Author's Note: This is a (rather long) one-shot about Harry's birth featuring all the Marauders. I've never really been there during the birth of a child, all I know is the birth scenes from movies - so forgive me if some things sound illogical ;-) English is not my first language, I apologise in advance for any grammatical errors. Feel free to correct me, I'm very grateful if someone takes their time to help me improve my writing.
Everything recognisable belongs to J.K. Rowling.
Written for the September Quill Contest at Hideaway.
Reviews and contructive criticism is very welcome :)
Three Animagi, a Werewolf and a Baby
"Marauders, there is something I need to tell you," James said solemnly, and meaningfully looked around at the little group of friends. He had called them here to spread the wonderful news. Naturally, Sirius already knew but Peter and Remus were still oblivious to the best thing which had ever happened in James's life. He felt excited, like a five-year-old boy who had gotten his first broom for Christmas, like an eleven-year-old boy on his first day at Hogwarts, like a fifteen-year-old stag in his Animagus form for the first time – and much, much better. He knew he would be able to conjure up a whole army of Patronuses in his current state.
"Well, are you going to tell us eventually, Prongs?" Remus asked curiously. Being the observant guy he was, Remus had every so often asked James what was wrong.
'Wrong'. Grinning widely, James thought that there was no word as wrong as 'wrong' to describe what was happening. Well, of course Remus had not been the only one to notice James was acting oddly lately. Sirius had more than once pointed out to him that anyone who did not notice anything had to be blind, deaf and outright dumb. According to him, James was running around with a broad, stupid grin etched on his face and a cheerful mood ready to forgive even Voldemort and Snivellus for their crimes.
"Erm, James, you're still with us?" Remus's voice brought him back to the present. He somewhat impatiently tipped his fingertips together. "If you're going to sit here and grin into the world much longer, then please let me know. There's a full moon tonight I have to attend. I wouldn't want to be late."
Peter, who sat next to Remus on the sofa and was chewing on a licorice wand, nodded fiercely. Sirius was the only one who was not curious at all. Leant back on the sofa with his feet rested on the little table, he watched the whole scene with a look of detached amusement.
"Alright then, guys," James said, bouncing up and down on the armrest of the big armchair in excitement. He grinned widely at his newly married wife, who occupied said armchair. "You want to tell them, love?"
Smiling back at him, Lily placed a hand on his arm. "You go on and tell them."
"Are you sure? Don't you want to spill the great news?" James asked and affectionately kissed her on her forehead.
"I think you should tell them," Lily insisted and leant up to place a light kiss on James's lips.
Remus groaned, Sirius rolled his eyes, and Peter gave up ever finding out about the 'great news', so he decided to focus all his attention on his licorice wand.
"Marauders," James started anew after several more kisses, "we have to tell you something."
"I got that," Remus muttered.
"Something wonderful happened." Husband and wife exchanged a loving glance.
Finally, Lily turned to the other three men (to Remus and Peter in particular) and said, "I'm pregnant."
"You're what?" Remus said incredulously.
"Pregnant," Lily repeated. "It means we're having a child. I'm in fourth month."
Open-mouthed, Peter stared at her belly as if he expected the baby to jump out any moment. Sirius just grinned lazily at his friend's reaction.
"I know what 'pregnant' means," Remus said, gesturing impatiently, "but I can't believe… I just can't believe you're that irresponsible."
It was certainly not the reaction James had expected. Suddenly, the atmosphere, which had so far been that of the confidence of people knowing each other very well, turned strained and several degrees colder.
"Excuse me?" James said disbelievingly.
"You shouldn't…. Lily," Remus turned to her as if hoping she would be more understanding, "Have you thought it through at all what it means? You can't be serious about this."
"Of course she's not serious – I am," Sirius cut in, in an attempt to ease the tensed situation.
"Sirius, this is not funny," Remus snapped at his friend. "Don't you see the…" he paused, obviously searching for another word but 'seriousness'. "…the graveness of the situation?"
"Well, Moony, I haven't really noticed it yet," Sirius said lightly. "The only graveness I see is that James is going to raise the poor kid into another Quidditch-obsessed person."
"Remus, what is your problem?" Lily now addressed him in a serious voice.
Remus rubbed his forehead in exasperation. "Lily, do you mean to tell me that you have never even considered the consequences of it?"
"Stop speaking like that to my wife!" James told Remus in a threatening voice.
"Please, James, calm down," Lily said soothingly. "I can speak for myself. And I'd like to know what Remus is going to say." Her tone was polite but it was formal – too formal for someone who was supposed to be your friend.
"We're at war," Remus said slowly, stressing every word as if he was explaining something very obvious to an ignorant student. "This is not the time to have children. You have responsibilities. You're in the Order, you swore to fight for the greater good."
"When I signed up for the Order, I didn't sign anything that said I mustn't have a child," James said icily. "Besides, what exactly is going to prevent me from fighting for the greater good?"
"James, I'm only worried for you," Remus said but his voice betrayed him: He was not only worried for them, he was also angry at them. "This is dangerous. Voldemort is going to use it against you. He will threaten or kidnap your child to make you do things."
"I will tell you what things I will do if Voldemort only looks at my child," James said, and his voice had risen considerably. "I will kill him, that's what I will do!"
"There, you just said it!" Remus said accusingly, and his voice had risen too. "You put your family before everything else! I'm telling you, Voldemort will exploit that knowledge! You knew it when you joined the Order, you knew it would mean you would have to give up parts of your personal life! You swore to fight for more important things! I can't believe you're so selfish now!"
James jumped up from his place on the armrest; he looked ready to explode and opened his mouth, no doubt in order to let loose a whole tirade of swearwords directed at Remus, but Sirius spoke up first.
"Come off it, Moony. Don't you think you're a bit exaggerating? No one said James and Lily were going to leave the Order."
For the first time Peter, who had even forgotten his licorice wand in the excitement and tension, said something too. "Yes, Remus. I don't really see why they shouldn't have a child."
"There's nothing about 'shouldn't have a child'!" James ranted. "I don't care if Remus agrees or not – he is in no place to make such a decision! Whether we're going to have a child or not is not open to debate! We will have a child, and anyone who doesn't agree – well, shut the fuck off and mind your own business!"
"James, I'm sure Remus didn't mean it like that," Lily tried to placate her husband and be diplomatic.
"Yes, Lily, I did," Remus said coldly. "I meant it exactly like that."
"If you only mention the word 'abortion', I'm going to beat the shit out of you!" James said with a glare ready to kill.
"Okay, guys, don't get yourselves worked up," Sirius said, raising his hands in an appeasing gesture, for once the sensible person, but no one paid him any attention.
"You know, I don't agree with James's choice of words," Lily said coldly, "but I do agree with the general message. I thought that was the point of being in the Order: fighting for the so-called greater good and for a future. But where is a future without children? And what is the greater good worth if it forbids love?"
Remus shook his head in frustration. Both he and James were breathing heavily as if they had just had a real duel. Peter nervously glanced from one to the other. Sirius had his hand on his wand, ready to disarm his two friends if they decided to get into a fight.
"Even if these were safer times for a child, it would still be irresponsible of you," Remus finally said in a barely controlled voice. "You're only twenty years old, you're in no way mature enough to raise a child of your own. You're practically still a child yourself!"
James measured the young man, who had once been one of his very best friends, with cold contempt. He saw the deep worry lines etched in Remus's face, an effect which was accentuated by the many scars. Now that he examined the other man so closely, he could not remember when Remus had laughed for the last time. It seemed like a lifetime ago, at Hogwarts, when they still had been children. The war had changed them so much. All the worry and mistrust… For some reason, James had always assumed nothing could ever come between their friendship. He had foolishly believed things would always stay like they used to be between them. The truth was, the war had changed people. Remus had become this bitter person, unable to find joy in anything anymore. Peter had become a nervous wreck, scared even of his own shadow. Only Sirius had somehow managed to stay the same young and carefree person he had always been. Yes, Sirius had laughed that barking laugh of his when James had confided Lily's pregnancy to him. You – a father? That must be the joke of the century! Congratulations, mate! Oh, I'm so looking forward to seeing you change diapers… Sirius had shared James's and Lily's happiness – why could Remus not grant him this little bit of happiness in such dark times?
Angry and disappointed by his (former) friend's reaction, James shot the next words at him. "And you're an old and bitter man who is jealous because you can never have what we have."
Remus backed away as if James had hit him. Then he turned abruptly and marched out of the room without another word.
"Hey, Moony, wait!" Sirius called after him, jumped up and knocked over the little table in the process. "This is not –" But Remus had already slammed the door shut behind him and did not hear Sirius anymore. Sirius dropped back on the sofa and sighed in frustration. "He's got a point there, Prongs, you are a bit immature sometimes," he told James in a stern voice. "You shouldn't have said that, it was really low."
James furiously glared at his best friend. "So you don't agree with us having a child either? Fine, then leave, now, I never want to –"
"Oh, for heaven's sake, don't freak out again," Sirius said in frustration. "I'm on your side, James. I just…" He sighed again and continued in a quiet voice, "I just want us all to stay friends and all…"
The look of distress on Sirius's face calmed James down again. He knew that friends were the most important thing to Sirius, who had never had a loving family. James had a family of his own now, but to Sirius, the Marauders were his surrogate family.
"Yeah, sorry, Padfoot. I shouldn't have snapped at you," James said somewhat guiltily.
"It's okay, I understand if you're angry at Remus," Sirius said. "But don't worry, he'll eventually get back to his senses. Well…" He stood up and sighed again. "I'm going to look after that stubborn werewolf now. Transformations usually get pretty rough when he's gotten himself all worked up before. Are you coming?"
"No," James said simply.
"I think I'm not coming either," Peter agreed. "He had no right to say such things."
Sirius's shoulders sagged slightly but he did not try to change their mind. "Alright then. See you."
Five months later, the night of the full moon again
Moony and Padfoot were chasing each other over a moonlit field, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, where Remus's secluded house was located. Since the argument when James had told the Marauders of Lily's pregnancy, Padfoot had been the only one to keep Moony's company during the transformations. Sometimes, Padfoot would howl to the moon, missing the old days when they had been four. While in his human shape, Sirius tried to pretend everything was alright. He was the one who made an effort to keep the Marauders together. He tried to get back the good old times, inviting everyone to his birthday and recalling the adventures and pranks they had had together. Fortunately, James and Remus had stopped being hostile to each other but it was not like the 'good old times'. The two were always so formal and could not relax in each other's company anymore. For Sirius, it was a balancing act. He tried to be there for Remus during his transformations, and during the times when he seemed to want to shut himself away from the rest of the world. He tried to be there for James when he was getting his fits of hysteria that something might go wrong and was so over-worried for Lily and their unborn child. He tried to be there for Peter, who could not cope with the war and the pressure on him as a member of the Order of the Phoenix.
But in his Animagus shape, Sirius did not pretend everything was alright. As Padfoot, his emotions were raw, and so he lamented the loss of his pack in a long howl. Moony playfully nudged him against his head, and licked him behind the left ear as a comfort. Strangely, unlike Sirius, Moony seemed to be more cheerful in his wolf form than as a human. When Moony had prodded his nose against Padfoot's several more times, the huge, black dog finally decided that chasing the wolf would be more fun than lamenting. But before he could attack, he saw something that made him stop in his tracks: a white stag was coming towards them.
Tail wagging happily, Padfoot stormed towards the stag, Moony following him on his heels – but then he recognised that it was not really Prongs but just a Patronus.
LILY IS IN LABOUR! The Patronus shouted. SIRIUS, YOU HAVE TO COME!
Not hesitating for a moment, Sirius changed back into his human form – and found himself face to face with a fully grown werewolf. Oh, not good –
But fortunately, Moony was still tame and rather confused by the sudden disappearance of his playmate and its replacement by a human. Sirius could visibly see the change in the wolf. Its fur stood up, and a hungry gleam appeared in the normally gentle yellow eyes. But before the werewolf could fully take over Moony's mind, Sirius had already disapparated.
He landed in front of James's house and banged hard against the door. Half a second later, a thoroughly dishevelled looking James opened him.
"Sirius, she's in labour, she's in labour!" James said breathlessly. "She's screaming and everything's wet and she's twitching and what if something happens to her? Or to the baby?" He seemed close to a mental breakdown.
"Where is she?" Sirius asked urgently. James's hysteria was infectious.
James roughly grabbed his arm and pulled him into the living room, where Lily lay on the floor. She was bathed in sweat, her face contorted in pain, and James was right: Everything was wet. Some sort of liquid was leaking out of Lily, and Sirius almost got sick. He saw all sorts of horror scenarios in his mind. What if the baby was not alright and it came leaking out of Lily just like a bloody mass of mud?
"SIRIUS!" James shook him roughly. "We have to do something!!!"
"Yeah, yeah – but WHAT?!" Sirius darted over to Lily and knelt down in front of her. "Lily, are you alright? Can you hear me? Can you see me?" He lifted his hand in front of her face. "How many fingers do you see?"
"AAAAHHH!!!" Lily screamed and her whole body was in spasm, making Sirius jerk backwards in shock. "AAAAHHH!!!"
James joined in her screams. "OH MERLIN! SIRIUS, DO SOMETHING!"
Sirius thought feverishly. "Water," he finally concluded. "Yes, water. JAMES, GET COLD WATER HERE!"
James did not need to be told twice. He stormed out of the room and came rushing in with a cauldron of water. However, he was running so fast and his arms and hands were shaking so much that he spilled everything over Sirius when he came skipping to a halt in front of him. Sirius gasped when the ice-cold water hit his face. But it did some good: He was able to think clearly again.
"Okay, okay…. Okay. We need to move her. Let's put her on the sofa."
"Alright, good, alright," James said, relieved that there was something they could do.
Sirius grabbed Lily's arms and James grabbed her legs and they tried to lift her up.
"Careful, careful," Sirius whispered breathlessly.
"AAAAHHH!!!" Lily screamed when they had lifted her up several centimetres from the floor.
"LILY!!!" In his shock, James almost let go off her legs. "We need to put her down, Sirius, we're hurting her!"
"No, we need to move her on the sofa!" Sirius argued.
"She's in pain, Sirius, don't you see it!" James shrieked, his face covered in sweat just like Lily's. "What if we hurt the baby! We need to put her down again! PUT HER DOWN!"
So they put the squirming and whimpering Lily down again. Panting, James knelt down next to her, squeezed her hand tightly, and, tears flooding down his cheeks, told her how much he loved her and that she had to hang on.
"St. Mungo's!" Sirius finally had the brilliant solution. "We have to bring her to St. Mungo's Hospital!"
Then the door bell rang loudly. In the desperate hope that it could be someone who could help them, Sirius stormed towards the door and opened it. It was Peter and he looked completely relaxed.
"James told me the baby's coming," he said, smiling widely.
"Yeah, yeah, come in, quick, we need your help!"
Looking somewhat startled by Sirius's jittery behaviour, Peter followed him inside. His face went white when he saw the scene that greeted him: James, weeping, bent over Lily, who was gasping for breath. It looked much like a dying scene.
"What…what…" Peter stuttered, and he looked like he was going to vomit any moment.
"ST. MUNGO'S, JAMES!" Sirius roared and hauled James up from the floor. "She has to go there, they can help her there!"
"Right –" James looked around completely helplessly. "Where is the floo powder?!"
"Next to the chimney, I think," Peter whimpered, trying to avoid looking at Lily.
"Yes – yes –" James said distractedly and grabbed the pot on the chimney, spilling half of the room with the dusty powder.
"James, are you MAD!" Sirius shouted when he had stopped coughing. "Lily is in no condition to make a journey through the chimneys!"
"But how else am I supposed to move her?" James lamented, despair clearly written on his face. "I can't possibly apparate with her."
Lily started a new series of pained screams and James was close to hyperventilating.
"Think, Peter, think!" Sirius shouted at the other man because Sirius was not able to do any more thinking.
And, amazingly, Peter found a rescuing plan: "Dumbledore."
It was so obvious! Sirius could have hit himself for not thinking of Dumbledore earlier. But now was not the time to regret his stupidity. He quickly conjured up a Patronus to send a cry for help to Dumbledore.
A few seconds later, not only Dumbledore but also a team of healers appeared between the three hysterical men and the screaming woman. Suddenly, everything was very easy. The healers had an upholstered and perfectly safe transporting device, in which they laid Lily and sent her through the floo network. The others followed and moments later, they found themselves in the clean and calm entrance hall of St. Mungo's. The healers levitated Lily away on a stretcher. James ran after them, asking worried questions non-stop.
"Will she be alright? Is the baby alive? Will it have diseases because we didn't do anything in time? Will it be handicapped? Will she be able to have another baby or is there any permanent injury she got?"
"Alright, dear." A resolute healer seized James's collar and hauled him aside from Lily and the healers. "You are the father, aren't you?"
"Yeah…" James eyed him with suspicion.
"Drink this." The healer handed him a little capsule with a light blue liquid.
"What is it?" James asked nervously.
"A sedative. The baby will be alright. Your wife will be alright too."
"But how do you know? How do you know it won't be missing an arm or something like that?" James asked frantically.
"Drink it," the healer insisted.
"But I want to be with Lily! I have to be there for her now!" James cried.
"I'm sorry but I think it would be better if you didn't disturb them," the healer said firmly.
"What?! I'm not allowed to be there at my child's birth?!" James shouted incredulously.
"You would only agitate her unnecessarily," the healer said – and that was his final word.
"But I –" James started to protest but Sirius grabbed his cloak and stopped him from running after the healer. "What the –"
"Shh," Sirius said softly. "Don't draw too much attention to us."
"But I have to be there when the baby is born!" James insisted, not lowering his voice the slightest bit.
"Invisibility Cloak," Sirius said simply.
James's lips formed an 'O' and he finally kept his mouth shut.
So, after a floo trip to James's house and another floo trip back to St. Mungo's, the three not-so- adult men sneaked through the floors of St. Mungo's under the Invisibility Cloak.
"Where are they?" James whispered nervously.
"No idea…" Sirius whispered back.
Then, suddenly, in the room to their left a baby screamed.
"It's already there!" James cried, slipped out from under the Invisibility Cloak and burst into the room, shocking the occupants immensely. It was not Lily but Alice and Frank Longbottom. Alice was cradling a crying baby in her arms.
"Oh, I'm sorry, wrong room…. Your baby is there!" James cried delightfully. "Is it a boy or a girl? Oh, it's so cute! What's it called? Oh, I'm so happy for you!" James darted towards Alice, who quickly put the baby out of harm's way, embraced her enthusiastically and kissed her on the cheek. Then he tightly hugged Frank and kissed him too.
"He's really losing it," Sirius muttered when he and Peter followed James into the room.
After they had all congratulated Frank and Alice and had assured them what a cute little baby they had, and after Frank and Alice had explained that it was a boy called Neville and that he had been born yesterday, James finally remembered that they had to go on looking for Lily.
At long last, they found the right room. Still under the Invisibility Cloak, they watched a healer perform painkilling charms on Lily. Another healer encouraged her to keep pushing to make the baby come. Lily groaned from exhaustion and pain. Her eyes were tightly pressed shut because of the exertion, and her face was covered in sweat. Sirius had to hold James very tightly under the Invisibility Cloak to stop him from fainting when there was suddenly blood. Then Lily gave a long scream – and suddenly somebody else screamed too.
The baby was there!
One healer wrapped it in a towel, another cut the umbilical cord. Sirius could not hold James back any longer. He jumped out from under the Invisibility Cloak and leapt towards Lily, the healers and the baby, causing Lily and a few of the healers to scream again – this time with shock at James's sudden appearance.
"Lily, we have a baby!" James said in complete bliss. "It's living, it's alright, you're alright, we have a baby!"
"Yes, we have a baby," Lily whispered and laughed weakly. There were tears on her face from the pain but she looked happy and relieved now.
"Erm, excuse me, but…" one of the healers said awkwardly.
"He's my husband," Lily explained. "He's the father. He has an Invisibility Cloak."
"I'm a father," James said, blinking slowly as if he was drunk. "I'm a father… Sirius, did you hear that? I'm a father! Ha, I can't believe it, I'm a father!"
Feeling somewhat stupid, Sirius and Peter put the Invisibility Cloak down. The healers gasped. "And who are they?"
"He's the godfather," James explained, pointing at Sirius, "and he is the one who helped us when Lily was in labour," he continued, gesturing at Peter.
"I'm a godfather," Sirius said, and then he went on just like James moments before. "Oh Merlin, this is so crazy. Me, a godfather."
The healer with the baby in her arms cleared her throat. "It's a boy."
"A boy," Lily, James, Sirius and Peter echoed in sheer awe, as if it was the most amazing and surprising thing that a baby could be a boy.
"What do you want to call him?" the healer asked, smiling at their reaction.
"Harry," Lily said softly.
"Harry James Potter," James said dreamily, tears in his eyes.
"Well, Harry James Potter, say hello to your Mum," the healer said when she placed the little baby in Lily's arms.
"Oh Harry," Lily whispered, affectionately kissing the little boy on his head. "Hello, little one."
James staggered towards the bed, embraced Lily and buried his face in her red hair, sniffing and sobbing loudly. "Oh Lily, I love you so much. I love you so very, very much. This is the happiest day of my life."
"Shh, it's alright, I love you too," Lily whispered and raised a weak hand to caress James's messy hair.
"It's so bloody stupid, isn't it?" Sirius said to Peter. He quickly wiped his eyes and gave a short, choked laugh. "I mean, why do people cry if they're happy?!" Only once had he seen James cry of happiness before: That had been when Gryffindor had won the Quidditch Cup. But he had finally stopped then. Now, however, James had obviously lost all control.
Then little Harry decided that his parents should pay more attention to him, and started bawling. James backed away from Lily and Harry in shock and stared anxiously at the baby.
"What's wrong with him? Did I hurt him when I embraced you? Why's he crying?"
"Nothing to worry," a healer said in a calming voice. "All little babies cry."
The next hours, the healers explained to James all sort of things you needed to know about babies. Lily and Harry rested, and Peter and Sirius needed some time to relax too. After all, it did not happen every day that you had to help give birth to a child.
In the early morning hours, even James had calmed down. Still with the look of bliss on his face, he sat next to Lily on the bed, held her hand and kept asking her if there was anything he could do for her, like bringing her some food. Both Peter and Sirius had been allowed to hold baby Harry for a moment and they felt extremely proud of it. They all had felt compelled to stay in a room with Lily and Harry to keep guard. If something unexpected happened, someone had to be there, right?
Currently, Harry was sound asleep in Sirius's arms. Smiling affectionately down at Harry, Sirius hardly dared to move, in fear he might wake him up. Sirius could not take his eyes off his godson for a moment. He had never known that babies could be so cute when they were doing nothing more spectacular than sleeping. He did not even realise that all his limbs and bones were aching because of staying on this hard chair in the same position for such a long time.
Suddenly, the door burst open. It was Remus, looking thoroughly anxious. He had not even changed his clothes, or cleaned and healed his wounds after the transformation.
"Am I too late? Where's the baby? Is it already there?" he asked excitedly. He was met with a collective "Shh!"
"Yes, you are too late, Moony," James whispered so as not to wake up Harry. "And it's not an 'it' but a 'he'."
Grinning in relief, Sirius registered the use of the old nickname. He was glad to have all his friends around him again. And his little 'family' had even grown. Grinning even more, Sirius looked down at the 'Mini-Marauder' in his lap. Harry was stirring and his mouth moved slightly.
"A boy?" Remus said in amazement, hardly able to keep his voice a whisper. "What's his name?"
"Harry," James whispered, looking very proud.
"Oh, that's such a sweet name for a baby," Remus whispered in delight, and everyone nodded in agreement. No one really cared that 'Harry' was a most ordinary name. They could not think of a better and sweeter and more fitting name for this baby.
Harry stirred again in Sirius's arms and his eyelids fluttered slightly. "He's waking up," Sirius whispered urgently.
"Oh no, did I wake him up?" Remus whispered guiltily.
But no one was really angry at him for probably waking Harry up. They were much too excited by Harry doing something like waking up. Everyone but Lily, who still had to stay in bed, gathered around Sirius and stared expectantly down at Harry. Everyone gasped when Harry's big, green eyes opened and he sleepily gazed up at the four men staring down at him.
"Hello there, little one," James said affectionately. "Good morning, sleepyhead."
Harry simply blinked. He seemed completely unperturbed with all the attention he was getting.
"Oooh, he has Lily's eyes," Remus said raptly. And then he went on with all those 'Oh, he is so cute' and 'What a sweet baby!' and all the other things everyone had already said a thousand times. James glowed with pride as if it was his achievement alone that Harry was the cutest baby ever.
"Hey, you see this guy with the ugly glasses?" Sirius said and held Harry so he could look at James. "That's your Dad."
James snorted. "Don't start to corrupt him even now."
"He's going to be the most corrupted and spoilt brat in the world, anyway," Lily piped up from the bed. "With all you guys being around all the time. Don't even think of bringing him presents every time you visit us."
"It's going to be great," Sirius promised little Harry. "You can become a little Marauder. We could show you how to become an Animagus..."
"Sirius!" Lily shrieked. "James, there is no way Harry will become an Animagus. It's too dangerous. I already die every time you stay with Remus when he's a werewolf."
"I already told you, it's perfectly safe," James tried to calm her.
"Harry will not –" she started again.
"Alright, alright, of course he will not become an Animagus," James assured her. "No one ever suggested such a thing."
"Sirius did," Lily said accusingly. "And I'm not sure anymore if it was a good decision to make him Harry's godfather."
"Whoa, did you hear that, Harry?" Sirius said indignantly. "They say I'm not a good godfather? Well, who held you all those last hours? You slept perfectly fine in my arms, didn't you?"
Harry just looked up at him unblinkingly, and Sirius was sure – absolutely sure – that there was some gratefulness and confirmation of Sirius's words in the green eyes.
"Well, Harry, let me introduce you to Peter Pettigrew, also known as Wormtail," Sirius continued. "You have already seen him but I don't know if you still remember."
"Of course he remembers," James protested. "My son's not stupid!"
"But he is only a six-hours-old baby," Sirius said but continued quickly, "Anyway, this is Peter, the guy who saved your life – and all our lives too – by remembering to ask Dumbledore for help." He turned Harry to look at Remus. "And this is a werewolf. Pretty scary, huh?" he whispered conspiratorially in Harry's ear. "You should always behave well when Remus is around. Otherwise he's going to eat you."
"Sirius!" Lily shrieked again. "I don't want you to give my son nightmares!"
"Hm, I think Remus has already made quite a frightening first impression on Harry. Bursting into the room just like that and, I mean, look at him: all bloody and dirty and werewolf-looking." Smirking, Sirius turned to Remus, who just rolled his eyes at him. "Would you like to hold Harry for a moment?" Sirius offered generously.
"I would like to very much but I'd rather not do it. I don't really know what I did last night. I don't want Harry to catch any infection."
"That's so considerate of you, Remus," Lily said gratefully.
Sirius scowled at her. "Don't even say it."
"That Remus would make a much better godfather than me."
"Well, I guess he would," Lily said, smirking at Sirius.
"But he couldn't be there for Harry during the full moons," Sirius protested. "I can." Remus gave him a surprised and slightly hurt look. "Oh. On second thought, I can't be there for Harry during the full moons either. Hm, alright, that wasn't a good argument."
"But you can turn into a dog every time you want," Remus offered, smiling genuinely. "I reckon that makes you a very highly qualified godfather."
"Yeah. You see?" Sirius said to Lily, who just shook her head in half amusement, half exasperation. "Can someone else please take Harry now? I think my back is going to break if I have to sit like this any longer."
Naturally, James, Peter and Lily volunteered to do it. After a bit of arguing, they decided that it was Lily's turn again. Later that day, Frank Longbottom dropped in to congratulate them too, and then again came the exclamations of 'Oh, what a cute baby!' and 'Oh dear, look at his eyes – just like his mother's! How sweet!'
By midday, James had fallen asleep from the exhaustion of the last night. He lay in Lily's bed, curled up to her side, and snored loudly. Peter looked much like he would drop from his chair any minute too. Remus, who was currently holding Harry, kept yawning as well. He had cleaned up, and James had bought him the best healing ointment St. Mungo's could offer, then Remus had blushed and thanked him, the two had embraced and muttered stupid apologies, and now everything was fine again.
"Hey, Moony," Sirius whispered. "If you'd like to sleep, you can give Harry to me."
"Aren't you tired too?"
"Yes, but I'm his godfather, remember? So it's my job to be there for Harry if his parents can't." He threw a pointed glance in the direction of the two sleeping figures on the bed.
"Okay." Remus cautiously handed Sirius the sleeping bundle that was Harry.
"How was last night anyway? Sorry for leaving but it really was a case of emergency."
"I don't think I ate anything. I just remember that there was a human who disappeared, and that I was very angry because I didn't get my meal."
"What a pity," Sirius said, chuckling softly, and then he leant back with Harry safely in his arms, and he just relished this perfect moment with all his friends and his favourite little godson around.
Luckily for him, he was oblivious to the fact that all of this would break apart so soon. Peter, a traitor, slave to his own fear and shame. Sirius, sentenced to hell in Azkaban for crimes he had never committed. Remus, a lonely werewolf who would have to spend all the full moons alone. Harry, a lonely boy living in an unloving home so unlike the home he should have had. James and Lily, united in death.
But for now, they were together here as friends, as one big family.
And in the end, they would all die in a fight for the greater good, in a fight for the Boy Who Lived.