Let the Light Shine In
A HariPo oneshot
Note: The Harry Potter characters belong to J.K. Rowling, not to me. This pairing is a Mew and Mor's Weird Pairing, which you may find in the M&MWP forum (see my profile for details). Check out and join the forum FUN! Read, review, and enjoy! Originally written for HarryPotterResidentEvilFanJnL, for her birthday. :3
"Meeting you was fate, becoming your friend was a choice, falling in love with you was beyond my control." —Unknown
James Sirius Potter had an exciting life. It couldn't be more exciting—he was the son of Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley, two heroes of the war. His family was really a family of heroes.
He had an idea to be a hero himself. He didn't know how, as the world wasn't as dangerous anymore. But he tried to look for excitement wherever he went…hence stealing the Marauder's Map from his father's belongings was one of the best choices (in his opinion) he'd ever made.
So, if life was so amazing, why was he taking Muggle Studies?
It wasn't the worst subject the eldest Potter son could've pursued—there was, of course, Divination and Ancient Runes. Divination would be bad for the obvious, family-history-related problems. Ancient Runes would be awful because James was smart but not that willing to spend every scrap of free time doing homework. But Muggle Studies wasn't any better. He was a wizard, for crying out loud! Why should he have to learn about Muggle things? If he wanted to learn that, then he'd just ask his dad or Aunt Hermione. James had the same view of the subject as Uncle Ron: Muggles could be interesting, but there wasn't any use in studying them if one remained in the Wizarding world.
Professor Justin Finch–Fletchley tended to laugh at James' grumblings. "You've been in my class for three years now," he would say. "If you really hated the subject, you would've dropped it right away."
James often retorted with a curse under his breath, to which Professor Finch–Fletchley would raise an eyebrow. But he never told James off or gave him detention.
The Potter came to expect certain bits of pardon from some of his teachers. Hagrid loved him since he'd known his family. Flitwick seemed to think James had some skill with his subject. Longbottom was careful to keep an eye on him, as was McGonagall; being his father's son, James liked to go looking for trouble every now and then, and both of those teachers clearly remembered his parents' school days. Slughorn adored him; though Harry hadn't been too great with Potions, James had inherited his Grandmum Lily's talent. As for the other teachers… Parkinson–Zabini, who taught Defense Against the Dark Arts, tried to be fair to her students, though she didn't mind being harsh with James and his relatives (due to old grudges, he thought). Zabini he didn't have to deal with, as that bloke taught Ancient Runes. Vector was old and stuck in an age of logic; that made sense, since she taught Arithmancy (James' favorite class), and she was fair when she deemed it necessary.
He didn't really play favorites with his teachers, as they didn't vice versa. He didn't know whom he'd choose even if he were asked. In James' mind, they were just adults there to help educate the young blood in the Wizarding community.
Well… He didn't have a favorite…yet.
He was enjoying his sixth year quite a bit. Sure, plenty of it was spent studying or preparing for the N.E.W.T-level classes in the coming year, but James looked at the year as a kind of buffer built in so he could relax before his last school year at Hogwarts.
"It's not a buffer," Al told his older brother with a look. The fourth year was in the library with his sibling, working on an essay for McGonagall. Since he was in Slytherin and James was in Gryffindor, the brothers had few chances to hang out. As James liked to try some of his jokes on his little brother, Al didn't mind the little time.
"What d'you mean?" James asked, balancing a quill on his nose. A bit to the right, a bit to the left, don't wiggle, don't wiggle…
"It's your lazy year. Look at you—" Al was going to follow that up with a further point, but he felt the picture explained it all.
"Huh? Uh, right, right…damn!" The quill blew onto the table as someone walked by. James cupped his cheek in his hand and leaned on the table. "What were you saying?"
Al frowned. "James, do something this year. Don't waste it. No, I don't mean try a new prank," he added hastily when his brother grinned. "I mean… Here's an idea: Tighten up the subjects you struggle with."
"I don't want to do Transfiguration stuff right now. Or History of Magic."
"Then how about focusing on something you don't particularly like? Like Muggle Studies."
James made a pufferfish face. "That's…okay…"
"Aw, you don't like my class?" asked a voice behind him.
James froze. Wincing, he turned around to find Professor Finch–Fletchley standing behind him with a book under his arm and a wry grin on his face. He had a lackadaisical, brown lock of hair hanging over his brow. If James didn't somewhat know his teacher, he'd say the professor looked rather haughty.
"You might want to follow your brother's advice," he continued, scanning the nearest shelf and placing the book back in its right spot. "You're not too bad at Muggle Studies, but you'd do well to improve. You are planning on taking my N.E.W.T. class next year, right?"
"Uh…" James grimaced. He hadn't given it much thought. "Well…"
"I'll take that as a 'no,'" Finch–Fletchley remarked with a chuckle. "You should reconsider. You could do better, but I think you provide an…interesting insight."
"Do I want to know?" Al asked, stifling a snicker.
James shot him a look. "Don't start."
"Let's see if I remember…," the teacher pondered aloud. "I think it was, 'Muggles would do a lot better if they applied electricity in more useful manners. Take household spells as an example; many mother witches use them to get things done at once. If Muggles studied magic, they could see that electricity applied at once would move things along faster. Thus, Muggles should make more multitasking machines.'" He snorted and coughed when James glared at him. Al burst out laughing, only to shut up when Madam Pince began to march over.
"That was inappropriate, sharing my work without my permission," James groused, cheeks reddening.
"Oh, Mr. Potter, don't worry about it. Your essay on ten better uses for electricity really did present the most frank and sensible reasons for Muggles not only to think outside of the box with their inventions but for Muggles even to study magic," his professor replied. The older wizard smiled. "You have some good old common sense."
Al almost exploded with laughter again. "J-James? Common sense? Do you know who this is, professor?"
"Yes, I do," Finch–Fletchley replied. "And he knows more than he'd like to exercise, academically."
James sighed. "This is leading to…"
"…a few extra lessons, yes, Mr. Potter," the man responded. "You've slacked off this year, and I'm afraid, while you have the potential, you're dangerously toeing the line between succession and failure." Finch–Fletchley passed him a note. "Right after supper, you are to meet me in my office. Bring your book and parchment. Consider this a sort of cram class." He nodded to Al and then gave James a stern look, showing James that, despite the friendly atmosphere, he really meant it about remedial studies. "I'll see you starting tonight, Mr. Potter." And he left.
James groaned. "How could things have gone from fab to bleargh in only ten minutes?"
His younger brother smirked. "That's why you're not supposed to follow in Dad's footsteps. Don't slack off in classes you think are useless."
And Finch–Fletchley told him something similar that night.
"Okay, so how the hel—er, heck do I improve in a class that's mainly text work?" James asked his teacher as soon as he stepped into the office. He paused and took in his surroundings; Finch–Fletchley really had a nice place here. Sure, he was the Hufflepuff Head of House, but this was pretty cozy for just a school professor. The furniture looked new, and the air was filled with a light, sweet smell. Way in the back, Finch–Fletchley's room's door was ajar, and even the furnishings in there looked comfy.
The teacher saw his observations. "Oh, don't mind it in here. An old friend, Ernie Macmillan, does woodwork for a living. He and his old best mate, Hannah Abbott, also do some Herbology on the side." Finch–Fletchley waved an arm around. "Hence the lovely desk and chairs, and the aroma."
James paused. "Abbott? You mean Professor Longbottom's—?"
The man nodded. "Yes, Neville's ex."
The Potter son dropped his eyes to the floor. It was strange to be talking about that, considering it was James' cousin, Victoire, who had…helped things, er, dissolve faster. James pushed that out of his mind, though. "So, uh, back to my question."
"Yes. And it's noted that you tried to refrain from cursing, Mr. Potter," the Muggle Studies instructor added with a friendly smirk. "I think the answer is simple: Read the information and discuss it with someone." His brow furrowed. "Don't you ever just talk with your father about these things? He grew up most of his life nearly as a Muggle."
James shifted uneasily on his feet and dropped into one of the available chairs before Finch–Fletchley's desk. He tossed his rucksack into the other beside him. "Not really," he replied grumpily.
"May I ask why not?"
The Gryffindor sighed. "Well, you, along with Hagrid and Neville, probably know me best. Your class is one of the ones I've been in the longest…" James frowned. "I…don't get along very well with Dad, but it's to be expected."
Finch–Fletchley seemed surprised. "I'm sorry to hear that."
"It's fine. It's not your fault. Dad's just always busy with his Auror business. I doubt I'll follow in his occupational footsteps."
The room quieted as neither said anything. Finch–Fletchley waved his wand and conjured some tea. "Shall we?"
James nodded and cracked open his textbook, glad to have moved on to a different subject. He…he hadn't really shared his opinion of his father with anyone before then. So maybe… Maybe these cram sessions were just the thing he needed.
A week into the new regiment showed little improvement. James had plenty of theories and ideas, sure, but he had a hard time feeling enough to apply his way of thinking to better understanding the subject.
Finch–Fletchley was sorely unimpressed, something James could tell behind his teacher's politeness and forced smiles. Honestly, his professor had the patience of Aunt Luna (well, near there), and it made James upset with himself that he could read and talk about the subject as much as he wanted. But that didn't mean he could absorb it the way Finch–Fletchley wanted him to do.
"Aren't you humbled," Lily told her older brother as she sat in the Gryffindor common room, playing Exploding Snap with their cousin, Rose.
James growled at the second year. "I don't see you putting any heart into your studies."
"It's because I like school well enough, but I don't care very much," she replied.
Rose frowned, looking up from their cards. "Lily, that's not the right attitude. You should care more about your studies or you'll be a dropout."
"Exactly," James interrupted. "There's more to life than Teddy, Lils."
The look his sister gave him was scathing, and she set off a card to explode right in his face. Yeah, her Teddy crush was exactly where to hit Lily in retaliation.
As Lily stomped up to the girls' dormitory, Rose sighed and turned to James. "So Muggle Studies is really getting to you?"
James pulled a face. "I think Finch–Fletchley's getting to me. He has too much hope for me, I think. And I don't do well with that much faith placed in me."
Rose thought for a moment. "Kind of like when Uncle Harry had faith you'd be a Seeker and would win your very first Quidditch game like him?"
His jaw twitched at the bad memory, but Rose was right. It was probably why James took more after his uncles Ron and George than he would his father. Harry was too uptight for his own good; the worst thing to happen to him was to get a child who was as reckless as he'd once been. The comparison unsettled James and saddened him all at once.
And these feelings? They were starting to rear their ugly heads all because of these little study sessions. So maybe he needed to stop.
James tried telling Finch–Fletchley as much about two weeks later, after deliberation as to how best to lightly put it. The response was an unwelcome one.
"No, you're not thinking with a clear mind," Finch–Fletchley told him as they walked down to his office on a chilly autumn night.
The eldest Potter had to bite his tongue from remarking that he wasn't thinking straight because of these sessions. However, he obediently followed his teacher into the now very familiar office. He picked a mini pumpkin tart from Finch–Fletchley's secret stash of goodies and ate it in one bite.
"James, you just had dinner."
"I was still hungry."
Finch–Fletchley sighed and flopped down into his chair, something which James had only begun to witness recently. Just a little, Finch–Fletchley was opening up more of himself to James. James was sure if he remarked upon it, Finch–Fletchley would've only said that a less teacher-heavy aura would improve James' concentration.
"Open up your book to chapter five, the one on light and heat energy."
James nodded. "Right, the ones that help to make electrical lights… Candles are so much better…"
"Candles start fires."
"Aguamenti puts out fires."
"Not everyone can use spells, James."
"You quoted my paper yourself—Muggles would benefit from studying magic, Justin."
Finch–Fletchley picked his head up at the familiarity and quirked an eyebrow, to which James nervously laughed.
"No, no… Actually, it's fine." He sat up fully and leaned on his desk. "How could I have been so oblivious…?"
Finch–Fletchley smiled, making James wonder what the hell was running through that crazy Hufflepuff brain of his. "I must ask your forgiveness, James. I hadn't realized that, essentially, what you need is a friend." He looked at the hazel-eyed boy. "I've been pushing you too much, haven't I?"
James stared at his book so as not to give himself away. "No, it's fine, sir."
Finch–Fletchley was quite for a moment, which made James look up. "You know what?" the professor continued. "I think we might get somewhere if you thought of me as just one of the blokes."
At that, the Gryffindor laughed. "Professor? I thought this was supposed to better my marks."
"You miss the point, James. This is to better your mind, your outlook." He held out his hand and shook hands with James. "So, nice to meet you. I'm Justin."
James had to admit, this made things look up. He smirked and used Wingardium Leviosa to bring the rest of the pumpkin tarts to him.
"What? Mates let mates finish their dessert stash."
Truly, forming a friendship with Finch–Fletchley—Justin, James had to remind himself—turned things around. It was as though the pressure had been lifted. Justin was not another adult breathing down his neck to do better in school and become the top student. Instead, he was just a friend helping out another friend.
"Ha! That's laughable," Molly, a seventh year and another one of James' cousins, retorted when they had break together in the common room. How she had ever made it into Gryffindor beat the hell out of James and most of the rest of the family. Then again, even Uncle Percy had been in Gryffindor…
James had talked to her only because she was the only family member close in age to him currently at school. Immediately, he regretted it. Molly thought she knew everything; a friendship with a teacher was out of the question to her. Certainly in the wake of the Victoire and Neville "scandal."
Molly pushed aside a book of hers as she moved from her Ancient Runes homework to her Astronomy chart. "But have you at least seen some improvement?"
He nodded. "Yes. The last two pop quizzes he gave, I scored near perfect. After all these years, I finally grasp that this class is more concept that information."
She nodded, her wavy brown hair bobbing up and down as her glasses slid slightly down the bridge of her nose. "Then…maybe it's not as laughable as I said. Sorry. Good for you, James."
"Thanks," he said, grinning. "I'm thinking… I might just take his N.E.W.T. class next year. I'm sure I'll do well on the exam a few months from now. Merlin, I can't wait for the Christmas holidays next week."
Molly paused and stared at him, not pushing her spectacles up as they fell almost completely off. Her countenance was one of surprise. "You haven't heard?"
He stared back. "Heard what?"
"James, Professor Finch–Fletchley is leaving after this year. At least, that's the rumor I've heard," she added in haste as her cousin's face fell. "I'm sorry. I thought you knew. You said you two were damn near mates…he didn't tell you?"
James sucked it up and smiled forcibly. "Oh, no, yeah… He did tell me… It just, uh, slipped my mind, is all… You know, I think I need a little break. I'm going out on my broom if anyone needs me, okay?" Molly nodded as he hustled out of Gryffindor Tower and down the stairs.
That had to be just a rumor… There was no way Justin would leave. Certainly not without telling him, as Molly had said. After all, weren't they friends?
Or was that just a way to get James to do what he wanted?
It took all of James' strength not to slam the Muggle Studies teacher's office door open when he reached the correct floor. Actually, it opened with quiet ease, and James worried that Justin had left already without telling him anything at all.
However, the office looked the same as always, minus the goodies. Somewhere in James' mind, it came to mind that James had eaten the rest last night, so Justin probably hadn't had the time to get more.
James halted near the teacher's desk, unsure of what to do next. It was pretty quiet, and he had a bad feeling… He went to Justin's door, though, and slowly opened it.
The room didn't seem changed from the bits he'd glimpsed before. It appeared everything was still in place, from the black-and-yellow coverlets to the badger wallpaper. Unfortunately, Justin's bags were missing. James tried to tell himself that they just were out of the way, but his sinking feeling grew.
Whatever the truth really was, it would have to wait. Justin had left. Hopefully just for the holiday break.
Needless to say, the air in the Potter residence was tension-filled. Harry had to work most of the break, and, while James didn't care much about that, James was moody from not hearing at all from the one person he wanted to question endlessly.
When the students returned to school, James wanted to seek Justin out immediately. Molly told him to be patient, to let the professor come to him. She smartly said that mates oughtn't to be pushed into admissions.
James bitterly came back with, "You're right; there's Veritaserum for that."
Molly—Head Girl, you see—nearly docked him House points for that.
It wasn't as though Justin hadn't returned. He had and was teaching his class like normal. The only difference was that he hadn't automatically started up the tutoring again with James. James tried asking him why after class once, but Justin had only shooed him on to his next class.
This was really beginning to piss James off.
It wasn't until mid-February when Justin relented and finally spent some time out of class with James. They took a walk through the grounds' outskirts as a light and cold snow fell. Justin bundled up with a scarf. James, on the other hand, got by with just a windbreaker, much to Justin's dismay and protests.
"Lovely classroom," James stated as he wiped his glasses for the fifth time, as they kept fogging up.
Justin heaved a great sigh. "Stop it, James. You're acting childish."
"Well, I am a child, aren't I? I'm just sixteen." With a twinge of regret, he realized that it would only be next month when he turned seventeen. This situation had consumed him so much he'd almost forgotten about his birthday—and the most important one, at that.
"Don't start…" The older wizard walked to the edge of the Clock Tower and gazed out into the whiteness. "You're far from a child, James. Well, you would be if you didn't fool around so much."
James raised his eyebrows and came to Justin's side, giving him a look. "I'm a child? It's the troll calling Hagrid large," he said in response to Justin's words. "You've been avoiding me without an explanation."
"For good reason."
The hazel-eyed wizard tensed. "I…know. I heard you were going to leave. I just… I wish you'd told me."
Justin glanced at him. "It's actually just a thought. Some things are going on, some things not Hogwarts-related and others…others you just wouldn't understand."
"You remember that chapter in the book, on artificial light?" James asked, something suddenly striking him.
"Yes, what about it?"
"Without all the components coming together, Muggles are just bathed in darkness." He shoved Justin's arm. "Without people opening up and being honest, there's no room for human connections. There's no room for—for friendships."
Justin's smile waned a bit, and he looked near his age, despite his amiability usually making him appear not much older than Teddy. "Just darkness, then, eh?" He turned around and leaned his back against the railing. "And what do you think of that?"
"I think you're being a git," James answered truthfully. He shoved his hands in his pockets. "Just tell me what's going on."
The man pursed his lips. "I spent my holiday with Ernie and Hannah, and they came to me. Ernie needs more help with his business, and Hannah brought up my Muggle expertise, and that got all of us thinking that maybe, with my help, we could expand the business and generate more revenue for him. It's his bread and butter, you see."
"Oh." What had James been expecting? He wasn't quite sure… But this was very different and serious. Helping out a friend in need, and in such a way… It was bound to take up most of Justin's time, so there wouldn't be any time for a teaching job. Maybe Justin could be a guest lecturer every once in a while…?
That made Justin laugh. "I haven't decided anything, James." But his laughter died in his throat, which he cleared as his face flushed, probably from the cold. "Well, I've made some decisions, but I've got to settle with the outcomes."
James jogged to keep up with him as they headed back to the school at a leisurely pace. "What? Hannah's with Ernie and you're not too happy about that?" he teased.
"No, nothing of the sort," Justin replied. "It's just—something both of them said to me."
The clock struck behind them, marking a new hour. Justin glanced back at it and continued on. "It's nothing. Let's head back. I have new tea and crumpets to try, by the way…"
James didn't care about tea and crumpets, though. He wanted to know what was really weighing on Justin's mind. After all, they were friends. And James had come to almost read the Hufflepuff Head like a book.
If only he could weasel the truth out of him.
"Happy birthday, James! You still have a tutor session tonight."
Justin chuckled as James groaned at the end of Muggle Studies. "Couldn't you have put it off until tomorrow or even the weekend? I'll come on a Saturday, promise!"
The professor shook his head. "You've come a long way, James. Why stop now?"
"Are you sure you're not just being nice to get me to study?"
"Now, would I do that?"
"Yes. You'd also feed me desserts to get me to study."
"Touché." Justin walked him to the classroom door. "Tell you what: Since it's your big seventeen, I'll grant you one wish for coming tonight."
James grinned. "Do I have to use it tonight?"
"No. But it should be within reason," the older wizard added with a reproving look.
"Why, of course, professor!"
And, yet, as the day went on, James actually tried to think of things within reason. Asking for a broom seemed a bit much, even though Justin came from a fairly wealthy family. It was apparent he'd never get the answers for the end-of-the-year exam… Maybe he could… Hmmm… Then it hit him:
He'd ask for the whole truth, the whole story. And Justin had said anything within reason.
This had to be well within reason.
With that thought in mind, James raced through the rest of the day. Sure, he liked his presents and the small cake Lily and Rose had made for him, and the box of Hogwarts-grown Wheezes Freddie and Roxanne had come up with were brilliant, but the idea of forcing Justin to be straight with him kept him going.
Soon enough, it was suppertime, and it couldn't have gone by any slower. Thirty minutes left… Seventeen… Ten… Six minutes… Three… Two… One… Thirty seconds…
That bell was the best thing he'd heard all evening.
James tried to calm himself. He didn't want to scare Justin into backing out of the present. But the curiosity was killing James. So with muscles wired from the excitement, he very nearly burst through the office door.
Justin had his back turned to James. He was facing a new tray of pumpkin tarts, but he sensed his pupil's arrival. "Hullo, Birthday Boy."
The Potter son grinned and tossed his bag into one of the chairs in front of Justin's desk as usual. "I have my wish."
Justin turned around, seemingly glad he could do something…and maybe even make things right between them? "So what will you have, my good man? And, no, I'm not serving you your first firewhiskey."
"What did Hannah and Ernie tell you that buggered you so much?"
Judging by the annoyance that flitted across Justin's kind features, James had hit home. This might just be outside what Justin was willing to give up… "Can't I just interest you in the latest Firebolt model?" he offered, deflated.
James grimaced. "This is much simpler than that. And it won't cost you anything."
The older wizard snorted and walked to his desk, where he sat down. He avoided James' eyes as James came and stood beside him, staring down expectantly at him. "And you would know that how?"
"You're a smart bloke; you do the maths." When Justin opened his mouth to protest, James stopped him. "Who was it that first mentioned he was going to Eton before coming to Hogwarts to my father when they first met?"
Justin's cheeks burned, and he grumbled. "If I haven't told you before, James, then let me tell you now: You're too smart for your own good."
"Why, thank you, professor."
That irked Justin, and he sighed. "Nothing else?"
"I just want the whole story. Really."
The Muggle Studies teacher stood and walked over to the window ledge, where he sat down on the little cushioned nook there. James followed him with his eyes only and waited for Justin to begin. "Hannah was the first one to say something. She said—rather, warned me that I…speak too much."
James didn't follow. "Sorry?"
"I speak too much of someone. And, what with her history and how Victoire and Neville came together, I can understand her apprehension. Ernie just told me I ought to watch out, since I haven't, ahem, dealt with such a situation before."
"You…oh, Merlin. You don't have your own Victoire here, do you?" The last thing Hogwarts needed was another student–teacher relationship to complicate things…
"Nothing quite to Neville and Victoire's standards, bless their brave hearts." Justin sighed. "I both wish and don't want me to be as brave."
"But it is a student?"
"James, Hannah is worried I speak too much of you."
Had either one of them cast Muffliato without a word? Because it felt that way, at least to James. He didn't know what to say… That was something big, all right…
"And Ernie is only worried about age differences and such things, as though something will come of this," Justin finished, waving an arm between the two of them. He laughed awkwardly, but he frowned when James remained silent. "Now do you see why I didn't want to fulfill this request?"
James frowned at him. "But do you feel that way?"
"Mates are honest with each other, Justin. Do you feel that way?"
James nodded, but he didn't understand why. This was much more than he'd expected. Absentmindedly, he grabbed a tart, but when he brought it to his lips, he found he lacked an appetite. His mind was rather reeling from Justin's words.
The eldest Potter grimaced, feeling his eyes dampen. The last time something had affected him so much, he'd been ten, and his dad had been angry at him and grumbled that maybe his letter wouldn't arrive on his eleventh birthday. Of course, James had learned not to let his father affect him after that, and he tried to let most things slide off him.
But this was different.
"I'm…feeling unwell, professor," James croaked. He put the tart on the desk and grabbed his things. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight, James," Justin said sadly. James knew he wouldn't follow him out of there; Justin knew James too well at this point, too. He knew he was ready to spill with emotions. Something that he hated to do.
Oh, what a lovely way to remember one's birthday.
Spring arrived in all its damp glory. James felt it reflected his frame of mind well. He hadn't had any more tutoring with Justin since his birthday, and he still was unsure of how he felt about Justin's roundabout confession.
As the rainy season dragged on, James daydreamed about his coming final school year. He already had an idea about what he wanted to do: make wands. He would never be an Auror; he'd seen firsthand how it affected his family. But, with wands, he could help people and change lives for the better. After all, a wizard's life started and ended with his wand.
But James wondered about the moments when the wand was resting and put aside. It wasn't a wizard's wand that defined him. It was his actions and character.
So where did that leave James, as he'd been so obviously shaped by Justin's presence?
He pondered that as summer rolled in and brought with it some lovely humidity. Most of the castle was just anxious to get through the exams already, so when exam week finally arrived, James zipped through his tests and prayed that his last year would actually be an uneventful one.
"I definitely aced Divination," Al told his brother as they dawdled in the emptying corridors on the last day of the school year. "It's a weak subject, but I didn't take the Dad route out. I studied and worked my arse off to get my good mark." He turned to James. "But I'm thinking Defense Against the Dark Arts is my favorite class. I like the action of it. Do you have a favorite class, James? Oh, yeah! Did you ever tighten up Muggle Studies?"
James jolted at the mention of the class. "Hmm? Oh, yeah, yeah. I'm sure I aced that one. As for favorite class, that's Arithmancy."
"Yeah… But, though I love D.A.D.A. I hate Parkinson–Zabini." Al shivered in disgust. "She's repulsive," he added quietly. He blinked. "Who's your favorite teacher anyway? Vector? You like Arithmancy so much…"
The question gave James pause. He had always tried to keep his feelings for his teachers even, but did he have a favorite? Sure, he liked Flitwick and Hagrid more than McGonagall and Longbottom, but he—for the most part—had equal respect for all his professors. And, yet, one professor…one friend…one person stuck out in his mind.
"James? You in there?" Al shook his hand in front of his brother's face and frowned.
"I'm fine," the older Potter boy answered. "I just… I'll be right back, okay? Don't let Lily leave for the train without us both." He didn't wait for Al to say anything before he turned on his heel and walked an ever-familiar path to an ever-familiar office. An office he hadn't entered in months.
James knocked, and he heard Justin's voice call out and grant permission to enter. Justin looked up once James shut the door behind him, and his face drained of all color. "James."
Justin's face hardened. "I would like to correct any misconceptions," he groused as he moved about his office, packing things. "I'm no pervert or pedo or miscreant or lecher, and I have no intentions of being something anywhere near that vile—"
"You're my favorite."
"Huh?" The look on Justin's face was priceless; James had a hard time not laughing and breaking the serious tone of things.
"My favorite teacher, I mean."
The older wizard's shoulders slackened, and he breathed a sigh of relief. "Oh. Thank you. Thank you very much."
James smiled halfheartedly. "And I wasn't thinking any of those things about you, just so you know."
Justin reddened furiously, and, for the first time, James thought of such an action as cute. The idea was a tad strange, true, but the action was still cute. "Then what have you been thinking?"
"There's been too much running through my brain to pinpoint any one thing," James replied, running a hand through his hair. He locked eyes with the teacher. "But would it help if I made some statements?"
"State away," Justin said as he disappeared into his room to gather his garments. James had to follow him.
"Hannah was right to warn you. I can tell by watching you that I make you antsy…and I imagine you probably did talk often about our time together. But you spend a lot of time with me; that's to be expected." He held up a hand when it appeared Justin wanted to interrupt. "Mates know each other well, Justin."
"We wouldn't be a repeat of Victoire and Neville," Justin grumbled. "No one's in any relationship or marriage and—well, you aren't interested."
"Did I say that?" James asked, catching the taller wizard off-guard. "Let me finish. What Ernie said… It's bull. So what about age? I'm an adult; you even said yourself that I'm far from a child. And this 'new territory'…" He put a hand on Justin's left arm as they descended the small staircase from his room and back into his office. "Aren't we all new to things we haven't tried before?"
Justin slowed down at the bottom step, staring up into James' face above him. "I only told you what you wanted to know. I'm not coercing you to do anything."
"I know. I'm coercing you," James stated cheekily. He followed a red-faced Justin to his desk, where the basket of tarts rested. "As they say, 'Absence makes the heart grow fonde'—mphf!" James glared at him as Justin shoved a tart in his mouth to shut him up.
"You don't know what you're talking about. You're too young."
James swallowed the pastry, shot Justin a dirty look, and then walked over and closed the office door. "Bullshit, Justin. You know as well as I do that's not an excuse."
Justin fidgeted with the cuff of his jumper and closed his nearby trunk. "James—"
"No more 'buts'!" James stomped back over and grabbed Justin by the tie, ready to shake him. "You goddamn listen already! Yes, you were—are—my teacher. But I became friends with you, at no harm to either of us. And now when I'm fairly sure that something more still wouldn't harm either of us, you're backing out? Aren't you supposed to be loyal to those you love?"
Justin frowned. "It's not that easy."
James hesitated—he hadn't done this before, but he would eventually, wouldn't he?—before he grabbed Justin by the chin and drew him down for a brief kiss. Justin froze in that partially bent position, so James took advantage of that and gingerly deepened the kiss.
Hell, yes. This felt right. Why couldn't he have known of their feelings before to have just asked for this for his birthday?
"Still think it's not that easy?"
"Don't go." James leaned his head against Justin's breastbone as the older wizard straightened up. "You can't leave Hogwarts for good. It's your home. It's—It's where I'll be."
"Only for one more year."
"Yeah, but that year will feel like another seven if you leave to join Ernie and Hannah. I—" James took a deep breath before embarrassingly saying, "I'm your home."
Finally, Justin smiled. It was the best thing James could've ever asked for, and he finally felt as though the bad air between them had been lifted. "See?" he said quietly. "It's thinking like that that will get you a N.E.W.T. in my class."
James' heart lightened tenfold. "So you'll come back next year?"
"I already told Ernie I was only going to do consultations for him. I love teaching too much."
"And you're too tempted to be the next scandal."
"Hmph. Victoire, you aren't."
"Of course. I'm something much better."
Justin allowed James to press himself closer. Yeah, James had that good ol' Potter charisma…and magnetism. "What's that?" he breathed against the other's lips.
SWEET! I love writing very romantic slash. The somewhat explicit kind can be fun, too, but I just adore straight romance (haha, no pun intended). But I think I'm in love with this pairing.
Thanks for reading, and please review!
-mew-tsubaki ;) :D X3
2017 note: FUCK. YES. 8D It's been a while since I reread any of my Jamestins (7 yrs since this one), BUT. LEMME TELL YA. Though I squirmed at a few clichés in the final scene, I can tell you this: Jamestin rly was where my overall headcanon, the Maydayverse, started, even tho I've gone back and written Trio era and Marauder era Maydayverse fics, too. Jamestin has real chemistry, and later Jamestins showcase some of my best writing…not to mention, being one of my main OTPs, I've written quite a lot for them. But the Maydayverse is not only about "shipping" everyone but seeing how some canon and fanon things played out…so yeah. I hope you, reader, enjoyed this, and will read more Jamestin if not more Maydayverse, as well. :3c