12. Fifteen Years

There was only one letter left in the pile, and Harry didn't know if he could bring himself to read it. If it wasn't from his father, he would probably be curious enough to raid McGonagall's office to find that missing letter. And if it was from his fifteen-year-old father, he was still a bit apprehensive.

Harry looked away as Lupin unfolded the piece of parchment, but Sirius and Lupin's silence was a dead giveaway.

"I remember this," Sirius said, letting out a tiny, sad laugh. "He wouldn't show me what he was writing. Said it was really personal." So was it a violation to read it, then? Were they disobeying his father's wishes? It felt odd, being here with his father's best friends, sharing old school memories. Feeling such a strong connection to everything, yet at the same time, none at all. It was as if he was suspended somewhere between actually being there in the moment and hearing about it from a far-off voice.

Lupin and Sirius were reading, and as much as Harry was reluctant to gaze upon his father's private letter, he found himself hungrily devouring word after word.

Dear James,

Lily Evans is watching me. I know it.

I wouldn't write this much if she wasn't. Seriously, in fifteen years, I'll still remember who I was in 1975. It's not like a person can change that drastically in fifteen years, right? In fifteen years, I'll probably have a job. Maybe I'll be an Auror, an Animagus would make a bloody brilliant Auror. I've always wanted to work with International Quidditch, but it seems almost like a waste with everything that's brewing right now. Mum said I'd never have to work, that they passed on enough gold to support me and a family for a lifetime. But what else would I do? I won't just sit around all day. Remus will definitely work—he'll be Minister of Magic before we know it. Sirius has as much chance of inheriting his family's fortune as I do of becoming best friends with Snivellus, and Pettigrew will probably be stuck testing cauldron bottom thickness. So really, I've got to find something.

Fifteen years is a long time. Maybe I'll be married. Maybe I'll have kids. Now that's a scary thought. I wish I was sitting next to Evans to see what she's writing. Does she want to get married? Does she want kids? The family cottage in Godric's Hollow; vacations on the seashore. We'll host quad-family dinners every Sunday...

This is a bit embarrassing. If anyone ever gets hold of this, I'll be finished. James Potter wanting a quiet lifestyle? Unheard of! Now Padfoot's trying to peek, I think this letter's over—better put it away before he sees it and announces to the whole school what a softy I am.

James "Prongs" Potter

Harry could guess as to why his father did not want this shared with anyone. He was 15, for Merlin's sake, yet he already had his entire life planned out. Harry blinked fervently, his throat growing hot. Out of this dream of his father's, Harry was the only thing that had survived.

Sirius put a hand on Harry's shoulder and Lupin sighed. "I think he would have wanted us to read it," he said.

Harry waited a few seconds and cleared his throat. "Do you think it was all because my mother was watching?"

Lupin shook his head. "He mentioned some of these things from time to time. He always wanted to live in Godric's Hollow. It's where his ancestors lived."

"And they always had us for dinner, too," Lupin said, "Even though we saw each other much more often than once a week."

Sirius smiled, his eyes in a far-off place. "James and I used to take a ride on the motorcycle after dark, after the Muggle police wouldn't be able to see us. I remember when they were deciding on a name for you..." and Sirius relayed a story in which he and James had been caught by the Muggle police, and when asked for their names, they rattled off a few fake names James was brainstorming for Harry.

The three of them sat in silence for a while, Lupin and Sirius contemplating James, and Harry mentally running through all the stories he'd heard about his parents, trying to put them in order, and cement them to memory.

"Thanks," he croaked finally with a watery smile. "Thanks for showing me these." Even though it didn't all show everyone in the best light, especially his father, Harry could live with that. And he had written it, and that was as good a gift as any.

Lupin smiled wearily. "Merry Christmas."

Well, that's it. What did you think? Are there more letters you want me to write? Let me know!

There is a sequel to this story up on my profile. It's called "Our Heads Could Do With Filling."

As I said before, I am currently working on a full-length prequel, featuring the Marauders at school and their first defiant acts against Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Put me on author alert to get notified when it's up!