A/N: This was written for the Reviews Lounge Summer Project. Beta'd by HyperCaz! She did a great job!!
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. Obviously. If I did there would already be a book about the Marauders out there *glares at JKR*…
James Potter was not a modest boy…although if you'd said this very sentence to him he'd most probably try to jinx you, because he was not a boy damn it, he was a guy. Ever since his sixteenth birthday, he'd renounced the word 'boy' as being too childish for him. Thus, proving the fact he was not modest, tactful or unspoilt.
Because in all truth, James Potter was spoiled beyond limits. From very early in his life he had never been denied a single thing. The word 'no' had been introduced properly to his vocabulary when he was four years old, in contrast to his best friend who claimed that 'no' was the first word he had uttered when his mother had tried to dress him in a very frilly baby outfit.
Now, many may think that this is not healthy at all, but in James' opinion, he turned out pretty nicely, so there was nothing wrong with his upbringing. Of course one Sirius Black might want to disagree with the above conclusion and snort in the process, but again in James' opinion, if he was happy with himself, Sirius and the rest of the world could go and screw themselves. There was, however, one tiny exception to this theory and her name was Lily Evans. But that's another story, for another time.
James, as the spoiled boy…ahem, guy he turned out to be, was currently sulking in his room, furious at the weather that had prevented him from enjoying an afternoon of Quidditch with his dad. He hated summer rain. It made the ground muddy and the air cold. It blocked his view, as his glasses got all wet and the air smelled weirdly. Of course these observations didn't count for autumn, winter or spring rain. Mainly, that's because during these seasons he was normally at Hogwarts, meaning that he could get into mud fights with his fellow Marauders or watch in amusement as Snivellus slipped and fell, rarely accidentally, in muddy puddles.
But today was the first day of July and the rain had ruined his mood. He was sitting on his bed just having finished dinner with his parents and, due to lack of anything interesting to do, was trying to do his Charms summer homework. He was bored out of his mind and was trying very hard to find a distraction, because really, it was July the first and he was doing homework…how pathetic was that? He was glad that none of the Marauders was there to witness this horror. He could easily picture Peter's face, mouth hanging wide open, trying – and failing – to understand what was going on through his mind; Remus' satisfied smirk – sly, arrogant werewolf – as he would feel proud for James finally turning into a responsible student (aka geek) and Sirius…well Sirius would either have a have a heart attack and die on the spot or laugh his arse off at him and then leave to find a new best friend, the bastard he is. And thinking of Sirius, there came the distraction he needed. Minnie (short for Minerva – Sirius' idea of a joke), was tapping rather aggressively on his window.
James, excited to have finally found the distraction he wanted, jumped from his bed and ran to the window after tripping only twice on the junk that littered his floor. Once Minnie was inside the room, she flew around as if trying to wet the furniture simply by dripping heavily on them. She was, after all, Sirius' owl.
Once James managed to take hold of her, he unfolded the parchment attached to her leg that had obviously been spelled to repel water, and he knitted his eyebrows in confusion. It was not a letter as much as a short note very much un-Sirius like.
I'm coming over. Nowhere else to go, hope your parents won't mind.
"Mum!" James shouted at the top of his lungs as he exited his bedroom and ran down the stairs. "Dad!"
He made his way to the living room where his parents were playing Wizard's Chess, one of his mom's favourite pastimes.
"No, James," Mrs Potter sounded rather exasperated. "I already told you, no!"
"I said you're not going to ask Twinkle(1) for a chocolate cake! I know you're still growing but eating dessert four times a day will only make you fat…and probably hyper," she added as an afterthought, although James was pretty sure it was the latter she was more worried about, not the former.
"Gee, Mum, it's not like all I think about is food," he told her, but quickly cleared his throat and averted his eyes from hers when she only cocked an eyebrow at him.
"This is not about food," he told his parents, clutching Sirius' note in his hand, "it's about Sirius."
Instantly his parents looked sober and just a bit alarmed. It was not every day James refused to talk about food and instead talk about Sirius with them. They loved Sirius to bits, it's true, but James was not a girl dammit and he didn't like addressing his parents for whatever little thing happened with his friends and they tried not to pry when it came to the brotherly bond between Sirius and James.
"He just owled me and he said he was coming over, I mean he is coming over, as in…he is on his way, probably."
"Why? What's wrong? Did something happen to him? Is everything alright?" Mrs Potter had gotten on her feet and was extracting Sirius' note from James' hands as James simply said, "I dunno."
Mr Potter, upon hearing what James had said, had called Twinkle, their house-elf, and asked her to put an extra bed in James' room as they usually did when Sirius' visited.
"Well?" he asked once Twinkle disappeared with a distinct plop. "What happened?"
"I don't know, the note only says he's coming over coz he doesn't have somewhere else to go. He didn't explain why," James said looking vaguely distressed.
As the minutes passed, he got more and more worried for Sirius. Why did he have to leave Grimmauld Place? Why had he sounded so…so un-Sirius like? How was he getting there? Too many questions…
Sirius was his best friend, his brother in every sense of the term, even though they didn't share the same blood. He was the most important person in his life right after his parents. If there was something that could get James all worried and grown-up like, it was Sirius' problems with his family.
Approximately fifteen minutes after James had informed his parents of Sirius' note, the doorbell rang and instead of waiting for Twinkle to answer the door, James ran and yanked it open, maybe with more force than absolutely necessary. He lost his balance and almost fell on Sirius who was standing on the door-step, looking thoroughly drenched and glum.
"Hey," Sirius said quietly, but before James could respond he was being pushed aside by his mother, who was enveloping Sirius in a bear hug.
Noticing the broom Sirius was holding, James asked in bewilderment, "You flew all the way from London?" and then, waiting for a response he added, "Mum, you're suffocating him!"
Mrs Potter drew back and ushered Sirius inside, while Mr Potter took hold of Sirius' shrunken luggage and was turning it back to its normal size.
"Well, yeah, I took the Knight Bus for some time, but grew irritated by that creepy conductor's staring and jabber and got out half way here and then flew on my broom," Sirius said tiredly and then, turning to Mr and Mrs Potter he added, "I'm really sorry to have come on such short notice and at this hour, but-"
"No problem at all, Sirius, my boy," Mr Potter said with a smile. "Don't even mention it."
"Would you like something to eat?" Mrs Potter asked and when Sirius shook his head she added, "Some tea, then?"
"Uh, yeah, some tea would be great, thanks."
All this time James had been barely controlling himself from hopping from foot to foot, as he was dying to ask Sirius what had happened. He reckoned his parents wanted Sirius to feel comfortable and calm, but he wanted to know, dammit!
"I ran away," Sirius suddenly said, probably sensing James' curiosity and mild agitation.
"What? Really? Tell me what happened!" James almost shouted, looking at Sirius wide-eyed.
"Come on, Sirius, sit down and tell us what happened," Mr Potter added as Twinkle appeared with a tray and four cups of tea.
They all sat in the living-room, Mr and Mrs Potter on the couch and the two boys across them, each one occupying a fluffy armchair. James was staring expectedly at Sirius, his anger ready to make itself known, once he heard what the Black family had done this time to his best friend.
"Well," Sirius begun, a frown on his face, "we were having an early dinner and Regulus – " he practically spat the name of his brother, " – was boasting as usual over how great he is at Quidditch, and how everybody's saying what a fabulous Seeker he is," at this point James snorted, muttering something like 'please!', "and of course my parents were nodding their approval and saying how proud he was making them, probably thinking that the sun was freaking shining out of his arse – sorry!" he added quickly as he realised he had swore in front of Mrs Potter, but for once she paid it no mind.
"Uh, Sirius, mate, don't tell me you reacted to that…" James said. "It's too damn obvious he was actually trying to anger you."
"No, of course not! How dense do you think I am? Anyway, that moment Kreacher arrived with a letter from dear cousin Bella, announcing that she was officially You-Know-Who's follower, if you know what I mean, and that she was expecting Regulus to join her as soon as he was of age, since he was the better son of our family." Sirius finished and it was obvious his anger had started boiling, he was famous for his temper and James had experienced it quite often.
"Wait one tic," James told him, "she wrote that in a letter?"
"Yeah, but it was jinxed and cursed and all that Dark staff in order to prevent anyone from reading it but the Black family members, although I'm pretty sure I was excluded."
Mr Potter was looking determined, probably trying not to outwardly show his disgust of the matter and Mrs Potter was looking really sad. "Tell us what happened next, dear," she said after a moment of silence.
"Well, in all honesty I was a bit quick to react," Sirius said but not at all sheepishly, "and I started laughing saying something like 'yeah, right, as if Reg could actually do anything like that' and as expected my parents defended him, saying that of course that was the right thing to do, as the Dark Lord was obviously so much cleverer than most wizards and I had no right talking about staff like that."
"They really do support him, don't they? Of course most purebloods do these days…" Mr Potter said shaking his head.
"Yeah, they do, but not overtly so, wouldn't like to mess their image in the high society should something go wrong…cowards!"
"Yeah, well, what happened then?" James inquired again. "How did you end up leaving?"
"I called them cowards and hypocrites and then mother said she was ashamed I was part of her family. I told Regulus that I once thought he was better that that lot and I was disappointed in him, since, you know, he was looking all proud and stuff with what our parents had said. And then father got up and told me that as long as I lived under his roof I had no right to talk like that, that I was the shame of the whole Black clan, right after Dromeda and Uncle Alfard and well…I had enough and told them that I'd better be like them than like Reg or Bella and I would be more than happy to leave and never call them my family again."
"Wow, I bet they weren't impressed!" James added helpfully.
"No, they weren't," Sirius said and then he continued, "I got to my room, I packed my things and as I got to the door, mother blasted my name off the family tree and father said that if I ever dared to go back he'd Crucio me. I shot a hex in Regulus' direction, just for good measure, but I was out of the door before I saw whether it missed him or not."
"I hope it did hit him!" James said fervently. "Little bastard, thinks he's better than you. Arrogant, little shit!"
"James! Language!" Mrs Potter scolded her son and he simply rolled his eyes. "Oh, Sirius," she said as she got up and made her way to where Sirius was sitting, "you're better off on your own. They still are your parents, but it's better to find your own way…I'm sorry to say, they aren't good people." She placed her hand on his shoulder and squeezed lightly.
"Mrs Potter, you don't have to sugar-coat it for me…I just quit my family, remember?"
"Yes, you're right. You can stay here; don't even try to think of somewhere else to go, okay? You come of age next December, am I right?"
"Yes, on December 20th - and thanks for letting me stay," Sirius said.
"Of course, dear. As long as you promise not to demolish the house along with James you can stay for as long as you'd like."
"Oh, come on!" James said rolling his eyes again. "Okay, let's go upstairs Sirius. We promise not to make anything explode!"
"Sirius," Mr Potter said as Sirius got up to follow James, smiling for the first time since he arrived, "do you know if the fact that your parents disinherited you, will affect your Uncle's will?"
"Uncle Alfard's will? No, I don't know, but I don't think so."
"Well, we could go to the Ministry one of these days. I still have many close friends in the Department of Law Enforcement – they could take a look at things. Is that okay?"
"Yes, of course!" Sirius said grinning. "Thank you, Mr Potter!"
"Sleep well, boys," Mrs Potter called after them.
Later that night, James was on his bed, sprawled on his stomach, a parchment in front of him and a quill in his hand. Sirius was lying on his bed, idly playing with an ancient toy of James he had found somewhere on the floor.
They had talked a bit, mostly making fun of Regulus, inventing new names to call Bella, planning Snivellus' demise and making plans for the next days. James couldn't pretend for the life of him that he was sad with how things had turned out. He was beyond glad that Sirius wouldn't have to go back to Grimmauld Place ever again, and beyond exhilarated that they would get to spend the whole summer together.
They had two months to themselves and one week with the rest of the Marauders when they would visit in mid-August. Two months, of pranks, Quidditch, copying homework from one another, swimming in the lake nearby and preparing his new and improved lines and moves for seducing one Lily Evans. Not that Sirius would be much help in that, but still, he would be in a better mood and that definitely wasn't a bad thing.
Ah…thinking of Evans, James let his mind wonder, his eyes glazing a bit…as they glazed when the sun shone on those lustrous, silky hair of hers or when she smiled that bright smile of hers, small white teeth like pearls showing, her soft pink lips stretching over them; but he didn't really know if they were soft, he realised. They did look soft, but he didn't know for a fact. He had to find a way to take her on a date, so he could find out for himself –
"JAMES!" Sirius' shout reached his ears and he gave a start, turning his head towards his friend.
"Are you deaf? I said, what are you doing?" Sirius said smirking, his voice back to normal heights.
"Um, writing a letter to Moony, telling him what happened," James replied, indicating the piece of parchment in front of him.
"Uh, no, you're not…" Sirius said his smirk widening for some reason.
"Uh, yes, I am…"
"No, you were day-dreaming about Evans," Sirius said matter-of-factly.
"No, I was not!" James did not blush. Guys, like him, did not blush. They were cool and nonchalant and James was the incarnation of nonchalant-ness.
"Alright mate, if thinking about Moony makes you sigh that way…well, whatever floats your boat…"
Sirius was going down.
They ended up in a mess on the floor, limbs flying everywhere, trying to punch, kick, tickle, bite or scratch each other. It was not an easy task, mainly because they were both in hysterics and the lack of oxygen prevented them from putting any real force or thought on what they were doing.
Later yet, after Mrs Potter had threatened to hide their brooms if they didn't stop and had refused to heal any bruises, and James had finally finished his letter to Moony and had sent it with his owl Vindictus(2), they were both lying on their beds tired and somewhat sweaty from their fight. Sirius fell asleep soon enough and his soft snores mingled with the sound of the rain that was beginning to thin, and James thought that after all, summer rain wasn't so bad.
(1): Originally named Twinky, until James decided, at the tender age of five, that 'Twinkle' was more fun. Unfortunately, he refused to call her any other name and the poor creature was stuck with 'Twinkle'.
(2): James had walked into the store, intending to buy a new owl that would be fast and light. He ended up with Vindictus, despite the fact that he wasn't really light, when the boy next to him left the store with scratches all over his face when he had commented on the ridiculously round and ugly bird. Thus, the name: Vindictus. James fell in love with the owl's attitude and bought it on the spot. He loved delivering mail to Snivellus.