Chapter 3 : Grown up
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“Hey, mom!” Lily said as she ran towards Ginny and hugged her. “I thought you wouldn’t be home.”
“Well I left Aunt Hermione alone today. I haven’t seen you in more than six months. How could I not be home today?”
“Is dad here?”
“Yeah. He’s been waiting just as eagerly for you. He was gonna set out to Kings Cross himself when you didn’t arrive for so long.”
“The credit for that, mom, goes to James and his fans. They wouldn’t leave him alone.”
“Well fame doesn’t come alone, Lily. With fame comes the responsibility to live up to your fame and to keep up an appearance in public,” Harry said as he joined them.
“And no one else would know that better than you,” Ginny said as she leaned in to kiss her husband.
“Hey, Lily, lets leave mom and dad alone to their romance. You two beautiful ladies come with me,” James said winking at Lily as he apparated there with Grace.
“James, it’s your parents you’re talking about! Aren’t you a tad embarrassed?” Ginny asked sternly. Harry was silently laughing.
“Come on, mom you don’t have to be so shy. You go on, we’ll go inside.”
“James!” Ginny said exasperated.
“Ginny, you know your son. Don’t worry about him,” Harry said softly. With that Harry pulled Ginny closer to him for another kiss.
James was still laughing when he entered his home with Lily and Grace. He looked at Lily, who was smiling at her brother and then at Grace, who was avoiding looking at him and was very red.
“Aw, little Gracie is embarrassed,” James teased.
“James, you didn’t spare mom and dad. Can you at least spare my friend?” Lily said but then joined her brother in his laughter.
“If you guys are done embarrassing me, I am going to my room,” Grace said and hurriedly went upstairs.
Harry had renovated the house he had inherited from Sirius and had made it even bigger and beautiful. It was no longer the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. There was no need for the Order anymore. There was no dark wizard, and the wizarding world had been very peaceful for the past twenty-seven years. 12 Grimmauld place now visible even to Muggles and to them it looked like a palace from the outside. It was now known as the Potter mansion. When the Fidelius Charm on the house had been lifted, the ministry of Magic had had to cast a spell on the Muggles so that they wouldn’t question the magical appearance of a building that they had always thought never existed.
The portraits of the black family that had hung on the walls before had been removed. All that remained was a portrait of Sirius that Harry had had an artist make from a picture of Sirius’ pre-Azkaban days when he looked like every girl’s dream. The only room that had been left unchanged was Sirius’. It still held evidence of Sirus’ rebellion against his parents and his Gryffindor pride.
The house had room for twenty more people. When Grace started living with them, Ginny had given her the room on the third floor in between James’ and Lily’s and which was also in front of Albus’.
“Hey, James, is Albus gonna come over for summer?” Lily asked after Grace left.
Albus had also already graduated from Hogwarts and was currently working as a Wizard Embassador to Muggles in London because of his attachment to muggles. He had probably inherited his fondness for Muggles from his grandpa Weasley. The wizarding world was not completely hidden from the Muggle world. After Lord Voldemort wreaked the havoc in what would’ve been Harry’s seventh year at Hogwarts, the ministry of Magic had worked closely with the Muggle Prime Minister’s office to explain away all the destruction. Twenty-seven years later, people had been all too happy to forget about the destruction and the unexplainable events, and now the existence of the wizarding world was once again a classified information that only a few Muggles were privy to. However, the ministry of Magic now worked more closely with the Muggles government.
“Well, Albus didn’t get a vacation. Him not being in school and all.”
“And what about you? Do you have any games to play, any practices or are you gonna be here the entire summer?”
“I’ll be here the whole summer, Lils.”
“Oh, I miss Albus. Now, I’ll have to put up with you the whole summer.” Lily faked annoyance and ran up to her room.
“Hey, come back here,” James yelled after her.
“So how was school this year, Lily?” Harry asked at dinner.
“Oh, it was great dad, great fun. Classes were tougher. I tell you, if Mcgonagall had her way then she would have sixth years take N.E.W.T.s.”
“She’s strict. But she just wants you to be prepared. And the most important thing to remember is that she truly cares about all of her student.”
“She has a unique way of showing care, doesn’t she, dad?” James said. “I knew she liked me, in spite of all my pranks and detentions with her, though she never said it.” He grinned.
“I’m not kidding, James. I’ve seen how protective she can get about the school and her students. You kids should be proud to have such a headmistress,” Harry said looking at Grace and Lily.
“Yes, she takes good care of the school.” Grace said.
“So, Lily, how’s quidditch?” Ginny asked.
“Quidditch just makes my day, Mom. Glen Woods is the captain now, you know after Albus graduated. He makes us work twice as hard, though not as hard as James did.” Lily stuck out a tongue at James.
“Glen Woods? Oliver Woods’ son?” Harry asked.
“Yeah. Do you know him? You never introduced us!” Lily said.
“Yup. Oliver Woods was the quidditch captain when I started playing quidditch at Hogwarts.”
“Dad, can we visit him sometime this summer? You’re still on good terms with him, aren’t you?”
“Sure, Lily.” Harry looked at his watch and realized that it was time for him to leave for another meeting. He had come home postponing that meeting just to see Lily. “Oh, excuse me, kids. I’ve to go to a meeting.” He disapparated right away and Ginny too excused herself to clean up in the kitchen, helping the house elves.
The three of them went upstairs and sat on the balcony at the front of the house overlooking the Potter property.
“So, Lils, tell me. Why are you so eager to visit Mr. Woods?” Grace asked.
“Oh, you know me, Grace. I just love meeting people who have even the slightest to do with quidditch.”
“That she does,” James agreed.
“Really? Is that the only reason? I would’ve thought differently,” Grace teased.
Lily blushed and immediately looked away. She then went closer to Grace and whispered in her ear, “Grace, not in front of James, please. You know how he thinks I am always his little sister and I am not grown up yet. Do you think he is gonna let this pass easily if he comes to know about this?”
James looked at the two of them and then said, “What, am I missing something here?”
“Nothing, James. We’re just talking about people from school. You don’t know them.”
“Oh come on, little sis. I know you’re hiding something. Remember, you can tell me anything.”
“Oh, I do. Maybe later. I wanna go to bed now. I’m so tired.” With that she hurried out of the balcony. She made her way quickly to her room and shut her door. James was still staring at the spot where his sister had been just a little while ago. Wheels were turning in his head.
“Um, Grace, is she hiding something from me?”
Grace didn’t respond. She just looked at him, silently telling him to back off. The sun was going down and its orange light shone on the left half of his face, giving his face a look of uncertainty and vulnerability.
“I know. Ok just tell me this, does she have a crush on Glen? I remember him being on our team when I was there.”
Grace didn’t give him the satisfaction of a yes or no answer. “What if she does? Would it matter to you?”
“Of course! She’s my sister. I care about her. She’s too young to be having a crush on anyone!” James said visibly worried.
Grace had to laugh at this. She laughed until tears came in her eyes. James was so over protective. He was 21 years old already and yet he acted like a child when it came to Lily. He was so blinded by his love for his little sister that he had failed to see that Lily had grown up into a beautiful woman. With her tall frame, her mother’s red hair that framed her round face, hazel eyes with gold flecks and the bright smile, she was drop dead gorgeous.
“What?” James said, annoyed.
“You, James. Can’t you see Lily is not a child anymore? Look at her with an outsider’s eye. Does she look like a child to you? No. She is seventeen, James, and she very much looks like it. Look at her figure. There are so many boys asking her out everyday and yet she refuses each one of them because you think she is still a child. You don’t think she is old enough to have a crush, James? Tell me how many girls you had dated by the time you were seventeen. Four? Five? You were quite a flirt!” Saying this, she also stormed out of the balcony and into her room shutting the door behind her.
James was left alone with his thoughts. Where had he been when his little sister had grown up? Why had he never realized it before? He mentally visualized Lily. Was she beautiful! He knew Grace wasn’t lying when she said that there were boys asking her out every day. Yet, had he prevented her from going out with them? He thought back to Grace’s question. How many girls had he dated by the time he was seventeen? At least three. Then why did he think that Lily wasn’t even old enough to have a crush yet? Was he really overprotective? He didn’t want to be so overprotective as to come in her way of fun and life. He would stop being so overprotective. He had to!
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