8:08 pm; OCTOBER 31, 1981 - Hallowe’en
James Potter was sitting with his family in their living room. He had been stuck inside the house for weeks now, ever since Dumbledore had practically forbidden him to do anything for the Order, and he was getting a bit too comfortable with home life. He couldn’t remember the last time he went to Headquarters nor the last time he had simply buttoned up his shirt! Quite frankly, if it wasn’t for his daughter, he would have forgotten all about the fact that it was Halloween. He looked down at her now, laying out on the floor putting candy in piles, dressed as a witch with a black long-sleeved cotton dress over black leggings and donning a purple suede cape. Her long lustrous black hair was tucked behind her ears, hanging elegantly past her shoulders under a typical witch’s hat. Little fair skinned fingertips stuck out of lacy black fingerless gloves, her thumb and pointer free to pick apart the plastic covering on her candy. He watched as she carefully brought the sweet up to her rosy lips and savored the sugar. He had taken a risk tonight to go trick-or-treating, it seemed he always was taking risks with this girl, but his wife Lily had insisted she experience “normal childhood activity”, as she liked to put it, and “Halloween was something all witches and wizards enjoy”. Thinking about it now, he sincerely wondered how Amaryllis was his own flesh and blood, considering her erratic and sometimes spoiled behavior. One moment she was calm, graceful, and intentional - the next she was cold, arrogant, and mischievous. Her explosive temper was something James refused to tolerate in his family and it usually resulted in grounding her to her room. And then there’s her reckless conduct, he thought. Sometimes, her attitude reminds me more of my best man, Sirius Black.
James was brought out of his curious thoughts when his young son Harry began to cry. Lily cradled him, cooing as she pulled out her wand and began casting bubbles to calm him.
Suddenly, James felt a cloud of deep, dark foreboding descend over their house. He locked eyes with Lily and her look confirmed his fear - that Peter Pettigrew’s Fidelius charm had been infiltrated. Lily instinctually clings Harry to her breast, adjusting the hold on her wand, and tells James to quickly hide Amaryllis. She scrambles towards the staircase. He reaches for his own wand and with a start, realizes he doesn’t have it. Had he really been cooped up inside that long that he’d misplace his wand!? No time. James scoops Amaryllis into his arms and rushes her into the kitchen. He pulls up the tablecloth and pushes her tiny body under the small breakfast table in the middle of the room. Not the best hiding place in the world, but priority was finding his wand in order to protect them all.
Flashing her a comforting smile, James gives her shoulder a reassuring squeeze, whispering, “It’s time, ‘Lis. Stay there and be perfectly still, just like we’ve been practicing, ok?”
He gave her a wink and dropped the cloth down to keep her hidden. James then stood and lunged back towards the living room, hoping his wand had simply slipped in between the couch cushions. He adamantly wished that he hadn’t agreed to let Dumbledore study the invisibility cloak for so long, but even still, at the thought of Dumbledore, he sent out one last hope for aid in lieu of the worst happening.
As James reaches the couch, a dark shadow passes by the window. He yells upstairs to his wife in a panic, “Lily, take Harry and go! It’s him! Go! Run! I’ll hold him off!” It’s then he realizes in horror that his wand isn’t in the couch. Before he can search elsewhere, the front door blasts open and there, in his house, stands his greatest enemy. Looking straight into the eyes of death, James Potter ‘fell like a marionette whose strings were cut’ and then - blackness.
Amaryllis’ hands dug into the rose-colored rug as a blinding green flash shone through the golden tablecloth. She was shaking in confusion. Why were her parents so scared? Why did daddy need to hide her? If she had to hide, how was she safer under a tablecloth instead of the cloak that made her invisible?
Earlier that year, on the eve of her fourth birthday, Amaryllis had been stretched out on the floor of her mother’s study - her shiny black hair falling in her face as she slowly turned the crumpled pages of her favorite book - The Tales of Beedle the Bard, studying the pictures.
The door creaked open and James leaned in the doorway, raising an eyebrow, “Can’t get enough of those tales, eh?" She giggled and ran to his solid arms.
He gave her a playful squeeze, but there was seriousness in his eye, so she fell silent, “Would you like a very special present?” She nodded. “Ok, so here’s the deal. You sit on the floor and practice being completely still - pretend like you’re a piece of furniture. Can you do that?”
There was hesitation in his voice, which meant she had to prove him wrong. She wriggled out of his arms and scampered over to her reading spot, crossing her legs, hands gripping her knees, mimicking a chair as he left the room. Amaryllis focused on her breathing. She had discovered if she breathed in and out really slow, she could stay still for a very long time. Sometimes it even helped her fall asleep after a nightmare. She practiced this exercise as she waited. When her father returned, he knelt in front of her and placed a sheer cloth over her open arms.
“Happy birthday, Amaryllis.” She opened her eyes. It was a cloak that shimmered like distant stars and she could feel a deep old magic in its thread.
James stared at her for a long moment, watching her process what was in front of her. Suddenly, her eyes widened and she looked up at him.
“The Invisible Cloak?!” she questioned.
“The very one,” was his truthful reply.
“How does it work?” she had been asking questions since she could talk. Her pleading hazel eyes reminded him of his wife Lily, and James’ mouth curled up at one corner, letting out a chuckle. Amaryllis was always especially curious about the way magic worked, just like her mother. In one swift movement, he unfolded the smooth fabric and laid it around her shoulders. Amaryllis took a deep breath before looking down at her body.
It was gone! With only the rug visible underneath her crossed legs. She froze in disbelief. James let out a laugh at the awe on her face as he recalled the first time he ever wore the Invisibility Cloak and inherited the secret from his own father.
As she soaked it in, he questioned her, “You remember the story of The Three Brothers. Can you tell it to me?”
“Yes, I can!” Amaryllis’ floating head stuck out her proud chin. She always liked it when she had to prove herself to others. It made her feel wise, accomplished, acknowledged.
After another deep breath she began the tale:
“Three brothers had 3 presents from Death,” holding up three little floating fingers, she continued, “The wand brother, the stone brother, and the cloak brother!”
At this, she pulled up the magical material around her head and disappeared completely. In her excitement over the gift, she wanted to fool her dad and decided to sneak up on him. She also secretly wanted to test if it was the real deal.
“That’s right, silly,” James replied. “Now.. where did you go?”
He surprised her by reaching behind him, exactly where she was hiding, and grabbed her around the waist, pulling her over his shoulder and into his lap. He tickled her with probing fingers, making Amaryllis laugh.
But then his voice grew serious, “Then what happened to each of the brothers?”
She sat up in his arms and furrowed her forehead, focusing intently on giving the right response to the question.
“The wand brother got killed, the stone brother died because he was sad, but the cloak brother hid forever!”
James tweaked her nose, “Well, not forever, little one. Only until he lived a full life and passed on the cloak to his family.” James paused for impact before revealing their family secret.
“That would be us.” (Ignotus Peverell)
Amaryllis stopped thinking about the cloak when a bright green flash lit everything in the house followed by a big heavy thump on the floor. It was then she noticed her hands had grown numb from clenching the rug underneath her, so she uncurled her fingers made the brave decision to lower herself to the ground and peak out from the tablecloth. What she saw made her stiffen in shock.
Her dad lay rock solid on the ground, eyes wide open, while a cloaked man with a terrifying smile bent over him. This man turned away and went out of her sight, but Amaryllis could hear him walking towards the stairs leading to the second floor - where she realized with petrifying fear that her mother and Harry were still hiding.
Suddenly, someone - something - yanked up the tablecloth. Amaryllis was looking straight into the face of a strangely familiar little creature with pointed, bat-like ears and bulging eyes the size of tennis balls. He lunged at her just as Amaryllis turned and scrambled backwards, but her body rolled right into the edge of the tablecloth and jerked it down, causing the vase and salt and pepper shakers to smash and clatter loudly on the tile. The creature grabbed a hold of her ankle, sending a magical shock wave from her toes to her teeth. She was stunned - as if struck by lightning.
Then, a voice spoke that chilled her whole heart.
“Very good, Elf.” The terrifying man standing by the stairwell slid to her side quicker than she could blink. He was like a snake and she as nervous as a mouse under his gaze. “You have achieved the second phase of our mission. Give her to me.”
An air of power overtook the entire room, consuming her under the man’s riveting eye contact. She glanced down at first, but at the last moment rose her head, staring right at him thinking, I have to fight for myself.
Voldemort immediately saw this look of defiance in his future pupil, and smiled. He then made the decision that his first lesson to this female prodigy would be the Art of Pain. He reached down and clutched her wrist, slowly sinking in his fingernails as he raised her little body into the air.
Amaryllis squeezed her eyes shut, feeling a warmness run down her forearm, yet she did not react.
Voldemort paused at this conduct and raised his eyebrow. His plan to take the girl and raise her himself may be increasingly difficult if she was this rebellious. But, that would soon be extinguished.
Raising his wand he whispered, “Baubillious.” It sparkled, producing a flickering bolt of white light, “Ignorant girl. Your future is riddled with gripping encounters and I will be the one to release you from each by teaching you tolerance and mastery. Learn from me well and you will live, forever, in the wisdom of darkness.”
At these words, she looked at him insolently. Gazing into her burning hazel eyes, he yanked her forearm in front of him and touched the hot tip of his wand on the flesh of her arm. Amaryllis flinched, but did not make a sound, nor did she break eye contact with the man. Instead she gazed straight into them, noticing the color of blood boiling around the black center of his pupils, recognizing the unnatural wildness of a predator.
A burning smell reached her nose and it was then she realized what he was doing to her flesh. The pain finally reached her. She let out an agonizing scream and started kicking violently, one of her feet flying directly into Voldemort’s face. He stood with a straight, solid stance, unaffected, and continued to brand the little girl’s arm. Having acquired his prize, there was no need to react to such behavior. But, as he continued with his mark, a change in her body caught him off guard, causing him to pull away his wand in hesitation.
Still screaming uncontrollably, Amaryllis’ hair began to turn from the pitch black of her father’s to snowy white, as in the depths of winter. Voldemort watched with fascination. The moment the last strand of hair changed, the girl went completely silent, her body limp. Voldemort kept his grip on her wrist, curious, and questioned completing his mark. He slowly brought the tip of his wand back to her forearm. Immediately, her skin hardened, like shiny silver dragon scales, and he found he couldn’t penetrate any further. Fascinated, he tried prodding the rest of her little body with the same result.
With a volcanic passion he hadn’t felt in a long time, he beamed with pride, announcing to the house-elf, “She is to be kept well tended! Treat her with the upmost security - for this child is my greatest treasure. Quickly, take her and leave! I shall take care of the vermin upstairs.” Voldemort let go of her wrist, tossing her towards the elf.
Amaryllis didn’t feel, but heard her body hit the kitchen floor. She didn’t quite understand what happened. All she had felt when that man’s wand touched her arm was incredible, unbearable pain. Her mind had began to call out to the warmth and joy she had known in life in order to whiteout the bad feeling and in response she heard the subtle cooing of birds. They were at a great distance at first, but the more she screamed the louder the cooing became. With the sound of the birds came a grand white flurry of snow swirling around her consciousness, taking the screams and pain away, and she was utterly lost in it. The snow eventually passed by her. She lay in a fetal position on top of a bed of feathers, her cheek kissed by a single ray of sunshine. But then everything began to turn gray. Grey turned grayer.
*the sound of someone stumbling from the room
Before darkness and alluring sleep could completely consume her, Amaryllis' heard her younger brother cry out from somewhere high above her. She then heard her mother’s echoing scream. She struggled against unconsciousness, pulling herself towards the surface, and through closed eyelids saw the same bright green flash as before. Then, everything faded to black.
**The man who was to become her Master had cast a killing curse - twice - against the only family she had ever truly known. Little did she know, Voldemort’s second curse re-bounded and he lost his body, fleeing (completely powerless) towards his ambitious goal to conquer Death. Lily’s wand, wherever it was, was never to cast a spell by its owner again.
Voldemort’s broken soul partially attached itself to Harry (as we discover in the final books of the original series). The other part fled and attached itself to the cat, Nelly (Rowling never said what happened to the cat). Voldemort’s experimentation with possession had ground-breaking success when it came to animals, but there was a setback - sharing the body of an animal depleted the creature’s lifespan rather quickly - depending on the animal. Knowing that a cat wouldn’t last for more than 5 minutes, less if the cat was older, Voldemort scampered out the open kitchen door and fled to the house in the next lot - Bathilda Bagshot’s home.
The Potter's Home: Godric's Hollow