A twist of Fate... an opened window... a cradle robbed... two frantic parents... a lost hope, along with a shattered Prophecy. AU
Author's Note: Please read and review. I had posted 'A Shattered Prophecy' on FF.net, back on January 21, 2006. This is the revised version. As a side note, 'A Shattered Prophecy' came before 'A Darkness Within' by Kurinoone (on FF.net) just thought I would state that just to prevent any accusations of plagiarism.
An Empty Cradle
Nervousness filled the darkened room with every passing moment. Its interior was anything but silent as the messenger continued to try to get his mouth to form words fast enough for his master, who was quickly losing what patience he had within his cold-blooded body.
Lord Voldemort waited for Wormtail to stop his jabbering. All of his excuses were beginning to gnaw raw on the Dark Lord's nerves. Lazily, he raised his wand and pointed it at his servant, knowing that the pain would serve the rodent far better than quiet loathing. Screams filled the air as Voldemort placed the Cruciatus Curse on Wormtail, who was now failing wildly on the floor. The Dark Lord allowed him to wither before him, watching with his emotionless crimson eyes.
"I grow tired of your excuses, Wormtail!" Voldemort hissed, refusing to remove the curse which plagued the Death Eater
"You are far too merciful-," Wormtail shrieked even as he rolled on the floor in pain. "Too merciful," the man repeated in a mere whisper.
"Remember that, Wormtail. I am the only one who will be merciful toward you, especially if they were to discover your little secret," Voldemort said, as he lifted the curse. His methodical mind already turning to the next subject, and the only reason the rat was in his fortress at this moment. "Wormtail, I have waited quite patiently these past months for such an opportunity as this. Do you know what I want?"
The Death Eater recognized the rhetorical question for what it was. Of course, he knew what the Dark Lord wanted! "The Potters dead," Wormtail cringed expecting more pain as he answered.
"Yes, Wormtail," Voldemort replied as if he were talking to a child. "I would like that very much... and now that you have been made their Secret Keeper for the blood traitor and his mudblood wife, it is within my grasp."
Wormtail dumbly nodded his head, desperately to avoid further infuriating his master.
"But, Wormtail," Voldemort continued, his voice changing into the tone that it always took before his fury stormed. "You have yet to tell me their location. I have been merciful to you... for now, but my patience is wearing thin." Voldemort toyed with his wand before resting it once again on the quivering form before him.
"My Lord, please, they are my friends," Peter begged, frantically wishing he were somewhere else.
Voldemort laughed. "What is your price, besides your life?"
Wormtail suddenly became still. "My Lord, have I not served you well?"
"Yes, Wormtail, you have had your uses, but like all rats, you will lose your worth." Voldemort let his words gradually sink into Wormtail's head. "Tell me their location, and you shall live. It is a chance many would kill to have, and I am offering it to you."
The words exited Peter's mouth before he could even stop them. "They are at Godric's Hollow." His eyes looked away from the burning orbs of his master. He could not stand to be who he was, but he didn't want to die. No, James will forgive, Peter thought rapidly, covering over that awkward feeling that was growing in the pit of his stomach.
Voldemort smiled coldly. "Of course," he murmured mostly to himself.
"My Lord, will you kill Lily and James?" Peter asked quietly, fearing the answer that he knew would most likely come.
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... Born to parents who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies...And that is as far as Snape was able to hear. The Potter boy is a threat to me."
Pettigrew rapidly tried to think on his feet. "But must Lily and James die for him?"
Voldemort's snake-like eyes fell on Wormtail, bearing into him. "You have no loyalty. You betrayed them without a thought. They would kill you, because of the information you have just given me. They would kill you for that mark that you bear on your arm." Voldemort paused after noticing how the Death Eater paled and trembled before him. "Do not fear, Wormtail, for you have something better than their protection. You have mine."
Wormtail crawled nearer to his master's feet and grabbed the hem of his robes. "You are far too good to me."
Voldemort smirked once more. "What would happen, Wormtail, if one of the two promised children were to disappear?" When Wormtail shook his head not daring to answer, Voldemort continued. "I would be invincible. This is where you come into play, Wormtail."
"Mast-," Peter began.
"Silence!" Wormtail immediately became silent. "I will spare your 'friends', all I ask in return is for you to bring the boy to me."
"You wish me to kidnap Harry, my Lord?" Peter did not like where the conversation was going.
"Harry," Voldemort whispered. "Harry is the key. I need him alive for the time being. I will have Lucius take him to the Department of Mysteries and take the prophecy. After that, I will decide if young Harry lives or dies. Wormtail, you will grab Harry and take him to Lucius. Lucius will take care of the rest."
"Why me, my Lord?"
"The boy will hardly be afraid of 'Uncle' Wormtail, will he? If you are discovered, Wormtail, remember that your friends will die along with Harry. I can always pay a visit to the Longbottoms to get the prophecy. Now, Wormtail, I do believe that it is time for you to be off."
Not needing to be told twice, Wormtail apparated away from the Dark Lord's fortress. However, he could not leave that dreadful feeling that continually grew despite his best efforts to quash it.
Night had fallen hours ago, yet Lily and James Potter were still awake. In the darkness that lay over the forest that surrounded the Potter's home, Peter Pettigrew was beginning to have doubts about his mission. Were James and Lily ever going to go to bed? Peter moved closer to the house to get a closer view of what was occurring in the interior. Using the window of the small house, Pettigrew watched as James came up behind Lily wrapping his arms around her. She smiled and then playfully slapped his face, causing James to smile ruefully. Peter silently wondered what he had done, though with James it could have been any number of things. Lily reached for the light, and Peter's heart jumped into his throat. They were finally going to bed! The house darkened. The only light to be seen was emitting from Lily and James's room, but that too disappeared after a short amount of time.
Peter inhaled and exhaled in a pattern trying to calm his body before he even tried to enter the house. He ran through the plan that he had formed twice and then he began his mission.
Turning into his rat form, Pettigrew traveled across the well-trimmed lawn to the small red shed, in which a ladder was kept. Transforming back into his human form, Peter carried the ladder to Harry's window. Gently setting it gently up against the house, Peter then returned to being a rat. He scurried through the grass, until he reached a crack in the foundation. Pushing himself through, Peter continued on his mission. First, he went to check James and Lily. Both appeared to be soundly asleep well, but Peter knew better. James had told him and Sirius on one occasion that he had not been sleeping well as of late. This mission's success would depend on Harry. Pettigrew knew this.
As Peter traveled down the hallway, he noticed on the wall a Wizarding picture of him and the other Marauders that had been taken while the group had still been in Hogwarts. He turned his eyes away to avoid the smiling, waving forms of his best friends. They would understand, Peter repeated. Somehow he knew that throughout the rest of his life he would be repeating those words.
Peter transformed to be able to open the door to Harry's nursery. Once inside he was able to see that Harry was sleeping contently in his crib. Before picking Harry up, Pettigrew opened the window. With the window opened, he was able to lift Harry into his trembling arms. Wormtail began to go through the window when he heard footsteps, echoing on the wooden floor of the second floor. Harry stirred slightly in his arms. To Peter's relief, the footsteps went past the door that marked Harry's nursery and continued down the stairs. Slowly and quietly, Peter descended down the ladder. His legs shaking fiercely, nevertheless his feet never slipped. Guilt continual filtered through the walls that he had built around his mind. He almost thought that it would drive him mad.
"I am doing what is best for James, Harry," he whispered, as he looked into Harry's questioning emerald eyes. The boy was so innocent, and Peter was aware that he was destroying that quality. "James would have died, if the Dark Lord had decided to kill you straight out. It is better this way, Harry."
Wormtail's feet landed on the ground, and he began to run with all his might into the small woods that surrounded the Potters' house. The running caused Harry to stir further in his arms, but the toddler did not cry out when he saw that his Uncle Wormtail was holding him. Instead, he snuggled deeper into the warm arms.
Wormtail smiled. "That's a good boy, Harry. You just go right back to sleep."
In the woods, Peter stopped. With a pop, Lucius Malfoy appeared before him. His haughty eyes ran over the sight before him with an amused glint.
"Well done, Pettigrew," He said in a mocking tone. "You didn't botch this mission. One would almost assume that you are not as incompetent as you appear to be." Lucius stretched out his arms. "Now hand over the boy. I need to get him to the Ministry before the Potters realize that he is missing and contact Dumbledore or the Ministry."
Reluctantly, Peter handed over the now sleeping bundle. As soon as the boy was safely in Malfoy's arm, the pureblood immediately apparated. With one more glance toward the Potters' home, Pettigrew apparated back to his master to wait for Harry's fate to be decided. He could only hope that his best friend's son would not be killed. But James and Lily could always have more children, Peter's mind told him.
James walked down the stairs of his home and turned into the kitchen to get a glass of water. He gazed out into the night, as he drank from the glass cup. His eyes squinted, as he thought he saw movement toward the woods. Putting down the glass, he peered more closely out the window. The uneasy feeling he had felt this Halloween's day rose in him once again. Something was not right. He moved to the magic detectors and wards that Dumbledore had lent them. Nothing showed on them. Frowning, James returned to the kitchen and poured out the remnants of water that remained in the glass, before making his way back to the second floor.
He stopped at Harry's door and slowly opened it not wanting to disturb the sleeping toddler. He smiled, as he thought of Harry who looked so similar to him. However, his smile disappeared when he saw the opened window with the curtains swaying in the chilled October breeze. The door was swung open with more force than usual, as he ran into the unlit room. His heart stopped when he saw the empty cradle. The red baby blanket was tangled and empty as well. Gazing out through the window, James noted the ladder and disturbed patches of grass around it.
He quickly ran back to the room that he shared with Lily, grabbing his wand that lay on his nightstand. Turning, he went to Lily's side of the bed and shook her from her sleep.
"Lily, Harry's gone. They've kidnapped him."
Lily's eyes opened wide. Her mouth opened then closed as if she were a fish caught adrift on land, trying to gulp for air.
"I need you to contact Dumbledore. They went into the woods, I'm certain of it. I need you to tell Dumbledore, I will be back after I examine the woods."
"Be careful, James," Lily pleaded, as she grabbed her own wand.
The two parted in the downstairs living room. With Lily contacting Dumbledore through Floo Powder, James felt safe to proceed with his search of the woods. He followed the kidnapper's trail. But once in the woods, it disappeared, leaving James certain that they had apparated. Anger welled up inside him, and he angrily kicked the ground, knowing that they would not be able to trace the destination of the Apparation. With long strides, James returned to the house.
Once inside, he felt relief when he saw that Dumbledore had already arrived and was now seated in one of the chairs that the Potters owned. He had most likely used the Floo Network to reach the Potters' house. Lily was sitting across from the esteemed professor on the sofa. James shook his head, when he saw Lily's inquisitive look. He cringed when he saw her beautiful face morph into pure sorrow, causing unnatural lines to form.
"Whoever it was apparated before I could reach them." He said, as he slumped down onto the sofa right beside Lily. He wrapped his right arm around her quivering shoulder, pulling her closer.
Dumbledore nodded at James's conclusion. "Not too long ago, I received a message from the Ministry of Magic that one 'Harry Potter' and one 'Lucius Malfoy' entered into the Department of Mysteries and took from the Hall of Prophecies a certain prophecy pertaining to Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter, and Neville Longbottom. They, of course, were gone by the time Aurors went to apprehend them."
Both Lily and James's faces paled immediately at the mention of the prophecy.
"So he knows," Lily whispered.
Dumbledore nodded solemnly. "Our only hope is now Neville."
"What about Harry," James asked stubbornly.
"I am afraid, once Voldemort hears the full context of the prophecy that Harry will no longer be needed or wanted alive by Voldemort." Dumbledore's eyes lost their gleam. "He will kill Harry immediately."
"He won't kill my baby," Lily moaned out of anger and despair of being unable to do anything to aid her son. Her green eyes flashed dangerous with an anger that few ever saw, but when they did they never forgot.
The professor took in the young frustrated parents. "I will not lie to you." He folded his hands solemnly. "The odds of us finding Harry alive are not good, but the Order will do everything humanly possible to find him."
"I want to help." James's hazel eyes lit with a fierce fire.
"So do I," Lily whispered.
"Lil, this is not-," James began before his wife cut him off.
"James, you are not going to stop me from helping find our child!"
Dumbledore broke in, before the argument went further. "It would be best if both of you leave this for the Order to handle."
"We are members of the Order!" James shouted, rising from the sofa.
Sighing, Dumbledore calmly explained. "James, you and Lily are too attached with the situation. You would follow your heart instead of you head, which would not only put yourselves in danger but Harry too. You know many of us at the Order care deeply about Harry. You must trust us with this task."
Lily placed her arms around her husband, pulling him back on to the sofa and slowly nodded her head. "You will tell us immediately if you find anything, Albus... anything at all."
"Yes, no matter how little, you will hear it from me." Dumbledore paused. "I have already had members of the Order attain Sirius for questioning."
"Why Sirius?" James blurted out. His eyes clearly displayed his confusion. "He would never have kidnapped Harry!"
"He was your Secret Keeper." Dumbledore reminded the obviously distressed father.
"No," James suddenly stopped, and the flames in his eyes grew larger. "Peter was our Secret Keeper! HE'S BEEN WORKING FOR VOLDEMORT THE WHOLE TIME!" James stood once more and began to pace. "I will find that rat and kill him!"
Lily seemed speechless at her husband's outburst and at the truth of who betrayed them. She never would have suspected Peter in a thousand of years. She began to rub her tear-stained eyes, as if she could turn back time.
"We will take care of Peter, James. I will release Sirius immediately." Dumbledore rose from his chair. "Before I leave you, both of you must promise not to leave this house until I approve it." When neither parent replied, Dumbledore narrowed his eyes, until finally he got two nods of agreement.
"We will do everything possible." With that, Dumbledore grabbed a hand-full of Floo Powder and disappeared into the fireplace. His last words were, "Ministry of Magic".
With the professor's departure, James returned to Lily and took her in his arms, and together they grieved and waited anxiously for the news to slowly crawl in.
The search for Harry James Potter was nearing its third week. The investigators were no closer to finding the stolen toddler. James Potter walked through the halls of the Aurors' office with one of his best friends, Sirius Black. Only recently had he been allowed to return to work by Dumbledore, though James knew that he was under close supervision. He was, however, glad to be doing something instead of waiting. Lily, too, had been allowed to continue helping the Order by brewing her potions.
"Black, Potter, you're wanted in Moody's office." A voice called.
The two exchanged looks. The door to Moody's office was just down the way. An ominous feeling entered James's heart, and he abruptly felt cold.
"You alright, Mate?" Sirius asked when he noticed his friend's face turn a ghostly pale.
"Of course," came James's short reply.
Sirius reached for the door handle and turned it. The office was filled with many interesting magical trinkets. Many of the trinkets were used to detect spells, dark wizards, and a wide variety of magical items. Moody, himself, stood behind his desk, looking as sinister as ever. His magical eye traveled between Sirius and James, as he waited for them to seat themselves. Three seats were placed in front of the desk, the third being occupied by Albus Dumbledore.
"Did you find something," James asked expectantly. Part of him did not even want to know.
Albus's head bowed, causing his long beard to cascade down his robes. "A Dark Mark was placed over a country house out side of Townbridge," Dumbledore stated. "The order went to investigate. The inside of the house was torn apart."
"Powerful magic," Moody added, recalling the scene.
"What does this have to do with Harry?" Sirius said, becoming impatient as he was bound to do often.
"We found the body of a child Harry's age," Dumbledore finished. His face relayed his sympathies.
"Harry?" James nearly choked out the name as emotions welled up in his throat, causing it to close.
Dumbledore nodded his head. The headmaster suddenly looked very old. "There is no doubt that it is Harry."
James stood suddenly, and before anyone could stop him, he was gone, leaving the door open behind him. Those in the room looked at each other for guidance, uncertain what would be the best action to take.
"Give him some time alone," Sirius calmly stated. Even though he sounded calm, he was seriously concerned about his friend. He was also just as shaken about Harry's death after all the kid was his godson.
Dumbledore nodded. "Let's hope that Peter Pettigrew does not cross James's path, before we have the chance to question him."
Sirius's eyes fell on the door that James had just departed through, and anger welled up inside him. "He better not cross my path as well!"
The funeral happened just days after the news broke through the Daily Prophet. The clouds had been heavy that day promising a strong November rain. Many well-wishers had sent the Potter family numerous cards and gifts as the story of Harry Potter's death became a national tragedy that overtime would be forgotten. As the funeral approached only family and close friends were invited.
James held tightly onto his wife, supporting her just as she did so for him. Looking at the small coffin that hovered over the empty hole, James instantly knew that they would need each other to pull through this. He knew they would make it... it would just take time. However, they would never forget that bright infant that had brightened their life so. James would have it no other way.
Behind the grieving parents, the Marauders and the rest of the mourners stood just silently watching the simple service take place as if they were watching a bad film that just would not stop.
Sirius forced the tears out of his eyes and slowly promised Peter Pettigrew a painful death as the pastor finished the service. Yes, Peter, Sirius thought, you are going to pay for this.
One by one the mourners filed passed the casket before retreating from the cemetery of Godric's Hollow until all that remained were James, Lily, and the Marauders. They stared emptily at where Harry now rested. It was no crib and that was Peter's fault. Lily broke down into tears as James slowly led her away. She could not understand how someone could kill a child, and she never wanted to.
"It's all over the Daily Prophet, my Lord, that Harry Potter is dead." Bellatrix Lestrange spoke, as she knelt before Lord Voldemort. "But what do we do with the real Potter."
Voldemort leaned deeply into his throne chair. Silently, he tapped his fingers against each other. He had listened to the prophecy on numerous occasions these past three weeks, but had yet to come to a conclusion. The only two things he had decided on was that he should end the search for young Harry be placing a decoy in that old country house. Secondly, he had obliterated Wormtail's memories that concerned the Potter child to prevent the rat from telling his 'school pals'. Both of these had now been successfully carried out. Impatiently, he rose and moved to leave the throne room.
"Follow me," he called to his loyal Death Eater. "It is I who gets to choose who will destroy me. Ironic really, isn't Bellatrix." Voldemort paused. "It is also ironic that, if I had proceeded with my original plan, I might not have been here today. But that is not important, for ultimately I have defeated Dumbledore by stealing the boy."
Bellatrix remained silent. She knew better than to interrupt the Dark Lord during such times as these.
"I have removed one of the possibilities away from Dumbledore's watchful eyes," Voldemort calmly continued. "Now I have chosen my poison by choosing the 'Chosen One'. Let Dumbledore think he has the true one."
"Choose him and kill him... it makes sense, my Lord." Bellatrix praised him.
"I mean to take it one step further." Voldemort laughed harshly.
By this time, the two had reached the door, which shut off Harry Potter's new 'nursery' from the world. Slowly, the Dark Lord opened the door and entered. This would only be his second visit with the small lad.
"What do you have in mind, my Lord?"
Awkwardly, Voldemort picked up the watchful toddler who had easily adapted to his change in caretakers. With one chilled finger, he traced the child's thin cheek. An unfeeling smile cracked his lips. The Dark Lord's whisper was barely audible, but Lestrange unmistakably heard it.
"I intend to love him."
Author's Note: Please R&R