Chapter Twenty-Six:

Seventh Year

The last few weeks of Hogwarts life hadn't been pleasant. Currently Harry was slouching in a chair trying to catch a few rare rays of sunshine, thinking back to everything that had seemingly gone wrong the past weeks. It was a relief to be home and out of that environment. With his friends in Slytherin gone, the leaders aka future Death Eaters (if they weren't already) had openly turned on him. They would glare, taunt, and have an overall aura of threat looming over anyone who was unfortunate enough to be the object of their attention.

Losing his best friend had been the most impactful to deal with; he could discuss everything with Regulus, their differences in House, background and even blood fell away when they talked, joked or heavily debated. Their friendship ran deep, even though it wasn't on display like James and Sirius' friendship had been. Never in a million years had he thought that Regulus would, seemingly, give it up so easily to become a Death Eater. True, he thought he was making a difference in the Slytherin's life, perhaps playing a part to prevent him from becoming a Death Eater. Well, that turned out to be quite a disappointment… The other Slytherins had won, in the end.

But the drastically changing atmosphere at Hogwarts was only reflecting what was happening in wizarding society. When Harry accompanied Lily on a trip to Diagon Alley, he had been shocked at how different it was. There were no people happily shopping, or taking their time at the stores, or doting on their children and treating them to ice cream. Instead, people were hurried, hesitant to chat with an acquaintance they met, keeping their faces pointed toward the ground, avoiding other people's eyes. Harry had gaped at the difference and Lily looked solemn, confessing that it had been like this since the increased Muggle murders in the spring, and especially after a wizarding family was killed…

The air of war, insecurity and distrustfulness was seeping through and affecting the normal witch and wizard. James explained that the Order was more thoroughly informed about things than the Ministry, and could put it to good use. However, they didn't have inside information on Voldemort, like the Dark Lord had on the Ministry. He had spies in almost every department and molded his strategies according to the information he received. The Order couldn't get such info on Voldemort, which put them at a disadvantage. They never knew first-hand what Voldemort was after, though Dumbledore's predictions and ideas turned out extremely useful. Harry asked about the possibility if he could join. Surprisingly, James didn't go into protective-mode and forbade him, but expressed that Harry wasn't yet of age nor was he out of Hogwarts.

Harry also confessed what happened with Regulus, at which his brother looked solemn.

"Hearing that a friendship like yours can be broken so easily, I shudder to think what kind of hold Voldemort has over his followers," was what his brother had said.

Harry couldn't agree more.

While the war was taking on a serious note, there was also someone else occupying his mind. Sirius. The Marauder had dropped by to pick up James for training, during which they exchanged a quick hello. After training Sirius stayed for dinner and, naturally, the main topic was the war. James and Sirius were in a heated debate over strategies, and Lily being a sound voice of reason every now and then, and Harry asking questions so he could get a better picture of where they stood at the moment. Yes, he'd already fought a war, but despite having the same enemy this war was different, and he needed to know the facts. Judging by Lily's warning glances, James and Sirius often relayed Order information when telling Harry things.

A year of Auror training had certainly had its affects. He could see the changes in both Marauders; though in Sirius more than in James. His brother had already shown the potential of who he could become the year before, how he could be kind, honorable and thought-out in different situations, never losing his ability to see the humor in something.

Sirius, on the other hand, continued acting as he had all those years before; not very serious, focused on himself and with a certain drive for attention, albeit less spiteful and more sober. Last summer especially, Harry had come to know him beyond the superficial layer, and saw that there was much more to the man than he let on. He saw qualities that interested him, that put Sirius in a different light. When he started Auror training it seemed like he might finally live up to his age, which showed during Christmas. It was difficult to describe, but he had a different air, more confident but not having to show it to everyone else, weighing options instead of having his immediate judgment ready, and being more thoughtful of how his actions influenced others. Auror training, James' newfound maturity, and perhaps even Lily, had had their influence.

But there was more than just Sirius growing into his manhood, it was also the attractiveness that rolled off him in waves. But most of all, it was that kiss… It had felt as though there was no other place in the world Harry should be, then right there, kissing Sirius. He had felt something coming truly alive, it had felt like heaven, and he couldn't get it out of his mind. And these things combined, had Harry falling for the man. Somehow, it didn't even bother him that Sirius was his friend, or that he'd known him for so long, or even that the man had been his Godfather before. This was different. Harry found him attractive on the outside (naturally, with looks like his) but also on the inside, now that he'd seen this true part of him. And he wanted to get to know him better.

So, he searched for a time he could get Sirius on his own, to set things straight. He knew where he stood, after all, but he had no idea where Sirius stood.

His lucky day came near the end of July, when James and Lily were out working in the garden (yes, the Muggle way) while Harry was upstairs. He heard the Floo lightening up, and he recognized Sirius' voice in the garden and, his ears concentrated to pick up the sounds, he heard Sirius' footsteps re-entering the house. A mischievous smile made its way onto his face, making him look uncannily like James, and he rushed downstairs.

"Hey Sirius," Harry said breathlessly as he barged into the living room.

Sirius looked caught off guard when Harry entered, "Hey Harry," he said, his eyes flickering towards the garden and back, "How's it going."

"Fine," Harry answered steadily, noting Sirius' fidgety behavior, as though he felt uncomfortable being near Harry. Or was that part of the weird behavior he'd been having the whole of last year?

"And yourself?"

"Oh, you know, I manage," Sirius smiled a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.

"I'd better be getting back out-"

But as he made a step forward to pass Harry, Harry took a step to the left so he couldn't pass.

"Why have you been avoiding me?"

If the question weren't so serious, Sirius' 'dear caught in headlights' look would have been funny.

"Er, what do you mean? Why would I avoid you?"

"I dunno, you tell me. Does it have anything to do with last Christmas?"

Both were sizing the other up as Harry waited for Sirius' reply.

"Look, if you're angry about that, I'm sorry, it just…"

"I'm not angry about it," Harry said quickly.

"Alright," Sirius said slowly, observing Harry.

"Not at all," he emphasized, locking eyes with Sirius, trying to convey his feelings. Those sapphire eyes were so beautiful and filled with many emotions, emotions Harry couldn't fathom but which he wanted to be able to fathom. He wanted to have an intimate enough relationship so that he could read the man standing in front of him with just a look. Sirius didn't break eye-contact. It was a déjà vu moment, bringing them both back to last Christmas. Suddenly, Sirius' eyes widened and he took a step back.

"Look, we can't do this!" Sirius exclaimed and he put distance between them.

"And why not?" Harry huffed, equally annoyed.

"Cause- Because, you're James' brother," Sirius finished lamely.

Harry raised an eyebrow.

Sirius nervously wracked a hand through his hair, "Fine, you know what? I think that kiss was amazing, and… I've been thinking about you a lot, OK? But seriously," he waved his hand between them, "look at us, we're too different!"

"That isn't a bad thing, though," Harry replied, hurt. His spirits had soared when Sirius admitted about liking the kiss and thinking about him too, but the rest of his sentence made his heart sink.

"No, but you're just, you deserve better! You're kind, humble, compasionate and righteous, everything that is good, and me?"

"I'm not all that!" Harry exclaimed, taken by surprise that Sirius thought so highly of him, "What makes you think that?"

"Everyone who knows you would say the same," he said simply.

"I don't think so," Harry repeated, "Did James put those ideas into your head?"

"He's said it too, but he's not the only one."

"Well, even if that's true, he doesn't control my life and who I want in it," Harry mumbled, blushing slightly, "And I think you undervalue yourself."

From all Sirius said, it seemed the most desired Marauder wasn't as self-confident as he let on. Harry was pretty sure there were only a select few who knew this side of Sirius, and if said Marauder hadn't felt so exposed in his feelings, he wouldn't have shown Harry either. This more vulnerable human side to the roguishly handsome and exceptionally charming young man only made Harry feel more attracted.

Sirius just looked at him, and Harry carefully took a step towards him. He didn't move.

"You're the most loyal person I've ever met, your friends mean everything to you, and once you've got a goal you won't let anything stand in your way. You're brave and funny, and since Auror Training started, I've seen the man who you'll become shining through," Harry mumbled, as he closed the remaining distance between them.

"I'm not all that," Sirius replied embarrassedly, repeating Harry's earlier words.

"And I'll tell you, I haven't been able to get that kiss out of my mind, either," Harry confessed softly, and he saw Sirius' eyes light up.

The Marauder looked contemplatively at him, before taking a small step closer and said, "Oh really?". Harry shivered at the low seductive tone, which Sirius probably hadn't even done on purpose. It was no mystery why all those people had fallen prey to the handsome Marauder.

"Uh-huh," Harry replied, almost shyly.

"But we can't do this," the Marauder continued in his seductive tone, his actions contradicting his words and he leaned down towards Harry, his eyes captivated by the sight of the younger man.

Harry smirked and with a playful tone he said, "Perhaps. But where's the fun in abiding the rules?"

Sirius' eye shone in amusement and desire as he carefully wrapped his arms around Harry's waist. He did it carefully, as if he were hesitant, and gave Harry all the room to avert his advances. Harry appreciated the gesture, and it showed him once more just how much Sirius was changing.

"Touché."

Harry's heart skipped another beat and the corners of his mouth curled. Sirius slowly bent down and Harry tilted his head upward. Sirius' eyes broke eye contact and they looked down at Harry's lips, and Harry closed his eyes. When he felt Sirius' lips touch his his body went numb, all he could focus on was the kiss, how sensual those lips felt against his, how this felt as where he was meant to be. Sirius took his lip and sucked on it, and Harry moved closer, entranced by the kiss. He parted his mouth and Sirius' tongue entered.

He didn't know how long the kiss lasted, but it had been long enough to dazzle him where he stood. When they broke apart Sirius had his eyes closed and there was a small genuine, serene smile on his face, which in turn made Harry smile.

"Just one thing," he said softly.

Sirius curiously opened his eyes, "What is it?"

Harry was hesitant. Would Sirius reject him for this?

"I don't want to go all the way already, I'm not that type, so…" Harry broke off, not sure how to phrase what he wanted to say and not scare Sirius off.

Sirius smiled softly and he tucked a strand of hair behind Harry's ear. A part of him melted at the caring gesture.

"Harry, I've done that type of relationship enough by now. I want to do it differently with you, to have a real relationship. I've learned that this past year. I don't want you just for sex."

Harry smiled softly, relief spreading through him.

"Really?"

Sirius started grinning as well, "Yes, why d'you think I've been avoided you? I didn't think I'd ever have a chance, but I couldn't imagine anyone else who I'd want that with…"

Sirius finished slightly awkwardly and Harry realized that, for someone like Sirius, he was opening up a lot. He smiled, though cheering on the inside, and remedied the awkwardness in typical Sirius-fashion,

"So you do admit you've been avoiding me."

A sparkle flashed across Sirius' eyes and he smirked, and Harry knew he was victorious in his action.

"Alright… With a heavy heart, this Marauder admits, that indeed, I've been… avoiding you."

Harry laughed and Sirius enjoyed watching him. They grinned at each other and Sirius reached out to put his hands on either side of Harry's waste, needing to touch him.

Then, his grin faltered.

"What's wrong?" Harry asked concernedly.

"James is going to kill me."

XXXXX

Sirius wasn't altogether wrong, for when James found out he did look particularly murderous. He walked in not long after that particular scene to look for Sirius, because he'd been gone for so long already. Looking back, Harry decided that with his luck, he should be happy James didn't barge in again while they were kissing. He wasn't pleased when he found out, but Harry refused to let him behave the same as he had with Robert, and Lily sided with him. Poor Sirius was caught in the middle, in between his best friend and his new boyfriend. In the end, James accepted it, though the look he sent Sirius was plain for everyone – if you hurt him, you have me to deal with. And Sirius knew better than anyone what that consequence meant. Sirius gulped and pulled off a weak smile.

Summer couldn't have taken a better turn, and Sirius was often found at Godric's Hallow, most often around meal times (typical). James would send him a suspicious glance every now and then, but Sirius took it in strid, not allowing himself to be bothered by it and instead proving that his intentions with Harry were different. The old Sirius who was at ease in every situation, with his air of effortless elegance and roguishness, was back, now that he finally got the guy he'd been crushing on for a year. They spent a lot of time together, talking about everything and nothing, getting to know one another in more depth. They took a trip do Diagon Alley and ate some ice cream (where Harry absentmindedly wiped some ice cream off of Sirius' cheek, and blushed when Sirius thought it was sweet), took a walk to the park in Godric's Hallow, which Harry hadn't seen before, and of course spent some time with Lily and James.

Unfortunately their time together was limited, as both James and Sirius had stuff to do for Auror training and the Order. For the Order they would leave early in the morning to do whatever they needed to do, and sometimes wouldn't come back till late in the evening. Then, they would be tired, and Sirius would give Harry a quick kiss before Flooing back home, and James would head off to bed. Lily knew what they were doing, but refrained from telling Harry. After all, he wasn't in the Order. Yet, he promised himself.

August simply flew by, and suddenly Harry was in his last week of vacation. Sirius came by in the afternoon on his beloved motorbike, which he had acquired in the spring. If Harry had any competition for Sirius' affections, it was that Muggle contraption. Sirius had proudly shown it to Harry in the summer and explained everything about it. James, however, had flat out refused to let Harry on it. Harry had retorted that James didn't control his life, to which his brother naturally had a reply ready, but Lily cut in and therefore probably prevented a quarrel.

"Well, I should get going, I s'pose," Sirius said and stood up from the table. It was a late in an August evening, and September first was quickly approaching.

"Yea, we've got a busy day at the office tomorrow, what with Crouch pushing all those new requirements through."

"As if Auror training wasn't pain in the arse enough already," Sirius agreed, and helped Lily float the dirty dishes into the kitchen.

"I'm glad he's doing this with the war going on," Harry commented, carrying the last few dishes into the kitchen, and joining the other three "I don't want either of you injured because you weren't well enough prepared."

"Very comforting Har, that you wouldn't mind us injured if it were due to other reasons," James teased. Harry stuck out his tongue.

"Lily, thanks for dinner," Sirius said, giving her a hug, "Prongs," they shared a one-armed hug, "Harry," Sirius cast a fleeting look in James' direction, who was also in the kitchen. Despite having given a half consent, James was uncomfortable when they touched intimately or kissed in his presence.

"I'll walk you out," Harry quickly said, and followed Sirius out the kitchen door into the backyard, and to the motorbike.

"I wish you didn't have to leave already," Harry said wistfully.

"Yea, me neither. Time with you always goes by too fast," Sirius smiled and Harry smiled back.

"You'll be coming by again this week?"

"Definitely. Want to spend as much time with you as possible, before you go back to Hogwarts Sunday."

Harry made a face, "I never thought I wouldn't want to go back to Hogwarts."

Sirius laughed, and he wrapped his arms around Harry's waist, "If it were up to me, I'd be keeping you right here. Who knows who you might meet at school."

Harry swatted his arms, "No-one I'll like more than you, that's for sure."

Sirius grinned and kissed him.

"We'll write, and there's always Hogsmeade weekends," he said, "Unless you'd rather spend them with your friends than seeing that dog of a boyfriend of yours?"

"Huh, good question," Harry said, pretending to look thoughtful, "Mm, I s'pose with NEWTs, I should use those weekends to spend some quality time with my friends, so…" Harry trailed off thoughtfully.

Sirius' face fell.

"I'm joking!" Harry laughed, and wrapped his arms around his boyfriend's neck in a tight hug, "I'd love to meet up during Hogsmeade weekends."

Sirius grinned and Harry leaned forward to kiss him. Sirius' arms tightened around his waist and Harry pulled him even closer, playing with the strands of Sirius' shoulder length hair, and moaned when Sirius deepened the kiss. He almost moaned again, though this time in disappointment, when they broke apart. Sirius' arms were still wrapped around his waist, and his own were still around his neck.

"I'm going to miss this," Sirius mumbled.

"Me too," Harry confessed.

Sirius smiled sadly, and he tightened his arms around Harry's waist.

They stood in comfortable silence, enjoying and soaking up one another's presence.

"I should get going."

"Alright," Harry said, unable to hide his disappointment.

Sirius grinned at it and gave him a last quick kiss.

"See you later," he said.

"Yes, see you," Harry replied and took a step back as Sirius climbed onto his motorbike and gave it a tap with his wand, making the engine come alive. Sirius gave a wave and then he was off. With a sigh, Harry went back into the house.

James and Lily's P.O.V.

"What's taking so long?" James grumbled moodily as he reached for another plate to dry off the Muggle way, "It's only saying goodnight."

"Oh James," Lily sighed, washing another plate, "Don't you remember how long we took to say goodnight in the Head Dorms? And we were in the next room!"

"But that's different," he said stubbornly, sneaking a glance out of the window to see what was going on.

"How so?"

"We were meant to be," he said, in a tone that made clear he still had his doubts about his best friend and little brother together.

Lily cast him a look, "That's mean James, I think Sirius and Harry are good together."

"I didn't say they don't look good together!" He replied indignantly.

"Then what is it?"

"It's just," he sighed, "They're so different, in everything. How they act or deal with stuff. You know about Sirius', err, nightly activities the last year, and Harry's not that wild, they will clash eventually."

"Mm, I don't know. Sirius is serious about Harry, and I've suspected…"

"Suspected what?" James asked curiously.

"Well, I think Sirius has fancied Harry for a longer time, and I've wondered if he went with all those other people, to forget about Harry."

"Mm," James hummed thoughtfully, and glanced out the window again.

"If that hand moves even lower," he growled, and Lily followed his line of vision.

"For goodness sake James, Sirius' hand is only on his lower back!"

James muttered something under his breath.

"I'm serious, you need to let Harry lead his own life. Don't you trust him with your best friend?"

"Yes, I do," James replied immediately, "That's why I haven't been an ass to him – don't laugh, I know I did it on purpose with that other kid – I know Sirius can protect him and he's really loyal and he knows how lucky he is to have Harry. It's just," he hesitated, "he's used to a whole different type of relationship. Meet 'em, screw 'em and leave 'em. I know his intentions with Harry are different, I don't doubt it, but how long will they last? I mean, Harry's going back to Hogwarts, so they can't really build a relationship until Harry graduates, and that's a year away. Do you think Sirius will last that long? I don't want him to pressure Harry into doing anything he's not ready for. I just don't know what to expect, OK? And I don't want Harry to end up hurt."

Lily contemplated him, "I know what you're talking about. I suppose we'll just have to trust on the fact that, like you said, Sirius knows how lucky he is to be with Harry."

The opening of the kitchen door abruptly cut their conversation and Harry entered, looking windswept.

"Hey," he said breathlessly.

"Hey," they both said softly.

Harry, realizing he had intruded on something, quickly left the kitchen and flopped down onto the couch, sighing contently.

XXXXX

September first arrived, and with it Harry's departure to Hogwarts. James, Lily, and Sirius had all come to say goodbye.

"Take care of yourself Harry," Lily said affectionately as she bent forward for a hug, "You'll be a wonderful Head Boy, and concentrate on your NEWTs, they're important."

"I'm sure if you hadn't said it, Lils, he would have completely forgotten about those," James rolled his eyes, but his grin betrayed him.

"Oh, well," she grinned, and Harry grinned back.

"Thanks Lily, and thanks for everything this summer."

"Oh, there's no need for thanks!" she admonished, "We're family! Besides, you've been such a great help with everything, sometimes I wish James were more like you in that respect," she sighed and Harry snickered, Sirius laughed, and James looked guilty.

"James," Harry said and enveloped his brother in a tight hug. Despite those occasional disagreements, James meant the world to him and he knew the feeling was mutual.

"I'm gonna miss you so much," James mumbled.

"I you too," Harry returned, before breaking the hug, "Just one more year, then we won't have to do this anymore," he said.

James laughed, "Make sure you enjoy it, though, and don't worry about us," he ruffled Harry's hair like he used to, and with a cry Harry backed away and tried to tame it once again.

"What are you laughing about," he mumbled as Sirius laughed his bark-like laugh and grinned down at him.

"And I suppose I will miss you too, you mutt," Harry pouted, and they moved forward to hug. Sirius turned his head toward Harry and he reacted automatically to meet Sirius' lips. They shared a slow, passionate kiss that both engraved into their memory for the following months. All too soon they broke apart and Harry glanced at James, who was pointedly looking into another direction. He caught Sirius' eye and they shared a smirk.

"Ready?" His brother asked airily.

"Jep," Harry replied. He got out his wand, levitated his trunk, and moved it onto the train. As he struggled through the crowds he noticed many eyes on him and some people were whispering. It confused him and he wondered why, when he saw someone pointing from him to Sirius, and he realized why. Even after graduation, Sirius Black kept a starring role in Hogwarts' gossip.

The train whistle blew and Harry hopped on, while spotting Noah and a few other Gryffindor Seventh Years a few compartments away. He'd join them after giving the Prefects their instructions, as was his new job as Head Boy. The train started to ride and Harry turned around and waved, taking in his brother's, his boyfriend's and Lily smiles as they waved back. The train pulled away from the Platform, and Harry turned towards the Prefect Compartment, ready for his final year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

XXXXXX

That Sirius and Harry were seen kissing on Platform 9¾ somehow spread through the school lie a wildfire. Within days he was the target of many jealous looks, glares, and pitying glances. He latter might seem odd, but Harry knew why some felt sorry for him. He too, knew about Sirius' reputation of course. When Harry walked into Potions class – somehow – his eyes immediately locked with Regulus', who looked at him with wide, disbelieving eyes, while Jugson and McTavish were snorting in superior fashion.

Quidditch started up, and Harry followed in the tradition of Quidditch Captains who mercilessly trained their team just so they could finish their Hogwarts career with a bang. Slytherin got some new players, and was rumored to have an extremely good chance at winning the cup. Huffelpuff was still a minor competition, and Ravenclaw was a good challenge. Not threatening, Harry believed, but would offer an interesting match.

However, the two-split in the student body was evermore recognizable – mainly the Slytherins against the rest of the school. Harry remembered Reg telling him that Slytherins stuck together, protecting their own. Even those who didn't aspire to follow Voldemort, still followed their house out of loyalty, and probably as well because of that sense of self-preservation. No one wanted to rub the Death Eaters in their House wrongly, who knew what consequences that could have.

Meanwhile, aside from continuing to be an excellent student, Harry decided it was time for some more extra-curricular study. However, this time it weren't spells which interested him, it was history. More precisely, his mother, Caroline's history. The comment McTavish made last year stung him more than he cared to admit. For all Merlin knows, you could be the bastard son of some worthless vagabond Muggle! Was what McTavish had said. Harry snorted. How ironic. In his previous life he would have done anything know his parents like he did now, and in his current life, he was becoming more and more desperate to know about his parents once more. Apparently, no matter what Time he was in, he'd always find himself in the same situation.

The downside, he had no idea where to start. He didn't even know much about Caroline, how could he find out who her lover had been? He didn't know where she lived or worked before she had him, or if she liked to go out and potentially met his father there, or if he were even the consequence of a relationship or a one-night stand.

He literally hit his head against the table when he realized, he had absolutely nothing to go on.

Considering the memories he had seen so long ago, about a young Harry Potter and his mother before she was murdered, Caroline would have been around twenty when she had him, and before his birth she had already disappeared. Charlus and Dorea could have told him something about her life before she disappeared, but obviously, he was unable to ask them.

However, he might be able to find information in the ministry records, and from people who knew her. Hence the first book he got from the library was a class book from her year of graduation, and he hoped he would find some of her friends in there, who might be able to tell him more. Therefore, on a rainy October evening, Harry found himself in the library once more, pouring over pictures from his mother's seventh year, trying to detect people that reoccurred in photographs with her.

"Potter, back in the library again?" A taunting voice said, but Harry ignored it.

"Not much to say this time? That's a relief."

Harry still ignored him.

"Hey!" Harry cried out, when his book was snatched from him.

"Give that back!" He stood up, immensely irritated, and faced Jugson as the latter looked at the book in surprise, before a scheming look crossed his face.

"Reading about dear sweet Mummy, are we, Potter?"

"It's none of your business what I read," he replied and grabbed the book back.

"Careful, Potter, your stubbornness may cost you."

"What's going on here?" A high-pitched voice entered the fray, and both Harry and Jugson looked at her in surprise, as the moody librarian approached them.

"We were having a friendly conversation ma'm, nothing more," Jugson's lips curled.

"Well this remains a library, keep your voices down!" she hissed, and left.

"So, where were we? Ah, yes," Jugson said, "I was about to make a preposition."

"I don't think so, you were about to leave, that sounds more like it."

"I think you'd rather listen to what I have to say, Potter."

"And what makes you think I'll listen to whatever crap comes out of your mouth?"

"Cause we both know that idiotic Gryffindor curiosity will overrule," Jugson smirked.

Harry surveyed the Slytherin, and he got the foreboding feeling that this had something to do with his unknown father.

"Spit it out then, I haven't got all night," Harry crossed his arms, and Jugson's smirk grew even larger.

"No one knows who your father is, which likely makes you a bastard child, Potter. And we both know you can't find out about your disgraceful, unknown parentage by yourself. "

"If you think I'm going to ask your help, you're sorely mistaken," Harry huffed, not showing how much the bastard comment stung him.

"Oh no, not mine. But I know those with the power to find out, and clear all mysteries concerning your heritage."

"And what will they have in return?"

"Ah, so you do have some wits about you. Yes, they would require something from you. Nothing big, just something to compensate their efforts."

Harry wasn't sure if he should trust what Jugson was saying, or if this was a ruse to make Harry do his bidding. Honestly, Harry shook himself awake, the man was a future Death Eater, who Harry had fought himself in his previous life! What was he doing, chatting with him about a preposition?

"Whatever Jugson, I'm out."

He grabbed his book and walked past the Slytherin, when the latter suddenly reached out and grabbed his shoulder, turning him around.

"Such a preposition should not be taken lightly, Potter. My source does not appreciate being rejected, and you will live to regret it should you choose not to accept it!"

Harry furiously slapped his hand away, "I thought this was a preposition, not a threat! You can tell you precious source I don't give a shite what he feels!"

Harry glared at the Slytherin, though he was confused when a flash of fear crossed his eyes at Harry's reply. Harry demonstratively held his book closer, and backed away before almost fleeing the library. Jugson did not follow him; didn't even attempt to. Harry only stopped his sprint when he reached Gryffindor Tower and leaned against the wall next to the Fat Lady.

For some reason, the episode with Jugson freaked him out. He seemed to think he knew someone who could clear up the mystery of Harry's heritage, which he seriously doubted, but it was that spark of fear when Harry rejected his offer that caught him so off guard. What had made Jugson approach him in the first place? And why fear to be rejected? Such a trained Slytherin as him, he should know to cover up his emotions, yet that fear had seeped through. How? Harry shook his head.

"Are you going to come in, dearie, or should I wait up all night?" The Fat Lady asked, and Harry looked sheepishly, realizing she had been waiting for him.

"Er, I'll go in now, thanks for waiting. Aconite."

"Oh it's no problem, not for you," she winked and swung open. Harry blushed as he climbed through the portrait hole.

However, that wasn't the end of the Jugson ordeal. During every class he had with him, somehow, Jugson made eye-contact at least once and gave him a freakishly threatening stare. Even if Harry was trying to ignore him, somehow, he was drawn to glance over every now and then to see if Jugson was still watching him. When he wasn't, Jugson seemed to feel Harry's stare and met it with that deathly look. It was pressuring, suffocating, and he felt scrutinized. He thoroughly did not enjoy being a subject of close attention for Jugson.

However, Quidditch and the letters he exchanged with Sirius and James made up for it. Sirius' letters were unexpectedly attentive, and, as childish as it may sound, Harry's heart gushed at the thought of Sirius missing him. The next Hogsmeade weekend was coming up at the end of October, and as soon as Harry found out the date, Sirius filed for leave that day. His letters with James were a bit more sober, though his brother confessed to keeping an eye on Sirius and, he grudgingly admitted, that he was being a good long-distance boyfriend.

More war news was also filling the Daily Prophet, who were doing a nice job in causing some chaos. They suggested that the Ministry was only cleaning up after Voldemort, ensuring things were kept secret from the Muggles and taking care of the victims and their families. But no actions were taken to infiltrate Voldemort's ranks or to prevent him from gaining more forces, attacking more people, etc. Harry scoffingly put away the paper. They might be right, but it was stupid to print it like this, as it would only cause people to be more afraid and become more divided, making them an easy target.

The last week of October couldn't pass quickly enough for Harry. The reason: this weekend was a Hogsmeade weekend, and he'd finally get to see Sirius again. They agreed to meet up at The Three Broomsticks for lunch, and then to spend the rest of the day together. On that morning when he woke up, he took care to look his best, as opposed to normal when he only thrust on his robes, combed his hair, and brushed his teeth. He walked by himself from Hogwarts to Hogsmeade; most people either went earlier in the morning or right after lunch. He grinned as he entered the town and spotted The Three Broomsticks, and that excited, bubbly feeling welled up in him again.

He pushed open the door and a little bell sounded above him. He spotted Sirius leaning over the bar and chatting with a younger Rosmerta. His eyes glittered and she laughed heartedly. Then Sirius glanced at the door, where Harry still stood, and a full-blown smile appeared on his face. Without another word to Rosmerta he went over to Harry and drew him into a bone-crushing hug.

"I've missed you," he said huskily.

"Missed you too," Harry breathed and drew him into a kiss which Sirius gladly returned. Aware of several eyes on them, Harry gently pushed at Sirius' chest.

"You two make the cutest couple," Rosmerta sighed when they broke apart.

"Thanks, Rosie," Sirius grinned, "We'll take a seat over there," he pointed towards a booth in the back of the pub, which was a bit more secluded than the rest of them.

"You two go ahead, I'll be along in a moment with some menu's," she smiled.

Sirius' hand brushed Harry's before taking it in his larger one, and led him to the booth.

"I'm glad you could come today, it feels like it's been forever since we last saw each other," Harry sighed once they'd settled.

"Me too, but stealth training has been going amazingly well, so Moody was hard-pressed to deny me," Sirius grinned coyly, "Now, how 'bout a proper hello kiss?"

Sirius leaned in before Harry could reply and brushed his lips against Harry's. It didn't take the Marauder long to deepen the kiss and his soft tongue entered Harry's mouth. Harry moaned as Sirius massaged his tongue with his own, and Harry mirrored his movements. His hands were itching to reach up to his boyfriend's hair, but he would have to twist and turn to reach it, so he settled for grabbing Sirius' robes, holding them tightly and pulling the Marauder even closer.

"Here are – oh!"

Harry shot back and was pretty sure he went bright red at being caught in an intimate moment, and was still blushing when he accepted the menu from a Rosmerta who couldn't hide her smirk.

"You don't like kissing in public?" Sirius muttered, but Harry detected a tinge of amusement to his tone.

"Don't mind kissing," Harry mumbled embarrassedly, "More like snogging. That just feels, I dunno, more private I guess."

Sirius hummed and leaned back, putting one arm behind his head, and scanned the menu. Harry, on the other hand, sat straight up and leaned over the table. He absentmindedly twirled a lock of hair around his finger as he looked at the lunches the Three Broomsticks offered.

"See anything you like?" A voice breathed into his ear. Harry got goosebumps as he realized Sirius was just inches away from him.

"All of it looks delicious, I can barely choose a dish."

Sirius smiled amusedly, as though an inside joke was amusing him. Had he missed something?

"I'm going for the grilled chicken. I promise you they serve the best here."

"Do you often eat a warm lunch?" Harry turned in his seat to his boyfriend was leaning back again.

Sirius shrugged, "If I'm eating out, you betya I'll be eating good food. My cooking skills aren't as good as yours, after all," he winked and Harry grinned and leaned back.

"I'm going for the grilled cheese," he decided and he was vaguely aware of the arm that had draped itself across his shoulder almost immediately after he leaned back. Rosmerta came back to take their order, and looked approvingly at their position. Sirius grinned proudly and Harry smiled politely, well aware of her interest in them. They sat almost cuddled up, their hips touching and Sirius' body turned to Harry, with one arm hanging loosely over his shoulders.

They talked quietly, exchanging news they couldn't through a letter. Sirius and James were in their second and final year of Auror training, and it was much heavier in every aspect – physically, mentally, psychologically. After all, with everything they would be facing in this war – duels, torture, mangled bodies perhaps even of friends, death – they needed to act in the same mechanical way to do what needed to be done. Next to this they were also prepared in different aspects of magic and dueling, tracking, among other things.

Meanwhile their food had arrived, and they had to get out of their comfortable positions. It almost felt as if they were back at Godric's Hallow, relaxing on the couch and talking about every little thing. Or snogging. Being pulled back to reality, he noticed quite a larger number of students in the pub now. His eyes found those of a Ravenclaw girl in his year, and she glared jealously at him. Harry quickly bowed his head and concentrated on his food. Seriously? They would still glare at him for dating Sirius? Was the guy still so popular?

They had almost finished their meal when Sirius stiffened. He was suddenly completely focused on his food and went out of his way not to look to his right into the pub. Harry glanced but didn't see anything out of the ordinary.

"What is it?" Harry ventured.

"Huh?" Deep, sapphire blue eyes looked up before glancing away again, "Oh, nothing, it's fine."

"You sure?" Harry asked doubtfully.

"Yes, it is. I just saw Regulus enter," he sighed.

Harry stiffened himself as his eyes sought out the familiar posture of his best friend. Or, former-?

"It's the first time I've seen him since, well, I was at Hogwarts. He doesn't look too good."

Harry bit his lip.

"I'm worried for him."

Sirius glanced him a weary glance before looking at Harry's plate.

"Do you want to get out of here? It's getting pretty chummed up."

"Sure," Harry quickly agreed.

"Wait here, I'll get the bill,"

"Hang on, I have some sickles here," Harry trailed off as he searched his pocket. He heard a chuckle beside him.

"Harry, please. I barely get to see you, at least let me treat you to lunch."

"Alright," Harry said softly and he was sure he had a sloppy grin on his face and Sirius gave him an affectionate smile as he got out of the booth. Sirius made his way towards Madame Rosmerta, and as he approached she already sent him a flirty grin and gave him her undivided attention. Harry wasn't sure whether to feel insulted of amused. Sirius leaned over the counter and chatted while she rang up their bill and Harry could see the pouty smile on her lips and the glint in her eye. He almost felt threatened by her, but as soon as Rosmerta handed Sirius the change he barely paid her anymore attention and instead anxiously made his way back to Harry, and Harry's flipping feelings were soothed. Every part of Sirius face radiated happiness with every step he took closer to Harry, and from the look in his eyes Harry knew Rosmerta was already long forgotten.

"Ready?" He asked breathlessly and held out his hand, which Harry took and climbed out of the booth as well.

There attracted quite a few stared, and as they left the Three Broomsticks, he could have sworn he saw Regulus' disbelieving face watching them.

They spent the rest of the afternoon window shopping, picking up where they left off. Harry told Sirius what had happened between him and Regulus, and Sirius listened with a solemn expression on his face. His reaction was similar to James', but with disappointment for his brother.

"We actually used to get along really well when we were little," Sirius said, "But Regulus was always more impressionable and believed what our parents said."

Harry carefully relayed Reg's opinion that Sirius was too busy caring about himself only, as opposed to living up to the family honor and choosing family above oneself. Sirius chuckled when he heard it.

"It's kind of true, I was in a period when I only looked out for number one. And the Marauders of course. Perhaps if they had been more accepting of who I am I would have cut them some slack. But I always had to be the perfect pureblood heir, and looking at some of the things they've done to me, I wouldn't have chosen their side even if I'd look at it objectively. Besides, if they never chose my side, why should I choose them?"

Both were right. When looking at it from Reg's point of view Harry thought he was right, but when he placed himself in Sirius' shoes Harry could also agree with him. It was interesting that one situation could be looked at so differently, so oppositely, and with a little explanation, one could see reason in both opinions.

"I just hope he can take care of himself. Despite everything, I want him to stay safe and well."

Harry smiled softly and realized they were in the same situation. Just because they'd lost Regulus' friendship, it didn't mean they could stop caring about him.

Near the end of the afternoon they took a detour back to Hogwarts' gates. The trees that surrounded them gave them a nice bit of privacy, and as Sirius' lips crushed on his the entire world around them seemed to disappear, and the only thing Harry as aware of was how good it felt to be with Sirius, to feel his body against his own, to be kissing him.

XXXXXX

The Hogsmeade trip had been the most enjoyable ever, and the cheery and satisfied feeling it gave lasted for a whole week. Harry was again the object of whispering and pointing, and some of his fellow Gryffindors even questioned him about his new boyfriend. Noah was surprised to find out they were dating and, in typical Gryffindor tactlessness, he said he thought it was weird because they were so different, and that he'd never thought Harry would be dating a womanizer like Sirius. When he realized what he'd said, he stuttered an apology, but the damage had been done. It wasn't that Noah had pointed this out, it was true after all. But it made him wonder given Sirius' history, how faithful the Marauder would be, and despite his chivalrous intentions, if he would grow bored of Harry.

November brought the first Quidditch match of the season: Gryffindor versus Slytherin. Harry was happy with how far his team had come, and he anxiously awaited their arrival onto the field. It was weird to think that this would be his last match against Slytherin.

The whistle was blown, and his team mounted their brooms. Because of the new Slytherin players, they tested out their ground first to see what they were capable of. Once they had the measure, it became a heated match to come out as winner. As promised, the Slytherin players were good – but they were arrogant too, which the Chaser noticed quickly enough and used to their advantage. The score remained relatively equal with 60-50 for Gryffindor, but when Harry caught the Snitch it made their victory definite. He received a thundering crowd and he even heard his name being chanted, and he couldn't stop himself from grinning. He'd done it!

The Slytherins took their anger out on him with more sneers and threats. When he was packing his stuff after one of his classes, Jugson bumped into his shoulder and hissed, 'Remember the preposition, Potter'. But he needn't have done it, Harry hadn't forgotton what Jugson said even if he wanted to.

It was very tempting to believe that he could use Jugson to find out about his parentage – but a stroke of common sense was all it took to bring things into perspective, and he decided he wouldn't give Jugson that kind of power.

It was early December when Harry stopped by McGonagall's office to pick up his application forms for St. Mungo's. There were several he had to fill in in order to apply for Healership. The departments Spell Damage and Magical Buggs appealed most to him, and Spell Damage would be very useful during the war. The forms almost took him two hours because of everything they wanted to know, but when he handed them back in to McGonagall he was very excited, and he was glad he'd chosen to be a Healer. Now, he just had to get an amazing set of NEWT results…

Jugson's glaring never ceased, and it came to no surprise to Harry when, while doing some Head Boy duties, Jugson stopped him in the corridor.

"You know, for someone who hates me so much, you sure seek my company a lot," Harry drawled.

Jugson glared, "You seem tense, Potter, maybe you should call your little boyfriend to help you relax a bit. After all, everyone knows Black's partners are all little whores-"

"Rictusempra!"

"Protego!"

Harry glared as his curse was stopped and Jugson smirked.

"Oohh, soft spot there, Potter? Did I accidentally stunt on the truth?"

"You wish, you couldn't even spot the truth if it were standing right in front of you waving."

"You sure? After all, I know how you can find out the truth about your precious daddy."

"I already told you, I'm not interested."

"I'd rethink that if I were you, Potter," Jugson's lack of facial expression was more threatening than his usual smirk or glare.

"Good thing you're not me then," he replied evenly.

"You'll regret not doing this Potter, I promise you you'll regret this so much."

"And what, pray tell, could you possibly do to me?"

A smirk slowly made itself onto Jugson's face and inched closer to Harry in a threatening pose.

"Not to you, Potter. But, perhaps, let me think… There's always that loathsome brother of yours, and his Mudblood wife, your wonderful family. Though, since you're so fond of your whorish boyfriend, that Bloodtraitor would also serve to teach you a lesson."

"And what lesson is that? To fall for your not-so-threatening threats?" Harry snorted.

Jugson's eyes glittered. "No, Potter. Like I said before, my source does not like to be rejected. If you have any brains on you, you'd do well to take the offer. Either that, or your little friends will pay the price."

With a last look, Jugson left, leaving Harry alone in the corridor.

Dun dun duuuun! In return for my late update, I've made this chapter extra long (8504 words, to be exact), and hopefully the next update will come a bit quicker. Did you likey the Sirius romance? –YAY- they're finally together! And James can be so cute, though I don't think Harry always agrees : ).

Your reviews were absolutely AMAZING! Not only did you surpass the 1000 but there were almost 120 reviews, just for the last chapter! It truly humbles me and therefore I'm slightly ashamed of my late update, but I hope you can forgive me and continue with your lovely exhilarating wonderful make-me-grin –like-an-idiot reviews! All feedback/thoughts/ideas are WELCOME!

Little TEASER for next chapter: It's called Once Defied… Perhaps Jugson was more serious about his threat than Harry thought? And I WONDER who's behind these threats Jugson is making?

Cheers,

HarryPotterBlack7