It was hard to believe Harry was already a year old. It had seemed like such a short time ago that he had just been born. Now he was a year old and he had proved to be the biggest light in these dark times. Having Harry around showed that this was a war worth fighting so he could grow up in a happier time. James and Lily weren’t able to do anything really special for their son’s first birthday; they couldn’t risk exposing themselves and so they simply had a tiny get together in their home. Sirius and Peter came by to celebrate and Sirius brought a birthday present James seemed to love more than Harry. It was a tiny broomstick made especially for a baby. Harry, who was now walking on wobbly legs, was having the time of his life zooming around on it.
It was equally as hard to believe that it had been a year since Harry and Anna Lupin had died. Remus wanted so much to go to the cemetery where they were buried to see them, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t leave these bloody woods to do something so important to him. He was fed up with it. He should be allowed to see his parents’ graves on the anniversary of their deaths. But no, he was here, in the middle of the bloody woods. He was close to telling Dumbledore that this all had to be a farce. It couldn’t take so long for Voldemort to contact the werewolves. Maybe it was a trick. That was the only explanation Remus could think of for why this was taking so long. But he couldn’t abandon this, in case it wasn’t a trick.
Things were going poorly for the Order. They were getting no closer to ending this war than they were three years ago. They continued to fight, thinking of their fallen friends who had died in the act of trying to make a better world. Their deaths wouldn’t be in vain. They thought of those they loved who weren’t caught up in actually fighting the battles. They wanted to make a good place for them to live. Everyone tried to keep these incentives in mind, yet it was difficult to do when all they wanted was for it to be over. They all wanted their simple, uneventful lives back.
What was the most unnerving fact was that it was inevitable that there was a traitor in their midst. The larger part of the Order was not aware of this, as Dumbledore only shared this information to those it pertained to – the Potters and their friends. Once again the Potters’ home had been discovered by the wrong people. Only so many people knew about their location. Dumbledore was one of them, the Potters of course, and their three best friends. One of them had told someone about this. This couldn’t go on. James and Lily were trying to raise a son; their lives could not be continuously uprooted like this. Something had to be done.
Having already shared this news with Remus, who was not able to be there in his office at Hogwarts, Dumbledore now found himself sitting across from the group that had once been so tightly knit. He could hardly bring himself to believe that one of them had betrayed them all. James, Lily, Sirius and Peter looked confused, without a clue of why they had been asked there. Surely it wasn’t for anything good, though they wished to believe it may be for something good. After all, how much worse could things get?
“It has come to my attention that there is a traitor amongst us,” Dumbledore informed them gravely, carefully taking in all of their reactions. They were all undoubtedly shocked at this piece of news.
“A traitor?” Lily repeated in a small voice. There couldn’t be a traitor. Who would want to betray them? She couldn’t think of anyone in the Order who would.
“I can see no other reason for why you have been repeatedly discovered in every new home I have placed you in. Someone on our side must be responsible for this.” He hated to deliver this news, but there was no other way. If James and Lily wanted to get out of this war with their son, they had to know and Dumbledore found it equally important to inform their best friends. The closest people to them. One of them was behind it and, though it grieved him to consider the possibility, he was left with no other option.
“What are we going to do?” James asked. His face was grim. Like his wife and Dumbledore, James could not believe that someone would stab them in the back like that, risk the life of an innocent child. He also saw that this was a logical explanation.
“I am working on a plan that I will tell you of soon, once it has been finalized.” Dumbledore was already well into making the plan; he would just have to teach Lily the proper spell. She was the best in her year at Charms; she would be able to perform it. It was one of the most difficult of spells to master, but he had the utmost faith in her.
“There can’t be a traitor,” James said when they arrived back at Sirius’s flat. While he could see the logic behind it, he couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t believe that one of his friends had stabbed him in the back in such a way. He didn’t want to believe it, yet what other explanation could there be? They had been found every time they moved. The signs were pointing to someone, but James couldn’t even begin to think of who it may be. He didn’t want to think about who it was.
“You think Dumbledore is lying?” Sirius said with a raised eyebrow. There had to be a traitor and, as much as it sickened Sirius to even think about it, he had an idea as to who it may be.
“No… no, I know Dumbledore wouldn’t lie about this but-” He exchanged glances with Lily, who bit her lip and shook her head sadly. He could see how much it shocked her to even consider who was betraying them.
“I… I should get Harry home,” Lily said quietly. Harry was beginning to get antsy and she could tell James wanted to talk this out with his best friend. Or was Sirius his best friend? Oh Merlin, she didn’t want to go there. She didn’t want to place the blame on any of them. She wanted to believe that maybe it was just luck that Voldemort had found them all those times. Peter also excused himself, saying he needed to get back to the shop.
“Maybe I should get going as well,” James said uncomfortably. He had to think about this. He didn’t want to, but he had to. He had a son and wife to think about. He had their lives to think about. He had to put aside his biases for the moment, his friendship, and think. After all, that was what this traitor had done.
“You know I would never do that to you, don’t you?” Sirius asked uncertainly. He wouldn’t be able to take it if James thought he was the backstabber. Maybe it sounded back for him to ask that, but he had to make sure James knew this.
James was quick to assure Sirius that he knew this very well. “Of course I do.”
Sirius was relieved to hear the sincerity in his best friend’s voice. “I… I don’t want to say this; it obviously has to be Remus or Peter if it’s not me. Would… would Remus do this?” He felt ill voicing it, but Remus was the only other viable option! He had the skill, he had the brains; he could be it.
James looked about as ill as Sirius felt. “Remus? No… no, why would he do that?”
“James, it’s not me, it’s obviously not you or Lily, that leaves Remus and Peter and, to be honest, Peter isn’t talented enough.”
James couldn’t ignore the arguement Sirius was presenting, yet he wished he could. He still felt the need to defend his friend. “But Remus, Sirius? Why would he join the side of the people who killed his parents?”
Sirius couldn’t deny that James had a point, but no matter which way Sirius looked at it, Peter was just not capable of such a betrayal. He just wasn’t. It frustrated him beyond comprehension. He didn’t want to do this! He didn’t want to place the blame on Remus, but the signs were pointing to him. He was gone without reason, he wouldn’t say anything about it. Who was to say he wasn’t one of Voldemort’s lackeys now? “Don’t ask me to figure out how a werewolf’s mind works.”
James looked as though someone had slapped him. Had Sirius really just said that? Tentatively, James said, “Sirius?”
Sirius’s hands clenched into fists at his sides and his face felt warm from the anger coursing through him. “Merlin, James, we trusted him! Who else can it be? Remus is brilliant, skilled with a wand and he’s a werewolf!”
“You’re a Black,” James pointed out heatedly. There was no way Sirius was so hypocritical to use that arguement.
Sirius’s expression now matched James’s. “I wouldn’t do anything like that to you.”
“I don’t want to believe Remus would stab us in the back like that.”
“Look at recent facts, James. He’s vanished. When he vanished, you and Lily were driven from home to home. He won’t tell us where he is or what he’s doing. He’s changed, James. I don’t want to believe it either, but what else can we do?”
James didn’t want to believe that Remus was the traitor, but that was just it. He didn’t want to believe it. He could believe it. It was undeniable that Remus had changed over the past year and, while maybe a portion of that was due to his parent’s deaths, maybe another part was because his allegiance had changed. James couldn’t refute that he had a difficult time figuring out what the man was thinking a lot of the times. It would be hard to understand why he would, but the fact remained that Remus had to be the one.
He was the traitor.
Lily wasn’t happy at James’s revelation that Remus was the traitor, but she was more concerned for the life of her son than she was about that. She wanted this to end. She wanted to be able to raise Harry in a world that hadn’t gone mad. If she had to admit that a man she had been friends with for so long, had loved like he was her brother, had betrayed them, well it was just another part of war that she was going to have to accept. No matter how much it sickened her.
It was just another hit in their lives. She hated that it came so close, but there was nothing she could do about it now.
They were due back at Professor Dumbledore’s office the next day. He had something important he wanted to tell him, something related to his plan to keep them safe until this war was over. They both hoped this plan would work. How many times could they keep running? Voldemort would find them eventually and absolutely no mercy would be taken. If they could successfully vanish from society for a while, they wanted to know how. Hopefully Dumbledore would be able to provide them with some answers.
“The Fidelius Charm will protect you better than any spell there is,” Dumbledore informed them. Fillius had assured him that if they cast this spell, there was every possibility of them surviving. If they were smart about one particular aspect of the spell. “No one will know where you are. They could be standing in front of your home and would not be able to detect your presence. The way the Fidelius Charm works is that you must have a Secret Keeper.”
“A Secret Keeper?” James queried. He wasn’t sure he had ever heard the term before, though it did sound like it was exactly what they needed.
“A Secret Keeper is the holder of your location. Only the Secret Keeper is able to divulge this information. Whomever the Secret Keeper tells this to will be able to see your home and find you, yet they will not be able to tell someone else the location. This is the most important decision you will make in this war. This is why I must strongly advise you to choose wisely. Your lives will rest in this person’s hands. I am offering myself as your Secret Keeper.”
Lily glanced hopefully at James. If Dumbledore was their Secret Keeper, they were guaranteed to be safe. They were given the chance to escape this war with the Headmaster’s help. Dumbledore would never reveal their location to anyone. He was the one working so hard to keep them safe. Yet James didn’t look as certain as she felt.
“You’ve already done so much for us, Professor. We couldn’t add another burden to you,” James told the man, trying to ignore the startled look on Lily’s face. Dumbledore didn’t need to babysit them.
“James,” Lily whispered in shock. Surely he was losing his mind.
“This would not be a burden,” Dumbledore assured him. He would do anything to protect this family and that included being their Secret Keeper.
“I would prefer to use a friend,” James insisted. Maybe he was being stupid, but there was one friend he trusted above all else.
“James, I am warning you. Choose wisely. One of your friends has betrayed you and to use one as a Secret Keeper is ill advisable.”
“Not for whom I have in mind.”
“Who do you have in mind, James?” Lily questioned, already knowing the answer. She trusted Sirius, but she would rather have Dumbledore as their Secret Keeper.
“Sirius would rather die than tell anyone where we are,” James insisted firmly, hating the doubtful look his wife was sending him.
Dumbledore closed his eyes for a moment. He looked tired. James and Lily had never seen the Headmaster look tired before. They thought he was above that, they thought he didn’t get tired. It had been a childish thought that had stuck with them throughout the years. “If that is what you wish, Mr. Potter. Lily, I will teach you how to perform the Fidelius Charm.” He took a deep breath, another thing they had never seen him do. “I know you trust your friend, James, just remember my offer is there.”
Lily wasn’t happy with James. She trusted James’s judgement, yet she didn’t want to trust anyone beyond him at this point. Dumbledore would have been the perfect selection. They wouldn’t have to worry! Dumbledore would die before turning them in and, while she believed Sirius would rather die as well, she would pick the Headmaster over him. Who was to say Sirius would even agree to this? This was a risk on his life as well. What if he didn’t want to take that risk? This was war. Everyone wanted to get out of it alive.
Yet Sirius had no problem with it when James brought up the prospect. In fact, he embraced the chance to be able to protect his best friends. He would be able to ensure that they were safe. He wouldn’t have to constantly worry. He had felt helpless every time he learned that they had been driven out of their home because of Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Now he would be able to prevent that from happening. It wouldn’t happen because Sirius would be damned if ever revealed their location. All Lily needed to do was cast the Fidelius Charm once they moved into their new home in Godric’s Hollow.
Dumbledore had picked it out. It was where he had grown up as a child. It wasn’t entirely Wizarding, but there were Wizarding families that lived there, like Bathilda Bagshot. It was a nice village, Lily and James rather liked it. In fact, they had decided that this would be where they raised their family once the war was over. They would finally come out of hiding and be able to see the world again. They had already begun hiding as far as their jobs went. Lily and James had taken indefinite leaves of absence from the Daily Prophet and from St. Mungo’s. It was hard, but they had to do it.
They were surprised, however, when Sirius pulled them aside one evening to discuss a plan of his own. He had been thinking about it nonstop. While he would be more than glad to be their Secret Keeper, he was the obvious choice. He was too obvious a choice. If they wanted to beat this, they had to be sneaky. That was why he suggested using Peter Pettigrew as their Secret Keeper. It was a farce. It was ridiculous. Who would expect him? No one - that was who. No one in their right mind would suspect Peter having anything to do with the Potters’ disappearance, let alone knowing where they were.
James and Lily considered this idea for a long time before deciding that Sirius had a point. Peter was an unlikely choice and it would only work to their advantage. If the Death Eaters began to suspect they had gone into hiding using the Fidelius Charm, they would go towards the more likely candidate as the Secret Keeper. That was Sirius. Sirius would be able to put up a fight if they did come calling for him. Peter, however, wouldn’t. It would throw the Death Eaters for a loop when they realised it wasn’t Sirius they should be after. And Peter had agreed to do it. They hadn’t expected it to be so easy, but they weren’t complaining. Time was quickly running out.
Peter, meanwhile, had a plan of his own. He knew how this was going to end. It was going to end on his terms for once. He was going to be the one to bring an end to this war because, after all, the Dark Lord wouldn’t have been able to do this without him. Peter was going to be the Secret Keeper. The Dark Lord was as graceful as a cat. He would be able to sneak around Godric’s Hollow with James and Lily realising his presence. It would catch them completely off guard when the man entered their home, ready to deal out their fates with one final blow. Peter may have had to vanish once he committed the deed, but he wasn’t going to. He knew Sirius would be after his blood, but what did Peter have to fear? He would be revered by the Dark Lord as the one who delivered the final blow to end this war. Peter would have unlimited protection. He had nothing to worry about.
It was beautiful, poetic justice. Those that never gave a damn about him were about to fall by his hand and their own stupidity. It was beautiful. Peter would be a hero. There was no doubt about it – Peter Pettigrew would be a hero. He had handed Voldemort the information to take down the Potters and finally end this war. Life had never been so good. He was going to be the Secret Keeper and he was going to end this war.
And so, on October the twenty fourth, 1981, the Fidelius Charm was cast.
There was a traitor. Merlin, he had really been out of the loop. When Dumbledore had informed Remus of this, he hadn’t believed it at first. In fact, he had been disappointed at the time because Dumbledore hadn’t been contacting him to tell him to come home. Yet his disappointment was quickly shoved from his mind at the prospect of someone betraying Lily and James like that. What was even worse, the traitor had to be part of their group. It wasn’t Prongs, but it was either Moony, Padfoot or Wormtail. Remus knew it wasn’t him, so that left Sirius or Peter.
He never believed he would have to think about this, but he had to compare the two and decide who was most likely to be the traitor. It wasn’t a difficult task.
It would be ridiculous to think that Peter was the traitor, yet it was equally ridiculous to believe that it was Sirius. Peter wasn’t capable of it and Sirius would never hurt James in such a way. He may have been a Black, but that part of the Black Family had passed him over completely. He had proven it again and again. He had proven it by befriending a werewolf and a blood traitor. He had proven it by running away from them when it became too much, when they wouldn’t relent pushing their beliefs upon him. He had proven he would rather die than betray any of his friends. Yet there was still this nagging suspicion in the back of Remus’s mind that was pointing its finger at Sirius. Remus tried to ignore it. This couldn’t have been it. There couldn’t have been a traitor. There just couldn’t have been.
It wasn’t as though he could prove it, anyway. Not from where he was. He was still in the woods. He was beginning to think this was going to become his permanent residence. The werewolves had not been approached by any Death Eater or Voldemort himself, at least not while Remus had been awake. If Voldemort had appeared or sent Death Eaters to speak on his behalf, it had been in the few hours Remus had been asleep over the past few months. This had to be a trick, it had to be. Someone was behind this to throw the Order off whatever their real plans were.
He was ready to just call it quits and go home, forget about what Dumbledore said about staying. What was the point? There were no Dark creatures coming to aid Voldemort, at least not any werewolves. Maybe he’d found enough help in the vampires or the giants and didn’t need the help of the werewolves. It was possible. Maybe even Lord Voldemort saw a limit to the size of an army. Was he being a fool for thinking that? Remus didn’t think so. He was here for far too long and all he wanted to do was go home.
If the Death Eaters weren’t coming by now, they weren’t coming. If they did when he left, no one could say he hadn’t tried.
Remus didn’t know how the fates had smiled on him, preventing the werewolves from discovering him for so long, but he wasn’t complaining. He was more thankful for this than he would be for anything else. Somehow he had managed to stay hidden and he was not taking that for granted. He could have been dead by now if he had been discovered. He would be dead or irreversibly injured. Now he just had to get out of there before his luck ran out and he was caught.
Only he wasn’t so lucky.
Remus was moving far away enough to Apparate back to London, yet he wasn’t fast enough. He was weak, he was tired and hungry. He wasn’t able to stop the unexpected force that came from behind him, knocking him to the ground where the breath left his body for a long moment. Stars were violently dancing before his eyes as he fought to regain his breath. There was a heavy weight on top of him and it wasn’t letting him go. Then a rough, furious voice spoke in his ear.
“What do we have here?”
He was discovered.
Excerpt from Chapter Ninety Five: Crashing Down
The movement was a large, hulking figure that Sirius recognized even in the darkness. Rubeus Hagrid. Sirius approached the man, still wheeling along his motorcycle. Sirius could see Hagrid was cradling something in his arms. “Hagrid?” Sirius croaked.
Hagrid was startled as well. He looked at the young man with surprise in his eyes. He didn’t think anyone else would be here tonight. The large man looked just as shaken as Sirius was. “Sirius Black?” Hagrid questioned.
Sirius nodded, gulping in the cold night air. “I… W-what are you holding?” Sirius pushed the kickstand on the bike down and approached Hagrid. What he saw nearly made him faint in shock.
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