This has already been posted as part of the Reviews Lounge Birthday Ficathon, where authors wrote anonymous stories as a gift for another author taking part. The link is in my favourites, and is worth checking out - there are some great stories in there!
This is for the highly awesome respitechristopher.
The first line is an almost direct quote from something - an extra chocolate frog card if you can identify it.
James Sirius Potter, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly eighteen years in the world with very little to distress or vex him.
Well, apart from the complicated love-lives of his siblings and cousins of course.
It had begun ridiculously early. James had only been nine years old when he had become an unwilling co-conspirator with Teddy and Victoire, whom he kept finding in compromising positions in the broom shed, in the pantry, in his own bedroom, in the attic… For some reason, they seemed to think that the Potter household was a safer place either of their own homes; and that James' parents were more likely to turn a blindish eye to their liaison than Victoire's exacting mother and over-protective father, or than Teddy's grandmother, who still thought very like a Black (and a Black from the early part of the last century) in the matter of young people's behaviour. So James was sworn to secrecy, and even recruited as a spy by the young lovers. There were bribes from Teddy (James was still young enough that a chocolate frog or two or the promise of something that his mother would disapprove of from The Wheeze would buy his co-operation) and overt threats from Victoire about exactly which bits of him she would hex if he gave them away (Victoire could be quite as scary as her mother when she chose).
Fortunately, those days were long gone. Victoire and Teddy had been married for over a year now, and James had even received an honourable mention in the bridegroom's speech at the wedding. And the remaining Beautiful People (Uncle Bill and Tante Fleur's other kids) had so far – thank Merlin – managed to conduct their love-lives without James' assistance. As had the other older cousins.
Even Freddie, James' best friend as well as cousin, had managed to keep his friendship with James and his love-life (such as it was) entirely separate. But then, as a fifteen-year-old James had remarked at breakfast one day in the Christmas holidays, Freddie didn't have a complicated bone in his body when it came to girls. His mum and Albus had sniggered into their cornflakes at that, and even his father's lips had twitched. It had taken James nearly as long as the open-mouthed and wide-eyed Lily to work out why what he had said was funny. It really was too much when your parents – who were supposed to be too old for such things by the mere fact of their being parents – saw innuendo in the most innocent of remarks. But, as his mother informed him tartly later when he complained about it (and she could do tart as well as anyone he knew, with the possible exceptions of Professor McGonagall and Tante Fleur), he could hardly expect her to be sweet and innocent when she had grown up with six elder brothers.
But the love-lives of James' brother and sister, and of his closest cousins, Rose and Hugo, were another matter. The four of them seemed to have appointed him as some sort of unofficial Agony Uncle, who should be prepared at any hour of the day or night to be available to provide advice, sympathy, concealment charms, glamours or (when all else failed) tissues and chocolate in abundance.
James didn't understand it. He supposed he was good enough at listening, but it wasn't as if he had a lot of experience. He had fallen (as far as an eight-year-old can) for Cathleen Finnigan at one of the numerous DA reunions his parents had dragged him to. ("Do we have to come?" "Yes, of course you do. You're the reason we did it.") Subsequently, he had been obscurely disappointed, watching as a second year from the Gryffindor table when the Hat had Sorted Cathleen into Hufflepuff with barely more than a second's thought. Both her parents were Gryffs; James had assumed she would be too – although she seemed happy enough as she headed for the cheering 'Puff table. It took a further two years (some Gryffindor he was) before he plucked up courage to actually talk to her, and then another year before he asked her out. Her immediate acquiescence was accompanied with a slight eye-roll that gave James the distinct impression that she had been wondering what the heck had kept him from asking earlier. But since then, they had been one of those inseparable inevitable couples, and no one doubted that they would "do a Gran and Grandad Weasley" – get married more or less straight from school, have a ridiculous number of kids in a very short time, and live blissfully ever after.
So it wasn't as if James had a lot of experience when it came to the opposite sex and relationships to pass on to Albus, Lily, Rose and Hugo. He supposed it was simply because he was the oldest of the five of them, that he was around and that he was willing to listen. Though, honestly, didn't any of them have friends? Didn't they have parents? (Well, maybe not – it wasn't as if his dad was exactly brilliant at relationships if Uncle Ron's stories of his history with girls were to be believed. And as for Uncle Ron himself and Aunt Hermione, it had apparently taken a bloody battle for them to admit how they felt about each other. His mum, maybe, was a bit more clued-up, but she was as likely to laugh at her children's and niece's and nephew's problems as to actually say anything helpful.)
So poor James dispensed sympathy and chocolate in equal measure as he listened resignedly to the recital of Albus' complicated feelings about Leila Jordan and Sally Marcham and Dolores Thicknesse. Not to mention Henry Wood and Chip Malone and Colin Creevey. It would help if Al would make up his tiny mind about which side he was batting for, James thought. It was obvious to him that his brother was as gay as toast, but he supposed that that was something Albus had to work out for himself. None of his relationships had lasted more than six weeks, and James was always the one who dealt with the fallout. It was getting repetitive.
Lily was less of a trial. She began her Hogwarts years with a wholly unsuitable but entirely understandable crush on David Bostock, the current Head Boy, moving on seamlessly to the new DADA teacher, Professor Cullen, in her second year. But since then, she had had a series of fairly short-term but mainly happy relationships with a procession of boys in her year and the one above. She was currently single, and "enjoying her freedom" as she blithely informed her elder brother – although from the looks she was giving Ricky Wood across the Great Hall at mealtimes, James did not think that that situation would last long.
Hugo was simple enough too, even if dealing with him did require a constant supply of chocolate frogs, as James sympathised with his cousin's failures. Hugo had inherited all of his father's tact, and then some, accompanied by an unfortunate tendency not to see beyond what might be called a girl's more obvious attributes. James had to tell him gently that he was not surprised that Susan Longbottom had slapped him hard around the face when he asked her out with his eyes fixed firmly on her chest. Then a few weeks later he had to inform him that Cathleen's sister, Colleen, had had a point when she told him it was usual to actually ask a girl before telling all and sundry that they were going out. (James also had to spend a happy few hours trying to reverse the boil and blemish hex that Colleen had used on Hugo's more tender areas. It was a family speciality, and Cathleen knew the reversal charm, but refused to help out, saying huffily that Hugo bloody well deserved it.) Hugo was currently mooning over the Slytherin prefect Fateema Briscoe, but even his incurable optimism seemed to recognise that she was way beyond his reach. So – beyond requiring his cousin to provide him with an almost infinite supply of Honeydukes wares , which was doing poor Hugo's skin problems no good at all – Hugo was more or less leaving James in peace these days.
Rose was the worst of all of them. Her on-off relationship with Scorpius Malfoy had been the bane of James' life for almost six full years, beginning as it did on the Hogwarts Express on Rose and Scorpius' very first day at Hogwarts. The Sorting Hat's somewhat surprising decision to send the pair of them to Ravenclaw hadn't helped of course. It threw them together – which was good when they were speaking to each other (odd-numbered months with an "r" in, James had worked out); even better when they were an item (Christmas, Hallowe'en, when Ravenclaw won at Quidditch, and when a date was needed for Hogsmeade or the occasional balls and parties which the new Hogwarts regime seemed to think were a good idea); and very bad indeed when they were at each other's throats (all the days in between – and to poor James there seemed to be an awful lot of those). James had come to dread Rose approaching him "for a chat" in the Great Hall or the castle grounds, whether her face was blotchy from crying or wreathed in happy smiles. He was tired of hearing how Scorpius was the best thing in the world ever, the kindest most considerate boy she had ever met, the love of Rose's life. He was even sicker of the times when Rose never wanted to see his stuck-up face again, when every stupid thing Scorpius had ever said or done was dissected in minute detail, when she wanted to know if his mum had taught him the Bat-Bogey hex, and whether he would pass it on to her. Poor James could never win with Rose. Whatever he said – whether to praise Scorpius (who was a nice enough bloke, considering his unfortunate parentage) or censure him (he was Draco Malfoy's son, after all), was bound to be thrown back in his face the next time Rose's feelings suffered a reversal.
But lately, James had had a bit of a reprieve. To everyone's surprise – and her father's undisguised delight – Rose had thrown over Scorpius for the new love of her life, the Ravenclaw prefect (and everyone's pick to succeed James as Head Boy next year) Edward Corner. The two of them – bright, good-looking and sparkly with new love – were Hogwarts' new Golden Couple. James sincerely hoped it would last.
It was a bit of a shock, then, when Scorpius Malfoy himself, approached James diffidently in the stands of the Quidditch pitch one cold Saturday in April. The two of them were watching the Slytherin team practise – to the team's intense irritation – and taking notes for their own sides. Or they were supposed to be – the Slytherin captain, Jeremiah Flint, was taking so long briefing his team down on the pitch that James was beginning to doubt if they would actually mount their broomsticks today. It was almost a relief when Scorpius sat down beside him – at least talking to him was something to do – until he began to actually speak.
At first, James had assumed that Scorpius would want to talk about Rose and her new relationship, to pick his cousinly brains about how sincere and lasting her feelings for Edward were, to moan about his own misfortune; but it was quickly apparent that that was not the case. Scorpius, like Rose, had apparently moved on.
"I thought, perhaps, since you're their brother, you might know how they feel about me," Scorpius was saying, with a note that was almost pleading in his voice. James groaned inwardly. It seemed that they had moved on from Scorpius-Malfoy-and-his-own-cousin to Scorpius-Malfoy-and-his-own-sister, which was infinitely indefinably worse. He didn't think his dad would be any happier than Uncle Ron had been at the thought of Draco Malfoy's son going out with his daughter either.
But, being a nice bloke at heart, James tried to be sympathetic. He tried to say as tactfully as possible that "they" (for some reason, they both seemed to be avoiding using Lily's name) might have their sights set on someone else; he wondered if Scorpius was just on the rebound from Rose; he suggested as kindly as he could that Scorpius might look a bit wider than the Potter-Weasley clan for his new love. In the end, from pure irritation, and a feeling that this was bloody unfair, that it was bad enough being the universal confidante for his own family, let alone a Malfoy, James lost his temper and said what he really felt.
"Look, Malfoy, I don't want you going out with my sister, okay?"
Scorpius regarded him open-mouthed and wide-eyed. "Who said anything about your sister?"