Disclaimer: All characters, settings and other miscellaneous ideas relating to Harry Potter belong to JK Rowling. The plot (however AU book 7 renders it) is mine.

A/N: This is a series of moments in the years following the end of my story… just a few snapshots into important moments in the lives of these characters. Enjoy!

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Epilogue: So when does happily ever after kick in?

A Turning Point
27 January 1977

Sirius loped into the Head's Tower, a strange smile spread across his face. James looked up expectantly from his place on the floor, lazing in front of the roaring fire as he did his Transfiguration homework. "Well?"

Sirius nodded, his face breaking into a grin. "I did it. I spent my dirty Black inheritance and I'm glad to be rid of it."

James nodded, pleased. "So… does this mean no more summers at my house?"

Sirius frowned, reluctant and apologetic. "Mate, I'll always come and visit, you know that. It's just… I can't live off your parents anymore, it doesn't feel right, and I had the means for a place of my own, so…."

James nodded again; when there was nothing more one could do, a nod seemed the logical response. "I understand," he said quietly. "It's just that I'll miss you a bit, that's all."

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A Wedding
4 April 1977

"You sure you don't want to sit down?" James murmured in her ear.

Lily turned to him, startled, and shook her head vehemently. "No, no. This is Petunia's special day and if she doesn't want me here I… I won't ruin it for her, ok?"

James sighed and went to stand behind Lily, drawing his arms around her and letting her lean back against him.

"Should have bought the invisibility cloak," she murmured offhandedly, watching the bridesmaids and groomsmen walk down the aisle together.

It was strange, Lily felt, that the great majority of the wedding party seemed to come from Vernon's family. James, on the other hand, was doing all he could to bite his tongue and resist voicing the opinion that with those large pink dresses and the oh-so-many ruffles and ribbons, the bridesmaids (rather plump, as they were) bore a striking and startling resemblance to a string of prize pigs.

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One Moment in Chaos
2 May 1977

"Lily!"

Lily paused by the double doors of the Great Hall and waited for Emmeline to catch up. The seventh years were spilling out of the castle and onto the lawns, much as they had done in their fifth year after the OWLs exams. The difference would be that this time, Lily (and in all likeliness Emmeline and Benjamin) would inevitably join the Marauders to bask in the late afternoon sun, and celebrate another NEWT exam well and truly over.

"How'd you find it?" Emmeline asked, linking her arm with Lily's as they followed the crowd.

Lily shrugged, shading her eyes as she scanned the grounds for the boys. Predictably, there they were beneath the old beech tree by the lake. "I don't really care, as long as I pass, to be honest," she murmured in reply.

Emmeline rolled her eyes. "Well I think I mustered up at least an A, and lets face it, Lily, if you get less than an O in Charms I'll be shocked. "

They made their way across the lawn. Lily shrugged again, just before she reached their destination. Once there, she would sink onto the grass besides James, and he would kiss her lips in greeting, and then they would sit and watch their friends together. Sirius and Emmeline would probably sit as far away from each other as possible, something made exceptionally difficult by Sirius' blossoming friendship with Benjy.

Remus would arrange himself wherever was the most convenient to everyone else, and pull out the textbook for his next exam. Wormtail would sit beside Remus and anxiously try to read over his shoulder, something Remus would inevitably bear with great patience….

Lily turned to Emmeline, raising her voice just loud enough for it to catch the ears of anyone, beneath the tree they were approaching, who was listening. Grinning as she made her casual announcement, she watched the effect of her words on her group of friends.

"Exams aren't the most important thing in the world, Em."

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A Coming of Age
30 May 1977

"Lupin! Pettigrew! Black!"
Sirius froze, appalled at being caught so quickly and so stealthily. Resigned, he shared a look of surprise with Remus before the three of them turned around to face-
"Prongs!"
James grinned; Sirius sounded quite delighted.
"I saw you lot sneaking away from the ceremony," the Head Boy told them sternly, thrusting his hands deep into his robes. "And I thought to myself, surely they
aren't going off mischief making without me?"
Remus shrugged apologetically. "We didn't think you'd be able to get away, sitting up on the stage, and all."
James grinned. "Oh, well," he murmured lightly. "Lily said she'd cover for me, but let's make this quick, all right?"
"Lily said she'd cover for you?" Even Peter sounded impressed.
"Oh she's a real gem, lads-"
"And you're madly in love. We know. Now can we get a move on?"

The Marauders continued along the corridor, and it wasn't until they'd arrived at the door of Filch's office that James thought to ask, "What exactly are we doing?"
Remus took it upon himself to explain. "Well, you know how we decided that the Map should probably stay here, for some other mischief maker to pick up?"
James nodded, grinning. "To preserve the spirit of mischief for future generations, Moony," he corrected.
Remus shrugged, grinning. "Whatever. Well, we figured last night that Filch's office was probably the safest place."
James frowned. "And you didn't have time to talk this over with me? I mean – Filch's office! We may as well hand it to him ourselves as a going away present, and watch him burn it."
James sounded, in short, appalled. Peter hastened to reassure him, but was cut off by Sirius.

"You're missing the point, Prongs," Sirius told him bracingly. "Filch has a drawer, you see…. A drawer of things so dangerous that even he doesn't touch them."
"And how do you know this?" James demanded skeptically.
"I remembered last night, from when we rescued the map!"
"A drawer marked Confiscated and Highly Dangerous," Peter confirmed.
"It's perfect, because the only people who will ever look in there will be up to just as much trouble as we were when we found it!"
"So we're leaving the highly prized and coveted Marauder's Map in a filing cabinet drawer, right under Filch's nose?" James sounded highly dubious, but Sirius, Remus and Peter all nodded with various stages of enthusiasm.

James sighed, resigned. He supposed that if worst came to worst, they could rescue it themselves. "Fine… lets do this, then, shall we?"

"So where did you go?" Lily murmured curiously, as James slipped back into his seat beside her on the stage.
James smiled. "Filch's office, I'll explain later. Where are we up to?"
Lily looked all at once surprised and intrigued. "Dumbledore's address should be finishing any minute. How-?"
James shook his head and turned his attention to the Headmaster.

Half an hour later, James and Lily stood together on the platform, watching as the last of their class spilled out of the Great Hall. It seemed as if some couldn't escape fast enough. Others took their time.

James gripped Lily's hand and smiled at her. "Ready to graduate, Miss Evans?"

Lily shrugged, staring around the Great Hall, misty eyed. "I don't know if I can do this, James…"
"Of course you can," he told her comfortingly, jumping down from the platform and waiting to catch her. "And I'll be right beside you, every step of the-"

"Oi, you lot!" the other three Marauders waited in the doorway, silhouetted by the late afternoon light. "Get a move on, will you?!"

Lily and James exchanged a smile. "We're coming!"

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An Offer
19 June 1977

"Sirius!"

It wasn't at all what Sirius expected to hear, this voice echoing down the crooked lane way. He had been standing there for half an hour, hands stuffed deep into his pockets, dreaming of Florean Fortescue's Ice-cream Parlour, only a few hundred yards away, and yet, for some strange reason he had been compelled to wait, and what for what?

Apparently –

It was a child's voice that sounded behind him now. No, not such a child. More that of a boy, one growing into adulthood even as he spoke. It was, Sirius knew instantly, the voice of his brother.
"Regulus?"
He would have been what, fifteen now? Sixteen?
"What do you want, Regulus?"
Regulus moved closer. His eyes were the same shade as his brother's, but they seemed even now, darker and more menacing.
"I have been sent," he informed Sirius, head held high, chin jutting out with pride.
"Sent?" Sirius spat the word out in disbelief. "Merlin, Reg, tell me you haven't…?"
Regulus smiled coldly. "Not officially, no. I'm too young. But I will, brother."
"And what has that got to do with me?"
Regulus sounded surprised. "Everything! Surely you knew this was coming, Sirius? They – we – want you to join us."

"Never."

Regulus raised his eyebrow, looking every inch the cocky teenaged heartbreaker. "Is that wise, Sirius?" he asked softly.
Sirius shrugged, scuffing the toe of his left shoe on the cobblestones. "Probably not," he remarked softly. "But I never did what was smart, Reg. Not like you. No, I'm going to do what is right."
Regulus snorted with contempt. "You Gryffindors, always doing the noble thing." He shook his shaggy black hair. "I pity you, brother.Traitor."
Sirius smiled, then. A broad, satisfied smile that spread across his face with the ease of someone who was all at once very handsome and confident.
"Do you really?" he asked mildly. "I don't. I'm quite happy, thank you. At least I can sleep at night, knowing that I'm doing something to stop the cowardly murder of innocent people."

A flicker of surprise betrayed itself across Regulus' face, and Sirius nodded, satisfied.
"So tell your boss 'no' please. I'm quite satisfied in my choice. It's quite… liberating, to do the right thing. So thank you all the same, but no."
Regulus' face curled into a snarl. "I'll see you on the battlefield, then, brother," he hissed.
Sirius blinked, betraying no sign of alarm. In fact, he was still smiling as he shrugged, amiably.
"If that's the way it has to be."

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An Auspicious Occasion
5 July 1977

The Hogs Head sign creaked overhead as three cloaked figures cast a furtive look up and down the empty Hogsmeade street, before letting themselves inside. The bar room itself was alive with music and talk, the summer evening drawing not only regulars but also holidaymakers into the small, country tavern.
James clutched Lily's hand tighter as Sirius led them towards the bar.

The barman hovered in a dark doorway that lead from behind the bar to what seemed to be a small back room, but he stepped forward into the light to serve his customers with a suspicious expression.
"And how may I help you young folk tonight?"
James frowned, slipping his hood back slightly to reveal his face. "Aberforth? Well!" he sounded impressed. "I never thought I'd see you working in here!"
The old man squinted, then grinned.
"Why it's the young P- Parkinson lad!" he exclaimed, recalling at the very last minute that yelling Potter out in a bar was not necessarily the most intelligent of ideas. "How are you, son?"
James grinned. "Very well, thank you."
"And what would you like? Anything, on the house, for you and your friends!"
Lily pushed back her hood slightly and leant forward.
"Actually," she began rather nervously. "We were…. We were wondering if you might light the fire for us? Only, it's awfully cold for summer."

Aberforth frowned, his eyes not betraying even a flicker of surprise. He had been expecting them, then. "Nay, lass, that I can not do. I've had a few complaints that t'is too hot in here already! Tell ye what, you lot can sit in my back room, here. I have a fire going with my dinner, and you can be as warm as you please without disturbing these good folk."
Aberforth eyed an old man further down the bar, who was eavesdropping intently.
James pulled his hood further forward once more, and the three of them followed Aberforth into his back room. The older man closed the door, before checking that all the windows were covered and pulling back the hearthrug. Next, he produced his grimy looking wand from his sleeve, and set it to a particular stone in the floor. He tapped the stone.
Nothing happened for a few moments: but then, the stone began to wiggle, and much in the manner of the wall in Diagon Alley, the flagged-stone flooring quickly made way for a trapdoor.

Aberforth's eyes glinted in the flickering light from his fireplace.
"Down you go, young folk, and I hope that nothing too dangerous mars your path tonight."
Sirius led the way, and James sent Lily down next. He paused to shake the old man's hand.
"I was sorry to hear of your parent's passing," Aberforth said quietly.
James smiled grimly, touched. "Thank you."

Sirius, Lily and James emerged at the bottom of the stairs and made their way along a short passageway lit by flickering torches.
"Bit like the Honeydukes passage," Sirius murmured reminiscently, his smile ghostly.
James nodded thoughtfully, while Lily looked between the two, confused. "What passage?" she demanded suspiciously.

James said nothing, simply pressing a finger to her lips as they reached yet another doorway. Sirius opened it tentatively to reveal a well-lit chamber. Talk ceased abruptly as the newcomers filed in and waited shyly by the doorway.

Dumbledore's voice emerged from the crowd, and their former headmaster stood, looking pleased.

"Ah, more young people!" he gestured toward Remus and Peter, who sat awkwardly with two red-haired twins, and another young, sandy-haired man, a year or two older than them, that Lily recognized from Hogwarts. Beside him, much to Lily's surprise sat Alice Prewett, her former dorm-mate.

"James Potter, Sirius Black, Lily Evans," Dumbledore introduced them, his eyes twinkling. "Welcome, to the Order of the Phoenix."

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Brotherhood
17 March 1978

It was raining. Sirius watched silently as large, round drops of water smattered against the windowpanes of his small flat, and sighed. Across the hall, in James' new apartment, he could hear music, and laughter. A part of him wanted to take his keys, lock up the flat and to join them, there in their happy home. But it was a very small part that urged to do this. The larger part of Sirius' mind knew that he heard the beginnings of their celebration of Lily moving in, and he felt he would just be interrupting. And even though they would have handed him his own glass of wine to celebrate, and that they would have made him welcome, Sirius didn't feel like interrupting.

Something crinkled in Sirius' jacket pocket, and he inserted two fingers suspiciously to withdraw a rumpled piece of paper, a name and phone number scrawled across it in haste. Sally.

Perhaps, he had promised to call this Sally. To be honest, Sirius didn't really remember, or care. He wondered if now would be an inappropriate time to make it up to Sally?
Someone knocked on his door, and Sirius leapt to his feet in his haste for some human company.

It was, much to his surprise, Remus.
Remus blinked, looking equally as surprised. He was plainly soaked through, and it was clear that Sirius had not been the person he was expecting to answer the door.
"Sirius! I thought this was James'-?"
Sirius' heart fell. "Oh," he replied quickly. "No, that's… that one." He pointed to the doorway directly opposite.
Remus nodded. "Oh," he repeated. "Well, er, sorry to disturb you, I guess…."
"No!"
Sirius seemed to be a man grappling with the last vestige of childhood. "What are you doing here, anyway?" he asked conversationally.
Remus looked away. "I… er, well, Lily always said that if I needed a place to stay…"

Sirius' eyes widened, and for the first time he noticed the worn suitcase leaning against his friend's leg.
"Moony," he said quietly, voice low. "Why didn't you come to us for help?"
Remus shrugged, and a droplet from his hair rolled down his nose.
"Didn't want to imposition you," he mumbled.
Sirius rolled his eyes, bent down and seized the suitcase. It was much heavier than he had anticipated, but he hid it well.

"Don't be an idiot. Come and stay with me. I even have a spare room all set up for you. I know… I know you intended for them," he gestured toward Lily and James' door, "but really, you don't want to go in there right now, they're celebrating, and if they share the love anymore I think I'm going to vomit so…. Come stay with me?"

Sirius' eyes expressed what his words could not: 'I'm lonely.'
Remus seemed to consider it, before shrugging. "I guess you have a point, about the young love and all," he murmured gruffly, and Sirius stood back to let him in.
Remus paused in the doorway, looking still uncertain.
"Stay for as long as you want," Sirius prompted him, feeling that this was the answer to his unasked question.

The werewolf gave a small smile. "Thanks."

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Christmas
25 December 1978

"We're here!"
Sirius' voice carried through the doorway of James and Lily's flat moments before the man himself, arms laden with brown paper bags. Lily, her hair drawn back in a messy ponytail, stuck her head out the doorway of the kitchen and waved him in.
"James is just in the shower, come in!"
Sirius wove his way through the dining and lounge room, and made it to the entrance to the kitchen before he stopped. Emmeline raised her champagne glass to him in greeting.
"Merry Christmas!"
Sirius appeared to falter only for a moment. "Merry Christmas, Em," he murmured, swooping to kiss her on the cheek as he set down his load. "Remus and I are doing the nibblies," he announced. "How's Benjy?"
Emmeline checked her watch. "He's great, he should be here soon, imagine having to work on Christmas Day! I do hope he remembers the dessert!"
Lily reappeared in the kitchen, face momentarily sad as she paused to reflect. "These are the times, I suppose," she murmured quietly, referring to the working on Christmas Day.

She was lucky, she knew, that James hadn't been called in too, although she pushed the thought away, setting upon Sirius' bags.
"Now what do we have here?"
Sirius grinned and shrugged. "I have no idea. Moony was chatting up the girl in the delicatessen and she suggested all these for – what did she call them?"
"Canapes," Remus supplied from the doorway, smiling. "Merry Christmas everyone!"

"Did I hear gourmet?" James' voice called down the hallway, preceding it's owner, who soon appeared beside Remus, wearing nothing but a white towel and his glasses. His hair was still damp from the shower, and a droplet of water ran down his forehead.
"James, go get dressed!" Lily scolded, which was his signal to move forward and wrap his arms around her, nuzzling her neck.
"Oi, you two, we do plan to eat some of this food you're exposing yourself to at the moment."
James turned and cocked an eyebrow at Sirius. "Who's exposing anything?"
Sirius smirked, eyeing James' towel. "No one, yet."
Lily took charge. "James, go get dressed. Everyone else, out of the kitchen!"

Remus stood aside as Emmeline and Sirius filed past him, an odd expression on the werewolf's face.
"And how are you doing?" Lily asked him sweetly as she bent to check the oven. "Would you like a drink? That's Em's department – Em! – Get her to find you something?"
Remus chuckled. "No thanks, Lily, I'm fine."
"Sirius tells me you're chatting up the delicatessen girl now?" Lily prodded, making Remus grin.
"Well, she is a pretty little thing, although nothing on some of the girls Sirius has brought home."
Lily and Remus exchanged a look that clearly and with full contempt, said "Aurors!"
"What about St Mungos?"
Lily closed the oven door, wiping her hands on her apron as she set to the potatoes. "Mungos is good," she replied absently, looking around her for a clean bowl. "It's such a relief to have almost finished my internship, though. So hopefully soon I can be released on the field with the rest of the Aurors as a Healer, which is much more use that I'm being now, and Oh! Can you see the colander anywhere?"

Remus cast his gaze around the small, crowded kitchen. It rather looked as though an explosion of food had gone off within it. Remus thought with a smile of his own kitchen, mere metres away, that told a very different story. Instead of this unrestrained Christmas chaos, it spoke of a quiet disuse, of the many nights of takeaways and as its use as simple storage for alcohol and precooked meals that indicated a distinctlybachelor flavoured living. The logical thing to do would be to cast a summoning charm, Remus realised, grinning as he recalled the last time James had tried to summon anything from this kitchen. James and Lily had dined with him and Sirius, that night. Perhaps, Remus reflected, a summoning charm wasn't such a good idea after all.

"Sorry, Lily, no colander-"
"Could you rinse these potatoes, please? And just stick them in that pot, there- I'm sorry Remus, but I don't exactly trust anyone else in this kitchen with our food, Sirius would probably just make it explode and then where would we be-? James!"

Sirius leant against the doorway of his friend's bedroom and raised his eyebrows. Whether this was a comment on the ornamental pillows scattered across the elegant bedspread, or on James himself, primping in front of the full length mirror, shirt hanging open, Sirius himself was not sure.
"So have you done it yet?"
James turned from the mirror, surprised. "Padfoot, so crude!"
Sirius rolled his eyes. "Not that, Prongs, and you know exactly what I meant," he replied scathingly.
James smirked, pulling on his jacket and plunging his hand into the pocket, seizing on a little velvet box and turning it over and over in his fingers. "No, not yet. I'll pick my moment," he replied absently, a half smile lingering on his face.
Sirius shook his head in disgust. "Look what she's done to you, mate!"

"What have I done?" Lily asked innocently, making Sirius jump.
Lily strolled past him into the bedroom and faced James, hands on her hips. "Any idea where the colander is?" she asked sweetly.
James nodded shortly and left the room, a great determination on his face as if nothing were more important.
Lily and Sirius exchanged looks of surprise.

"Well, you certainly have him well trained," the best friend murmured, shocked.
Lily quirked her eyebrow at him. "Honestly, I don't. Perhaps, because it's Christmas, he's behaving himself?" she murmured, mostly to herself, wandering back down the hall to the kitchen.
Sirius remained in the doorway, an ironic smile on his face. Relationships had always seemed like too much effort when all he had to do was come across the hall and watch Lily and James' effortless domesticity. Really, Sirius wondered, when one had instant access to a readily adoptive family, what else did one need?
A mug of Butterbeer was pressed into his hands, and Sirius snapped out of his thoughts to thank Peter.

"Wormy! When did you get here?"
Peter smiled. Two years in Muggle Relations had served him well, and he was no longer the smallest Marauder - now a fully-grown man in his own right.
"Just now," he said, smiling mildly. "And not a moment too soon, I imagine."
"Dinner's ready!" Lily sung from the kitchen.
Soon, everyone was clustered around James' large dining table, which looked out of place in the modest flat. Benjy had arrived not long before Peter, and was seated beside Remus, discussing with pride the ins and outs of the professional Quidditch team Emmeline was now managing. Lily, the perfect hostess, saw everyone served before herself, and when she finally slid into her place beside James, she did so with great relief.

"I propose a toast," Emmeline announced, throwing her hair back from her shoulders with a toss of her head, and grinning, eyes sparkling with life.
Sirius swallowed, hard.
"Let us all raise our glasses to all the witches and wizards who are working away from their families today," Emmeline began. "To those who are bringing light to these darkening days."
"And to Lily and James for serving up an excellent meal for all us ungrateful souls," Sirius joked.
"To happiness," Remus added quietly, "And friendship, and to love."
"To happiness, friendship, love and hope," Peter finished with great solemnity.

"To happiness, friendship, love and hope," everyone echoed, clinking their glasses before they drained them.

Sirius, seated on James' other side, nudged him and winked. James felt the elbow connect with the little velvet box in his jacket pocket, and grinned. Plenty of time for that later.
Lily saw the sparkle in her boyfriend's eyes, and felt compelled to smile too. It was a telling sparkle – he was up to something, most certainly – but Lily didn't particularly mind. He would let her in on the joke, sooner or later, as he always did.

She just hoped he wasn't up to too much mischief.
Although, as Sirius had once scolded her, many years ago –
Nonsense, Lily, you can never cause enough mischief.

The End

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A/N: So, everyone, this is it. Thanks for joining me in this epic ride!

I am going to make a final request (for this story, at least) that you leave me a review at the end of reading it. Reviews really mean the world to authors – why else do we post, if not for feedback? So if you've taken the time to read this, please spare a moment longer to leave me a lovely review! (I am finding it especially perplexing that some of you will take the time to favourite this, but not to say hello?)

Thanks everyone for reading, I hope you've enjoyed it, and right now I shall take the opportunity to shamelessly promote my other stories – go have a look at them, I think that if you enjoyed this, you'll enjoy the others. And on that final note…. On the 7/07/07 (a very special day in itself)…. Peace out!

Lexie

UPDATE: Also - if you're at all interested in how the story continues, there's now a sequel in progress: I Solemnly Swear picks up right from where we left off, and will continue with the Marauders, Lily, Em and Benjy into the ever-darkening magical world as it nears the turn of the decade. As of now, Chapter One is posted, and Chapter Two should be out shortly. Go have a look!