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The next day, the two remaining Marauders bade farewell to Harry, Hermione and Ron.

Lily held Harry at arm’s length and tried to smile, before breaking down and sobbing,
“I’m so sorry Harry.”

Harry nodded numbly; not trusting himself to speak. Sirius and Remus shook his hands. They had agreed to escort Peter Pettigrew back to their world, where, they decided, Dumbledore would have to deal with him, with James’ body as proof. Sirius and Remus hated that, it brought a grim, practical finality to their adventures; all they wanted to do was forget it happened, and mourn their friend’s death, not recount it to their headmaster.

“Well, best be off…” Remus said heavily. They had made several practical arrangements, which had taken mere minutes. They had to cover their tracks, that is, rub away the windows they had left, which meant taking the long way home, through the Hog’s Head, to the muggle world. Covering the levitating corpse with an invisibility cloak, the Marauders and Lily set off, with Peter following them like a whipped child.

Lily was still sobbing quietly to herself, her wand jabbing Peter in the back. Remus couldn’t breathe. James was dead. It hadn’t sunk in yet. Sirius’ stormed on in silence, wanting most in the world to curse Peter to oblivion for the pain he had caused Harry twice in his life. He had been behind James’ death both times, the traitor! The bastard, the absolute bastard, he’d kill him with his bare hands rather than take him back to Dumbledore, he didn’t care if he went to Azkaban! The bastard, the bastard…

He was brought out of his angry thoughts when he dimly heard Remus saying,
“Well, here we are.”

Helping Remus put the body through the window, and then helping Lily through, he entered it. He and Remus set about rubbing the window away, while Lily sat with the body.

Remus sat quietly rubbing the window away, taking his time to rub away the windows, seemingly concentrating on his task. His throat was so dry, it hurt, there was a lump in it. He felt hollow, empty, and still that same disbelief. It couldn’t have happened, it just couldn’t. All they’d done was go and see Harry, and it had ended… like this. Was it their fault that Peter had done it? No, no, it couldn’t be, Peter was weak, he could have stopped himself, but he embraced it. James couldn’t be dead… he just couldn’t. Brushing some tears away furiously, Remus turned his head as the hole slowly faded from existence.

Lily sat by the body, silent tears streaming from her eyes. Stroking the white face that wasn’t James’ anymore, a single tear fell onto the cheek. This was the end of everything then. After spending so long fighting with James… oh, why hadn’t she just agreed to go out with him? It was the least she could have done, and how she’d wanted to! She… she loved him…

A sob escaping her, Lily looked down once more at James’ face. Wait a moment! No, don’t be ridiculous…

James suddenly sat up, with a gasp as he breathed in for air. Remus and Sirius turned abruptly. James! James was alive! Not bothering to rub off the other half of the window both launched themselves at him.

“Jesus guys, I need…to…breathe…” he choked out. Sirius and Remus sat back, insanely happy.

Lily, at this point, threw herself upon him bawling her eyes out, “James, you’re alive!”

James winked at his friends, “I can handle this!”

“But how?” Sirius asked, bewildered, “Not that I’m not thrilled you’re back James but how?!”

Remus said happily, “Maybe it’s because we came here where the book isn’t real, so it never happened!”

“Come again?” Sirius said, and then demanded, “how the bloody hell can you just know that straight away?!”

Remus ignored him, “Well, we went into the book! So while we experienced everything while we were in THAT reality, in this one, the books can’t have changed, so it never happened - James was never killed!”

“Do you have an answer for everything?!” Sirius asked. He grabbed James and the two performed a mad tango up and down the high street, both yelling with exultant joy – James was alive again! However, even James’ return to life didn’t stop them from being aware of the curious glances they were receiving. It wasn’t cool to… well, dance up and down the muggle street singing. Sort of. Letting go of each other, James and Sirius coughed a couple of times and walked, embarrassed, back to Remus and Lily.

“Can I go back and see Harry then?!” James said eagerly, “to show him I’m alive!”

Remus’ smile twitched slightly, but he said simply, “Yeah, but we should get Peter to justice first.”

James assumed a heroic expression and said loudly, “then on we must go!” and marched cheerfully up the high street, with Lily, Remus and Sirius left gawping at him.

“Well, he’s back,” Remus said, smiling slightly.

“Indeed he is!” Sirius said breathlessly, just as shell shocked. Lily was beaming. The three walked on in silence, still forcing onward Peter, whose hand had reformed. He was mildly pleased about that, but would have been more so but for the dread of what was in store for him now.

After a while, Lily said, “Remus, can he go back and see Harry?” She’d noticed Remus’ expression change, albeit just for a split second.

“Well, I don’t think it’s for the best really…” he said quietly, while Sirius opened his mouth in indignation,
“What?! Why can’t he go back?”

“Because it never happened,” Remus replied heavily.

Sirius raised an eyebrow,
“Remus, have you gone insane?! Of course it happened! We have…well, we had, the body to prove it-“

“Yeah, and can you see it in these books? As soon as that window closed, Harry forgot all about it. So Harry never went through the ordeal, not to his memory anyway.”

Sirius swore, “But that’s so unfair!”

Remus sighed bitterly, “Yeah, it is.”

Sirius swore again, and the three continued walking. It had been a long day; they didn’t want to have to deal with any more unpleasantness.

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