Are You Coming?
"Mr Potter, our magazine sells over a million copies a year; we won't pay more than the offered price for you to publish it," Mr Tumble, an elderly wizard who was trying to convince James to publish his magazine for him. James happened to know that this magazine had once been published by Scott Bradley and it made James feel very smug that they were choosing him instead.
"This magazine will be very costly to print due to its style," James commented, leaning back on his chair as his sectary took notes for him.
The clock on the wall behind Mr Tumble and his partner said that it was ten thirty a.m. Harry's first Quidditch match began in thirty minutes, James thought sadly.
As everyone had expected, Harry had got onto the team without any trouble at all and was even crazier about the sport than he had been before. After eight weeks of training, the children's team had their first match against another team of a similar age. Lily had asked and Harry had begged for James to come and watch. James had found the idea of watching his son playing Quidditch very appealing until he'd realised he'd already arranged this meeting. He'd explained this to Lily who was furious that he wouldn't change it but not at all surprised.
James had seen very little of his son over the last few weeks, partly due to his workload but mostly due to the way Bradley was treating them. He seemed to believe that Lily wanted to rekindle their old relationship and didn't trust either of them to be anywhere near each other. James just couldn't believe that he was ordering Lily to stay away from James, after all Lily wasn't a disobedient child but a fully grown adult who could do whatever she wanted. James had gone to the school a couple of afternoons just so he could see his son, Lily had brought Harry to his house once but Scott had been so angry that she hadn't tried again.
"But you will get that back from the customers," the partner in midnight blue robes, who's name James had forgotten, said.
James wondered if Harry was nervous and tried to think back to his first Quidditch match at Hogwarts. He hadn't been nervous but then again James had been flying since he was five years old. He rapped his fingers against the polished wood table of his meeting room and almost felt nervous for his son.
James shook his head and tried to concentrate on the meeting. The men he was talking to thought he was disagreeing with them. Which he was anyway. "You will still get a percentage of the profit though," he said seriously. "So unless you want to change the percentage you receive, you'll have to up the price you will pay us to publish them."
James noted that the weather was perfect for playing Quidditch: dry and not too windy. He sighed and pulled out the fact and figures sheet on the magazine they were discussing.
Mr Tumble rubbed his nose and tapped his wand against the desk. James could see it leaving marks in the wood. He frowned and focused on the cloudless sky once again.
"And James Potter scores, Gryffindor lead by fifty points…"
James ran a tired hand through his hair, pushing the commentator's voice from the past out of his head. This was useless. He couldn't stay here and pay attention when his son was about to do something so important.
He stood abruptly. "Excuse me, gentlemen," he said politely. "I suggest you rediscuss your facts and then we will resume this meeting another day."
James started running as soon as he left to room. He sprinted down the hallway, making his staff stop to look at him curiously.
He was going to be late! He was going to miss the start of the match!
He couldn't be…
Harry needed him to be there!
His Dad was late, Harry thought as he searched the crowds for his father's messy dark hair. His Mum kissed his forehead and forced him to focus on her.
"He's late," Harry murmured under his breath.
"He'll be here," Lily said, looking anxious and like she didn't believe her words at all.
Harry sighed, picking up his broom.
"Good luck," Lily said, giving him a hug. "You'll be fine. Just concentrate on flying."
Harry nodded and watched her walk away. He felt quite nervous now that his Mum had left. He followed the rest of the team onto the pitch and continued to scan the crowds. He mounted his broom and watched the rest of the team lift off. He sighed, his dad wasn't coming.
He lifted off and flew slow circles around the pitch. He'd hoped that Quidditch was the one thing that might make James proud of him. He was wrong. James hadn't even shown up to watch. Perhaps he knew the match was going to be appalling and hadn't wanted to see his child make a fool of himself.
The whistle blew.
Harry turned to look at his mother and got the shock of his life. Lily was sat in between a bored looking Scott and… his father, who looked very excited. He gave a wide grin and shot off in search of the snitch.
The match went fantastically. Harry's team won by over one hundred points. Harry caught the snitch, earning the team one hundred and fifty points, leaving the other Seeker to scowl at him. No one was injured and everyone commented on Harry's superb flying skills.
James was grinning proudly as he came onto the pitch with Lily at the end of the match. He bent to Harry's height and ruffled his hair.
"That's my boy!" he exclaimed and placed Harry on his shoulders. Harry had never felt happier.
After the match, the elated team and their parents went to the Leaky Cauldron for food and to celebrate. Harry spent most of the evening with his father. He still couldn't believe his reaction. James spent most of the night cuddling him to him, as if he was afraid that he would never see Harry ever again. When Sirius and Remus appeared, he proudly told them how well Harry had done in the match and gave them a full description of what had happened.
It was getting quite late when Harry, full of food, discovered he couldn't see either of his parents anywhere. Scott was in a rather heated argument with a bearded man so Harry decided to leave him alone. Remus had gone home and Sirius was talking animatedly to a pretty blonde witch.
He peeked around the outside of the bar and saw his parents' figures illuminated by the bright street lights. They were standing close together and looked cold. Harry stood in the doorway and tried to listen to their conversation. Their voices were a low murmur and Harry strained to hear them, wondering what they could be talking about so intently.
Lily had to admit that it had been a brilliant day. She hadn't expected it to run so smoothly. After all, Harry hadn't been playing Quidditch too long and after James had said he was unavailable, she'd expected Harry to be torn apart. But Harry had played fantastically and James had shown care for his son that Lily had come to think would never come.
She turned to look at James, who was smiling gently back at her. Lily couldn't help but think how attractive that smile was, but then again she'd always thought that. After the day away from his work, James looked so much more carefree and less ragged, he even looked younger. It was as if his son had taken off the years he had put on due to stress.
It's been a brilliant day," James commented.
"Yes," Lily agreed, tucking some of her hair behind her hair. "I'm glad you came."
James turned his gaze away from her, slightly sheepishly. "I had to turn up after I promised Harry I'd be there," he said.
"But your deal-" Lily started.
"-is not important," James cut her off. "Harry is what's important now."
Lily gave a smile. "He is."
James gave a long sigh. "I can't believe how perfect he is… and that I couldn't see it before. He deserves the best father possible and I'm going to do everything I can to be that for him from now on."
Lily's smile widened even more. You know," she said, "I never expected you to be such a good father. When you first met in your office, I thought you'd never want anything to do with him. Well done, James, you've finally become the man you should be."
"Thanks, Lily," James replied, embarrassedly putting one arm around her.
Lily returned the hug. "I want you to be around, James, I really do. Harry needs to see his father… but you know what Scott's like. He'll never accept that we no longer have romantic feelings for one another."
"Perhaps we do," James said under his breath.
"Nothing," James said quietly. "But I'll always be here if you need me."
"I know you will," she said, tightening her arms around her. James rested his chin on top of her head, breathing in the scent of her hair.
"Get away from her, Potter!"
Lily raised her head to see Scott striding towards them, his eyes flashing. James removed his arms from her and turned to her boyfriend, his own hazel orbs furious.
"She isn't your property, Bradley," he snarled.
Scott threw the first punch but James' connected. Scott drew his wand.
"James! Scott! Please!" Lily exclaimed.
Scott turned to regard Lily, coldly. "Get the boy," he said, "we are leaving."
The last thing Lily saw as Scott dragged them out the pub was James staring at Scott's back, a murderous look on his face.