Title: James Sirius, Spy Extraordinaire
Pairing: Harry/Ginny, minor Ron/Hermione, Molly/Arthur, Percy/Audrey, Bill/Fleur
Word Count: 7415
Summary: Something's going on in the Potter household, and James Sirius is just the person to find out what it is.
Author Notes: I wrote this for a fic exchange on the LiveJournal community takingitinturns. The recipient, mollywheezy, requested humor and romance and fun secrets, such as hiding a surprise or gift from each other or their children. I've never written anything with a major Next Generation presence in it. I had a lot of fun writing it, especially adding in the fun Harry/Ginny romance. And as always, thanks to my betas, SassyFrassKerr and rosiekatriona.
Never let it be said that James was unobservant. In fact, he prided himself on his observation skills. After all, wasn't it he that figured out that baby Hugo was born at the same time that Aunt Hermione lost a lot of weight? And he knew exactly where his mum kept her chocolates, and when he figured out how to climb that high without falling, he'd put that knowledge to good use.
But sometimes it wasn't such a good thing. He didn't know what all the lacy stuff was in that one bag that Mum brought home that one day, and, judging by how red she got, he never really wanted to know. And then there was the one time he walked into the kitchen of the Burrow and saw Grandma and Grandpa, and they were kissing!
This was one of those times when he couldn't tell if it was a good thing or a bad thing. And it wasn't as if he could really put a finger on anything specific. It was just that. . . Well, take, for instance, this afternoon. He thought he'd heard his dad's voice, which, in and of itself, was out of the ordinary. It was Thursday, and Dad was always at work on Thursday afternoons. He went downstairs to see what he'd heard, past the blank spot on the wall where there used to be a portrait, down the hall, and down into the kitchen. His dad wasn't there, but his mum was getting up from having been on her knees by the fireplace.
"Hi, Mum! Was that Dad?" he asked. It certainly wasn't strange for his dad to Floo his mum--in fact, he made sure he talked with Mum at least once, just to tell her he loved her. Embarrassing, yes, but what are you gonna do? But he never Flooed in the afternoon--it was always during lunch time!
His mum nodded her answer and turned to the icebox. "What shall we make for dinner tonight, James?" she asked.
"Pizza!" was James' enthusiastic response. Ever since he'd heard about pizza from Uncle George, it had been his dearest ambition to try some.
His mum frowned. "No, I don't think I want to try something that complicated. How about chicken curry?"
James frowned too, but agreed. "So, what did Dad want?"
His mum turned around quickly. "What did you hear?" she asked, intently studying his face.
James was surprised--his mum seemed almost, almost, afraid of something. "Nothing," he answered slowly. "Um, why?"
"Oh, nothing," she responded quickly--rather more quickly than normal. "It was about. . . a case that he's working on, and it's. . . sensitive." She turned back to the icebox and pulled out the chicken.
James had never known his mum to not look at him while she spoke to him, but she was definitely looking somewhere else this time. He filed this weird behavior away in the back of his mind, and got to work setting the table, although it would be a couple of hours yet 'til dinnertime--might as well get on his Mum's good side.
Those previous observations came back to James in the evening, after dinner, when he'd had time to sit and think. Dinner itself had been rather noisy, as it always was. Lily had just turned three years old, and had decided that she'd make up for not being able to talk for the first years of her life (James' dad sometimes said it was because she couldn't get a word in edgewise--but only when Mum wasn't around) by chattering non-stop throughout the entire day. But even over the babbling of his sister, James could tell that his parents were having some other type of conversation.
He had listened hard, but even the words he could hear didn't give him any more clues. How much can a seven-year-old decipher from a conversation that went like this?
"Did you. . .?"
"Yeah, but the guy said higher."
"And you. . .?"
"And what about the. . .?"
"Taken care of--or did you mean the other thing?"
"No, the first. But, now that you mention it."
"I forgot. Tomorrow?"
"That's fine. There's still the. . ."
"Oh, then two weeks is fine?"
James jumped in at this point, which, upon reflection, might have been a bad thing. "What's going to happen in two weeks?"
James' parents looked at each other, turned to him, and answered at the same time.
"We're visiting the Burrow."
"We're going to Diagon Alley."
They turned to look at each other again. Then James' dad said, "We're going to Diagon Alley for a bit, then visiting the Burrow."
Trust Lily to catch on to that one part. She giggled and started yelling, "Gamma! Gampaw! Lily house! Gamma! Gampaw! Lily house!"
Albus turned to his little sister, and, with the condescension that only a six-year-old can have, said, "No, Lily! We're going to Gamma--I mean, Grandma's house."
Lily ignored her brother, and kept up her yelling, until their mum stuffed a spoonful of pudding into her mouth.
Taken together, they painted a rather clear picture of Something Going On. And if there was, indeed, Something Going On, James wanted to know. After all, he wanted to be an Auror, just like his dad, when he grew up, and what better way to practice than Finding Things Out? Of course, he knew that even though his dad was Harry Potter, The Man Who Conquered Voldemort, he'd still had to go through a lot of training to become Head Auror, but that didn't mean James couldn't practice.
He thought, for a second, about asking Albus to join him in spying, but decided against it. Albus had a tendency to tell their mum things--The Noodle Incident being the quintessential case in point--and James wanted to figure it out all by himself.
It was getting late, but he thought maybe he could try one last thing before bedtime. He reached into the secret compartment under his bed and pulled out an Extendable Ear, courtesy of Uncle George, of course, and quietly slipped out the door. He had to be careful--Grimmauld Place might be a nice place to live, although he'd heard stories about what it was like before Mum and Dad had married--but it was still old, and he had to be very careful where he placed his feet. Climbing the stairs up to his parents' bedroom was even trickier, but he'd practiced quite a bit this year and made it without giving himself away. Once in front of the bedroom door, he pressed his ear to the wood, to see if he could hear anything.
But that was normal--lots of times his parents put a one-way Silencing Charm on the door. He'd asked his mum once why they did that. She'd blushed a bit, but then told him it was so that they could listen to late-night Quidditch matches without bothering the baby. One time when he'd noticed they'd put up the Silencing Charm again, he'd innocently asked his dad the next morning at breakfast who'd won the Quidditch match last night. His mum choked on her eggs, and his dad had snorted, then told him that his mum's team had won, twice.
So, since there was most likely another Silencing Charm, James very carefully threaded the Extendable Ear under the door, hoping that his dad hadn't remembered the--
"James Sirius Potter! You better be back in bed before I get out there or you're going to be grounded!"
No good, his dad had remembered the Intrusion Ward, too! James ran back downstairs and flung himself into his bedroom. He'd never tempted Fate by staying to see if his father really did come to the door, but sometimes he had his suspicions about that too.
"Phooey!" he said to himself, as he climbed in and prepared for sleep. He'd just have to keep his eyes open, and try to figure out this mystery tomorrow.
The ensuing week was frustrating for James. There's nothing quite so exasperating as knowing there's a major secret in your house, but not being able to figure out what it is. He'd walk into rooms and see his parents stop their conversation, look at him, then start talking about something utterly boring. A couple of times he'd heard his dad's distinctive voice over the Floo at uncommon times. And once. . . once he'd been able to stand outside their bedroom door when it hadn't been charmed! But the only word he caught was packing. He'd had to leave pretty soon after that, as he heard his mum giggle, and the unmistakable sound of a kiss.
So, James was left with very few clues as to what was going on. But, he'd never let that stop him before. He got some parchment, and a quill, and listed the few facts that he knew:
1) His mum and dad were working on something secret.
2) Two weeks seemed to be important.
3) Something had to be packed.
Then he listed things he had heard, but didn't know how to interpret:
1) His parents had mentioned Diagon Alley, and the Burrow.
2) Something had to be higher.
He thought, and thought, but couldn't come up with anything else. He tried to think of something that would fit his few facts, even rearranging them a couple of times, but he was stuck. So, he tried to figure out what he could do that would let him find out more information without being caught. He thought, briefly, of just asking his parents, but it seemed pretty likely that he'd get the same reaction he'd gotten last time. He sat on his bed with a long sigh and looked around his room, hoping that something in there would give him some inspiration. Books. . . no. Pocket sneakoscope. . . no--he already knew there was some untrustworthiness (or at least, sneakiness) going on. Dicto-Quill Jr. . . . no--yes!!!! His dad Flooed every day--if he set up the Dicto-Quill near the Floo, maybe he could catch something important in one of their daily conversations. He hoped that they didn't use too many words that the Dicto-Quill Jr. didn't like--he knew that his parents didn't swear very often, but he'd also found out that there was a whole different class of words that the Dicto-Quill Jr. wouldn't write, and his parents used them an awful lot of the time, especially when his dad got home from a long assignment.
Plan prepared, James rapidly finished getting ready for bed, briefly paused to hope for a couple of unobserved minutes in the kitchen tomorrow, and fell asleep, to dream of spies, and capturing bad guys, and purple snorkacks dancing the tango while nargles played flutes in the chandeliers.
Luck was with James the next day. When he got down to the kitchen for breakfast, his mum hadn't arrived yet. Luckily, he had thought to put the Dicto-Quill Jr. in his pocket for just such an occasion. Quickly he placed it on the mantel and then rearranged some of the pictures so it wouldn't be seen. Hopefully it wouldn't be too noticeable.
By the time his mum had arrived, with Lily Luna in tow, he was seated at the table, eating a bowl of Frosted Quaffles and Brooms, trying to look innocent and keep his eyes from straying over to the mantel.
That day went by excruciatingly slowly. Even the time spent poring over his and Albus' collection of Chocolate Frog cards, which contained no fewer than 33 of his father, Harry Potter, and 27 of his mother, Ginny Potter, seemed to drag like it never had before. Lunchtime approached, and James just about went crazy waiting for his dad's voice.
The call from the Floo just about made James wet his pants from excitement. Finally! His dad was calling to talk to his mum. He crossed his fingers and thought of the information he would, hopefully, be gathering from the Dicto-Quill Jr.
The voices from the kitchen started out almost loud enough to be heard, but very quickly dropped to levels that he couldn't make out. This boded well for James' spy operation, but not for his nerves. Finally he couldn't wait any longer, and slowly tip-toed downstairs, hoping that they'd been able to have enough time to talk about whatever they were doing, and that he wouldn't interrupt them.
He entered the kitchen to find his mother with her head in the icebox. "Hi, Mum!" he called, then sat down at the table.
"Hi, James," Ginny responded as she found what she was looking for. "Still hungry? There's some gingersnaps in the cupboard, and you can have a couple."
James didn't know what to do. He really wanted to get the Dicto-Quill Jr. out from its hiding place, but it didn't seem like his mum was going to be leaving the kitchen any time soon. And then there was the lure of the biscuits. Finally deciding that he would just have to wait for a time when the kitchen was empty, he nodded his head. "Can I dunk them in milk?"
His mum grinned, nodded her head, and went back to sorting out what she needed for dinner. James let out a silent sigh; it looked like it would be a long afternoon.
James didn't know how he'd done it, but he had survived the rest of the day without exploding purely from tension. Now, it was almost midnight, his parents were behind their locked and silenced doors, and Lily and Albus were asleep. Moving at his most stealthy, he crept down to the kitchen and triumphantly retrieved his Dicto-Quill Jr. Just as quietly, he crept back upstairs and into his room. Finally, it was time to find out what was going on!
Lighting the small candle next to his bed, he opened the top and pulled out the parchment and started to read:
Ginny! Ginny! Where are you?
Right here, Harry, no need to shout. How is your day going?
It's a lot better now, I can tell you. You don't know how much I look forward to talking with you each day.
Yeah, Potter, you just like it 'cause you can see down XX XXXXX.
I must admit, I do love that about the Floo. And you have the sweetest XXXXXX in the world. Why shouldn't I enjoy it?
What was so sweet? James asked himself. Was Mum making a pie?
I never said you shouldn't. In fact. . . how's that?
. . .
What's the matter, cat got your tongue?
Um, uh, blast it all, Ginny, you know what that does to me! I just want to come right through and XXX XXX XXXX XXXXX and then I'd XXXXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXXX. Twice!
Well, what's keeping you, big guy? I'm up for it!
Oh, Ginny, you know I wish I could. But I'm still trying to figure out the transportation, and if I don't get it done today, I think we'll have to postpone.
Well, we can't do that, too much is riding on the date. We'll just have to wait until tonight. Besides, I went shopping yesterday, and I want you to be able to appreciate what I bought. . .
Where did you go?
XXXXXXXX of London, if you must know.
Well, let's try to get the kids to bed quickly tonight, okay?
James stopped to ponder. It was true that his parents had been awfully eager for them to get their pajamas on and into bed that night. What would his mum have bought that would have caused that? Maybe it was a new wireless so they could listen to the Quidditch matches. . . Oh well, who knew why parents did what they did? He kept reading.
I'm all for that. And since tomorrow's Saturday, could I maybe XXXXX XX you XXXXXXXX XXX with the feathers?
Groan. I promise, Gin, we'll do whatever you want.
Good! Now, is there something you need me to be doing to help out?
Well, other than XXXX XX XXXXXXXXXXXX XX--
Harry! I sure hope no-one on your side can hear this conversation!
Ah, Gin, you know I always ward the door before I Floo you.
Well, I'm glad, but maybe I need to start doing the same to the kitchen door.
I don't know. . . doesn't it make it a little more XXXXX to know that the kids could walk in at any time?
Harry! That's not. . . I never. . . Yeah, it does. Now, because I didn't ward the door, and my knees are starting to hurt, is there something I need to be doing?
Um, just packing, I think. Everything else is taken care of. Molly knows all the details, and has promised to help out, and everyone here knows where I'll be. Gin, it's a pretty big commitment--are you absolutely sure you're up for it?
Well, I've often thought I might've gotten rather, I don't know, boring. And this will give us a chance for more adventure, right?
Gin! How can you say you're boring? You're the furthest thing from boring! After all, wasn't it you that decided we should XXXXX XX XXXXXX XX XXXXXXXXXXX XX right in the middle of the dance floor?
Oh, Harry, you know what I mean. I just. . . I want something more!
Well, I think this will give you that--I mean, just think of all the possibilities! Fresh air, new sights! It'll be great! And we'll be together more, which I'm definitely looking forward to.
But, Harry. Do you think it's the right thing for the kids? It'll be a big adjustment. Lily's just learning to talk--maybe she'll be too scared. And what about Albus? You know how sensitive he is! And James--he's just learning how to--
I think they'll be fine, Gin. After all, Molly is the best at grandmothering, and she'll help out a lot. They'll be happy to be able to see their cousins more, too, won't they?
I guess. I mean, I think we should definitely do this, I'm just getting last-minute nerves.
I know what to do about that--how about I stop on the way home and get some of that coconut-oil XXXXX XXX XXXXXXXXX? You really liked it the last time I XXX XXXXXX XXX XX XXXXXX.
Oooh, that sounds nice. I like that idea.
Okay, well, I better go. I love you, Gin, don't ever forget!
I love you too, Harry, don't you ever forget either.
James was sorely disappointed. They had talked about the secret so much! But they hadn't ever said what it was. He didn't think that any of the X-ed out words were important--it just seemed like his mum and dad were flirting, like they always did. But maybe, just maybe, he'd be able to figure something out from what the Dicto-Quill Jr. had captured. James rummaged around in his drawer until he found his list, and wrote down the important points:
4) His mum had to pack.
5) His dad had to arrange transportation.
6) His mum thought it would be an adventure.
7) His dad mentioned fresh air and new sights.
8) His grandma would be able to help out more.
9) He'd see his cousins more.
10) Whatever it was, it might be scary for Lily.
He tapped his quill on his chin, trying to think about what he'd read, and what he'd written. He didn't think he'd missed anything important, so now he just had to figure out what it all meant. He looked up at his clock, and noticed the hand was on It's way too late for you to be awake, Mister! and decided that he'd have to sleep on it. Maybe he'd dream about it. . .
The next morning dawned way too early for James--it had taken awhile for him to go to sleep, and when he did, his dreams were filled with images of his dad fighting bad wizards, and his mum traveling to far-away lands. He sat up in bed and rubbed his eyes a bit, wishing he could sleep some more. But then his eyes opened wide--he knew what his parents were doing! It couldn't be anything else! All the facts added up, and he couldn't believe it had taken so long. His mum was going to be an Auror just like his dad, and they were going to be traveling the world, catching bad guys! But then his shoulders slumped. It wasn't looking good for him and Albus and Lily. Yeah, it'd be an adventure for his parents, but they were going to be stuck at the Burrow all the time. And, while he liked the Burrow, he didn't want to live there.
He glumly dressed for the day, and trudged downstairs to the kitchen, where he sullenly plopped himself onto one of the chairs. Silence reigned, and he looked up. His mum wasn't even up to make him breakfast, how fair was that? But then he remembered the Dicto-Quill Jr.'s writing, and knew that his parents were probably doing something with the feathers. He morosely got up and got himself some cold cereal for breakfast, wishing they weren't out of Krunchy Kwidditch Kups, and thought long and hard about what he'd discovered.
In all his life, he'd never known his parents to change their minds about something this big. Granted, things like this didn't happen very often--the last thing James could remember was when his dad had been invited to play on the English National Quidditch team, and he'd declined the offer. It didn't matter how much money they kept saying they'd give him, he stuck to the decision that he and James' mum had made. And it had really turned out for the best--James had read in the newspaper about how much training the National Team had had to go through, and knew that his dad never wanted to be gone from home that much. But, at the time, none of the children could believe he'd turned down such an exciting thing.
Something in his thoughts popped out at him. His dad had turned down Quidditch so he wouldn't have to leave his family so much, but now he and Mum were both going to be gone for long periods of time. Was it just Mum that Dad didn't want to be away from? Did he not even care about James, Albus, and Lily? For a moment James almost cried, but he remembered that he was seven, and too big for crying. But his eyes got kind of watery anyway. Something was wrong. Dad always told him that he loved him, and that James was his special big man. His dad always loved to hear about what kind of day Albus and James had had, and always had a big smile on his face when he was sitting holding Lily Luna, even if she was all dirty from playing in the mud. No, he knew his dad loved him and the other kids.
Now James was just confused. How could his parents decide to go away like this? Maybe. . . maybe they weren't going to be gone very long? But his mum was supposed to work on packing already, and there was still a week left in the "two weeks" that they had said earlier. Maybe his mum just had to start now 'cause she had to pack for all the kids too. . . Yeah, that made sense. James still wasn't happy that his parents would be leaving them so much, but he decided that he'd try to at least pretend to be cheerful so that they wouldn't guess that something was wrong.
"Okay, James, what's wrong?"
James had forgotten about how easily his mum could read him. Could he think up something to tell her?
"Oh, nothing. I just didn't sleep well last night, I guess."
"You guess? Did you have bad dreams?"
"Yeah, but, they're all silly." Then a thought struck him. Maybe he could use this as a way of getting some more information. "I mean, I dreamt that you and dad were fighting bad guys, you know, like dad does all the time? But you had gone with him and were traveling all over the world capturing them and putting them in jail. See? It was silly, wasn't it?" He looked keenly at his mum's face, wondering what her reaction would be.
His mum's face turned white. Confirmation of his deductions, and his heart fell. They were really going to leave him and Albus and Lily and go capture bad wizards.
"James, honey, why would you be dreaming about that?" She took his hand and led him over to the sofa. She sat down and patted her lap. It had been awhile since he'd sat on her lap, but he really wanted to, so he swallowed his seven-year-old pride, and climbed up, nestling into her arms.
"I just, well, I'm worried about you doing that. Dad sometimes gets hurt, and I don't want both of you to get hurt. Promise me you'll be okay?" he asked, and there was that stupid water in his eyes again.
"Of course we'll be okay. What makes you think I'm going to get hurt?" She casually Summoned a box of tissue and pretended that they were for her. James snuck one to dry his eyes.
"Well, that's what you're going to do, right? You and Dad are planning on leaving Albus and Lily and me with Grandma Molly while you go on an adventure to fight bad guys, right? I figured it out all by myself. But, but, don't you want to be with us kids anymore?" And he couldn't hold the tears back any longer.
Ginny was stunned. How had her son come to this conclusion? She knew he was smart, and liked to investigate things--she had already guessed he wanted to be an Auror just like his dad--but what had they ever said?
"James, have you been spying on our conversations?" she asked him sternly.
"I'm sorry, Mama! I just wanted to know what was going on. And you wouldn't say anything at the dinner table, except that we're going to the Burrow next week, and Diagon Alley, so I. . . sniff. . . I put my Dicto-Quill Jr. on the mantel so I could know what you and Dad talked about over the Floo, and I read it and you talked about an adventure, and packing, and, and, I don't want to have to live with Grandma while you and Dad go fight bad guys, and what if you die?" And he burst into loud sobs.
Ginny just sat and rocked her oldest son, and thought furiously while making soft, soothing sounds. She didn't see any way around it, unless they wanted to Obliviate him, and that was something they would never do. She also took a moment to try and remember if they'd said anything too naughty over the Floo that the Dicto-Quill Jr. wouldn't have blocked out.
"James," she said, softly. "James, honey. Let's go talk to your dad about this, okay? There's nothing for you to worry about, although I'm not very happy you spied on our Floo conversation, and if it ever happens again, I'm going to take away your Dicto-Quill Jr., okay?"
James snuffled a bit, and nodded.
"Okay. Let's go. But I think you're going to have to walk, 'cause you're getting too big for me to carry."
They found Harry just coming out of the master suite. He took one look at the pair, and immediately leaned down and picked up his son. "What's the matter, James? Why are you crying?"
James wrapped his arms around his father's neck, snuffled loudly, and broke down into sobs. "You and Mum are going away and fighting--sob--and Grandma Molly is gonna watch us, and you're gonna be gone--sob--and Lily will have nightmares and you won't be here to help--sob--and the Burrow's nice and all but I don't want to live there--sob--and Albus will be sad but he won't tell anyone and just be quiet and you're gonna die!"
Harry's face registered shock and dismay for an instant, and he shot a look at Ginny. She grimaced back at him, but there was really no way to convey everything she wanted to say about the situation with just a look. The most Harry understood was that James was in a right state and needed some loving reassurance from his dad.
Harry held his son close, turned around, and went back into the bedroom, with Ginny following. He sat down on the side of the bed and started rubbing James' back and whispering soothing words, until finally James calmed down enough to talk coherently.
"Now, James, why don't you tell me what's got you so worried, okay?" his dad asked.
With some prompting from his mum, and not a few sniffles, James told Harry all about his spying and the conclusions he'd come to. Harry just about gave him the same lecture about the proper use of a Dicto-Quill Jr., but Ginny shook her head and he subsided. After James was done with the whole story, Harry leaned back a bit to look into his face. "James, I promise you that we aren't going to die anytime soon, okay?"
James just nodded his head, not sure he should trust the words, even though he'd never known his father to lie to him before.
Harry looked over at Ginny and cocked an eyebrow. She furrowed her eyebrows, and tilted her head to the side. Harry scrunched up his eyebrows, and from there the inaudible conversation grew more involved, until finally they both nodded.
"James, why don't you get cleaned up, and we'll get your brother and sister, and go visit the Burrow. While we're there, we'll tell all three of you what's going on, okay?"
James thought about that and agreed. He couldn't figure out what he might have misinterpreted, but here was his chance to get the real information, and he wasn't going to pass it up. He hopped down off his dad's lap and raced into the bathroom.
Harry grinned, watching his son race out of the room. Then he picked up his wand from the bedside table and cast a quick Communio Patronus charm.
Ginny looked questioningly at him, and he said, "Just letting your family know what's going on."
"Oh, good idea." She looked pensive. "I guess we shouldn't be surprised that he figured out something was going on--I just don't know how he came to that conclusion!" she said, as she and Harry got up.
"I don't know either--I'm just grateful that cursed Dicto-Quill was the Junior edition--I hate to think what he would have read about if it copied down everything correctly!"
Ginny blushed. "I know, and I think we need to set up some of those wards in the kitchen, just in case."
Harry reached out and pulled her close to him. "You're probably right, 'cause I'm certainly not going to give up our lunchtime talk."
Ginny reached up and put her arms around Harry's neck, snuggling up even closer. "Good, Mr. Potter--I'd hate to be forced to come over there in person."
Harry chuckled. "Well, now, maybe I should take you up on that. I can lock the door to my office, and we can have some more . . . intimate discussions than we can have over the Floo."
Ginny giggled at that. "I don't know--last time we did that I had to Floo home wrapped in your cloak because you ruined my dress. I just knew someone at the Ministry was going to notice."
Harry reacted rather predictably to that--the images that started going through his head made it seem rather hot in the room. He cleared his throat, and growled in a low, low voice. "Well, next time, don't wear a dress under your robes."
Further conversation was impeded by the fact that Harry was kissing her then, hot, passionate kisses that had his wife moaning in pleasure, as she managed to find a way to move even closer to his body. His hands started to move down her back, to the hem of her shirt, while she pressed against him, maneuvering him back towards the bed. He managed to find bare skin beneath her shirt just as his legs hit the back of the bed and they fell over, managing to do so without breaking their kiss, which was a skill they had learned over the years.
Harry rolled them both over, and drew back for just a moment, looking down at his wife. She lay there, eyes half-closed, breathing heavily. She was so beautiful it took his breath away. The fact that she loved him was enough to make him stop and offer up a prayer of thanks every time he thought of it. She smiled at him then, knowing how much he loved to look at her. When he looked at her with that fiery passion in his eyes, it made all sorts of tingles start up in her body, and she knew that she'd better make sure that whatever she was doing was interruptable, for it wouldn't be too long before they were locked together in sweet bliss.
The yell was like a blast of icy water on the two lovers. Harry groaned, then clambered backwards off the bed, giving Ginny enough time to adjust her clothing to a hopefully-less-rumpled state.
"Are you ready, then, James?" Harry asked, as he turned around.
"Yes, Dad," James answered, and Harry had to stifle a laugh as he noticed James' hands securely in front of his eyes.
"You can look now, James. We're not doing anything icky anymore," Ginny told him, as she got up from the bed. "Let's go get Lily Luna ready, and your father can make sure Albus is all set. Think we can be down to the fireplace before them?"
James quickly agreed to the implied race, and ran out of the room hollering, "Lily! Lily! We're going to Grandma's house!"
Ginny quickly kissed Harry and whispered, "Tonight!"
Harry smiled back and swatted her on the bum on their way out, making her squeak.
The Burrow was, surprisingly, empty when they arrived. For a place so full of light, warmth, and chaos, it was rather shocking. The kids were rather disappointed at the lack of cousins and grandparents and aunts and uncles, but Ginny and Harry just smiled.
"Well, since no-one's here, let's go for a little walk, okay?" Ginny suggested.
The kids agreed, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, and they all trooped outside. Luckily it was a nice, warm day, with a gentle breeze to keep them from overheating. They struck off in a direction that none of the children could remember having explored before. They knew the property lines of the Burrow quite well, and the Weasleys' land didn't extend very far in this direction. Just outside the fence that marked the edge of the property was a wooded lot, and after that. . . well, they didn't really know. But this was the way their father led them, and he didn't seem to be in a mood to tell them why. Instead, he just hummed a little song and swung his and their mother's hands along as they walked.
The family climbed the fence--Lily Luna climbing through rather than over--and entered the woods. The three Potter children unconsciously moved closer to their parents as they wended their way through the trees. They took some comfort in their dad's continued whistling, and the smile on their mum's face. Obviously there was nothing to be too concerned about if their parents were so lighthearted.
After a short walk, which only seemed long to the children because of its unfamiliarity, they approached the edge of the woods. Their dad stopped them there, and squatted down to talk to them. "Okay, kids, we're about to come out of the woods. Once we're out, you'll see a house there, okay? Now, the family that lives there isn't home right now, but they said we could look at the house all we want, okay?"
James looked puzzled at this--what kind of people would just let another family look at their house. "Even inside, Dad?" he asked.
"Yup, even inside, James. But be very careful, we don't want to break anything."
All three children nodded quickly, although Lily's hand was being tightly held by her mother; previous experience showing that this was rather a necessity to keep her from running wild. With that, the Potters left the woods, and walked out onto. . .
Well, they walked out onto a broad, rolling lawn that led up to what had to be the neatest house in the world. There were three stories to the house, and on the top there looked to be a platform, with a telescope stand. Past the house was the tell-tale glint of Quidditch goals. There was a little plot that looked like it would be perfect for a garden, and some flowering bushes lined a gravel walkway that led to a large, wrap-around porch. The house itself was painted a light blue, with bright yellow trim, which looked, to the children at least, like sunshine in a blue sky.
The grin on their father's face indicated that he approved of what he saw, and if any of the kids had bothered to look at their mother closely, they would have noticed not just a slight smile on her lips, but suspiciously shiny eyes.
"Well, shall we go inside and look around?" Ginny asked her children. The boys looked up at her, as if questioning whether she were serious. "What, didn't you believe your father? The family wants us to see the inside too, so come on!"
Lily Luna had had no such compunctions, and was pulling as hard as she could on her mum's hand, yelling "Lily house! Lily house!" James just shook his head at his little sister--she could be so annoying at times.
The little family climbed the stairs to the porch, where Harry grasped the handle and opened it. He let his wife and children inside the house and shut the door behind him. The entryway had a couple of rooms opening off of it, and a hallway that led to the back of the house. James and Albus each picked a room to look in, but came back, disappointed.
"Dad," said Albus, "there's nothing here."
"What do you mean?" asked Harry, with as serious a face as he could manage.
Albus huffed in annoyance. "There's no furniture, no rugs, nothing! Are you sure someone lives here?"
Harry snorted, then subsided quickly when Ginny started to talk. "Well, I'm sure that this house belongs to someone, and we have their permission to look around. Maybe they just haven't got enough furniture for these rooms. Let's keep looking, okay?"
Lily, who had finally stopped yelling "Lily house!", took the lead, and pulled her mum, and the rest of the family, down the hallway to a closed door. She opened it and ran into what would prove to be the kitchen. James and Albus followed after and--
"SURPRISE!" The kitchen was full of Weasleys--everywhere the children looked were redheads, redheads' significant others, and children belonging to redheads. Grandma Molly and Grandpa Arthur were there. Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione were there too, with Rose and Hugo. Uncle George and Aunt Angelina were there with their twins, as well as Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey with the triplets. Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur had brought Victoire and Dominique. The only Weasley missing was Uncle Charlie.
James and Albus just stood there, trying to understand what was going on. Their shock certainly wasn't lessened by most of the Weasley family breaking out into laughter. James turned to his father. "What. . . what are they doing here? Is this where Grandma and Grandpa are going to live?"
Albus had backed up against his mum, still trying to take in the surprising sight of all his relatives in this strange family's house. Ginny and Harry looked at each other, then bent down to talk to their kids. Finding that impossible, Ginny stood back up and yelled, "QUIET, YOU LOT!"
When the noise had lessened sufficiently, she crouched back down next to her husband. "James, Albus, this house, well, it belongs to us. Your dad and I have been planning on moving our little family out of Grimmauld Place to this home. We wanted you to have room to play, and to fly, and to be able to visit Grandma and Grandpa all you want. And Grimmauld Place just isn't a very fun place for doing all that." She bit her lip. "Well, what do you think?"
A voice from the other congregated Weasleys was heard then, "Oh, please say yes!", and then Dominque's mother shushed him.
James was flabbergasted--he had been so wrong! His parents weren't leaving him behind--they just wanted to surprise him with a new house. He didn't know how he felt about this. It would mean getting used to a new place, and he wouldn't know where the stairs creaked, and sneaking around would be a lot harder. . . But then he thought of the Quidditch pitch, and the wide lawn, and the Burrow being so close. He thought of the wide porch, and sleeping out overnight, which he certainly couldn't do in the city. A smile broke out across his face, and he looked up at his dad with shining eyes. "I think it's brilliant, Dad!"
The cheer that arose from the massed Weasleys was enough to knock him back on his heels, but he knew he'd made the right decision. Albus, too, looked very happy at the prospect of moving to this new home. Lily had left her parents at the very beginning, and was busy playing with baby Hugo.
James tugged on his dad's hand to bring him back down. "So, you're not going to be off chasing bad wizards with Mum?"
"No, son, we were never planning on doing that. In fact, I talked with my boss, and told him that I was tired of having to go into the field, and I wanted fewer hours at work so I could spend more time with my family. So not only am I not taking your mother away, you get me around more often too! What do you think about that?"
James smiled. "That'd be great, Dad." He thought a little more, then tugged at his mum. "Mum, is this what Lily Luna was saying all the time? She knew about the house?"
Ginny nodded. "Yes, she did. There were a few times when I had to bring her with me while you were at school. But we figured you probably wouldn't be able to guess from what she was saying."
"But, everything was going to happen next week, wasn't it? That's what you meant by two weeks, right?"
His mum smiled. "Yes, the house isn't quite ready yet, but it will be by the end of next week. But you were so worried, and we decided that we could tell you all the secret today instead. It's just lucky the whole family was around today, so they could be a part of the surprise."
James nodded and thought some more. This explained just about everything. He mentally ran down his list of observations, and noticed how all of them fit the circumstances--he'd just guessed the wrong explanation.
But there was one thing. He looked back up to his parents, who were conversing with Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione. "Dad!" he called, but his dad didn't hear him. "Dad!" he called louder. Still nothing. Finally, he yelled as loud as he could, "DAD!"
All the commotion stopped, except for Uncle George whispering to Aunt Angelina, "Do you have a pin?"
"Yes, James, what is it?" his dad asked.
"I just have one more question," he stated, knowing that if he could just get that answered, he'd be one hundred percent satisfied.
"Okay, James, ask away."
"What did Mum do to you with the feathers?"