At the Potters'

A series of one-shots looking at Harry and Ginny's life as a couple and as parents.

Canary Creams – October 31, 2015

It had only been two months since James began his first term at Hogwarts, and yet Harry and Ginny already found themselves on a one-way trip to the headmistress's office. While Ginny had been seething the entirety of the trip to Hogwarts, Harry found the entire situation rather amusing – not that he dared mention it to his wife.

"Honestly, that son of yours," Ginny muttered under her breath as they walked down a hallway. Her angry, purposeful march combined with her flaming red hair gave off the impression her entire head was on fire.

"Be easy on him," Harry said, attempting to catch up with her. "It might just be a misunderstanding – "

But Ginny wasn't listening.

"Your son can't even manage half a term! The nerve of that boy…" she continued loudly, if only to herself.

Harry was quite glad to be behind Ginny as they made their way to the headmaster's office. This way, she couldn't see him smiling.

At last, the two arrived in front of the gargoyle that guarded the entrance. It sprang aside upon seeing the two of them and they climbed the stairs to the office. Once they entered, they found Minerva McGonagall sitting at her desk with a stern expression. In front of her sat their son, looking absolutely downtrodden while he stared at his shoes.

"We are so sorry about this, Minerva," Ginny said, rushing up to the desk. "We had no idea – "

But McGonagall raised her hand, her thin lips pressed together.

"Everything is settled," she said, and Ginny gave a heavy sigh. Harry approached his son from behind and gave him a subtle clap on the back. James looked up at him with misty eyes.

"No need to make a bigger deal of things," McGonagall continued as she stared at James, who was now looking at his feet again. "Mr. Potter's apology seems genuine enough, and he has agreed to serve detention with Mr. Weasley and Ms. Finnigan as punishment starting next week."

James made a low groan, which was met with a reproachful nudge on the back from Ginny.

"He'll be happy to serve his detention," Ginny said with a strained voice.

"But there's a Quidditch match next week – " James began to whine before he was interrupted.

"Go outside," Harry suggested softly, patting him on the shoulder. "We'll just have a quick word with Professor McGonagall."

James hesitated a moment, clearly unhappy with the consequences they had settled on. But upon seeing his mother's strict face, he slumped out of his chair and sluggishly made his way out of the office.

"He's a talented boy," McGonagall said once James was outside. Her expression had softened. "Rather adept with Transfiguration. Yet from time to time, his mischievousness seems to win out. It seems he was the ringleader of tonight's…ah, lark."

"What happened exactly, Professor?" Harry asked.

McGonagall surprised them both by smiling, if only slightly.

"They snuck a canary cream onto Mr. Filch's plate at tonight's Halloween feast," she said wryly. "I believe he's still in a cage downstairs, waiting to be Transfigured back."

Harry laughed heartily while Ginny simply pursed her lips, her cheeks turning red.

"That's not funny," Ginny chastised her husband. "It's horrible! If he goes about this way any longer, he'll be expelled!"

"No, he won't," McGonagall said kindly, assuaging Ginny's fearfulness. "He's bright and well-mannered enough. After the likes of your twin brothers, Mrs. Potter, I believe we are well-equipped to handle any subsequent pranksters…even your son," she said with a twinkle in her eye. "I just can't appear to favor certain students over others, especially in this situation. Otherwise, I'll not hear the end of it from Filch."

"We understand, and we'll speak with James before we leave," Harry said, grabbing hold of his wife's hand. "Will we still see you this week for tea?"

"Friday," McGonagall confirmed, and Harry and Ginny made their way out of the office.

As Harry and Ginny met up with James, a group of students passed them on their way back from the feast. James made another low grumbling noise and looked thoroughly disheartened.

"I didn't even get to finish my dessert," James said sullenly, his thoughts going to golden plates laden with candy and other sweets.

"You should have thought of that before you roped Louis and Katy into all this," Ginny said sharply. "Where did you manage to get canary creams in the first place?"

James shuffled awkwardly, knowing that his response would elicit even more anger from his mother.

"Uncle George," he replied quietly, his eyes scanning the ceiling. At this point in the evening, there was no use in lying to her.

"I will kill him," Ginny hissed. But Harry put a hand on her shoulder and she seemed to calm down.

"Why don't you go get Al and Lily from your parents' and take them trick-or-treating?" he offered encouragingly. "They must be getting restless. James and I will stay behind and talk."

Ginny looked reluctantly from her husband to her son, both of whom had the same pleading look in their eyes, Harry's green and James's brown. And against her will, she melted.

"Alright then," she conceded. She knelt before James and looked him squarely in the eye. "Keep out of Minerva's office for the remainder of the term, won't you?"

James nodded glumly. Ginny offered a gentle smile and embraced him warmly; she hated seeing her son so dejected. After planting a kiss on James's cheek, she gave Harry a knowing look and marched down the hallway and disappeared around a corner.

The father and son pair stood in the empty hallway for a moment or two. At last, James looked up at his father as he wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt, causing Harry to laugh.

"Oh, James. Your mum can be hot-tempered sometimes, but she means well," Harry said, clasping a hand on his son's shoulder. "She just wants you to be safe, that's all."

"I-I don't like it when she gets m-mad," James sniffled, and Harry found it sobering to see how his son, in spite of his antics, was still very much a child.

"Knowing your mum, she finds the whole thing to be very humorous, actually," Harry said brightly. "Very deep down, I'm sure. But one of us has to act like the parent from time to time. That doesn't mean she's mad."

"Are you sure?"

"Of course," Harry said soothingly, and James seemed to brighten up at once.

"Oh, Dad, if you could have seen the look on Filch's face when he sprouted his first feather! You would have loved it!"

In fact, Harry knew very well that he would have enjoyed his son's mischief. But rather than encouraging it, he knelt before his son, holding him by the shoulders.

"You can have your fun, James Sirius, but please avoid giving us a reason to come back here. For your mother's sake." James looked at his father very seriously and, after a beat, Harry said, "But anything is fair game if you don't get caught."

James grinned widely and flung his arms around his father's neck. They broke apart after a few lingering moments and Harry stood up, tousling his son's brown hair.

"Now go up to Gryffindor tower and enjoy the rest of the evening," Harry said with a wink. "If I know your cousin at all, I'm sure there's a mound of victory desserts waiting for you in the common room."

James hugged his father once more, and Harry watched as his eldest son practically skipped away towards his dormitory, much happier than he had been only moments before.

AN: Please share your thoughts! I'd love to know what you guys thought of the tone of the story, the characterization, and all of that! Feedback is much appreciated!