Words: 4,292: one-shot.
Rating: PG for character death.
Characers: Harry Potter, James Potter, Lily Potter, and Voldemort.
Summary: The story of what happened that fatal Halloween night when James and Lily Potter gave their lives for their only son.
Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling and therefore I do not own the book series Harry Potter. Characters, places, and names of certain things like Quidditch, muggles, etc. are property of JK Rowling. I do not claim them as my own. I am also not Robert Frost, the poem at the beginning was not written by me, but him, and the title as well comes from that poem.
Author's Notes: This was written back in February of 2006 and touched up slightly last night, so while it contains no spoilers for DH, it's also not entirely canon. I just like this fic a lot, to be honest, and I didn't want to change it much.
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
-- Robert Frost
The fallen leaves of autumn rustled around the quiet streets of Gordric’s Hollow. The sun setting over the neighboring hills was radiant and breathtaking. The night was nothing short of serene. The cool October air was crisp and fresh. It was fairly warm for the later weeks of October, but the wind was brisk, carrying a warning for the later months of the winter season. Yes, the night of October thirty-first, 1981 was peaceful and calm, yet it somehow carried a sense of forbiddance. It was like the calm before the storm when the weather is grand but nagging at the back of your mind is the knowledge that just beyond the horizon are gray clouds ready to obscure the blue sky and burst open pouring rain down to the ground, and who knew when the sun was ever going to shine quite as brightly as it once shone?
It was October thirty first and it was young Harry Potter’s second Halloween. He was nothing magnificent or awe-inspiring to anyone else but his parents, James and Lily Potter. He was not a wonder or a miracle in anyone else’s eyes but his mother’s and not someone full of potential and brilliance in anyone else’s mind but his father’s. He was nothing but a baby, nothing less and nothing more. James and Lily hovered over Harry's crib talking to him in calm soothing voices as smiles illuminated their faces. Harry, dressed up as a little pumpkin, kicked his feet around and smiled back up at his parents as he made small cooing noises. In the eyes of little Harry Potter his parents were infallible. They could do no wrong and no one was greater than his parents. Although Harry could not yet comprehend such a felling, he thought his parents would be with him to the end of time because they were all he knew. They had always been there and they always would be.
Lily reached down and pulled Harry out from his crib holding him against her chest as she rocked him gently. Harry reached up and touched his hand to his mother’s face smiling joyfully up at her. Harry loved his parent’s faces. He loved to play with his father’s glasses; one of his favorite things to do was pull them off his face. James wouldn't scold him for this, he would just laugh. Harry was most amazed by the bright colors in his mother’s face; her bright green eyes and radiant red hair. Whenever he saw those colors and her smile he felt secure and safe. “Mama,” he said happily as he looked up at her. When James walked closer to Lily, standing beside her shoulder Harry turned his head and clapped his hands together “Dada,” he said excitedly, happy to see his two favorite people in the whole world together. He made a feeble reach for James’ glasses. James let out a laugh and took him from Lily.
“Sorry little guy, you're not big enough to reach that far,” he said with a grin as Harry playfully tried to reach for James’ glasses. Lily giggled and smiled adoringly at her little son. “I wish we could take him around,” James said “You know, trick or treating, like we did last year. That was fun,” he said.
Lily nodded “Next year,” she said. “Next year things will be better,” Lily said. “We won't have to hide next year,” she said wistfully as she gently rubbed Harry’s head and smiled again. Lily didn't really know if by this time next year they'd still be in hiding or not, she had no idea when Voldemort would be defeated, but Lily firmly believed that one day he would be. “For now we've got each other, and Harry’s too little to eat candy anyway,” she said.
James laughed “We don't want to rot those little teeth of his,” he said.
Harry looked back and forth from his mother to his father as they talked. He didn't have any idea what they were saying, but he liked the sound of their voices. His mother’s was soft and gentle and his father’s was deeper and louder but still carried the same amount of comfort to Harry that Lily’s did.
“Oh! Harry and I carved a pumpkin while you were sleeping,” Lily said excitedly as she led James out of the nursery and downstairs into the kitchen. “My mother used to do this with me every Halloween, it was fun doing it with Harry even if all he did was watch,” she said and showed James a rich orange pumpkin that Lily had carved in the shape of a face. “I didn't use magic either, you can't use magic to carve a pumpkin,” Lily informed James very seriously. “It simply isn't right,” she told him. The face of the pumpkin was illuminated by a small candle Lily had placed inside of it. The flame danced around inside the pumpkin as a small wind blew through the sliding glass doors that were cracked open a bit to let the fresh air in. It was nearly entirely dark out, only a slight remnant of the set sun lit up the Potter’s vast backyard. The glow of the pumpkin was now lighting the kitchen, casting dark shadows all around.
James grinned at the pumpkin “It’s twice the size of Harry’s head,” he said. “Next year I want to try too,” he said.
Lily laughed “It’s a skill James,” she told him.
“What, you don't think I have what it takes to carve a pumpkin?” he asked in mock offense.
Lily shook her head teasingly.
“Well is that so,” he said and bent down so his face was level with Harry “You think daddy can carve a pumpkin just as good as mummy, don't you kiddo?” he asked and Harry only smiled at James.
“Don't bring Harry into this James,” she said with an amused grin on her face. Harry grabbed James’ glasses
“Mine!” he yelled gleefully and Lily and James both let out a laugh.
“Hey give those back!” James demanded.
“Don’t give them up Harry, Daddy’s blind as a bat without them,” Lily told
Harry looked up at Lily and curiously said, “Ga?”
Lily smiled and after a moment of letting James blindly try to pry his glasses away from Harry she took them out of Harry’s small hand, which took more effort than one might imagine.
Harry let out a cry of protest “Mine! Mine!” he said. Lily set the glasses over James’ face. She leaned in and planted a kiss on James’ lips. She held it for a moment until Harry started to complain again “Hunwy, Hunwy,” he said, indicating that he wanted his dinner. Lily parted her lips from James who grinned at her. He kept his wand inside his pocket. He didn't turn the lights on, but rather he decided to let the orange glow of Lily's and Harry’s pumpkin light up the table. Lily placed pumpkin clad Harry in his high chair. Off in the distance a sound of a loud pop echoed off the hills. Lily simply continued to prepare Harry’s bottle as James read the Daily Prophet in the pumpkin light. Harry happily took his bottle from Lily as she sat down beside James.
“There was another attack,” James said gravely. “Three towns over from here, that’s not very far,” he said worriedly.
Lily frowned and placed a hand on James’ shoulder rubbing it gently. “It’s ok, Peter’s safe they won't find him. They won't suspect him so they'll never find us,” Lily said. “We just have to sit this out, but we're ok, we're safe,” she assured him.
James sighed and ruffled his hair a bit “Maybe we should have switched to Dumbledore,” he said.
“Why?” Lily asked tilting her head a bit “Do you think Peter’s up to something?” she asked, a note of concern in her voice.
“Peter? God no, not Peter,” he said. “It’s just that even if they did suspect Dumbledore, what could they possibly do to him?” he asked.
“Well, if it would make you feel better maybe we can talk to him about it,” Lily said. “That’s a lot of switching, but you can't be too safe,” she said.
James nodded in agreement as Harry watched them both quietly. He knew they were talking about something serious, but what they were talking about he couldn't possibly understand. Harry let out a small yawn as his vibrant emerald eyes took on a tired expression.
“Aw,” Lily cooed “Look’s like someone’s ready for bed,” she said. Lily got up and walked over to Harry. She scooped him up out of his high chair as James levitated his bottle over to the sink. Lily cradled Harry in her arms as he slowly closed his eyes. As Lily and James walked Harry up the steps he would open his eyes every once in a while, afraid that he would miss something. Lily walked down the long, wide hall of the second floor. Family photos moved around on the wall above them but their details were obscured by the darkness. James pointed his wand up at the lights on the ceiling and they lit up as his spell hit them, Harry didn't like to sleep in the dark. Lily took Harry into the nursery. She changed him out of his pumpkin outfit and into his pajamas. Lily lied Harry down in his crib, carefully draping a blanket over his tiny body. Lily kissed Harry on the forehead. “Good night sweetie,” she said gently as she rubbed his forehead lightly.
James kissed Harry good night as well “Sweet dreams Harry,” he said. Harry watched them both tiredly. Lily and James stood there for a while, watching protectively over him until he was sound asleep. The couple quietly backed out of the room as Harry’s chest rose and fell peacefully. He had no idea that this would be the last night his parents ever tucked him in.
Lily left Harry’s door open so that the light from the hall crept into his room. The moonlight illuminated the rest of Harry’s bedroom creating enough light for Harry to rest carelessly without the fright of monsters hiding in the corners. It was a full moon and James couldn't help but worry about Remus. The two had been very distant, they suspected Remus was the spy, but that didn't mean James simply forgot about him or stopped caring about him. Either way, there was nothing James could do. He couldn't leave the house and put his life in danger. James had stopped being so reckless when he turned seventeen, shortly after his father died. Especially now that he had his own family to look after, he had more to lose by sneaking around knowing full well that Voldemort was after him. Everything seemed to revolve around Harry and Lily now. He had to protect them, even if it meant spending most of his time inside. At least he wasn't lonely, which was much more than he could say for Remus. Perhaps he could write him a letter tomorrow, but would that be too risky? James couldn't be sure.
“I hope he’s all right,” James said after a long silence. Lily glanced out the window at the moon. “Do you think Sirius was right? Do you think he is the spy?” It was a little late to be questioning it, but the idea was nagging at James' mind. He had to talk about it.
Lily frowned “I don't know,” she said honestly. “I never thought Remus would ever do something like that, but if it’s someone close to us who else could it be? It can't be Sirius. He would never do that, and is Peter really capable of being a Death Eater? I don't think he could stomach being around Voldemort or his supporters, he's too nice, I could never see Peter killing anyone,” she said.
“I could never see Remus killing anyone either."
Lily sighed “Nor could I. Maybe it’s not him, maybe it’s not any of them. Perhaps the information was wrong, but we just can't put our guards down.”
“I know,” James said nodding in agreement. “Once this all blows over we can talk to him, right?”
“Absolutely,” she said.
By now Lily and James had made it into the living room. They sat down on the couch and James pulled Lily close to him, wrapping his arm around her. Lily let her head fall down on his shoulder as she stared into the crackling embers of the fire.
“But you know what you said before was right. We're going to be all right. Peter won't give us away and we can talk to Dumbledore tomorrow. You know, since they're getting so close,” James said.
Lily nodded “Yeah everything’s going to be fine. Voldemort will be stopped eventually, before we know it Harry will be off at Hogwarts and this will all be over with,” she said, but neither of them were sure about this. It just made them feel better to talk about it as if they were.
“I bet Harry will be in Gryffindor,” James said with a proud smile.
Lily laughed and nodded. “I bet he'll be a prefect,” she said.
James wrinkled his nose “Nah,” he said. “He’s going to be a little trouble maker,” James said.
Lily chuckled “Will there be a little red head girl to yell at him?” she asked.
James rubbed Lily’s arm “Oh, I'm sure there will be some girl to drive him crazy,” he said, "he'll win her over eventually though," James said and smiled at Lily. “I bet he will be on the Quidditch team too,” he said.
“That I have to agree with you on,” she said “He has such a firm grip!” Lily said. “And he’s crazy about that silly snitch Sirius got him,” she said.
“Yup, a born seeker,” James said.
Lily smiled and nodded. “I don't want him to go away to Hogwarts though, I want to keep him here with me. I wish Hogwarts wasn't a boarding school,” she said.
James laughed “We have plenty of time before we have to worry about that,” he said.
“We do,” Lily nodded.
Lily and James sat together in silence. They stayed like this for a long while; James turned his head over to Lily to find that she had closed her eyes. James watched her sleep lovingly as he gently stroked her hair. The fire lit up her face marvelously, she was beautiful. Through all the war and hiding, James still thought he had it good. Although he had to constantly be on his toes he still felt as if he had more than most people did; he had a beautiful wife and son. It wasn't so bad being stuck at home either. It was hard to get too restless. When he wasn't chasing after Harry he was savoring the moments of peace and quiet he had with Lily, like now. James watched the flames dance around on the wood. He knew he would die for her and for Harry, James just didn't want it to come to that. He didn't want to have to leave so soon, not when things were so good and James wanted to be around to see them get better. He wanted to be able to take Harry out. Take him to the ocean, the playground, to Quidditch games. He wanted to see him excel in Hogwarts. James just wanted to be there for him, he didn't want to go. He feared not having enough time, his greatest fear was Harry growing up and not remembering him. He didn't want to simply be a memory or a waving, smiling, but empty figure in a photo. He wanted Harry to know him, to laugh with him, and even to fight with him because James knew first hand that even the closet of fathers and sons fought. James found that he didn't need a lot to be happy anymore, because if he could just have all of that he would be happy. James knew these dreams might never come true, but he simply never imagined they would come crashing down so soon.
In an instant, a mere blink of an eye the sound of the Potter’s mahogany front door being blasted down could be heard through out the entire house, breaking the safe silence of the quiet Halloween night. Lily jumped up, her emerald eyes were wide and filled with fear.
“What..what was that?” she asked anxiously. They could both hear rapid footsteps in the front hall. James stared out through the entryway of their den and into the hall. “Go upstairs Lily,” James said quietly.
The situation registered in Lily’s groggy brain. “But James, no, what..what about you?” she asked shakily.
“Don't worry about me,” he said hastily as he pushed Lily towards the staircase. “Go Lils, get Harry and go as far away as you can. Go to Sirius’, wherever you can go as long as it’s safe,” he instructed as the footsteps neared.
“But what about you James!?” she asked hysterically but still barely above a whisper.
James forced a very convincing smile “I'll be ok, I'll find you and we'll be all right,” he told her.
Lily nodded. If she had given herself time to think about it then she wouldn't have believed what James told her, but in that brief moment she believed it wholeheartedly. James held her tightly kissing her on the lips “I love you,” he said.
“I love you too,” she said. The steps were right around the corner. James gave Lily one last nudge and she knew she had to go. She had to protect Harry, no body else could. With Harry in mind, Lily darted up the stairs leaving James alone.
Voldemort must have heard her hurried steps because in the next moment he appeared in the entryway of their den. The figure of Lord Voldemort seemed so out of place, so twisted in the Potter’s quiet home. It was as if someone had drawn a great ugly mole on the Mona Lisa; a perfect picture tarnished by one great falt. Things could have been great for the Potters, things could have been beautiful if it wasn't for the great, big, hideous mole that was looming in their entryway with a smug grin set over a face so twisted and haunted that it hardly resembled that of a human's.
“Well, well, well,” he said mockingly. “For a bunch of children you sure do hide yourselves well, I suppose hide and seek is your forte, you and your mudblood’s,” he said with a sick satisfied smile on his lips. Normally, Voldemort never spoke to his victims before hand, but these weren't just any helpless, worthless victim, these were the Potters. They had defied him three times before, but Voldemort had them cornered now. He caught them off their guard; they didn't expect that their friend would betray them, if they only had realized how spineless he really was then they wouldn't be facing their deaths, but this was all the better for Voldemort. He was happy, one might say, but happy for Lord Voldemort and happy for everyone else were two very different kinds of happy. He would finally be rid of the troublesome Potters and their half-blood son, the very inexplicable thing that was supposed to cause his downfall. There would be no more obstacles in Voldemort's plot, he would finally be victorious.
James offered no retort. He felt fear sweeping over him, but he ignored it. He refused to succumb to it. James knew he wouldn't defeat Voldemort, but all he really had to do was give Lily and Harry enough time to flee. All he had to do was stall him long enough. James pointed his wand at Voldemort, it took everything in him to stop his hand from shaking, but it didn't move an inch. He pointed his wand straight at Voldemort. James opened his mouth, but he barely got out the first syllable of his spell befoe Voldemort cried "Avada Kedavra!" There was no time for James to register in his mind that he was going to die, no time to think of Lily or Harry or that his greatest fear had just come try. In an instant, James Potter was dead. He fell limply do the floor, his eyes staring out into nothingness.
Upstairs, Lily had made it into Harry’s nursery. She quickly grabbed him out of his crib, he had been crying all the while. “Mamaaa,” he sobbed and Lily rubbed his back “Shh,” she said as she frantically searched through the closet in his room where they had hidden James’ cloak. They had left it in there, in case things came to this. As every minute passed Lily grew sicker and sicker. James must have been trying to fight him, but James would never use dark magic and Voldemort would. Lily knew James was strong, he could hold Voldemort off better than most people could, but deep down Lily knew her husband was going to die. She couldn't allow herself to think about that just yet though. She had to keep moving, keep going. Lily reached for his cloak but then she froze. She heard Voldemort cry ”Avada Kedavra”. Lily clutched Harry to her chest as she felt the color drain from her face, her eyes widening. Lily felt as if she had been suffocated, like she was drowning almost. Frozen with dread, Lily waited for that horrid sound and surely enough it came. A thud broke through the silence. James had hit the floor, James was died. Lily dropped to her knees and sobbed as she held Harry tighter.
However, Lily eventually got herself together. She knew James wouldn't want her and Harry to be killed as well, so she jumped to her feet and made a desperate flee to the door but the door swung open before her hand ever touched the brass doorknob.
“Going somewhere?” Voldemort asked Lily cruelly.
Lily held Harry protectively against her chest and she simply stared at Voldemort with her bright green eyes. She spun around and set Harry back down into his crib.
“Just give me the boy,” he said, so thrilled and aroused by the thought of killing the small child that would eventually stand in his way. Voldemort thought the idea was laughable, that a tiny child could stop him, but what he feared was what the small baby would turn into if he didn't do away with him. “You needn't die if you just hand me over the child,” Voldemort tempted Lily.
“N...no! Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!" Lily sobbed.
“Move out of the way,” Voldemort demanded.
“No! No! Not Harry, please, take my instead, kill me instead,” Lily begged.
"MOVE OUT OF THE WAY, GIRL!" Voldemort screamed.
"He's only a baby!" Lily cried hysterically. "Please, please don't. I'll...I'll do anything."
"Step aside, step aside now I won't wait much longer," he hissed
Lily did not move out of the way, she spread her arms across the crib instead.
“Foolish girl, stupid girl,” Voldemort said. “I gave you your chance, you chose not to take it,” he said. "Avada Kedavra!"
The curse hit Lily square in the chest and she fell down to the floor, her eyes still open as she stared out. They were still the same wonderful green they always were, as bright as the spell that killed her, but they no longer contained the same spark. Her bright, vivacious spirit had departed from her body. Her loving eyes were now frozen. Harry began the wail.
Voldemort sneered. “Why she would give her own life for a brat like you is beyond me,” he said. “Well, farewell Harry Potter,” Voldemort said bitterly. “You’ll never even be a pebble in my shoe,” he said and pointed his wand down at the helpless baby. “Avada Kedavra,” Voldemort said for the third time that night. However, the spell didn't have the same effect it had on Harry’s parents. No, when the spell hit Harry it had a sort of mirror effect and hit Voldemort right back. Voldemort was shocked, what had happened? He let out a long cry. The spell hadn’t had the same effect on him either, it was as if Lord Voldemort had deteriorated and all that was left was his black robes and his mask, nothing more.
Harry’s cries pierced the night. The Potter’s house was destroyed, the spell that had backfired onto Voldemort had shook the house and it fell into an utter state of disarray. Harry remained safe and well, with a simple scar in the shape of a lightening bolt on his forehead. Amongst the rubble were the bodies of his late parents, who were far too young to have died. In one seemingly regular night, young Harry James Potter’s life had been changed forever. One event steered the entire course of the one year old’s life down an entirely different path. An extraordinary path of fame, recognition, and admiration but one that lacked the love and comfort that a regular life would have provided, it was an undesirable path. One night sent the lives of so many people spiraling downward.
Dark gray clouds obscured the night sky, rain poured down shortly after, washing over the ruins of the Potters' fallen home.