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The Letter Box by Vanished Petunia
Chapter 4 : The Circle
Rating: 12+Chapter Reviews: 27

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"Just look at the next thing," James said.

"Did you not here me?" Lily asked incredulously.  She stood up and began to pace.  "James, this is ridiculous!  Can't you see what it's doing to us already?"  But inside, she tried to convince herself of what she was saying.  Lily knew she was right, but there was a flame of curiousity ignited within her...

"Well, I'm reading it," James said indifferently.  "Up to you."

Somewhat reluctantly, Lily  sucked up her pride, sat down, and read it with him.


I've got word from underground, looks like Runcorn was right and they are tracking your every move. Sounds like they've even started to doubt Ron's got spattergoit by Umbridge's files. Seems like she's just waiting for 'Undesirable No. 1' to get in contact with you. Be careful, whatever you do. Keep safe, keep the faith: The Boy Who Lived lives. I think I'm going to be on Potterwatch next week, password's 'Fawkes.'

"Undesirable number one?" James asked at the same time Lily questioned "Potterwatch?"

They looked at each other and Lily shook her head, dried tears crystalline on her face. "This one doesn't make any sense, really," she said. "I don't understand: The Boy Who Lived is Harry. James, it seems like the whole future revolves around our son!"

James shook his head.  "Well, that's basically what the prophecy said, isn't it?  Harry is supposedly the only one who can vanquish You-Know-Who."

"Prophecies don't always come true," Lily said reasonably.  "And we've prayed and prayed that this one would not come to pass.  Yet this is unnerving to the core; James, this makes me very uneasy."  She wrung and twisted her hands, as Lily always did when she was nervous about something.  James stared at those hands, at how her uneasiness seemed to be contagious.

James struggled inwardly with his conscience for several moments.  Here, in his very hands, was a chance to find out if things could come out in some semblance of all right.  But at the same time, he could also see how bad things could get in these letters...if they were even legitimate.  Yet somehow, neither James nor Lily thought their legitimacy worthy of questioning; the truth in them was far too straightforward, far too close to what they had assumed.  As James thought, a vision came into his mind of a letter in this pile that would quell all of their fears...why should they care that they would know the future, if it was one that they could enjoy...curiosity burned his innards.  How he needed to know the truth....If they and their son were so doomed to die, Harry's parents should know at least beforehand, to help him come to terms with the future.  Taking a deep breath, he turned to Lily, deciding to let her either ease his conscience or succumb his curiosity.

"Do you want to stop now?" James asked, looking straight into Lily's eyes.

And again, as she had so many times before, she surprised him. "I think we'll be hurt even more if we keep reading, James." She took a deep breath and sighed, that urge of curiousity tempered now, "But I think we are meant to be reading these now. We've been given a chance to see what the future holds...because we won't be there...not for all of it, at least."

James instinctively clasped her hand, and they held on tight. Silence enveloped them; neither knew what to say. What do you say to the person next to you, knowing that together you'll die? So instead of saying anything at all, they read the next two letters in complete silence.


Dear Molly,

I am certain Sirius will not accompany Harry to his hearing -- Sirius knows the risks well. Sirius has not forgotten that although innocent, he is still a convicted mass murderer and the only person who has survived breaking out of Azkaban. He has also not forgotten that Peter will certainly have told Voldemort all about Sirius being an Animagus, and that there are Death Eaters working at the Ministry.  Yet Peter will not risk coming out of hiding: He knows that Sirius and I would kill him in an instant. And I also understand your concerns, Molly -- Harry wants his father, and Sirius wants his best friend...although I would not worry about the consequences.

Best regards,

"It's...Peter." James said heavily. "Peter must be the spy, and we made him our Secret Keeper, and he's going to sell us out! Lily, what've we done? I knew Sirius would never betray our position, I should have stuck to my guns and now it looks like I've signed our own death certificate!"

Shock and disbelief raged like a wave over Lily's body.  How could they have been so naive?  She had trusted James' trust of Sirius and Sirius had mistrusted Peter.  How could they all have been so stupid?  Peter...Peter? How could they have placed their future in Peter Pettigrew?  "What on earth were we thinking?" Lily asked, shaking her head regrettably.  "Peter has never been as close to us as Sirius or Remus and we put our lives in his hands!"

"Lily, I don't know.  We all knew Peter was the weakest link...the tag-along.  But he -- he's my friend!  I never thought for a second..."

Lily was furious. James trusted his friends unconditionally, and normally that would be one of the things she loved most about him, but in this case, it was a catastrophic decision.  Snatching the letter, she pored over it again, determined to let her anger go, knowing it wouldn't help anything.  She found something to quell her rage and asked, "And why on earth would anybody think that Sirius was a mass murderer?" Lily asked in absolute disbelief. "Does everyone go off the deep end in our future?"

"Oh, come on.  Sirius would never kill anyone," James said with a wave of his hand.  He grinned a little bit and said, "First to break out of Azkaban, is he?  Ol' Padfoot knows how to get the job done."

Personally, Lily agreed with him; but at the same time, she felt a qualm.  James trusted Sirius above all people, even Lily; and Sirius had trusted Peter, hadn't he?  However, she did not voice her concerns here.  James would never consider for a moment that Sirius was anything less than completely devoted to their safety.

Sitting there in silence, Lily and James were momentarily stymied by their own thoughts. So much they knew that they should not many consequences of so many actions that they would never see. How do you forget the future, knowing it, and being stuck in the present? Or worse, still stuck in the past?

They stared down at the final letter in the sequence, staring at it warily and with hesitation. And this last letter -- it was the longest of all. It was a script neither James nor Lily had ever seen, but it was strangely familiar -- like a face they had seen a week ago on the street, like a friend they'd lost as a young child.

Dear Ron and Hermione,
A year ago today, Voldemort died. It seems like it was just yesterday, and at the same time it feels like a part of a different lifetime -- a life that I'm barely even a part of anymore. People, everywhere I go, still stop me on the street or pass by me whispering, "That's Harry Potter...the Boy Who Lived." And I did. I lived.
Today is the first annual Salvation Day. It's a holiday now, can you believe it? When I think about where we were a year ago, I never could have imagined that things would end up -- there's no other word for it -- okay. Today I am thinking of the two of you, and wishing we could spend this day together. Unfortunately, we've all got jobs now. I'll see you on Saturday, though, for sure.
Do you remember our first Potions lesson with Snape? And he told us about bezoars? And then 5 years later I saved Ron's life with one. That's a day I'll never forget. Remember, Ron, it was your birthday and you accidentally ate some of those Chocolate Cauldrons Romilda Vane gave me that were all spiked with love potion and we went to Slughorn's office to get an antidote know the rest.
There are so many things I want to say, so many things I want to talk to the two of you about on this day. The two of you made sacrifices for me that I could never have asked you for, but that I will always be eternally grateful for. A lot of people don't understand that the two of you deserve as much as, or more credit for the defeat of Voldemort than I. The two of you fueled me and everything I did. The two of you gave me a reason to wake up every day knowing that we were in as much danger as we were the last. You guys are my family.
I guess for us today is all about reminiscing all the things that got us where we are and all the people who gave their lives to help our cause: Fred, Remus, Tonks, Dobby, Mad-Eye, Colin Creevy, Dumbledore, and most of all, Severus Snape. These are the people who gave everything they had to defeat Voldemort: their lives. I wish that I had listened to Dumbledore...of all the things I never questioned about him, the only one I did was the one that was never in question: Snape was working for the Order all along. He died with Voldemort never realizing that Snape was working against him and that is an incredible feat. Did I ever tell you guys I actually mastered Occlumency, finally? I know, took me long enough.
My head is just flooding with memories -- of Hermione scolding me about the Half-Blood Prince's old Potions book, of that necklace Lavender got Ron (it's a funny story, Ron, don't be embarrassed), of rescuing Sirius and Buckbeak, following the silver Patronus doe to the shallow pool to find the sword of Gryffindor in the middle of the night to be rescued by Ron from Slytherin's locket, casting my first Patronus, all of our meetings as the D.A.; of falling in love with Ginny, of winning Quidditch matches, of Felix Felicis, of destroying horcruxes and searching for hallows. We had some great times, don't you think? And I have a feeling we've still got a lifetime of great times ahead of us.
But more than anything I think about the three of us together through all of our adventures. Honestly, I don't think Hogwarts will ever see three students who broke more rules and saved more lives and got away with it every time than us three. We knew every secret passage, every hidden room, every trick staircase. Voldemort was arrogant enough to believe he penetrated the school further than anybody who had ever or would ever go there: He was wrong. And for the rest of time, you know, we're going to be called the Golden Trio. But to me, we're still just the trio -- Harry, Ron, and Hermione. We can do anything together and we'll be best friends forever, no matter how much kissing you guys do in front of me. But hey, let's try to keep that at a minimum, eh? Just kidding, I know you two belong together.
Anyway, just wanted you two to know I'm thinking of you. Have a great day!



James sat still as if petrified. Numbly, he felt his glasses slide off his face, slicked off by the thick beads of sweat on his face. This letter had been written by his son...his son. The little boy sleeping upstairs. Lily whispered, "Wingardium Leviosa," just before the spectacles hit the ground. They flew back up in the air and were guided to rest on the sofa next to James. Lily abruptly stood up and ran to check on Harry, James just as quick off his feet behind her, hastily shoving his glasses back onto his perspiring face as he followed.

They flew into Harry's room, clasped the sides of his crib and looked down, expecting him to be gone or hurt or in a million little pieces vanishing into the night: out of their reach. But there he was; just a normal little baby, albeit especially adorable. His little chest was rising and falling steady as could be, and his untidy black hair seemed a bit more manageable in sleep. Lily wanted to wake him up, to see his eyes mirror hers just to make sure: but the next second she scolded herself, she wouldn't wake him up while he was sleeping so peacefully, not when it sounded like he would have so many uneasy nights in the future.

She felt James tug gently at her elbow, leading her back downstairs. They tiptoed down the stairs, unwilling to cause any unnecessary noise that could wake up their son or indicate their presence to unknown outsiders.

As they settled back down on the sofa, Lily asked in a hushed voice: "How much longer do you think we have, James?" As soon as the words were out of her mouth she realized she had said them just a few hours ago.

"It could be anytime that Peter betrays us. Harry seems to grow up completely without us, and it seems that Peter fears Moony and Padfoot killing him, which they wouldn't do for any other reason." His voice sounded odd, detached even to him. His mouth was moving and forming the words, but he felt he could not be saying anything.

"He ends up happy, at least." Lily says. She was beyond tears now. Only heartache caused her pain. They walked back to the sofa and Lily gasped. "They're gone! James, the letters, they're gone!" She cried.

"They can't have disappeared," James said. He drew his wand. Levicorpus, he thought and the sofa zoomed into the air, but the letter box was not beneath it. "Well, it's not a real loss," James continued as Lily searched the room. "We read all the letters."

Defeated, Lily slouched down on the sofa beside him. The enormity of what the letters had told them, of what they would have to do slowly reached them...they were both going to die. Sometime before Harry turned seventeen, and Lily had a feeling it would be a long time before then. was always going to happen. But now that there was a timetable, she felt like every heartbeat was counting down, that every thought was racing to make it. Lily bowed her head in her hands. James placed an arm around her.

Lily seemed to steel herself and looked up at James. "I get it," she said softly.

"Get what?" he asked.

"It's our turn now," she said. "James, it's our turn! We...we have to write Harry a letter now!" She was looking at him urgently, willing him to understand. "It's the Circle. We know, but he never will, unless we tell him."

"You want to tell him what we know about his life?" James asked, confused.

"No. About ours," Lily explained. "He'll never know about us otherwise. Not really know about us. Things we wouldn't tell him until he's of age, but we'll be gone by t-then."

"Lily..." James said, concerned. "Do you really want to do this?"

She met his gaze. "Could we live with ourselves if we didn't?"

{A/N: One more chapter to go! I know this is a pretty short story, but I've got a couple of longer ones in the works and I may go back and lengthen this one. Thank you so much for reading and reviewing!}

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