AN: Thanks for the reviews and follows. Anyone else notice that there are a few stories being put in the H/Hr section that are not H/Hr pairings? People have no respect for the fic sorting markers it seems. Short chapter, though I think they will all be short either way, though I'm not too proud of this chapter.
"You'll be fine,"
James paced at besides Harry's cot in the Hospital Wing, his fists clenching and unclenching as he looked at his boy-who was so deathly still-and worried and fumed.
"You'll be fine, you'll be fine, you'll be fine, you'll be fine," he repeated over and over as he continued to walk back and forth repeatedly, occasionally looking over Madame Pomfrey's shoulders to see what her diagnostic spells were displaying.
"What's the matter with the boy?" Headmaster Dumbledore inquired, his own voice sounding quite worried.
"I don't know!" James yelled, "I was there with him and-I don't know what happened!" James was now grinding his teeth and looked on the verge of tears. He knew full well that no one could hear him; no one had had even a hint of his existence in all the 11 years that he'd been a ghost, but had found that talking helped keep his mind sane. "He had some sort of reaction to Voldemort when he grabbed him and-I don't know what happened after that!" He yelled and sat down by Harry, reaching for his son's hand before screaming out as his hand simply passed through Harry's.
"I don't know what to say Albus," Madame Pomfrey said after a series of spells, "I see no spell residue on him and the attempted strangulation wouldn't be sufficient to have done this…" She sighed before continuing, "What monster would try to strangle a child Albus?"
"What monster indeed." The Headmaster muttered before addressing the elderly woman again. "But will he be fine?"
"Yes Albus," Madame Pomfrey said, much to James' joy, "I don't know what caused this, but I can tell you what the effects are. He'll simply need sleep and rest for a few days. I've given him a set of Sleeping Potions to keep him sedated, he'll be fine now."
"Of course he'll be fine," James quipped for his own sake as he continued to fret over Harry, looking him over for any injuries that Pomfrey might have missed.
"Very well then, please inform me if anything changes about the situation."
James looked up at this, startled by the Headmaster's words. "What do you mean?" he asked, no one hearing his words.
"Very well Headmaster-"
"You're leaving?" James asked as he stood to his feet.
"-though I don't expect any complications." Madame Pomfrey went on as she stood up, the two of them heading towards the huge double door entrance of the Hospital Wing, the two of them talking about recent events in the school
"Where are you going?" James yelled after them. "Dumbledore you get your ass back here! It's your goddamn fault the Stone was here in the first place!' He moved after them, passing through the doors as they closed behind them. "Pomfrey! You can't walk away from a child in the Hospital Wing! GODDAMIT GET BACK HERE!" James watched as the two of them continued on their way, completely unable to hear anything he was saying. He turned around and in an act of childish anger swung a fist out to a nearby vase and yelled out in frustration as his fist harmlessly passed through it. He shook in anger and continued to throw punches and kicks at the doors, the walls, anything at all, his tantrum fueled by all the anger he'd been feeling recently. Anger at Voldemort for surviving, anger at Dumbledore for using Harry as bait, anger at Snape for being such an arsehole towards Harry, anger at Pomfrey for leaving an injured child alone, anger at the Dursley's for their disgusting behavior for the past decade, anger at himself because all he could do is standing there and not able to do a single thing to help his son. It all left almost as soon as it came, he let out a long shuddering breath as he realized, once again, that it was useless.
He moved back over to Harry's side, his son needed him.
"Right." He muttered as he struggled to control himself. "It's just you and me again buddy." He pushed his glasses up as he rubbed his face and eyes and muttered into his hands. He looked through his fingers at his son, at the damn ugly scar on his forehead and frowned. He shook his head and tried to sit back in his chair, his habit of tapping his fingers on the chair's armrests and impatiently tapping his foot on the floor. He clenched his jaw over and over as he began to realize that his fingers tapping wasn't making any noise and that his feet were actually passing through the floor, he looked down and frowned as he realized he wasn't sitting in the chair so much as passing through it at several points. He sighed and began to rub his forehead and began to scratch at a small bump he felt above his left eyebrow. His left calf itched, same as it had been itching for 11 years.
"Maybe you can hear me now Harry?" he asked hopefully after a long while. "Harry?" He leaned forward, careful not to actually pass through any part of his body. "Son? Buddy?" he whispered and waited for a response that he knew would never come. "You there?"
Harry remained still.
"No, I guess not." He admitted, "Didn't hurt to try." He muttered before standing up again and pacing around Harry's cot. "Won't hurt to keep trying either."
He looked over the flimsy blanket that Pomfrey had draped over him, realizing that it wasn't doing anything at all to keep his son warm. "Pomfrey, these blankets are too thin." He turned around and spotted the nearest cot, its own pair of blankets neatly stacked across the pillow, "Won't hurt to keep trying," he repeated as he made his way over to them and attempted to lift them up.
His hands went through the blanket again, as he knew they would.
His hands went through the blanket again, despite the fact that this time he tried to will some magic into his hands in an attempt to do… something.
"Ok," he waved his hands around as he pretended he had a wand in his hands. "Wingardium Leviosa!" he yelled. Nothing happened. "Wingardium Leviosa!" He intoned again, his voice stronger this time, "Wingardium Leviosa!" He stopped before he angered himself again, because he knew it did hurt to try, it cut him deeply when he couldn't do so much as put a blanket on his boy as he lay in a hospital bed after nearly being killed by a madman. It hurt him that his son hadn't heard a single word that he had said over the 11 years that he had been watching over him. He moved back over to Harry and sat down again, realizing that all he did was watch.
He watched while the Dursley's starved and mistreated him, watched as they made him toil away to clean up their messes, do their lawn, wash their clothing and eat their scraps. He'd hoped, desperately hoped that when he arrived at Hogwarts someone, anyone, would notice the signs of child abuse on his poor boy and pull him out of that hellhole. Pomfrey should have, Dumbledore should have, McGonagall should have. Dumbledore and McGonagall knew better, they had heard of the Dursley's through him and Lily and knew what to expect of them, Pomfrey should have been easily able to tell the signs of an abused child, why Harry was simply scrawnier than everyone else and why he flinched when she had moved to examine him during the routine examinations at the beginning of the year. But fine, if they didn't see what should be painfully obvious to any competent child caregiver then at least they should make his schooling a pleasant experience. And, he had to admit, they had. He could tell Harry enjoyed the classes.
All except one.
James had been livid when he saw Snape at the Head Table. What had the world come to? What was Dumbledore thinking allowing such trash into Hogwarts? Here was a man who had called Lily that foul name, here was a man that had the sheer audacity to hold Lily's body so soon after his master had killed her and cry. Here was a man who joined a group of supremacists known for murder, torture and rape walking freely about as if he owned the school, teaching the sons and daughters of some of the very families he helped destroy. Here was a man who deserved a lifetime of imprisonment at Azkaban sitting at a professor's desk and constantly marking down Harry's grades because of some petty grudge or hatred. It was a fucking joke. It was a smack in the face of his and Lily's death, it spit on all the friends he'd grown up with and watched die as they fought back against the Death Eaters. Here was a man that James had tried to strangle every single day during Harry's potions class just to make Harry's life a little easier.
And to add on all of that Voldemort was still alive.
"I wish you were here Lily," James began, "You were always the brains of our operation, you'd know how to fix this." He reached over and pretended to smooth out Harry's hair. "I wonder if I'm in Hell Lily. I was never unfaithful, I never killed anyone who didn't deserve it, I gave money to charity… maybe I was a real prick when I was younger, but do I deserve this?" He looked down at his son, "He doesn't deserve this. I don't know if you saw Harry down there Lily, but when Harry killed a man... He did it to survive, I don't blame him and I don't think any less of him, if anything he was so much braver than I could ever be… but what 11 year old has to kill a man by burning his face off?" His mind started to wander back to that room, when Harry had been forced to kill a man simply to clean up Dumbledore's messes…
"Bloody hell," James sighed out, mentally exhausted but incapable of sleeping as he sank into his chair.
The worry that he had felt began to fade, his mind going slightly numb from boredom as he sat next to Harry for the next few hours-he'd learned quite quickly after his death that he was incapable of sleep-and his gaze wandered about the room as he looked over at the other two occupants of the room, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.
He hadn't been paying much attention to them before, his worry over Harry's condition, his own meltdown at the unfairness of it all and his bout of depression had occupied his mind, though now that he had calmed down a bit and he knew Harry was no longer in any life threatening situations his mind began to mull them both over.
Ron Weasley was golden in his book. How could he not be? He was his son's first friend, for that he had earned James' eternal gratitude. His eating habits did remind him of that vacuum cleaner Muggle device he'd seen Lily's mother use once, and he did have the understandable habit of slacking off and putting off his work for later, but he was just an 11 year old. He'd come through for Harry when he needed it and was his first real friend. Quidditch, games, slacking off and sitting about the common room and doing absolutely nothing, those were all things that Harry needed to experience. Ron was a great escape from all the shit in Harry's life, an escape James heartily approved off.
Though there were small times when James felt odd about the boy. The red-headed kid was jealous and pretty quick to anger. Again James reminded himself that Ron was an 11 year old boy, he'd grow out of it sooner or later.
And then a smaller part of his mind told him that Peter had also been a jealous 11 year old…
James shook his head and looked away from Harry's best mate and over to another cot that held Hermione Granger, Harry's other best mate.
James had to admit that he didn't quite like Hermione as well as Harry seemed to. So she seemed like a nice girl and sometimes wondered if she only hung around Harry and Ron because she had a crush on one of them after they had saved her from the troll. James snorted, realizing that he was thinking about his son's possible love life.
Though he quickly squashed down any humor when he remembered his last conversation with Lily involved something similar.
Maybe the little girl did have a crush on one of them? As a father he hoped it was on Harry… though again he thought she was a bit too uptight about studying, a bit too serious about work and education. It wasn't that those were necessarily bad qualities, he realized Harry needed someone to tell him to buckle down sometimes, but like Ron she took too much of an extreme. Ron was habitually lazy, Hermione was a workaholic. She was quite bossy at times and…
He was suddenly brought out of his musings when he saw her sit up in her cot, throw off her blankets and slowly walk over to his son's side.
"What are you doing Hermione?" James asked before shooting out of his seat as Harry began to turn.
The bushy haired witch gasped before reaching for Harry's hand. "You're dreadfully cold!" she gasped before scampering off to the adjacent cot and taking blanket that James had tried to move earlier and throwing it over Harry. James had to jump out of the way as she made her way past him and slowly moved the nearby chair to Harry's bed, the girl careful not to make any noise that would alert Madame Pomfrey that she was awake and out of her cot. She sat next to Harry's bed, held his hand and occasionally checked to make sure he was comfortable, all the while softly berating him for making her worry so much, for being a hero and fighting Quirrel by himself, for being so brave and noble that he had to go off on a silly adventure and miss out on so much time that could have been spent studying instead.
"You should be careful," she whispered, "You're my only friend and I don't want you to get hurt. Don't tell Ron I said this, but I don't really think he's my friend, I think he's only feeling sorry for sending me to the girl's bathroom in the first place." She leaned back in her chair, a small frown on her face. "Maybe you aren't my friend either, and also feel sorry for me."
James felt sorry for the small girl, he'd been thinking only negative things about her only a moment ago and now here she was, giving Harry warmth when no one else did and worrying over his health so much that she'd woken up in the dead of night to check up on him. Like Ron she had proved herself to be a true friend down there in the secret chambers, sticking by Harry and helping him on save the Stone from Voldemort and yes, she was brave, smart and loyal. James felt terrible, what was a bit of bossiness in the face of that?
"I feel like such an arse Lily," he muttered as he continued to look at the two. Despite knowing she wouldn't be able to hear him he blurted out some words of encouragement to the young witch, hoping to repay the kindness she'd just shown his son. "I'm sure Harry really is your friend, don't worry about it Hermione."
Harry stirred again, causing both James and Hermione to look him over and see if anything was wrong.
"I think it's just nightmares girl," James declared after Harry had calmed down, "I didn't expect him to sleep as soundly as Pomfrey suggested he would."
"Oh Harry, I hope you aren't having nightmares," Hermione cooed, "You need to rest." She suddenly yawned, reminding James that-late night vigils or no-she was still a little girl who had also just gone through something quite traumatic. "I need to rest too," she muttered. "I'll be right over there ok Harry? Just two cots over, just call me if you need anything."
She then tiptoed over and kissed Harry on his forehead before scurrying back to her own cot when she heard a noise out in the hall.
James chuckled as he watched the witch scamper back into her own cot and cover herself in a blanket just as Madame Pomfrey popped into the room and made her way over to Harry. Her eyebrows rose up as she spotted the second blanket over Harry's body before throwing a curious glance over to Harry's two friends.
"Yes Pomfrey, one of them noticed Harry would be cold." James spit out, he was frankly in a foul mood with anyone who wasn't named Harry, Hermione or Ron. He didn't even spare the elderly witch as she went about the room and checked on the other patients and instead focused his attention back on his own son.
As he looked at his sleeping form, now protected from the cold by two blankets, he decided that he'd try to look on the bright side of life. Yes, his first year at Hogwarts wasn't as smooth as it could have been, but it could have been much worse. He then looked at Ron and Hermione, who had seemingly fooled Pomfrey into thinking she was asleep and made the faintest of smiles.
He could have not met Ron or Hermione, made friends with no one.
"It could have been much worse Harry, but at least now it isn't just you and me. You've got two other people in your corner now."