attackfish: Ron, drinking "felix felicis" while Harry watches, text "Always be specific when you lie" (Harry and Ron Rule 7)
[personal profile] attackfish
Disclaimer: Sadly, I have yet to make money writing, unlike JKR.

Summary: When Snape threatens to expel his son, James is forced to confront a few uncomfortable truths.

Author's Note: As a reader, I can't stand long footnotes, so I'm not just about to commit a sin, but a sin of hypocrisy.  I imagine James was helping Sirius prepare to go into hiding himself the night Voldemort showed up, and thus his absence preserved his life.  Oddly, I never liked fics that combine one or both of Harry's parents surviving and Harry sorted into Slytherin (though there are exceptions) because the reason Harry had such a profound urge to prove himself, the ambition that almost got him sorted into Slytherin, because he was raised by people who so manifestly didn't care about him, so that's a second hypocritical sin on my part.


The doors banged open and James Potter swept into the dank dungeon, glancing perturbed at the jars of pickled and preserved potions ingredients.  "You called?" he drawled.

Snape stood up from behind his desk with a nasty smile that quickly disappeared behind a solemn facade.  "I am strongly considering expelling your son."

"So you said when you flooed me."  His hand curled around his wand underneath his robe, letting his eyes slip to his son sitting in front of the desk.  "What for?"

"He cast a dark curse on Mr. Finnigan."  Snape's short-lived smile was a ghastly thing, full of yellow teeth and jagged edges, his voice full of false sympathy.  "He had to spend the night in the hospital wing so that Madam Pomfrey could stem the bleeding from his ears."

Harry's hands clenched tighter around the arms of his chair, his knuckles and lips turing white.  He glared at his head of house, masking his nerves as his father demanded, taken aback, "What for?"  He flushed, but didn't answer.

"Answer him," Snape commanded, voice low.

"I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't order my son around while I'm here," James said loudly, running a hand through his hair.

Snape shot him a venomous look, "Please try to remember that this is my office."

Harry sank into the chair, eyes flicking back and forth between the two of them.  "Finnigan deserved it anyway," he finally muttered.

"If I were you," Snape hissed, "I would endeavor to show a little remorse, Potter!"

Harry clenched his teeth, swallowing a retort.  "No, I think I'd like to hear why Harry thinks he deserved it," his father interrupted before he could think of something more tactful to say.

Something that looked a lot like triumph flashed in Snape's eyes, but Harry did his best to ignore it.  "He's horrible, he's always been horrible," he insisted hoarsely.  "Him and Thomas and Weasley and Longbottom, well Longbottom just watches, but that's just as bad," he stopped, realizing he was babbling.  Before he spoke again, he glanced at his professor and then at his father before turning his gaze to his hands.  "They hoisted me up from the Astronomy tower last week."  he folded his arms sulkily, unwilling to say any more.

James patted his son's shoulder awkwardly, but it was Snape who spoke, "It took almost an hour to find him, however we were able to retrieve his shoes, socks, and pants with a simple Summoning Charm."  Harry flushed, mortified, terrified he was going to be sick all over Snape's desk.  It had been miserable, hanging barefoot from the tower spire by his wrists, tied together with his green and silver house tie, his trousers bunched around his ankles, as he held his feet ridged to keep them from falling to the ground below, his school robe pulled up over his head so that all he could see through the heavy black cloth was the occasional shadow, trying and failing to summon his wand.  It hadn't taken an hour for the students to find him, just for the teachers to follow.

His eyes flicked nervously to his father, who looked as sick as he did.  "What did you do to them?" he gasped.

Harry's eyes narrowed furiously.  "I didn't have to do anything!" he shouted.

"If you don't lower your voice, I will see to it you spend the next week pickling frogspawn!"

Distantly realizing that might be a hopeful sign that he wasn't about to be expelled after all, Harry ignored him.  "I mean, I won the last Qidditch match, but it's not my fault if Ginny spent the whole bloody match staring at me instead of looking for the Snitch."

"Do you have that effect on all girls?" James asked, bemused.

"No," and he was really really glad about that, "just Ginny, she's been a bloody idiot around me since she came here."  He didn't mention that she was supposed to be Thomas' girlfriend.

"Watch your language," James ordered, and harry hunched in on himself.

"The point is," Snape spat, "your son cast a dark curse at a fellow student and sent him to the hospital wing."

"It's November," James cried, exasperated, "couldn't you stay out of trouble for a few months?"

Harry didn't want to talk about what it was like, with half the school thinking he was delusional or a liar, and his housemates snickering whenever he walked by, knowing Voldemort was back and thrilled about it, all of them dreaming about hand delivering Harry to him, with the people who did believe him and weren't on Voldemort's side really not on his side in anything else, and were willing to string him up from the Astronomy tower with his trousers around his ankles and hang his shorts from the Gryffindor tower because a girl, that he did his best to pretend didn't exist fancied him.  He didn't think his dad could even imagine what it was like, so he just shrugged.

"I want to know why Finnigan and his friends weren't expelled before-"

"Before your son decided to take things into his own hands?"  Snape half closed his eyes, self-satisfied, pausing for effect.  "Their head of house decided it was simply an expression of youthful high spirits."  Harry gritted his teeth together at the pronouncement, disgusted.

It was James' turn to flush, sneering back at Snape  "May I speak to my son alone for a moment?"

"I would not leave the two of you alone in my office for all the gold in Gringotts!"

"What are you, seventeen?" James demanded nonplussed, "I'm not about to trash your office."

Some of the color in Harry's face subsided, leaving just two spots of red on the tops of his cheeks.  "The classroom's right next door."

Snape stood aside from the door with extremely ill grace, but he opened the door for them and pointed.  James swept out, head held high, his son scrambling off the chair and following in his wake.  As soon as the classroom door closed, Harry pushed his hair flat, anxiously.  His father's hands slipped into his pockets and he stood, shoulders rounded, unable to figure out what to say to the boy.  At last, James summoned his courage, "Has it really been that bad, I mean Finnigan, Thomas and the rest?"

Harry shrugged, "Finnigan was the only one of them who didn't believe Dumbledore about Voldemort, said all he had was my word, and they all knew how good that was.  He and Thomas think it's bloody funny to go after me."  He shrugged again, "Weasley doesn't but he gets angry really easily."

"Oh," his father said softly.  "I thought you two got on really well on the train."

Harry swallowed, "He didn't take me getting into Slytherin too well."

His arm curled around his son's shoulders and with a pang, he recalled the way Harry had refused to go to his godfather's whenever the Weasleys were there.  "Things are alright though, right, you have friends in your own house?"  Harry wondered if he could call Tracy Davis a friend.  She was an ally, certainly, a half-blood like him amidst all the purebloods.  James tried to remember who the Slytherins were in Harry's year, suddenly aware that he heard more about them from Fred, George, and Ron, than from his own son.  "Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle?"  Each time Harry shook his head, james ran his hand through his hair.  "Zambini?  Nott?"

Harry didn't bother to correct Zabini's name.  he supposed he was impressed his father knew as much as he did.  "Hermione, sometimes," James vaguely remembered the bushy-haired girl who had spent the summer with the Weasleys.  "It wasn't so bad until they made Malfoy and Weasley prefects.  Weasley keeps going on about how the only reason Voldemort cares about killing me is because I'm a powerful dark wizard and he doesn't want any competition."  Kicking a stone between his feet absently, Harry slumped down into one of the chairs on the Gryffindor side of the classroom, "It's stupid.  if I were, I could stop them from pranking me, couldn't I?"  He said "pranking" like a swear word, and James felt a flash of guilt.

"You're not thinking about it are you?" he asked tentatively.

Harry stared at him as if he didn't understand the question and James knew he shouldn't have asked.  "No!  No, I mean, yeah, sometimes it might be easier, but no, that would make me like him, and he killed Mum!"

There was an urn on top of a bookcase in James' office at home full of Lily's ashes, a vial of her blood tucked into them, next to a photograph of her.  When Harry was six, he almost knocked it off, playing with a toy broomstick in the house, and James had sat him down and explained to him exactly how the vial of blood in there kept him safe and could he please be more careful.  They didn't talk much about her, but both of them often felt their eyes drifting over to the urn and the photograph.  "I was only teasing you."

Harry looked at him oddly, but let it pass.  "I can't wait for the holiday."  At least he didn't have to stay this year and go to the Yule Ball alone because Tracy asked a third year to go with her and he couldn't get anyone else, not even someone in the lower years to go with him except Ginny, and he'd have gone with Fang first.

James heaved a sigh of relief.  "Sirius'll be there, and Remus."

Harry shifted his feet and stared at the floor, "Oh."

"You can invite someone if you want," but Harry didn't have anyone to invite.

"No, it's alright," Harry said, smiling.

James pulled him out of the chair and pulled him into a tight hug,  "Hey Harry,  I'll see you soon, then."

Harry hugged him back, "Yeah, I guess."

James waved cheerily to him as he left the room, but his face set into grim lines again before he opened the door to Snape's office.  The door slammed shut when he jabbed it with his elbow.  "You sodding hypocrite," he snarled.

Snape's wand twitched in his hand, but he smirked cruelly.  "I have no idea what you mean."

James narrowed his eyes.  "Threatening to expel him given what you got up to when you went to school here."

Snape's smirk spread into a grisly smile, "I would not want to encourage him to follow my bad example."

James flinched and only barely restrained himself from shouting that he wanted the Gryffindor boys expelled.  "I've taught him to stand up for himself."  Snape pulled the unsigned expulsion form off of the top of a stack of papers and picked up his quill.  "So you want me to beg then?" James snapped, pushing his glasses back up on his nose.

Snape shook his head mockingly, "Your pride is far more important than your son's education."

Grinding his teeth together, James folded his arms.  "Please don't expel my son," he hissed, "Please."

Snape gloated, raising one eyebrow, "Is that the best you can do?"

"You of all people should have some sympathy for him!" James shouted, voice hoarse.

Snape inclined his head in acknowledgement, "Yes."

James rested his hands on the desk, looming over it.  "There's something really warped about you if your first thought when seeing someone in your position is that you can use it against me!"  With a snarl, Snape dashed off his first name on the appropriate line on the expulsion form, and James read the spiky, narrow letters, deeply etched into the heavy parchment.  His hand grasped the form and tried to slip it out from underneath Snape's hand.  "Snape, please, don't expel him.  it is our feud, not his."

Snape prized James' fingers off of the form with a scowl and shot to his feet.  Following stiffly, James closed the door behind them as Snape poked his head into the classroom.  "Get back to the dormitory," ordered Snape tersely.

"I'm not expelled?" Harry questioned hopefully.

"No," Snape fleered, and then muttered under his breath to James, "Did you really think Dumbledore would allow me to expel him?"  James bristled.

Harry bolted down the hall, not even glancing at his father in his rush to get away from his head of house.  At the stone wall portal into the Slytherin common room, he squared his shoulders and braced himself before he whispered the password.  James sighed, "he's not very happy, is he?"

"Do you care?" Snape queried, and James couldn't tell whether he was resentful or simply interested.

"He's my son."

Date: 2008-11-25 09:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
And man everybody is quite IC, specially the "could have been" behaviour of the Gryffindor boys :P
BTW, is Jame's ignorance or a typo that it says Zambini instead of Zabini?

Date: 2008-11-26 12:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank, I'm glad I did a good job keeping everyone in character. I didn't want to bash Ron too much for instance. I get sick of that.

Zambini was deliberate. James Potter knows the names of every suspected Death Eater, but he does not read the society pages.

Date: 2010-11-03 03:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That was good fun! c:
Thank you very much.

Date: 2010-11-03 04:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks. All of a sudden, I've had a very small rash of comments on my old HP stories. I should get back to some of them.


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