Summary: Lily, James and Sirius take the time to (attempt to) do the crossword. Also featuring Baby Harry.

Disclaimer: The characters don't belong to me. You all know that. You all know that they belong to the wonderful author that we all know and worship, J.K. Rowling.

Author's Note: Thank you to Meghan (thistlemeg) who beta'd this for me.

Also, I have Support Services. That means that, if you want, you can put me on Author Alert and receive notice when I post stories or parts of stories, even if you haven't paid yourself.

Posted: Sunday, June 9, 2002

"You'd have thought he was merely bored - asked if I'd finished with my newspaper, cool as you please, said he missed doing the crossword."
-Cornelius Fudge, Minister for Magic, on Sirius Black

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, pg 155, Canadian hardcover edition

Crossword Puzzles

Harry Potter examined the rattle in his hand very closely and very thoughtfully, then gave a coo of delight when, shaking it, he made the Papagayo's Patented Popping Pellets inside rattle and pop (and occasionally sing a six-part harmony version of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"). He tried to kick his feet, but his mother held them down. Harry found that incredibly funny and giggled to show it.

Lily Potter had finished changing his diaper when her husband called up the stairs. "Lil! Nine letters, Muggle talking device."

She finished putting her son's clothes on while Harry tried to stick the rattle into his mouth. "Telephone," she answered, hollering too.

There was a pause downstairs while James briefly discussed the answer. Then Sirius yelled back up, "Doesn't fit!"

Lily rolled her eyes. "Your daddy and goddaddy can't do a think without me, Harry."

Harry was too busy with his rattle to answer her. She chuckled, then coaxed the rattle out of his hand, trading it for a pacifier. Harry held out his arms in anticipation of being picked up.

The two went downstairs to the kitchen where the boys were. James and Sirius were leaning over the table, their black heads so close together they were practically touching.

James looked up as his wife and son came into the kitchen. "Are you sure you don't know?" he asked.

"Well?" Lily asked, putting Harry into his highchair. "Do you have any letters?"

"Blank-E-blank-E-blank-blank-O-blank-blank," Sirius answered.

Lily walked over to them and leaned over to look at the crossword puzzle. Pushing back a strand of hair that had fallen into her face, she said, "It's 'telephone'. How were you trying to spell it?"

"T-E-L-L-A-F-O-N-E," Sirius said. "How do you spell it?"

Lily plucked the quill from his hand and filled the proper boxes in. "Learn to spell, Sirius."

"I can spell," Sirius protested.

"You can't blame him for not being able to spell a Muggle word, Lily," James said. "Their spelling is nutters."

"And wizarding terms make so much more sense," Lily retorted.

"All wizarding things make so much more sense than Muggle things, Lily, dear," said Sirius loftily. "Honestly. Muggles." He shook his head. Lily swatted at him playfully.

Meanwhile, the neglected baby started to bang his hands on the highchair tray to demand attention. James, taking pity on his hungry son, got up to get him something to eat. Lily promptly stole his chair. She pointed at one of the boxes. "39-Down," she told Sirius, who had taken back the quill. "Faust."

"I knew that," Sirius said cheerfully, writing in the word.

"Then why didn't you fill it in?" Lily sniped.

"I was working on the other side," Sirius replied.

"Sure you were, Padfoot," James said sarcastically, pouring some dry cereal onto Harry's tray.

"You didn't get it either, James," Lily reminded him sweetly.

"Details, details," he replied breezily, coming back to the table. Harry popped some of the cereal into his mouth and munched on it cheerfully, making 'yum yum' noises. His son taken care of, James went over to his wife and ordered, "My chair. Out." He jerked his thumb over his shoulder.

She turned and looked up at him, an impish smile on her face. "I don't see your name on it."

James looked at her coolly for a minute before taking out his wand. An invisible hand neatly wrote "James' Chair" in script letters across the back of the chair. Above, a fluorescent sign saying "James'" blinked and pointed at Lily's seat.

Lily laughed and, surprisingly enough, got up. James reclaimed his seat. "Ooph," he went a second later when Lily plopped down on his lap.

"Ah, poor baby," Lily mocked. "Did that hurt?"

"Maybe if you kiss it it'll feel better," James suggested hopefully.

Lily tried. After about a minute, Sirius cleared his throat meaningfully. "I think your mummy and daddy want to work on getting you a baby brother or sister soon," he told his godson. Harry, busy munching on his cereal, ignored him.

The Potters broke it off. "Padfoot is jealous," James said in a singsong voice.

"Feeling left out, Sirius?" Lily asked.

"A little," Sirius admitted playfully. "But I think I'd feel better if I got a kiss, too."

Lily leaned over and placed a fat kiss on the tip of his nose. "That better?" she asked.

"Well, I was hoping that James would be the one to kiss me, but - " He broke off when James kicked him in the shin.

"Oww," Sirius said, rubbing the spot gingerly. "What a fine role model you make, Prongs. My poor godson is going to grow up thinking that violence solves everything, all because you kicked me."

"When my son is old enough to actually understand what is going on around him, he will also be old enough to realize that sometimes violence is the only answer when you are involved, Padfoot, you prat," James answered good-naturedly. "God pity the fool who thinks he can get through to you with logic."

"Ahh, logic. Never much saw the sense in that. Give me good, old-fashioned bedlam any day of the week," Sirius said.

"Stop being an ass," Lily said, the smile on her face keeping her words from sounding as if she were scolding him. "And if you aren't going to do the crossword, give me the quill so I can fill in all these blank squares that you've left."

"Oh, like you could fill in the blanks," Sirius scoffed. "Look at that! You even missed Gaarder." He wrote the word into the bottom left-hand corner.

James peered at the newspaper. "It's Gardner, Padfoot, not Gaarder."

"Is not."

"Is too."

Knowing they could go on like that for hours, Lily quickly interrupted. "Well, what's 155-Across? Act like a Flobberworm."

"Bore someone to death?" James asked.

"Doesn't fit," Sirius said, pretending to take his friend at his word.

"Flobberworms don't do anything," James complained. "How are they supposed to act?"

"If we knew that, then we'd have the answer," Sirius said sarcastically.

"Lie around uselessly? Vegetate?" James suggested. His eyes lit up. "Vegetate!" he and Sirius yelled together. The latter quickly wrote it in.

"Okay, so 136-Down is . . . " He trailed off and looked up at and glared accusingly at Lily. "We already had the 'a', Lil."

She ignored him. "Versailles," she said, pointing to the middle of the puzzle.

Sirius didn't write it in immediately. "Teach your wife how to do a bloody crossword puzzle, Prongs," he whined.

"Excuse me?" Lily asked, somewhat amused. "Who here has got more answers since she came down here than the two of you combined?"

"That's because you keep on scanning for the easy ones and aren't working on the blocks like you're supposed to, like James and I are."

"You're just bitter because you're being beaten by a girl." She paused, her eyes twinkling and a devilish smile playing on her lips. "Again."

"Again? When, pray tell, have you beaten me before?" Sirius asked.

"Hogwarts," Lily said.

"I had better marks in Potions."

"I had better in Charms."

"I beat you both in Transfiguration," James added. "And Defence. And Runes."

"Remus beat us all in Defence," Lily reminded him. "And we tied in Runes."

"Half a point, Prongs, that's all I was behind you in Transfiguration. And I beat you in Muggle Studies," Sirius said. "Lil, too."

"I didn't take Muggle Studies," Lily said through clenched teeth, having had that particular conversation with him entirely too many times in her opinion.

"You only got such a high mark in Muggle Studies because the teacher was biased and somehow got it into her head that you were an angel. Teacher's pet." The broad grin on James' face belied the harsh words.

"No," Sirius corrected, "I only didn't get in trouble in that class because I was teacher's pet. I got such high marks because I understood Muggles and Muggle-things better than anyone else in that class . . . well, except for Rob Mackenzie, but he was Muggle-born, so that doesn't count."

"Why did he take Muggle Studies if he was Muggle-born?" Lily asked, her face scrunching up.

James laughed. "To boost his average. Well, his official excuse was that he wanted to see how Muggles were viewed through the eyes of wizards, but he wasn't fooling anyone." He opened his eyes wide, trying to look innocent, and when he spoke again, there was a slight whine in his voice. "But it would just be so interesting to see how wizards view the Muggle world. I'm thinking about maybe going into Muggle Relations at the Ministry, and I can't do that without knowing how other wizards see Muggles. That's why I'm taking the class. Honest."

"Prat," Sirius said.

"What did he end up with in that class again?" James asked.

"One sixty-three," Sirius answered promptly.

"Compared to your one forty-nine," James said. "Now I remember."

"There are very few people out there that would be discontent at a final mark of one hundred and forty-nine percent, Sirius," Lily said dryly.

"And this room has a disproportionate number of them, Lil," Sirius answered. "Now, are either of you dunderheads going to help, or am I going to have to finish this puzzle all on my own?"

"Like you could finish it on your own, Padfoot," James said.

"And just exactly what are you trying to imply, Prongs?" asked Sirius.

"I'm not trying to imply anything, Padfoot. I'm stating that you couldn't finish this crossword on your own if your life depended on it."

"I take offence to that," Sirius said.

"Now there's a surprise," James said sarcastically.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Sirius demanded belligerently.

"That's supposed to mean that you can't finish a crossword puzzle - not even one of the ones from the Diviner - on your own."

"Didn't we just have this conversation?" Lily asked rhetorically.

"You'll find, Lily love," James said with a grin, "that one has to repeat many conversation one has with Sirius because he hasn't the brain capacity to remember a conversation from one minute to the next."

"I'll show you - one - brain capacity," Sirius said, completely calm, which set off warning bells in Lily's head. She quickly leapt off James' lap, just in time for Sirius to lunge at his friend, knocking them both of the chair. Lily might have been concerned if she hadn't seen one or the other do the exact same thing at least once a week for the past dozen years. They'd roll on the floor for a minute or two, then get up laughing, the best of buddies.

"Hi hi," Harry gabbled. He clapped his hand open and shut in his own personal universal sign for both greeting and saying goodbye.

"Hello, young Harry," Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, gravely replied.

To their credit, not a single one of the adults showed any sign of surprise at the unexpected visage of the headmaster in their fire. In fact, without missing a beat, Sirius untangled himself from James, straightened up, and asked, "Two words, five letters. Who's responsible for the mirages of the Straits of Messina?"

"Ah," Dumbledore said sagaciously. "The Straits of Messina. Fata Morgana."

James smacked himself in the forehead as Sirius scrambled up to the table. "We're idiots. How could we miss something so obvious?" the former asked. Sirius was busy filling 'Le Fay' into the blank boxes.

"What can we do for you, Headmaster?" Lily asked cheerfully.

Dumbledore was somber, an unusual trait when they had first started at Hogwarts, but increasingly common in the last few years. "I'm sorry to interrupt you, but I'm afraid I need to see you as soon as possible."

Lily felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. It wasn't a question of if something had happened, or even what had happened, but rather -

"Who?" James asked tensely.

Dumbledore looked down at the embers. "The McKinnons."

Lily involuntarily raised her hand to cover her mouth. "We'll be there in half an hour," James said grimly.

Dumbledore's head bobbed up and down in a nod and he disappeared. James and Sirius went to the hall to grab their cloaks while Lily took Harry out of his highchair. They quickly hurried outside of the Anti-Apparition fields set up around the property, throwing their cloaks on as they went.

"The second floor passage," James said, and Sirius and Lily nodded, knowing where James meant for them to go. Lily Apparated with Harry, technically illegal, but only if caught, as Sirius was wont to say. They arrived just outside the Hogsmeade entrance to the shortest passageway between the town and the school that the boys had been able to find in their seven years at Hogwarts and wasted no time rushing through it and towards the school.

The half-finished crossword puzzle lay on the kitchen table, abandoned and forgotten. It would have to wait for another day.

The End
Sunday, June 09, 2002