Sirius stayed as quiet as he could, holding baby Harry tightly to his chest, making sure he didn't make a sound. Although he was sure he couldn't be seen, his heart was still beating loudly in his chest, so loudly, in fact, that he was sure he would be found and then it would all be over. He let his breath out slowly, before it caught in his throat as he heard a floor board creak and the muffled movement of someone not wanting to be heard. The noises came nearer and just as Sirius was contemplating making a break for it, the curtain was pulled back, leaving him and one year old Harry exposed.
"I FOUND YOU UNCLE SIRI, I FOUND YOU!" came the voice of nine year old Charlie Weasley, as the boy started to dance around the living room in extasy and Harry started to giggle and shove his fist in his mouth. Sirius slumped his shoulders in defeat, a rueful grin on his face.
"I don't know how you do it Squirt, you get me everytime. Found Bill yet?" he asked the excitable young boy.
"Nah, he's way better at this than you"
And with that, Charlie dashed out, no doubt to find his older brother who was hiding somewhere in The Burrow. Sirius grinned to himself and made his way through to the kitchen with Harry.
Sitting around the table were Molly and Arthur Weasley, Lily, James and Remus and Molly's two brothers, Gideon and Fabian, both of whom were also in the Order. Although Molly and Arthur were not in the Order, and it was never spoken of openly in their presence, Sirius was quite sure they knew about it, or at least knew there was something going on.
"You want me to take him?" Lily asked as Sirius walked in with her son. He shook his head before sitting down and putting Harry on his knee, bouncing him softly.
"Were they keeping you busy, Sirius?" Molly asked with a smile, "I told you, just tell them to play amongst themselves, they're more than used to it, they don't need to be bothering you to keep themselves entertained."
"And I've told you, Molly, that it's not a bother, I like playing with them" he replied. He didn't mention that it was often a lot more fun than the grown-up talk that often happened when they all got together. Grown up talk? He was still thinking like a nine-year old. He tuned into the conversation as it resumed around him.
"Like I said, we are just so pleased to have a girl this time. I love my boys, of course I do, but it's so nice to have a girl for a change. Although it does mean she can't live in the others hand-me-downs of course. She'll need dresses and bows and skirts and hats and..."
"Molly.." Arthur cut in, his eyebrows raised and a smile on his face. "And she tells me off for spending money on silly things like toasters and hairdryers. Much more useful than dresses and skirts, I'll tell you. Did I tell you? I bought a hairdryer and when I.."
"Arthur, they do NOT want to hear about your silly muggle toys. And how can you say that toastets and hair thingies are more important than your daughters clothes? I mean.."
"Molly, I think I have some things left in the attic from when I was a baby," Lily interjected, trying hard to keep the smile from her face. Molly and Arthur, much as they loved each other, could not quite agree on Arthur's obsession with muggles, and so it was generally a good idea to steer the topic of conversation in a different direction. Lily and the boys had become quite skilled at it by now.
"Oh, Lily, that would be fantastic, thank-"
They were cut off by a thump, followed by a loud wail and loud footsteps down the stairs. Percy ran in, clutching his head, tears streaming down his face, cheeks red and wailing at the top of his voice. Charlie was close behind him, an indignant look on his face, holding an eighteen month old Ron, who was also screaming his lungs out, and Bill hung back by the door. The twins waddled in moments later, looking like butter wouldn't melt in their mouths.
"What on earth?" Molly started, though she could barely be heard over the wails of the two boys. She took Ron from Charlie, who immediately started to quieten, his sobs turning into hiccups and shudders in his mothers arms. Percy, on the other hand, was wailing even louder on seeing Ron get attention first. His cheeks were getting redder by the minute and his whole body was heaving.
Before Molly could see to him, Gideon got up from his chair and knelt down on the floor in front of Percy. The young boy barely noticed through his tears, so Gideon took the edge of his robe and gently wiped Percy's face, clearing the cheeks of tears and slowly getting the boys attention.
"There now, champ, you're alright" Gideon said with a smile, though Percy was still crying, albeit quieter now. He had worked himself up so much that he was having trouble catching his breath, so Gideon took him into his arms, rubbing his back to calm him down. He stood up, still holding Percy and went back to his seat, the boys head now resting on his shoulder, his little back still heaving with the force of his earlier sobs.
The attention of the room now turned to Molly, who, after handing over Ron to his father, was now standing in front of Charlie, Bill and the twins, her hands on her hips and her foot tapping the ground.
"Who want's to tell me what just happened?" she asked, the warning evident in her voice. Sirius gulped, glad for once that it was not him that was getting in trouble. Molly was almost as scary as McGonagle.
"Charlie took Percy's train", Bill started, his arms folded across his adolescent chest. "Then threw it at him and hit him in
"I did not!"
"'E did an 'e made perce cry" - that was Fred,
"'an' Won cried too" - that was George,
"He's such a baby!"
"Charlie Weasley, did you take and throw your brother's train?"
"He took my dragon first" Charlie half admitted, his brows furrowed together and his young face angry and sullen. His arms were by his side, but his fists were clenched and he was looking at the ground.
"Right. Go up to your room and stay there until dinner. Now!" Molly said, pointing to the stairs. Charlie waited a moment, burst into tears and raced up the stairs, making sure to thump on every step and bang every door on the way.
"Bill, why was Ron crying?" she asked her older son. It was so nice having him home from Hogwarts for the holidays, he was very good at keeping an eye on his younger brothers.
"Percy stood on his fingers when he was running down the stairs after Charlie had taken his train." He shrugged, before turning and leaving the room. For his part, he was tired of being at home and surrounded by kids. He couldn't wait to get back to Hogwarts, where everyone was older than him and hardly anyone cried, ever.
Molly shook her head before turning back to the table and sitting down, grinning at Gideon, who was still holding a now sleeping Percy.
"You can put him upstairs if you want" she said, though Gideon shook his head. "He's ok here for just now."
Lily gave Molly a smile, completely in awe of the woman who managed to have and raise seven children and keep house, while Lily herself was just now getting on top of things after having Harry, and he was a year old by now. Thinking of her son, she looked over at him. He was now sitting on the ground, with Ron, picking at goodness knows what and handing it to his red haired friend. Those two had clicked from the very first time they had met and were now almost as inseparable as Fred and George. Lily hoped they would grow up to be as good friends as Sirius and James were, and, deep down inside her, hoped that she and James would be there to see it.
Things had been getting more and more dangerous lately, with more attacks than ever and the name of Voldemort always tinging every meeting, every gathering with a trace of fear. He was getting closer and no one quite knew what was coming next, and Lily knew this was not the time to be bringing up children in the world. She hoped it would be over before Harry was old enough to remember any of it, but in her heart of hearts she just couldn't see how that was possible.
She hadn't shared these fears with anyone, not even James, but it was the reason, though unspoken, that they had decided to not try for another baby. It was just too dangerous to bring anymore babies into the world, even though seeing tiny Ginny Weasley had made Lily's heart contract and her very being long for a daughter. Not yet. Someday, but not yet.