Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple, and as the little family bobbed across the rumbling road towards the great, sooty station, the fumes of car exhausts and the breath of pedestrians sparkled like cobwebs in the cold air. Two large cages rattled on top of the laden trolleys the parents were pushing; the owls inside then hooted indignantly, and the brown-headed girl trailed tearfully behind her brothers, clutching her father's arm.
'It won't be long, and you'll be going too,' Harry told her.
'Two years,' sniffed Lily. 'I want to go now!' she looked at her mother for support. Hermione smiled and pulled her closer to her as they kept walking.
'I promise I will buy you a beautiful cat very soon, and you can take her or him with you when you'll be ready for Hogwarts.' Hermione said smiling at her little version. The girl smiled brightly, forgetting how much she wanted to go to Hogwarts for awhile.
'Really?' she asked looking both her parents.
'Really,' Hermione confirmed, hitting Harry with her elbow, he looked at the two girls of his life smiling.
'Really,' he confirmed beaming at his daughter.
The commuters started curiously at the owls as the family wove its way towards the barrier between the platforms nine and ten.
Sirius' voice drifted back to Harry over the surroundings clamour;
His sons had resumed the argument they had started in the car.
'I won't! I won't be in Slytherin!'
'James, give it a rest!' said Hermione. "Sirius didn't say a word when you were ready to leave for Hogwarts…'
'I only said he might be,' said James, ginning at his younger brother. 'There's nothing wrong with that. He might be in Slyth—'
But James caught his mother's eye and fell silent. The five Potters approached the barrier. With a slightly cocky look over his shoulder at his younger brother, James took the trolley from his mother and broke into a run. A moment later, he had vanished.
'You'll write me, won't you?' Sirius asked his parents immediately, capitalizing on the momentary absence of his brother.
'Every day, if you want us to,' said Hermione as she lowered her body so she was in the same level with her son.
'Not every day,' said Sirius quickly. 'James says most people only get letters from home about once a month.'
'We wrote to James three times a week last year,' said Hermione.
'And you don't want to believe everything he tells you about Hogwarts,' Harry put in. 'He likes a laugh, your brother.'
Side by side, they pushed the second trolley forwards, gathering speed. As they reached the barrier, Sirius winced, but no collision came. Instead, the family emerged on to platform nine and three-quarters, which was obscured by thick, white steam that was pouring from the scarlet Hogwarts Express.
Indistinct figures were swarming thought the mist, into which James had already disappeared.
'Where are they?' asked Sirius anxiously, peering at the hazy forms they passed as they made their way down the platform.
'We'll find them,' said Hermione, looking around.
But the vapour was dense, and it was difficult to make out anybody's faces. Detached from their owners, voices sounded unnaturally loud.
Harry though he heard Percy discoursing loudly on broomstick regulations, and was quite glad of the excuse not to stop and say hello…
'I think that's them, Sirius,' said Hermione suddenly.
A group of four people emerged from the mist, standing alongside the very last carriage. Their faces only came into focus when Harry, Hermione, Lily and Sirius had dawn right up to them.
'Hi,' said Sirius, sounding immensely relieved.
Moly, who was already wearing her brand new Hogwarts robes, beamed at him.
'Parked all right then?' Ron asked Harry. 'I did. Luna didn't believe I could pass a Muggle driving test, did you? She thought I'd have to Confund the examiner.'
'No, I didn't,' said Luna, ' I had complete faith in you.' She added, her dreamy voice beaming every word.
'As a matter of fact, I did Confunt him,' Ron whispered to Harry, as together they lifted Sirius' trunk and owl on the train. 'I only forgot to look in the wing mirror, and lets face it, I can use a Supersensory Charm for that.'
Back on the platform, they found Lily and Arthur, Moly's younger brother, having an animated discussion about which house they would be sorted into when they finally went to Hogwarts.
'If you're not in Gryffindor, we'll disinherit you,' said Ron, 'but no pressure.'
Lily and Arthur laughed, but Sirius and Moly looked solemn.
'He doesn't mean it,' said Luna and Hermione, but Ron was no longer paying attention. Catching Harry's eye, he nodded covertly to a point some fifty yards away. The steam had thinned for a moment and three people stood in sharp relief against the shifting mist.
'Look who it is.'
Draco Malfoy was standing there with Ginny and their son, a dark coat buttoned up to his throat. His hair was resending somewhat, which emphasized the pointed chin. The new boy resembled Draco's as much as Sirius resembled Harry. Draco caught sight of Harry, Ron, Luna and Hermione staring at him, nodded curtly and turned away again.
'So that's little Marcus,' said Ron under his breath. 'make sure you beat him in every test, Moly. Thank God you inherited your mother's brains.'
'Ron, for Struners' sake, I was in Ravenclaw because I was smart not because I wanted to beat people… ' said Luna, half-stern, half-amused. 'Don't try to turn them against each other before they've even started school. They are cousins… don't forget that.'
'You're right, sorry,' said Ron, but unable to help himself, he added
'don't get too friendly though, Moly. Granddad Weasley would never forgive you if you married a pure-blood like your aunt Ginny did.'
'Granddad Weasley will be happy when he learns he will have one more grandson.' Luna said and the three adults and four children looked at her.
'What?!' Ron asked surprised.
'Oh- I thought I told you, little Xenophilius is on the way. My father knows it already, I think I told him when I was in home earlier, giving him my articles for the magazine.' Luna said casually and smiling. Ron was standing like a statue looking at her. His mind started working again, he hugged Luna tightly. Luna hugged him back, Molly and Arthur started jumping with Lily as the couple left of each other and Harry and Hermione hugged both of them.
'Now… Harry, we are just the same, two sons, one daughter.' Ron laughed and Harry joined him. 'Lily, you have to wait just a few months and you'll see your future husband.' Ron added addressing at the youngest Potter. Lily looked at him surprised, her mother's eyes sparkling.
'Sorry, uncle Ron, but I don't like redheads.' Lily said firmly and everyone looked at her and then started laughing harder.
'That's my girl,' Hermione beamed at her child. Lily answered by taking her mom's hand.
James had reappeared; he had divested himself of his trunk, owl and trolley, and was evidently bursting with news.
'Teddy's back there,' he said breathlessly, pointing back over his shoulder into the billowing clouds of steam. 'Just seen him! And guess what he's doing? Snogging Victorie!'
He gazed up at the adults, evidently disappointed by the lack of reaction.
'Our Teddy! Teddy Lupin! Snogging our Victorie! Your cousin, Moly! And I asked Teddy what he was doing –'
'You interrupted them?' said Hermione. 'You are so like Ron-' she said loudly. 'Because he is Jamie's godfather,' Hermione smirked at Harry's surprised-amused look.
'—and he said he'd come to see her off! And then he told me to go away. He's snogging her!' James added, as though worried he had not made himself clear.
'Did you see my brother and Fluer?' Ron asked. Jamie nodded no.
'Oh, it would be lovely if they got married! Whispered Lily ecstatically. 'Teddy would be part of your family as well then!'
'He already comes round for dinner about four times a week, he is part of both families already,' said Harry. 'Why don't we just invite him to live with us and have done with it?'
'Yeah!' said James enthusiastically. 'I don't mind sharing with Sirius—Teddy could have my room.!'
'No,' said Harry firmly, 'you and Sirius will share a room only when I want the house demolished.' Hermione nodded at her husband's words. Lily chuckled. Harry checked the battered, old watch that had once been Fambian Pretwett's.
'It's nearly eleven, you'd better get on board.'
'Don't forget to give to Neville our love!' Hermione told James as she hugged him.
'Mum, I can't give a Professor love!'
'But you know Neville—'
James rolled his eyes.
'Outside yeah, but at school he's Professor Longbottom, isn't he? I can't walk into Herbology and give him love…'
Shaking his head at his mother's foolishness, he vented his feelings by aiming a kick at Sirius.
'See you later, Siry. Watch out for the Thestrals.'
'I thought they were invisible? You said they were invisible!'
But James merely laughed, permitted his mother to kiss him, gave his father a fleeting hug, then leapt on to the rapidly filling train. They saw him wave, then sprint away up the corridor to find his friends.
'Thestrals are nothing to worry about,' Harry told Sirius. 'They're gentle things, there's nothing scary about them. Anyway, you won't be going up to school in the carriages, you'll be going in the boats.'
Hermione kissed Sirius goodbye. 'See you at Christmas. Be careful with your owl, give attention to your classes, library is full of books which will be helpful, don't eat nothing from Fred Weasley's candies, they might be from his father's shop.'
'Bye, Sirius,' said Harry, as his son hugged him. 'Don't forget Hagrid's invited you to tea next Friday. Don't mess with Peeves. Don't duel anyone 'til you've learned how.' Hermione gave at Harry a warning look, ' And don't let James wind you up.'
'What if I'm in Slytherin?'
The whisper was for his father alone, and Harry knew that only the moment of departure could have forced Sirius to reveal how great and sincere that fear was.
Harry crouched down so that Sirius' face was slightly above his own. Alone of Harry's three children, Sirius had inherited Lily's eyes.
Sirius Severus,' Harry said quietly, so that nobody but Hermione could her, and she was tactful enough to pretend to be waiving to Moly in the train, 'You were named for two very brave men. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew.'
'But just say—'
'—then Slytherin house will have gained an excellent student, won't it? It doesn't matter to us, Sirius. But if it matters to you, you'll be able to choose Gryffindor over Slytherin. The Sorting Hat takes your choice into account.'
'It did it for me,' said Harry smiling.
He had never told any of his children that before, and he saw the wonder in Sirius' face when he said it. But now the doors were slamming all along the scarlet train, and the blurred outlines of parents were swarming forwards for final kisses, last-minute reminders. Sirius jumped into the carriage and Hermione closed the door behind him and blow a kiss to her son from afar. Students were hanging from the windows nearest them. A great number of faces, both on the train and off, seemed to be towards Harry.
'Why are they all staring?' demanded Sirius, as he and Moly craned round to look at the other students.
'Don't let it worry you,' said Ron. 'It's me. I'm extremely famous.'
Sirius, Moly, Arthur and Lily laughed. The train began to move, and Harry walked alongside it, watching his son's thin face, already ablaze with excitement. Harry kept smiling, and waving, even thought it was like a little bereavement, watching his son glide away from him…
The last trace of steam evaporated in the autumn air. The train rounded a corner. Harry's hand was still raised in farewell.
'He'll be all right,' murmured Hermione.
As Harry looked at her, he lowered his hand absent-mindedly and touched the lightening scar on his forehead.
'I know he will.'
Lily took Hermione's hand and shook it. 'Mom, aunt Luna will go to Diagon Aley with Arthur, can we go with them?' the girl asked.
'Lily, I have to return to the Hospital, and your dad has to go with uncle Ron back to the Ministry. You know; evil wizards are not resting. Your grandparents are waiting for you.' Hermione said and her daughter's eyes filled with tears. Harry looked at the little Hermione's version and lifted her in his hands.
'Actually, for the first time, your mom is wrong. We both are heads of our departments, so we can take the day off and go and buy for this little witch, a beautiful cat…' Harry said to Hermione, Lily screamed happily and hugged her father, she then stopped and looked at her mother's reaction.
Hermione was thinking of it for a few moments, looking at her husband and daughter. She finally smile, 'I think we all need a break, Flourish and Blots has new books as I read in the Prophet.' She said and Lily hugged her also from Harry's hands. She then left them and ran to Ron and Luna. Harry hugged Hermione and they started moving, Harry touched his scar again, that scar gave and took from him many things. But it never pained him again. His life was finally in harmony.