"Mum, I don't want to go."
James Potter stood in the hallway outside his parents' bedroom and looked in pointedly. His mum was at her vanity putting in some earrings. She didn't even bother glancing over at him.
"Tough," she said simply.
He rolled his eyes. It was a very common sort of answer and exactly the one he expected. That didn't mean that he enjoyed it or thought it was at all acceptable. "But why do I have to go?" he pushed. "I don't even know that man!"
"Well, neither do I and neither do your sister or your brother. But that doesn't mean we don't have go." She said all of this very quickly and with a tone that left little room for argument as she stood up from the vanity, all jewelry now in place. She finally looked over at him in the doorway and rolled her eyes. "Oh, stop pouting. You look like a five year old when you do that."
He stopped the face he was pulling immediately. He didn't give up the fight, though, as he followed his mum through the house and back into the sitting room. "But Dad doesn't even like him! Why do we have to go his funeral? It's not like we care that he's dead!"
His mother stopped in her tracks and turned around to look at him sharply. "He's your dad's family," she said flatly. "Of course we care that he died."
James knew this was untrue, and he crossed his arms and looked at her pointedly. She didn't say anything for a second until finally she rolled her eyes again.
"Stop looking at me like that! We're going, so just… shut up and deal with it."
"He locked Dad in a closet and called it a bedroom!"
His mother drew in a steadying breath, and he knew he was pushing her. She was on the verge of snapping, but he liked seeing how far he could go. And besides, he actually felt very serious about this particular issue. There was no reason whatsoever that he should be dragged to the funeral of some man he had never met before and had never cared to meet just because his dad shared a bit of DNA with him. Wait. Scratch that. He didn't even share a bloodline with him!
"James, shut it," she said, struggling to keep control. "And go put on some decent clothing."
He glared at her and then made a huge deal of stomping up the stairs to the second level. She shouted something at him, but he purposely ignored her and stomped even louder. When he made it to the second floor, he found his younger sister coming out of her room. Lily was the lesser of two evils when it came to his siblings, but she was still well annoying. She stopped when she saw him and flashed a sickeningly sweet smile.
"Do you like my dress?" she asked, holding out the skirt of it for show.
"No, it looks ugly," he answered without missing a beat.
Lily looked horrified, and her eyes went wide before she sputtered around for the best comeback a six year old could manage. "You look ugly!"
He rolled his eyes and continued past her, mumbling, "You're an idiot."
That was apparently too far, as Lily went to the stairs and started shrieking. "Mum! James said my dress is ugly! And he called me an idiom!"
"I did not call her an idiom!" he shouted back. "I don't even know what that means!"
His mother screamed something else, but he neither cared nor waited to find out what it was. Instead, he pushed past his little sister and went into his own room, effectively slamming the door hard enough to make the whole upstairs shake. His parents hated when he did that, and he was positive he'd find himself in trouble over it quickly enough, but it didn't bother him. He wasn't scared of his parents.
He flung himself onto his bed and did absolutely nothing but stare at the ceiling. He could hear his mother calling for them and heard two sets of footsteps hurry downstairs. He didn't move. Eventually, he heard one set coming upstairs. They were his mother's, he could tell, and he waited for her arrival. She tried to barge right into his room, but he'd locked the door. She banged on it loudly, apparently without her wand for the time being. If she'd had it, of course, she would have opened the door and come in shrieking. As it was, though, she just shrieked from outside.
"James Sirius Potter! You get downstairs right now! If I have to come in there and dress you myself, I will, and so help me, you won't like it!"
Now that was a particular threat that really did get to him, as he knew she was good for it. She'd done that once before. He'd taken too long getting ready one morning, and after several warnings, she'd forced him into a hideously mismatched outfit and charmed it so that it couldn't be removed for several hours. Then she'd dragged him all over Diagon Alley. It had been humiliating. Deciding it wasn't worth the risk, he finally got up and pulled some trousers and a button up out of his closet.
"Are you getting dressed?!" she yelled from outside the door.
"Yes, give me a bloody second!" he screamed back irritably as he pulled on the clothes.
"You watch your mouth!"
He flipped her off, though, of course, she could not see him. He wasn't yet brave enough to do it where she could. When he fixed his collar, he slipped his feet into some shoes and finally opened the door. His mum was standing right there waiting for him, and she didn't look pleased at all. She nagged him all the way down the stairs as she alternated between fixing his shirt and attempting to smooth down his hair. He ducked out of her reach the second they reached the first floor and sped off towards the kitchen where the rest of his family was waiting.
His dad looked bored and sort of nervous. Lily was bothering him, but he was obviously trying not to let on to that. He was just sort of looking over her head as she stood in front of him asking a million questions. He was muttering one word answers, but she was completely oblivious to the fact that she was nothing more than a pain in the arse. Al was seated at the table with his chin in his hands looking every bit the peaky little git that he was. James had the strongest urge to just kick him for no reason, but he resisted because his mother caught up with him right at that second.
"We need to go," she said, once again attempting to attack James's hair with her hands. He ducked away from her right as his dad nodded and stood up.
"Yeah, it'll take a good hour or so to get there. Maybe more with traffic."
"We have to drive there?!" James wanted to beat his head into the wall at the thought of spending that much time in a car.
"Well, how else do you propose we show up to a Muggle funeral home?" his mum snapped.
"Why's it called a funeral home?" Lily asked. "The dead people live in there?"
"How can dead people live anywhere?" James rolled his eyes. "You're so stupid."
It carried on like that as they piled into the car. James was forced into the backseat with his younger siblings. Lily was made to sit in the middle. James would normally have preferred sitting beside her to sitting beside Al, but she was in one of her question moods and was going nonstop asking the stupidest things. Eventually, James got sick of her, and when she asked if they were really going to see a dead body, he gave her an answer.
"Yeah, just make sure you don't look right at the place where its eyes are supposed to be. Because they know if you do, and you're staring at them, their eyes'll fly open and they'll climb right out of the box to try and pull you in."
It was very lucky that he was sitting in the seat directly behind his mother, as it made dodging the awkward reach-around smack she aimed at him rather easy.
Lily was a mess after that, and she spent the next hour whining about how she was scared and didn't want to go look at any dead bodies or go to the house where all the dead people lived. Al was apparently bored completely, as he just went to sleep, and James sat sulking in the back, still infuriated that he was being dragged to a funeral for someone he had no desire to ever even lay eyes upon.
When they finally reached their destination and were searching 'round for a spot to park the car, their dad started laying out the ground rules. Lily shook Al rather roughly until he woke up and looked around sleepily. He was certainly going to be in a fantastic mood… James wanted to hit him for no reason.
"Look, we don't have to stay long," his dad said, finally pulling the car into an empty spot. "Just be nice and don't cause any trouble. Please." He looked right at James in the rearview as he said this. Then he turned his attention elsewhere. "Lily, I promise you that the body won't move. And you definitely don't have to look if you don't want to."
Lily didn't look convinced, and she grabbed tightly to their dad's hand the second they all got unloaded from the car. James purposely walked around the other side furthest from his mum, as he had a feeling she was still gunning for him. As a way to distract her, he started chatting with his little brother.
"So, this'll be cool, huh?" he said, feigning enthusiasm. "We finally get to meet all of Dad's crazy relatives!"
Al looked at him sideways and then shrugged one shoulder. He was such an annoying little kid. And so weird, too. James didn't understand why he didn't speak. Of course, when he did speak, James wanted nothing more than to shut him up. So it was pretty much lose/lose.
James had never been to a funeral before, so he didn't have a clue what to expect. He knew they laid the bodies out in coffins and that people wore black. That was about the extent of it. He did not have on black. He had on khaki and white. He'd done that on purpose in an attempt to hack off his mum, but he noticed for the first time that that she hadn't dressed the rest of the family in black, either. She had on a gray dress, which was almost black but not quite. His dad had on black trousers but had on a pale blue button up and a dark blue tie. His brother was in khaki, too, and, James was horrified to realize, a white shirt. Lily had on pink. She always had on pink.
They looked out of place.
Apparently, though, no one else took notice of the fact that they were dressed so out of place. In fact, no one seemed to notice them at all. They all stood in the back together, and James didn't think he'd ever felt more uncomfortable in his life. He wasn't even sure why.
"Is that Dudley?" He heard his mum ask the question as she nodded at a man toward the front of the room. He was a really big man, and he had on black.
His dad nodded in response, and Lily said, "Who's Dudley?"
James knew his dad had a cousin, but he'd never given it much thought. Cousins were not something that impressed him or drew his interest, seeing as how he had about six billion himself.
"How come we don't know him?" Lily should really win a prize for most annoying questions asked in one day.
"Because I don't speak with him," his dad answered simply, though James could tell he was hesitating a bit. "I haven't talked to him since I was a kid."
"So, wicked!" James spoke up, breaking the awkward tension. "Does that mean that after I grow up, I never have to see Rose again until her dad dies?"
Both of his parents glared at him, and Al rolled his eyes. James didn't care, of course, as his feelings on Rose were no secret. He could tolerate most of his cousins, but Rose was where he drew the line. She was more annoying than all his cousins and his siblings put together. She was loud and bossy and mean. Plus, she was really stuck up, and he couldn't stand anything about her.
But again, that was no secret.
"Just behave. Please," his dad hissed at him as he led them up towards the front where the coffin was. Lily started whining, so he eventually picked her up and kept moving forward. James and Al shuffled in behind him, and their mum shuffled them from behind, obviously making sure that they didn't start a fight or something right here in the midst of all the black and mourning.
They stopped at the huge man who was apparently his dad's cousin. There were already some people talking with him, so they waited patiently until he was finished. When Dudley looked up, he almost appeared as if he couldn't believe his eyes.
"I… I didn't think you'd come," he said, his voice thick with surprise as he held out a rather beefy sort of hand. James watched as his dad's own hand seemed to be swallowed up by the much larger one. It was strange. James couldn't imagine shaking hands with any of his own cousins.
"I'm sorry to hear about your dad." James could tell that his father wasn't being entirely truthful. His voice sounded forced, and his eyes kept darting around without ever making full contact. Dudley, though, didn't seem to know him as well and just nodded.
They all stood there staring at each other for a few more moments until an old woman joined them. She was very tall and thin and had the distinct look of someone who was constantly smelling dog shit.
"Mum, look who it is." Dudley motioned toward them, and his mother eyed them all before settling in on one in particular.
"Harry," she said, and her voice sounded low and sullen. James imagined this must be because her husband had just died. This was his dad's aunt, the one who'd raised him. She looked mean and hateful, despite the fact that she was clearly distraught over the current funeral. "I'm surprised to see you here."
"I came when I heard. I'm… sorry."
Again, James could tell he was lying. Even if this was his family, he didn't seem too terribly upset about the death. James didn't particularly blame him. These people certainly weren't ones he would want to visit on holiday or anything like that.
"Is this your family?"
The question was answered with a nod. "My wife, Ginny. And the kids. James, Al, and Lily." He nodded at each in turn and then added, "This is your Aunt Petunia."
Petunia looked at each of them separately, but her eyes landed and stayed on Lily. She stared at her for a long moment and then said, "She looks very much like her namesake."
"She was my grandma," Lily explained needlessly.
Aunt Petunia nodded and then said, "She was my sister."
"Your sister was named Lily, too?"
James couldn't help it. His eyes rolled of their own accord, and he was speaking before he could even stop himself. "They're the same person, stupid."
He saw his mother cringe, but she didn't scold him right away. Apparently she wasn't going to do that in front of these "relatives," despite the fact that he'd been blessed out countless times in front of the rest of their family. It didn't matter. James was bored anyway, and he wandered over to glance in the coffin as his mum and dad stood there making small talk with Petunia and Dudley. He was surprised to see Al following him, but he didn't really mind.
"God, no wonder he had a heart attack!" James whispered loudly. "He must weigh twelve-hundred pounds!"
Al's eyes widened as he stared at the open box in front of them. The man inside as enormous. His skin was pale and grayish, and his hair looked as if it had been plastered to his head. His name was Vernon Dursley. Uncle Vernon, apparently. It was the only dead body either of the boys had ever seen, and they stared at it in semi-fascination.
"Who's gonna lift that?" Al whispered, finally breaking his silence. "For when they go and bury it?"
James didn't know the answer to that question. They were Muggles, so they couldn't just levitate it outside. But he didn't see how anyone in the world would be able to lift something so heavy.
"D'you think Dad hates him?"
James considered the question and looked over at his brother. He didn't really know the answer, so he lifted one shoulder. They both knew their dad hadn't had the best time growing up with those Muggles, but neither knew a ton of details. Plus, if he really hated his relatives, surely he wouldn't have dragged them all the way out here for the funeral.
"He probably just thinks it's the right thing."
"I think it's weird."
James nodded. "Me, too."
Lily never did look at the body, and she stayed back with their mum as their dad took a short sort of glance. They didn't stay for the service, which was apparently starting within the next hour or so. There were no hugs or heartfelt goodbyes. Just a few fleeting promises to keep in touch.
James knew he'd never see any of those people again.
By the time they got back to the car, they'd fallen straight back into their normal habits.
"James is, it really necessary for you to call your sister stupid all the time?" His mum was exasperated as she dragged Lily along.
"Well, if she didn't act stupid, I wouldn't have a reason, would I?"
"James." This time it was his dad who said his name shortly and as a signal to the end of the discussion. James didn't care, he just rolled his eyes and climbed into the backseat of the car.
It was a normal, everyday occurrence. His parents were constantly onto him about something. Their sharp tones and threats had lost most effectiveness around the time he was six. Now he was old enough to know that there really wasn't all that much they could actually do. Or would actually do anyway. It didn't matter anyway because next year, he'd be old enough for school. And he'd be gone away from his home and away from his parents and away from his stupid little brother and little sister. And school would be awesome, of that he was positive.
So for now, he'd just continue to amuse himself by torturing his siblings and pushing his parents as far as they could go.
It kept life interesting at least.
A/N: Another short little thing that wouldn't stop pestering me! Please review!