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
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.