A/N: I'm setting this at least five years after the defeat of Voldemort, probably a little more. See end for other notes.
The Negative Side
James Potter, known to his friends as Jamie, snarled the password at the Fat Lady and entered the common room to the sound of her reprimanding, "There's no call for that kind of tone." He could not have cared less at that moment. He was livid.
His friends Blaise Weasley-Finnigan and Penelope Porelis, having a game of Exploding Snap, looked up as he sat harshly in an armchair, throwing his bag to the floor. "What happened?" asked Penelope. (Her grandparents had been furious; not only did their only daughter Pansy marry an American Muggle-born, but their first grandchild had been Sorted into Gryffindor.)
James stared at the fire, seething, in answer.
"Did he give you another detention?" Blaise (as usual) had hit the mark.
"I wasn't even doing anything!" James exploded. "I just happened to be carrying a certain substance around with me in the hall, and Snape wouldn't believe I'd made it myself. He gave me three detentions for nicking it, even though I didn't!"
"What was it?"
"What was what?"
"Oh, that. It was just a Shrinking Solution, I was going to test it on something outside to see if I'd made it right. Snape confiscated it, though, so I couldn't check. Of course, if he thought it was his, he probably thinks it works right, so that's something." James sighed. Sometimes having a talent for potions was not such a great thing. "Where's Morgaine?"
"The library. Of course," Penelope said, turning back to their game.
"She gets it from her mother," said James, a smile growing on his face. "Dad talks about it a lot, and Uncle Ron, and Blaise's parents, and Morgaine's dad… the girl inherited an unhealthy passion for studying."
While the others were chortling, one of the cards ignited right in front of Blaise. He jumped back and calmed the blaze with his wand. When everything had been cleared away, he noted, "That one could have burned a hole in the carpet. It left a mark. If we move one of the chairs to cover it, will anyone notice?"
"Blaise, everyone will notice."
Blaise cursed. "Well, maybe Morgaine will fix it when she gets back." Morgaine, who was a year ahead of them and a compulsive self-educator to boot, knew a lot of such handy tricks that kept the others out of trouble.
"Let's have a game of chess," Penelope suggested. "That, at least, won't damage the carpet."
"It might if I play," contested James. "You know how crazy those damn chess pieces make me. Always trying to give me tips. As though I can't win without their help."
"You usually can't," said Penelope, causing that competitive spark inside James to flare. "Oh, but Jamie, I don't want to play against Blaise. He practices with his uncle, it's not even a game against him. Please, Jamie?"
James pushed his messy black hair out of his eyes. (It had taken his teachers almost two years to stop accidentally calling him Harry. At least he had gotten his mother's eyes; if he'd had green eyes there would have been no end to it. Those identity mistakes would have been on purpose if he'd looked that much like his father.) "Sure. I have to prove you wrong, Antelope."
She rolled her eyes at the mocking nickname. He only ever used it when she had said something to anger or annoy him – which was a few times a day, on average. Penelope drew out the chessboard and set up the pieces with a wave of her wand. She smirked. "There. I finally got that spell to work."
"Great. Start your game of chess faster and with less effort."
"Excuse me, Blaise the Amazing Skeptic, but it takes plenty of effort. And besides, it's the same spell you'd use to pack things into a box or a suitcase, just sort of… modified."
"Where did you get this modifying spells stuff? Is this more stuff you learned from your dad – that Muggle science stuff – that you keep trying to convince us is applicable to magic? When are you going to give that up?"
"It is applicable to – oh, never mind. Let's start the game. I'm black."
"She's always black," muttered James as he positioned himself across from her.
Halfway through the game, Blaise suddenly asked, "Penelope… what is that under your uniform?"
"A halter top," she replied.
James looked. It was, indeed, a halter top, black and lacy and low-cut. Penelope's shirt was halfway unbuttoned to reveal it. He looked away then; he hated any situation that reminded him that Penelope had breasts. She was very attractive. That was a well-known fact. But when he had to admit it, he became very uncomfortable. To distract himself, he wondered aloud, "Why were you looking under her uniform, Blaise?"
"Well, I just looked in that direction and noticed, but that isn't the point. Where did you get that top?"
"From Marie. Your cousin." Marie was youngest child of Bill Weasley and his wife Fleur Weasley (formerly Delacour), now in her sixth year at Hogwarts.
Blaise shook his head and proceeded to sulk for the rest of their game. By the end, James had proven that he could hold his own without listening to the grating advice of the pieces (he placed a silencing spell on his set), but Penelope won.
"I don't need their help," asserted James. "I did well, you can't deny it."
"But you didn't win," Penelope objected calmly. "And that was your point, wasn't it?"
"Ah, another witty retort from the loser."
"I'm warning you, Antelope…"
"If you draw your wand, you aren't going to have the chance to hex me. Mine's already in my hand."
Not surprisingly, she was right. Before James could think of a reply, the portrait hole opened to admit a fifth year with thick, incredibly smooth, pale blond hair and hazel eyes. From behind James and Penelope, Blaise said casually, "Hi, Morgaine. How was the library?"
Morgaine Malfoy surveyed the scene of Penelope and James facing off, her with her wand at the ready, before making her way to the plush furniture. As she sat, she scolded, "I've been walking in on this kind of argument since the three of you started here. Now that you're fourth years, don't you think it's time to try something new? And I see another carpet has taken the consequences of Exploding Snap." She whipped out her wand and mended the burn instantly.
A tap at the window alerted them to the presence of a large box suspended between four barn owls. James and Blaise retrieved it, leaving the owls to fly off back to where they came from. "It's addressed to you, Blaise," James said, reading the label. "It must be an early birthday present."
"Yeah, more than early. My birthday isn't for a few months." He set about opening the box. As he peered into it, a sly grin blossomed on his face.
"What? Who's it from?" Penelope asked.
"Which ones?" prompted James, excited.
Blaise grinned around at them. "Fred and George."
James shifted closer to help Blaise inspect the gift. There was a note inside, from which Blaise read with a laugh, "We sent this on now because we weren't sure it wouldn't take two months for the owls to get it to you."
As the investigation of the box's contents proceeded, Penelope asked Morgaine, "What have you been researching?"
"Voldemort," answered Morgaine. No one looked up, since even first years had done at least one essay on the former Dark wizard. "My essay is on how he lost power. I have a lot of facts concerning the frenzy in which he began to kill his own followers, and we all know the story of how Dad and Bianca's brother turned a surprising number of Slytherins – and those from other houses who held those beliefs – away from Voldemort. But there's nothing at all about how he actually died."
"That book of mine's not a help?" James wondered.
"You mean that book of your mother's?" Morgaine retorted. Technically, she was right. The inside cover read Property of Katie Bell Potter. Still, James was annoyed. As long as it was in his possession, he would call it his book. "No, not much. It's got the date, of course, and it says 'Harry Potter managed to bring Voldemort down.' But it doesn't say how, and that's what I'm looking for."
"Good reason, too, why it doesn't say it," James muttered. "You might want to give up on that idea. You won't find anything about how he was killed. No one ever found Voldemort's body, so they couldn't tell by examination how he died. They did find a piece of it, though."
James hesitated. "His heart. Lying in a pile of robes. It was withered and looked kind of charred."
"Where'd you hear that from?" asked Penelope.
"I overheard Uncle Draco and Uncle Ron discussing it one time when I got up to get a midnight snack. But they didn't know more than that, either."
"Why is it such a mystery?" Blaise interjected, peeling his eyes away from the pranks his uncles had sent long enough to contribute to the conversation.
"That's simple enough," James said. "No one else was present when Dad killed Voldemort, so there are no other witnesses. And Dad refuses to talk about it. I don't think he even ever told Mum what happened."
"Couldn't you ask him, Jamie-?"
"Morgaine, just forget it. He wouldn't answer, and I might get in trouble just for asking."
"What would he do?"
"Not him, my mum. I asked once when I was eight, and she wouldn't let me eat sugar for two weeks. That was painful, it was."
"Why'd she punish you?"
"Dad doesn't like to think too much about that time. She gets mad at anyone who reminds him."
They lapsed quickly into silence, listening to the rustling of packages of magical jokes as they all wandered amid their own thoughts. Then, abruptly, Blaise provided them with a distraction. "Hey Jamie, do you want to get that Shrinking Solution back?"
"Yeah, I'd like to. But Snape'll search my room if he finds it missing."
"He won't miss it," said Blaise.
James looked up, intrigued. "What do you have in mind?"
Blaise's wide smile infected the rest of them, and they gathered to hear his plan.
A/N: That's the end! It's taken me quite a long time to finish this story. This epilogue alone… it just took me too long to start, but once I did it was quite fast. And I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.
Side note: I know Snape left Hogwarts in the 6th book, but this was started pre HBP so the whole thing was written with Dumbledore present in Harry's 7th year. So I figured I'd leave Snape around to torment the next generation of Potter. Also, someone once commented in a review about the low prices of things in the first chapter. The explanation for that is that I didn't know the currency exchange between Muggle and wizard money, so I estimated Galleons to be worth a lot more. So just imagine that I put a reasonable price in there instead, okay? Thanks.
You probably could figure it out, but I want to make it absolutely clear which parents belong to which children:
Blaise – Ginny and Seamus Finnigan
James – Harry and Katie Bell
Morgaine – Draco and Hermione
Penelope – Pansy Parkinson and my fabricated Muggle character who doesn't have a name.
I don't have much more to say. So, thank you, everyone, for reading my story, and for those of you who did review thank you SO much for your reviews, I love reviews (HINT people who didn't review). I'm glad you appreciate the different course this story takes from most other fanfics. I did…
Time for me to go… if you have any other questions you can email me. :)