It was a dreary September 1st, and the Potter family weaved through the heavy traffic in Diagon Alley, picking up James and Albus’ final supplies for another year at Hogwarts. Harry and Ginny, already frazzled from the stress of being in the packed Alley, were now feeling even more flustered as they rushed to make their final purchases; the Hogwarts express would be leaving in just over an hour, and they still needed to Apparate to King’s Cross Station. And while Apparition itself took no time at all, doing so with all three of their children in tow always turned out to be a bit of a hassle.
Unfortunately for Harry and Ginny, however, the business of Diagon Alley and the small amount of time they had left weren’t their only stressors, as James kept further complicating the situation.
“But why can’t I have a Firebolt 9?” he asked for what Harry was sure was the five hundredth time.
“Because we just bought you a Nimbus 2020 last year!” Harry replied, casting an exasperated glance over at his son as the family continued walking.
James seemed astounded by his father’s comment. “So?” he asked, raising his eyebrows, clearly not understanding his father’s reasoning. “The Nimbus 2020 is last year’s model, Dad! That broom is all worn out, it’s ancient!”
“There is nothing wrong with your broom, James,” Harry responded. “I’ve flown it myself, remember?” He kept his face forward this time to show his son that this discussion was over and his decision was final. James, however, had other plans.
“Mum!” he whined.
“Don’t ‘Mum!’ me, Ginny replied from her position opposite James on Harry’s right, “I completely agree with your father. You’re being completely ridiculous, James. You’re almost fifteen, but you’re acting like a five year-old.”
“I’m not being ridiculous, I need a Firebolt 9!” her son insisted. When neither of his parents answered, James crossed his arms over his chest and mumbled something under his breath, but stopped arguing.
After this episode, the family walked on in an awkward silence for several minutes; the only person who spoke was Ginny, to inform everyone that they needed to stop at Slug & Jiggers to buy the boys’ Potions ingredients.
After a ten-minute stay in the Apothecary, the family bustled back out into Diagon Alley, still pressed for time but relieved that they only had one more stop to make before they could leave for King’s Cross. Though still clearly in a bad mood, James had finally completely ceased to mention his Firebolt 9… until they reached the last shop on their list: Quality Quidditch Supplies. When he realized where they were stopping, James inhaled in surprise, but his parents sighed in anticipation of what they knew was coming.
“So, you’re going to get me a Firebolt 9 after all?” James asked, looking as though Christmas had come early.
“No, James,” Harry replied, “I told you, you don’t need a new broom.”
“But then, why are we here?” James asked, now with a look of confusion on his face.
“Because your brother actually does need a broom,” Ginny answered.
The only word that could possibly describe the look that crossed James’ face at that point is betrayal. Mentally, his parents prepared themselves for his outburst.
“So Al can have a new broom, but I can’t?” he asked loudly, not believing how unfair his parents were being. When Harry and Ginny both just glared at him in response, he continued. “Al isn’t even on the Quidditch team!” he exclaimed, his eyes wide.
“He’s a second year now,” Ginny explained, “Which means he’s allowed to try out for the team, which also happens to be why he needs a broom.”
“But it’s not like he’s going to try out for the team anyway!” James retorted. “He stinks at Quidditch!”
“James Sirius!” Ginny scolded, “Don’t let me hear you say that again!”
At this point, Harry intervened, realizing how upset his wife was getting with their older son’s antics. “Listen, James,” he said sternly, “Your brother likes Quidditch, and he’s a good player. He’s going to try out for the Slytherin team, and he’s going to give you and the Gryffindor team a run for your money, isn’t that right, Al?” As he finished speaking, he looked in the direction of where his younger son had been standing a moment ago, only to realize that Albus was no longer there.
Confused, Harry did a double-take and immediately began scanning the area for Al, his heartrate already accelerating to a ridiculous speed. “Albus?” he said again, a little louder. When he still didn’t see the child or get a response from him, his mind went into panic mode and he turned on the spot, drawing his wand and searching both visually and audibly for his son. “Albus?” he called again, but there was no response, which pushed him even closer to a complete meltdown. “AL?!” he practically bellowed, causing several passersby to cast him quizzical glances.
Immediately after this last call, Albus Potter stepped out from behind his older brother, also receiving strange looks from other shoppers. He’d been standing right there behind James the whole time, but had been so busy staring through the window at all of the latest-model broomsticks that he hadn’t even heard one word of his family’s conversation. He’d clearly heard his father’s yelling, however, and his face was a brilliant shade of red.
“I’m right here, Dad!” he replied, clearly embarrassed. When his father exhaled sharply and covered his face with his right hand, Al asked, “What is it? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Harry replied, removing his hand from his face. “Let’s just get in here and get the broomstick so that we can leave.” With that, he turned and walked into the shop, followed closely by Ginny and little Lily, who was holding on to her mother’s hand.
James started to follow his parents and sister into the shop, but Al stopped him. “What was that all about?” he asked his older brother.
“Dad thought you were lost or you had been kidnapped or something,” James replied.
Al rolled his eyes in response. “Why does he always freak out like that?” he asked rhetorically. “Why did he have to yell my name like that? It’s embarrassing!”
James smiled. “You should be used to that by now,” he replied. “It’s his ‘Savior’ thing.”