Chapter 1 : Prologue
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The great hall erupted with a roaring applause as James Potter walked the ramp to the stage to get his diploma. Clad in red Gryffindor robes, he looked unbelievably handsome. He walked confidently and gave his signature smile as he was awarded the best quidditch captain and player medal. He also received “the most promising student” award. He held his head high as he shook hands firmly with professor Mcgonagall, the Hogwarts headmistress. The professor gave back a barely detectable smile to him. He held up his certificate, his medal and his diploma and waved it for everyone to see. With the smile still on his face, he walked back to his seat. The cheers for him didn’t die for a long time. Among the loudest were his parents, his brother, Albus Potter, his sister, Lily Potter, and her best friend, Grace Mathison. He spotted them in the crowd and winked.
After the commencement, the graduating students and their families were directed towards the great hall for a feast that was just as elaborate as the start of the year feast. As James walked into the great hall that was now adorned with floating letters that came together every so often to read "Congratulations" or "Best Wishes", he felt a little twinge of sadness. He would miss this place. His nostalgic thoughts were interrupted, however, by the lion on the Gryffindor banner had sprung out of the banner and was roaming around the great hall, pausing in front of each of the Gryffindor graduates. Although James had grown up seeing portraits talk and leave their frames, he was awestruck by the life-like lion that was now hovering in front of him, its paw outstretched holding what looked like a ring box with his name imprinted on it.
James reached out and the grabbed the box. Not knowing what the box contained he watched the Lion make its way towards other Gryffindors.
"What do you got in your hand, James?" Harry called out to his son.
"Uh, I don't know. The Lion gave it to me," said James, still not having fully recovered from the experience of having received a ring box from a Lion. For a second, he had thought the lion was proposing to him. He laughed a little at the silliness of the thought.
Harry laughed at his son's bewildered look. "It's good to see that there still are things at Hogwarts that take you by surprise."
"It's just that I thought I had discovered all of Hogwarts' secrets and charms. But turns out that there are things that I haven't discovered yet after all." James sounded very serious.
"Oh I don't think any one man would be able to learn all of Hogwarts' secrets. Even Dumbledore, arguably the most powerful wizard to be the headmaster of Hogwarts, could not claim to be privy to all of its secrets," said Harry with a fond smile that betrayed his respect and affection for the late headmaster.
"But, dad, all those hours I spent at detention. They were all for nothing then. I truly thought I knew all the secrets."
"Oh, stop being such a pompous drama queen, James," piped up Lily, as she walked towards them, very amused to see her brother so confounded.
"Open the box, James. It's a Hogwarts tradition, a graduation gift," said Ginny as she followed her daughter to join her husband and her son.
James opened the box and took out a tiny sword which when he held in his bare hand enlarged into a miniature replica of Gryffindor's sword. Just below the hilt where Gryffindor's name would have been on the actual sword, there was an inscription written in red letter. It read, "A token of Gryffindor to a brave heart full of mischief."
James heard a sob and turned to see his mom who was looking at him with intense pride and adoration.
“Mom, you’re looking at me as if I’m a newborn!” James said looking at his mom, smiling all the same.
“James!” Ginny said indignantly, “you will never be older than a newborn to me. After all your behavior is as good as a newborn’s. But Harry and I are so proud of you today.” She looked at Harry and Harry nodded in response. "You know he reminds me a little bit of Fred and George," said Ginny softly so that it was audible only to Harry.
Harry nodded again in understanding. Fred and George had been notorious for their pranks at Hogwarts. After Fred was killed in the battle with Voldemort's forces at Hogwarts, George had almost lost all of his humor and had become more serious. Ginny was glad that her son had brought the laughter and humor back into the Weasely family. She understood how worried her mother must have been raising Fred and George, but she would have James no other way.
“Mom just loves to tell me off, doesn’t she?”
Harry said, “I’m often amazed that both you and Albus are my sons. Albus is two years younger to you, yet he is mature and contemplative. You, on the other hand, are just…”
“Cool! I know, dad. People tell me so often!”
Harry and Ginny both laughed at this. It was clear that the couple adored this son of theirs.
“You know, James, what Sirius would’ve said to you? He would’ve said that you’re so like my father,” said Harry, not wanting to mention Fred just yet. He still felt a little guilty about Fred's death, although rationally he knew it wasn't really his fault.
“Hence the name,” Albus said.
“Except for the glasses. James doesn’t need glasses,” Lily said.
“True. Your brother is far too cool to wear glasses, little sis,” James said grinning again and teasing his younger brother, “unlike Albus here.”
“Are you saying dad and grandpa were not cool, James?” Albus was grinning too. He knew his brother far too well and admired and loved him even more to get offended by anything he said. “From what I’ve heard grandpa was the coolest dude in his day. And I don’t have to remind you of dad, do I, now, James?” He looked at his father who was looking quite amazedly at his sons’ exchange.
“Kids, do you know how lucky you are to have siblings?” Harry said.
“Yes, dad, we do,” the children chorused. Their dad asked this question often, very often indeed. However they understood why he felt the need to remind them often about the blessings of having siblings. Though Harry had never directly told them about his life with the Dursleys, they had heard the story often from strangers and Harry’s friends.
Observing the big happy family, from within the circle, was Grace Mathison. She had deliberately not contributed to the conversation, not wanting to intrude in the family moment. She was a month short of fourteen, and she had never known what having a family was like. Being Lily’s best friend, the Potters were the closest she had ever gotten to having a family. She was a muggle born who had been orphaned at the age of two. When no relatives of hers had come forward, she had been sent to an orphanage. Although she hadn't been abused at the orphanage, she had never been happy there. She hadn't had a friend there. Getting the letter from Hogwarts had changed her life. She had left her orphanage under Mcgonagall’s care and ever since then she had never left Hogwarts, not even for holidays. She was presently going to meet Mcgonagall to discuss the summer arrangements for herself when Ginny spoke to her.
“Grace, why are you so silent today. Is everything alright?”
“Oh ya, Mrs. Potter, everything is fine. I was just gonna go talk to Professor Mcgonagall about staying here over the summer.”
Harry looked at Ginny and Ginny said, “Lily, why don’t you ask your friend to stay with us this summer?”
“Yeah, Grace, it’d be fun. Why don’t you stay over at our place?” Lily said, and then she turned towards her mother. “Mom, you’re awesome,” she beamed.
“Thank you, Mrs. Potter. But I do not wanna impose on you.”
“Oh don’t be silly, Grace. You wouldn’t be any problem at all. We’d love to have you,” Harry said.
“Yup, you are like family to us,” Albus said convincingly.
“Come on, Grace,” James added.
That did the trick. “Thank you, Mrs. Potter. I would love to.” She gave one of her rather rare, pretty smiles.
“Yay!” Lily said and her brothers joined.
“Hey, dad, can we go home with you and mom today?” Lily asked. She was the most pampered one at home by her parents and her brothers. “The Hogwarts express doesn’t leave till tomorrow and I wanna go home now.”
“Yes, sweetie, I’m sure we could arrange it,” Ginny said.
“No way, my friends and I are having our graduation party tonight at the Gryffindor common room. I can’t leave, dad,” James said.
“You don’t have to go with us, James, if you don’t want to. We’ll just take Lily, Grace and Albus with us.”
“Thanks dad. I’ll see all you guys tomorrow.” With that James ran off towards his group of friends.
“Our boy is all grown up, ” Ginny commented.