Chapter 5 : A Morning in the Life of James Sirius Potter
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I have also included a scene which more than some of you have asked me to write, namely the moments right after James showed up at Aidan's birthday party in the last story. I've written it down as I see it in this chapter. I'm hoping you lot approve! On with the chapter! :D
“James! James, over here!” called the voices of many reporters as I tried to make my way through the throng to get into the WWN building.
Sometimes I cursed it for being so close to the headquarters of Witch Weekly and the Daily Prophet but after the war, when everything was being rebuilt, some genius (my Aunt Hermione) suggested that it might be more efficient if all the media offices were built in one sector. It had been that way for thirty odd years. And besides, I knew that I could be in Timbuktu and the vultures of the press would still find me. It was only sheer good luck that’stopped them from finding out where my flat was.
“How do you feel right now, James?” asked a female reporter from Quidditch Quarterly.
“My team’s running undefeated and we’re the favourites to come at the top of the league this year. How would you feel?” I said, not even caring to see who asked the question. I’d been sent to complete a task (inviting Henry, my cousin Dom's husband, to come over for Lily's advance birthday lunch being held that very day) and I was determined to see it through quickly.
Raymond Wilcox, a bodyguard that everyone insisted I hire after a very angry sports bookie tried to curse me, was clearing a route ahead of me. He was a fairly big bloke and, coming from me, that was something. I’m not exactly a pixie.
“Mr. Potter! James, there have been rumours that you’re tying the knot with your girlfriend by the end of this year! Any comments?”
I won’t lie. The question caught me off guard and I nearly stopped walking. But I kept my expression casual and betrayed no surprise. I’m a Potter. It came naturally to us. I
knew that not answering the question would be disastrous so I decided to return to the old standard. “As I’ve always maintained, I like keeping my professional and personal life separate so no comments on that, thanks.” I said coolly, breaking through the crowd until the entrance was visible.
I could have sworn that the tinted glass doors of the WWN building gleamed with the promise of sanctuary. When we finally got in, Ray and some of the WWN staff sealed the doors with protective charms. Sometimes I really felt bad about the amount of work that I created for them with a simple visit but I really couldn’t help it. It was an occupational hazard and had taken a while to get used to. Growing up the way I did prepared me to some extent but it didn’t come close to what I faced as a Quidditch player.
I took off my sun glasses and ruffled my hair before I unzipped the light grey sweatshirt I was wearing over the Holyhead Harpies t-shirt Roxie had given me.
“Ray, could you wait here, mate? I’ll be done in about 10 minutes.” I said, tossing him my shades.
“Yeah, sure, take your time.” Replied Ray, catching my sun glasses without taking his eyes off of a rather ravishing receptionist who seemed to have caught his attention.
I rolled my eyes at him. “Steady on, mate. You’re eying her like a hyena eyes a gazelle on the Serengeti.”
“You couldn’t have said lion. It had to be a hyena.” said Ray with a pained expression and I smirked.
“For you, yeah, it’s always a hyena.” He swatted at me and I moved out of his way quickly, laughing as I went.
The receptionist smiled at me as I approached her desk. “Good morning, Mr. Potter. He’s not in a meeting so you can go right in.”
“Thanks, love.” I said with a smile and I could’ve sworn she blushed before I disappeared into the hallway that led to Henry’s office.
Now, it’s not like I was trying to flirt with her or anything. The only person that I actually liked flirting with seriously was Aidan but I won’t deny that it gave my confidence a boost any time a woman melted because of my smile.
But it was always a bigger confidence boost when my smile affected Aidan. And it went both ways. God knows, my heartbeat still raced whenever she winked at me or even touched me in any way, a fact that she often took advantage of. The fact that we could still do that to each other spoke volumes about our relationship.
A relationship, I realized as I stepped into the elevator, which started in some small way right in this building. I thought about it every single time I visited Henry which wasn’t often but often enough. I still remembered it as clear as day even though, ironically enough, while it was happening, it seemed to be a blur.
~*~*~*~*ALMOST 8 YEARS AGO*~*~*~*~
“Over a month.” I murmured, quickly running the numbers through my head.
They’d broken up over a month ago. Over a month ago... but that meant that they’d broken up right after Rose’s birthday... or maybe, just maybe, on Rose’s birthday? Which meant that she’d been single when she came to watch my first match and that’s when she saw me –
“Shit.” I whispered.
“James, mate, you alright? You’re real quiet down that end!” said Henry with a friendly laugh though his expression showed that he was concerned.
“Yeah, sorry mate. Just got distracted. My teachers always complained about my short attention span at school.” It was a lame attempt at a joke but it was the best I could do. Truth be told, I felt like slamming my head against a wall.
“Well, your timing couldn’t be better, James, because we need to take a short break anyway. Stay tuned, everyone, Hanging with Hayden will be back in just a few on the WWN!”
“And we’re off!” called the voice of a female producer.
A girl brought me a glass of water, smiling a little too much for my liking but besides that I didn’t even glance at her. I gulped down some water, my thoughts racing as I thought about the implications of what Henry said. All this time, they’d broken up. Which meant that Aidan hadn’t been avoiding me because she didn’t want to see me. Maybe she didn’t hate me. There was a chance, however small, that she had been avoiding me because, like a royal idiot, I had made a huge mess of things. That chance meant more to me than anything else.
“James, you look a bit peaky, mate. You sure you’re okay?” asked Henry as he sipped some water.
I turned to look at him and, suddenly, I felt a rush of affection towards the bloke. He’d made me realize that there was still a chance to get what I want. And it was worth everything, even blowing off my first major interview as a Quidditch star.
“You know what, mate, I’m spectacular. But I’m afraid I’ve got to go.” I said, getting out of my chair and trying to manoeuvre around the equipment in the room.
“Wh- What? But we’re back on the air in 55 seconds!” said the producer in a panicky voice. “There’s still 10 minutes until the show ends!”
“I know and I’m really sorry but there’s somewhere I’ve got to be and it’s quite literally a matter of life and... well, not death, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s still quite important and I know I’m mucking up your show right now but,” I turned to Henry, my expression pleading. “I have to go, mate. I promise I’ll make it up to you but there’s something I have to do.”
Henry watched me with raised eyebrows before he cracked a smile. “Yeah, alright then.”
“But, but –” The producer looked about ready to faint and Henry held up a hand to silence her.
“It’s okay, Martha, I’ll think of something. Come on, mate. You can go out this way.” Said Henry, beckoning me towards the door on his side of the booth. “It leads to my office.” He said quietly as I got to him.
“But I need to leave the building.” I said, confused.
“Yeah, I know. You can’t apparate out of this place, not even on the roof and, believe me, every entrance is swarmed right now, even the muggle one, because you’re in here. There’s only one fireplace that’s near the entrance so that’s no go as well.” He spoke quickly as he opened the door and led me into a slightly messy but comfortable office. “There’s a spare broom in the closet.” He said before shoving me in and closing the door behind him.
“What –” I didn’t even have time to finish the question.
Suddenly, it clicked in my head. I was going to have to fly out the bloody window. And here I thought I’d never have to do that once I left school and got my own place.
Clearly, I was mistaken.
I looked around the office until I spotted the closet, cleverly hidden behind his desk. I ran over and opened the door, seeing gratefully that he had a gold series Firebolt, my old broom. I grabbed it, making a mental note to thank Henry one day, before I walked over to the nearest window.
I hauled it open and climbed out on to the ledge. I nearly laughed because I thought of how I was going out on a limb for Aidan and then I mentally smacked myself for even thinking of something that stupid.
I didn’t think twice before I jumped out the window, deftly seating myself on the broom. I pulled up a little bit so I was above most of the buildings and I could map a clear route to the Leaky Cauldron. I glanced at my watch. It was about 10 minutes until midnight. I was pretty far from Diagon Alley but I knew that if I flew fast enough, I may make it in time for her birthday.
But something held me back. I had no idea what I would even do once I saw her. I needed to think about what I would say to her. Would I just go up to her and kiss her?
A mental image of her slapping me into the next millennium made me scrap that idea pretty quickly.
I figured we needed to talk about what had happened. I was being honest when I said that nothing was going on between me and Bethany Meyer but I knew better than anyone how it must look to people. What if she didn’t believe me?
And then a crippling thought replaced that concern.
What if she didn’t even care? What if I was just fooling myself into thinking that she might want the same things that I did? What if I had read the signs right and she really didn’t want to give it a shot? My broom had slowed down immensely as I had thought about this.
Maybe I shouldn’t go.
But then I would never know for sure.
And that thought scared me more than anything else.
I sped up once more and I might have broken the space/time continuum with my speed. I sighed with relief when I saw that I was almost there. I decided to land at the back entrance of the Leaky Cauldron since landing at the muggle one would have attracted more attention than I would have like.
I stopped outside the door for only a second before I opened it and stepped in.
Gold confetti was pouring from the ceiling, so thickly that it was impossible to make out the features of people’s faces. It was a blessing in disguise since it made sure that I wouldn’t get mobbed by any of the teen fan girls from school that I was sure were in attendance. I started making my way through the crowded room, dodging trays that were carrying plates of birthday cake, looking around for the face that I couldn’t ever completely get out of my head.
I ruffled my hair as I looked around and that’s when I heard her laugh. I took a deep breath as I turned around.
Maybe it was just that I hadn’t seen her in ages but I’d never seen anyone look as beautiful as she did in that moment. Her pale green eyes were sparkling, her hair tossed over her shoulder as she laughed. She was practically glowing with happiness.
And then she saw me. Her smile slipped off her face as her eyes found mine. My hand immediately went to my hair to try and straighten it out and shake out the confetti. I started walking over to her without a thought.
She drifted away from the people she was talking to and started approaching me as well. My heart thumped faster with every step I took and I was surprised I was even holding up.
When we finally stopped in front of each other, all I wanted to do was look at her for as long as I could. If things turned out well, I wanted to remember this moment. And if they didn’t, I wanted to remember her this way, not when she rejected me. Either way, looking at her to my heart’s fill seemed like a really good plan.
She seemed to be just as nervous as me. I could tell from the way she looked at me, biting her lip ever so slightly, the way she did when I used to teach the Chasers a new play.
I knew that one of us had to talk sooner or later and, being the guy, I figured it ought to be me so I said the only thing I could think of saying.
“Hi.” God, I sounded like a girl. My throat seemed like it had clamped shut almost.
I reached out and picked out a piece of confetti from her hair. Maybe it was just an excuse to touch her, maybe it was just something to do to cover up the silence. I didn’t know but I did it anyway.
“Hi.” She replied and there was a moment of relief.
She could have just not talked to me so this was a big step forward in my book. I grew up in a family where the cold shoulder was a very popular tool to get your way. I was kind of glad that she wasn’t like that, though she had every reason to be, I knew.
I cleared my throat awkwardly. It seemed like the loudest noise in the world, even though everyone around us was being a hundred times louder. “I came to, um, wish you happy birthday.”
That sounded dumb even in my head.
She blinked once or twice. I dared to hope that she looked a little disappointed. “Oh... thanks.” She said quietly, looking at me carefully.
“And I also wanted to tell you that, um...” I stepped a little bit closer to her and I could feel the warmth emanating from her skin. I hoped to Merlin that she couldn’t hear my pulse racing.
“Yes?” she asked, breathily. Her eyes were looking at me in a way that told me she wanted me to just say what I wanted to say. So I did.
“I’m single... completely and utterly and I have been for a while now and... well, I...” I forced myself to take a deep breath and just spit it out. “I will continue to be single for as long as it takes for us to be together. You’re not under any obligation to say or do anything. That’s just... you know, general knowledge.”
General knowledge? I actually wanted to roll my eyes at myself. It would be a miracle if she said yes to the blithering idiot that was James Potter right now.
She smiled a little and I hoped that maybe, just maybe, this might end well. “I see. Well, then, I feel obligated to tell you that I am also single and have been for a while now but I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be because...”
Oh, don’t fucking tell me someone beat me to it again!!
“Because... well, frankly, I don’t how much longer I can sit around, waiting for a prat like you to get a move on with things.”
I must have blinked a million times like a demented goldfish but on the inside, fireworks were going off. She smiled as she stepped a bit closer to me and that’s when I decided; fuck it.
I let the back of my fingers graze her cheek before I slipped my hand into her hair, pulling her closer to me. She placed her hands over my chest and she smiled wider, no doubt feeling the unsteady beat of my heart. I couldn’t help but grin as I leaned down and kissed her.
It was the best feeling in the world. Better than every happy feeling I’d ever felt put together. Better than my graduation, my first match, my first everything. In that moment, it was just me and her and I knew that I wanted it to stay that way for as long as it could. She slipped her arms around my neck and smiled against my lips.
“Oh, finally!” said a familiar voice.
“Andrews, do you have to ruin every romantic moment with your stupid gob?” screeched Rose.
Aidan pulled away, laughing and I joined her laughter before we turned back to each other, grinning like mad people. That, right here, was what being happy meant.
“He’s coming.” I announced as I walked into the living room of my mum and dad’s house, throwing my shades and sweatshirt on an armchair.
“James, put those away. I don’t want you having a fight with someone again just because they didn’t know your glasses were there and sat on them.” Said my mum casually before she got up and headed to her domain, namely the kitchen.
“He says he didn’t know!” I corrected her before glaring at Al who was playing Exploding Snap with Lily.
“Now, why would I do something like that?” asked Al innocently but smirking as soon as mum turned away.
I slid the tip of my thumb across my neck from left to right, indicating that he was dead meat the second mum was a safe distance away. I banished my sweatshirt and sun glasses to my old room before collapsing on the sofa, looking down at my brother and sister.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” I warned Lily and she immediately moved her hand away from the structure they were creating.
“Thanks, Jimmy.” She said distractedly, no doubt planning her next move.
“That’s cheating, Lil! He shouldn’t be able to help you!” said Al accusatorily.
“You just say that because he never helps you.” Said my sister with a grin before she gave me a high five.
“Fine, be that way, gang up against me. See if I care.” Said Al, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Awwwww, does widdle Albus not like being left out?” I cooed, reaching out to tickle Al’s chin. He smacked my hand away as Lily and I roared with laughter.
“Mum!” he hollered.
“James, leave your brother alone.” Called back my mother calmly as Lily and I snickered.
We were all getting on in age, it was true, but there was something about being back in the house you grew up in that made you revert to your 15 year old self that used to torture his little brother. Lily and I always managed to get under Al’s skin growing. We had him convinced the middle child was overlooked, which was far from the truth, and he never quite recovered I don’t think. I liked to think that I’d made up for it since then.
“So why was the fireplace at the WWN blocked anyway?” asked Lily as she placed a card on the castle she was building.
“They're avoiding the Floos because of some scandal caused by something one of the hosts said while on air. I can’t keep track of all that shite, to be honest, so I didn’t pay attention when he explained. He said he’ll be here by lunch, though, so it’s all good. You better be grateful; I had to fight for my life with the press on my way in to see him.” I said pointedly and Lily flashed me an angelic smile, somehow managing to showcase every single one of her teeth.
“Put those away, you’re going to blind him.” Said Al, smirking at Lily who whacked him upside the head.
“Shut it, Albie.” Said Lily acidly, flipping her hair over her shoulder.
“Whatever you say, Lilikins.” Said Al, grinning wide.
“Well played with the Lilikins.” I complimented with a smile.
“I thought so.” he replied as Lily turned to glare at me. I held up my hands in mock surrender.
The flames in the fireplace turned emerald green and Rose emerged with a very hassled looking Scorpius in tow.
“Aunt Ginny!” she called loudly, her voice echoing throughout the house, her expression wild.
“Do you think she saw us? Is it too late to hide?” whispered Albus out of the side of his mouth, not moving a muscle otherwise.
Rose flounced off towards the kitchen in search of my mum, leaving a miserable looking Scorpius behind. Al breathed a sigh of relief before he resumed his game with Lily.
“What’s up mucker?” I asked as I stood up to greet Scorpius with a man hug.
“The cake maker. She’s had an accident. Her sister sent an owl just now saying that there’s a slight possibility that she might not be able to make the cake for the wedding.” Said Scorpius with a sigh as he pulled away. He collapsed onto the sofa next to me. “She’s been having a panic attack ever since. All the enforcements have been called in.”
“Enforcements meaning –” started Lily excitedly.
The flames in the fireplace burst into emerald as people started skidding into the living room.
“Oh, kill me now.” Moaned Al, dropping his cards.
“Rosie!” called out Mandy as soon as slid in, dragging Fred along. She dropped his hand like a hot potato as she headed towards the kitchen. “Hey Lily. Hi boys.” She said distractedly before leaving the room.
“Move out of the way, you sod.” Said a voice behind Fred who rolled his eyes before he walked over to the sofa.
“Well, if it isn’t my lovely sister. How wonderful to see you, blah dee blah dee blah and all that jazz.” Trailed off Fred before he too flopped onto the sofa on my other side.
“Shut up, Fred. Hey, Lilster! Wotcher, boys.” Roxie said cheerfully, nodding towards the sofa as Lily ran off squealing towards her to give her a hug. They put their arms around each other as they too headed into the kitchen.
“Five galleons says Victoire comes in with Teddy next.” Said Fred, looking around at all of us to see if one of us would take the bet.
“I’m going to say Aunt Hermione with Uncle Ron.” Said Al thoughtfully.
“I’m going to say Aunt Fleur with Uncle Bill and Louis.” I said before turning to Scorpius. “What about you, mate?”
“Mona and Prentice, I’ll bet you fifteen galleons.” He said easily before putting his head back on the sofa.
“You’re on.” we said together, confident that our knowledge of the Weasley family was far more complete than that of Scorpius Malfoy.
We only had to wait a minute before the fireplace sparked again. We held our breath as we waited to see who would come through.
“Oh, for Merlin’s sake!” cried out Albus, knocking of the tower of cards which exploded, covering him in ash. “I just can’t win, can I?” he deadpanned.
“Pay up, boys.” Said Scorpius with a smirk as Mona left for the kitchen without a backward glance, leaving a tired looking Prentice in her wake.
We all grumbled and groaned as we paid Scorpius, none more so than Albus who glared at Prentice in addition to smacking the money into Scorpius’s hand. I didn’t grudge Scorpius the win. I figured the poor bloke needed it more than us.
“Alright, mate?” I asked Prentice as he grabbed a sofa cushion and curled up on the carpet, immediately falling asleep. “I’ll take that as a yes.” I said wryly as my best mate snored away.
“I don’t blame him. I could use a kip right about now.” Said Fred, yawning. “Can’t believe she woke me up because of a bloody cake. It would even be alright if she woke me up because she wanted me to eat cake but the damn thing isn’t even in existence!” complained Fred, throwing his hands up in frustration.
“Learn to live with it, mate. I have.” Said Scorpius as he pocketed his money, stifling a yawn. “I love Rose and I can’t wait to marry her but the whole planning the wedding business? I could totally do without.”
The fireplace lit up again and in Aunt Hermione with Uncle Ron as well as Hugo. I guessed that Hugo had probably gone over for breakfast and had been caught in the crossfire because he was still holding a fork with a bit of egg speared on the end. Aunt Hermione flounced off into the kitchen, shooing Uncle Ron and Hugo towards.
“She could have at least let us finish eating first!” spluttered Uncle Ron, his ears turning pink.
He spotted the egg on Hugo’s fork at the same time Hugo did. Next thing you knew, Hugo was fighting off his dad while trying to get the fork to his mouth. Us boys roared with laughter as we rooted for our favourite (Scorpius and Al picked Hugo while Fred and I cheered for Uncle Ron).
“Dad, geroff me or –” yelped Hugo as Ron got him in a headlock.
“Or what? You’ll call your mum?” taunted Uncle Ron as he manoeuvred Hugo’s hand towards his own mouth.
Hugo stopped struggling for a second as he thought about this. “That’s not a bad idea, actually. Mum!” he hollered.
“You bleeding sneak! Just like Mione, you are!” grunted Ron. “Almost there!” he got out as the fork came within inches of his mouth.
“C’mon, Uncle Ron!” yelled Fred.
“Yell louder, mate!” urged Scorpius as Hugo continued to call for Aunt Hermione.
Prentice kept snoring through it all.
“Al-most!” huffed Ron as the piece of egg actually touched his lip.
“Ronald Bilius Weasley!”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake!” grumbled Ron as he looked over his shoulder at a glowering Hermione standing in front of a crowd of women.
“Let go of our son!” thundered Aunt Hermione.
Uncle Ron groaned as he released Hugo who dropped to the carpet like a sack of potatoes. He got back up quite gracefully and, to much amusement, ate his piece of egg rather happily.
Mum was trying not to smile and even Rose was grinning. Lily had shoved her knuckles into her mouth to stifle her laughter. Roxie was leaning against her as she laughed silently. Mandy, having been a part of the family for a while now (and being married to Fred) looked like she’d seen this all before. Mona was smiling cheerfully. She always did like Uncle Ron the best out of all my uncles and aunts.
“Get over here right now.” Ground out Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron ruffled his hair and smiled nervously.
“Sure, love.” He said, trying and failing to sound nonchalant.
“Have fun, dad.” Smirked Hugo, waving cheekily at his father.
“This isn’t over yet, mummy’s boy. I know where you live.” Muttered Uncle Ron dangerously before he walked over to Aunt Hermione who promptly dragged him outside for a ‘chat’.
“Alright, let’s get back to business!” called out Rose and the women headed back into the kitchen.
“This is such shite. Almost every woman we’re related to inside one kitchen and did they even offer us some breakfast? No, of course not! Forget the fact that we were only supposed to come at lunch time and hence had slept in without eating!” prattled Fred, no doubt because he was hungry.
Weasley men never dealt well with hunger, to be honest.
“It’s alright, mate. We’ll be alright.” Said Hugo bravely.
“Says the one who called for his mum because he wanted to have the last piece of egg.” Said Al with a snort.
"Like you're any different." I replied with an equally derisive snort, earning a glare from Al.
“They’ll remember us soon enough, I’m sure.” Said Scorpius half heartedly.
“James, you’re a good cook. Go whip something up, yeah?” asked Fred hopefully and I raised an eyebrow.
“I’m not about to throw myself in there. I remember going into the kitchen before Vic’s wedding just because you wanted pumpkin juice and I was stuck in there for hours, giving my opinion on flowers and patterns. Believe me, mate, I’ve learned my lesson.” I said.
“Then I guess we’ll just have to starve.” Sighed Albus looking longingly at the carpet in a way that made me think he wanted to eat it.
“Women are overrated.” Said Hugo bitterly as he sat on the carpet with Albus.
“Too right they are.” Agreed Fred enthusiastically, thinking with his stomach.
The fireplace jumped to life as a figure emerged, dusting soot off of her clothes.
“Well aren’t you a happy lot.” Said Aidan as she removed a light scarf from around her neck.
“Sod off.” Said Albus, leaning back against the sofa.
“We hate women right now.” Said Hugo by way of explanation as I got off the sofa to say hello to my girlfriend.
“I’m alright with them. Hi, Aidan.” Said Scorpius, waving at her with a tired smile.
“Hey, Scorpius.” She returned with a smile as I walked over to her. “So you hate women, eh? Now that’s just too bad.” I gave her a hug and quick kiss.
“And why is that, pray tell?” asked Fred mockingly.
“Because I don’t really share muffins with people who hate women.” Said Aidan casually as she held up a big basket. “I suppose this is all for James, and Scorpius to share.”
“Oh my god.” Breathed Albus. “I take it back, I take it back!”
“I don’t even know him!” exclaimed Hugo, shoving Al aside as he got off the carpet.
“I have attitude problems! I’ll see a shrink but for god’s sake, woman, give me a muffin!” pleaded Fred.
Scorpius and I just grinned at each other, knowing we were in the clear.
Hugo ran over and kissed Aidan on the cheek before grabbing the basket and taking it back to the sofa. Aidan laughed as the boys practically jumped into it, devouring the muffins at a speed previously though impossible.
“You’re the best, Aidan. You’re the saving grace of woman kind.” Said Fred, his voice muffled through a blueberry muffin.
“Thanks, Fred. I’ll take that as a compliment.” Said Aidan with a grin.
“He’s right, you know.” I said quietly. “You are the best.” I smiled at her as she slipped her hand into mine.
“Only because you make me, love.” She returned my smile as she leaned up to kiss me.
A/N: Leave me a review! You know how I love them!! :D
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