Chapter One: Ten Years Ago
Remus Lupin howled the word as soon as
he Apparated outside of a nondescript apartment building located in the
outskirts of Muggle London. Heart
racing, he sprinted towards the entranceway, unmindful of the leftover aches
and pains from his transformation two nights beforehand. Those did not matter. Nothing else mattered when the Dark Mark was
hovering in the sky.
Up two flights of stairs and he had
reached his destination, and although the door was shut, he knew something was
wrong. The wolf sensed it. Remus tried the doorknob, and it was not
locked. He burst inside, dreading the
scene he knew he would find.
The wolf had known. The flat was a wreck, a battlefield. Furniture was strewn all over the place,
some destroyed by misaimed magic, and others simply thrown aside because it was
in the way. The far wall was blackened,
and the one to the right was peeling paint in places it hadn’t been
before. A robe lay discarded over the
back of the overturned armchair where its owner must have been sitting as the
Death Eaters arrived. Not too far away
was a copy of the Daily Prophet that would now never be read. Its edges were blistered as if the paper had
been exposed to extreme heat and nearly burnt.
To Remus’ right, there was blood; not much, but a little, and his
sensitive nose told him that an enemy had fallen there, either dead or
seriously wounded. The wall next to the
front door had a new dent in it, and he knew his friend had not fallen without
Remus blinked and discovered tears
streaming down his face. “Sirius?” he
whispered, knowing there would be no answer, but having to try all the
same. But his voice would not come out
strongly enough; he was hoarse and he wanted to scream. No…
Of course, there was no answer. Somehow, he knew that he would never hear
his friend’s voice again. Desperately,
Remus moved around the flat, throwing furniture aside in a mad search to find
someone who was not there. At least he
hoped to find a body…but there was nothing.
He searched every room of the small and dilapidated flat—the “perfect”
hiding place—but there was nothing. No
body. No sign. There was only evidence of the battle Sirius
had fought, even knowing he could not win.
He dropped to his knees, letting his
head fall into his hands. Sirius… For the first time since he’d gone to
Hogwarts and met the friends he would come to love as brothers, Remus Lupin
dissolved into sobs. No…
He could deal with pain. He was an Auror. Pain was something he had dealt with before.
“Tell me,” the cold voice demanded.
“Go to hell,” Sirius whispered, his
lips cracked and bleeding. It hurt to
speak, but he could deal with pain. He
could survive it, and wait for death.
Wait for death.
afraid it’s no use, James,” Albus Dumbledore said quietly. “There has been no sign.”
about your spies?” he whispered.
they know is that he was taken to Voldemort,” the Headmaster replied, placing a
gentle hand on Potter’s shoulder. The
younger man knew he was shaking, but he did not care. Sirius was gone… Sirius had been missing for five days.
else aren’t you saying?” he asked, half-hating the accusing tone of his own
voice, but not wanting to be lied to.
He didn’t want to be protected.
He wanted to know the truth.
sighed. “They know he was
tortured. They do not know if he has
Yet. James tried to choke back a sob. It didn’t work. Sirius… He’d come
to Dumbledore for reassurance, for hope, yet he had only found despair. Even Dumbledore thought that Sirius would
die. Even Albus Dumbledore, the
one wizard that Voldemort feared, thought there was no chance! Where was the justice in that? Why had he sent a friend to die? Suddenly, he cried, “We have to do something!”
what, James?” Dumbledore’s gentle voice asked him. “You have a family and a bloodline to protect. Remus and Peter have become targets as well,
and the Ministry is too overwrought by trying counter threats to search for one
missing Auror. There is hardly anything
left with which to fight the war, now.”
His other hand reached James’ shoulder.
“I am truly, truly sorry, my friend, but there is nothing we can do.
we can do is hope for it to end.”
held a funeral several months later, even though there was no body. And on the first anniversary of Sirius’
disappearance, James and Lily had erected the monument in his honor at Godric’s
Hollow, knowing, all the while, that the Fidelius Charm had never been
breached. They had stood silently together
that morning, under the rising sun, but feeling none of its warmth. They were truly alone, now; the war was
reaching new heights, and Voldemort had shown no sign of forgetting the
Potters. They still communicated with
Remus and Peter, of course, but it hadn’t been the same. The Fidelius Charm kept them safe from
Voldemort’s wrath, and although they knew he’d lose interest in time—or at
least decide to target someone else—for the moment, they had to hide. Neither James nor Lily enjoyed keeping their
heads down, but they knew it was necessary.
They had a child to protect.
the years passed. Finally, the Fidelius
Charm expired with time, and at James’ instance, it was renewed—this time,
however, for only Lily and Harry, with James himself as the Secret Keeper. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust either of his
best friends; in fact, both Remus and Peter had offered, but he couldn’t bear
to endanger someone else that way. Nor,
however, could he keep his head in the sand forever. So with the assurance that his beloved wife and son were safe in
Godric’s Hollow, James went back to work as an Auror. The Department of Magical Law Enforcement needed him
desperately. Sirius’ death had ripped a
hole in the upper ranks of the Aurors, and James’ leave of absence didn’t help,
either. With more Aurors dying every
day, they needed all the help they could get.
times only grew darker, climaxing with Voldemort’s public killing of the
Minister of Magic, whom he’d caught undefended in Diagon Alley, of all places,
and had proceeded to kill after less than two minutes of dueling. The death of old Bagnold had frightened the
Wizarding community beyond repair; it had been his strength that held the
Magical world together, and his death heralded darker times to come. Supporters flocked to Voldemort’s banner,
driven by fear, and the light side barely held its ground. And it only got worse.
three months, the new Minister of Magic lay dead at Voldemort’s hands. His successor, too, was gone in another five
weeks, and soon witches and wizards were afraid to even leave their homes. Communication began to break down. The various Wizarding academies threatened
to die out when parents would not let their children out of their sight. Death Eaters killed and tortured both
Muggles and magical folk to their hearts’ content, sometimes striking even in
broad daylight, so confident were they.
Throughout it all, James Potter worked tirelessly as an Auror, brining
in Dark wizard after Dark wizard, and gaining fame that he had never asked for
as the world grew still darker. No
matter how many Death Eaters they took, the Ministry lost at least half again
that many Aurors. Finally, the Ministry
of Magic itself began to crumble.
Until, one day, a man arrived to
change all that.
And after six years of Darkness, the
world began to lighten ever so slightly.