There was a bit of chaos as the Lupin and Snape families Flooed into the Lupin cottage accompanied by Dora Tonks and her best friend Charlie Weasley. The whole group had come from Riddle Manor where they had completed the annual Christmas treasure hunt after bringing gifts to the orphanage where Headmaster Tom had lived for five years. Tom's father had not looked well so Andromeda had stayed behind to take a look at him. Papa Tom was old for a Muggle and they all knew that he wouldn't be with them much longer.
Harry, Teddy, and Tessa quickly convinced their parents to let them fly under Charlie and Dora's supervision. Eric settled in the sitting room with some paper and crayons and Draco and Rosie went to Draco and Teddy's room to read. Draco was still having some trouble with his reading, but he didn't let it slow him down. He enjoyed reading, especially reading to his Rosie.
The four adults settled at the table in the kitchen, Remus stopping to make tea for them before sitting down as well; Cissy held Zoey under a blanket as she nursed the infant. "Papa Tom doesn't look good," Remus said quietly.
"He's older than most Muggles," Cissy replied. "Andy's been helping him, but there isn't much else that she can do besides giving him the Elixir of Life, and the Flamels guard that closely."
"With good reason," Severus said.
They were quiet for several minutes. It was a quiet born from a long and close friendship. Lily finally broke the silence. "Andy and Tom have been spending a lot of time together lately."
Cissy smiled. "They are good for each other. And they both deserve some happiness. Dora seems happy too. In fact, she has tea with Tom at least once a week."
"Did anyone notice how James couldn't keep his eyes off Tildy today?" Remus asked with a slight laugh.
"She was trying hard not to notice him watching," Lily added. She sighed. "It was hard to ignore how good looking and charming he can be. But...he seems to really care for her." Severus reached over and squeezed her hand.
"He's grown up a lot," Remus commented.
Severus nodded in agreement. "Harry got into some trouble over at James' house a couple weeks ago and James punished him."
"What happened?" Cissy asked.
"James took him to see the Night Flyers and then Harry snuck out of the house to try some trick flying. When James grounded him, Harry threw a tantrum and James ended up giving him a swat or two."
"Harry told you about it?"
"Actually, James did when he brought Harry home. And apologized again for all the trouble he caused as a kid," Severus shook his head. "I thought Tom was crazy, but his experiment worked."
"I wonder if the Wizengamut will consider using it in the future?" Remus mused.
"They might for cases like this, if one comes up again," Lily responded. "But I don't know how often something like this comes up."
"It would be a way to keep the prison population down," Cissy said.
Severus replied. "The problem would be finding foster parents for them all. And not just any foster parents, but people like Tom who are willing to teach them right from wrong without abusing them."
They fell into silence once again. "Lily," Cissy said, smiling at her best friend.
Lily turned to look at Cissy. "Yes?"
"You, dear friend, are glowing. Why haven't you been in to the clinic?"
Lily blinked a few times before smiling. "With everything that's been going on, I hadn't even considered...I think I am, Cissy."
Cissy pulled out her wand and cast a quick diagnostic spell. "About eight weeks. Harry will be getting a little brother or sister for his birthday," she told them with a grin.
Severus did some quick calculating. Bath. Their coming child had been conceived in Bath before all the trouble with Medea. Now more than ever was he glad that he and Lily had worked things out between them. He pulled Lily's chair closer and kissed her soundly. "I love you, Lil."
Remus and Cissy smiled at each other. Things were working out for their friends.
On New Year's Eve, Tom and James made their way down to Hogsmeade to the Three Broomsticks. . "You never told me where we were going," James told Tom. "All you told me was not to make plans."
Tom smiled at the younger man. "We're going to Andromeda's," he replied. Andromeda had done some scheming and had convinced him to help her play matchmaker with James and Tildy. There would only be couples at Andromeda's house tonight. Tildy was a wonderful woman and had been good for his son.
"Who else is coming?" James asked, starting to get suspicious.
"Sev, Lily, Remus, Cissy, Tildy, Hal, and Eileen," Tom replied, grateful that fading light hid his smirk.
James was quiet as he considered the group for a moment. "All couples except for Tildy and me..." he turned to glance at his father. "Are you playing matchmaker?"
Tom laughed. "It was Andromeda's idea. I had a feeling that you were smitten with Tildy and thought I'd give you a little push in the right direction."
"I don't really need the push, Dad, but thanks. I've asked her out a few times, but she's resisting. Said it wouldn't be right while she's in charge of my supervised visits."
"I think Andromeda's been working on her," Tom said. "Come...we don't want to be late."
James stepped outside and found Tildy sitting on the picnic table, staring up at the stars. He imagined that she felt as out of place here as he did. Walking over, he sat next to her. "You know, I really admire the work that you do. It can't be easy working with idiots like me."
She glanced over at him. "You weren't too bad once you realized that you needed to change. How is your job going?"
He grinned. "I love my job. For the first time in my life I feel...important. Like I'm doing something that really matters. I worked before, but it wasn't really work. I just played at being an Auror when all I did was consult on a few cases." He sighed. "I played around with a lot of things, including Lily and Harry and I hurt them both in the process. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was jealous of Severus. He had what I thought was mine and he was happy when I hadn't been. I thought I was being a good parent by giving Harry everything he wanted. But Tom and even Severus taught me better. I've never been happier, Tildy."
"You've come a long way, James, and I'm happy for you."
James reached over and took one of her hands in his. "Tildy, I respect and admire what you do. But more than that, I admire you for not giving in to me before. I've always had women falling at my feet. It's been refreshing and I've enjoyed trying to win you over. I don't really know what love is, Tildy, but I care for you a great deal. More than I can express. I...I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?"
She was quiet for several minutes, staring at their joined hands. "I care for you too, James, and I will admit that I'm very attracted to you. I want to marry you, but I can't as long as I'm handling your case." She squeezed his hand. "We should talk about it again in a couple months when this is over and there won't be a conflict of interest. And we should talk to Harry and make sure he's okay with this, because it will affect him too."
"So we're unofficially engaged then?" he asked with a grin.
Tildy rolled her eyes and nodded. "Yes, James."
He let out a whoop and gave her a quick kiss.
A week later Tom joined Andromeda and Dora for dinner the night before the students were to return to Hogwarts after the holidays. Andromeda watched as Tom and Dora exchanged looks throughout the meal. "Alright, you two. Spill. What is going on?"
"Well...I was going to do this later," Tom replied, reaching into the pocket of his robe and pulled out a small box. "Andromeda, will you marry me?"
Andromeda's eyes went wide in surprise. They had discussed the idea, but she hadn't really thought it would be this soon. And she certainly hadn't talked about it with Dora. She turned to look at her daughter.
Dora just grinned at her. "Answer him already, Mum."
"You knew about this?"
She nodded. "He asked me about it weeks ago. I even helped him pick out the ring."
Andromeda smiled at her before turning to Tom. "Yes, Tom, I will marry you."
Tildy knocked on the door to James' house in Godric's Hollow. James had Harry for the weekend and had come here as he usually did when it was his weekend with Harry. As Flying Instructor and Quidditch Coach, he didn't have any weekend responsibilities on non-Quidditch weekends.
Harry answered the door. "Hello Miss Tildy. I thought you didn't have to come anymore."
She smiled at the boy she had come to love. "I don't, Harry. I came this time because I wanted to. As a friend, instead of as your casewitch."
"Come on in. Dad's getting us some ice cream," he said, stepping aside to let her inside. Once the door was closed, he took her hand and led her back to the kitchen. "Dad...Miss Tildy's here."
James' back had been turned when she entered the room, but he turned to face her, one question in his eyes. She smiled and nodded her response. "Harry, come here, buddy."
Confused, Harry walked over to James, who lifted him up to sit on the counter. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing. I just wanted to talk to you for a minute. I...I've asked Miss Tildy to marry me, but she wanted to make sure that you were okay with it before she said yes."
Harry looked back and forth between the two. "She better say yes. She's been good for you, and everyone likes her..." he leaned toward his dad and whispered. "Sirius listens to her."
James chuckled. "That he does. So you're really okay with this?"
Harry nodded. "Not every kid gets to have two sets of parents."
It was Tildy's turn to laugh as she pulled Harry into a hug.
Severus sat on the edge of Harry's bed and gently woke him. "Happy birthday," he said when Harry opened his eyes.
Harry smiled sleepily. "Thanks, Da."
He ruffled his son's hair. "Get dressed, Mum and I have a surprise for you."
Harry nodded and got up, scratching his cat's head for a moment before getting dressed. When he went into the kitchen, he found not only Eric and Rosie, but Grandma Lee, Grandpa Hal, Remus and the Lupin children as well. The four adults all had smiles on their faces, but weren't saying anything.
Severus wrapped his arms around Harry from behind. "I'm going to Apparate with you and your grandparents will bring Eric and Rosie by Floo."
"What about Uncle Remus and the others?" Harry asked.
"They'll be along later," Severus answered. With a crack, he Apparated them away.
Harry looked around when they arrived. "St. Mungo's?" he asked. "Mum?"
Severus nodded, kneeling down to Harry's height. "Your little sister was born at four this morning."
"On my birthday?"
"Yes, buddy. You and your sister share a birthday."
"Wicked!" Harry exclaimed. "Can I see Mum and the baby?"
"They're in here," Severus said, standing and leading Harry into one of the rooms.
Lily was propped up in bed with a pink-blanketed bundle in her arms. She smiled at her oldest son. "Happy birthday, Harry."
He grinned and carefully crawled up onto the edge of the bed. "Can I see her?" Lily shifted the blankets so that Harry could see his sister's face. "She's cute." He reached out and took her little hand. "Hey, baby. I'm Harry, your big brother. When you're big enough I'm going to teach you to brew potions and to fly on a broom and all about Hippogriffs."
Eric crawled up on the other side of the bed with Grandpa Hal's help. "I'm gonna teach her how to draw and to write her name, just like Harry taught me to write mine."
Harry looked for Rosie expecting her to chime right in as she usually did, never wanting to be left out. He found her near the door with her arms crossed, pouting.
Severus walked over and knelt in front of her. "What's wrong, baby?"
"Not the baby," she pouted. "That's baby."
He pulled her into a gentle hug. They hadn't gone through this with any of the others. Harry had been excited to have a baby brother when Eric had come. In fact, he had been begging for a baby brother as soon as he was old enough to understand what a brother was. And Rosie had come before Eric had been old enough to understand what was really happening. "You will always be my baby, Rosebud. So will Eric and Harry. Just because we have a new baby doesn't mean that we love you any less. It just means that we have more love to go around, sweetheart." He stood and lifted her into his arms, carrying her over to the bed so that they could look down at the new baby. "In a couple of years she'll be big enough to play with you and you can teach her all about how to play dolls and tea parties and dress up. Won't that be fun?"
Rosie looked down at the tiny creature in her mother's arms. It would be fun to have someone to play dolls with. Tessa was always playing with Teddy and Harry, and while Draco played with her quite a bit, he didn't really like to play dolls or tea party with her. She sighed deeply and nodded.
"Would you like to hold her?" Lily asked.
"Yes," Rosie responded. Eric moved back on the bed so that Severus could sit near Lily with Rosie in his lap. They carefully moved the baby so that Rosie was holding her with Severus' help. "What's her name?" Rosie asked.
"Laurel Amara Snape," Lily answered.
Remus led his children into the room a moment later and Rosie looked up from her baby sister. "Draco, come see my baby!"
Lily sat in the crowd, watching as James Potter married Tildy Bagshot in the church in Godric's Hollow. Harry stood next to Sirius as one of his father's groomsmen along with Tom, Remus, and even Severus. He had stubbornly insisted that he was too old to be the ringbearer, so that job had gone to Eric as James' way of making up to the younger boy for the trouble he had gotten him into during the year he had been deaged. Rosie was acting as the flowergirl and baby Amara was spending the day with Grandma Lee and Grandpa Hal.
Things had changed so much in the last few years. James had finally become a responsible adult and their lives were so much better now because of it. Holidays and birthdays were much easier as was their joint custody of Harry. Harry spent weekends with his father during the school year, but lived with him during the summer, spending weekends with Lily and Severus. They had all agreed to sit down and revisit the issue when Harry went away to Hogwarts.
Watching James watch Tildy, she could tell that he had finally discovered true love, much as she and Severus had found so many years ago. She wished them both all the happiness in the world and hoped that before too long there would be more Potters running through the halls of Hogwarts.
A/N: We hope you all enjoyed this story and perhaps might like a sequel or a series of short stories someday. Currently Rae Kelly is working on a crossover with Harry Potter from canon and the Harry Potter of the AKB saga switching places temporarily and how two lives will be changed and intertwined forever. It doesn't have a name yet, but it will once she posts the first chapter. I will post a link and favorite it when it's posted on her account. So look for it!
I also have posted a small one-shot called Silver Doe, set in the Prince Manor world, for those of you who were longing for more in that series. Please read and review!