IMPORTANT: Some people might not like James's and Sirius's reaction in this chapter and might even find them OOC. However, remember that this story is an AU. This Sirius and James don't know Lily and grew up in peace, so they are more immature than they would be in canon in 1980. They react as most 19-year-olds would in a similar situation in my opinion.

IV. The Father

5th January 1980, Saturday

James confidentially opened the door of an examination room where his mother was currently just doing some paperwork according to the Welcome Witch. However, the sight that awaited him was different from what he expected. His mother was in her usual Healer robes with her hair high in a bun just as he expected but she wasn't sitting by the desk, but instead, she was standing by the examination bed and she was stroking the hair of a young redhead wearing a similar outfit. The redheaded witch didn't look in his direction at the noise, but his mother did.

"Ah, James!" she exclaimed.

"I didn't know you were with patient... The Welcome Witch told me –" he started explaining, but his mother waved him off. The young lying witch sat up suddenly and their eyes met. To James' surprise, the witch was very familiar to him, but he just couldn't place where he knew her from. Obvious recognition was expressed on her face too though it didn't mean as much as anyone in Britain interested in Quidditch would know his face. Not to mention that while his family was never really famous or infamous with his grandfather a well-known pro-Muggles politician, his father as a popular potioneer and inventor and now him as a Quidditch player, the Potters in the recent generations became more and more recognizable.

"This is not a patient, my dear – this is my current trainee, Miss Lily Evans. Trainee Evans this is my son, James Potter," his mother introduced them. James was just about to step closer to offer his hand when the girl who then had to be around his age jumped up and ran out of the room with her right hand fixed on her mouth. The pity on his mother's face was obvious.

"She is sick?" James asked curiously looking in the direction of the door the girl had just disappeared. His mother didn't answer which increased his curiosity. "Shouldn't you... I don't know, check on her?" he asked but she just shook her head.

"It's nothing serious, just some morning sickness," she said and then frowned when she realized she shouldn't have answered the question. "Me and my big mouth... She might not be my official patient James, but she is my trainee so please understand her need for privacy. She is not some interesting gossip, let it be enough that she is okay and doesn't need my help." But James shook his head.

"No, it's just – she seems familiar so I was curious if she was okay," he said simply. His mother stepped away from the bed-like examination table. She faced him with the same eyes he had and raised her eyebrows.

"You are the same age, but I don't think you have ever met her as she has just moved back from the States so she didn't attend Hogwarts," she replied and James nodded.

"Must be my mistake and she just reminds me of someone then," he said, though a part of him was sure he had met Lily Evans before. Then he stilled – Lily. Lily. Lily. The name brought back some amused liquor-filled thoughts and ponderings about how such a delicate name suggesting a breakable and pure white flower could belong to a fiery temptress. He groaned, as he closed his eyes and he remembered the feeling of tiny hands under his shirt working their magic and the sight of dark red locks of hair spreading over the white sheets like waves of blood. There was also the memory of vivid green eyes shining brightly from alcohol.

Surely he was not the most unlucky guy on Earth and he didn't just run into his one-night stand at his mother's work? Then he paled and his eyes widened comically. His mother said the girl was feeling ill because she had morning sickness. Didn't morning sickness equal with pregnancy and – a baby?

"She is p-pregnant?" he asked with a trembling voice and his mother frowned.

"I told you to forget about what you have witnessed, it's none of your business, she is perfectly healthy. The poor girl has more than enough problems without you asking questions about her personal life and health," she told him off but she didn't deny it. Really, he was being stupid, what else could 'morning sickness' indicate? However, he didn't like the indications at all – no. He must be imagining things. There was no way that this Lily was the same one he had sex with as that girl was obviously a Muggle. He had been in her flat after all and it was a very Muggle place. Though his stomached hurled when he remembered that he thought the girl he was flirting with had an American accent.

"Is she a Muggle-born?" he asked as casually as he was able at the moment because that could explain her flat. However, his mother now looked pissed off. She crossed her arms and looked at him with an angry expression.

"What's with all these questions about the girl, James?" she asked, but he just shook his head.

"Please just answer me, Mum," he nearly pleaded and hesitantly she nodded.

"She is. But why are you so interested in her? I thought you and Marlene had decided to give another try. I mean Lily is obviously a very beautiful girl, but I don't think she would be interested in dating now as she has more than enough on her plates with a baby on the way," she answered and he just shook his head.

"No – I mean, yes, Marlene and I are dating," he replied softly and his mother nodded uncertainly.

"Care to tell me then what's going on? Also, I thought you are only coming when my shift ended?" she asked and he shook his head.

"I need to speak to – err, Lily, right now. Do you know where I could find her?" he asked and now his mother was looking at him suspiciously.

"In the name of Merlin, please tell me, son, what is going on here." Her voice was soft which was worse than if she was shouting James knew it well. He always hated this accusing tone more than the shouting, because this spoke of a deeper hurt. If she shouted she was just angry with him, if used that tone she felt hurt by what he had done. He hated hurting his mother.

"Err – how pregnant is she?" he asked somewhat awkwardly and he noticed that understanding dawned on her. Her lips parted and her eyes were wide. He guessed his questions were not exactly subtle and his mother was always a smart witch. Sometimes James really hated how logical Ravenclaws were.

"She told me that she has been with only one man in recent months so if by some coincidence you believe that might be you then I would suggest waiting for her here." Her voice was cold and it somewhat lacked emotions.

"Mum –" he started but she just shook her head.

"I thought that you were smarter than that, Jamie," she said and she left the room. He followed her hesitantly, but by the time he reached the corridor, she was nowhere in sight. He sighed. He caught the eyes of someone he knew though.

"Hi James, I didn't know you were coming here. Is Marlene around here too?" Mary Macdonald approached him. She was in his year in Gryffindor and shared a dorm with Marlene becoming best friends pretty much the day they met not unlike what happened with his own roommates. The two of them were friendly with each other, but she was more like his girlfriend's best friend than his own friend.

"Nah, it's just me, she is still working. It's my Mum's birthday. We are celebrating it tomorrow evening as she won't work on Sunday, but I wanted to stop by to greet her on her special day too," he explained not quite knowing how his brain was able to function enough to answer with so many mind-blowing pieces of information shocking it. He also realized that he pissed his mother off, implied to her that she might become a grandmother but he didn't even say 'Happy birthday!' Great, he was an amazing son, he thought sarcastically.

"Oh, I didn't know that. I would love to chat and it was nice to see you, but sadly I have work to do," Mary said and without thinking, James stopped her as she said good-bye.

"Wait!" She turned around and looked at him curiously.

"Yes?" she asked and he hesitated not knowing if he really should ask her. He decided to lie a bit.

"The last time one of my teammates was here he mentioned a beautiful redheaded healer trainee he really liked. Do you have any idea who that might be?" Mary wasn't that much into Quidditch and she didn't know his team at all he believed so he hoped that she wouldn't question him about this so-called teammate, just answer him. She looked surprised, but she nodded.

"Sure, she is actually your mother's trainee and a good friend of mine. Her name is Lily Evans. She isn't dating anyone at the moment if that's why your friend is interested," she said with a grin and James nodded numbly. So, she didn't have anyone. Was there a possibility that she wasn't lying to his mother and he really was the only one she had been with? Could she actually be pregnant with his baby? Surely if she had a one-night stand with him then she could have with others? An annoying voice in his mind reminded him that she was the only for him, so it was not impossible to only do it just once.

"What is she like?" he couldn't help, but ask. Mary smiled.

"She is very friendly, hard-working and studious, but she has quite the temper. Kind of like how Remus would be as a fiery redhead," she replied with a grin and James couldn't help but laugh. "Should I warn Marlene though that you are asking after pretty witches?" Mary teased him and James stiffened.

"Yeah – I need to go too, you know. It was nice to meet you, Mary. Bye," he said awkwardly and left the hospital as soon as possible.

The moment he arrived home which was actually Sirius' couch for the last two months he felt like he shouldn't be there and no matter what he started doing, his mind wandered. He couldn't stop thinking of a pair of green eyes and the frightened surprise he saw in them. He was now sure that she didn't just recognize him because he was a Quidditch player. Come to think of it if she just moved to Britain a couple of months ago there was a huge chance she didn't even care for Quidditch much as in the States it was far from the most popular magical sport, he knew well. No, she must have remembered him from their night back in November.

Was she waiting for him back at St Mungo's? Did she think that he would be around to talk with her about this... situation? He couldn't even think about the so-called 'situation' – every time his mind wandered in that dangerous direction, it suddenly shut down and became completely blank.

"Hey Prongs, what are you doing here? I thought I won't see you today. Didn't you say you are going to Marlene's at five? It's nearly six." Sirius stepped out of the fireplace which roared to life with green flames but James hardly noticed it. He was sitting on the same sofa he first sat down when he arrived home. Sirius must have understood that something was amiss because he sat down right next to him.

"Please don't tell me you and Mrs Prongs had some quarrel again! I'm getting sick of the two of you, you know," Sirius said dramatically, but James just couldn't reply. How could he ever just voice his thoughts? How could he tell Sirius that he probably knocked up a Muggle girl? A girl who turned out to be his mother's healer trainee – not Muggle at all! Sirius didn't even know about that night, only Marlene knew and it was something that still caused tension between them even though it was Marlene who told him to have sex with someone else. Marlene... Merlin! How could he ever tell Marlene about Lily's... err, condition? No, not Lily, that was just too personal, he thought. He didn't know the girl whether he had sex with her or not. She was only ever to be referred to as Evans, he decided.

"Something-something happened on the night of Frank's bachelor party," James started explaining quietly. People always said start from the beginning when you didn't know how to tell something, right? It all certainly started that night. Sirius was confused for a long moment which didn't surprise James – his best mate certainly suffered from a hangover the next day. He must have had more to drink than even James. A bitter part of James then thought that it was unfair that Sirius still didn't knock up anyone, certainly not someone being mentored by his own mother.

"Yeah, you ran off being all whiny about Marly and got trashed at a Muggle pub, I sort of remember it – man, that was a night," Sirius said after a minute or two. James nodded slowly.

"But there was also a girl," he said softly and Sirius perked up.

"Wait – you shagged a girl and Marly found out about it? Merlin, Prongs! Why didn't you tell me about it? Please tell me she was hot! Surely Marlene can't be that upset. After all, she was the one who said it would do some good for you!" James just shook his head softly and Sirius pouted.

"You didn't shag her?" he asked as if James betrayed him.

"I did," he said and Sirius frowned.

"What's the problem then? Did you just remember how awful she looked? I mean I would get that, it happened to me before too! When you are not under the effect of alcohol sometimes they look a whole lot worse –" James just couldn't take his friend's rambling anymore and he pretty much shouted in the face of Sirius: "SHE IS PREGNANT, YOU GIT!"

Sirius stilled and looked at James with wide eyes. "Please tell me she is pregnant with impatience to get into your pants again or something like that." James just laughed humourlessly.

"No – she is pregnant with a kid, Pads and according to Mum, my kid," he trembled. He was shaking with emotions. This wasn't supposed to happen – no, he had The Plan. Marlene was supposed to say yes to him, and then they would have been engaged probably for about a year, maybe a bit more if they got caught up in their careers and wedding planning, there was no need to rush after all. They could have their wedding around twenty or twenty-one and be together just for a few years, maybe start thinking of children around twenty-four or twenty-five and have three by thirty, preferably at least one of each gender. Instead, here he was at nineteen with probably a child on the way from a one-night stand and his girlfriend (who didn't want to marry him) knew nothing of it.

It seemed he lost Padfoot as his friend just stared in front of him not unlike how James was when he arrived home. The two of them sat like that on the sofa for about half an hour when to James' greatest surprise Sirius spoke.

"How does your Mum fit into this picture?" he asked softly and James couldn't help but start laughing hysterically. Because really it was such an impossible situation it was actually highly entertaining. If this happened to anyone else it would be a funny and interesting story. Statistically speaking this was just not supposed to happen, but then again, there was always a chance, he guessed.

"It turns out the girl isn't a Muggle but my mother's trainee," he replied with a grimace and Sirius jumped up and started saying random profanities. James just sat there and tried to think of anything other than his possible impending fatherhood, but he was simply not able to.

"Fuck – fuck – fuck! How could you just fuck up your life like that, Prongs?" Sirius turned towards him and this time James was angry. He jumped up from the sofa and faced his best mate whose usually perfect hair was sticking up at some places and whose grey eyes were shooting lightning at the moment – or at least it seemed like that to James.

"You encouraged me to have a one-night stand!" he blurted out because he found it unfair that Sirius behaved like he somehow messed it up. It bloody wasn't his fault that the entire universe seemed to be against him! Other guys had countless one-night stands and were constantly cheating on their wives and girlfriends with no such consequences while he had sex once with a stranger when he was single and the girl turned up pregnant at his mother's office. It was just so not fair! Someone Up There was certainly laughing at him now.

"Well, I thought you knew how to use contraceptive spells," Sirius barked and James crossed his arms.

"I thought she was a Muggle, okay! Plus we did use some sort of Muggle protection, I'm sure of it – though obviously either it's not foolproof or we messed up because since then I realized that probably none of us could use it well. I mean neither of us is a Muggle though she is a Muggle-born so maybe she knew what she was doing..." James explained hastily. He was rambling. He sighed then, but Sirius still seemed pissed off.

"Well, tough luck mate – but surely if she had a one-night stand with you then she could have with ten other men! How can you know that it's your kid?" he asked and James hesitated. Sirius was right in a way. Evans might not have been a Quidditch fan, but she was obviously a friend of Mary. How could he know that Evans didn't realize that he was no Muggle? With his mother as Evans's mentor surely Mary mentioned him a few times. Evans could have worked it out that around the time of conception the two of them were actually together. Who else was a better Baby Daddy than a pure-blood Quidditch star from not only old family but money as well? His father's hair potion was widely known and used so one didn't need to be a genius to realize that the Potter family wasn't struggling with money problems.

"Well, she told my mother that she was only with one man, but I don't actually know if it's true now that I come to think of it," he replied a bit hesitantly. He didn't want to pretend that none of this was happening, but Sirius had a good point. However, if she really realized who he was then why didn't she just turn up at his door and told him of her predicament? Even his mother didn't know he was going to be at St Mungo's that afternoon after all. Or was she planning to do just that but tried to involve his mother first so she could ensnare him? His head was spinning from all the possibilities.

"Well, there are paternity spells and potions I believe, but I don't know of any which could determine it before the kid was born, surely if there was any your mother would have suggested one already – that would have been the first thing she said to you, I think. Plus from the sound of it you don't even know if the girl wants this kid," Sirius pointed out and James nodded. His best mate was right. He had no idea what Evans wanted. It was highly possible that she wasn't keeping the baby as she was just a trainee, his own age according to his mother, practically a kid herself. "You know, maybe you should forget about the whole issue for a while. How about we get smashed tonight?" Sirius offered and James wholeheartedly agreed, but the fire once again came to life before he could say so and to James' horror, it was his mother who stepped out of the flames.

"Oh, Mum, happy birthday!" Sirius hugged James' mother like she was his own which made James roll his eyes but he smiled fondly.

"Thank you, darling. It's good to see you too," she said with a smile but then she turned towards James and her expression darkened.

"I thought I told you to talk to Lily, but when I went back to the room she was there, but you weren't," she said calmly. James offered her to sit, but she declined. Instead, she looked at him like she had never seen him which made James feel incredibly ashamed and awkward. He wasn't used to such disappointment coming from his mother.

"I-I just... You can't understand Mum!" he cried out and she laughed. She actually laughed!

"You made a mistake, James. Everyone does now and then, but mistakes have consequences you know – sometimes they are insignificant, but they can be baby-sized as well." Sirius crossed his arms.

"I'm with James on this. How can we even know the girl isn't lying? She could be just after James' money – Monty's money – your entire family fortune," Sirius pointed out and to James' horror his mother just chuckled dryly.

"Did you have intercourse with her?" she asked and while James found such a question from his own mother rather awkward he nodded. By now he was more than certain that Lily Evans the healer trainee at St Mungo's was Lily the heartbroken Muggle from the pub. Sad and unbelievable, but true.

"Did this happen around the middle of November?" she asked again and James looked at Sirius who nodded after a few moments of thinking.

"Yeah, the wedding was in early December about two weeks after the bachelor's party," he replied.

"Did you use any contraceptive charms?" his mother once again questioned him and James shook his head.

"We did use some Muggle thingy from rubber," James said and his mother rolled his eyes.

"And do you think that you used it perfectly? Did you read the descriptions of it for example?" she asked once again and James shook his head shamefully. She just looked at him like he was a little kid who knew nothing.

"Then darling I believe the chances of that baby having you as its father is rather high. Just so you know Lily took a Morning After Potion at work because she is a responsible girl who didn't ask for any of this, but there was a mix-up in our potions supplies so what she took certainly didn't stop her from being pregnant." Then the universe was really against him. She took a potion which would have meant no chance at pregnancy at all and yet there was a kid because of a freaking mix-up! James just felt awful.

"The kid could still be anyone else's," Sirius said stubbornly and now James watched as his mother faced his best friend.

"I'm not denying that," she started and Sirius had a smug smile on his face. "But all the potions responsible for the baby boom we are experiencing are accounted for now. Do you believe that a girl who took one after a one-night stand wouldn't take another after another one? Lily is a prodigy at potion brewing so if she made one, I'm sure it would have worked and if she brought one in an Apothecary there would be an uproar by now just as there is at Mungo's," she explained and James' stomach hurled. Sirius could be very convincing if he wanted to be so James was very much taken by his friend's idea but his mother was pure logic (hence being a Ravenclaw).

"Aren't Morning After Potions good like a day and a half after sex? She could have found someone in the meantime," Sirius said stubbornly, but to James' dismay, his mother was just laughing.

"That girl spends three-quarters of her life at work," she exclaimed. James was just standing at the sidelines as his mother and Sirius continued to bicker, but his mind only registered about half of it after a bit of time. His mother obviously had spent more time thinking of and knew more about the issue than either Sirius or him which was logical as she was a senior staff member in the hospital where a serious malpractice happened and she was also Evans's mentor. If his mother was so convinced that he was the father of the child currently nestled in Evans's stomach (even the thought of it made him shudder) then there was a bloody huge chance that she was right and he had fathered a kid. He felt queasy and a little faint – did pregnant woman feel like that too?

"And what do you think James should do – go and marry the girl and dump Marlene?" Sirius exclaimed. At that, James looked up and noted that his best mate was practically heaving. He also watched his stubborn mother who didn't back down either.

"No, I just want him to step up and be there for the poor girl who probably feels completely lost and alone at the moment," she replied and Sirius just shook his head.

"If she is no mercenary then she thought she had sex with a random Muggle, one she didn't expect to ever see again. So, it's not like she thinks there is a father," he explained simply, though James knew it was more complicated than that after all Evans recognized him. He was fairly certain that if she was a healer trainee (where top marks were needed) then she would be able to add two and two together. He was certain she now knew that she had sex with James Potter – and then for the thousandth time that day he froze and his eyes widened.

"Oh fuck," he moaned and Sirius turned towards him with surprise clearly written on his face as if he forgot that James even existed let alone that he was there. "She knows – probably 'Quidditch star James Potter knocked up a one-night stand' will be the headline of tomorrow's Daily Prophet and the next Witch Weekly too." He didn't care that much about stupid articles and how the journalists portrayed him in them but Marlene didn't deserve to hear such a thing from a magazine. He also knew that his team's managers indeed cared about those so-called 'news'.

Sirius seemed just as worked up by the idea as James, but to his surprise, his mother remained fairly calm. James raised an eyebrow.

"I don't see Lily as the type whose first instinct is running to a paper and selling her story. Plus she is an intelligent witch, I'm sure she realizes that she'd be portrayed at least as bad as you even just because she is a Muggle-born who grew up abroad. She knows she doesn't have friends in the right places to get away with this situation as the innocent one. Most would just say she was a mercenary who might have even given you love potion and got pregnant on purpose to ensnare you. Others would call her a home-wrecker and so on," she replied calmly and James nodded slowly. His mother was right. He wasn't sure if she was right about Evans's character, but about the other issue most certainly.

Witch Weekly was literally owned by Marlene's family. If they got wind of such a scandal the magazine would surely portray Marlene as the victim and probably James too (especially as the whole 'let's have sex with random people' thing was Marlene's idea). Evans in every version of the story James could envision came out as the villain ready to ruin the years-old romantic relationship Marlene and he shared.

"So, what? Great, the girl is not some lunatic probably running to the papers, but that won't change the fact that she has a freaking kid in her stomach!" Sirius said angrily. James watched his mother who was now cool and collected unlike him or his best mate.

"It's her choice you know. I would like to prepare you, James that I think she will keep the baby," she turned to James who couldn't meet her eyes because he could only think about one thing: 'Why would he care?' The kid might be biologically his, but did that mean much in real life? Just looking at Sirius he knew it didn't. Sirius's parents hated him and while Sirius might have had the noble look of the Black family he was nothing like any of the other Blacks (maybe except his older cousin Andromeda, but she had nothing to do with her so-called family either).

His mother knew him too well though because she crossed the space between them and to his greatest surprise she slapped him! Never had his mother raised a hand at him before. She was a petite and somewhat elderly woman so it didn't exactly hurt (just stung a bit) but it was still shocking. Based on Sirius' expression he thought the same.

"I know you James Potter and you are a better man than that," she said so coldly that it broke James's heart a bit. It was like she was looking at him, but she didn't recognize him as her son.

"Can you actually imagine leaving a child hanging like that? The kid would forever wonder what he did so wrong that his own father wanted nothing to do with him! What if he inherits your Quidditch skills? What if he looks just like you? Can you imagine watching your son or daughter on the broom one day without him or her knowing who you are?" Of course James knew that a pregnancy meant a baby, but honestly, so far he didn't get to the point in his thread of thoughts that the baby was going to be an adult one day who could become a professional Quidditch player like him. Sirius seemed just as dumbfounded at the idea and eyed James as if he was trying to imagine a kid who looked a bit like him on a broomstick in England's national robes.

"Just so you know I already decided to support Lily and when the baby is born I will request a paternity test. If the baby is indeed yours as I suspect then I will treat them as my grandchild. I thought we taught you better than that, Jamie. I thought you understood that family always comes first," she said softly, but Sirius snorted and had a haughty expression.

"Yes, but family is not always blood." James agreed with Sirius, it was hard not to when one knew the Black family. His mother remained silent for a moment.

"I agree," his mother said to his greatest surprise. "You can love a kid even if he isn't yours." James noticed that her eyes lingered on Sirius, but then she turned back towards him. "It's not really about the baby taking after you in appearance or maybe personality, you know. It's about the child that is yours by blood suffering in any way because you are not there. No kid deserves to grow up without a father when they could have one." It wasn't exactly her words that had made James feel breathless, but her expression and the pain in her eyes which were so similar to his.

"I'm not asking you Jamie to buy a baby broomstick you know, just please talk to Lily. She is the one who is suffering from a mistake both of you made. She didn't want any of this more than you did," she pointed out and Sirius snorted.

"And yet it's her decision that can doom James for the rest of his life. It's pretty unfair, you know! I get that it's her body and all, but you just said, it takes two to tango. Why is James forced to play father if he doesn't want just because some stupid little girl thinks she has what it takes to be a mother?" Sirius asked and her eyes were now focused on him. James watched his mother's murderous expression with fascination now that he wasn't the target of it.

"It's going to be James's decision if he wants to be a father, you know Sirius. However, it is Lily's decision if she wants to go through months of uncomfortable pregnancy and painful birth if she wishes to because she is an adult and it's her body as you graciously pointed it out." She started walking towards the fireplace. "Your father is waiting for me. I won't tell him what happened today, because I want you to be the one to inform him. I just hope that you will find the courage in yourself to face the consequences of what you have done and at least meet Lily." Without another word or even looking in his direction she disappeared into the fire that she started and turned into green in less than a second.

James turned towards Sirius numbly. His best mate, his brother in every way except for blood looked at him with open wariness.

"What should I do?" James asked so softly he wasn't sure Sirius even heard him. Sirius didn't react for a long moment and then he didn't even look at him.

"Well, if you don't want to be disowned maybe you should see this girl at least. She might even tell you that there is nothing to talk about because she had already taken care of the problem or how she is giving up the baby after it is born." James nodded.

"And what if she tells me she is keeping it no matter what?" he asked unsure if he actually wanted to hear his mate's answer. This time Sirius faced him. A pair of grey eyes met his hazel ones.

"Then there will be a baby Potter." What an easy answer to an impossible situation, James thought with bitter amusement.