The Sugar Quill
Author: Sandy Phoenix  Story: All Hallows Eve  Chapter: All Hallows Eve
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All Hallows Eve

All Hallows Eve


      Lily shifted slightly, settling the baby’s weight more comfortably in the crook of her left arm.  He’d long since gone to sleep, but she couldn’t bring herself to put him in his cot.  With one tiny thumb clamped tightly in his pursed lips, he was rosy and warm and altogether delicious to hold.  You’re just going to have to stop growing so quickly, Harry, she thought affectionately as she lightly stroked his dimpled cheek.  It’s getting so I’m afraid to blink and miss what you might do next.  So she relished sitting in the soft candlelight of the nursery like this, when she could still rock him gently and know that, for at least a while longer, he was her own little baby.


      A rustle in the doorway drew Lily’s attention.  James stood there, smiling at his wife and son.  Lily returned the smile, but sighed to see the tiny furrows that were beginning to mark her husband’s forehead.  He’d been so worried ever since Dumbledore had warned them to go into hiding.  It wasn’t like him, really, to dwell on threats from Death Eaters.  Hadn’t they handled that sort of thing often enough by now?  Hadn’t they even managed to slip away from Voldemort himself on three different occasions?  Lily gestured softly with her free hand and James entered to kneel beside the rocker, lightly kissing the unruly tuft of black silk on his son’s head.


      “He looks well out, Lil,” he murmured.  “C’mon.  You need your rest, too, you know.”


      “Yes,” answered Lily with a sigh, “only I just felt as if I’d like to hold him a bit longer tonight, that’s all.  He’s getting to be such a great handful of a boy and…”  Her words trailed off with a little smile.


      “And you miss the baby,” James finished for her.  “He’s quite the little tyke, and no mistake.”  He stroked Harry’s dimples as his wife had done.  “Well, Harry, what do you think then, my man?  Should you have some brothers and sisters to keep your mum from getting lonely?”  Harry stirred a bit and answered with a soft snore.  Lily leaned down to inhale deeply of the sweet, warm smell of a sleeping baby. 


      “Yes Harry, do,” Lily sighed rapturously.  “I think you ought to have at least a half dozen, don’t you?”  She turned to James and kissed the tip of his nose.  “Just like those lovely Weasleys we met at the Ministry a few months ago.  How many were there, anyway?”


      “A regular herd,” James commented, wrinkling his nose in thought.  “To be honest, I was so distracted by the two matching ones, I never properly counted.”  He shuddered slightly.  “Lucky those two weren’t born first or the others might never have made an appearance.  They’d be enough to scare me off.”


      Lily shook her head.  “I thought they were delightful.  Every last freckle.  And did you see the new baby?  The only girl in the group and she had the biggest eyes I’d ever seen!”  Lily sighed, remembering.  “Beautiful.  Didn’t you think so, Harry?”  Her son only snored in reply.  “Men.  I’ll bet you never even noticed her eyes, did you boy of mine?  Well, so much the pity for you, then.  I still think you need enough brothers and sisters to strain the seams of this old house.”


      James laughed softly and kissed his wife’s cheek.  “Take it easy, Lil, or you’ll be giving the lad a complex before he’s out of his nappies.  Come on, then.  Bung ‘im in the cot and let’s get to bed.”  He rose, ruffling his hair so it resembled, more than ever, a rather untidy mouse’s nest.  “I mean it, Lily.  It’s past eleven o’clock.”


      “I’ll be along,” Lily agreed.  “Just one more lullaby, then.”  She watched her husband disappear across the hall to their room and rose carefully from the rocker.  Little Harry never stirred as she shifted him and laid him gently on his bed tucking the soft quilt around his little form.  She loved that quilt, though it was certainly showing its age.  It had arrived by owl post the day after Harry’s birth with a note signed in Dumbledore’s peculiar loopy scrawl -   For young Harry ~  May he have a share of the many happy dreams this blanket has warmed - and she and James had speculated on whose happy dreams the old man referred to.  Privately, Lily enjoyed the idea that a Baby Albus once slept snugly in it. 


      She lingered just a moment longer, watching her son’s deep, even breathing.  Yes, James was worried, but surely they’d taken every care.  Even Sirius had shown an extraordinary level of caution, switching to Peter as their Secret Keeper and telling no one, not even the Order.  She’d worked with Dumbledore and Flitwick herself in the casting of the Fidelius and she was astonished by the strength of the magic with which the two wizards had imbued the final casting of the charm.  She remembered feeling the walls of the cottage vibrate subtly as the charm took effect.  They were perfectly safe here, she was quite sure.


      Poor Sirius, Lily thought sadly, remembering his reaction.  As if we didn’t all live with this sort of threat everyday, now.  He had taken the whole Fidelius Charm idea rather badly but, in the end, even Sirius could see that it was the safest course - safer for them all and best for Harry.  Life could remain quiet and normal for him if they stayed tucked away in Godric’s Hollow.  She and James had been surprised at first when Sirius suggested using Peter as the actual Secret Keeper.  It would have seemed so much more natural to ask Remus instead, but she could still hear the hushed, intense voices as James and Sirius discussed it in the front room of their small London flat.  Lily had taken Harry in to bed and by the time she had returned, James was convinced.  It had been a shock to hear Sirius listing reasons why Remus was too much of a risk for a Secret Keeper. 


      “Lily, I know it sounds crazy,” Sirius had said sadly, “but someone is carrying information to Voldemort.  We know that.  Someone who knows a great deal about you and James.”  He scrubbed his hand over his tired face.  “I don’t want to believe this of Remus anymore than you do but we have to face facts.  Remus has been taking a lot of solo missions lately so we hardly see what he gets up to.  He’s a natural target for attempts to recruit him to Voldemort’s side.  Merlin knows the Ministry hasn’t made it easy for anyone with Lycanthropy and Voldemort is offering them the moon.”  He winced.  “Sorry, poor choice of words.”


      Lily had argued, but in the end, James had offered a rationale for which she had no reply.  “Lil, I’m not saying I believe Remus is the traitor to the Order.  I don’t believe it and I don’t believe Sirius does either, but we’ve got Harry to think of, too.  We can’t take any risks.  We know Peter is as loyal as Remus ever could be, right?  So, we’ll just take the course with fewer risks.  Remus will understand.  For Harry, Lil.  We’ve got to think of Harry.”


      So Peter Pettigrew had stepped forward to be the Secret Keeper and Lily had promised herself that she‘d sit down for a long talk with Remus when it was all over.  Just to be sure he did understand.  Lily didn’t think she would ever forget that afternoon as the charm was cast.  Peter had never been a brash, confident sort of fellow, but that day he was practically shaking in his boots.  She could recall the odd mix of fear and anticipation in the man as he stood in the dooryard of the cottage; she, James and Harry had stood just inside the door as Dumbledore and Flitwick spoke the final words which would conceal them until the danger had passed.  She remembered seeing Peter’s wand shake in his hand as he finished with the prearranged memory charms he cast on the two wizards, protecting them from any questioning.  They would be able to answer honestly that they did not know where the Potters had gone. 


      Of course, Lily had added something to the Fidelius charm as she worked with the elderly wizards.  She had added a special safety release that not even James knew about.  The Fidelius was now irrevocably linked with the memory charms cast on Dumbledore and Flitwick: they would reverse themselves if anything happened to the Potters or the cottage in which they were hiding.  One slip anywhere and Dumbledore would remember where they were hidden.  Nothing else unfortunately, but he‘d know where to find them, at least..  Yes, she was quite sure they were safe.


      Giving the sleeping Harry one last peck on the forehead, she waved the candles out and crept softly across the hall.  The room she and James shared was dappled with the light of the Harvest moon and she could see that James was already asleep.  With his glasses off and his face relaxed in sleep, James hardly looked old enough to have left school, never mind being a father and a skilled Order of the Phoenix operative.  She smiled as she slipped carefully into bed beside him.  With a sigh she laid her hand lightly on his and closed her eyes.


            Lily hardly knew she’d gone to sleep when was jerked to sudden wakefulness by the bang of the back door of the cottage.  “James?”  She reached out and found the pillow beside her empty and heard a cry from the nursery.  “James!  Harry!”  She scrambled out of bed, thrust her feet into slippers, and raced across the hall.  Harry’s room was still dark and whatever the noise had been, it had startled the poor thing out of his dreams.  He sobbed dismally, his arms outstretched as she moved to lift him.


      Another crash, this time in the stairwell, and Lily whipped around patting her nightdress frantically.  Her wand!  With a sick feeling of panic she realized she’d left it on the bedside stand in their room.  Before she could decide whether to run for her wand or pick up Harry to hush his cries, she heard James on the landing.


      “Lily, take Harry and go!  It’s him!  Go!  Run!  I’ll hold him off --” 


      There was more crashing and stamping and Lily heard a chilling, high-pitched cackle.  The hall was suddenly lit with a flash of green and through the doorway, she could see James’ hand stretched along the matting, his glasses lying just beyond, one lens sporting a jagged crack.  Oh God!  Oh no!  James!  Lily’s mind convulsed in fear.  It was Voldemort on the stairs and she’d have to pass him to reach her wand.  They were trapped and James was… she spun frantically around looking for anything she could use to get Harry safely out the window.  Maybe if they could go out the window and run they could get away before he’d realized they’d gone.  But even as she thought it, she realized how hopeless that was.  He was already at the nursery door. 


      Screaming, Lily, snatched Harry from his cot, clutching him tightly to her, her back turned toward the door where Voldemort stood.  We were safe!  Dear heavens, I was so sure we were safe!  “Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!”


      “Stand aside, you silly girl… stand aside, now…”


      “Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead --”  She was sobbing, nearly incoherent, Harry still clinging to her neck, eyes wide and staring in fear.  “Not Harry!  Please… have mercy… have mercy….”


      And then there came a timeless moment, between her pleas for mercy and the acceptance of their fate, when everything dear to her was entirely present in Lily’s consciousness.  The sound of James’ laugh, the touch of his lips on hers, the warmth of their interwoven fingers.  Then, too, there was the silken feel of Harry’s cheek as it rested against her neck, even the tight cling of Harry’s arms and the salt of her tears mingling with his as they huddled together now, daring fate to divide them.  In that last moment, as she heard the rush of death speeding toward her, she pressed her lips gently to her little son’s cheek, inhaling deeply of his sweetness and warmth, leaving a kiss as gentle as a breath.


      The cold, green light overwhelmed her and the moment passed, leaving only the essence of that final kiss.






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