Chapter 1 : The One to Blame
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I don't own the characters. I only own the plot. This story does not contain any spoilers from Death Hallows. This was written for the Halloween Challenge.
"I'm not ready to die, James!" Lily Potter sobbed against her husband's chest as their one-year-old child took his nap upstairs. James Potter swallowed and placed his chin atop his wife's head. He kissed her flaming, red hair over and over, at loss for words. He agreed with her. He wasn't ready to loose his life. He still had many years ahead of him, didn't he? He was only twenty-four! He had everything to live for! Or did he?
Their life had been so perfect until Lily became pregnant. That was when Professor Dumbledore had held an Order of the Phoenix meeting, which he said was urgent. That was also when he revealed to them a prophecy that had been created. That was when their lives were turned upside down.
He had told them about it and asked if anyone amongst them was with a child. Lily had only been two months along and James had just found out a week before...They both thought that it was just a coincidence. This damned prophecy didn't have anything to do wit their unborn child, did it?
They had both been surprised when Frank and Alice Longbottom had raised their hands. James and Lily had hesitated in raising their hands. This prophecy could be about either of their children. How were they to know? The professor had begun to speak to them as if the prophecy had everything to do with them. That was when James took his wife's hand into his own, squeezing it gently, and slowly raised his other.
Ever since that day, their lives were completely different. And it wasn't a good different either. They had been given immense protection, which was now bugging the hell out of the both of them. James and Lily were tired of being sure to keep the date of birth of their son on the down low and they wanted it all to be over. Their son had changed their lives. Sure, they loved him, but was it worth all of this?
Neither of them knew the answer to that question...
James whispered, "We're not going to die..."
Lily turned her head into James' hard chest and let her tears soak through his shirt until she could feel it stick to his skin. Lily froze in his arms and whispered, "It's his fault. It's all his fault!!"
"Whose?!" James asked quickly, pulling away from his wife, because of her sudden out burst. Lily stormed away from him and up the stairs, "It's our child's fault!! It's his bloody fault! He's ruined my life!!"
"I know he has..." James whispered, his wife unable to hear him. He looked down to the ground and whispered, "His life is not worth mine..."
"NO!" I scream loudly, jolting awake. I only realize it was a nightmare before I let my wet and bare back sink against the bed again. I rub at my eyes and groan as hot tears threaten them. Ron, Seamus, Dean, and Neville haven't even taken notice to my nightmare, and even if they have, they have probably gotten used to it by now.
This horrible dream has been a plague to me for weeks now. I don't know what made me dream it, and I had never even let the thought run across my mind, but now it is all I can think about. I'm constantly wondering if my parents ever blamed me for their death. Did they blame me for ruining the last years of their life? If they did, I never want to know...
I have enough bad things on my mind right now. What, with the battle around the corner and constantly wondering if I'm going to make it out alive, not to mention Ginny, who keeps making eye contact with me in the halls and then looking away quickly, refusing to speak to me.
I look to the clock on my bedside table and groan, seeing that it is just two a.m. I don't want to go back to bed, because I know that another nightmare of my parents will come to haunt me. I decide to just sigh heavily and lay back against my bed. I fold my arms above my head, my hands cradling it, and I close my eyes, trying to force out the horrid idea that my parents blamed me.
I wish I had some source who could tell me if my fears were true...
Sirius is dead.
Professor Dumbledore is dead.
Wormtail should be dead for what he did.
Remus - Ah! Remus can help me.
Slightly eager, I rise from my bed, tossing the covers back and I run my fingers through my matted hair before I leave the dormitory full of snoring seventeen-year-olds. Slowly, I pad down the stairs, yawning hugely as I come to the landing. The fire is crackling lightly in the fire place, its embers slowly dying. I hear a groan from the couch and quickly walk to the other side of the couch, surprised to see Ginny curled up into a little ball on the couch.
She is sleeping peacefully, her work scattered about her on the floor and the table in front of me. I bite my lip and tell myself to avert my eyes, but it, of course, does no good. I find myself staring at Ginny's slender body, curled up so peacefully on the couch. I can't help myself. I find myself thinking of the many times when we were dating last year, when we'd sit in each others arms and just talk in soft voices. I miss having someone I can do that with. I miss everything about Ginny. If only she could understand...
I finally become a bit self conscious of my bare chest and I turn around, leaving her there to sleep in peace. She doesn't need me disturbing her. If I woke her up, she would just probably rise and leave without a word to me.
Merlin, when will she understand?!
Sighing and shaking my head, I walk to one of the tables by the window and pick up one of the spare pieces of parchment that the first years have been leaving around the place. Also on the table is a bottle of ink and a quill. I plop down into a chair and begin to write to Remus, my shaking hands showing my anxiety. At first I don't know what to write, how to state my problem. A voice keeps rising in the back of my head, fussing at me. It seems to be saying: "Harry, why in the world do you need to ask such a thing? You should know the answer to your nightmares. Your parents would never do this to you."
Another is creating a battle with the first voice, and is fighting back: "But how do you know for sure?! Ask, ask, ask!"
Ginny stirs every now and then and at every moan, at every sigh, and at every turn of her body, I lift my head to see if she has awoken. I don't know why I currently have so much interest in her. Oh wait. Merlin, I just can't hide it. Of course, I still have feelings for her. I finish my letter to Remus and sigh, rubbing my eyes tiredly. Only now do I realize that Hedwig is off hunting and I have no will power to walk all the way down to the owlery. So, grumbling, I just stare at the letter to Remus in front of me. It will have to wait until morning...
Sleep threatens me as I concentrate on the soft sounds of Ginny's snoring. She sounds so peaceful and I try to picture happier times as I lean back in the chair. My mind wonders across the wildest things, things that I may not ever see, things that I may never possess, a life that will probably never belong to me. A life with no Voldemort. A life with Ginny...
Lily Potter watched her son sleep in the dark hours of night. It was summer, a warm breeze drifting in through the open window in Harry's nursery. She rasped her fingers on the rim of her child's crib, biting her lip to keep from sobbing. She didn't want to wake her son.
She never pictured her life like this, but then again she had never pictured herself with James Potter, yet here she was, married to him and hopelessly in love with him. Maybe her life was supposed to turn out to something that she had never wanted. Harry let out a gurgle in his sleep and Lily sniffed as tears rolled down her cheeks. She found herself stuck in a position she had never been in before. She wanted to be able to run around, free, without any spells holding her back, without having to be cautious of some damned prophecy. It would all be over if...If...
No, she couldn't...
But, then again, she didn't even know if she loved him...
If she did...She and James would be free, free to live their own life, free of any prophecy of their child. She hadn't had the chance to love her son properly. Every time she looked at him, every time she spoke her son's name, a voice inside of her head seemed to whisper to her: "The one who is causing you to give up your life! To die!" Yes. She should do it! She knew she should! She would be doing herself and James a favor. She'd be doing Voldemort's job for him. He wouldn't feel a thing...He wouldn't even feel a thing.
She told herself this over and over as she stroked her baby's cheek on last time and picked up the tiny blanket, her wands position unknown to her. A look of pure evil and hatred spread across her face as she lifted the blanket, wrapping it tightly, and holding it like a weapon in her hands. "L-Lily?"
She spun around, jumping, and her eyes went wide when she saw her husband in the doorway. Immediately, he sensed what he had walked in on. He shook his head quickly, pleading with this beautiful woman, this woman that he could never imagine any sort of hatred coming from, "No, Lily!! Don't! Stop it!!"
"I'd be doing us a favor!" she shouted in a harsh voice as she turned back to the crib, that crazed look coming across her face once more. James ran forward and snatched his wife by the waist, shouting as she kicked at him, screaming for him to let her go and finish the job, "Don't touch him! This isn't you, Lily! This isn't you!! You wouldn't kill our son!!"
"He's ruined me!!" Lily shouted, collapsing to the floor in James' arms. As Lily gave up fighting him, they both fell to the floor in a heap, Lily sobbing loudly. James panted, feeling tears well in his own eyes, and he smoothed back her hair and cried softly. He shook his head at her, holding her to him, "You wouldn't do that. Lily, you wouldn't!"
She sobbed against James' chest as Harry awoke and began to cry in his crib, annoyed by the sound of high, loud cries that didn't belong to himself, "Why us?!"
"Harry," I hear the soft voice of Ginny and feel her shaking my shoulder. My eyes flutter open and immediately I sit up, shoving my glasses up the bridge of my nose, and look around in a confusing way. I blink, and stutter, "I-I...I-must have fallen a-asleep. W-What?"
"I must have fallen asleep down here too. I'm sorry I woke you, b-but you were screaming a-and it seemed to be a pretty painful nightmare." Ginny says in a nervous voice. I realize that her hand is still poised on my shoulder and I look down to it curiously. She jerks her hand away and takes a step back, her face flushing. I've made her uncomfortable. Great. I shake my head for no reason, taking it into my hands, groaning. I didn't mean to fall asleep. I whisper after a moment, "I-It was."
Ginny swallows and nods, sitting down across the table. She pulls her legs up to her chest in the chair and looks into the fire across the room. She speaks softly, "Why are down here?"
"I had to owl Remus for something, but I guess I didn't realize that I won't be able to send it until morning." I smile lightly, tensing up. This is probably the longest conversation we have had since we broke up. Ginny nods and then we enter silence. She asks after a moment and I have to look down, not wanting to answer it, "Harry, over the summer, what did you do? You went away with Ron and Hermione for the whole holiday. You said you weren't coming back. Why did you?"
I sigh rubbing my eyes. I don't feel like telling her about this. I don't want to drag her into this mess. I rise and fold my arms across my chest. As I walk away, I murmur, "I had nothing to lose I guess."
That's a lie. I had everything to loose. I decided to return to Hogwarts because Ron and Hermione were being stubborn. They said that they would follow me where ever I went and I knew that Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, along with Hermione's parents, wouldn't be too fond of them not going to Hogwarts for their seventh year. Besides, we've destroyed all the horcruxes.
Now, we're just waiting for the moment when Voldemort will strike.
"What do you mean?" Ginny asks quietly, rising. She obviously doesn't get the point that I don't want to discuss this matter with her. I close my eyes, groaning in agony. I shake my head at her as she comes to stand by my side, "I don't feel like talking about it."
Ginny clamps her mouth shut and nods, murmuring, "I understand." I turn to her and say quickly, "No, Gin. I'm sorry. That was rude of me." Ginny shrugs her shoulders and walks away from me to the other side of the couch. She picks up her papers, her essays, and all her other school work. She speaks to herself in a hushed voice and I don't bother to make out what she is saying. I look down, embarrassed, trying to keep old memories of us from rushing back, and I ask, "Ginny, what would you think of me if I thought that my parents blamed me for their death?"
She freezes, in the middle of shoving her homework into her bag. She lifts her face, her mouth hanging open. Her lips are pink, I'm tempted to run over there now and kiss her. She rises from the ground and glares at me, "Harry, I'd think you'd have lost your head. That you'd gone mad."
I can't believe I just asked her that. I've never come out with my feelings like this before. People always fuss at me for bottling my feelings up, now I'm confessing them to my ex-girlfriend. I walk to the other side and sit down, folding my hands together and staring into the fire. I whisper, "I can't stop wondering about it. A few weeks ago I had a nightmare about them. I dreamt that my parents had just figured out about the prophecy and they blamed me for everything. Absolutely everything. Now, I can't stop wondering if it's true."
"Harry," Ginny says seriously, sitting down next to me. I tense with the sudden closeness of our bodies and she realizes this, scooting back a little. She looks at me sternly and says, "Your parents did not blame you! They would never do that."
"How do you know for sure, Ginny?" I ask in a whisper. I shake my head back and forth, squeezing my eyes shut. The horrible picture of my mother holding a blanket as a weapon above my crib will not leave my mind. Ginny purses her lips together and she says calmly, "I don't, but Halloween is tomorrow. Tomorrow it will have been sixteen years since their deaths. It's going to have an impact on you. Maybe it's just that and nothing more."
"Maybe." I whisper. She rises and looks at me, perhaps hoping that I will say a little more, perhaps hoping that I will engulf her into my arms and hold onto her forever, kissing her passionately. I can tell her that that heaven will not be happening any time soon, and it won't happen at all unless I somehow succeed in killing Voldemort.
She closes her eyes when I make no motion to rekindle our relationship and she stomps away, grumbling, "Goodnight, Harry..."
After Ginny retreated to the girl's dormitory, I found myself thinking about the battle to come. I hadn't even given it much thought lately, which I guess is a good thing. I haven't even been thinking that my life could end any day now and I'm sitting around Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, just waiting for it to come and bite me in the arse. I don't see how I could possibly defeat Voldemort. I haven't even given the whole sibling-wand conflict a thought. Truth be told, I'm lost without Professor Dumbledore.
Sighing, I rise and clear my head of my negative thoughts and try to replace them with fantasies of Ginny in the future. I grab the letter to Remus from the table before going to back to the boy's dormitory and preparing myself for another nightmare to be my plague...
It is Halloween and I am sitting at the feast, being the party pooper of the group. My nightmare last night was so horrible I can't even bear to tell it. Ron and Hermione have been asking me all day why I have been sulking around. Only Ginny can imagine why I am acting like this. I have seen her begin to make feeble attempts to ask me about any further nightmares, but I made up a lame excuse each time. I close my eyes and groan, rubbing my head in the agony of my most recent nightmare.
Candles and jack-o-lanterns float in the air above our heads, the ceiling of the Great Hall enchanted to show a dark and gloomy sky. Just the sight of it gives me the shudders. To me, it seems to resemble death, seems to be saying: "Today, sixteen years ago, your parents died, Harry Potter."
Hermione leans across the table in front of me and says in a soft voice, her expression worried, "Harry, you need to eat. You haven't eaten all day, and it's Halloween! Enjoy the feast."
I shake my head and grumble. Ginny looks at me from her other side and then looks back down, pursing her lips together. She waits a moment before shooting her head back up and spitting out, "Harry, none of it's true and you know it! It would never happen, so put it behind you!"
I glare at her and roll my eyes, rising from my spot. She wasn't supposed to reveal any of that to anyone. Now Ron and Hermione will constantly be bombarding me with questions until they get what they want, once again! Hermione asks Ginny in a soft voice, "What are you talking about?"
Ron calls after me, "Harry, come back!" I ignore Ron and as the hall enters silence because of my commotion, Ginny rises from her spot and chases after me. She grabs onto my arm as we both leave the Great Hall. Seconds after we are in the Entrance Hall, the feast resumes its normal volume level. I sigh heavily, "Ginny, you shouldn't have said any of that."
"Well, I'm sorry, but you're being unreasonable!" she shakes her head at me. She tugs on my arm, over and over, "You know that your parents would never think that about you!"
"No. You see, I don't know that!" I blow up. I feel like a crazed idiot and I don't know why. I want to be alone. I want to feel like I'm free of any of this mess. I push the oak doors open and close my eyes, breathing in the scent of rain and grass. I hear Ginny stutter from behind me, but I don't bother with her, "H-Harry...H-Harry!"
I open my eyes and stumble backwards, my eyes going wide. I swallow a lump in my throat and stare at the swarming mass of Death Eaters in front of me. Voldemort, leading the large group, sneers and claps his hands, "Ah, Harry Potter! You're just the coward I was looking for."
I stutter, not wanting this. I'm not ready for the battle. I'm not ready for any of this, "V-Voldemort..."
"I knew we'd surprise you. Now, why don't you come on out here so I can see you properly?" Voldemort tries to lure me out there. I turn my head back to Ginny, who has a hand clamped over her mouth. I mouth to her, "Go get help." She nods and flees into the Great Hall. I can hear her shouting all the way from outside, but I try to push her voice out of my head.
Voldemort nods, "That's right. You wouldn't want your dearly-beloved to see you crawling on your knees, begging for death, just like your parents."
I swallow and close my eyes. I knew it was coming, but I wasn't ever imagining it this quick. I should have known Halloween was a likely date for it. I ignore the sneering Death Eaters and step out onto the grounds, my wand by my side. Voldemort smiles and hisses, "Straight down to business, shall we?"
I bow and he bows back. In the blink of an eye, we have our wands pointed at the other. I hear the rush of feet and look over my shoulder into the Entrance Hall where the professors, Ginny, Ron, Hermione, and the other seventh years are standing. Voldemort shouts to them, "Don't any of you enter our duel. You shall all watch Harry Potter die!"
I see Ginny's face tense and I wish I had the chance to kiss her one last time. I turn to Voldemort and shout, "Impendimeta!" He blocks the curse with a simple wave of the wand and I am not prepared, not ready for it, when Voldemort shouts, "Crucio!"
I fall to the ground, screaming in pain as I thrash about on the ground. I want to die. I don't want to have to go through this. I've been through enough. Just please save me the pain and kill me now. The curse seems to last for hours and hours on end. It's never going to end, is it? Finally it does and it takes all of my strength to pull myself to my feet, instead of just lying there, waiting for my death. I raise my wand, gasping for breath. I'm panting, feeling all my energy leave my body.
Everything is going hazy. I cannot see anything. My head is pounding and my body is aching, just from one simple curse. I never knew I could feel so much pain. Voldemort is taunting me, but I cannot concentrate enough to register what he is saying. I raise my wand to one of the five Voldemorts I am seeing and splutter, "Sectumsempra!"
The curse flies off somewhere, hitting a Death Eater. I fall to my knees, unable to stand. Voldemort strides forward and I can barely make out how far away he is. I feel a horrible rush to my head and feel myself fall over. I know that he has hit me. I can hear the gasps of the professors, but most of all I can hear Ginny's protests. I look to her as my vision comes into view and I feel a rush of energy inside of me. I have to fight it. I have to fight him for her sake! I can't let my dreams come crashing down because I did not fight for what I wanted! I rise, huffing and puffing and shout, "I've had it!"
"Oh no." Voldemort snickers, shaking his head at me, "I think we're just getting started."
I shake my head at him and hiss, "No. We're done. It's time to end this for good. One of us will be dead before the night is over."
"Of course, it will be you." Voldemort shouts, raising his wand. He has moved to quickly. His harsh voice rings above all else, "Avada Kedavra!"
I am quick to react, shouting back just as loud, "Avada Kedavra!" Two jets of green light emerge from the tips of two wands and fly at one another. I close my eyes and prepare myself for my death, but it doesn't come. Instead, I open them and find myself staring at two connected wands. I have forgotten about our wands being siblings. I feel the force of the curse on the wand and grab onto it with both hands, hissing in pain as it tries to slip from my fingers. I can hear Voldemort shouting from the other end, "NO!"
I fall to my knees, trying to keep the orb away from me. Soon enough, wisps of mist are leaving the orb and coming to hover by my side. I'm waiting for two certain people. Many people that I do not recognize come, and then it's Cedric, followed by the muggle caretaker. Then...
Oh, and then! My parents emerge from the orb and appear by my side. I feel tears in my eyes at the sight of them. Voldemort shouts, "Don't you look at them! You look at me and fight your battle like a man!!"
I choke out, looking to my mother, as beautiful as ever, "Mum, I have to know! Did you ever blame me for your death?!" My mother's face is stunned and she even seems slightly angered with my question. She shakes her head and says in the sweetest voice, a voice that I want to remember forever, "Never for one second, Harry James Potter."
I hear my father speak, "We are so proud of you, Harry." I look to him and he is smiling. I feel like I'm free, a great burden has been lifted from my shoulders. I smile and whisper to them, "I love you. Both of you."
"We love you too, Harry." My mother nods. My father speaks again, "You must break the connection now, Harry! You can do it, we know you can! You can defeat him!" I nod and jerk the wand away. All of the sudden, all the lights, all the mist, everything, disappears. Even though they are gone, I feel a new hope inside of me. I know I can defeat him. I know I can kill this son of a bitch in front of me. Even if I don't, I'll die with pride.