baby must be delivered to prevent asphyxia. Now, I am sorry, but I must return to the delivery room. We will update you as soon as we know anything further,” and with that said he turned and disappeared through the swinging glass doors.
Sirius and Remus led James back to the metal chairs. “James,” Sirius called to him. “James.”
James shook himself form his reverie, his eyes were glossy. “He said ‘he’,” he whispered in disbelief. “He said ‘he’.”
Sirius’s own eyes felt heavy and blurry. Not just for his best mate’s sake, but for the redhead whom he had come to respect and even love. Back in their Hogwart’s days she had called him a ‘degrading man whore’ who only lived to ‘further the hole of despair the female population had been placed in by the dominant male species.” On she and James’s wedding day she had requested he dance with her and then had kissed him on the cheek, claiming him as good as her brother-in-law.
“Congrats, Prongs,” Remus whispered, his own voice tight with tears. “You’re adding another Marauder to the mix. You can teach him all your old tricks and tell him about all the old passageways in Hogwarts so he can get in just as much trouble as you did back in your school days.”
“Did you and Lily pick a name?” Sirius asked softy.
Sound the bugle now-
“Harry,” James whispered. “We’re naming him Harry.”
play it just for me.
Sirius clapped James on the back. “A good name,” he approved.
“Lily wanted to ask you to be the godfather if it was a boy, Sirius,” James looked to his best mate, and Sirius noted with mild horror that a tear was streaming down his mate’s cheek. “And she wanted Remus if it was a girl. She said she didn’t want you to corrupt any daughter of hers,” James tried to smile.
As the seasons change-
Remus felt an odd tingling sensation under his eyes and found, with mild amusement, that he too was softly crying. “Lily’s going to be just fine,” he tried to assure them all. “Everything will be just as it should be and we will bring Lily home and play with that ugly little baby until he hates all his uncles quite thoroughly for never letting him sleep.”
“Ugly?” Sirius asked.
remember how I used to be.
“All babies are ugly. Don’t worry James, we were all ugly too. It’s not a reflection on your genes,” Remus said.
James sniffed miserably and opened his clenched fists, palms upward. They were streaked with water stains.
Now I can’t go on.
“What will I do if I loose her? What will we do if we loose the baby?” he asked his open palms.
I can’t even start.
“Listen to me, James Potter. You will not loose Lily. You will not loose that baby,” Sirius took James’s shoulders and forced him to meet his eyes. James was startled at the wet brightness in Sirius’s eyes. “I will notbe robbed of my godson before I even see him. You fought for Lily for three years. She will fight for you for as long as she needs to. Lily will not die.”
I’ve got nothing left-
The glass doors swung open and a harried nurse walked through, eyes scanning the room until they fell on James. She approached them swiftly, a gold chain dangling from her hand. She handed it to him silently and James reached out mutely to take it.
It was a gold locket he had given Lily their first Christmas together. It was a cheap thing from Diagon Alley, but Lily never took it off. He had offered to buy her a new one but she claimed it just wouldn’t be the same. He turned it over and the word scrawled across the back hit him square in the stomach.
Lily was dead.
The nurse cleared her throat and he looked up to her warm tears cascaded over his cheeks. He was startled at the smile on her face. “You must be James Potter,” she said.
-just an empty heart.
“I say so because your baby looks just like you. Born with that same head of hair and everything.”
The locket slipped through his fingers and tinkled as it hit the floor. Lily was alright. The baby was alright. Sirius and Remus were clapping him on the back and hugging him with obnoxiously loud cheers as he stood in a trance. He’d get to kiss his wife again. He’d get to hold his son.
“I have a godson!” Sirius proclaimed with a loud ‘whoop’ as he swooped the poor unsuspecting nurse of her feet and spun her around.
James was led into the delivery room, after having saved his wife’s locket from the floor. Lily had never looked more beautiful; more radiant. And as he entered the room and she turned to him with a broad, groggy smile, she pulled the blanket away from the small bundle in her arms.
“Say hello to your Daddy, Harry.”
Flowers. James had hated flowers.
You’d think with his wife being named after a flower there would have been more flowers in their life; but Lily had hated flowers too.
The room was absolutely covered in flowers. Sirius was disgusted by the amount of Lilies in the room. Anyone who had actually known Lily would have known better than bring the flower she despised most in the world to her funeral. Lily would throw a fit if she knew she was being buried with Lilies.
Sirius pulled at the collar of his robe. If she was alive she’d be able to throw a fit, but she wasn’t. And neither was James.
Dumbledore had warned him. Had told him not to come today.
They were going to find him eventually, today might as well be the day. Nothing was going to keep him from speaking at James’s funeral. Nothing.
Dumbledore had said his word at the podium. He gestured to Sirius, who climbed the stairs of the alter slowly, his eyes trained on the two coffins side by side before him. The two boxes that cased the two bodies of the two people he loved more than anything in the entire world; except his very young, and now parentless, god child.
The ceremony was a small one. The entire Order was present, excluding those on missions, such as Remus, as well as most of the Hogwarts faculty. Lily’s parents hadn’t even been notified yet. James’s parents were already dead. The closest family they had was Sirius, Azkaban be damned. This was his life being put into the ground today.
I’m a soldier-
There had been protesting from a good amount of people as to him speaking today. They whispered behind his back. To each other. He was the Potter’s secret keeper. He had betrayed them to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. They had grown up together, you know. He was their son’s godchild. Did you know Lily almost died giving birth to that child? They say she wouldn’t have been able to have more children after she came out of the procedure. James let her go to a muggle hospital.
-wounded so I must give up the fight.
“James Potter was not just my best friend,” Sirius started. “He was my brother.” Sirius burned beneath the accusatory eyes of some in the audience. What he longed to say was he was innocent. That he could never hurt someone he loved so much. But he hurt too much to form the words. James, his brother, his confidante, his fellow prankster, his only family… was dead. “Lily Potter was as good as my own sister. She was a peaceful woman with a fiery spirit. She laughed all the time. She was driven and steadfast to those she loved. She was devoted to James and their infant, Harry.”
I didn’t kill them. I didn’t betray my family to the dark lord. I didn’t kill them.
“James always liked a good laugh. In fact, he got us in more trouble than we ever cared to admit in our Hogwarts days,” he couldn’t pull his eyes from the coffin. From the vision he imagined in his mind of what James looked like right now. “James was a good man and a loyal husband. A loyal friend. A prankster through and through, but,” his words were sticking in his throat. “he’s dead now. And I can’t tell you how sorry I am that I will never hear his laugh again. I can’t tell you how much it hurts to know Lily will never scold me again. They took my godson from me. I can’t tell you how it feels to know I may never hold him again.”
Sirius raised his eyes to the crowd of people; the jury that had known him forever, some of them since he was ten years old. “I loved James and Lily Potter. They were my only family. I know some of you here today believe me to be the one who betrayed them. The one responsible for their murders. I tell you now,” Sirius was unabashed at the tears freely streaming over his cheeks. “I did not murder my godchild’s parents. I did not murder my brother; my best friend, or his wife. I am not in league with Voldemort.” Black hoods caught his eye from the back of the room and he sighed. “I was told not to come today; that if I did I would leave in the custody of the Ministry officials from Azkaban. They want to put me away for James and Lily Potter’s murders.” Sirius wiped the tears from his eyes. “I have one thing to say to them;
there’s nothing more for me. Lead me away.“
Sirius stepped off the podium and placed his hands on James’s coffin. His hair hung over his eyes. His voice was heavy.
“Or leave me lying here.”
Sound the bugle now.
He was running through the forest. He was scared.
Tell them I don’t care.
Betrayal. What was that? They kept whispering that word around him. Betrayer. Lucius and his new bride; Narcissa, had told him where to go. Bellatrix Black had been so sweet.
James and Lily were dead.
Had he wanted them to die?
He wasn’t so sure.
He hated James. He had always hated James somewhere in the back of his mind. He hated how easy life was for him. He hated how everyone paid attention to him and he hated how Lily Evans, even the perfect Lily Evans, had, in the end, fallen for him. Everyone loved James. Maybe something was wrong with Peter. Maybe it was his fault no one loved him.
There’s not a road I know-
As soon as Lily had started dating James, he had grown to hate her too. He hated Remus because he was so smart. He hated Sirius because girl’s practically flocked to him. The professors loved them.
The professors hadn’t even noticed him.
He was the tag along. The second thought. The period on the end of their sentence. He always came after the exclamation point. Nobody gave a damn about him, and they never had.
But Lucius and Bellatrix had.
-that leads to anywhere.
He remembered their first meeting like it was yesterday. Bella had been in the library. She had dropped her quill and he had picked it up. She had asked where his growths were and he hadn’t understood. She had laughed and he had been entranced.
They had met a few times and she had introduced him to Lucius, who had, in the end, introduced him to his master. Lucius was so unlike James. Lucius commanded attention purposefully. And he knew how to use it when he had it. Lucius was rich and well bred and had a beautiful wife who knelt at his feet.
He had power.
Without a light I fear that I will stumble in the dark
He tripped over a large root and his palms dug into the ground. When he raised them to his face he was surprised at the slippery feel of tears on his face.
Peter had only wanted a chance to fit in with someone. To be wanted by someone. To just belong somewhere.
Lay right down and decide not to go on
Peter let his hands slid from beneath him so that he was lying prostrate in the mud. Maybe if he lay here long enough both sides would forget he existed.
Maybe he would forget he existed.
Azkaban was a lot colder than Sirius expected. It was darker. It was lonelier. The worst part of Azkaban was not the darkness, or the lack of food, or the guards, or even the moaning of the prisoners around him.
What was the worst about Azkaban was that he spent every moment of every day reliving his life with James and Lily, with Remus and Peter.
Just the name angered him enough to draw the Dementors to his cell door.
Every day Sirius was haunted, not by any crime, like many in this prison. No, he was haunted by every happy memory he had ever had with James. With Lily. It was the sweetest torture one could endure.
Then from on high, somewhere in the distance-
He had just woken from a new dream. A nightmare, even.
there’s a voice who calls; ‘remember who you are’
In this new dream, he had seen Lily. Her beautiful laughing face had been framed by her red hair, which was being blown hither-tither by the wind. She was sitting beneath a great weeping willow, a bundle in her arms.
She had turned to Sirius and laughed, calling his name. Calling him closer to her. He had obliged, settling on the ground next to her. She had turned her brilliant green eyes to him and smiled broadly. Sweetly. The air was so full of love he could smell it.
“Sirius,” she had said. “James wants you to know he loves you. And I love you too.”
The tree was on the embankment of a large lake and Sirius recognized the lazy circling of one giant squid in the center. He looked over his shoulder, startled, to find they were in fact sitting on the edge of the lake on the grounds of Hogwarts.
“It’s not your fault, Sirius,” Lily continued. She wasn’t looking at him, she only had eyes for the bundle in her arms. “You cannot forget that. You can survive this, if you do not forget your innocence. Don’t let this place consume you, Sirius,” she placed a warm hand on his cheek.
If you loose yourself, you’re courage soon will follow
Lily’s face suddenly became troubled. “I have to go, Sirius,” she said. To his surprise, she handed him the bundle. She leant over and kissed his forehead. “You’re a good man, Sirius Black. I always thought so.” And then she was gone.
The summer day they had been sitting in was instantly gone. The birds no longer chirped. The giant squid no longer broke the surface of the lake. In fact, the lake its self had frozen over. A strong, cold wind blew across the grounds. Sirius looked at the bundle to find it was nothing but two rolled up baby blankets.
He stood and turned around. Behind him the school was nothing but a pile of rubble. The Gryffindor tower was the highest standing part of the castle, half of it torn away so that you could see into its bowels. Everything was gray and black. As Sirius completed a full rotation and came to be facing the way he had originally been facing, he found himself almost nose to nose with a young James.
He was startled. “James?” he asked, his voice excited. Oh how he missed James.
The boys brow crinkled, accentuating an odd scar on his forehead. “My name is Harry. My father’s name was James.”
Sirius’s heart felt as if it had fallen into his stomach and then ricocheted back into place.
“What are you doing here? This place has been abandoned for years. I didn’t think anyone else came here anymore.”
Sirius took another look at the castle and then turned back to the young man. “How old are you?” he asked. The boy apparently had no idea who he was.
“I’m twenty three,” he sighed and ran his hand through his hair. Sirius’s heart tugged painfully at the shadow of James in the boy before him.
“Why are you here?” Sirius asked.
The boy crossed his arms against his chest and turned to look at the old building behind them. “My girlfriend died in the battle here,” he said softly. “Sometimes I feel as if she’s with me again when I visit here,” he sighed and looked at his feet. “The war’s been over for almost two years, and yet, nothing feels finished. His followers are still out there. Despite the fact that he’s dead, he’s still alive. He lives on in them. In his cause and their belief in that cause.” He turned to Sirius and made a face. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to launch into that. It’s just… you don’t find many listening ears when you lead the life I do.”
It was after the war. ‘The war’? Sirius’s blood was cold in his veins.
So be strong tonight; remember who you are
Sirius approached the boy, recognizing the ache of loss in the boy’s features. “Harry,” he started. “Harry… You’re a soldier now,” he remembered him as an infant. As an innocent child who needed protection. Now it seemed as if that very infant had killed the murderer of his own parents. Had justice come full circle? “Fighting in a battle. A mental battle. A physical battle. A battle in here.” He placed his hand over the young man’s heart. “Never forget why you’re fighting. Why you plunge on.”
Sirius could hear Lily in his mind. Could see James laughing and Harry tossing around in that ugly baby blanket Lily had tried to knit him.
“To be free once more.“ Sirius turned his back on the boy and allowed the wind to blow across his cheeks. “That’s worth fighting for.”