CHAPTER 3


It was raining when Harry awoke on his birthday. The air was cool and rather than getting up early Harry burrowed further underneath his blankets and fell back asleep. A few hours later, Harry was jolted awake when a loud crack of thunder sounded right overhead. Grabbing his glasses, Harry looked at the clock on his nightstand and saw that it was almost 10. Getting up, he headed downstairs and found that he was the only one up other than Sirius. "Morning," Harry said as he went to pour himself a glass of orange juice.

"Morning, Prongslet," Sirius said, grinning as he reread a letter from Jenny Sheppard to James. Putting the letter aside, he asked, "You always sleep this late?"

"No," Harry replied, sitting at the kitchen table, looking over the backyard and woods and the pond beyond the treeline. "But with the rain I thought I'd just have a lie-in."

Sirius smiled at the phrasing but said nothing. It was like when James would start slipping on covering his English accent, only since Harry was raised in the US, he'd started picking up the English accent. "Well, you're 13 now. Feel any older?"

"Not really," Harry said, quietly.

Sirius noticed that Harry seemed withdrawn and asked, "Everything okay?"

"Fine," Harry said, shrugging. But when Sirius kept giving him a look, he sighed. "Dad just seems lonely lately. That's all."

Sitting across from Harry, Sirius studied his godson. "You want your Dad to find someone?"

"Well, yeah," Harry replied, thinking about Kelly. "I mean Kelly and I—" Catching Sirius smirk Harry caught himself. "I-I mean we're… we're close. I just want Dad to find someone."

"You and me both, Harry," Sirius admitted. When he saw Harry's look, he sighed. "When Lily died, James was depressed for a long time. But he hid it well and focused on you and his job. But he hasn't been happy. And even though he really likes Jenny Sheppard, he still misses your Mum."

"Do you think if I tell Dad I don't mind him dating Jenny it'd make him feel better?" Harry asked, hopefully.

"It's more complicated than that, Harry," James said as he joined his son and his best friend in the kitchen.

"Why?" Harry asked as James poured himself a cup of tea from the pot on the stove. "Dad, you like Jenny. I know you're not replacing Mom."

Looking over at James, Sirius could see the conflict in his best friend's eyes. "James, Lily was one of a kind. And you and I both know that she would kick your arse for taking so long to get remarried."

"I know," James replied with more of a snap in his voice than he'd intended.

Seeing that his father was not up for discussing the topic at that moment, Harry asked, "Is Kelly up yet?"

"She was reading when I checked on her before I came down," James replied, going to start breakfast. "She just said to call her when breakfast is ready."

"She and Hermione are two peas in a pod," Harry said with a smile.

"Well, it'll make this year more interesting," Sirius noted as he stood up. Giving James a pointed look, Sirius added, "I'm going to check on Moony. I'll see you later, Prongs."

Once Sirius had left, Harry asked, "How long has Remus been a werewolf?"

James glanced at Harry as he cooked, not asking how Harry knew of Remus's condition. "Since he was a kid," James replied, simply. "So what do you want to do for your birthday?"

Harry shrugged as he looked out at the rain. "I dunno. The zoo, maybe? They just redid their reptile exhibits."

James laughed as he finished cooking and divided the bacon and eggs between three plates. "Harry, your fascination with snakes never ceases to amaze me."

"Because I'm in Gryffindor?" Harry said smiling as he also poured himself a bowl of cereal.

"Exactly," James replied before going to the stairs. "Kelly! Breakfast!"

When Kelly came downstairs, she carefully made her way towards the table and sat down just as Harry set the plates down. "It's still raining?" she asked, feeling for a fork.

"Been raining since early morning," Harry said as he wolfed down his food. "How does a trip to the zoo sound?"

Kelly nodded as she was still chewing a bite of eggs and when she swallowed she said, "Sounds like fun."

"You don't have to come if you don't want to," James said, gently. "I can ask Sirius to stay with you while Harry and I are out."

"No, it's fine," Kelly insisted. "I haven't been to the zoo since I… Since I lost my sight."

Harry eyed Kelly as he took his plate over to the sink. The one thing that they never talked about much was Kelly's blindness. While she did her best not to let her disability keep her from living her life, there were still things she missed out on enjoying. But as Harry watched her take her plate over to the counter, he decided to make sure that Kelly enjoyed herself today.

As Sirius watched Harry and Kelly walking along the paths between the animal exhibits, he was reminded of watching James and Lily when they'd stroll down the streets of Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade. Harry would say something or point something out. Kelly would reply and occasionally rib Harry back.

Next to him, Sirius saw that James was also watching Harry and Kelly. "So what's on your mind, Prongs?" Sirius asked, casually as they headed towards the Australian Outback exhibit.

James didn't reply right away and while Harry and Kelly went on ahead, he looked at Sirius. "You're right, Sirius." When James saw the look on his best friend's face he went on. "Lily would never let me hear the end of it if she saw me moping and brooding. And I do love Jenny."

"James, I know you loved Lily," Sirius said giving James an encouraging look. "It's time to get back on that broom and think of yourself. You've raised Harry and he's a great kid-"

"Yeah," James said, impatiently. "I know, okay?"

Sirius frowned as he and James headed into the building. "That's another thing," he said, quietly as they walked past the kangaroo enclosure. "You're bloody less tetchy when you're with Miss Jennifer Sheppard."

James shrugged as he looked around for Harry and Kelly. The truth was that he did feel more like his old self when he was with Jenny. He smiled more and when they were alone together he didn't feel alone.


While Sirius made dinner that evening, James sat out on the upper porch with Jenny who had stopped by to wish Harry 'Happy Birthday'. Looking out at the cloudy sky, James glanced over at Jenny before turning back to the open front yard and the trees surrounding. "I've been thinking about something you asked me when we were undercover in Paris last year."

"Oh?" Jenny asked, looking at James. "And what was that?"

James sighed and after a minute, he said, "You asked me if I was still in love with Lily. If she was the reason that I couldn't tell you 'I love you'." Turning to Jenny, he said, "Lily was the first girl I ever loved. I met her our first day at Hogwarts and I—" He took a moment before going on. "I love you, Jen. I feel the same way about you that I felt about Lily the first time I saw her on the train ride to Hogwarts."

Jenny thought about that for a while before she reached over and took James' hand and gave him a smile. "I'm not asking for a commitment right now, James." Giving him a devilish smirk, she added, "I mean we've certainly been close enough that—"

"I-I get the point," James said with a laugh. Staring into Jenny's beautiful brown eyes, he said, "I love you, Jen. And I really do want to be with you for the rest of my life."

"So what's stopping you?" Jenny asked, not looking away from James' eyes.

XXX

Sitting at the breakfast bar watching Sirius cooking, Harry asked, "You think Dad's going to ask Jenny to marry him?"

"Dunno, Prongslet," Sirius admitted as he put a casserole in the oven. Looking at Harry as he cleaned up, he asked, "You alright?'

"Just thinking," Harry replied, shrugging.

"'Bout what?" Sirius asked as he started working on a side dish. When Harry didn't reply, Sirius gave him a look. "You can talk to me, Harry. If it's something you don't want your dad to know about, that's okay. My lips are sealed."

Harry didn't say anything for a while but when Sirius resumed chopping vegetables, he asked, "If Dad and Jenny get married, what do I call her?"

"Well," Sirius replied as he wiped his hands on a kitchen towel. "I'd say stick with Jenny. Or Jen." Seeing the question in Harry's eye, he added, "Jenny would be your stepmother, Harry. She'll never replace Lily. And I would very much recommend that you ask your father before referring to Jenny as 'Mum'."

"Right," Harry nodded.

"That's problem number one down," Sirius said, watching Harry as he cleaned up the kitchen and pulled a skillet out of the cupboard. "What's number two?"

"Are Kelly and I doomed?" Harry asked, after looking about to make sure Kelly wasn't around.

Sirius was a bit flummoxed by the question and leaned against the counter, raising an eyebrow as he studied his godson. "Doomed?"

Harry shrugged. "I've known Kelly since I was 6 years old. We've been friends for years. But Mom and Dad didn't—"

"It's not a fair comparison," Sirius countered, shaking his head. As he started cooking vegetables, he elaborated. "Your mum died, Harry. It was a terrible tragedy but that doesn't mean that you and Kelly can't have a wonderful life together."