The Sugar Quill
Author: Estella  Story: The Eve at the Hollow  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

No profit was made by this. Everything belongs to J.K. Rowling.

Many, many thanks to Lallybroch for beta-reading and her excellent suggestions.

 

 

Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.

- The Song of Solomon

 

Godric's Hollow

October 31, 1981

11:03 p.m.

Up and down and back and forth, she paced.

"There, there, there," she murmured. "It's all right darling . . . shh, shh, shh . . ."

"How's he doing?"

Lily turned in mid-pace and looked at James as he walked into the dimly lit living area holding a thick roll of parchment.

"He's never cried like this before," Lily said, raising her voice over Harry's wails. She resumed pacing and continued to gently rub the little back.

James saw that Harry was clinging tightly to Lily's shoulder, so tightly his tiny knuckles were white. His dark brows drew together in concern and he placed the parchment on a small marble-topped table.

"Are you sure it's not a stomachache?"

She shook her head, pushing her hair back distractedly before shifting Harry's position to the other shoulder.

"His tummy's tight as a drum but he's not curling up." Lily's vivid eyes were strained. "He can't seem to relax. He's a ball of tension."

Her breath caught and she paced faster.

James was close beside her now. He rested his hand against the side of her face and she leaned into it, closing her eyes briefly. "It's probably a tooth coming in, or --" "No." Lily broke away and her voice wavered slightly. "It's not a tooth, he doesn't want to suck on anything and it's worse if I put him down. It's something else" - Harry gave another scream that shook her inside. She broke off and tipped her face up, her eyes bright. "Sweetheart, darling, what's the matter? Why can't Mummy help you? Oh James, he's trembling . . ."

"Lil . . ." James' voice shook slightly and he struggled to steady it. He looked at his son's desperate eyes in the small tear-streaked face and swallowed.

"I'm sure it's nothing. If he hasn't got a fever he'll be all right. Let me take him now, honey. You're exhausted, you've been walking him over an hour --"

James' calm voice did little to soothe Lily's nerves. Harry's cries were coming from someplace deep inside, it was almost as if -

"He's afraid." Lily looked up into James' face, her own face pale. "He feels something, senses it."

"There's no reason for him to be afraid. We're safe here, love, safe . . ." He rested his hands on her stiff shoulders to stop her movements and eased her around so he could pull both his wife and his child against his heart. Now it was James' hands that were soothing, stoking, and gently working the tension from Lily's back. Harry took several shuddering breaths, whimpered once and leaned his head against his mother's collarbone, nuzzling closer into her neck. His hitching breaths gave way to hiccups and he closed his eyes as he was supported between the two bodies, exhausted from his crying.

"There." James smiled and with one hand gently fingered the deep red hair at Lily's temple, his other hand falling to rest at the small of her back. His voice was soft. "Our little guy just needed both his Mummy and Daddy."

He swayed them slightly as he spoke.

Lily rested her cheek against Harry's soft, unruly black hair and breathed in that special scent all babies carry: sweet, young skin and an unidentifiable freshness that was intoxicating.

Her heart settled.

"I'll never forget when he was born, how difficult the labor was and how much I didn't care once I'd seen his face," she whispered.

"Wrinkly and red little man that he was," James chuckled.

Lily laughed silently, careful not to wake Harry, whose tiny lips were parted and breathing softly and with the telling regularity of sleep against her throat.

"He had a certain charm," she replied. For the moment her face had lost the strain that had been on it for the last several days. They gazed into each other's eyes and shared something very rare; the deeply felt love, respect, and affection two people can feel for one another after seeing the other grow up, and want with their entire soul to witness a lifetime of each others' growing. It was not something they spoke about, for as there was no need to ruminate on the fact that they had five fingers on each hand, there was no need to speak of their love. It was simply a part of them and no cause for speculation.

"Well, my Lovely Lady Lily, I daresay I could very well wager where he acquired that charm." James smiled in a self-satisfied way.

"Oh it's you, is it?" Lily's eyes teased back at him. They were still whispering.

"Naturally." He feigned a look of shock that she even had to question it before continuing. "I passed onto Harry my admirable charm --"

"-- And modesty --"

"-- And the added bonus of having a hairstyle that is insanely messy" - Lily laughed again.

"-- Every day, without any effort whatsoever," he finished triumphantly.

Lily's brilliant eyes were soft. "You delight me, you know," she whispered.

She watched as a myriad of emotion crossed James' face and reflect out through his eyes, and her heart swelled as well. I love you too, she thought.

With startling abruptness, Harry jerked awake and a split second later an explosive bang reverberated throughout the house. Both happened in the space of a moment.

Lily and James jumped reflexively and James instinctively swung Lily and Harry around behind him, placing himself between them and the front door, for that is where the noise had come from . . .

A voice spoke from outside the magically guarded door, a voice so cold it sent the blood from their faces and wrung their hearts in its icy grip.

"Why, Mr. and Mrs. Potter, aren't you going to invite me in?"

James didn't hesitate. His wand swiftly in his hand, he pointed it at the door and sent a powerful locking spell to secure the door more securely. His other hand and Lily's found each other and gripped. Lily couldn't breathe; their nightmare had become reality.

"Lily, you need to run," James whispered, the look on his face one of terrible pain mingled with iron resolve.

Lily's heart spasmed against this and she made a sound that more closely resembled a wounded animal than a woman. It was happening too fast, much too fast, and they weren't ready. She clenched his hand even more tightly.

The voice outside spoke again, mockingly. "Well that's not very polite now is it, Mr. Potter? Barring your door from a . . . visitor. . . ."

Lily and James moved as one and backed further from the door, Harry clutched by Lily, his green eyes huge. He made not a sound, but hung onto his mother like a burr.

Almost immediately, a second explosion rent against the door and shook the entire house. A framed picture of Lily, James, and Harry toppled from the fireplace mangle and fell facedown onto the hearth, the glass panel inside shattering.

James suddenly moved. He pulled Lily toward the hallway entrance and when he spoke his voice was raised in panic. One thought was in his head: keep them safe, I must keep them safe . . .

"Lily, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off --"

Their eyes and hands clung desperately. One last tough - one last look. Lily was suddenly nearly blinded by tears. Their hands pulled apart; she was grasping his fingertips, and then she let him go.

She turned and blindly stumbled away, her hand rising to grasp the door jam as she passed. As she moved further into the darkness of the hallway, she heard the front door burst open . . . she heard the laughter . . . James' voice spoke hoarsely, "You'll not have my son." She staggered into the nursery and heard him utter a curse that was deflected and then she heard the words shriek into the night and lance her soul: Avada Kedavra.

Lily's mouth opened in a silent scream and she thudded back into the nursery wall, which almost but not quite blocked the sound of the thud when the body hit the floor . . .

Her mouth silently voiced the name - James - and the tears fell as she closed her eyes in agony: she was screaming inside.

Gasping, she looked down into Harry's innocent face and saw for what seemed the millionth time her own eyes looking back at her. They were now showing horrible fear. My poor baby, she thought. And he was coming . . .

An overwhelming surge of fierce protectiveness rose within her and she lifted Harry's tiny hand and kissed the fingers. Then, cradling his face with one hand she tried desperately to memorize his features, his baby smell, his soft smooth skin, but then she realized she didn't need to; she already knew him by heart.

Turning, Lily knelt and set Harry on the floor. He gave a soft cry, his eyes holding hers as he tried to hang onto any part of her he could. Lily's control nearly broke and a sob slipped from her throat. She eased her finger out of his tight fist and stood to turn and face the door, her wand ready in a shuddering hand.

The floorboards creaked under deceptively lazy steps and the long shadow of a man slid slowly up the floor of Harry's room. Lily breathed in gasps and stood as still as she could.

A voice suddenly cried, "Expelliarmus!" and Lily's wand flew out of her hand before it was caught by the long white hand of the black-cloaked figure that had appeared in the doorway . . .

"My dear Mrs. Potter," it whispered. "I am so sorry to inform you that your husband is . . . no longer with us . . ." Soft mocking laughter filled the room and Lily stood rigidly, her green eyes enormous, her face chalk-white.

Voldemort moved further into the room and his red eyes pierced her through the gloom. A small indecipherable noise broke the ringing silence in Lily's ears and her heart stuttered to a stop as those scarlet eyes moved slowly down and beyond her . . . they burned in the evil face with a sudden and intense hunger. The lipless mouth opened and a travesty of a sigh escaped.

"Stand aside."

Lily shuddered violently and gave a choked gasp. The cords of her control began to snap. "No," she moaned. "Oh no, please no --"

Hearing the terror in his mother's voice, Harry began to cry.

"Stand aside."

Lily's silent screams were suddenly tearing from her throat.

"Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!" Her shaking hands rose in hopeless supplication, Harry's screaming cries rising from the floor behind her.

Voldemort's eyes glowed more strongly and his mouth curled in an odd way.

"Stand aside, you silly girl . . . stand aside, now . . . ."

"Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead --"

His hideous face twisted in macabre delight and he began to laugh.

"Not Harry! Not Harry!" She cried it; she screamed it. "Please - I'll do anything--"

Harry's screams rose and fell with hers.

"Stand aside. Stand aside, girl!" His wand rose.

Lily was wild, her control gone entirely. Not my baby too, not my boy . . .

"Not Harry! Please . . ." her sobs came wrenching from her body. "Have mercy . . . have mercy . . . ."

Shrill laughter bounced off the walls and with deadly finality Voldemort's wand steadied and pointed at Lily's chest. She drew a breath, was blinded by green, and she was gone.

Her body was utterly still for a millisecond before gravity took hold and she collapsed bonelessly in front of Harry. One loud, gut-wrenching sound spun from his little body one after the other: "Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!"

Voldemort took a step closer, his face indescribable in its triumph. He took aim and at that moment Harry looked up -

The curse sped through the air faster than the speed of sound - the speed of light. It struck Harry in the forehead, sliced a cut, and his cries were abruptly cut off. Instantaneously he was knocked over beside his mother's body, curled against her side. Unconscious, he didn't see the tall skeletal figure disintegrate; he didn't hear the unearthly wails. The force tore the roof apart and bits and pieces of splinter and plaster rained down on the two bodies, mixing with the vibrant strands of Lily's hair spread out on the floor. In the other room James' body was almost completely covered with debris.

The house continued to collapse upon it-self here and there until finally it was satisfied no more damage could be done. Other than the occasional crumbling of various precariously hung remnants, all was still.

Languid, silvery light cast by the moon lightly glazed the wreckage and the silent inhabitants. The shadows and angles created by the light and destruction made large angular faces and frozen figures caught in abandoned dance. However, one such figure was not imaginary, nor was it frozen. A rat scurried over moonbeams and rubble before quickly and without a peep scurrying away again.

Time passed . . .

 

Some time later, Harry stirred. He whimpered and a small fist rubbed weakly at a dusty eye. The crunching sound of heavy footsteps met his ears and he was gently lifted up, up, up before being cradled against a broad expanse of muscle. The dusty particles fell from his face, and those that remained were gingerly brushed away. He opened his eyes and blinked at an enormous, hairy, stunned face.

"I don' b'lieve it," Hagrid rasped. "It's a bloody miracle!"

With a last deeply sorrowful look around, he turned and carried Harry from the ruined house.

 

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