I've been working on this story for almost half a year now. This is actually the third time I wrote it, after loosing the first and not being happy with the second.
It's been edited many times, but this story isn't perfect. It's also a one-shot, so it was hard for me to show proper character development. I've always wanted to write an extremely long one-shot for James though, so here goes nothing. Enjoy.
BTW This story does tie in with my other one, 'The Visionaries' but you don't have to read it to understand anything. Actually, this story spoils the other one a bit.
I don't own anything either than my original plot and OC'S. JKR is to thank for the rest.
Many things could be said about James Sirius Potter. He was arrogant, clever, snarky, smart, mean, kind, boisterous, snobby, athletic, stupid, handsome, cocky, and everything in between. Actually, it always seemed that no one could quite peg out James's disposition, though there was one thing they could agree on. No one could love like James Potter.
He loved his family, his friends, and even his enemies in a way no one else could seem to grasp. He was able to forgive and forget, to move on and hold grudges, in a way they always seemed reasonable and just. Actually, no one had ever heard of a person James truly hated- sure he had had his fare share of fights, but he could never find it in himself to hate people, especially over such stupid issues. Even when he was younger he was pretty carefree, leaping from one mindset to the next.
Maybe that's why everyone was so surprised when James finally cracked, on that fine Saturday evening in the early October of his twenty first year. He and his family, (no not the extended one), were sitting in their small kitchen, having a family dinner as his Mother wished. Even though James had moved out over a year ago, his Mother always had him over, liking when their family was together.
It's a shame really, that Ginny Weasley couldn't seem to get her wish. For only four of the Potter's sat at the table, sharing the meal in tense silence.
"He promised me he would write every third Sunday." Ginny reminded everyone for what seemed like the tenth time. It was distressing for James to see his mother like this- his mother, who was always so calm and collected- fretting over every single detail of the day. Harry reached over and held his wife's hand.
"He'll write. Albus never breaks a promise." He assured her, stroking the top of her hand with his thumb. James and Lily, his teenage kid-sister, shared a glance of uncertainty.
Fortunately for them, at that moment a simple brown barn owl swooped in through the open window, neatly dropping a singly white envelope on the table before flying away. James watched as his Mother froze up and then gingerly reached out to open the well-awaited letter.
"Everything is good. Jess and I are safe. Will write more soon." Ginny read out, her brown eyes hardening. James could see the gears turning in his mother's sharp mind, her thoughts putting everything together. Stress turned to rage and Ginny slammed the letter down.
"It's the same thing every bloody damn time! What does he think? That he isn't driving us insane with this prancing around saving the world thing?" Ginny spat out pushing herself away from the table. A familiar fire was burning in her eyes, something James was sure had appeared every time his Father left for a mission. "It's bad enough the your Father has to risk his life for us, but Albus too? And for a cause unrelated to our world as we know it!"
"Ginny, relax." Harry tried to calm her. "I am sure he is safe. Albus is a smart boy, and you know that he has to do this. Remember when I was his age? Younger even? You let me go so I could do what is right. He's doing the same, and he'll be back."
"Its not the same." Ginny whispered harshly, but there was defeat in her tone. This wasn't the first time James's parents had had this argument. Ginny sat back in her seat, her dark eyes suddenly growing glassy. "It should've been over. He wasn't supposed to do this."
Harry began to soothe his wife again, but this time it was James who interrupted. James, the arrogant playboy genius who knew nothing but love and games, and who also happened to be watching silently as his whole family's life unfolded before him.
"He's being selfish." James said, as calmly as his raging mood would let him. "Albus is a prat. And I hate him"
And with that James got up from his chair and apparated away, leaving his family more shocked from his reaction then from the letter in Ginny's hand.
Albus Potter had run away a little over three months ago with a mysterious girl he had met in school, claiming to have to defeat wicked wizards and causes in the west of the world. No one knew exactly where he was going, or exactly why, or exactly when he would be back, or if he would be back for that matter, but Albus was gone nonetheless, without so much of a goodbye.
It seemed to have hit James the hardest, even more than his raving mother and troubled dad. James and Albus had always been close, and James had been completely baffled when his brother disappeared. Even Lily, who knew her eldest brother like the back of her hand, hadn't managed to calm him down. His rage was different then his parents, who were more distraught than mad. And his sister, she was so cool and collected. How could she not be? No one else seemed to want to calm down.
Yet no one ever imagined that it would reach this. No one though James had it in him to mutter that one awful word. And yet he did.
And oh, did they all worry.
James knew that the word of his great outburst would reach the rest of his family and quite quickly, so he only had the evening to himself before he would get bombarded by his several aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins. He did want to go back to the wizarding world to calm down, and he was too restless to go back to his flat, so instead he found himself aimlessly wandering around a muggle town in the outskirts of London, looking for a place to sit down and collect his thoughts.
He found it when he noticed a small bookstore café, nestled deeply into one of the snowy lanes. The bell jingled as he entered the warmly lit store. It was nice inside, just one large room, covered in multiple lit fireplaces and even more bookshelves overflowing with novels of every shape and sort. Scattered around the room were large comfy looking armchairs and sofas, each couple of them surrounding a different blaze of fire. There was a counter in the back, where a grey haired woman was bustling around making drinks. Other than a few people hidden inside of their armchairs and books, the place was empty. James immediately decided that he liked it.
James shook the snow off his shoes and slowly unwound his scarf as he made his way over to the wooden counter, already sweating inside of his jacket from the heat of the room.
"Oh hello there lad!" The grey haired woman called out, turning to greet him. A cheery looking nametag on her jacket named her Jo. "What can I get you?"
"Just one hot chocolate." James murmured, not caring that his order seemed a bit childish. With one sluggish move he removed his wool hat from his head, black unruly hair spilling all over his forehead. He brushed it away. Hot cocoa and a warm fluffy chair was all he needed at the moment.
"Sure thing. Just sit down wherever you'd like and I'll bring it right to you." Jo smiled, her large red cheeks reminding James of his Grandmother.
"How much will that be?" James asked, taking out his wallet. He usually carried around a few muggle pounds, knowing that it was good to be prepared. It also helped that his cousin Hugo was a total muggle lover like his grandfather, and always shoved the money in James's face, urging him enthusiastically to use it. James silently thanked him now.
"Oh don't worry about that." Jo fussed, shaking her head crossly. "You look like you've had a rough day. It's on me."
"Oh wow, thanks." James said, smiling for what seemed to be the first time in ages. They gesture seemed foreign to him, but Jo returned it anyways and then bustled away, already pulling out a mug and cream.
James turned around and surveyed the room, locating a small abandoned looking cluster of chairs near the left hand corner. He made his way over to them and collapsed into the first armchair, letting out a long overdue sigh. Actually his sigh was so large, that it made a bit of his hair fly up, as if he were blowing it out of his face. A small giggle to his right made him aware of another someone's presence.
"What are you laughing at?" James lashed out, looking for the culprit. A petite girl, looking somewhere around his age, glanced at him over the book she was reading. He hadn't even noticed her before she was so small and quite, almost blending into the brown sofa she was perched on.
"It was funny." The girl said softly, catching James's gaze straight on with deep grey eyes. "They way you sighed. It made you seem like a badly animated cartoon character."
James had no idea what a cartoon character was, but he made a mental note to ask Hugo later.
"Well um…thank you?" He retorted, not knowing quite what to say. The girl stared at him, her dark brown hard cascading in thin sticks down her face and onto her shoulders. She was definitely pretty, with a bit of a mousy look to her features, but pretty nonetheless. She had warm pink lips, large eyes, and a thin sloping nose, giving her a very knowledgeable look. She pursed her lips, and tilted her head slightly, as if contemplating what to say next. James had met many girls, many many girls, but he was certain that he had never met one quite like her. There was just something about her, something he couldn't quite put his finger on…and not just the fact that she was obviously a muggle.
The girl seemed as if she wanted to continue speaking, but instead swallowed her words and resumed reading her book. James was simply getting even more confused. At that moment Jo bumbled by, tray and drink in hand.
"Here you go lad." She smiled warmly, handing James his mug. He thanked her, and set the boiling drink down on the tableside beside him.
"I see you've met Evie." Jo continued, placing one plump hand on her hip, the other balancing the now empty tray.
"Evie…" James said, feeling the name on his lips. He looked at the girl next to him, so incased in her novel that she hadn't even heard Jo's words. "Yes we've meet."
"Great girl there." Jo whispered at James, a twinkle in her eyes. "A regular here too." And with that she walked off.
James shrugged to himself- his whole day had been weird. Nothing really could irk him now. He picked up the steaming mug, and put it to his lips, cursing softly as the cocoa burnt his tongue. Again a faint bout of laughter reminded him that there was someone next to him, a certain someone who seemed to be watching him all the time.
"What now?" He sighed, turning to Evie who had once again resurfaced from behind her book.
"Your nose." She said, her tone soft and shy. "You have cream all over it."
"Merlin…" James muttered angry, wiping off the sweet white substance from his face. Evie looked at him oddly, and he grew aware that he probably shouldn't be cursing in wizarding terms around muggles. "I mean, bloody hell Jesus Moses."
"You mean Jesus Christ?" Evie asked him, shaking her dark hair from her eyes.
"Yes, that." James agreed, hoping that Evie would just think that he was trying to be funny, and not trying to hide the fact that he was a full grown wizard totally unaware of muggle life and their customs. A comfortable silence fell between the two and James averted his eyes from the girl, sure that she would just fall back to her book. Surprisingly enough, she spoke up again.
"My name is Eve, not Evie." She said quietly, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. She played with her hair a lot, James noted. "For some reason Jo, my parents, and pretty much everyone else on the planet enjoys calling me Evie. It's a bit childish though. I prefer Eve."
"I'm James, James Potter." He introduced himself, offering his hand. She shook it lightly, not reacting even the slightest to his famous name. James loved it.
"Eve Greene." She formally introduced herself, yet again brushing away her hair. It was odd; usually James found these girly habits of well, girls, annoying. But when Eve did them, he didn't seem to mind. He was probably just too tired from the day.
James felt himself relax, his old arrogant smirk returning to his face. It reminded him of his days at Hogwarts, notorious for being a prankster and player. It wasn't that he was a total prat- he had always been kind to the girls he dated, treating them as only a gentlemen would- they just never seemed to stick around for very long. James didn't settle down, not for anything or anyone, save the people he really loved. And he knew that he wouldn't settle for just any simple wizarding girl he met at school.
It bothered him sometimes, how everyone seemed to marry his or her high school sweethearts. Not that his parents, or uncles and aunts, or family friends were not truly in love- they were and James knew it- it's just that sometimes James wondered if there was more to his life than the wizarding world, old Hogwarts friends, and the everlasting press.
James had been so lost in his thoughts that he found himself staring at Eve unconsciously, and quickly he blinked his gaze away, the smirk returning to his face.
"So Eve…" James said, working his Potter charm. "What brings you here at such a late hour?"
Eve scrunched her eyebrows and looked down at her wrist where a small silver wristwatch lay, totally immune to his flirtation. Actually, she didn't even seem to notice it.
"It's only nine thirty." She pointed out, trying hard not to laugh.
"Blimey." James groaned, feeling like the fool he was. "It's really been a long day."
"It's alright, I've also had a pretty pissy day." Eve said nonchalantly, putting her book aside. She shifted in her seat and continued. "That's why I like to come here. It's so relaxing- so simple. Reminds me of when I was a kid. It's not really like all those technology modern lets go crazy places that seem to be popping up everywhere."
James found himself nodding along to her every word, even though he wasn't quite sure what the 'technology modern lets go crazy' thing was. Honestly, by this point, he was sure that Hugo would have to give him a crash course on muggles to get him through one more conversation with the girl. That is, if they met again. Yet he still found himself nodding along, in complete agreement with Eve. Maybe it was the way she spoke her thoughts- so gently and innocently- that made James want to hang on to her every word.
"Definitely." He heard himself saying. Eve beamed at him. He wanted to say something more, something that would make her laugh, but a shrill ringing noise stopped him in his tracks.
"I'm sorry." Eve apologized, taking out a slim silvery object from her coat pocket. "That's my mobile. I'll just be a moment."
James nodded. He actually did know what mobiles were. They were these devices muggles used to talk to each other wherever they were, whether it was twenty minutes or twenty hundred miles away. James had studied about them in muggle studies, when he took the class for a semester back in his third year at Hogwarts. He tried to remember why he had dropped that course, but the reason didn't seem to want to come to mind.
Still, the device Eve was softly speaking into looked nothing like the bulky thing that James remembered seeing in the textbook picture. Actually, James was quite surprised that Eve could handle it without breaking it.
"Yes mum, I'll be home soon. Good night, I love you too." Eve said, sighing softly as she slipped the device back into her pocket. She looked at James and slightly rolled her eyes. "You'd think that when I finally left for uni my mum would stop checking up on me, but no. It's ok of course, it's sweet I guess. But I should be going, I promised her I'd stay the weekend."
With that the mysterious Eve picked up her book and packed up her bag, swiftly moving towards the door before James could even comprehend her words.
"Goodbye!" He cried out right before she opened the glass door, and with a smile Eve turned back and waved a single gloves hand. James felt as though he needed to say something more, so putting on a dazzling smile he called out once more.
"Until next time."
Fred Weasley barged into James's bedroom at approximately eight thirty seven the following moment, throwing a steaming piece of toast at his cousin's face. Fred had a tendency to throw breakfast foods at James's sleeping form in the mornings, some odd habit he had grown into sometime during their seven shared years at Hogwarts.
"Get off your fat lazy arse, I heard that there was news from your brother." Fred said, not afraid to get straight to the point. He had always been like that. Straightforward and loud. James groaned in response.
Technically, no one but himself could apparate into the flat without permission thanks to a handy spell James had smugly invented himself. Yet that didn't stop Fred from breaking in through the door. After all, Fred was the best curse breaker Gringotts currently had, and there wasn't a lock or a lock spell he couldn't break. James silently cursed that fact.
(Of course if he has tried, James probably could've permanently locked his cousin out of the flat, but secretly, James quite enjoyed Fred's surprise visits.)
"Prat." James mumbled, rolling out of the bed and on to sleepy legs. He stretched slightly and then pulled on the first shirt he could reach, which so happened to be a muggle t-shirt Hugo had once given him. James didn't know what 'Starbucks' meant, but the shirt was comfortable enough.
"I made tea." Fred added as he followed James into the kitchen, knowing that a good mug of tea always put James to ease.
"Earl Grey?" James asked, eyes narrowing.
"Always." Fred nodded, a wide grin spreading on his tan but freckled face. Fred Weasley was an odd mix of his two parents. He still had his father's tall lanky build and splatter of freckles, but his skin was closer to tan the normal Weasley milky white, and his red hair had a very brown tint to it, thanks to his mother. All in all, he was quite the looker. (Not that James would admit it- after all, it was an ongoing fight between the two of them; who was better looking?)
Fred's eyes, similar to James, were a deep brown, but now as the two cousins sat down to talk, they lost their normal twinkle.
"So what exactly happened?" Fred asked, his tone somber. James averted his eyes from his best friend, but reluctantly recalled the night's tale. Fred sat and listened silently, something he rarely did. At the end he spoke up again.
"Did you really say that you hated him?" Fred asked. James swallowed hard and looked down. He had thought about his words a lot the past twelve or so hours, but there was nothing he could do to take them back now. A part of him still agreed with his angry self; Albus deserved it. He had abandoned his friends, and family, and life, and he deserved James's hate. Yet most of him still wished that he had never uttered that awful phrase.
"Yeah, I did." James said. He quietly finished his tea and with a flick of his wand the mug floated over to the sink, and washed itself. Fred was shocked. And really, not much can shock a Weasley.
"Well, are you ok?" Fred asked hesitantly, not quite sure with how to deal with his cousin's outburst. No one had ever imagined something like this happening- James Sirius Potter, hating someone? And his own brother at that?
To James it seemed like Fred was asking an awful lot of questions. He grimaced, and turned back to face his favorite cousin. James and Fred went way back. They were cousins, they were the same age, they liked the same things, so naturally, they had been best friends since practically birth. They were very different of course, both outgoing in their own special ways. James was a flirt, but also a gentleman. Fred was a flirt, but as forward and rude as they got. James was book smart, Fred better with puzzles. They were both sporty, funny, nice, and well, popular. Together, they made quite the team.
Of course, James had other close friends from school and work. Dave Terance had been his and Fred's partner in crime since their third year, and James went out for drinks with his colleague and fellow auror Adam Teplitz at least once a week. He wasn't completely wrapped up in his family.
Still, Fred was his oldest and bestest friend, and when it came to these matters, it was usually Fred who stood beside him.
"I don't know." James lied. He covered it up with a truth. "But I don't want to talk about it."
"Alright." Fred said, hopping up from his stool that surrounded the small kitchen island, more that happy to change the subject.
James liked his apartment. It was small, snug, and had just what he needed. A small, but working kitchen; an adjacent living room; one bedroom; and a large bathroom to match. Heaven on Earth.
"So what have you been doing? I heard you got a week off of work cause you solved that goblin case for them in less than a day." Fred rambled on, trying to cheer up his friend. "It so creepy to think that they were doing that, and in Gringotts for Merlin's sake."
Fred shuddered for dramatic effect, and James almost smiled. Almost. Sometimes he wondered if Fred had ever wanted to be an actor or a performer, but his cousin seemed pretty content with his present career choice.
"I've been fine in the three days since you've last seen me." James replied. Fred grinned again.
"Who knows?" He said, jumping onto the lumpy but comfortable sofa in the living room. "Maybe you bumped into some new form of press? Or maybe you grew another toe? Or maybe you bought a new pair of shoes that can make you fly without reciting any needed spells or charms?"
James grimaced when Fred mentioned the press, but kept his quiet. The press had always been annoying and noisy growing up because of his famous Father and almost equally famous Mother. (In her later career Ginny had been a renowned quidditch player after all.) But it had gotten so much worse in the past couple of months since Albus had left. Now all the magazines wanted to get the scoop on the distraught family, and quick, and well it drove just about all the Potters, and some Wealeys, insane.
Still, if you ever asked James if he hated the press he would say no. "They are just doing their job." He would say with his famous grin. "What can I do about it?"
"Maybe you met a girl?" Fred continued. Unfortunately, James was so taken aback by the question; he hesitated with his awaited glare of annoyance. And Fred caught on.
"Oh my Merlin's flamin' pants James met a girl." Fred exclaimed, getting up to face his cousin. "Is it true? The one and only James potter found a girl? Wait- will he keep this one for more than three weeks?"
James swatted his cousin away and silently cursed himself for hesitating. He didn't even know if he had met a girl. He had met Eve of course, but he'd probably never see her again. It didn't matter that he didn't want to see her again. Wait- did he want to see her again? He wasn't even sure. His head hurt from lack of sleep and too much thought, and at that moment, he really wished that Fred had chosen a different day to visit him.
There was also the fact that Eve was a muggle. He didn't think that his family would care- but still- it complicated things.
"Look it's complicated." James finally said, not wanting to lie. "I don't really want to talk about it either."
"Fine, fine, I'll give you a pass." Fred said, scrunching his nose. A sudden beeping filled the room and Fred jumped up and swore.
"Bloody hell, I'm late for work." He practically cried, rushing into the kitchen and grabbing his coat.
"Oh right, you have work today." James teased, following him into the room. Fred scoffed at him.
"I'll laugh at you when I get my vacation." He said, opening the door. And then on second though he added, "You should go talk to Rose. I think it'll be good for both of you."
James snorted but he didn't disagree. Rose had also been one of Albus's closest friends, but he hadn't seen her in a while. For some reason he felt as if the witch were holding back information from him, and it made him feel uncomfortable around her. If Rose knew something about Albus that he didn't, and she didn't tell him immediately, it would deeply wound James. Still, going to Rose was probably the right thing to do.
"I'll think about it." James called out into the hallway, not caring much for his sleeping neighbors.
"I'll see you tomorrow at the family dinner!" Fred's faded reply wafted back towards him through the stale hall air, and with one final sigh, James closed the front door.
He was already tired, and it wasn't even ten o'clock.
James slowly made his way back to the bedroom, thoughts swirling through his mind. He decided that he would visit Rose sometime that afternoon, and his Mother the following morning, and maybe the café that evening…but James quickly shook that thought out of his mind. Eve probably wouldn't be there. It was a long shot. He frowned and collapsed back on to the bed, ready to fall asleep all over again.
Underneath him, a piece of toast crunched.
Rose Weasley lived in a spacious flat on the other side of the muggle city London with her long time boyfriend Scorpius Malfoy. They had been together since their fourth year at Hogwarts and somehow were still as deeply in love as they were five years prior. A lot of things could be said about the couple- but one thing was for sure. They would last forever.
It was hard for both of them when Albus left. He had been the third counterpart of their trio- the group they liked calling 'The Visionaries'- and they missed him more than they dared to say. Their other friends were sad too, but they didn't understand. To Rose and Scorpius no one understood. Except, maybe, James Potter.
Still when Scorpius opened his flat door that odd afternoon, the last person he expected to see was James.
"Hey Scorp." James said, nervously mussing up his hair. It was an old tick that all the potter boys seemed to have. "Mind if I come in?"
"Sure." Scorpius said, stepping aside to let the older boy through. James and Scorpius weren't really friends- but they definitely didn't dislike each other. It was more of a 'your dating my cousin and you are a pretty cool guy and vice versa' kind of relationship, and both young men were fine with it. The current situation seemed to call for a bit more.
"Is Rose home?" James asked, making himself comfortable at the kitchen counter. James wasn't one for awkward situations. He made himself at home pretty much everywhere.
"She's doing some work in her office, do you want me to call her or…?" Scorpius answered, not looking so sure with himself. It was fairly obvious he knew why James had stopped by now that he had thought about it. He just wasn't sure if he wanted to know what James had to say.
Sometimes, ignorance was bliss.
"Brilliant." James said, ignoring Scorpius's hesitation. He jumped off of the bench and strode through the apartment, swinging his cousin's door open. Rose didn't even flinch as he walked in.
"I was just telling Scorp that you would stop by." Rose said, not even bothering to turn around from her overflowing desk. She did however steal a glance at Scorpius, who had silently followed James into the room. "You owe me a dozen chocolate frogs."
Scorpius pursed his lips.
"Now James," Rose continued, actually turning around to face her cousin. "You know that I am well informed with everything the letter contained, along with your reaction. So why are you here? It's not for comfort now is it?"
James almost laughed. Rose had always been blunt.
"I've been tracking him." James admitted, removing some books from an armchair and sitting down. "It's tough, wherever he is, and whoever he is with, doesn't want to be found."
"Well we figured that much out the second he left." Rose deadpanned, but it was obvious that she was interested in what he had to say. Even Scorpius seemed marginally interested in the conversation now.
"I've already tried tracking the latest owl." James continued. "But nothing. It came from Argentina, and before that Holland, and before that Ghana, and well, you get the point."
At this point Rose had taken out a scroll of parchment and a quill. James ignored her.
"So I've been working on this new spell." He said. James was an auror, sworn to protect the wizarding community from evils and terrors, yet his specialty was spell making. And he was good at it too. "It's meant to track a person, no matter where they are or what protection or invisibility charms they have casted on themselves. But it's very general, and depending on how it's preformed can give a range of three thousand to thirty kilometers of where the subject is. The broader the range of the spell, the less it can be detected. And since it's virtually new, no one should be looking for it. There are other spells like it, but they tend to well known and easy to track and repel.
"Did you find anything?" Scorpius burst out, even before his better half could get a word in. James turned to him, and he looked embarrassed to have spoken out so loudly. Scorpius was like that. Very cool, very collected, not rash at all. But when it came to his best mate James guessed that even the legendary Scorpius Malfoy couldn't keep his feelings in.
"Well yes." James said, and then admitted, "But not much."
"Go on." Rose said. Rose Weasley had just started training as a Healer, but that didn't mean that she knew nothing about aurors and spell making. She knew more than she dared to admit. (James wondered sometimes if Rose had wanted to be an auror, and what had stopped her.)
"We know that he went east, but not where. I've managed to bring down the range more than three quarters of what it had originally been." James told them, taking out his wand. He drew up a map of the world, and outlined a certain area in red. Rose and Scorpius each looked at each other, confusion etched on their beautiful faces. James smirked.
"Seems to be that our little friend Albus," James said. "Is somewhere in the Middle East."
When James knocked on the door of his childhood home, a very tired looking Ginny Weasley opened it. She didn't look worried anymore, or sad, or scared; just tired. And it frightened James to bits.
"Hey Mum." He said carefully, kissing his mother on her cheek as he passed her. James had been taller then his mother since the fourth year, but it stilled amused him whenever he had to bend down to see her greet her properly.
"Hey Jamsie." Ginny sighed, closing the door. She was wearing tattered shorts and a shirt, and it was obvious to James that she had been flying. It's what she did whenever she had to let out some steam.
Ginny was also the only person in the world who could call James 'Jamsie' and get away with it. It was just a Mother kind of thing.
"How's everything; everyone?" He asked. The house seemed empty. His father was probably still at work; his sister, Merlin knows where.
"Good, good." She said, carefully avoiding the subject of last night. Ginny was of course worried about her eldest son, but she also knew him well, and the last thing James needed right now was a talk.
"Where's Lily?" James asked. Ginny shrugged but pointed a thumb towards the stair.
"Try her room." She said, picking up her broom, which James had just noticed, had been discarded near the kitchen door. "I'll be outside if you need me."
"All right." James said, heading towards the stairs. He had originally come to the house to check up on his Mother, but she seemed to be holding together well enough. His sister was James's next order of business.
He found Lily scrunched up in a ball on her bed, furiously reading a book. James smiled. His sister was one of the strongest people he knew, and out of all of them, she was handling the situation the best.
"Hey little sis." James called from the doorway. Lily looked up, not even startled a bit. Sometimes the similarity between her and Rose creeped James out.
"Hey big sis." She retaliated. James laughed. Lily was in her Sixth year at Hogwarts, and if you asked James, he wouldn't even hesitate saying that she was bloody brilliant thank you very much. He didn't doubt for a second that she wouldn't outshine her two other siblings. Now that he thought about it, what was she even doing home?
"Why are you home?" James repeated his thoughts. Lily smirked.
"I guilted Neville into letting me come home for the weekend. I knew it'd be good for Mum and Dad, and he knows about the whole situation. I'm going back tomorrow morning." She said.
"Huh. He would've never let me leave." James said, sitting down next to her. Lily smirked again. Lily smirked a lot.
"Well what can I say? People in general just love me more." She said, putting down her book. "Now why did you come up here?"
"What, can't a brother just bond with his lovely sister?" James asked innocently, but Lily just sent him a pointed look. James sighed. "I just wanted to see if you were ok. You know, it's my duty as a big brother and all."
Lily smiled, but this time her eyes seemed sad. It broke James's heart how old and mature she seemed and was. At her age James was, well, fooling around.
"You know I'm fine." She said, and then on a lighter note added, "It's you I'm not so sure about."
James laughed and ruffled his little sister's hair affectionately, getting up from the bed.
"Promise me that you'll let me come visit you next Hogsmeade weekend? I'll being news. You don't need to come home anymore." He said, and he meant it.
"Alright." Lily agreed, meeting her brother's eyes. "I promise."
James spent the next day and half sleeping. Then he promptly skipped his family dinner. He needed a break from them. It seemed like wherever he went and wherever he was people were crowding him, asking him if he were ok. It was almost worst than Albus walking out in the first place. James needed space. James needed something different.
So of course, that evening, he found himself back at the little café in the muggle town, half hoping to run into a certain mousy haired muggle girl. James would never admit, but he even cleaned himself up a little before coming. It's not that he wanted to impress- it's just that-
Ok, so James was dressed to impress. But what was so wrong with that?
Taking a deep breath, James opened the door. The bells jingled. Jo smiled warmly at him as he walked in, her cheeks as red and round as ever.
"Hey kid." She rasped from behind the counter. "Same as last time?"
"Yeah, that'd be great…" James said, distracted. He was busy surveying the room, his heart sinking every moment that he didn't see her.
"She's in that corner." Jo interrupted him, pointing to the small nook where James had sat the last time. Then James did something that he rarely did, if ever before. He blushed.
"Thanks." James mumbled. He swallowed a deep breathe of air and aloofly walked over to the couch where Eve was curled up, reading a different book then the one she had had the other night. Suddenly James wasn't thirsty anymore. Actually he didn't feel very well at all. For some reason James Potter was nervous, and this fact upset him very much.
"Hey." James said, startling Eve a bit. He smiled. Finally, a girl who wasn't somehow aware of his every move.
"Oh hi." She said, sitting up. A bit of hair stuck up sideways off her head, and she quickly patted it down, blushing slightly. "I didn't think I'd see you again."
"Well I said until next time. I am man of his word." James grinned, sitting down on an armchair. Eve laughed.
"I can tell." She said. It was silent for a moment, neither party knowing what to say. Finally James spoke.
"What are you reading?" He asked. Eve picked up her book and glanced at the cover as though it were the first time she had noticed it was even there.
"Oh, um, Pride and Prejudice." Eve mumbled back, not quite meeting his eyes. "I know it's kinda old but it's one of my all time favorites. It's just- it's the type of love story that makes you believe in love and life and everything good."
"I've never read it." James said. Actually, he had never even heard of it. He made a mental note to write Hugo a very long letter the following morning. "But if it's as good as you say, I think I'll look into it."
Eve positively beamed at him. It was as if no one had ever said something as simple as, I like that book too, to her. For the umpteenth time that evening, James wondered what went on in that pretty little mind of hers.
"You won't regret it." She said. "The language can be a bit hard to handle sometimes, since it's so old, but the book is just written so beautifully and wow, I must sound like a total nerd to you now."
"No, no. It's fine." James said, and he meant it. He liked watching Eve get all excited and flustered. It was sweet, and well, for an odd reason it made him happy. "I actually don't own a copy of the book at all. Could I borrow one from you?"
"Actually, you can have this one." Eve said, brushing a strand of loose hair out of her eyes and handing James the well-worn book. He carefully took it. "I've read it only about a hundred times."
"Thanks." James said, not even bothering to look at the book Eve had just handed him. She was a much better sight to see.
"Here you go kid." Jo said, suddenly sweeping into James and Eve's little cove and ruining the moment. If there even was a moment at all. "One hot chocolate for the growing boy."
James fought an urge to stick out his tongue at the comment. Instead he just shook his head and took the steaming mug with cautious hands. But Jo didn't leave just yet. Instead, she cocked her head to one side and plucked Eve's novel right out of James's lap.
"What a lovely book." Jo said, handing said object back to James, who was getting more uncomfortable by the moment. Of course, he himself had grown around many book loving people, and James liked books, but something about the way the old woman was talking about this particular novel, made him feel young and stupid.
Wizarding nonfiction books were plenty, but the rest of the genres usually fell flat when it came to the magical world. It was a well-kept secret that the muggles were better with the written word than magical creatures. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that muggles had a lot more to imagine. Jo continued on. "I remember when it came out."
James quickly looked over the old woman, and then returned his attentions to the small withered book. Sure, Jo wasn't young, but from what Eve said, the book seemed a bit older. The plump lady noticed his confused look and laughed.
"It was a joke lad." She said, her white bun bobbing with each wave of laughter. "God forbid, I'm not that old. Yet."
Eve let out a small chuckle behind him, and even James cracked a smile this time.
"Well aren't you a tough one." Jo said, a bit more somberly. She seemed to be sizing him up. "I'd pay to here your story."
And with that the old lady left, leaving the two young adults alone again. James looked at Eve, Eve looked at James, and they both burst into laughter.
"What was that about?" James finally asked after his sides ached and his cheeks hurt from smiling. Eve wiped a tear from her eye.
"I haven't the slightest idea." She said, her voice still raw from laughter. "But Jo's cool. Her intentions are good."
"I really hope so…" James whispered to Eve, glancing eerily to where Jo stood behind the counter, eyeing customers like a hawk.
He turned back to Eve who looked as though she were choking back laughter. It wasn't long before they were both gasping for air again.
This time James did it right. They agreed together that they would meet at the café again, at the same time, next week. It didn't even disappoint James that they were just meeting as friends. He was simply looking forward to seeing the girl.
That Monday morning James was due back at work. It wasn't so bad though- James liked his job. It did mean seeing his Father, and his brother Teddy, (ok, so technically Teddy wasn't his brother, he was more of a godbrother, but he was also married to James's cousin Victoire, so that had to count for something), and several other members of the family.
That was the reason James had a heavy heart as he entered the ministry and made his way silently to the Auror's department. People parted ways for him and whispered to each other nosily as he passed, no doubt gossiping about either his life, or theirs. The Potter Family was a favorite for the gossip buzz in the wizarding community.
It seemed like hours until James reached the safety of his small, but cozy office. He slumped into his chair and sighed. Miraculously enough, he had yet to bump into any of the Weasley-Potter clan. James sat up in his chair and took out some parchment and a quill from his desk drawer. Then, with a flick of his wand, he summoned over some blue ink.
It was time to do some paperwork.
Naturally, it only took about an hour for someone to find James. Fortunately enough for him, it was Teddy Lupin who barged through his door, looking very determined. Normally, this would cause James to worry, since Teddy never bothered him unless he needed something or wanted to check that his little brother was ok. Today, James was just grateful that Teddy had found him, and not his Father, or Merlin forbid one of his many Uncles. (Not that he didn't love his uncles, he really did, they just were a bit of a handful, and James really couldn't bother with them at the moment.)
"What's going on with you?" Teddy demanded, his normal sandy hair shining bright turquoise today. It was Teddy's signature color, but James hadn't seen the young man wear it in weeks. Teddy Lupin was a metamorphmagus, which let him change his appearance at will. It was one of the many qualities James admired of the older boy, along with his strong sense of leadership and warm friendly manner.
"What do you mean?" James asked, playing the dumb. He leaned back in his chair and crossed his legs, attempting to seem mature.
"You know very well what I mean." Teddy snarled, walking straight up to James's desk. James almost jumped in his seat. He didn't remember ever seeing Teddy this mad.
"There is nothing 'going on with me'." James spat back, suddenly angry at the world again. He wanted to set his desk on fire and apparate to frikin' Jamaica, but he knew that he couldn't. (Not to mention that apparation that far was impossible.) "I am totally fine. Why doesn't anyone just leave me alone? Haven't one of your bloody brilliant minds thought of that idea?"
"You aren't fine." Teddy stated, crossing his arms. "You've turned into a shadow of yourself. What happened to the smiling happy James I used to know? You knew how to bring the life into any situation! Now you are just a shrivel of a man. You have got to stop feeling sorry for yourself."
"Feeling sorry for myself?!" James practically yelled, jumping to his feet. He slapped one hand on the top of his desk, ignoring the stinging pain on his palm. "The last thing I am doing is feeling sorry for myself! I'm trying to keep my damn family together, after that stupid fucking git Albus took off and left everything and everyone in shambles! The last thing I'm doing is feeling bad for myself!"
Teddy met James's poisonous glare, but his eyes were no longer filled with wrath. Now they were just sad.
"Don't do this to yourself." Teddy said finally, his tone marginally softer. "Your Father, your mother, even Lily; they can all take care of themselves. So can everyone else. Stop trying to save the day- no one can. Albus left. Who knows where he is, who knows when he's coming back? If he's coming back?"
At those words James hissed slightly, but Teddy shook his head and continued anyways.
"It's true. There's no point in hiding from it. Albus may not come back." Teddy said. "But that doesn't mean he won't. Sulking around and mucking up your life won't bring him back any faster. If anything, it will just make time drag along even slower. You need to lighten up a bit, live a little. It's what your brother would've wanted. Maybe go out into the field a bit, solve a few more cases, take a vacation, meet a girl. Just do something."
James didn't know what to say. Now he just felt bad. He hadn't meant to yell at Teddy, who only wanted to help. But he had exploded from all the pent up negative energy inside of him, and once he had started he couldn't stop. Now, after listening to all the things his godbrother had said, he knew that he was right.
James had to stop this. He had to stop looking for Albus. He had to stop holing about in his flat. He had to stop trying to fix his family, because he was only making things worse for everyone, especially himself.
"I'm sorry." He said. Teddy just smiled sadly.
"There's no need to be sorry." Teddy replied, already halfway out the door. "Just go do something."
The next morning the scratching of owl talons on glass woke James up well above an hour before his alarm. Groggy, he got up and opened the window, letting the bird swoop into his bedroom. The owl dropped the letter off on his bed and then promptly flew back outside, not even awaiting a snack or reply. James didn't notice anyways.
Instead he picked up the mysteriously heavy rolled parchment and opened it, his heart soaring when he realized whom it was from. Hugo had finally answered him. Actually, the kid was quite quick. He had only sent his owl the previous morning.
Eagerly James settled down back on his bed, and scanned the letter.
It read in scrawled handwriting.
I received your letter yesterday evening and was immediately intrigued to why you suddenly wanted to know so much about muggles and their lifestyle in general. You had never shown much interest in them at all. Of course, at first I thought it might just be research having to do with your work. But if it were, you would've gone to one of the ministry specialists and not to me. No, you owled me because you wanted to keep whatever you are doing, and whoever you are meeting, a secret. So, naturally, that must mean that you met someone. Maybe a friend, maybe more. I don't care so much, and I will keep it a secret, do not fret. I have no need to meddle in your personal life. But I am warning you, keeping secrets from muggles, and muggles from the family, will be very hard. And when one or the other finds out about each other's existence, the results will most likely not be pretty. Not because of the par in lifestyles, but because of the fact you kept secrets.
This is just a warning, do whatever you like. But when you do finally tell this person, whom I presume to be a girl, she will probably slap you. (If she is a boy, then he will do much worse.) If of course, she reacts well, be cautious. Sometimes truths of these proportions take a while for muggles or anyone in fact to comprehend, and you have to be aware of that.
James was shocked and impressed. Sometimes he forgot how bloody clever Hugo was.
Now let's start answering your questions-
What is a cartoon character?
Well to answer that, I will have to tell you about the Television, better known to British muggles as a 'telly'. It is a small, usually flat and rectangular device that thanks to electronics, mechanics, and many other 'ics' you will never understand, broadcasts moving shows and programs. A cartoon is a type of show broadcasted on a telly. It is drawn, either by a muggle or a muggle computer (just another device, don't fret about it), and is usually based off of fictional accounts. Cartoons can be humorous, serious, somber, gory, and everything else. They are widely popular in the Muggle pop culture. If whomever you were with compared you to one it is probably because you were doing something in an exaggerated manner, as cartoons tend to do for humorous reasons.
Now moving on to other electronic devices, instead of going into depth on each and every one, (there are many), I will just give you a quick overview of the most popular. Over Christmas break I will be happy to give you a more in depth lesson about all of this.
Here goes nothing:
Computer- electronic device used by muggles to browse the internet or use computer programs which can let them do anything from write on the computer, to create movies (As I talked about before), to buying products.
Internet- a wide database containing just about everything you can think about. I cannot even begin to describe exactly what it is without going into much more depth.
Laptop- a small, handheld computer.
Telephone- you know what this is. It is what muggles use to call each other.
Cell phone or Mobile- a usually small and compact telephone that muggle's use to call each other. It is wireless, meaning that muggles can use it wherever there is cell phone reception. Almost every muggle has a cell phone. You can also send messages from cell phones, called texts.
Tablet- a small handheld computer, which is usually touch screen, meaning that you use your fingers and not buttons or clickers to activate and use it. Most cell phones are also touch screen.
I can think about just about another million things you need to know at the top of my head, but I think I have covered the basics. Owl me if you are confused, or/and need more help.
p.s. Pride and Prejudice is a famous and widely popular muggle book written back in the early nineteenth century. (1813 to be exact.) It follows the life and love affairs of young Elizabeth Bennett as she tries and struggles to find whom she is in society where marriage is all that matters. I would highly recommend you read it.
James set down the large roll of parchment and flopped back on to his bed. Muggles where much more complicated then what he had anticipated. Now he remembered why he had dropped the class.
A week passed, and then another, and suddenly with a gust of cold winds and swirling leaves, it was November. James had fallen into a comfortable routine. He'd get up in the morning, go to work, distract his mind with something slightly entertaining, go home, maybe have some drinks with friends, and sleep. Then, on Sunday and Wednesday evenings he'd meet Eve at their normal café, where they'd sit for hours just talking and laughing.
Quite honestly, a part of James felt normal again. (Of course, normal for James was a far cry from normal in real life.)
Eve had somehow crept her way into his heart and was an unmistakable part of his life now. It stuck him in quite a predicament actually. For now, he had been able to keep quite literally, both worlds in his life blissfully unaware of each other. (Except for Hugo of course, who still helped James out from time to time. He never pried, as he said he wouldn't.) But he knew it wouldn't last long. And then what would happen?
He'd probably cave in first. One of his family members would crack him, he was sure of it. James wasn't really one for keeping secrets. He could if he wanted to, and really well, but it left a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach and James really hated it.
(Anyways, a small part of James wanted someone to figure out about his secret meetings- it'd be easier to resolve the problem that way.)
But after he caved, how would he tell Eve? He was in no doubt that he'd tell her, especially if he wanted to make her a permanent part of his life, and with each passing day, he was more and more sure of this fact.
James Sirius Potter may have never fallen in love before, but he was painfully aware that now, he was. He couldn't stop it, and really, he didn't want to.
On the second Saturday of November Fred barged into James's apartment again, but this time with a muffin. James enjoyed eating it very much. He had actually just run out of breakfast cereal.
"So why are you here?" James asked in between bites. They were seated around the kitchen island; Fred dressed to messy perfection, and well, James in messy perfection.
"I need to know who the girl you are seeing is." Fred said, not afraid of being frank. James choked on a piece of muffin.
"You, what?" He asked, wiping his mouth with the back of his palms. Stray crumbs fell to the floor. James would have to clean up the place later.
"You've been seeing someone." Fred pointed out. "I just want to know who."
"What does it matter to you?" James asked, pushing away his plate. Suddenly, he had lost his appetite.
"Because she's obviously important to you, if you are trying to keep her a secret so passionately." Fred said. "You canceled on a quidditch match last Wednesday, and you never cancel on quidditch. Not even when Lily fell down the stairs and spent two days in St. Mungo's. So obviously, this girl means something to you. You feel the need to hide her from us, protect her from the family's insanity I guess. I simply want to know who my best mate's girl is. Is that so much of a crime?"
"No…" James said slowly, trying to think of a good way to back out of the conversation. It had only been a month, and James wasn't ready to give up his little secret just yet. He needed more time to plan, more time to get to know Eve. More time to hide from Fred and his nosy tendencies. Damn that boy.
Unfortunately, James response came too slowly, and something in Fred's mind clicked.
"Wait," He said, jumping up from the table. "If this girl were a normal witch, she would definitely know who you were. Unless you have her under some kind of charm, which you'd never be smart enough to do-"
"Hey!" James protested, but Fred cut him off, speaking with large and exaggerated hand motions.
"So if this girl is a witch, and she knows who you are, she knows about your family too. And it's been what? More than a month? Plenty of time to prepare for 'meet the family'. And if you guys were just friends she would've probably gone out with us long ago, even if it were just with the bunch from the ministry. So this girl doesn't know about your famous parentage, or your famous reputation in the wizarding world. And if she doesn't know that then she either lives under a rock or she's-"
James swallowed. Here went nothing.
"You know you've never told me what you do for a living." Eve told James the following evening, her legs crossed primly as she sat on the edge of her trademark couch. James tried to not choke on his drink. So far, whenever the two talked about personal things he had managed to change the subject, or twist the truth so that he didn't have to lie. Much.
For example, when asked about his school, he simply told her that he went to an unknown boarding school somewhere in Scotland, and refused to elaborate. And yes, he told her about his crazy and hectic family, but he managed to obscure the truth a bit.
(His Father was now a top shot in the British ministry, a kind of celeb which caused James's life to become a bit hectic at some points. When Eve had asked for his name and what he did, James lied and said that he had retired a while ago, and that it had been something secret that even he never knew about. His mother was a retired football player, his two siblings still in school, his cousin Fred- or Freddy as he liked to call him sometimes- a code breaker also for the government. It pretty much continued like that.)
Somehow though, the topic of his career had never been brought up. James knew that Eve was in Uni, the muggle school where young adults went after they finished their main schooling education. She was studying something called physics, and working towards a BA in English, which James thankfully understood. At least he could bullshit his way through those conversations.
When it came to Physics though, not even Hugo could help him. Eve thought it was cute how flustered he would get every time she would bring it up.
Eve coughed and James because painfully aware that he had been quite for a very long time.
"I, um, also work for the ministry." James said. The less lies, the better.
"Do you do something specific there, or do you just work?" Eve asked skeptically, one eyebrow drawn high. If the situation were a bit different, James would've laughed.
"It's a bit of a private thing." James said. "I'm not really supposed to talk about it. But if you wanted, I guess you could call me a law enforcer."
Technically, everything James had said was the truth. He really did work for the ministry, and Auror was a law enforcer, and he really wasn't supposed to talk about what he did or the wizarding world in general. James was even a bit smug with himself that he managed to pull off such a well thought out lie.
"Uh huh." Eve said. He could tell that she was debating whether to believe him or not, but thankfully, she didn't elaborate anymore. Instead, she pointed to his face.
"You have chocolate on your nose."
When James had admitted that yes, the girl he was seeing was in fact a muggle, Fred had jumped and whooped in joy. James had been sufficiently confused.
"I don't care that she's a muggle." Fred had said, patting his cousin on the head and smiling like a goof. "I'm just glad that you finally pulled your arse out of the dumps and got a life."
On the last week of November, James finally scooped up himself and attending one of the many family lunches at his grandparents beloved home, the burrow. It had been almost two months since he had last come, but he wasn't nervous. Just afraid that his grandmother would slap the living daylights out of him.
"'llo grandmum." James said calmly as he strolled into the familiarly messy kitchen, leaning over to give his grandmother a kiss. She just smiled at him and resumed her dishwashing.
"James dear! I feel like it's been-" Molly Weasley began. Then, she promptly dropped the dish she had been washing into the sink, and turned to face her grandson.
"James Sirius Potter, where in Merlin's soggy pants have you been for the past two months?!" His grandmother scolded, her voice rising. James seemed to shrink with each passing word.
"You know." He squeaked in what he thought was a manly way. "Around and about."
"Why you-" Molly said, her face as red as her hair. Then, instead of striking him, she scooped up the poor boy into a bone-crushing hug. For a few second, James couldn't breathe, and not because he had been overwhelmed, but because he was pretty sure that his lungs had been crushed. Molly let go of him, and stepped back, her warm eyes moist with tears.
"Don't you ever go disappearing on me like that again." She warned, waving her wooden cooking spoon at him. "I was worried half to death."
"Yes Grandmum." James answered obediently, sticking his hands into his pants pockets.
"Now go on and take your seat. You're the last one here." Molly told him, pushing him towards the family room. Finally she let go of his back and he straightened himself off, taking one last look of his small grandmother before joining the rest of the family.
James was pretty sure that Molly had only said that he had scared her half to death, because the other half was already taken by fear for his brother.
"Look who decided to show his handsome face!" Fred called out the moment James stepped through the doorway and into the crowded room. All at once it seemed, the room fell silent and all heads turned towards him. Then, as if in sync, everyone started talking all at one.
"James my boy! How have you been?"
"James have you been eating? You look frightfully thin."
"James, what have you been doing? I haven't seen you in years!"
"James why are you always late? The food is getting cold."
"James, why are you staring at me so oddly?"
That last comment was said by James's eldest cousin Victoire, who had a dainty hand on one hip and was gazing at him with her piercing blue veela eyes.
"No reason." James quipped. Actually, he hadn't even been aware that he was looking in her direction. Slowly James returned everyone's greetings, and then, as soon as they all started cornering him, they forgot about him. James let out a sigh and slumped down next to his favorite cousin. He noticed his Mother and Father were absent from the room.
"There was a reason I didn't like coming to these." James said to Fred through gritted teeth. Fred flashed him a grin.
"At least the foods good." Fred replied, grinning some more as he stuffed a pastry into his mouth.
"Yeah, sure." James said, but he wasn't in the mood much to eat. Lately he never was.
"You know." Fred said thoughtfully, after he swallowed his mouthful of food. "Grandmum set out a place for you every single time we would come over here. For you and Albus. Neither of you ever showed up."
If James had felt awful before, he felt even worse now. Fred, quite smug with himself now, went back to his eating.
Fortunately a commotion from the front of the room distracted James from his misery. Rose had stood up, and Scorpius by her side.
"Excuse me! I have an announcement to make!" Rose said, her shrill voice cutting through all the conversation in the room. Even Molly quietly entered the room during all the fuss.
"Scorpius and I just wanted to say…" Rose, being the drama queen she truly was, paused for effect. Then in a flash, she putt up her left hand. "We're getting married!"
It seemed to James as though the room erupted all out once. Aunt Hermoine shrieked. Uncle Ron fainted. All the female cousins were squealing in delight. James smiled, happy for couple. It was about time. Rose and Scorpious had been together for- well- ever. It was expected that they would get engaged soon, and now that it had happened, James was just shocked that anyone was surprised at all.
When James left that evening, after wishing the happy couple only the best, he couldn't help but think about the fact that Albus would miss his best friends wedding.
That Wednesday James had important news to share with Eve. He sat down on his couch with a satisfying thud and grinned.
"What?" Eve asked, eyeing James's smile warily.
"I finished." James said, as if that explained everything.
"Finished what?" Eve asked.
"The book." James said, taking out a small item from his pocket and thrusting it towards her. "It took me a while, but like you said, it was definitely worth it."
"You finished?" Eve repeated the said question again, her tone laced with excitement. She took the worn out copy of Pride and Prejudice in her hands, skimmed it lightly, and then gave it back to James.
"You know," She said. "You should keep it. I'm happy you liked it. Keep it as a reminder of me."
As soon as the words left Eve's mouth she blushed a deep red.
"I didn't mean it like that." She said quickly, trying to cover up her tracks. "It's just- you know-"
"I get it." James smiled warmly, holding the old book gingerly in his hands. "Thank you."
Eve blushed again and looked down at her feet. Never in his life had James wanted to kiss someone so bad.
"There wasn't a letter last time, there might not be one this time either." James said to Ginny that Saturday afternoon. Ginny grimaced but didn't respond. She just continued staring out the window from her perch at the kitchen table. James sighed.
Honestly, he didn't know anyone as stubborn and strong as his mother. Last time Al was due for a letter, she sat in the kitchen for six hours waiting, not even complaining once. Nothing ever came.
James knew how hard this new reality was for his mother, he felt it in her every move, and again he felt the wave of resentment towards his brother wash through his body. He hand subconsciously tensed into a fist.
A scratching noise from the window scared James out of his rage. When he looked down, his mother was smiling. Calmly, Ginny got up from the kitchen table, and walked over towards the window. It unlatched with a light click.
The owl swooped in, dropped the letter, squawked at James, and then flew out. Unfortunately it was just enough time for James to do the one thing he had promised Teddy, and himself, he would never do again.
He tracked the bird.
Either Albus was getting sloppy or he just didn't care if James knew where he was, because when James got home and went over the results of his spell, he found that the bird had come promptly from Egypt. Just as James had predicted.
After sending Rose an owl about his discovery, James leaned back in his desk chair and thought for a moment. The letter Albus had sent this time hadn't said much, they never did. It just assured their Mother that he was safe, and that he would write again. Ginny had seemed satisfied enough though, so James had left the house and returned to his flat, where he now pondered his next move.
True to his word, James hadn't tried to find Albus in a little over a month. But there was something off about this letter, about how easy it was to track it, that left James with an uneasy feeling in his stomach.
He couldn't send Albus an owl. James didn't know how Albus managed to find owl's that could endure such long distance anyways. James's one certainly couldn't. Also, Albus's location had 'danger' written all over it, and James didn't want to send an innocent animal to its sure death.
Instead James did something that was probably just as stupid, if not more so. But he promised himself, that after this once, he'd never try to go looking for his brother again.
He just needed to take this last chance.
So with a deep breathe a flick of his wand James thought of the happiest memory he had, and conjured a patronus large enough to fill the whole flat with glowing silver light.
"I know where you are." James said to the patronus. The silvery wolf peered James in the eyes and stuck out its large lolling tongue. "Please, just come home."
James didn't need to say anything more. With one last look the wolf was off, dancing through the walls and into the night sky. Now that James thought about it, he realized it was true. He didn't care to know where Albus was, or what he was doing, or why. He just wanted his brother safe at home, with him.
"Hey Kid!" Jo greeted James as he stepped through the tinkling door. He smiled and raised a hand, already making his way over to where Eve sat, curled up with her tea.
James sat down in a huff. Eve looked up.
"You know what I just realized?" He asked, leaning back and crossing his legs in a scholarly manner.
"What?" Eve replied, leaning forward and resting her head on her open palms. James had to fight himself not to openly stare at her. So what if she was stunningly beautiful? That's just not what friends did.
"Christmas is in two weeks." He stated, smirking a bit. A big smile broke out on Eve's face.
"I know." She said, straightening herself up. "And I get off of Uni for vacation next week. It's about time."
For a moment James's heart sank- if Eve was getting off of school for a vacation, then did that mean she wouldn't be around for…a little more than three weeks?
"Are you," James said, trying to seem as nonchalant as possible. "Doing anything special?"
"Well I live about twenty minutes away from here, and my parents live thirty minutes away, so no, I'm not really planning on leaving the area." Eve replied thoughtfully, her lips toying with a smile. "I do however want to go to France for a couple of days…maybe for New Years…"
Eve got a dreamy look on her face, and James got an idea. It was outrageous and stupid and most likely improbable, but if it were to work…
"I'm going to tell her." James told Fred the following night. This time they sat in Fred's flat, the one he used to share with their cousin Louie before he set of across the ocean to America. Now he was married, and James was pretty sure he even had a little kid on the way.
Hopefully Louie and his husband would show up for Christmas Dinner. James always enjoyed their company. (Yes, it seemed kind of impossible, but in James's crazy and extended family, Louie and Pip were probably the most sane couple of all.)
Fred didn't even blink an eye at the news. Instead he put down his drink and stared James straight in the eyes.
"It's about time you did." Fred said, slugging his best friend on the shoulder. Then, on a second thought, he added, "You big prat."
"But what am I going to do?" James cried in exasperation. "I can't exactly just slip it into normal conversation. And we aren't dating- it's not as though it will change her whole life. We are still just friends, and well-"
"If you are just friends, then why are you telling her?" Fred asked, picking up a quidditch magazine. He flicked through the pages as if he were bored of the conversation already. James didn't even notice.
"Because I can't imagine my life without her." James replied as if it were fact. Fred looked up with a grin.
"So it doesn't matter if you are in a relationship or not with her. You have to tell her anyways. Most likely she's in the same position as you- friend or more- it will change her life. You owe it to her to tell her the truth." He said. Then, Fred returned to his magazine. James sighed.
His little cousin Freddy, (younger by two weeks thank you very much), saw the truth better than he could. He looked up at his cousin, and swallowed.
"How hard do you think she'll slap me?" He asked, cracking half a smile. Fred snorted and peaked up over his magazine.
"If she doesn't run away, then halfway across the world." He said, and then laughed again.
"Now that I'm out of school." Eve said. "Maybe I could see you outside of this tiny café?"
James almost spit out his drink. Eve caught him off guard- a lot. She looked nervous, as though even she weren't sure with what she had just proposed. James on the other hand, was half excited and half scared to bits. The café was a safe haven for James, a place to hide from the real terrors of his life, and he wasn't sure if he wanted to give it up. Yet.
But he knew that he had too.
"Yes." James said, much to Eve's surprise. "That sounds good. Really good."
"Do you want my number?" She asked, confusing James momentarily. Then he remembered- numbers, cell phones, that was what muggles used to communicate with each other.
"Yeah, brilliant." James said. Eve reached out a hand, as if to take something from him. James scrambled for the right words. "I, um, I don't have a cellyphone. It broke?"
"Oh…ok." Eve said, looking at him a bit oddly. "I'll just write my mobile number down." Quickly she took out a sheet of paper and jotted something down with a muggle pen. James was actually familiar with them, since his father always had a couple lying around.
She handed the sheet to him and smiled.
James grinned back.
For some odd reason, Lily, Hugo, and all the rest were back from Hogwarts a week early. James didn't bother to ask why. Nowadays, Hogwarts was just weird. Very different from when he attended there, shy of three years ago.
James also didn't question it because he was partially relieved that Lily was home. (And he needed more help from Hugo.) James had seen his little sister on the one Hogsmeade weekend she had been free, and of course, she had looked as fine as ever. But he could never really know what went on in her odd mind. So James was glad he could keep an eye on her.
"You know I was surprised when you only owled me to come over today." Hugo greeted his older cousin as he entered James's flat the day after the whole lot returned. It was early morning, but James had taken the day off. Learning how to call a muggle was definitely a good excuse to stay home.
James scrunched up his nose.
"I thought you would summon me over the second I set foot at home." Hugo stated, not a trace of humor in his voice. For someone so smart, Hugo was definitely an odd one.
"Funny." James muttered. "Did you bring it?"
"If by 'it', you mean my muggle mobile, then yes. I did." Hugo said, making himself comfortable on the sofa. James waited for Hugo to go on, but he never did. Instead, after a few moments of silence, he turned to face James a raised a single eyebrow.
"Are you coming?" He asked, bored. (To James, Hugo always sounded bored.)
"Oh, yeah, yes." James said, hurrying over to the couch, where he promptly sad down with a dull thud next to his cousin.
"Now watch and listen closely." Hugo said, taking out a small rectangular contraption similar to the one Eve had used so many months before. "Because I don't want to repeat this too many times."
"All right. Go on." James answered.
Hugo flipped the phone over to show a sleek screen of what James could only imagine was some type of glass or metal. It was virtually empty, with no buttons or nicks, very different than what James had remembered a phone to look like, and very similar to the one Eve possessed.
"This is a touch screen mobile." Hugo explained, tapping the screen twice with his pointer finger. The phone came to life, bright light showing something that seemed to resemble a menu. "When I tap the screen twice, as you saw, the phone turns on."
James nodded. That much he got.
"Now pay attention." Hugo said. "You see this picture of a small green phone, kind of resembling a half moon?" He pointed to the bottom right corner of the screen and James nodded again.
"That's what you click on if you want to make a call." Hugo explained. "Come on now, click it."
James didn't hesitate. With a steady hand he lightly touched the screen phone, exactly where Hugo had instructed him to. The mobile responded with a small vibration, and James smiled in glee as the screen changed display once again, now showing a full selection of numbers.
"So now we have gotten ourselves to the dialing pad." Hugo said. "Here we dial in the number you want to call, and then the mobile calls it. Do you have the number written down?"
"Yes." James replied, fumbling for the note in his pockets. After a moment he pulled out the crumpled sheet of paper and thrust it into Hugo's open hands. Hugo looked at the sheet and crinkled his nose ever so slightly.
"All right. Now you can try making the call." Hugo said. "I'm going to hold on to the phone, for I actually like this mobile a lot and don't want you to break it. You will dial the number and then I will put the phone on speaker, meaning that you can talk into it from a small distance."
This time James did hesitate.
"Come on." Hugo urged him slightly, "Just dial in the exact numbers."
So James did, and when he was done, Hugo continued on.
"Now press the small green button in the left hand corner. That will call the number."
James did as his cousin told, and suddenly, the phone came ringing to life. It let out a loud beep, and then went quiet for a moment, and then let out the loud tone again. James was confused, was the mobile thing supposed to act this way?
Hugo seemed to read the confusion off of James's face.
"The phone is working." He said. "It's just calling and connecting to the number you dialed. Remember, as soon as she answers talk, and whatever you do, don't yell."
James nodded yet again, and he wanted to ask more, but then a crackling voice buzzed out of the small muggle device.
"Hello?" James heard Eve say. It was definitely her, even with the odd pitching and noises in the background, James could tell.
"Eve!" James said, a bit too loudly. Hugo winced besides him. James lowered his voice and tried talking again. "It's James. James Potter."
"James!" Eve's voice said. "How are you?"
"Good. I'm good." James replied. Hugo raised another eyebrow at him. "Um, How are you?"
"Great actually." Eve said, her voice crackling again. "I just got my Uni scores back for the semester, and everything went really well."
"That was pretty obvious." James flirted, "I mean, you are brilliant and all."
Now Hugo just seemed plain uncomfortable. James grinned.
"Look, I was wondering," James continued, his stomach growing tight. "If you want to meet tomorrow evening?"
"Uh, yeah. Yeah that'd be great." Eve said after a slight pause, and James was sure he detected excitement in her tone. "Where do you want to go?"
"Well…I don't really know the area that well." James improvised. "Why don't you choose a place?"
"There's actually a film out that I really want to go see." Eve said. "And it's playing tomorrow at the local theatre right next to the café. Want to meet there at, let's say, eight?"
"Sounds good." James said, "Eight it is."
"Brilliant. I'll see you later, I have to go now." Eve's voice buzzed.
"Bye." James replied, and with that there was a small click, and even James, in all his muggle-deprived knowledge, knew the call was over. Hugo smirked.
"Are you happy?" He asked, putting the mobile away.
The grin on James's face answered the question.
"Well who knew?" Freddy Weasley grinned wickedly, perched on the edge of James's bed. "That one day James Potter would get nervous for a date!"
Then he added with a wink and a whisper, "Whoever this girl is, I like her already."
"Shut up you prick." James mumbled, shoving Fred off of his bed with a well-placed push to the head. Fred sprawled on the ground was better then Fred annoying him on his bed. "I'm not nervous, and it's not a date."
"Sure it isn't." Fred commented from his view from the ground. He didn't bother getting up. "No offense mate, but you have never gone out on a 'date' with a girl before and not come back with at least one good snog session."
"Shut up." James mumbled, pulling on some of the more 'in' muggle clothes Hugo had once gotten him. James wished he could just pull on a t-shirt and a pair of classic old blue jeans- the outfit usually went well in both worlds. "I'm not going out with her to snog her. I'm going out with her because she is my friend and I enjoy her company."
"Oh! So you admit to going out with her!" Fred cried, jumping up from the floor.
"You are insufferable." James sighed, pulling off his current t-shirt and slipping on a nice button down. Casual, but not 'oh I just woke up for bed and didn't feel like changing' casual. James nodded at his reflection in the mirror and smoothed down his shirt, turning to face the smirking Fred.
"Then why are you looking so sharp?" Freddy taunted, following his cousin to the next room. "Unless you want to dress to impress…"
James shoved Fred to the floor again before he could finish his sentence.
James apparated in to an alley a few minutes away from the well-known café, hoping that the loud 'crack' caused by his apparation had been muffled by the natural street noises. He brushed himself down one last time, and then as if he had not been traveling through time and space just a moment before, James stepped out of the alley and into the brightly lit sidewalk.
It wasn't hard to find the colorful movie theatre, which Hugo had warned him was a large building with many theatres in which muggles watched movies on large screens. Hugo had also briefed James on what happened inside of the theatre, and how the muggles sold bunches of muggle snacks and movie tickets for well over-priced sums. James wished that he could've brought wizarding sweets for Eve to try, but that would have to wait for now.
James spotted Eve under the bright building lights, bundled in a large coat and scarf to protect her from the biting cold and snow. He waved as she turned towards him, and Eve's face immediately brightened into a smile.
"Hey!" She called out to him as he made her way over to where she stood.
"Hey." James breathed back, unraveling his scarf.
"So the movie starts in five minutes. Sorry about the tight schedule, I thought it was a bit later." Eve said, ushering James through the large glass double doors and into the large spacious theatre.
"What are we…" But the question left James's mouth as he took in his surroundings. It was like nothing he had ever seen before, and better tenfold than the photos Hugo had showed him.
"What are we watching?" Eve finished off his question as he gawped in awe. Everything was so colorful! The counters, where muggles stood swarmed together, buying queer and oddly shaped foods to the large popcorn machine, which made the popcorn look so perfect that James almost suspected it was fake. There were posters hung on the wall of what James could only imagine were movies come to past, or present flicks the theatre was still promoting. A couple passed by them, giggling into each other, charmed by the loving air of the whole building.
James loved it.
"We are going to see a special screening." Eve continued, oblivious to James's awe. "Of one of my favorite novel-adapted movies. I think you'll like it too.
"It's a bit old of course." She continued as they walked down towards the ticket booth and concession stand. "But amazing nonetheless. I could watch it countless times and believe me, I hate rewatching movies."
James nodded, barely listening to her words. Only when the ticket lady asked them to pay did he come back to life, chivalrously butting in and demanding he pay for both of them. Eve couldn't not give in. Part of it was because she thought it was sweet, and the other because he simply wouldn't allow it.
"You can pay for the snacks." He told her as they stopped by the colorful concession stand. James turned to look at Eve with a serious scowl on his face. "I want one of everything."
It was close to eleven at night when James and Eve left the theatre, both still filled with too much movie and too little common sense.
"You could've told me it was Pride and Prejudice before we went in you know." James told her, stealing the blue woolen hat off of her head. Eve yelped in surprise and reached for the stolen accessory, but James was too tall, and they were both giggling too hard to actually pay attention to their childish banter.
"I did." She told him. "You just didn't listen. You were too mesmerized by the rows of candy you were dreaming of devouring."
"Dreaming?" James scoffed, jutting out his chin. "You mean accomplished."
"It's like you've never seen candy before." Eve teased, and James tensed, but only for the slightest fraction of a second. Eve continued on. "Fatty."
"Fatty?" James cried out in mock disgust. "My thirteen year old cousin could come up with a better diss than that. Anyways, I'm pretty certain a fatty couldn't do this."
And then before Eve could even comprehend his words James picked her up and slung her across his back, continuing his stroll in the streets like nothing had ever happened. Eve on the other hand was stuck in a state of laughter, shock, and despair.
"Putt me down you prat!" She laughed, pounding dully on his back. James ignored her.
"I'll hurt you if you don't put me down, you big bully!" Eve continued, kicking her legs too. James just smirked.
"I'll put you down if you say the magic words." He told her, enjoying the irony of the situation.
"Oh yeah, and what are those?" Eve asked, pausing her reign of terrorism on James's back to listen to his proposal.
"James Potter is the most brilliant person in the whole world and I sweat every time I am in his surroundings because he heats up the room with his amazing looks." James said coolly in one breath, biting back a laugh. Eve scoffed.
"I am not saying that." She told him. "I don't lie."
"Oh well, I gave you a choice." James answered, shrugging. He shifted his shoulder so that Eve would be even more exposed to the impending danger of the ground and quickened his pace. Eve pounded on his back harder.
"Fine, fine, I give up! Just put me down!" She begged. James grinned, and then as easy as if he were picking up a twig, carefully grabbed Eve by the waist and let her down softly on the ground.
"Now say it."
"Say it or I'll pick you up again!" James warned.
"Fine." Eve surrendered, throwing up her hands in the air. "I'll say it since you are too much of baby to have me do differently."
"I'm not a baby." James pouted. "I just won, and now I get my prize."
"Baby." Eve taunted again, sticking out her tongue.
"Just say it." James narrowed his eyes, staring right into Eve's exquisite grey orbs. She smiled, as if to refuse his request again, but actually obliged.
"James Potter is the most brilliant person in the whole world and I sweat every time I am in his surroundings because he heats up the room with his amazing looks." Eve said softly. It was only then that both of them became painfully aware of how close they were, noses almost touching. James could just slightly reach down, and tilt up her chin, and then kiss her…
Instead he stepped back, awkwardly scratching the back of his neck. Eve blushed and looked down at her feet, which seemed suddenly very interesting.
"I, um, got you a present." James said, trying to awkward tension in the air between them. "For Christmas, since I wasn't sure if I'd see you by then."
"Thank God." Eve breathed, opening her purse. She caught the look on James's face and laughed.
"No, no, I'm not happy you got me a present- well I am," Eve explained. "Just I got you one too and I was afraid it's be weird if I gave it to you and you didn't- well you get the point."
"Makes sense." James nodded, grinning a bit himself. They found a bench, and after wiping some snow off, sat down.
"I'll start." James declared, taking a modest sized package out of his pocket. If Eve were paying closer attention to him, she'd probably notice that a package of that size couldn't have possible come from his pant's pockets. Luckily, if she did notice, she didn't mention anything.
James had decided that it didn't matter much of he were a bit sloppy with his magic, he'd be telling Eve the truth soon enough. Eve took it from his hands gingerly and with her eyes studied that badly wrapped present.
"I wrapped it myself." James admitted. "I swear what's inside will make up for the awful look."
"It's cute." Eve said, smiling softly. James felt his cheeks warm up. Why was he blushing? James Sirius Potter never blushed.
Eve was undoing years of hard work on James's side with just simple things as smiles, and it was taking all of James's willpower not to break down into the sap he really was and kiss her then and there.
"Oh wow…" James heard Eve said, and looking back at her, he saw that she had opened the gift and was now staring and it with wide eyes. "This is beautiful! I've never seen anything like it…"
"It's a special edition, not made anymore." James lied, even though technically, the book Eve was perusing softly wasn't printed in the muggle word. "I used to love it as a kid, and my Grandmother knows someone, so I managed to salvage a copy."
"It's beautiful." Eve murmured again, and she was right. The book resting in her lap was a true work of art- a fine detailed illustrated book of 'The Tales of Beedle the Bard'. "Honestly, I love it. Thank you."
And then swiftly Eve leaned over and kissed his cheek. If James's face wasn't red before it was flaming now, and it took him a couple of moments to collect his bearings.
"I don't know if you'll like this." Eve said, taking out a small nicely wrapped box from her purse, "But I saw you didn't have one so I thought…well it definitely isn't as good as what you got me."
"I doubt that." James said, slowly shaking his head. He took the present from her with a smile, and as carefully as he could, unwrapped it. Usually James would tear the wrapping off of gifts, not caring what happened to it, but for some reason James wanted to preserve this one.
Or maybe he just wanted to impress Eve.
James opened the box to find a small muggle wristwatch, with a simple golden strap. He had never put much thought into getting a watch before, but now, as he looked at it, he realized that it was exactly what he needed.
"It's brilliant." James said, fitting the watch onto his wrist. "Thank you."
Eve leaned in again, but this time stopped right before their noses touched.
"Merry Christmas." She whispered.
Christmas came and passed and true to his word, James didn't see Eve. He actually hadn't spoken to her at all since their last meeting at the movies. He had barely had time to eat, sleep, and think.
James's procrastination had finally caught up with him, and now he was buried under a pile of work. It wasn't all that bad though, a few of the assignments were even requests for new spells, which was what James specialized in, and loved the most.
He was actually in the middle of finalizing a new silencing charm when a knock on the door alerted him that there was a world outside of his bubble of a flat. He sighed and put down his notes, pocketing his wand as he made his way to the door.
When it swung open, James was mildly surprised to see Hugo standing there, an annoyed look on his face.
"Its for you." He said, thrusting his mobile muggle phone into James's hands. James looked down at the device, back up at Hugo, and beckoned to him to follow him inside. Then, he pressed the phone to his ear and spoke.
"Hello?" James said, not quite sure what to expect.
"James?" Eve's voice crackled through the line.
"Eve!" James exclaimed, instinctively running a hand through his messy hair. "How are you?"
"When can you meet at the café?" She asked him, ignoring his question. James immediately detected that something was wrong. He swallowed nervously.
"I guess in, maybe half an hour?" James said, glancing at his watch. It really was handy. (And perfect for bad puns.) "At half past four?"
"Good." Eve replied. "I- uh, have to talk to you. It's pretty urgent."
"All right." James said, and then added. "Is everything ok?"
"Just come to the café." Eve replied, and with a dull click, James knew that the call was over.
"What was that about?" Hugo asked him when James handed the mobile back. Hugo inspected the device, and then removing a small cloth from his pocket, wiped down the screen.
"I don't know." James said, still a bit shocked from the conversation himself. "But I have to go."
Twenty minutes later James apparated back into the alley he had used before, prepared to face Eve's obvious wrath. (To be completely honest with himself, he was a bit scared. James had faced the wraths of many girlfriends before, but Eve wasn't his girlfriend, and he had certainly never seen her angry.)
Unfortunately James never made it past the alley. Just as he was about to leave, a hand touched his shoulder.
James's reflexes kicked in, and swiftly he twisted the hand, turned himself around, and pulled out his wand to defend himself from the intruder. He almost dropped it when he saw exactly who the intruder was.
"Albus…?" James murmured, eyes taking in the sight of his missing brother standing before him. Albus smiled, but his eyes were laced with pain. James must've twisted his arm harder than he had expected…
"You really did always know how to defend yourself." His brother joked, voice laced with pain.
James was still trying to process the sight before him.
"Albus!" He said again, this time happier. Then, without a single warning, he stepped up to his brother and gathered him into a tight embrace. Albus winced under his tight grip, but if James noticed, he didn't care. James then stepped back, gave Albus a once over, and punched him in the jaw.
"Ow, bloody hell what was that for?" Albus cried, slowly caressing his jaw with his unharmed hand. "I came to see you, not to get bloody beaten up. If I wanted to die I would've done so a long time ago."
"That's for leaving." James said, pointing to Albus's hand. Then he switched his gaze to the jaw. "And that's for ripping apart everyone's heart and killing us with worry about you."
To that Albus had no reply. There was no point in denying what was true. It started getting darker outside, and shadows began to creep up the walls of the two buildings the brothers were wedged between.
"I'm sorry. You know the last thing I meant to do was hurt anyone." He said. "It hasn't been easy on me either."
And he was right. Albus was not the brother James had known six months prior. James looked at him again, and well. Albus looked tired, too put it softly. There were large grey bags under his eyes, and his bright green eyes seemed dulled. He was gaunter, and skinner, and there was something harder about him, as if Albus had seen the ghosts and demons of the world and couldn't erase their presence from his mind.
A million thoughts and emotions ran through James's head, as he stood there, stuck somewhere between a look of shock and a grimace.
"But you're not sorry you left." James stated. He wasn't sympathetic towards his brother, at least not in this situation. Albus would need to give him a pretty bloody good reason and apology for that.
"No." Albus replied, meeting his brother's gaze with equally cold eyes. "I'd do it again if I had too."
A wave of anger rippled through James's body and he found himself with fisted palms and gritted teeth.
"Then why are you here?" He asked, not bothering to hide the contempt in his voice.
"To talk to you." Albus said, putting his hands in his pockets. Suddenly, he didn't look so bad anymore, he looked scared. Confused even. Like the kid-brother James knew was still buried down inside of him somewhere. James's grip on his wand relaxed. In that moment he wanted to run over to his brother again, and tell him that everything would be ok, and that no one was mad, and beg him to come home.
Isn't this what he had always wanted? For Albus to come home and everything to return to normal?
But then the moment passed.
Things would never be normal again, and both parties knew it. Quite frankly, James didn't even want his life to go back to old boring routine he used to know. He was finally happy. Or, partially so.
"Why?" James asked. Albus shifted in his spot.
"You have to stop trying to track me." Albus said. "It's not safe."
"It's not safe?" James spat, and if Albus wanted to say something else, he never got the chance.
"It's not safe!" James cried, on the verge of yelling. "You're my little brother, I'm supposed to be telling you what's safe and what isn't! You should be home now, getting ready for the apprenticeship at the Auror office or a healery or whatever normal career you once wanted to pursue. Instead you ran away, with a girl, who no one knew. Her name, at least the one she gave you, was fake! Her identity, just a cover-up. She obviously was running away from someone, and she was obviously dangerous, but no. You just had to walk run away with her. And for what? To save the world?
"Look around Albus, there is no trouble here. Everyone is finally happy, that's what Dad made sure of. Dad was the one who risked his life and more, so that you wouldn't have to. But you just had to run away. And why? Because you love the damn girl? Or because you think that you are some hero, destined to save the world?"
By the time he was finished yelling, James was breathing heavily. If Albus was alarmed, he didn't show it. Instead he looked pained, and even a bit sad. It made James want to hate him even more.
"I'm sorry you feel that way." Albus finally said. He seemed to be searching for the right words. "But believe me, the last thing I did was run away for Jessie. If you had any idea- even the slightest tiniest idea- of what went on out there, you would be coming with me too. But as I said, it's too dangerous, and hell I risk my life everyday. And sure, maybe England is still all safe and happy, but if I don't go back and finish what I am doing, it won't be for long. And I agree with you, it's messed up that I have to tell you this. But it isn't safe, I will come visit when I can, I will send you messages when I can, but you have got to stop trying to find me."
James thought about what Albus said for a moment. He didn't like what he had to say, but he thought about it anyways. He had no other choice.
"How do I know I can trust you?" James finally asked. Albus's face visibly paled. He had expected an outburst from James, but no that. Anything but that.
For what was the meaning of their brotherhood, their bond, if James so plainly hated him?
And James never hated. Albus knew that.
"You don't have any other choice." Albus said. "You don't trust me, and your pretty little girlfriend could be the next one dead."
"How do you know about Eve?" James demanded, easily crossing the distance between the two brothers in a few large steps. The mention of Eve's name had snapped something inside of him- something that had been on the verge of breaking a long time before. He held a hand under Albus's chin- he didn't need a wand to hurt him.
"I know a lot more than you think." Albus said, wheezing a bit from the pressure James had applied to his esophagus. "You have to trust me, for her. I know you really like her, and it would be awful if something would happen to her right? And after they get rid of her they'll get rid of everyone else you love, everyone I love, until you're the last one left.
"And then after all that pain, they'll come for you." James let go of his brother's neck, and Albus stumbled away from him, trying hard to catch his breath.
James looked away from his stranger brother. Never had he been so torn in his life. Deep down inside of himself he believed every word of what Albus was saying- but the outside of him, and practically every other part, was screaming to him that it was nonsense.
James couldn't let himself believe that his little brother, who he had watched grow up- turn into the young man he was today- was fighting evils on that level of wicked. It couldn't be possible.
James didn't want to believe that evils like that could still exist in their world. It should've been over. It was supposed to be over.
Albus was young. Albus was naïve.
Albus never lied.
"I don't believe you." James said slowly, part believing his words and part just saying them so that his brother wouldn't feel as if he had won. "But I won't look for you anymore. I hope you're happy."
"Of course I'm not happy!" Albus cried. His jaw had started to swell up where James had punched him moments earlier. "I'd be happy if I were home with you, and mum, and dad, and Lily, and Scorpius and Rose, and…"
Albus suddenly looked so sad.
"I- I can't come back yet." He said slowly, meeting James's gaze. At once, all the anger in James's system evaporated, but he was still hurt, and there was nothing Albus would be able to do about it. At least not yet. Albus continued. "But I'll be back again soon. And I'll visit whenever I can, whenever it's safe. And then, when this is all over, I promise. I'll explain everything."
"Ok." James said.
Albus knew what it meant. It meant that James would continue hurting, and maybe even hating, and that as much as he tried he'd never be able to mend the broken fence he had created in their bond, but still. It was a promise. It was a promise that one day James maybe would forgive him, a promise that maybe his family would too.
A promise that Albus hung on dearly with all his might.
"I have to go now." Albus said to James. "I've been here for too long anyways. But it was worth the risk."
And then he smiled, and James's heart broke.
And then he was gone. Just like that. Without even a crack, Albus had disappeared into the dark alley, swallowed by the shadows of the night. James looked up at the sky, wondering what the hell had just happened to him. To Albus. To his family. It was already dark; the first stars were out- James cursed.
He ran out of the alley and into the street, glancing at his watch.
Because of Albus, he was late.
James burst into the café, out of breath, cold sweat running down his back. He looked around the room wildly, hoping that he hadn't missed her.
Eve sat where she always did, but there was no warmth when she turned to him. No book by her side. No mug of tea. James was in trouble, and it didn't have to do with that fact that he had been late.
He didn't care though, not at that moment. Seeing his brother had knocked some sense back into James's brain. He knew what he had to do.
As James strode across the room he could only think of one thing: what would I do if she got hurt?
He stopped right in front of Eve, the tension in the air crackling. A few other patrons stopped what they were doing to watch. Eve blinked, not sure what to say.
And James kissed her.
At first Eve was startled. Out of all the things she had expected him to do, this was far down the list. But slowly she gave in, sliding a slender hand behind his head and entangling it in his hair. James held her cheeks, smiling against her soft lips.
And then she pulled back.
"Wh- wh- what are you doing?" Eve stuttered, taking a step back. "I barely know who you are. You're a stranger I met in a café, and you won't tell me a single detail about your life, and bloody hell what am I doing?"
James understood then why Eve had so frantically called him. The truth had finally caught up with him- Eve had figured out that something about his shabby life story didn't quite add up.
Or maybe, she was helped into that realization.
"Eve, listen-" James said, stepping towards her, but she tripped backwards, almost falling over her own feet. They were making a commotion, and everyone knew it.
"Get away from me." Eve whispered, her eyes large with- fear? No that couldn't be right. James shook that possibility from his head.
"Just let my explain." James begged, practically on his knees. "Let's go outside, please."
"Why should I trust you." Eve replied. The conversation sounded eerily familiar to James.
"Because you do know me." He said lamely. "You know who I really am, inside I mean, and I swear, I'll explain the rest."
Eve didn't seem to buy it, but for some reason she nodded her head anyways.
It was quite for a moment after they stepped outside, and then-
"Who are you?" Eve asked James, pushing him away. "You've always been odd, but I didn't care. I thought that was who you were, and I thought it was sweet. But then, I usually don't do this I swear, I searched you up, and you didn't appear anywhere. No social networks, no address, no trace of you ever existing. Not even in the old phone books! It's as if you were never born!"
James didn't know what to say. He had definitely never expected this to be a issue, not when there were so many others. He opened him mouth to reply, but Eve cut him off, venom in her eyes.
"Honestly, if you tell me the truth, it'll be ok." She said, her tone calming down a shade. "Are you a fugitive from the law? Are you somehow in trouble? Were you abused as a child and kept from the modern world? Or do you just not like technology, which I doubt, because you've used a mobile before and you seem to like television and the movies a whole bloody well lot."
By the end of her rant, Eve was breathing heavily. And then suddenly she was crying. James rushed over to her, bending down and pulling her into a tight hug. Snow and lied swirled around them, but in the moment, neither seemed to care.
Neither knew how long the stood there, Eve's body racking with sobs and James holding her tight. In the end, she pulled away first, wiping away stray tears with the edge of her coat.
"I'm sorry." She said, her voice wobbling. "I shouldn't have over reacted so much. I don't know what got in to me. I'm sure whatever your reasons are, they are good. Just today, when you came in and kissed me, and I was so upset, and I just became afraid for a moment- that maybe you weren't telling me the truth-"
James looked away from her, but Eve caught the look of despair in his eyes.
"You were lying, weren't you?" She stated more than asked, taking a small step away.
"No, not exactly." James admitted. And it was true; he never had outright lied to her. Only twisted the truth. "It's just, it's not what it seems."
"How do I know that I can believe you?" Eve said, shaking her head slowly. The snow falling around her seemed to frame her in the moment, making her glow in the evening lamp light. James sucked in a breath. "How can I trust you."
"You can." James said, even begged. "You can always trust me. I wanted to tell you, I really did. And I will. I was planning on coming clean last week, but family affairs got in the way-"
James caught the lost look on Eve's delicate features. He stepped up to her and tilted her chin up with a single finger, gazing right into her warm brown eyes.
"Please, just give me a chance to explain." He whispered. Eve blinked, but didn't look away.
"I can't loose you." James whispered to her, placing a hand softly on her cheek.
Something changed deep inside of Eve's eyes. Finally, she parted her lips.
"All right. One chance."
He led her to a bench where they sat down, snow swirling all around them, and James told her everything. From the start- well not the start start, but enough to fill her in without the graphic details. He told her the truth about Hogwarts, and the wizarding world, and his hero father and equally brilliant mother, his crazy family, and lost his brother, who had left and reappeared and then left again. When he was done he looked up at her with worried eyes, but Eve's face was a mask. Then, without even so much of a first notice, she broke out into a tear-streaked grin.
"Well damn," She said, pursing her lips slightly. "And I thought paying off my student loans was going to be tough enough."
Eve had taken the news about James and his secret world pretty well. Sometimes he still caught her staring at him, probably wondering if it was all a crazy dream. But Eve was Eve, and she was amazing and beautiful and accepting and smart, and she took in the whole wizarding world with an open heart.
That night, after he had told her it all, she had laughed for five minutes straight. James had asked her why.
"I thought you were crazy. Or a fugitive. Or something like that." She said to him, tears of laughter replacing the ones of sorrow in her eyes. "But turns out you were just a wizard. Who knew?"
And when James later asked her how she had accepted the truth so easily, she just smiled and shrugged.
"You were pretty weird, almost as if you weren't familiar with the ways of the world." Eve had explained, shrugging slightly. "Oddly enough, it made sense to me. That you weren't even from my world. Sometimes a person just has to take a leap of faith you know? Believe in something, no matter how outrageous it seems."
It was good advice, and James had kissed her then, and she kissed him back, both sharing a passion they had never experienced before.
"You know, you haven't asked to see any magic yet." James said after they broke apart, but flushed and short breathed.
"Oh yeah." Eve had replied, cocking her head slightly to the left. "I guess I forgot about that part."
James's family, the immediate and extended, all fell in love with Eve too. No one even seemed bothered that he had kept her a secret for so long. James officially introduced her at a family dinner, the day before New Years, having been worried earlier that the hectic tendencies of his family would scare Eve away.
Yes, it had been a bit overwhelming for her, but Eve had smiled and laughed her way through the evening, even putting up with James's grandfather who thought that the fact of her being a muggle was just fascinating.
Afterwards though, when James brought Eve back to her flat, she had sighed and said,
"Before I meet your family again, I definitely need a list of all the names, traits, and relations."
James had laughed and kissed her goodnight, but a week later he showed up at her home once more with a piece of parchment 25 inches long and a goofy smile on his face.
For New Year's Eve, (or as James liked to joke, Eve's holiday), James did what he had wanted to do ever since Eve had told him about her dreams to travel- and took her to France. It was her first apparation, but after a few hours of vomiting and sleeping the nausea wore off and Eve had explored the city with a spring in her step that James had to run to catch up with.
Needless to say, they enjoyed that trip.
In May James asked Eve to move in, and she accepted. It was a bit tough at first because of James's dislike towards muggle electronics, but after a month and much coaxing Eve finally convinced him that no, a wifi router would not fry his brains.
Needless to say, they never got a television.
In late August Rose and Scorpius got married, which brought along an even bigger surprise no one had anticipated. Albus had showed up for halfway through the ceremony, with Jessie as his date, looking battered and tired but happy to see them all. No one noticed him at all until the reception, when Ginny had walked straight into him and promptly began crying.
(The first thing Rose had done too was cry, and hug Albus with all her might, and the second was to push him to the ground and yell at him for stealing her special day.)
Albus left with promises to keep in touch, and said that if everything went well, he'd be back home soon. It took a few hours, but eventually Ginny actually let her son leave.
Even Jessie had been pleasant, if not a bit quiet. James was beginning to warm up to her.
Sadly, James hadn't heard from Albus since.
It was hard sometimes, but then, he was James Sirius Potter.
And what was James Sirius Potter's life but difficult and annoying?
"Stop worrying so much." Eve would tell him constantly. "Things will work out. It isn't healthy to get stuck up on issues that are beyond your control. Relax, and when you can think straightly, I'll help you sort things out."
It was at those moments that James really understood how much he loved the damn girl.
How lucky he was.
And how happy he finally was.
So...how was it? Do you think it did the character of James Potter Sirius any justice? I sure hope so.
It's always been a headcannon of mine that James would fall in love with a muggle...
Anyways, if you do review, which would be amazing, why dont you also tell me what memory you thought that James thought of when he conjured his Patronus.
I know the answer, but i'm curious to what you guys think.
I'm thinking of doing a Louis one next...or maybe a Hugo...