Dedicated to TeamGredAndForge.
~ kittykittyhunter ~
At the Ticker Barrier
Standing with his chin cupped in one hand, James watched his family disappear through the ticket barrier. First went his father, accompanying Lily. Then there was his mother, striding through with Albus. James straightened, giving a prolonged stretch – he needed to join the hoard of Potters on Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, but, having repeated the process four years in a row, the adolescent boy admitted that seeing the scarlet train had lost some of its novelty.
It was probably best to run. James squared his shoulders, readied his feet – he was marching – trotting –
"What are you doing?"
Crash. The handle slipped from James' fingers and the trolley supporting his trunk smashed into the ticket barrier – James whirled, and to his horror, realised he had forgotten to check for Muggles before approaching the platform. A girl with long hair and dark eyes was staring; she was wearing a coat and hat, even though the September day was warm.
"Nothing," said James awkwardly. He glanced over his shoulder. "Should probably go get that..." When the girl didn't reply, James retrieved the trolley. Right; this time he would be careful. He screened the area, making sure that no one was watching –
The girl was still standing there.
He could not think of a single, tactful way to say 'Go away'. If he didn't get a move on, the Hogwarts Express would leave without him – or worse, his mother's head would suddenly materialise out of the barrier, and the Muggle would have her memory modified. Aunt Hermione would know what to do, James fumed, she had a spell or enchantment for every occasion…
The girl extended her fingers, saying her name. Before he knew what he was doing, the boy shook the gloved hand, introducing himself. "James Sirius Potter."
Her pupils dilated – James fought back the urge to swear. "Sirius…" she breathed. "Your middle name is a star?"
Something shuddered in the pit of his stomach.
"Yeah," he nodded, "that's right."
For as long as he could remember, James had experienced various reactions when meeting new people – the most prominent was, "Ah, Harry's boy!" Occasionally, older wizards and witches would chuckle: "Another James Potter!" Once, a crowd emerging from Knockturn Alley sneered. But never…
She checked her watch, bit her lip and glanced up. "I used to love studying space," she explained. "Up until Year 10, I even wanted to work for NASA! But then we got this dumb Physics teacher, and I'm so angry – honestly, he's made me hate Science. I don't even know what I want to do anymore."
"Heh." James ran a hand through his untidy hair. He was perplexed by just how little he had understood. "Everyone takes Astronomy at… my school."
He had almost blurted 'Hogwarts'.
She brightened. "Really? That's amazing! Are you guys in the countryside?"
"Not exactly," he shrugged, "it's considered – important. We do other stuff too, obviously – you know, History, uh," he racked his brain for another 'normal' subject, "and Herb… studies. It's kind of –"
"– Random," she finished. "Academies get all the fun."
She shifted her weight, adjusting the bag on her shoulder. Her gaze flicked to James' trunk. "Were you on holiday?" she asked. "I can't believe summer's over – we didn't even get to go anywhere this year: I've had so much revision to do. Thing is, I did horribly on my Maths modules and I've got an RE retake as well – my parents are super strict – oh wow," she flushed. "I sound thick."
James was vaguely aware that he was grinning and hastened to wipe the smile from his face. "You don't," he said, unconvincingly. She raised an eyebrow. "This," he continued, indicating his luggage, "is for school."
She checked her watch again. "Sorry! You have to catch your train… everyone says that I never shut up…" She laughed. "I think they're right." She went onto her toes – James stepped back – the girl was peering past him, over his shoulder. "Is that your dad?"
It couldn't be anyone else. "Yeah."
"You'd better go." She punched his bicep lightly – James blinked – "Can't miss the start of term," she sang, "it's GCSE year! Here," she shrugged the bag off her shoulder, rummaging through its contents – out came a yellow notebook. The girl tore off her left glove, produced a pen and scribbled something, then ripped out the page, handing it to James. "Email me. Have a good term!"
Then she waved and left.
James looked down at the sheet. It smelt like banana. Her handwriting was messy – she'd written her name, followed by numbers, then a symbol and… some kind of institution? Sensing his father a few steps behind him, James turned.
"It's still there?"
"Just about," said Harry. James couldn't quite describe his father's expression. "We wondered where you were… Ron and I missed the train in our second year. We ended up flying an old Ford Anglia into the Whomping Willow."
The boy pressed his knuckles to his forehead and forced a laugh. "That screams of Grandpa."
They walked through the barrier.
I think James Potter should end up, eventually, with a Muggle. XD
She's deliberately nameless.