The Return of the Father
Fathers and Best Friends
This is a side story to The Return of the Father. So, if you haven't read Return, I suggest you do so before reading this.
Since I'm pretty notorious for adding detail and setting things at a slow pace, there have been some conversations or POVs that I had wanted to put in, but figured you'd all hang me for adding and slowing the story down even more. This was one of them, so as a cookie for the story, I decided to post this up.
Story Title: Fathers and Best Friends
Summary: What happened in James and Ron's talk in the Common Room during their first meeting.
From: Chapter Seventeen: Meetings
The italics part of this chapter is something you can skip, as it was the original part in The Return of the Father.
Though the chapter in Return doesn't feature it, this takes place entirely in James's POV.
------------------------------Gryffindor Common Room
Ron stumbled down the stairs of the Gryffindor Tower rubbing his eyes. He was still half asleep, and that was more than obvious. He was actually pretty lucky that he didn't trip and fall.
He'd bypassed Harry's bed in favor of getting to the Great Hall for something to eat. The morning before he had been told by a house elf that the Great Hall would still serve food, so breakfast, lunch and dinner hadn't been a problem at all yesterday. He was actually watering at the mouth at the thought of a nice cinnamon roll.
"Ahh!" Ron yelped loudly, jumping up in the hair. "Harry! Don't do that, I thought you were upstairs." He practically shouted, hand over his heart. It was very cruel to scare someone like that when they were half asleep.
'Harry' laughed a bit. "I'm not Harry, but keep yelling like that and he'll be down here in a second." He advised with another chuckle.
Ron frowned at the statement. Harry was clearly more tired than he was. Stepping closer, Ron took a good look at him. And his eyebrows rose to his hairline. Harry's eyes were no longer green, but hazel. His mouth dropped open when he realized that he hadn't been scared by Harry, but Harry's recently returned from the dead father. "Mr. Potter! I'm really sorry, I didn't think you were you!"
The man – James Potter – laughed again. "Well, that was clear. I am sorry for scaring you though. I didn't mean it…okay…well, yes, I did." He admitted. If possible, Ron's eyebrows went higher. "But I'm still sorry."
Ron looked like a deer caught in headlights. He'd pretty much counted on Harry's presence to smooth this meeting along when it did happen. But now he was kind of flying blind. "Um…" he started.
But James decided to put the kid out of his misery. "You're Ron Weasley, right? Harry's best friend."
Common ground. Harry might not be there, but his presence in the conversation would help. At least, that was what Ron was hoping for. "Yeah, I am. Since we met on the train in first year."
James grinned. "Well, I don't believe we've been properly introduced." He said, jumping over the side of the couch and walking up to Ron. "James Potter." He said, extending his hand.
After only a second of hesitation Ron grabbed his hand and shook it. "Wow, never thought I'd be meeting you, Mr. Potter."
"What's all this Mr. Potter crap?" James asked, quite seriously. "Call me James."
"Okay, James." Ron said agreeably. Had he not been calling Remus and Sirius by their first names all summer, he probably would have protested. "What are you doing down here?"
Their hands broke apart and James gestured to the couch. "Didn't want to sleep in the Hospital Wing anymore."
Ron grinned widely, "So that's where Harry gets it." He said nodding with a knowing tone of voice. He blinked a few times, trying to wake himself up a bit more. He was pretty used to loud noises waking him up, which meant that James's scare hadn't really done the whole job.
"Gets what?" James asked eagerly. Most people were sidestepping the Harry issue with him, waiting for Harry to tell him what he wanted to be known. Ron might be another story.
"His dislike of the Hospital Wing. 'Mione and I practically have to drag him." Ron explained. He could see the look in James's eye and decided to indulge him a bit. But once they got to the Dursley department, he'd be claming up.
James's eyes narrowed. "Why does he spent do much time down there?" he asked suspiciously.
"Quidditch, duels with Malfoy, the usual." Ron lied easily. He had been expecting something like that, and had prepared for it. Besides, it wasn't a total lie.
The elder Potter seemed to buy it. When, in reality, he was just leaving it be until a later date. "Sirius told me that Harry plays quidditch. Apparently he's amazing." James prompted.
Ron smiled, "Yeah, he's brilliant on a broom. Got on the house team in his first year."
It was James's turn to have his eyebrows head north. "First year? How do you even do that? Is McGonagall not here any more or something?"
Realizing that this would be quite the conversation, Ron sat down in his customary chair by the first. James hopped back over the couch and settled himself down. Very much like Harry had the night before, causing Ron to suppress a grin. "Yeah, she's still here, and as strict as ever. Luckily, Gryffindor had lost to Slytherin for the last bunch of years, since my brother Charlie had left – he was seeker too."
"Ahhh, her ever-present need to beat the Slytherin's is still in place. I got out of more detentions with her than you'd ever believe if they conflicted with Quidditch." James briefly reminisced. Ron decided straight away that he liked Harry's dad. "Okay, continue."
So Ron did as he was asked. "We were in the middle of our first quidditch lesson. I don't think too many of us had ever really been on a broom before. Well, except Malfoy." He must have seen the look on James's face since he clarified further, "Lucius Malfoy's son."
James knew Lucius Malfoy, and hadn't worn the expression on his face for that reason. It had been fairly simple to guess who this kid was. Lucius had married Narcissa Black, Sirius' cousin, a few months before he and Lily had married. He hadn't really thought that Narcissa was fond of Lucius all through school, but then again, she wasn't known for being a very expressive or warm person. Sirius often referred to her as an 'Ice Queen' – though often he substituted the 'Queen' for something less flattering. Later, Sirius had found out through some source that his cousin had given birth to a boy only a month or so before Lily'd had Harry.
They hadn't paid much attention to it then, being that they had their own bundle of joy to anticipate, but it appeared that he should have. Judging from the look on Ron's face, this wasn't the last run in with Lucius and Narcissa's spawn. "Yeah, I knew Lucy." He said slowly, mind still working through what little Ron had said.
Aside from the Malfoy name, what he was so worried about was the fact that Harry hadn't ridden a broom before first year. What did that mean? He decided to ignore it for now, just like he did for all of the other disturbing information he was gathering.
Besides, he was overreacting, he was sure of it. Ron was a Weasley, a pureblood family just like Sirius's. Top of that, the Weasley family had always been known for either being on a Hogwarts team or something of the like. Ron, though, had said that he 'didn't think too many of us had ever really been on a broom before.' So that implied that he hadn't been on one either. Maybe that meant that people frowned upon young children flying often before Hogwarts and someone had gotten to Sirius.
That wasn't right though, Sirius had been in Azkaban, and it couldn't have been him who raised Harry. Though they hadn't said it, it seemed unlikely that Remus had been the one, but he clung to that hope. Remus, James thought, wrapping his mind around the idea and holding on firmly. Remus would have known that it was dangerous for Harry to fly on his own and being the overprotective almost-godfather he was, had decided that Harry would spend most of his childhood on the ground.
He steadfastly ignored that little voice in his head whispering about how Remus knew how important flying was to James and would have acquainted Harry with it, no matter what anyone had said about the danger. He pushed that all from his head, and focused on now.
Beside James, Ron laughed at the nickname. "Lucy, I like that." He mumbled under his breath. Then he spoke up so James wouldn't have to strain to hear him. "But anyway, we were supposed to call the brooms up. Most of the first years couldn't, but Harry got his up the first try. So, once we had the brooms in our hands, Madame Hooch did that normal mount, hover and land speech. She hadn't even shut her mouth before Neville Longbottom shot up and couldn't land."
Cutting in, James' eyes widened at the name. "Longbottom? Neville Longbottom? I remember that kid from when he was a baby. He's Frank and Alice's son." Just how many names were going to be familiar to him through this story? Would he be able to identify half of Harry's year-mates? It made him feel old, and it was a feeling he didn't like.
"Yeah, he's their son. He's kind of a walking disaster, especially in potions," Ron said, shuddering as though remembering some particularly spectacular explosion in class. He didn't seem to notice how confused James looked at what he was saying. "But he's a nice guy."
"Walking disaster? Frank's son?" James asked, more than a little surprised. Frank Longbottom had always been good at his job as an auror. He had just the type of cool personality that was needed in hectic situations. He was, of course, the complete opposite of team Potter/Black, but they'd still liked him.
Ron ignored the question, making James wonder what the boy had done it for. Frank and Alice were very involved in the fight against Voldemort. After all, their son had fit the prophecy just the same as Harry, with parents who had defied Voldemort three times. James was curious as to what their son was like, and listened intently to Ron, "We were all watching while Neville flies around the whole castle almost. He ended up falling straight off. Broke his arm and everything. Madame Hooch left us to take Neville up to Madame Pomfrey. She practically threatened us with death if we took our feet off the ground."
"Not surprising. She's always been a stickler for rules." James said. Madame Hooch had taken over the flying teacher position sometime during the middle of his Hogwarts years. She was nice, dedicated to the game, and always ready for a debate over which make of broom was the fastest or steadiest, but she was not what one could call 'flexible'.
"So Mafloy, being the overgrown slug that he is," Ron continued.
The complete scorn in which the slander had been spoken made James laugh, "Found your Snivellus, eh?"
Smiling, Ron nodded. The fact that he didn't need an explanation made James feel better and he was able to push those worries from before from his mind. If Sirius or Remus hadn't raised Harry, then who would have told Ron about the nickname they'd given Severus Snape within their first few months at Hogwarts?
Ron played elusive, hedging a bit as he said, "You could say that. Anyway, Malfoy being the daddy-loving prick he is, decided that he would grab Neville's remembrall."
"Neville's really forgetful or something?" James asked, scrunching up his face a bit. "Remembralls are no good unless it's during exams, and then you can't use them." Actually, he thought they were a pretty embarrassing device to have in your possession. You had to be staggeringly forgetful to merit the need for one.
Ron shrugged, "Neville could use one, 'cept he always forgets what he's forgotten."
James gave a short laugh that sounded much like Sirius' trademark bark, "So the thing is dreadfully useful then, huh?"
"Pretty much. Still though, his Gran gave it to him." Ron explained. "Malfoy was being a git. Harry told him to give it back, but he just grabbed those crappy school brooms and took off. So Harry did the same."
Smiling widely, James felt a touch of pride well up inside of him. "That's my son, breaking rules in the first few months." After a second, though, he felt something different build inside.
His thoughts turned to his son's mother, as they so often did when he found out new things about Harry. He asked himself the same question each time: How would Lily have taken this? She had stridently maintained that her son wouldn't be half the rule-breaker that his father had been. She had been so much more the parent than he had been.
"James, um, sir?"
James looked back up to Ron, who was looking at him worriedly. Mentally, he scolded himself. He was already strange enough to his son's best friend, with the whole back from the dead thing behind him, he didn't need to make the kid even more apprehensive by falling off into memories of Lily. "Sorry," he apologized shortly, not willing to explain the source of his thoughts, lest he get another of those pitying looks that Remus, Albus and Sirius were fond of throwing him when Lily was brought up. "So, Harry started flying after the Malfoy kid…"
Ron still had a bit of a frown on his face, but he did as he was told and picked up the narration. "I don't know what they said up there, since they were pretty high. The gist was Malfoy threatening to just toss it and Harry telling him to give it back."
"Malfoy tossed it, then?" James said, knowing he was right. Bullies like that were all the same, no matter how wonderful they thought they were. James still didn't know much about the boy though, so it was a bit hard to judge. On the one had, he could see any child of Lucius' being able to back up his talk. The flip was that he could also see any child of Narcissa's being a spoiled little thing who was just talk and nothing more. Either way, a bully was a bully and he'd dealt with Lucius enough to be able to guess how his son might be.
"Exactly." Ron said, proving him right. "Chucked it right out in the air and sped back down the ground like a coward."
"And Harry?" He asked, trying very hard not to sound eager.
Ron smiled, as though his best friend's actions were still something to be praised three years after the fact. "He went after it." The redhead said, "He did this dive, it was just…wicked. He caught the remembrall, no problem at all."
"Ha! That's my boy!" James whooped, "Remembralls are about the size of snitches, don't you know. Hooch must have seen him catch it on his first time out and knew he'd be perfect for the team."
Shaking his head, Ron leaned forward towards him. "McGonagall saw him." He said, sounding as though he was a gossiping girl. Of course, quidditch was as close as a boy ever got to gossip. The Slytherins are practicing what formation? Did you hear, the Ravenclaw team is booking the pitch twice as much this week? Hey, have you seen the new Hufflepuff seeker?
His eyes were bugging out of his head, he just knew it. "McGonagall?" he said, his voice sounding squeaky. The story turned out all right, he knew that, but the dramatic twist still dragged him into it as though all of this had only happened the day before and the outcome was still uncertain.
"McGonagall." Ron confirmed. "I thought she was going to skin him alive, she looked so mad. Her voice was all tight and everything. Harry'd gone pale, like he just knew that he was going to be expelled on the spot."
James grinned, he knew the feeling. There had been a few times there, after some truly amazing pranks, that he'd been so sure that he would be sent packing. He remembered vividly standing outside the Headmaster's office with Remus, Sirius and Peter, each of them moaning over what they would do if they were expelled. Each time though, they'd managed to squeak through with months of detention and masses of taken points. Harry must have the same knack. "Obviously she didn't take him to Dumbledore."
"She didn't. She took him to see the Gryffindor Quidditch captain, Oliver Wood. Wood made him seeker right there on the spot, Harry said." Ron finished. He seemed to be looking at James expectantly, as though a happy dance was to be done.
He managed to restrain himself – barely – from the urge. "There's nothing like the feeling of getting away with massive rule breaking."
Ron laughed, looking as though he knew the feeling intimately. "I know. Part disbelief and part something smug."
"Exactly." James agreed, trying to sound causal. How much more could he work out of Ron? "You've done something horrible, you know, and you got caught, but still, Dumbledore just kind of lets it slide."
"McGonagall doesn't though, does she?" Ron said, sounding bitter to James's ear. Had there been some harsh punishments from the Gryffindor Head of House in Ron and Harry's past?
"Hardly ever." He agreed, "Her mouth just goes all thin, and she glares at you as though she wants to kill you right there on the spot."
Ron laughed, "You can tell how mad she is just by how thin her lips go. And when they disappear altogether, you're dead!"
"Happened to me and Padfoot five times." James said, puffing his chest proudly. That wasn't an act to get Ron to talk, it was all pride. Few men had lived to tell the tale if her lips pursed themselves into invisibility, and he'd managed it five whole times.
The younger boy's eyebrows completely disappeared into his hairline at that. "Wow, that only happened to Harry and I once." He said, sounding faint.
"What'd you do?" James asked, issuing it out as a bit of a challenge.
Ron seemed willing to share, though James could hardly believe what came out of his mouth. "We drove a flying car to school in second year." Ron said, sounding like he was forcing an offhanded nature.
James's mouth dropped open, and he didn't even have the will to hide it. "You what?"
"We drove a flying car to school in second year." Ron repeated dutifully. He seemed to be enjoying James' reaction far more than what was allowed.
"How in bloody hell did you manage that?" James incredulously asked. A flying car? How did someone even get their hands on one of those? More importantly, how did a set of twelve year olds get their hands on one of those?
Ron smirked so widely that James worried for his freckled face. "My dad charmed it. He works at the Ministry, you know, Misuse of Muggle Artifacts. He loves muggles, collects all sorts of things of theirs and takes them apart."
"Isn't he sort of breaking his own laws then," James broke in, "If he charms muggle things?"
Shrugging, Ron seemed to brush that technicality aside. "Yeah, he kind of is. But he can't arrest himself, can he?"
The boy had a point, but still. "I guess."
"We needed something big enough to get us all to Hogwarts." Ron explained, looking not at all put out that he had basically been doing nothing but explaining since they'd sat down on the couch. He stopped, seemed to decide something, then continued on. "Harry and I decided to um, borrow it, since we missed the train."
James had the feeling that something had been left out there, the shift in time was too abrupt to just flow, but he was getting used to these types of things. Remus, Sirius and Harry were getting aggravating with they way they always seemed to be leaving things out and twisting stories so that they complied with what he knew and let out nothing else.
For Ron to do the same couldn't just be intuitiveness, most likely Harry had warned him. That didn't sit well, what was so big that everyone around him was being told to keep the details away from him?
His son's best friend, however, wasn't the right person to pump for information. It was Harry's life that was being hidden, and it would have to be Harry who told James about it. No matter how desperate for information he was, he would respect that.
"You borrowed a flying car?" James asked, as he tried to hold himself back. His recent revelation that Harry had instructed Ron not to tell him too much wasn't sitting well with him.
"And flew it." Ron added, smiling a little too brightly as though he could read James's thoughts. Then again, after four years of friendship with Harry, he was probably good at reading his face. James's being so much like his son's might be an issue there. "Pretty well, too. We made it to Hogwarts, but then we crashed into the Whomping Willow." He said, grimacing. This didn't look half as forced as the smile.
James winced. He knew all about how vicious the tree could be. "Ouch." He said, reaching over to sympathetically pat Ron's arm.
"That tree's a menace, I tell you!" Ron said, playing it up. "It nearly killed us."
"That's horrible luck," James agreed, "Crashing into a tree like that."
"It broke my wand!" Ron exclaimed. He brandished the wand in his hand, but this one had to a the new one, because it didn't look very worse for the wear. "If we hadn't of reversed the thing, we'd have died." He continued, sounding truly indignant. Suddenly, he grinned, "Wouldn't that have been a dumb way to go? Bloke gets killed in a tree! It sounds like something Trelawney would predict."
James's eyes widened. Trelawney? "That old bat is still teaching?"
"You had her too?" Ron asked.
Making a face, James recalled some of her more dire classes. "She always predicted that I would die."
"She does the same to Harry!" Ron crowed. "Do you think she's got something against Potters?"
Laughing, James considered it. "Maybe. I don't think I did anything to her before third year. I mean, we didn't even know she was there."
"You pranked her after though?" Ron eagerly asked. "Oh, tell me you did."
Proudly, James nodded. "A few times." He admitted. "The best was when we charmed all her crystal balls to show scenes of puppies or quidditch or hearts flying or some other thing."
Ron started laughing, cracking up at the thought. "That's brilliant, you know."
They both practically erupted, laughing so loud the Fat Lady could probably hear them outside.
Harry walked down the stairs a great deal more with it than Ron had earlier. He heard the laughter coming down from the Common Room and decided to investigate. The laughter became louder with each step he took, until he finally made his way into the common room.
I hope you all enjoyed that little tidbit. If there's any other conversation that happened off-screen (so to speak) that you'd like to see written out, then let me know and I'll keep it in mind.
PLEASE READ: After the original chapter was written, it was found out that Trelawney got her job a little after Harry was born. For my story, I said that she had it much longer, and that the Marauders had her in school. Please accept this as an AU element.
This was posted as a little celebration for the two year anniversary of The Return of the Father, so I hope you liked it. Please, tell me what you think!