Chapter 1 : Prologue
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chapter image by Schultz. @tda
[Harry, Albus, James, Lily, and Ginny]
In a small house in Godric's Hollow in 2004, a man kisses his wife goodbye as he steps into the fireplace. She smiles and rubs her swollen belly, and waits eagerly for his return.
In a small house in Godric's Hollow in 2006, a man kisses his wife and son goodbye as he steps into the fireplace. She smiles and rubs her swollen belly before turning to her young son, who is flying madly around on a toy broomstick, his black hair flying out beside him. He comes to an abrupt halt as his broom collides with the coffee table. He falls instantly, landing softly on a pillow that Harry had enchanted to follow his son around every time he flew. He starts to whimper as Ginny picks him up and softly calms him. "Just like your father," she mumbles, a small smile on her lips.
In a small house in Godric's Hollow in 2008, a man mutters enchantments as he holds his wand high above his head. A woman appears beside him, a toddler holding onto her arm and one hand on her stomach. "We don't need that," she shakes her head.
"Precautions," he shrugs. As the number of escaped death eaters climbed, so did Harry's anxiety levels. He puts his wand back into the pocket of his jeans and picks up his son. The infant plays with his father's glasses. Ginny gives him a sympathetic smile.
"Are you going to come inside?" she asks. He sighs dramatically and puts his arm around her. She smiles and takes hold of it.
"My girl," he proclaims, leading her inside with a crazy grin on his face. He inhales like he'd never smelt air so fresh. "And my girl," he says to her stomach. Ginny laughs and leans into him, blissfully happy.
In small house in Godric's Hollow in 2010, a frustrated woman smacks her lips together as she pulls a sweater onto her oldest son. He writhes under her stubborn grip. "James!" she cries in annoyance.
"It's not cold!" he shouts back, pulling the jumper off again. He runs from her, plowing onto the couch and hiding in the pillows. His shout wakes the sleeping girl in the next room, who Ginny had hoped would sleep for a few hours after James went to school. Instantly, the baby starts to cry. Angrily, she balls up the jumper and throws it at James. It lands on the floor by his feet. She heads to the nursery and pulls Lily out of her crib. Harry appears in the doorway, fastening his tie.
"Don't you want to help me?" she cries at him, roughly bouncing the baby in an effort to calm her. Harry looks at her, shell-shocked, and nods. It was not a time to argue. With ease, he coaxes James into his jumper and hands him his bag. Ginny waits at the door, still in her nightgown, with one child on her hip and the other pulling at the hem of her nightgown. Al waves as he watches them walk away, but Harry doesn't turn back. Then they are gone, leaving Ginny to get through another day alone.
In a medium-sized house in Godric's Hollow, in 2012, a chattering family all sit around a large table. Discarded wrapping paper decorates the table and young children run around each other, comparing gifts. A Christmas tree decorated with live fairies sits in the living room, lighting up the room. Ginny comes in with the chicken, knowing it's Ron's favourite, and places it on the table in front of her brother.
"Yum!" George gasps, reaching over and grabbing a leg. Ron smacks his hand away, grinning devilishly.
"Really, Ron?" Ginny rolls her eyes, taking a seat next to Hermione, across from her husband. Neither of them look at each other. Smelling the chicken and the other food the house-elves were bringing to the table, the children barrel towards them. Teddy grabs Lucy before she gets swept up in the crowd of older children as Lily climbs onto her father's lap.
"Can I have some of that?" the little girl asks, pointing a finger at the ham.
"Please," Ginny scolds, shooting a look at Harry.
"Please?" Lily repeats, twisting herself to look up at her father. Harry puts a small slice on a plate and cuts it up.
"How did everybody like their jumpers?" asks Mrs Weasley, beaming at her family. Everybody nods and mumbles words of encouragement.
"Great, Mum," Bill nods. Percy and Audrey smile awkwardly. Despite the fact that Mrs Weasley had been knitting since the start of the year to make one for all 24 of them, Percy hadn't worn his. He's still haunted by the mistakes he made as a young boy, always feeling out of place. It's why he never offers to hold Christmas at his own house.
"Yeah, thanks Mum," George says, handing his children theirs. They slide theirs on with much less of a fight than James had put up. Ginny purses her lips and fills Al's plate with food. He pulls a face.
"Eat it," Harry warns, sensing some rude comment from Albus. He's a sweet kid, but he's stubborn. Al looks at him and scrunches his nose.
"I don't like it," he mumbles. The blood rushes to Ginny's cheeks. She busies herself cutting up his meat. By this time, the whole table has gone silent and they all have their eyes on the family at the end of the table.
"Eat it, Al," Harry demands. "You don't want to see mummy mad, do you?"
Wrong move. Ginny shoots knives at Harry with her eyes and shakes her head at him. Al says nothing and takes a small bite of a potato. Harry gulps; he'd stepped into enemy territory.
"What?" he mouths at his wife. She clenches her jaw and shakes her head at him.
"We'll talk about it later," she mouths back. Ron exchanges a what was that about? look with Harry, and the looks Ginny got from the table could have sunk a ship.
"Well?" Harry asks as he shuts the door to James's room, having just put him to bed. He follows Ginny down to the living room, out of earshot of the children. The fairies have died down and are sleeping among the branches. Harry makes a mental note to put them back in their cage.
"What was that?"
"What was what?"
"You know perfectly well, don't play dumb with me!"
The bullets start, fired and dodged. Every comment is like ice. Aimed to hurt. Slowly, their voices climb, until they're screaming at each other across the room. Teddy grabs onto Lily's hand to stop her from running down the stairs as they watch through the railing. They can't see much, but they never really want to. Al swallows.
"Are they going to get a divorce?" he whispers to his brother. James goes pale. Teddy doesn't answer for a long time.
"Let's go to bed," he deflects, standing up and pulling Lily with him. "It'll be over soon."
"Can I sleep in your room?" asks Al. Teddy presses his lips together, listening to the war below.
"Yeah, sure buddy." He picks up Lily, who's slowly starting to fall asleep as if the yelling was just rain on a window, and led them to his room. As the boys fall asleep, Teddy stays awake and listens to every word.
In a large house in Godric's Hollow in 2014, a blue-haired boy leans over a picket fence to lock lips with a blonde girl. She pulls back, giggling.
"This is like incest," she laughs.
"Don't think about that," he winks, leaning in and stealing another kiss.
"Don't you have to be somewhere?" she asks, running her fingers through his hair.
"I packed yesterday," Teddy reminds her.
"Oh, right. Mum keeps asking me to pack, but I can't be bothered," she laughs. He chuckles.
"You have ages." He leans in for another kiss and doesn't break away for several minutes.
"TEDDY!" James shouts. Teddy turns around to see James hovering a few feet above the ground on his broomstick, an annoyed expression on his face. Technically, he isn't allowed his own broomstick; he'd stolen this one from his mother since she was out.
"Coming, buddy!" he calls back, and turns around.
"You've been summoned," Victoire smiles.
"Unfortunately." He pecks her on the lips again and walks backwards towards James, waving as he does so. Victoire laughs and walks away.
"Will your mum be mad?" Teddy asks as he opens the chest of Quidditch balls. James shrugs.
"Who cares? Let's do this!" He claps his hands together and as he does loses his balance. He quickly grabs his broom handle to steady himself.
"Don't kill yourself," Teddy warns, and releases the snitch. It soars through the air, catching light on its wings. Teddy keeps one eye on James and the other on the gate, careful not to be caught. Harry had a problem with them playing Quidditch in the garden when they weren't home.
Teddy smiles as he watches James try to catch the ball without nearly enough speed. Had he been on the broom, it would have been different.
Suddenly there's a crack behind him. Teddy spins around to see Harry appear just at the top of the road. He always apparates away from the home in case he was being followed, even though he doesn't hide the house.
"Shit," Teddy mumbles to himself. He whips his head around. His heart hammers in his chest. "James! JAMES! COME DOWN!" He booms. James turns around, shocked, and looks at Teddy in a panic. Harry's now only 40 feet away and frowning at the scene that he can barely make out or understand. As James tried to come down, he loses his balance. Suddenly he's in a tailspin that he had never learnt to pull out of, heading towards the ground. Teddy screams his name. Harry, now closer and able to see what was happening, and broke into a run, screaming James and Teddy's names. Fear written all over his face, James shuts his eyes and heads towards his fate.
"James! James! Where is he?" Ginny demands, barging through the doors of the Artifact Accidents ward, eyes alight as she looks around madly. Finally she spots her family and storms towards them. Harry sees her coming and swallows. She stops in front of them, hands on her hips. "How DARE you?" she shrieks at Harry.
"Gin, we're in a ward. Let's take this somewhere else-"
"Don't you Gin me! How dare you let your son ride around on a broom without anybody watching him-"
"Well, I was," Teddy interjected, but the look Ginny shot him shut him up.
"I am so mad at you right now. How could you? He's your son, Harry!" Ginny cried.
"Really?" Harry asks sarcastically. "I had no idea! Thanks for informing me!"
Teddy taps Al's shoulder and nods at the door. Holding Lily's hand, he guides them out of the war zone and up to the tearoom.
"Tea?" he offers Al. The boy shakes his head. Teddy puts his hands on his knees awkwardly. "James will be fine," he consoles the silent Al. Al just nods and looks around at the other visitors. One man has his arm in a sling, another has blood dripping down his neck. An elderly woman has boils all over her face. Al wonders why they aren't in their beds. The room is warm and cosy, with canvas hanging from the ceiling to make it look almost Egyptian. It's light colours, all red and yellow and pink. Much too girly for Al's taste.
"Not very appealing, is it?" jokes Teddy. He's doing his best, but Al doesn't seem to take to anything he says.
"They'll be OK," Teddy sighs after many long, awkward moments.
"You think?" The first words Teddy had heard Al say all day.
"Yeah, of course," Teddy says. "It's a phase. Everybody goes through it."
It's a lie, but it seems to calm Al. He smiles. "Maybe I will have that tea."
In a large house in Godric's Hollow in 2015, a young girl curls up under the covers of her bed. It's too quiet tonight. There's no screaming. The world's asleep, and Lily doesn't like it. She hears creaking on the landing outside her bedroom and curls tighter, pulling the covers up under her chin. A streak of light crawls under her door. What time is it? Too late. Or too early, depends on how you think of it.
She's awake. She listens. She hears. She remembers. She does nothing.
Her door creaks open. She keeps her eyes closed. Is it a killer? She's not scared. She wants to be taken. But it isn't a killer; she knows those footsteps. They're light, careful, and quiet. They're her mother's. What's her mother doing at this hour? She doesn't stir. Her heart hammers. Like when she used to play hide-and-seek, she suppresses the urge to move. Giggle. She focuses on her breathing. Keeping it quiet, measured. She feels her mother come closer. Her breath tickles her cheek, the smell of her hair wafts into Lily's nose. She wants to reach out and wrap her arms around her mum. She doesn't.
Soft lips press lightly against her cheek. Lily doesn't move. It's too late for a goodnight kiss - what's going on? "I love you, baby," her mother whispers in her ear. Lily's breathing falters; Ginny hesitates. Lily controls her breathing again, and listens to her mother's. A moment later, she hears the footsteps start again, getting softer and softer. Her door creaks shut. Silence.
Something's wrong. Something is awfully, awfully wrong. She shuts her eyes tight and presses her face into her pillow and sobs. Please, she begs silently. Not now. Not yet. But the only answer she gets is silence. Yet it seems to answer every question.
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