AN: Not the most original idea, but fun to write anyway! Enjoy!
A Bedtime Story
"Daddy?" Harry paused at the door and turned to look at his eldest son.
"When I grow up, will I have a lightening bolt scar on my head?"
Harry stared at him for a moment. "Erm… what?"
"You know… the way Weasleys have red hair. We Potters get lightening bolts, right?"
Laughing, Harry sat at the foot of James's bed. "And what brings this up, Mr. Potter?" Harry asked, eager to delay the inevitable moment when he would have to explain that particular subject.
James sat up importantly and pulled back his bangs, revealing a thin cut on his forehead. "Jake Peniker showed me how to ride a bike, but I wasn't all that great at it. I hit my head, see?"
Harry nodded. "That's quite a scratch. Are you alright?"
"Yeah, I'm fine, Dad." James shook his head impatiently. "That's not the point. Is it going to turn into a lightening bolt? Like yours?"
"I don't think it's going to do anything like that, kiddo. Did you have your mum clean that up for you? We don't want it getting infected." Harry reached a concerned hand over to pull away the hair and inspect the scratch.
"Da-ad! It's not going to get infected. So, anyways, why did yours turn into a lightening bolt? 'S not fair… I'm a Potter and I got a scratch… why won't mine do it?"
Harry almost grinned at his son's pouting face. "Mine didn't turn into a lightening bolt. It was always that way."
"How did you get it then?" James pressed.
Harry looked away. "Someone… gave it to me," he said slowly.
"Cool! Can you give me one?" James pulled up his bangs again and closed his eyes, waiting expectantly.
"NO!" Harry stared at his son in horror, imagining the green light from his childhood nightmares hitting the willing forehead. For a moment he was back in his nightmares, back on the train with dementors, back in the war.
"Kill me! Not Harry, please not Harry!"
"Get away you stupid girl—you don't need to die!"
Sirius laughing, Sirius falling, through the veil. "HE'S NOT DEAD! I'LL KILL YOU!"
"You need to really mean them, Potter."
Malfoy – Dumbledore, falling, dead, gone—
Fred… Lupin… Tonks… Baby Teddy staring at him quizzically.
Green light, barely missing Ginny. "GET AWAY FROM MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!" –
"Daddy?" James was sitting in his lap, tugging on his shirt. "Daddy, I'm sorry. Don't be mad!"
Harry stared at James, vaguely recalling his outburst. "Oh, James. I'm not mad at you."
"How did you get the scar, Daddy?"
Harry sighed, running a hand through his hair as he thought. "It's like this. It's like… it's like a bedtime story," Harry said with sudden inspiration. He placed James back under the covers, carefully tucking them under his chin. James closed his eyes peacefully.
"Once upon a time there was a mum and dad who loved their baby son very, very much."
James opened his eyes. "How much? More than you and mum love me?"
"Nope! Just as much."
James closed his eyes again. "Wow… that's a lot, right?"
Harry smiled at him. "Of course it is! They loved their son a whole lot. But there was an evil man who wanted to… hurt… the little boy."
James opened his eyes again, glaring sternly at Harry. "That's not a bedtime story! That's scary!"
Harry gave him a knowing look. "Just wait. The mum and dad loved their son soooo much that when the bad man tried to hurt him, the spell rebounded. The bad man disappeared, and the little boy—saved by love—had only a lightening scar to remind him of the incident!" Harry finished grandly, pointing to his forehead for emphasis.
"Daddy?" James said, nearly asleep.
"That's a nice story."
"Thank you, James," Harry replied, feeling pleased with himself.
"It didn't make a whole lot of sense," James continued, rolling over into a more comfortable position, "but it was nice."
Harry paused in his silent self-congratulations. "Oh. Well. I had to shorten it, you know. For a bedtime story."
"Night, Daddy." Harry got up and made his way to leave, but the voice stopped him once more at the door.
"Someday, will you tell me the whole story? Maybe tomorrow?"
"Someday," Harry said firmly. "Not tomorrow."
"Someday, then." James quickly fell into deep, regular breathing, and Harry knew he was asleep.
"Someday," he said again quietly. And leaving the bedroom, Harry knew that he would have to tell the whole story, and his son—all his children—would know the truth about their father.