James felt his entire world crash down around him as Jasmine's words echoed through his numb mind. It couldn't be true. It wasn't possible. Harry, his son Harry, he was alive! What Voldemort had said - what Jasmine had said! - it simply couldn't be true. Harry couldn't be dead, not after everything had just started to go right. They were going to be a family again! Just like before Voldemort attacked. He wouldn't take his family again, even Death himself would not be so cruel. He had his family! And they were again going to live as one. He, Lily, and Harry. . . Lily. Oh Merlin, Lily.
He looked at the sleeping beauty lying against his chest, and wrapped his arms more securely around her. He couldn't tell her, not now, not like this. He had seen something light behind her eyes when he told her Harry was alive, a new will to live had shown through. How could he take that away from her? They had both lost so much already. He couldn't lose Harry again! But Voldemort was right. . . He already had.
James wanted to bury his face in his wife's hair and just cry. Even if they did get out of this terrible place, what did it matter? He would never be whole again, not without having his son in his life.
But he couldn't, he had to be strong. He had to take Lily home; he had promised her after all. He promised to take her home. But did "home" even exist for them anymore?
James couldn't think over anything as the reality that he'd never see or speak to his child again sank in. He didn't comprehend Remus telling him via mirror that he and Sirius were on their way. Nor did he take in Lily waking and asking what was wrong.
Even if he did, how could he tell the woman he loved, the mother of his child, that their baby was really dead? Especially when he couldn't find it in him to admit it to himself.
Molly was crying into her twin sons' shoulders as they tried to comfort her. Hermione had thrown her arms around Ron and was sobbing desperately into his chest as he numbly put his arms around her and stared blankly, unthinking, into his mind's abyss. Ginny ran into the room she and Hermione shared and slammed the door shut. Dumbledore suspected the girl put a Silencing Charm on the door because no one had heard anything from her since.
The old Headmaster wiped a tear from his dull eye as he watched the reactions of those closest to Harry when he had told them Harry was lost. "I am truly sorry," he said, but no one heard him.
He went back into the study to complete a task harder than what he had just done; he needed to know the truth of what happened in its entirety.
The witch had finally turned away from her godson's body, and was clutching her niece, her anchor and touchstone, as they both cried. She heard her name, but didn't look up. Harry was dead, and, in the words of Professor Dumbledore himself, there was no spell that could reawaken the dead.
Showing great strength for a man so old, Dumbledore placed his hands on Jasmine's arms and forced her to stand. Tonks stood shortly afterwards as well.
"Jasmine," he said slowly, "I need to know what happened."
Tonks's hand still held in her own, Jasmine looked away and ran the back of her fingers down Harry's pale, dead cheek. The boy's eyes were closed, and his godmother hadn't been able to cover his face.
"Jasmine," the Headmaster tried again, "I need to know how my student died."
Her eyes shut, and she turned to the wizard with a sharp glare. "Is that all he is to you?" she asked in a voice hollow and lifeless.
"Of course not, but this is something that I need to know."
Jasmine thought carefully before answering. "If you were to organize a mission to rescue Lily, would you have risked the spy or tried some sort of ambush?"
"Would you please elaborate?"
"Would you have sent James back to get Lily out?"
Dumbledore had a feeling as to where this was going. "I would not have considered putting James back into the hands of Voldemort, especially so soon after his escape."
"They would have killed her if anyone but James had shown up, she would have never made it out. We had to get her out. H-harry," her voice broke as she thought over what happened next. "We would have stopped him, we wouldn't have let him. . . We didn't know."
Dumbledore listened carefully. He understood what the Marauders had done: They had foreseen and sidestepped an old man's mistake before it happened. Unfortunately, they had made one themselves in the process.
Sirius and Remus saw the door. Finally, they were all going to get home, and a part of the nightmare would end.
A powerful stunning spell hit the wall just to the left of Sirius, creating a tiny crater in the wall. The two Marauders spun around, wands drawn, as cries of "Intruder!" sounded from the Death Eater who spotted them. He was stunned, easily, but more could be heard headed that way.
Sirius mentally slapped himself when he looked down and realized he hadn't been disillusioned.
"Here, get these to James and Lily," Remus whispered, taking from his pocket two firm pieces of wood and placing them in Sirius's hand.
"What about you?"
"I'll hold off the welcome committee," Remus answered, a slight hint of mischief in his voice.
Sirius nodded and continued on his way to the Potters. Remus could take care of himself, as well as see his opponents.
Surprisingly, a simple "Alohomora" opened the door, and Sirius was able to slip inside unnoticed, as sounds of a duel were heard not too far away.
"Sirius, is that you?"
Sirius looked to the source of the familiar voice that sounded so unrecognizable. How could that be Lily? She looked so. . . dead. But of course, he figured Azkaban hadn't helped him much in the beauty department either. "Yeah. Lily?"
She smiled; it was finally over. . . Almost.
"Let's get out of here," James said tonelessly.
James stood, wobbling slightly, and Sirius mentally grimaced at the dried coat of red that covered his friend's torso. There would be time for those questions later.
James offered his hands to Lily, and he helped pull her to her feet. She was visibly shaking as she stood, struggling to support her own weight, and James had to tightly grab on to her when she took a step forward and her knee gave out.
"I can walk," she said, a bitter tone directed at herself for not having been able to accomplish so simple a task.
"I know that, I just don't want you to fall."
She smiled gratefully, but James seemed to be struggling with holding up his own weight, let alone hers, even if it wasn't that much.
Sirius came over and was about to put his arm around Lily to help support her when he remembered what Remus gave him to give to James and Lily.
"Oh wait." He dug into his pocket and produced two wands that weren't his.
"Where did you get these?" Lily asked, reaching out a hand to touch and take her wand, which she hadn't seen in fourteen years. She welcomed the familiar warmth the wand brought to her hand as she held it.
"Moony found them."
James took his own wand with the same awe, but he wasn't shocked enough to forget, even momentarily, that his son wasn't waiting for his parents' return.
Remus wasn't having too bad a time. The few Death Eaters present had taken to shooting hexes and curses at random places around the corridor (which Remus could easily avoid) out of frustration that they couldn't locate their target. Not to mention that Remus had recently learned how to make his spells appear to come from a different location that where he was (much like a ventriloquist throws his voice), and had decided that this was the perfect opportunity to practice it.
But with the number of Death Eaters increasing, Remus couldn't deny that he was happy to see Sirius join the fight, followed closely by James and Lily.
As Sirius and James jumped forward - James with a determination behind his eyes that Remus had never seen before - Lily had to use the wall to support herself as she shot various spells at those attacking. Her spells didn't seem as powerful as they once had, but Lily didn't let that slow her down. She wanted revenge for what these people had done to her family.
Between the Marauders - one of which was Disillusioned - and Lily, it didn't take long to immobilize what Death Eaters had come, but it would have been folly for them not to have taken that moment to get to safety, especially with more Death Eaters, and possibly Voldemort himself, on the way.
Sirius put the mirror he had on the floor, licked his finger, and rubbed it against the mirror. Lily looked at him quizzically and somewhat disgustedly.
Sirius shrugged. "I needed to get my DNA on there to activate it somehow. Just don't touch it without everyone."
"You know, Sirius," Remus said, taking the Disillusionment Charm off of himself, "it probably would have been more sanitary for you if you had just licked the mirror."
"Moony, you're hilarious," Sirius said. "I was actually planning on just spitting on the damn thing, but we all know how Lily feels about that 'disgusting and immature habit'."
Lily rolled her eyes, but then spotted her husband, who was standing somewhat apart from the other Marauders and looking at something on the floor.
"James?" she gently called over to him, clutching Remus's recently un-disillusioned arm as a wave of dizziness washed over her.
"Just a minute." James was currently looking at something on the floor that had been dropped by one of the Death Eaters. It was the knife, the snake dagger that had murdered his child.
"Prongs, we have to go," James heard Sirius say as the sound of approaching footsteps could be heard getting louder and louder. What Padfoot had said was true, but what would he be going to? The thought of losing his son again, the pain. . . it was unbearable. He had missed so much of Harry's life already, and now, because of him, Harry didn't even have his life. What kind of father was he? It was his fault his son was dead, his fault entirely.
James didn't want to think like that, but he couldn't stop himself from doing so; it was true. A part of him didn't even want to go back. But he had to. Lily, he promised Lily.
James heard his name called, but paid it no heed. He couldn't leave, not yet, not when the thing that pierced his son could still look at him through the venomous eyes of the snake. He raised his wand. James didn't say the spell, and he didn't remember thinking it, but the next instant he looked at the horrible dagger, it was nothing more than half a snake, a handle. The blade was gone, as were those gleaming, red eyes. Now, only sockets in an empty snake head were left.
Looking over at the Death Eater who had dropped the blade, James saw that it was Severus Snape.
So the greasy git really was on the Order's side.
But no matter how much James hated Snape, they were still on the same side. Again with his wand, James banished the remains of the snake dagger to the side of another stunned Death Eater.
"James, we really need you to be done here now," Sirius said worriedly.
Slowly, James nodded and made his way to his friends and wife. Then he noticed that his friends were supporting his unconscious wife.
"Lily! What happened to her?!" James ignored the screaming pain of protest coming from his injuries as he lifted Lily into his arms and held her bridal-style to his chest.
"She passed out. She's really weak, mate. We need to get her out of here."
James nodded, not really comprehending what he was nodding in agreement with. The pain he was feeling seemed to numb out everything around him. It was worse than anything he had ever felt before, even losing Harry for the first time. Nothing could compare to how James felt at that moment. But the worst part was that he couldn't tell Lily. How could he inflict this pain on the woman he loved? More than anything, he wanted Harry back, and he was willing to give anything to get his son back; but the hardest part would be telling Lily that he was responsible for their son's death.
"Alright, count of three, everyone touch the mirror."
James's body seemed to be on autopilot as he reached forth to touch the mirror when Sirius said "three". The all-too familiar feeling came over him as he, Lily, Sirius, and Remus were transported back to Grimmauld Place, a killing curse sent by Voldemort having just missed them.
After arriving in Sirius's childhood home, James silently repositioned Lily in his arms, and without a word, carried her upstairs to his room. He needed to be alone, just with her, just for a while. He gently laid her on the bed, and bent over to kiss her forehead.
"James. . ."
"Yeah, love." He took ahold of her hand as she began to wake up, looking at her still closed eyes. He wished she would open them, he had to see the life behind her eyes.
"It wasn't a dream."
James lifted her hand to his mouth. "No."
He looked into Lily's half-open emerald eyes as her hand gently wiped away a tear that was making its way down his face.
"You look awful," Lily said with a slight smile.
James gave a sad smile in return. "You're beautiful."
Lily smiled wider and make to prop herself up on the pillows behind her. "I love you," she told him.
He sat next to her on the bed. "Love you, too." He leaned forward and captured her lips with his own.
"Think they'll be okay?" Sirius asked when James left with Lily.
"Yeah, Lily's strong, they both are. She'll make it though." Remus paused before continuing. "I'm more concerned that we haven't run into anyone yet."
Sirius nodded. "Think that could have anything to do with why Prongs was acting so strange before?" he asked worriedly.
"I don't know, Padfoot. I don't know. But something's wrong here."
At Grimmauld Place, before the Marauders had returned with Lily, Jasmine had shut herself in the study, refusing to part with her dead godson. She knew that he was beyond all hope, that nothing could bring him back now, but she didn't feel right about leaving him; not when she had failed him so many times already, first with the Dursley's, and now with this.
The door opened and Ron and Hermione slowly came over to their friend's side, tears in both of their eyes.
No one spoke, there was nothing to be said.
Sometime later, none in the room knew how long, Mrs. Weasley came in, trying to persuade them all to leave, saying that they were only hurting themselves by being there.
Jasmine slowly opened her trembling mouth, trying to keep her emotions and voice under control before responding. But before she was able to utter a sound, her godson drew a deep breath and began coughing violently as his body shivered.
"Harry!" Jasmine placed one hand on his arm, and with her other, gently patted his back until his coughs subsided.
"Albus! Albus!" Molly began to call, not knowing what else to do, or who else would.
Once Harry's coughs lessened, Jasmine, who was sitting slightly behind him, wrapped her arms tightly around the boy. He was freezing to the touch, and noticing this, his godmother wrapped the blanket that was over him closer to him.
"Oh, Harry." Jasmine had never felt such relief; she had completely forgotten about the Patronus she sent to James.
"Harry, are you. . . how are you feeling?" Hermione asked disbelieving and tentatively.
"Cold," he rasped out, in a voice that sounded as though it hadn't been used in a very long time, as he leaned into his godmother's warm embrace.
Hermione nodded, but seemed unable to control herself any longer as she flung her arms around Harry, sobbing uncontrollably.
Ron was about to say something when Dumbledore walked in, followed closely by Tonks, Fred, George, and Ginny, who had composed herself enough to see what all the commotion was about, even though her eyes were still puffy and red.
Hermione let go of Harry and back up so Dumbledore could come closer.
"Harry, how are you feeling?" he asked, as though not believing his own eyes.
"A little cold, really tired," Harry said, in the same voice as before. He was also feeling a little confused though. It didn't feel like his arm was bleeding, or even wounded, anymore, but that didn't fit with what he knew. All Harry remembered was feeling as though he were bleeding to death one moment, and the next. . . He couldn't remember. What had happened? "Sir. . . What's going on?"
Dumbledore still had a puzzled look when he answered. "Harry, just a minute ago. . . you were dead."
He had died? Harry didn't remember dying. He didn't remember anything. "Oh," was all he could think to say as Mrs. Weasley let out a small sob, and Ginny looked close to doing the same.
"Sir," Jasmine started to ask, "how. . . ?"
The Headmaster paused for a while to think before answering. "It is possible, due to the nature of the curse that 'killed' Harry, that the object responsible had a way to reverse its own effects, even to the point of death. However, that is only was theory, until now, I believe." By the time Dumbledore was done speaking, those in the room could see that the twinkle was back behind his eyes. "Something must have happened to the object in question that brought Harry back to us."
Someone could be heard moving through the house, then a door closing harshly.
"They're back," Jasmine said, almost silently; however, every ear heard her.
Harry sat up a little more. "Can I - . . . ?" He looked around, not really knowing whom to address.
"Yes. Yes, if you're feeling up to it, I think you should, dear," Molly said.
Harry nodded, and made to get up.
After Harry left to see his parents, walking shakily but not looking as though he were in any danger of falling, Jasmine and Tonks headed downstairs to see Sirius and Remus. They only heard one person upstairs, and figured it was James, hopefully with Lily.
They found the two they were looking for in the kitchen.
"Back so soon?" Jasmine asked when she saw Padfoot and Moony didn't notice them.
Both Marauders jumped ever so slightly at the unexpected voice. They turned to look at the source, Sirius smiling and Remus looking nervously at Tonks.
Tonks went straight to Remus and hugged him as though her life depended on it. After Harry had died, she had been so afraid of losing someone else too, especially Remus.
Jasmine sat next to Sirius and asked a question that was nagging her mind. "How's Lily?"
"She should be okay. She's unconscious now, but she was fine enough to duel Death Eaters just a bit ago. What's going on here?"
"I'll tell you, just give me a minute to let it all sink in first."
Sirius nodded; he was still trying to digest everything that had happened within the past few days.
The kiss had healed him, while it lasted at least. It took away the pain James was feeling over losing his son, until it ended. Then he had been thrown back into the harsh reality that Harry was really gone.
Lily had fallen asleep after, on her suggestion, they'd both cleaned themselves up. James just watched her as she slept, wondering how he could ever tell her that Harry was dead. He wished he could go back in time, far enough to stop himself from switching their Secret Keeper to Pettigrew, and prevent all this from happening. James didn't look away from his wife when he heard the door creak open, after having ignored a light knocking.
James's head shot up, and in one swift motion, he stood and turned, not caring as he knocked over the chair he had been sitting in. He couldn't believe his eyes, or ears. Harry. Standing right there. Alive. As fast as he could, James crossed the room and pulled his son into a fierce hug. He felt Harry put his own arms around him and held on tighter, afraid that if he let go, he would lose Harry forever, again.
After what felt like an eternity, they broke apart, and James held Harry at arms length.
"I thought I'd lost you," he said, with tears still in his eyes. Before Harry could think of an answer, James pulled him close and kissed his forehead, then pulled him into another hug. Although it didn't last as long as the first, it held just as much love.
"Come here." James placed his hands on Harry's shoulders and guided him over to where Lily was still sleeping.
Harry couldn't believe it. His parents, alive, with him. How many times had he wished for this? Finally, he got to be with the two people he loved more than any others, no matter how little memories he had of them.
Slowly, with his father's hand still on his shoulder, Harry reached out his own hand and smiled. For the first time in his remembered life, he was holding his mother's hand.
The days were passing quickly before Harry had to return to Hogwarts, and for the first time in his life, he wasn't looking forward to it. James and Lily didn't want Harry to go either, but they never voiced any objections to him going. It wasn't forever, after all.
Lily carefully walked down the stairs to the kitchen of Grimmauld Place. Determined to make a quick and full recovery, she had been doing much better, but she still had to exercise extreme caution when doing anything other than laying down or sleeping.
She heard laughter within the kitchen, but when she entered, she sat down next to James and Harry, immediately decided that she didn't want to know why Sirius had a pancake stuck to his head.
James turned and kissed her on the cheek as she reached for a plate after giving her son a small hug.
It hadn't been easy for either of the Potters to get adjusted to this new life after fourteen years of pure hell, but whatever hardships they, or Harry, faced, they would get through together. They were a family, and had proved that nothing could tear them apart.
A/N: Did anyone really think I could kill Harry before he met Lily? Also, the sequel is now up; it's called "Facing Fate".
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