dispassionate full moon kept silent vigil over a frost-dusted 3 A.M. November landscape as a
lonely traveler tugged at the collar of his heavy black winter cloak and pulled
it tighter around his neck. The wind was sharp and merciless tonight, and the
air was bitter cold with a strong scent of burning firewood upon it. And the
traveller was rather pleased to be back on the ground after a long, numbing
broom ride. Tonight, he reflected with a bitter snort and a cloud of vapor
rising from his nostrils like twin plumes of dragon smoke, tonight it was too
cold even for his taste. But a duty had to be fulfilled tonight, regardless of
the intemperate weather.
duty still mattered to him; duty and pride and vengeance.
wouldn't be the same as if they were still living, of course, but he had made a
vow to their likeness, to their memory. And every year, he had renewed that
vow to avenge them.
frost-laden grass yielded with barely a whisper to his long strides as the
traveller passed by the familiar landmarks of Godric's Hollow, as swift and
silent as a shadow. The night was his element, his strength, his only
companion. At night he was free to run like the wind.
night he could cry, and no one would see the tears. But it had been a very long
time since he had shed any.
house was long gone. Its blackened, disfigured wreck had been demolished,
buried years ago. The magic-scarred lot had been turned back over to nature,
sown with grass and flower seeds, fertilized, and left vacant. Wildflowers,
grass, and weeds had taken root and grew here in abundance, though the plants
were now withering under winter's icy hand.
once the smoke and stench of death and destruction had overshadowed the
landscape like a pestilent cloud, now the silver stars reigned undimmed by the
madness of mortals below. Where once the sinister green symbol of death and
corruption had blazed across the sky, marking the site of the Dark Lord's
greatest victory and even greater downfall, now a crisp, velvet-black winter
sky and a sable-cloaked remorseful visitor were all that bore witness to the
fact that anything extraordinary had ever happened here in this slumbering
of course the plaque and statues, which only wizarding kind could see. The
traveler could see them quite plainly at night, better than could most wizards,
in fact. But he did not need to look at the plaque to know what words were
inscribed upon it. After all, he had lived through the event recounted by those
Historic Site of the
Downfall of He Who Is Not Named
On October 31, in the
James and Lily Potter lost their lives in a desperate struggle to protect
their son Harry from the Dark Wizard Who Shall Not Be Named...
did the traveler need to look at the statues to see what James and Lily had
looked like. For he had known them very well in life, and he had never quite
been able to decide whether he hated them or loved them, perhaps because in his
twisted heart love and hate were too nearly the same thing.
could walk right past this neighborhood and see only an abandoned landfill with
hazardous waste signs posted all about its perimeter. And if perchance they
managed to bypass the wards and banishing charms and look upon this site, then
the plaque would appear as just another rust-eaten hazardous waste sign, and
the statues as gnarled, rotted tree stumps. Muggles, the traveler reflected
grimly, were lucky not to have seen the things he had seen. Lucky not to be
tormented by this place as he was. Lucky not to know what had happened here.
scowled at the trio of animated statues, at the tall, thin man with a thick mop
of untidy black hair, hazel eyes and wire-rimmed glasses. James Potter had been
his greatest envy and his worst enemy. Potter had been blessed with everything
he himself had once desired and had been denied, and Potter had not appreciated
it enough. Indeed, the fool had wasted it all through his arrogance. He had
been brave to challenge Voldemort openly. Brave, yes, but stupid. Potter could
have lived another hundred years had he ever once in his life listened to a
word of advice.
woman had dark red hair and intelligent green eyes which reflected the
moonlight in an almost life-like fashion. Lily Potter's face wore a tender
expression as she cradled a small, slumbering infant, a dark-haired,
green-eyed, insolent, ragamuffin brat who would soon become known throughout
the wizarding world as Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived.
traveler snorted bitterly and watched his breath float away into the cold,
black night. If it were not for Lily, he would not be here. Most assuredly he
Potter's likeness suddenly looked up at the sound and greeted him softly in a
melancholy tone. "Back again, Severus?"
late, aren't you?" James said with mild condescension. "You've never
missed the anniversary before."
been busy keeping both eyes on your son, Potter," came the acidic
is Harry?" Lily asked anxiously.
came the curt reply.
sighed with relief and smiled at the infant in her arms. Then she looked up and
said, "I was worried when you didn't come last week, you know. I thought
perhaps something had happened to him..."
studied the visitor shrewdly over the tops of his spectacles, with that x-ray
gaze that Dumbledore used so often. "He's back, isn't he?" James
visitor did not reply. Instead he returned Potter's calculating gaze with an
inscrutable look of his own.
always knew he'd be back someday," James said somberly. "Wish I were
still living. I'd love to give him another taste of my wand!"
would only die again, Potter. His power has become even more terrible than it
would know, wouldn't you?" James retorted nastily.
Lily exclaimed sharply, laying a restraining hand on her husband's arm.
I think Muggles are smarter than we are. Their statues keep their mouths
shut," came the caustic, rhetorical retort.
him be," Lily admonished her husband. "Can't you let the poor man
grieve in peace for once?"
have nothing left to grieve with. I think my heart has turned to stone."
you're here, aren't you?" Lily pointed out gently.
if you are late..." James added.
Lily scolded. Baby Potter began crying and Lily tried in vain to quiet him.
he's still a noisy, demanding, nasty little brute," came the venomous
comment over the infant's cries. "Some things never change."
is my son!" James snapped in an angry, offended voice.
I can see the resemblance."
are you here, Severus? What do you want?"
save for the whimpering of the infant who was slowly drifting back to sleep in
his mother's arms. Then, "I came to tell you. I have killed your Betrayer.
It wasn't Sirius. It was Peter."
yeah, I could have told you that years ago."
didn't you tell me that you had made Wormtail your Secret Keeper? All these
years, I thought it was Sirius!"
shrugged indifferently. "You never asked. You just assumed."
is madness. Talking to statues..."
say that every year, and yet every year you come back here. You need to move
for you to say, Potter. You are not the one with obligations to fulfill."
care of Harry. If I were still living, that's the only obligation I would ask
you to fulfill. I don't need anything...we would not ask for anything more than
not as simple as that, Potter. I thought that killing Pettigrew would free me
from this place, but it hasn't."
never frees anyone from pain, Severus. That calls for something higher and
considerably rarer," said James.
cannot forgive. I haven't the desire or the capacity."
you will become bound to this place forever. Until you have become moving,
talking stone like us."
I will be bound here, if that is my fate. But I swear to you that I will find a
way to destroy your murderer once and for all for what he did here sixteen
years ago. He will not be defeated by a child this time!"
was not defeated by a child before, dear. He was defeated by love, by
sacrifice," Lily pointed out.
traveler replied viciously, "I know sacrifice! I have come here because of
it!" There was a long, tense pause, and then, "But love...I have
forgotten...if I ever had the capacity, I have long since lost it."
stared at him with a mournful expression while James looked away. "I wish
that I could help you," she said. "If I were not stone I would grieve
for you too, for I think that you also have died here."
don't want your pity," came the icy reply.
know, but you'll have it anyway," came the defiant yet honest response.
do you want from us, anyway, Severus?" James asked unsympathetically,
glaring at the visitor.
don't know. I hoped you would tell me. I hate coming here."
you do it year after year. Go home Severus. Tend to your war in your time. Ours
is over. We want nothing from you. You owe us nothing."
was a brief moment of silence, then Lily stated softly, "There was nothing
you could have done, dear. We knew what the price might be when we chose to
fight Him. We all did what we had to do."
we had to do..." the visitor echoed bitterly. "And it was all in
vain. He is back."
but now you know how He can be defeated. And perhaps the reason you are alive
is to make sure that happens."
you want to know what I want? Do you really want to know? I want to be free of
Him! Free of you and your offspring! I am tired of obligation!"
looked away. Lily turned to him and whispered something in his ear that sounded
very much like, "I think it's time."
shook his head and murmured, "No. Think of our son! Think of You Know Who
being powerful again!"
son is old enough to take care of himself now, and Severus needs to hear
it!" Lily hissed. "Look, it has to start somewhere if His power is
ever to be broken again."
crossed his arms, stared stoically straight ahead. "No."
dare you lecture him when you are just like him?"
visitor snorted and thought that Dumbledore had done a commendable job on the
enchanted statues. They sounded so very much like the people he remembered.
continued to stand in stubborn silence, arms crossed, expression set. Lily
sighed in exasperation. "He'll come around eventually," she told the
visitor quietly, regretfully. "I know he will."
will I still be alive by then?" came the bitter, ironic response.
cannot speak for James. Or for Harry, when he learns the truth," Lily
decided, "But for my part, for what it's worth, I forgive you."
is." And with that, the visitor turned his back on the statues, on the
past, on duty and obligation. Behind him, in the place where Lord Voldemort had
fallen, the memorial to the Potter family was still talking. He tried to ignore
their voices, and found that he couldn't quite succeed.
come around eventually," Lily told James firmly. "I know he
will our son still be alive by then?" came the bitter, ironic response.