5. Tabby and Prongs, Jr.

A/N: Sorry this took so long. I suffered from a bad case of writer's block. I managed to get past it, though, and am proud to announce that this story is finished. I know a lot of you have requested that I take this through Harry's sixth year, but I never intended to go beyond the summer with this story. Thank you for all your reviews and encouragement. Almost every review I received requested that I write more.

After visiting with Harry for an hour or so, Ron and Hermione returned to the Burrow. It was obvious the boy was a little sad to see his friends go, but Minerva insisted that Harry still needed rest. Harry would be allowed to go to the Burrow the following day, however. Harry slouched into a chair at the kitchen table once his friends were gone and sighed. Minerva studied him for a moment. As Poppy had said, he was on the thin side, but he was slowly getting better. "Harry?"

He looked up at her, eyes carefully shuttered. "Yes, Aunt Minerva?"

"What do you think of having a birthday party?" Minerva asked softly. She and Albus had discussed the possibility and Arabella had shown enthusiasm for the idea. "I doubt you've had many."

The boy shook his head, eyes still shuttered. "No, I haven't had any. Not with the Dursleys, at any rate." He sighed.

"Would you _like_ to have a birthday party?" she persisted, sitting down across from him at the table. One of the cats promptly jumped into her lap.

He stared at the tabletop for a long moment before looking up at her, his eyes shining. "I would like that very much, Aunt Minerva."

She smiled at him. "Then you shall have a birthday party. Who would you like to invite?"

"Ron and Hermione, of course," Harry answered promptly. "Dean, Seamus, and Neville." He paused, thinking. "Neville's birthday is near mine, isn't it?"

Minerva nodded. "Yes, it's the day before yours."

"Can we have the party for both of us?" Harry asked eagerly. "He was fantastic in the Department of Mysteries and--"

He stopped mid-sentence, his eyes filling with tears. Minerva left her seat in a hurry, much to the dismay of the cat in her lap, and moved around the table to embrace Harry. He buried his face in her shoulder, letting the tears that had been bottled up for so long go. Minerva's own eyes were far from dry as she held her great-grandson. "Oh, Harry, if I could, I would take this burden from you."

"I know," he sobbed. "I see it now."

A roar in the fireplace made them pull apart and turn towards it. Albus unfolded himself and eyed their tear-stained faces curiously. "Well, Albus?"

"I've brought someone to help care for Harry," he told them, blue eyes concerned.

Harry looked puzzled. "Who?"

There was a loud crack and a house elf wearing odd clothes appeared, beaming. "Dobby, sir!"

The boy grinned and caught the house elf as he launched himself at the boy. "Hello, Dobby. How are you?"

"I is fine, I is!" Dobby chirped, beaming. He looked closely at Harry. "But you is not! What has Harry Potter done to himself?"

Scolding the boy, Dobby ushered Harry out of the room. Albus turned to his wife. "What's wrong, Minerva?"

She swiped at the tear tracks on her face as she told him about her conversation with Harry. "I'm afraid his grief for Sirius is still strong." She sighed. "As is mine."

He pulled her into his arms and held her close. "I understand my dear."

She sighed. "If only I hadn't got hit by those Stunners. Harry could have come to me, he wouldn't have had to rely on Severus."

"Shh, my dear, shh," he murmured, kissing her temple. "What do I always tell you?"

She sighed. "That there is no way we can know the consequences our choices and actions might have. We can only hope the choices we make and the actions we take will turn out for the best."

"Exactly." He nodded.

She pulled back to look up at him. "The same goes for you, Albus."

He raised an eyebrow inquiringly. "Me, my dear?"

She nodded firmly. "Yes. You've probably been regretting your own actions, thinking that Sirius would still be with us if you had chosen to act differently." Unable to deny it, he remained silent. She framed his face with her hands. "Albus, there is no use in crying over spilled milk. Accept that you made some mistakes and move on. We all made mistakes this past year, including Harry. Rushing off to the Department of Mysteries wasn't a good idea, but at least now Cornelius can't deny that He-With-The- Ridiculous-Name has returned."

He smiled and gently pulled her hands down to kiss the palms. "Thank you, my dear, you always know what to say. You are as wise as your namesake."

She blushed, looking down. "You're welcome, Albus."

He tilted her chin up to meet his kiss. She sighed and melted into it, her arms sliding around his waist.

"Min--Oh!" Poppy Pomfrey's voice made the husband and wife pull apart and look at the fireplace.

"You couldn't have had better timing Poppy," Minerva told her friend sarcastically, walking over to crouch in front of the fireplace.

The mediwitch was grinning unrepentantly. "I'm sorry, Minerva."

Albus patted his wife's shoulder. "It's quite alright, Poppy. Why did you call?"

Poppy's grin disappeared. "Do you know where Alastor is? I haven't seen him since Tonks left the hospital wing."

Minerva glanced up at Albus, curious herself. Albus sighed. "I'm afraid I had to ask him to do something for me, Poppy, and I asked him not to tell anyone where he is going."

Poppy's chin trembled for a moment, and then steadied. "Thank you, Headmaster."

"You're welcome, Poppy," Albus' voice was grave.

Poppy's head disappeared with a pop. Minerva straightened and glared up at her husband. "Why, Albus?"

He gazed down at her, nonplussed. "What do you mean, my dear?"

She folded her arms across her chest. "You know bloody well what I mean."

He shook his head, folding his hands into the sleeves of his robes. "No, I don't, actually."

Minerva sighed. "She needs him right now, Albus." His only response was to raise an eyebrow. "They're in love, Albus." His eyes widened, surprised. "They have been for years, but neither would admit to it until last year." Her voice dropped to little more than a whisper. "You didn't see her when she found him in his own trunk. I did." She swallowed a sob. "If it had been you instead of Alastor, I would probably look about the same as she did."

He drew her into a comforting embrace as she choked back another sob. "I'm sorry, my dear, but I was not aware that anything had changed in their relationship." He sighed. "Unfortunately, I cannot interrupt his mission at this moment. I will, of course, ask him to return as soon as I can, but I can do no more than that."

Minerva nodded. "I understand, Albus."


* * *

The next two weeks passed in a blur for Harry and Minerva. He slowly regained his strength, recovering from the beatings and malnourishment he'd suffered at the hands of the Dursleys. Arabella eventually returned to her own cottage nearby, which had been closed up for the past fifteen years. Albus was a frequent visitor, but his duties as Headmaster and Order business often kept him from his wife and great-grandson. When Albus managed to visit, he would assist Harry with his Occlumency training. The boy had learned his lesson well and was rapidly becoming an accomplished Occlumens. Harry still resented being ignored by the Headmaster for much of his fifth year, but, thanks to long talks with Minerva, he came to understand how much it had hurt Albus to ignore him in the first place. It would be a long time before he trusted Albus as completely as he once had, but he had made a good start.

Ron and Hermione visited often, or Harry visited them at the Burrow. Molly Weasley still fussed over him, and he was thankful for her attention. If the decision had been left up to him, he would have withdrawn into himself and distanced himself from his friends. Ron and Hermione, however, refused to be pushed away. Harry bowed to the inevitable and, truth be told, was thankful for their friendship.

* * *

Finally, the day of the party arrived. Harry wore robes he and Minerva had bought at Diagon Alley several days before and he was looking forward to seeing everyone he'd invited. Hermione and the Weasleys were among the first to arrive. Dean, Seamus, and Neville weren't far behind. The round- faced boy thanked Harry profusely for including him. Soon the backyard was overflowing with guests and Harry couldn't remember ever being happier.

Minerva came to a stop beside him, looking out at the gathering. "Well, Harry, how do you like your birthday party?"

He smiled up at her. "It's wonderful, Aunt Minerva."

She smiled down at him, tenderly brushing his hair out of his eyes. "What do you say to opening some presents?"

His smile widened. "I'd love to."

Minerva announced that it was time to open presents and everyone trooped inside. As they gathered in the living room, where the presents for the two birthday boys had been piled, it magically enlarged to accommodate everyone. Harry and Neville took turns opening presents. By the time all the presents had been opened, it was safe to say Harry had received more presents just on that day than he had received from the Dursleys in fourteen years. The best presents of all, though, came after everyone had left and he was sitting quietly with Albus and Minerva in the sitting room.

"Here you are, Harry."

He took the thin, gift-wrapped package Minerva held out to him and unwrapped it eagerly. His eyes misted over when he read the paperwork declaring Minerva Renee McGonagall to be his legal guardian. "Thank you, Aunt Minerva."

She returned his hug tightly, her own eyes misty behind her glasses. "You're welcome, Harry."

"And here is mine, Harry." Albus held out a small, flat, gift-wrapped package once Minerva had released Harry.

He eagerly unwrapped it and found himself staring at a family photograph of Albus, Minerva, and their four children. It was obvious which two were Daniel and Erica and which two were Anna and Tiberius. Daniel and Erica were a good seven years older than Anna and about nine years older than Tiberius. It was to Daniel that Harry's eyes were drawn. Though the picture was in black and white, Harry was almost certain the boy had messy black hair like James and himself. Albus tapped the frame with his wand and Harry watched, wide-eyed, as the inhabitants of the picture slowly aged. A woman appeared at Daniel's side first, reminding Harry of his father in a way, and then a man wrapped his arms around Erica. After a long moment, Anna was swept off her feet by a handsome man and, finally, a lovely woman appeared in Tiberius' arms. Harry looked up at his great-grandfather. "Thank you, Uncle Albus."

"You're welcome, my boy," Albus replied quietly.

Nodding to them, Harry said good night and left. Albus drew his wife into his arms. She sighed and rested her head on his shoulder. "That was a very thoughtful gift, Albus."

He nodded, content to hold her. "I know, my dear. I wanted him to finally get to know his family. He's been kept in the dark for too long."

"I agree," she responded, pressing a kiss to the back of his hand. "Happy anniversary, Albus. I love you."

"And I, you, Minerva," he answered softly, kissing the top of her head. "Happy anniversary." She tilted her head up and kissed him. For a long time, they sat holding each other.

In his room, Harry fell asleep with his eyes on the picture. For now, all was quiet and calm, but it wouldn't stay that way. With his great- grandparents to help him, though, Harry knew he stood a good chance of defeating Voldemort. It was only a matter of time.