Well, it's been a while. I know I'm terrible for not updating, especially since this particular chapter was actually started about two years ago. I just never finished it. On the bright side it is, hopefully, better now than it would have been then, and it is the longest chapter in this story.
I would now like to thank everyone who reviewed the previous chapter and everyone who alerted and favorited this story. You guys keep me writing.
Disclaimer my old friend: I do not own Harry Potter. (Though I am now the proud owner of a kickass Slytherin banner).
It was oddly quiet at number 12 Grimmauld Place, with no teenagers walking about or order members convening in the dining room.
A few stragglers were seated by the fireplace: a young woman with a shock of purple hair; a haggard-looking man in worn robes; and the owner of the house who was currently brooding in his chair, hands fiddling with a sort of pendant.
Sirius Black had gleefully discarded most everything connected to his family and yet this elaborate pendant, most likely something of his dear old mother's, he couldn't seem to let go of.
The room's other occupants were having a quiet conversation as the light of the flames flickered across their faces.
Sirius started from his stupor at the sound of the front door opening followed by footsteps heading towards the room. The door creaked open to reveal none other than Albus Dumbledore, troubled eyes glinting from behind half-moon spectacles.
"Why hello, Remus. Tonks. Sirius…Sirius may I ask what it is that you are holding?"
Sirius looked down at his hands as though he had forgotten anything was within his grasp.
"What? Oh, I don't know. I just found it."
Tonks, Lupin, and Dumbledore all came closer to examine it.
It was a beautiful piece of metalwork, the delicate lines of silver swirling and intersecting in a fascinating pattern. A shine seemed to emanate from inside the very metal. As they watched, transfixed, that shine grew, turning into a blinding light that threatened to engulf them all. And then did so.
Sirius felt a strong tug as he was pulled from the room and his vision swam with shear light. He groaned as his body slammed into the floor.
The light was receding, the familiar wall structure of Grimmauld Place returning to his vision. The walls, however, seemed to be the only thing unchanged. Sirius stared around the room in awe. Intuition screamed that this was still his childhood home, and yet…
"Well, isn't this lovely?" Came Dumbledore's tranquil voice from his left.
The old man was the only one still on his feet; gazing at his surroundings before returning his focus to his three companions still sprawled across the floor.
"Where are we?" Remus breathed, staring perplexedly at their new environment. Dumbledore looked at him amusedly beneath half-moon spectacles. "I think the real question is: when are we?"
Tonks remained uncomprehending. "When?"
Sirius nodded along with Dumbledore, the question Dumbledore postulated making more and more sense as he absorbed this new setting.
His gut told him this was Grimmauld Place; that forsaken house was branded onto his very being. It had been as much a prison as Azkaban. However, unlike Azkaban, there seemed to be no escape.
The walls looked freshly painted, unfamiliar furniture sat comfortably about the room as though it had been there for years, and clutter that belonged to neither Sirius, the Order nor Sirius's lovely mother lay scattered around the room. It seemed only the wall structure remained the same.
A high-pitched shriek originating in another room interrupted his musing. Disregarding any thoughts about the possible consequences of being seen, the four unwitting travelers hurried to the source of the sound.
Sirius skidded to a stop in the doorway of what now appeared to be the living room, giving Remus and Tonks no time to brake and, subsequently, causing them to slam into his back. Dumbledore approached at a more leisurely pace.
What they had mistaken for a cry of terror in actuality had been a shriek of laughter. A small, redheaded girl of about 4 years was levitating in the air with no visible assistance. Her hair flew wildly about her freckled face; her brown eyes alight with joy as hysterical giggles flew from her lips. Through bouts of laughter she managed to gasp: "Jamie, put me down!"
In lieu of an answer, she began to spin in circles—clearly not of her volition if her squirming was any indication.
She did not seem to notice the four adults observing her.
She flailed her skinny arms behind her, reaching for something unseen. It seemed she found what she was looking for as her hand latched onto an unknown subject and pulled.
Her efforts were rewarded with the appearance of a disembodied head—one complete with messy black hair and a set of brown eyes to match hers. Said features belonged to a boy of about eight, a mischievous grin ruling his face. He continued to spin, but she managed to get a sturdy grip on him by turning around to cling to his neck. "Jamie, I see you! Put me down!"
The boy, Jamie, simply widened his grin. "Nope," he disagreed amicably, popping the 'p'. "I'm never, ever letting you down. I guess you better get used to it."
The girl growled in a manner that was intended to intimidate but was actually more reminiscent of a kitten's meow.
"Terrifying, Lily. Come, we're off on an amazing adventure," he claimed boldly, moving her to hang on his back.
Lily smiled. "What kind of adventure?"
At this moment they simply walked through Sirius as though his presence in the door was nothing more solid than a slight breeze. Without a second glance to his companions, Sirius followed the children, transfixed.
Jamie looked at the small girl clinging to his back, whom Sirius would hazard a guess to say was his sister, and replied: "Why, one to bother Albus, of course!"
This caused Lily to release yet another giggle and yell: "Then onward, noble stead!" To which Jamie gave an affronted reply of: "Hey, I am not a horse! Though the noble part was true," he seceded, puffing out his chest.
Lily seemed to find this even more amusing and refused to stop laughing even under his withering glare. Their shadows were paying them less attention as they had turned to Dumbledore with inquisitive looks at the mention of "Albus."
His returning gaze was a placid one as he answered their unasked query. "I believe that the artifact, which you are still holding, Sirius," startled, Sirius looked at his hands to see that he was indeed still clutching the pendant "Has given our subconscious' a view of the future."
Remus and Tonks exchanged astonished looks as Sirius's mind began whirling at the confirmation of his theory. It hadn't been a difficult leap, but the implications only now seemed to dawn on him.
The names: Lily; Jamie, which must be a nickname for James; the signature messy black hair…
He sprinted after the children who had gained more distance during their chat. They were carefully opening the door to the room that had belonged to Regulus.
Remus and Tonks followed at a slower pace, still attempting to process their situation, while Dumbledore strolled behind. They passed through the open in the doorway and Sirius's eyes widened at the sight of the room that had once been an orderly shrine to Slytherin and Voldemort.
Now, it was a rather colorful mess of clothes, books, posters, seemingly random knick-knacks, and quidditch supplies.
Jamie, still holding Lily, was creeping towards the bed on which strands of ebony hair were all that emerged from beneath the garish orange blankets claiming support of the Chudley Cannons. Jamie and Lily seemed in silent communication as she nodded in affirmation to a question not asked aloud.
Jamie then hoisted her up and proceeded to unceremoniously drop her directly on top of the figure belonging to the black hair.
A pained grunt emitted from under the blankets, followed by a young boy's exclamation of: "James!"
Jamie, clearly also known as James, then gave up the precedent of quiet and released a loud burst of laughter. "Wakey, wakey, Aly," he chanted, Lily joining in.
The figure sat up, forcing Lily off and even Dumbledore had difficulty holding back a gasp.
Sirius hadn't seen pictures, but he was certain that this boy was an exact replica of Harry at age six, exempting the lightning bolt scar. The boy scowled at James, his familiar emerald eyes irritated. "Don't call me that."
Then, he unexpectedly raised his voice to yell: "Mum, James threw Lily on me… again!"
A woman's voice screamed back from somewhere downstairs. "James, stop using your sister as a projectile! All of you get down here or you're not getting breakfast." At this all the children sprinted out, unknowingly passing through the time travelers in their haste for food.
"Wotcher," Tonks exclaimed before following suit. Sirius waited a moment after Remus had left as well, turning to Dumbledore.
"Do you think they're… Harry's…?" He left the question unfinished, afraid to get his hopes up. Dumbledore's eyes gleamed with a familiar twinkle as he gave Sirius an understanding smile.
"Yes, I believe so."
Then he too walked towards the kitchen. Sirius stayed still for a moment, a slow smile tugging at his lips, before sprinting to the kitchen. Maybe, just maybe, Harry would be there. The sight of him alive and well would be worth the pain of seeing Harry older than James ever was. (They looked so alike it would be as though seeing James as he could have been—if he'd lived).
The woman was midsentence as Sirius arrived in the kitchen. "—want me to tell you father that you were using his little girl as a weapon?" She was threatening. Sirius's eyes flitted around the kitchen, another room that was virtually unrecognizable had it not been for the familiar structure, before settling on the woman standing by the table.
She was giving James a stern look that seemed oddly familiar, as the boy gulped audibly. Then the realization struck him—it was Ginny Weasley; little Ginny Weasley, and she looked just as formidable as her mother. James, however, looked more terrified at the notion of his father's apparent wrath. Sirius smirked. Smart kid, Harry has quite the temper.
From this, Sirius gathered that Lily was also a bit of a daddy's girl. Seemingly uninterested, Al and Lily both sat at the table and filled their plates with bacon and pancakes, Lily humming under her breath. James then sat and began stuffing food in his mouth with little regard for the utensils set out.
Ginny—Sirius was still having trouble reconciling his idea of the teenager with this adult—rolled her eyes at her eldest son. "Okay, kiddos. This is how it's going to work. I'm going to report on the Cannon vs. Puddlemere game at noon so your father's going to come home and watch you hellions." Lily clapped her hands excitedly and Sirius felt as though a large hand was squeezing his heart at the impending sight of his godson.
Ginny gave her daughter a playful scowl. "Thank you for the overwhelming support of your loving mother."
Lily just smiled sweetly and Albus let out a snort. James seemed more interested in his bacon than the conversation.
"Anyway, behave because he's not supposed to be running around on his leg for at least another week. That means you, James. No explosions." She shot a look at the boy who plastered an innocent "who me?" expression on his face that was made comical by the bits of pancake overflowing from his mouth.
Sirius laughed, it looked as though there was another Marauder in the making.
The next few hours found Sirius in a sort of daze as he watched the inhabitants flit around the house, disregarding the background noise that was Remus, Tonks, and Dumbledore's conversation.
The sound of a door opening and thudding closed drew him from his reverie, and drew all the occupants of number 12, apparition and solid alike, to the foyer.
The man who had entered the home was relatively tall, with unruly hair above almond-shaped, emerald eyes. Harry. He looked to be in his late twenties and was so reminiscent of James that Sirius's heart squeezed painfully in his non-corporeal chest.
He was resting his weight slightly on a cane that was disregarded completely the second Lily threw herself at him. He let out a quiet, pained grunt as he caught the babbling girl, something Ginny did not miss.
"Lily, what did I tell you? You're hurting your father." Instead of returning his daughter to the ground, Harry just laughed.
"Don't worry, Gin. I think I can handle it." He gave Lily a serious look. "Can you though?"
She seemed confused before releasing a startled screech as she was tickled mercilessly. Albus and James both laughed at her predicament. Ginny rolled her eyes at them but the corner of her mouth twitched up in a telling smile. She grabbed her coat off the hook, gave Harry a quick peck on the lips, calling behind her for them to be good.
"That's including you, Mr. Potter!"
After she departed, Harry began shuffling the children to the kitchen, having been informed that they had not yet had lunch.
"Mum says that you're a better cook anyway and that's why she keeps you around," James supplied helpfully and to which Tonks and Sirius both snorted loudly.
Harry grinned. "It's nice to feel appreciated."
Sirius had an errant thought wondering who had taught Harry to cook; it certainly hadn't been him. Maybe Molly.
With difficulty, Harry extracted Lily's arms from his neck and began bustling around the kitchen, limping noticeably. He rolled his eyes as his sons began to bicker over a chair despite the fact there was another right beside it.
"Boys, there are two chairs and two of you. Unless my math is wrong, that means you can each have one."
James took advantage of Albus' momentary distraction as he listened to his father and shoved him off the desired chair. Harry, who had turned his back to cut up tomatoes, said "James" in a warning tone. Harry's really got the whole eyes-in-the-back-of-the-head thing down, Sirius thought.
Albus' eyes flaredangrily at James as he picked himself off the floor and seated himself in the vacant chair. Lily, on his left, began poking him in the ribs, causing Albus to sigh deeply and place his head on the table.
"Wotcher, poor Albus." Tonks stated sympathetically. "That one, I mean," she clarified, pointing at the young boy as though there was confusion.
Albus, the one sporting a beard that the young boy of the same name could certainly not achieve, chuckled lightly.
Sirius walked around the table, alternating between staring at Harry and at his children.
That's when he noticed the newspaper sprawled haphazardly upon the counter, shifting in the breeze as though alive in its want to be read. The headline read: Hermione Weasley confirmed Head of the Department of Magical Law. Sirius grinned triumphantly. He knew they would end up together.
Okay, maybe Remus had been the one to say it, but he had definitely agreed.
By this time Harry had placed a sandwich before each of his progeny, which they proceeded to devour.
"Okay," Harry began. "I have to do some paperwork. That means no blowing anything up, flying, picking on your brother," he looked pointedly at James, "or blowing anything up."
"You said no blowing anything up twice," James felt the need to point out.
"Yes," Harry assented. "Because it obviously doesn't sink in when I say it once, James." James seemed torn between scowling and attempting to look innocent, leaving his face in a very interesting configuration.
"That only happened once!" Harry raised an eyebrow before pointing at a white piece of paper on the wall sporting a considerable number of tally marks.
"James, do you need help counting? Uncle George has started taking bets on how many times you'll do it before you're eighteen. I believe your Uncle Ron bet the highest at 1,187 times."
James, instead of finding this disconcerting, perked up.
"Do you think I could do it?" He looked ecstatic.
His father shot him a falsely encouraging look. "Sure, if you never want to leave the house again," he said cheerfully.
James slumped in his chair, sulking. "You just don't understand my vision," he grumbled.
"What, the one to do as much property damage as possible? Sorry if I'm less than supportive about having to buy a new kitchen table every week," Harry retorted sarcastically.
Remus smiled at the exchange. "Looks like we've got another Marauder in the making," he remarked.
"I dare say you may be right, Remus." Dumbledore agreed, as they all watched James flick pieces of lettuce at his brother's head.
The remainder of the day seemed to pass in a haze for Sirius.
It was all just so normal.
Harry worked. James tormented his brother and Lily watched for a time, looking well entertained, before eventually becoming bored and gathering a mound of toys to play with on the floor of Harry's office.
Ginny returned from the quidditch match and the family convened for dinner.
Night came and Grimmauld Place's occupants fell to sleep one by one and the home became as silent as it would ever be.
At least, until the sound of Lily crying out in her sleep brought Harry out of the master bedroom.
Sirius and his companions hovered in the doorway as Harry comforted the small girl, watching as she was lulled back to sleep, reassured that her father would be there to shoo away the monsters: "Always."
It was a good normal.
A great one, even.
A kind free from constant terror and grief.
This was the kind of life that Lily and James had been fighting for, what the Order was still fighting for.
It was a normal that he would give everything protect, Sirius thought as his consciousness returned to the present.
Thanks for reading. Any and all comments are appreciated. Also, I finally got an ao3 account and will be posting an edited (rewritten pretty much) version of this story there. My penname is slytherinslocket if you are so inclined to look out for it.
P.S. I know there are no muggles in this one but I thought it was in a similar vein.