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Quicksilver and Snitches - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Quicksilver and Snitches
Just another little James story. This takes place a couple of days before the DH epilogue, actually. I wasn't sure what I was going to write, but I realized one person I hadn't really spent time with with James was... Harry!



James's earliest memory was of flying.

He wasn't sure how old he'd been, but he must have been very small, because Al was still being carried around in a sling that Mum had, and Lily wasn't there at all. He thought they were--for some reason--on the Harpies' practice pitch, and it was night. The torches were burning, but no one else was there. Mum was flying around with Al in his sling, and then suddenly, James had been scooped up, and he was flying with Dad, and there was a Quaffle in the air. He didn't remember everything perfectly, but he remembered diving, knifing toward the ground with Dad holding him tightly with one arm and laughing in his ear while he caught the Quaffle with the other, leaving no hands on the broomstick. James had put his own pudgy little hands down and tried to steer. Dad had called him "my navigator" for a bit when he was little because of that. James didn't remember whether or not they'd made the goal around Mum and Al, just the way his insides had twirled around during the dive, the way he'd felt totally safe with Dad holding onto him, and the way his parents had been laughing.

Not that they didn't laugh a lot; they did. The night on the Harpies' pitch wasn't burned into his brain because it was different, but because it was a sort of crystallized notion of what his family was like when the doors were closed to the public. In public, strangers tended to speak to dad in deathbed whispers, their eyes cast down, as if they expected him to crack up at any moment. James couldn't imagine why they did this, even after he learned about the war. Sure, they wouldn't know that Dad had been the all time champion of treasure hunt games when the children had been small, lacing the house with shiny tokens and providing magical beasties for James and Al (and later, Lily) to fight while they searched; that was private. But surely someone could have noticed that Dad was still a big stakeholder in Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, and had a particular fondness for amusing fireworks. (Someone had once sent a glittering, tap-dancing troll spinning around the Ministry, and James couldn't even imagine why no one even suspected Dad, even though it happened on his birthday, after he'd got a box of new fireworks from Uncle George, and he was laughing at it louder than anyone.)

Well, it was among the mysteries, and not the sort Teddy'd been studying. Maybe they just saw him too often like he was right now, trudging through the Auror division, dirty from a morning of doing whatever he did out in the field--he'd flatly refused to discuss any of that in front of James, Al, and Lily--and looking very tired.

But as soon as he saw James sitting in the little chair by his office door, he smiled and waved, then leaned over and said something to Uncle Ron and Ruthless Scrimgeour. Uncle Ron took a sheaf of papers from Dad, added it to one he was carrying, then handed the whole thing to Ruthless. She rolled her eyes and wandered off to a cubicle on the far side of the room, and as Dad and Uncle Ron approached, James heard Uncle Ron say, "Well, that's what apprentices are for, isn't it?"

Dad laughed. They reached James. "Give me a minute to clean up," he said. "I doubt Oliver'd like it much if I walked in like this."

"Right," Uncle Ron said. "You're such a drag on his business."

Dad made a face and went into his office. Uncle Ron Conjured a chair and plopped down in it, crossing his long legs at the ankles. "We took Rosie for her wand yesterday," he said. "You'll keep an eye on her up at school, won't you?"

"Sure," James said, though he privately doubted that his cousin Rose would permit such a thing. Or need it. If anything, she'd be keeping an eye on him. "Al, too."

"Good man," Uncle Ron said. "So, what are you looking at today? Firebolts? Quicksilvers?"

"Not sure what's in yet," James said. "Something fast."

"Are you going out for the team?"

James pretended to think about it, then said, "Maybe. But really, I just need to make sure I can outfly a Hungarian Horntail. You know, in case one happens to get loose."

"Oh, naturally."

Dad's office door opened and he came out in fresh clothes--off-duty robes and a pair of old trainers. He'd cleaned his face and his hair. "Ron, I happily leave you in charge."

Uncle Ron grinned gleefully and waved his wand smartly, making a sound like a cracking whip.

Dad rolled his eyes and turned to James. "Let's get out of here before anything has a chance to come up."

James followed him to the lift. "We're going to Oliver's?"

"There's still no better place for a good broomstick than Quality Quidditch," Dad said. "Do you have your eye on one yet?"

"I'm open-minded," James said.

Mum, who'd been coaching him all summer, had told him not to choose a really expensive broomstick. "We can afford it," she'd said, "and that's all your dad will think about, because he loved that Firebolt. But it was never entirely fair for him to have a better broomstick than anyone else on the pitch, and you can be quite sure that if you go out there with a state-of-the-art racing broom when the other team has school brooms, it'll be talked about."

"But, Mum," James had said, "won't they talk about it being unfair that I spent the summer being coached by a Harpy?"

This had flummoxed her, and James had considered the argument won--if it was fair to have a professional coach him, it was fair to have a good broomstick--but it had been eating at him for the week since they'd talked, and he was starting to come around to her way of thinking. Coaching only worked if you had talent to start with, but better broomsticks could cover for weaknesses. He thought carefully about what everyone else had, and thought he'd probably be looking mainly at Nimbuses and Whirlwinds.

"Do you know what positions are open?" Dad asked.

James shook his head. "The Keeper's staying, but there were seventh years in Chasing and Beating, and the Seeker just finished her O.W.L.s and said she might not be back."

They reached the lobby and wove through the people crowding around the fireplaces to go home for lunch. Uncle Percy gave Dad a wave from across the corridor, and Granddad, who seemed to be having lunch with him, turned and waved as well. James waved back.

"How long do we have?" he asked as Dad led him into the little chamber they used for Disapparition. "Until after lunch?"

"I'm taking the rest of the day off."

"But you took yesterday for Al's wand!"

"I have time coming to me," Dad said. "And when Lily starts going to school, I'll be taking three days."

James smiled and took Dad's arm. A second later, there was the suffocating sense of pressure that went with Apparition, and then they were in Diagon Alley, in the plaza at Fortescue Park. A few people turned to look, and some of them whispered into their hands when they recognized Dad--James knew the wide-eyed look anywhere--but most just went about their business. James saw a few people he knew. Frank Apcarne was sitting under a tree, reading a manuscript, and Romilda Davies from reception was checking her Appearance spells in a mirror. He could see an older witch with a tight black bun through a shop window, but he wasn't sure it was McGonagall from this distance.

He knew Diagon Alley well, but going through it with Dad was always a different experience than going alone. Most people didn't recognize James. Al looked exactly like Dad, and Lily looked like a perfect combination of Mum and Dad, but James looked like no one at all, on any side of the family. He'd ended up with brown hair, for one thing, more like Teddy's and Grannydromeda's than any Potter's or Weasley's, and it was thin and perfectly well behaved. His nose was a little like Gran Weasley's, but not entirely, and his high forehead only looked like Granddad's because Granddad was bald. His face looked like it fit well enough with the family, but didn't favor anyone in particular. He'd gone even gone with Dudley Dursley to visit Great Aunt Petunia once, and looked at the still faces of long gone Evanses, and found no more than a passing resemblance to a great-great-grandmother (one Anastasia Grubb of Lower Gornal). Dudley proposed that he looked a bit like Great Aunt Petunia herself--the GAPper, as Lily called her--but that was absurd.

It had bothered him a great deal until he'd spent a day with Al in Diagon Alley, and realized for the first time that Al was the one with the problem. James had spent hours and days playing with his friends without any gawking onlookers, but when Al had started coming along, suddenly, he'd been able to see people pointing and whispering, just like they did with Dad. Plus, Al had pointed out, no one seemed to expect him, James, to defeat a Dark wizard by the age of twelve or be thought a dismal failure (Al said morosely), which was a good thing, as there was no Dark wizard especially handy at the moment.

All of which flashed through his mind as he walked beside Dad through the crowded streets, stopped every few feet by people who had pressing business that they needed to discuss with Harry Potter. Dad was polite to them, but tended to pull James up and tell them that they were on a lunchtime errand. He neglected to mention having the rest of the day after it. This sped up the encounters, but there were enough of them that it was nearly twelve-thirty by the time they finally reached Quality Quidditch Supplies.

Oliver Wood was waiting at the door, leaning on the wall with a grin on his face. "Harry! You're a bit later than I was thinking you'd be."

"James had to stop and talk to everyone," Dad said. "Quite irritating, actually."

"Well, everyone loves talking to James," Oliver said. He turned to James. "So... what am I selling you today? The new Quicksilvers are fastest, though I know your dad's always going to be partial to Firebolts."

"Can we have a look?" Dad asked.

Oliver spread his arms expansively. "Be my guest."

Dad led the way into the store. The walls were lined with fast-looking brooms of all stripes, and at the center was a brilliant broom with silvery polish. Dad went straight to it. "This could change my loyalty, Wood," he said. "It looks fast."

"Top of the line. Not that Firebolt isn't trying to beat it--their new line comes out in December, in time for Christmas, and it may beat the Quicksilvers. The speed is great, but the braking charm is the real selling point on the Quicksilver. It's guaranteed not to throw you at any speed under two hundred."

"How's the maneuvering?"

"I think Firebolt still has an edge there," Oliver said.

Dad looked at James. "What do you think?"

"Can I try them?"

"There's a pitch out back," Oliver said. "Which would you like?"

James grinned. "One of each." He looked at Dad. "What do you think... can you beat me?"

"Ha!" Oliver said. "I've even got a Snitch around here."

Dad looked a little uncomfortable for some reason, but his voice sounded fine when he said, "Oh, come on, Wood, I haven't done any Seeking for a while. How about a Quaffle?"

"What good is that?" Oliver shook his head. "I know your mum's the big Quidditch star, but this man's the best natural Seeker I've ever seen. Tragedy I couldn't talk him into the pro leagues. Utter tragedy."

"I'd like to see that," James said.

Dad gave Oliver a look that tried to be long-suffering and succeeded only in being eager. Oliver went to dig up a Snitch.

"Do you want the Quicksilver or the Firebolt?" Dad asked.

James bit his lip. "I think... I want a go on the Whirlwind 8000," he said, pointing at a broom halfway up the wall on the left. "That's what our Keeper has."

"A Firebolt maneuvers better."

"I bet I'm a good flyer even on a not-so-good broom," James tried.

Dad raised his eyebrows. "Your mum doesn't want you to have an expensive broom, does she?"

"Well, I think she wanted it to come from me," James admitted. "But, you know... maybe she's right."

Dad thought about it, then nodded reluctantly. "She generally is." He winked. "So we'll get the Whirlwind, but let's have a go on the Quicksilvers first. I'll buy enough gear to make up the difference for Wood."

"Deal," James said.

Oliver brought out the Snitch and liberated a Firebolt and a Quicksilver, and the three of them went to the small test pitch behind the store.

"Ready?" Oliver asked as they mounted the brooms.

Dad looked hungrily at the Snitch in Oliver's hand, and said, "Ready."

Oliver let it go, and the game was on.

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Comments
From: spitc1899 Date: November 25th, 2008 07:13 am (UTC) (Link)
How wonderful to come home from a late shift to this! :o)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 25th, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad to be of service. :)
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 25th, 2008 05:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oliver's always fun. I can see him at the height of the war trying to scrounge international Quidditch scores.
insertparagraph From: insertparagraph Date: November 25th, 2008 08:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Whee!

I liked this an awful lot. I'm continually impressed by how quickly these characters come alive in your prose. However, I have to admit that "Romilda Davies" threw me off slightly; due to my entry in a St. Margarets challenge a year and change ago, and St.M's comments thereon, I always think of Romilda as having traded Vane for either McClaggen or Malfoy...

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 25th, 2008 05:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Whee!

Heh, well, we know it's not Malfoy because of the family tree. I couldn't remember MacLaggen's name, or he'd probably have been a contender for that "shallow enough for Romilda Vane" category. ;p
under_crisis From: under_crisis Date: November 29th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Whee!

oh, but he might be, as hermione found out in sixth year hahaha
thornyrose42 From: thornyrose42 Date: November 25th, 2008 08:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Daww the world should have more of Harry bonding with his kids, I especially liked the line about having to take three days off when all his kids went to school, it was just something Harry would do. I sort of understood his initial relectance about Seeking as well. Harry ended up giving up an awful lot of things in his continuation of hunting down the bad guys.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 25th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Of course, Harry would probably think it's extravagant to take three whole days off. In a row, possibly. ;p

I think going after the Snitch might remind him of the Snitch that Dumbledore left him, but his kid wants to see him Seek, so...
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 25th, 2008 10:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Very nice! I always love to read some bonding between Harry and the kids. And the idea of Harry playing pranks at the Ministry is awsome.
I have a question, though. A simple, litteral translation into French of the title "Vif-Argent et Vif d'Or" would have a perfect ring to it. This is very rarely true; oftentimes the litteral translation of titles sounds kind of lame and doesn't have the perfect fit of the original title. So, did you do it on purpose or is it a coincidence?
Either way, great job – as usual ;)
-Sylvia
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 25th, 2008 05:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Definitely unintended. The title was an afterthought this time, and while I can manage to read a few lines of French if I have a handy dictionary, I definitely can't think in French! :D But it worked out neatly.
shiiki From: shiiki Date: November 25th, 2008 11:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I love this! Quality father-son time for the two of them. I adore them both in here.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 25th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I just think that Harry would take great pleasure in having a family.
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: November 25th, 2008 11:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Loved it! James' view of Famous Harry Potter as Dad was perfect. I also liked the little bit about Arthur and Percy having lunch. Yay!

"James had to stop and talk to everyone," Dad said. "Quite irritating, actually."

"Well, everyone loves talking to James," Oliver said.


Bwaha!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 25th, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that James and all of his admirers! :)

I think Percy would go all out in trying to take his place in the family again.
ladylothwen From: ladylothwen Date: November 25th, 2008 02:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
This melted my heart. Really.

I love Harry bonding with just about anyone, it makes my day. And Oliver too! Just wonderful.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 25th, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad it worked! Harry's getting better at bonding as he gets older.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: November 25th, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great fun! I rather like the fact that Harry and Ginny's eldest is such a gregarious, well-adjusted kid who seems to be very much his own person. And nothing like a beloved sport to unite a father and a son. Harry must miss Quidditch and Seeking, even if he's convinced himself he had to put them away with other childish things when the war was over.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 25th, 2008 05:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Harry and Ginny's eldest is such a gregarious, well-adjusted kid who seems to be very much his own person

I don't know why... that's just the sense I got of him in the Epilogue, talking about "our Teddy" and "our Victoire" and being so scandalized about the whole thing--he seemed to have definite views on the world and relationships, yet in a very innocent and carefree way, which seemed like something Harry would try for with his kids.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: November 25th, 2008 09:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Harry is such a great dad, I love him. Ginny is a good mum too.

Oh, I so love your adult trio generation...
hungrytiger11 From: hungrytiger11 Date: November 26th, 2008 12:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Ginny and Harry are such good parents!
darth_pipes From: darth_pipes Date: November 26th, 2008 03:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Very nice, Fern. You continue to write grown-up Harry very well. Things are better for Harry now but he's still Harry...him getting annoyed with Ron's comment about him being a drag on Oliver's business.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: November 26th, 2008 04:07 am (UTC) (Link)

James

All your James stories are mine, mine, mine.

I especially love the part about Harry and Ginny flying with the boys! (I wrote Viktor and his mother like that.)

It so important that Harry has a happy family and all is indeed well!

arcaneblades From: arcaneblades Date: November 27th, 2008 09:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. S'been a rough few days, and I needed something like this.
at_upton From: at_upton Date: November 27th, 2008 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I absolutely adore James' first memory. It's exactly the way those very early ones play out-- vague and floaty, but with vivid stabs of wonderful.

"James didn't remember whether or not they'd made the goal around Mum and Al, just the way his insides had twirled around during the dive, the way he'd felt totally safe with Dad holding onto him, and the way his parents had been laughing."

I've been re-reading DH, and it's comforting to remember that the two of them end up okay.

Happy Thanksgiving!
gabrielladusult From: gabrielladusult Date: November 29th, 2008 01:25 am (UTC) (Link)
"And when Lily starts going to school, I'll be taking three days."

As a mother of three (and the youngest of six) who understands the challenges of balancing the outward demonstration of your equal love for each child (from both ends), this was my favorite line in the story.

But who got the snitch?
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