Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Title: Lessons in Love
Rating: R (Soft NC-17 later)
Warning: Slash! (boyXboy relationsip). If it isn't your thing, just go find yourself some nice het fic to read.
Summary: Facing his own inner demons, Harry doesn't realise how lonely his son is. When James Potter, his 16-year-old teenage son, goes back to Hogwarts for his sixth year of school, he meets a transfer student that might be just what he needs to open up to life. But what will Harry say when he finds out that his son is in love with another boy?Ch01
The trip to King's Cross was rather long and boring just like usual. James wished that it wasn't so. For once in his life, he wanted his father to put down the laptop and the tiny mobile phone, and talk to him like he actually cared for his own son. But the Great Harry Potter had no time for James, only for his business as a Quidditch tradesman.
Harry Potter, once hero of the world, was now deeply engaged with the Quidditch World. He owned many stores that supplied every possible Quidditch material: top of the line broomsticks, faster Golden Snitches, Bludgers, Quaffles and numerous uniforms. He even owned a Quidditch team in London. The Chudley Cannons was his latest acquisition. He was determined to bring them to the championship that year. James' father and his best friend, Ron Weasley, seemed to be thrilled by their new toy, and they were very busy buying new players for the team. The only one not jumping up and down about it was James.
It was quite ironic that the son of the youngest Seeker of the Century absolutely hated everything about Quidditch. It wasn't that hard to understand, though. If Harry had stopped to pay attention to James at least once he would have realised why his son didn't want anything to do with a sport he was so fond of. Quidditch was everything Harry thought about, everything he spoke and breathed. Quidditch seemed to be the only thing Harry loved.
James sighed heavily in his seat, and he stared at the buildings and people outside as the car drove through London's crowded streets. He ran his fingers through his dark red hair and checked out his watch. To his utter relief, he would get onto Platform Nine and Three-Quarters on time. He couldn't wait to leave London. Hogwarts seemed more like a real home to him than the mansion where he lived with Harry. Hogwarts still remained the same as when it was built. It was still a fairytale place. It was the only place James felt at ease.
"James? Are you listening?"
James turned to look at his father and found his stern green eyes were piercing through him. He hadn't noticed that Harry had stopped talking on the phone and had been trying to call his attention for quite some time.
"What?" James asked in a drawled voice, the one he knew his father hated, his green orbs trying hard to focus on Harry instead of wander somewhere else.
"I've talked to the captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team," Harry declared slightly annoyed by James' aloofness. "He said you can join the team anytime you want."
James felt outraged, but he held himself in check quite extraordinarily. It had taken years for him to develop such self-control over his emotions. He had seen Harry's irrational side before. He never wanted to see it again. No matter how much Harry irritated him, James could always keep himself together without freaking out. He would just listen, nod and put it behind him.
He had heard that Quidditch talk before. He could handle hearing it all over again without getting out of the car screaming.
"Jeremiah says he can't wait to have you on their team," Harry continued, alien to his son's true emotions about the subject. "They need a good Seeker. I've told him I've taught you everything I know about flying. I've assured him that you're as great as your old man. It's in our blood. You'll be great, too. Just give it a try. Stop being so shy and reserved. Being on the team will do you good."
'It is true. People only see what they want to see,' James thought, thinking about a song he liked. 'Father, I hate Quidditch. Can't you see how I loathe everything about it? Just leave me the hell alone! I wonder what he would say if I said what I really think of his wonderful sport. Come to think of it, I already know. He will yell at me, call me an ungrateful brat. Just the usual rubbish...'
"James!" Harry exclaimed, irritated by his son's lack of response. "What is wrong with you today? I'm talking to you!"
"Sorry. What did you say?" James asked absent-mindedly.
"I've asked you not to disappoint me this time. You know how much it means to me to have you on the team. Quidditch is my trade. Do you have any idea how weird it is to have a son who doesn't give a damn about what his father does for a living?"
James swallowed his anger to maintain the peace. He could make it. King's Cross was close now.
"James?" Harry's voice had a hint of irritation.
"I'll talk to Jeremiah as soon as I board the train," James answered to make his father lay off his back. But it was a lie. He wouldn't do a thing. He would barely say hi to Jeremiah. The sad thing was that he didn't care when he lied to Harry.
Harry smiled, but James didn't see love in his eyes, just satisfaction for having his orders followed.
"Great. You'll thank me later. Trust me."
Harry made a movement with his hand, and James froze in his seat wondering if Harry would touch him. Harry had barely touched him ever since he was born. Very rarely had Harry hugged him or kissed him. He had his moments of affection, but they had happened so scarcely that they were quickly being wiped away from James' memories.
Noticing his son's apprehension, Harry recoiled his hand and landed it on his lap. Then he sighed, almost dejectedly.
In that moment, James felt sorry for his father.
Hermione had once told him that Harry had been quite different from what he was today. His father had been a warm person, someone a friend could count on for everything. Once upon a time, Harry had smiled freely and sincerely. But that had changed after the war against Voldemort, and had gotten worse after Ginny's death. The Harry Potter from today seemed incapable of loving anyone.
James wished he knew the side of his father that only his childhood friends had met. But he couldn't imagine Harry being any different than the cold workaholic that he had become.
"Ah, we're finally here," said Harry, as if he was relieved to get rid of his son's presence. "Lionel, just park here. I won't be too long."
'Really, father, could you be more obvious? Anyone can tell you can't wait to be away from me. Bugger! Lionel is looking at me with that face again... I don't need people's pity.'
James began to feel nervous. He couldn't bear to be in the same environment as his father any longer. He needed to get out of the car, and fast. He opened up the door carelessly, and his heart almost came out his mouth when he saw a car progressing towards him at full speed ready to strike him and the door. He froze.
"JAMES!" his father shouted, desperate. His Seeker reflexes did the work for him. Harry pulled his son inside the car and shut the door just a second before the other car could hit them.
James trembled all over as he realised how close he had been to dying. He took another minute to notice how tightly Harry was holding him in his arms, and how quickly Harry's heart was beating. James closed his eyes to avoid his tears from falling. He wasn't a child anymore; he was a man. Men didn't cry in any circumstances. No matter how scared he was, he wouldn't shed a tear. But even though he was able to control his tears, he wasn't able to control his trembling body and unsteady heartbeat.
"Jesus!" Harry was beside himself. "Wake up! What's the matter with you?" he questioned his son. "You could have been killed!"
James knew that very well. He didn't want Harry to shout at him. He just wanted to be held. Why was it so hard for his father to be tender to him?
He escaped from Harry's arms clumsily, opened the door next to Harry and got out of the car, escaping to the sidewalk of the station. Then he looked at Lionel – who was extremely pale – and asked, as if nothing had happened, "Lionel, my trunk."
Lionel obeyed him immediately. While James tried hard to hold back the tears that kept stubbornly threatening to fall, Harry stood next to him. James could tell that his father was nervous. It was the first time he saw Harry without a clue of what to do or say.
"James..." Harry said softly, placing his hand on James' shoulder.
James ignored Harry's unskilful attempt to comfort him. Seeing Lionel adjust his trunk on the trolley, he pushed it into the station in haste.
"James!" Harry called. "Wait! I'll walk with you to the platform."
James stopped, looked behind him and said, as if he was a robot, "There's no need. I know you have a meeting. You can go now. Thank you for dropping me here, father."
Harry didn't seem very pleased with the arrangement. He walked towards James and pulled him into a hug.
"Are you ok?" Harry asked, touching his son's face slightly.
James noticed the passerbies watching them with curiosity. His lips quivered, and he bit them hard. He nodded his head to assure Harry that he was all right. He wasn't, but he didn't want to spend any more time there. Now he really felt like crying. James pulled away from his father's arms gently, said goodbye to him and dashed into the station. Before Harry could stop him, he vanished in the crowd.
Because he still had a few minutes before the train's departure, James stopped behind a big pillar, put the trolley in front of him like a barricade, and began to hyperventilate. A few tears escaped from the corner of his eyes. He wiped them out quickly. Then he took a deep breath and started to push the trolley in the direction of Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.
"Are you ok?" asked a woman gently, placing a hand on his shoulder.
James jumped as if the touch had burned him. He stared at the woman and met the gentle brown eyes of Hermione Weasley, his godmother.
He felt a strong need to hug her tightly. Hermione was like a mother to him. Whenever James was too upset with Harry, she was the one he turned to. She always knew exactly what to say to him to make him feel better.
"Hi, honey," she greeted with a warm smile. "You look awfully pale. Are you all right?"
"Yes, I am," he lied. "Where are Max and the others?"
Max was his best friend, and Hermione and Ron's son. After him there was Eliza, a 12 year-old girl that had a huge crush on James. There was also another baby on the way, but it didn't show yet.
"He's already in the train helping Eliza with her enormous luggage," she informed with a wink. "I decided to wait for you here because I didn't see you anywhere near the train. Where's Harry?" she asked.
James looked at everywhere but her when he answered, "He had an important meeting to attend to. But he dropped me here."
Hermione scowled. She seemed very displeased with the news.
"One day I'll spank Harry, I swear to God!" she said with her brows arched in anger.
"I don't mind really. I'd rather come alone," James said hastily, as if excusing his father. He didn't know why he had done that. He wanted to curse Harry, not defend him.
But he figured he was too old to behave like an eight-year-old desperate for his father's affection. He didn't like to give the idea that he was weak and lonely. He was almost an adult. He could handle his own problems.
"That's the point. You don't mind and that worries me. A lot," she sighed. "Well, let's go or you'll miss the train! Max and the twins are already waiting for you! They missed you a lot this summer. Max was devastated when you turned down his invitation to spend some time with us."
"Sorry," he answered as they crossed the barrier. And that was all he said. He had spent summer in his house doing absolutely nothing. He had considered the idea of spending some time with the Weasleys, but when he had thought of little Eliza bugging him 24/7, he instantly declined the invitation.
"Well, you ought to spend Christmas with us. All the Weasleys will be reunited. It'll be a big and loud party!"
He smiled at the thought. Christmas with the Weasleys was always fun.
He met Ron and Mia – George's wife – next to one of the entrances of the train. Ron ruffled his hair in welcome and asked for Harry. When he answered about the meeting, Ron made a face.
"I know about the meeting. I'm supposed to be there as well. But my kids are more important. Harry needs to have his arse kicked... He spends too much time on work."
James appreciated their concern, but every time they said that, it only made things worse for him. It became clearer that his father didn't care for him at all.
"George hasn't come either," Mia pointed out to make James feel better.
"Yes, but you're here," Ron stated as clueless as usual.
At this point James just wanted the adults around him to shut up, and he was very thankful for the tempestuous arrival of the Weasley twins. The 15 year-old red-haired girls embraced him one at a time and kissed him soundly on the cheeks. James smiled at them.
"You look thinner," said Vanessa, motherly, "and your eyes are a little red..."
"But you're still so cute!" exclaimed Vivian, taking him by the hand and dragging him to the train. "Come, come. We're almost leaving."
"If you hadn't showed up, we'd have to think of a way to stop the train!" said Vanessa taking his other hand.
"Girls! Let him breathe!" their mother, Mia, said.
The girls rolled their eyes and said in unison, "James is more than used to being dragged around by us. Right, James?"
"I guess," James answered.
Mia shook her head. "Anyway, behave girls! I don't want to receive notes from Professor McGonagall every week like last year! Do you hear me?"
"Don't worry, Mum! We'll try to make the notes drop to once every month!" shouted Vanessa, the sassier one, waving at them before boarding the train.
"Once a month? You're asking too much of me, Vanessa!" complained Vivian, boarding the train after her sister.
Mia sighed. "What do I do with these girls?"
Hermione patted her back. "They'll grow up."
"When exactly? It's all George's fault, you know? He spoils them too much!"
The train whistled. James quickly said goodbye to all of them and got on board. The twins were waiting to show him their compartment. They led him through the masses of students who were still greeting each other in the corridor before settling down. He waved at some of his roommates and friends. Finally, he settled his things in one of the last compartments of the train where Max greeted him with a warm smile. James shook his friends' hand and almost sighed in relief for Eliza's absence.
"She's with her friends," Max informed, adjusting his glasses. "I convinced her to stay there."
Max was very sympathetic to him when the subject was Eliza and her unhealthy crush on James. He knew his sister got way out of line when it came to James, and that her insistence in pursuing his best friend's heart was interfering with their friendship.
James smiled as he took a seat next to Max. "Thank you."
"I can't promise you she won't jump on you as soon as we reach Hogwarts."
"That's all right. I can handle her at Hogwarts. But right now I'm just... exhausted," James said, leaning his head against his seat and closing his eyes.
Max sighed. "It's your father again, isn't it? He asked you to join the Gryffindor team, didn't he?"
James opened his eyes and saw Max staring straight at him with his piercing dark blue eyes.
"Yes, it is my father. But I don't want to talk about it."
"You never do," pointed out Max with a saddened expression. "This isn't good for you, you know? You need to talk to someone. If you can't talk to your best friend about it, then you should get professional help."
"Max, it isn't like that!" denied James quickly. "It's just... What's the point anyway? Nothing will ever change."
"Of course it will! When are you going to stand up to him? You need to vent your true feelings! He needs to know how despicable he is! It isn't good to bottle up your emotions! Eventually they will destroy you! You didn't even want to spend summer with me! I bet you spent the whole summer being depressed."
"Have you been reading psychology books?" James asked, amused but also touched by his friend's concern.
Max just shrugged. "Well, somebody has to. You won't fall apart. Not if I can help it!"
"I'm fine, Max. But thanks," James smiled, happy that he was among people who truly loved him again. "I missed you."
Max blushed slightly. "I missed you, too. You should have accepted my invitation this summer. I'd have kept Eliza away from you."
"I'm sorry. I do promise to spend Christmas with you, though."
"I'd kill you if you weren't!"
James smiled broadly. It was the first genuine smile adorning his lips ever since he had left Hogwarts at the beginning of summer.
"If you ever feel like talking, James, you know I'm here for you, right?"
James nodded. Of course he knew. Max was the perfect best friend. He knew he could count on his help any time. James appreciated Maxwell's concern for him a lot, but he didn't want to think about Harry anymore. It hurt too much, and he had done that plenty of times while in the mansion. Right now he just wanted to engage himself in trivial conversation.
He ruffled Maxwell's curly brown hair and teased, "So, have you exchanged letters with Mandy?"
Mandy was Professor Neville's daughter. She was a Gryffindor and in the same year. She had sandy hair and gentle caramel eyes. Her kindness was known throughout the whole school. Her personality was very similar to Max's. It came as no surprise when his friend confessed to James that he was in love with her.
Max reddened all over. "No. Well, a little. She sent me a letter from Greece. She also told me she met someone there..." he said gloomily.
James' smile faded. "Oh. That's..."
He didn't know what to say. He had never been very good at comforting people.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"Yes. But that's all right. What reason would she have for falling for someone like me?"
"What are you talking about?" James couldn't believe his ears. "You're perfect!"
Max raised an eyebrow. "I am? How so?"
"Well, you're top of our year. You're intelligent, handsome... You have a big heart. You..."
Max made a face. "Girls like muscles, not brains."
But what did James know? He had never fallen in love. He didn't know the first thing about girls. He had never really paid attention to them. They annoyed him most of the time. The only girls he liked were the Weasley twins, but not in a sexual way. They were more like sisters to him.
Seeing his friends all excited about girls the previous semester had made him a little uncomfortable. While everybody seemed to have a type in mind, he on the other hand couldn't find any of them attractive. He was beginning to think that there was something wrong with him. But he avoided thinking about those things. He had too much on his mind already.
"I don't care anyway. There are plenty of interesting girls at school," Max said, but James could tell that he was bothered by his fiasco with Mandy. "Right?"
"Yes, sure," James answered.
Max stared at him thoughtfully. "Do you like anyone, James?"
James felt his face getting hot. "Not really. I mean, the girls are all right. I just... like them all in general."
If Max thought his answer was strange, he didn't say. But there was something in Max's eyes that was making James uneasy.
They were interrupted by the arrival of the Weasley twins. Once again, James felt grateful to them. They had saved him from another embarrassing moment. Next time James would be more prepared. He would have a girl's name on the tip of his tongue.
"Boys, I've got news for you," announced Vanessa, sitting in front of them and crossing her legs elegantly.
"Max, it seems that Mandy is still single," said Vivian. Vanessa shot her a cross-look. She wanted to give the news herself.
Vivian just shrugged. "What? I couldn't bear to see our cousin suffering any longer. Your love for suspense would have given him a heart attack!"
While Vanessa made a face, Max exclaimed, "I wasn't suffering!"
"Yeah, right!" the twins said in unison.
Max tried to protest, but they didn't let him.
"It seems that her Greek God turned into a pumpkin long before midnight. So now it's your chance, Max," said Vanessa. "She needs comfort! She'll date anyone just to mend her broken heart!"
"What? Who do you think I am? I want her to date me because she likes me, not because she's desperate for comfort!"
Vivian rolled her eyes. "She likes you. She just needs to be reminded of that. And if I were you, I would rush to ask her out before somebody else does."
Max bit his lower lip, upset. James patted his back.
"Oh, James, darling, we won't let you off the hook that easily!" said Vanessa with an evil grin. James almost shuddered. "We'll find someone just right for you. You wait."
James felt chills down his spine. He didn't want them to find him someone, but he knew it was useless to try to convince them otherwise.
"I think James needs someone new," said Vivian. "The girls in our school aren't worthy of him."
"Oh! And guess what? Hogwarts will receive a transfer student this year!" Vanessa exclaimed excitedly.
"Who?" James asked.
"We don't know... All we know is that it is a boy our age, and he comes from Beauxbatons," informed Vivian. "And we hope he's hot."
"Rumours are that he's great at Quidditch."
James made a face. Another Quidditch fanatic. He hoped the boy wouldn't be placed in Gryffindor.
"Why is he transferring now?" James asked.
Vivian shrugged. "I have no idea."
"I think he was a troublemaker in Beauxbatons," said Vanessa. The spark in her eyes told James exactly what she thought of that. She wanted the news to be true. "And the girls were all fighting to be with him."
"I hope he's part-Veela," said Vivian dreamily.
"I hope he likes to wander through the Dark Forest at night," dreamed Vanessa.
James and Max smiled at each other.
"I just hope he isn't a bastard," said Max. "We don't need another bully. We already have Travis, from Slytherin…"
James agreed. Although the animosity among the Houses had lessened over the years, there were still some students who tried to keep the spirit of hostility alive. Travis was one of them. He particularly liked to bully James just because he was Harry Potter's son.
While his friends kept chatting about the upcoming school year, James let his mind drift to Harry against his will. He wondered if his relationship with his father would ever change. Then he sent those thoughts away. He wouldn't let Harry ruin his semester. He would make sure to enjoy himself that year.
Who knows? Perhaps he could even fall in love. He would try keeping his heart open. He closed his eyes and wondered what would be like to be in love with someone. If his father was any indication, falling in love only brought pain and a frozen heart.
Because he was emotionally tired, he dozed off. He didn't hear Vanessa, Vivian and Max talking about him. If he had, he would have learned that his friends were very worried about him, and that Vanessa was already plotting a blind date with a Ravenclaw student.
A/N: Hello! It's been a while since my last fic (Love me, Love me not). Lessons in Love already have 20 chapters, but I'm in need of a beta reader. If you know English well and have some time to spare, please let me know! This will be Harry and Draco eventually, but the first part is mainly focusedon Harry's son, James Potter. The story will be long... I think it will be as long as Love me, Love me not... I hope you enjoy it. I believe this is my best piece so far.Please, review!