Welcome to the end. Thank you all for everything, this has been a great journey. I am considering writing an epilogue, so let me know if you think that's a good idea. Enjoy!
We all nodded along with Remus, murmuring words of agreement. Now that they were actually talking like human beings and agreeing on things, they didn't look so awful together. Maybe there was a chance. I mean, no one thought that Sirius and I would be dating but you know what they say, life is full of twists and turns.
"Life is strange like that." I mumbled.
Remus looked at me, an amused expression on his face "You would know." making me chuckle and pat his shoulder.
"No one - no one's ever done something like that for me before." Lily said after letting him go. Her eyes were twinkling with what appeared to be happy tears. She then realised everyone's eyes were engrossed in them and she went pink, James noticed this and looked at us - pleading for us to do something and quickly.
Remus nodded and cleared his throat, "So, how about that cake, eh?" He said, a charming smile on his face and he was met back with a loud cheer. We all made our way to the table, eager to get a slice of that cake.
James made the cake float all the way over to the table and Lily approached the table, a smile on her face. James then turned off the lights and lit up the candles on a cake, emitting a warm glow that almost made Lily look like she was shining. She gazed at the cake, a smile stuck on her face before looking up at all of us and shooting us all appreciative glances.
"Thank you all for this, I - I don't know what to say. I'm kind of overwhelmed actually, I just can't believe that you all did this for me." She said, tucking a loose strand of her ponytail behind her ear.
"It was James, actually." I piped up, grinning.
James looked up, his face reddening from the recognition I gave him. "It was nothing - Peter and Winnie helped too," He said, laughing awkwardly.
Lily didn't seem surprised, however it did seem like it did tug on her heartstrings, "I'm sure it was," She laughed, "Thank you James." James looked like he was going burst into tears from happiness.
"Blow out the candles so we can eat the cake!" An excited girl announced, making the crowd chortle with laughter.
"Right, right of course." Lily said and was just about to blow out the candles before James stopped her, with a loud yell.
"Wait, wait! Make a wish first." he said and then looked at the candles, making sure she didn't blow any of it yet.
Lily looked up, surprised before she racked her brain. "You know what? I don't think I need to." She said, smiling at him warmly, making him turn a darker shade of red before blowing out the cake. The crowd cheered and clapped loudly as they each grabbed a slice of the cake. I laughed as I watched Peter excitedly yell, "I want the largest piece!"
James and Lily were quietly talking to themselves, Lily was avidly talking to James about something I couldn't hear, but James seemed to be interested. Or maybe he was pretending. Whatever it was, James couldn't take his eyes off of her and his grin was enough to put me at peace. We momentarily made eye contact and he gave me a thumbs-up when she wasn't looking before he went back to chatting with Lily.
I smiled as I watched people dig into the cake happily while talking loudly, the lively buzzing of people - the energy in the room it was intoxicating. I scanned the room for my friends, James looked like he was dreaming, his face was stuck in a permanent smile. Peter was excitedly enjoying his cake, Remus was re-telling the story of how they had managed to have this party without McGonagall noticing to a pretty Ravenclaw girl.
"What's on your mind, beautiful?" Sirius said, arriving out of nowhere holding two butterbeers in his hands, before passing one to me. When he said, beautiful my heart fluttered and my stomach constricted, I still wasn't used to that.
My heart fluttered at the 'beautiful' part - I still wasn't used to that. I smiled at him nevertheless and accepted the butterbeer gratefully, "I'm really happy for James. For everyone, I'm just really happy." I said, laughing.
He mimicked my smile, "Me too, Prongs looks like he's about to explode into happy tears. Don't be surprised if he plops down on one knee and asks for her hand in marriage." he said, taking a sip.
I snorted, "Yeah, at this rate - she might just say yes." I said amusingly while winking at him
He chuckled and then looked around before leaning in "I have some excellent news, would you like to hear about it? " He said, whispering.
I narrowed my eyes at him, curiosity building up inside up of me. "I always do." I said, nodding slightly.
He slid his fingers through mine and we slipped out of the common room, away from the noise and the crowded party. We were walking side by side now in the surprisingly empty hallways. He didn't say anything right away and I didn't pressure him to. The castle was still, like a undisturbed piece of art. As we walked the hallways, I realised that one day I might not be in Hogwarts anymore. That was kind of scary. But in the best way possible.
"So, what's going on?" I asked, turning to him.
Sirius ran a hand through his hair, letting go of my hand. Instantly, I missed the warmth of his hand. "I ran into Reg when I was distracting Evans. Guess what he told me? I've been disowned." He said, laughing. "Blasted off the family tree, I am." he said, his tone not revealing any emotions he was feeling.
My eyes widened, I wasn't sure whether he was happy about that or upset. His undecipherable expression was concerning me, "Sirius, are you okay?" I asked, putting a comforting hand on his arm.
He looked up at me, "Oh no, I'm fine. That's not even the news, apparently my cousin Andie - you remember her, right?" He paused and I nodded, "She found me a place to stay so now I don't have to stay over at your or Prong's house all the time."
"What? Sirius!" I frowned at him, "You're always welcome at our houses, you know that." I said, unsure where the conversation was going.
He laughed "I know," he touched my cheek. "It's not that, it's the fact that I'll have my own place. I'm going to have my own place, Winnie!" He said throwing his hands up in the air," his eyes were glimmering with hope, hope for a better future. It warmed my heart.
Sirius exhaled, he looked like a physical weight had been taken off of him. "Finally. It's going to be great and I'll do whatever I want and I'll have no one telling me how to live my life." He breathed.
I nodded, "Have you told anyone yet?" I asked, tucking a strand of my dark hair behind my ear.
"No," He shook his head, "Not yet, that's why I took you out here , I didn't want anyone to hear - you're the first to know." I was touched that he wanted to tell me first.
The myriad of emotions I was feeling for him were overwhelming. "I'm- I'm so happy for you, honestly." I said genuinely thrilled for him, feeling my eyes tearing up and I wrapped my arms around him. This was what he wanted for such a long time and now he had the chance, to be free.
Sirius hugged me back and then wrapped his arms around me tightly and spun me around while I shrieked, "Sirius!" I said laughing.
"You can visit too, I mean if you want." He said, after putting me down a moment later.
I shrugged, "Hmm, maybe - but maybe not, I do have a lot of other things to attend to." I said, arrogantly and sashaying away from him. He laughed and gently tugged me back to him.
"You better come visit me," he murmured into my hair.
I tapped my chin, "Hmm, have you checked if your flat has a no-dog policy? Because if not, that could be a little problem." I teased, making him throw his head back in laughter.
"Hah! very funny. Where'd you think that up?" He said, hugging me from behind and nuzzling his head in my shoulder. "I love you." he said, making me
"I love you too." I said, turning around and closing in on the distance between us, wrapping my arms around his neck and proceeding to kiss him softly on the lips. He reciprocated with ease, slipping his arms into my waist deepening the kiss. I smiled into the kiss, pulling away a moment later both panting. I then started to laugh, laugh so hard that my sides were hurting. Sometimes I forgot that this was real, that we were together. That we were happy! I was happy, I felt like things were finally looking up for me - and it felt great.
He shot me an odd look but began to laugh as well, "What are you laughing at?"
"Who would've thought?" I said simply.
He shrugged, immediately understanding what I meant. "We've never been ordinary." He said and glanced at his watch, "It's getting a bit late," and then pointed at the direction of the common room. "Want to head back?"
"Absolutely," I said and we walked together to the common room.
Once arriving back, Remus spotted us both and ushered at us to come over where Peter, James, Lily and him sat. Sirius and I exchanged smirking looks when we saw Lily sitting comfortably next to James, engulfed in a quiet conversation. The party seemed to have dimmed down and there were less people, just the random party-lovers, passed out kids and the older Gryffindor students.
"Hi everybody," I said, sitting down on the loveseat. "How are you all this fine evening?" I said, my eyes glazing over at Lily Evans who didn't seem to notice my eyes.
James looked up and grinned, "Hey, Dot where'd you two disappear off to?" The urge to roll my eyes at that nickname faded away, I was way too happy to care.
I pretended to think about it, "Oh nothing, we just traveled to an alternate universe where we don't exist and save the world from raging dinosaurs." I said, leaning back into the chair.
"Oh, no - again?!" Remus said, a carefree expression on his face making us all chortle.
Sirius's eyes trailed over to Lily Evans who was watching us all intently, "Some birthday, eh Evans?" He said, grinning.
Her face lit up instantly and she laughed almost melodically. "You can say that again," her green eyes twinkled. "I don't think I've ever had a birthday quite like this one. It was lovely, it truly was."
"We're glad you had a good time," Remus said, smiling. He then seemed to remember something because he looked up at me, a pensive look on his face. "Oh, hey - Winnie, remember how you said at the beginning of the year how you'd make this year the best year of your life? How'd that turn out?" He said, making everyone's head snap towards me, leaning closer to hear what I had to say.
I thought about it. I thought about how excited I was in the beginning of the year. I thought about all the things that went wrong, all the problems that seemed to never end. With Mulciber, Avery with my ex-boyfriend. With the news about He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named I thought about how lonely I was. I thought about Sirius. My birthday. Christmas. I remembered how happy I was when I saw my brother, my parents. Everything seemed to flash before my very eyes, everything that had happened had felt like the most important, dramatic thing in my life. Then it passed, then I was okay. No matter what, I always ended up okay.
"You know what I just realized?" I said, a small grin spreading across my face.
Peter inched closer, "What?" he asked sounded genuinely interested.
"This year has been the strangest, most frustrating year of my life. I have never felt more alone than I have this year. So much has changed. I can barely recognize my old self. But you know what? I wouldn't change a thing."
"That's really good, Winnie," Remus said. "I'm really happy to hear that."
"Yeah," I said, smiling. "So, Remus tell me. That Ravenclaw you were sitting with, she's pretty cute isn't she?" I said, smirking at him as I watched his face turn red and his eyes widen.
"Not again." He said, covering his face with a pillow.
Lily then stood up and then looked at all of us, "Okay everybody I'm going to leave before I see Remus squirm, I'll see you all in the morning." She said and then
James smiled, "Good night." he said and they had a brief exchange of smiles before she left.
"Really?" Peter said, sounding shocked. "Even after everything?"
"I said I wanted to have the best year of my life and I did. It hasn't been perfect- but it was exactly what I needed to change, to grow. If those things didn't happen to me, I would've been a different person. I changed, I did but in the best way possible." I said with a slight shrug. "That was deep, but it's true." I nodded but then felt my face grow slightly pink when I noticed others were listening to what I was saying as well.
"Aw, she's blushing!" James hooted, "How cute."
I rolled my eyes, "Shut it, you moose." I said, crinkling my nose at him making him laugh. "What about you and Lily though?"
Sirius laughed, "Oh yeah," He said, hitting him sharply on his thigh. "What about Evans?"
James ran a hand through his hair, "I think I have a chance guys." He said, looking as lit up as a christmas tree. "I should've thrown her a birthday party years ago." He said, making us all laugh.
The conversation started to roll from there, the range of topics fluctuated from silly jokes Peter had heard throughout the party to more meaningful questions like what was in a black hole. I laughed too much, smiled a lot and confirmed that aliens did indeed exist somewhere in the solar system (that was after I explained what aliens were).
There were only a few months left until summer and then, seventh year. I didn't know exactly what I was going to do with my life. I didn't know what was going to happen to me in a week's time, let alone a year's time. I didn't know what Remus was going to study, or whether James and Lily would end up together. I didn't know whether Peter was going to ask out the hufflepuff girl. I didn't know if Sirius would run away or start something. I had no idea!
My eyes caught my reflection in the window next to me. I changed, there was no denying that. Not just emotionally, physically as well. My hair was longer, my eyes happier - my smile wider. I could faintly remember my old self. Bitter, frustrated and rude. That was Winnie Powers. But now that I was staring at myself and I saw hope, I saw someone I was proud to be. A good friend, a good girlfriend, a good person. This was who I wanted to be.
I was afraid. I was and there is nothing wrong with that. But despite being afraid, there were a few things I knew. I knew that I had my friends, my family and most importantly I had myself. Because in a world where you are constantly taught to figure things out, figuring yourself out, learning who you truly are - that is the true challenge. That is the challenge that I overcame. I wasn't simply Winnie Powers, friend of the marauders. No, I was Winnie Powers. With my tendency to laugh at the silliest things, my unruly hair, my practical jokes and lopsided smile. I finally figured out who I was. I was, I am, Winnie Powers.
Life was just beginning to unravel itself and I wanted - I needed to be there to witness it.