Author's Note: Sorry this is taking so long to get up! I've been alternating between this story and Found/Lost You. I'm posting the chapters as quickly as I can though. Thank you all for sticking with me and please read and review! Enjoy the latest!
Chapter 3- The Untimely and Unceremonious Arrival of James Potter
It was a date.
Harry rarely dated… as a matter of fact he purposefully tried to avoid such awkward occasions. He much preferred eating at home- maybe inviting Hermione over for a quiet dinner- instead of this whole charade.
But alas, he could not turn down Ginny Weasley when she asked him for the third time.
Most of the witches that asked him to dinner were quite full of themselves and he found it rather easy to reply with a sharp “No, thank you.” But Ginny was an entirely different story. She had harbored feelings for him for so long and had been so persistent that he found he could not stand to deny her at least one date. They had been good friends after all. And maybe things would work out if he attempted just this once. Maybe he would enjoy the date.
So here he was sitting in the restaurant waiting for Ginny to return from the loo.
It had gone ok- at least thus far. Harry knew that he was incredibly awkward. They were already running out of things to talk about having already discussed Quidditch and their jobs. Normally he felt at ease with Ginny and they were able to converse about anything and everything, but suddenly with the added weight of the situation and the formality of it all he felt himself seize up and his palms sweat. He feared that this was going to be a rough night… little did he know.
Harry stood up politely as Ginny returned to her seat. They both settled down and opened their menus to search for their meals for the night.
“I hear the lamb stew is good here,” said Ginny from across the table.
Harry nodded. “Yeah I was… ermm… looking at that.”
As he scanned the entrees listed, Harry suddenly felt on odd breeze coming from above. He looked up and saw a body falling from the ceiling. With a start, he flew out of his chair just as the body fell directly on top of the table and then rolled crashing onto the floor.
“Mangy, dragon dung sniffing, cocky, good-for-nothing Reaper. Dropping me on a bloody-”
Harry watched as the bloke dusted himself off while continuing to mutter all sorts of obscenities, all about some Reaper.
“Harry, are you alright?” Ginny looked to be very concerned as Harry had jumped out of his seat for no reason.
Harry eyed Ginny and then looked back to the man that was finally starting to stand up right next to where she sat. The bloke’s back was to Harry so he couldn’t quite make out who he was, but he sure as hell knew that Ginny should have noticed him by now. He was right blooming next to her! His gaze flew from the man to Ginny and then back again. She didn’t seem to notice him at all.
“Ginny can you see him?”
“See who, Harry?” asked Ginny, growing more puzzled by the second.
“Ahh Harry, I should tell you early on. No one else can see me but you.”
Harry felt his stomach drop as the man turned around. It was none other than James Potter, Harry’s long dead father. Harry slowly reached for his chair’s backing. His hand missed a few times, but he finally managed to grab hold and steady himself. His knees felt weak and his stomach was turning over and over.
“Oh Merlin, are you going to spew?” James’ face scrunched in horror. “Please don’t. I might do it too. I have sort of a weak stomach for those kinds of things…. Hell I’m not even sure ghosts can!”
James watched as Harry turned a slight green color as he talked.
“Oh blasted hippogriffs! Harry at least tell this Ginny girl you have to use the restroom or something!” cried James.
Harry for some reason followed the ghost’s words, muttering a quick “excuse me” before making a dash for the restroom. James followed him.
Harry threw his body against the stall door shoving it open making it just in time to wretch his stomach’s contents. He hadn’t really eaten all day so for the most part it was bile.
“Good heaven, Harry! I mean I figured you’d be surprised and all, but puking? I thought spontaneity was right up your alley!” James couldn’t help but snicker as Harry continued to throw himself over the bowl.
Pulling himself up, Harry wiped his mouth with his sleeve and made his way over to the sink. He swirled water around and then pulled his wand to cast a silent freshening charm. He was just about to walk out as he conveniently decided that he was going to ignore his father’s ghostly presence as it in NO WAY could be real, but was stopped when he felt a hand on his arm holding him back.
“I’m here, Harry. This isn’t a joke. Or a dream. Or a hallucination,” assured James.
Harry stared down where James’ hand was holding his arm. He felt it. He could feel his father’s hand encasing his bicep firmly.
“Uh hmm” cleared James drawing Harry’s attention back. “Now I know it’s a little sudden. But you see it’s my twentieth death day anniversary so the Reaper gave me a little… present, if you will. He let me come see you.”
James continued to eye Harry. The boy was still wobbly and confused, but he looked like he was slowly gaining some color- other than green- back in his cheeks.
“I need to lie down…” Harry quickly transfigured the chair next to the door into a sofa, much to James’ pleasure.
“A beauty of a transfiguration Harry! Ya know, I was rather good at transfiguration. Gave good ole McGonagall a run for her money.” Without much notice to James’ excitement, Harry proceeded to lie down on the sofa only to have James slink over and take a seat at the edge. “Now as much as I’d love to stay and chat. I’m afraid you can’t lounge here for too long. You still have a date mind you.”
Harry shot up.
“Ginny! Oh Merlin she’s going to think I’ve gone mental.”
“I take it this is a first date?” Judging by Harry’s face, it did not take long to decipher the answer. “Well no worries then… With dear old Dad here I’m sure we can charm her away! Now up up! It’s not very gentlemanly to leave a lady waiting in a restaurant.” James pulled Harry off of the sofa and began leading him towards the door.
“I still haven’t decided if you’re real by the way,” muttered Harry as they walked out of the lavatory leaving the newly transfigured sofa.
“Oh by all means inform me when I’ve convinced you… Now now. Where’s that lovely red head?” James searched the tables until he spotted the one where she sat. “Ahhh. There she is. Off we go.”
James continued to steer Harry through the tables towards Ginny. Harry couldn’t help but notice the excited pep in the older man’s step and he came to the grand conclusion that his father found this all to be quite amusing.
“Harry, are you sure you’re alright?” asked Ginny as Harry and the ghostly James approached the table.
Harry still seemed to be in a daze and it took a hard jab to the rib cage from James in order for the boy to finally answer.
“Yes… yes, I’m fine. Just thought I saw someone I knew.” James practically shoved Harry down into the seat as he took the one to Harry’s left.
Harry felt his cheeks tinge at a realization… he was about to go on a date with his father and Ginny Weasley. Oh Merlin, help him.
“Harry, ask her if she’s decided what she’ll be having. Come now. Strike up something,” urged James. Granted, he too saw how embarrassing the whole dinner was going to be for Harry. But unlike Harry, this little fact he found to be quite entertaining. Nonetheless he planned on accepting his role as dating coach with all seriousness… and well, maybe with a tad hint of mock seriousness.
“I think I’ll have the salmon and greens. What about yourself?”
“Wow, the salmon does indeed sound delightful Harry,” smirked James reading over his shoulder. “Then again so do the scallops…” Harry simply glared at his father.
“Oh don’t be so sour… I’m merely suggesting an entrée. If you’re going to act all huffy about me being here, then you’ll never get through the night. Might as well buck up… Oh and do try the scallops. Grilled in butter? Come now! That sounds fantastic!”
Harry sighed. He was just going to have to deal with the way this night was unfolding.
The waiter came over and they ordered. Yes, he did get the scallops. And due to James’ coaxing, he also ordered the restaurant’s most expensive bottle of red wine made by French house elves. “Harry, it’s simply the best wine you’ll ever taste… If you want any chance at all with this girl, trust me you’ll buy the wine! Oh don’t look at me like that! I know the inheritance that Sirius and I left you. It’s not like you can’t afford it!”
And so the night went. It felt more like a date between his dad and Ginny instead of him and Ginny. His father guided the conversation and offered little jokes and one liners nudging Harry until finally he caved and said them. To James’ great satisfaction Ginny seemed to be enjoying herself.
By the time dessert came around, Harry was fed up. Despite his ghostly father’s incessant suggesting that they get the key lime pie, Harry called for the check instead. His eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw the total. Still, he left a handsome tip and then agreed to walk Ginny home.
“Glad I raised a proper lad!” Harry quirked a cynical eyebrow at his father at the word raised. “Fine… maybe not raised. But I gave you good stock regardless! There is naught but politeness and courtesy in the Potter bones!” Harry just rolled his eyes.
As Harry stood up to exit the table, he suddenly realized why the bill was so expensive: the wine. Most of which Harry had drank in order to “ease his tension”. James immediately noticed as Harry wobbled slightly like he did before in the bathroom.
“Oh! This is quite rich. My son’s pissed,” chuckled James as he wound an arm around Harry to keep him upright. Together like that, they walked Ginny home. She thanked him gratefully for the wonderful meal and then kissed his cheek.
“Maybe we can do this again some time,” She offered before bidding Harry goodnight and entering her flat.
“Well you made it through, son!” said James as he clapped Harry on the back. “Even got a kiss on the cheek for it AND… if I may… a quite obvious invitation for a second date.”
Harry snorted at that idea.
“What? Was it really all that bad of a date? I thought it went rather splendidly.”
Once again Harry snorted at the word. “Splendidly? Might as well ‘ave- hic- been a date between you and Ginny. There was no meee at all… not one bit… in that date.”
“So you didn’t have a good time then? She’s not appealing to you?”
Harry simply shook his head and eyed his father incredulously albeit drunkenly too. “Issss not like- hic- I don’t think she’s a great girl or anything. I mean, she’s always been a good- hic- friend and very pleasant to be around. I just… I just don’t see it.”
“Hmph…” pondered James as they continued to walk through streets that led back home to Harry’s flat. James still had an arm around Harry to keep him walking in a straight line. The wine seemed to be taking more of its toll as they walked. “I would have figured you’d be all googily eyed over Miss Weasley. The little red headed spit fire that she is. Likes Quidditch and all. Big family. Sounds like something you’d want.”
“Wrong, Da’. Like I- hic- said yooooou enjoyed that date more than I did. Ginny’s more up your alley,” slurred Harry.
“Now now… Ginny Weasley is a gem and all, but she’s no match compared to your mum. Your mum’s all intelligence and wit. She keeps me on my toes. I just figured you’d want someone to do the same. And forgive me if I may… but I thought Miss Weasley was the perfect young woman to do that,” conceded James as they entered Harry’s apartment building.
“Hermi-O-kneee keeps me- hic- on my toes plenty enough already,” stated Harry as he pulled his keys and began searching one by one for the apartment key. With each key, he unsteadily brought it up to his one opened eye to gather whether or not it was the correct one.
“I see we’re at the one eyed stage of the evening,” smirked James.
“Issss the only way I can- hic- consssssentrate… especially with the shoddy eyesight I inherited from a certain someone,” quipped Harry.
If not for the fact that James was sure Harry would have tipped over had he done it, the older man would have slugged him affectionately on the shoulder for the joke.
Harry finally found the right key and opened the door to find someone was already waiting for him inside.
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