Chapter 2

Arriving at the sprawling grounds of the ancestral home of the Potters had been anything but uneventful.

When the infuriated Lily, James and Sirius had stormed into the great Hall after their confrontation with Albus, all conversation stopped as the students stared at the overnight celebrities. Sirius, artist that he was, immediately struck a pose worthy of Madonna while calling out, "Yes, it is me: Sirius Black, the Mind-Boggling Sexy Beast. Autographed photos are available via owl post."

This broke Lily and James out of their funk. Chuckling, they headed over to the Gryffindor table where Harry, Hermione and Remus were finishing their breakfast. James waved them all back into their seats as they rose to leave. "Lily and I've not eaten yet, so take your time. I don't know if the house is stocked with food, so we'll eat while we have a chance."

The younger generation and Moony watched Padfoot, Prongs and Lily with wary expressions. "Albus?" Remus asked as the threesome loaded their plates.

A short nod from James was the only answer.

Halfway through the silent meal, Minerva ghosted into the hall, heading for the newly reunited and expanded Marauder family. Leaning into Lily's ear, she muttered, "We need to talk about Miss Granger."

"What about her?" Lily replied at a normal volume.

Sighing, Minerva continued the discussion at a tone where everyone in the hall could – and were – eavesdropping, "You don't have permission from her parents to take her from school." Forestalling the explosion from the former head girl, Minerva held up her hand, "You and I, along with Miss Granger can Portkey to the Granger house to get their verbal permission to satisfy the formalities."

Turning back to her breakfast, Lily replied curtly, "After breakfast then."

With a sad expression, Minerva nodded before heading to the front table. Despite the earlier words of reconciliation and forgiveness, it was obvious that it would be a while before the Potters could begin to forget the damage done to their son. Minerva was not looking forward to the first time James, Lily and Sirius saw Harry without his shirt. There would be violence from one or all of them. She was unsure who she was most afraid of facing in the aftermath.

James watched Hermione lean over the table to the redheaded mother of her best friend, "I don't want to be a bother…"

Interrupting, James waved her off. "Not a bother at all. A touch of Legilimancy, a quick Portkey and we're in your back garden." Nodding at his son, James teased, "I couldn't separate you two for this adventure, it would break the rules."

As Harry blushed, Hermione regarded James with an evaluative look. He could tell that she was divining a hint of the truth behind his flippancy. Apparently, she was as smart and quick as advertised. He hadn't discussed it with Lily yet, but James intended to discuss the prophecy with Harry over the course of the next week. It was doubtful that Lily would contradict him. With all that Harry had been through, The Boy-Who-Lived deserved to know the truth. Not that James was happy about it at all.

Chewing his bacon, James stared off into space. There was a hint of nostalgia about the meal. It was the first time in years that he, Lily, Padfoot and Moony had eaten a meal in the Great Hall. Despite his newly born fierce hatred of Peter, a part of James missed Wormtail. Peter had been one of his best friends for years. Such feelings didn't disappear overnight.

"Why?" James whispered, emotion overcoming him.

Instinctively reaching for his hand at his tone, Lily asked, "Why what?"

"Peter."

The forks and knives stopped for the rest of the family. As James expected, it was Moony who answered, "The best we can figure," he indicated to the silent former Prisoner of Azkaban who nodded in concurrence, "Peter turned to Voldemort around the time Harry was born. Remember, that's when he started to 'travel for work' so much."

Nodding, Prongs digested the words, nonetheless reiterating his question, "But why?"

"Because he was a fucking coward who had no honour, no love for his family and ..and…" Sirius trailed off weakly as he shook his head. "Because, in the end, he was afraid and weak."

"He's pathetic," Harry announced lowly with a vicious undertone. "Last year, he was begging to be spared. Trying to tell us why it wasn't his fault. He tried everything he could think of to have them," he nodded with his chin to the grey haired Marauders, "not kill him. He was on his knees, telling me how much I look like you. I almost..." The hard glint in Harry's eyes was not missed by his father or the bushy haired girl at Harry's side. She wrapped her arm about Harry's shoulder, pulling him into a half embrace.

"But you didn't," Hermione reassured Harry.

"Have no fear," a cold voiced James Potter announced. "Peter Pettigrew has a reckoning coming. Of that, there is no doubt." Padfoot and Moony nodded in silent agreement.

"I'm not very hungry anymore," James announced after a long moment. His appetite had been thoroughly smothered by the discussion.

Forks clattered as they stood, en masse. Minerva swooped down from the head table in response to the movement. With grim satisfaction, James noticed that Albus and Severus hadn't made an appearance at breakfast.

Turning, James led the way out of the Great Hall, Lily at his shoulder, Padfoot and Moony on his flanks. Harry and Hermione nestled up behind his parents as they figuratively and literally followed the elder Potters' example. Much had been done for ill. Some had been done for good. In the end, a Potter blazes their own path. Harry had been unconsciously doing it his own life, but had felt rootless, without anchor. James looked over his shoulder to his son before giving him a quick smile and nod.

Harry wouldn't know it for a few days, yet, but he had been living the Potter Family Motto: Fortune Favours the Bold.

.oOo.

Harry watched his father stare into Hermione's eyes for a second. James muttered, "Got it," before incanting, "Portus." The stick in his hand glowed blue as he held it out to all gathered. Once the seven passengers were touching the portkey, James announced, "Activate."

After the usual nauseating magical whirlwind, the group found themselves in a well-groomed garden behind a large brick home.

"Where are we?" Sirius asked as he looked around. Breathing deeply, he added, "Smells like the sea."

"We live in Kent," Hermione answered as she made her way to the back door of her house. It was early on a Sunday. Harry remembered Hermione telling him that her parents were probably lounging about the house. They didn't go to Mass until nine thirty.

"I'll just let my parents know we're here," she told everyone, but her eyes were on Harry. He smiled at her concern, which in turn produced a smile on The Smartest Witch of the Age's face.

Harry caught the tail end of an amused glance between the adults before his mother sidled up to him. "Honey, I had a long talk with Minerva this morning."

Harry's eyes cut to his head of house, hoping to see an inkling of what was coming, but as usual, Minerva was a blank slate.

"Yeah?" Harry asked with more than a bit of trepidation.

"I'm really proud of you," his mother told him before pulling him into a brief hug.

Stunned and off balance, Harry was trying to recover. He'd expected, "What the hell are you doing taking Divination?" or "Why do you barely have an Exceeds average for all your courses?" or something else of that kind.

"But," his Mum continued.

Here it comes.

"But I think you've had so much on your mind the past few years, I'm hoping that now that you have your family back, we can work together to help your grades. Particularly in Potions and Transfiguration."

Before he could stop himself, Harry snorted in derision, "Like that'll ever happen," he muttered.

"What do you mean by that?" Lily asked firmly.

Harry glanced to Moony, looking for verbal or non-verbal advice. Taking pity on the boy, Remus intervened.

"Lily, Severus isn't a very impartial teacher. He's very aware that Harry is James' son."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" James growled.

Instinctively, Harry withdrew physically and emotionally. Pulling out of his mother's embrace, he took a step back from everyone. "Snape hates my guts," Harry announced, cutting to the chase. A part of him heard Minerva's sympathetic Tut-tut before he half glared at his Father, "He hates me because of something that happened when you all went to school together."

This sobered all present, even Minerva. In a flash of insight, Harry realized that Professor McGonagall was just as culpable for the Marauders' predations as the boys themselves were. She was their head of house, it was her responsibility – nay her duty– to keep her lions in order. Granted, she couldn't have made the Marauders into model citizens, but she could have quashed the persecution they executed against Severus Snape. Harry still wondered at Sirius' nonchalant attitude regarding his role in the near miss between Snape and Moony. It was no wonder that Snape hated all Gryffindors with a passion.

With a sombre expression, James told his son, "We'll have a talk when we get home. For what it's worth, I'm sorry that Severus has vented his spleen on you for my actions." Harry was sure that in that moment his twenty three year old father looked closer to fifty than his own age. He also wondered at the wisdom of James' little prank the evening before.

Fortunately, the back door opened with a bang. Hermione bounced through, a big smile on her face. "Mum and Dad are getting presentable, but they seemed alright with my coming to stay with you." Noticing the glum expressions, she turned to Harry, "What's wrong?"

"Later."

Hesitantly, she nodded her acquiescence. Once more, Harry was grateful to have such a caring friend. Or was she more than a friend? To himself, he repeated, "Later."

.oOo.

Convincing the Grangers to allow Hermione to accompany her friend to the Potters' home was simple. The hardest task was to convince the dentists that James and Lily were really Harry's parents. After all, they were only nine years older than their son.

Lily sighed, "It's very obscure magic that no one has ever replicated. We were placed in suspended animation until last night when we reappeared at the home we were renting back in '81."

"But everyone was sure you were dead?" Alice Granger asked.

Confused, Lily turned to Minerva, "Why was everyone so sure we were dead?"

In a resigned tone, Minerva explained, "There were two piles of ash in your lounge that we all figured were the remains of your funeral pyres. The piles were in human shape and roughly your sizes. We had no reason to think otherwise than you were both dead."

"Unfortunately, that makes sense," James grudgingly admitted. Lily turned to her husband, giving him a wan smile. He was still incensed at the blatant stupidity shown by the Headmaster regarding the Potter wills.

"It's very odd, but so is magic," Steven Granger concluded.

"Wiser words have never been spoken," Remus joked.

This seemed to signal the end of the discussion as everyone rose. Embraces by the Grangers preceded James creating another portkey. This time Minerva nodded to everyone before she Apparated back to Hogsmeade with a crack.

"I'll never get used to that," Steven muttered.

"If you need anything," Lily told the Grangers, "Just send an owl from Diagon Alley addressed to any of us. We'll configure the wards so it'll get through." Frowning, she thought about wards for the Grangers.

Turning to her husband, she cocked an eyebrow. When she had his attention, she gestured to the house. Understanding her, he nodded before replying, "I'll make a few calls."

The laughter from Sirius and Remus complemented the grin on Harry's face. "They always told me that you two could have a ten minute conversation in a few seconds with only a few words. Now I believe them."

In a mortally offended tone, Sirius wasped, "You didn't believe me before?"

Lily smiled when Harry sing-songed, "Not-a-chance-Padfoot."

"Let's go," Lily cajoled. Thirty seconds later, the portkey deposited them in the entrance hall to Rowan Hill.

.oOo.

"Holy crap." Immediately, her hands flew to her mouth while Hermione's eyes widened as she realized what she'd just said.

Everyone turned to the reddening young witch. The Marauders were all smiling to a man, while Harry was too stunned at the opulence of his new home to tease his friend.

"That was my reaction to-the-word, dear. Don't worry about it," Lily consoled the embarrassed teen.

"Thanks," Hermione muttered as she unconsciously wrapped an arm into Harry's. She watched the Potters head into the house, discussing something or the other between them. Turning to Harry, she asked, "Impressed?"

"Actually, I'm furious."

Taken aback for the second time in as many days, Hermione gaped. The moment passed quickly as her furious intellect came to the logical conclusion.

"This was available to you when you were living under the stairs at your relatives' home," she declared, understanding his upset.

"Under the stairs?" Sirius hissed from behind the teens.

Padfoot had been trailing after Harry and Hermione, enjoying their dumbfounded looks. When the conversation had turned more serious, the tiny bit of responsible adult in his heart poked out its snout, forcing him to listen.

Harry spun about to find his godfather quaking in fury. "Sirius…"

"PRONGS!"

Running footsteps heralded the approach of the elder Potter. "What? What's wrong?"

"Did you know that fat arsed Dursley made Harry live in a fucking broom cupboard?"

His eyes narrowing in an expression that Harry could only describe as hatred, James coolly replied, "I'm aware."

"You're aware?" ranted Sirius. Waving his arms in an exaggerated fashion, he called, "What the hell are you on about, Mr 'I'm Aware'?"

His voice still low and dangerous, James replied, "In a few days, when everything settles down, Lily and I are going to pay a visit to my dear in-laws to announce our return. Hopefully, we can catch up a bit." James nearly bit off the end of the sentence in his disgust. Harry was almost sorry for the Dursleys. Almost, but not really.

"I'm coming with you," Sirius announced.

"The more the merrier, old man. Now come on, we can't find any of the elves. Lily's in a right state about old Rauri." James didn't hesitate as he turned back into the house, Sirius following.

"Elves?" Hermione snapped.

"Hermione, don't," Harry cut her off. "I'm sure my parents and grandparents before them treated Rauri and any other elves with dignity. Don't ruin this week, please."

Hermione was surprised. This was the first time that Harry had ever stood up to one of her rants. She was about to tear a strip off him, before she considered his words. Eventually, she nodded her head, "Alright, I see your point, but I don't like it. It's slavery, Harry, pure and simple."

Shrugging, Harry countered, "What if they need to be bound to survive?"

Hermione opened her mouth to pick up her rant before his comment caught her flatfooted. "I don't know."

With a teasing smile, he leaned in to her, "Did mine ears deceiveth me? Did you admit to not knowing something?" The desire for her that had been a nearly constant companion these last weeks flared brightly within him. The slight light-headedness combined with a tugging, drawing need led to the inevitable conclusion that both teens had been both dreading and desiring for quite some time.

Fortune favoured them, as she leaned forward to tease him back when she saw his face shift from friendly teasing to an incredibly powerful desire. The next moment, his lips were on hers.

Without thought, she wrapped her arms about his neck, digging her fingers in his hair. His arms encircled her small waist, pulling her close to him.

Eagerly, she returned his kiss, parting her lips. Harry groaned as he plunged his tongue into her mouth.

"Oh, Moony. Lookit him. All grown up and snogging."

"I know, Padfoot. It seemed like just yesterday he was peeing on you while I wiped his dirty arse."

The mood now thoroughly broken, Harry and Hermione parted lips, but stayed in each other's arms. Both of them turned to see the older Marauders who were watching the teens while sporting wide grins.

"Don't piss me off, she's really smart," Harry threatened.

"Ooohhh," Sirius mocked.

Without hesitating, Hermione drew her wand before casting a muttered spell at Padfoot. Harry and Remus fell down they were laughing so hard when Sirius' clothes disappeared and were replaced with an oversized cloth nappy. A huge pacifier was in his mouth and his hair had all fallen out except a patch on his forehead.

"Awww," a high-pitched squeal emitted from the protesting mouth of the Baby-Sirius.

"Who's your Mummy?" Hermione taunted as she put her hands on her slim hips.

"You are," Baby-Sirius conceded with a pout.

"Right then," she smugly agreed as she took Harry's hand and led him away.

"Wait, what about me?" Baby-Sirius squalled.

"It'll wear off in an hour or so. Harry and I have some very unfinished business to attend."

.oOo.

When the teens rounded the corner, Remus chuckled as he ended the charm Hermione had cast on Sirius.

"You fucker. You taught her that, didn't you?" Sirius smiled as he asked.

Moony shrugged as he returned the smile. It faded a bit before he looked to where Harry and his newly minted girlfriend had disappeared. "He's going to need her."

The smile melted from Sirius' face. "They're going to need each other. Come on, let's find Prongs. We need to tell him about Ickle Harry and Hermy." The two old friends turned to head down the beautiful marble hallway. "God, I'm glad they're back. Could you imagine me giving Harry 'The Talk'?"

Remus' laughter was the only response.

They eventually found the Potters in the kitchen talking with an old house elf. Remus squinted at the diminutive being. Recognition dawned as he exclaimed, "Rauri!"

Smiling, the major domo of Rowan Hill gave a short bow, "Master Remus is a good sight to these old eyes. First my Lord and my Lady return from Beyond and now Master Remus. Is that my Lord Blackmoor behind you, sir?"

"Hey there Rauri," Sirius greeted absently as he scanned the counters for the goodies the elf usually had waiting for casual consumption.

The elf ignored Sirius' scan while turning to James, "Will Master Peter join us as well?"

The humans stiffened. "Peter Pettigrew betrayed the House of Richmond to Lord Voldemort. Pettigrew is cast from our confidence and welcome," James declared using language that was borderline ritualistic, but conveyed the depth of his feelings to his old family retainer.

Rauri nodded before asking, "And the other two in the house?"

Lily smiled warmly, "Lord Harry and his friend Miss Granger have returned with us."

A bright smile blossomed on the old withered face, "Young Lord Harry has returned as well! Oh joy! I must bake a cake." With a shooing motion, he scattered everyone from his kitchen as he began singing an old Welsh song of hearth and home.

Moony and Padfoot followed James and Lily into the family sitting room. "Oh, by the way, Prongs," Remus mentioned with affected casualness. "Miss Granger is not Harry's friend."

Puzzled, James asked, "Huh?" Lily on the other hand, wasn't fooled at all.

"Did she finally kiss him?"

"Actually, she was snogging the life out of him," Sirius replied.

"Let's be fair, Padfoot. They were snogging each other senseless."

The laughter echoed in the sitting room as the foursome fell into easy chatter and gossip of what had gone on in the years that James and Lily had been gone. Forestalling the inevitable serious discussion gave them all an emotional break and a chance to catch their second wind as it were.

"What's going on with Voldemort?" James finally asked.

Sighing, Remus leaned forward on his knees. "I'm not really sure. Beyond what you know with the Stone and the Chamber, the only real activity has been this selection of Harry's by the Goblet of Fire. To be fair, though, this isn't necessarily Voldemort's design. We just assume it's Voldemort, as it involves Harry. It could just as easily be Lucius Malfoy or some other surviving Death Eater."

"Don't forget Harry's dream," Sirius droned as he stared straight ahead. Remus glanced at Padfoot with a look of surprise mixed with concern. Surprise because Remus hadn't heard about this dream. Concern, because his old friend had been slipping into moments where he stared straight ahead, ignoring the goings on around him. Glancing across the room, he saw the same expressions of concern on the Potters' faces.

"What dream?" a frowning Lily asked.

Sirius related the substance of the dream of Peter, the nascent Dark Lord and the murder of Frank Bryce.

Remus watched James and Lily sink back into the settee on which they were sitting, hands tightly clasped together.

"I think it's time we had a talk, Harry and Hermione included," James announced with an air of resignation. Leaning forward, his elbows on his knees, James scrubbed his face with numb hands. Lily nodded with reluctance, her expression making plain that although she agreed with her husband, she didn't like the course of action one bit.

"Rauri, would you please find Lord Harry and his friend? Tell them we need them here."

The elf popped in, bowed low before intoning, "Of course, my Lord," and popped out again.

.oOo.

Hermione was in heaven. She and Harry were currently cuddling after a magnificent snogging session in a gorgeous sitting room. There had been a bit of mutual groping that had left her very satisfied. Harry's abs were as firm as they looked, as was his bum. He seemed particularly enamoured with her own derriere which gave her a wonderful feeling of femininity that the boy she fancied found her desirable. "Do you have any idea where we are?" she asked.

"Nope. Thoroughly lost," a chipper Harry answered.

Taking her head off his chest, she grinned at him, "So this is all I've needed to do to cheer you up all these years? A good snogging?"

His only reply was a firm kiss.

"Lord Harry," an emotional voice greeted.

Breaking apart from her boyfriend, Hermione saw an older elf dressed in silk livery, wearing a traditional horsehair wig that formed a queue at the base of his neck. The elf's eyes were riveted on Harry.

Confused, Harry assumed the elf was talking to him, "Yes?"

"My Lord and Lady require you and your Miss Granger in the family sitting room."

"Oh," Harry replied, apparently more confused with the use of 'my Lord and Lady' when referring to his parents. Hermione watched him translate in his head, though as she made an internal note to ask about the repeated use of noble titles when referring to the Potters and Sirius. "Er, where is the family sitting room?" Harry asked with sheepish embarrassment.

A gentle smile softened the features of the family elf, "Follow me, my Lord."

Hermione held Harry's hand as the soon identified Rauri led the way through the spacious home at a measured pace. Soon, the old elf was lost in tales of Harry as a baby.

"Lord Harry so very much disliked bathing, Miss Granger," Rauri remembered with a fond smile. "One day, he ran away from my Lady when she had her back turned as she prepared the bath. There was not a stitch on him during the dead of winter. My Lord found him in the atrium digging in the dirt. Our young heir was as bare as the day he was born."

Hermione succumbed to laughter as Rauri chuckled at the memory. Turning to her boyfriend, she could see that, though blushing at the teasing, Harry was thoroughly enjoying being the main actor in happy stories of his childhood.

She wrapped her hand in his arm, leaning close to him. Whispering in his ear, she asked, "Will you run down the hall bare for me?"

Seeing the glint in his eyes whenever he was challenged, Hermione froze when he replied, "I will if you will."

After a moment, she found her footing. The idea of her and Harry naked together had crossed her mind of late, but not in any serious way. That might come later, but not any time soon.

"We'll see, Potter," she teased.

He laughed as they turned into the family sitting room.

.oOo.

Lily watched her son with anxious eyes. Silent since his father had bluntly told The Prophecy, Harry was sitting next to his newly minted girlfriend, holding her hand and staring out the window. The redheaded witch had to admire Hermione's understanding of her son. She sat there, waiting for him to speak. Both witches were trembling with desire to pounce on the young wizard, to force him to alleviate their own tension by letting them know how he felt, but both managed to control the impulse. Barely.

"So it's me or him, then?"

James nodded mutely. Lily silently took her husband's hand, trying to reassure him with the small gesture that not only did she still love him but all would be well in the end. She knew that James wanted to protect Harry from the full impact of The Prophecy. His parents had coddled him all his life, so James oftentimes reverted to the example his parents had provided.

"And Dumbledore knew this the whole time?"

James nodded again. Lily could tell her husband was exerting everything he had to remain silent. Rage, regret and fear warred within her own breast, she could easily see the same in her husband. When Harry was a baby, it was Lily who forced James to let Harry explore and try new things. She had been shocked when she had to force James to allow Harry to try the training broom Sirius had purchased for his godson. For James to willingly tell Harry The Prophecy when Harry was but fourteen was a superhuman effort for the current Earl of Richmond.

It was this quality of reaching beyond himself that had caught her attention during their sixth year at Hogwarts. She'd come into the common room late after a long evening studying Arithmancy to find James tutoring a pair of third years in Transfiguration. His back was to the portrait hole, so he didn't know she was there as he proceeded to do an excellent job teaching the youngsters the second universal law of Transfiguration. He did it with a mixture of technical expertise, humour and wit. Very impressed, this little act of helping others without reward had been the beginning of the shifting of her feelings toward James Potter. In fact, she began to have a high regard for him right there and then.

Today, he reached beyond his own desire to hide his son in a cave to act on what he felt was truly in Harry's best interests. It was hard for him to allow his son to be exposed to danger, but better to be armed with the truth, than to flounder in the dark.

Returning her attention to her son, Lily saw The Prophecy's revelation before them. She and James had defied the Dark Lord three times. Harry had been born at the end of July. He had been marked. Now it became a matter of harnessing this nebulous 'power the Dark Lord knows not'.

"I…I need to take a walk," Harry announced as he stood. Turning to Hermione, he asked, "Will you come with me?" In a flash of insight, Lily could see that the question was being asked on multiple levels.

With a brisk, no nonsense, "Of course," Hermione stood.

"Stay inside the walls of the estate. You'll see them; they ring the landward reaches of the grounds. The ocean is our other border. Don't scale the walls at all as the wards are recharging with all of us home again. The beach is Ok too," James told them.

Harry nodded silently as he and Hermione slipped out of the room to gather their coats. For the beginning of November, it was a warm day in Wales, but the wind was still brisk.

When Lily heard the door close, she asked her husband, "You alright?"

"Not even remotely."

Nodding, she scooted over to worm herself into his embrace. Letting her own fears out of their metaphysical cage, she began to tremble. "He's only fourteen…"

"Yet he's already faced and defeated Voldemort three times," Remus observed.

Conceding the point, Lily nodded, "True…"

"But it was blind luck the first time!" James snapped, his fears running riot. "And the next two as well!"

"Peace, brother," Remus soothed. "We'll have to get Harry to pay better attention in his courses from now on."

"Plus a bit of instruction on the side," Lily finished. She nearly burst into hysterical laughter at the intentional understatements. Paying attention in courses? Bit of instruction on the side? Voldemort was the most dangerous Dark Lord in millennia and they were discussing extra tuition as a solution?

Closing her eyes, she saw all the hopes and dreams she had for her baby boy come crashing down. It was the night that Albus Dumbledore ominously began a conversation with, "I've some serious information that you need to know," that everything changed.

Her dreams for Harry ended that day; she just didn't know it yet.

James was still angry, but she could feel it ebbing. She was quick to anger and quick to calm. James, on the other hand could carry a grudge for a mile and back. For him to be calming this quickly meant that he must be focusing on Harry, not his own feelings.

Thinking about her son, she decided, "Let's give him a few days to process and come to terms with this prophecy. Then we can talk with him about a plan. He deserves to have a say in his preparations."

The men didn't reply, just sat there in depressed silence. By discussing preparing Harry to face Voldemort, Lily felt like they were giving in to The Prophecy. They were letting it rule their lives instead of making their own choices. At the same time, she had to agree with James' point of view: Voldemort was coming for blood and they had to prepare their son.

"Is Hogwarts the best place for Harry?" Remus asked, shaking the foursome from their stupor.

"Herbology doesn't really help him much," Sirius observed.

Snorting in sardonic amusement, James snarked, "Here Lord Voldemort, catch this Venomous Tentacula."

Lily turned to James, "He's been taking Divination since third year."

Wincing, James wondered, "And Hermione let him do that?"

"Harry's friend Ron isn't the most motivated student in the school," Moony observed delicately.

"Great. He's had an ultra-slacker as a mate," James observed.

Padfoot regarded Prongs with amused amazement. Recognizing the look, James wagged a finger at his friend, "I wasn't a slacker. I got excellent grades. I just skived when it didn't matter."

"Moving on," Lily muttered. "What do we do?"

"I've no idea," Remus offered. As Remus turned to Sirius, she saw Padfoot shrug helplessly.

"When Voldemort attacked us in '81, we had no idea how to beat him. Glad to see that nothing's changed," James observed with a hint of venom.

"Should we talk with the DMLE?" Remus wondered aloud.

Lily thought about that. She didn't know Scrimgeour, Bones or Fudge personally. Fudge seemed to be the usual incompetent boob who was elected because he was a pureblood nonentity who wouldn't cross the old families. Bones was an unknown beyond vague familial connexions. She thought that Amelia was Edgar Bones' older sister, but wasn't sure. She'd never heard of Scrimgeour.

"I don't know," Lily replied uneasily. "I don't know or trust any of them. I think that if Fudge is a typical politician, once he got word of The Prophecy, he'd glom on to Harry in a moment. Ministry custody, Auror training from dawn to dusk and all that. I don't know if Bones or Scrimgeour would give up the information to Fudge or react in similar ways."

"Bones is an old family," James remembered. "Dad was a big fan of Nathanial Bones. They served together in the Wizengamot together."

"And my Dad hated them both," Sirius observed with a smirk.

"So we should take that as a recommendation?" Lily observed with a bit of humour.

"We're not going to solve it today," Remus observed. "Let's help Harry the best we can while you three," he motioned toward James, Lily and Sirius," Get your affairs straightened."

"How do you think he's doing?" Lily asked Sirius and Remus.

Padfoot turned to Remus, "You know him better than me, mate."

"Harry's an introvert. He'll need to come to terms with it all, but I can tell you that the right person is with him. She'll snap him up short if he's being an arse, straighten him up if he's out of line and just plain love him through it all."

.oOo.

"It's really beautiful here," Hermione observed. Harry hadn't spoken since they'd left the house and she was becoming nervous. They stopped their perambulations, leaning on a boulder. She settled between his legs, leaning back on his chest as he absently wrapped his arms about her from behind. Together, they looked out to sea watching the grey wind-whipped waves as they tossed to and fro.

After five minutes of sitting there, Hermione had finally worked up her courage. "I love you Harry."

She couldn't face him when she said it, but she had said it, nonetheless. This moment had been building in her for months. The day after their momentous ride on the back of Buckbeak to save his godfather, her attitudes and emotions had taken a significant – seismic even – shift. She didn't know what was different, just that things between her and Harry were now changed.

Over the summer, between her frantic journaling, discussing matters with her mother and a lot of long walks, Hermione came to understand, accept and embrace her feelings. Ever since she was small, those about her had recognized that the maturity in the pint-sized genius had far outstripped her age. Sometimes, her social skills lagged, but overall, she was light years ahead of her peers.

In the end, Hermione was well equipped to love her young man.

Since admitting her feelings to Harry earlier in the day, she'd felt a burgeoning need to confess completely the true depth and breadth of her feelings to her young man. It had begun as a growing desire, shifting to a need and finally ending up as an unrelenting emotional pressure that wouldn't be denied until she told Harry Potter: "I love you, Harry."

When he didn't reply, she told him, "I'm sorry if it's too soon to be saying that, but I feel like we've been together for years and have just now got around to the kissing and such. I want you to know, no, I need you to know…"

She trailed off as she felt him shaking behind her. Turning in his embrace, she saw him crying. "Shhh, shhh, it's Ok," she murmured. Wiping his tears with her hands, she pulled him to her breast. "It'll be Ok. We've faced him before and we'll do it again. We have your parents back, Sirius is free and we're together. It will be Ok, I love you."

Eventually, he stilled. From the warmth of her embrace, he whispered, "What would I do without you?"

Smiling, she replied, "Fail all your courses."

A weak chuckle was all he could muster before regarding her seriously. She stilled at the expression on his face. "I would be dead without you, Hermione. I don't really have any idea what love is, but you are – by far – the most important person in my life."

Deciding that this declaration was good enough as an 'I love you', she kissed him thoroughly.

A few minutes later, they broke apart. He pulled her flush to him, causing Hermione to colour because of the tingly sensations that were inspired by being so close to him.

"I need you. You're my best friend and my everything. Will you…will you help me?" he asked with a hint of timidity.

"With Voldemort?" she clarified.

He nodded his confirmation.

"Silly boy, of course. I'm in this for the long haul. I didn't know it then, but when a scrawny boy with funny glasses jumped on to the back of a troll years ago, my life was irrevocably altered."

Cupping his cheek, she looked him in the eyes to ensure she had his attention, "The die of my life has been cast." A soft kiss preceded her vow, "I'll always be with you Harry Potter. Always."

Sighing in relief, he pulled her close. Eventually, he murmured, "Don't get me wrong, I'm over the moon about my parents being back, but it's a bit strange all the same."

Nodding, Hermione reassured him, "It's only natural. For all intents and purposes, they're strangers to you, despite being related by blood. It'll take some time, but since you want to connect with them, you'll get there in the end."

Harry had a half smile on his face as he shook his head in mild bewilderment.

"What?" Hermione protested feeling self-conscious.

"You're incredible. Beautiful with brains and a great bum to boot."

Blushing, she looked down and demurred, "You don't have to say that Harry, I know I'm no beauty."

Firmly grasping her chin, he gently turned her face back to his own. "When have I ever lied to you?"

"Never," she whispered in reply.

A slow nod preceded a kiss that melted into a hug.

"With you at my side, I can do anything. I have done anything. Dark Lords, Werewolves, escaped convicts after my blood, feral Hippogriffs and even Basilisks being controlled by the memory of a Dark Lord."

Hermione looked at him askance when he listed the events at the end of second year.

"You were there with me in spirit Hermione. How else did I have the courage to do what needed to be done?"

"Harry," she whispered in a soft protest. "You're the bravest person I've ever known. Not only because of your more famous achievements," she explained, "But because you kept on during second year when the whole castle turned against you. Because you kept on when your relatives nearly drove you into the dirt. Because you're you. That's real bravery."

She wrapped her arm about his waist, "You feeling better?"

"Actually, yes."

"Good, let's head back. I'm hungry." He wrapped his arm about her shoulders as they began to slowly make their way down the shoreline toward the massive house. "I like your Mum," she offered.

"Yeah, she's pretty cool."

"Pretty cool," Hermione mocked playfully.

"Oh you," he huffed before his fingers assaulted her ribcage.

Squealing, she bolted toward the house. His laughter followed her as they burned off some of the fear and anxiety that had built up over the course of the day.

.oOo.

Sirius watched at the window. Seeing Harry and Hermione frolicking on the path from the beach warmed his heart. He knew that his 'phases' as he called them were worrying everyone else, but to watch the teens loving and having fun in the midst of fear and pain made it all Ok in the end.

"You alright there, Pads?"

Shrugging, he nodded his head at the approaching teens, "They make it all worthwhile."

"I'm sorry about Azkaban. We didn't think through the repercussions very well, did we?"

"Not your fault, Prongs." His gaze leaving the window, he looked at the floor, "I consider it part of my punishment for…"

Suddenly whipped around, Sirius was facing an angry James Potter, "Listen to me! Lily and I forgive you. If you need to, ask Harry's forgiveness and I'm sure he'll give it straightaway. None of us blame you for the Betrayal. All of us blame Peter, no one else. Stow that guilt trip shite; we don't have the time or energy to be dealing with it." James trailed off as he closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

His voice barely above a whisper, Sirius admitted, "Look, I'll do my best but thirteen years is a long time to build up guilt. It won't disappear overnight, but I'll try." It was still hard for Sirius to believe that James was standing in front of him, much less had forgiven him for his part in their betrayal. Every time he closed his eyes, he expected James and Lily to disappear like mist on the wind, their accusatory voices mocking and taunting him. His gaze still had a hungry look about it every time he saw his brother in all but blood.

James large hand on his shoulder forced Padfoot to look up, "That'll have to do. I realize that it must be hard, but…" Sirius smiled wryly as he nodded in understanding of James intent.

"Come on, Rauri is putting on a late lunch."

.oOo.

"Er, Dad? Could I talk to you? Outside, I mean."

James smiled at Harry's nervousness as he followed his son out the front door after the meal.

"Sirius said that I could cast a bit of magic here and not get gigged from the Ministry, right?""

"Sure, just don't let your Mum see you prank Sirius." He smiled widely before he corrected himself, "On second thought, let her know beforehand so she can watch."

Harry smiled but it was fleeting. "Last year, Uncle Moony taught me the Patronus charm."

James nodded appreciatively, "That's an impressive charm. You need to show your Mum, she's a whiz at charms."

"Yeah, but I wanted you to see it first. See, the Dementors were all over because of Sirius' escape and all…well, I guess a picture's worth a thousand words."

James watched his son close his eyes for a short moment to centre himself before raising his wand while incanting, "Expecto Patronum!"

Staggered, James watched Prongs burst from the end of Harry's wand. The nearly opaque stag pranced up to James, before stopping with intent. The pupil-less eyes stared at his namesake expectantly. Always mischievous, James shifted to his animagus form.

Vision for a stag is sharper than for a human so Prongs could make out every detail of his son. Back and forth, Harry compared Prongs to his Patronus. The entire time he murmured, "Exactly the same." The smile on Harry's face was worth all the gold in his vault to James.

Shifting back to his human form, Father embraced Son in an emotional hug. From his Father's arms, Harry told James, "Even when you couldn't be there, you were there Dad. You saved me, Hermione and Sirius that night."

The guilt that had been bearing down on James since awakening in the future flared once more. At the same time, his heart was inexplicably lightened that Harry felt so connected to his then absent father that his Patronus had taken the form of Prongs.

Wanting to correct his son to tell him that he'd saved himself, James understood the emotion behind Harry's words. To Harry, it had been James who'd protected him, not the ethereal bit of magic that wizards called a Patronus.

"I love you son. I always have and always will. I'll always regret being forced to miss you growing up, but I'll be with you from here on out."

"I love you too, Dad."

.oOo.

Remus and Sirius had used the Floo to head over to Remus' small cottage to gather some things, leaving Hermione and Lily alone in the family dining room after lunch.

A curious expression on her face, Lily asked The Smartest Witch of the Age, "What did Harry want from James?"

Smiling, Hermione remembered Harry's excitement. "He's showing James his Patronus."

Her eyes widening, Lily exclaimed, "His Patronus?"

"He learned it last year from Professor Lupin." Hermione paused as she met Lily's gaze, "It takes the shape of a stag."

A wide smile bloomed on the redheaded witch's face, "James will be so touched."

They fell silent before Hermione asked, "Why does Rauri refer to you and James as my Lord and Lady?"

"We're the Earl and Countess of Richmond. Technically, Harry is Baron Potter until he inherits from James."

Stunned, Hermione boggled for a second before countering, "Richmond? But I thought the Duke of Richmond was the only peer of the name?"

Smiling, Lily explained the history behind the Potter family peerage. In the time of Camelot, the Potter family head was widely acknowledged as the Lord of the Lands surrounding what was now Rowan Hill, hence the title of Baron Potter. In the struggles between Camelot and Morgana LeFey, the then Baron Potter, Owain, rendered personal services to the Crown on multiple occasions. Arthur elevated Owain to an Earldom, the highest peerage in Britain, outside the Royal family, at the time.

"You probably know that the titles of Duke, Marquess and Viscount are Norman imports, hence Earl and Baron are the only 'indigenous' titles of nobility in Britain. The Richmond title, while a very English name, predates the Conquest by almost five hundred years. Remember, Arthur united the entire island under the standard of the house of Pendragon. The Potter family history says that his intent behind a Welsh noble being elevated with an English name was an attempt by the Crown to lessen tensions between the three countries. It failed." The witches shared a laugh at the dry commentary of Arthur's actions.

"The title wasn't recognized by the muggle king after the conquest, but magical society continues to honour all titles. That's why there are no magical lords higher than an Earl."

"Harry knows nothing of this," Hermione declared in a sad voice. Looking up from the table, she told Lily, "He knows nothing of his family except…"

"Except that he hates my sister and her husband," Lily spat. Hermione nodded agreement. "We'll fix that dear."

"He's always wanted a family and a history," Hermione mused. "It's been his greatest wish since I met him. I'm sure it was why he immediately accepted that you and James were his parents. You two could have easily been impostors, but he wanted you to be his parents."

"Yes, well, fortunately we are his parents," Lily chuckled.

"So, ought I call you 'my Lady'?"

"Only when the occasion calls for it. Most of magical society has forgotten the old titles and the Potters have never been very big about enforcing the niceties. The Blacks, though…" she shook her head at the pretentious behaviour Sirius' father had been capable of while 'in society'. "Rauri is very aware that he's a retainer of the twenty third Earl of Richmond whose son is the thirty second Baron Potter." Lily smiled at the shenanigans of their domestic.

Turning to Hermione, she laid her hand on the young witch's hand. "Don't worry too much about what you call me. I have a feeling that one day you'll be calling me Mum." Lily's impish grin belied her serious tone.

Hermione's only response was a blush of epic scale.

.oOo.

James was leading Harry down the Hall of Portraits, explaining their ancestry through the portraits on the wall.

"This fellow with the beard is your umpteenth great grandfather, Cadfael. He's the oldest portrait in the hall, hence his place of honour next to my father." James nodded sadly to the portrait of a man that Harry recognized from the Mirror of Erised.

With a nod to the portraits, Harry greeted them, "Good afternoon Grandfathers."

Cadfael grunted before nodding amiably. "This one," he jabbed a thumb at James' father's portrait, "Has been waiting for you to come, so I'll let him have you. When you get some time, come with a chair and we'll discuss the family and our history."

"It's actually very fascinating," James enthused.

Incredulous, Harry teased, "I bet you're the one that's in every year who stays awake in Binns' class."

Blowing a raspberry at his son, James rebuked Harry, "Heaven forbid! No, I never could give two shits what that old ghost had to say. Cadfael here, though, tells an excellent story. Bring Hermione, a chair and snacks on a rainy day. It's worth your while."

Turning back toward the wall, James was silent for a long minute as he regarded the portrait of his father. With an air of solemn respect Harry had never heard from his father, James introduced, "Harry, this is my father, your grandfather, Charlus Ioan Potter."

The old man with a striking resemblance to his son and grandson beamed at Harry. "It's so good to finally see you again, Harry. You were just a mewling puddle of flesh last time I saw you. You've grown into a fine young man." Frowning a bit, he mentioned, "Bit short, though."

"We're working on that, Dad," James forestalled any discussion that would lead back to Surrey. The day had been emotional enough as it was.

Harry's jaw worked twice with no words coming out. Turning to his Dad, he explained, "I've dreamed about this day. You know, meeting my family and all. But I've no idea what to say."

"Try, 'Hi Grandfather!'." James teased.

Rolling his eyes, Harry turned back to Charlus' portrait and with his tongue firmly in his cheek, he exclaimed, "Hi Grandfather!" with false cheeriness.

"Don't listen to this one, grandson. He's always had more cheek than any human ought to be apportioned. Run along, we'll talk more later, but it's wonderful to see you."

Overwhelmed, Harry replied, "It's pretty brilliant to be meeting you too, Grandfather. I'll be back."

"Come on," James beckoned as he headed out of the portrait hall toward the stairs.

"Where are we going?" Harry asked as he bounded after his father.

"To your room," James replied with a wide smile.

.oOo.

"Hermione, you've got to see this!" Harry ran into the sitting room where she and Lily Potter were getting to know each other better. It was much easier than she'd expected it. Probably because Lily was only eight years older than she was.

"See what?" she smiled to him when he bounded up to her.

"My room! It's huge! There's a balcony and this really brill furniture! The bed is better than the ones at Hogwarts! You gotta see this!"

Hermione's smile faltered a bit. Harry's enthusiasm was proportional to his experience. She was sure that the room was probably spectacular in design and apportionment, but Harry's excitement was more due to the contrast with his upbringing. The past threatened to cast a pall over the event, but Hermione was determined to be supportive of her boyfriend. With a wink at Lily, Hermione asked, "So, you want me to come with you to your bedroom?"

As Lily and James smothered smiles, Harry cycled through every shade of the colour red that was known to mankind. "No! Er, yes, but not like that! Not yet…" casting a glance at his mother whose eyebrow was now cocked at her son, he muttered, "Bugger. Come on," he tugged Hermione's hand to propel her out of the room and toward the stairs.

James and Lily's laughter followed the teens to the first floor.

.oOo.

Curled up in the window seat in Harry's room, Hermione asked her boyfriend, "So what's the verdict?"

From his bed, Harry asked, "Verdict?"

"You've had some hard news, but it was your parents giving it to you. Is it worth it?" She asked knowing the answer would be 'yes', but she was trying to make a point.

"Uh, that would be a big 'Yes' that it was worth it." Grumbling as he stared at the ceiling, he told no one, "I should have been told years ago, though."

Tentatively moving to the bed, she sat next to him. He didn't need words now. So much had been said that words were just dewdrops in a flood. Her presence, her silent support was what was needed now.

Reaching out her hand, she entwined her fingers with his before pulling his hand to her lips. After placing a gentle kiss on his palm, she curled up next to him.

She smiled when he turned toward her, closing his eyes as he relaxed.

From the hallway a braying voice called out, "Snogging alert! Snogging alert!"

Smiling, Harry murmured, "Are all parents unsatisfied unless they've thoroughly embarrassed their children?"

James rounded the corner into Harry's bedroom, a wide smile on his face. "Good you're both dressed." Ignoring Hermione's outraged squawk, he continued, "Come on down, Rauri's got dinner coming on soon."

.oOo.

Dinner had been raucous. When Sirius had leapt up on the table, a bowl of beans in his hand, James had promptly charmed the potatoes to attack the padfooted one. Hermione and Harry had laughed themselves silly as Remus and Sirius had volleyed beans and cabbage back at Prongs while he begged his wife to come to his aid.

She finally relented, cursing Remus and Sirius with the Hair Growing jinx. When their Dutch braided eyebrows passed their belt buckles, the attackers sued for peace.

James had puffed up his chest while standing on his chair, "I rule! I have vanquished the evildoers! I am...ouch."

He never finished, as Lily had lobbed a dinner roll that hit him square on the nose.

"Enough, you moron. Dessert is coming. Remember, Rauri baked a cake?" Lily teased from the foot of the table.

Harry was sitting at his father's right hand, as befitting the heir. Lily had accorded Hermione a high honour at inviting her to eat at her own right hand. Sirius and Remus had filled in the other seats. Even though the dinner had been informal, becoming more so as it progressed, Hermione had been very aware of the protocol for the dinner. James and Lily didn't make much of these things; it seemed to be unconscious action for them.

Eying her boyfriend as he whispered with his father, Hermione turned to the Mistress of the house, "Lily, can we talk with Harry later? About the family and all?"

Smiling at the brunette, the redheaded witch replied, "We're all going to sit and chat over tea tomorrow morning. The weather is going to be rainy, so it's a perfect chance to talk. Despite him being an idiot," she jabbed her thumb at Sirius, "This one is actually very knowledgeable about magical society. He knows more than I."

Shrugging, Sirius ignored the mild insult. Hermione could tell by the wetness at the corner of Padfoot's eye, that the pain he'd felt as he missed his friends was aching as it healed. "James and I are cousins, so we grew up in the same circles. He knows as much as I do."

"Yes, but your parents drilled it into your head, mine didn't care," James countered from the other end of the table."

Hermione turned to see the Earl of Richmond toast her while his son looked on with a wondering smile. Her own wonder at the situation had to be as great as Harry's. Somehow, she had found herself in the middle of a 'happily ever after' and was astonished on a regular basis.

James was a goof who loved his family fiercely. Hermione had been genuinely moved at the tenderness the man had shown for his son. She'd also seen his unpleasant capability to hold a grudge. Minerva McGonagall and Albus Dumbledore would most likely be unwelcome in the Richmond household for the foreseeable future. Peter Pettigrew was a dead man if he ever met with James Potter.

Lily was a kind woman who loved freely and greatly. She also hated with a red-hot passion at the drop of a hat. Remus had mentioned that Lily and Snape had been childhood friends. From Sirius' earlier description, Hermione doubted that the Lady Richmond would ever be civil with the man, much less friendly.

They were human; flawed and wonderful. Harry was lucky, oh so lucky to have them.

Contemplating her own family, Hermione wished her own parents were visiting. Nodding internally, she realized that this week was about the extended Potter family reconnecting. There would be time later to integrate the Granger family into the Potter world. For a moment, a vision of a white dress and a tuxedo clad Harry intruded on her imagination. What girl hadn't written her name with her boyfriend's surname? This was merely how it showed up for Hermione Granger. The goofy grin on The Smartest Witch of the Age's face couldn't be supressed.

.oOo.

"My Lord, these just arrived."

James turned to Rauri to see that the elf held a silver salver upon which two letters rested. Scooping them up, he replied, "Thank you Rauri. Dinner was excellent."

Amid the murmured concurrences from the rest of the family, the stately elf bowed graciously.

After Rauri popped out, James examined the letters. Eyeing his wife, he announced, "One from Dumbledore, one from Maturin. Which should I open first?"

"Maturin," Lily advised. "When you get angry from what Albus says, you'll be unable to read Stephen's letter."

Harry watched his father crack the seal on the letter before reading while he resumed his attention to the chocolate cake Rauri had baked. Although not his favourite, it was still piping good.

James pulled a considering face, "Apparently the Prophet is having kneazels trying to arrange an interview. The Goblins have been stunningly cooperative while the Ministry is towing the line." Grinning at Padfoot, he told everyone, "Apparently, they're afraid we'll sue for some reason or the other."

Sirius snorted before mumbling, "Imagine that."

Sighing, he placed the letter from the barrister on the table, "Overall, it's going well. I'll schedule the interview for next week?" he asked his wife.

Harry switched his attention to his mother. She leaned back in her chair, pursing her lips. It was somewhat amusing for Harry to watch a husband and wife have an intelligent conversation while at dinner. Between Vernon's rage and bluster combined with Petunia's acidity, there hadn't been much intelligent adult conversation in Harry's experience.

Her green eyes landed on her son, "Maybe we should have the interview before Harry goes back to school. That way we can have a 'family interview' where we're there to shut down any questions that could go awry. I surely don't trust Albus to do the right thing by Harry. He'd probably let a reporter drag Harry into a broom closet or some such."

Harry and Hermione both blushed when Remus innocently asked, "Isn't that Hermione's job now?"

"Har, har," Harry snarked. "What's the Headmaster say, Dad?" Harry couldn't help but smile every time he addressed the man at the head of the table as 'Dad'. He'd dreamed about it for so many years, it was a dream come true.

"Do I have to open it?" James mumbled as he broke the purple wax seal.

Immediately, James face paled. His hazel eyes narrowing dangerously he continued reading. Flipping to the second page of the parchment, he viciously tore the first page.

"James?" Lily asked. Padfoot and Moony were frowning as they cast concerned glances at Harry.

Noticing the glances, Harry slowly set his fork on the dessert plate. Looking at the table, in a low voice he asked his father, "Do I still have to compete?"

"No!" Hermione objected. Panicked, she stood, beseeching James, "You can't let them do this! You know it's Voldemort! They're trying to kill him!"

Lily took Hermione's hand as unnoticed tears dripped down the young witches face. "Calmly, my dear," Lily counselled as she turned her resolute face to her husband.

"Albus says they can't break the curse on the Goblet. He's afraid that if they tamper with it any more, there could be, and I quote, 'unfortunate consequences'."

Harry's heart sank. "Meaning I could lose my magic."

Stiffly, James nodded. "You and the other champions."

"Is he lying?" Lily bluntly asked.

Harry watched his father shrug helplessly, bunch the letter into a ball before he threw it into the fireplace.

A/N

1. I own nothing. Thanks to all who reviewed the first chapter. I am utterly and completely blown away with the volume of response to the first chapter. Wow. Story status, as always, can be found on my Author's page on FanFiction(dot)net.

2. Recommendation for the chapter is Brown Coat, Green Eyes by Nonjon. Probably the pinnacle of HP/Firefly crossover, he does an excellent job integrating Harry into the Firefly 'verse while taking the next logical step from Serenity.

3. I read in a fanfic, or maybe an online essay concerning the maturity of the characters in the Harry Potter universe. The author of the story/essay rightly pointed out that the characters are handed lethal weapons at age eleven and then subsequently taught through university level by the age of seventeen/eighteen. It's an incredible rate of instruction coupled with a responsibility that would be shocking in 'the real world'. Match that with the experiences that the heroes of the HP universe experience and I find it very realistic to find a fifteen or fourteen year old witch and wizard to be discussing 'forever' with realistic understanding and commitment as opposed to my own understanding of 'forever' when I was that age. Something to chew on.

4. The naked baby running away tale? That was me in 1969.

5. Ok, I give up. I made myself a deal. I can write this story, but can't post it until I'm finished with The End and the Beginning. Chapter 14 of E&B is 7000 words and coming along nicely, so you get this chapter. Chapter 2 of LC completed 4/2/11.