Woot woot! It was just recently the one-year anniversary of the first chapter being posted! I know eleven chapters isn't exactly a lot to show for it but I must say I feel quite proud of myself at the moment. And…I got over 100 reviews! I know this may not seem like a lot to some of you but I, admittedly, did a happy dance in my kitchen. My sister ended up looking at me like I was completely nuts but hey, she's used to it :-P Since I left you with a cliffhanger last time, I tried to write this chapter as fast as possible – as irony would have it I developed major writer's block. So sorry about that but it's up now and I hope you enjoy!
By the way, thanks to Silver Dog Demon for sending in the 100th review! Keep it up!
After the darkness had completely settled around him, Harry leaned forward and put his tired head in his hands.
Green-Eyed Tears Common Ground
Harry's head snapped up in surprise. He looked around; his eyes came to rest on the familiar features of his father's face.
"Sirius said I might find you here," he said, his gaze unfaltering, never leaving his son's eyes.
Harry just stared back, his poise wary. He watched as the older man walked down the aisle and settled himself in the seat next to Harry's. For a moment, Harry wasn't sure of what was going to happen; James was leaning forward in his seat looking straight ahead at the stands on the opposite side of the pitch. Then, he turned his head to meet Harry's eyes, "So you like Quidditch?"
Harry averted his gaze to the floor, his hands moving of their own accord to the hem of his T-shirt, wringing it nervously. He nodded.
"Do you play?"
He nodded again. He knew he should say something, but he didn't trust his voice.
"Really?" James couldn't help but feel proud. "What position?"
Harry swallowed thickly, "Seeker."
James smiled to himself; Seeker was the most difficult position to play.
"I was a Chaser myself; I always thought it'd be cool to be a Seeker, though. Much more dangerous," he said in mock-seriousness.
Harry smiled genuinely for the first time in a while. In spite of the awkwardness of the situation, he could feel his spirits lifting – his dad was exactly how he had always imagined him. He gave off a heavy impression of excitement and recklessness but, at the same time, you couldn't help but feel safe around him. Even now, his hazel eyes sparkled subtly, "Yup, I joined the team in my second year. You?"
"First year," Harry replied sheepishly.
"First year?" James asked, surprised, "I didn't think they let first years on the teams."
"They don't." And, abandoning all previous behavior and without even knowing why, Harry plunged into the story of how he had come to be chosen as the Gryffindor Seeker. The conversation eventually turned to even more anecdotes of Harry's school years, greatly encouraged by James who was desperate for any information he could get concerning his son.
Harry refrained from telling him anything of higher significance than Quidditch matches or comical incidences involving his friends. However at ease he might feel, he definitely wasn't ready to reveal any of his more profound experiences such as everything that had happened surrounding the Sorcerer's Stone or Voldemort's resurrection.
They continued to talk even after the half moon had risen above the pitch. They might have talked long into the night had they not been interrupted by a distant call; James stopped mid-sentence and listened. It came again, louder yet still faint, "Harry!"
James jumped slightly, coming to his senses. "We should have been back hours ago!" He jumped to his feet, leading the way down to the playing field and out of the stadium. They saw a wavering beam of light scanning the ground in front of Hogwarts' oak doors. "Harry!"
"Over here, Moony!" James called back, "He's with me!"
The beam of light flew to James's face as the neared the castle; they were now close enough to hear Lupin mutter a relieved, "Thank Merlin."
"Where've you been?" he asked Harry earnestly as soon as they caught up with him, "We've been looking for you for ages."
"We were…talking," he said hesitantly, as if he wasn't exactly sure if he should disclose this information.
"Oh." Remus looked taken aback. He glanced at James, the corners of his mouth twitching with a suppressed grin. Harry, who was walking just ahead of them both, didn't notice and continued up the castle's front steps, pushing open the doors.
Harry himself had no idea why he had opened up like that, why he felt he could trust this man that he had just barely met. Though he pretended he wasn't aware of the subtle hints they dropped all over the place, he knew perfectly well that Sirius and Remus took every opportunity they could to try to get through to him. They had been trying for weeks to get him to talk yet James was the one who had succeeded. He didn't understand it, but he figured it was a good thing.
Before he knew it, Harry was standing before the over familiar stone gargoyle, James and Remus close behind. He took a deep breath; Sirius was probably already up there, furious at him for running away again. "Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans!" and the three stepped onto the moving staircase.
As soon as the door opened Sirius was on his feet and standing in front of his godson. "Finally! Where were you? I've been looking for you everywhere!" Harry's body tensed up, subconsciously expecting to be hit.
"Calm down, Sirius," James said placatingly, "He was with me."
Sirius stared. "Oh," he said, echoing Remus's word from earlier; Harry let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. "Right. Well...you could have had the decency to bring him back earlier! Just leave me to worry half to death, why don't you?" James grinned and rolled his eyes; he was too used to his best friend's personality to be phased by his words.
"Now that we're all here once again," Dumbledore said from behind his desk, peering good-naturedly at Harry over the tops of his half moon glasses; Harry blushed and looked guiltily at his feet, "I think it would be best to discuss James's living arrangements."
Harry thought about this; it hadn't occurred to him before now. Would James come to live at Remus's house? Or would he want to be on his own? And then another, slightly unsettling, thought popped into his head: Where would he, Harry, live now? As much as he hated to believe it, he knew that his godfather and Remus probably wouldn't want to keep him now that he might have somewhere else to go.
"Why doesn't he just come and stay with us?" Sirius said, sounding as though he were insulted that it hadn't been obvious. Remus nodded in agreement.
Dumbledore looked questioningly at James and took his broad smile as a positive response. He shifted his attention to the youngest occupant of the room, "Harry?"
Harry froze as they all turned to look at him. He glanced nervously at them in turn, trying quickly to assess his feelings on the subject. He had difficulty imagining living under the same roof as his long-dead father whose presence was completely foreign to him. Although, Harry told himself, thinking back to their conversation on the Quidditch pitch, it would be kind of nice to have him close by. "I guess," he said quietly. All three Marauders sighed inwardly, relieved.
"Very well," Dumbledore said, now speaking to Remus, "Is tonight too soon?"
"No, of course not! It's more than fine," he assured, eager to see just how James living with them all would play out.
"Then I believe that's all." The aged wizard stood before adding quickly, "Oh James, Madam Pomfrey would like to see you in a few days, would you mind coming back on Tuesday for a brief examination?" James responded with an inquiring look, seeming to be the tiniest bit alarmed; he had never been too fond of the infirmary. "She just wants to make sure you're one hundred percent healthy," said Dumbledore, appeasing James who nodded, reassured.
Glad to finally be reaching the end of a very trying and confusing day, the four tired males little more than staggered over to the fireplace and were swallowed one by one by the proverbial green flames.
Harry spun into the grate first followed by Sirius who quietly led his godson upstairs, knowing that James would feel disoriented enough in the new environment without also being overwhelmed by people.
James came through next and, not seeing his friend or son, waited. Arriving last, Remus placed his hand on James's shoulder and guided him to the kitchen, "C'mon, you can help me make a cup of tea."
Minutes later, James was seated at the wooden table with a steaming mug of tea between his pale hands, staring across at his friend's lined face. Remus had aged so much, he thought, and Sirius too. But unlike Remus (though he did have some light gray streaks mixed with his light brown hair now), Sirius had a somewhat haunted look to his once mischief-filled eyes. They had both, apparently, been through even harder times than before he had…died (the thought of actually being dead was still unsettling to him)…what had happened to them? What new horrors had they seen in his absence?
"I'm just guessing here, but I suppose you want what's been going on lately," Remus began, startling him out of his thoughts. He carried on without waiting for an answer. "You've been gone for fourteen years, I'm assuming you already knew that?" James nodded and gestured for him to continue. "Well, after you were…murdered…Voldemort was gone, too, so the Order just sort of disbanded; I ended up settling here, Sirius…well, Sirius did something completely stupid as usual but I'll let him tell you about it. You haven't really missed much of anything else besides Harry and…well, you know what happened to Harry."
James sighed quietly; yes, he knew what had happened to Harry. "Tell me about him, Moony," he begged. "He told me some things, but it seemed like he was holding stuff back. He seemed…I dunno, cagey." Remus nodded to himself; that was definitely understandable.
"What do you know about him?"
James, who had absorbed and committed to memory every detail he could about his teenage son, quickly recited everything he had learned so far. "I know he's Seeker for Gryffindor and has been since first year. He has two best friends, Ron and Hermione. Ron is Molly and Arthur's son; they have six sons and one girl now. Hermione's muggle-born. From the look of things, he's never very far from them. And apparently," James said, smiling slightly, "he has quite the soft spot for you and Sirius."
Remus couldn't help but nurture the warm feeling that sprung up in his chest at those words. But James's face fell and adopted a heartbroken look, "And I know he was abused by his own family…." he said quietly.
Remus reached across the table and rested his hand on James's forearm. "We'll get him through it, you know – you being here will make things a lot easier in the long run. And he's strong; he's the most amazing kid I've ever met. I think he should be the one to tell you his life story but what I can tell you is that he has a heart of gold. He puts everyone and everything he cares about ahead of himself; he'll do anything to protect Ron and Hermione." Remus smiled, "He's also defiant and stubborn as hell; if he doesn't like what you say, he finds his own way to get things done. Definitely a fighter. And," he continued as he rose from the table to take his cup to the sink, "he certainly makes enough use of the Marauders' Map and your Invisibility Cloak – trouble sticks to that boy like Spellotape."
James gave a toothy smile; his son sounded better than he'd ever imagined him to be, and that was saying quite a lot. Just then, Sirius traipsed into the kitchen, running a hand through his unkempt hair. "So what have I missed?" he said, sinking into the chair next to James who suddenly became grave.
"We were talking about Harry – but we need to talk about you. Where have you been?"
Sirius, caught by surprise that they had gotten to this subject so quickly, went with his first instinct: sarcasm. "Upstairs?"
James's expression didn't change. "You know what I mean, Padfoot. What happened to you?"
"It's a long story, James, can't we just talk about this tomorrow? I'm tired and I'm sure you are too." Sirius yawned and stretched for effect. James saw right through it.
"Sirius, I want to know," he said sternly, a tone not often heard from James Potter. "What happened after I died?"
"I – "
Remus started and dropped a dish into the sink; James and Sirius were on their feet in seconds, hearts racing. They all shared a fearful glance that last a split second before they pelted to the stairs, following Harry's frantic screams.
Jeez, another cliffhanger – I need to stop doing that. Oh well, it'll just make you guys want the next chapter even more! Great, isn't it? Okay, you can stop giving me evil looks now; I promise I'll be faster with this next update! And now, we charge bravely onto review responses….
Silver Dog Demon – I'm so glad you've been liking these conversations; when I re-read them before I post they always seem to go a little fast in my mind, but it's probably just the fact that I know what's coming up next. Thanks again for that 100th review!
lilyrose – I'm not sure if Lily will live again or not in my story. I don't think it's going to happen but stories usually have a way of taking themselves in an entirely different direction than you had intended, so we'll see!
Milye – Dumbledore didn't stop Harry from running away because 1) he wasn't really expecting it, 2) he knows Hogwarts is completely safe so he knows he can't run into anything particularly dangerous, and 3) I had to do it because I didn't want Harry to be in the same vicinity as his father for his and Sirius's conversation. (But you're right; Dumbledore definitely could've have stopped him if he really had wanted to.)
Stars Tears – I just wanted to say I love your reviews; they're the longest I get and I really enjoy the feedback I get from you!
abby – That would be awesome if someone made this into a movie of some form! But sadly, I don't own Harry Potter (how much does that suck?).
And here's a huge thanks to all the other people who took their time to review:
HarrySirius Fan, 2693, -X-Nefertiri-X-, animegurl088, Yasu Nozomi, poke-me-im-strange, Bookworm622, living-is-easy-with-eyes-closed, Marauder Madness, aerohead1980, moonypadfoot, willow-wiccan, ms.gringotts, beckyboo99, Timorth, Live2Sk8, and Nessa19.