Birthdays

By: Amilia Padfoot

Disclaimer: Okay, listen up, I shall say this only once. I don't own any of the characters in this story, just the idea for the story. Anything you recognise, e.g. the speech from the people in the memories and what they do, belong to J.K. Rowling. All I own is James's speech, reactions and the overall plot of the fic.

Summary: Next gen fic. James stumbles upon something in his father's office and discovers that seeing is believing. No, not actual time travel per say...

A/N: This is my – what? Sixth fan fiction? Wow. Once again I have to thank my ludicrously amazing beta DramionePerfected for helping me with this. This one's for you Drammy!


"Oh cheer up James, you can go over Lucas's house any old time," Ginny told her eldest son, who was sat moodily on the bottom step of the stairs.

"But he really wanted me to come today. He said he had something really cool to show me but it was only going to last the day," James replied, frustrated that his mother didn't seem to understand what he was missing out on. Sure, Lucas had more dippy ideas than Auntie Luna, but when the day comes you could possibly witness the hatching of an illegal dragon in your best friend's kitchen, you don't tend to say no. Ginny sighed, not in the mood to have this conversation with him yet again at this time of day.

"Look, will you please just go upstairs and ask your brother and sister to come down? Your dad should be home soon." James didn't move and waited - long enough to be defiant, and yet not long enough for his mum to get mad - before he turned and stomped upstairs, muttering curses he had learned from Teddy a little too proudly under his breath.

All frustration soon evaporated at the simple sight of an open door, a door that was nearly never left open. He moved towards the door and peeked inside.

"Dad?" No response. He stepped into the office and sure enough there was no-one to be seen. "Dad? You there?" He knew he probably looked weird, calling out to an empty room, but then again, you could never know with his dad. He had learnt the hard way to be completely certain no one was around before you did something you knew you shouldn't. All too many times he had committed mischief only to find his dad had been standing behind him the whole time. He always just seemed to know. He whipped round, suddenly paranoid. No one was there. He let out a sigh. 'You're getting jumpy, James,' he thought to himself.

Then wondered why his dad would leave the door open. He'd never before. But then again, he had been very distracted lately, more than usual. Even his mum was getting concerned. Before he could ponder any further a gleaming blue light caught his eye. In the corner of the room was an old wooden cabinet. Its chestnut doors were wide open, revealing a stone basin in which the blue light was shining from; like a clam proudly presenting its pearl.

Before he knew it, he was walking around his dad's desk that was laden with disorderly papers, maps and moving diagrams. He reached the basin and peered into its shallow depths, mesmerized by the liquid. It seemed to shine like silver moonlight, and yet shift like colorless cloud. It was beautiful.

Around the edge of the basin were strange looking symbols and runes, though in the center of the symbols there was writing that he recognized as English. He could just about make out the word 'memories'. He leaned in closer to get a better look, and instantly regretted it.

The room swirled around him, disappearing as the shining liquid sucked him in. As suddenly as the swirling started it stopped, the room, however, was not the same. In fact, James found himself standing in what had to be the dampest and dirtiest room he had ever set foot in. There was no furniture in the room except a moldy looking couch that seemed to breathe. The couch then gave a loud snore, announcing the presence of a human being. As the rather large boy turned over in his sleep James could see a head of blond under the ragged blanket. A porky arm flopped out of the blanket and dangled over the edge of the make-shift bed, a soft green glow emitting from his wrist watch.

In the center of the room, there were a couple of withered crisp packets that looked like they had been accessories in a poor attempt at a fire. James wondered where on earth he could be, as he listened to the wind rattling through the windows and the distant grumbles of thunder. Wherever he was, there seemed to be a terrible storm outside. He stared at the windows for a moment, strangely mesmerized by the water droplets splattering themselves at the dirty window pane. His thoughts were broken by a soft sigh. James turned away from the window and for the first time he noticed something on the floor in the corner of the room.

He took a cautious step towards the shape lying on the floor, then took a quick step back as the shape moved. Suddenly there were two bright green eyes staring up at him. It was a boy. A boy lying on the floor under a thin and ragged blanket that barely covered him. The boy lay on his stomach and propped himself up on his elbows, completely oblivious to James's presence. James couldn't take his eyes of the boy. He looked so familiar. He looked like his younger brother Albus and yet, he wasn't. James was staring at his father. How old was he? He looked about nine or ten. James kept staring, unable to get his mind around the fact that he was looking at his dad, his dad who right now was younger than him.

He shook his head hardly daring to believe it. But he knew it was true as Harry had reached up and pushed his jet black hair out of his eyes, revealing his legendary scar. His hair stubbornly flopped back in to place and James, once again, marveled at how alike his brother and father looked. It was a surprise that his dad had not been arrested for using illegal cloning magic. James briefly amused himself with the idea of his dad arresting himself.

"Dad?" he asked softly, then mentally slapped himself. Of course his dad wasn't going to reply: this was a memory after all. James felt a sickening jolt as the realization hit him. He was in the memory. 'memories', that's what the basin had said. At least he could be reasonably sure that he was still in his dad's office which was reliving. Right now though, he was more troubled that this had happened; everything he was seeing now had actually happened. His dad had really been lying on the floor of a dirty room in the middle of a storm with only a thin blanket to keep him warm about twenty five years ago.

Before James could even ponder why this was, he was distracted by a muffled creaking noise from out-side. The noise seemed to get gradually closer. He heard what sounded like the crashing of waves and an eerie crunching sound. His heart began to beat faster as the sound turned into footsteps. Someone was coming. Closer and closer. James shivered and glanced at his dad beside him. Harry was sitting up at full attention, his eyes wide and trained on the door. The sinister sound was closing in, so close, too close.

BOOM!

James jumped as the room shook. His dad tensed beside him. It was outside. BOOM! Someone was knocking on the door, knocking to come in.

"Where's the cannon?" James wiped around to see the fat boy on the coach wide awake and fearful. Was this his dad's cousin, Dudley? He sure was a lot thinner in the future, James thought. There was then another loud sound, but this time coming from inside the room. A huge and rather deranged looking man came skidding into the room. He was carrying a long, wired looking, black thing that James couldn't put a name to. Though the way the man was carrying it was enough to tell him it was a weapon of some kind.

"Who's there?" the man shouted. "I warn you-I'm armed!" What a strange thing to say, James thought. Of course he had arms. Was that supposed to scare the threat away? If it was it had certainly not succeeded for with a loud SMASH the door was flung off its hinges. It landed on the floor with an unceremonious thud.

In the doorway now stood a fierce looking man with wild hair and eyes that shone blacker than night. The huge man squeezed his way into the room, bent down, picked up the door as if it was nothing more than a piece of paper and put it back into its frame.

"Couldn't make us a cup o' tea, could yeh? It's not been an easy journey..."

James couldn't stand it anymore. He burst into laughter, relief washing over him. Only Hagrid could break down a door, scaring everyone witless, and then ask for a cup of tea. James took deep breaths, clutching his sides. He'd finally pulled himself together when Hagrid had walked over to a terrified Dudley and told him to:

"Budge up, yeh great lump."

Seeing Dudley squeal and run to hide behind, what James figured to be his mum (who was cowering behind her husband) just made him laugh even more. He knew he shouldn't laugh when they were clearly terrified, but he couldn't help it - especially when the scene resembled that of a whale hiding behind a giraffe hiding behind a walrus. The fact that he had never heard anything good about his father's aunt and uncle didn't help his battle to compose himself. He didn't know how bad they were, but they must have been pretty bad for his dad to never want to talk about them. They saw Dudley once in a while and exchanged the odd Christmas card, but his aunt and uncle were scarcely mentioned. Though his dad rarely talked about any of his childhood before Hogwarts. Everyone else would look either angry or miserable when he asked them so he had stopped long ago. Fully comprehending for the first time that he was now witnessing some of the answers he seeked, he paid more attention to the memory.

"An' here's Harry! Las' time I saw you, you was only a baby," Hagrid told Harry, his eyes twinkling. "Yeh look a lot like yer dad, but yeh've got yer mum's eyes."

James smiled, remembering all the times people had said that to his dad. He would always act annoyed at hearing it said so often but everyone could tell he secretly loved it. And James couldn't blame him. He would always act annoyed at being told, yet again that he looked like his dad or he had his talent for Quidditch (or more frequently, his talent for getting into trouble) but really he couldn't help feeling slightly pleased when they did. The happy moment was interrupted by his great-uncle.

"I demand you leave at once, sir! You are breaking and entering!" James opened his mouth to tell him to shut up, memory or not, but he was saved the trouble.

"Ah, shut up, Dursley, yeh great prune."

James smirked as Hagrid reached over the back of the coach and grabbed the black stick out of Vernon's hands, twisted it into a knot and chucked it into the corner of the room. James's smirked widened as Vernon made a half-indignant, half-terrified sound that sounded like a mouse being stepped on. Hagrid turned back to Harry.

"Anyway- Harry a very happy birthday to yeh."

Birthday? It was his dad's birthday? James felt a twist of pity for his dad at the fact that he had spent his birthday in such a place. It wasn't supposed to be like this, he thought. Granted he had Hagrid there and he was great company to have on a birthday, but this wasn't right. You were supposed to have a celebration. A party, presents, cake, family! On all his birthdays he had been surrounded by family. He had dozens of pictures of him opening presents on his mother's lap, aunt Hermione helping him cut his cake, playing pin the tail on the hippogriff with Teddy and Albus and even Lily, his dad hugging him; telling him that he loved him. Even though he had told his dad he was far too old to be hugged he would never listen. He guessed he now knew why his dad made such a fuss, even more that the others. Though surely, his dad must have had some good birthdays - right?

"-I mighta sat on it at some point, but it'll taste all right."

James looked back at Hagrid in confusion. Had he missed something? He then understood as Hagrid passed his dad a squashed looking box. His dad's hands seemed to tremble slightly as he opened the box. James moved behind him so he could see inside. There was a rather sticky chocolate cake that had 'Happy Birthday Harry' written on it, in green icing. James couldn't help be impressed at the edible looking cake and wondered suspiciously if Hagrid, the inventor of rock-hard-rock-cakes, had actually made it. He figured Hagrid had probably taken extra care, seeing as it was Harry Potter. Either way, James was glad that his dad got a cake at least.

"Who are you?" his dad asked.

"And you tell us not to be rude. Hypocrite." James muttered half-heartedly as Hagrid chuckled.

"True, I haven't introduced myself. Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts," he announced proudly.

James had to remind himself that Hagrid wasn't a teacher yet. Hagrid held out his hand and ended up shaking his dad's whole arm.

"Better get used to that," James 'whispered' to his dad, even though he couldn't hear him.

"What about tea then, eh? I'd not say to something stronger if yeh've got it mind."

James rolled his eyes affectionately. Hagrid and his drink. James jumped back slightly as Hagrid suddenly bent over the crisp packets and made a roaring fire. It wasn't exactly cold - well, not for him, anyway - but he wished he could feel the heat of the flickering flames. It was odd being in a memory where everything was so real that you felt as if you were actually involved, and yet you were detached from the scene, unable to feel neither cold nor warmth. He suddenly felt a bit lonely, and for a second wished one of his siblings had stumbled upon the strange memory-showing-basin too.

He forced himself to forget his gloomy thoughts and concentrate as Hagrid began to take out a copper kettle, a pack of sausages, a poker, a tea pot, several chipped mugs and a glass bottle full of an amber liquid that he took a quick drink from. James, who was far too used to Hagrid's limitless pockets to be surprise, chuckled at the awed look upon Harry's face. It was not often that his dad was surprised by things when he wasn't. He felt the reversal in rolls both amusing and unsettling.

"Don't you touch anything he gives you Dudley."

James looked up just in time to see Dudley staring wistfully at the sausages Hagrid had begun to cook before he hid it. Like he would, James thought, as Hagrid chuckled humorlessly.

"Yer great puddin' of a son don' need fattenin' any more, Dursley, don' worry."

James gave a snort of laughter and an approving nod as Hagrid passed some sausages to his dad. Harry looked like he had never tasted anything so wonderful in his life. Probably hasn't, James thought darkly, as for the first time he noticed how skinny his dad was. He was still as skinny as a pole in his time, but he looked much healthier by far than he did here. James frowned at that. They must have fed him at least! He through a dirty look at the Dursley's as he heard his dad say,

"I'm sorry, but I still don't really know who you are."

"Aw, come on dad! He just told you!" James told his dad impatiently as Hagrid wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

"Call me Hagrid, everyone does. An' like I told yeh, I'm keeper of Keys at Hogwarts- yeh'll know all about Hogwarts, o' course." James was about to say 'see', but stopped as his dad said something he had never expected.


Please review! Sorry I just cut it off like that but I have this weird 2,700-odd word limit for chapters and this seemed like the best place to leave it. Continuation should be up soon. If not many people are interested I'm just going to finish this memory which is based on the chapter 'Keeper of the keys'. Though I'm thinking of continuing this. Yea anyway, happy reviewing!