Title: That's My Boy
Author: The Island Hopper firstname.lastname@example.org
Summery: James, now in the Afterlife, doesn't know anything that's happened since his death. Eager to know the full story, he seeks the services of someone who can fill him in on the last eight years…
A better summery: This story is set in James' afterlife. (Notice I'm trying to be as PC as I can by using the term "afterlife". Nice, huh?) He knows nothing about what's happened since his death: Harry's defeat of Voldemort as a baby, Sirius' imprisonment, Harry's current residence at the Dursleys, nothin'! He seeks the services of a risp, an entity that can see into the living world and report happenings on loved ones. He's shocked at what he learns…
"Potter, James," a willowy voice called out.
"Finally," James muttered bitterly, following a ghoul into the small, smoky room. A risp was there waiting for him. "What in hell took you so long? I've only been waiting out there for eight years!" James cried at the small entity in front of him.
The risp, an entity whose job it was to show the dead what they were missing on earth, scowled. "Look, I've got a life beyond this job, you know."
"What do you mean, you've got a life? You're dead for Chrissakes, we all are! And its your duty to help me watch over my loved ones, and so far I haven't been able to. I haven't even seen my son since my death, do you realize that?" James ranted, going on and on about the bad service and negligence of this so called "afterlife".
The risp help up his hands in defeat. "All right! All right! We'll get down to business. Come, have a seat."
James took a seat across from the risp and glared at him. "Well? How does this work?"
Tiredly, the risp rubbed his eyes and sighed. "Its very simple. You see this large medallion at my feet? Well, you tell me what you want to see and I show it to you. Its that simple."
Frowning, James said again, "It took you bloody long enough. Why was I assigned to you, anyway? I know people here who got to look in on their lives the second they left their bodies. I've been out there waiting for—"
"Eight years, yes, I know," the risp snapped in a brisk tone. "We've just been a little backed up."
"A little?!" James cried.
"All right a lot!" The risp wiped his forehead. "To tell you the truth, I'm not very good at this. I didn't want this job, you know. I was given it. So don't harass me. I don't want to be here as much as you do want to be here."
"But something tells me you didn't have to wait as long as I did. C'mon, fire this thing up," James said, kicking the large medallion at his feet.
The risp balked. "Stoppit! I only get one of these, you know. Just be patient."
"I've been patient for—"
"Eight years, I know! All right, here we go," the risp said, nervously moving his hands over the medallion and muttering spells to himself. James watched impatiently as the surface of the medallion began to change colors and swirl.
"How long is this going to take?"
"Not long," the risp said through clenched teeth, already sick of his client. "Now, what do you want to see?"
Without hesitation, James replied, "My son. Harry."
"Harry…Potter…" the risp whispered lovingly to the medallion. "Show me Harry Potter…"
James looked intently into the surface of the medallion as a normal looking home slowly melted into view. "What? What's that? It almost looks like a Muggle home!"
"If you'll just give me a minute, I'll be able to tell you everything," the risp said in an official voice. "We risps get messages, you know. About your loved ones."
"Yes, I know. That is your job, isn't it?" James said in a smarmy voice. The risp sniffed in an annoyed way. "So can you tell me about my son? Can you tell me about Harry?" he asked in a more excited tone.
"Hmm," the risp mused, taking his time. The medallion continued to show the Muggle house. "This is where Harry lives," the risp began. "Harry is nine years old."
"I know that! Who does he live with? Sirius? Remus? Its Sirius, right? It must be. He's Harry's godfather. And, well, Remus has his little transformation every month. That would be a mite odd for a toddler, aye? But Sirius wouldn't live in a house like this, even if he had to be a domestic father. Of course I didn't exactly expect a bachelor pad, but wow, Sirius must have taken a turn down the conservative road while I've been gone—"
"He does not live with Sirius Black," the risp interrupted in a cold voice. "Nor does he live with Remus Lupin."
"No?" James stuttered in a surprised voice. "He doesn't live with either one, you say?"
"He lives with the ones called 'Dursley'," the risp said in a distracted tone, peering hard down at the medallion.
James sat in shock for a moment before speaking. He had to open and shut his mouth a few times before any audible sound would emerge. "The D-Dursleys? You don't mean Petunia and Vernon, do you? Why, you must be mad!"
"I am not mad. He lives with the ones called Dursley. The medallion doesn't lie."
"B-But the Dursley's hate us! And besides, they're miserable people! The biggest Muggles on the face of the earth! Why in hell would they take Harry in?"
"They had no choice."
"They had no choice? What do you mean?"
The risp settled back in his chair, obviously preparing for a long night of explaining. "After you died, a Professor Dumbledore insisted that Harry go and live with his relatives."
"Why? Stop being so damned vague!"
"Lord Voldemort killed both you and your wife. However, when he tried to kill Harry, something happened. He couldn't."
"Voldemort couldn't kill a baby? What, you mean the monster had a heart after all?"
"No, he physically couldn't kill him. He tried, but the curse bounced back, and hit Voldemort. Your son—Harry—defeated the Dark Lord."
James stared at the risp in utter disbelief. His son, his then one year old son, had defeated Voldemort? "W-Wha-How?"
The risp shrugged. "No one knows."
It took James a moment to fully digest what the risp had told him. Harry had defeated—wiped out—destroyed—obliterated—the Dark Lord. He swallowed hard and a small smile crept over his face. "That's my boy," he whispered proudly to himself.
"That's not the end of the story," the risp said, jolting James from his thoughts. "You are curious as to why Harry was sent to live with the Muggles, correct?"
"God, yes! Why wasn't Sirius made his guardian? Show me Sirius!"
"All right," the risp said quietly with a disturbing smile slipping over his face. The medallion's surface began to shift again. From the brightly colored streets of a cheerful neighborhood, the shapes and colors distorted into a dank, dark place. It showed a small room, occupied by a lone man, whose shaggy black hair and gaunt face stood out in contrast to the gray of his surroundings.
"Who's that?" James demanded. The risp said nothing and James took a closer look. He gasped. "Sirius! Where is he? What's going on?"
"Azkaban," the risp said simply, in an almost indifferent tone.
"Az-Azkaban?" James stuttered in a shocked voice. "How could he be in Azkaban? Sirius, in Azkaban? Are you sure?"
The risp made an apathetic movement with his hand. "He was blamed for your death."
"Blamed for our death? Sirius? It wasn't his fault, it was that bloody Peter, I knew that much even before I died! Sirius was trying to keep our whereabouts a secret! He didn't do anything!"
"No one knows that," the risp said, smiling cruelly. "And the only ones who do are dead or imprisoned."
"Sirius…in Azkaban...blamed for our death…unbelievable…" James muttered to himself, rubbing his hand over his cheek. "Sirius was like my brother. Everyone knew he wouldn't betray me. Didn't Remus stick up for him?"
The risp shrugged. "What could Remus do? Certainly all the evidence was against Sirius. No one knew you had switched secret keepers at the last second. That's why there was no evidence to contradict Sirius' guilt."
James sunk lower into his seat and gazed sadly at the medallion, which was still focused on the now unrecognizable Sirius Black. "Oh Sirius…I'm so sorry…" James whispered, fighting back a tear.
"After you and your wife were killed, and Harry had defeated Voldemort, he was famous. Every wizard knew his name," the risp said. "Dumbledore thought it unwise for him to grow up in a wizarding community. He didn't want it to turn Harry's head."
"Fair enough. But Petunia and Vernon? And that little prat of theirs, Dudley? Why them?"
The risp shrugged again. "Wanted Harry to grow up humble and modest, I suppose. Thought it best for him." The risp sighed. "So do you want to see your son, or not?"
"Yes, yes!" James said eagerly, clawing the edges of his seat. "Show me Harry!" Slowly the medallion started to change colors again, and before long displayed the small figure of a boy asleep in a dark place. "Who's that? No, no, I want to see Harry! Harry Potter!" James shouted down at the medallion, as though it could hear him.
"Only I may give it commands!" the risp cried in a shrill voice. "And that is Harry Potter. Like I said, the medallion doesn't lie."
A piercing voice that James remembered belonging to Petunia rang out from the medallion. "Potter! Get up and come toast the toast! Your cousin is hungry!" James watched in silence as the small dark haired boy sat up and put on round glasses.
"Where is he? Why is it so small and dark?"
"He lives in a cupboard."
They both watched as Harry emerged from the cupboard under the stairs, looking tired and frazzled. James got his first good look at his son and his heart jumped.
"God, he's the spitting image of me! Look at that! A chip off the ol' block!" he laughed, feeling happy for the first time in years.
"I'm coming," Harry muttered sleepily, rubbing his eyes and making his way to the kitchen. He took two pieces of toast from the breadbox and put them in the toaster. Dudley, as James remembered him, didn't look much different eight years later as he did when he was a baby: fat, pink and spoiled looking.
"I'm hungry!" Dudley wailed as he plunked himself down at the table. "When do we eat?!"
"As soon as Harry is done with that toast," Petunia said disdainfully, looking down at Harry as though he was something quite nasty. James shot up out of his chair.
"How dare she look at my son that way, and speak about him like that, as though he wasn't even in the room! That's my son, by God, we died for him, and this is the thanks we get?! Why, if I had my wand, I'd—"
"Please," the risp said patiently. James seated himself, still fuming.
Harry looked lost in his thoughts as he waited for the toast to pop up. James watched him carefully, soaking up every feature, knowing that this may be the last time he would see him for a while. He doesn't know anything. About us, about him, his past, that he's a wizard, nothing. I can see it in his eyes. He knows nothing. And he's unhappy. My son is unhappy. Does he know? Does he know that his parents loved him enough to die for him? Does he know I waited eight years just for this moment, just to see his face? Does he know that he did a great deed for witches and wizards alike? He doesn't know that he's special. James sighed. And he doesn't even know that his mother and I loved him, and continue to love him.
James continued to watch his son with a sort of loving awe. The minutes passed and he watched Harry eat his meager breakfast, miss the bus, and trudge to school, all the while with an expression of patient tolerance. "He doesn't even know he's special," James whispered to himself out loud. "But look at him. He carries on enduringly, not asking questions, not giving up. He doesn't resent the life he's been dealt. He is, wholly and solely, Harry Potter, my son." Despite himself, James found himself smiling broadly, prouder than he'd ever been in his life or after life. "That's my boy," he whispered.