- Character Bashing
- Alternate Universe
- Challenge Response
‘I still don’t like it, Lily,’ James Potter told his wife over morning coffee in his study, a continuing argument between them for two days now. ‘Potter’s Keep is one of the most protected places on the planet. It’s unplottable and has Dverger War Wards to protect it. Wards that were cast over a thousand years ago and have only strengthened over time. Why would we leave here and go into a cottage in Godric’s Hollow?’
‘I told you!’ Lily was clearly struggling with keeping her famed red-headed temper under control. ‘Dumbledore says he’ll put it under a Fidelius charm which will mean our location would be impossible to find unless the Secret Keeper – the person who will hold the information – tells someone.’
‘And how is that different to somewhere unplottable and behind Dverger War Wards?’ James asked.
‘Because a lot of people know where Potter’s Keep is!’
‘So we put the Keep under this Fidelius Charm, and I’ll hold the secret.’
‘Bugger Dumbledore! The Keep has protected my family for over a thousand years! How can a cottage in Godric’s Hollow that doesn’t even belong to my family possibly be safer?’
Lily had no reply to that, but the expression on her face told James that the subject wasn’t closed by far. He sighed and tugged her onto his knee, kissing her hair as she wriggled to get away from him.
‘Stop it! Harry will be waking up at any moment.’
‘Lils, listen.’ James kissed her head again. ‘How about we talk to the Dverger at Gringotts about this Fidelius charm, and maybe Professor Flitwick as well, eh? Then, when we’ve got all the information about it, we can make a properly balanced decision?’
He couldn’t see the expression on his wife’s face as she clung to him, but he felt her nod as her wriggling ceased.
‘Okay. It’s just…Harry’s still so young, still just a baby really, and I can’t risk him, risk either of you if Voldemort is really after us. Dumbledore thinks we need to go into hiding as soon as possible, tomorrow if we can.’
‘Then I’ll mirror-call Gimli at the bank right now and ask the question. Meanwhile, you floo-call Professor Flitwick and ask his opinion.’
‘I don’t…I don’t think Dumbledore wanted us to talk to anyone else about this,’ Lily said hesitantly. ‘He doesn’t want too many people to know about it.’
‘That’s just unreasonable, especially as he won’t explain exactly why he thinks we’re in danger. Some people will have to know; Padfoot, for example. Moony, Wormtail and the Longbottoms as well. I’m not prepared to give up our friends altogether.’
Lily said nothing for a moment, then she pressed her head further into his shoulder.
‘I’m scared, James. Scared for you and Harry.’
He pressed a further kiss to her hair and gently pushed her away from him, lifting her chin as soon as he could see it.
‘It’ll be alright, Lils, I promise. We’ll get through this one way or another.’
She gave him a feeble smile. ‘Maybe. I’ll go and call Professor Flitwick, shall I?’
James gave her a gentle push. ‘You do that. Harry’ll be waking up from his nap soon and then we’ll have no time for anything! I’ll call Gimli and talk to him. Padfoot will be here this afternoon for tea so we can talk it all over with him as well, hmm?’
‘If Harry will let us,’ she returned with a glimpse of her usual steady demeanour. ‘He monopolises Sirius whenever he’s here; you know that. And Sirius is as bad as Harry!’
James watched her leave his study, a frown on his face. His gut was telling him not to depend on Dumbledore, although he had no idea why. Dumbledore had only ever had their best interests at heart…or had he? There were one or two instances when they were at school when his actions were a little…odd. Vindictive even. He shook his head to get rid of those thoughts. Dumbledore was trying to protect them, James was sure, but moving to Godric’s Hollow made little sense. He’d speak to Gimli and see what he thought. His account manager had always been objective and willing to listen to even some of James’ wilder ideas, like investing in Muggle companies. That had proved very profitable, and Gimli had told him even Ragnok was impressed. He pulled his communication mirror from a drawer and called for Gimli, who quickly appeared on his own mirror.
‘Sorry to bother you, Gimli, but I need some information…’
Sirius Black strode back and forth in his best friend’s study.
‘Calm down, Padfoot. You’ll wear a hole in the rug!’ James told him.
‘I’m annoyed. No, no, I’m not annoyed. I’m furious! How could Dumbledick be so stupid?!’
‘You’d better not call him that in front of Harry. He’s at the age where he repeats every word you don’t want him to. He kept muttering ‘Bugger’ yesterday during supper. No guesses where he got that from.’
‘No,’ Sirius agreed, his eyes now crinkled with laughter. ‘You do say it rather a lot.’
‘I’m not the only one!’
‘But you do say it the most,’ Lily commented, leaning on the doorframe. ‘Hi, Padfoot. You’re earlier than I expected.’
‘James asked me to come over right away after his conversation with Gimli and Ragnok.’
Lily nodded. ‘It’s the first time one of the Dverger has ever come to Potter’s Keep, Ragnok told us. Apart from when the wards were set, but that was different and long ago.’
‘I’ve never even seen one outside of Gringotts,’ Sirius told her. ‘It’s an indication of just how angry they were with James’ questions.’
‘Professor Flitwick told me he was going to call Ragnok too. He was certain I’d been hexed or potioned or something to make me believe what Dumbledore told me.’
‘I was protected by my ring, of course,’ James added. ‘Ragnok has offered to have Lily’s wedding ring embedded with similar protections. He can’t put on the same ones found on a Lordship or an heir ring, although he is going to bring Harry’s heir ring when he comes back tomorrow.’
‘Is he?’ Sirius asked in surprise. ‘I thought they couldn’t be claimed until the heir is 17?’
‘The Lordship or Heirship can’t be claimed until the heir is 17, but that doesn’t mean the heir can’t wear the ring before that age. Harry’ll still have to make the legal claim and vow when he’s 17 but can benefit from the protections before then.’
‘That’s…extremely sensible,’ Sirius agreed.
‘I know. I’ve already called Frank and Alice to suggest they do the same for Neville. I’ve no idea why it isn’t more well known.’
‘I also asked Professor Flitwick to pass on a message to Narcissa Malfoy,’ Lily added quietly.
‘Narcissa? Why would you do that?’ Sirius demanded. ‘Fucking Death-eaters!’
‘Watch your language!’ Lily snapped. ‘And why shouldn’t I? It’s to protect her son!’
‘Sorry, Lils, but, Narcissa? Really?’
‘Draco deserves the same protections as Harry if they’re available. Sins of the father, you know.’
‘Well, Lucius Malfoy is almost certainly a Death-eater, if that’s what you mean.’
‘It’s got nothing to do with Lucius!’
‘But you said—’
‘It’s from the Bible, idiot!’
Sirius stared at her in puzzlement. ‘What’s the Bi– Oh. The Muggle religious book, you mean?’
‘Have you never heard the phrase before?’
Both James and Sirius shook their heads.
‘For goodness sake!’ Lily muttered. ‘The whole quote is something along the lines of the sins of the father being visited on their child. Being put upon the child,’ she added at their looks of bemusement. ‘It’s…Oh, forget it. It doesn’t matter.’
James and Sirius exchanged looks. ‘Okay, if you say so, Lils,’ James told her. ‘It’s a good thought, though. Draco should be allowed to make his own mistakes.’
‘The whole family are Death-eaters,’ Sirius complained.
‘So? The whole of your family are Death-eaters, or certainly support Voldemort,’ Lily pointed out. ‘You’re the only one who resisted, but if everyone thought as you do, you’d never have become James’ friend, would you? You’d have had no friends, what with sorting into Gryffindor.’
‘Point,’ Sirius acknowledged. ‘Tell me about the cleansing draft the Gob—Dverger gave you. What did it reveal?’
‘Don’t call them Goblins!’ Lily told him. ‘It’s racist, demeaning, and downright nasty!’
‘I corrected myself!’ Sirius argued. ‘The Wizarding world has been calling them Goblins for hundreds of years. It’s difficult to remember sometimes.’
‘It’s probably one of the reasons for so many wars between Dverger and the Wizarding world!’
‘Maybe,’ James told her, comfortingly. ‘Forget that, though. Padfoot wants to know about the compulsions on you.’
‘From Dumbledick, we think,’ James confirmed. ‘Lily was cursed with loyalty and compulsion charms which forced her to believe in him implicitly and do anything she could to persuade me to agree to his ‘suggestions’. I’d also been cursed, but my Lordship ring protected me somewhat. Enough that I was able to suggest we ask other people about the wretched Fidelius charm.’
‘I wonder if he tried to curse me as well?’ Sirius said thoughtfully. ‘Looking back, I saw him in a much more positive light until I claimed my Heir ring when I was 17.’
‘If you also remember, he tried to get you to not claim your ring,’ James pointed out. ‘He told you it was wrong for your grandfather to disown your father and make you his heir. I remember telling my father about it, and he got in touch with Lord Blackmore about it.’
‘I wonder how many other people have been cursed by Dumbledick, then?’
‘I’m pretty sure we’ll know in a few days. The Dverger are furious and have called in the Aurors to investigate the signature they found on the spells. They wouldn’t confirm how they suspected but did say they’d let me know after the investigation is completed.’
‘An investigation’ll never happen!’ Sirius scoffed. ‘Dumbletwat’s got the whole of the Ministry in his pocket.’
‘I’m not so sure,’ Lily said. ‘Millicent Bagnold is pretty tough, you know. She’s not likely to bend to Dumbledore if she thinks he’s behaved dishonestly. She’s a huge friend of the Muggle Prime Minister, you know.’
‘I didn’t know, but how do you know?’ James asked.
‘My father was talking about Margaret Thatcher and her great friend Millicent Bagnold one day. I recognised the name and then her photograph in his newspaper. They grew up together, I believe.’
‘Margaret Thatcher is a witch?!”
‘No, just good friends with Millicent Bagnold. And if Bagnold is anything like her friend, she’ll not bow down to Dumbledore.’
‘What are you going to do about moving to Godric’s Hollow?’ Sirius asked, having no interest in the Muggle Prime Minister.
‘We’re not,’ James said succinctly. ‘We’re staying here under the war wards. Ragnok has a team coming out later in the week to make sure they’re completely up to date. We’re staying right here.’
‘Unsurprisingly, the Fidelius charm isn’t quite as safe as Dumbledore made out,’ Lily explained. ‘It relies too much on the Secret Keeper, and while we know you’d never give us away – you’d be our Secret Keeper, of course – it would put you in danger.’
‘And before you say you don’t care about that,’ James added, ‘we would. Very much. Harry needs his dogfather, and we need you, Padfoot. Both Gimli and Ragnok were astounded that we’d even think about leaving Potter’s Keep.’
‘Professor Flitwick was much the same way, which is why he thought I might have been potioned or cursed,’ Lily explained. ‘We have complete control over who comes to Potter’s Keep, and with the War Wards nobody is getting in without James’ knowledge.’
‘But you will limit who’ll be allowed to visit, won’t you?’ Sirius asked.
‘Of course. You’ll be allowed to come, but neither Mooney nor Wormtail will.’
Sirius raised his eyebrows at James’ comment.
‘Mooney is…well, a werewolf. A dark creature, and no matter how much we might trust him, he is open to influence just by being what he is.’
‘And Wormtail?’ Sirius prompted when it looked as though James wasn’t going to explain.
‘Ah, Wormtail,’ James sighed. ‘I don’t…’
‘We don’t trust him 100 per cent,’ Lily explained. ‘There’s something…off about him. Neither of us can quite explain it, but since we all left Hogwarts, he’s…changed.’
gave them a relieved smile. ‘I agree, and I’m glad I’m not going to have to try to persuade you to exclude him. You’re exactly right, Lils. He has changed. He’s…If I had to describe it, I’d say he’s very much like Reggie was just after he left school. As though he had a secret he couldn’t share. One he was proud of.’
‘That’s it exactly!’ James pointed his finger at Sirius. ‘I knew I’d felt the same feeling before!’ His expression changed. ‘Does that mean Wormtail has become a Death-eater like Reggie?’
The three adults looked at each other in consternation.
‘Maybe?’ Sirius said at length.
‘Well, fuck me sideways!’ James exclaimed.
‘Fuck! Fuck! Fuck Daddy!’ a little voice called out as Harry entered the room holding the hand of his nanny-elf. ‘Fuck Padfoo! Fuck Mummy!’
‘Bugger!’ James muttered.