Summary: Halloween 1981, in James's perspective.
Word Count: ~3,200
Other Characters: baby!Harry, references to Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and the entirety of its universe belongs solely to J.K. Rowling. I own nothing here except my ideas, and I certainly make no profit out of it. No copyright infringement is intended. No suing, please.
Author's Notes: Well. I wrote this on Halloween 2010, posted originally in fanfiction.net but has been cross-posted in tumblr and ao3 and it's been four years and hopefully my writing style has improved from then, but it probably hasn't by a large degree. Probably I'll cringe when I reread this. Meh. Also! This is unbeta'd, okay, I have no beta. Kinda sad, really. All mistakes are mine.
James Potter opened his hazel eyes to the sight of the pale mauve color of their bedroom's wall. He groped around the bedside table, found his glasses, put it on, and glanced at the digital Muggle clock on it. 8:51 am. He blinked a few times, groaned, and got up. He knew Lily was already downstairs, cooking their breakfast, or otherwise playing around with their son, Harry, trying to battle at least some of the stifling and suffocating loneliness and isolation they felt nowadays. Now that their family was a ‘prime target’ of that accursed Lord Voldemort, Dumbledore had insisted on hiding them in a fairly discreet Wizarding village – Godric's Hollow. The couple's friends were warned to not contact them, unless in emergency cases. Despite the Fidelius Charm their house was under in, Dumbledore was still adamant on making the Potters as isolated as ever.
On any normal day, James, Lily, and Harry would have been expecting Sirius, Remus, or Peter to be in the living room, goofing around with his son, or else in the kitchen, devouring Lily's breakfast. But Peter was in hiding under the guise of him being the Secret–Keeper of their Fidelius Charm, Sirius was hiding too, pretending to be the Potter's Secret–Keeper (they haven't told anyone – that would be beating the purpose, wouldn't it?), and Remus… James wanted to rip out his hair with frustration over two of his best mates. Sirius insisted that Remus – Remus! – was the spy of the Order, and James insisted otherwise. But Sirius was laying out his supposed ‘evidence,’ saying that Voldemort was recruiting werewolves, and since Remus was one… James had especially wanted to whip out his wand and hex his best mate into the next century when he said that at a weekly Order meeting, which Remus was – once again – absent at. This had been another of Sirius's evidences…
These past weeks, it was all James could do not to scream in frustration, whip out his wand, transform into Prongs, and gallop out of this damn house and into the streets, running like hell. He knew, of course, that he couldn't do that, but still… He was a Marauder! Marauders weren't supposed to be hiding when they were in danger; they were supposed to be out there, facing it! This day was especially miserable, since it was to be Halloween Eve tonight, and this would be the first Halloween since Hogwarts that the Marauders weren't together – if not planning a prank, at least just together, goofing and laughing around. It was depressing, downright gloomy.
Well, he thought. Tough it out, you've got a family to tend to.
He arrived at the kitchen, where he found Lily trying to force Harry to eat his absolutely disgusting, mucky, and green… food – if it could even be called that. James always told Lily as much, but the redhead had told him to shut up, he wasn't the one eating it anyway, did he want to be forced–fed it by the gallon, because she can easily do so. The sharp tongue and temper Lily had always been famous for had not diminished by time – in fact, James was sure it had only intensified.
When he saw James, Harry called out to him, “Dada!” with an absolutely miserable expression, obviously distraught that his mother would torture him like that with such disgusting concoctions. James smiled, and said cheekily, “Lily dear, I believe Harry here is telling me that he would not like to be tormented with repulsive sticky liquid so early in the morning.”
“But James! This is his breakfast, and he absolutely refuses to eat! Breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day, and he won't eat!” His wife's voice rose to an almost hysterical pitch, and it was all James could do not to laugh. As it was, he replied with a smirk, “Come on, Lils. Can you actually call this food? Honestly…” He gestured to the murky and revolting fluid resting innocently on their baby's high chair. His smirk grew wider when he saw his son's expression. It was downright hilarious – Harry's brow was furrowed, and his eyes were pinched tight, his body leaning as far away from the table as his high chair's back would allow. “Look, Harry doesn't like it!”
“Well…” Lily said slowly. She glanced at her son's expression, and the tense set of her shoulders relaxed. “Oh, all right. We'll just eat some apples. I'll slice some up, since Harry's only got like, two teeth…”
James, laughing, picked up his son and brought his face up to the baby's. “Hear that, Harry? We won our case against the obvious abuse against babies like you who don't want them so–called ‘baby food’ with our brilliant argument! We rock!”
Lily, also laughing, shot back, “Yes, you won, for now. There is still a next battle, Mr. Potter! Just you wait.”
James smirked again. “Bring it on, Mrs. Potter.”
Lily blushed, and James marvelled over how the novelty of being married - of having a baby - had not yet faded. She rose from the table and went to the cupboard and took out an apple. As she was working on it, James turned to his son, who was watching the recent exchange with a bemused and perpetually surprised expression. “Hey, Prongslet! What say you to carving some pumpkins your mother and I had especially bought – or asked Padfoot, anyway – for this day?”
Harry gurgled a response back, then followed it with a giggly “Pa-foo!”
James smiled. “Yes, yes, I said ‘Padfoot.’ You know him, right? Your godfather?”
Harry laughed, a breathless and happy laugh, one which had already melted Sirius, Remus, and Peter's hearts the first time they had heard it. Although Peter had turned quite quiet after it …
James shook his head. “Well, then, noble sir! We must collect our materials, and get on with carving such marvelous and amazing pumpkins that will surely awe and astonish each and every one whose gaze it falls upon!”
Harry giggled again, and James twirled on the spot, holding out his son as he gurgled and laughed.
A couple of hours later, the Potter's living room was dotted with orange goop, and its occupants were all laughing out loud. Lily had joined the two males, carrying a plate of sliced and mashed apples – for Harry – and was included into the fun when Harry threw a handful of pumpkin insides at her face – with James coaching him on. After a moment's silence, Lily wiped it from her face, set down the plate of apples on a nearby side table, and ran toward the boys, yelling, “So that's how you want it, eh? Bring it ooooon!” James had almost dropped Harry at that. Before he could respond, Lily had grabbed her handful of pumpkin goop, and had thrown it at her husband's face, who fell down laughing hysterically. It had turned into an all–out pumpkin fight, with the two adults flinging pumpkin at each other and Harry, quite baffled, throwing in a weak handful here and there (the plate of apples lay forgotten).
When a particularly large quantity of squishy material landed on a vase of flowers, Lily finally yelled out for them all to stop, and ordered for a clean–up, and if they still planned on making one, continue on with their pumpkin carvings – without throwing anything. The two males obliged – Harry nodding exaggeratedly, following James's lead – and after another hour or two, succeeded in carving a goofy face in the pumpkin.
After lunch, which consisted of pumpkin pie for dessert, the family was resting in their bedroom. Lily was reading a magazine, with Harry crawling around her, occasionally pulling a stray strand of fiery red hair that had Lily wincing.
“Harry, sweetie, that's distracting,” she said without any real conviction.
James, who had been watching the two of them on the other edge of the bed, said, “Lily–pad, I think Harry's hinting he wants some attention.”
Lily rolled her eyes at him. “God forbid he be as an attention–seeking prat as you were.”
“Oh no, God forbid!” James replied in a mocking tone, his hands clutched to his chest in an over–dramatic way. He turned again to his son. “Your mother's no fun. What say you to having fun with her?” The fifteen–month–old giggled in response. “Yeah, I know. Lets… hmm. Let's prank her! What kind of prank, Harry?” To which a louder giggle was emitted.
“Prank me, and suffer the consequences, Potter,” Lily said without taking her eyes from the magazine, but James knew she was smiling.
“Yeah, try and stop me, Evans,” he replied with another cheeky smirk.
Harry giggled again, obviously finding the exchange between his parents amusing – although he had no way of understanding it yet.
Lily put her magazine down and said, “Shut it, Potter.”
“You know you love me,” came another cheeky reply.
She quirked an eyebrow. “Yeah?”
James smirked again, and said nothing. He just leaned over and down, and kissed Lily, working it in the way he knew she liked best and made her the weakest. By the time he was finished with her, the redhead had a goofy and very un–Lily-like expression on her face. “You know you love me,” the cheeky man repeated.
“Uh–huh,” Lily breathed, still wearing the same expression.
James's smirk grew wider, and he turned to Harry and picked him up, saying, “Come on, Prongslet, and let your mum read.”
Lily was left with baffled and with a slightly dopey smile, as though unsure as to what had happened, but sure enough that she had liked it.
“Ahh! No, Sir Harry, stop! I shall bequeath whatever thy sir wants!”
James was running around the living room, laughing as Harry tried to follow him with a plushy sword. Then he stopped, looking around at the stuffed toys scattered around him with a thoughtful expression, so much that James stopped short too, looking at his son. Harry put his sword down, walked around a bit, trying to find a much more suitable toy, and settled with a stuffed animal that was a pitch-black dog. James quirked an eyebrow, and went and sat down in front of his son, who had also settled on the floor.
“You know him, right, Harry?”
Harry glanced at him, and turned his gaze back to the stuffed animal. “Pa–foo …”
“Yeah… Merlin, I miss them. If I wasn't stuck in this blasted house… We would all be somewhere, no place in particular, just out, and we'd be talking about everything and anything, and Sirius would be bellowing out stories about the Marauders, Remus would be shaking his head and telling him to shut up before he got us kicked out, and Peter would be chortling in the background.” He broke off, looking positively distraught. “God, I miss them.”
Harry, sensing his father's sadness, got up on wobbly legs and walked to his father, hugging him around the neck and burying his face into its crook. James, looking astonished, patted Harry on the back. “Yeah, Harry… One day, we'll be out of this mess, Voldemort will be dead, and you, your mum, and I will be somewhere on a vacation, with Moony, Padfoot, and Wormtail again.”
Harry let go, walked to his stuffed toys again, and picked up a brown wolf. “Moo-ey…”
“Yep, Harry. That's Moony… Once a month. Hah. I just wish Moony’s okay right now… I know he's not the spy, but Padfoot's positively adamant, bugger him…”
“James, don’t curse,” Lily said from the kitchen. “Anyway, what do you want for dinner?”
“Uh… Maybe… Whatever you like, Lily dearest, the love of my life, fire of my loins, from whence comes all things bright and lovely and beautiful.”
There was a brief silence, and James could practically see Lily rolling her eyes and scoffing. “Love you too. Well. Pasta?”
“Yum, Italian. Sure, Lilykins. Love you.”
“Yeah. Like I said, love you too.”
James beamed at the direction of the kitchen, and he turned to Harry, who was back to toying with his stuffed playthings.
“Hey, Harry, want to hear about how you were named? Well, you see, it all started with your prat of a godfather calling you a ‘hairy baby'…”
After dinner, the family was back in the living room, watching an old Muggle movie on the telly about werewolves that James had insisted on watching. Something about it being Halloween, and being in tune with the holiday… He was quick to point out all the facts the movie got wrong about werewolves, having run around with one practically every full moon since he was fifteen. Not that they did that much nowadays…
Lily, who was lying with her head on James's lap and her arms wrapped around a thumb sucking Harry, presently said, “How do you think everyone is?” Apparently she was thinking about the old days, too.
“Hmm…” James said. “Well, all of them should be safe. Peter and Sirius are in hiding, anyway, so, there. Remus… Well, Remus is an adult now, he'll take care of himself.”
Lily frowned. “James, I know Sirius thinks he's the spy, but I don't. He was my brother, too, when Petunia wasn’t my sibling, and I want to know if you think he's the spy.”
James blinked, surprised. “Uh. Well, the things Sirius said weren’t really hard to ignore, but I won't believe anything until I see proof.”
“So, are you saying you think he's the spy, or not?”
“No," James says with conviction. "I don't think he's the spy. There is one, though.”
“Yeah… I know…”
A short silence, wherein they watched the movie without really seeing it. Then Lily spoke again. “James…”
“You heard me. I'm pregnant again.”
James leaned down to kiss Lily while saying, “I'm so happy,” but he stopped when he saw Lily's expression. “What?”
“It's just that… With our situation now, is it really wise to bring another innocent into the world?”
James frowned. “Lily, we brought Harry out just fine. We can do it together!”
“Don't worry, Lils. I love you, and we're in this whole making-a-family thing together.”
“I know. I love you, too.”
James kissed her then, and it was quickly turning into something heated, when Harry, who was apparently woken up by his parents’ changes in positions, sat up and looked around blearily.
“Oops, sorry, Harry,” James said laughingly.
“Yeah, sorry, Ha–” Lily broke off, her blood suddenly ice-cold in her veins and her face betraying the dread she felt.
James was frozen too. They had heard it, a tell–tale creaking sound…
Lily looked at James, horrified. He looked back at her, face twisted in fear and determination, as he said, “Lily, take Harry and run. It's him, nobody else, and I'll try to hold him off!” while getting up and grabbing his wand on the floor. Lily followed at once and picked up the confused child, also grabbing her wand. “James, I –”
“I love you!” They shared another kiss, and James said, “I love you too. Now go!”
Lily turned and ran for the stairs, where she knew the protective charms were slightly weaker… James only hoped they could get away, for he knew that this was his last day, that he would be dying this night. It was him, no doubt about it, anyone else who knew where they were would have checked in with them first then Flooed in.
James, turning to the door from the hallway with a fierce feeling of determination, gripped his wand. Then he remembered. Peter. Oh my God…
The door was suddenly blasted off its hinges.
A figure, swathed in dark robes, glided in, obviously at ease, lowered its hood, and said casually, as though he did this everyday, “Good evening, James Potter.”
“All that's good with this evening's gone sour with you here, Mouldyshorts. Now get out before I hex you into the next millennia,” the young man snarled, gripping his wand tightly as he insulted Voldemort. That's right, if you're going to die, might as well hurt his ego…
“Why, not very courteous, eh, Potter? Resorting to such childish tactics,” Voldemort said mildly.
“Don't talk to me about manners when you just blasted my gate and door off its hinges, you snake faced bastard.”
Voldemort's face twisted in cold fury. “You insolent little brat.”
“Why, thank you, Dark Git, that was quite the compliment. Now get out! Expelliarmus!” He knew it was a useless spell, but it was worth a try. Got to give Lily and Harry more time! Oh, God, please, please save them, please save them, Lily, Harry, and the other Prongslet on its way…
Voldemort cackled out a laugh, still at ease. “Is that all you can do, Potter? How pitiful… Crucio!”
James dove behind the sofa while shooting out curses after him.
Voldemort cast them aside as if they were nothing, and walked after him.
“My, my, Mr. Potter, but this getting old, is it not? Let me see… Avada Kedavra!”
James managed to get out of the way as the horrible sound of rushing death sped toward him. The duel continued, with James managing to put up a Shield Charm and gouging a – hopefully – deep gash into the man's shoulder. No, no, no, I'm only twenty–one, Lily's only twenty–one, Harry's only a year old, please, please, save them, give us, them, a chance…
“Very clever, Potter. Now, if I may, die!” It was obvious the Dark Lord was getting impatient.
James managed to dodge again, but only just, and Voldemort hissed in annoyance. “What, Vouldy-Smouldy, getting tired? Serves you right for disturbing peace and quiet!” Please, please, please…
All the while James was thinking of how Peter betrayed them, and of Lily and Harry and Prongslet Number Two, and… No! Voldemort saw an opening, for James had faltered a bit when he thought of his family. As he heard the two words, he also heard Voldemort cackling, his laugh high and cold…
His last thoughts were of Lily, Harry, and the other one who was still in Lily, and of how he loved them, and of the Marauders… The real Marauders, not the one after Hogwarts… Real brothers, his family. Images flashed before his eyes: the Marauders, the first time he saw Lily, his first Quidditch match, his first detention, running around Hogwarts grounds during full moons, hearing Lily say ‘yes’ to him the day he proposed, his graduation, his wedding day, the day Lily told him he was pregnant, the day Harry was born… And he Marauders, oh how he loved them, Moony Padfoot, Wormtail…
The very last image he saw was of all of them, like a photograph, of him, the Marauders, Lily, and Harry all standing at the tree the rest of them used to hang out in at Hogwarts… He knew it hadn't happened yet, and now he knew it wouldn't happen, never…
I love you, all of you! were his last thoughts.
Seconds later, James Potter's world went black.