Harry and Ginny Apparated as quickly as they could to Hogsmeade. Taking Ginny's hand, Harry led her to where their good friend, Neville Longbottom was waiting.
"What's the news, Nev?" asked Harry.
"It looks like they took the Knight Bus," said Neville, grimly.
Ginny gasped. "What? Why would they do that?"
Harry put his arm around her. "So they definitely left on their own accord?" he asked.
Neville nodded. "Yes, several students saw them go."
"Uncle Harry, Auntie Gin?"
Harry and Ginny turned to see Rose, Hermione and Ron's daughter, standing there. "I'm sorry," she said, throwing her arms around Ginny. Ginny automatically reached down to rub her back.
"Rose, sweetheart, do you know what happened?" asked Ginny, gently.
Rose shook her head. "They've been really secretive all term. James told me it's Potter family business. I even asked Al when James wasn't around, which isn't often, but he wouldn't say anything," she sniffed.
Harry didn't know what surprised him more, that Al hadn't confided in his closest relative, or that James and Al were talking a lot. They were close, but chose to follow their separate paths at Hogwarts,
"It's true," said Neville, as if he'd read Harry's mind. "Even though they're in different years and houses, they've been spending a lot of time together, outside the usual lesson time." James was a Gryffindor and Al was a Slytherin.
"You-you're not dying or anything, are you, Uncle Harry, Auntie Gin?" asked Rose, tentatively.
Ginny hugged her niece. "No sweetheart, Uncle Harry and I are as fit as a fiddle."
Rose looked confused. "But how can a fiddle be fit, it's just an inanimate object."
"It's just a saying, Rose," said Harry, tweaking her nose as he had done since she was little. "So, you don't have any idea where the boys have gone?" He sighed and looked around.
"We-ell, I didn't say that, exactly," drawled Rose, reluctantly. She flushed under Professor Longbottom, Auntie Ginny and Uncle Harry's gaze and sighed. "I put a tracking spell on Al."
"Damn! I wish she was a Gryffindor," muttered Neville. "She's as smart as her mother." Rose was in Ravenclaw.
"Plus, I used these when they were in the Three Broomsticks earlier," she said, pulling an Extendable Ear out of her pocket.
"That's all Weasley," grinned Ginny, proudly. She turned back to her niece.
"What did you hear, Rose? Did they say where they were going?" asked Ginny.
Rose nodded. She looked at Harry, her uncle and godfather. "They went to Godric's Hollow."
"Godric's Hollow? Why would they go there?" asked Ginny. "We went at Christmas with the boys and Lil. Does Lily know anything about this, Rose?"
"No, Aunt Ginny, I don't think so. It's weird, Al started acting different after he was in the hospital wing. You know, after the Quidditch match," said Rose. "He was quieter."
Al, a Chaser like his mother, was heading for goals when he was hit in the head with a Bludger. James, Gryffindor's Seeker, had not noticed, and gone on to catch the Snitch, only to realise his little brother was falling. He flew down as fast as he could and managed to stop Al from hitting the ground. He flew him straight to Madame Pomfrey, and never left his side till he woke, two days later. Harry and Ginny had kept vigil too, encouraging James to return to class, but he refused. Lily had crept in to be with her family, and soon the whole Potter family had moved into the Infirmary, much to Madame Pomfrey's supposed annoyance. Truthfully, the Potters were her favourites, not that she'd ever admit it.
Neville nodded, agreeing with what Rose had said. "Even after you left, and Al had to stay in for the rest of the week, James came and visited every meal break. He did his homework in there too, but I often caught them discussing things in a low voice."
"What sort of things, Nev?" asked Ginny, looking concerned.
Neville looked at Rose, then the Potters. "I'm, erm, sure I heard James mention the word, 'prophecy'.
Ginny paled and put her hand on Harry's arm. "We intended speaking to Al and Rose about all that this summer. They're now third years; we think they're mature enough to handle certain aspects of Harry, Ron and Hermione's time at Hogwarts," she said, looking at Rose.
Rose looked proud to be thought of as mature enough to hear about her parents and her beloved Uncle Harry. She wasn't naïve; she'd done lots of research on her parents, and had a fair idea of what she was going to hear in the summer.
Neville rubbed his chin. "This is so disappointing. James was having such a good year. He really turned the corner from last year, he's matured so much, but now this. And on Al's second Hogsmeade visit, too," he sighed.
Ginny and Harry exchanged looks. Over the summer, James had exploded in emotion, after going to the Dursleys, where Aunt Petunia asked a favour from Harry. James knew some basic facts of Harry's days living with them, and he was so angry on his dad's behalf. After Harry had taken him to Godric's Hollow and shared some stories with James, James began to mature and accept that Harry's life with the Dursleys was in the past, and best left there. With Aunt Petunia passing not long after Harry had taken her to Godric's Hollow, Harry had laid his last ghost to rest.
"You don't think they've gone there for the same reason, do you, Harry?" asked Ginny worriedly.
"I think they've been talking to the portraits, too. James likes spending time with Dumbledore, and I know he's taken Al there a couple of times. Minerva confided in me," said Neville.
"Harry, I think we need to get to Godric's Hollow," said Ginny.
"Yes. Rose, go with Professor Longbottom. Thanks for telling us where they went," said Harry. "Nev, we'll be in touch as soon as we know anything." The two men shook hands and Neville kissed Ginny's cheek.
"It wouldn't be a normal school year without a Potter being in trouble now, would it?" he laughed. He then ushered Rose back towards the castle.
"Shall we Apparate or take the Knight Bus. I'm in favour of the Knight Bus. I want to have a few words to whoever let the boys on, especially if it's Bert. James may be tall, but Al is smaller, so it should have been obvious he's still in school," said Ginny, scowling.
"Now, love, I know you're not going to like this, but I think I should go to Godric's Hollow alone. If the boys are in the house, then maybe, like with James last year, maybe the Potter men can have a nice chat, and we'll avoid the same drama we had with James last year," said Harry, taking her in his arms to placate her.
"And they wouldn't want their dear old Mum around, is that it?" asked Ginny, stiffly.
"No, they wouldn't want their wonderful, amazing mother to see them cry, not at this age. James did, you know," said Harry, remembering.
"Oh, Harry, you didn't say," said Ginny. She rested her head on his shoulder, her hands around his waist.
"It's a curse of the Potter men. We like our women to think of us as macho," said Harry, kissing her softly.
Ginny giggled, then sighed. "Go, then. Talk to them, but please send me a Patronus letting me know you've found them and they're okay."
"I will. Promise," said Harry, kissing her forehead. He stuck his hand up and they heard the crack of Apparition. It was the Knight Bus, and Harry quickly hopped on.
"Don't forget to-" yelled Ginny, but then the door closed and the bus was gone. "Rip them a new one for taking our boys," she finished, forlornly.
Ginny sighed and looked up and down the street. There were still lots of Hogwarts students around, as it was just after lunch. Ginny decided to go for a stroll through Hogsmeade, maybe treat herself to lunch at the Three Broomsticks and some Honeydukes chocolates; always a favourite for all the Hogwarts students.
Ginny sighed once more. Those Potter boys would turn her red hair grey. Thank Merlin for sweet Lily. She turned and headed for the Three Broomsticks.
Meanwhile, Harry hopped off the Knight Bus. "Again, ever so sorry, Mr P. You will let Mrs P know, won't you? A thousand apologies to your good wife for not telling our bosses," bowed Bert, the conductor.
"Yeah, yeah," said Harry, hopping off. The bus quickly took off for its next destination. "I can't make any promises for Ginny, though," he yelled.
He turned to take in the little village he'd come to think of as home. Ginny and he had discussed buying a smaller house here when the kids had grown up and moved out, and Harry found himself liking the idea more and more. He headed for the Potter house.
He found some adults standing outside his first home. They were talking amongst themselves, re-telling the Potter legend to visiting friends. "-and the next thing we knew, the Dark Mark was in the sky. Dear James and Lily were gone, and we didn't see their boy again for many years."
"Crikey, a boy of seventeen defeating the most powerful wizard ever," said one of the older witches. She had an Australian accent.
"It wasn't just him, you know. He had loads of help," called James, leaning out an upstairs window.
"Who are you? What are you doing in there? No-one is supposed to be able to get in there," sputtered the man who had been telling the tale.
James shrugged. Al stuck his head out the window next to James. "Did you really know our grandparents?"
"Grandparents?" sputtered the man.
"James and Lily Potter. Or is that just a story you made up to impress your friends? How long have you lived in Godric's Hollow, anyway?" asked James.
"I've been here close on seventy-eight years. Why, I remember a young Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald," said the man, puffing up with importance.
"Yeah, well," began James, when he looked beyond the group and realised Harry was leaning against a pillar, watching the goings on. He paled. "That's nice, gotta go, bye." He quickly reached up to close the window.
Harry saw Al quickly jump back to avoid getting his fingers crushed as the window closed. "James, what-"
"It's Dad," hissed James, as he slammed the window shut.
"Well, I never," huffed the man.
Harry walked past them. "Excuse me, gentlemen, ladies," he said, nodding politely at the group. He opened the gate and walked up to the front door, waiting for the charms to recognise him. When they did, the door opened and he went inside.
"What the- what is going on?" huffed the man. He tried to open the gate to follow Harry, but it was as if there was a brick wall there. "How did they all get through?" The thought that they must be blood related hadn't even occurred to them.
Harry entered the house, and as always, took a deep breath. He saw the boys had made a picnic for themselves in the lounge, with goodies purchased in Hogsmeade. Both boys looked wary as he entered.
"Just how long have you been planning this, anyway?" asked Harry.
"Awhile," shrugged James.
"I asked James to bring me. I've wanted to see inside ever since he told me you brought him here. Are you mad, Dad?" asked Al.
"That you left Hogsmeade? Yes. That you came here without asking me? Yes! That you made your mother upset with worry? Hell, yes!" said Harry, firmly.
"She's not here, is she?" asked James, worriedly.
"No, I persuaded her I could handle things. That reminds me," said Harry. He took his wand out and cast a Patronus. "I'm with the boys at Godric's Hollow. All is well." His stag bounded away.
"Your Patronus is for your dad, right?" asked James.
Harry nodded. "You've seen my Patronus many times," he said. "I used to cast it to keep you amused late at night when you wouldn't go to sleep. Even as a baby it fascinated you."
"What do you think my Patronus will be, Dad?" asked James. "Will it be a Stag like yours and Grandpa Potter's?"
"I don't know, son. We'll have to wait and see," said Harry.
"Mum said hers changed from a horse to a doe. Is it because you love each other?" asked Al.
Harry smiled. "I'd like to think so."
"James said you have a picture of you and Padfoot asleep in front of this fire," said Al, looking at the fireplace.
"Yes, I do," said Harry. "I'll show it to you when you're home for summer."
"Dad, will you tell us about your dad, Uncle Sirius and Uncle Remus?" asked James, his eyes lighting up.
"The Marauders!" said Al, his eyes bright green.
So Harry spent the next couple of hours telling the boys about the Marauders, of a friendship that began back at Hogwarts, of the decision Sirius, James and Peter made to become Animagi to be with Remus during the full moon. How they made the Marauder's Map. How the bond between three of the four lasted until death.
"How could Peter do that?" gasped Al, when Harry spoke of Peter's betrayal that led to Sirius' incarceration and Voldemort's return.
"I don't know," said Harry, sadly. "Voldemort used his weakness and made him destroy so many lives that Halloween night."
"He destroyed our family," said Al, angrily. "Uncle Sirius went to Azkaban, Uncle Remus went into hiding. Grandma and Grandpa dead, and you..." Al couldn't go on.
James patted Al on the shoulder. "It's all in the past, Al. If anything happened differently, we might not even be here right now."
Al glanced at Harry, who nodded. "Why wouldn't we be here?" asked Al, confused.
"Well, if Grandma and Grandpa Potter lived, Dad might have had brothers and sisters, so they would have moved to a bigger house. Dad might never have gone to Hogwarts, so he might never have met Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione. Or Mum," said James.
"You mean, our mum could be someone else?" asked Al, in horror.
"We might not even be us. If there was no war, Dumbledore didn't need to help Dad, so you wouldn't be named for him. If Grandma and Grandpa hadn't died, Lil and I might not be named for them either," said James.
"Okay, okay, the fact is, this is our life, and it's the only one we've got. What's happened in the past shapes us, makes us the men we are today. I had good men and women around me who helped, and so do you. You can be proud of your family history, but I want you both to add to it, make your children proud," said Harry.
"Dad, do you forgive Peter Pettigrew?" asked Al.
"I have to, son. Hating him, blaming him does him no harm, only me. Hopefully, he's in a place where he'll be accountable for his sins," said Harry, quietly.
"Dad, do you believe when you die you'll get to see Grandma and Grandpa Potter again?" asked Al, softly.
Harry remembered meeting Dumbledore at Kings Cross. Of a decision he'd made and never regretted. "Yes, son, I do."
"Me, too," agreed James, nodding.
"Me, three," said Al, grinning.
"Anything else before we return to Hogwarts to start your detentions?" asked Harry, cheerfully.
"It was worth it, coming here," said James. Al nodded in agreement.
"Well, don't do it again. I'm happy to bring you both anytime in the holidays, happy to answer any questions, but please, don't leave school again," said Harry.
"Really, Dad? We can come back?" asked Al.
"Of course, son," said Harry hugging his youngest son.
"Dad, can we bring Teddy? I know he's been asking the portraits lots of questions about his parents," said James.
"Your Mum and I, and Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron planned to talk to you both, and Rose this summer. I think we can include Teddy in that, too," said Harry.
"Can I tell him?" asked James. Harry nodded.
They all began to pack up to leave. Harry vanished their food cartons and empty cans, leaving the little house spick and span.
"I like Godric's Hollow, Dad," said James, as they exited. "You know, we would have returned to Hogwarts in plenty of time. No-one would even have known we'd gone."
"Yes, well, lucky you have a cousin who worries about you, both of you," said Harry.
"I knew Rose saw us," said James gloomily. Al just smiled at Harry.
"See, I told you. They went in, and now they're coming out," yelled the man, pointing at them.
James and Al went over to him. "Hi, I'm James Potter, and this is my brother, Al and my dad, Harry. Maybe one time you can tell us what you remember about my grandparents." He held out his hand.
"Crikey, it is Harry Potter and his boys," gasped the witch with green hair. "It's an honour, Mr Potter." She bowed her head.
"Please, there's no need for that. My sons and I simply came home for a visit. I daresay you'll be seeing lots more of us," said Harry, smiling at James and Al. He looked over at the man whom James had spoken to. "We really would love to hear your memories of my parents."
"Anytime, Mr Potter, any time," nodded the man, shaking James, then Al's hand enthusiastically.
"Harry, please," said Harry. He stuck his hand up and the Knight Bus returned.
Bert let them on. "No charge, Mr P. You be sure to tell Mrs P, no charge for you and your boys."
Harry exchanged amused glances with his sons before the bus took off. It soon dropped them off at the Hogwarts gates, and they began the walk up to the castle.
"Dad, you wouldn't have ever married anyone else, would you?" asked Al.
"Your mother is all the witch I need," said Harry, patting Al on the shoulder.
James made a whipped noise, and they all laughed.
The headmistress met them at the Entrance. "James Potter, Professor Longbottom is waiting for you in the greenhouses. There are many Mandrakes that need re-potting."
James sighed. "I guess a Potter needs to go and re-pot, then. Bye Dad. Thanks for being so cool about today."
"Oh, I'm sure there will be repercussions when you get home from school for the summer. Your mother will let you know in the next owl she sends," said Harry calmly.
James shrugged and grinned. He waved goodbye to Harry as he headed to the greenhouses.
Minerva turned to Al. "Albus Potter, you will report to the Potion's room. Many cauldrons need scrubbing. The Head Boy will meet you there," she said.
"Say hi to Teddy for me," called Harry, as Al left them. Al turned to wave to Harry, who winked at his son. Al left, light in heart. His dad wasn't mad at him at all. His mum, well... he guess he'd find out in the Howler he was sure to receive.
"Minerva, I'm sorry about today. I don't think there'll be any further trouble with them, but please don't hesitate to let us know. I really must be getting home to Ginny," said Harry, turning to leave.
"One minute, Mr Potter," said Minerva, sternly. Harry knew better than to ignore that tone of voice.
"There's still the matter of the other one," said Minerva.
"Other one?" asked Harry, puzzled.
"It would seem, Mr Potter, that all your children are spending the next couple of weeks in detention. Your daughter was caught hiding Dungbombs in the boy's changing rooms down at the Quidditch Pitch today," said Minerva, sternly.
"Lily? But, but," stuttered Harry, "she's been in no trouble since she started at Hogwarts. She's the good one!"
"On the contrary, Mr Potter, I would say she's the one who has been the hardest to catch in the act. There have been several pranks pulled by a first year, and we have been unable to catch the prankster. Until now."
Harry groaned and ran his fingers through his hair, totally missing the glint of amusement in Minerva McGonagall's eyes. Things had been dull at Hogwarts until James Potter had started there, several years ago. Oh, how Minerva wished for a bit of dull these days.
"How am I going to tell Ginny?" Harry despaired.
"I suggest you remind your charming wife that these children are related to the Marauders and the Weasley twins," said Minerva, dryly.
"She'll blame me and Ron, I know it," said Harry, shaking his head in resignation.
"And you may wish to also remind Mrs Potter of all the trouble she got into her sixth year. Worthy cause or not, we're still trying to wash that graffiti off the wall. No charms will do the trick," sighed Minerva.
"What did she write?" asked Harry.
"'Potter forever'," said Minerva. "I fear it may be on that wall that long, too."
Harry chuckled. He went to the headmistress and kissed her cheek. "For putting up with our kids," he said. He waved as he left the castle and headed down to pay a visit to Hagrid.
Anything to delay going home to tell Ginny about Lily!