Emmeline Lupin placed a plate of eggs and bacon in front of the scruffy-headed boy at the kitchen table, smoothing back his hair a bit before heading back to the stove. The boy sleepily muttered his thanks and dug in. As she prepared more plates, she did what every typical mother did on days like these: wondered at how she'd gotten here at all. Once they'd gotten past Sirius' and Peter's trials, the only thing left to contend with was getting back to some semblance of normality. It had taken them a few months to realize not only had they never been normal, but considering what they'd all been through during the last year, their chances of finding normality were in the range of slim and none.
But once the excitement had died down, once the press tired of filling their newspapers and magazines with articles about Sirius Black and Harry Potter, and the general public got somewhat used to seeing either or both of them out and about, they were able to get on with their lives.
"Morning, love," said a cheerful voice from the kitchen door. "Morning, Harry."
Emmeline looked up and smiled as Remus crossed the room for his morning kiss, then took the plate she offered him to the table, sat beside Harry, and mussed the hair Emmeline had just smoothed back. Six years ago, the only thing she'd really hoped for was that she and Remus might someday get past their increasingly awkward, teenage socialization. They'd been thrown together on the assignment to keep Harry safe from Sirius Black. Ten months later, they'd come out of that mess with long overdue admissions to one another and a little boy they both loved and would have done anything for. It was more than she could have ever asked for, more than she ever expected, and possibly even more than she deserved.
Only a few months after Harry had come to live with them permanently at Remus' home in Kent, Remus had asked her to marry him. She'd been surprised, to say the least. Not only had because they'd been an official couple less than four months, but Remus had been the one to insist they take things slower than they had been doing. She'd been accepting of this, especially when she realized Remus had needed time to understand that she wanted to be with him and that she wanted more, when he was ready.
But he had proposed.
And she'd said yes.
They were married in the fall, in the backyard of Remus' family home, with only their closest friends in attendance. Albus Dumbledore had officiated. Sirius had been the best man. Harry the ring bearer. Alastor Moody had been seated in the front row beside Molly and Arthur Weasley, while the Weasley children sat behind them. When Harry had joined them, he, Ron, Fred, and George had spent the rest of the ceremony fidgeting impatiently while they eyed the buffet of food that awaited them. Sirius had happily helped the boys demolish most of the food during the reception, after which Remus and Emmeline had gone on a week-long honeymoon in Italy, a wedding gift from Sirius.
Speaking of Sirius...
Emmeline, Remus, and Harry turned simultaneously towards the front hallway as the door opened and the man himself entered as loudly as he always did.
"Sirius!" Harry said loudly in greeting to his godfather. "I didn't think you were going to make it!"
"What," Sirius replied, grinning widely, ruffling Harry's hair before stealing the boy's bacon, "and miss my godson's first trip on the Hogwarts Express? I think not!"
"Right, because we all know you had no intentions of sneaking a box of pranking supplies into his trunk," Remus said dryly, his lips twitching.
Sirius snorted, accepting the plate of breakfast Emmeline passed him with a wink. "You're going to tell me you planned on sending him off to Hogwarts without anything to make Snivelly's life hell? What kind of Marauder are you?"
"Language," Emmeline chided, rolling her eyes as Harry laughed. "As though he needs any encouragement from either of you to cause trouble." She made herself a plate and sat beside Remus. "And really, Harry, you probably shouldn't feed bacon to a turtle."
All the adults looked over to see Harry indeed feeding a piece of bacon to his pet turtle Bruce, who munched on the meat happily. "Why?" Harry asked, grinning. "He likes it."
Emmeline sent a half-pleading look to Remus, who just chuckled into his coffee and went on with his breakfast. "Horrible influences," she muttered, "the both of you."
Sirius spread his arms wide and shrugged. "What else are godfathers for?" he asked lightly.
Once again rolling her eyes, Emmeline gave up for the moment, sat back in her chair, and listened as the three wizards discussed a variety of subjects, mostly revolving around Hogwarts. Her eyes settled on Sirius, marveling on how he'd managed to recover from his time in Azkaban with whatever was left of his sanity intact. It hadn't been easy; in fact, there had been times when Remus and Emmeline had wanted to wrap their fingers around Sirius' throat and choke him to within an inch of his life. Other times, they'd wanted to pull out their own hair. Sirius had spent months hovering between depression and anger and bitterness. Remus tended to be the target for Sirius' anger—once or twice, Emmeline had had to take one or both of them to St. Mungo's because she'd been unable to reverse the jinxes they'd used on one another when their arguments had come to blows. There had been months of nightmares, though Sirius had refused to admit this was the reason that he decided to spend the night on Remus' sofa. It had taken the realization that Sirius was beating himself up over the deaths of Lily and James, for not trusting Remus like he should have, for Remus to finally work towards getting past his pent up anger at Sirius.
On the first Halloween following Sirius being declared innocent by the Ministry, he and Remus had spent several hours sitting in front of the fireplace with a few bottles of Firewhiskey, pouring through everything that had happened before the night Voldemort had paid that fateful visit to the Potters. Emmeline had known that at some point Remus and Sirius would deal with their issues and get back to trusting each other again, even if she had been starting to doubt herself. After that talk, Emmeline found being in a room with the two wizards wasn't nearly as taxing as it had been in the past.
Harry had probably had quite a bit of influence on Sirius' eventual recovery. The boy and his godfather had gotten along beautifully, spending more time than what was probably necessary playing pranks on Remus whenever the opportunity presented itself. Sirius still maintained Harry was best off being raised by Remus and Emmeline; Sirius seemed to much prefer spending days with Harry, sugaring him to the gills, then leaving his friends to deal with the over-energetic boy, bouncing off the walls. More than once, Emmeline had gone to Sirius' flat to curse him for this behavior, which never seemed to dissuade him from repeating it a week or two later.
A hand being waved in front of her face startled her from her musings. She blinked rapidly and met Remus' eyes. "All right, there?" he asked quietly. "You seemed to zone out for a bit."
Emmeline smiled and nodded at her husband. "Yeah, fine," she assured him. Sirius and Harry had disappeared from the kitchen, probably to finish getting Harry's things together for school. "Just thinking."
He nodded slowly, his brow furrowed slightly as he gathered the breakfast dishes to do the washing up. "Well, there will be plenty of time for thinking in a few hours. Nine months, actually. So what say we spend the last few hours we have with Harry making sure he doesn't get expelled on his first night at Hogwarts because of something Sirius tells him to do?"
Emmeline laughed. "Good point," she said. "I'll go get—"
A burst of laughter followed almost immediately by a yelp of pain from down the hall interrupted her. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw her husband slowly close his eyes and sigh deeply, pinching the bridge of his nose. "I don't even want to know," he muttered into his hand.
"Wimp," she told him, grinning. She followed the familiar laughs into the third bedroom of the cottage, finding Harry on the floor, leaning against a small bed. In his lap was a little girl of about three with light brown hair and blue eyes. Both of them were laughing at their godfather's attempts to free himself from Bruce the turtle, who for some reason had firmly attached himself to Sirius' right ear.
"Do I even want to ask?" she said flatly, leaning against the doorframe.
"Sirius wanted to see if Bruce could fly," Harry told her through his snickering. "So he put Bruce on one of the blades of the ceiling fan. Before he was able to turn it on, though, Bruce jumped down and bit his ear."
Emmeline raised an eyebrow at Sirius, who couldn't seem to decide the best way to remove the turtle was. "So you deserved it," she told the wizard. The little girl got off Harry's lap and crossed the room, raising her arms to be picked up. Emmeline obliged, kissing the girl on the forehead. "Good morning, sweetheart."
"Morning, Mummy," the girl said, resting her head on Emmeline's shoulder.
"Harry, help your godfather while I get Anna some breakfast, will you?" Emmeline said. "We need to leave soon." She and Anna made it halfway back to the kitchen before Emmeline turned around and returned to the little girl's room. "Oh and Sirius, do please try not to bleed all over my daughter's bedroom."
Sirius response was a glare that promised retribution. It was gone a split-second later as Harry yanked on Bruce, pulling him away from Sirius' ear, and was replaced by a look of excruciating pain.
Remus walked briskly between his wife and best friend, all three of them slightly behind the eager eleven-year-old pushing his trolley through King's Cross Station towards Platform 9 ¾. In his arms, he held his pouting daughter, who had once again thrown a fit before leaving for the train station because she wouldn't be allowed to attend Hogwarts with the boy she considered her big brother. He knew once the train and Harry had departed, Anna would perk right back up, but for the moment, both she and Remus were content just as they were.
Like Emmeline, he'd been doing quite a bit of musing that morning. Most of his had dwelled on his incredible luck over the last six or so years. Before their stint in London with Harry, Remus had all but given up on himself ever getting up the nerve to really do something about Emmeline and his feelings for her. Less than a year after finally admitting everything to her, they were married. And only a few short years later, she was giving birth to their first child. They hadn't been in a hurry to have children of their own; they agreed they both wanted them, when the time was right. Harry was a handful at the best of times, and Sirius... Well, there were times Remus felt as though Harry was the older of the two of them...
Then Emmeline had come home early from work one day and calmly asked Harry to take his toys to his bedroom for a few minutes, then proceeded to tell Remus she was pregnant. Several of the minutes following this declaration were nothing more than a hazy blur in Remus' mind. Emmeline later claimed this was due to his fainting; Remus flatly denied any such thing, particularly in Sirius' company. But the facts remained: Remus and Emmeline were going to have a baby. On the outside, Remus was absolutely thrilled at the prospect, and he happily partook in the planning and preparations for their child. On the inside, however, he was positively and undeniably terrified. He knew, had known all his life, that there was no chance of affecting a child of his own with lycanthropy through genetics since he himself had been infected by a bite. But the fear still overtook him, and had a terrible tendency to evolve into worse thoughts—what would happen if the baby turned out to be a werewolf in the womb? How would that affect Emmeline, particularly on full moon nights? His own full moon nights, generally spent in his basement with Sirius, while Emmeline and Harry went to Sirius' flat in London for the night, were spent pacing the room, his worries across the country with his wife. Every morning, Sirius made him breakfast and tried to convince him the baby and Emmeline would be fine, and all he was doing was creating trouble for himself.
After about seven of these full moon nights, Anna Elizabeth Lupin was born, and Remus immediately forgot what life had been like before he'd held her for the first time. Harry, it turned out, was an amazing older brother. He wasn't that big a fan of the baby when she was screaming or when her nappy needed changing, but any other time, he loved playing with the little girl, and when she got older, he hadn't hesitated to teach her all the things that tended to get him into the most trouble with Remus and Emmeline.
Harry himself had grown up wonderfully. Remus often wondered how the boy would have turned out if he'd stayed with his relatives, but quickly reminded himself it didn't matter. Harry hadn't stayed with his relatives. He'd gone to people that were closest as a mother and father that he'd ever known, people who treated him like he was their own child. He had Sirius who helped Remus teach him all the things James had wanted him to know—Quidditch, pranks, and eventually about girls. He had his best friend Ron Weasley and Ron's siblings and parents, who treated him like one of the family.
And most importantly, he knew the truth about his mother and father. He knew how much Lily and James had loved him, that they'd died for him. Harry may not have fully understood why Voldemort had gone after him and his parents, and probably wouldn't for a long time to come, but when that time came, Harry would know there were people who would do everything possible to help him understand what it all meant.
A barking laugh jolted him from his thoughts and Remus realized belatedly they'd reached the barrier between the Muggle world and the wizarding world. Harry was eyeing the stone pillar skeptically while Sirius told him the story about James' first time through said barrier. Remus smiled at the memory of their eleven-year-old friend, who they first met when he'd stumbled into their compartment on the train. Apparently after his running start, he'd had a bit too much momentum and had run himself and his trolley into another stone pillar. His mother had repaired his glasses while his father recovered his owl and trunk. The bruising hadn't gone away for nearly a week.
"But as long as you slow yourself down once you feel that little bit of breeze when you pass through the barrier, you'll be fine," Sirius told his godson dismissively.
Harry's eyes had widened comically as he undoubtedly imagined what his father had looked like on his first day at Hogwarts.
"You're not helping, Sirius," Emmeline said exasperatedly. "Harry, you'll be just fine. If you don't want to run, don't. Just walk straight through."
Harry's anxiety ebbed at Emmeline's words, knowing she'd never lead him astray the way his godfather might try sometimes. Anna lifted her head from Remus' shoulder and looked on as Harry stood up straight, squared his shoulders, and placed a look of determination on his face. Adjusting the grip on the trolley, Harry walked briskly towards the barrier—Remus desperately hoped the boy didn't trip—and a second later, he'd disappeared.
"He did it!" Anna exclaimed happily, startling passing Muggles.
"Shh," Remus said to her, grinning widely and winking at Emmeline.
One after another, the adults and Anna passed through the barrier without attracting attention from those around them and met up with Harry in front of the Hogwarts Express.
"Brilliant, isn't it?" Sirius said to the boy, clapping him on the back. Harry nodded a bit dazedly. "Come on, the Weasleys should be here soon."
The group passed a family of three, including a bushy-haired girl who was staring around her in wonder, rattling off factoids about the school train to her parents, both of whom looked utterly overwhelmed by their surroundings. Remus smiled at the girl—Muggleborn, he guessed—and her parents as they passed and was rewarded with nervous smiles in return.
"Harry, we'll get your trunk loaded while we wait for the Weasleys," Remus said, handing off Anna to Emmeline and leading Harry and Sirius to the train. As they finished, the bushy-haired girl and her father approached, introducing the girl as Hermione Granger.
"Pleased to meet you, Hermione," Remus said, smiling while Sirius kicked Harry gently in the back of the leg to remind him of his manners. The boy had been looking past the other families, searching the platform for Ron. "This is Harry, it's his first time at Hogwarts as well."
Harry smiled and waved, and Hermione began talking to him in rapid succession about things she'd learned about the magical world since receiving her Hogwarts letter a few months back. Sirius introduced himself to Hermione's father and tried to reassure the man that his daughter would be just fine at Hogwarts. Remus returned to Emmeline, who was looking on in amusement.
"You're really going to leave Harry alone with her?" Emmeline teased. "He looks terrified."
Remus shrugged, glancing back at Harry. The boy seemed to be trying to back away as surreptitiously as he could, which only resulted in running himself into the train. "It'll be good for him," he told his wife, putting an arm around her shoulders. "With a friend like her, Harry and Ron won't have time to get into any trouble; Harry's smart enough to know you have to keep quiet when trying to sneak around, and she doesn't seem to have an off switch."
"You're horrible," Emmeline chuckled.
"You noticed. How sweet."
Further conversation was deterred by Anna's cry of "Ginny!" The Lupins turned to find the Weasleys had just arrived. Fred and George (though even after all this time, Remus couldn't tell who was who) were in the lead, pushing their trolleys towards the train. Percy was just behind them, a shiny new prefect badge prominent on his puffed out chest. Ron was next and was rolling his eyes as his mother tried to wipe a smudge of dirt off his nose. Emmeline set Anna down on her feet and the little girl made a beeline for Ginny, who grinned and kneeled down for the hug she knew was coming.
"Morning, Molly," Remus called as the Weasleys approached them. "No Arthur today?"
Molly smiled. "No, he was called into work early for some sort of emergency involving a toaster that burns obscenities into the bread, so I was left to get this lot ready to go," she said, hugging Emmeline hello. The pair of them got into discussion about their mornings and Remus drifted away, back towards Sirius, who was now helping the Weasley boys load their trunks into the train. He looked around for Harry, finding the boy had introduced Ron to Hermione and was now smirking as he watched Ron's eyebrows inch higher and higher on his forehead in response to Hermione's chatter.
It wasn't until the conductor called that the train would be leaving in ten minutes time that Harry broke away from his friends and headed back towards Sirius, Remus, and Emmeline. Predictably, Emmeline ran through a list of things to ask whether Harry had packed; Harry dutifully answered, managing not to roll his eyes once. Once she'd finished, she pulled Harry in for a hug and kiss, leaving the boy blushing and Emmeline rather misty-eyed.
Sirius was next for goodbyes. Remus pretended to ignore the rundown of pranks the other wizard had taught Harry to pull while away at school, along with all the best places to hide from teachers, and a few shortcuts out of the castle, should Harry get bored. Their hug was brief, and Sirius seemed to make it a point to ruffle the hair Emmeline had so carefully smoothed into place before they'd left for the train station. Sirius then turned away and Remus pretended not to notice his friend dabbing at his eyes with his robe sleeve.
Finally, Harry stood in front of Remus. It seemed amazing that six years had flown by the way they had. He still remembered as though it was yesterday crouching in the bushes near a playground in Surrey beside Mad-Eye Moody, waiting for the children and parents to clear off so they could essentially kidnap the boy and take him to London. During those first few days, when Harry was just learning about Remus and Emmeline and the wizarding world, it had seemed unlikely that there was another side of Harry besides the shy little boy who was terrified of asking questions. It hadn't taken but a few weeks for Harry to realize he was more than welcome with them and that he was loved, whether he'd just met these people or not. That shy boy had all but vanished as time had gone on, replaced by the hyper, inquisitive boy he was now. Remus couldn't have been happier about how well Harry had grown up. He just couldn't believe it was already time to send him off to Hogwarts for nine months.
"I won't bother saying behave," Remus told Harry quietly, his eyes darting to Sirius, "since I know you have no intention of doing so."
Harry smirked. "How about I just don't get caught?" he suggested cheekily.
Remus laughed. "That I could handle," he conceded, pulling Harry in for a hug. "Take care of yourself. Write often so Emmeline doesn't worry." At this, his wife raised an eyebrow, questioning whether she was the one Harry should concern himself about worrying for him, or Remus. He ignored the look. "And we'll see you at Christmas."
Harry smiled, looking around them a little apprehensively. "Sure you won't tell me how we're Sorted?" he asked in a tone barely above a whisper.
Remus snorted a laugh. "Not a chance," he retorted. "Nice try, though."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Fine," he grumbled. "Just don't let Anna feed Bruce. She always gives him too much."
"We will keep Anna away from Bruce's food," Remus promised. "Now go, before the train leaves without you..."
Harry grinned, gave Emmeline one last hug, then one to Anna to keep her from crying, and jogged over to train, accepting one of the twins' hands up to help him into the compartment. Remus glanced over at Emmeline and smiled at her; she returned it, albeit a little watery and stepped closer so he could wrap his arm around her shoulder again.
"It's all right, Anna!" Harry called from the train, sticking his head out the window. Remus looked around for his daughter, locating her atop Sirius' shoulders, her face stained with tears as she waved back at Harry. "Fred and George say they'll send you and Ginny Hogwarts toilet seats!"
The platform as a whole laughed and minutes later the train had disappeared in a fog of steam.
"Well," Sirius said cheerily as the other families started to Disapparate home, "that's him out of our hair."
Emmeline rolled her eyes and slapped him in the shoulder. "Careful or you'll be next, Black," she muttered threateningly.
"What, going to send me off to Hogwarts?" Sirius retorted. "Fine by me! I'll help Harry make sure Snivelly's bald by Halloween."
While Emmeline and Sirius argued companionably, Remus chuckled and removed his daughter from his friend's shoulders, then led the way back to the Muggle world.
All in all, Remus mused as Anna rested her cheek against his shoulder. He glanced back at his wife and best friend, who were now laughing at some joke. Life may not have been quite as kind to them as he would have liked, but everything had turned much better than he could have hoped. He didn't know what the future held for himself or his family, but for once in his life, he cared only about the present.
And life had never looked better.
AN: So it's been around five years since I originally started this story. For those of you who've stuck with me throughout my very frustrating update schedule, I thank you oh so very much. I hope you've enjoyed the story as much as I have I merely ask one more very slight favor: please review once more, for my sake. Authors are needy creatures; we need assurance that we're still loved on a very regular basis! Thanks!