Chapter Twenty-Seven:

Once Defied

It was Christmas break, and Harry was back at his already beloved Godric's Hollow. James picked him up at King's Cross and they, along with Lily, had a wonderful 'welcome home' meal at home. Being home again helped Harry to take his mind off of the topic which had preoccupied it during the train ride home, which was Jugson's latest threat.

Until now Harry had brushed off the glares, taunts and threats made by the Slytherin. Before he would have laughed right into his face, but something had changed about Jugson. Some kind of dark, smug aura that told Harry the Slytherin did have a few tricks up his sleeve to back him up. After all, everyone grew up, even more so during war time. And this last threat of his, there had been this glint in his eyes and Harry knew the Slytherin was completely serious about everything he said, instead of his usual childish taunts. He mentioned the source again and the threats, and – not that he hadn't thought of it before – Harry felt a cold wave of realization wash over him. The source was Voldemort. This proposition to help with his father was just a cover-up for what he really wanted, which was Harry to be indebted to the Dark Lord.

For some reason, Jugson was doing this on Voldemort's orders. It explained why the Slytherin was focusing on Harry so much, someone who he hated, why he was trying to lure Harry by offering to help with his father, and why he was blackmailing him by threatening his loved ones. It also explained why he was so persistent (Voldemort might punish him if he failed), and why he'd looked scared when Harry first turned down his offer. Not to mention Harry knew the man would be a Death Eater someday, if he weren't already. The words that Sirius Black from his previous life had spoken, the first night at Grimmauld place came back to him. Voldemort doesn't march up to people's houses and bang on their front doors, Harry… He tricks, jinxes and blackmails them. He's well-practiced at operating in secret…

What did he want with Harry? What had he done now to catch his attention? Alright, he was known as a model student, just like Riddle in his day, and his test results were very good, and he had a large network of friends. But did Voldemort really want – he shuddered – Harry to join him? To be a Death Eater? Somehow, the thought of Voldemort after him because he wanted to convert him was scarier that the thought of him after him because he wanted to kill him.

And using his unknown father as bait was, Harry had to admit, a brilliant streak. Voldemort probably did have the power and the resources to find out, and once he'd done this little favor for him, Harry would have to do something back. And with the use of further blackmail and threats Harry would be delved into a downward spiral and slowly be forced to become a Death Eater himself. Most people would accept this offer, to help identify his father, and Harry knew better and knew not to accept it. Not that it hadn't been tempting sometimes. He wanted to find out his father's identity so bad and he had to remind himself the proposition was only bait. Just like in his previous life when Voldemort used Sirius to get to Harry, and Harry couldn't let himself make the same mistake.

But life at Godric's Hollow was as enjoyable and on-going as usual, rarely ever was there a dull moment. Sirius came the day after and Lily took James shopping somewhere so they could have some time alone. Of course James protested, but Lily won out in the end, and with a triumphant grin, led her husband to the hallway. It took noticeably less effort on her part than Harry expected.

"Well, James has certainly changed since last time," Harry mumbled after Lily had closed the front door on their leave.

"Yes, well, I am his best friend, it has its perks. Sometimes," he grinned mischievously. Then he moved forward and enveloped Harry in an almost suffocating hug, which Harry happily returned. They got some drinks before sitting on the couch, very close, and they drew their feet up to get comfortable. Harry had his hands curled around his goblet and his legs were leaning against Sirius. He was content, just the two of them, and a small, peaceful, smile made its way onto his face.

"Did you have a good end-of-term?" Sirius asked softly as he took a sip of pumpkin juice.

Harry's eyes widened as his mind immediately jumped to Jugson, but he shook his head and said, "It was fine, just teachers reminding us of NEWTs. It's weird how fast this year is flying by."

"Did you hear anything from St. Mungo's yet?"

"It's fine, filled out and sent. I'll probably get a response next year though," Harry took a sip, "McGonagall says I have a good chance at making it through screening."

Sirius smiled happily for him, "I'm sure you will, someone like you," he sighed contently and leaned his head back, "It's already two years ago, but I remember how I felt when I filled in my Auror forms. It was surreal, that a goal, which had uptil then only been a thought, became reality," he said reminiscently.

"And how's that reality treatin' you?" Harry grinned, "Cause you've only got half a year left as well, then you go on assignments."

Sirius' grin dropped slightly, "Well, I can definitely see why it's considered so challenging. We've already got one out of four people who dropped out. But it's not just learning and doing it; it's about making these things your instincts. And often they contradict what your true instincts say, which is very challenging. You get confronted with yourself, and sometimes they break you down so they can build you up again."

"Does it help you to, you know, deal with things? Like your family?" Harry asked curiously.

"Yes, it does," Sirius said thoughtfully, "But I still want to prove something. I'm very much looking forward to fighting them and their prejudiced disgusting ideals. It feels like I can finally get back at my family for what they did all these years," he finished bitterly.

Harry bit his lip and leaned his head against his boyfriend's shoulder. Sirius relaxed and gently leaned his own head on top of Harry's.

"I wish you hadn't grown up with them. You certainly deserve better."

Sirius gave his bark like laugh and put his arm around Harry's shoulders, and Harry snuggled into the crook of Sirius' neck. He felt safe and content with Sirius like this.

"Maybe fate's making it up to me now by giving me you."

Harry couldn't help the smile that made its way onto his face, and he softly pressed his lips to kiss Sirius' throat.

They sat in silence, feeling happy and at peace just with the other's presence. But Harry couldn't shake off a gnawing feeling and lifted his head to look into his boyfriend's eye, who looked back at him questioningly.

"Sirius, they controlled your life when you were little. But… don't let them control it now. Please don't do anything rash if you meet them. If nothing else, they're still powerful and Dark. I don't want anything to happen to you," he finished softly. He fisted his hands in Sirius' robes.

Sirius licked his lips, and Harry saw several emotions battling in his eyes. Eventually, his desire to please Harry won out. He leaned closer, and covered Harry's cheek with his hand.

"I won't let anything happen to me. I'll take them down before they even realize they weren't winning."

Though this answer didn't satisfy Harry in the least, Sirius, who was leaning closer, was much more tempting. His eyes went from Sirius' to his mouth and he leant closer too. He could smell his boyfriend's cologne, it was too dang tempting, and it only made him want more, get closer. He'd bring the conversation up again some other time, was the last that went through his mind before Sirius closed the space between them.

"It's Christmas mooooorniiiiing! Wakey wakey!"

Harry flew into a sitting position and was already reaching for his wand when he processed the words. He groaned and fell back into his pillow. He checked the time and saw that it was six-thirty in the bloody morning. James had cleverly used a sonorous charm capable of waking the entire household.

Nothing ever changed in a Marauder's house.

Sirius and Peter had slept over at Godric's Hollow thanks to a late Christmas Eve, and Remus was due to arrive somewhere in the morning. Harry grabbed his pillow and stuffed it over his head to try and block out the noise he was sure would be coming into his room at any moment. He knew he wouldn't win, but he wasn't about to get up without a fight. It was bloody six-thirty, and that for a holiday!

Sure enough his bedroom door banged open and footsteps entered, making an impossible amount of noise, even if the person had been Hagrid himself. Someone leaned over him and his bed dipped where the person was leaning. Harry still refused to acknowledge his brother, but his heart was thumping wildly at having the Marauder hovering over him and Harry not being able to defend himself against the prankster. James leaned closer and Harry tensed, and then he whispered,

"Oho, does this mean I get to see your out-of-bed look?"

"SIRIUS!"

Harry shot upward and Sirius narrowly avoided getting hit by him, but he laughed it off. He got up from the bed and Harry, red with embarrassment at finding Sirius in his bedroom while he was all ruffled up, barely awake and pouting at the early time, jumped out of bed. He thanked Merlin that he'd decided to wear pajama pants and a t-shirt last night, at least he was spared the embarrassment of being in only his boxers.

"I say it suits you," Sirius smirked as his eyes went up and down Harry's body, "Then again, your hair always has the out-of-bed look."

"Y-yeah."

Sirius smiled and leaned closer, "Did I say good morning already?"

"N-no, not yet."

"Oh, well then, good morning beautiful," Sirius leaned down and Harry shyly tilted his head upward to meet his boyfriend in a good morning kiss.

"Hey! I'm supposed to wake Harry up!"

They broke apart to see a moody looking James Potter standing the doorway. Immediately Sirius put at least a five-inch distance between them at the sight of him.

"And what are you doing in his bedroom!"

"Terrorizing me, obviously," Harry said and folded his arms, "I demand at least another hour of sleep before I have to face you two weirdos opening presents."

"Ah, well, what a pity," James said cheerfully, "Cause I'm your guardian and I say you have to be downstairs in two minutes."

"I'm of age, you're not my guardian anymore," Harry scowled.

"I'm sure I can coax Harry to come down," Sirius butted into the conversation and slung an arm around Harry shoulders, "I'm irresistible, after all."

Both Potters snorted loudly and Sirius looked offended.

"What? I can't help it that I am! You're a very lucky man Harry," Sirius winked.

James coughed loudly, "I'm still here you know, and I don't need to hear you coming on to my little brother."

"It's working though, aren't you tempted to go downstairs?" Sirius' eyes sparkled with mischief and Harry threw up his arms.

"The only reason I'm going downstairs is so I can escape you two before you drive me completely barmy!"

And with that he fled his room, the ringing of James' and Sirius' laughter following him through the hall.

Remus arrived and Harry nearly clung to him in relief, happy to have the sane Marauder present. He stuck out his tongue at James and Sirius, both of whom looked like they'd rather be the one Harry clung to. Then the opening of the presents began. Harry was amused that James and Sirius could act just as childish as they had the first Christmas Harry had ever spent with them. Despite all the seriousness of war and death and destruction, there was still their youthful spirit that came alive at times like these. Their optimism, their spiritedness, their enthusiasm… even a life in war couldn't diminish those.

"This one is for you," Sirius breathed as he handed Harry a large square box with a note.

Curious, and aware of all the eyes on him, Harry unfolded the note. He couldn't help but grin. Alright, so he knew perfectly well that Sirius wasn't a romantic sap, but couldn't he have made this letter – if it could even be called that – a bit more affectionate?

How about Friday evening? We can take dinner with us.

Harry looked at Sirius who almost giddily motioned for Harry to open the present. Unable to hide a grin himself Harry set to work. The box as completely filled by something round, and Harry reached in and pulled out-

"A helmet?"

"Yes! Now that you have your own helmet we can go for a ride, and as the letter says-"

"Absolutely not!" James cried, "I'm not letting Harry go on that metal roaring thing of yours! It's dangerous!"

"It's not dangerous, I ride it all the time! And you've been on it too," Sirius answered accusingly.

"That was only to distract the Death Eaters! And it's traceable, and Merlin knows where you'll be going."

"First of all," Harry's voice rang out sternly, "I do have a voice, I can speak for myself," he sent a warning glare at his brother, who dared to look back at him, "this is my present and," he smiled shyly at Sirius, "I really like it and it's incredibly thoughtful, so I suppose my Friday night is booked now."

A genuine smile spread across Sirius' face and Harry felt his own heart warm as he returned it.

"Secondly, we know enough charms so Death Eaters can't find us – it's only for a couple of hours, James, we'll survive. And I'm sure my Auror boyfriend can protect me if he needs to. And thirdly," his voice was low and dangerous, "what is this about you two distracting Death Eaters?"

The amused or, in James' case, pursed looks melted into guilty ones.

"James!" Harry cried, "What have you been up to while I'm away? And you, Sirius!"

"Harry… You know there are some things, you can't know," Lily tried, but James interrupted.

"It's OK Lils, it's my fault for bringing it up. I can't mention it and then refuse to elaborate," He took a deep breath, "It's actually quite funny, really. We had to distract three Death Eaters so our colleagues could do their thing, and the DE's were on brooms and we were on Sirius' bike."

"Hypocrite," Harry muttered, but James ignored him.

"At first we were riding on the ground, perfectly normal, mind you-"

"Yea, cause our speed was perfectly normal," Sirius smirked, and the corners of James' mouth curled.

"I told you to go slower, then odd Muggles with the metal wands and the loud err – karts? - wouldn't have tagged along."

"The police?" Harry asked disbelievingly.

Sirius grinned proudly, "Jep, the Muggle police. We met a dead-end and they cornered us – mind you, it was incredibly amusing to watch them maneuver out of their car when the car itself barely fit into the passage."

"They tried to take our names but, of course," James rolled his eyes, "Sirius had to get all smart and started listing random names."

"I thought they were good ones, they were unisex – useable for just about anyone!"

Harry gaped at his boyfriend. Surely not…?

"And then it got even better, cause the Death Eaters finally caught up with us – emphasizing the finally, bunch of snails – and we hexed them, and, well," James shrugged, "the Muggles were stumped, and we flew off."

"One of the things they wanted to charge us on was the lack of helmet, which brings us back to," Sirius pointed to Harry's gleaming helmet, "tadaa!"

James frowned, still unsure. He caught Harry's eye and Harry gave him a soft, confident smile which he weakly returned. Then they continued with the opening of presents. The Marauders and Lily and Harry enjoyed Christmas day together, though Lily and Harry did most of the cooking as Lily didn't trust the Marauders to leave the kitchen intact – with the exception of Remus, of course. Dinner was a rich affair, with the six of them curled around the table with all kinds of delicious food, candles, and merry talk. It was almost as if them formed a family together, which, in a way, they did. However, the thought of family brought back other feelings that he had been able to avoid until now. When dinner was over and people were simmering away from the table, Harry seized his chance.

"Hey James, can I talk to you for a sec?" Harry muttered from the corner of his mouth.

" 'Course," he replied, looking curious, and discreetly followed Harry into the kitchen.

"Is something wrong?" he asked, curiosity seeping through his voice.

"Kind of," Harry confessed, "I don't think I can keep it to myself, I need to tell someone."

"Does it have something to do with Sirius?"

"No, not Sirius," Harry answered, wringing his hands nervously, "Actually, it has to do with Voldemort."

"What's going on?" The strong undertone that suddenly took control in his brother's voice startled Harry, and he looked up to see James' eyes burning with anger, but also worry. "Is he doing something?"

Harry didn't answer immediately. He leant back against the kitchen counter and James mirrored his movements, though leaning at the side and facing Harry. He looked down. "James," Harry took a breath, "I'm just going to go right out with it. I think he's trying to recruit me."

There was a ringing silence in the kitchen, and his brother's face turned expressionless. After a few moments, he finally said something.

"Why do you think that?"

Harry ran a nervous hand through his hair, "It's Jugson! I suspect he's aspiring to be a Death Eater, if he isn't one already. Then a couple of weeks ago, I was doing some research in the library and he offered a source who could help me. I didn't trust him, so I refused, and he got really upset. I got the feeling he was trying to lure me in or something by offering help, but then I'd be indebted to this so-called source. And this month he came to me again, with the same proposition, but this time – well, this time he threatened to hurt you," Harry said, looking apologetic at his brother, who was still as stoic as before.

James didn't say anything for a while, and his face was unreadable, which was new to Harry. When had James ever been expressionless? He supposed it was a part of Auror training, to keep a tight hold on your emotions.

"First of all," James' throat sounded dry, and he moved to stand opposite Harry and put his hands on his shoulders, looking deep into his little brother's eyes, "I don't want you to worry about us. Jugson thinking he can have a go at us is a laugh, and we're capable wizards and witches. We don't fall during the first duel. Jugson threatening you with us is a joke, you're much betterthan he as at, well, everything, and I do not want you to take it seriously. Understand?"

Harry swallowed, "I understand."

"Second of all, you did well to refuse him – you're right, once you're indebted to a Slytherin, or even worse a Death Eater, you don't get out so easily. Continue to refuse him, and it won't be you on the receiving end of Voldemort's wrath for a failed mission."

Personally Harry thought differently, but he held his tongue.

"So I want you to stay away from him. I don't care how you do it, if it means you're surrounded by other people constantly, so be it. But do not give him the opportunity to get you alone again. Alright?"

"Yes," Harry nodded, "So, you think Voldemort wants to convert me too?"

James took a deep breath and retrieved his hands.

"I don't know, I don't know what to think. But it's fishy, and I think it's a good idea not to get more tangled in than you already are."

"But why would Voldemort be interested in me?" Harry asked desperately, "I'm a Gryffindor, a Potter, Light, and I have no idea who my dad is, I'm probably not even Pureblood!" Harry vented his anger, "Why in Merlin's name would I be of interest to him!" He stomped on the floor, not caring how childish it may look.

"Oh Harry," James said affectionately, "You really are innocent, aren't you?"

At Harry's intense glare, James grinned and elaborated.

"You're brave, loyal, determined, resourceful, yet also kind, unbiased, caring and helpful. You stand up for what you believe in and don't back down. But more importantly, you're powerful, charismatic, and intelligent, you're up for any job and there's something about you which just draws people to you. You have friends in every House – well, perhaps not Slytherin anymore – who are loyal to you, admire you and follow your example. Can you imagine what an asset you'd be to Voldemort?"

Harry was still embarrassed about what James was saying, but at the last sentence his head snapped up angrily.

"Really, I'm serious. If you join Voldemort, others will be bound to follow because they look up to you and trust your judgement. It's like you're an icon. If you'd join Voldemort, it would make others wonder if maybe he's not so bad after all, and Voldemort will gain more support, whether it is in an active or passive way. Not to mention he would acquire an extremely capable wizard both on the battlefield and off, can you imagine, with all your Hogwarts relations, what kind of info you could get him? What kind of people you could get in contact with? And your looks don't hurt you, either, they only mirror what you show in your behavior."

Harry pressed his lips together. Although he thought James was pushing it a little, he could see where he was coming from and recognized that, indeed, he was still an important player in the field.

"But I'm not Pureblooded," he said through gritted teeth.

His brother raised his eyebrows, "Perhaps that entire pile of other attributes makes up for it, then," he said dryly, "I doubt all Death Eaters are Purebloods, if so then all the Pureblood Manors would currently be empty. You're still a Halfblood, not matter who your father was. As long as you're not Muggleborn, it's alright."

James frowned slightly, "As a matter of interest, what-"

The kitchen door opened to reveal Lily, carrying a couple of goblets, "Oh here you two are, we were wondering," she smiled, before it dropped slightly as she felt the heavy atmosphere, "Is everything alright?"

Casting him a quick look, James answered, "Actually Lils, could you give us a bit longer? We'll be right out."

"Sure," she smiled before turning around and shutting the door behind her.

"What did you want to ask?" Harry asked softly.

"I was wondering, what is it that Jugson is offering his help with?"

"Oh, oh that. I was trying to find out about my mother," Harry said evenly, looking at the ground. He was surprised when, after a few minutes, James drew him into a hug, but soaked up the comfort. He needed it.

"It's bothering you more, isn't it? You're parents?"

"Yes," He hated how pathetic he sounded as he mumbled it into his brother's robes, but on the other hand, James was right. It was bothering him.

They stood in silence.

"You know I love you just the way you are, right? No matter who your father is could ever change that."

Again, Harry has his doubts – what is his father had been a bad person? – but he didn't want to get into it now.

"I know. Thanks. I really love you too."

They broke apart and James smiled, and Harry thought his eyes were suspiciously moist. He placed a hand on Harry's shoulder.

"I'm sure we can find out who your dad is, Har. Once you're out of Hogwarts it'll be easier to research in different places, and maybe even Dumbledore can help you."

Harry shrugged, "We'll see."

James grinned and moved his arm so it was slung around Harry's shoulders, and led him back into the living room.

"Just remember, you don't need to know your father to know who you are, Harry."

XXXXXX

Sirius made good of his promise to take Harry on his motorbike, much to James' chagrin. He arrived in the afternoon and he and Harry made a basket with dinner for them to take along. Needless to say, having Sirius with him in the kitchen was both distracting and messy. The Marauder's favorite pass-time was to distract Harry – in very tempting ways, of course – from cooking, and Harry almost cursed when a pot boiled over because the heating spell got too hot. It was even more embarrassing, because the heating spell corresponded with his own feelings. Meaning, it had increased in heat because Harry's own feelings of heat had increased, which could be traced back to Sirius who had been snogging him against the sink. The stupid git couldn't stop smirking after that. Harry also concluded Sirius had absolutely no skill when it came to the culinary arts, though Sirius, ever the flirt, immediately welcomed Harry to cook for him every evening, and then to spend the rest of the evening at Sirius' place. Harry rolled his eyes and blushed slightly, having a pretty good idea what exactly the Marauder had in mind.

Also, Sirius refused to tell him where he was taking him. James had been less easy-going than Harry, and demanded that Sirius tell him where he was kidnapping his little brother to. Sirius, slightly intimidated as James pulled of an exceptionally good copy of a scolding Dorea, complied. And it was all for safety reasons, of course.

"There's not much room for me to sit, is there?" Harry commented as he put on his new helmet.

"It'll work, you can sit really close to me."

Harry smiled and waved goodbye to James who was in the kitchen. Sirius got on his motorbike and Harry awkwardly maneuvered himself on. He was right, it wasn't very spacey, but he took Sirius up on what he said and scooted really close to his boyfriend. Sirius looked back and grinned and something fluttered in Harry's stomach.

"Ready?"

"Jup"

"Hold on tight then!"

With a roar the engine came to life, and Harry was jerked back as the bike flew off. He tightened his arms around his boyfriend's waist and grabbed the bike with his legs. Soon they were up in the air, and below there were lights, highways, and patches of dark. The wind blew over his face and Harry let out a relaxed sigh. He really loved flying. He unconsciously tightened his arms again and rested his head against Sirius' back. A smile was brought to his lips when he felt one of Sirius' hands cover Harry's own.

"We're almost there!"

They must have been flying for over fifteen minutes, but Harry as enjoying the comfortable silence and flying so much he hadn't minded it. Sirius was lowering height, scanning the area so they could land unseen. Some of his hair that came out under his own helmet was blowing through the wind. He turned his head left and right to check the area and the landing and Harry got small glimpses from his handsome face. Sirius was unaware of Harry's attention.

The bike touched the ground, and it was a rather rough landing. Harry got off less awkwardly than he'd gotten on, but still not as swiftly as Sirius.

"Well, what do you think?" Sirius breathed.

Harry had to admit, it was very romantic. It was a large patch of field surrounded by forest, which guaranteed privacy and a romantic spot to have dinner. It wasn't cold out, and otherwise there were always heating charms. Although, he'd rather not use those, and preferred to cuddle with his boyfriend.

"I love it," Harry beamed and Sirius grinned pleased.

"Did you bring the food?"

"Nope, I left it at home," Harry answered cheekily.

"I'm pretty sure I saw you put it in your pocket," Sirius inched closer.

"Looks can be deceiving, I suppose," Harry played along, silently daring his boyfriend to assault him.

"Are you going to make me wrestle it from you?"

But Harry didn't have a chance to reply for Sirius had tackled him to the ground. Harry laughed uncontrollably as he tried to escape Sirius' grip, but the Marauder on top of him refused to let him go.

"S-stop! I –ah, you're squishing the food!"

That got Sirius to back off, and he straddled him with a victorious smirk.

"Don't look so smug, you," Harry muttered.

"You know what they say, food is the way to a man's heart. You had better not ruin it."

"I wouldn't dare, or else risk ever-lasting shame," Harry replied and carefully extracted the shrunken food from his coat pocket.

"Good, now we don't have to worry about that anymore," Sirius' voice changed, from his playful tone to a husky one which automatically had Harry's heart beating faster. He turned his head back and with his eyes he challenged Sirius to lean down again, which the Marauder happily accepted. Harry eagerly met him and opened his mouth to grant Sirius' tongue entrance. The Marauder's arms moved to either side of his head to support his weight, and Harry lifted his own to run his hands over his boyfriend's back. As the kiss got heated and Harry vaguely realized that this was the farthest they had gone. Sure they had snogged, but Sirius had never been on top of him before. His weight that Harry felt on his chest, the arms on either side of his head, locking him in, the moans that escaped Sirius' mouth. Yes, they had been together for almost half a year, but they hadn't spent that much time together, they just saw each other over the holidays and during that one Hogsmeade weekend. It wasn't much time to build up a physical relationship. Harry became uncomfortable and pressed his hands against Sirius' chest to back him off.

"Erm – I'm getting hungry," he said apologetically.

Sirius' eyes became mischievous, and he said in a low voice, "So am I, but not for food."

Harry blushed and looked away, but Sirius had thankfully gotten the hint and he held out his hand to help Harry up. He spread a picnic blanket on the ground while Harry took out the food from the basket. Sirius paused and, as an extra precaution, put up some wards around them.

"I thought you said it would be safe," Harry asked rhetorically.

"Yes, but I'd never forgive myself if anything happened to you."

Harry's eyes shot up but Sirius took no notice as he lowered himself to sit next to Harry. Meanwhile, Harry had put out all the dishes, and they smelled and looked amazing, if he did say so himself.

"Mm, you could give the Hogwarts House Elves a run for their money," Sirius commented as he tried a bit of everything.

"Thanks," Harry smiled.

When they finished dinner, Sirius saying once again how much he loved Harry's cooking, they laid down and stared up at the sky.

"It's a clear sky tonight," Harry said softly.

"Hmhmm," Sirius hummed, "See the star there? The big red one? It's called Arcturus, my grandfather was named after it."

"I think it's cool that you're all named after stars. They're really nice names."

Sirius grinned, "And do you see the brightest star of all, over to the right?"

"Yes."

"That's called Sirius, the Dog Star. It's the brightest one in the Canis Major constellation."

Harry laughed, "The Dog Star, how fitting, you mutt."

"Oh, you don't know half how well it fits me," Sirius said mysteriously.

Harry turned to face him and leaned on his arm, "And how well is that, then?"

Sirius lifted his head and looked contemplatively at Harry, and Harry wondered if he would finally tell him about his animagus form.

"I think that's a story for another time."

"You tease. Making me curious and then pulling back."

"That's me," Sirius said seductively before moving in the kiss Harry. They broke apart and started talking, before snogging again, and then talking some more. This repeated itself until Harry found himself lying against Sirius with his head on Sirius' shoulder, and his boyfriend's arm around him. He felt incredibly comfortable as they lay, listening to sounds such as Sirius breathing, the leaves ruffling in the wind, and the quietness surrounding them in this remote area. He smiled when Sirius reached up and started playing with his hair.

"Is this like with the others?"

"Huh?" Sirius asked questionably.

"With your other girl- and boyfriends, is this like with them?" He asked insecurely.

"Absolutely not."

Seeing Harry's slightly crestfallen face, Sirius quickly elaborated.

"As in, it's way better. I can't even compare it because, well, there's barely anything to compare. Having you is so much better than anyone else."

"Why did you even fall for me if I'm so different?"

Sirius sighed and ran a hand through his hair, "You really want the story?"

"Yes," Harry cracked a grin.

"Alright, ah… well, you probably know about my reputation at Hogwarts?"

"Yes," he replied, not sure how to feel about it.

"Well I was a typical teenager back then, and being the best-looking guy in the school doesn't help. I'm not going to pretend it didn't happen, I took advantage of my position. It felt nice to be so… appreciated and admired, that people actually wanted to be near me, it was completely different than at home."

"I'm sorry you had such a horrible time," Harry muttered, trailing his fingers across Sirius' chest.

"Nah, it's alright, I'm out of there anyway," Sirius brushed it off, but Harry could hear the undertone that Sirius was still hiding something, "For a long time it was fine just screwing around, but then James and Lily got together, and I saw what a real relationship was like, and I saw what I was missing. And, to sound very cliché, my own cold heart starting aching for it, but there was no-one with whom I wanted to start a serious relationship. And then, you came."

"When was the first time you noticed me?" Harry mumbled, shifting closer to his boyfriend so their whole bodies were touching. He slung a leg over Sirius'.

"Graduation day," Sirius answered, and Harry could hear his amusement.

"What?"

"Graduation day. When we were waiting in the hall and you walked down, looking all perfect with your windswept hair, that slight blush that graced your cheeks, and the way your beautiful emerald eyes lit up when Lily complimented you. And it hit me. It was you that I'd been looking for."

"That sounds overly sappy, you know that?" Harry said, but he couldn't stop smiling nonetheless.

"Maybe. But then it's your fault, cause you made me this way," Sirius teased and Harry laughed.

"But then you liked me for half a year before we first kissed, and a year before we got together?"

"Yea…"

"Is that where James comes in?"

"Sort of… and my own insecurity. I mean, come on, sure I was, and am, the best looking guy and I'm fun and exciting. Pretty amazing all round. But you were like this angel that everyone liked and looked up to, no matter their background, even if the Slytherins won't admit it. You're kind and pure, unbiased, and you weren't arrogant even though you had every right to be. You're sexy in your own innocent way, which I find very attractive by the way, but why would you ever look at me romantically? I was sure you deserved someone equally as perfect and not a roguish flirt like myself. Albeit a very loveable roguish flirt, if I do say so myself. I convinced myself I wasn't good enough and should focus on someone else. Of course, James inadvertedly supported those thoughts."

"You think so highly of me, I can't ever fulfill those expectations," Harry whispered.

"There's nothing you have to prove, don't get it like that. This is just how I, and with me almost everyone else, sees you. Why do you think almost everyone at Hogwarts wants to date you?"

"What?" Harry asked sharply, "That's not true!"

Sirius snorted, "You're just oblivious for it. Do you know how many people I glared at during the Hogsmeade trip, to get them to stop looking at you?"

"That's not true," Harry tried again weakly.

"Trust an experienced old dog like myself, Har, it is."

"Anyway," Harry said, trying to change the subject, "Those were stupid reasons not to date me, Sirius."

"Mm. I'm just really lucky you fell for me too, and that I have you now."

"I'm surprised your feelings remained despite your thoughts," Harry thought aloud.

"Yea, well… It was absolutely impossible to get rid of them. No offence, but I tried everything, I even, err, tried to distract myself with other people but I just couldn't forget about you. On one hand it made you more special because I'd never felt anything like this for anyone, but on the other hand it made me desperate because I knew I could never have you."

"What about the kiss?"

"That was a temptation I couldn't resist. Obviously, I simply can't resist you," Sirius grinned at him, before he smiled softly and stroked Harry's hair.

"You're really important to me, Harry… I want to make this work with you. I've never really been in a real relationship before, but I'm willing to do things different for you."

"If you think you're not a good boyfriend, don't, Sirius… Yes, you're devilishly handsome and attractive and fun to be with, but there's more, not only that outer appearance. The love and loyalty you show to those you care about, that drive you have when you believe in something, your optimism and self-confidence, your humor, your devotion, and your softer side. Those are the things I find attractive about you," Harry mumbled and Sirius pulled him closer.

All of Sirius' previous girl- and boyfriends had only dated him because he was hot, or popular, or cool, but not for who Sirius really was. And Harry was the first to fall for the Marauder because of his traits as a person. Not just the outer façade. Harry knew that was part of the reason what made him special in Sirius' eyes. To Sirius, he was one of a kind. Harry wouldn't have admitted it out loud but the thought made him gooey on the inside.

"Thank you for opening up to me, Sirius," Harry whispered as he trailed his fingers over his boyfriend's cheek. Sirius grabbed them and pressed them to his lips.

"Well, there's more to this Marauder than people think. I don't open up to a lot of people."

Sirius shifted his position so he was leaning over Harry, staring down at him.

"But then, you're not just anyone. You're the most special person in the world," he whispered and leaned down and drew Harry into a kiss. It was sweet and caring, and Sirius poured his emotions into it. Harry's eyes started stinging because of how special this moment was, realizing what he meant to Sirius, but he refused to cry. He brought his arms up and encircled Sirius' neck, pulling him closer despite there being no distance left.

XXXXXX

The comfortable, romantic bubble Harry had been living in was popped as soon as he returned to Hogwarts. Two days after his return war news was splashed across the pages of the Daily Prophet once again. The giants had joined Voldemort. Evidence had been found by the Aurors and the centre of a small Muggle town had been ruined, and the damage done pointed to Giants being involved.

Harry slammed down the paper. Voldemort was at it again, but now it was his brother, his boyfriend, his sister-in-law and other friends involved. And pretty soon him. Not that he dreaded it, he actually preferred to be out there fighting with his family, so that at least he would be on the scene and know what was going on. But sometimes he wondered if he would be good enough.

He had experience with the DA, and in class spells came naturally to him. But how much experience did he really have with dueling? He'd had some run-ins with Death Eaters, but there was no denying he'd had luck with them. He was pretty sure that if he had gone into the grounds to fight, during the Final Battle, that he wouldn't have made it out alive. Dueling someone like Bellatrix, Dolohov or even Malfoy, one-on-one, with no weapons other than his knowledge and ability at magic as it was now… He wasn't sure if he could win.

He looked up and his eyes landed on the Slytherin table and, unfortunately, on Jugson. The Slytherin caught his glance his smirked knowingly. Harry fisted the newspaper and it crumbled.

He needed to be better able to fight, for more reasons than one. He'd use this semester to ready himself for the roaring war outside of the safe Hogwarts walls. Yes, he'd train himself to fight so he would win all his duels. After all, one mistake could be fatal. And he knew just where to orchestrate his little practice duels.

And thus, apart from his school work he filled his time with Quidditch, research on his heritage, and training himself in the Room of Requirement. However, he also had to start preparing his NEWTs, so his research was put on a lower pit. Instead he focused himself on what he'd learned and put it to practice during his set-up duels, and focused on other hexes and curses which could be useful during a duel. James was right, it would be easier to research his heritage once he was out of Hogwarts and was more mobile.

And thus the weeks passed in this cycle.

It was March when Harry was stumped out of this comfortable cycle he had sipped in. During breakfast McGonagall passed by the Gryffindor table and asked Harry to follow her. He was confused, but his questions went unanswered. She led him up to Dumbledore's office and his heart sank. The last time this had happened, two years ago, he received the news of Charlus and Dorea's death. What would he get now…?

"Ah, Harry, thank you for coming so swiftly," Dumbledore said upon his entrance.

"Professor, what's wrong?" he asked urgently. McGonagall looked disapproving at his directness, but Dumbledore didn't seem to mind.

"Your brother and Mr. Black were in a tight spot last night-

"Are they alright?" Harry interrupted

Dumbledore smiled, "They will be, yes. If you wish, you have the morning off to visit them at St. Mungo's-"

"Are they alright?" Harry interrupted.

Dumbledore smiled softly, "They will be fine. But I imagine you would like to see them for yourself."

Harry nodded and Dumbledore led him to the Floo.

"Just say 'St. Mungo's, Reception Hall'. I expect you back for lunch, Mr. Potter."

"Alright, thanks sir," Harry nodded.

He said the words and threw the Floo powder. Seconds later he stumbled out of the chimney at St. Mungo's, barely stopping himself from tripping, before straightening out and noticing – much to his displeasure – he'd attracted quite some attention. He asked the Welcome Witch where his brother and his boyfriend were before speeding up to the mentioned floor. He burst into the room where James and Sirius both laid in a sick bed, with Lily sitting in between them.

"You two have some explaining to do," Harry said strictly and put his hands on his hips.

"Nice to see you too, Har," Sirius replied with a grin. Harry's mood deflated immediately and he flew at his boyfriend. He hugged him carefully, noting the bandages around the Marauder's shoulder and his leg. Sirius gratefully returned it, and Harry kissed him swiftly.

"How are you? Will you be alright? What happened?" Harry fussed as he checked Sirius over for further damage.

"I'm absolutely fine," he answered amusedly, "Even better now. You're the best cure."

Harry blushed and he heard James cough and Lily giggle. Stupid flirt.

"Nice to know I'm already pushed back to second place," James commented.

"You already have Lily," Harry said simply. At James' mock hurt look Harry also flew over to his brother and gave him a tight hug.

"I was so worried," he mumbled into his brother's shoulder before breaking apart, "When McGonagall led me to Dumbledore's office, I've never felt so dreaded."

"It's OK," James sat softly and patted his back, "We'll be fine. Just had a little run in."

That reminded Harry of his initial scolding.

"And what exactly were you doing, running into Death Eaters?"

Both James and Sirius, and even Lily, looked guilty.

"Uhm, that's secret," James tried, but Harry interrupted him.

"You're in a hospital James! I have a right to know how you got here, you could as well have been dead!"

"Shh!" James sushed him, looking at the door.

Harry closed it and raised his eyebrows at his brother.

"It was just an accident," James tried weakly.

"Auror or Order?" Harry asked.

"Order," James and Sirius mumbled.

"Were you on an assignment?"

"Yes, but you can't know what it is," Sirius said quickly. Harry glowered.

"For the record, I'm of age and when I get out of Hogwarts I'm going to join too. Then, there's also the tiny fact that two of the people I care about most in the world are all bandaged up lying in the hospital, there's a war going out there, you know, kidnappings, fights, deaths, etc. Do you have any idea how friggin' worried I was from the moment McGonagall requested me, until now? And all you can say is, 'no, little Harry, you just keep your nose where it belongs and let the adults deal with it'."

During his rant Harry had gotten up and started pacing the floor. To their credit, James, Sirius and Lily looked slightly guilty.

"Were you there too, Lily?"

"Yes, I was," she said soothingly and grabbed his hand to steady him from his thoughts, "We were ambushed. We were working on something with a couple from the Order and suddenly they were there. We were surprised and overwhelmed, and then Voldemort showed up," Lily shivered, "And everyone was dueling and it was so chaotic. He seeked James out-"

"What?" Harry asked sharply.

"Don't worry Harry," James said quickly.

"Why did he single you out?" He asked persistently.

"He didn't really single me out, but getting me did seem to be one of the goals. I think, err, it relates to what we talked about during the holidays." James gave him a pointed glance and Sirius and Lily looked curious. Harry understood. It was about Jugson's threat of hurting James if Harry didn't accept his 'help'. But after James' reassurance, he thought that was the end of it.

"Sirius and I came to back him up and everything went fine. There was, one death, on our side but we were all shaken up pretty bad," Lily slowly continued, and glanced at the Marauders. "James and Sirius were brilliant, without them and their dueling skills and Auror techniques we would've been much less lucky."

Harry's anger deflated. Now, there was worry left, that panicky feeling he had when he entered Dumbledore's office. He seated himself on the side of his boyfriend's bed, where Sirius soothingly took his hand into his own.

"We managed to give Lily and the rest enough time to Apparate, and then Sirius and I escaped."

"How did you manage to escape?" Harry asked monotonely.

"Well, ah," James started, "eventually an opportunity presented itself, and Sirius and I used one of our special abilities and made ourselves scarce."

"Why are you being so secretive?"

"James," Sirius spoke up, "I think it's time Harry knew our little secret."

"What secret?" He spoke up immediately.

James frowned, "Really? Don't you think we need to ask Moony?"

"Nah, Harry already knows about Moony!"

"Knows what?" Harry asked again, excitement bubbling up inside of him, despite the situation.

Sirius and James silently communicated, and James sighed in defeat.

"Fine!"

Sirius grinned triumphantly. "Shall I start then? Well," he shifted his position and took a breath like a real story-teller, "since you already know about Remus being a werewolf, we can skip that bit. Do you know where he transformed?"

"Shrieking Shack."

"Jup. Now, at first we didn't know anything about his furry little problem, and Moony didn't tell us, because of how we might react. Being the little geniuses we were (and are) though, we figured it out soon enough. And we didn't judge him on it, believe me, I know what it's like to be judged for something Dark that you don't want anything to do with. Instead, we wanted to do what we could to help him."

"And help him as in, to be with him," James elaborated. Then he paused. "Harry, it's possible for animals to be with a werewolf once he's transformed. Bites don't affect them."

Harry took his time.

"So, animals, as in…"

"We're animagi, Harry," James said softly, "All of us. Sirius, Peter, and I."

"Wha- How? I can't believe you've never told me this! And you've been around a werewolf all this time?" Harry hissed, feeling insulted, "Is this supposed to lessen my worry? Like you two being in the hospital wasn't enough!"

"We're not with him anymore now," Sirius quickly clarified, "Sometimes we try, but without the safe walls of the Shrieking Shack it's difficult."

Sirius and James stubbornly avoided eye-contact. Harry felt a pang when he realized that Sirius was lying to him. They had stepped out of those safe walls plenty of times. They didn't trust him with the whole truth. Harry swallowed before telling himself – they probably didn't want to overwhelm him. He was already worried enough.

"Why didn't you ever tell me this?" Harry asked, looking at James.

"Well, it was sort of a Marauder thing. No-one else knew, Lily only found out accidentally near the end of seventh year," he said apologetically.

Harry nodded solemnly.

"And these animagus forms, they helped you escape?"

James and Sirius both smirked.

"Ah, answer enough, then. What forms do you take?"

"I'm a stag," James puffed out his chest, "The most handsome you've ever seen."

Harry grinned and rolled his eyes, "And you, Sirius?"

"I'm a dog," he smiled softly, which Harry returned.

"Loyalty," he whispered, and squeezed his hand, "Hang on, is this what you were referring to during the Christmas break? That the Dog Star applies to you so well?"

"You got it," he grinned.

Harry grinned, and laughed at the absurdity of the situation. He'd only been waiting for about six years for his brother to come clean.

"Wait a moment, are you guys even legal? I never read your names in the animagus registry!"

Harry gasped at the guilty looks.

"Also part of the reason why we didn't tell you," James replied guiltily, "And you can't tell anyone now! I mean it, no one knows, not even Dumbledore! Only you and Lily, other than us."

"Fine. I suppose I can live with that. But you better not have anything else up your sleeves," he gave a mock threatening look, which was still impressive none the less, to both his boyfriend and brother, who held up their hands in innocence.

"And if I ever will, you'll be the first to know," Sirius said charmingly and leaned forward to brush his lips against Harry's.

"Oh! My eyes! They buuuurn!"

They broke apart to see James flapping through his bed (as best he could with the bandages) and covering his eyes dramatically.

"Better get used to it, Prongs," Sirius said comfortably, folding his hands behind his head and leaning back, "You'll be seeing that around a lot when Harry comes back to Godric's Hollow."

How do you like it!? Love it? Hate it? Let me know! I love your feedback and comments, trust me, long reviews are the best :D.

First of all, I think I should officially apologize for using the word "preposition" instead of "proposition". I think more than 80% of you commented on this, and as cliché as it sounds, it warms my heart to know that there are so many devoted readers out there to take the time to comment on this. Apart from that, under a heavy threatening feeling, I checked this document about 3 times to make sure the word didn't reappear!

Secondly, I hope you enjoyed the story about James and Sirius, the motorbike, and the Muggle police! It's truly written by J.K. herself, for the full story search for 'Harry Potter Prequel' and - enjoy! It's very amusing.

Enjoy your week,

HarryPotterBlack7