Epilogue: The Happiest of Birthdays
Not so many days after the effective death of Peter Pettigrew, Harry got up to beautiful sun shine. He had looked out on to the lawn of the house he loved so much to see his godfather standing with a mug in his hand, just watching the world go by. He saw a man who was finally, after a long struggle, at peace with the world.
After that day, Sirius seemed to be less in a hurry; less eager to get on with life and not so inclined to always be moving. He was more content and more eager to saviour little moments.
Remus knew there had been a change when one night after he had tucked Harry in, he had returned to the living room to find Sirius just sitting reading (Quidditch Throw the Ages). Remus had racked his brain to try and think of time since Sirius had been out of Azkaban so far to when he had just sat reading.
No, he could remember a lot of Sirius brooding at night, but not a lot of just chilling.
"What?" Sirius had asked when he noted he was being watched. Moony had simply shaken his head and gone to get a drink.
That had been two months ago. Every day since, Sirius had seemed a little more at ease. The effect was dramatic.
He seemed to have taken a de-aging potion. Sirius' eyes seemed to have got a sparkle back and the bags under them were reduced. He did not walk around under a cloud and was certainly less weighed down by the past. The man now playing in their new installed swimming pool could have passed for any young father playing with their son on said sons seventh birthday. If you hadn't been told Sirius had been to Azkaban, Remus didn't think you'd know.
Sirius had got the idea of the pool as the days had begun to heat up. As if the weather too were overjoyed that there was no more immediate threats to their family life, a blistering summer had arrived. Long gone was Sirius' pale, hollow skin – he had tanned as if he had spent two weeks abroad.
For now though, when the Harry was in the pool, he had to hold on to something – preferably an adult due to the fact that he had been with his aunt and uncle, needless to say, they had not shelled out money for swimming lessons. Though it had made Sirius angry at first, now he looked at the positive side. When Harry looked back, he'd remember all the fun they had splashing about together while he did learn to swim.
That day though, it was all about fun, seeing as the pool was quite full. As Hogwarts was out for summer, Charlie, Bill and Nymph had all come up to the house with the younger kids for the second birthday party Harry had ever had.
The signs that the past five years had happened were still visible in their day to day lives. When Remus and Sirius had first offered to throw Harry a party for his birthday he had been a little confused by the concept. That he should have one...a treat only reserved for Dudley...well, it had confused him a little.
They were never going to be able to erase all that entirely.
But the Dursleys were as far from Harry's mind as they could be that day it seemed.
"Lupin," a voice called through from the living room. Apparently Severus had arrived.
"Here to see the birthday boy I take it?"
"Indeed," Severus nodded. In his hand was a rather well wrapped, suspiciously book like parcel.
"Where is he?"
"Out in the pool with Sirius, Ted, Arthur and the other kids. Molly and Andy are as ever playing the role of the adults," he pointed through the window to where ladies who were sitting, watching the goings on.
"A swimming pool? Is that not a tad extravagant on Sirius' part."
"Maybe, but it is going to give Harry a lot of good memories, especially of today. Even if it is, then it is an argument for another day," said Remus as he picked up the pitcher of lemonade and some plastic cups.
"Is any one thirsty?" he called out to the swimmers as he excited the kitchen, Severus following behind him as he went into the garden.
"Hey Uncle Sev!" called Harry from the side of the pool he was clinging on to, Sirius not more than two feet from him.
"Happy birthday young man," the potions master called as he sat down by Andromeda. As a Slytherin, she was the member of the motley crew he was least likely to get annoyed with, though he was thoroughly expecting to have a headache by the time that he left to go back to Spinners End.
Any argument that he may have had with the pool died as soon as he saw the radiant smile on Harry's face.
"Thanks," he said. "Moony, can I have some?"
"Of course you may, but you're going to have to get out of the pool for a drink it."
Apparently though, that was fine with Harry. Climbing out of the pool once Sirius had helped him round to the steps, he soon found himself wrapped in a towel on Remus's lap.
His eyes stayed on the pool though, where a game of 'Get Sirius' had been declared silently by the others kids. While Charlie, Bill and the twins had gone for a frontal attack, Sirius also had to contend with Nymphadora climbing on his back.
Naturally, Ted and Arthur were being no help at all and just laughing.
Harry watched with a slightly longing look on his face. Remus dropped a kiss on his forehead. "Don't worry buddy – this time next year, you'll be able to do that too."
The young Potter nodded. "I know."
It was not long until the others too vacated the pool. Sirius needed the biggest drink of all when he was allowed out.
"Why is it even when you are relatively young still, kid's make you feel about forty?" asked Sirius as he got his breathe back.
Andromeda only cackled in response. He was a parent indeed.
Molly gave a smile. "I think it is a gift they have," she said sarcastically.
By the time that he had got his breathe back, the kids were all involved in a rather ferocious looking game of tag. Severus' opened presents lay on the table; the two story books looked quiet fun to read considering who had picked them out.
If it was a normal night then he may have invited Severus to stay read to Harry before bed, but as it was, he wanted to that night. He had not had the opportunity before; not on his birthday.
Gratefully, Sirius sat down; apparently not needed for that game and so he relaxed with a cool bear and Jaime at his feet.
Oh yes - this was the life for him.
The rest of the day followed much of the morning had – there was lots of laughing going on and at about five o'clock the entire 'family' sat down for a birthday tea, which much to Severus' disapproval, broke with the usual healthy diet that Sirius and Remus normally followed. Crisps and cake was the order of the day, as well as burgers off of the BBQ. If it was nutritious, at least for that night, it was off the menu.
Within minutes of having eaten there food, the kids were once more off running about. It boded well for what the rest of the summer was going to bring to them.
"You know Harry is really going to miss the twins next year," said Sirius to Molly as he realised that the boys were only too soon going to be going off to Hogwarts – Percy was off with this in take into Hogwarts.
He did not think the two of them were ever going to have a great relationship. It was not as bad as it had been a few months before hand but it was quite clear the two of them were not destined to be close friends. Percy missed Scabbers in spite of the fact he had a new rat. But he was a young boy. Sirius could only hope that when he was old enough to understand all of what had gone on, he would forgive him.
"Well, let's not worry about that yet," said Molly with a heavy sigh that which drew a quizzical look from Sirius. She shrugged. "My boys are growing up too fast for my liking."
Charlie and Bill was just the tip of the iceberg. They both knew in the blink of an eye all of the children, even Ginny, was going to be up at Hogwarts.
And then the lord only knew what was going to happen to them all. "Merlin preserve them all," said Sirius under his breath.
Molly looked at him with a clear understanding. As much as they both knew it was a good thing they had ensured Peter could never get to the children again, Harry was going to come up against a lot worse than Peter in his lifetime. Molly's boys were the truest friends he was ever going to get and so they were going to come up against it too.
Molly wasn't sure what or who she believed, but she nodded: 'Amen.'
"Today was so good," said Harry later that evening as he got into bed, a very exhausted seven year old indeed. After he had let his tea go down, he and the others had got back in the pool. Although he and his friends usually had a lot of fun, they had been especially hyper active today.
Climbing up on to the bed, he settled himself next to Sirius and without so much as a second though he cuddled in to his side and let his eyes drop, though, of course, up until twenty or so minutes ago, he had been protesting he was not tired.
"I am glad you enjoyed it, pup," said Sirius as he dropped a kiss into his hair.
Harry remained quiet for just a moment before he buried his godfathers t shirt, before murmuring, as if almost embarrassed; "That was the best birthday ever."
"Well, I am glad to hear it," laughed Sirius softly but then he became alarmed as he felt Harry shake beside him. The young boy turned his face up to him and Sirius was alarmed to see it was covered with tears.
"Don't be sad if you have had a good day!" said the Animagus as he put his arms about the boy.
He did not want to see his godson crying, not any day of the year. But especially not that day.
"It is just I had a funny thought and I didn't like it," he said as he let Sirius cuddle him, as ever finding comforting the arms of his beloved godfather. "And its cause' I'm happy I am crying. They are happy tears really."
"And what was that?" said Sirius hoping that he was going to be able make it go away.
"What if you had not come back for me? What if I was still with Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon?"
Sirius understood why harry had got upset – the thought made his own blood run cold.
He had nearly been with Harry a year – five years too short of what they should have been together. For all the ups and the downs and the twists, it had turned out to be the best year of his life.
Really, it had been the year he had at last stepped up and became a dad. He had grown up, not only because he had had too, but because he had wanted too.
Holding Harry closer, he sighed. "Well, I can see why that would get you in a state buddy, but you have to think – I did come for you. I did and we're together now. Nothing will change that kiddo – I won't let it."
"I promise. It is us against the world, me, you and Remus. We're a family Harry. And that's all there is too it."
At the end of the day, when all was said and done Sirius knew that was the only truth that had ever really mattered.
It was an hour later when Remus walked up the stairs. Poking his head around the door he saw Sirius was still with his godson, peaceful as he slept with the boy in the crook of his arm. The two of them looked as if they had never been apart.
"And never will be again."
It was at that moment when he felt something soft brush up against him before going past. Yes, they were failing miserably at keeping Jamie downstairs at night. The growing pup jumped with grace up on to his young master's bed and settled quickly down before looking back at Remus nervously.
"Just this one night then. You're back on the kitchen floor tomorrow, buddy, don't get too comfortable."
Jamie put his head down on the bed and was asleep within minutes.
Remus had been about to go to his own room when he saw that if one of the two pups in the room was asleep then the other wasn't.
Walking over to the bed, he kissed Harry on the forehead.
"Night Moony," Harry muttered quietly, careful not to raise his voice in case he woke Sirius.
"Goodnight pup, sweet dreams."
"I love you too."
Author Note: Hey all – well, that's all on this story folks. Can I just say a massive thank you to all you lovely people who have read and reviewed and spoken to me about the plot? I have had a lot of fun with this fic over the past year and a bit.
I know a few of you were wondering if there was going to be a sequel, but I have kind of run out of steam for the moment. I don't want to go through the motions of the Hogwarts years for the sake of it, so I am afraid until I think up something a bit more original to continue the plot with; I am going to be leaving it here with Remus, Sirius and Harry safe together.
Thank you so much again guys for reviewing! I really appreciate it!