Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.
A/N: I'm…back! So sorry for all the delays. I deserve to be beaten with a stick because the lovely response to this fic has overwhelmed me and I haven't kept up with it as I should of. I will try to do better. Also, several people have mentioned that McGonagall is the math teacher and the judge in this story, but what no one realizes is that Minerva…moonlights as a judge in order to make more money so that she can keep up with her gambling habit which…alright, alright, you lot caught me. I made a mistake. Again, many apologies. Anyway, enjoy the chapter. Comments are appreciated.
Summary: Single mother, Lily Evans is raising her son, Harry, by herself, but when the father gets a whiff of his son's existence, he wants more than just a glance…
James watched as Harry slouched into the house, passing him by as if he was invisible. He walked up the stairs, his book bag hitting every step on the way up. His steps were softened on the carpet and his door closed with the slightest of sighs.
He had come home early so that he would be there when Harry arrived back from his first day at his new school, but he had expected a little bit more…enthusiasm from his son. He still wasn't taking well to McGonagall's decision – he was prone to long sullen silences and moody moments where he lashed out at everything in reach - but James had hoped that being around people his own age would cheer him up.
James ran a hand through his unruly hair, shrugging apologetically at Remus and Sirius who had dropped him off and started up the stairs after Harry. Stopping at the door, he knocked softly. Hearing no response, James turned the knob and stepped in the door. Harry's backpack was thrown in a corner and the boy himself was lying on the bed, head buried in his arms. His back was tense as if a string was pulled tight from his hips to his head.
"I didn't say you could come in."
The angry voice stopped him cold. He wasn't sure when this stranger had appeared in the place of his Harry but James often felt as if their relationship had turned into a warzone overnight and James found himself fumbling for retorts more than once.
"I know. I'm sorry." James also found out that apologizing was a big part of this new relationship. "How was school?"
Harry's back tightened even further. "I hate it. I miss my old school. There were reporters everywhere and everyone there's a snob. They won't even let me try out for the soccer team. It's too late!"
James reached out to smooth Harry hair, but stopped himself before he touched Harry, his hand lingering uncertainly. "The reporters will leave soon. They just-"
"Soon?" Harry swung upwards, sounding slightly hysterical. "It's been three months since I moved in! They keep – they keep – they're everywhere! I'm going crazy! I want to go home! I want my-" Harry cut himself off and buried his head in his arms again.
"I'm sorry, Harry," James sad again. He hesitated. "Maybe…maybe I could talk to the soccer coach. I'm sure they could make an exception. After all-"
"No," Harry sounded bitter now. "They'll just think that my famous father is doing stuff for me that I can't do on my own. Soccer is my thing. I don't want you involved."
That stung but James nodded. "Alright then. I won't say anything. Do – do you want me to bring up dinner for you? I'm sure you must be hungry."
Harry shook his head. "No. I don't want it."
James bit his lip to stop himself from retorting angrily. "You need to eat, Harry. You haven't been eating properly lately and it's going to make you sick."
"No! I'm not hungry!" Harry snapped, his voice muffled but no less angry.
"Fine!" James bit out. "Starve." He got up to leave the room but then sighed and sank back down next to Harry. "I love you," he said softly and this time he did reach out and stroke Harry's hair.
Harry snorted and shied away from the touch. "If you really loved me then you'd let me stay with my mom." he said coldly and turned onto his side, cutting off any contact with James.
James got up and walked to the door. "Sorry," he said helplessly before closing the door.
He walked back downstairs where Remus and Sirius were still waiting.
"He doesn't seem to be doing much better." Sirius commented softly as James bypassed them completely and sat in an armchair, burying his face in his palms.
James snorted. "Better? He hates me. He hates everything about me. He just…can't stand being here – it's so repulsive that he won't even eat!"
"James, calm down." Remus said gently. "Harry's very fragile right now. His entire life has changed. He doesn't mean what he's saying."
"Yes he does." James said gravely. "He – you haven't heard him, have you? He doesn't even talk to either of you! He – he – maybe I should let him see his mother. Supervised, of course…but do you think that'll make him happy?"
"James, no," Remus said firmly. "That could be incredibly destructive right now. You've got to show Harry that he isn't responsible for his mother's wellbeing and that you're responsible for his. He needs to understand that he can't see his mother because she is unwell and that this isn't anyone's fault. Not yours and not his. Even his mother can't help herself right now. You have to make him understand this is for his benefit, not yours."
"But…" James faltered and then whispered, "He's so unhappy. I thought putting him in a different school, a different environment, would make things easier for him – distance, you know – but now he can't play soccer and he misses his friends so much and he's so angry. It can't be healthy, can it? For him to be like this? So unhappy."
Sirius shook his head. "I think he was unhappy for a long time, but he just…repressed it. Smiled for his mother and for his friends and just hid everything way deep down inside. And it rotted and it festered and maybe he doesn't feel like he needs a façade with you, James. Maybe, it's like, he's angry with you because he could never be angry with his mother. And maybe it's a good thing. Better in than out, right?"
James laughed unhappily. "I'd rather he pretended to be happy." Then his face twisted. "No, no I'd rather be just be happy. I just don't think it can happen. He's so – not happy."
Remus rubbed James' shoulder supportively. "I think you've just got to wait it out. Just wait and he'll come around."
"Okay," James said dully, "Yeah, waiting."
Harry curled around his pillow. Stupid school, stupid James, stupid…everything. Especially James. He just couldn't stand it anymore. He needed his mom and more importantly, his mommy needed him. How was she supposed to do anything without him? They were a team. That was how it always was, at least, until him. James had ruined everything with his stupid…caring and saying I love you every single freaking day.
And he refused to get angry with Harry. He just kept apologizing, what for, Harry couldn't understand. Harry was being the brat. James should have kicked him out already. Should have at least yelled at him or sent him to his room or not spoken to him…but he just apologized…like it was his fault.
Harry curled into a tighter ball. He missed Ron and Hermione and Hogwarts and soccer. He missed his mommy. He didn't want to go to that horrible prep school again. Everyone had just stared at him as if he was some kind of freak. Bastard child. Illegitimate. Different.
Harry's shoulders drew up to his ears and he started to cry softly. He couldn't understand why. James said he loved him but he refused to let him see his mother and his mother hadn't even called…or written or even tried to come get him. He wanted things to go back to normal. He wanted this to just…stop.
Mustering up his determination, Harry rolled off the bed and pulled out a duffle bag. In it was some clothes and a day's worth of food. He marched over to the window and yanked it open. Beneath him, just five feet down, was a fire escape leading to the ground. He threw one leg over the window sill, and then like every other time he had attempted, he pulled it back in and shut the window, sliding down to the floor beside it.
He couldn't do it. He couldn't just leave. What if his mother didn't want him back? What if she threw him out again? James wouldn't take him back after he left. Where would he go?
Shaking slightly, he made his way back to the bed and stuffed the duffle bag underneath it again to be ready for the next time he felt like leaving. Then he flung himself back on the bed and let himself wallow in his misery until he fell asleep.
James was throwing a small party tonight.
True Harry was still spending more time in his room than not and refused to speak to him but perhaps spending some time with his classmates outside of school would soften him up.
The party started out well. James was chitchatting with several producers about a recent movie and he had noticed that Harry was grudgingly talking to Lucius Malfoy's boy and several others. He didn't exactly look happy but James had cajoled him into appearing so he was counting it as a victory.
"Is your son thinking of going into the movie business?"
James turned his attention back to the conversation at hand. "What? No, of course not. He doesn't even like crowds."
"How sad for you, then," Lucius murmured from behind him, "Your only progeny hating your chosen profession. Draco is already performing in the theater. We're thinking of letting him do a movie next year."
James felt his smile tighten. Did Lucius somehow know that he and Harry were barely speaking? "I find it better to let Harry develop his own interests." And then, feeling the need to one up Malfoy: "He plays soccer."
"Ah, soccer…" Malfoy drawled, dripping condescension. "How novel."
"He's brilliant at it." James said hotly. "He-"
Suddenly they both heard a loud squawking from across the room. Turning, James saw Harry dive at Draco and tackle him to the floor, punching him in the face.
"Draco!" cried Lucius.
"Harry!" James yelled half a second later, hardly able to believe the boy currently trying to beat up Malfoy's son was his quiet demurring Harry.
James strode over and yanked his son up and off Draco, shaking him when he continued to try to lunge at Draco.
"What sort of barbarian are you raising!" Lucius snarled, helping his son to his feet.
Harry was panting, his face red and he looked close to tears. "Get out." James said coldly, holding Harry close enough to hear his rapidly beating heart. "Both of you."
Lucius made an inarticulate sound of rage. "How dare you! Your son-"
"Leave." James repeated calmly, "And keep your son the fuck away from mine."
Lucius growled under his breath and dragged Draco to the door. James watched them stalk out of the house in silence. Then taking a big breath, he looked around. The party had ground to a complete stop, everyone staring at the two Potters in the middle of the room. James grabbed Harry's arm and tugged him out of the room and back to his bedroom.
"What did he say to you?" James asked, kneeling down to his level cupping Harry's face.
Harry's mouth thinned and he shook his head. "Nothing," he said dully. "I just hate him, alright. Sorry I ruined everything. Can I go to bed now?"
James sighed. "Harry, sweetheart, if you don't tell me what happened I can't help you. Tell me what he said."
Harry jerked away. "Nothing," he snapped, "I said it was nothing."
"Did he…" James hesitated, "say something about…"
"Mom?" Harry shouted, "You can say it, you know! She's not dead! You can't just make her go away by pretending she doesn't exist!"
"I know that, Harry," James soothed, "I just don't want to-"
"I hate you!" Harry yelled at him. "This is all your fault! If it wasn't for you I could be at home. Just go away; I hate you!"
James stood up abruptly, thrusting Harry away from him so suddenly that the boy fell to the ground. "Don't you ever-"
James stopped suddenly when he realized that he was looming over Harry threateningly and that his son was sobbing. "Harry, I didn't mean-"
But Harry had already scrambled up and fled to the bathroom locking the door behind him.
Locking him out.
To Be Concluded…