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He'll Have Your Eyes

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*

The war was raging and they were on the cusp of losing when the call came down. There was a prophecy. Dumbledore had heard it himself. There was to be a savior for the Wizarding world and Voldemort was going to be on the war path. Should he ever get word.

Why he had called Sirius and James into his office after learning of this prophecy was a bit of a mystery to both young men.

“What’s this about, Headmaster?” James asked as he took a seat and lightly kicked at Sirius when he tried to kick his boots up on Dumbledore’s desk.

Sirius pouted at him then reached over to pilfer a handful of lemon sherbets. “Yeah, you’ve got us a bit puzzled, Professor. What message of great importance could you have for us?”

Dumbledore sat on the other side of the desk surrounded by his silver trinkets and his predecessors assessing gazes and watched the two young wizards before him. They were both spirited and irreverent and seemingly as carefree as they had been in Hogwarts. But their eyes were older, free of a good deal of their innocence and tinged with the fear that war brings.

The news he was about to impart on them would only make that fear grow.

“Gentlemen,” he began, placing his hands on his desk gazing at them seriously. “I have been interviewing new teachers for divination and earlier this evening I had a most peculiar meeting.”

James was watching behind his glasses mildly curious while Sirius was paying more attention to munching on his pilfered sweets. Dumbledore knew what he had to say next was going to possibly ruin both of their lives for the foreseeable future.

“While the interviewee, a Ms. Trelawney, was lackluster in her credentials when I stood to depart she went into a trance and spoke a prophecy.”

Neither young man made any overt reaction to this new bit of information. They didn’t have to ask Dumbledore if he was sure it was an actual prophecy and not a fake. It was common knowledge the old man’s been around long enough to know the difference.

James’s brows furrowed and he asked, “Why did you summon us, Professor? What does this prophecy have to do with us?”

Because it must have something to do with them. Dumbledore wouldn’t have asked them to come if it didn’t. Sirius popped another sherbet in his mouth and studied the Headmaster closely. The look on the old wizard’s face wasn’t comforting. While it was as serious as ever it was while discussing anything that had to do with defeating Voldemort, there was something else in his expression too. Something with a little bit of eagerness.

Sirius pushed himself up straight in his seat and waited for Dumbledore to continue.

“I have summoned you,” Dumbledore began, “because the prophecy was about a boy, a child that would be the key to defeating Lord Voldemort.”

Something, some sixth sense, had Sirius tensing. Dumbledore had looked at him. He’d met his gaze. The hairs on the back of Sirius’s neck stood up almost in a bristle. Had he been on four paws covered in fur he would have snarled at the old man.

“What does the prophecy say, Dumbledore?” Sirius demanded, his voice dropping almost into a growl, ignoring the startled look James shot him. “Stop being mysterious and tell us what any of this has to do with us.”

“Sirius!” James hissed at him, trying to scold him.

“No,” Dumbledore raised a hand toward James in assurance. “No, Sirius is right. I have been putting off the inevitable. And I’m sorry for that, my boys. I do not relish in the implications of what I have to tell you.”

“Then get on with it!” Sirius gritted out. He was tingling. His body was vibrating with the need to run. He knew, somehow, he knew what the prophecy said. Or at least, what the prophecy would mean. It meant their lives were about to become infinitely more dangerous.

“The prophecy said, The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches. Born to sons of the Ancient Noble Houses, born as the seventh month dies. And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal…

Dumbledore’s voice trailed off and it felt like all the air had been sucked out of the room.

Sirius shot to his feet and stormed away from the desk. He made it to the large stone fireplace before he had to clutch a shaking hand on the mantel to keep his balance. His knees quivered and he struggled for breath.

Pressing his free hand to his stomach Sirius tried to keep his breathing even and deep. It wouldn’t be good if he worked himself up to passing out. The sound of James’s strangled confused laugh behind him just made it that much harder to stay calm.

“No, wait.” James stood up as well and pressed two fingers between his brows trying to relieve the growing pressure. “No, that can’t-… That’s not… There is no way that means what I think you think it means.”

Sirius let out a mildly hysterical laugh. “Smooth James. That made perfect sense.”

James shot him an angry look. “Sirius! This is-”

“Serious?” Sirius cut him off. “Of course it’s fucking serious!”

“Gentlemen!”

James’s mouth snapped shut on a retort and Sirius turned to look at Dumbledore again. His hand still gripped the mantel with white knuckles.

When he saw he had both man’s attention, Dumbledore met Sirius’s eyes.

“How far along are you, Sirius?”

James made a high pitched strangled sound, but Sirius ignored it. He pressed his hands harder over the butterflies and queasiness. Licking his suddenly dry lips, Sirius answered, “I’m due late July.”

There was a moment of perfect stillness where no one made a sound then James took a shaky step toward his best friend, soulmate, love of his life. “Sirius?”

Breaking gazes with Dumbledore, Sirius looked at his friend, his lover. “I was going to tell you, mate.” He grinned weakly a pale comparison to all the mischief the expression usually conveyed. “Seems the fate of the world beat me to it.”

James gave an incredulous chuckle, his eyes wide and filled with awe and terror. “You better not be pranking me right now, Sirius.”

“Marauder’s honor.” Sirius finally took his hand off the mantel and pressed it to his chest in a solemn solute.

“Merlin, you wanker!” James lunged forward and yanked his lover to him wrapping his arms so tight around Sirius it knocked the hard won breath out of him. Sirius didn’t care. He wrapped his own arms around James and buried his face in James’s neck.

“You’re a wanker too, mate,” Sirius muttered, words smothered in James’s skin and shirt collar. “It takes two to get a bloke up the duff. And I sure as shit didn’t do this all by myself.”

Laughing brightly if a bit hysterically, James dug a hand into Sirius’s thick curly hair and began pressing kisses all over his face. “Shut up, you bloody brilliant git.”

“Oi! Is that anyway to speak to the mother of your child?”

The only answer he got was James’s lips coming down on his pulling him into a giddy ungraceful kiss. Sirius was pretty sure he may have bitten James’s lip and that James may have cracked one of his teeth, but neither of them cared.

After all, they were madly in love, going to have a baby together, and they were bloody invincible.

“As much as I wish to congratulate you both on this immeasurably happy occasion,” Dumbledore said, effectively dampening their impromptu celebration, “I believe we have things that need to be discussed.”

“Right,” James pulled away and Sirius discreetly wiped at the moisture on his cheeks. “We need to discuss how we’re going to off that bald bastard before he can get anywhere near my kid.”

Dumbledore looked at James over his half-moon spectacles with dry amusement. “Quite.”

Sirius grinned at his lover. “I ever tell you, you’re hot when you get all protective?”

James puffed his chest out with a faint blush on his cheeks. “May have,” he replied, grinning back, “once or twice.”

“Mr. Potter, Mr. Black,” Dumbledore cut in before the conversation could devolve further and he was treated to a firsthand reenactment of how exactly Sirius got into his current condition. “If you will.” He gestured to their vacated seats.

“Sure thing, Professor.” Sirius moved past James back to his chair with a wink and James stumbled back into his with an awed besotted look on his face. “Let’s get back to business.”

The three wizards stayed until the wee hours of the morning plotting and planning and the future got more and more uncertain, but if there was one thing Sirius Black and James Potter knew it was that they were Marauders through and through and this was going to be the biggest prank they’d ever pulled.

*

Sirius didn’t like this plan. He didn’t like it one bit. It’s not that it was necessarily a bad plan. It wasn’t bad, it was the only one they could come up with that was the most likely to be successful at evading Voldemort and surviving the war.

No, it wasn’t really the plan that Sirius didn’t like. It was that he couldn’t claim his own child because it would put them in danger. It was that, to all but him, James, and Dumbledore, the world would think that his baby, his child, blood of his blood, would be someone else’s.

That his child would be Lily Evans’s.

His and James’s relationship was little known. Pretty much the list of people that knew extended to Remus, Peter, Dumbledore -’cause he knew everything apparently-, Moody -’cause the old bastard could see through walls (they were to never speak of that incident again)-, and Lily because she was their friend, possibly the cleverest witch of their generation, and she could put two and two together easily enough. They tried to keep their relationship as discrete as possible. First because Sirius’s family would have killed him for fraternizing with a blood traitor and then because it was war.

The prophecy specifically stated that the one to defeat Voldemort would be born of two purebloods from the Noble Houses so to hide in plain sight no one could know that Sirius Black was pregnant with James Potter’s child.

The plan was as such: James and Lily would announce their surprise engagement and pregnancy. Through a clever combination of illusionary spells and misdirection everyone in the Order and out should believe that Lily was steadily getting bigger and Sirius was being sent out on longer and longer missions for Dumbledore. All the while a polyjuiced Lily would take his place on missions and a very much pregnant Sirius would stay safe in their heavily warded townhouse in London.

When Sirius finally gave birth, his child would be seen out in public with Lily and James ensuring it was common belief that the baby was theirs. After they were sure their ruse was complete James, Sirius, and Lily would go into hiding. Lily would still make appearances and take missions as Sirius, but for an indefinite amount of time James, Sirius, and their baby would be safe in hiding.

The world would think his child was Lily’s. The world would think James loved Lily. The world would think he was just the best friend, the doting godfather.

Eventually, however, if the threat lasted long enough, Sirius would to have to resume his duties. He’d have to go out and fight and Lily would stay behind with James to take care of their child. Just the thought of being separated from his child for even a second brought an ache to his heart, but his baby’s safety was more important. If it kept their child safe, Sirius and James were prepared to keep the secret the rest of their lives. Lily, for the love of her friends and her future godchild, vowed to do the same.

So, yes, he hated the plan with a passion, but Lily was one of their best friends and he trusted her. She would help protect his child with her life. And if it came to it, she would help raise them as if they were her own.

“What do you think it is?”

Sirius snorted and looked down at James who had his messy head pressed to Sirius’s naked belly. “I’m assuming it’s a child, but we can’t know for sure. It could be like in that muggle movie –what was it called?- a chest buster.”

James lifted his head long enough to glare at him. “Not funny.”

“It was a little funny.” Sirius had mischief dripping from his grin and James couldn’t be all that put out with him.

It seemed like weeks since he’d seen that look on his lover’s face. Their subterfuge was obviously wearing on him. James knew Sirius was dreading after the baby was born when everyone in the wizarding world would believe that he was nothing more than the spare, the back-up, the consolation prize for their child.

“That’s not what I meant.” James pushed those dark thoughts to the back of his mind where his own worries and doubts lived and placed his head back down, pressing his ear to the warm taught skin of Sirius’s large belly.

Sirius hummed and carded a hand through James’s hair. “I dunno. Can’t really tell.”

“Do you want to know?” James couldn’t decide himself if he wanted to know whether the kid was a boy or girl. On one hand he loved surprises. On the other hand the suspense was liked to kill him.

Thinking for a long moment, Sirius finally answered, “No. I don’t want to know ’til they’re born.” He tugged lightly, teasingly on James’s exposed earlobe. “More fun that way.”

James huffed and weakly flapped a hand at Sirius’s fingers. “Fine. Then we can see who won the pool.”

Sirius chuckled. Remus, Peter, and Lily thought they were being subtle, but he and James figured them out about twenty minutes after they placed their bets.

“You demanded part of the winnings, didn’t you?”

James raised his head again, resting his chin lightly on the swell of Sirius’s belly. He tried to look suitably offended. “Of course I did! What do you take me for?”

“An idiot,” Sirius shot back, not missing a beat.

“Your idiot, though, right?” James smirked up at him cheekily.

Smile turning soft, Sirius tugged James toward him with a gentle grip in his hair and lifted his head enough to press their lips together in a long sweet kiss.

“Of course, Prongs,” he murmured against James’s loving smile, pecking another warm kiss to his lips. “Mine and no one else’s.”

*

The sounds coming from behind the doors to the Hogwarts Infirmary were starting to get a little concerning. Remus was pretty sure he hadn’t heard Sirius scream like that since he’d broken his pinky toe trying to trip Snape down the steps outside the Three Broomsticks.

“You think Sirius is alright?”

Glancing over at their timid friend, Remus tried to give Peter a reassuring smile. His nervous pacing kind of ruined the effect however.

“’Course he is,” Remus answered only to grimace when Sirius gave another alarming shriek followed by a blue streak of swears darker than the Black Lake. “You know how much of a drama queen he can be.”

“MOTHERFUCKER! WHERE THE BUGGERING FUCK IS JAMES!?!”

Failing to hide his wince, Remus tried to be reassuring again. “See? I’m sure once James gets here, Sirius will calm down.”

The muffled calm voice of Madam Pomphrey filtered unintelligibly through the heavy doors. Peter jumped in surprise when another shout cut off any response he could make.

“DON’T TELL ME TO CALM DOWN! I’M THE ONE PUSHING A QUAFFLE OUT MY MAGIC VAGINA!”

Peter abruptly turned green and Remus slapped a palm over face.

“THE LEAST THAT BLEEDING ASSHOLE COULD DO IS FUCKING BE HERE!”

Then Remus felt his stomach sink. The sound following that proclamation was less scream of overdramatized pain and more frightened, stressed sob.

“Where is he?!” Sirius’s voice, no longer angry, floated out into the corridor sounding strained and plaintive.

Heart aching for his friend, Remus let out a frustrated growl. “Where the hell is James, anyway?”

“Mr. Potter is on his way, Mr. Lupin. Never fear, he will be here in time to see his child born.”

Snapping his head up, he saw Dumbledore coming down the hall toward them. His unconcerned calm immediately eased some of Remus’s panicked tension.

“You’ve heard from them?” he demanded as the Headmaster stopped next to them.

“I’ve received word from Miss Evans just moments ago,” Dumbledore confirmed with a more successful reassuring smile than Remus had been able to produce. “Though the mission turned out to be more complicated than previously thought, she and Mr. Potter have succeeded and should be flooing here from a secure location as of now.”

Letting out a breath, Remus felt his shoulders drop in relief. “Good,” he said and grimaced again as another loud sob came from the Infirmary. “I don’t think Sirius is doing too well without James here.”

Pounding footsteps echoing on the stone floor and a frantic shout of his name had Remus turning just in time to see the friend in question skidding around the corner followed closely by a Sirius Black lookalike.

Tripping to a stop just shy of knocking him over, James gasped for breath and latched onto Remus’s arms with shaking hands.

“How is he?! Is Sirius okay! How long as he been in labor? Has he had the baby yet! Damnit man, answer me!” James rushed out eyes wide, face smudged with dirt and what looked like blood.

“Jeezus, James!” grumbled the Sirius lookalike. “Shut up and let the man talk.”

Remus blinked, momentarily surprised speechless. The Sirius copy, a polyjuiced Lily, was still grumbling under her breath and flicking her wand over James in hurried strokes. That was when he noticed the blood slowly seeping through the side of James’s shirt and the slight singed look to his wild black hair.

Shaking himself to attention, Remus yanked out of James’s hold and drew his own wand. Shooting quick and dirty cleaning charms at his friend as he answered.

“He’s been in labor just over three hours,” he said, spelling away the grime from James’s torn up shirt, the blood disappearing now that Lily had gotten the wound to close up adequately. “Pomfrey mentioned it was going pretty quickly for a first time pregnancy so you better get in there before Sirius actually kills you.”

Before anyone else could say anything another shout shot through hall, short, sharp and a half sobbed plea of James’s name.

Face paling in alarm and worry, James practically shoved Remus out of the way and rushed through the Infirmary doors without another thought.

The sound of the doors slamming shut behind him plunged the four people left in the hall into silence.

After a moment of reprieve from Sirius’s audible distress, Lily let out a heavy breath and collapsed into a chair next to a hand wringing Peter.

Knees a little weak with the stress of the whole ordeal, Remus took the seat next to her and finally noticed the bubbling of Lily’s skin. Freckles were slowly appearing across her nose and Sirius’s curly black hair was lengthening and melting into a deep red.

“How’s Sirius really been doing?” Lily asked rolling her head to look at Remus from where she’d dropped it against the chair back.

“Better now,” Remus answered slumping down in his seat as well. “Before James got here it didn’t sound good in there.” He paused then admitted, “I was actually worried about what would have happened if James hadn’t gotten here in time.”

Lily grimaced, “Shit.”

“Yeah,” Remus agreed readily.

Inside the infirmary James had wrapped Sirius in a comforting embrace while Sirius clutched at him desperately.

“James,” he whimpered sounding nothing like the irreverent young man James loved with all his heart, “I thought you wouldn’t get here in time.”

“Don’t be silly, Padfoot,” he murmured into Sirius’s sweaty hair pressing a firm kiss to his temple. “Nothing short of the Dark Lord himself could have kept me away. And even he’d have a job of it.”

Chuckles sounding a little strangled, Sirius pulled back just enough to kiss James’s chapped lips. “I love you, Prongs.”

“Love you, too, darling,” James returned against Sirius’s own bitten lips. “Now, what do you say we get this kid out of you so we can finally meet them?”

“Hell yeah,” Sirius replied with feeling scowling in determination now, “Let’s do this.”

“Glad you could join us, Mr. Potter,” Madam Pomfrey commented in exasperation, flicking her wand over Sirius checking on his progress and the baby’s health. “You’re just about ready to start pushing, Mr. Black. Time to get into position.”

James followed Pomfrey’s instructions until he was sitting behind Sirius supporting his lover and letting his hands be gripped in painful sweat damp holds.

“Get ready,” Pomfrey ordered from between Sirius’s bent spread legs, his feet braced against transfigured stirrups at the foot of the bed. “And push now!”

The next long while went by in a rush and dragged agonizingly at the same time. The ticking of the clock meant little to Sirius and James when all they were concerned with was bringing their child into the world safe and sound. Not so for their friends waiting out in the hall. The melodramatic screams may have stopped, but the groans and shouts of exertion were no less worrying.

At one point Peter had to scurry home, the stress a little too much for him to handle, and Dumbledore was called away on some order of business or another. Remus and Lily, however, stayed the whole time. A quick nap for an exhausted Lily and a fortifying mug of hot chocolate for Remus being the only concessions made in their faithful vigil.

Then, finally, as the clock ticked over to midnight on July 31st, the healthy cries of an irate infant could be heard through what seemed like the whole castle.

Hearing the sound, Lily and Remus shared awed smiles, their hearts bursting with happiness and love for their new godson.

Sirius couldn’t stop staring at the beautiful, tiny little boy wrapped up in his arms. He had a shock of wild black hair on his head, his skin pink from his fight into the world would slowly fade into a fair cream, and his cute little nose would become more defined. All in all, Sirius was deadly sure his little baby boy would look the spitting image of James Potter.

Not that he minded. Since he loved James Potter like nothing else in this world.

“He’s amazing, Sirius,” James murmured in awe looking over Sirius’s shoulder, his lover still leaning against his chest. “I can’t believe we made something so perfect.”

Sirius grinned down at his baby, ruffling gentle fingers over his messy hair, “Speak for yourself. I knew nothing coming out of me could be short of exquisite.”

Snorting, James rolled his eyes and gently knocked him in the shoulder. “Idiot.”

Chuckling tiredly, Sirius leaned his head back against James’s shoulder pressed a soft kiss to his cheek. “He’s going to look just like you, you know.”

Humming, James brought a hand up and stroked a thumb along his son’s chubby little cheek watching the baby blink up at them both in exhausted curiosity with baby blue eyes.

“He’ll have your eyes though,” he said with assurance.

“How can you tell,” Sirius asked examining their son’s eyes as well. “It’ll be a few months before they start to change.”

“I just know,” James replied. “I want my son to have his mother’s eyes.”

Smiling at his lover, Sirius nudged James’s cheek with his nose until their lips could meet in a long warm kiss.

“Your hair and my eyes,” he said, looking back down at the most beautiful baby in the world he was sure. “Bit of a double edged sword there, isn’t it.”

Before James could formulate an appropriately indignant response the doors to the Infirmary cautiously opened. Remus and Lily stuck their heads in.

“Can we come in?” Lily asked her smile brightening as she saw the little family curled up together on the hospital bed.

“’Course.” James grinned at his friends. “Come in, come in! Come look at my son!”

Our son,” Sirius corrected.

“Our son,” James repeated agreeably. “Isn’t he amazing!”

Walking around on either side of the bed, Remus and Lily both looked down at the now sleeping little baby held securely in his mother’s arms.

“Oh, Sirius,” Lily sighed happily, “he’s lovely.”

Remus spotted the child’s hair and smirked at his friend. “He’s gonna look just like you, James.”

“I know, right!” James gushed proudly even as Sirius and Lily rolled their eyes. “What do you wanna bet he’ll have Sirius’s eyes?”

Scoffing, Remus leaned down and slipped his finger into the baby’s loose grip. “No bet.”

Grinning, Sirius shifted his son around so their friends could get a better look. “At least we know with us as his parents he’s gonna be one handsome little hell raiser.”

Not deigning to comment on that, Lily asked, “Do you have a name decided yet?”

Sharing a happy expression, Sirius and James smiled lovingly down on their son.

“Harold,” Sirius said.

“Harry,” James added.

Grinning along with his lover, Sirius continued, “Harold ‘Harry’ James Potter.”

“Harry Potter, huh?” Remus murmured still gazing fondly at his godson. “Good name.”

Stroking a gentle hand over Harry’s dark hair, Lily smiled softly and said, “Hello, Harry. Welcome to the family.”

*

It was worth it, Sirius thought as he stared down at his six month old son, losing the sparse hair on his chest for these quiet moments. Sitting in the rocking chair with his son in his arms, holding him tenderly while he nurses, just the two of them. He cherished every bit of this time with his baby. The raw nipples and sore chest were worth it for the feeling of absolute love and tenderness flowing through him.

Letting out a little cooing sound, Harry pressed his tiny hand to his mother’s chest. His fingers made little reflexive grasping motions, rubbing over the tattoo marking his mother as the first born son and heir. Sirius’s heart gave a warm flutter and he couldn’t help but smile down at his son.

“How’s our little man doing?”

Glancing up, Sirius gave his lover a little smirk. “Well, we know where Harry got his appetite from.”

James just grinned back and knelt down next to his best friend and his son. He realized one of his favorite things to witness after the birth of his son were the quiet tender moments when Sirius nursed Harry. The sight always filled him with an almost overwhelming feeling of pride in his lover. James was pretty sure Sirius was the strongest man in the world for carrying this perfect little being inside him for almost a year, for bearing a whole new person into the world, and for nourishing their beloved child from his own body.

The new parents spent a few peaceful moments watching their son nursing until Harry released Sirius and made little grumbling noises.

“Finally had enough, huh?” Sirius murmured to his son as he shifted the baby upright and handing him off to his father with practiced ease. “When you’re finally on real food, I am not gonna miss these every two hour feedings.”

James took his son and propped him against his shoulder gently patting him on the back. “Lily just got here,” he said while Sirius was buttoning his shirt back up over his hairless tattooed chest. “Everything’s ready for the christening and the Promising.”

Standing from the rocking chair, Sirius sighed sadly, “I wish Remus and Peter could be here.”

“I know,” James soothed, “Me too, but Remus is on some secret mission for Dumbledore and you know Peter doesn’t like to leave his home now that things out there are getting more and more dangerous.”

Grumbling, Sirius pouted, “I just hate us all not being together.”

James didn’t respond, but a grave frown creased his brow as his mind turned over.

“What?” Sirius asked noticing the troubled look on his lover’s face. “What are you thinking about?”

“Dumbledore thinks it’s time we go under the Fidelius Charm,” James admitted, meeting Sirius’s alarmed grey eyes. “He thinks You-Know-Who is getting closer to figuring out the prophecy.”

Hurt lurching in an entirely unpleasant way, Sirius took a deep breath and nodded. “We’ll talk about this later,” he said. “After our little boy is christened.”

Giving his lover a small reassuring smile, James agreed, “Of course. Let’s get this show on the road.”

Huffing in amusement, Sirius pressed a quick kiss to James’s lips and led the way out of Harry’s nursery with its sky blue walls and perfectly replicated twinkling constellations and stars on the ceiling.

After the infant son of two Ancient and Noble houses is christened Harold James Potter, three best friends and a baby stood in the middle of the cozy living room in the Potter home in Godric’s Hollow.

Sirius, with Harry in his arms, was facing Lily and James was positioned to one side facing them both with his wand out.

“Do you, Lily Justicia Evans, promise to love Harold James Potter as if he was your own?” James’s voice echoed with the magic invoked as he began the traditional ceremony of a Godparent’s Promise.

Lily answered with no hesitation, no doubt. “I do promise.”

“Do you promise to protect him, care for him, and guide him as if he were of your own flesh and blood?”

“I do promise.” She kept her bright green eyes on her curiously watching little godson.

“Will you promise to willingly give your life for him, should his be in mortal peril?”

“I will promise.” And she would, she knew deep down inside her. She loved that little raven haired grey eyed baby like her own son.

“Will you promise to willingly take a life for him, should it prove an immediate threat to his survival?”

“I will promise.” And she would. In these dark, dark times, she had taken lives before, in battle and in secrecy all to ensure more of those she loved and protected could live another day. Taking a life for her precious little godson wouldn’t lose her any sleep.

James now lifted his wand and waited patiently for Sirius to begin the next part.

Stepping closer to Lily, Sirius gently, with gravity passed his beloved baby son into the arms or his godmother saying the ancient words to seal the Promise.

“I give unto you, Lily Justicia Evans, my son.” Lily held out her arms in a cradle and accepted the weight of her godson. Sirius felt his son’s warmth leave his care to temporarily rest with his godmother. “That your heart may beat for him as mine does, your chest breathe for him as mine does, and your blood flow for him as mine does.”

Harry settled solid and real into Lily’s arms. He watched her with wide grey eyes, reaching with a tiny hand to grasp and pull a lock of her dark red hair.

James pointed his wand at Godmother and child to guide the magic building in the air around them. “Make your Promise, Lily Justicia Evans, and seal it with your magic so that none may tear it asunder.”

Smiling down at Harry, Lily began to speak the words from deep in her soul. “I promise all of this and more to you, Harold James Potter, so you may live and grow, and be happy and healthy. May I be privileged enough to share a hand in it.”

There was a bright burst of light, a long moment of searing pain, and the magic sank back into the earth leaving the air around the three friends crisper and sweeter.

Lily shifted Harry in her arms to free up her right arm. Hissing as the soft cotton of his pale green onesie rubbed against the raw tender skin, she examined the dark markings now branded into her flesh meant to reflect what was already on her soul.

A thick X with a dash through the middle and a ring of ancient runes circling around it. The symbol for child-not-of-my-body and the prayer, blessing, and promise to love and protect her godson written out in the old tongue.

The skin around the magical tattoo was red and tender, but Lily would wear the mark with pride.

“Well that wasn’t so bad,” she said lightly grinning down at Harry still pulling on her hair. “The descriptions I read in the old books you gave me made it sound almost as bad as the Cruciatus.”

Chuckling, Sirius reached over and gently untangled sticky little baby fingers from her hair. “That’s probably because the ancient wizards tended to be melodramatic old fools that liked their flowery prose a little too much.”

James snorted and smirked at his lover. “This coming from the diva that threw an actual wailing fit when you couldn’t fit into your favorite jeans anymore.”

“Hey!” Sirius protested with a scandalized expression. “Those jeans made my ass look amazing. It was a damn travesty I couldn’t where them a whole seven months.”

Lily laughed at her friends’ antics and started up a friendly argument with James on the true importance of a pair of well fitted trousers. Harry now sitting on her hip gumming on a fist and watching his father and godmother with fascinated eyes.

Sirius just watched their friend bounce his son gently in her arm and tickle his chubby little belly while she mocked and laughed at his lover. He knew Lily meant every single thing she promised not ten minutes ago. He knew she loved Harry from the moment she saw him. He knew if there was anyone he could trust his child’s safety to it was Lily.

He knew all this and it did make this whole charade a little easier to deal with. It just didn’t make the rock in his belly any lighter every time he remembered and that he couldn’t be recognized as Harry’s real mother for their own safety. At least not now. Not for a long time, Sirius feared.

*

Time moved fast. People were disappearing. Families were being slaughtered in the middle of the night. Voldemort was gaining ground in leaps and bounds and it seemed virtually impossible to tell friend from foe. The Order knew they had a spy. They didn’t know who it was but wizards and witches were dropping like flies and as Dumbledore had advised James and Sirius cast the Fidelius Charm.

James wanted to ask Remus to be their Secret Keeper since neither he nor Sirius or Lily could take on the burden, but their friend was constantly on secret missions for the Order and always coming back with darker shadows in his eyes and more scars over his face. Lily wanted to ask Dumbledore, but the man was too high profile and pretty much the only thing standing between Voldemort and complete domination. Sirius, though, ever the strategist in their group had a different idea.

“So do you think you can do it?” James asked hopefully staring at their timid little friend.

Peter fidgeted with his fingers and darted his eyes back and forth between Sirius and James. “I don’t know,” he hesitated. “I don’t want to let you guys down.”

“There’s no reason to worry, Wormtail,” Sirius said trying to sound confident, resolutely ignoring that knot in the center of his gut that hadn’t eased since Dumbledore had told them about the prophesy. “Everyone already thinks that I’m Harry’s godfather. I’m the obvious choice for Secret Keeper. No one would even suspect you. All you have to do is hunker down and stay in hiding.”

“We really need you, Peter,” Lily said when he didn’t seem to be anymore resolved. “Harry needs you.”

Still he stayed silent biting his lip, his mind visibly working over his choices through his watery eyes.

“You-Know-Who is after my son, Wormtail,” Sirius urged, meeting his friend’s darting blue gaze with his begging grey eyes. “This is the only way to protect him.”

“I know you can do this, Peter.” James’s voice cut through the twitchy man’s thoughts, pulling his attention to the more powerful, more handsome, and more intelligent man. “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is winning. Not only would you be protecting Harry, but you’d be helping deal the Dark Lord a blow. Please Peter,” he said not afraid to beg when it came to the life of his baby son. “Please help me protect my family.”

The room was silent for a few heavy seconds while Peter’s moist eyes glazed over as he thought this through. The choice was to help his loyal friends or be a coward and let them down. Or so his friends assumed while they waited with baited breath for his answer.

“Alright,” Peter finally answered with determination on his face. “I’ll be Secret Keeper. I’ll do it for Harry.”

“Thank you, Peter!” Lily gave him a beaming smile and hugged him pressing a friendly kiss to his cheek. His face went red and Sirius smirked at his sheepish expression.

“Thanks, Wormtail,” Sirius said grasping his friend on the shoulder with genuine relief and gratitude. “This means a lot to us.” Shifting Harry on his hip he pulled the boy’s fist from his teething mouth and waved it at their friend and hopeful savior. “Say, thank you, Uncle Wormy.”

“Tan’ you Un’le Ormy,” the one year old repeated with a gappy grin.

Peter wrinkled his nose but still gently took the baby’s sticky fist and gave it a small shake. “You’re welcome, Harry,” he replied dark thoughts still swirling in his mind as he stared at the tiny little soul that could be the Dark Lord’s down fall. “Anything for my honorary nephew.”

*

It’s been three months and nothing has gotten better. James is stuck in the cottage in Godric’s Hollow pretty much permanently with Harry. Lily and Sirius were alternating between going on quick missions and attending Order meetings, one disguised in polyjuice, the other with a heavy heart.

On October 31st the muggles were out begging candy from their neighbors and the wizards were holding small quiet celebrations with very little cheer. Sirius had been on the stay at home rotation for the last two weeks and he was starting to climb the walls. He loved Harry and James with all his heart, but since he’d escaped his parents’ cage he’d learned to cherish his freedom and he’d had very little of it since casting the Fidelius Charm.

“Are you sure you don’t mind?” he asked for the third time as he sprawled on his belly playing dragons and goblins on the hearth rug with Harry.

“Yes, Sirius,” Lily replied for the third time, rolling her eyes. “I’ve just gotten back from a mission. I’m tired and you’ve been cooped up in this house for two weeks. Go,” she ordered waving a hand at him. “Go check on Peter and get some fresh air. I’ll stay with Harry and James and make sure they don’t burn down anything.”

Ignoring her attempt at a joke, Sirius scowled in hesitation but finally couldn’t deny the itch of claustrophobia any more. He had to get out even if it was for the three hours it would take to get supplies and check up on the brave keeper of their secret.

“Alright,” he pushed himself off the floor and bent to pick of the giggling child still grasping a little wriggling figurine of a Hungarian Horntail. “I’ll only be a couple hours then I’m coming right back.”

“Take your time,” Lily suggested with a small smile as she watched him cuddle baby Harry. “We’ll be alright.”

“I just don’t want to stay away from this adorable face any longer than I have to.” Sirius made faces at his giggling toddler and pepper his rosy cheeks in kisses. “You be good for Daddy and Aunt Lily, but not too good.”

He grinned at the groan that came from James as he stepped into the living room from the kitchen. “Don’t give him any ideas, Sirius. He already only behaves for you. You encourage him and Lily and I won’t still be standing by the time you get back.”

Snorting, Sirius just rubbed his nose against Harry’s making the boy squeal. “Is Daddy being silly, Harry? You’re a perfect little angel, yes, you are.”

“Alright, enough,” James grumbled as he stepped forward and lifted Harry from his mother’s arms and sat him on his hip. “Go on and check on Peter. We’ll be here when you get back.”

Sirius walked to the front door and shrugged his leather jacket on before turning back to his lover and his son.

“Be careful out there, Padfoot,” James ordered then leaned forward and kissed him warm and loving and long on the lips.

“You too, Prongs,” Sirius murmured as they pulled away. He pressed one last kiss to his baby’s forehead, the boy now settled comfortably against his father’s chest his little head resting on James’s shoulder. “Love you, Harry.”

“L’ve you, Mama,” Harry said back with a sweet smile and clear grey eyes.

Sirius turned to the door quickly because if he didn’t leave then he never would. “Bye, Lily!” he called to the back of the house.

“Bye, Sirius!” Lily called back from the kitchen where she’d retreated to give the little family a moment to themselves.

He stepped out the door and turned on the spot and that was the last time his life was anything resembling loving and happy for a very long time.

*

Lily, take Harry and go!

It’s him!

Go! Run!

I’ll hold him off!

There was a blast of green light. A stream of return spell fire. Another blast of green light, an explosion, and James Potter fell like a marionette with its strings cut.

Harry, you are so loved.

Your mama loves you.

Your daddy loves you.

I love you.

A whispered spell and shining grey eyes turn bright green. The last protection she could give her beloved godson.

Harry, be brave.

Be strong.

Stand aside, you silly girl.

Stand aside now.

Not Harry!

Please no!

Take me!

Kill me instead!

There was shrill, evil laughter. A jet of acid green light. And Lily Evans gave her life for her godson, her love for him becoming the greatest protection of all.

*

Sirius couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t breathe. James wasn’t moving. He wasn’t waking up. He just laid sprawled on the stairs, barefoot, beautiful hazel eyes closed, his hand outstretched and wand discarded several steps down. As if he fell with a spell on his lips and his wand pointed at his attacker.

He was so, so still and Sirius couldn’t collapse beside him and scream out the absolute agony inside him. The sound of a child’s pained scared cries could be heard from the street. Harry needed him and Sirius wouldn’t spare more time than it took to snatch up James’s wand and break his own heart jumping over his body as he jogged up the stairs.

The scene in Harry’s destroyed nursery was no less heart breaking. Sirius was almost numb when he registered that the body crumpled in front of Harry’s crib was Lily. Green eyes wide and misting over in death, her red hair spread around her head like a corona.

Two of the people he trusted and loved the most in the world were dead. He’d just spoken to them not three hours ago. They were gone and he was almost completely alone.

“Mama! Mama!”

No not alone.

“Oh, Harry,” Sirius gasped strangled, “my love, Mama’s here.” He stepped over Lily’s body, his stomach turning as he did so. Harry was reaching up toward him desperately, tears streaming down his plump cheeks, a trickle of blood running down his nose from the jagged wound on his forehead.

Lifting his son into his arms, Sirius shook all over as he cradled the inconsolable little boy to his chest.

“Shh, baby, shh. It’s alright,” his voice hitched on the word but he didn’t pause in the flow of nonsense. The sound of his mother’s voice did more to comfort the child more than the actual words ever could. “You’re alright, baby boy. I’m here. Mama’s here. Don’t cry, little Prongslet.”

He pressed trembling lips to his son’s heated forehead and kissed him in relief and grief both. He tasted blood on his baby’s skin and his stomach rolled again.

As quickly as he could, Sirius carried the most precious, delicate thing in the world out of the house. He kept a hand cradling the back of Harry’s head, pressing the baby’s face into his neck, shielding him from the sight of his godmother and father left so ignominiously on the floor unbreathing, still, and lifeless.

Kicking the front door open, Sirius stumbled out of the house and down the front walk. The brisk October wind gusted over them and he shrugged off his leather jacket wrapping it around Harry to guard against the cold. The little boy was now quieting, just hiccupping miserably and clinging to his mother with chubby immovable little fists.

So focused on his child and the overwhelming relief that he was alive and grief that James and Lily weren’t, Sirius almost missed the massive figure of a tearful Hagrid coming up to the gate.

“Hagrid?” His voice came out raspy, grating in his throat like sand. “What are you doing here?”

The giant of a man sniffled and stared at the house with a mixture of horror and disbelief on his face. “Professor Dumbledore said he set up alarms, sent me the moment he knew the wards fell.”

Sucking in a rocky breath, Sirius asked, “Why would he send you? He must know that-” a whine rose up in his throat but he swallowed it down, “that James and Lily are gone. That Voldemort got to them.”

He couldn’t show his true level of grief he tried to remind himself. Hagrid didn’t know. He thought Sirius was just the best friend, the godfather, the consolation prize, the spare.

“He wanted to check on Harry,” Hagrid said and at that moment, emotions a riot, Sirius didn’t think it strange. “Ordered me to bring him to Hogwarts if he was still,” sniffle, “still alright. Wanted me to bring him to safety.”

Safety. The word echoed deafeningly in his mind. They were supposed to be safe. Safe from Voldemort. Safe from discovery. They had the most powerful protection spell on their destroyed lovely little cottage and they should have been safe.

Would have been safe with a different Secret-Keeper, Sirius thought with a great surge of rage and fury erupting inside him.

It was Peter. Peter their friend, their family. The man they trusted with the safety of their beloved son. The man Sirius entrusted James and Harry’s lives to.

This was his fault, he realized. His and Peter’s.

“Dumbledore is at Hogwarts?” he asked Hagrid, eyes glinting manically.

“Aye,” Hagrid nodded slowly finally looking at the pale, curly haired man. “Sent me a Patronus. Said he’d meet me there soon as he could. Held up at the Ministry for some kinda emergency Wizengamot meeting.”

Sirius didn’t notice the sudden caution in how Hagrid was regarding him, just as he didn’t notice the suspicious circumstances that prevented Dumbledore from action.

Instead he was gazing down at his child. His last little bit of light in the world. His mind finally quiet when he saw Harry’s eyes. They were Lily’s. Bright green and still teary staring at his mother trustingly.

Voldemort may have known that Harry was the child of two heirs of Ancient Houses, but Sirius didn’t think he would have divulged something so potentially damaging to his followers. For all the Death Eaters knew Voldemort would have just been defeated by a fluke act of wild magic. The secret of Harry’s true parentage was still just that, a secret.

And it would remain so, Sirius thought determinedly. At least until he could catch and kill himself a rat. Lily had given him the greatest gift twice over. She’d sacrificed herself for his son and spent her last moments ensuring he would be protected from the rest of the Wizarding World even after she was killed.

“I love you, Harry,” he murmured quietly and nuzzled the baby warmly memorizing the sound of his tired, happy little giggle and soft skin. “I’ll come back for you, Harry. I promise, Prongslet. I’ll never leave you.”

Looking up with frightening determination burning his eyes, Sirius said, “Take my bike. It’ll get you there faster.”

With agonizing reluctance he handed his son still wrapped in his leather jacket to the gentle giant. Hagrid held Harry like he was fragile and infinitely precious. For the moment Sirius knew he would be safe in the gamekeeper’s care.

“See you soon, baby,” Sirius murmured closing his eyes when Harry reached for him and patted his cheek with a tiny little hand.

“L’ve you, Mama,” he said sweetly, tiredly, utterly innocent and trusting.

“Love you, too,” Sirius whispered one last time. He forcibly wrenched himself away before he lost his will and just took Harry and ran.

“Where are you going?” Hagrid asked confused and sad at the parting even if he didn’t quite understand the true tragedy of it.

Sirius didn’t stop his purposeful stride down the street to clear the apparation wards ironically still standing. His answered growl echoed ominously in the unnatural quiet.

“To hunt myself a rat.”

*

Remus got there just in time to witness the explosion. Knocked off his feet, he was dazed when the ringing in his ears finally ceased. Then he heard the screams and the crying and the hysterical laughter.

Sitting up, he ignored the blood dripping down the side of his head from a wound at his temple. All his focus was set on getting to the center of the madness. To the source of that horrible, gut twisting laughter.

There sitting in the middle of the carnage was Sirius. He was covered in dust and blood. He was bleeding from wounds on his face and arms from flying debris, his clothing was slightly singed, his hair was wild and tangled, and his bloodshot eyes were pouring tears down his cheeks without pause. And he was laughing.

Remus had never heard that laugh before. It was barking and manic and mad.

The cacophony of apparation cracks almost drowned out the sound of it for a moment. Almost, but it was enough to spur Remus forward.

“Wait! Stop! Don’t do that!” He pushed and shoved and tried to get through the chaos. “Stop, let him go!”

Immediately four Aurors had pounced and were fighting to lift a now ferociously struggling Sirius off the ground. “Grab his legs!” one of them grunted at the others. “You’re under arrest you bastard!”

“Get offa me!” Sirius had finally stopped laughing and started shouting. “He’s gone! The rat’s gone! Get the fuck offa me!”

“You’re charged with killing Peter Petegrew and twelve muggles, violating of the Statute of Secrecy, associating with terrorists,” the Auror reared back a fist and sucker punched Sirius in the gut stalling out his flailing as the air was pushed from his lungs. “And for the betrayal of Lily and James Potter.”

“No,” Remus muttered almost in disbelief. “No, that’s not right.”

Sirius just kept on yelling and fighting. “It was the rat! I have to kill him! Kill him so can I get Harry!”

“Shit, this guys a fucking nutter,” muttered one of the Aurors watching the scene while he was supposed to be helping with clean up.

“If there’s any justice you’ll get the kiss first thing,” sneered the Auror wrestling with his kicking legs and other two almost lost hold of Sirius when he suddenly burst into a wild attempt to escape.

“You don’t understand!” he shouted. “I have to get Harry! I promised! I have to get back to Harry!”

“Sick fuck,” the Auror holding his left arm cursed wrenching the limb painfully causing a yelp from his prisoner. “You’re never getting anywhere near that boy. You’re never gonna see him again.”

If Remus felt horror at that statement, he couldn’t even fathom what Sirius felt. It seemed to be the last straw on the man’s tenuous grip on sanity.

He started screaming. Razor sharp grey eyes almost bulging with the force, Sirius just kept screaming and shouting and injuring himself more in the struggle to get away from the now five Aurors dragging him off.

“No! You can’t do that!” Remus suddenly found himself yelling over the din of ground zero. “He wouldn’t do that! Sirius wouldn’t betray them! He wouldn’t hurt Harry! You don’t understand!”

No one heard and no one listened. Not even Dumbledore.

“Please, Professor!” Remus begged two days later. Sirius had been shipped to Azkaban not twelve hours after being arrested in the midst of settling dust and dead muggles. The evidence of guilt was overwhelming and there wasn’t even a trial. At least not one anyone was present for. “You know Sirius wouldn’t betray James and Harry! He loved them more than anything! He wasn’t even the Secret-Keeper!”

“I know Sirius wouldn’t willingly let anything happen to James, Harry, and Lily,” Dumbledore spoke calmly. “But there is nothing I can do. He killed thirteen people. He is fortunate Crouch didn’t call for the Kiss.”

Gritting through his teeth, Remus replied, “He didn’t mean to.” The words tasted dirty, but he knew they were no less true. Sirius would never purposefully kill innocent people. “It was Peter. He was trying to catch Peter.”

Sighing tiredly, Dumbledore just shook his head. “Nevertheless, Sirius did kill them, Peter included. There is nothing I can do. He is guilty and the Wizengamot has already ruled. I’m very sorry, but Sirius will be in Azkaban probably for the rest of his life.”

Impotent fury the likes of which he hasn’t felt outside of the full moon raged through him, but Remus held it in. Letting loose on Dumbledore wasn’t going to change anything and he needed not to burn this bridge just yet.

“What about Harry?” he asked through the angry strain in his throat. “Does he not deserve to have his mother? Does he not deserve to grow up with the only family he has left?”

Something flickered through the headmaster’s blue eyes, but Remus couldn’t decipher it before the man’s words thoroughly distracted him.

“I fear even if he should be released, Sirius wouldn’t be capable of caring for little Harry. It seems the loss of James has,” he hesitated as if he didn’t want to finish the thought, but he still did, “has broken him of his sanity.”

How dare he. Remus thought dimly deep within himself underneath the rushing in his ears. How dare he imply that Sirius would be anything other than a loving and devoted mother to his baby son. He was so very angry on Sirius’s behalf and on Harry’s that he could almost ignore the echoes of Sirius’s mad laughter in the middle of all that carnage.

He wanted to argue to protest on his friend’s behalf, but he knew he had nothing, no inarguable defense to do so with. He needed a new tactic. It was agonizingly clear that he wouldn’t be able to help Sirius, but he could still help his godson.

“Then, when can I see Harry?”

There was a long pause and Remus was almost positive he was going to implode with the look on Dumbledore’s face.

“He’s my godson,” he protested when the silence was answer enough. “James and Sirius wanted me and Lily to take care of him. I’m his godfather, he belongs with me.”

“He belongs where he is the most safe,” was the headmaster’s reply.

“Voldemort is gone! I can protect him. He would be safe with me!”

“But his followers are not gone,” Dumbledore raised his voice just enough to match Remus’s. “Harry is the reason their Lord is gone. He needs the best protection he can have.”

“Then I’ll go under the Fidelius as well and you can be Secret-Keeper, but he’s meant to be with me!” Remus argued verging on desperate.

“I have placed him with Lily’s sister. He’ll be perfectly safe there.”

“Lily’s sister!?” Remus was really and truly shouting now and several of the portraits hanging behind the headmaster’s desk gasped scandalized. “She’s a muggle! How is that even remotely safer for him than being with me!?”

Apparently being unmistakably yelled at by a man more than three quarters of century his junior met the end of Dumbledore’s endless patience.

“Enough!” he bellowed, standing from his chair and rising to his full height. The portraits immediately dropped into silence. Remus stiffened like a rod was shoved up his spine, grinding his teeth together so hard he thought he might crack some.

“Lily’s sacrifice left an invaluable protection on Harry and the only way to ensure that it does not deteriorate is to place him with the closest thing we can get to her; her nearest blood relation. He must stay as far away from the Wizarding World as possible. We can’t risk any chance of even inadvertent interference with the protection magics in him.”

Remus didn’t respond. He couldn’t. What could he even say? He’d never felt intimidated in Dumbledore’s presence before. Never in any other way than a child before an authority figure or an adult beside a highly respected equal.

Now he could feel the heaviness in the air, the slight rise in temperature. Read the unyielding confidence in his decision in his grave expression. See the layers and layers of calculations and plans and preparations barely hidden behind his hard blue eyes.

There would be no changing the Headmaster’s mind. He thought he knew what was best and Remus knew in his bones that Dumbledore would let nothing and no one disrupt his plans.

And what was a poor, exhausted werewolf to do against the most powerful wizard in possibly the world?

Nothing, was the answer. There was nothing he could do, but bite his tongue, bide his time, and stay out of trouble.

“I suppose you must do what you think is in Harry’s best interest,” he finally capitulated as neutrally as he could, though he was sure Dumbledore could still hear the resentment in his voice. “May I make a request?”

As gracefully as he sat back down in his chair, Dumbledore suddenly looked so very tired. “What is it you wish?” he asked with a sincere if undeterred look of apology in his gaze.

“Keep me updated?” he asked, now calmer, quieter, if not still boiling with rage on the inside. “I would like to know how my godson is doing if I am unable to even see him.”

Sighing, relieved perhaps at such a simple request, Dumbledore agreed, “Of course, you will be kept informed on little Harry’s life as much as possible.”

Nodding stiffly, Remus bid a silently, barely respectful goodbye to one of the greatest wizarding minds of the last century and left the office.

He was changed, though. Two of his best friends were dead, one was a dirty traitor, and one was -though perhaps lawfully- unjustly locked away in the most horrid place in their world. Even his beloved godson, the only bright spot left to him, was well out of his reach.

And he’d lost his respect, his confidence and trust, in one of the only people that had every stood up for him, advocated for him, who he owed an unmeasurable debt to.

Dumbledore had abandoned Sirius and kept Harry from him. Remus would never forgive the man for that.

*

Sitting behind his desk, as he had been for the several hours since Remus Lupin had left his office a darker, lonelier man, Albus Dumbledore felt old. For the first time in… Since he’d fought in an earlier -almost darker- war, he felt doubt in his decisions. For the greater good, he’d always believed in. To protect and save as many as possible he’d always been willing to do almost anything.

Though he believed Sirius Black was guilty of mass murder and was now an irreparably damaged man, Dumbledore felt no joy or accomplishment, not even any righteousness in separating him from his son for the child’s own wellbeing. From keeping Harry from his only living parent.

This war, more so than the last one he’d fought in, was going to take a heavy toll on him. Whether on his body or his soul, he thought he knew the answer and yet there was still more to be done.

Voldemort was not gone. He would return. There would be another war and Albus knew he would likely not survive to see the end of it.

“You called for me, Professor?”

Looking toward the door, Albus nodded and gestured to the chair in front of his desk. “Come in, Severus.” The tall thin man with sallow skin and lank hair took a seat with his ever present expression of displeasure.

“Have you done as I asked?”

Briefly the younger man’s dark eyes reflected deep, unforgiving grief before he locked his emotions away again.

“I went to the Potters’,” he said with a curl of distaste as he spat out the name. “It is as Hagrid and Lupin described. The house was half destroyed and there was no sign of the Dark Lord.”

Albus studied Severus for moment then asked, “Did you make the appropriate arrangements for Lily and James?”

There was that grief again, there and gone again, before Severus spoke. “Lily is to be interred in the village cemetery. The inscription on her,” a barely perceptible hitch in his neutral voice, “headstone will read as you requested.”

Nodding, Albus folded his fingers together on the scarred surface of his desk. “And James?”

Now a look of morbid curiosity took over Severus’s severe expression. “He was not there.”

Frowning, Albus straightened on alert. “Explain.”

“When I got to the house Potter’s body was already gone,” Severus said simply. “Someone got there ahead of me and took it.”

“How can you tell it was taken and not destroyed?” As disturbing as the thought of someone desecrating James Potter’s body was, the thought of someone taking it was even more so.

“There were lingering traces of charms and spell work,” Severus elaborated seemingly unconcerned by the prospect of James Potter’s mysterious whereabouts. “I can’t be completely sure, but from what I was able to detect with my limited knowledge of exploratory spells, I would guess a series of preservation charms and stasis spells were performed in the area where his body should have been.”

That was very concerning. Albus knew then who, or rather what had taken James Potter’s body. There was little chance of anything good coming of this development and though it was not an immediate complication, Albus knew it had the potential to become so.

“Professor?” Severus inquired of the other man watching his darkening expression. “Do you know who took Potter’s body?”

“Yes,” Albus murmured still deep in thought. “I believe I know who did this, but the more concerning question rather than who is why.” At Severus’s questioningly raised eyebrow, he elaborated, “Of two persons killed seemingly in the same manner at the same time, what was so different about James that he would be taken and not Lily?”

Apparently the thought of Lily possibly disappearing to parts and parties unknown disturbed Severus enough that he didn’t dig any further on the subject.

The two men discussed a few more pieces of gathered information and important orders for the next hour. Then Severus Snape took his leave to hide away and finally let his walls fall so he could grieve unhindered by appearances or witnesses.

Albus Dumbledore, on the other hand stayed in his office for a long while after that. His mind turning and turning over the possible reasons and or benefits of taking and preserving a young man’s dead body.

In the end he knew there would be no illumination on the situation for a long while yet. And he was sure when there finally was it would send ripples of change through the surly ongoing struggle.

After all, nothing simple ever came out of the Department of Mysteries.

*

Another wave of pain shot through Sirius’s belly and he whimpered. The Dementors were floating past his cell at regular intervals and the bombardment of misery and terror was on the verge of making him well and truly crazy.

If the seemingly unending grief didn’t do it before the evil creatures could.

He’d lost everything. James was gone. He best friend, his brother, his lover, the father of his child. He was gone, dead and far, far beyond Sirius’s yearning grasp.

Lily, his friend, the protector of his family and the savior of his son, was dead as well. Ignominiously dropped to the floor like a forgotten sweater.

Remus was who knew where caught up in who knew what and either way had no chance of possibly helping Sirius. Somewhere in the back of his mind he thought he could remember hearing Remus’s voice shouting panicked and angry over the sound of his own howling screams.

And Peter. Peter had gotten away. Peter betrayed them all, blew up a street full of muggles and framed Sirius for it all. Then he’d escaped down a goddamn storm drain.

Fucking rat.

Sirius moaned as the muscles in his belly gave a great heave and he felt another pitiful gush of blood between his legs.

That, more than the betrayal, grief, rage, and longing for his child, was what almost tossed him over the edge.

He hadn’t even known he was pregnant. Not until the pain started. He’d been in Azkaban less than seventy-two hours when it had started. When the child inside of him had died and his body started to struggle to expel it.

When he felt that first tug just below his bellybutton he’d realized what was happening. He’d felt it before. Years ago. When he and James had been young and terrified and already completely in love the little baby inside of him.

The Dementor that had been hovering in front of his cell, hungry and eager, finally glided away. Sirius’s mind cleared just enough that he was able to think through the pain gripping his body.

Now able to be marginally coherent with the relief from the terror and hopeless depression, Sirius concentrated on the rage. The vengeful wrath that had been festering in him since he’d walked away from Harry, making the worst mistake of his life.

He was an innocent man locked in the worst hell the Wizarding World could conceive of. He was separated from his son, possibly forever. His child that had been growing inside him was nothing but blood between his legs. The love of his life was dead. And the filthy rat that had betrayed them was out there somewhere running free.

One day, he vowed gritting his teeth as another burst of burning ache flared up inside him, one day he would escape. And when he did he would hunt the traitorous bastard down and murder him.

It wasn’t a pleasant thought. There would be no pleasant thoughts for Sirius Black for a long time. It wasn’t pleasant, but it would be what kept him sane. And that, that was all that mattered.

*

The End.