Author's Note: And now for something completely different! This is a James and Lily fanfiction, inspired by Reptilla's Death's Challenge. Death's Challenge stories are usually Harry/Hermione stories, but when I wrote this, I wanted it to be a unique twist on that challenge.
I actually wrote six (well, five-and-a-half) chapters of this story, before I stopped, so over the next six days, you'll get the six chapters that I wrote for this!
Title: Death's Ultimatum
Summary: When James and Lily Potter die on Halloween of 1981, they meet Death in the afterlife. He sends them back to their seventeen year old bodies with a mission: destroy Voldemort and end the war in less than two years! There's only one small catch: Lily's pregnant with twins!
Warnings: Alternate Universe, Teen Pregnancy, Ancient and Noble Houses; Lords and Ladies; Severe Character Bashing – Severus Snape; others; other warnings labeled individually in chapters.
Main Ships: James/Lily, Sirius/Amelia, Frank/Alice
Disclaimer: J.K Rowling owns the characters and the world of Harry Potter. I do not. I just like to play in her sandbox. No copyright infringement intended.
James and Lily Potter Meet Death
James Potter gasped out a deep breath and coughed, trying to bring air back into his lungs. Breathing felt odd to him. He opened his eyes and was met by a blinding bright light. He instantly closed his eyes and shielded them with a hand. He then blinked his eyes, adjusting his sight to the light. He groaned and sat up, then looked around at his surroundings. He was sitting on the cement ground of what appeared to be Platform Nine-And-Three Quarters. Only it was empty and cleaner than what he was used to.
He heard movement beside him, and found his wife, Lily, laying next to him, gasping and trying to catch her own breath.
"Lily!" James said.
"James?" Lily replied, opening her eyes and sitting up, "Where's Harry? Where – where are we?"
"I believe I can answer that," a voice said.
James jumped at the voice and turned around. By instinct, he tried to search for his wand, but couldn't find it. He looked around for the owner of the voice, and found a figure in a hood and cloak was sitting on a bench a few feet away from him and Lily. He was dressed in a black cloak and hood, and James could not make out any of his features.
"Who are you?!" James demanded, "Where are we? Where's our son?"
"So many questions," the figure said. "As for who I am. You may call me Death."
"Death?" James echoed.
"I swear there is an echo in here," Death said, "Yes. I am Death. What is the last thing you remember?"
"Voldemort broke into our house in Godric's Hollow," James said, "I told Lily to run away, and protect our son. I tried to fight off Voldemort, but – green light. I remember a flash of green light. I suppose it was the Killing Curse."
"What about you?" Death asked Lily.
"I was protecting our son in his nursery," Lily said, "I-I begged Voldemort to not kill him, to take me instead. He told me to stand aside, and I refused. Then I remember green light – the Killing Curse."
"The Killing Curse," Death said, nodding, "Since you were both hit, then I'm sure that can mean only one thing."
"We're dead?" James asked, then looked at his surroundings. "I suppose this is some kind of Limbo, right? The plane between Heaven and Hell?"
"There you go," Death said, "You answered your own question."
"So you're Death?" James asked, "The same Death who met the three Peverell brothers by a river?"
James knew all about the story of the Peverells. The Peverells were his ancestors. The Invisibility Cloak he owned was passed down from his father. His father had received it from his own father, who received it from his, and so forth and so forth back to the time of Ignotus Peverell.
"That would be me," Death said.
"So," Lily said, "I assume we're here to go onto the next great adventure. We're here at the train station. So... what? Do we take a train into a dark tunnel and come out on the other side to whatever greets us?"
"That... is one possibility," Death said.
"We have more than one option?" James asked, "We're dead, aren't we? I assume moving on is what happens after death."
"That is what happens to the majority, true," Death said, "However, do you believe everyone who passes on gets to meet me? Definitely not! Do you know how many people die each day? I am much too busy to meet thousands of lost souls every single day of my existence!"
"So what makes us so special?" James asked.
"A promise I made to your ancestor, Ignotus Peverell," Death said. "He and I, we're old chums."
"So the stories are true," James said, "You and he met as equals in the end."
"I wouldn't say 'equals'," Death said, "Nobody is equal to me. But I will say we became friends. He was one of my greatest foes I've ever had the fortune to meet. I respected him. So I gave him another gift, aside from the Invisibility Cloak. He could ask me for one favor, as long as it wasn't bringing him back to life. His favor was this: if any of his descendants die an unnatural death, but also die whilst protecting someone they love, that descendant will earn a do-over."
"A Do-Over?" James asked, "Are you saying I get to return to life? What about Lily?"
"James," Lily said.
"Does Lily get the same privilege?" James asked, "Wherever she goes, I go."
"The promise I made to Ignotus Peverell," Death said, "does not include the loved one of the descendant. However -"
"Then I refuse," James said.
"However," Death pressed on. "I am granting your wife a do-over as well. Of course, this comes with a few catches."
"Of course it does," James muttered.
"If Harry isn't alive," Lily said, "Then I don't want to go back."
"Your son survived the attack by Voldemort," Death said, "Thanks to your sacrifice, Lily. But that doesn't matter -"
"The hell it does matter!" James growled.
"It does not matter," Death said, "Because you're not returning to life on the night you died. It doesn't work like that."
"What is that supposed to mean?" James asked.
"If you agree to return," Death said, "You'll be returning to your seventeen year old bodies. Your memories will remain as they are now, and you will have the same magical knowledge you hold now, including your Animagus talent, Lily. Since I know you're bound to ask, I could tell you that you'll be reunited with your son again. He'll be born on the same date. However, that is where one of the catches come in. You see, he won't be your oldest child."
"What?!" James and Lily asked at the same time.
"If you wish to return, it will be on Halloween of your seventh year at Hogwarts," Death said. "As you both know, Lily, you were pregnant when you died."
"Are you saying that I'll still be pregnant when we return?!" Lily asked.
"Indeed," Death said. "Perhaps you were unaware, but congratulations, you're pregnant with twins! Do you really want to lose your twins because you chose not to return in the same state as when you died? I can't do that. If I did, you wouldn't remember this conversation, nor would you have your magical knowledge of your twenty-one year old selves. The most important, however, is you wouldn't remember any of this conversation. And I can't have that."
"How do we explain my pregnancy to our friends?" Lily asked, "James and I had our first date on that Halloween!"
"Tell your friends you were keeping your relationship a secret," Death said, "That Halloween was going to be the day you revealed it. Relax, you don't need to overwhelm them with your pregnancy announcement. That can come when you start showing!"
"Fine," Lily said, "I'll keep our twins. I'll be pregnant during my seventh year -"
"- and have our twins during seventh year," James groaned.
"It isn't as if we're unprepared, James," Lily said. "We've had plenty of practice being parents."
James nodded, then turned to Death. "Do you promise we'll be reunited with Harry?"
"He'll be born on the same exact date he was born the first time," Death said, "That will be your reward from me if you succeed."
"Succeed at what?" James asked.
"At the mission I am giving you," Death said. "Actually, two missions. The first is destroying Voldemort and ending the Great War."
"Oh... is that all?" James asked, sarcastically.
"Relax," Death said, "I'll be telling you all you need to know to do it. Voldemort has been using Horcruxes."
"The bastard used Horcruxes?" James asked, appalled.
"There's that annoying echo again," Death muttered.
"What is a Horcrux?" Lily asked.
James explained to Lily exactly what a Horcrux was. Lily looked sick by the end of his explanation.
"How many?" James asked Death. "How many does he have?"
"Four, plus himself," Death said, "But he will create one more. I can't tell you about that one yet, in case your return causes complications with the timeline. I can tell you that he'll create it in the year 1979."
"Translation," James said, "Find his other Horcruxes, and destroy him before New Year's Day, 1979, and we won't have to worry about it."
"That would be a wonderful goal," Death said.
"Alright," James said, "Are you going to tell us where the other Horcruxes are?"
"Sure," Death said. "The first two will be extremely easy to obtain, ironically enough. The first is Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem."
"Her Diadem's been lost for several years!" Lily said.
"You're going to find it," Death said. "It is in a room at Hogwarts known as the Room of Requirement, one of the few rooms the Marauders have not discovered."
Death proceeded to tell the Potters exactly where the Room of Requirement was, how to get into it, and where the Diadem was located.
"The second one," Death said, "Is Salazar Slytherin's ring. The stone atop the ring is none other than the Resurrection Stone. In Halloween of 1977, your father, James, currently owns the Peverell House Ring, is this correct?"
"Yeah," James said.
"The Peverell House Ring will summon the Resurrection Stone, and Salazar Slytherin's ring," Death said, "There's the second Horcrux."
"I can get the Peverell Ring," James said, nodding.
"The third and fourth Horcruxes will be much more difficult to obtain," Death said. "The Third is a diary, belonging to Voldemort when he was a young teen. It currently resides in the home of Lucius Malfoy and his fiancee, Narcissa Black."
"They marry the summer after we finish our education at Hogwarts," James said.
"Gain an invitation to the wedding," Death said, "And search for the Horcrux during the festivities. The fourth is the Goblet of Helga Hufflepuff. It was given to Bellatrix Lestrange on her wedding day by Voldemort himself. It currently resides in the Lestrange Vault in Gringotts."
"Hmm," James said, "I wonder what Keeper Ragnok would think if he knew a Horcrux was inside his bank."
Death nodded. "A fine strategy. Once the Horcruxes are destroyed, Voldemort will be mortal."
"How do we destroy the Horcruxes?" Lily asked.
"Basilisk venom," Death said, "Or the Killing Curse. Or the Goblins of Gringotts could do it."
"I'm sure we can obtain some venom somehow," James said. "If not, I can speak to Ragnok about it."
"When it comes time to end Voldemort," Death said, "You could defeat him with one of my gifts – the Elder Wand. Gain the Elder Wand, and the Resurrection Stone, and you'll have your Invisibility Cloak."
"Reunite the Deathly Hallows," James said, nodding.
"That is the other mission I'm giving you," Death said. "Reunite my gifts. The Elder Wand and Resurrection Stone are too dangerous for mortals. You may keep the Invisibility Cloak, but after you defeat Voldemort, I will be taking the Wand and Stone back."
"Where is the wand?" James asked.
"Have you ever looked closely at Albus Dumbledore's wand?" Death asked.
"Albus owns the wand?" James asked.
"How are we supposed to take the wand from him?" Lily asked.
"The same way we do with the Stone," James said.
"Precisely," Death said, "However... Albus Dumbledore is obsessed with the Deathly Hallows. That is why he borrowed the Invisibility Cloak. He will not like losing the Elder Wand."
"I only need the wand to defeat Voldemort, yes?" James asked. "Dumbledore can keep it until then. That will keep him off our backs."
"There you go," Death said, "Destroy Voldemort, end the Great War, and reunite my Hallows. If this is done, I will guarantee you a long and happy life with your children, including Harry."
"Is that it then?" James said, "If we accept, you'll snap your fingers and we'll wake up in our seventeen year old bodies?"
"Well, I'm sure you have your own personal missions you'll want to complete," Death said, "Such as your parents?"
"Dad died in a car accident," Lily said, "That's easily preventable. Mum died of a heart condition a few months later. Tunie said she died of a broken heart, but I think Mum had a heart condition. With early diagnosis and care, she could live a lot longer."
"My parents were murdered by Voldemort," James said, "A couple months after Harry was born. If our plan goes correctly, Voldemort will be long dead by then."
"If you succeed in your mission, I will also give your parents a much longer life than they had," Death said. "Enough time to get to know all their grandchildren. What about Peter Pettigrew? If you haven't realized it yet, Peter Pettigrew was a Death Eater at the time you died. He gave up the Secret of your location to Voldemort."
James frowned. "When does he become a Death Eater?"
"During the final Hogsmeade weekend of your Hogwarts education," Death said. "He attends a Junior Death Eater meeting in Hogsmeade."
"There must be something we missed," Lily said to James, "Something in Peter's behavior that changed him and made him attend the meeting."
"We'll keep an eye on him," James said.
"Very well," Death said, "Hmm, is there anything else I needed to tell you? Ah... keep an eye out for a crow. If a crow delivers you a message, it is from me. I might send you messages every now and then if something important comes up."
"Alright," James said.
"Well, alright then," Death said, "That is everything I wanted to tell you. What is your decision? Will the pair of you take up my offer?"
James and Lily looked at each other. When Lily nodded, James did too. He turned back to Death.
"We accept your offer," James said.
"Excellent," Death said. "Good luck, mortals. I'll be seeing you..."
Before James and Lily could reply, Death clapped together his bony hands. James immediately fell over as his vision went black, as next to him, Lily did the very same thing.
You can expect five more chapters of this… it is not the complete story of course, but it is all I have written of it, and I thought it was appropriate for "A Fable of Firsts".
Also! Thanks to your reviews, I have been inspired to continue two of the stories in "A Fable of Firsts": "Once Upon A Time" and "A Seer's Power". Once I have written several chapters of both, I plan to begin publishing both stories. HOWEVER, in order to make sure I am still updating and focusing on the main story in my schedule, "Free Use Experience", I will only post chapters in those two stories, when I post a new chapter for Free Use Experience. Do not expect these two new stories in the near future however. They likely won't be published for at least a month, and maybe not before the beginning of September. Like I said, I am focused on "Free Use Experience" at the moment.
Which reminds me: to those of you who keep asking me to update stories like "Vanishing Cabinet of Time", "Neko's Mate", "Harem War", and "Ilvermorny Champion", please stop doing so. I am not going to update those anytime in the near future for two reasons: 1) I am focused on other things, and 2) I have no inspiration for any of those stories at the current moment, so even attempting to update them is not possible at the moment. Please stop asking me to update them. Especially if you are intending on "advising" me to work on those stories instead of thinking about "Once Upon A Time" and "A Seer's Power" because I will not listen to you. I am sorry if I sound harsh, but I've had enough of people begging me to update stories, and criticizing me when I do not, even going as far as to insult me. This will not make me update any faster, and to be honest, it even makes me think of deleting said stories. Do you want that to happen? No? Then stop!
Sorry, but since "guest reviewers" don't want to create an account, or log into one, so I can give these messages that way, I have to put it here. My apologies to those this does not apply to.