The little street in Godric’s Hollow was filled with the resounding roar of a manic engine. James Potter, who was waiting by the gate, stuck his head out to look down the street curiously, but saw nothing. The grinding and clanking only got louder by the second, until Lily popped her head out of the kitchen window to yell, “Honey, what’s going on? What’s that noise?”
“I’m not sure, Lil,” James yelled back, looking around warily and drawing his wand. He could see nothing.
The next second, though, just as Lily ran out of the door with her own wand drawn, a hole opened up in the sky and out through it dropped a massive black contraption. James had never seen anything like it. It was like a machine that was alive. Lily, however, squealed and exclaimed, “Oh, it’s a motorcycle! But what’s it doing up there?”
The motorcycle roared and shot fumes into the air as it slowly lowered itself to come to a rest right in front of the Potters’ gate. James, who had turned his face away from the dust and dirt flying everywhere, braved a peek at the strange bird of steel. His grimace immediately rearranged itself into a grin as he saw who rode atop it.
“Oy, Padfoot!” he exclaimed gleefully. “I should’ve known it was you when I heard the commotion. Is this what you’ve been up to? What kind of animals are they breeding nowadays, anyway?”
Lily laughed and came to stand by the two men. “It’s not an animal, honey. It’s a Muggle transportation vehicle, like a car. It’s called a motorcycle.” She opened the gate and reached up to give Sirius a hug. She looked at him curiously and asked, “But where in the world did you get one that flies?”
Sirius cocked a grin, and suddenly he looked sixteen again. Lily fought the urge to blush. “I bewitched it myself,” he announced proudly, leaping off of the thing and leaning it on its side against the fence. “I thought it would be fun.”
James laughed. He was, as ever, Padfoot.
“But enough about me,” Sirius said, looking genuinely happy to see James and his wife. “Where’s the tyke?”
“He’s sleeping,” James said happily to his best mate, and led the way up the path to the door. “Come on inside.” Sirius grabbed a long package off of the back of his motorcycle and followed, with Lily behind him.
“We really need to get you a girl, Pad,” Lily teased as she shut the door behind them. “Tinkering around with Muggle artifacts can get you in trouble with the Ministry, you know.”
“I know.” Sirius grinned again and shook his hair out of his eyes. “But I’m in enough trouble with the Ministry already that this offense would be like adding a drop of water into an ocean, m’dear.” Lily rolled her eyes. “Well then, Prongs, where’s the birthday boy?”
“He’s coming,” came James’s voice from somewhere in the house. “I just need to get him changed and dressed—ugh!”
Sirius roared with laughter. “Who would’ve thought I’d live to see the day,” he gasped. “Prongs with a baby Prongs! Oh, Merlin…” Lily looked on with a small smile of amusement while his face began to turn purple, before hurrying off to help her husband with the baby.
“Hey, it’s not like I’m a stranger,” Sirius protested, pulling himself together, catching his breath and following Lily towards the stairs. “Surely I’m allowed to view the spectacle of my best mate while he grapples with his baby.”
Lily paused before taking his hand and leading him into the nursery at the top of the stairs. “I guess you are Harry’s godfather. Who am I to deny him of you?”
In the nursery, James held the squirming baby, naked bum and all, with his right arm while lifting the soiled diaper with the very tips of the fingers of his left, and trying without success to open the garbage can next to the crib with his right foot. “Da,” Harry said over and over, arms flailing. His da almost lost his balance and had to grasp onto the edge of the crib to keep from falling over. “Da, da, da, da, da. Ma!”
Lily stopped at the door to enjoy the sight for a moment before releasing Sirius’s hand and stepping in to help. “Honey, you’re supposed to put on a new one first, and then throw out the dirty one,” she said, taking the baby away from him. “That way you can put Harry in the crib, all clean and happy, and you have a free hand to open the garbage can.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” James grumbled as he tossed the dirty diaper away. Sirius barely got a whiff of it and coughed. “Isn’t he due to be toilet trained by now?”
“Sorry, Prongs,” Sirius said sympathetically, “but he can barely walk. I don’t think it’s going to happen for a while.”
“Oh, boys,” Lily sighed to little Harry, who was now happily diapered. “To think that you’re going to grow up to become one of them.” She cast a conspiratorial glance at James and Sirius, who were standing dumbfounded next to the trashcan, and then shared a private laugh with the baby.
“She’s talking to the baby, mate,” Sirius muttered.
“She does that all the time,” James said. “It doesn’t mean she’s gone mad or anything…I read in some parenting magazine that mums do that sort of thing.”
Sirius chuckled. “Parenting magazines? Reading? Prongs, what’s happened to you?”
“I’m a dad, Pad. That’s what dads do, isn’t it?” James walked over to Lily and scooped the baby into his arms. He tossed Harry into the air a few times and Harry gurgled happily. “Not that you’d know. I’m surprised you haven’t sired anything yet, the way you’ve been going around.”
“I have not!” Sirius protested. “You know I’m done with that stuff.”
Lily was quiet. James coughed awkwardly and stopped tossing Harry. Sirius only realized his mistake after Lily’s cheeks began to blush. “Oh…can I hold him, Prongs?” he asked hurriedly.
“Sure,” James said, relieved. He handed his son over to his best mate and retreated back towards the crib to wrap Lily in a tight hug from behind. The thought of losing her, however paranoid and unreasonable it was, still sometimes scared him beyond comprehension. He only knew that she was his, and no one else’s. Harry made sure of that.
“Harry Potter,” Sirius cooed uncharacteristically, cradling the baby. “Harry James Potter. It’s the name of a hero, mate.”
Lily laughed. “What does that make you, then? Someone who’s trapping a future hero in your arms?”
Sure enough, Harry was squirming and kicking his legs for Sirius to put him down. Sirius obliged, a tad unwillingly. “Look, he can walk!” Sirius exclaimed as Harry wobbled forward a step, then two. At the sound of his voice, Harry turned around, wobbling more violently, and took the two steps back to Sirius.
“Four steps, mate! That’s amazing!” James exclaimed. “That’s as much as the most I’ve ever gotten out of him.”
“I’ve gotten six,” Lily remarked. “But I’m his mum. Congratulations, Sirius. I think baby Harry likes his godfather.”
Harry was scooped back into Sirius’s arms. “I’ve got something that’ll make you like me even more,” he whispered into the baby’s ear. “Come with me, I’ll show you your present.”
He turned and began to head downstairs. James shook his head amusedly. “Now who’s the one talking to the baby?” he called after him, grinning. “I think a kid would be good for Sirius,” he said to his wife. “Look at how Harry’s just turned him into a big sap.”
“Pad’s always been a big sap, deep down. It just takes our baby to bring it out of him.” Lily smiled as she remembered the grand, tough Marauders who were really just teenage boys at heart. And I think I picked the right one, she thought to herself.
“Let’s go see Pad’s present,” James said, releasing her and leading her downstairs. “I’m a bit curious, aren’t you?”
“More afraid than curious,” Lily retorted, biting her lip.
In the living room, Sirius was sitting on the couch with Harry bouncing up and down on his lap. “This little piggy went to the market, this little piggy stayed home,” Sirius murmured, wiggling each of Harry’s toes in turn as the baby peered down intently, interested in the piggies.
“Ahem.” James and Lily stood in the doorway, trying unsuccessfully to quell their laughter.
“Da!” Harry hiccupped. Sirius’s head shot up.
“Oh! Um, we were just waiting for you so we can open the present…” Sirius tried to save his last shred of dignity as a twenty-year-old man.
“Alright, Pad, let’s see it.” Lily smiled, surprised at Sirius’s soft spot despite what she knew about her husband and his friends. “I hope it’s safe for a one-year-old.”
“Relax, Lily. I always knew you’d be a good mum, but even you’re gonna love this.” Sirius pulled the long package out from behind him, and handed it to her. “Open it.”
Lily peeled off the wrapping paper one layer at a time, until the floor around her feet was covered with the stuff. “Um…Sirius? You know you didn’t need to wrap it this much, right?” She suppressed a giggle. Wrapping paper was somewhat of a Muggle thing, but the concept of it was generally known in the Wizarding world also. Apparently Sirius had not read the instructions on the roll he had purchased in Diagon Alley.
“Oh,” said Sirius, somewhat deflated. “You’re almost there, though!”
“Oy, Padfoot, this is amazing!” James cried joyfully as Lily brandished a working toy broomstick, only about three feet long, a perfect size for little Harry. “I can’t believe you, mate!”
Sirius stood up and gave Harry to Lily. He and James shared a friendly hug, clapping each other on the back. “Hey, I always thought your kid would grow up to be a great Quidditch player, Prongs,” he remarked. “Now he can start a bit early.”
Lily gave Sirius a hug as well. Harry ended up squished, giggling, in the middle. “Oh, trust you to give the most outrageous and wonderful present, Pad,” she said, kissing him on the cheek. “Thanks so much.”
“No problem, Mrs. Prongs.” Sirius grinned. “Why don’t you let Harry try it out?”
At this Lily paused. Harry smiled endearingly at his mum until finally she gave in, casting only one fearful glance around the room at her beautiful furniture and light fixtures. “Oh, go ahead,” she sighed.
James grabbed the broom and held it in front of Harry, at an angle to the floor. He could barely contain his own excitement, bouncing up and down and grinning crazily. “There we go, Harry,” he said encouragingly as Harry teetered forward to grasp the handle with his own chubby hands. James lifted a leg and clonked it down on the other side of the broom exaggeratedly until Harry managed to do the same with his leg. Squatting tensely, perched on the edge of the broomstick, Harry was ready to go.
Sirius bent down to examine the little boy. “He’s all set,” he informed Mum and Dad. “And off you go!”
With a small shove, Harry was sent rocketing across the living room, only a few inches above the ground. His feet still skimmed the carpet. “Turn! Turn!” Lily shrieked, horrified, as Harry neared the corner of the room. Miraculously, Harry pulled his body weight to the right, to the amazed cheers of his father, and so the broom made a sharp turn and avoided the wall. “He’s a natural!” Lily exclaimed. Harry came soaring back, squealing with delight and roaring with laughter all at once. Anyone who saw the sparkle in the baby’s green eyes could not be mistaken. Harry James Potter, who had the name of a hero, had fallen in love with flying.
This Sirius triumphantly realized. “Hmm…maybe I should take him out on the motorcycle sometime,” he mused.
“Absolutely not!” Lily cried, even while her flowing eyes tracked her son around the room. James may not have known about motorcycles, but she was Muggle-born. Even when they stayed firmly rooted on the ground, motorcycles were dangerous enough. But flying ones? Ridden by Sirius? It was such a dreamy and ridiculous thought that she had to laugh despite her tears.
Sirius held his hands up in surrender, oblivious to the emotion he had inspired in the woman. He had attributed her tears to joy for her son, and of course, they were. “Alright, alright, little Prongs stays on the ground. It was just a suggestion, Lily,” he said innocently. They watched Harry in silence.
Harry came skidding around the room again, from the opposite direction. He was really getting the hang of riding the broomstick. James was so overcome with joy in watching his son that he did not hear his wife.
Lily had rarely seen James this happy since they had gone into hiding. She hated to end this, but Harry came first. She smacked her dazed husband on the shoulder to get his attention. “Honey, listen to me! I think Harry’s getting a little over-stimulated.” The couple cast a glance at their hysterically laughing baby, still racing past them in circles. “Maybe this is enough for today.”
James pulled a face Lily called the Marauders’ Getting-Out-of-Trouble face. She wasn’t sure if it had worked on any prefect other than herself, but it certainly wasn’t going to work now. “He’s going to get crabby tonight,” she warned her husband. “Unless you want to stay up with him…”
“I’ll get him,” James said hurriedly. On the next round by, he made a half-hearted grab for the little broomstick and missed by an inch. Harry cried out in protest, and James immediately retracted his arm.
“James!” Lily said.
“Don’t worry, Lily, I’ll take care of this,” Sirius said, bracing himself as Harry swung around the room once more. He didn’t want Lily to get all motherly and mad about his gift. As the boy and the broomstick passed, he deftly snatched Harry off of the broom and bundled him into his arms before Harry could figure out what was going on. The broomstick, without rider, fell to the floor, where Lily picked it up and carefully leaned it against the couch.
“No!” Harry began to protest when he had reoriented himself, but Sirius, without hesitation, plunked him onto the couch next to him and proceeded to tickle without mercy. In the end, Harry was too distracted and breathless from giggling to care about his toy.
“See, Mrs. Prongs, happy baby. No harm done.” Sirius grinned at James and Lily, who had made no effort to save their son from his merciless, tickling grasp. Unfortunately, they also did not warn him when their baby’s arm snaked up for revenge, unseen.
“Pad—” James began.
“Owwww!” Sirius howled, whipping his head back around to face Harry. But in the process he had somehow increased the sharp pain in his scalp. Harry had a firm grip on a large handful of Sirius’s prized hair and would not let go.
Lily gasped, trying not to laugh. “Oh, Sirius, I’m so sorry—”
“Owww!” he cried again, almost drowning out Harry’s laughter, and his quiet response.
All howling stopped. Mum and Dad stared. Amazed, Sirius inched his still-captive head down until he was face to face with the baby. “What did you say?” he whispered through teeth gritted with pain.
“Pad,” Harry smiled, showing some teeth. “Pad, Pad, Pad, Pad.”
Sirius felt a lump rise in his throat and struggled to swallow it before anyone could notice. This, this kid was mini-Prongs, his godson, Harry James Potter. And he had just said his name.
“Yeah, Pad,” he gulped, wrenching his hair free at last. “That’s me.”
“Aw, Sirius…” Lily whispered, seeing the emotion in his expression. She clutched James’s hand and squeezed tightly. “Would you…would you like some tea?”
“What?” Sirius was confused.
Lily smiled, just as confused. “…some tea? I think it would be good for all of us to settle down now.”
“For god’s sake, Lil, you’re only twenty. Stop acting like you’re sixty and old and stuffy. You know I don’t tolerate that.” Sirius laughed shakily. Casually, he scooped Harry back into his lap and bounced him up and down.
Lily scuttled into the kitchen. “Yes, well, even if you don’t want to, Harry has to calm down now. I’m not your mother, Sirius, but I am his,” she called from there. James laughed at the thought of his wife scolding his best mate for horsing around with his son.
Lily came back bearing trays for all of them. By this time Sirius had just about composed himself, and settled back easily into his normal demeanor. “So what’re you guys up to around here lately?” he asked. “I imagine being in hiding must be a great party.”
James rolled his eyes. “I think I might take up knitting just to pass the time,” he commented dryly. “Otherwise I should poke my own eyes out with boredom.”
“Oh, James, don’t say that,” Lily begged. She clamped a hand on James’s arm. “You’ve got us. Your family”—she cast a glance at Sirius—“and friends.”
“Speaking of, where’s Moony been lately? I haven’t seen him since that time I set off that crazy Muggle contraption and he had to come help me escape from that po-lease station. You lot weren’t picking up your fellytone,” Sirius explained.
Lily snorted into her tea. “Remus has been by recently. He couldn’t make it here today because of this meeting in Bulgaria…the International Federation of Werewolves or some such thing. Besides, you know we can’t have a lot of guests at once: twenty people arriving and departing would seem a bit suspicious for an abandoned old house, don’t you think?”
It was Sirius’s turn to laugh. “I keep forgetting about that Fidelus Charm. You know, whenever I come here I see a normal house.”
James gulped at his tea. “So how’re those four NEWTs treating you, Padfoot?” he asked. It had become an old joke in the last three years between the Marauders and their friends, how Sirius had managed to rack up as many NEWTs as Remus, and one more than James. It was an odd combination: Defense Against the Dark Arts (which was expected), Charms, Astronomy, and Herbology.
“Herbology?” Remus had wailed despairingly upon seeing Sirius’s test results. “How in the world…?” Remus himself had received NEWTs in DADA, Charms, Transfiguration, and Ancient Runes.
Sirius had only shrugged. He could provide no explanation himself.
“They’re stored in my brain, withering away from disuse,” he said now to James, who had received NEWTs in DADA, Transfiguration, and Astronomy himself. He regarded his best mate carefully. “Are either of you using your NEWTs?”
“You make them sound absolutely vulgar, Sirius Black,” Lily proclaimed, though she was laughing. “And no, I do not use my NEWTs.”
Laughing, James changed the subject. He knew Sirius wasn’t working, per se, but still he had hoped to hear something of the outside world. “Did you hear about Molly and Arthur’s new baby?” he asked Sirius. “We were just at the Burrow for the baby shower last week…you were still in France, I think. It was a strange sight, so much pink and blue. They still don’t know whether it’s going to be a girl or a boy,” he explained.
Sirius laughed. “Another one? Already? At this rate, they’re even going to fill the Burrow up,” he said, grinning. “They should name it Sirius, mate.”
“Even if it’s a girl?” Lily giggled. “Oh, the poor thing. But there’s not much hope for Sirius Weasley, I’m afraid. I heard Molly say she wanted to name her Ginevra if the baby’s a girl and Arthur Junior if he’s a boy.”
James cringed. “Speaking of, Lily here wants to name our second kid something along the lines of Albus Potter,” he whispered to Sirius. “With all due respect to old Dumbly-dore but the name is just atrocious!” Sirius’s mouth twitched, and James got an uneasy feeling about his expression. “Please tell me you’re not going to allow this to happen!”
Sirius snorted. “Don’t worry about it, Prongs. I understand completely.”
James glared at him but said nothing.
“So, how was France, anyway?” Lily asked, ignoring the silence. “Did you have fun sightseeing?”
“Not much time for sightseeing, although I did taste a lot of really good French wine,” Sirius said. “I was on a special trip…business for, you know”—he dropped his voice down to a whisper—“the Order.”
“Oh,” Lily said knowingly. “So just the normal sites, Marseilles, Nice, and Bordeaux?”
Sirius nodded. “All is well, so far,” he added tiredly. “The importants in Paris have already been secured. There’s no telling if the administration there is going to suspect something when the uproar spreads, though,” he said cryptically. “After all, the Order can only do so much.”
James sighed. “I wish I could still work for the Order,” he said. “But I guess Dumbledore’s just going to keep me alive and trapped here while ensuring my boredom.”
“At least you’ve got a beautiful wife and a delightful son,” Sirius tried to cheer his best mate up. “I've got nothing.”
“Speaking of your delightful son, honey, he’s fallen straight asleep in Pad’s lap,” Lily whispered, nudging James with her shoulder. Sirius looked down to see that Harry was indeed slumped over his right arm, sleeping peacefully. The baby really was unbearably cute, and it struck a chord even in Sirius’s twenty-year-old manly heart.
“Maybe it’s time for me to go,” he told James and Lily. “I’ve got dinner plans with Pete and Frank Longbottom tonight. Want to come?”
“Nah,” said James. “Harry wouldn’t be up for it. Besides, I think I’m really getting addicted to this telly-vision thing Lily got for us. I’ll probably just stay home and watch that box.”
Sirius grinned. “Well, suit yourself.” He got up with Harry still sleeping in his arms, clapped James on the back again, and kissed Lily lightly on the cheek. “I’ll bring the little tyke up.”
Lily watched, sighing, as Sirius mounted the stairs with her son. “When is he ever going to settle down?” she whispered to her husband.
James grinned at her. “He’s Padfoot. He’d never settle down if he didn’t have to.”
Upstairs, Sirius laid baby Harry gently back into his crib. He turned to leave, but his sleeve was caught on one of the nubs sticking out of the side of the crib, dragging the entire bed toward the door several inches. “Damn,” he muttered. “How is having these things sticking out safe for a baby?”
He turned back to free himself, but once again the sleeping face of baby Harry caught his attention. Against his better judgment, he bent down to kiss his godson’s forehead. The soft tufts of black hair tickled Sirius’s nose.
Holding his breath, Sirius whispered, “Don’t forget about me, little Prongs. You know you’ve always got Padfoot on your side.”
Then, feeling incredibly foolish, he backed out of the room hurriedly and returned downstairs to bid James and Lily goodbye.
A/N: Edited December 6, 2008. A shoutout to Marina Cartwright, who inspired this chapter. So, Little Harry is something to live for, but is he enough to die for? What do you think? Reviews!