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The Butterfly Effect

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James Potter knew Voldemort was after his family. More precisely, his son, who was only fifteen months old. It terrified him, even with the Fidelius in place. He trusted his friends, of course he did, no matter what Sirius said about Remus. Remus would never betray the rest of the Marauders. Sirius’ idea to be bait and use Peter as the secret keeper didn’t quite sit right with James. Sirius had a big enough target on his back with turning his back on his blood family. He didn’t need another one. But James knew he would have done the same in a heartbeat for Sirius, if it made him safer.

 

He hoped some of his friends would come round for a visit soon. This was the first Samhain that the Marauders hadn’t spent together since they met. He knew Remus was off with the werewolf packs, but he had to come home sometime. James knew it was selfish to want his friends around all the time just because he was bored, but if they were here then they would be safe too. And with Voldemort after Harry, all of James and Lily’s friends were targets for attack, either in the hopes of luring them out or for finding who their secret keeper was.

 

Little Harry grabbing his hair, pulled him out of his thoughts. James grinned down at his son. He gently threw the baby up into the air just as Lily walked into the room. The love of his life. He had known the first time he laid eyes on her, that she was the one for him. It had been a long road, and he’d certainly had to grow up a lot, but the end result was worth every second. She still asked him every once in a while, to apologise to Snivellus. Somehow, she’d forgiven him for what happened by the lake in their fifth year. She had also forgiven James though, so he couldn’t really complain too much. He knew that he had pushed too far that day. At least, he knew that now. Back then he hadn’t thought any punishment was good enough for calling anybody that, let alone Lily.

 

“James, really?” She rolled her eyes at him. James shot her a grin.

 

“He loves it,” He replied. As if to prove this point, he threw Harry up again and the baby giggled delightedly. “See?” He could see her restraining from rolling her eyes for a second time.

 

“He’ll like it a lot less when you crack his head on the ceiling,” Lily told him dryly. But James knew she didn’t mean it. “Can you get him changed for bed?” She handed him a pair of pajamas. James took them. Harry was currently going through a phase where he hated his pajamas. Normal clothes were apparently fine, by pajamas were not. Tonight, it was his turn for the wrestling match that was about to ensue.

 

It took him was longer that he would ever admit to Sirius to get Harry ready for bed. He had changed his nappy and just about forced him into his blue pajamas when Harry started crying. James sat him on the couch and sent different coloured puffs of smoke out of his wand to distract the baby. It worked, and soon Harry was happily giggling away, trying to catch the smoke in his chubby fists.

 

“It’s time for Harry to go to bed.” Lily announced, coming back in. James scooped up his son, gave him a cuddle, and then handed him over to Lily. He flung himself back down on the sofa, tossing his wand aside. It’s not like he needed it these days for much other than entertaining Harry. Lily liked doing most of the household chores the muggle way. He didn’t really understand it, but he wasn’t going to argue with his Lilyflower. Whatever made her happy. And it wasn't like they had much else to do these days anyway. They had been under the Fidelius for almost a week and he was already going completely stir crazy. There was nothing he wouldn't do to keep his son safe, but that didn't mean he enjoyed it.

 

Just as Lily made it to the stairs there was a huge crash as the front door burst open. James scooped up his wand and sprinted to the hallway. As he saw the Dark Lord in the doorway of his house, he felt sick. His heart broke for Peter. Poor Peter. He must have been caught. How long had he been tortured before giving up their location?

 

“Lily, take Harry and go! It’s him! I’ll hold him off.” James yelled. He heard Lily’s footsteps on the stairs, but then his attention was drawn to a bolt of green light. He flung himself out of the way. Then he started firing off every curse he could think of. There was no time to say the words, his brain worked too fast for his mouth to keep up. It was a good thing he’d been practicing wordless magic while in the house.

 

“Foolish man. You cannot best Lord Voldemort,” The creature before him hissed. James snarled but didn’t waste his energy responding. He had to give Lily enough time to find a way out. The hallway was too cramped for much dodging, meaning James had to rely on shields. The whole downstairs glowed with various bursts of light from their spells. In the end, James ran out of room. He tried to avoid a sickly yellow spell but tripped over the pram that was tucked against one wall. The spell caught him on the shoulder as he stumbled. Everything went black.

 

He was floating in whiteness. There was nobody nearby. Just blank whiteness stretching on forever. James wondered if this was the afterlife. It was a bit grim if he had to stay in this for eternity. He had hoped to at least see his parents once again. And the Prewitt twins.

 

As he watched and waited, two doors suddenly appeared directly in front of him. Instinctively he knew that one led on, and the other, well he assumed that led back. But that made no sense. If people truly had the option to go back to their lives before they died, nobody would stay dead long. Unconsciously he found himself floating towards the door that led on. As he drew closer, the door opened. Coming from the inside he heard voices. Voices of his parents calling him. Welcoming him. That was Gideon’s voice. And was that Lily’s? No! His sweet Lilyflower couldn’t be dead! She was supposed to get away and protect their son. Was Harry dead too? Immediately James knew that was his choice. He had to get to his family.

 

He surged forwards. But just as he touched the doorframe, about to glide through, he felt a strong tug in his heart. It jolted him towards the other door. James frowned. Why would he go back? His family were all gone. Another tug. This one was stronger. It felt like a tendril of magic was trying to pull him back. Familiar magic. James focused. It felt like…no…it couldn’t be. Harry. His son was using magic to stop him moving on. Was that even possible? No magic could bring the dead back to life.

 

He glanced at the door where Lily’s voice was growing louder. Calling his name. His heart was being ripped in two. How desperately he wanted to go to her. But how could he face his wife if he ignored their son summoning him? Lily might be gone, but apparently, he wasn’t yet.

 

“Lily, I love you. Please forgive me. But I can’t leave Harry. He can’t lose both of us.” With that pronouncement, James dived for the other door.