What a Difference a Father Makes: The Reluctant Champion
Chapter One: No One Camps Like a Wizard
Harry Potter normally didn't mind waking up early, there was just too much to do in the day to waste it in bed. He'd normally be awake by six and ready for his day by seven.
Four in the morning though? That was pushing it.
So he didn't think he could be blamed when he banished his pillow at the blurry image of his godfather when Sirius came to wake him and Neville up.
'Ooof,' Sirius said. 'Now that wasn't very mature Harr-oof! Harry!'
'Go away Sirius,' Harry said, rolling over to face away from the heinous light that poured in through the open door.
'What Harry said,' Neville said. 'S'too early.'
Sirius crossed his arms and harrumphed. 'You two are worse than Remus. We're going to the World Cup today. Why aren't you lot more excited?'
Harry turned over and glowered. 'We don't have to be awake until six. Now go away or I'll launch something heavier than a pillow at you.'
Sirius groaned and slammed the door in a huff.
The two teens managed to wait thirty seconds before bursting into laughter.
Neville turned the gas lamp next to his camp bed on and sat up.
'That was one hell of a shot Harry,' Neville said. 'Especially as you were firing blind. How'd you manage that?'
Harry chortled and grabbed his glasses off his bedside table.
'Practice and not a small amount of luck Nev.' Harry sat up in his bed and rubbed at his eyes before promptly putting on his glasses and standing up.
'Still, we're awake.' Harry grinned. 'May as well get up.'
Neville stood from his camp bed, arching his back when he reached his full height.
'Yeah. I am kind of excited.' Neville flashed him a grin. 'Not as excited as Sirius though. You'd think a grown man would be a bit more mature wouldn't you?'
The two swapped muted conversation as they changed, like they had when they were little.
Harry cracked his neck and stretched his arms out behind him, his t-shirt stretching across his chest.
'Shall we go put Sirius out of his misery?' Neville asked. 'I bet he hasn't managed to get Remus up either.'
'Probably not.' Harry stifled a yawn. 'I hope he hasn't bothered Hermione though, she's too polite to throw something at him.'
'Don't be so sure Harry, she threw that book at you pretty hard when you wouldn't leave Sue Li alone.' Neville winked.
'I have a thing for Asian girls,' Harry said. He smirked. 'So sue me.'
Neville fixed him with a withering look as he opened the door and motioned for Harry to walk through.
'That was terrible Harry.'
Harry and Neville walked into the expansive Potter kitchen, making a point to yawn loudly and glare at Sirius.
Sirius, instead of reacting, laughed heartily as Dobby the house-elf greeted Harry in his usual way … by colliding with Harry's stomach.
'Mr Harry Potter sir is awake! Good morning sir! Let Dobby make yous and yous Longbottoms some breakfast!'
'Mornin' Dobby,' Harry said breathlessly. 'Thanks.'
Dobby's bat-like ears flapped merrily as he rushed to the stove, darting around Sirius as the man made his way over to the kitchen table, a cup of tea in his hand. He sat down opposite Harry, who still clutched his stomach, with a doggy smile.
'You wait 'til he does that after you've been out drinking all night kiddo. Then you'll know nausea,' Sirius teased.
Harry groaned as Neville set about pouring himself a glass of orange juice from the pitcher Dobby had set down in front of them.
'Bet you wish you hadn't tricked Malfoy into freeing him now eh?'
Harry said nothing. Despite his over-exuberant greetings, Dobby was a great elf. He supposed he shouldn't have asked the firecracker of an elf if he wanted to work for the Potters but he hadn't been able to resist the last dig at Malfoy.
The bastard had tried to discredit Dumbledore and had nearly gotten Ginny Weasley killed by planting Voldemort's old diary on her in Harry's second year. The blond pureblood's actions had led to the re-opening of The Chamber of Secrets and, through magic that Harry still didn't fully understand, left a little girl susceptible to the most powerful Dark wizard in a century.
So he felt the least he could do was twist the knife just a little bit, especially if Lucius Malfoy was going to walk away scot free. It'd also been brilliant to watch Dobby throw a grown man down a corridor with elf magic. That was still one of the funniest things he'd ever seen. And he lived with three of the Marauders.
'Oh I don't know about that,' Harry said, as Dobby slid a plate of bacon and eggs in front of him and then Neville. 'Thanks Dobby.'
'Yous is most welcomes Mr Harry Potter sir.'
Sirius shook his head at the house-elf and drank his tea.
'So where's Remus?' Neville asked through mouthfuls of breakfast. 'Still in bed?'
Sirius shifted in his seat but didn't say anything, choosing instead to drain his cup.
'You walked in on him and Tonks going at it didn't you?' Harry asked. 'Again.'
'No!' Sirius protested. 'They were still asleep and they … looked so … well it's just been a long time since I've seen Remus look so … content.'
It was true, Remus' life had seemed to be lacking something and it showed in the way he'd behaved. It had taken Harry a while to figure it out and he'd felt like a complete moron when he did.
Remus had been lonely.
Oh he'd been happy, nobody who lived with Sirius and Harry could be anything but amused. However there was always an air of melancholy about him.
Then Sirius' cousin Nymphadora 'Don't Call Me Nymphadora!' Tonks had come into their lives just as Harry had started Hogwarts.
The perky Auror trainee had been smitten with Remus from the first time they'd met. Even at eleven Harry had noticed that Tonks' hair cycled through differing shades of red and pink every time Remus entered the room for Merlin's sake.
Then there was the constant spiel of questions Harry had had to suffer from her. Apparently Remus was fascinating.
The biggest giveaway was that Tonks didn't scream and attack Remus when he called her by her full name. She'd nearly killed Harry the last time he'd dared to call her Nymphadora, but she hadn't so much as batted an eyelash when Remus did it.
While it hadn't taken Harry too long to notice Tonks fancied the metaphorical pants off of Remus, the werewolf was completely oblivious. Despite the fact that Tonks' feelings were reciprocated, in spades.
They'd finally gotten together in Harry's third year when Sirius had locked them in a room and told them to 'stop pussyfooting around and shag already'.
Harry had come home from Hogwarts to find a new couple waiting for him at King's Cross, much to his relief.
'And besides, I only walked in on them once! And the freaky bastards were doing it in my shower!'
Harry and Neville sniggered into their breakfast.
'Only because you were sleeping in my bedroom when we got in Sirius.' Remus yawned as he walked into the kitchen. 'You remember boys? That was when Delia broke up with him and he spent the next week moping like a dejected puppy.'
Sirius gave Remus the finger and received a whack on the nose from the newspaper Remus had been carrying under his arm.
Remus raised a disapproving eyebrow and started to read his paper as Dobby served him a cup of tea. Remus thanked the elf and went back to his paper.
'Where's Tonks Remus?' Neville asked. 'She not awake yet?'
Remus shook his head. 'No, lucky girl has work and can't go to the World Cup.'
'Lucky?' Sirius asked perplexed. 'She's missing the Quidditch World Cup!'
'True,' Remus said slowly. 'But she doesn't have to put up with her cousin acting like an excited child on Christmas morning.'
'Very true Remus,' Harry said. He gave Sirius a scornful look. 'Merlin, how I envy her.'
'Hey!' Sirius whined. 'What is it? Pick on Sirius day?'
'Yes,' Remus said. 'Didn't you get the owl?'
The two teens laughed as Sirius pulled faces at the stoic werewolf, who was more interested in his paper.
Sirius rose in a huff shortly and said he was going for a shower and he expected them to be ready to go when he got back.
'Okay now the overgrown child is gone,' Remus said, placing his newspaper on the now empty chair. 'I assume you two are excited?'
Neville and Harry nodded happily.
'Definitely, it's gonna be ace. Shame England didn't make the final though. That would've been perfect,' Harry sighed.
'Well yes but that's what they get for not listening to James' advice and adding some experience to the team roster as well as youthful rookies,' Remus said with a slight smirk. 'Coach Withers ate a lot of humble pie when England got knocked out in the opening round.'
Neville chuckled and nudged Harry who shook his head.
James had been working on and off as a Quidditch commentator for the past five years. He'd been advised to take up a hobby by Amelia Bones when she found out that James had been sleeping at the Auror barracks for a week straight.
Madame Bones had threatened to put him on suspension unless he took more time off and have some actual fun. At least that's what James said she'd said. Sirius said Amelia had told the elder Potter she'd sneak into the barracks and have her way with him if he slept one more night there.
Harry wasn't sure which he believed but he'd met Amelia Bones a couple times and he'd very quickly learnt that the Head of Magical Law Enforcement had a very wicked sense of humour. The fact that James had blushed heavily whenever Madame Bones was bought up for the next year added a bit of credibility to Sirius' story.
However James never did anything by halves and he'd thrown himself into being a Quidditch pundit. He got rather famous for it as well. That was the reason James had managed to score box tickets for the Quidditch World Cup Final.
'Anyway, where's Hermione? If she isn't awake soon Sirius will be frothing at the mouth,' Remus said.
'I'll go see if she's up,' Neville said a little too quickly. 'She's less likely to hurl something at me.'
'Well you never know Nev,' Harry said in a singsong voice. 'If you're very lucky she might just hurl herself at you.'
Neville blushed scarlet. 'Go to hell Harry.'
Neville left the room swiftly leaving a chuckling Remus with a very smug Harry Potter.
'Young love, isn't it sweet Harry?' Remus asked.
Harry just grinned. 'Mhmm. Shame they're being as stupid about it as you and Tonks were.'
Remus smiled ruefully. 'Well maybe there'll be an event at Hogwarts this year that'll push the two together. Stranger things have happened.'
Harry glowered at Remus. 'Okay, would you stop doing that? It's getting old. The three of you have been dropping cryptic clues all summer long and you won't tell me what's going on. Just tell me already!'
Remus grinned at him and shook his head. 'So we've discussed your friends' love lives, how is yours' going?'
Harry sighed in defeat. 'Fine don't tell me, be an arse.'
Remus' grin widened as Harry left him alone in the kitchen.
Harry shuddered as Neville helped him to his feet. He rubbed the back of his head and winced when he knocked the bump that had formed.
'Good morning folks,' a smiling young wizard in a pair of jeans and a name tag attached to his t-shirt. 'If you could move on, there's another group landing in about five minutes. Your caretaker is Mr Tropple.'
Remus waved at the young man and the group moved out of the way. Harry was still rubbing his head as the next group of wizards were directed by the same man.
'I don't care what anyone says about instant travel,' Harry grumbled. 'There has got to be better ways for wizards to travel in groups.'
'Probably mate, but they've not found it yet so you'll have to suffer,' Neville said.
Hermione smiled at Harry's grimace. 'Well someone would notice thousands of people flying in on brooms Harry. Unless you wanted to Floo into the caretaker's house?'
'Oh sweet Merlin no!' Harry hissed.
Sirius smirked and ruffled Harry's hair. 'Ickle Harrykins' tummy feeling all bubbly?'
Harry glowered at Sirius and punched him in the gut. 'Bite me dog breath.'
The group laughed and Sirius greeted Mr Tropple as they reached his house.
'Morning, are you Mr Tropple?'
Mr Tropple was a touch on the elderly side, grey hair mixing with strawberry blond under the man's cap. He was holding a black clipboard and pen.
'Aye, that's me. Name please?'
Mr Tropple nodded and ran a finger down his clipboard. 'Pall, Poole, ah 'ere you are Potter. Wait a sec you're already ticked off.' Mr Tropple glared at them. 'Tall bloke with glasses came 'ere earlier. What are you trying to pull?'
'Erm …' Sirius reared back at the man's glare.
Harry shook his head and stepped up to Mr Tropple.
'Did he look like an older version of me sir?' Harry asked.
Mr Tropple scrutinised Harry and then nodded. 'Yeah, you're the spit of 'im. 'E your Dad?'
'Yeah, sorry, we got held up in traffic and he was coming here early. Did he pay?'
Mr Tropple made an 'o' shape with his mouth and then pulled out a small tin and opened it. 'Ah, yeah 'bout an hour ago. He's at the far end of the field next to the wood.'
'Thanks,' Harry said with a smile. 'Sorry about the mix up.'
Mr Tropple grunted and stepped to the side. He glared at Sirius as they passed.
When the group were out of earshot of Mr Tropple Sirius whistled.
'That was impressive Harry, how'd you manage to convince that Muggle we weren't trying to scam him?' Sirius said.
Harry raised an eyebrow. 'Cus I have an honest face Sirius. Oh and I don't have a mouse running on a wheel for a brain.'
'Hey!' Sirius snapped. 'It's not my fault your Dad was early!'
'Sirius, do yourself a favour and be quiet 'til we get to the tent,' Remus said with a hand on his shoulder.
Sirius pouted but he shut up all the same.
'That was pretty slick though Harry, I'm not sure I could have been so calm,' Hermione said. 'And the bit about traffic, when did you get so adept at lying?'
Harry raised an eyebrow and half-smiled, mirroring Hermione's expression. 'Divination, Hermione. If I hadn't had to lie to Trelawney all last year I wouldn't be half as good.'
Hermione and Harry shared a smile and the group walked in comfortable silence, Sirius and Remus saying hello to people that Harry didn't recognise, until they reached a small sign that read: Potter.
The tent wasn't spectacular. It was as tall as Harry and would barely have enough room for the six of them.
'Well it'll be a tight fit,' Hermione said, her cheeks turned a little pink. 'Is this all there is?'
The four men grinned and Harry nudged Neville.
'Don't worry 'Mione, we'll keep you comfy if you ask nicely.' Harry winked at Hermione. Remus and Sirius chuckled behind them.
'Harry!' Hermione squeaked, her cheeks even pinker.
'Potter!' Neville snarled as he punched Harry.
Harry stepped back, narrowly dodging the punch with a victorious grin.
'Behave children,' Remus said. 'Don't worry Hermione, you'll have all the privacy you need. Now after you.'
Remus gestured towards the tent.
Hermione smiled shyly and ducked under the flap of the tent. 'Oh.'
The boys followed in after her. Neville whistled.
The tent was large, much bigger than it looked from outside. The ceiling of the tent was a couple of feet taller than Sirius and there were several compartments.
There were three bedrooms, one was covered with red fabric, another was brown and black and the final one was green. The green one had Hermione's name traced over the fabric in silk. There was also a kitchenette which had a stove, a sink and a cupboard. A wooden circular table was in the middle of the tent, a pole stuck out of the middle and up into the tent-roof.
'See, James made sure there was a separate section for you,' Remus said.
'Yeah but if you get lonely just shout and I'll be over in a shot.' Harry winked.
Hermione's cheeks pinked as she smirked back. 'I thought you had a thing for blondes and Asian girls Mr Potter. It's mean to raise a girl's hopes.' She said coyly.
Harry smirked, 'Well it's always good to experiment.'
Hermione chuckled and shook her head. 'I'll tell Ginny you said that, she was beginning to give up hope.'
Harry shuddered and ignored the chuckling from the other people in the tent.
'Well that was uncalled for,' Harry groused.
Hermione looked unrepentant and was about to say something else when a new voice interrupted.
'Oh I don't know Harry,' James said. 'I think that was rather fair.'
The group turned as one to see James Potter stood in the entrance with an easy smile on his face. His thumbs were looped through the belt holes of his jeans, the fingers resting on top of his pockets and an unbuttoned light blue shirt covered a black t-shirt with hidden Auror issue armour clinging to his torso. His wand holster lifted the shirt sleeve around his right wrist and a second bulge around his right ankle hid his spare wand.
James Potter had been a promising Auror trainee before and during Voldemort's war. Over a decade of active duty had turned him into the most feared and respected Auror since Alastor 'Mad-Eye' Moody, who bragged to anyone who listened about his 'greatest achievement'.
But to Harry he was just Dad.
'Maybe, but the girl's a nutjob Dad,' Harry said. 'She's always following me around.'
James shook his head. 'You saved her life Harry. What did you expect? Flowers and a thank you?'
Neville chuckled but became fascinated with something on the tent wall when Harry turned his glare on him.
'Point taken,' Harry said. 'Still creepy though.'
James shrugged and walked into the tent proper. 'Didn't have any trouble with Mr Tropple I hope?'
Sirius' ever present smile dimmed for a second but it quickly returned to its full toothy glory. 'Nope. Breezed through.'
'Uh huh,' James said. He turned to Remus who was unpacking his and Sirius' bags.
'Lying.' Remus didn't turn around but Harry, Neville and Hermione could sense Remus' smile.
Sirius glared at Remus. 'Tattle-tale, besides I didn't do anything! The old Muggle just got all uppity because you'd already gone through!'
'Kids, go get us some water, I need to talk to Sirius about the importance of telling the truth. Again,' James said calmly.
'No worries, where are we going?' Harry asked. James would know.
'Twenty minute walk to the north. I thought I saw some Hogwarts students around so take your time.'
Harry nodded and the three teenagers left the tent.
James frowned and sat down on the bench next to Sirius.
James waited for about ten seconds before he let Sirius speak.
'That bad?' Sirius asked. 'What did Dumbledore have to say?'
James groaned and rested his head in his hands. 'He said he thought Wormtail would go scurrying back to Voldemort. Harry's 'vision' apparently confirms it.'
'Vision?' Sirius asked.
James rolled his eyes but nodded.
'Fantastic,' Sirius sneered. 'Do we tell Harry?'
'Maybe. Albus is still rather annoyed with me telling Harry about the prophecy when he killed Quirrell in his first year.'
'And telling him about Voldemort's Horcrux in his second year?' Sirius teased.
'Not to mention that you told him Peter is the reason Lily isn't with us,' Remus intoned, placing three mugs of tea on the table.
'Hmm. This is different though,' James said. 'Harry's tough but I don't know if he'd take having visions about Voldemort well.'
The three men sat in silence, drinking their tea.
'Let this rest James,' Remus advised. 'Albus may be a genius, but he isn't a Seer. He can't know it was a vision for certain. It'll only worry Harry if he knew.'
James grunted but didn't say anything.
'Besides, it'll ruin the World Cup and the excitement of the Tournament,' Sirius piped up. 'Let the kid enjoy himself until we know for a fact Wormtail has turned traitor again.'
'Don't talk to me about that damn tournament,' James said waspishly. 'It's too dangerous. Age line my arse.'
James drained his tea, refilling it with a flick of his wrist.
'You think Harry can get past Dumbledore's age line?' Sirius asked. 'The kid's good but he ain't that good.'
James snorted derisively. 'Moody would be pissed if he heard you say that. You know how proud of Harry's progress he is.'
Sirius snickered while Remus just shook his head ruefully.
'True,' Remus said. 'But I don't think Harry will be tempted to try to match wits with Dumbledore, he's too focused on beating Alastor first.'
James smirked despite himself.
'I guess but still …'
'We know James,' Remus interrupted, shaking James by the shoulder. 'We're worried too but Harry's got a good head on his shoulders and Alastor has his ego pretty much in check. He's not like we were at Hogwarts.'
'Yeah,' Sirius snickered. 'He's not driving himself spare trying to get one girl's attention for a start.'
James smacked Sirius round the back of the head but it did nothing to stop the shaggy man's laughter.
'Arsehole,' James muttered.
A/N: To assuage any further confusion on the matter it is practice in British editing and publishing to use a single quotation mark (') when writing dialogue. It is the American edits that use double quotation marks (") for dialogue.
I am a British writer writing a British story, I apologise if this is confusing to my American, indeed many of my readers if my reviews are to be believed, but I AM using correct punctuation.
Enjoy the story.