Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the seven novels that follow his story. He is owned by J.K. Rowling, her publishers, and the people who made the films.
Author's Note: Yes, this is truly the last chapter. There are no more. I unfortunately do not have it in me to write a sequel, so you will not see one from me. However, should any of you be so inspired, please take off and write one. There is more than an opening for it. Alas, to one reviewer (of which it was my favorite review for the last posting) it is not the happy sappy ending that comes with a tidy neat bow. I couldn't. Sorry. This story was originally written to go through several years for Harry, and I could not bring myself to tie it up as was originally planned and would have had you fully satisfied, so you'll see an opening for a future sequel, even if I never write one. So to all readers, I hope this satisfies you to the extent that I can for this story. I am sorry for the wait in this last chapter. I never meant for it to wait for so long.
"Hi," replied Sirius--a very worried Sirius, whose dwindled sanity (slowly recovering) had made him very worried for his godson. Harry had not answered numerous calls through the mirror and his imagination was running wild with numerous scenarios, one of which was that Harry finally believed that Sirius really was guilty of murdering Harry's parents.
Harry was biting his lip, signaling his nervousness. "I'm sorry, Siri," came the whisper.
"Nothing to be sorry for, kiddo. Nothing at all," he replied in a rare moment of calm (though a little more frequent now that he was away from the dementors). "I'm the one who should have been there for you."
"Not quick enough. Not soon enough."
"How did you get there, Siri?"
He was silent for a moment, contemplating his answer. "You have always been a powerful wizard, Harry. We've always known that. The Mirror of Erised is powerful as well, showing one their greatest heart's desire. I think that this time, instead of wishing you to me like you did at four, you wished me to you. The mirror just helped to amplify your desire."
"My wish," Harry whispered back.
Sirius nodded. "Where are you now?"
"The house. Remus is sleeping." A pause. "Where are you?"
"Could you come here?"
"I don't know, Harry. Remus…"
"He doesn't hate you. He only thought he did. Please."
Slowly, Remus opened the front door leading into the Shrieking Shack as the door's hinges squeaked mightily. He could not help but be nervous as he walked into the dilapidated house where he spent many full moons in the past. Softly, despite the squeaking hinges, he closed the door behind him. He turned back into the house just in time to see Sirius step quietly into the front room. The man was worn and looked older than him. His face was creased with lines, his hair was long, as was his beard, and he still wore the robes of an Azkaban inmate. There was grey in his hair, along with several tangles, and his feet were bare. He was dirty, though not obscenely so. He looked weary, tired, and nervous, with a hint of desperation.
"Sirius," he replied quietly back. "I'm so sorry!" he whispered, choked and rushed.
"So am I. Had I never suspected you of being the traitor, everything would be different." He wandered closer into the room and closer to his old friend. "I didn't think you'd come."
"I couldn't not. I'd never be able to face myself if I didn't, knowing I'd turned my back on a friend."
"Are we still friends then, Remus?"
Remus nodded, "though it has been a long time. We won't be able to pick up where we left off."
Sirius snorted, depreciatingly. "I should hope not. It was not on the best of terms."
Remus reflected for only a brief moment and a look of imitated pain crossed his face as he recalled when he had last seen Sirius at Azkaban. "I wasn't—"
"I know," Sirius cut off. "Don't go back there. Don't."
Remus heard the command, just as he heard the control leveled within Sirius's voice. It was unlike what Sirius was like in his Hogwarts years, easily lashing out. Remus even expected it in this visit, but his old friend was controlling himself mightily, and Remus suspected the man was working hard to overcome the remaining effects of the dementors. He knew from Harry why the man wasn't suffering further than others would.
"Are you ready to come home?"
Sirius's head snapped to look at Remus, where he had been focusing on a section of the wall to the left of Remus's ear. "Home?"
"Harry's looking forward to it." He took a small breath. "So am I."
Harry ran straight into Sirius as the man came through the door, after he catapulted himself off the couch where he had been waiting impatiently for Remus to return. He didn't bother to pull himself away either as Sirius responded with an "Mphh" and instead wrapped his arms tightly around the man's middle, glad to finally have his godfather back in his life for more than a day during Christmas hols or through letters or mirrors.
"Hello, Harry," Sirius said softly, smoothing down Harry's hair gently. He, too, had been long afraid that he would never have this chance again with his godson.
"I'm so glad you came."
"Hard to refuse when you're here."
They were oblivious to the two people watching them. Peachy had witnessed the two of them in the past together, back when she had her services first requested. Remus, however, had not. And suddenly, watching them, all the pieces fell together for him in understanding Harry. He thought he had before, when he discovered Peter's duplicity, but not until now. While Harry revealed to him that he had lived in Azkaban for seven years with the man, now he could actually imagine it, with godfather and godson relying only on one another for their sanity, even if Harry had a shield that protected him from the proximity effects of a dementor. Those two only had one another. It explained why Harry was so clingy and why he seemed to know so much about the marauders and the world that he had not been able to experience first hand until he was eleven. It explained his strange behaviors and quirks that were so obvious in the first days of him and Harry living together. Watching the two of them suddenly made him inexplicably jealous. He had finally been able to get to know Harry and develop a parental relationship with the boy, yet now Black was here and he knew that he would now be playing seconds to Harry's attention in this house.
This house that he just realized belonged to Black.
And he knew, all of a sudden, that there were going to be problems as the other man moved in with them, the least of them being that the man was still a fugitive. One of the problems being that he still referred to Harry's godfather as Black and his parents' traitor as Peter. One of the greatest problems being that he wanted Harry to rely on him and not Black.
Still, he smiled at the sight and forcefully pushed back any thoughts that he knew would hurt the boy. "Why don't we show him around, Harry? Peachy's prepared a room for him."
Sirius looked at Remus intently at those words, searching his expression. He was solemn as he did so, still holding onto Harry, before he looked back down at the boy and put on a soft but strained smile. "Yes, I think that's a marvelous idea."
It went unspoken between the two men, though perfectly understood, that whatever struggles the two men had with one another would remain hidden from Harry. Both regretted the loss of their former friendship because it was not there anymore. They had both changed to the point where they bared little resemblance to their younger selves.
Even as they agreed upon this, Harry was grinning at the both of them. "Come on, Sirius! You have to see everything!"
Hours later, Sirius found out that Harry was much more observant than they would have thought. Sirius had been in bed by then and Harry had invited himself into the room and onto Sirius's bed, asking why Sirius and Remus didn't seem to be friends anymore.
"Time changes things, kiddo. Time will heal us, too."
Harry nodded at those words, even though Sirius saw the confusion in his eyes. The boy then laid himself down beside his godfather, and like every night they lived together in Azkaban, they fell asleep with the other's presence lulling the other to sleep, despite the turbulent world around them.
Peter sat, cringing away from the blond man who stood looking down at him, as if he were nothing more than a rodent and nothing but a mere nuisance. He was sitting in one of the opulent wing chairs found in the other man's study within Malfoy Manor.
"I must say, Pettigrew, that I truly did not expect you still alive." Lucius Malfoy sounded calm and aristocratic as he spoke. "Even more, I never expected to find you as one of our Dark Lord's followers."
"He had his reasons for not telling others of me," Peter squeaked, barely a whisper. It was very different from Lucius's own rich tone.
"Most obviously. And now it is to our advantage. You say he was at Hogwarts this past year? A spirit?"
"Yes. Harry somehow knew who I was and so I was not able to stay past Christmas hols, but I know Dumbledore had hidden something away on the third floor corridor."
"Harry? Harry Potter? He knew who you were? How?"
"I-I don't know. Lupin probably. He visited the boy often enough."
"Hmm." Lucius turned away from the cowering man and walked over to the ornate fireplace that Peter's chair looked upon. He held the handle of his cane in both hands. "That no one knows you are alive is an advantage to us, but not if Potter and Lupin are aware of your status. Nonetheless, it will not matter so much so long as I have the minister's ear, and I do. We need our lord back. Mudbloods are beginning to overrun our world once again, and he has only been gone for a decade. I have an object he left with me, one that he told me would strike fear into Hogwarts and bring Slytherin's monster out of the Chamber of Secrets and help to rid the school of the mudbloods. But that will only be the red herring, distracting those who would thwart us."
Peter leaned forward as he listened to the man speak, revering the man's words as they were spoken. Long ago, as a student, he would have been horrified. Since then, he had been kidnapped, broken, and put back together by the dark lord. These words now made sense and to go about any other way in the world would simply be blasphemy to him. Lucius continued to speak, filling Peter in on his plan. And Peter knew there was much the man was not saying, for Lucius, like everyone but the marauders, thought he was daft, stupid, and eager to please and for attention. Because of this, Peter mentally filled in what Lucius was not saying. He also made plans of his own to compliment Lucius's, but to cause even more mayhem and to get revenge on those who dared to not care that he had been taken by Lord Voldemort and had trusted them to find him for more than four months before he finally gave up on them and allowed himself to be broken. They would all pay.
The summer passed by for Harry, Remus, and Sirius. Despite it all, it would prove to be the best summer of his childhood.