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Chapter Two

…Born to those who have thrice defied him…


James flung himself to the side, the bolt of red missing him by inches. A jolt of pain flared up his arm as he landed hard on the floor, but he was past caring. He stared around the room and took in the scene which met him: himself, Lily, and Sirius against five Death Eaters. They weren’t going to last long. His gaze scanned the room he was in and searched for a way out. He didn’t need to be told that there was only one way out and it was blocked. The idea of escape left his mind as another spell shot out of a wand straight at Sirius.

Sirius’ eyes widened in horror at the spell, knowing that nothing could block that… nothing. The knowledge echoed inside his head even as he took in Peter’s unconscious form on the floor. He hoped to Merlin that Remus would be back soon with Dumbledore, even if it was too late for him. Suddenly he was falling, falling and his mind was beginning to replay the day’s events.


*


“Jam–” Sirius started before Remus clamped his hand over his friend’s mouth and, with Peter’s aid, dragged him in the opposite direction.

“For God’s sake! Just leave them alone!” Remus said to him in disbelief.

“But…” Sirius began and once again Remus cut him off.

“Sirius, I don’t care. James asked for one afternoon alone with Lily and, whether you like it or not, he is going to get one,” Remus told him in harsher tones than he would normally have used.

“I can see what you mean,” Sirius said and Remus and Peter cast him a suspicious look; Sirius hardly ever agreed with anyone especially when the topic was Lily and James. Peter moved a little closer to Sirius in case he decided to run and Remus kept his eyes fixed on him, all the time wondering just what it was he was planning. “However…” The rest of the sentence was drowned out as Sirius sprinted away from them as fast as his legs could carry him.

“Bloody hell,” Remus muttered darkly under his breath as he raced after him, Peter on his heels.

“I thought we were having a day alone?” Lily said lightly as she saw Sirius racing towards them with Remus and Peter not far behind. She had intended it to be a statement but her tone had made it more of a question to her companion.

“I thought that as well,” James said grimly, narrowing his eyes and knowing that what he was seeing probably wasn’t quite what Lily saw. He reasoned that she would see his three friends running to tell him something of meagre importance where as he was watching Remus and Peter try to keep Sirius away from him. Naturally they were failing.

Sirius staggered forward as a wave of energy hit his ankles unexpectedly from in front of him. In that split second, he had almost fallen face first to the floor, something which would certainly have disappointed many of the school’s female population when he returned with a rather smashed in face. What the hell…? Sirius wondered as he regained his footing and found Remus and Peter on him a moment later. James! How could you! He glanced up to see his friend with his arm around Evans and he could even distinguish a grin on his lips even with the distance between them.

Lily allowed herself the slightest of smiles as she slipped her wand back into her pocket and James looked down at her, one eyebrow raised questioningly.

“Shall we continue?” she asked mildly, her eyes laughing as she linked her arm through his. James decided that questions probably weren’t the best of ideas as he allowed himself to be led down the street past Remus, Peter, and Sirius. He briefly hoped that they would not be disturbed anymore that day as his eyes met Sirius’. James sighed inwardly when he saw the determination in them; it was going to be a long day – for Remus and Peter - after all they were the ones who were attempting to keep Sirius at bay. In contrast to what would probably become an awful day for his friends, he would be spending his afternoon with Lily, ignoring Sirius should he cross their path.

“Just let them go!” Lily glanced behind her when she heard Peter’s voice and saw Sirius with his eyes narrowed at his two friends. Upon noticing her looking at them, Sirius waved cheerily and Remus and Peter did the same.

“Seriously, leave them alone,” Remus said when Lily had turned around. Sirius raised an eyebrow.

“And why would I do that?” he asked coolly before staring past them at James and Lily in confusion. “What on earth… Expelliarmus!

Incarcerous.”

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?!” Sirius demanded as he lay on the floor, bound tightly by Remus. Peter lay beside him gasping for breath.

“I could ask you the same question!” Remus retorted. “I told you to leave them alone and you’re going to whether you like it or not.”

“Idiots,” James muttered as they walked further along past the Shrieking Shack, a place which had recently been attracting many tourists to it and had been labelled as ‘the most haunted house in Britain’ by The Daily Prophet a week earlier.

“I wonder what haunts it,” Lily said thoughtfully as they meandered down the street. “I know that some people say they’ve heard it but I don’t know what would haunt a place like that or why…”

“Nor do I,” James said lightly, smiling slightly at the younger students who were taking turns to try and peer through the cracks in the boarded windows, “which is why I think it’s all an act. They just want to get more people into Hogsmeade, and a haunted house is the only way to do it.”

“Seems rather pointless to me then,” Lily replied. “I mean everyone’s seen ghosts before so why they’re making such a big deal out of it, I really don’t know.”

“You fancy a drink in the Three Broomsticks?” James asked, slowing to an eventual halt as the first few droplets of rain began to fall. Lily stared up at the sky which had been clear not long since but had clouded over fast. “I’m buying,” he added when she didn’t respond immediately.

Eventually, it was the beginnings of a torrential downpour which won her over, or at least that was what Lily told herself as she walked into the pub filled with students. They took a small table near the door and James peered out through the small windows as the rain pummelled the windows. The room was filled with cheerful chattering of students and teachers alike; even Dumbledore was sitting with a Zonko’s bag at his side (although Zonko never did enjoy his visits – he always seemed to drive his younger customers away…) and a Butterbeer in his hand.

“You seem distracted,” Lily said quietly as she touched his hand and James jumped slightly.

“Sorry,” he mumbled, “just wondering what happened to those idiots.”

There was a flash of lightening overhead, illuminating the darkened village and James stared, stunned, towards the end of the street. About half a dozen people were standing out in the rain, down towards the Shrieking Shack. James couldn’t see their faces but there was something about them, perhaps about the way they stood, which made him feel nervous, or the way they all gathered around one person…

“I have to go…” he muttered to Lily, almost as an afterthought as he leapt up from the table and ran out into the rain. The weather was getting worse and within moments James was soaked to the skin but he didn’t care. That was Peter down there, he just knew it. As he ran, he stared at the men ahead of him as they got clearer and clearer. He would have thought that their colour would increase also, but it did not; they remained black figures, mere silhouettes. A chill touched him as he realised who they were. He kept running.

Thud … Thud … Thud. James’s heart and his feet pounded together as he sprinted, hoping he was neither too late nor mistaken in his mission. Suddenly someone leapt out in front of him. James had already managed to stop, look horrified and stagger backwards before he realised who it was between him and the Death Eaters.

“Remus!” he gasped. “Peter… Death Eaters… Peter!” He tried to push past him but Remus grabbed hold of him tightly.

“Don’t be a fool! They’ll kill you!” Remus said, trying to hold his gaze and see the madness in his actions, but James stared over his shoulder and strained against him as he stared towards Peter.

“We have to do something!” James yelled at him as he broke free of Remus’s grasp.

“No, James!” Remus shouted after him but he was unheard over the pounding of the rain. “Oh Jesus Christ!”

Lily remained frozen for a moment as she had sat in The Three Broomsticks, her mind comprehending that James was running down the street towards half a dozen Death Eaters surrounding what looked like Peter Pettigrew. The sight which met her eyes caused them to widen considerably and within seconds, she flung herself through the door and out into the rain.

She could barely feel her feet touching the ground as she ran, almost like flying, as she pursued James down the street. Even as she gained ground on him, wild thoughts ran through her mind. In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t worn my boots today… she found herself thinking. A slight smile touched her face as she caught up with him but she realised suddenly that he was not James. Her wish for alternate footwear was strengthened as she tripped and fell. She grabbed the figure just ahead of her and they both went crashing to the ground.

Sirius watched as James raced past. For a few moments, there was nothing but slight confusion and relentless rain and then Remus raced past, followed closely by Lily. Sirius raised an eyebrow slightly as he stepped out from the alleyway he had been sheltering in, then the other rose to join it as he saw why they ran.

“Bloody hell, Peter!” he muttered as he set off as fast as he could, only hoping that he could get to James before James reached what could only be his death.

Almost there… James thought as he ran. His feet were aching as they hit the ground beneath him again and again. He could see them now, see their masks and identify that it was in fact Peter who stood in their midst. Behind him, he heard a yell but he didn’t turn around to see what had happened and only ran on.

Sirius leapt over Lily and Remus before spinning round and running back to them.

“One of you go back and get Dumbledore, NOW!” he shouted at them and Lily stared up at him from the ground, stunned. Remus was already back on his feet and moving towards James. “No bloody way, you’re going back there!”

“You don’t tell me what to do!” Remus shouted at him. “I’ve just as much right to be there as you have!”

“You’re faster than me,” Sirius tried, switching tactics.

“So I can get to James and help him before you can!” Remus argued.

“Help him?! They’re Death Eaters!” Sirius bellowed. “You have no idea what they’re capable of! You’re faster so run and get Dumbledore before it’s too late!” By the end of this, Sirius was nearing the end of his tether.

Remus briefly wondered whether it was the desperation in Sirius’ eyes or the cowardice he hid inside himself which had made him turn back first as he found himself running faster, if it were possible, than he had been before. He found himself thinking that he was going entirely the wrong way but he no longer cared as his already weary legs pushed him on towards The Three Broomsticks.

Sirius didn’t stop to regard Lily who was still sitting on the ground before he ran off after James again. She had made no move since he had reached them and he would not waste a precious moment on her; James and Peter’s lives were at stake! He reached the end of the street and stopped. He whirled around frantically as it slowly sank in; they were gone. The group of people were no longer anywhere to be seen. A wave of nausea washed over him, almost bringing him to his knees when a low whistle met his ears. He could have danced with joy at seeing James that moment but wisely, he decided against it.

The moment that Sirius had turned his back, Lily was back on her feet and running after him. She was not as fast as he, nor was she as oblivious to her surroundings in that moment of panic. Her feet flew as before, but Sirius would not hear her. He was deafened by his own beating heart and the fear which stole his sense. In the back of her mind, she wondered why she was running towards danger but she did not slow.

She took in Sirius, spinning in panic at the end of the street and yet he had not seen her. His fear must have been almost blinding she realised as she neared the end of the street. She would be with him within moments. Then he was gone, running up towards the Shrieking Shack. Lily followed them without a moment’s hesitation.

Remus knew what was happening but was powerless to stop it. He flung his arms out in front of him, breaking his fall. His body collided with the road and his breath was knocked out of him, leaving him gasping for breath. He lay there, still as death, and he could almost see the vultures above him. It was a strange moment, a moment of stillness. Nothing moved, least of all him, and all that was to be heard was the hammering of the rain as it beat him mercilessly. He felt dizzy and shaky in his moment of calm, feeling as if the world had stopped after an overload of panic, fear and running… lots and lots of running.

He opened his eyes, only realising that they had been shut when he took in the world around him. In the distance, a dark ghost was running sideways, heels clicking from far away. Lily. He realised suddenly and then more urgently, Peter, James, Sirius… oh God! He was on his feet and running before he realised what was happening. His feet carried him down the road, further than he wanted, only realising that he should have stopped as the sign for The Three Broomsticks passed over him and behind him.

Sweet relief washed over Remus as he pushed open the door. His work was done.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing here?!” James demanded. A previously unknown mixture of fear, anger, determination and frustration passed through him as he stared at Lily. She was crouched next to him and Sirius, temporarily sheltered from the harsh weather. “Merlin, this is no place for you! Go back!”

“No chance! You can’t turn me back now, it’s too late!” she scowled darkly at him and even as he gave her the darkest look he could, James was forced to admit that he was glad of her presence. At least now there were three of them, but still six Death Eaters. The rain was slowing and voices could be heard from just inside.

“Would you disregard my orders so soon, Malfoy?” a silky voice asked from within. Shivers ran down the spines of those who stood outside, whilst on the other side of the door, a slight smirk touched the face of the tallest of those who stood inside. Lord Voldemort twirled his wand idly between his fingers as he regarded the boy who stood before him, he did not appear scared, or even slightly nervous, and his amusement increased.

“No, my Lord,” a man to Voldemort’s left replied as he bowed low.

“Good,” he said, “but it would appear that we have other things to be thinking of, such as entertaining the guests we appear to have!” He waved his wand and the door opened. “Do come in.”

James tried not to show the horror on his face as his legs forced him into the room, against his will, even as his mind screamed at him to go the other way. Next to him, Sirius and Lily were walking with the same jerky movements as they went before Lord Voldemort.

They said he could kill a man just by looking at him, they said he was so fast in a duel that none but Dumbledore stood a chance against him. They said that he was so amazing, so powerful, and so ruthless that it would be madness to refuse him. They also said that during the recent weeks, he had wiped out the last of three Wizarding families and tortured half a dozen muggles into insanity. Lily felt she had the right to be scared as she stood before him.

“Aren’t we an intriguing party?” Voldemort murmured thoughtfully as his eyes ran along them and rested upon Sirius.

Sirius prayed silently for a painless death and wondered why he had thought this a good idea as his fingers tightened around his wand. He also wondered just how Peter had managed to get himself into such a mess.

Voldemort’s amusement grew as he realised just what they thought was happening. “I am not an unfair man; I think you’ll agree,” he said and noted the way their eyes narrowed ever so slightly in a minor sign of defiance, “so I will give you a choice.”

James had a sinking feeling in his stomach and he already knew what their choice was. He already knew what answer he was going to give.

“You can either join me and become some of the richest and most powerful wizards in the world, or you can die,” he smirked.

“I would rather die than join you,” spat James, his heart racing so fast that he was surprised it had not yet burst out of his chest and made its own bid for freedom.

“As would I,” Sirius stated plainly. Voldemort raised an eyebrow at them slightly but said nothing.

“Master Black, you surprise me,” Voldemort said lightly, although he was clearly not particularly surprised at all as he pointed his wand at his chest. Sirius winced, waiting for a curse which never came and instead, to their immense surprise, Voldemort began to laugh. “Such is the wisdom and the bravery of youth,” his sarcasm was not lost on the three in front of him, “it is a shame that you chose to die,” His eyes laughed and his mouth twitched.

*


Sirius felt a weight collide with his shoulder and he was falling, falling… He landed hard on the floor with Lily against him. His mind reeled at the implications that Evans saving his life would inevitably bring but pushed them aside.

Back on his feet within moments, Sirius dodged three fast hexes from a woman in front of him. He took his opportunity and shot a stunning hex at her.

“Sirius!” The yell was from behind him. He turned to see a red streak heading his way and then everything went black.

Lily wasn’t thinking. She wasn’t wondering of their fate. Her thoughts did not stray to Remus and Dumbledore. They did not go to Sirius and Peter, unconscious on the floor, nor to James who fought besides her. They not even went to herself. Her mind was blank as she shot spell after spell at those around her. Stunned, terrified, and on autopilot.

James grabbed Lily and pulled her backwards as a spell stuck the wall behind her previous location. Another Death Eater went down from a simultaneous hexing from himself and Lily, but where was Remus? Four more Death Eaters to go and then there was Voldemort…

I wonder how they opened the door… James wondered as he flung himself to the side to avoid having his head blown off his shoulders. There was a scream and suddenly his back was drenched in damp warmth. He did not need to turn around and see just who the Reductor curse had hit; he just knew that it had.

They were tiring, Voldemort knew that much as he watched the two weary teenagers fighting for their lives, which he would remove when, and if, the last Death Eater fell. It was a pity that they would not join him, but he knew that they had always been close to Dumbledore.

Reducto!” And another scream pierced the air. Lily fell to her knees, clutching her arm and James was by her side in a flash. There were still four Death Eaters left but Lily could no longer fight and they were encircled.

Lily sobbed quietly as she stared down at her upper arm, even as her robes became sticky and damp. She could feel James beside her, he was still standing, and she could feel the eyes of the Death Eaters upon her – they had surrounded them.

“You have an interesting dilemma, Potter,” Voldemort spoke quietly, stepping forwards. “Do you join me and let the girl walk free, or do you both die in blood and agony?”

Lily’s head shot up at those words and James stared at him levelly. He already knew what he was going to say, indeed, everyone in that room knew it. He took a deep breath and opened his mouth.

But no words ever came. The door was flung open again.

“Dumbledore?!” Voldemort cried, enraged.

“Indeed, and I believe I was just in time…” Dumbledore smiled grimly, but his eyes remained stern and cold. “Let them go, Tom.”

Voldemort laughed and Dumbledore smiled confidently. James didn’t care; he knew who would win as surely as he knew his own name. He looked down at Lily and knelt beside her, putting an arm loosely around her shoulders.

“Is he…?” Lily asked softly, nodding towards Sirius who was lying still on the other side of James. He shook his head and she smiled ever so slightly, resting her head against him.

“Catch,” Dumbledore said and Voldemort looked at him, his eyebrow raised and a slight frown on his face. It was the only time that anyone had ever seen Voldemort confused as James easily caught the small orb thrown at him. He noticed the word ‘Zonko’s’ printed on the dungbomb and he smiled as he took hold of Peter’s arm. With one hand she grabbed hold of Sirius whilst the other reached out to the dungbomb. Lily’s finger touched the Portkey and they disappeared.
A/N: Oh, and just in case you were wondering, this story isn't set in chronological order. In this chapter they're still at school and I'll try to make the different times more clear as I go along :o)

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