JAMES S. POTTER
…and the Stairway to Hell
Everyone has lots of regrets in their lifetime, but nothing can be worse than betting your life on a dangerous whim you shouldn't have agreed to in the first place. At all.
James Sirius Potter was never a morning person; it was worse when he joined the little party in his dorm room till the wee hours. Groaning, he tried to get up from his cozy four-poster bed, taking every ounce of his willpower to ignore his body screaming at him to tuck himself back under the sheet again.
He surveyed the chaotic state of the room around him: Exploding Snap cards, candy wrappers, broken quills, and crushed parchments were scattered everywhere… even their dirty socks were among the trash. The mere sight of the mess made him wrinkle his nose in disgust. Thankfully, he didn't need to deal with this—by the time he had returned from class, one of the house-elves would have it all cleaned up in a jiffy.
James jumped out of his bed at a voice right beside his ear; it belonged to his Japanese friend and roommate, Miyu Kisaragi. "That surprised me."
"How long are you going to stay in bed?" If James didn't know better, Miyu spoke the exact same words that James' mother, Ginny, would say every single morning back home. Unlike Ginny's reprimanding tone, Miyu's sounded closer to amusement.
"Yeah, yeah." James tried to wave him off. "Let me change out of my pajamas first."
"Well," Miyu maintained the same light-hearted tone as he watched James pulling his shirt over his head. "Better hurry up… or we'll be really late for class."
The last line hit James like a truck, and he nearly tripped over his own trunk from the shock of realization. He then threw his pillow at his friend. "Say that earlier, dammit!"
James was grateful that Miyu had grabbed some breakfast from the Great Hall for him, which he shoved down his throat as the duo dashed out of the portrait-hole towards the moving staircases. Looking down, James couldn't help letting out a sigh.
"It's a really long way to get down from up here," he complained. "Why must the first class be Potions? In the freaky, freaking dungeons?"
Miyu shrugged, rolling his eyes at James. "It's your fault for oversleeping, you know."
James glared at his Gryffindor companion, then he noticed the glint in Miyu's dark eyes. "And it looks like you have an idea of sorts."
"I do," Miyu replied, shrugging. "Not the first time I tried this, but it's not something I'd recommend to someone like you."
"What do you mean?" James narrowed his eyes at his friend. "You mean those kung fu shenanigans?" He glanced down at the stairs again. "Like, you'll literally jump down all these staircases like this? Are you bloody serious?"
"Yeah, that's what I plan to do." Miyu smirked at the horrified look on James' face. "Not exactly the kind of 'kung fu' with wires and visual effects you'd see in Chinese muggle movies, but I guess you can put it that way."
James was still finding it hard to imagine how the two of them would be able to survive a fall from where they were, high up at the Gryffindor Tower. "But… won't that be suicidal?"
"There's a way…" Miyu replied, already strolling down the first staircase that had stopped before the boys. "But it's obviously going to be risky—what?"
His partner was clearly unprepared for the mischievous grin that broke out on James' face. "Sounds fun. Count me in."
Moments later, James utterly regretted his decision.
The whole trip down the labyrinthine moving staircases felt like a dizzying daze to him: most of the time Miyu was dragging him around by the collar of his robes and timing their jump to the next staircase below. The Japanese boy was using his own brand of Eastern magic to cushion their fall—which seemed like some kind of spell that could gather the air around the boys—and they continued their descent in a blur.
"D-D-Dude, slow down," James gasped. He could feel his heart hammering wildly against his chest with each fall. "Jeez, this is seriously mental."
"I've already warned you," Miyu said in a nonchalant manner. "That I don't recommend this method to get to class on time, especially for people like you who have never gone through rigorous training to strengthen the body and mind."
"You mean, like the Japanese Zen, or whatever that's called?"
Miyu's only reply was a shrug at him. James could tell from his friend's expression that he was merely trying not to burst out laughing, which only served to annoy James. Then a thought suddenly occurred to him. Why didn't he think of it earlier?
"Can't we just, you know, use our brooms?"
Miyu arched an eyebrow at his suggestion. "And land ourselves in double detention for being late for class and illegal flying within the castle? Not to mention, having our broomsticks confiscated, and then banned from participating in Quidditch for the rest of the year?" He didn't even bother to hide his disbelief. "Now you are the one who's mental."
Okay, Miyu has a point there. James' shoulders sagged when he reconsidered the idea again. "You did say that this wasn't your first time doing this crazy schtick."
"The first time was last year," Miyu replied, his eyes still trained on the staircases below to predict their movements. "Broke an arm because of a miscalculation, but I've gotten better after a few more practices."
"Blimey." Sometimes James couldn't tell if his partner-in-crime was dangerously fearless, or he was just batshit crazy.
"Anyway, less talk, and let's move." Miyu tugged at James' collar again. "We're really running out of time now."
The last fall to the ground was the hardest, and James couldn't help wincing as he got up to his feet. Luckily for him he didn't break any of his bones, but the soreness was worse than the time they were training in a thunderstorm during one of their Quidditch practices. He looked straight towards the dark corridor that would lead to the dungeon classrooms where their Potion class was located. It was still a distance away, and James wasn't sure he had any energy left to drag himself down the creepy, damp hallway and still reach the class on time.
"I can't go on anymore."
"M-Me neither." Miyu was panting next to James. Dragging a dead weight around had probably made him more tired than usual. He sucked the air a few times to catch his breath before he continued, "You're such a pain in the arse sometimes… but you're my best friend."
James sniggered at the sarcastic compliment. "I love you too, bro. So… what now?"
He watched Miyu in deep thought, then the latter pulled out two pieces of paper talismans, slapping one onto James' back. "I've never tried this before, but dire situations call for dire measures."
James grinned upon hearing the familiar quote Miyu would always say whenever they were in a pinch. Unfortunately, Miyu didn't seem to share the same sentiment and glared at James instead, probably trying to wipe the smirk off his buddy's face. "I suggest you brace yourself… because I still can't control this magic well."
Before James could finish his sentence, Miyu merely grabbed his arm and chanted, "Fuuka Hibu!"
James could only open his mouth in a silent scream as he felt a blast of wind punching into his back, and the pair rocketed into the dark corridor.
Miyu wasn't joking when he said he had little control over this magic that he was using on them as they zipped deeper down the damp hallways towards the dungeon classrooms, crashing painfully into a pillar when Miyu tried to maneuver sharply around a corner. As the Potions classroom loomed before them, Miyu couldn't stop their flight fast enough, causing the two boys to slam face-on into the door and crashed into the dungeon, landing in a heap of tangled robes and limbs.
James looked up into the green eyes of Professor Cross, the Potions Master, who stared down at the boys with a sneer. "Late for class with a dramatic entrance and a broken door. So Gryffindor-like of you."
"Hey, we're only just a teeny weeny bit past the dot—" James began once he got up on his feet, only to have Miyu giving a kick to his shin. The agonizing pain was enough to make him shut up.
"Mr. Potter," Professor Cross bent down and went eye to eye with James until their noses were inches away from each other. "It seems that you have learned to hold back that cheeky tongue of yours a tad better than before. Fifty points from Gryffindor for your commendable effort…" Then he glanced at Miyu, who was looking at everywhere but the teacher. "Another fifty for damage to school property, and detention for you two. Now move along to your seats."
And James was never late for class again after the incident.
Inspirations & Notes:
* Title is a pun on an old Korean drama, "Stairway to Heaven".
* Idea is inspired by retro platform games such as Donkey Kong and Mario. I'm happy that one of the betas, Little Tee, was able to catch how the way the boys jumped down the moving staircases was like "two video game characters on a mission".
* The wandless Eastern magic that Miyu used is based on the concept of Onmyodo (陰陽道). However, as Miyu is still an apprentice in the magical art, he had to use paper talismans as a medium to cast the techniques.
* The spell that Miyu had cast in the story, "Fuuka Hibu" (風華飛舞), literally translates to Dancing Flight of Wind Flowers.
* According to the HP wiki, Horace Slughorn retired from his post at Hogwarts as the Potions Master and Head of Slytherin in 2016. Although J.K. Rowling tweeted that James S. Potter started his Hogwarts education in 2015 (and thus he would be in his third year in the epilogue of Deathly Hallows), in the book itself the age difference between James and Albus Severus Potter was never clearly stated. To avoid confusion, only information that is actually mentioned in the books are counted as canon, and anything else beyond will not be considered.
* Also, students can only join their house Quidditch team from second year onwards (Harry Potter was the only exception in Hogwarts' history), so that is an obvious enough clue that James in this fic is not in his first year, and therefore reinforces the fact that Slughorn would have already left Hogwarts by the time this story event had happened.
* On the same note, for the sake of this oneshot, I filled Slughorn's role with an OC by the family name of Cross. And I'm not sorry for using him to pay tribute to Snape, who is known to use his position to bully non-Slytherin students. (The surname really fits him, eh?)
Forum: The Houses Competition
Year/Round: Year 3, Round 5
House/Position: Gryffindor, Year 5
Additional Requirement: Featured Gryffindor Character - James Sirius Potter
Prompt: [Event] Late for class
Word Count: 1481 (G-doc; exclude title, summary and A/N)
Rating/Warnings: K+ for slight language
Betas: Jenny, Little Tee